New Israeli Cabinet member urges ‘ethnic partitioning;’ Gay pride parade OK’d and Jerusalem protests

Israeli Official Urges Ethnic Partitioning

An Israeli Cabinet minister called for the Jewish state and the West Bank to be partitioned according to ethnicity. Avigdor Lieberman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu Party said in an interview that rather than evacuating Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Israel should keep them, while ceding Israeli Arab communities to a future Palestinian state.

“I think separation between two nations is the best solution,” Lieberman told Britain’s Sunday Times. “I want to provide an Israel that is a Jewish, Zionist country.” He invoked as a model the forcible 1974 separation of ethnic Turks and Greeks in Cyprus.

Lieberman recently joined Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Cabinet as minister for strategic threats. A Lieberman aide told the Sunday Telegraph that under the partition vision, Israeli Arabs would have the option of remaining in the Jewish state on condition that they pledged allegiance to it.

Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade Gets OK

Israel’s attorney general turned down a request by Jerusalem police to call off this week’s gay pride parade. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ruled Sunday that the parade, which has drawn threats of violence from ultra-Orthodox protesters, could go ahead Friday Nov. 10, but he ordered organizers to confer with police on changing the route in order to reduce friction with Jerusalem’s religious communities.

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Mea She’arim rioted at the news that the parade was to proceed, blocking the city’s Shabbat Square with burning trash cans and blocking road access Monday to Mount Herzl. Police said Monday that 12,000 police and border police would be called in to protect the marchers.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Cancels Agunah Meeting

Jewish women’s rights leaders are reeling after Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi canceled a conference of prominent rabbis that was to deal with the issue of women who become agunah, or “chained” women, when their husbands refuse to give them a get.

The closed-door conference, which was set for Nov. 7-8 in Jerusalem would have been the first such forum for a large number of heads of beit dins. On Thursday, 27 of 56 invited rabbis were notified of its cancellation via fax from Rabbi Eliahu Ben-Dahan, director of Israel’s rabbinical courts, that said Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had decided to cancel the conference “due to petitions that came to him both from Israel and outside of Israel requesting its cancellation.”

Blu Greenberg, a founding president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said a few random meetings in lieu of a conference with the chief rabbi would “not be satisfactory,” but added that the cancellation could prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Although much of the community was not even aware of the conference, “they’ll be aware now,” she said.

Hospital Moves Sharon Out of Intensive Care

Ariel Sharon was moved out of intensive care and back to an Israeli coma ward. Sheba Medical Center announced Monday that the former prime minister, who was taken for emergency surveillance over the weekend after developing an infection, had been returned to his bed.

“His heart function has improved after being treated for an infection, and his overall condition has stabilized,” a hospital statement said.

Sharon, 78, has been in a coma since suffering a stroke in January.

Pope Deplores Gaza Violence

Pope Benedict XVI deplored the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the Gaza Strip.”It is with deep worry that I am following the news about the grave deterioration of the situation in Gaza, and I want to express my closeness to the civilian populations who are suffering the consequences of acts of violence,” the pope said Sunday in his weekly sermon at the Vatican.

The pope called for the “enlightenment” of Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as for other Middle Eastern nations which might have a role in brokering peace.

Israel Readies for Possible New War in ’07

Israel reportedly is preparing for the possibility of another war with Hezbollah, this time joined by Syria. Citing assessments among top military brass, Ha’aretz reported Monday that Israeli forces are on alert for a fresh fight initiated by the Lebanese terrorists and its Syrian patrons in the summer of 2007. According to the report, Hezbollah is believed to have come out of its recent war with Israel with more than 5,000 ground-to-ground missiles intact. In case of such a conflict next year, Iran would likely provide Hezbollah and Syria with backing but not get directly involved, Ha’aretz reported. Military officials declined comment on the report.

Technion Receives $30 Million Gift

A $30 million grant from the founder of QUALCOMM will allow the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to expand its graduate programs. Irwin and Joan Jacobs of San Diego announced recently at the American Technion Society’s annual meeting that they would make the donation to the Haifa school. The philanthropists previously had established a research center at the Technion for communication and information technologies. QUALCOMM established operations near the Technion campus in 1993 and has hired many Technion graduates.

Italian Jews Co-Sponsor Islamic Art Show

An exhibition of Islamic art is under way in an Italian synagogue. Called “SalamAleikum,” the show opened Oct. 29 in the historic synagogue in Casale Monferrato in northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Organized by the Casale Monferrato Jewish community and the Ibn Sina Center for European Studies, the show includes works by 14 artists from Algeria, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Italy and elsewhere. The exhibition runs until Nov. 23.

Geller Claims Psychic Aided Saddam Capture

Israeli psychic Uri Geller said a clairvoyant helped U.S. forces capture Saddam Hussein in 2003. Geller, who is in Israel to tape a reality television show for aspiring psychics, made the claim in an interview Monday. “You remember when they found Saddam Hussein in Iraq? A soldier walked over to a rock, lifted it and then found a trapdoor and found him in there,” he told Reuters. “Well, I know that that soldier walked over to that rock because he got information from a ‘ remote viewer’ from the United States.” Geller said he got the information from a high-level American source. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.