Newsdesk June 20, 2003
Statement Sparks Fight
Romania’s recent declaration that there was no Holocaust on its territory during World War II has strained relations with Israel. Romania’s ambassador to Israel, Valeria Mariana Stoica, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem this week to stress that Israel takes a “grave view” of the Romanian government’s statement, which it said is “at odds with the historical truth.” Meanwhile, Stoica failed to appear at a Knesset parliamentary committee discussion on the matter on Tuesday. Israel Radio reported that she said she had not been authorized by her government to take part in the discussion.
Embassy Move Delay
President Bush again delayed moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. In a statement last week, Bush said it was in the “national security interests of the United States” to postpone moving the embassy from Tel Aviv for an additional six months. Since the Embassy Relocation Act was passed in 1995, presidents repeatedly have postponed the move. As a presidential candidate, Bush had told Jewish leaders that moving the embassy would be one of his first actions.
Orthodox Tackle Divorce
Men who refuse to give their wives a religious Jewish divorce must pay $150 a day under a revised prenuptial agreement released by an Orthodox coalition. The document released Tuesday by the Beth Din of America, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Caucus aims to resolve the long-standing problem of agunot, “chained women,” who are unable to remarry because their spouses refuse to grant them divorces. The new agreement names the Beth Din of America as a default venue for giving the get, a rabbinic bill of divorce, and also simplifies earlier pre-nuptial agreements, the groups say.
Elie Wiesel Recovering
Elie Wiesel was transferred from intensive care at a Greek hospital after receiving treatment for a respiratory infection. The Nobel laureate was in Greece to address the country’s Foreign Ministry on human rights, but the address was canceled due to the infection.
French Islamists Triumph
Fundamentalist Islamic candidates won key positions in second-round elections for the Council of French Muslims. Candidates with the Union of French Islamic Organizations secured the presidencies of the Paris, Marseille-Nice and Alsace regions, defeating supporters of the moderate Paris Mosque faction of Council President Dalil Boubakeur. The victories by the union — an organization that has strong links to the international fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and that receives financial backing from the Gulf states — open up the possibility that Boubakeur may be forced to resign.
Britain: No Kosher Ban
The British government will ignore a semiofficial recommendation that would outlaw kosher slaughter, a source close to the government said. David Mencer, chairman of the Labour Friends of Israel lobbying group, said he had been assured that Prime Minister Tony Blair is committed to protecting kosher slaughter.
Envoy’s Cousin Killed
A cousin of Daniel Kurtzer, the American, ambassador to Israel, was among the 17 people killed in last week’s suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem. The father of Anna Orgal, the 55-year-old victim, was a cousin of Kurtzer’s mother.
$10 Million Sent to Israel
The United Jewish Communities delivered $10 million from its emergency campaign to help Israel fight terrorism. The money from the umbrella group for North American federations will help ensure the safety of 100,000 Israeli children at summer camps. North American Jews have pledged $358 million to the UJC’s Israel Emergency Campaign since September 2001.
Group Fights Missionaries
Jews for Judaism plans to send 10 representatives to Israel to fight Christian missionary activities. The delegation will travel to Israel June 18 to June 29 after what the Baltimore-based group says is an upswing of missionary activity in Israel, including the recent opening of the first office of Jews for Jesus. In addition, a missionary umbrella group known as the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations will hold its annual convention in Israel in late June and early July.
Israel to Feed U.S. Troops
Israel will supply fresh produce and food to American forces serving in Iraq. The American military command agreed to the Israeli agriculture minister’s proposal that the food be transferred via Jordanian suppliers, Israel Radio reported. The deal is estimated to be worth millions of dollars.
Madonna May Visit Israel
Pop star Madonna may be Israel-bound. The singer has expressed an interest in filming a video clip in Israel, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported.
Buchanan Prints Article
A leading Jewish proponent of the U.S.-backed “road map” is defending the plan in the current issue of the American Conservative, a magazine founded by Patrick Buchanan.
The article, written by the Washington director of the Israel Policy Forum, M.J. Rosenberg, praises President Bush for pushing a two-state solution with territorial compromise. It commends Bush for not submitting to what Rosenberg calls a “Washington power game”— a way of thinking in the “pro-Israel community” that labels such proposals anti-Israel.
Buchanan, a co-editor of the newly launched magazine, is a three-time presidential candidate who has leveled harsh criticisms against Israel and made statements questioning Jewish loyalty to America. His conservative magazine has attacked the Bush administration in the past for allegedly taking its cues on Middle East policy from the Israeli right.
The Anti-Defamation League questioned the magazine’s motives in publishing the piece. “It plays into Pat Buchanan’s view of the Jewish community,” said Ken Jacobson, associate national director of the ADL.
Jacobson said that although it is not Rosenberg’s intent, Buchanan “is using this piece as a vehicle to reinforce his opinion and expression and critique of the American Jewish community — that they stand in the way of peace.”
Jacobson also disagreed with the substance of Rosenberg’s article.
The executive editor of the American Conservative, Scott McConnell, said he had asked Rosenberg to submit an article on the road map because “there is an important common ground of voices of reason in the Jewish and Arab community that are drowned out by extremists in American politics.”
McConnell added: “The voice which is in favor of negotiated settlements is maybe a majority voice among American Jewry, but is certainly not a majority voice among Jewish organizations that are most influential in Washington.”
Rosenberg said he agreed to submit the piece because “it shows that pro-Israel opinion in America is diverse and that some of us, in my opinion a majority of us, are strong supporters of the Bush approach.”
Rosenberg said that in the article he was careful to stress his own love for Israel.