Newsdesk May 20, 2005

Chief Rabbi Cleared

Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi was cleared of complicity in the assault on a yeshiva student who had courted his daughter. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz recommended Wednesday that no charges be brought against Rabbi Shlomo Amar in connection with the incident that took place over Passover, officials said. Amar has denied any knowledge of the abduction and assault of a 17-year-old believed to have conducted an illicit romance with his daughter. The chief rabbi’s son, Meir Amar, has been charged in the case, along with two alleged accomplices. Amar’s wife, Mazal, also was indicted for conspiracy.

Terror Victims To Testify

Scores of Israelis are expected to testify at the Florida trial of alleged Islamic Jihad bankrollers. Ha’aretz said Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice, in a precedent-setting step, would fly out as many as 100 Israeli terror victims and experts to next month’s trial in Tampa of University of South Florida computer engineering professor Sami Al-Arian and three alleged accomplices. The defendants are accused of using American-based Islamic and pro-Palestinian charities to raise funds that helped terrorists from the West Bank and Gaza carry out attacks that killed dozens of people, some of them Americans.

Officials To Monitor NPR

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting appointed two ombudsmen to monitor National Public Radio’s coverage of the Middle East. The appointments of the two people, one liberal and one conservative, to monitor NPR were made last month following complaints by Cheryl Halpern, a Republican Jewish activist, and by U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, The New York Times reported. The corporation, which has been increasingly critical of NPR recently, allocates federal funds for public radio and television. Some Jewish activists have criticized NPR’s Middle East coverage as biased since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada in fall 2000, though that criticism has lessened somewhat over the past year.

Conservative Criticized

The Anti-Defamation League criticized journalist Robert Novak for comparing a proposed compromise on the debate over judicial filibusters to concentration-camp selection. The group blasted Novak for saying that Senate Republicans reaching a compromise on the issue with Democrats would be “like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber.” Novak made his comments Saturday on the CNN show “The Capital Gang.” The Senate is schedule to vote on the filibuster issue in coming days.

Activist Group in Jeopardy

A main relief organization for Jews in Ethiopia may lose its ability to operate there. The Ethiopian government is reviewing an application for NGO status from the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, a Nacoej official said. Since 1992, Nacoej has funded community programs in Addis Ababa and Gondar without an NGO designation, but the Ethiopian government recently stopped the group from operating in Addis without a license. Nacoej has applied for NGO status through the Ethiopian Justice Ministry. The Foreign Ministry argued against it.

Glazer Buys Soccer Team

Florida Jewish businessman Malcolm Glazer has purchased Britain’s most revered soccer team, Manchester United.

Glazer bought a controlling stake in the team last week for nearly $1.5 billion. Many fans expressed outrage and protested the sale to a foreigner.

Glazer has a reputation for cutting costs and raising ticket prices, but he is credited with making a success of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team, which won the 2003 Super Bowl.

Congress Slams Boycott

Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, has asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to sever American ties with British schools that voted last month to boycott Israeli universities. Waxman wants schools and professors that abide by the boycott to be made ineligible for American grants and exchanges. Haifa University has threatened to sue Britain’s Association of University Teachers. Bar-Ilan University, the other school targeted by the boycott, has opened a Web site to build support.

Israeli Envoy Meets Pollard

For the first time, an Israeli ambassador to Washington met with convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

The envoy, Daniel Ayalon, met with Pollard on Tuesday at the North Carolina prison where he is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel. Pollard, who was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995, has demanded such a visit for years, saying that the United States otherwise wouldn’t take seriously his requests for release. “In our meeting today I conveyed our support for his release on a humanitarian basis,” Ayalon said in a statement. “I came to him with a message of strength and support from the Israeli government and people.” Ha’aretz reported that Pollard was unhappy with the meeting, feeling that it lacked substance. Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, pleaded guilty in 1986 as part of a deal with the prosecution. However, the judge threw aside the plea and sentenced Pollard to life in prison the following year.

Pride Parade Postponed

An international gay pride parade planned for Jerusalem was postponed. Organizers said this week that WorldPride 2005 was being delayed from this summer until the summer of 2006 to avoid clashing with the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which recently was rescheduled to begin in mid-August. The planned parade had drawn protests from Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups who said it would desecrate the Holy City. A smaller event in Jerusalem, for members of Israel’s gay and lesbian community, is expected to take place at the end of June.

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Newsdesk May 20, 2005

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