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Newsdesk May 19, 2006

Chomsky, Militants Meet

Noam Chomsky met with Hezbollah’s leader, the Al-Manar TV network reported. The terrorist group’s station broadcast that the American linguist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor met with Sheik Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut this week, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute. “Hezbollah’s insistence on keeping arms is justified,” Al-Manar quoted Chomsky, a critic of American and Israeli foreign policy, as saying. “Nasrallah has a reasoned argument” that the group should be armed “as a deterrent to potential aggression.” He also called the United States the leading terrorist state, Al-Manar reported. Chomsky also spoke at the American University of Beirut’s Center for American Studies and Research.

Satmar Protest Feared

A protest by members of the Satmar Hasidic community last week led to the cancellation of a fund-raising visit to Montreal by two leading Israeli ultra-Orthodox rabbis.

The Gerer rebbe, Yaakov Aryeh Alter, and the head of the Lithuanian or mitnaged Council of Torah Sages, Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman, had landed in Toronto on May 16 and were to continue on to Montreal the next day, but canceled the visit over concerns that it would spark riots.

Alter and Steinman are the spiritual heads of the United Torah Judaism party, which is currently negotiating to enter Ehud Olmert’s governing coalition. Steinman has aroused the ire of Satmar Hasidim and their anti-Zionist allies because he has approved initiatives for social integration of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, including professional training and limited military service.

The leader of the Montreal Satmar community, Rabbi Moshe Menachem Tirnaur, reportedly called on followers in his May 13 Sabbath sermon “to prevent the entrance of impurity,” an apparent reference to Steinman. Satmar Hasidim received a permit from Montreal police to demonstrate outside the home where Steinman was to have stayed.

During their multi-city tour, which is to include Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, Alter and Steinman are expected to consult with American and Canadian ultra-Orthodox leaders on the status of coalition negotiations.

Alter, the head of United Torah Judaism’s Hasidic wing, Agudat Yisrael, is said to be reluctant to join the Olmert government because he is unhappy with the government’s offer of subsidies for large families. He is also said to be under pressure from other rabbis to stay out because of Olmert’s plan for convergence, or further West Bank withdrawal. Steinman, who heads the mitnaged wing, Degel Hatorah, is believed to favor joining the coalition.

Boycott Vote Eyed

Jewish groups are mobilizing to defeat another potential boycott of Israeli academics, this time by Britain’s largest union for college teachers.

The 65,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education meets May 27 to May 29. Barring procedural stumbling blocks, the association will vote on an “emergency motion” to blacklist Israeli lecturers and academic institutions that don’t publicly declare their opposition to Israel’s presence in the West Bank.

The move comes a year after another British union, the Association of University Teachers, passed a similar Israeli boycott. The AUT later rescinded the decision in the face of international criticism.

German Hate Crimes Up

Antisemitic crimes in Germany rose by 25% in 2005 over the previous year, according to government statistics. The total number of antisemitic crimes was reported to be 1,682, translating into five reported incidents per day, the Federal Ministry of the Interior reported.

Soccer Fans Warned

Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, the managing body of world soccer, told the Sunday Times of London that racist behavior by the fans, players or management at this summer’s World Cup soccer championship in Germany could result in a country’s expulsion from the tournament. There have been stories recently about the planned activities at the World Cup by racist soccer hooligans from Eastern Europe known for embracing violence, antisemitic slogans and even Hitler as their inspiration. The groups have sworn to engage in fierce battles with rivals at the World Cup, to be held in Berlin from June 9 to July 9. To create a positive atmosphere at the event, players will display banners saying “no” to racism and discrimination before each World Cup match.

Beginning with the quarterfinals, the captain of each team will swear an anti-racist oath.


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