Briefs: Big blame finger points to Olmert, poll says Americans back Israel anyhow

Winograd Will Blame Olmert

The Winograd Committee’s final report will likely blame Ehud Olmert for the Second Lebanon War’s final 60 hours. London’s Sunday Times reported Sunday that the report, to be published in the next few weeks, will focus on Olmert’s decision to continue fighting after the United Nations brokered a cease-fire with Hezbollah in August 2006. The report will say Olmert caused the 33 deaths that occurred in the final 60 hours of the war. The London Times quoted one source as saying, “Olmert, aware that a cease-fire agreement was under way, ordered the army to carry out an impossible operation to wind up a failed war against Hezbollah with a big showdown.”

The Winograd Committee was established to examine the preparedness of the army and the government for the war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. Sources told the Times that the conclusions will likely cause a political crisis when they are released.

ADL Poll: Americans Back Israel

American sympathies lay more with Israelis than with Palestinians, a new poll found.

Sixty-five percent of Americans consider Israel a reliable U.S. ally and believe Israel is serious about reaching a peace deal, according to an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey released Monday. Fifty-eight percent also generally view Israel favorably.

Only 16 percent said their sympathies lay with the Palestinians, compared to 45 percent for Israel. Forty-seven percent blamed the Palestinians for deteriorating conditions for peace, and 47 percent attributed Palestinian difficulties to their own leadership.

“These findings are reassuring, not only because of continuing strong support for Israel, but because Americans understand that without a major Palestinian effort to deal with terrorism, there can be no viable Palestinian state,” Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement.

The survey, conducted by the Boston-based Marttila Communications Group, polled 2,000 Americans nationwide by telephone. The margin of error is 2.19 percent.

Report: Israel Trying to ‘Judaize’ Temple Mount

A Turkish team sent to inspect the Israeli excavations near the Temple Mount blamed Israel for attempting to harm sites holy to Muslims and for conducting what they call unnecessary digs near the Mugrabi Gate, according to the Turkish daily al-Zaman, which published large parts of the report Sunday.

The Turkish team visited the site in March, but the report’s release was delayed due to political concerns, including the recent debate over the Armenian genocide issue.

The Turkish Consul General, Ercan Ozer, who is an architect, an archeologist, a geologist and a history professor, warned that “Israel is trying to change Old Jerusalem’s character and to ‘Judaize’ the history of the Temple Mount,” Yediot Achronot reported.

Israel’s foreign ministry responded to the report saying “Israel is cooperating fully with UNESCO, which had sent a professional team to the site of the dig and published a report refuting all the allegations against Israel.”

Rabbis, Imams Slate Annual Dialogue

Participants in an interfaith summit agreed to create a national weekend for Jewish-Muslim dialogue during the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, according to the text of a resolution adopted at the conclusion of last week’s summit.

The weekend will see the “twinning” of synagogues and mosques around the country, focusing on the need for dialogue.

“We call upon the leaders of the American Muslim and Jewish communities to encourage their followers to participate actively in this weekend, so that true love, respect, friendship and cooperation may become the hallmark of our relationship,” the statement said.

Twenty-five rabbis and imams from around the country attended the New York summit, which was organized by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. The concluding resolution also recognized the “pressing moral imperative” for Jewish-Muslim dialogue.

Traditional Bar Mitzvah for Most Israelis

Some 90 percent of Israeli boys celebrating their bar mitzvah will have a traditional ceremony, a poll found.

Traditional ceremony in the Ynet-Gesher poll meant the bar mitzvah would read from the Torah and put on tefillin. Seventy-nine percent of secular parents interviewed said they would have the traditional rite, compared to 100 percent of those who identified as religiously observant. Sixty-five percent of respondents overall would hold the ceremony at an Orthodox synagogue and 26 percent at the Western Wall.

The poll interviewed 500 Hebrew-speaking, Jewish respondents. When questioned about a bat mitzvah, 33 percent of the respondents said some sort of spiritual context should be included, while 28 percent said they would hold a party in a social hall.

Women Leaders Convene in Israel

Seventy women leaders from 58 countries converged on Israel this week for a conference hosted by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Guests at the four-day event in Jerusalem and Haifa include Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.

The theme of the conference is “Women’s Leadership for Sustainable Development.” Participants will discuss programs from the gender perspective, and also will visit the Weizmann Institute and Tefen Industrial Park.

Chicago Man Deported for Nazi Service

Chicagoan Osyp Firishchak, 87, was sent back to his native Ukraine on Friday by a federal immigration judge, Robert Vinikoor, on the basis of his service in the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police during World War II. Firishchak, who was born in Trebuszany, in present-day Ukraine, immigrated to the United States in 1949 and became a U.S. citizen in 1954.

Firishchak was stripped of his citizenship in 2005 by a federal district court, which ruled that he “was a participant in an organization that perpetrated some of the most horrific acts against human decency ever known in history.” Firishchak concealed his UAP service when he came to the United States. The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which looked into the case, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security brought the removal action against Firishchak in March.

“Osyp Firishchak and his fellow UAP policemen played a central role in the murder of more than 100,000 Jewish men, women and children of Nazi-occupied L’viv,” OSI director Eli Rosenbaum said. “This order is another victory for the principle that the United States will not provide a safe haven for human-rights violators no matter how long ago the crimes were committed.”