Newsdesk July 29, 2005

Group Launches African Effort

In the latest sign of growing Jewish interest in African issues, the American Jewish Congress last week launched a consultative committee on Africa-Jewish Relations at the United Nations and issued a statement urging the international community to take urgent action to stave off mass starvation in Niger.

The new initiative, which is still in the early stages, is being implemented by the organization’s Council on World Jewry. The initiative is aimed at offering impoverished sub-Saharan African countries the political and economic clout of the Jewish organization to help promote investment and trade, as well as improve the image of the continent in America. AJCongress officials, in turn, are hoping to gather some support for Israel among nations that traditionally vote with Muslim countries at the United Nations. AJCongress officials stressed that Israel would not play a major role in the forum and said any African country — including the ones that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel — were welcome to participate.

U.S. Taps Ambassador to Israel

The White House named Richard Jones as U.S. ambassador to Israel. Jones, a former ambassador to Kuwait and Lebanon, was named to the post Monday. He most recently served as a senior adviser and policy coordinator on Iraq at the State Department, and has not been involved in U.S.-Israeli relations as a member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service. Jones replaces Daniel Kurtzer, who has served in the post for four years. President Bush also named Francis Ricciardone as ambassador to Egypt on Monday.

‘Curse’ on Sharon Sparks Outrage

A group of extreme-rightists said Tuesday that they had placed a pulsa denura, or rabbinic curse, on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in order to bring about his death.

The next day, the Peace Now movement accused an Israeli television news magazine program of funding incitement after it purchased a video of the ceremony. Peace Now officials were calling for the tape not to be aired.

Michael Ben-Horin, among the organizers of the ceremony, said that in view of the tight security around Sharon, which “is ten times tighter than [was] the security around Hitler and Stalin,” no man would be able to kill him. They had therefore called on the Angels of Destruction to kill Sharon, Ben-Horin said.

Sharon Praises Chirac, France

During a visit to Paris this week Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon praised French President Jacques Chirac for his policy of cracking down on antisemitism. Sharon said the French efforts should serve as a model for the rest of Europe.

Sharon vowed to improve France-Israel ties.

Relations have been strained because of France’s strongly pro-Arab positions and because Sharon last year urged French Jews to flee the “wildest antisemitism” in their homeland. Israeli officials said Sharon plans to ask Chirac to urge its former protectorate, Lebanon, to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions ordering it to disarm Hezbollah.

Sharon also wants French help in curbing Iran’s nuclear program, officials said.

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Newsdesk July 29, 2005

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