Nation & World Briefs

Israel Reports Bird Flu Cases

Israel confirmed its first contagion by a deadly strain of avian flu. The Agriculture Ministry officially announced Monday that a virus that killed turkeys and chickens at three Negev farms was H5N1, a virulent strain that has spread across Europe, Africa and parts of Asia over the past three years.

The virus can kill humans if contracted from poultry, and scientists fear it could mutate and become directly communicable between people. However, the ministry said the outbreak, which prompted mass culling of poultry, was under control.

Families of Palestinian ‘Martyrs’ Receive UAE Funds

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has given money to families of Palestinian “martyrs” killed or injured in the intifada. The money to the families of both civilians and militants was provided through the UAE’s Red Crescent Society, The New York Times reported.

In at least one case, the money went to the family of a member of Islamic Jihad who was killed in clashes with Israel. The documents were provided to The Times by Gary Osen, a U.S. lawyer who is working on legal cases for U.S. victims of Palestinian terrorism.

The UAE is a federation of states that includes Dubai, where a government-owned company recently said it would sell its port-security operations to a U.S. firm, following an outcry about allowing a UAE-owned company to oversee security at U.S. ports.

EU Donates $78 Million for Palestinian Relief

The European Union donated $78 million for Palestinian relief. The sum, given to the United Nations on Monday for disbursement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was cast by the EU as an ad-hoc gesture that was not meant to undermine the 25-nation bloc’s calls for Hamas, which won a majority in January’s Palestinian Authority elections, to moderate its stance on Israel.

The EU has said its annual aid program of hundreds of millions of dollars for the Palestinians could be curbed or cut completely unless Hamas renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist and accepts past Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.

Lithuanian Trial of Accused Nazi Collaborator Begins

The L.A.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center called upon Lithuanian authorities to expedite the trial of Nazi collaborator Algimantas Dailide, which began Sunday in Vilnius.

The center’s Israel director, Efraim Zuroff, expressed hope that “the delay of justice and absence of punishment that characterized the cases of Dailide’s superiors” in the Lithuanian security police, Alexandras Lileikis and Kazys Gimzauskas, would not recur in this case.

Dailide moved to the United States in 1950 and lived here until he was ordered deported in 2002 for his service in the Saugumas, the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian security police for the Vilna Ghetto. No one has been convicted of Nazi-era war crimes in Lithuania since the country became independent in 1991.

Pollard Loses Court Bid for Access to Classified Data

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Jonathan Pollard’s petition for access to classified information used to convict him. A former U.S. Navy analyst, Pollard is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for spying for Israel.

On Monday, the high court rejected Pollard’s request for a hearing on a petition for his attorneys to receive access to the evidence to bolster Pollard’s argument for clemency. A hearing would not have affected Pollard’s conviction.

Rabbi Calls for Creation of World Religions Organization

One of Israel’s chief rabbis called for an international organization of religions. Yona Metzger, Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, called Sunday for a “United Nations of religious groups” as the second World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace opened in Seville, Spain, the BBC reported. About 150 rabbis and imams are taking part in the conference.

Also speaking at the three-day meeting, Rabbi Israel Singer of the World Jewish Congress’ Policy Council rejected the idea that Jewish-Muslim tensions lie at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He added that “religious crusaders” like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “must be exposed for what they are: impostors.”

Meanwhile, a group of Jews, Muslims and Christians is making a solidarity trek across North Africa. The 10-member interfaith team, sponsored by the peacemaking group, Breaking the Ice, set off from Jerusalem on March 7 for a four-week journey scheduled to end in Tripoli, Libya. Among those taking part in the 3,400-mile trek is a retired Israeli fighter pilot; a former body double for Saddam Hussein’s late son, Udai; a Palestinian accounting student; a New York firefighter, and a representative from Iran.

Michigan University Group Urges Israel Divestment

More than 40 professors and staff members at the University of Michigan presented a letter supporting divestment from Israel. Submitted online and to university regents last Friday, the letter argued that the school’s financial involvements in Israel posed “serious moral or ethical questions.”

During South Africa’s apartheid, university regents voted to divest stock of companies doing business with the nation, and some Jewish observers worry that they will do the same now with Israel-related stocks.

Backers of divestment say the move will pressure Israel not to violate Palestinian human rights, but opponents say it ignores the reality that Israel is responding to Palestinian terrorist attacks.

3 Beat Jew in Paris; Police Arrest Suspects in Attack

A Jewish man was attacked in his car in a Paris suburb. Sunday’s attack was carried out by three men of African and North African origin, according to the Office of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism.

The three forced the man to stop his car and forcibly removed him from the vehicle, allegedly calling him a Jew in Arabic. The man was thrown to the ground and beaten. His attackers fled when another car passed by.

The victim managed to get his attackers’ license plate number and go to the police station to press charges. The three men were then located and arrested.

Israeli Boxer Wins Prize

An Israeli boxer won a world heavyweight prize. Russian-born Roman Greenberg, 23, defeated Alex Vassilev in six rounds last Saturday at the IBO Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship in Monte Carlo. Now based in London, Greenberg has enjoyed 22 straight wins in his mostly amateur career.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.