January 15, 2004
Annan Blasts Anti-Semitism
In a gala dinner with U.K. dignitaries Tuesday night, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
"No one should underestimate the depth of the scars left by the long history of persecution, pogroms, institutionalized discrimination and other degradation, culminating in the Holocaust, that has been inflicted on the Jews," Annan said.
No one should use criticism of Israeli actions as a mask for anti-Semitism but Israel also shouldn't use charges of anti-Semitism to stifle debate, Annan added.
"The United Nations itself is still living with the legacy of the unfortunate resolution that declared Zionism to be a form of racism and racial discrimination, even though the General Assembly revoked it in 1991," he said.
Fund for N.Y. Poor Launches
A New York group is launching a fund to raise money for emergency aid to the needy. The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is starting a Fund for the Jewish Poor aimed at ensuring a ready source of emergency cash assistance to the needy, spokesman Kalman Yeger said. The council operates on a $100 million annual budget, 95 percent of which goes to providing housing, social workers, home repairs and cash to the poor. The council "cobbles together" emergency aid, but the fund would provide a single pool for such aid, Yeger said.
Dean Seeks More Fence Info
Howard Dean said he wants to hear more information from the Israeli government about the route of its West Bank security fence. Danny Siebright, a foreign policy adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate, told reporters Monday that Dean would like to be briefed by Israel as to why the fence crosses into the West Bank in some places.
Leon Fuerth, the new chairman of Dean's foreign policy team, said he believed Dean understands the rationale for the security fence. He also said he believed Israel "will have as good a friend in the White House as it has ever had" if Dean is elected. Fuerth also said he believed that, as president, Dean would be intimately involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fuerth would not say whether Dean would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as mandated by U.S. law, or whether he would exercise a presidential waiver on national security grounds.
Israel Puts Rabbi on Trial
An American-born rabbi went on trial for blocking Israeli bulldozers that were demolishing Palestinian homes. Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights Israel does not deny that he blocked the bulldozers, which were demolishing illegally built homes, but he says it was his obligation to stop what he views as an illegal policy. If convicted, Ascherman could face three years in jail and fines.
Journalists Pressed on 'Martyr' Issue
The Palestinian Authority is calling on all journalists at Arab satellite television stations to refer to those killed by Israel as "martyrs." The call made by the head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation is believed to be aimed particularly at the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, the Jerusalem Post reported. Journalists there are believed to have stopped referring to suicide bombers as martyrs after instructions that such labels might encourage suicide attacks against Saudi interests. The Palestinian Authority also ordered all Arab journalists to refrain from criticism of the Palestinian Authority.
Saudi Arabian Kills Jewish Man in Houston
A Saudi Arabian national in Houston pled guilty to slashing a Jewish friend's throat after undergoing a religious revival. Mohammed Ali Alayed, 23, faces up to 60 years in jail after the Aug. 6 attack on Ariel Sellouk, 23, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday. Houston police did not find a religious motive for the slaying.
Senate Wants Muslim Records
A U.S. Senate panel is seeking records from the Internal Revenue Service for a Muslim charity linked to Hamas. The Senate Finance Committee is seeking the records of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Texas-based charity whose assets were frozen by President Bush in 2001 for allegedly sending money to Hamas, which is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. The request is part of an investigation into links between tax-exempt organizations and terrorism, including Al Qaeda, according to The Washington Post.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency