December 5, 2002
U.N. Approves Six Anti-Israel Resolutions
The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved six resolutions criticizing Israeli policies. Though such resolutions are passed annually, most noteworthy was the U.S. vote against a resolution condemning the Israeli law that declares Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital. For the past two years, the United States has abstained on the resolution, but this year, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the resolution prejudges key issues that must be resolved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian U.N. observer, called the U.S. rejection of the Jerusalem resolution "a slap in the face" to all Arabs, Muslims and Christians.
Jewish Republican Gets Key Post
The only Jewish Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives has been chosen for a key leadership position in the next Congress. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was selected Monday to serve as the chief deputy to incoming Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), making Cantor the highest appointed leader in the House Republican caucus. Both men have been strong supporters of Israel. Cantor will be the only Jewish Republican in the House once the retirement of Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.) becomes official in January.
U.S. Finds Palestinians Noncompliant
President Bush determined that the Palestinians are not living up to agreements signed with the United States and Israel. Just the same, the White House on Monday waived sanctions against the Palestinians in the interest of national security. Despite the waiver, this marks the first time a U.S. president has found the Palestinian Authority and PLO noncompliant since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993.
In another development, the State Department issued a report saying the Palestinians have not complied with several elements of its agreements, including recognizing the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. In the report, obtained by JTA on Tuesday, U.S. officials also said the Palestinian Authority had not fulfilled commitments to solve all disputes through negotiation and peaceful means and renounce the use of violence.
Barghouti: New Palestinian Leaders Needed
Jailed Palestinian militia leader Marwan Barghouti called for a change in the Palestinian leadership. In a written response to questions from The Associated Press, Barghouti said, "It is time for many of the Palestinian leaders and officials to leave their positions after failing in their roles and responsibilities in this decisive battle [against Israel]." Barghouti did not mention Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat by name, nor did he condemn the violence of the intifada, as some Palestinian officials recently have. Barghouti, who was arrested by Israeli troops in April, is standing trial in Israel on charges of involvement in killing dozens of Israelis in terrorist attacks.
School Settles Anti-Semitism Charges
A Minnesota-based university agreed to pay nearly $1 million over the next five years to settle allegations of anti-Semitism. Three faculty members who sued St. Cloud State University a year ago will receive a total of nearly $315,000, while other faculty members who filed discrimination complaints will share $50,000, according to The Associated Press. The lawsuit alleged department administrators attempted to get students to avoid classes taught by Jewish professors and that Jewish faculty members were paid less, denied promotions and not given full credit for their teaching experience. Under the proposed settlement, which still requires approval from a federal judge, the university also agreed to create a Jewish studies center, according to the report.
Film Screening Benefits Hebrew University
Actor Billy Crystal held a benefit screening of his new movie for Hebrew University, motivated by the July 31 bombing at the school. "I hated what I saw on television," Crystal said of the deadly attack at the Jerusalem-based school. He spoke moments before the Dec. 3 screening in New York of "Analyze That," which stars Crystal and Robert DeNiro. Crystal also supports a theater program sponsored by the university called "Peace Through the Performing Arts," which promotes cooperation among Jewish, Palestinian and Israeli Arab students.
Canada's Terror List Criticized
Canada added Hamas, Islamic Jihad and four other radical groups to its list of banned terrorist organizations. The list, created under legislation passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, now has 13 groups that are banned from the country. Anyone belonging to them or helping them faces a possible 10-year prison sentences. Following the government's latest move, B'nai Brith Canada filed an appeal in federal court to have the government list all of Hezbollah, including its political wing, as a terrorist organization whose assets must be frozen.
El Al Facility Evacuated
The El Al cargo facility at the Los Angeles airport was evacuated for nearly two hours Monday. Bomb experts were called in after a suitcase containing airline parts was found. The package turned out to be harmless. Passengers and flights were not affected.
Lawsuit Filed Against Arafat in Belgium
A lawsuit reportedly was filed in Brussels against Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, charging him with involvement in terror attacks against Israelis. The lawsuit filed Monday includes reports, documents and testimony intended to prove Arafat's role in financing and orchestrating acts of terror, according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. The lawsuit was brought under a 1993 law on "universal jurisdiction," which enables Belgian courts to judge atrocities committed elsewhere, regardless of whether or not they involved Belgians.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was sued in Belgium by Palestinians and Lebanese who accused him of responsibility for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon, which was carried out by Lebanese Christian militias allied with Israel. The courts in Belgium dismissed the case against Sharon earlier this year. The lawsuit against Arafat was submitted on behalf of Knesset member Avraham Hirschson, the victims of Palestinian terror attacks and their families.
Hillel Head Up for Y.U. Presidency
Yeshiva University officials are expected to approve hiring Hillel President Richard Joel as the school's next president. The Y.U. Board of Trustees, its executive committee and the board of Yeshiva's seminary are scheduled to vote late Thursday, according to university spokeswoman Hedy Shulman. Joel, 52, who invigorated Hillel and made it into a high-profile organization on college campuses, is the sole candidate to replace outgoing president Norman Lamm, Shulman said.
World Jewry Declining
The world's Jewish population is declining, according to a survey carried out by an institute affiliated with the Jewish Agency for Israel. According to the institute, which convened a session in Jerusalem this week to address what it called the "demographic crisis," the number of American Jews dropped by 300,000 in the last decade, while other major Jewish communities around the world also declined. Only Israel's Jewish community is growing, the institute said.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.