June 10, 2004
Daniel Pearl's Father Honored
The father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl said he is working to "turn tragedy into life-affirming" experiences. Judea Pearl made the comment Monday in New York as he was honored by the American Jewish World Service. Along with his wife, Ruth, Judea Pearl has established the Daniel Pearl Foundation in honor of his son, who proclaimed his Jewishness shortly before his throat was slit by Islamic terrorists in Pakistan in January 2002. The foundation promotes cross-cultural understanding through journalism and music programs. Like their son, the Pearls are focused on "changing the world and healing the gross fissures in the world," said the group's president, Ruth Messinger.
Bill Would Let Clergy Go Political
A new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would allow church and synagogue leaders to endorse political candidates. The Safe Harbor for Churches amendment to the American Jobs Creation Act would allow religious leaders to make statements supporting candidates, as long as the statements are made as private citizens and not as representatives of any organizations. Religious leaders would be allowed to participate in political activities up to three times a year without hurting their organizations' tax-exempt status. The bill is opposed by many Jewish organizations, who fear rabbis and other clergy could be pressured by politicians and their supporters to engage in political activity.
Nazi Salute Gets CNBC Analyst Fired
A U.S. cable news network fired a wrestler and financial analyst for making a Nazi salute during a wrestling match. CNBC fired John "Bradshaw" Layfield after he made the salute and goose-stepped around the ring during a match last weekend in Munich. The wrestling federation also reprimanded him for his actions. Layfield recently took on the wrestling persona of an anti-immigration zealot. He is the author of the book, "Have More Money Now."
Debt Relief to Help Social Causes
The American Jewish World Service is supporting an act that would forgive some of the poorest nations' debts. The Jubilee Act would cancel the "unjust and unpayable debts to the International Monetary Fund" for the world's 50 poorest nations and allow for spending on education, HIV/AIDS and other health causes, according to an organization news release. The legislation, introduced in the House of Representatives, derives its name and intent from the Bible.
Case Closed on Sharon?
Israel's attorney general is due to rule next week on whether Ariel Sharon should be indicted in a bribery scandal. The Justice Ministry said Wednesday that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is expected to issue his decision by June 15. Media reports indicate Mazuz believes there is insufficient evidence to prosecute the Israeli prime minister, who is suspected of illicitly helping a property developer with a lucrative real-estate deal after the man hired Sharon's son as a consultant.
Barghouti Backers Vows Revenge
A Palestinian terrorist group vowed to avenge the jailing of its leader by kidnapping and murdering Israelis.
"We urge all our fighters to kidnap Zionists -- children, women and soldiers -- and sentence them to death," the Al-Aksa Brigade said in a statement. "Strike the Zionist enemy wherever it is in our land."
Marwan Barghouti, a West Bank leader of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, was jailed Sunday for 165 years by an Israeli court after he was found guilty of planning gun ambushes that killed five people.
Syria Blames Israel For Sanctions
Syria accused Israel of engineering U.S. sanctions against it. "The Syria Accountability Act runs counter to international law, and it was Israel that managed to pass it through Congress," Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara told a Kuwaiti newspaper Sunday, referring to sanctions President Bush enacted last month.
But the newspaper, Al-Qabbas, also quoted Shara as inviting Israel to restart peace talks where they stalled in 2000, with a Syrian demand for the return of all the Golan Heights. Israel has ruled out preconditions in any negotiations with Syria.
Gere Pushes Peace
Actor Richard Gere visited Israel and met with Palestinian officials. Gere, on his third private peace mission, met Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei at his office in Abu Dis on Saturday.
"I consider myself your brother," the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam quoted Gere as telling Qurei.
The actor then went to Tel Aviv to open Tel Aviv University's international student film festival.
"To me, it is very, very moving to be with you here, to feel the love and the passion and the total nonviolence that film represents," Gere told an audience there.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.