February 5, 2004
Kerry Wins Jewish Support
Exit polls from Tuesday's primaries show that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won the Jewish vote in Arizona and Delaware. In Arizona, Kerry captured 43 percent of the Jewish vote, followed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), who garnered 23 percent. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean received 14 percent and retired Gen. Wesley Clark got 12 percent. In Delaware, Kerry won 40 percent of the Jewish vote, followed by Lieberman with 29 percent, Clark with 11 percent and Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) with 10 percent.
Israeli-Palestinian Summit Seen?
Israeli and Palestinian officials met to prepare a possible summit between the two sides' prime ministers. Ariel Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weisglass, met Wednesday with Hassan Abu Libdeh, his counterpart in Ahmed Qurei's office. Until now, Qurei has rebuffed invitations to meet with Sharon, but the United States, the chief backer of the "road map" peace plan, has stepped up pressure on the Palestinian Authority premier to hold a summit. No date has yet been set.
P.A.'s Blackmail Charge
Yasser Arafat's security adviser accused Washington of blackmailing the Palestinian Authority over an attack on U.S. diplomats. "I think the Americans are using this isolated case in order not to be involved, in order to blackmail the Palestinian Authority," Jibril Rajoub told reporters in Ramallah, apparently alluding to American threats to make USAID funding to the Palestinians conditional on solving an Oct. 15 attack on a U.S. Embassy convoy in Gaza, which killed three guards. A U.S. official said Washington does not believe the Palestinian security services had cooperated sufficiently in the investigation. Palestinians also have been angered by a USAID requirement that would-be aid recipients in the West Bank and Gaza Strip repudiate terrorism.
North Korea Investigation Urged Over Gas Chambers
Institutions in the United States and Israel dedicated to Holocaust remembrance are urging the United Nations to investigate reports that North Korea is operating gas chambers to kill and conduct experiments on political dissidents.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is asking U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to appoint an international tribunal to probe charges first reported by the BBC and the London "Observer."
According to defectors from North Korea, prisoners and their families undergo horrible tortures, chemical experiments and suffocation in gas chambers, while scientists take notes. The prisoners, who may number 200,000 in 12 centers, include critics of the regime and religious Christians. In Jerusalem, directorate chairman Avner Shalev of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum and memorial, said that "The chilling images of the murderers coolly watching their victims' death agonies are all too reminiscent of Nazi barbarism,"
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, commented that "If even a portion of these allegations are true, the world is no longer facing an axis of evil, but the very root of evil." -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
AMIA Prosecution Begins Wrap-Up
Prosecutors in the AMIA bombing case began closing statements Tuesday.
The prosecution demanded life prison for five local defendants accused of playing a role in the 1994 bombing of Argentina's main Jewish community center, which killed 85 people. In addition, the prosecution accused the government of former
President Carlos Menem, as well as Argentine police and intelligence officers, of blocking the investigation. The prosecution's statements are expected to continue through Thursday.
Hillel Draws Crowd in Moscow
Dozens of young Jewish leaders gathered in Moscow on Wednesday for an annual Hillel conference. The Jewish student organization, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the former Soviet Union this year, currently operates 27 centers serving student communities in seven countries in the region. The group says it aims to increase the involvement of young Jews in Jewish communal life and challenge students to examine their Jewish identity and learn about their heritage.
Jewish Academics Gather
More than 200 Jewish academics from the former Soviet Union, Central Europe and Israel are meeting near Moscow.
The annual Jewish education conference came as Sefer, the Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization, celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. The event includes two dozen sessions on a variety of topics ranging from biblical and talmudic studies to Jewish psychology and demography to Jewish arts and history in the Soviet Union.
State Wants Money to Explain Israel
The United States wants $25 million to explain its policies to the Muslim world. In the proposed 2004 national budget, the State Department cites the Arab-Israeli conflict as an area of divergence.
The program, "Partnerships for Learning," is the "dominant theme" of its cultural exchange strategy. It calls the program a "vehicle for positive dialogue and constructive action, particularly in the Islamic world, between the U.S. and other countries, especially where divergent views on specific policies -- Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, corruption, human rights, rule of law, debt relief, terrorism, proliferation issues -- often undermine overall good relations."
Nazi-Looted Painting Auctioned Off
A Nazi-looted painting was auctioned at Christie's in London for $164,000. Proceeds from this week's sale will go to the Jewish National Fund. "Garden Path to Summer House," by Max Slevogt, was returned to Peter Alexander, the son of its prewar owners. Alexander died childless in 1999 and left instructions in his will that the painting should be sold, with the proceeds to go to charity.
The impressionist work fetched $55,000 more than the auction house had expected.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.