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Jewish Journal

World Briefs

by JTA Staff

November 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

Four Israelis Killed This Week

At least two Israelis were killed and 32 injured by a Palestinian suicide bomber at a shopping center in the city of Kfar Saba on Nov. 4. Two infants were among those wounded after the bomber set off his explosives at an electronics store in the shopping mall. Located near the West Bank, Kfar Saba has been the target of numerous Palestinian terror attacks. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. Funerals were held Wednesday for two Argentine immigrants Gaston Perpinal, 15, and Julio Pedro Magram, 51, the security guard who blocked the bomber from entering the Kfar Saba shopping mall in Monday's attack. Meanwhile, a Palestinian worker shot and killed two Israelis and wounded a third before being killed in a Gaza Strip settlement Wednesday. The attack occurred in the greenhouse area of the Rafah Yam settlement in southern Gaza. The two Israelis were identified as Amos Sa'adah, 52, and Asaf Tsafira, 18. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the attacker as a resident of Khan Yunis

Clinton Remembers Rabin

There would have been a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in 1998 if Yitzhak Rabin had not been assassinated, former President Clinton said. "I never loved another man more than I loved Yitzhak Rabin," Clinton said Tuesday at a memorial for the former Israeli prime minister at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The event was attended by three former U.S. secretaries of state and numerous officials of the first Bush and Clinton administrations, as well as by Rabin's son, Yuval. Clinton later told reporters that he believed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and incoming Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are capable of doing "the right thing," noting their participation at the Wye River talks with the Palestinians in 1998.

Army Approves Ramadan Measures

The Israeli army agreed to ease restrictions on Palestinians during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The army said, however, that the easing would depend on the security situation. Ramadan begins Wednesday.

U.S. Lawmakers Want Miniseries Canceled

U.S. lawmakers sent a letter Monday urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to condemn an anti-Semitic television program. The Bush administration also has urged Egypt to review the 40-part miniseries "Horseman Without a Horse," which is based in part on the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." On Monday, about 100 people protested in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, charging that the program preaches hate toward Jews.

Israel Might Restore Immigrant Tax Benefits

The Israeli army agreed to ease restrictions on Palestinians during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The army said, however, that the easing would depend on the security situation. Ramadan begins Wednesday. [hed] Israel Might Restore Tax Benefits

Progress was made in efforts to reinstate Western immigrant tax benefits that were canceled under Israel's tax reform law. A bill that would exempt for 10 years overseas income from such things as interest and dividends passed in a preliminary Knesset vote Monday, the Jerusalem Post reported. The bill's sponsor, legislator Zvi Hendel, had warned that canceling the tax benefit would prompt immigrants to leave the country.

Is "Ethicist" Anti-Semitic?

Randy Cohen's "Ethicist" column in the Sunday New York Times Magazine came under fire last week for being insensitive to Jewish laws of modesty. Cohen wrote that it was ethical for a woman to "tear up the contract" with an Orthodox real estate agent because the man refrained from shaking her hand. The advice so incensed members of the Jewish community that a delegation from the Orthodox Union was to meet this week Cohen and Times editors "to sensitize the Times on this issue," according to OU officials.

The Ethicist's query was posed by "J.L." who said she had a "courteous and competent real-estate agent" whose religious refusal to shake her hand "offended me.... As a feminist, I oppose sex discrimination of all sorts. However, I also support freedom of religious expression. How do I balance these conflicting values? Should I tear up our contract?"

Cohen replied that though it was "a petty slight, without ill intent," she doesn't have to work with someone who denies her "the dignity and respect" he shows to men. "I believe you should tear up your contract" at the offense of the Orthodox man rendering "a class of people untouchable."

E-mail outpourings and web sites castigated Cohen's answer. Blu Greenberg, president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said, "tolerance to the right always seems to be in shorter supply. Pluralism means you sometimes have to stretch and understand the other person's convictions."

Amnesty Report Accuses Israel of War Crimes

Amnesty International accused the Israeli army of committing war crimes in Jenin and Nablus during its anti-terrorist campaign last spring. In a report issued Monday, the human rights group cited unlawful killings, use of civilians as human shields and the prevention of medical and humanitarian aid from reaching Palestinian civilians. The Israeli army said in a statement that its actions came in self-defense following Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli civilians. The army said it took all necessary care in fighting a terrorist infrastructure that had deliberately established itself in the heart of a civilian population. Amnesty International also said that Shaul Mofaz, a former army chief of staff who was expected to become defense minister Monday, could be charged with war crimes for overseeing the military actions in Jenin and Nablus.

During a debate Monday before the Knesset was to vote on Mofaz's appointment, some legislators asked for a delay in the confirmation process until Israel investigates the Amnesty report.

Mexican film prompts anti-Semitic response

The American distributor of a Mexican film denounced by Catholic groups has been flooded with protest letters, many with an anti-Semitic tone. "The Crime of Father Amaro" is based on a 19th-century Portuguese novel, but the film is set in contemporary Mexico. Its protagonist is an ambitious young priest who starts an illicit affair with a young woman that ends in tragedy. Also shown are issues confronting modern Mexican priests, such as donations received from drug dealers and aid sent to fund guerilla activities in poor rural areas. Catholic groups say the film depicts the Roman Catholic Church in an unfair, negative light. A huge success in Mexico, where it was released last summer, "Father Amaro" is being distributed in the United States by Samuel Goldwyn Films. The company's president, Meyer Gottlieb, told the Los Angeles Times that he is alarmed by the anti-Semitism in many of the protest letters and postcards the company has received.

"I am sure you don't plan on showing rabbis or Jews in a compromising position, but your hatred is vented against the Savior who gave his life to redeem mankind for their sins," one man from Manchester, Conn., wrote.

"What I find offensive is that they are taking the leap that I am only doing this because I am Jewish," Gottlieb said. "Everyone can have an opinion about a film. But the thing that I object to" is the insinuation that "if I wasn't Jewish I wouldn't be releasing this movie, which is of course absurd."

The protest is being organized by a conservative Catholic lay group, American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, known by the initials TFP. The group says its members will picket theaters when the film opens Nov. 15.

"Father Amaro'' became the highest-grossing movie produced in Mexico, despite pressure from Mexican bishops to have the movie banned.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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