January 16, 2003
Report: Saudi Sponsorship Hidden
Saudi Arabia's sponsorship of an anti-Israel radio campaign in the United States last year was reportedly hidden. The Saudi government, through a Washington public relations firm, Qorvis Communications, spent $679,000 alone on anti-Israel radio ads that ran in 15 U.S. cities last spring, Time magazine reported this week. Qorvis initially said the ads were sponsored by a consortium of Mideast policy groups called the Alliance for Peace and Justice. But in a filing with the U.S. Justice Department last month, Qorvis revealed that the funding actually came from the Saudi government, according to the report.
The Saudis spent at least $14.6 million on anti-Israel public relations in the United States last year, according to The New York Sun newspaper.
Sharon Seeks Help From California Rep.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly asked a U.S. congressman of Lebanese descent to assist in negotiations on a possible prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) briefed Lebanese and Syrian authorities about the Israeli request and his plan to comply with it, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported, citing the Arab-language Al-Hayyat newspaper. In recent months, Issa has met with relatives of captured and missing Israelis in Lebanon, the report said.
Protests Spur Hitler Show Revision
Under fire by Jewish groups, CBS executives will rework an upcoming TV miniseries about the young Hitler. CBS President Leslie Moonves said the upcoming "Hitler: Origins of Evil" will include new material in addition to the biography upon which it's based, due to concerns by some Jewish scholars and organizations that the series would humanize Hitler, the New York Daily News reported. "I don't think anybody is going to walk out of this miniseries saying, 'Gee, you made Hitler into Tony Soprano,'" Moonves said.
Report: Arabs Threaten Olympic Games
Islamic extremist groups reportedly have threatened to bomb the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens if security is assigned to a consortium that includes Israeli companies.
In addition, Arab nations are threatening to boycott the Olympics if the SAIC Team gets the security contract for the Games, according to the Greek newspaper Avriani.
According to Avriani, a classified report from Greece's government security service mentions that the possibility of using a "Jewish company" for security at the Games "will blow the Olympics into the air."
The so-called "Jewish company" -- the SAIC Team -- actually is a U.S. consortium that includes two Israeli companies and several Greek companies.
The report says that some SAIC Team employees come from the Israeli secret services. The report also notes the possibility of attacks before the Games, as Muslim groups reportedly have threatened a bombing blitz if a Jewish company receives the Olympic security contract.
Greece also is reportedly concerned that one of the Israeli companies on the team has signed a cooperation agreement with Turkey, Greece's longtime rival. Greece's Ministry of National Defense noted that national security could be compromised if the Israeli company gains access to classified information.
For this reason, the Israeli company's insignia has been dropped from a recent SAIC Team advertising campaign.
U.S. Holocaust Museum Turns 10
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will soon commemorate its 10th anniversary. To mark the anniversary, the museum will present selections of Anne Frank's writings. The display opens on June 12, which would have been the famed diarist's 74th birthday, and runs through Sept. 12.
"Our first decade taught us that Holocaust history has the power to speak to everyone -- from inner city students to religious leaders, from Naval Academy midshipmen to the police and FBI," said the museum's director, Sara Bloomfield.
Since its dedication on April 22, 1993, the Washington-based museum has welcomed nearly 19 million visitors, including 5.5 million school children, 2.2 million international visitors and 72 heads of state, according to museum officials.
Muslim Helps Save Brooklyn Synangogue
A Muslim from Pakistan helped save a Brooklyn synagogue. The man, who worked at a gas station near the Congregation Young Israel of Kings Bay, became suspicious when another man came by several times to fill a container with gasoline. The man called police when he saw the second person dousing the synagogue with the gasoline. Police soon arrived at the scene and arrested the alleged perpetrator, who said he wanted to "get back at the Jews." The gas station attendant, who was applauded by local Jewish officials and politicians, said his religious beliefs prompted him to contact the police.
French Leaders Support Rabbi Injured in Attack
Four former prime ministers of France came to a solidarity service for a Paris rabbi who was stabbed earlier this month. Rabbi Gabriel Farhi said his assailant yelled in Arabic, "Allah is Great," but police say they have not ruled out the possibility that the attacker was a Jew with far-right political views who opposed Farhi's Reform movement. Farhi was lightly wounded in the Jan. 3 attack.
Last Friday's ceremony in a small Paris synagogue was so full that members of the crowd, which included France's interior minister and other government officials, had to stand outside. A letter of support also was read from British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Chummy Dolphins Penned
Vacationers at the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat will no longer be able to swim with the dolphins, after the sea mammals became a little too chummy in hitting up bathers for snacks. Nature Reserve Authorities said the dolphins had become accustomed to being fed by visitors and became aggressive when they were met empty-handed, Israel Radio reported. As a result, officials warned the public to stop feeding the dolphins and restricted the mammals to the Dolphin Reef.
Russia Denies Reactor Deal with Syria
An announcement from the Russian Foreign Ministry that Moscow is building a nuclear reactor in Syria was mistaken, according to a Russian official. A senior adviser to the Russian minister of atomic energy, Nicolai Shingrab, said that even though Syria and Russia have been holding "very general" discussions on the matter for the past two years, no agreement has been reached because Syria could not afford to buy
Bin Laden Key Chain a Hit
An Osama bin Laden key chain reportedly is popular among Palestinians. "They're very popular, especially among taxi drivers and children," a shopkeeper in Ramallah told the Jerusalem Post. According to the merchant, the popularity of the key chains reflects anti-U.S. sentiment among Palestinians.
Three Palestinians Killed in Clashes
Three Palestinians were killed during Israeli operations in the West Bank on Wednesday. In Tulkarm, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian youth who threw firebombs at them. Palestinians said another youth was killed during clashes there. Near Jenin, a 45-year-old Palestinian was killed during an army operation to arrest two Tanzim members armed with rifles, grenades and ammunition. In Jenin, troops arrested four other wanted Palestinians, including a local military commander who planned suicide attacks in Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli police and soldiers on Wednesday destroyed the homes of an East Jerusalem-based terrorist cell responsible for killing 35 Israelis. The attacks attributed to the so-called Silwan cell include last July's bombing at the Hebrew University and suicide attacks at a Jerusalem cafe and a pool hall in Rishon le-Zion. In another development, on Tuesday, the army closed two Islamic colleges in Hebron. The action was part of Israel's response to the Jan. 5 double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in which 23 people were killed.
Germany Bans Islamic Group
Germany's interior minister outlawed an Islamic organization that he accused of spreading anti-Semitic propaganda. The group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, "is distinguished by the fact that it is active in universities with anti-Semitic slogans," Otto Schily told a Germany TV station Wednesday. He added that the group had long been under observation by German authorities. The Interior Ministry said the group advocates the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews.
Campaign for 'Portuguese Dreyfus'
A Jewish group reportedly launched a campaign to clear the name of a man known as the "Portuguese Dreyfus." The Jerusalem-based Amishav organization is trying to persuade the government of Portugal to posthumously clear the name of Arthur Barros Basto, according to The Jerusalem Post. Basto was a Jewish army captain driven out of the Portuguese military on trumped-up charges in the 1940s. "This year marks the 60th anniversary of Capt. Barros Basto's discharge from the military," said Amishav's director, Michael Freund. "He was a Jewish hero and role model, and his only transgression was that he sought to inspire people to return to Judaism at a time when that was not popular with either the Portuguese government or the Church authorities."
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency