February 21, 2002
Peres: Saudi Proposal 'Interesting'
Shimon Peres described a peace proposal by Saudi Arabia's crown prince as "positive." In an interview with Saudi television, Israel's foreign minister said Crown Prince Abdullah's proposal for Arab League states to normalize relations with Israel, in exchange for full withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem, was "interesting and positive."
In a column this week in The New York Times, Thomas Friedman recounts a recent interview in which the prince said he had been just about to make the proposal -- but then decided not to, because of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policies. Still, he said, his idea had been to "find a way to make clear to the Israeli people that the Arabs don't reject or despise them -- but they reject what their leadership is now doing to the Palestinians, which is inhumane and oppressive." Arafat said this week he would consider the proposal.
Hamas Leader Calls for Worldwide Jihad
The spiritual leader of Hamas called on Muslims around the world to launch a holy war to liberate their countries from U.S. influence. "Sons of Islam everywhere, the jihad is a duty, to establish the rule of Allah on earth and to liberate your countries and yourselves from America's domination and its Zionist allies," Sheik Ahmed Yassin said in an open letter.
P.A. Linked to 'Axis of Evil'
The White House referred to the Palestinian Authority as one of a number of regimes that "invite terrorism and that practice terrorism." On Feb. 13, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer also linked the Palestinian Authority to the "axis of evil" that President Bush described in his State of the Union speech.
Fleischer told reporters that the president placed great importance on education in countries "known to foster terrorism," citing Iran, Iraq, North Korea and the Palestinian Authority as examples.
Ruling May Void Sharon Trial
A ruling by the International Court likely will block any chance for Belgium to try Ariel Sharon for war crimes. The court ruled Feb. 14 that Belgium cannot prosecute former and current world leaders because they have diplomatic immunity.
A Belgian court is slated to rule March 6 whether the Israeli prime minister should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. Sharon faces lawsuits filed by Palestinians and Lebanese accusing him of responsibility for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon, which was carried out by Lebanese Christian militias allied with Israel.
AJCommittee Helps Afghan Refugees
The American Jewish Committee gave $50,000 to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for relief in Afghanistan. Monday's contribution is the second major donation from the AJCommittee to the U.N. agency, and the second time the group has worked with them to aid Muslim refugees.
Boycott Threat Gains Momentum
A Catholic group joined a proposed boycott of an upcoming show at New York's Jewish Museum. "Usually, it's Catholics whom the 'creative types' in the artistic community like to offend. Now it's Jews," William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said in a statement. The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors earlier called for a boycott. The museum says the exhibit, slated to open March 17, seeks to present Nazi horrors in a thought-provoking manner. Critics say the exhibit is an affront to the Jewish community in general and Holocaust survivors in particular.
This Ain't Barbie
New dolls featuring Nazi leaders are sold out. Mike Fosella of suburban New York said he created 50 dolls of Hitler and Josef Mengele, the notorious concentration camp doctor, only for serious collectors and history buffs. The dolls cost $170 each. Kenneth Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation League told the New York Daily News that Fosella "has the right to conduct business, but society can determine what is offensive." Fosella plans to continue the series with dolls of Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels.
Briefs courtesy of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.