January 17, 2002
Israel: U.S. Didn't Help
Israel denied a newspaper report that the CIA helped Israel track down a smuggled arms shipment. "This operation was purely blue and white," said a spokeswoman for the Israeli military, referring to the colors of Israel's flag. Citing unnamed U.S. intelligence officials, The Washington Times newspaper reported Tuesday that Israel asked the CIA to locate the ship carrying the arms. The report said U.S. officials, using high-tech intelligence-gathering equipment, were able to identify the ship.
Israel Declines to Join War Crimes Court
Israel will not join a planned international war crimes court because the treaty establishing the court defines the settlements as a war crime, Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit said Monday. The Barak government signed the treaty but did not ratify it, and the current government will keep to this decision due to the court's "political" nature, Sheetrit said.
Assassin's Brother Barred
Israel's Defense Ministry barred the brother of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassin from serving in a special combat unit for fervently Orthodox Jews. Sagiv Amir, 19, has appealed the decision, saying it punishes him for his brother's crime and effectively bars him from military service because his religious practices make it impossible for him to enlist in a regular unit. Amir was 13 when his brother, Yigal, shot Rabin dead at a 1995 peace rally in Tel Aviv.
Israel, China Discuss Deal
Israeli officials arrived in Beijing for talks on the canceled sale of an airborne radar system to China. Beijing is seeking compensation for Israel's cancellation of a deal, worth $250 million, to purchase planes equipped with the Phalcon system. Israel canceled the arms sale in July 2000, following objections from U.S. officials, who feared the sale would enhance China's threatening position against Taiwan and could be used to track U.S. aircraft in the case of a military conflict there.
U.S. Seeks Deportation
The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to deport an Illinois man for allegedly participating in the persecution and murder of Jews during World War II. According to a complaint filed Monday, Peter John Bernes, alias Petras Bernotavicius, was a deputy to Werner Loew, a Nazi-appointed mayor and police commander assigned to Kupiskis, Lithuania. Bernes helped remove condemned prisoners from jail so they could be taken to nearby killing sites, the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations charged. During the summer of 1941, more than 1,000 Jewish men, women and children -- about one-fourth of Kupiski's population -- were murdered by men allegedly under Loew's command.
Schools Linked to Terrorism
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) claims some charter schools in California have links to terrorist organizations. The ADL wrote to the California State Superintendent of Education urging the state to suspend its funding and investigate the activities of Gateway Academy charter schools because of alleged links to the Muslims of the Americas, which the ADL calls a virulently anti-Semitic and homophobic group. Muslims of the Americas has been accused of serving as a corporate front for Al-Fuqra, a militant Islamic group. ADL also charges the school has violated the First Amendment by teaching religion in the state-funded school.
Member of 'Iran 10' Freed
An Iranian Jew convicted of spying for Israel was freed from jail after serving his three-year sentence, according to an Iranian official. Faramarz Kashi, a Hebrew teacher, is the second of 10 Iranian Jews convicted of the spying charges in July 2000 to be released, the official added Wednesday. Ramin Nemati Zadeh, released in March of last year, was the first to be freed, the official said. Thirteen Iranian Jews were arrested in 1999 and accused of spying for Israel. Following a closed-door trial that began in April 2000, three were acquitted and 10 others found guilty.
AJCongress to Be Sued
A former regional director of the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) plans to file an age- and gender-discrimination lawsuit against the group. Sheila Decter, 63, was fired in November from her position as the group's New England regional director. Decter already has filed a complaint on the issue with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, according to the Forward newspaper. Jack Rosen, the president of the AJCongress, told the Forward there is "no basis" for Decter's complaint.
Religious Freedom Day
President Bush recalled George WashingtonÂ´s promise to the Jewish community to protect religious freedom. Proclaiming that Wednesday will be Religious Freedom Day 2002, Bush noted that the first U.S. president promised the Jewish community at Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I., that the new country would protect the rights of people of all faiths. Bush called on Americans to use the day, set aside annually, to celebrate AmericaÂ´s commitment to freedom of religion.
Reconstructionists' New Pres
Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz has been chosen to head the Reconstructionist movement's seminary. Ehrenkrantz, the immediate past president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the spiritual leader of Bnai Keshet in Montclair, N.J., will start this summer. He replaces Rabbi David Teutsch, who has been the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College's (RRC) president since 1993. Ehrenkrantz will be the first RRC president who is a graduate of the school. The movement, which was founded in the 1930s, is based in Philadelphia and has 100 synagogues in North America.
Senators: Extend Deadline
Two U.S. senators called for an extension for survivors to file for Holocaust-era insurance restitution. Sens. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) say Holocaust survivors are having trouble documenting their claims or have given up on the restitution process because they believe insurers deny or stall payments of claims. The senators requested the deadline extension in a letter sent Jan. 9 to Lawrence Eagleburger, chairman of the International Commission on Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims.
Orthodox Students for Israel
A group of American Jewish students is being trained to promote travel to Israel. In a program called Operation Torah Shield II, 200 students from Yeshiva University in New York are in Israel this week touring the country and participating in training sessions led by the Ministry of Tourism. Upon their return to the United States, the students will take additional courses sponsored by the ministry.