Hijack Suspect's Extradition Sought
Israeli officials are planning to seek the extradition from Turkey of an Israeli Arab who tried to hijack an El Al flight Sunday. According to Israel Radio, attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein said Wednesday the extradition request is being drawn up for Tawfik Fukara, who allegedly wanted to crash the plane into a Tel Aviv high-rise. Security officials aboard the Tel Aviv-Ankara flight tackled him when he rushed the cockpit and turned him over to Turkish authorities when the flight safely landed. Turkish television reported that Fukara told authorities he wanted to "make the voice of the Palestinian people heard." Israeli authorities have said Fukara was inspired by the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Poll: Palestinians Divided Over Conflict
Palestinians are divided over whether the conflict with Israel is helping achieve their goals, according to a new poll. Conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, the poll showed 39 percent believe the conflict was helping achieve a Palestinian state. Another 36 percent believe it is not helping and 25 percent have no opinion. The poll of more than 1,000 Palestinians has a margin of error of 3 percent.
Second-Century Artifacts Found
Papyrus scrolls dating to the second-century Jewish rebellion against the Romans were discovered in a Judean desert cave. Researchers from the Hebrew University, Bar Ilan University and Stanford University discovered the scrolls after rappelling into the cave in the Ein Gedi reserve. They also found crude arrowheads and coins bearing the Hebrew name "Shimon," a reference to the leader of the rebellion against the Roman army, Shimon Bar Kochba. A Hebrew University researcher said the items probably belonged to Jews from the Ein Gedi region who hid in the remote cave to escape the Roman army.
Museum of Tolerance Planned for Jerusalem
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is slated to unveil plans for a new $150 million tolerance center in Jerusalem. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center's founder and dean, will be joined Sunday in Jerusalem by architect Frank Gehry, where they will discuss the goals and design of the Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem. As part of Sunday's events, the architect's models for the center will be unveiled at the president's residence.
UJC Debates Birthright Funding
The umbrella group of North American federations is considering a resolution to pay $39 million to Birthright Israel. At the General Assembly in Philadelphia, the United Jewish Communities' (UJC) board of trustees debated a resolution Wednesday to pay a share of the program to send 18-26 year olds who have never been to Israel on an organized trip. Currently, 20 percent of federations have not paid for the program, according to Stephen Hoffman, UJC president. The proposed resolution would require all federations to increase their donations to Birthright by 33 percent over last year. The resolution will be voted on within 30 days, Hoffman said. The Jewish Agency for Israel would share in the cost. Meanwhile, UJC voted Wednesday to administer a tax-exempt bond pool for member federations.
New Jersey Rabbi Convicted in Murder Trial
A New Jersey rabbi was convicted for arranging the murder of his wife. Rabbi Fred Neulander could receive the death penalty for hiring two hit men to kill his wife, Carol, in 1994. Wednesday's verdict came nearly a year after the first trial ended in a hung jury.
Senate Passes Terrorism Insurance Bill
The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would shift most of the insurance costs of terrorist attacks onto the federal government. The bill is expected to result in lower insurance premiums for property and casualty insurance. It is a boon for Jewish federations and other groups that have faced skyrocketing premiums since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The bill, which passed the Senate 86-11 on Tuesday after passing the House last week, provides insurance companies with up to $100 billion in government protection against losses from terrorist attacks. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation next week.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency