Briefs: Koufax and SLO power-hitter named draft IBL picks; Iran top terror sponsor

World news briefs.
May 4, 2007

Sandy Koufax on the mound. Click the BIG ARROWKoufax chosen in Israel Baseball League’s (IBL) first-ever draft

Power-hitting California outfielder Aaron Levin was the first player selected in the Israel Baseball League’s inaugural draft.The Modi’in Miracles made Levin, 22, from Cuesta Community College in San Luis Obispo, the first pick in the draft, held Thursday night in New York City.

With the final pick of the draft the Miracles chose Sandy Koufax, the former Los Angeles Dodger left-hander and Hall of Famer, who famously refused to pitch in a World Series game that fell on Yom Kippur.It’s unclear whether Koufax would actually suit up for the Miracles.

“His selection is a tribute to the esteem with which he is held by everyone associated with this league,” the team’s manager, former big leaguer Art Shamsky, told The Associated Press. “It’s been 41 years between starts for him. If he’s rested and ready to take the mound again, we want him on our team.”

The IBL will play a 42-game schedule starting June 24. Players from around the world were drafted, but roughly half the league will be made up of Jews, league founders said.

Iran ‘Most Active’ Terror Sponsor

Iran is the “most active” state sponsor of terrorism, and its proxy, Hezbollah, is the “most technically capable terrorist group,” a U.S. report says. Syria also was named as a state sponsor of terrorism in the U.S. State Department’s country reports on terrorism released Monday, although the report implied that Damascus was more responsive to pressure than Iran.

“[Iran’s] Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] and Ministry of Intelligence and Security [MOIS] were directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups, especially Palestinian groups with leadership cadres in Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah, to use terrorism in pursuit of their goals.”

Syria, it said, had ties to the same groups, but added, “Syria’s public support for the Palestinian groups varied, depending on its national interests and international pressure.”
The report praised Sudan as a “strong partner in the War on Terror” and said it “aggressively pursued terrorist operations directly involving threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan.”

It noted that the Sudanese government welcomed officials of Hamas, the terrorist group that heads the Palestinian Authority government, but added that it “limited their activities to fundraising.”

Assessing terrorist groups, the report described Lebanon’s Hezbollah as “the most technically capable terrorist group in the world,” based in part on its performance against Israel in last summer’s war. It noted past Hezbollah attacks on Americans and compared them to Hamas, which “has not directly targeted U.S. interests, although the group makes little or no effort to avoid targets frequented by foreigners,” the report said. In its summary, the report said that “the Israeli/Palestinian conflict remains a source of terrorist motivation.”

Rabbinical Assembly Opens Convention

Arnold Eisen twice brought a room of Conservative rabbis to their feet in his inaugural address to the movement’s rabbinical association Monday. Speaking at the annual Rabbinical Assembly convention in Boston, the chancellor-elect of the Jewish Theological Seminary called for a wide discussion of the idea of mitzvah, a contentious subject for a movement dedicated to a careful balance of tradition and modernity.

“I think we’ve largely dropped the ball when it comes to message,” said Eisen, who urged the movement to build tight communities and fill them with enriching content.

The R.A. convention comes at a time of unease in the Conservative movement, whose legal authorities recently voted to permit gay and lesbian clergy, in a move that some feared would cause an irrevocable split. Along with resolutions on the Iraq war and Darfur, there’s an effort to have the convention discuss a resolution calling on all the movement’s rabbinical schools to accept gay and lesbian students.

Vatican Polls on Anti-Semitism

The Vatican is conducting a survey among Roman Catholic bishops on anti-Semitism and interfaith dialogue. The questions, published last week in advance of an international bishops conference in Rome in October 2008, ask the clergy if they think biblical texts are being used to foment anti-Semitism and whether they are working to foster dialogue with Jews.

The questionnaire expresses concern that too few Catholics know enough about the Old Testament.

Hebrew U. Co-Sponsors Learning at Einstein Home

An Israeli university and a German forum are teaming to use Albert Einstein’s former summer home as an educational site. Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which inherited the home in Caputh, near Berlin, signed an agreement April 25 with the Potsdam-based Einstein Forum launching joint educational programs at the site. A fellowship at its guest house is to begin May 1.

Einstein was on Hebrew University’s first board of governors. He used Caputh as a retreat from 1929 to 1933, then immigrated to the United States when the Nazis took power. The Einstein Forum raised funds to renovate the site from the Cornelsen Culture Foundation and the federal commissioner for culture and media. In 2005 it was reopened, 50 years after Einstein’s death.

Reform Divests From Sudan

The Reform movement became the latest Jewish group to divest from Sudan over the genocide in Darfur.

“Divestment is a tactic to use in specific and appropriate situations,” Reform’s Religious Action Center said in a statement Thursday. “It is now time we apply this additional economic tool, along with our other strategies, to seek an end to this tragic violence in Darfur.”

Government-allied terrorist groups have massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians in the region of western Sudan. President Bush has introduced sanctions and pledged to expand them, and said he would consider imposing a no-fly zone unless Sudan allows in more peacekeepers and observes a truce. Other Jewish groups divesting from companies that deal with Sudan include the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the National Council of Jewish Women.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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