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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 12, 2011 Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA Panel set up to review demands following mass Israeli protest JERUSALEM (JTA)--Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established a committee to examine the demands of lead- ers of the social justice protest movement following one of the largest demonstrations in Israel's history. Netanyahu at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday morning renounced the formation of 15-member panel to review he demands, and to submit ~roposals in the next month or social and economic e form. The previous night, an stimated 300,000 demon- ,trators protesting the rising :osts of living had gathered in ~'el Aviv, with another 20,000 ~rote ting in Jerusalem and eve~al thousands more in ities throughout the country. It was the third such dem- )nstration--and the larg- est-since the protests began more than three weeks ago. Protesters chanted, among ~ther slogans, "The people de- mand social justice" and "An entire generation demands a future." Protest leaders have already decried the committee, say- ing that they are looking for direct dialogue with Netan- yahu. The committee will be headed by Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, chairman of the National Economic Coun- cil, and made up of Cabinet ministers, observers and economic experts. Announcing the formation of the committee, Netanyahu said, "We are aware of the fact that working couples with children arc findil~ it difficult to finish the month. We rec- ognize the plight of students who cannot pay their rent. We are aware of the distress of the residents of neighborhoods, of discharged soldiers and others. We want to provide genuine solutions." The Israeli leader acknowl- edged that the committee's proposals will not please ev- erybody, but he pledged that, "Wewill listen to everyone. We will speak with everyone. We will hold a genuine dialogue, not pressured and perfunc- tory, but we will really listen both to the distress and to the proposals for solutions. In the end we will consider practical solutions. Practical solutions require choices. They also require balance." On Saturday night, Israeli musicians Shlomo Artzi, Rita and Yehudit Ravitz enter- tained the demonstrators, who also heard speeches from Daphne Leef, founder of the movement, and Rabbi Benny Lau, founder of the Beit Mo- rasha social justice institute. World leaders decry OK for eastern Jerusalem housing JERUSALEM (JTA)---The head of the United Nations and a key European Union official denounced Israel's approval of new housing in an eastern Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood. More than 900 housing ....................... final approval lastweekby the Interior Ministry's Jerusalem District Planning and Build- ing Committee. The plan was first submitted for approval two years ago. Aspokesperson for U.N. Sec- retary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement released Aug. 6 that, "settlement activ- ity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is contrary to international law, and he is concerned by provocative actions on the ground. The Secretary-General supports ongoing efforts to find a way to resume peace talks, and underlines that creating an environment that is conducive to progress is vital." European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that the project approval "has triggered fierce criticism from the Palestinians and the international community." tor Saeb Erakat in a statement called the approval"a flagrant display of disrespect and disdain to the international community, which has re- peatedly condemned Israeli settlement construction as an illegal obstacle to peace." Approval of the project was delayed twice in recent months due to political con- siderations. Work likely will not begin for two years; the project still requires a contrac- tor and infrastructure. Israel redeploys Iron Dome in South NEW YORK (JTA)--Israel is repositioning its Iron Dome short-range missile defense system near its border with Gaza because of a recent intensification of rocket fire. Israeli newspapers reported last Friday that Ehud Barak, the defense minister, ordered the redeployment at the re- quest of local authorities in the region. According to the IDF, more than 30 rockets have been fired into Israel since the be- ginning of July. Awoman was lightly wounded on Monday when a rocket landed near a kibbutz outside Ashkelon. The Israeli army has responded with air raids. Earthquake felt in Israel JERUSALEM (JTA)--A small earthquake was felt in Israel, mainly on the coastal ~. plain. The epicenter of the earth- quake, which stuck just mo- ments before noon Sunday, was in the Mediterranean Sea,. about 44 miles northwest of Tel Aviv and 49 miles west- southwest of Haifa, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The temblor, which mea- sured 4.1, was felt from the lower Galilee to Raanana and along the coastal plain. No damage or injuries were reported. Shalit billboard going up in L.A. NEWYORK (JTA)--A mas- sive billboard calling attention to the plight of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is going up in Los Angeles. The billboard, which was expected to go up this week on La Cienega Boulevard, will feature a large photograph of Shalit and read, "'I was kidnapped by Hamas on June hostage... This summer I will turn 25 years old. Where did you spend your birthday this year? Free Gilad Shalit." Gal Sitty, a 28-year-old Los Angeles resident, raised $7,000 to erect the billboard. He helped lead an effort that put up a similar billboard in New York earlier this summer. Sitty became interested in Shalit's plight after chaperon- ing a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip and witnessing a rally for the soldier's release. According to the company that owns the billboard, about 200,000 people see the La Israel has moved its Iron Dome defense system closer to the Gaza border. Cienega Boulevard site each rael's Supreme Court began trial of Hosni MUbarakbegan week. The billboard is sched- hearing an appeal by former in Egypt, an Israeli lawmaker uled to remain up until the first week of September. Potential Weiner successor won't endorse Obama for now WASHINGTON (JTA)-- David Weprin, the Demo- crat running to replace dis- graced congressman Anthony Weiner, declined for now to endorse President Obama's re-election. "I'm running myself right now," the New York Post quoted Weprin as saying Aug. 4. "On Sept. 14, I'll be happy to address the president's election." "Don't read anything into it," he said, regarding his statement. Sept. 13 is the date for the special election to replace Weiner, who resigned after sending lewd pictures over the Internet. VQrmsr IN~w YQrk g,l~,~r I~.1 Koch, a Democrat, recently urged residents of New York's heavily Jewish 9th Congres- sional District, encompassing chunks of Queens and Brook- lyn, to vote for Republican Bob Turner to send a message to 0bama that he is not pro- Israel enough. Weprin, who is Jewish, has criticized the president's ap- proach toward Israel. He has since secured the endorse- ment of pro-Israel stalwart Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Israeli Supreme Court hears Katsav plea JERUSALEM (JTA)--Is- President Moshe Katsav on his conviction for sexual offenses. Katsav attended the hear- ing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Sunday. Arguments on both sides are expected to last for about two weeks. The court ruled last week that the appeal would be held in open court. Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison in March after being convicted last December of rape, sexual ha- rassment and obstruction of justice. He is the first Israeli president ever sentenced to prison. A Supreme Court judge in May ruled that Katsav, who was convicted following a closed-door trial that lasted a year, could remain out of jail until the end of the appeal. Two years ago, Katsav had declined what was seen as a l~ni~nt ~l~x bcxr~ixin one that dropped the rape charges for lesser charges and likely would have left him with a suspended sentence--saying that he wanted to clear his name in court. Katsav, who immigrated to Israel from Iran in 1951, was elected president by the Knesset in 2000 in an upset over Shimon Peres. Katsav resigned in the wake of the allegations shortly before the end of his term in 2007, and Peres became president. Israeli lawmaker says he offered Mubarak asylum NEW YORK (JTA)--As the said he had offered political asylum in Israel to the long- time Egyptian president. Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a Knesset member from the Labor Party, told Israel's Army Radio on Aug. 3 that he had made the offer to an ailing Mubarak several months ago in Sharm el- Sheikh, a Red Sea resort city in Egypt. "I met [Mubarak] in Sharm el-Sheikh and I told him that it was a short distance and that it might be a good chance to heal himself," Ben-Eliezer said, according to Haaretz. "I am convinced that the Israel government would have ac- cepted him, but he declined [the offer] because he was a patriot." According to The Jerusalem Post, Ben-Eliezer said that Prime Minister Benjamin ~Ietexn~,~xh ..... l~xr t~ to the offer. Mubarak, who resigned as president under fire after serving 30 years, went on trial Wednesday on charges of charges related to corruption and the killing of demonstra- tors. Appearing in a hospital bed inside a defendant's cage, Mubarak denied the charges against him. The trial-- Mubarak's first public appear- ance since he gave a televised speech in February refusing to resign amid protests sweeping Egypt--was broadcast on Egyptian television. The Eulogizer: Shamir, Abutbul, Sundlun, Pearle By Alan D. Abbey JERUSALEM (JTA)--The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Shulamit Shamir, 88, for- mer Israeli PM's wife Shulamit Shamir, the wife of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and a one-time fighter in the prestate under- ground group Lehi, died July 29 at 88 in her Tel Aviv home. Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu in eulogizing Shamir said that "Shulamit was a woman of principles, an idealist, who stood at her husband's side throughout his life" and that "she fought for Israel's freedom. She was always faithful to the principles of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. She and her husband raised the wonder- ful Shamir family, which has contributed, and is contribut- ing, to the State of Israel in so many areas." Francois Abutbul, alleged Israeli gangster Francois Abutbul, the scion of an alleged Israeli crime fam- ily, died in a drive-by shooting at a gas station in Netanya on Israel's coastal highway July 31, after weeks and months of police warnings of threats on his life. Abutbul, known as "Fran- cois the Great," was released from prison last December after serving about half of a 22-month sentence for domes- tic violence. He was shot by two men who approached his car on a motorcycle and then sped away. The shooting was the latest in a violent string of incidents involving Abutbul, his family and rival gangs, police said. The country's four main crime families "have been vy- ing for control over the drug trade, extortion rackets and general dominion over Tel Aviv" for a decade, reported Israel Hayom, even as three of the four families' patriarchs are in prison. "A newer and signifi- cantly more violent generation is rising to power." Abutbul, whose age was not given in any of the many articles about him, has been in and out of Israeli courthouses, jails and media headlines for years. He was the son of Felix Abutbul, who was murdered in 2002 outside a casino he owned in Prague. His brother, Asi, is serving a 13-year prison sentence for running a crimi- nal organization, extortion and money laundering. His cousin, also named Francois Abutbul, was convicted in 2009 of a murder outside a Netanya night club. And his uncle, Charlie Abutbul, was himself the subject of assassination attempts in 2008 and 2010. Bruce Sundlun, 91, former Rhode Island governor Bruce Sundlun, the gover- nor of Rhode Island from 1991 to 1995, died at his home in Jamestown, R.I., on July 21 at 91. Sundlunwas aWorldWar II hero, successful businessman, prominent member of the Rhode Island Jewish commu- nity and a colorful character who was married five times. Sundlun "cut a larger- than-life figure that seemed inversely proportional to the size of his state" and was "combustible, confrontational and combative" The New York Times said. A Rhode Island newspaper said that one of his "printable" nicknames was "Captain Blow- hard." The state's media and airwaves remembered Sund- lun with adoring, humorous and affectionate commentary. Stanley Pearle, 92, Pearle Vision founder Stanley Pearle, founder of Pearle Vision, a chain of eye- care stores that now has 675 branches in North America, died July 21 at 92 at his home in Dallas, Texas. Pearle founded the company in 1961with a single store in Sa- vannah, Ga., be gala franchising the concept in 1981 and eventu- ally sold it to Luxottica of Italy, a designer and manufacturer of frames and sunglasses. His in- terest in eyeglasses was sparked by a Depression-era job at a jewelry store in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Alfred Skondovitch, 84, Abstract Expressionist Alfred Skondovitch, an art- ist whose work was displayed with prominent Abstract Expressionists in the 1950s and who later relocated to Alaska, where his artwork continued unabated but out of the mainstream limelight, died July 15 at 84. Skondovitch was one of Alaska's master artists, and was known for original, col- orful, abstract paintings that were deeply personal, friends and art critics said. Artist David Mollett described Skondo- vitch's work as"a cross between Willem de Kooning and Marc Chagall" whose "paintings were really of the quality of that first generation of abstract expressionists." Helen Beverley, 94, actress Actress Helen Beverley, who performed in Yiddish theater and films, and was the first wife of actor Lee J. Cobb, died July 15 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund hospital in California at 94. "Green Fields" ("Grine Felder"), a 1937 film in which Beverley portrayed the female lead, was an adaptation of Peretz Hirshbein's play during the Golden Age of Yiddish cin- ema. Her 1939 film "The Light Ahead" offered awareness of the danger facing European Jewry. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org.