World Briefs

Police: Suspects Financed TerrorIndirectly

There’s no evidence that members of the Islamic Movement arrested this week in Israel used funds to directly finance terror attacks, Israeli police said.

“We do not claim that the money was used to buy explosive belts” for suicide bombers, a police spokeswoman said.

But the movement is suspected of transferring money from abroad to help support families of suicide bombers.

“Without this financial support, Hamas would not be able to carry out terror attacks,” the spokeswoman said. Israel arrested 15 members of the northern branch of the movement on Tuesday.

Court Hears Petition Against ChiefRabbi

Israel’s High Court on Wednesday heard a petition challenging the appointment of the chief Ashkenazi rabbi. The petitioner, a Tel Aviv accountant, cited allegations against Rabbi Yona Metzger, including sexual harassment and forgery. Metzger’s attorneys rejected the allegations as baseless. The accountant also said Metzger is not qualified to serve as a rabbinic court judge because he did not complete the appropriate studies. Israel’s state attorney recommended that the court reject the petition on the grounds that under current law, the appointment of a chief rabbi can be canceled only if the rabbi resigns. The court will publish its decision at a later date.

Crown Heights Conviction

Lemrick Nelson was found guilty of violating the civil rights of yeshiva scholar Yankel Rosenbaum during the 1991 Crown Heights riots. However, the jury in the civil trial found Wednesday that Nelson was not responsible for Rosenbaum’s death. As a result of the conviction, which came a day after the jury said it was deadlocked, Nelson faces up to 10 years in jail.

Man Beaten in Berlin

An Orthodox Jew was beaten up in Berlin. Tuesday’s attack on the 19 year old, who wears a black hat and sports a beard, occurred in the Berlin subway. Three youths made anti-Semitic remarks to the man. They then followed him out of the subway, throwing fruit at him and asking if he is Jewish. They beat him when he refused to answer. The men are believed to be of Arab descent, police said. Earlier this week, a non-Jewish man who was wearing a Star of David also was beaten in Berlin by attackers who mistook him for a Jew.

British Burial Practices Questioned

Britain’s chief rabbi is calling for certain post-mortem procedures to be phased out after it was revealed that a Jewish man was buried without his brain, contrary to Jewish law. Jonathan Sacks made the call after the publication of the Isaacs Report, a three-year government study that reveals that tens of thousands of brains were removed from British corpses without the consent of relatives. The report focused on Cyril Isaacs, who committed suicide in 1987 and whose brain was removed for medical research into mental illness, unbeknownst to his family. He had suffered from depression.

N.J. Pressed to End Poet Laureate Job

A Jewish coalition is calling for the elimination of New Jersey’s poet laureate post. The coalition, which includes Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, U.S. Jewish groups and New Jersey rabbis, wants the position eliminated in order to oust the current holder, Amiri Baraka. Baraka made headlines last year when he read a poem that said Israel was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Harvard Center Investigates Donor

Harvard’s divinity school may return a $2.5 million gift from the president of the United Arab Emirates with ties to a controversial Arab think tank.

The executive director of the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-up once denounced Jews as the “enemies of all nations.”

In addition, the Web site for the center, which is described as a “fulfillment of the vision” of Sheik Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, features a list of speakers including a Holocaust denier and one who alleges that the United States was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

A spokesman for the school said a researcher recently had investigated the ties, but the spokesman declined to discuss the researcher’s findings, according to newspaper reports from Boston.

French Rabbi Scandal Deepens

A member of a Paris synagogue whose rabbi is accused of staging his own stabbing last January wrote a threatening letter to the rabbi shortly after the incident, police believe.

The man, whose identity has not been divulged, was arrested and appeared in court last week, the Le Monde daily reported Monday. Gabriel Farhi, the rabbi of Paris’ Liberal Synagogue, was treated for knife wounds following an alleged stabbing outside his synagogue on Jan. 3. Around two weeks later, he received a threatening letter regretting “that the job had not been completed.”

Anti-Israel Boycott Fails

A British teachers union rejected a motion to boycott Israeli academics. By a 2-1 vote, the Association of University Teachers (AUT) rejected a motion by Sue Blackwell, a pro-Palestinian activist from Birmingham University, for AUT members to “review immediately, with a view to severing, any academic links they may have with official Israeli institutions, including universities.”

Andy Marks, founder of the International Academic Friends of Israel, said, “We are pleased that the AUT came to the right conclusion. However, it concerns us that such a motion ever made it on their agenda.”

Orthodox Group Eyes Liquor Ban

A rabbinical group will consider banning hard liquor in Orthodox congregations. Rabbi Hershel Billet, the president of the Rabbinical Council of America, told the New York Jewish Week that he will propose restricting the use of hard liquor on Shabbat and other religious occasions during the group’s annual convention later this month.

Billet is the rabbi of Young Israel of Woodmere, N.Y., which recently issued its own liquor ban after a teenage member drank too much and got sick at a “Kiddush.”

3 Charged in Tel Aviv Bombing

British police charged three people in connection with the recent deadly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Zahid Hussain Sharif, 46; Paveen Akthor Sharif, 35; and Tahari Shad Tabassum, 27, all from Derbyshire in England, were charged with failing to disclose information about a terrorist act. Paveen Sharif also was charged with aiding and abetting acts of terrorism overseas.

General Strike Resumes

Israeli public sector workers renewed a general strike Tuesday after negotiations between Treasury and trade union officials on an emergency economic plan broke down. Seaports, trains and government offices were shut down, while schools opened an hour late and hospitals operated on a Sabbath schedule. There also were disruptions at Ben-Gurion Airport, where work stoppages by baggage-handlers Monday prompted the pilot of a Czech airlines flight to take off without boarding outgoing passengers and with the luggage of those who had just disembarked still in the cargo hold.

El Al to Fly on Shabbat?

The privatization of Israel’s national airline could lead to El Al flying on the Sabbath. El Al’s stock will be sold on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by the end of the month, according to a decision made Tuesday by the Knesset Finance Committee. El Al’s new management would decide whether the airline would fly on Shabbat.

Bush Won’t Party for Israel

President Bush will not attend a gala for Israel later this month in Washington because he never received an invitation, White House officials say. Organizers of the Spirit of Israel Concert had touted the expected appearance of Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the May 19 event. But White House officials told JTA they did not receive an invitation and have a state dinner planned that night with the president of the Philippines.

Condoms for Israel

Student activists in San Diego passed out condoms that read, “Israel: It’s Still Safe to Come.” Activists with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life at the University of California at San Diego dispersed the condoms with a pamphlet promoting Israel’s record in protecting the rights of women and gays, in contrast to other countries in the region, the San Diego Jewish Press-Heritage reported May 2. The move is part of UCSD Hillel’s “Got Israel” campaign

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency