Israel is pressing ahead with a controversial dig near the Temple Mount but will review plans to build at the site. The Jerusalem Municipality announced Monday that a plan to renovate a pedestrian walkway leading from the Temple Mount's Mughrabi Gate to the Western Wall Plaza would be put on hold to allow for consultations with police and Muslim authorities.
"This is due to the sensitivity of the plan," the municipality said in a statement, referring to recent Palestinian rioting sparked by Arab allegations that Israel is trying to undermine the foundations of two major Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount.
But the municipality said excavations in the Western Wall Plaza would continue in order to salvage any archeological artifacts that might be damaged by the planned renovation. Israel has said the dig does not threaten the Muslim shrines and is designed to prevent the pedestrian walkway from collapsing due to weather erosion. Muslim leaders have incited their followers in the past with accusations of Jewish plots to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount.
Holocaust Denier Says He Accosted Wiesel
A Holocaust denier claims he is the one who accosted Elie Wiesel, with the aim of kidnapping him. "Eric Hunt" posted an acknowledgment on ZioPedia, an anti-Semitic Web site, saying he followed Wiesel onto an elevator at San Francisco's Argent hotel after the author, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor participated in a panel on peace. Wiesel reported such an assault on Feb. 1 and San Francisco police are seeking the assailant.
"After ensuring no women would be traumatized by what I had to do (I had been trailing Wiesel for weeks), I stopped the elevator at the sixth floor," Hunt wrote. "I pulled Wiesel out of the elevator. I said I wanted to interview him. He protested, grabbed at his chest as if he was having a heart attack. He then screamed HELP! HELP! at the top of his lungs." Hunt said he let Wiesel go because "he was no use to our worldwide struggle for freedom if he had a heart attack."
He said he "had planned on either getting Wiesel into my custody, with a cornered Wiesel finally forced to state the truth on videotape, getting arrested or fleeing."
U.S. Offers Reward for Islamic Jihad Leader
The United States put a bounty on the head of a Palestinian terrorist leader. The State Department this week offered up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Shallah, who is based in Damascus.
Shallah is wanted for complicity in suicide bombings, murder, extortions and money laundering. Responding to the State Department's announcement, Islamic Jihad said it would attack American targets if Shallah is taken into custody.
The State Department offered a separate bounty for Mohammed Ali Hamadei, a Lebanese Hezbollah member suspected of involvement in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 that resulted in the murder of a U.S. sailor.
Katsav Complainant Tells All
A woman who accused Israel's president of raping her gave a full account to a British newspaper. Moshe Katsav's former secretary, whose name is withheld from publication by law, told Britain's Sunday Times the president first subjected her to unwanted sexual scrutiny until finally forcing himself on her when she reached up to get a book in his office.
"Maybe I didn't struggle enough," she said. "I was shocked. I was thinking, what if people know, what if I don't have a job." The complainant -- who was described by the newspaper as "Michelle Pfeiffer in Chanel tortoiseshell glasses" -- came forward last year, prompting Israel's attorney general to draft rape charges against Katsav. The Israeli president has denied wrongdoing.
Jewish Groups to Stage Eco-Friendly Conferences
Two Jewish organizations have pledged to offset the carbon produced by their upcoming conferences. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life announced they'll calculate the amount of carbon produced by their three-day conferences in Washington in late February, and will offset it through reforestation projects. The conferences, which will include nearly 1,000 participants, will limit the amount of carbon they produce through greater energy efficiency and the use of renewables.
"The Jewish Council for Public Affairs is dedicated to doing its part to combat climate change," said Steve Gutow, the group's executive director. "Offsetting the carbon emissions from our conference is an easy and effective way to help make a positive difference in our environment."
The effort, billed as the first of its kind for Jewish groups, will be facilitated by Carbonfund.org, the country's leading carbon-offset organization.
Klezmatics Win Grammy Award
The Klezmatics received the Grammy award for Contemporary World Music Album for "Wonder Wheel," with lyrics by Woody Guthrie, on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.