Talks on Attacks Fail
Officials from Hamas and Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement concluded meetings in Cairo without any agreement regarding suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
A Hamas representative, Osama Hamdan, left Cairo on Dec. 26, telling The Associated Press that meetings with Fatah would continue, but the two sides still differ on the "management of the conflict with Israel." Fatah, along with Egypt, a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, are pressing Hamas to call a temporary halt to the attacks.
U.S. Urged to Link Statehood, Reform
The Orthodox Union (OU) is urging the U.S. government to link support for a Palestinian state to political reforms and an end to terrorism. The OU, which represents approximately 1,000 modern Orthodox congregations in North America, issued a resolution backing legislation that would tie U.S. support for Palestinian statehood to a "visible and tangible commitment to peace" by the Palestinians. The resolution was issued during the OU's annual convention, held Dec. 26-29 in Rye, N.Y.
Israeli Arab Barred
Israel's Central Election Committee barred Israeli Arab legislator Ahmed Tibi from running for the Knesset. Tibi said he planned to appeal the Dec. 30 decision to the Supreme Court. Earlier, the election panel rejected a petition from the right-wing Herut Party to ban the Hadash-National Arab Union bloc, in which Tibi held the No. 3 spot, from participating in this month's elections. The decision to bar Tibi came a day after the panel upheld the candidacy of Baruch Marzel, a former activist in the outlawed right-wing Kach movement. Both decisions went against the recommendations of the committee chairman and the attorney general.
Lieberman Meets Arab Leaders
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) met with leaders of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain during an 11-day Middle East trip. Lieberman asked the leaders to be prepared to give the U.S. military full support in case of a war against Iraq. "I believe they heard the message, and my conclusion is that the American military and people won't be disappointed by the reactions of the three allies," he said at news conference. The senator also met with U.S. troops stationed in the Persian Gulf, giving them "the thanks of a grateful nation."
U.S. Denies Bias
The U.S. State Department denied that it refuses to post Jewish diplomats to Saudi Arabia. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said Dec. 26 that overseas assignments are "free from discrimination," and that there is no agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia to avoid assigning Jewish diplomats to the country. Reeker's statement came after a former U.S. official, Timothy Hunter told the Middle East Forum that Jewish officers in the State Department had a letter "J" placed next to their name, so that selection panels would not choose them for Saudi posts.
Canadian Hillel Sues
The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) is setting up a legal defense fund after the Hillel at Montreal's Concordia University filed a lawsuit against the school's student union. In early December, the Concordia Student Union voted to ban Hillel from the Montreal school and cut off its funding, charging that Hillel distributed material advertising a volunteer program with the Israeli army. Under intense pressure, the student union later conditionally reinstated Hillel, but continues to withhold funding.
Hillel's lawsuit, filed with Quebec Superior Court, seeks the unconditional restoration of funding, as well as $100,000 in damages. "Our involvement is intended to be a tangible demonstration of national community and organizational support for their actions," CJC National President Keith Landy said. Donations to the legal defense fund may be sent to: Canadian Jewish Congress, Hillel Legal Assistance Fund, 1590 Docteur Penfield Ave., Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1C5.
Solzhenitsyn on Soviet Jews
A controversial book on the history of Russia's Jews by Nobel Prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn debuted in Moscow bookstores. The second book of the two-volume study, "Two Hundred Years Together: 1795-1995," explores the history of Jews in Russia from 1916 to 1995, with a focus on Jewish participation in the Bolshevik Revolution and Soviet apparatus.
Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.