July 10, 2003
Jewish Leader Admits to Drug Charges
A German Jewish leader admitted to drug charges and resigned his post as vice president of the country's Jewish community. In a news conference Tuesday, Michel Friedman also asked forgiveness from the public, his colleagues and his girlfriend. Friedman, who is also a TV talk-show host, is one of the best-known spokespersons for Germany's Jews. He will pay a fine of roughly $19,000, but will not serve any jail time.
Abbas Quits Top Fatah Post
Mahmoud Abbas resigned from the Fatah movement's top decision-making body. In a letter to P.A. President Yasser Arafat, Abbas also threatened to quit as P.A. prime minister. Officials of Fatah, the main component of the PLO, refused to accept Abbas' resignation from the movement's Central Committee. Abbas' move may be an attempt to gain more support from Fatah members for his conciliatory policies toward Israel. Abbas has faced criticism that he is not working hard enough to gain the release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Attack Tests Cease-Fire
A local branch of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Monday night's suicide bombing in central Israel that killed a 65-year-old woman. But Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said talks with the Palestinians would continue despite the attack, which also wounded three of the woman's grandchildren. The Islamic Jihad branch identified the bomber as a resident of a Jenin-area village, and said attacks would continue as long as Israel failed to release all Palestinian prisoners. But senior members of the organization in the Gaza Strip said they were checking the claim and still stood by a three-month truce to suspend attacks, reports said. Mazal Afari was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in her home in Moshav Kfar Yavetz. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the bombing proves the Palestinian cease-fire is worthless.
Bush Names New Jewish Liaison
The White House has named domestic policy adviser Tevi Troy as the administration's new liaison to the Jewish community. Troy, who is Orthodox, previously served the Bush administration as deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Labor and was a policy director for Attorney General John Ashcroft when Ashcroft was a Republican senator from Missouri. He publicly defended Ashcroft against criticism from Jewish leaders during Ashcroft's confirmation hearings for the attorney general post in 2001.
Troy, who was sworn in June 7, will retain his domestic policy portfolio but will also assume responsibility for dialoguing with the Jewish community on domestic and foreign affairs issues. He replaces Adam Goldman who had served as liaison since Bush came to office but who announced in the spring that he was leaving the White House for the private sector.
Collaborator Arrested in Michigan
A Nazi collaborator was arrested after he was found hiding in Michigan despite a U.S. judge's 16-year-old deportation order. Johann Leprich was arrested July 1 hiding in a secret compartment below some stairs at his former home.
In 1987, after a judge revoked Leprich's citizenship because of his service as a concentration camp guard at Mauthausen, his attorney told U.S. authorities that he had moved to Canada.
Last week's arrest was the result of an investigation of both local and national law enforcement authorities, including the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations.
O.U. Picks Youth Leader
The Orthodox Union named a veteran Canadian youth leader as head of its national youth group, which had been clouded by a sex-abuse scandal. On July 3, the centrist Orthodox group named Zale Newman of Toronto, a 35-year veteran of its National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), as national director.
Newman, the creator of the educational program "Uncle Moishy and the Mitzvah Men," vowed to fight assimilation and intermarriage. Rabbi Baruch Lanner was imprisoned last year after being found guilty of sexually abusing two teenage girls while serving as a yeshiva principal and as an NCSY executive and youth leader.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.