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World Briefs

February 26, 2004 | 7:00 pm

Public Support for Israel Wanes

American public support for Israel has declined slightly over the past year. In its annual "favorability of nations" poll Feb. 9-12, Gallup found that 59 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of Israel to various degrees, versus 35 percent unfavorable, with 6 percent having no opinion. That's down from 64-29 one year ago with 7 percent staying neutral.

Meanwhile, 76 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Palestinian Authority, 15 percent have a favorable view and 9 percent have no opinion. One year ago the ratio was 73-13, with 14 percent undecided.

Bus Security System Tested

Israel's Egged bus company field-tested a system meant to spot suicide bombers before they board. Five buses equipped with the driver-controlled entry turnstile were deployed in Jerusalem on Monday, to a mixed reception. One Egged staffer noted that a terrorist successfully locked out by the turnstile could still detonate his bomb and kill the driver.

A Jesus Whodunit

Seventy-five percent of Americans believe Jews were not responsible for Jesus' death, according to a new poll. The Anti-Defamation League released the poll this week on the eve of the opening of Mel Gibson's controversial new movie on Jesus, "The Passion of the Christ." In the poll of 1,200 Americans, conducted last December, 25 percent of respondents said the statement "Do you think that Jews were responsible for the death of Christ?" was probably true. A similar poll recently released by ABCNews.com found that 80 percent of Americans do not hold Jews responsible for Jesus' crucifixion.

Proof Positive

Terrorist infiltration has ceased in areas where the West Bank security barrier has been built, Israel's Shin Bet chief said. In a briefing to Israel's Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, Avi Dichter said areas of Israel still vulnerable to Palestinian suicide bombings were Kafr Kasim, where the West Bank boundary is still open, and Jerusalem.

"Ten measures of terror were bequeathed to the world and nine of them ended up" in the northern West Bank, Israeli media quoted Dichter as saying. "Since the fence was built, the terror in this area has ceased completely."

5,000 Protest Gaza Withdrawal

Two former Israeli chief rabbis led prayers at the Western Wall to imploring God to stop "evil plans" to evacuate settlements.

Rabbi Avraham Shapira and Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, both chief rabbis in the 1980s who went on to advise the settler movement, led about 5,000 worshippers in prayer last Friday at the Jerusalem holy site.

They described Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's pledge to pull out of the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank as an "evil decree."

Birthright Baby Born

A couple that met on the Birthright Israel trip had a baby. On Nov. 17, Shoshana and Stephen Kronfeld had a son, Ezra. The two met on a 1999 trip sponsored by Birthright, which provides free trips to Israel for Jews ages 18 to 26 who have never been on an organized trip to the Jewish State.

You Want to Marry a Jewish Doctor?

Doctor still tops the list of prized Jewish professions, according to an Israeli survey. The poll of 500 men and women published in Israel's daily Ma'ariv on Tuesday found that 22.6 percent of respondents named medicine as the most valuable profession, with pilot or teacher a distant second, at 12 percent each. Politician came in at 12th place in the popularity list, at 1.8 percent. The paper did not provide the date when the poll was conducted or its margin of error.

British Jews Want Hezbollah TV Blocked

The umbrella organization for British Jews urged Britain's government to block reception of Hezbollah's satellite television station. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the director-general of the Board of Deputies, Neville Nagler, that he "shares your disgust" at the anti-Semitism expressed in the Al-Manar series "The Diaspora," a board statement said.

It's Final: Le Pen Can't Run

Jean-Marie Le Pen lost his final chance to run for the presidency of southern France. On Sunday, a court in Marseille rejected Le Pen's final appeal against a decision that he did not possess the necessary residency qualifications enabling him to run as a candidate in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, which includes large Jewish populations in Marseille and Nice. He will also not be a candidate in any other region, a party spokesman said.

Wrong Body to Hezbollah?

Israel may have sent Hezbollah the wrong body. Kul Al-Arab reported that a Lebanese family expecting the body of Muhamed Biro, a drug dealer who died in an Israeli prison when he was 70, instead received the body of what appeared to be an Orthodox Jew. Now, the paper reported, Hezbollah wants an additional 30 bodies as compensation for the mistake.

The body was transferred to Lebanon as part of an exchange of more than 400 Arab prisoners for one live Israeli citizen and three dead Israeli troops.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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