L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa met with Muslim leaders last week who accused him of favoring Israel. Muslim leaders say Villaraigosa has ignored their invitations to peace vigils, but attended a pro-Israel rally. Villaraigosa met with 10 Muslim leaders Sunday, telling them that a mix-up by his staff had kept him from accepting their invitations, according to spokeswoman Janelle Erickson.
Villaraigosa convened the meeting after the Muslim leaders, in a news conference last Friday, accused him of not representing all groups affected by the conflict.
"It was gracious of him to say, 'I apologize for the lack of communications,'" said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Shura Council of Southern California.
The mayor, who attended a July 23 pro-Israel rally sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, reiterated his support of Israel to the group, according to a mayoral office source, and informed them he would not hesitate to appear of Israel's behalf in the future. -- Staff Report
More Looted Paintings to Be Auctioned
When Christie's auction house in New York sells four paintings by Gustav Klimt this fall, it will bring a certain closure to the 68-year-old saga of Maria Altmann and the art looted from her family by the Nazis.
The fifth, and most valuable, of the Klimt paintings returned by Austria to Altmann in January was recently purchased by cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder for $135 million. The gold-flecked portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Altmann's aunt, now hangs in Lauder's Neue Galerie in Manhattan.
The four other paintings, a second portrait of Bloch-Bauer and three landscapes, are valued at about $100 million, The New York Times reported Monday. No decision has been made by Christie's whether to sell the paintings through an auction or privately.
When the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, they confiscated the Klimt paintings, which ended up at the Austrian National Gallery after the war. Their return to Altmann culminated a seven-year legal and diplomatic struggle by the 90-year-old Cheviot Hills resident and her attorney, E. Randol Schoenberg.
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
L.A. Chapel Vandalized
Vandals smashed a menorah in the chapel of the Sholom Memorial Park section of the Glen Haven Memorial Park and Mortuary in Sylmar. The attackers, who remain at-large, knocked over pews and pulled several caskets from a storage area and vandalized them. Employees discovered the vandalism Saturday morning. Police are treating the incident as a hate crime because the Christian chapel at the cemetery was not damaged.
Seattle Shooting Victim Recovers
One of the shooting victims at the Seattle Jewish federation is recovering despite an enormous loss of blood and a heart attack. Christina Rexroad, a devout Christian, is an accountant at the federation. One person was killed and five wounded when a Pakistani American, Naveed Afzal Haq, allegedly shot them July 28 after making anti-Semitic comments. One of the other victims is still in serious condition and on a respirator.
Bush Extends Iran Sanctions Deadline
President Bush signed a bill extending sanctions on Iran. The bill extends the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act to Sept. 29, and was signed just hours before it was due to expire after 10 years. The Senate approved the bill on Monday. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who sponsored an identical version that passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House of Representatives, said the temporary extension is necessary to provide additional time for House-Senate negotiations on the final text of a much tougher Iran sanctions bill passed this year by the House.
Israel Recalls Envoy to Venezuela
Israel recalled its ambassador to Venezuela. The move was made after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez compared Israel to Hitler and made other vehemently anti-Israel remarks on a recent visit to Iran. In an interview last week with Al-Jazeera, Chavez said Israel's military action was an "unjustified aggression that is being carried out in the style of Hitler, in a fascist fashion." He also recalled Venezuela's ambassador to Israel.
Reuters Admits Photo Was Doctored
Reuters admitted it altered a photograph of an Israeli airstrike on Beirut, making the bombardment appear more intense. The news agency said the doctored image showed much more black smoke billowing over the buildings following Saturday's strike than there actually was. The news agency said it had fired the Lebanese photographer who submitted the photo.
Israeli Kids Find Shelter in Poland
A country some Jews still think of as ground zero for European anti-Semitism is among the first in Central and Eastern Europe to sponsor a free getaway for young Israelis from Northern Israel. Fifteen Jewish teens from Nahariya are currently on an 18-day vacation in Poland that began last Sunday. The tour includes hotel, kosher meals, sightseeing, educational programs and Jewish community visits, with the cost being shared by city of Lodz, the Lodz Jewish community, LOT Airlines and the Polish president's office. "We want them at least to forget for a little while about what is happening in Israel," said Jarek Nowak, a member of the Lodz City Council who played a key role in organizing the trip.
Group: Reconsider Saudi, Syrian Roles
A U.S. Jewish group urged the Bush administration to reconsider a Saudi diplomatic plan and Syria's role in peacemaking. The letter from the Israel Policy Forum to Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, thanked her for supporting Israel in its current war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and suggested the United States consider the "constructive involvement" of Arab states.
Canadian Leader Confirms Israel Support
Canada's prime minister reiterated his support for Israel in its war with Hezbollah, although it may be hurting his government's popularity. Recent polls show that Stephen Harper's government has slipped in popularity due to its pro-Israel stance, but Harper said his government will not change its positions on the Middle East.
Pro-Hezbollah March in Baghdad
Hundreds of thousands of Shiites turned out in Baghdad last Friday to show support for Hezbollah. The demonstrators, who are loyal to the Mahdi Army, a militia started by Muqtada al-Sadr that is modeled on the Lebanese terrorist group, chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" as they marched through Sadr City, a Shiite stronghold in the Iraqi capital.
Israel Can't Host Soccer Games
Israel was barred from holding international soccer games because of the rockets landing in northern Israel. UEFA, the governing body for European soccer, said Monday that all games scheduled to be played in Israel will be played abroad until further notice. The ban means that Maccabi Haifa will have to find an alternate site for its Champions League match Aug. 22 against Liverpool.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.