NY Times: We turned down a different version of Goldstone retraction

The New York Times has denied rumors that it refused to print an opinion piece authored by jurist Richard Goldstone in which he retracted some of the statements made in his UN Human Rights Council report on the war between Israel and Gaza in 2008-2009, political columnist Ben Smith reports in Politico.

A New York Times spokesperson stated in an e-mail that the paper did, in fact, receive an op-ed submission from Goldstone on March 22, but that the piece that he submitted at that time was significantly different from the one that he eventually published in the Washington Post on April 3.

A source close to the New York Times told the Politico website that the major difference between the two versions was that the op-ed that was originally submitted to the paper did not include the “crucial repudiation of the report’s central thrust.”

Read more at Haaretz.com.

N.Y. rabbis pull out of Muslim-Jewish twinning project

Two rabbis in western New York have pulled out of a Muslim-Jewish outreach effort, charging that the national sponsor is involved in Islamic fundamentalism.

The “twinning” project, which has been held each November since 2008, is a project of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in cooperation with the Islamic Society of North America, which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing case.

Rabbi Irwin Tanenbaum of Temple Beth Am and Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein of Temple Sinai, both of Amherst, declined to participate in the twinning events this month, despite participating last year, citing concerns about the Islamic Society’s links to Islamic fundamentalist groups, the Buffalo News reported Nov. 11.

Rabbi Drorah Setel of Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls, N.Y., is the only area rabbi to go forward with the program, according to the newspaper.

“The conflict in the Middle East ends up affecting passions here,” Lazarus-Klein told the Buffalo News. “The issues are very close to people’s hearts, and it’s difficult to separate the world politics from local politics, and that’s unfortunate.”

A national group based in Boston last year warned Buffalo-area Jews that radical Muslims posing as moderates had infiltrated the area.

“What we found was that the entities behind the Buffalo interfaith effort are anything but moderate,” Ilya Feoktistov, research director of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, wrote in an online publication.

One event held last week in western New York had to be moved from a small synagogue to a private home after objections by members of the congregation, the Buffalo News reported.

South Africa Jewish umbrella, NY’s Ackerman slam pressure on Goldstone

The South African Jewish umbrella body and a top U.S. Jewish lawmaker slammed the South African Jews who pressured Richard Goldstone into not attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah.

Following negotiations between the South African Zionist Federation and the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in Sandton, an affluent suburb of Johannesburg where the event is to take place, an agreement was reached with the family that will keep Goldstone, a judge and the author of the Goldstone report into the 2009 Gaza War, from attending the synagogue service early next month.

“The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council) deeply regrets that a religious milestone has been politicized and disagrees with the manner in which this matter has been handled,” a statement Thursday from the country’s umbrella body said in a statement entitled “Iin response to pressure resulting in Judge Richard Goldstone not attending his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah.”

“This position is in no way a comment on the merits or demerits of the Goldstone Commission and its subsequent report,” the Board of Deputies said.

Goldstone was the head of a United Nations-appointed commission that investigated the Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09. The commission’s final report accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee, expressed outrage at the pressure on Goldstone.

“As an unapologetic critic of the Goldstone report, and of Judge Richard Goldstone’s badly warped perspective on Israel’s right to defend itself, I am appalled and utterly disgusted by reports that Judge Goldstone will not be able to attend the bar mitzvah of his grandson due to protest threats by Jewish groups in South Africa,” Ackerman said in a letter to Avrom Krengel, the chairman of the SAZF. “There is absolutely no justification or excuse for carrying legitimate opposition and criticism of Judge Goldstone’s (wretched) professional work into the halls of his family’s synagogue, much less the celebration of a 13 year-old Jewish boy’s ritual acceptance of responsible membership in the Jewish community.”

Jewish groups, including the SAZF, had planned to organize a protest outside the synagogue if Goldstone was in attendance, according to reports.

Krengel told JTA earlier that “We understand that there’s a bar mitzvah boy involved – we’re very sensitive to the issues and at this stage there’s nothing further to say.”

Jewish groups gear up for Ahmadinejad’s trip to N.Y.

NEW YORK (JTA) — With hundreds of world leaders, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, slated to come here next week for the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly, Jewish groups will be campaigning both privately and publicly against the Iranian regime.

The centerpiece of the public effort will be a mass protest rally Sept. 22 at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, across from the United Nations.

Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, will be among the featured speakers, according to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which is organizing the demonstration.

Meanwhile, behind closed doors, leaders of a handful of Jewish groups will take advantage of the opportunity to meet with presidents, prime ministers and top diplomats to press issues of concern to Jews.

“It’s an annual diplomatic marathon with leaders who descend on New York each year for the opening of the G.A.,” said David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “We have 60 to 70 private individual meetings scheduled. At each meeting, the Iran question is at the top of the agenda.”

The efforts come as chances dim for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran, given that Russia and China, both veto-wielding members of the Security Council, oppose new sanctions.

Jewish groups will be lobbying world leaders to enforce existing U.N. sanctions and take further steps against Iran wherever possible. They will urge countries to cut trade with the Islamic Republic, pass new laws against doing business with Iran and strengthen the coalition of nations actively trying to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The effort already is under way in Washington, where Jewish groups are lobbying Congress to close legal loopholes that allow U.S. businesses to conduct some trade with Iran.

Concomitant with the behind-the-scenes diplomacy, which is also conducted throughout the year, in part with visits by Jewish organizational leaders to capitals around the world, Jewish groups are going public, too.

They are trying to publicly shame oil companies that do business with Iran in a bid to cripple the oil trade that helps sustain the Tehran regime, highlight what Jewish groups say is Ahmadinejad’s genocidal threats, and educate the general public about Iranian-sponsored terrorism and the threat of a nuclear Iran.

The Anti-Defamation League has been waging a public campaign against oil companies with business in Iran by issuing a steady stream of news releases highlighting their activities. Among the companies are Shell and the Austrian energy giant OMV, which are planning to be part of a conference in Tehran in October to promote gas export opportunities with Iran. The Swiss government also is actively increasing its oil trade with Iran.

On the genocide issue, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs will host a half-day conference in Washington on Sept. 23 highlighting Tehran’s abysmal human rights record and the forecasts of Israel’s destruction by Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to address the General Assembly that day.

Though attendance at the Washington event, “Conference on State-Sanctioned Incitement to Genocide: What Can Be Done?” will be limited to approximately 120 participants, organizers are hoping the invitation-only crowd of members of the U.S. Congress and their staffers, the media and Washington’s foreign diplomatic corps will help sway those in positions of power to join the coalition of nations actively opposing the Iranian leader’s genocidal incitement.

“The idea is that Ahmadinejad is in violation of the most important human rights convention, the genocide convention, and as a result should be treated accordingly,” said Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. “There has been a growing number of voices who accept this determination.”

That same argument will be made much more publicly a day earlier when thousands of people are expected to converge on midtown Manhattan for a rally to protest Iran’s policies. In addition to Palin, featured speakers are expected to include U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Iranian dissidents, black ministers and Jewish leaders.

Organizers will be busing in demonstrators from as far away as Toronto and Montreal, and synagogue groups, schools and community groups all have been broadcasting the message to constituents to come out for the rally, which is scheduled to kick off at 11:45 a.m. The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York is organizing the event in conjunction with the Presidents Conference.

Jewish groups held a similar demonstration last year during Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York for the 2007 General Assembly. During the visit he also spoke at a forum at Columbia University.

Ahmadinejad this year is expected to attend a Sept. 25 break-fast Ramadan dinner, known as an iftar, hosted by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization.

The Quaker group and the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, where the iftar is to be held, did not respond to JTA inquiries about the event.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Presidents Conference, said the point of the rally is to send a message to world leaders and to Ahmadinejad himself.

“He knows all about it; last year in every television interview he made reference to it,” Hoenlein said of last year’s protest. “It was covered pretty widely in Iran, which is very important for us. We’re not going to be silent when someone threatens to destroy the United States and Israel, when his country engages in the persecution of women, minorities, human rights and children.”

When Ahmadinejad delivers his speech at the General Assembly the following day, Israel’s representatives likely will exit the plenum but leave a note taker behind, as they did last year.

Israeli President Shimon Peres will address the General Assembly the next day, on Sept. 24. Israeli officials declined to discuss the details of his speech.

For all their efforts, Jewish groups’ ability to get governments around the world to tighten the screws on Iran has its limits.

“What leverages are there to apply against these governments except moral suasion?” said the secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, Michael Schneider. “We don’t have a big stick that we can use.”

Harris said the argument to make is not that stopping Iran is a moral imperative for Israel or the Jewish people, but that a nuclear-armed Iran threatens the world.

“A key to diplomacy is to try to persuade someone else not that it’s in your interest, but why it’s in their interest to act,” Harris said.

“On Iran, we think there’s an abundance of evidence of why this is a regional and global problem: A nuclear Iran would create an entirely different and more dangerous geo-strategic environment generally, and a nuclear Iran would surely trigger a collapse of the nonproliferation treaty, and a number of other countries would go down the nuclear road in response to Iran,” he said. “Those arguments are compelling arguments whether you’re Israel’s closest friend or not.”

N.Y. or L.A. — which is better for dating?

In my now perhaps exceedingly long life as a single woman, I’ve lived in both New York and Los Angeles.

When people ask me which city is better when it comes to
dating, I can only answer by citing a famous scene from the horror classic, “When a Stranger Calls.”

The babysitter is getting threatening calls in a pre-Caller ID world. The police trace the calls and inform her in one chilling sentence: “It’s coming from inside the house.”

And so it is with dating.

That one scene scared me out of seeing horror movies or babysitting for the rest of my life. On the upside, it gives me some shorthand for my philosophy on this whole topic. If you are one of those people kvetching about the atrocious singles scene here in Los Angeles or wherever you happen to live, you may want to trace the call. Could it really be that an entire city is filled with flakes, players, gold-diggers, idiots, bimbos and trolls? Is it possible that there truly isn’t one single prospective mate in your age range without a mental disorder? More likely, the call is coming from inside the house.
It isn’t the city. It’s you. Bitter, intolerant and hopeless don’t play anywhere. If they did, my 20s would have been a lot more fun. I know it can be painful to be single, and I’m not blaming the victim — I’m blaming the victim mentality.

In my experience, who you are and how you see the world have much more to do with relationship success than your zip code.
Folks will disagree with me, they will get passionate about the lack of a “walking culture” here, the surfeit of plastic people with no spiritual core. Over there, over here, everyone has strong opinions on the subject. Having been single in Los Angeles, in San Francisco (where I grew up and lived until age 23) and in New York, I tell you it makes no difference. No difference at all.

At the risk of sounding like a refugee from a self-realization seminar, if you think you won’t find a man, you won’t. If you’ve decided all of the women here are stuck-up or beaten down, that’s what you’ll find. (Of course, there is the Kentucky Exception. My brother was transferred there for work and wound up dating all six girls on JDate before he was finished unpacking. Personality matters. But so does population.)

Here’s a story. I was living in New York working on a television news show. My friend fixed me up with her brother. We went out a couple of times before he stopped calling. Obviously, I wondered what I had done wrong, or why he had apparently fallen off the Staten Island Ferry. Luckily, I didn’t have to guess, because I had good intel from the sister.

Turns out, the guy had recently put on about 30 pounds and was sensitive about his appearance. He mentioned to me, as we were sitting at dinner, that he didn’t mind his recent weight gain. He patted his belly, if I recall, in a jovial sort of way.
“Really? That doesn’t bother you?” I asked, apparently with some disdain I hardly recall.

I don’t mind a big guy, so it never dawned on me that he was offended, which, according to his sister, he most certainly was. If you want a guy to lose your number, lose your decorum and hurt his ego. Just a little something I’ve learned along the way.

Here’s my point. I was insensitive and had a big mouth, qualities I unfortunately don’t save for when I land at JFK.
A couple of weeks later, I had another blind date. He showed up, a tall man with nice manners in a camel-hair coat, and I thought: “Great, count me in.” Until the third date, when the conversational well ran bone dry and I started mentally rehearsing my news segment for the next day while counting the dots on the wallpaper of a pizzeria on the Upper East Side.

I decided to give him another chance. Turns out, he was just nervous and quiet and Southern. We ended up dating two and a half years and are still close friends to this day. Listen, I may have my faults (see above rude comment that probably sent a man careening toward a bucket of cheese fries) but I’m also pretty open-minded. I give a guy a chance. I do that wherever I live. The ups and downs in my dating career have everything to do with my assets and foibles and nothing to do with the locale.

Just to show off some range, I’m going to go from a 1979 horror film to the golden age of Spanish Jewry. According to the philosopher and poet Moses ibn Ezra, “From your opinion of others, we know the opinion of you.”

Or like my dad says, “You spot it, you got it.” The horror movie, the philosopher, my pops, they’re all saying the same thing.

This is pretty good news when you think about it. Wherever you live right now can be the best place for meeting people in the world. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. You just change the outgoing message, and wait for the phone to ring.

Teresa Strasser in an Emmy Award- and Los Angeles Press Club-winning writer. She can be heard weekday mornings on the syndicated Adam Carolla morning radio show and is on the web at www.teresastrasser.com.

Wolpe Leading Pick for Seminary Spot

The Forward newspaper has reported that Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles has emerged as a top candidate to head the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York.

The Nov. 18 article, “L.A. Rabbi Eyed as Conservative Seminary Head,” asserted that “support is mounting for a prominent pulpit rabbi from Los Angeles to become the next chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, after he delivered an enthusiastically received speech last week on the future of Conservative Judaism.”

The position of JTS chancellor is widely viewed as the head of the entire Conservative movement, as well as the leader of its flagship institution.

Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Westwood told The Journal that he is flattered by the attention, but that he’s also happy with his current job. And that speech, he added, was hardly intended as part of a campaign strategy.

He said he planned his remarks six months ago, before Chancellor Ismar Schorsch announced that he would be retiring next June.

Wolpe’s Nov. 10 speech at the seminary, “What Does Conservative Judaism Have to Say to the 21st Century?” argued for changing the name of Conservative Judaism to “Covenantal Judaism,” to better encompass the view that rabbinic law is both binding and evolving.

Wolpe’s relative youth (he’s 47) and charisma have garnered him supporters. The search committee will make no comments, but other candidates are believed to include Rabbi Gordon Tucker, the rabbi of Temple Israel in White Plains, N.Y., known for his liberal positions, and Jack Wertheimer, the seminary’s provost, who, like the more conservative Schorsch, opposes ordaining gay rabbis.

Wolpe has served at Sinai Temple for eight years, and he’s known for political adroitness. He has, for example, never publicly stated his position on gays in the rabbinate, an issue of ongoing dispute. On the other hand, Wolpe stirred some controversy of his own in 2001 when he questioned whether the Exodus actually happened in a Passover sermon in front of his congregation.


Gaza Protests in L.A., N.Y. Prove Mild

A rally planned for last weekend outside the Los Angeles Israeli consulate to protest this week’s Gaza settler pullout was canceled, but in its place arose a somber gathering of about 70 people.

“Nothing organized — just people coming together and crying together and expressing pain together,” said Daryl Temkin, a Jewish community activist who spoke at the event.

The local Web site-based movement, www.SaveGushKatif.org, named after the main Jewish settlement bloc in Gaza, last week called for an Aug. 14 prayer vigil at the consulate. It hoped to attract hundreds of pullout opponents, as did a July 24 demonstration that drew about 500. By midweek, however, the rally was canceled.

“It was too much to pull off in one short time,” Temkin said.

But several dozen people did gather at the consulate Sunday night “to express feelings of love and support for what the people of Israel are going through.” People read psalms and spoke extemporaneously, Temkin said.

That same day in New York, several hundred Jews rallied outside the United Nations to pray for settlers in the Gaza Strip who are leaving their homes. The group said it was there to express sadness at the move, not to protest the withdrawal, the Associated Press reported.

The mild tone and modest attendance at the U.S. events contrasted sharply with the vigorous, defiant actions of thousands of demonstrators in Israel.


Rabbi Expelled Over Sex Abuse Claims


The decision of a leading association of centrist Orthodox rabbis to expel one of its members has highlighted for some in the community the difficulties of addressing sexual abuse in the Orthodox world.

Following an investigation into allegations from several women of sexual harassment, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) announced last week that it had expelled Rabbi Mordecai Tendler.

Tendler had “engaged in conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi” and refused to cooperate with the committee investigating the claims, the RCA said in a statement.

Tendler referred JTA to his spokesman for comment on the case, though he did say that members of his synagogue, Kehillat New Hempstead, located near Monsey, N.Y., have been “very supportive.”

Asked if he plans to remain in his pulpit, he replied, “Of course.”

Hank Sheinkopf, Tendler’s spokesman, said the RCA procedure leading to Tendler’s expulsion was “reminiscent of the Salem witch trials,” referring to fraudulent trials in colonial America.

“A decent man has been smeared, his family damaged irreparably and a community injured after a prolonged witch hunt,” Sheinkopf told JTA.

He complained that Tendler was not permitted to confront his accusers and that information on the case was leaked to the media.

The charges against Tendler include claims that over the last few years, he engaged in sexual affairs with several women, among them women who had come to him for rabbinic counseling.

Brian Leggiere, a clinical psychologist in Manhattan whose clientele is comprised largely of Orthodox abuse victims and offenders, said the case highlights the fact that the Orthodox community is beginning to “wake up” to issues of abuse among its leaders, but still has “a ways to go.”

“We imbue our leaders with a great sense of kavod, respect, and usually it’s deserved,” he said. “It’s a wonderful value, but when you have a community that over-idealizes [its leaders at times,] that’s a recipe that allows abuse to occur.”

In the Orthodox world, where marital matches, or shidduchs, are highly valued commodities, even the victims of abuse often remain silent for fear they will damage their chances to find a husband or wife.

Tendler’s expulsion reportedly went into effect immediately, though expulsion from the RCA does not necessarily entail removal from the pulpit. Some 1,000 ordained rabbis in 128 countries have membership in the RCA.

“Synagogues and institutions are entirely independent entities,” Rabbi Basil Herring, the RCA’s executive vice president, told JTA. “Therefore, it’s up to every synagogue to decide how it will wish to deal with its rabbi or its clergy or employees.”

Herring declined to comment directly on the case, as did several other RCA members complying with official RCA policy.

One Orthodox rabbi who requested anonymity said it was the first time the RCA had expelled a member following sexual abuse allegations.

The expulsion was based on protocols, instituted in April 2004 for addressing accusations of sexual impropriety against RCA members. The new protocols followed the highly publicized conviction of Rabbi Baruch Lanner, an Orthodox Union official who is serving seven years in prison for sexually abusing a student when he was principal of Hillel Yeshiva High School in New Jersey.

The Lanner case, in which allegations emerged that victims’ complaints had gone unheeded, has been seen as a watershed in the way the Orthodox community addresses sexual abuse.

Tendler’s expulsion is a particularly sensitive issue for the RCA, Orthodox insiders said, because he comes from an important family of respected rabbis. His father is the well-known bioethicist and Yeshiva University teacher Rabbi Moses Tendler. His grandfather, the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, was among the Orthodox world’s leading experts in Jewish religious law.

Orthodox movement insiders said Tendler gained respect for his work on women’s issues within Judaism, particularly his approach to helping agunot, women unable to secure divorces from their husbands.

“As painful as it has been” for the community to start coming to terms with abuse issues, “I think it’s helpful when it comes to the fore because it helps people respond,” Leggiere said. “Generally, people aren’t going to respond to a situation until you get past a level of denial.”



Iran Admits Supplying Spy Drones

The London-based newspaper A-Sharq al-Awsat quoted an Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer as saying the Lebanese militia received eight drones in August. On Monday, Hezbollah sent one drone on a 10-minute sortie over northern Israel, worrying the top brass in Tel Aviv.

Israel Halts Ivory Coast Arms Sales

Israel said it would suspend arms sales to the Ivory Coast after a French request. France, which formerly ruled Ivory Coast as a colony, destroyed the African nation’s air force in retaliation for the deaths of nine French peacekeepers and an American aid worker in a government airstrike on rebels. The French request was the second regarding the turmoil-plagued country in recent months, Ha’aretz reported.

Ads to Show Israeli Teachers

A pro-Israel advocacy group is launching a series of television advertisements focusing on efforts by Israeli teachers to teach peace in the classroom. The Israel Project’s ads, which are slated to begin Wednesday on CNN, Fox and MSNBC, feature three Israeli teachers talking about their efforts.

University Offers Jewish Certificate

The University of Denver’s School of Social Work is offering a certificate in Jewish communal service. The program will allow social work students to supplement their master’s degree social work curriculum with six Judaic courses, including a class in Jewish literacy and one in Jewish advocacy and public policy.

Filmmaker’s Killing Prompts Anti-Muslim Outbreak

The killing of a Dutch filmmaker, allegedly by an Islamic extremist, sparked anti-Muslim incidents in the Netherlands. Since the Nov. 2 murder of Theo van Gogh, who earlier this year released a film critical of how women are treated under Islam, there have been numerous anti-Muslim incidents, including two attempts to burn down mosques, Dutch media reported Sunday. Eight alleged Islamic extremists have been arrested in connection with the murder. Among those arrested was the alleged 26-year-old killer, identified only as Mohammed B. Mainstream Muslim groups have condemned the killing.

AMIA Case Appeal

An Argentine Jewish group is appealing the acquittal of five defendants in the bombing of an Argentine Jewish center. Five locals were acquitted in September of involvement in the July 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were killed and some 300 wounded in the still-unsolved bombing.

U.S. Wants Alleged Crime Boss Extradited

An alleged Israeli underworld boss faces extradition to the United States on drugs charges. Israeli police arrested Zev Rosenstein on Monday following a joint investigation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Rosenstein is suspected of involvement in a Miami drug ring, and could face trial in the United States. Under Israeli extradition laws, he would have to be returned to the Jewish state to serve his sentence. Rosenstein, considered one of Israel’s major crime bosses, denied any wrongdoing.

Reconstructionist Founder Dies

Benjamin Mehlman, a founder and former president of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, died Oct. 31 in New York at the age of 94. Mehlman was a former president of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, in Manhattan, which was the first Reconstructionist synagogue.

Prague Jews Boot Leader

Members of Prague’s Jewish community voted out the community’s leader. The vote against Tomas Jelinek came Sunday, after several controversies that have divided the community, including Jelinek’s recent dismissal of the community’s head rabbi, Karol Sidon. Also at issue were a long-running dispute over the administration of the Lauder Jewish school and Jelinek’s plans to build a nursing home that some members thought was too costly. But Jelinek told JTA he rejects the vote because he believes it violates the community’s constitution.

Israeli Slain in New York

The Israeli manager of a kosher restaurant in New York was stabbed to death. The victim was knifed in the chest, stomach and arm Nov. 4 by a disgruntled employee he had recently fired, according to the New York Sun. Patrons of Cafe K in New York City were horrified when the victim emerged from the eatery’s basement bleeding profusely.

“His eyes were rolling up in to back of his head and he was shaking a little bit,” one anonymous witness told the Sun. “He was covered with blood.”

The victim was taken from the restaurant by stretcher and rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead about two hours later.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

World Briefs

Israel Asks U.S. Egypt Help in Gaza

The United States and Egypt want to know more about Israel’s proposal for Egypt to help secure Gaza after an Israeli withdrawal.

Dov Weisglass, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s chief of staff, and Giora Eiland, Sharon’s national security adviser, discussed the idea Monday in meetings with Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s national security adviser, and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The Israelis are ready for a total withdrawal, but say they need Egyptian help to keep arms smugglers from crossing the Gaza-Egypt border.

U.S. State Department official said the proposal was not fully worked out and that the Americans are waiting for further details. If the Egyptians are willing, the official said, the United States could help them with incentives.

Nadil Fahmy, Egypt’s ambassador to Washington, said his country was interested in the proposal but needed to know more. Egypt would participate if the withdrawal were part of negotiations with the Palestinians, Fahmy told JTA.

“It has to be in the context of resolving the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution and ending the occupation,” he said. Israel has suggested that its withdrawal could be unilateral unless the Palestinians crack down on terrorism.

E.U. Presses Libya

The European Union called on Libya to join a free trade zone it has boycotted because of Israeli membership in the group. The European Commission said Monday that Tripoli immediately should send officials to Brussels to prepare its application to the group, whose purpose ultimately is to create a free-trade zone bringing together all the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi recently expressed a desire to join the process, but he cannot take part unless he agrees to recognize Israel.

Bush Sends $20 Million to UNRWA

President Bush is sending $20 million to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza. The new allocation, authorized Thursday, is from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund, and will be distributed through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The request is a response to an appeal for $193 million for humanitarian needs for the Palestinian people, the State Department said.

Group Collects Money for Haitians

A Jewish group is collecting money for humanitarian aid
in Haiti. Donations can be sent to the American Jewish World Service at: AJWS,
Haiti Relief, 45 W. 36th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY, 10018, or online at