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Newsdesk November 21, 2003

Ford To Stop Funding Hate

The Ford Foundation admitted it erred in funding anti-Israel groups and pledged to stop funding antisemitic activities. The foundation said it was “disgusted” by anti-Israel and antisemitic agitation at the 2001 U.N. Conference Against Racism at Durban, South Africa, which the foundation helped finance. In a letter to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, foundation president Susan Berresford also said Ford would cease financing pivotal anti-Israel groups and even would seek to recover funds where a grant’s intent is violated. The letter came in the wake of growing pressure on the charity after a special four-part investigation by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which documented how Ford grantees have used the prestigious foundation’s money to foment virulent anti-Israel and antisemitic agitation.

Holocaust Museum Attacked

Arson is suspected in a fire that destroyed a small Holocaust museum in Indiana on Tuesday. The words “Remember Timmy McVeigh,” a reference to the Oklahoma City bomber, were found on one of the destroyed walls of the museum in Terre Haute, Ind., The Associated Press reported. The Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Experiments Survivors Museum, known by the acronym Candles, was founded in 1985 by Holocaust survivor Eva Kor. It contained artifacts from Auschwitz and documents relating to the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele.

Jury: Cops Not Liable in Killing

A court in New York found that police officers are not liable for the 1999 shooting of a mentally ill Jewish man in Brooklyn. On Monday, a jury agreed with the city’s argument in a civil trial that Gidone Busch lunged at the police with a hammer, and that the officers had no choice but to react. Busch’s father, Howard Boskey disagreed. “They’re all murderers,” Boskey yelled in the courtroom after the verdict.

Accused Rabbi Dropped

A rabbi shadowed by charges of child sex abuse was dropped from a speaking engagement.

Beth El Jacob Synagogue in Des Moines canceled a talk last week by Rabbi Ephraim Bryks of Richmond Hill, N.Y., after members of the Iowa Jewish community received e-mails detailing the allegations.

Bryks first said in an interview that he could not care less about the reversal, but he later wrote a letter maintaining his innocence.

In the 1980s, several former students of the now-defunct Winnipeg Torah Academy accused Bryks of fondling them, but none lodged formal charges.

Rice: No Decision on Loans

No decision has been made about deducting the cost of Israel’s security fence from United States loan guarantees, President Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said. But Rice said Israel’s security fence “continues to be a problem.”

Speaking at the White House on November 13, Rice said the Bush administration is concerned that the fence would “somehow prejudge the outcome” of future peace talks with the Palestinians, and could infringe on Palestinians’ lives. “They have made some adjustments to the route of the fence,” Rice continued. “Those are appreciated.”

Falash Mura Claim Victory

Israel’s Supreme Court called on the government to explain why it has not yet brought to Israel thousands of Falash Mura, Ethiopians claiming Jewish ancestry.

The November 13 decision demands that the Israeli government and Interior Minister Avraham Poraz submit a detailed explanation, within a month, of why the government hasn’t implemented a February decision to determine the eligibility for aliya of thousands of Falash Mura and bring them to Israel, said Omri Kaufman, who represented a group of petitioners against the government.

Judge Rules Against Pollard

A U.S. judge rejected a claim by convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

On November 13, Judge Thomas Hogan dismissed a claim by Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel, that his previous lawyers did not do all they could to free him.

Hogan also denied a request by Pollard’s lawyers to gain access to classified documents that could help his release.

Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst, is serving a life sentence in a U.S. jail.

AMIA Extradition Denied

A former Iranian diplomat accused of helping bomb an Argentine Jewish center will not be extradited to stand trial.

A British judge ruled last week that there was not enough evidence to extradite Hadi Soleimanpour to Argentina.

The Iranian diplomat was arrested earlier this year in Britain for suspected involvement in the 1994 car bombing of the AMIA center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Soleimanpour was Iran’s ambassador to Argentina at the time of the attack.

Meanwhile, Argentina’s Justice Ministry confirmed that suspicious Swiss bank accounts connected to former Argentine President Carlos Menem have been found, but none that connect Menem to a multimillion-dollar bribe he allegedly received from Iran to hinder a probe into the bombing.

Spat Over Secret Weapon

A Likud lawmaker called for Yossi Sarid to be kicked out of the Knesset for allegedly threatening to expose a secret Israeli weapon. Army Radio said Sarid, a member of the left-wing Meretz Party, demanded during a recent private session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the military go public with its method for tracking and killing Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip — or else he would publicize it. Panel chairman Yuval Steinitz responded by calling for Sarid’s dismissal, the radio reported Tuesday.

Reuters recently reported that Israel had developed a unique helicopter-launched missile that homes in on targets using a camera mounted on its nose.

Plan for Shoah Funds Approved

A Brooklyn federal judge has approved a plan to distribute $60 million in accumulated interest from a $1.25 billion Swiss bank settlement to aid poor Holocaust survivors, mostly in the former Soviet Union.

The judge, Edward Korman, adopted the plan of Judah Gribetz, the court-appointed “special master” in charge of overseeing distribution of the Swiss settlement funds. Korman dismissed the objections raised by an American grassroots survivors’ group, the Holocaust Survivor’s Foundation-USA. The group had demanded that a greater portion of the funds be allocated to help indigent survivors in the United States, but the judge ruled that the group did not have standing in the matter.

Observers said that the judge’s ruling also appears to cut down a request by the survivors’ group that $50 million be made immediately available to survivors in the United States from funds that the group says will go unclaimed in an $800 million pot allocated to settle Swiss bank account claims.

In a statement, the Holocaust Survivor’s Foundation blasted the ruling. “Today we are constantly confronted with terrible needs among our fellows who cannot afford basic services that mean the difference between dignity and shame, between life and death…. If we, the survivors whose mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters were murdered do not have the right to speak to this court about Holocaust settlement funds, then who does?”

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