June 30, 2005
Bielski Wins WZO Chairmanship
Zeev Bielski, the mayor of Ra'anana, was unanimously elected chairman of the World Zionist Organization (WZO). Bielski was elected by the Zionist General Council last Friday after World Likud withdrew its candidate, former Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky. The chairman of the WZO also chairs the Jewish Agency for Israel. World Likud pulled Sharansky's name after learning he would not win a majority in the council and that Bielski remained the candidate preferred by a key committee of the Jewish Agency, a WZO source told JTA. The Jewish Agency assembly was expected to ratify the nomination.
Sharon to U.S. Jews: We Want You
Ariel Sharon said U.S. Jewish immigration is vital for Israel's survival as a Jewish homeland.
"The first step to ensuring a Jewish majority is aliyah -- widespread and broad aliyah from the entire Jewish Diaspora, and particularly from North America. Aliyah ensures not only the future of the State of Israel, but also the future of the Jewish people," the Israeli prime minister said in a speech to the Jewish Agency for Israel's assembly in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Manslaughter Verdict in Briton's Death
An Israeli soldier was convicted for killing a Briton in the Gaza Strip. A court martial found a sergeant in Israel's Bedouin Regiment guilty Monday of manslaughter after he confessed to shooting Tom Hurndall, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, in the Gaza town of Rafah in 2003. The defendant was also convicted of obstruction of justice and soliciting false testimony for trying to cover up the fact that he targeted an unarmed civilian, and reporting at first that he fired at a Palestinian gunman. Sentencing is expected in August, and could be a maximum of 24 years in prison.
Evangelicals Oppose Divestment
Evangelicals have started a petition urging the United Church of Christ to oppose economic boycotts against Israel. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which is primarily supported by evangelical Christians, is circulating a petition asking the church to reject several anti-Israel resolutions slated for a vote at its annual synod in Atlanta from July 1-5. The fellowship's Stand for Israel project also is launching an anti-divestment campaign, planning to run full-page newspaper ads against the movement.
Rabbi Named Air Force Adviser
The U.S. Air Force secretary named Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, a former U.S. Navy chaplain, as a special assistant in response to charges of proselytizing at the Air Force Academy. Resnicoff, who was named to the post Monday, helped create a program at the Colorado Springs campus to deal with religious tolerance. The school has been criticized in recent months for creating an uncomfortable climate for religious minorities, including Jewish cadets, who said they felt pressure to choose their military duties over expressing their religion.
'Our Man in Damascus'
Israel honored its most famous spy 40 years after he was executed in Syria.
"Even after 40 years, the wonder at the courage and operational accomplishments of Eli Cohen has remained," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in a speech at the Jerusalem memorial ceremony Monday.
The Egyptian-born Cohen was recruited by the Mossad and planted in Syria, where he gathered information on the political and military echelons considered key to Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. But he never saw that success, as he was discovered and hanged in 1965. Sharon told Cohen's widow, Nadia, that he considered the return of Cohen's remains important to the resumption of peace talks with Syria, which stalled in 2000.
Gay Parade Goes Ahead
An Israeli court overturned the city of Jerusalem's ban of a gay pride parade. The Jerusalem District Court ruled Sunday against Mayor Uri Lupolianski's decision to ban the parade, and fined him $6,500, citing the gay community's right to freedom of expression. Lupolianski had argued that the annual event, to be held Thursday, offended religious sensibilities in the holy city. On Monday, religious lawmakers called for the Orthodox community to pay the mayor's fine.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency