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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 10, 2009 Muslim-Jewish ties: Trying to talk, not fight, in a Paris neighborhood Changeist/Creative Commons Though officials worry that the number ofjihadis is on the rise, the vast number of Muslims in Europe oppose terrorism. This is the final install- ment of JTA's six-part series: "Identity Crisis: Muslims in Europe." By Devorah Lauter PARIS (JTA)--With the late afternoon sun hover- ing in the sky, the cries of Orthodox Jewish youngsters playing ball echo in a square just around the corner from a cluster of kosher Moroccan bakeries in this city's 19th arrondissement. High-rise housing projects loom behind the children, where Muslim immigrant families from sub-SaharanAf- rica live adjacent to the heavily Orthodox Jewish neighbor- hoods that comprise this multicultural neighborhood in northeast Paris, which is home to some 30,000 Jews. This mostly low-income neighborhood is no stranger to ethnic tensions. In 2007, the 19th district saw 27 reported anti-Semitic incidents, compared with j ust two or three per district else- where in Paris, according to France's Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism. Last June, a Jewish teenager, Rudy Haddad, was savagely beaten by a gang of youths of sub- Saharan African extraction. The violence is not clear- cut, however. When three kipah-wearing youths were attacked last September on the same street as Rudy Haddad, the incident initially was labeled anti-Semitic, but upon fur- ther investigation one of the attackers turned out to be Jewish. Among Jews, says Rabbi Michel Bouskila, who heads the district's Jewish Com- munity Council, "there is still fear because they are more often the victims of street violence. But there are fears from Muslims, as well. When a Muslim boy walks alone by a group of Jewish youth, he'll be a little scared." There is much debate over whether assaults against Jews in the 19th arrondissement are inherently anti-Semitic or whether they are simply random cases of neighbor- hood crime. The critical factor causing tensions here is not religion, some say, but race and class: Jews, rightly or wrongly, are seen as wealthy and privileged by a mostly black and North African poor immigrant underclass. "We have to stop stigmatiz- ing these youth," said Morad Chahrine, director of J2P, a youth association that is among a host of programs supported by a new mayoral tolerance initiative called Liv- ing Together. "They've been accused of everything, and now anti-Semitism, too?" "Of course there are fric- tions, and they're due to life's hardships," Chahrine adds. "If a Jewish group happens to fight another of different origins, racial insults will be heard on both sides, but it's Flap ensues over use of U.S. tax exemptions to help settlements By Eric Fingerhut WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Could a U.S. tax exemption be helping to hold back peace? A top Washington colum- nist suggested that two weeks ago, and an Arab-American organization is asking the Treasury Department to in- vestigate the tax-exemption status of U.S. organizations that financially support Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Washington Post colum- nist David Ignatius pointed out in a March 26 column that while the U.S. bans the spending of government aid money on Jewish settle- ments, it also provides a tax exemption--indirect govern- ment support--to organiza- tions that raise money "for the very activities that the government opposes." Ignatius emphasized that there's nothing illegal about the contributions, but noted that there were 28 U.S. charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007. The day after Ignatius' column appeared, the Amer- ican-Arab Anti-Discrimina- tion Committee announced in a news release that it had filed "multiple administra- tive complaints" with the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service requesting investigations into the activities of tax- exempt groups raising money for West Bank settlements, charging that the groups were using the income "in direct violation of their ad- dressed purpose." An ADC spokesperson said the group found some "preliminary evidence" to suggest that funds raised in the United States were being utilized for security or settle- ment construction, and felt it was important to raise the issue of the tax exemption with the government. Americans for Peace Now spokesman Ori Nir was quoted in Ignatius' piece, but said his organization was not planning or involved in any kind of initiative to yank the tax exemption for charities sending money to settle- ments, nor was he aware of a legislative effort to do so. APN, he said, objects more generally to all the money going to support settlement activity--the "very principle of funding settlements in the West Bank." "It's wrong for people to fund settlements," whether it's the U.S. government, Israeli government or pri- vate individuals, Nir said. "Anyone who sends money for increased settlements is contributing to something that makes peace more dif- ficult." Residents and supporters of settlements objected to the suggestion that U.S. do- nations to their cause were in any way blocking peace. They said that any attempt to change the rules would be unfair. In his blog, Yisrael Medad of the Shiloh settlementwrote that"a lot of American taxpay- ers' money surely does go to the so-called 'occupied territories,' actually, 'disputed,' as well as private charitable contribu- tions, without complaint by Ig- natius. It's just that the money goes to, well, Arabs"--pointing to the $900 million of aid that the U.S. is slated to send to the West Bank and Gaza. Medad, a former Knesset aide and media critic who describes himself as an un- official spokesman for the Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, goes on to say that, "What Ignatius seems to be promoting is that you can get tax-exemption for your donation if the money doesn't go to Jews. Or are there other areas around the globe where a similar thesis could be argued, that you can separate between peoples in the same territory?" Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, offered similar arguments, saying it was discriminatory to single out the money Jewish settlers in the West Bank receive from U.S. groups as unworthy of tax-exempt status while per- mitting other organizations to raise funds for Palestinians in the area. "The suggestion that a Jewish minority living among a West Bank Arab majority is harming peace is false," he said. mostly spontaneous. There's no ideology behind it." But Richard Prasquier, the leader of France's Jewish umbrella group, CRIF, says anti-Semitism can have many different faces, even if it's not rooted in religion. "The problem is first and foremost linked to religion, but anti-Semitism has dis- connected from religion," he told JTA. "Jews don't have to be religious to be victims of anti-Semitism. It has become a problem of race." Foussenou, a 29-year-old from the 19th district whose parents are immigrants from Mali, explains why he and his friends don't like their Jewish neighbors. "All Jews are cheats," said Foussenou, who asked that his last name not be used. "They stick to themselves. They only help each other and have connections to the police and the state." Laughing, he recounts how he and his friends used to wait outside the local Jewish school when they were teenagers, beating up students after they walked out. While Foussenou now has a job as a deliveryman, the rate of unemployment in the 19th is relatively high. As the economic crisis has worsened, more reports have emerged of drug- and weapons-related crimes, according to police. Gangs are common, some- times of mixed Muslim-Jewish ethnicity. Ethnic tensions, however, seem to have calmed since well-publicized attacks last summer thrust the district into the national spotlight. In the months since the attacks, elected leaders and commu- nity representatives have been cooperating on programs to promote tolerance as part of the Living Togetherprogram. When anti-Semitic in- cidents spiked throughout France following Israel's recent invasion of the Gaza Strip, the 19th remained relatively undisturbed.Atotal of 113 anti-Semitic incidents were reported across the country during the duration of the conflict, ranging from firebombings and stabbings to threatening letters and graffiti, according to the Pro- tection Service for the Jewish Community. In the 19th, however, the only reported incidents, ac- cording to Bouskila, were from a group of Jewish teenage girls who said they were physi- cally bullied by classmates shouting "Long live Gaza!" He was unable to confirm details of the event. "Emotions still ran high in the area, but people didn't act violently on it," said Christophe-Adji Ahoudian, a member of the task force set up by the mayor of the 19th district, Roger Madec. "It's proof that our work is paying off." The relative calm also may be a reflection of the national origins of the Muslims of the 19th. Most of the Muslim immigrant families in the neighborhood are from sub- Saharan Africa, according to Rabbi Michel Serfaty, who heads the French Judeo- Muslim Friendship Associa- tion. Only a smaller, though still significant, minority are Arabs from North Africa who are more closely tied to the Palestinian cause. Madame Kadiatou Diabira, a Malian from the neighbor- hood, attributes prejudice against Jews to her black com- munity's struggle to integrate into French society, not its Muslim identity, which many here say is more cultural than religious. Diabara has spearheaded meetings with mothers of various faiths to discuss youth violence. She launched her effort after Haddad's beating. Rabbi Bouskila has been trying to promote Muslim- Ties on page 18A Lieberman grilled in laundering case NEWYORK (JTA)--Israel's new foreign minister was interrogated for more than seven hours in a laundering case. The questioning April 2 of Avigdor Lieberman came just two days after his swearing-in. The Yisrael Beiteinu leader, who a day earlier had stirred controversy with remarks that Israel was not bound by the Annapolis agreements, was grilled at an undisclosed loca- tion over suspicions of bribery, money laundering, fraudulent receipt of goods and breach of public trust. "Lieberman answered all of the questions put to him, and will answer any future questions," Yaron Kostelich, the foreign minister's lawyer, told The Jerusalem Post. The interrogation was conducted by detectives from the National Fraud and anti- organized crime units. Police said the interrogation had been coordinated several days in advance, and that the questioning would resume at a future date. Lieberman is suspected of using a Cypriot bank account registered under the name of his daughter, Michal, to launder millions of shekels in funds. Police are believed to have amassed sufficient evidence to link Lieberman with money laundering charges, a former National Fraud Unit investigator told the Post last month. Police also suspect Lieber- man of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes between 2001 and 2004 while serving as national infrastructures minister and as transportation minister, allegedly receiving the funds from two businessmen. Lieberman said April 1 that while Israel is not obligated by commitments made at the 2007 Annapolis conference, which restarted peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, it must adhere to the 2002 "road map" peace plan and would adhere to its requirements scrupulously. Pales tin ia n kills Israeli boy with ax JERUSALEM (JTA)--An ax- wielding Palestinian worker killed an Israeli boy and injured another in the West Bank. The worker began attacking the boys, aged 13 and 7, as he ran with the ax through the community of Bat Ayin, in the Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem, shortly after noon April 2. Shlomo Nativ, the teen- ager, died of his injuries. The younger victim, Yair Gamliel, was seriously injured and be- ing treated for head injuries in Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. Yair's father, Ofer, was one of three Bat Ayin residents jailed in 2002 for plotting to blow up a girls' school in East Jerusalem. He refused to visit his son in the hospital ac- companied by prison guards. The assailant struggled with a passer-by and was shot by a Bat Ayin security guard before fleeing, Ha'aretz reported, "It is usually safe to walk around here," a female resident of the community of 100 families told Israel's Channel 2, her voice break- ing as she said she knew the boys. "This is the first time that anything like this ever happened here," In fact, a Bat Ayin resident was stabbed to death in 2007 while walking near the settle- ment. There is no security fence around the community, apparently for ideological reasons. Israeli security services were searching the area for the assailant and checking to see if he had any accomplices. The Israeli army made several arrests in the adjacent village of Sara, the daily Ha'aretz re- ported. Residents were asked to remain in their homes. Both Islamic Jihad and the Martyrs of Imad Muginyeh claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas called the attack a "natural reaction" to the "occupation," a spokes- man said. Government spokesman Mark Regev condemned the attack as a "senseless act of brutality against innocents."