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Newsdesk May 2, 2003

Bush Lauded on AIDS

Hadassah is praising President Bush for endorsing a plan to fight AIDS in Africa. “President Bush has moved the battle against HIV/AIDS into a position of global importance,” said Bonnie Lipton, Hadassah’s national president. “By his actions, he has demonstrated the talmudic maxim that saving one life is akin to saving the entire universe.” The $15 billion Emergency Plan would allow money to go to groups that promote family planning.

Lantos Invites Abu Mazen

The new Palestinian Authority prime minister should visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a congressman and Holocaust survivor said. Democrat Rep. Tom Lantos of California said he invited Mahmoud Abbas on Monday to visit the museum because the Palestinian prime minister “needs considerable insight about what happened during the Holocaust.” Abbas, better known as Abu Mazen, has been criticized for his 1982 doctoral thesis that minimizes the Holocaust and accuses the Zionists of collaborating with the Nazis. He says he wrote the thesis at a time when Israel was the PLO’s enemy.

In 1998, the museum invited and then rescinded an invitation to Yasser Arafat.

Meanwhile, during his recent trip to Israel, Lantos said that Israeli intelligence reportedly gave American forces the first tip into the whereabouts of POW Jessica Lynch. Contradicting earlier reports that an Iraqi civilian tipped off American forces, Lantos said Israeli intelligence provided the United States with the first information that Lynch and five of her comrades were being held in an Iraqi hospital in Nasiriya, the New York Post reported.

Prince Charles Goes to Shul

Britain’s Prince Charles inaugurated a synagogue in Manchester. In addition to unveiling a plaque and planting a tree at the Bowden Shul on Monday, he attended a service and two receptions. A spokesman for St. James’ Palace — the prince of Wales’ official residence — emphasized the importance the queen’s eldest son places on such invitations.

Shoah List Made Available

A list of hundreds of thousands of Holocaust-era insurance policyholders is being made available. The list of 363,232 policyholders, being made public by German insurers, is part of a multibillion-dollar agreement reached in 2000 by the United States and Germany, a spokesman for the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims said. The actual value of the policies is unclear, and German companies say many of those eligible for payouts received money in general restitution payments during the 1950s and 1960s. The names of Holocaust victims who held policies with other European insurance firms remain sealed.

Tablets Display Nixed

The Supreme Court barred the display of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of Kentucky’s state Capitol. Without comment, the court Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that had said the display would violate the constitutional separation between church and state. The monument features the words “I am the Lord thy God” on it, followed by the commandments. There also are two small Stars of David and a Jesus symbol on the display.

In a related development, the American Jewish Committee urged a federal court to declare unconstitutional a Ten Commandments memorial recently erected in the rotunda of Alabama’s highest court.

Sharon: Jewish Strength

In an official ceremony commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Sharon said one of the lessons of the Holocaust is that security and peace can only be achieved for the Jews through strength.

“We are peace seekers with all our might, but we have learned this: We will not achieve security and peace with weakness and soft-heartedness, but with strong-spiritedness and boldness and readiness to guard from every guard post what is valuable and essential to our future,” Sharon said at the official torch-lighting ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

Holocaust Remembrance Day this year marked the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The theme of Israeli commemorations this year was “Jewish resistance to oppression.”

Israeli Push for Tourists

Israel’s Tourism Ministry is preparing a new campaign aimed at attracting Jewish tourists and Christian supporters of Israel. The campaign will target tourists who visited Israel during the past two years but refrained from doing so during the war in Iraq.

It also will target new audiences, with the message that now is a good time to visit Israel because of regional political and security changes after the Iraq war. Some 862,000 visits were made to Israel in 2002. The ministry hopes 1 million visits will be made in 2003.

Mixed Marriages Okayed

Some British rabbis have receive a go-ahead to offer marriage blessings for mixed-faith couples in synagogues. The decision, approved by a rabbinic conference of the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues, allows rabbis at their own discretion to bless mixed marriages in public. But the union made clear that the blessings are not in lieu of Jewish weddings and have no status in civil law.

SARS Kills Canadians

A Jewish couple from Toronto died of SARS. The elderly couple apparently contracted SARS when the man was hospitalized for an unrelated heart condition and was placed in the same room as a SARS patient, according to the Jerusalem Post. The man’s wife then contracted SARS as well.

Israel was to begin screening passengers who arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport this week from areas affected by SARS. The Health Ministry said passengers would be examined by doctors at the airport and would be asked to fill out forms. The measures were expected to affect travelers primarily from China, Hong Kong and Toronto, Israel Radio reported.

Court Backs Chirac’s Wife

A Paris court dismissed a Jewish group’s lawsuit against Bernadette Chirac, the wife of President Jacques Chirac, that claimed she had illegally transferred a carpet stolen from Jews during World War II.

Judge Bernard Velette upheld the Culture Ministry’s argument April 25 that the Jewish Association of War Spoilees had confused a Louis XIV carpet in the presidential Elysee Palace with a 19th-century one at Paris’s City Hall that had been stolen from Jews by the Nazis.

King: Conflict Hurts Arabs

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict prevents the Arabs from implementing democracy, Jordan’s King Abdullah II said. Abdullah made his comments Sunday in an interview with CNN.

“With the cloud of the Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Arab issue hanging over our heads, we’ll never have the secure, stable atmosphere, not only in Jordan, but throughout the region, to be able to develop in the way that we want,” he said.

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