World Briefs

California Tries To Help Survivors

State Treasurer Phil Angelides has called on 170 of California’s largest financial institutions to waive wire transfer fees charged Holocaust survivors and their families for restitution payments from abroad. During a news conference at Bet Tzedek legal services, Angelides said that the reparation payments, primarily from Germany, averaged $350 per month.

With banks charging a $10-$40 handling fee per transfer, such fees can subtract up to 10 percent of the modest monthly payments. Especially hard hit are the estimated 40 percent of the 6,000 to 8,000 survivors in California living in poverty, noted Mitchell Kamin, executive director of Bet Tzedek. The 170 financial institutions include banks, credit unions, savings and loans, and broker/dealers. Banks that have up to now agreed to waive the fees are Bank of America, Bank of California, Citibank, City National Bank, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and World Savings.

Congress Briefed by Israeli Terror Victims,

Sarri Singer, an American who was injured in a bus bombing in Israel, shared her story with lawmakers on Tuesday, July 22. Singer joined 25 other victims of terrorist attacks in Israel on Capitol Hill speaking to lawmakers about the physical and emotional pain they have endured in a trip sponsored by One Family Fund.

“This is not a normal life to live,” said Singer, the daughter of New Jersey’s Senate majority leader. “There’s no reason why innocent people should be hurt or killed for land or any objectives.”

Meanwhile, three members of the Palestinian Authority’s Cabinet met with congressional leaders to discuss the “road map” peace plan. Nabil Kassis, Ghassan Al-Khatib and Ziad Abu Amr met with several tough critics of the Palestinians in Washington on Wednesday, including Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), ranking minority member of the House of Representatives’ International Relations Committee. The ministers are seeking assurances that the United States will still back the formation of a Palestinian state even if Israel does not keep its commitments under the road map.

Jewish Terror Cells Active?

At least two Jewish terror cells are operating in the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli defense sources said. The sources were quoted by Israel Radio on Sunday as saying the cells have been responsible for planting roadside bombs and carrying out shooting attacks against Palestinians. The disclosure came on the heels of the weekend arrest for security offenses against Palestinians of Yitzhak Pass, whose infant daughter, Shalhevet, was killed by Palestinian sniper fire in March 2001.

N. American Jews Go to Israel

About 350 North American Jews immigrated together to Israel this week. The July 22 flight, coordinated by the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, in conjunction with the Jewish Agency for Israel, is the second such immigration of the summer. The immigrants are slated to be welcomed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday by Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres.

Army Engineer Wins Clearance

A U.S. Army engineer falsely accused of spying for Israel had his security clearance reinstated. The U.S. Army recently restored the top-secret security clearance of David Tenenbaum, an Orthodox Jew who is a civil engineer for the Tank Automotive Armaments Command in Warren, Mich., the Detroit Jewish News reported.

In 1997, Tenenbaum became the focus of an FBI probe — and the subject of national headlines — amid allegations of spying for Israel when he applied for top-secret access. Tenenbaum’s lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, called the recent decision “unbelievably gratifying,” but Tenenbaum said he remained “deeply troubled and hurt that my entire ordeal was a direct product of anti-Semitism.”

Judge: Iran Must Pay

Iran must pay $313 million to the children of an American woman killed in a 1997 bombing in Jerusalem, a U.S. federal judge ruled July 17. Leah Stern, 69, was killed in an explosion at the Mahane Yehuda produce market on July 30, 1997. The decision for Stern’s family came the same day that the State Department pressed Congress to limit compensation in such cases to a few hundred thousand dollars, The Washington Post reported.

British Torah Sage Dies

Rabbi Bezalel Rakow, a leader of Britain’s ultra-Orthodox community, died Saturday, June 19. He was born in Germany in 1927. Rakow, chair of the Council of Torah Sages of the Agudas Yisroel of Great Britain, immigrated to England with his family in 1939.

AMIA Bombing Files to be Opened

Argentine President Nelson Kirchner pledged to open secret police archives pertaining to the bombing of the main Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The announcement by Kirchner, made Monday, July 21 in a meeting with Argentine Jewish leaders, came after he pledged to open secret intelligence files relating to the July 18, 1994 bombing, which killed 85 people. Also Monday, Kirchner vowed in a meeting with a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to open files relating to suspected Nazis who immigrated to Argentina after World War II.

Morocco to Try 700 for Bombings

Morocco will put 700 people on trial next week in connection with May suicide bombings. The scale of the trials for the May 16 bombings surprised human rights groups. The bombings primarily targeted Jewish institutions, though no Jews were among the 44 people killed.

Kosher Passengers to Go Hungry

US Airways is no longer serving kosher meals to its coach passengers on domestic flights. Because of budget cuts, the airline will no longer serve kosher, vegetarian, hallal, diabetic or vegan meals, according to the Washington Jewish Week.

“All special meals are being eliminated [in coach class],” said Amy Kudwa, manager of media relations for the airline. First-class passengers can still order such meals.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency