Prime Minister Ehud Olmert summoned Histadrut labor federation chief Ofer Eini on Tuesday and persuaded him to call off the nationwide protest action, which had been slated to begin Wednesday. Previous strikes have frozen Israeli public services, including work at airports and seaports. The Histadrut has been upset by non-payment of municipal workers' salaries, something Olmert agreed to tend to.
"Withholding employees' salaries is an unacceptable norm that must be condemned while taking steps against those employers who do not pay their workers on time," Olmert's office quoted him as saying.
Report: Hezbollah redeploying on Litani River
The Times of Britain reported Monday that the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which lost most of its strongholds on the southern border to Israel's military offensive last year, is establishing new positions along the Litani River. According to the newspaper, Hezbollah businessmen have been buying up riverfront land from Christians and Druze with a view toward settling loyal Shi'ites there. Hezbollah had no comment on the report. Under the Aug. 14 truce that ended the war between Israel and Hezbollah, U.N. peacekeepers are empowered to prevent an armed presence by the militia between the Litani and Lebanon's southern border.
Israeli Cabinet minister under fire for phony resume
A Yediot Achronot expose on Tuesday noted that Esterina Tartman, who took over the tourism portfolio last week as part of a Cabinet reshuffle, falsely claimed on her party's Web site that she has a master's degree in business. The online resume was rephrased in recent days. Tartman had no immediate comment, but a colleague of hers in the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Yoel Hasson, said the allegations would be checked.
"If this is not true, it's sad, and if it's true, it's sad," Hasson told Israel Radio.
Tartman has already been the subject of controversy after she said a decision to nominate an Israeli Arab to the Cabinet was an "axe-like blow to Zionism."
Israel media reports country requests more U.S. aid
Israeli media reported Sunday that a Finance Ministry delegation heading to Washington this week will ask the Bush administration for an extra $1 billion in defense aid spread over the next decade.
Israel has received some $2.4 billion in mostly military U.S. aid. Under a restructuring deal signed in 1998, the United States reduced civilian grants to Israel while boosting defense assistance. Israeli officials voiced optimism on the chances of obtaining the extra funds given the mounting strategic threats facing the Jewish state and on Lebanon's southern border.
Anti-Semitism up in France
Anti-Semitic incidents in France rose by 24 percent in 2006 over the previous year, according to a new study. The Service for the Protection of the Jewish Community's report cited 371 attacks in 2006, compared to 300 in 2005.
"We've seen an elevation of 45 percent in physical aggressions from 2005 to 2006 and a 71 percent elevation in verbal insults," Elisabeth Cohen-Tannoudji wrote in the report.
However, the last third of 2006 showed a 21 percent decrease in anti-Semitic incidents, "which has continued through January 2007," said the report, which was carried out under the auspices of CRIF, an umbrella organization of secular French Jewish groups.
Last year also saw the kidnapping and murder of French Jew Ilan Halimi, 23, as well as Israel's war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Farrakhan pushes conspiracy tracts and Carter book in address
The Anti-Defamation League noted that Louis Farrakhan concluded his Saviours' Day address in Detroit by recommending several books for his listeners. Among them were "The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews," which claims that the slave trade was dominated by Jews; "The Secrets of the Federal Reserve," which claims that the world's banks are controlled by the Jews; and Carter's "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which alleges that Israel has set up a de facto apartheid system for Palestinians in the West Bank. Copies of "The Synagogue of Satan," a book written by a Nation of Islam member that says that the world is being manipulated and corrupted by Satanic powers led by Jewish elites, were available for purchase at the event.
"Farrakhan may have held his anti-Semitic views in check while on the dais, but if this is what he wants people to read, then the leopard hasn't changed his spots," ADL National Director Abe Foxman said in a statement Monday.
Obama to address AIPAC meet in Chicago
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat and presidential candidate, has been negotiating with various Jewish groups in recent weeks for a forum in which to outline his views. Obama, a relative unknown on Mideast policy, will speak to American Israel Public Affairs Committee members Friday in Chicago, the pro-Israel group said.
U.S. Jews most against Iraq war
A review of 13 polls over two years shows more U.S. Jews are opposed to the Iraq war than are members of any other religious minority. The review by Gallup, published Friday in the Hotline political newsletter, showed that 77 percent of Jewish respondents believed "sending troops to Iraq was a mistake," more than the general average of 52 percent.
Next were those who said they had no religion, 66 percent of whom opposed the war. Among Protestants, 48 percent were opposed, 53 percent of Roman Catholics were opposed and 27 percent of Mormons opposed the war.
Overall, 12,061 people were interviewed with a margin of error of plus or minus one percentage point. Of them, 303 were Jewish, with a margin of error of plus or minus six percentage points. Bill Clinton raises $100 million for Israel Bonds
Former President Clinton reportedly helped raise more than $100 million for Israel Bonds in a single sitting. The Washington Post on Friday reviewed Clinton's post-presidential career as a public speaker. Most of Clinton's speaking income goes to his foundation, which fights poverty and AIDS, and he speaks pro-bono for causes he favors, but Clinton has earned nearly $40 million in six years from speeches for which he charges $150,000 apiece.
"The former president in 2005 helped the U.S. arm of Israel's treasury authority sell $101 million in investment bonds by speaking at a luncheon at the Pierre Hotel in New York that was jammed with real estate executives who wanted to hear his keynote address," the Post reported.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.