Bush Expected to OK Palestinian Aid

President Bush is expected to sign legislation that gives $200 million in aid to support the Palestinians. On Monday, the Senate unanimously passed the supplemental spending bill, which provides aid to support the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including $50 million for Israel to improve crossing points into the Palestinian territories, and $5 million for an audit of Palestinian finances. The bill does not give direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, but Bush may use a presidential waiver to allow some of the money to go to the organization.

AIPAC Elects New President

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) named Baltimore philanthropist Howard Friedman as its president-elect. Friedman, a longtime member of the board of the pro-Israel lobby, will assume the presidency in 2006. Friedman, the president of JTA’s board of directors, will succeed Bernice Manocherian at AIPAC.

“Howard Friedman represents the best of America’s pro-Israel movement,” AIPAC spokesman Josh Block said.

OU Wants Assisted Suicide Law Blocked

The Orthodox Union (OU) filed a brief supporting the blockage of an Oregon law that would allow physician-assisted suicide. The organization joined several Christian groups in an amicus brief in the case of Gonzales v. Oregon, which asserts the U.S. Justice Department’s right to block the use of federally controlled drugs for the purpose of assisted suicide. Nathan Diament, director of the OU’s Institute for Public Affairs, said the Bush administration’s position is consistent with Jewish teaching.

“The Bible instructs us to ‘surely heal’ the ill, not to speed their departure from this earth,” Diament said. “The attorney general’s directive restricting the resort to physician-assisted suicide was the correct law and policy on this matter, and we believe well within the power of the federal government to determine.”

Report: British teachers to Reconsider Boycott

A union of British university lecturers reportedly will call a special meeting to reconsider its boycott of two Israeli universities. The Association of University Teachers decided two weeks ago to boycott Bar-Ilan University for its alleged support of Israel’s presence in the West Bank, and Haifa University because of accusations that it mistreated a radical left-wing professor. The decision to reconsider the boycott comes in the wake of protest letters from union members, Ha’aretz reported.

Students Back Columbia Professor

Twenty current and former Columbia students wrote to school administrators insisting that a professor had not harassed a pro-Israel student. The students, who say they were in Joseph Massad’s class on the day of the alleged incident, sent a letter May 3 to Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, to other top members of the school’s administration and to members of a committee that found credible claims that Massad had threatened to kick a student out of class for holding pro-Israel views. The accusations “are unequivocally false,” the letter said. The report, issued March 31, found that Massad “exceeded commonly accepted bounds” in responding to a pro-Israel student’s question about Israeli warnings before military actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Falash Mura Tab Listed

The cost for transporting Ethiopian Jews to Israel will be some $23 million over the course of two and a half years. The cost was presented Tuesday to officials of the North American Jewish federation system by its overseas partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) , which will coordinate the aliyah. Falash Mura, descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity but have returned to Judaism, now immigrate to Israel at a rate of 300 per month. The Israeli government plans to double the rate of aliyah starting in June, so the group’s immigration can be completed in two and a half years. The Jewish Agency is budgeting more than $18 million for the operation; the JDC expects to pay $4.6 million. The figures do not include the cost of absorption once the Ethiopians arrive in Israel, said Mike Rosenberg, JAFI’s director general of immigration and absorption. The federation system is expected to raise the funds for the operation, though it hasn’t begun that campaign yet.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.