August 28, 2008
Agriprocessors rebukes Obama, Israel sends flood aid to Ukraine
Agri Rebukes Obama Over Criticism
Nathan Lewin, who is representing the largest kosher meat producer in the United States, in a statement released early Tuesday wondered whether Barack Obama had weighed the evidence in the case or considered the company's repeated denials.
On Monday, Obama said the company had hired underage workers to avoid paying decent wages and benefits.
"This is a shocking statement from a former president of the Harvard Law Review and former constitutional law professor who has sworn, as a United States Senator, to uphold the Constitution which prescribes a presumption of innocence until guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt," Lewin's statement said.
Campaigning Monday in Davenport, Iowa, Obama fielded a question about the company, which was recently the target of a massive federal immigration raid at its plant in Postville.
"We've got to crack down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers," Obama said. "When you read about a meatpacking plant hiring 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds -- that is some of the most dangerous, difficult work there is."
Obama, who did not mention Agriprocessors by name, said the children were "wielding buzz saws and cleavers."
"It's ridiculous," he said. "And the only reason they're hiring these folks is because they want to avoid paying decent wages and providing decent benefits."
Obama's criticism followed the publication Sunday of an Op-Ed by Iowa governor and fellow Democrat Chet Culver in which he said Agriprocessors had "taken the low road" in its business practices.
Israel Sends Flood Aid to Ukraine
The Israeli government airlifted humanitarian aid to Ukraine for its flood-hit western regions. Antibiotics, bandages and other materials required for medical care were sent to the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry, said Shahar Arieli, a leader of the Israeli Mission to Ukraine, at a news conference Friday.
According to the Ministry, storms and floods last month in six western regions of Ukraine killed at least 32 people. Hundreds of towns and villages were flooded, 40,000 houses were damaged and thousands of residents were evacuated, officials said. The Ukrainian government called the flooding the worst the country has seen in years.
Aussie Jews Seek to Block Hezbollah TV
A Hezbollah-run TV satellite channel that promotes terrorism is being beamed into Australia via Indonesia. Jewish community leaders this week urged the government and the national broadcasting authority to block the transmission of Al-Manar, which twice has been stopped from broadcasting into Australia. The new broadcasts come from a satellite company that is partly owned by the Indonesian government.
The station broadcasts vehemently anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American vitriol, as well as messages from suicide bombers.
John Searle, the chairman of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission, said in a statement that he was "distressed" at the anti-Semitic content that is being broadcast in Australia.
"Al-Manar is renowned for inciting violence and hatred," he said. "It broadcasts disgraceful anti-Semitic propaganda, including the infamous blood libel allegations, and it seeks to legitimize terrorism."
But the Australian Arabic Council said Al-Manar should not be restricted and that Hezbollah, while anti-Zionist, was not anti-Semitic. Donald Robertson, a spokesman for the Australian Communications and Media Authority, said ACMA has "strong concerns about the broadcast of Al-Manar programs in Australia."
Jewish Funds for Justice Launches Gulf Coast Microloans
Jewish Funds for Justice will launch the "8th Degree" on Aug. 29, on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the first person-to-person microloan program in the United States. It will partner contributors nationwide with small business owners on the Gulf Coast.
The "8th Degree" is named for what medieval philosopher Maimonides "termed the highest form of charity -- when a giver makes a loan or helps someone in need become self-sufficient," according to a press release on Friday.
U.S., Canada Assist Israeli, Palestinian Archivists
U.S. and Canadian archivists launched a project to help Israel and the Palestinians preserve their archives. Allen Weinstein, the archivist of the United States, and Ian Wilson, his Canadian counterpart, traveled to Israel and the West Bank earlier this year to meet with officials of the Israel State Archives and the Palestine National Archives.
"The purpose of these meetings was to discuss projects that would assist in the digitization of paper records of both Israel and Palestine that would ultimately document the joint heritage of people in the region," said a statement released Thursday. "They are also working with both institutions to develop archival training programs for their staff, and have received enthusiastic support from [U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] and the State Department for these projects."
The announcement was made in conjunction with the launch of a joint U.S.-Canada exhibit on the Treaty of Paris, the 1783 agreement that ended the Revolutionary War and divided North America into the United States and the British-held colonies that would become Canada.
Ex-Beatle McCartney Will Perform in Israel
Former Beatle Paul McCartney will perform in Israel 43 years after government officials banned the Fab Four.
His Sept. 25 concert in Tel Aviv's HaYarkon Park is expected to be one of the largest in Israeli history.
The show is part of a world tour by McCartney comprised of more than 100 shows.
Earlier this year, Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor invited McCartney and Ringo Starr to perform in Israel for the country's 60th birthday.
In 1965, Israeli government officials denied the Beatles a permit to perform out of fear their music would corrupt the morals of the nation's youth.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.