April 10, 2003
Tel Aviv Closes Down War Room
Officials in Tel Aviv closed down an office set up to deal with possible Iraqi attacks on the coastal city. The municipality cited budgetary constraints in making the move, the daily Ha'aretz reported. Any subsequent emergencies will be handled by the regular municipal hotline. The move, in a city that was targeted by Iraqi Scud missile attacks in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, reflects the general sentiment in Israel that an Iraqi attack at this stage of the war is unlikely. But Israeli defense officials so far have refused to lower the level of national alert, saying they are waiting for a clearer picture to emerge from the U.S.-led war against Iraq.
Group Claims School Blast
An extremist Jewish group claimed responsibility for a West Bank blast that wounded 15 Palestinian students. The cause of Wednesday's explosion was not immediately clear, but some reports said it could have occurred when a student picked up a makeshift device in the schoolyard. An unknown group, Revenge of the Infants, said it carried out the blast to avenge the murder of Jewish children at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. But police said past claims by the group were not verified, Israel Radio reported.
Abu Mazen Gets More Time
The Palestinian legislative council gave the new Palestinian Authority prime minister two more weeks to present his new cabinet. Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, was reportedly still at odds with members of the Fatah central committee over whom to appoint to the position of interior minister. Abbas reportedly wants to offer the job to Mohammad Dahlan, a former Palestinian security chief.
Arson Strikes Kosher Restaurant
A fire at a kosher restaurant near Paris was arson, police said.
The window of the restaurant in Epinay-sur-Seine, in the northern suburbs of the capital, was smashed early April 3 and flammable material was thrown into the building. The restaurant was empty at the time of the attack. Police have yet to establish whether the motivation was anti-Semitic.
In a related development, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy visited the offices of a Zionist youth movement in Paris where two Jewish youths were beaten up during an anti-war demonstration in March. Addressing the upper house of the French legislature April 3, Sarkozy also condemned demonstrators who had carried flags showing a swastika in the middle of an Israeli flag. Sarkozy said it was disgraceful that a swastika should be associated with "one of the world's great democracies."
Groups Hail Cross-Burning Decision
Several Jewish groups hailed Monday's Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of a law against cross burning. "Today's decision confirms what we have argued repeatedly, that threats are not constitutionally protected free speech," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which filed an amicus brief on the case with several other Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women and Hadassah. The brief argued that cross-burning statutes do not violate free speech because cross burning is a symbol of intimidation and instills fear.
Seder Listings Online
The federation system has listed community seders throughout North America along with links to general information about Jewish holidays and customs.
The Web site is located at: www.ujc.org/seder .
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency