May 19, 2005
D.C. Envoy Apparently to Stay
Israel's ambassador to Washington apparently has received assurances from Ariel Sharon that he can continue in his post. Daniel Ayalon has been engaged in a public feud with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, and some media reported over the weekend that Ayalon had been fired, but sources tell JTA that the Israeli prime minister told Ayalon he was satisfied with his work and wanted him to continue until the end of his term. Ayalon reportedly was unable to secure a White House meeting for Shalom when he came to Washington earlier this year, and his assistant could not coordinate a meeting for Shalom's wife with Madonna when the singer was in Israel last year. Israel's U.S. ambassador reports directly to the prime minister, not the foreign minister, which has strained relations between Ayalon and Shalom. The Israeli Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the issue.
Court: Rabbi Can Sue
A San Francisco rabbi can sue a former president of the city's Jewish Community Federation for defamation, a court ruled. Overturning the ruling of a trial judge, members of the First District Court of Appeal said Rabbi Pinchas Lipner can sue Richard Goldman for allegedly defamatory comments made in a documentary on Jewish philanthropy in the Bay Area, the Daily Journal reported. In the oral history, Goldman reportedly criticizes Lipner's treatment of students and says the school he runs, the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco, is a financial drain on the Jewish community. In another portion of the interview, the Journal reports, Goldman compares Lipner to Hitler. Lipner's lawyer said the comparison was especially painful because Lipner lost family in the Holocaust. The lower court had ruled that Lipner could not sue because of a statute of imitations. However, the appellate court said that because the interview was stored in a library for eight years before Lipner found out about it, it falls under the category of delayed discovery, allowing him to sue.
A new law prevents insurers in Washington state from life insurance discrimination due to travel. The issue is of concern to the Jewish community because some insurers were denying insurance based on past travel to countries on the State Department's travel warning list, including Israel. Washington joins New York and Illinois in enacting such legislation.
The leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts came out against proposals to divest from Israel. Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, head of the 80,000-member diocese, which includes 194 churches in eastern Massachusetts, made the comments in a statement for two members of the diocese who, together with the American Jewish Committee (AJ Committee), are planning an Israel trip for church members in January 2006. James Kaufman, president of the AJCommittee's Greater Boston chapter, praised Shaw's "bold decision," which he said followed 18 months of "often intense dialogue with the leaders of the Boston Episcopal community."
The statement comes as several U.S. Protestant denominations, troubled by what they perceive as Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians, consider calls to sell holdings in companies that do business with the Jewish state. Kaufman said he hoped "other religious communal leaders who have considered the legitimacy of divestment will follow" Shaw's lead.
Testifying in Tampa
Scores of Israelis are expected to testify at the Florida trial of alleged Islamic Jihad bank-rollers. Ha'aretz said Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice, in a precedent-setting step, would fly out as many as 100 Israeli terror victims and experts to next month's trial in Tampa of University of South Florida computer engineering professor Sami al-Arian and three alleged accomplices. The defendants are accused of using U.S.-based Islamic and pro-Palestinian charities to raise funds that helped terrorists from the West Bank and Gaza Strip carry out attacks that killed dozens of people, including Americans.
Israel Seeks TV 'Bachelor'
An Israeli cable TV station is seeking the perfect bachelor for a reality show. The station has begun a worldwide search for a foreign Jewish bachelor who wants an Israeli bride, the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot reported. The bachelor must be between 24 and 38, handsome, educated and financially secure. Auditions will take place in coming weeks in New York, Los Angeles and a European city. Candidates can be nominated at email@example.com.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency