Congress passes Syria bill
Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill imposing penalties on Syria unless it takes action against terrorists under its control. The House of Representatives voted 408 to 8 on Thursday to approve Senate modifications to a bill the House passed in October. President Bush is expected to sign the bill before December. The Senate version gives the president the right to waive the sanctions every six months, allowing the administration the flexibility it demanded as a condition for not opposing the bill. If Syria does not end support for terrorism, end its occupation of Lebanon and stop producing weapons of mass destruction, the president can impose sanctions including a ban on the export of materials that could be used for weapons manufacture and restrictions on the movement of Syrian officials and planes.
Australia Freezes Hamas-Linked Assets
Australia on Friday listed six senior Hamas leaders as terrorists and froze the assets of five charities that fund the group's activities. The announcement follows U.S. action against exactly the same men and organizations in August. The individuals are Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Imad Khalil Al-Alami, Usama Hamdan, Khalid Mishaal, Musa Abu Marzouk and Abdel Aziz Rantisi. The charities include Committee for Charity and Aid for the Palestinians, in France; the Association for Palestinian Aid in Switzerland; the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, or Interpal, headquartered in Britain; the Palestinian Association in Austria; and the Sanbil Association for Relief and Development, based in Lebanon.
Jerusalem Wall Murders
Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis guarding the construction site for a security wall outside Jerusalem. Saturday night's attack in the village of Abu Dis, just outside Jerusalem, might have been prevented were security regulations followed, police said. Three other guards in the crew were absent, and the site did not have proper lighting. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, in which the guards' guns were stolen.
Red Cross Moves Toward Israel
The International Committee of the Red Cross is taking steps to advance membership for Israel's relief agency. The Red Cross is promoting Magen David Adom's inclusion in the federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.
In a meeting Nov. 19 in Switzerland, the committee's vice president, Jacques Forster, told leaders of the World Jewish Congress that the committee has prepared a resolution allowing member countries to place a symbol of their choice inside a red diamond. That would address Muslim countries' objections to the red Star of David, the symbol of Israel's national emergency response organization.
The move doesn't resolve the impasse over Magen David Adom -- because of ongoing Muslim opposition, Switzerland isn't yet prepared to call a convention of the national federations to approve the resolution -- but the International Committee of the Red Cross move is an important step forward, Elan Steinberg, a special adviser to the World Jewish Congress, said.
Security Upped for British Jews
Under advice from police, the security level at British Jewish communal institutions has been raised to its highest state of alert. The Community Security Trust, the United Kingdom's official Jewish security organization, took the decision in the wake of recent bombings of Jewish and British targets in Istanbul, and after a number of high-level meetings with police. In the past decade, the Jewish community has been at the top level of alert only after the Israeli Embassy in London was bombed in 1996 and after a spate of mail bombings in the capital in 1999.
"The psychology of terror today is more sophisticated that we have seen," a CST spokesman said. "We have repeated time and time again that there is a specific threat to Jewish communities both here and abroad."
What's In a Name?
Daniel, Noa and Mohammed were the most popular Israeli names in 2002. Among girls, Noa was followed by Shira, Maya, Adi and Yael. For Israeli boys, Daniel was followed by Itai, David, Noam and Ido. Among Israel's Muslims, Mohammed led the way for boys, and Aya among girls.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.