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September 18, 2003

World Briefs

http://www.jewishjournal.com/nation/article/world_briefs_20030919

U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution

The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have demanded Israel not "remove" Yasser Arafat. The United States vetoed the resolution Tuesday at the 15-member council in New York because it does not explicitly condemn Palestinian terrorism. At a meeting of the council Monday, almost all the speakers condemned Israel's threats against Arafat, made after two suicide bombings last week killed 15 Israelis.

Settlers Convicted in Bomb Plot

Three Israelis were convicted for plotting to bomb a Palestinian girls' school in eastern Jerusalem. Shlomo Dvir, Yarden Morag and Ofer Gamliel, all residents of the West Bank, were found guilty Wednesday of attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms. Dvir and Morag were arrested as they were about to plant a bomb at the school. Gamliel was arrested after the two were interrogated.

Report: Hamas Gets Saudi Money

At least 50 percent of Hamas' operating budget comes from Saudi Arabia, The New York Times reported. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Saudi support for Hamas increased as donations from elsewhere in the world dried up, according to American analysts cited in the report. The donations, roughly $5 million a year, were allegedly made in cash and therefore are difficult to trace.

No Word on Colombia Captives

The fate of four Israelis and four other foreigners abducted near Colombia's Lost City is unknown, Israeli government sources said. Colombian intelligence services, citing intercepted communications by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, said the eight trekkers are alive, but the group has denied even holding them.

Campbells Gets OK by O.U.

Campbell's Vegetarian Vegetable soup was certified as kosher by the largest kosher-certification group. The company shut down a production line so it could be cleaned and certified by officials with the Orthodox Union.

"The coveted O.U. symbol is one of the best-known trademarks in the world," said Jeremy Fingerman, the president of Campbell's U.S. soup division.

The 6 Percent French Solution

Six percent of French Jews say they will move to Israel, according to a recent poll. The poll, conducted by Erik Cohen, a demographer at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, found that 36 percent of French Jews said they might consider immigrating to Israel while 58 percent said they would not consider the option, the Jerusalem Post reported. Last year, some 2,400 French Jews left for Israel, according to Jewish Agency for Israel figures. The survey contacted 1,132 French Jewish families for the survey.

Birthright Budget Cut

Israel is reducing its allocation to the Birthright Israel program to a symbolic sum. The cut in the state's 2004 draft budget would bring the figure down to $500,000 for 2004 from its original commitment of $14 million for five consecutive years.

However, Israel will restore its full financial commitment to Birthright in 2005, said Israel's minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs, Natan Sharansky, who was involved in 11th-hour negotiations on the matter with Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American philanthropist Michael Steinhardt.

Funding for the program, which provides free trips to Israel for Jewish youths aged 18 to 26 who have never before visited Israel on an organized tour, is shared equally by Israel's government; the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella federation group; and private philanthropists, as well as other Jewish groups.

U.S. Reducing Aid to Israel

The United States will deduct funds from the loan guarantees it has given Israel. The White House announced Monday that funds used by Israel for settlement activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be deducted from the $9 billion in loan guarantees Israel will receive from the United States.

The Bush administration has chosen not to follow through on threats made this summer to deduct money used on a security fence in the West Bank from the loan guarantees, according to unnamed sources. The loan guarantees officially were made available to Israel on Monday.

Iran Ordered to Pay Victims

Iran was ordered to pay more than $400 million to eight Americans injured in a 1997 terrorist attack in Jerusalem. A U.S. judge ruled last week that Iran bore the responsibility for the attack, perpetrated by members of Hamas, since Iran supports the terrorist group. Five people were killed and nearly 200 wounded in the Sept. 4, 1997, attack.

New Reform Moniker?

The Reform synagogue union may get a new name. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which represents more than 900 North American Reform synagogues, may become the Union for Reform Judaism. The new name will go before the group's 67th biennial convention in Minneapolis on Nov. 5-9 for a vote after the recommendation last year by its board of trustees.

UAHC's President, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, wrote in Reform Judaism magazine that the new name is "short and euphonious" while the old title is "clumsy and difficult to remember."

UJC Wants You

The Jewish Federation umbrella is recruiting new employees. The United Jewish Communities, which represents 156 federations and 400 independent communities, launched the National Recruitment Corps in Chicago last week in an effort to woo and train entry-level Jewish professionals.

The drive began by training 16 federation veterans to spot new talent in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Delaware, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Louis, Toronto and Washington.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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