January 6, 2005
The Nation and The World
New Anti-Semitism Report
The U.S. State Department praised the work of European governments against anti-Semitism, but said law enforcement must do more to respond to anti-Semitic crimes. The State DepartmentÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s report addressing anti-Semitic incidents around the world – slated for release Wednesday and obtained in advance by JTA – comes after Congress passed a law last year mandating increased monitoring of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere. The report says recent anti-Semitism has come from traditional anti-Jewish prejudice in Europe, along with anti-Israel sentiment "that crosses the line between objective criticism of Israeli policies and anti-Semitism." It also cites anti-Jewish sentiment among Muslims in Europe, and spillover criticism of the United States and globalization.
Holocaust Lawyer Charged
A lawyer involved in the lawsuit against Swiss banks for Holocaust-era accounts was charged with misappropriating funds from two survivors. The Office of Attorney Ethics in New Jersey, the investigative arm of the New Jersey Supreme Court, charged last month that Ed Fagan, one of the lead attorneys in the case that resulted in a $1.25 billion settlement, transferred funds from the survivorsÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm) accounts to pay off debts. Fagan has yet to respond to the charges, which were first reported by the Black Star News.
Peruvian Community Gets Rabbi
An "emerging Jewish" community in Peru now has a rabbi and Jewish educator. The Jewish professionals serving the community in Trujillo are courtesy of the Israel-based Shavei Israel group. The community dates back to the mid-1960s, when several hundred Peruvian Catholics decided to live as Jews. Some 300 members of the community have already moved to Israel.
WJC Faces Informal Probe
New YorkÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s attorney general has launched a preliminary inquiry into allegations that the World Jewish Congress (WJC) mishandled its finances. In a statement, the group said it promised to cooperate with the informal probe launched recently by Eliot Spitzer. Officials with the group have said issues of financial transparency, which have roiled the organization in recent months, will be laid to rest at a meeting next week in Brussels. At the meeting, Stephen Herbits is expected to be nominated to the post of secretary-general, and the organizationÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s president, Edgar Bronfman, is expected to be re-elected.
Abuse in Ethiopia?
A North American Jewish group was accused of abusing Ethiopian Jews waiting to immigrate to Israel. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, some people living and working in Ethiopia accused the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ) of refusing to distribute food to the Falash Mura at the groupÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s Addis Ababa compound; of treating Ethiopians employed in a sewing facility like slave laborers; of threatening those who cry foul at their treatment; and of dispatching a thug to rough people up. NACOEJ denied the accusations, insisting the claims were born of a labor dispute between the organization and some school teachers that NACOEJ fired and who were refused permission to immigrate by Israel. NACOEJÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s executive director, Barbara Ribakove Gordon, told the Post that, as a result of some Ethiopian trouble-makers, the group had to shut down its school in Addis Ababa, which also served as its food-distribution hub, for three weeks, and that the group was unable to operate the program during that time. Some 300 Falash Mura Ethiopians whose Jewish ancestors converted to Christianity but who now have returned to Jewish practice immigrate to Israel each month, and thousands more are waiting.
Vatican: DonÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)t Return Survivor Kids
The Vatican instructed French churches that protected Jewish children during the Holocaust not to return the young Jews to their families at warÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s end. According to a letter from Nov. 20, 1946, published this week in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the wartime pope, Pius XII, said that children who had been baptized while in the churchÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s guardianship should not be reunited with surviving members of their families, HaÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)aretz reported. "The documents indicate that the Vatican completely ignored the Holocaust and murder of Jews," Amos Luzzatto, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, was quoted as saying in HaÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)aretz. "There is a sticking to theological arguments as though this were an ordinary situation, when in practice these children were not entrusted to churches to convert to Christianity but to save them from murder." The popeÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s letter was sent to Angelo Roncalli the Vatican representative in Paris who later became Pope John XXIII who shortly thereafter told IsraelÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s then-chief rabbi that RoncalliÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s authority could be used to return such children to their families.
Clerics Talk Reconciliation
Rabbis and imams opened a three-day peace conference in Brussels. Around 100 clerics attended the symposium, which began Monday under the auspices of BelgiumÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s King Albert II and the Hommes de Parole Foundation.
"For the first time, two religions that have been too often used as a pretext for war will be used to achieve peace," the eventÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s Web site said. Rabbi Michael Melchior, a left-wing Israeli politician and NorwayÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s chief rabbi, said Jews had as much to learn from the conference as Muslims.
"There are religious leaders on both sides who incite to violence in the name of religion," he told the Jerusalem Post. "And that must be stopped." The attending imams came from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Sao Paulo Jews Face Missionaries
BrazilÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s largest Jewish community published a guide to combat missionary activities. Supported by the U.S.-based organization Jews for Judaism, the Sao Paulo State Jewish Federation published an online guide on its Portuguese language Web site, www.fisesp.org.br, to teach Jews how to resist Jews for Jesus and other Christian missionaries. Some 60,000 Jews, one-half of Brazilian Jewry, live in Sao Paulo.
Farewell, Foie Gras
Israeli geese farmers were given three months to stop force-feeding their livestock, a step in making foie gras. On Monday, the KnessetÃ¯Â¿Â½(tm)s Education and Culture Committee upheld a High Court of Justice ban, as of April 1, on the controversial practice of force-feeding geese. The decision was a triumph for animal-rights activists and a snub to the Agriculture Ministry, which had argued that a humane method of feeding could be devised.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.