August 29, 2002
Committee Wants Inspection of Western Wall
A U.N. group offered to inspect a portion of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that could soon collapse. It is unclear whether Israel will accept the offer from the group, which is affiliated with UNESCO. In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities, composed of leading Israeli archaeologists and public figures, said an area on the southern portion of the Western Wall's retaining wall has gradually bulged out from its original position as a result of massive illegal construction on the Temple Mount by the Wakf, or Muslim religious trust, Israel Radio reported. A Wakf official denied that there had been any deterioration in the past 30 years.
Sharon Cancels Sept. 11 Trip to U.S.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is canceling a trip to the United States next month. Sharon was expected to visit Florida and California, in part to commemorate the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Sharon's aides said the cancellation was caused by the security situation in Israel and the need to pass Israel's budget, and not concerns that Sharon meeting with Republican Jeb Bush would benefit the Florida governor in his bid for re-election.
Palestinians Ban Kids' Photos
The Palestinian press association banned journalists from taking photos of Palestinian children holding weapons because such photos harm the Palestinian cause. The Foreign Press Association called on the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate to withdraw the statement, saying it limited press freedom.
Web Site Promotes Arab Oil Boycott
A Web site is calling for a boycott of some of the largest American gasoline companies for using Arab oil.
Araboilboycott.com is sponsoring a boycott from Aug. 30 to Sept. 11 of companies that utilize Gulf region crude oil. Among the companies targeted are Texaco, Shell, Exxon and Mobil. "The boycott is designed to be a warning shot across the bow of large multinational corporations that continue doing business with nations that sponsor terror," a statement on the Web site says. "American consumers don't want their gasoline purchases to fund terrorist activities."
Hate Group Plans Mail Blitz
A U.S. white supremacist group is planning a nationwide mailing to coincide with the High Holidays. The National Alliance's activities are planned to "honor" the group's late leader, William Pierce, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). "William Pierce may be dead, but his legacy of hate and anti-Semitism live on," said Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national director.
Other hate groups are planning to use the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks to spread racist and anti-Semitic messages, the ADL says.
Soldiers Suspected of Looting
More than 30 Israeli army soldiers are suspected of looting Palestinian homes during Israel's anti-terror operation in the West Bank in March and April. The soldiers are suspected of taking money, jewelry and other belongings, including handguns, from the homes, Israel Radio reported. The army is investigating the incidents.
French Envoy to U.K. Recalled
The French ambassador to the United Kingdom, who has used expletives to describe Israel, has been recalled. Daniel Bernard reportedly told luncheon guests in London last year that current troubles in the world were caused by Israel and used an expletive to describe the Jewish state.
British Rabbi: Violence 'Corrupting' Israel
The Israeli Embassy publically rebuked Britain's chief rabbi on Wednesday for saying that Israel has implemented policies that are "incompatible" with Jewish ideals. In an interview published Tuesday in England's Guardian newspaper, Jonathan Sacks said the current stalemate with the Palestinians is "corrupting" Jewish culture in Israel, specifically mentioning recent reports of smiling Israeli soldiers posing for a photograph with the corpse of a slain Palestinian. Sacks' new book, "The Dignity of Difference," is being serialized in the paper this week.
Legislator Asks Iran to Free Jailed Jews
Iran's only Jewish legislator called on Iran to free eight Jews imprisoned on charges of spying for Israel. Maurice Motamed urged the country's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to pardon the men before Rosh Hashana.
In a closed-door trial in 2000, 10 Jews were found guilty of spying for Israel and sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. Two have been released. Many of the accused "confessed," but Jewish groups contend the confessions were forced. Israel denies that any of the Jews were its spies.
Despite many unsuccessful discussions with officials during the Jews' imprisonment, Iran's Jewish community hopes that this time the plea will be successful, sources say.
Palestinian Comic Gets the Boot
Comic Jackie Mason canceled a Palestinian comedian who was scheduled to open for him in Chicago. "It's not exactly like he's just an Arab American. This guy's a Palestinian," Mason's manager, Jyll Rosenfeld, said of Tuesday night's decision. Replaced performer Ray Hanania, who launched his career after Sept. 11 in an attempt to unify Americans, said, "I'm upset because I deserve to be on stage and it was a big break for me."
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency