May 24, 2007
Briefs: Immigration proposal gets mixed reaction from Jewish organizations; U.S. firm fined for aiding Arab boycott
Jewish groups had mixed reactions to an immigration reform plan that would grant earned legalization to immigrants contributing to American society. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) said the compromise package agreed to last week by the U.S. Senate and the White House "represents a step in the right direction," but also worried that its provisions fall short of comprehensive reform.
Gideon Aronoff, the HIAS president, expressed concern in a statement about the de-emphasis on family reunification in favor of a point system based on skills and fluency in English. He said it "undervalues the central role that family ties play in our immigration system." Aronoff also said the exclusion from the plan of laborers who have arrived since Jan. 1 could lead to the exploitation of workers' basic rights.
Jewish Funds for Justice also applauded the proposed legislation for "the inclusion of a provision for a path to citizenship for most of the 12 million immigrants who are currently living undocumented lives in the United States and who already contribute enormously to the economic and cultural life of this country." However, the group also expressed "deep concern" over provisions "that value economic needs over human concerns."
The Anti-Defamation League welcomed the package, saying it provides an opportunity to advance the vital cause of keeping our nation both welcoming and secure by seeking to address the problems that have led many to circumvent U.S. immigration law.
U.S. Firm Fined for Abiding by Arab Boycott
The U.S. Department of Commerce fined a toolmaker for illegally complying with an Arab boycott of Israel. Cooper Tools Industrial Ltd. was ordered to pay $27,000 in fines last week after company officials allegedly "furnished 15 items of prohibited information about business relationships with Israel to persons in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates," a Department of Commerce statement said.
Arab states participating in the boycott ask companies to certify that their products were not manufactured in Israel, do not contain Israeli-made parts and that the companies do not do business with Israel. Compliance with these demands are against U.S. law.
"The Department of Commerce stands firm in its policy of opposing restrictive trade practices or boycotts against Israel," said Darryl Jackson, assistant U.S. secretary of commerce for export enforcement. Cooper Tools has fully cooperated with the investigation and voluntarily disclosed its transactions.
Shin Bet Chief: Spying on Subversives OK
Israel's Shin Bet director said the security service's duties include spying on those who seek to undermine the constitutional framework of the Jewish state.
Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, asked by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to explain a recent comment in which he described some Israeli Arabs as "strategic threats," responded with an open letter in which he said the Shin Bet's role is to combat subversion. Diskin said this includes anyone who would "try to change the state's core values by nullifying its democratic character or its Jewish character."
The remarks looked likely to stoke tensions between Diskin and Israeli Arabs, already running high since it was revealed last month that the Shin Bet was monitoring a fugitive Arab ex-lawmaker, Azmi Bishara, as he allegedly passed classified information to Hezbollah during the Lebanon War.
Irving Booted From Book Fair
Holocaust denier David Irving was ejected from the Warsaw International Book Fair.
"We asked him to leave" on Saturday, book fair organizer Grzegorz Guzowski told Reuters. "Our employees helped him pack up his things, and our car drove him to the address he specified."
Irving, whose work as a historian has been widely discredited, was convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria two years ago and spent a year in jail there before gaining early release. There is no law in Poland against Holocaust denial.
Irving was at the fair to promote his writings, many of which question long-established facts about the Holocaust, such as the existence of the gas chambers that killed Jews at the Auschwitz death camp. Irving, who is British, plans to visit Auschwitz and other former Nazi concentration camps in Poland, according to Reuters.
Sudanese Refugees Reunited
A Sudanese refugee couple was reunited with a daughter lost as they fled to Israel. Marhum and Kikongu Bashir, and their 4-year-old daughter, Venus, were among a group of Sudanese who fled the fighting in Darfur and tried this month to slip across the Egyptian border into Israel. Under Egyptian army fire, the Bashirs made it across the border, but in the ensuing confusion Venus disappeared in the Egyptian Sinai.
News of the refugee family's plight reached Jerusalem, prompting Aliza Olmert, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to appeal for help to Susan Mubarak, the wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Venus was soon located and on Friday was brought to Eilat, where she was met by her parents. Scores of Sudanese refugees have come to Israel in recent months, stirring a debate on whether the country should give them permanent asylum.
Congressmen Salute Japan on Hamas Stand
Thirteen members of Congress signed a letter commending Japan for withholding aid to Hamas until it renounces violence and accepts Israel.
"Japan's stand with the United States in reaffirming the conditions for assistance to the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority underscores the strong relationship between our two nations," says the letter addressed to Japan's ambassador to the United States, Ryozo Kato. "We thank you for strengthening the consensus of the Quartet and the current policy of the international community."
The letter, signed Monday, also notes Hamas' responsibility for the deaths of several Asian citizens, including three Filipino and two Thai nationals killed in terrorist attacks in Israel.
Liz Taylor to Keep Seized Painting
A federal appeals court handed down a ruling that actress Elizabeth Taylor can keep a Van Gogh painting that may have been illegally seized by the Nazis. The appellate court ruled last Friday that the family of the German Jewish woman who originally owned the painting had waited too long to ask for it back, Reuters reported.
Taylor, 75, bought the 1889 painting, "View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy," at a Sotheby's auction in London in 1963 for 92,000 British pounds, or about $257,000 at the time.
Descendants of Margarete Mauthner sued Taylor in 2004, claiming the Nazis had forced the sale of the painting under duress.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.