Briefs: Hamas kills off faux Mickey Mouse; Rabbi named to new British cabinet

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Hamas Kills Off Its ‘Mickey Mouse’

Hamas plans to replace the Mickey Mouse look-alike that was killed off in its controversial children’s program.

Reuters this week quoted producers at Hamas’ Al-Aqsa Television as saying that Farfur, which drew international outrage by calling on young viewers to fight Israel and promote radical Islam, would be succeeded by other famous characters.

Farfur was a clone of the Walt Disney cartoon.

Farfur, the star of a show called “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” suffered a grisly end last week at the hands of an actor posing as an Israeli security agent. Hamas said he had been “martyred.”

Chabad Creates Sderot Relief Fund

Yosef Eliezrie was counting the hours in isolation at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where he was recovering from shingles and the lingering side effects of leukemia treatment. At the same time, he was thinking about the rockets falling on Sderot and wondering what he could do to help.

So he spoke with his father, Rabbi David Eliezrie, one of the main Chabad voices in Southern California. They decided to create the Chabad Sderot Relief Fund, and the younger Eliezrie set out to build a Web site where people could donate. It went live last week at

“It’s really something that is in my heart,” said Yosef, 21, who is coordinating the project. “I heard peoples’ stories and was devastated. I wanted to do what I could.”

Sderot, near the northern Gaza border, has been under a constant barrage of Qassam rockets. Last month, two Israelis were killed there by rocket fire. Money donated through the Web site will be sent to Chabad Sderot and used to distribute food, rebuild homes and fortify schools.

— Brad A. Greenberg, Contributing Writer

Israel Cracks Hamas Ring in Jerusalem

Eleven Palestinians from East Jerusalem are in custody on suspicion of raising money for Hamas terrorism and to enlist the support of Israeli Arabs, the Shin Bet announced Monday. The suspects — 10 of whom have Israeli identity cards — are accused of trying to establish virtual Hamas control of the Temple Mount by bankrolling renovations around two major Muslim shrines there. That was a direct threat to the prestige of Jordan, an Israeli ally that formally oversees the administration of the Temple Mount’s mosques. It was not immediately clear how the detainees would plead to the charges. Hamas declined comment.

Israel has stepped up its scrutiny on suspected Hamas activities in Jerusalem since the terrorist Islamist group swept Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006.

Katsav Complainant Considers Civil Suit

A woman who accused former Israeli President Moshe Katsav of rape is considering a civil suit. Complainant A., whose name has been withheld for privacy reasons, responded angrily to the attorney general’s plea bargain in which Katsav confessed to minor sexual misconduct in exchange for the dropping of rape charges. The complainant’s lawyer, Kinneret Barashi, said Tuesday that a claim for civil damages could be her client’s best recourse.

“We definitely disagree with the plea bargain and are considering this other option,” Barashi told Israel Radio.

Katsav has denied any wrongdoing in the affair.

Israel’s Finance Minister Quits Amid Probe

Israel’s finance minister formally quit over a fraud and embezzlement investigation against him. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed his Cabinet on Sunday that Abraham Hirchson told him he was relinquishing the finance portfolio. Hirchson took a leave of absence in April after police started probing allegations that he pocketed funds while in a previous post. Hirchson has denied wrongdoing. Leading candidates to replace him include Roni Bar-On, currently Israel’s interior minister, and former Justice Minister Haim Ramon.

But Ramon’s prospects have been clouded by his conviction on charges of sexual misconduct after he admitted to forcing a kiss last year on a female soldier.

Poll: Most Israelis Still Favor Two States

Most Israelis still would support a two-state peace settlement with the Palestinians despite recent events, a poll found. According to a Peace Index survey released this week by researchers at Tel Aviv University, 70 percent of Israeli Jews want to see a peace deal that would create a Palestinian state, though 55 percent believe it is not achievable at this time. The findings suggest that Israelis’ preference for a two-state settlement persists despite Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip last month, which prompted a dramatic split with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction. The poll found that 26.5 percent of respondents do not want a two-state solution. About 67 percent of respondents said Israeli moves to shore up Abbas should be conditioned on his security forces cracking down on terrorism.

The survey, conducted last week, had 580 respondents and a 4.5 percent margin of error.

Israel Begins PA Tax Handovers

Officials said Monday that Israel had transferred some $120 million to the new Palestinian Authority government set up by President Mahmoud Abbas after he broke with Hamas last month. Israel, which collects some $50 million in customs dues every month on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, began withholding the money after Hamas swept Palestinian Authority elections in January 2006. The funds have accrued and now amount to upward of $700 million. Israeli officials said they expect the remainder of the money to be handed over in stages over the next six months under a mechanism meant to ensure that none of it reaches Hamas.

Israel also said it will resume its monthly tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority this week.

British PM Appoints Rabbi

Britain’s new prime minister appointed Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger to his Cabinet. Neuberger will advise Prime Minister Gordon Brown on issues relating to the voluntary sector, especially in the arena of public health services, the area on which she speaks for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.

The appointment was announced over the weekend as Brown unveiled the remainder of his Cabinet choices. As Britain’s first female rabbi to have her own congregation and synagogue, Neuberger is Britain’s best-known female rabbi.

Dutch Auschwitz Panel Wants Victims’ Wall

The Netherlands Auschwitz Committee wants to erect a Wall of Names listing the 110,000 Dutch murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps.

The committee wants the memorial to stand in the Wertheim Park in Amsterdam, near the Jan Wolkers Auschwitz monument. The wall, to be completed by 2009, would feature mostly the names of Jews but also would include resistance fighters and political prisoners, according to Dutch press reports.

Jewish U.S Soldier Buried

More than 1,000 mourners attended the funeral of a Jewish soldier from South Florida who was killed in Iraq.

U.S. Army Specialist Daniel Agami, 25, affectionately known in his unit as “G.I. Jew,” was killed in Baghdad on June 21 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Agami was buried last week with full military honors at the Star of David Cemetery in North Lauderdale, Fla. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal.

Agami was a graduate of the Hebrew Academy Community School in Margate. Rabbi Yossi Denburg, dean of the school, said at the funeral that Agami “kept kosher while in the Army, he slept with an American and Israeli flag over his bunk, his rifle had a sign titled ‘The Hebrew Hammer’ and he named the U.S. Army-issued yarmulke his ‘Combatika.’ “

The Hebrew Academy has set up a scholarship fund in Agami’s name.

Capt. Jared Purcell, an army public affairs officer in Baghdad, said that in addition to his role as a combat soldier, Agami was a mentor to orphaned children in Iraq.

Renewal Gathering Draws 700

Nearly 700 Jewish Renewal practitioners are attending the movement’s biannual international gathering this week in Albuquerque, N.M. They have come to pray, study and create a “sacred community” at the 13th biannual Aleph Kallah hosted by Aleph: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

Aleph’s executive director, Debra Kolodny, said there are 140 members of the Renewal rabbinic association, Ohalah, and 115 candidates enrolled in Aleph’s training program for rabbis, cantors and rabbinic pastors.

Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shelomi, the 88-year-old founder of Jewish Renewal, sent a taped address to the opening-night session.

Only 43 of the participants are non-American, hailing from a handful of other countries.

Abraham Klausner, Advocate for Survivors, Dies

Rabbi Abraham KlausnerRabbi Abraham Klausner, the first Jewish chaplain (photo, left) in the U.S. Army to enter Dachau after its liberation, died at age 92. Klausner died June 28 at his home in Santa Fe, N.M., several years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, his wife told The Associated Press. Klausner had been a leading advocate for Holocaust survivors, collecting and publishing lists of survivors in volumes called “Sharit ha-Platah,” or “Surviving Remnant,” to try to reconnect children of the Holocaust to their families.

“He saved the lives of thousands of Jewish survivors and brought them together as much as he could with any families that would still be alive,” his wife, Judith Klausner, said.

Born in 1915, Klausner was the leader of Temple Emanu-El in Yonkers, N.Y., for a quarter century, until he retired in 1989.

Study: ‘Nachas’ Pays Off

Researchers at Haifa University’s school of social work, having monitored 216 pairs of grandchildren and their grandparents, reported Tuesday that there was a definite “quid pro quo” element in the emotional interaction between the two groups.

“The study results reveal that not only did grandchildren who were taken care of by their grandparents express a desire to help, they were actually very involved in helping with day-to-day things like transportation, shopping, nursing care, emotional support and initiating visits,” the university said.

While granddaughters tend to express greater desire than their brothers to aid their grandparents, in actuality the sexes are equally helpful, the researchers found. They recommended that families treat grandchildren as a key factor in caring for elders.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.