May 20, 2004
U.S. Shifts U.N. Policy?
The United States abstained from a U.N. Security Council resolution blasting Israel. With 14 votes and one abstention, the 15-member U.N. Security Council condemned Israel for the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip.
"While we are clearly concerned about Israel's operations in Gaza, including the demolition of homes of i0nnocent Palestinians and the death of Palestinian civilians, we could not vote in favor of this resolution because we do not believe it addresses sufficiently the context of the recent events in Gaza," said James Cunningham, the U.S. deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, pointing to the smuggling of weapons into Gaza by Palestinian terrorists. The abstention was a departure from typical U.S. policy, which is to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution on the Middle East that does not meet certain conditions, such as a condemnation of Arab terrorism.
An End to Ron Arad Saga?
Ron Arad, the Israel Air Force navigator who went missing in Lebanon in 1986, reportedly is dead. Quoting diplomatic sources knowledgeable about efforts to determine Arad's whereabouts, Reuters reported Wednesday that the airman is dead and that the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has his body. According to the report, Hezbollah also is holding the remains of three Israeli soldiers who disappeared during a 1982 tank battle in Lebanon. Israeli officials said they were checking the report. Arad bailed out over Lebanon during a combat mission after his Phantom jet developed engine trouble. Israel believes he at one point was being held in Iran.
Bone-Marrow Registries, Unite!
A registry for Jewish bone-marrow donations is teaming up with a national bone-marrow program. The partnership between the Gift of Life registry and the National Marrow Donor Program allows the latter to access the Gift of Life's database.
White House Jewish Liaison Change
Tevi Troy, the White House's Jewish liaison since 2003, is leaving to work on the Bush-Cheney campaign. He will be replaced by Noam Neusner. Troy, 37, has worked at the White House since 2002. Neusner is currently a White House speech writer who focuses on economic issues.
Israel, Jordan Trade Freely
Israel and Jordan signed a free-trade agreement. The accord signed Sunday, which was agreed to at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last month, eliminates tariffs on thousands of goods.
Abdullah: Arafat May Be the Problem
Jordan's king hinted that Yasser Arafat should step down as leader of the Palestinian Authority. King Abdullah II said one solution would be for the Palestinian Authority president to hand over power to P.A. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and keep the presidency as a ceremonial post.
"I think Arafat needs to have a long look in the mirror to be able to see whether his position is helping the Palestinian cause or not," Abdullah told The New York Times in comments published Tuesday. "If this allows the Palestinians to get beyond the obstacle that they are facing now with the United States and Israel, then that's something the Palestinians need to sort out and sort out quickly."
Arafat has ceded some powers to Qurei but maintains control over the security services, hindering any Palestinian initiatives to crack down on terrorism.
Bush Names Rosen to Commission
President Bush appointed Jack Rosen to the Holocaust Memorial Council. The council oversees the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington. Rosen, outgoing president of the American Jewish Congress, was a longtime Democrat, but last year he contributed to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. Bush appointed nine members to the council last month.
Christians in Germany to Study Israel
Fundamentalist Christians in Germany are founding an Institute for Israel studies. Beginning in September 2004, the Institute for Israelogy will disseminate information about Israel from a fundamentalist standpoint. It is to be based at the Free Theological Academy in the city of Giessen. According to the Working Group Christians for Israel, the institute's goals are to propagate information about Israel, the common roots of Christians and Jews, and the causes of Christian anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. It also will promote interfaith reconciliation.
Arab Soccer Team Makes History
An Arab soccer team won the Israeli championship for the first time. Bnei Sakhnin defeated Hapoel Haifa 4-1 Tuesday night. Although some of Bnei Sakhnin's players are Jewish, it is based in an Arab town and is identified with the Arab population, which has never had much athletic success. The team will represent Israel in next season's European Cup.
Sisterhood Runs Deep
One Hadassah board member gave her kidney to another. At a board meeting of the women's Zionist organization in January, Hadassah President June Walker announced that Belle Simon was in desperate need of a kidney. Katie Edelstein, 55, president of Hadassah's Pacific Northwest Region, offered hers. A successful surgery took place May 11 at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. Thrilled for the opportunity to be a living donor, Edelstein said, "How many times in life do you have an opportunity to make an impact on someone else's life like this?" Simon, 66, had expected to wait five years for a donor transplant.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.