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May 8, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 8, 2009 P.A., Venezuela establish diplomatic ties CARACAS (JTA)--The Palestinian Authority and Venezuela established official diplomatic relations. P.A. Foreign Minister Riyad A1-Malki metwithVenezuela's Nicolas Maduro April 27 to establish the bilateral rela- tions and open a Palestinian representative office in the nation's capital, according to the Venezuela Ministry of Information. "Today we've signed an agreement establishing dip- lomatic relations," said A1- Malki. "Venezuela has shown their solidarity." Venezuela severed all ties with Israel in early January to protest Israel's military offensive in Gaza, dubbing it a"massacre." Israel responded by kicking out all of Venezu- ela's representatives in both TelAviv and to the Palestinian Authority. Historically, Venezuela has adopted a more balanced stance in its relations with the Middle East, favoring neither Israel nor its Arab neighbors. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has dramatically tipped the scale during his decade in power, declaring Iran one of its best friends and uprooting entirely the Israeli diplomatic mission. President Chavez's strident criticism of Israel has made him the most popular leader in the Arab world, said A1-Malki. News reports have said the eventual goal is to open a Palestinian embassy with full diplomatic privileges in Caracas. The Palestinian Authority also has representative offices in Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil. About 1,000 Palestinians live in Venezuela, according to the Bolivarian News Agency. Auschwitz inmates' note discovered JERUSALEM (JTA)--A message written by Nazi pris- oners and placed in a bottle was discovered by builders working near the site of the Auschwitz death camp. The bottle was discovered April 20 hidden in a concrete wall in a school that prisoners had been forced to reinforce, according to an Auschwitz museum official. The official told reporters that the message, dated Sept. 9, 1944, was written in pencil and signed by seven inmates from Poland and France. At least two survived the Holo- caust, the official said. "They were young people who were trying to leave some trace of their existence behind them," said the museum spokesman. The note's authenticity has beenverified and the museum will receive the note next month. Meanwhile, the Czech government on April 28 voted to contribute about $100,000 toward the repair and upkeep of the former death camp. It is the second country after Germany to promise funds following a Polish plea for help. NYU nixes disguised anti- Israel event NEW YORK (JTA)--New York University canceled an anti-Israel event disguised as an event about climate change. The event, originally slated for May 4, was titled "The Hid- den History of Zionism: The Weekly roundup of world briefs from. TA Road to Gaza's Killing Fields," and its organizers promoted it with flyers around the campus that some decried as anti- Semitic, Ynet reported. University officials con- firmed the cancellation of the event but stressed it was be- cause of its fraudulent nature. Brown pledges Auschwitz support LONDON (JTA)--Brit- ain's prime minister visited Auschwitz and pledged that his government would assist school visits to the former Nazi death camp. Gordon Brown said April 28 that it was important for children to be aware of the horrors of the past. The British government now funds annual trips to Aus- chwitz for secondary school pupils, and is committed to continue the funding for the next three years. EU states differ on Israel relations JERUSALEM (JTA)--There are differences within the Eu- ropean Union on the develop- ment of relations with Israel, its current presidency said. Many of the differences stem from the contrast- ing views of the Czech EU presidency and the European Commission, according to the Prague Daily Monitor. The newspaper cited out- going Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's recent criticism of the European Commission. Topolanek said he viewed a statement by EU foreign policy commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waidner that EU relations with Israel would improve only if Israel pledges to continue peace talks as an example of the "European Commission's arrogance." Following an EU foreign ministers' monthly meeting April 27, Czech Foreign Min- ister Karel Schwarzenberg said that although there were differences between the Czech EU presidency and the European Commission, the situation had "escalated quite unnecessarily," the Daily Monitor reported. The European Union agreed last year to raise its relations with Israel to a higher level, but froze the new initiative in the wake of the Gaza military operation early this year. Schwarzenberg, on behalf of the EU, called on Israel and the Palestinians to take "urgent steps" to resume the peace process and reaffirmed the EU's support for a two- state solution. Fascism growing, lawmaker tells Ukrainian president KIEV, Ukraine (JTA)--A Jewish Ukrainian" lawmak- er urged President Victor Yuschenko to pay attention to the rapid growth of fascism in Ukrainian society. Aleksandr Feldman made his case April 27 in an open letter to Yuschenko, accord- ing to the lawmaker's press service. Feldman also is the president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee and the Association of Ethnic and Cultural nongovernmental organizations of Ukraine. In addition to the ultra- right Svoboda Party victory at the regional council elec- tion in the western region of Ternopol, Feldman noted during the last month the advertising company SS Galychyna Division in the western city of Lvov called on regional council deputies to dismantle monuments to Soviet soldiers-liberators; a brawl between an ultra-right nationalist and anti-fascist, pro-Russian youth organiza- tions in Odessa resulted in the murder of a nationalist activ- ist; an attempt to distribute anti-Semitic leaflets in the central region of Cherkassy during Passover; and the van- dalism of a Holocaust monu- ment in southern Ukraine. Mock trial squad seeks bias probe WASHINGTON (JTA)-- A Jewish day school's champion- ship mock trial team claims it is being discriminated against and has asked for a federal investigation. The families of the three students who comprise the squad at the Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., have asked the Justice De- partment to investigate the National High School Mock Trial Championship for re- fusing to alter its schedule to allow the Sabbath-observing students to fully participate in the competition. In a letter to the depart- ment's Civil Rights Division, attorney Nathan Lewin said the Maimonides students are effectively being denied any chance to win the May 6-10 competition in Atlanta "based solely on their religious observance" and that violates the Constitution. The team from suburban Boston, the Massachusetts state champions, would not be able to participate in mock tri- als between sundown Friday and nightfall Saturday. Tournament officials de- nied a request by the parents to have the schedule changed for two of the approximately 100 trials during the compe- tition. The parents offered to absorb any additional cost to rent rooms to accommodate the change. In response to a letter earlier in April from the Anti-Defamation League requesting such an accom- modation, John Wheeler, the chair of the mock trial organization's board of di- rectors, said a change to the schedule for similar reasons in 2005 "unreasonably affected the conduct of the national tournament and forced un- reasonable alteration to the planned schedule of events." After the 2005 competition in North Carolina, in which the schedule was changed for the Torah Academy of Bergen County in New Jersey, the mock trial organization adopted a resolution barring future accommodations for Shabbat. In response, the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers dropped out of the organization and began an alternative competition that is held during the week. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives unani- mously approved a resolution condemning the mock trial organization for its refusal to make accommodations for Sabbath-observing com- petitors. Brazilian Jews rally against intolerance RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA)-- Thousands of Brazilian Jews rallied to protest this month's scheduled visit to their coun- try by Iran's president and to remember the Holocaust. PAGE 11A Ben Harris Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has managed to upset the historically balanced approach Venezuela has had with Israel. Here, hundreds rally Feb. 2, at the Venezuelan Consulate in New York to protest the vandalizing of a synagogue in Caracas. Some 2,500 people par- ticipated April 26 in the ninth annual Regional March of the Living in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city and home to half of the country's 120,000-mem- ber Jewish community. Dressed in white, demon- strators took a silent walk through the streets and held a ceremony to honor the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Several Jewish and non-Jewish officials attended, including Sao Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab. "Besides honoring the memory of those who died in the Holocaust, this event aims at speaking out against the visit of the Iranian president," said Claudio Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation. "With the presence of [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, the United Nations became a stage for second-class citizens who preach hatred and intoler- ance." Saperstein, lawmakers ar- rested in Darfur protest WASHINGTON (JTA)--A top Reform Jewish leader and five U.S. Congress members were arrested for civil disobe- dience outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington. Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Ju- daism, joined other Darfur activists and Reps. Jim Mc- Govern (D-Mass.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Donna Edwards (D- Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) April 27 to protest the Suda- nese government's expulsion in March of 13 international aid agencies and the resulting humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The group spoke on the steps of the embassy, accord- ing to a Save Darfur Coalition Roundup on page 19A Central Florida's Fastest Growing Segment of the Jewish Community Advertising Deadline: May 8, 2009 FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL'. 407-834-8787