March 20, 2003
Pa Gibson's Comments Trouble Jews
The father of movie star Mel Gibson minimized the Holocaust and denied that the Al Qaeda terrorist network was behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. In a New York Times Magazine article about the actor's upcoming movie on the crucifixion of Jesus, Hutton Gibson denied that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, describing it as logistically impossible.
"To bigots and anti-Semites, no amount of evidence or scientific proof is ever enough," said Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "In their world, only hate matters."
Meanwhile, Mel Gibson told Fox News that his film "The Passion" is "meant to just tell the truth [about] why Christ came, why he was crucified."
The Gibsons belong to a strict Catholic group that believes the Vatican erred in 1965 in issuing the Nostra Aetate, which said the Romans, and not the Jews, killed Jesus. Jewish leaders have warned Gibson against reviving a central canard behind centuries of anti-Semitism.
Saddam Aids Families of Suicide Bombers
Saddam Hussein distributed $260,000 to families of Palestinian suicide bombers March 12, in checks of $10,000 each. The money brings the total amount Iraq has contributed to the Palestinian intifada to more than $35 million. Israel said the payments prove the Iraqi leader's links to terror.
Meanwhile, some 1,945 Palestinians have been killed since the intifada erupted two and a half years ago, according to Israel's defense establishment. Figures released by the Palestinian Authority this week put the fatalities at 2,929, including suicide bombers and people the Palestinians claim died because delays at roadblocks held up medical care.According to the human rights group B'Tselem, 1,887 Palestinians have died since the outbreak of the intifada.
Jewish Student Attacked in France
French police opened an investigation March 13 after a Jewish student was attacked by masked men who engraved a Star of David in her arm. Police said three men attacked the 20-year-old law student, "probably with a set of keys," outside her home in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence.
Earlier that evening, the woman had participated in a debate at a local cinema following the screening of a film dealing with media coverage of the Middle East conflict, and had expressed her indignation at the involvement of Palestinian children in the conflict.
Abbas Accepts Palestinian Prime Minister Position
Mahmoud Abbas accepted the post of Palestinian Authority prime minister. Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, accepted the post offered Wednesday by P.A. President Yasser Arafat. Arafat made the offer after Palestinian legislators rejected his attempt to limit the prime minister's powers.
Holocaust Claims Deadline Extended
The deadline for filing claims to receive money from Holocaust-era insurance policies has been extended to Sept. 30.The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims said the six-month extension would allow time to publish more names of people whose insurance policies were not fulfilled.
The insurance program was part of an agreement signed last October by the commission and a German foundation.
HUC-JIR OKs Trans-gendered Student
The Reform movement's rabbinicalseminary has accepted a transgendered person, paving the way for what is believed would be the first ordination of a rabbi to have switched genders.
The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati confirmed this week that it accepted a male rabbinical school applicant who used to be a woman. The prospective rabbi, Reuben Zellman, 24, of Oakland, who considers himself "transgender and queer," said he is not attempting to spark religious debates nor become a political lightning rod.
"I realize it has political ramifications and I think those are positive, but I'm becoming a rabbinical student because that's what I want to do with my life," he said in a telephone interview.
Zellman would not say whether he's undergone a sex-change operation.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency