October 28, 2004
Sharon Marks Rabin Assassination Anniversary
Ariel Sharon apologized for any incitement that may have led to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
"Our disputes were never personal, they were for the greater good," the Israeli prime minister said at a Jerusalem memorial marking the ninth anniversary of his predecessor's slaying. "If, in the heat of the real argument, things were said which should not have been said, I regret it."
Sharon was one of the leading critics of Rabin's land-for-peace deals with the Palestinians, but now that he is pushing for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, many Israelis fear he also could be targeted by a right-wing assassin.
Rabin's daughter,Dalia Rabin-Pelossoff, told Sharon not to fear: "We say to you, prime minister, today, that we are with you."
Oregon Men Charged in Synagogue Desecration
Two Oregon men were indicted for allegedly desecrating a Jewish cemetery in Portland, Ore. Sean Andrew Sigley and Steven Hale Smith both were charged with hate crimes by the U.S. Justice Department for the incident at the Congregation Shaarie Torah Cemetery in May 2003, when swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were painted in the Jewish sanctuary there. If convicted of the crime, each faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in jail.
Group Wants To Expand Anti-Semitism Fight
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has a plan to expand the fight against anti-Semitism. One of the main thrusts of the plan, expected to be announced Wednesday in Jerusalem at a forum on anti-Semitism sponsored by Israel's minister for Diaspora affairs, Natan Sharansky, is to fight anti-Semitism in countries with smaller Jewish communities, a WJC official said.
U.S. Official: Syria Relations Looking Up?
U.S.-Syria relations may be taking a turn for the better, a top diplomat said. "We've had discussions in Damascus and our own relationship with Syria is not what we'd like it to be," a deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, said Monday in an interview with a Kuwaiti news agency.
"We'd like it to be in better shape. There may be the beginning of signs that it will be." He did not elaborate, but U.S. officials have noted slight movement in Syria's deployment of some of its troops out of Lebanon and on securing Syria's border with Iraq. The Syrian leadership also has said it wants to renew peace talks with Israel.
Reform to Synagogues: Turn Away Cash
The Reform movement urged its U.S. congregations not to take federal funds to secure synagogues. The U.S. government set aside $25 million earlier this month to assist "high-risk" nonprofits with their security needs. In a letter last week to congregations, the Reform movement said accepting such money would open the movement up to charges of hypocrisy for battling for church-state separation on the one hand and accepting federal money with the other.
"This is a critical moment for the survival of religious freedom and church-state separation in America," the letter from the Union for Reform Judaism and Reform's Religious Action Center said. "We have always been on the front lines of preserving this concept and now, when it is under unrelenting attack ... it is more important than ever to do so."
Some Reform congregations have already accepted the funds.
O.U. to Meet in Israel
The Orthodox Union is holding its first biennial convention in Israel. Some 800 people have signed on for the Nov. 24-28 event. Preceding the official opening, there will be touring, opportunities for volunteer work and a two-day Israel advocacy program.
Convictions in Israel Hall Collapse
Three owners of an Israeli wedding hall were convicted of negligence in a 2003 incident in which 23 people were killed when the building collapsed. Avraham Adi, Uri Nissim and Efraim Adiv also were convicted Wednesday of causing injury to another 360 people in Jerusalem's Versailles hall. Dozens of guests plunged through the floor of the fourth-story hall, located in the Talpiot neighborhood.
In announcing the verdict, Judge Haim Lee-Ran said the men should have called in an engineer when they saw a depression in the hall's dance floor, rather than try to take care of the problem themselves.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.