House OKs Palestinian Aid

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved $200 million in aid to the Palestinians. The House voted 389-43 Wednesday on an $81 billion supplemental package, which is mostly for the war in Iraq, but with $200 million in fast-track aid for the Palestinians. An amendment set aside $5 million of the $200 million for an outside audit of the money and removed the president’s traditional national security waiver, which means all the money would be subject to congressional oversight. The provisions are still subject to Senate approval.

Calif. Juries Keeping Jews Off?

An accusation that Jews and black women were excluded from death-penalty cases in California is putting dozens of convictions in question. A former prosecutor in Alameda County said in a sworn declaration that excluding the groups from juries in capital cases was standard practice, The New York Times reported. John Quatman made the statement in the case of Fred Freeman, an inmate who was convicted of killing and robbery at a bar in 1987. The statement is already being used in the case of another inmate who is appealing his decision. County officials denied the claim.

Wolfowitz to head World Bank?

President Bush nominated Paul Wolfowitz, a former deputy secretary of defense, to head the World Bank. Wolfowitz, who is Jewish, would take over from current president, James Wolfensohn, who is stepping down effective June 1. Bush said he canvassed other world leaders for support for his nomination. The nomination is not guaranteed, but the bank’s 24-member board traditionally supports the American nominee.

Michigan Defeats Divestment

The University of Michigan student government defeated a resolution to consider divestment from Israel. The Michigan Student Assembly voted 25-0 on Tuesday against establishing a committee to consider dropping the university’s investments in companies that do business with Israel, according to the campus newspaper. Hundreds of students and community members showed up for the meeting. Israel’s detractors wore T-shirts calling Israel an apartheid state, and Israel’s supporters wore blue tape on their shirts for solidarity with the Jewish state, said Wayne Firestone, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition.

The president of the Student Assembly, Jason Mironov, a pro-Israel activist, gave a presentation debunking the charges of the proponents of divestment, and other pro-Israel speakers opposed the move by underscoring Israel’s disengagement plan, Firestone said. Two years ago, the University of Michigan hosted the annual conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, which calls for divestment from Israel.

An Arab Yad Vashem?

Israeli Arabs have opened a Holocaust museum. The Arab Institute for Holocaust Research and Education was opened in the city of Nazareth this week in parallel to the inauguration of a new museum to Yad Vashem.

“Our objective is to spread information about the Holocaust to the Arab world,” said the institute’s founder, Khaled Mahamid.

He suggested that if Palestinians avail themselves to such knowledge, it could improve their understanding of Israel’s concerns.

“Anyone who is exposed to the Holocaust will have his attitude changed. Jewish consciousness is predicated on the Holocaust,” he said.

Canadian Muslim Won’t Be Charged

A Canadian Islamic leader will not be charged under Canada’s hate-crime laws for controversial remarks he made on a television talk show last fall. A Canadian police commission decided that Mohamed Elmasry, the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, would not be charged for telling a television panel in October that all Israelis above the age of 18 were legitimate targets for Palestinian terrorists. Elmasry insisted upon the point after being challenged by the show’s host and other panelists. The commission ruled that the comments, “although distasteful,” did not “constitute a criminal offense.” Elmasry apologized after Jewish groups denounced his remarks and fellow Muslim organizations distanced themselves from them. He claimed he had been misunderstood and that he had only been expressing the average Palestinian’s opinion and not his own. B’nai Brith Canada has requested a review of the decision.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency