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Newsdesk October 31, 2003

Senate Moves Against Malaysia

The U.S. Senate made military aid to Malaysia conditional on religious freedom, including greater tolerance of Jews. On Monday, the Senate passed an amendment to its foreign-aid spending bill that would require a State Department determination of religious freedom and tolerance in Malaysia before the country could receive a planned $1.2 million military aid package. The move came after Malaysia’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, told the leaders of Islamic countries at a conference earlier this month that Jews “rule the world by proxy” and that the Muslim world must unite to defeat them.

FBI: Hate Crimes Down

Hate crimes declined across the United States in 2002, the FBI said. There were some 7,462 crimes last year, a 23% decrease from 2001. Of the 1,400 crimes that were religion-related, more than 65% were directed against Jews and Jewish institutions.

Sharon To Be Grilled

Ariel Sharon will be questioned by police in connection with two corruption probes, according to Israeli media reports. The Israeli prime minister reportedly will be questioned regarding charges of an improper loan he allegedly obtained during the 1999 primary election campaign, as well as allegations that he was bribed to promote a real-estate project in Greece while he was foreign minister in the late 1990s.

Bronfman Yields in Feud

The World Jewish Congress is forming a taskforce to review its entire mandate after two of its top leaders clashed over political differences.

The president of the World Jewish Congress, billionaire Edgar Bronfman, formed the taskforce, according to The New York Sun. The move came after the organization’s senior vice president, Isi Leibler, called for the ouster of Bronfman because he wrote a letter to President Bush criticizing the security barrier Israel is building in the West Bank. Bronfman threatened to “deal with” Leibler, according to the Sun, but then changed his mind and Leibler was appointed to a key position on the taskforce. One anonymous source told the Sun that Bronfman may have formed the taskforce because Leibler began an investigation into the group’s finances.

List Ranks Charities

The United Jewish Communities was the highest-ranking Jewish charity on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list. The umbrella organization of local Jewish federations raised more than $266 million from private sources and moved up to 32nd place from 41st on the Chronicle’s list of the top 400 fundraising charities.

The UJA-Federation of New York was the second Jewish group on the list, climbing to 51st place from 68th last year, with $198 million in private money. Among federations, New York was followed by federations in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles, all of which moved up on the list.

American universities were among the largest fund-raisers; Brandeis University ranked 213th, up from 224th, with more than $63 million, and Yeshiva University fell to 246th from 148th, with nearly $53 million. Among organizations with Israeli connections, the highest-ranked charity was the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University, which raised more than $145 million from private sources and ranked 95th.

Probe Called Cover-up

The United States covered up an investigation of the 1967 attack by Israel on the USS Liberty, a former investigator charged. Repeated inquiries, both in the United States and Israel, concluded that the attack was accidental, as Israel thought the Liberty was an Egyptian ship.

But Captain Ward Boston, a former Navy attorney who assisted in one investigation, said President Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, instructed investigators to conclude that the attack, which killed 34 people, was unintentional.

Oxford Scholar Resigns

An Oxford University professor resigned after being suspended for rejecting a graduate student because he is Israeli. Oxford suspended Andrew Wilkie for telling Amit Duvshani, “I am sure you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army.

The penalty the university had imposed — suspension without pay — is Oxford’s severest penalty short of dismissal, the university said in a statement. Wilkie submitted his resignation from Oxford’s Pembroke College on Monday, the day the suspension was announced.

Jewish Soldier Dies

The campaign in Iraq has claimed a soldier believed to be the second American Jewish military casualty.

David Bernstein, 24, of Phoenixville, Pa., a first lieutenant with the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade based in Camp Ederle, Italy, was killed in Taza, Iraq, when enemy forces ambushed his patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.

Bernstein’s father said his son was “an athlete and a scholar,” according to the New York Daily News .

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