November 20, 2003
Israel Lifts BBC Ban
Israel said it would resume ties with the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), which recently named an ombudsman to oversee its Middle East coverage. Israeli officials long have charged pro-Palestinian bias in the BBC's coverage. Israel stopped cooperating with the BBC last summer after it repeatedly aired a TV show about Israel's nuclear program that implied Israel was a rogue state.
Pollard Loses Again
A U.S. judge rejected a claim by convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. On Nov. 13, Judge Thomas Hogan dismissed a claim by Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel, that his previous lawyers did not do all they could to free him. Hogan also denied a request by Pollard's lawyers to gain access to classified documents that could help his release. Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst, is serving a life sentence in a U.S. jail.
AMIA Extradition Denied
A former Iranian diplomat accused of helping bomb an Argentine Jewish center will not be extradited to stand trial. A British judge ruled last week that there was not enough evidence to extradite Hadi Soleimanpour to Argentina.
The Iranian diplomat was arrested earlier this year in Britain for suspected involved in the 1994 car bombing of the AMIA center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Soleimanpour was Iran's ambassador to Argentina at the time of the attack.
Meanwhile, Argentina's Justice Ministry confirmed that suspicious Swiss bank accounts connected to former Argentine President Carlos Menem have been found, but none that connect Menem to a multimillion-dollar bribe he allegedly received from Iran to hinder a probe into the bombing.
Orthodox to Meet on Singles 'Crisis'
The National Council of Young Israel will hold its third annual "Shidduch Emergency Conference" in New York. The annual event will address issues related to finding a mate, such as overcoming obstacles to commitment, medical and genetic issues to consider, developing empathy between singles and married people, Internet matchmaking and coping with the emotional strain of break-ups, divorce and broken engagements. The conference will be held Nov. 23 at Manhattan's Lincoln Square Synagogue.
Aliyah Infomercials Set
TV infomercials touting immigration to Israel will run across North America. Nefesh B'Nefesh, or "Jewish Souls United," which seeks to boost North American immigration to Israel, said it plans to buy spots on family and religious cable and satellite networks to run a 30-minute advertisement called "Israel: Homeward Bound," touting a "bold new wave" of aliyah. Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, the group's executive director, said the ads will begin airing next week and will run for several months. The group claims to have brought 1,500 people to Israel this year and last, and is hoping to form a "significant partnership" with Israeli agencies.
Yarmulkes Out in France
French Jewish children should wear regular hats, instead of yarmulkes, to avoid anti-Semites, France's chief rabbi said. On Tuesday, Joseph Sitruk told Radio Shalom, a Jewish community radio station, that he didn't want young people "isolated in the metro or on suburban trains to risk becoming a target for aggressors any more than I want our young Jews to respond and become the aggressors themselves."
Sitruk's comments followed a new outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents in France.
Security Council Endorses 'Road Map'
The U.N. Security Council endorsed the "road map" peace plan, with U.S. backing. Some Jewish leaders fear the resolution will make Israel vulnerable to diplomatic sanctions if the peace process falters. The resolution passed Wednesday and calls on the parties to "fulfill their obligations under the road map in cooperation with the Quartet," the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations. Those four drafted the road map. The resolution also demands "an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction." Security Council resolutions have the force of international law, and Jewish leaders worry that Arab nations will claim Israeli actions violate the new resolution.
"When you have Syria and other unfriendly and hostile countries, you can see the potential for mischief and abuse," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.