January 24, 2002
Shooting victims die
Two Israeli women, aged 79 and 56, died from wounds they sustained in Tuesday's Palestinian terror attack in Jerusalem. The older woman was identified as Sarah Hamburger, a resident of Jerusalem. A mother of four, Hamburger was onher way to a lecture when she was hit by the terrorist's gunfire. Hamburger was a seventh-generation Israeli.
Al Qaida Scouted Israel
An Al Qaida scout reported "exceptionally good opportunities" for terrorism in Israel and Egypt. According to the Wall Street Journal, the scout suggested in his report going after tall buildings and airplanes. The report was found on a computer used by Al Qaida operatives in Kabul. According to the report, the scout flew from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv on El Al with a new British passport.
After traveling around Israel, he went to Egypt by bus and then to Turkey and Pakistan by air. According to the report, the scout's travels bear a remarkable resemblance to trips made by Richard Reid, who was trained by Al Qaida and was arrested recently on a transatlantic flight when he tried to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes.
Sharon Suit Strains Ties
Israel may consider cutting ties with Belgium if legal action against Ariel Sharon continues, Foreign Ministry sources said. Israel's Army Radio quoted the sources as saying Israel does not rule out the possibility of cutting ties with Belgium if a Brussels court continues to hear a lawsuit filed against the Israeli prime minister. Sharon faces lawsuits filed by Palestinians and Lebanese accusing him of responsibility for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon, which was carried out by Lebanese Christian militias allied with Israel. Israel argues that the court is not authorized to consider the case, and to do so would violate Israeli sovereignty.
Conservative Rabbis Choose Israeli Leader
The Conservative movement's rabbinic arm is to be headed by an Israeli for the first time. The Rabbinical Assembly, which represents approximately 1,500 Conservative rabbis, mostly in the United States, will name Rabbi Reuven Hammer president at its convention next month in Washington. Hammer, who made aliyah from the United States in 1973, was one of the rabbis involved in the 1998 Ne'eman Commission, a group that sought to find a way for non-Orthodox rabbis to perform conversions in Israel that would be recognized by the government. He is a professor of rabbinic literature at the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies, the Conservative seminary in Jerusalem.
Arab American's Invitation Controversial
Some American Jewish leaders are angry that a controversial Muslim leader has been asked to address the State Department next week.
Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, is scheduled to address State Department staffers Jan. 28 to speak on "Rising Voices of Moderate Muslims," as part of the department's annual Open Forum lecture series.
Al-Marayati has been criticized by Jewish leaders for comments he has made about the State of Israel, most recently claiming Israel should be a suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, has written to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Richard Haass, director of policy planning, asking that Al-Marayati's invitation be revoked.
"Allowing Salam Al-Marayati to speak at the State Department will give him a podium and legitimacy that he does not deserve," Klein wrote in the letter.
Al-Marayati's comments on a Los Angeles radio show in the hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks outraged Jewish leaders and others.
"... I think we should put the State of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what's happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies," he said.
He later told the Los Angeles Times that the quotation was correct but taken out of context, and that he sent a "clarification" to Jewish leaders.
He has also justified suicide bombings in Israel, reportedly saying a bombing in a Jerusalem pizzeria last year was the "expected bitter result of the reckless policy" of the Israeli government.
"He represents the very thing we are fighting against," Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said this week.
When the issue was raised at the State Department briefing on Wednesday, spokesman Richard Boucher said Al-Marayati was not invited by the secretary, but by the forum's coordinators.
Israelis Face Extradition to U.S.
Two Israelis will be extradited to the United States to face drug dealing charges. Meir Ben David and Yossi Levi are suspected of distributing tens of thousands of Ecstasy pills in Florida. American prosecutors recently submitted a formal request for their extradition.
Wait for Messiah OK'd
The Vatican says the Old Testament validates the Jewish waiting for the Messiah. In a document that appears to show a shift in Catholic thinking, the Vatican declared, "The Jewish wait for the Messiah is not in vain."
Jews and Christians both are waiting for the Messiah -- though Christians are awaiting the second coming of Jesus, while Jews believe in a first coming, the pope's theologian wrote.
Now part of official church doctrine, the document also calls on Catholics to recognize the moral value of the Old Testament. The document reportedly was released last month with little fanfare.
All briefs courtesy of JTA.