The Bush administration called on the president of Belarus to retract anti-Semitic remarks.
"We have seen reports of President Lukashenko's disturbing and irresponsible comments," a State Department statement said. "We find them deeply offensive and call upon him to disavow these remarks. World leaders have a special responsibility to combat anti-Semitism, not perpetuate it."
In an Oct. 12 broadcast, Alexander Lukashenko said of Bobruisk, a Belarusian port city: "This is a Jewish city, and the Jews are not concerned for the place they live in. They have turned Bobruisk into a pigsty. Look at Israel -- I was there."
Lukashenko was apparently soliciting favorable reaction from Iran, which has increased trade with Belarus in recent months. A Democrat and a Republican are soliciting signatures among U.S. House of Representatives colleagues for a letter slamming the remarks.
"Your government's tolerance of state-sponsored anti-Semitism is well documented," says the letter to Lukashenko initiated by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission, the congressional body that monitors human rights overseas, and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). "Anti-Semitic acts are only sporadically investigated and the Government allows state enterprises to freely print and distribute anti-Semitic material. Anti-Semitic acts of vandalism, intimidation and violence are on the rise. Amid this climate of anti-Semitism, your public statements are particularly dangerous."
Sarkozy: Israel's a Miracle
Ehud Olmert won rare French endorsement for Israel and its diplomatic policies. The Israeli prime minister, on a European tour to drum up support ahead of his U.S.-sponsored peace conference with the Palestinians, was hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Monday. Israeli officials quoted Sarkozy as telling Olmert that he considers Israel's creation a "miracle" of the 20th century.
Though the French president had a Jewish grandfather, he described his pro-Israel sentiments as less a matter of ancestry and more an acknowledgment of the country's role in introducing democracy to the Middle East. During his meeting with Olmert, Sarkozy reiterated his strenuous opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and said Israel's security is a "red line" that must not be crossed. But France has yet to support the idea of preventive military action as a last resort for blocking Tehran's atomic ambitions.
In a further departure from France's traditional equivocation on Middle East affairs, Sarkozy came out against the Palestinians' demand that their refugees get a "right of return" to land now in Israel. According to Israeli officials, Sarkozy said it is unreasonable for Palestinians to expect statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip while wanting their compatriots resettled in the neighboring Jewish state. Olmert traveled to London Tuesday for talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Coulter: For Jews, Jesus Was a 'Lunatic'
Jews believe Jesus was a "raving lunatic," Ann Coulter said. The celebrity pundit appeared on Oct. 15 on Michael Medved's radio show to defend comments on another show that she hoped Jews would be "perfected" by becoming Christians. Coulter told Medved, an Orthodox Jew, that the sentiment was unremarkable; most belief systems wish for universal conversion, she posited.
"Of course a Christian wants everyone to be a Christian," she said. "I assume all vegans think the world would be better if everyone were a vegan. And the global warming wackos would like everyone to believe in their crackpot global warming theory. And nonsmokers would like everyone not to smoke." However, she added: "Jews don't accept the New Testament, so, you know, as long as we're playing this new sport of 'he who is offended first wins,' if anyone's going to be offended by anyone else's religion, the Jews believe that my savior, a Jew, was a raving lunatic, and you don't see me sniffling and crying."
There is no Jewish theology of Jesus. There are a small number of isolated talmudic and midrashic references describing him as a rabbinical student who strayed and who lured others into heresy; these have had virtually no impact on Jewish views of Christianity. Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog, first highlighted Coulter's remarks.
Ahmadinejad Honor Outrages Armenian Jews
The Eurasian Jewish Congress condemned Armenia for honoring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian president was presented with an honorary doctorate Monday at Yerevan State University, as well as a gold medal. Ahmadinejad was visiting Armenia for a two-day state visit. In an interview with the Rosbalt news agency, Eurasian Jewish Congress representative and Armenian Jewish community President Rima Varzhepetyan expressed outrage at the decision to honor Ahmadinejad.
"The constant anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric of the president of Iran, as well as the regularly organized statements in denial of the Holocaust, place Ahmadinejad in line with theories not unlike those of Dr. Goebbels, one of the chief ideologues of Nazi ideology in Germany," Varzhepetyan said.
Court Lets Neo-Nazis March in Prague
A Prague court ruled that a neo-Nazi group can march through the city's Jewish quarter on Kristallnacht. This is the second time that the court has overturned a City Hall ban on the march by the National Resistance, according to the Czech daily Lidove noviny.
The rally is scheduled for Nov. 10, the anniversary of the 1938 German pogrom.
Prague officials banned the march, saying it would contribute to inciting intolerance and hatred against citizens on the basis of their ethnicity, origin and religious conviction. Prague's Jewish community will gather the same day for prayers to remember the victims of Kristallnacht, according to Lidove noviny.
Florida Governor Chided Over Mezuzah
Florida's governor has been criticized for hanging a mezuzah outside his office in Tallahassee. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said it could turn the state building into a shrine for other religious icons, the Palm Beach Post reported Friday, and is the equivalent of the government endorsing a religious symbol.
"The problem is that if he says yes to this religious symbol, he's not going to be able to say no to any other religious symbol," Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU, told the Post. "While it may look like a lovely gesture, it's very short sighted." Gov. Charlie Crist, a Methodist who has visited Israel this year, received the mezuzah as a gift from Jewish state Rep. Adam Hasner. The governor told the Post he understands the separation of church and state.
"But you have a freedom of religion, not a freedom from religion," said Crist, who told the Post he has no intention of removing the mezuzah. "All I'm doing is attempting to be respectful and grateful."
Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
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