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December 24, 2004

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PAGE 2 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 24, 2004 JTA Weekly Summary Following are Jewish Telegraphic Agency's news briefs for Tuesday, December 21, 2004. U.N.: Israel hurting Bethlehem Israel is responsible for increased economic problems in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, a U.N. report said. The report, released days before Christmas, says Israeli antiterrorist measures such as roadblocks and the West Bank security barrier have cost jobs in the Bethlehem area, particularly in tourism and agriculture. Jewish leaders criticized the report for blaming all of the city's problems on Israel, saying it ignored the hundreds of ter- rorist attacks that prompted the Israeli security steps. Report: Yusehenko to have surgery in Israel Ukraine's opposition presidential candidate reportedly is set to have plastic surgery in Israel after upcoming elections. Viktor Yuschenko is to have surgery on the pockmarks and cysts that disfigured his face after he was poisoned with dioxin this fall during Ukraine's presiden- tial campaign, Ma'ariv reported. Yuschenko must also be treated for liver problems as a result of the poison- ing. The new vote scheduled for Sunday comes after Ukraine's Nov. 21 runoff election was declared invalid because of fraud. Settler homes to go? Israel reportedly plans to raze the homes of settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip. Citing senior military sources, the Ma'ariv newspaper reported Tuesday that army engineers are in training to demolish buildings in the 21 Gaza settlements to be removed next year under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Military spokesmen declined comment. On Monday, the Jerusalem Post said the Palestinian Authority also wants the settlements razed so it can use the land. 'Lost Tribe' finds Jewish sages A book of stories about great Jewish sages has been published in the Mizo language, spoken by members of a"Lost Tribe" of Israel. The Bnei Menashe, a community from northeastern India, say they are descended from one of the missing biblical tribes. "We hope that the Bnei Menashe will draw strength from these stories about our people's greatest figures, and that they will gain a deeper understanding of Jewish history and its significance," said Michael Freund, chairman of the Shavei Israel organization, a Jerusalem-based group that assists "lost Jews." Some 800 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel, and another 7,000 remain in India, according to Shavei Israel. By Matthew E. Berger WASHINGTONOTA)--One of the nation's most-watched television hosts has run afoul of the American Jewish com- munity and launched a de- bate over whether pervasive Christmas celebrations may offend Jews. Bill O'Reilly, host of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News Channel and a national ra- dio program, angered some Jewish lawmakers and or- ganizational leaders earlier this month when he sug- gested that a Jewish radio caller angry that Christmas is celebrated in public schools should "go to Israel." The Anti-Defamation League, among others, demanded that O'Reilly apologize. The pugnacious host responded by calling the ADL's national director, Abraham Foxman, "a nut." O'Reilly is no stranger to controversy; in fact, he prac- tically has built his audience around it. Despite allegations of O'Reilly's private pecadil- loes, his radio and television shows are wildly popular with Christian conservatives, and the latest controversy high- lights a growing divergence between the Jewish commu- nity and conservatives, who are buoyed by November's presidential election results that suggested increasing numbers of Americans sup- port conservative values. One of the first post-elec- tion faith battles surrounds mmun Do You Have Pre-Paid Funeral Arrangements With Another Funeral Home? We Can and Will Accept All Other Pre-Paid Plans r m i i u tomb m l m m m atoll m m t=l~ umu m m1 : 10% Discount on . : nl services and merchandise: n on any new u n Pre-need contracts, i I I L J 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD James R. Cardinal, Executive Director Michael Meyer, Family Pre-need Counselor Tzvi Halikman, Ritual Director the celebration ofChristmas, "Your remarks show an asked Foxman to appear on his with conservative Christians utter disregard for the diver- show, butFoxmanisinTurkey. angered that the holiday has sity of religious belief in this Callstothe radioprogram'sof- been secularized, in their country, and a fundamental ricewere not returned. view, as a response to corn- insensitivity toward Jews and The controversy is part plaints from Jews and other othernon-Christians,"Lowey of a larger trend of backlash non-Christians, said inaletter to O'Reilly."By among Christian conserva- O'Reillywasdiscussingthe suggesting that Jews do not tives against decisions they secularization of Christmas haveaplaceinAmericansoci- see as anti-Christian. on his Dec. 3 radioshowwhen ety unless theyacceptwithout Conservative commenta- a Jewish man called to com- comment its 'predominantly tors Pat Buchanan and Rev. plain that he felt Christians Christian' nature, you are Jerry Falwell wrote columns were trying to covert him in brushing aside the basic ~ twoweeksagoexpressingan- school when he was growing freedoms guaranteed to all by ger at decisions to minimize up, He said the gift and card ourConstitution.'TheJewish Christmas celebrations in fa- exchanges in public schools CouncilforPublicAffairsalso vor of more generic seasonal suggest inappropriate state asked O'Reilly to apologize, and inclusive greetings. support for Christmas. But it was ADL's letter that For instance, Federated O'Reilly told the caller, got the host's attention. Department Stores no Ion- identified only as "Joel," that O'Reilly has talked about ger use "Merry Christmas" he was taking things too Foxman in the past, even in their signage, the colum- seriously, praising Mel Gibson's con- nists said. And Target stores "You have a predomi- troversial film, "The Passion do not allow Salvation Army nantly Christian nation," of the Christ,"by notingthat volunteers to seek donations O'Reiily said. "You have a Foxman said it wasn't anti- in front of their stores be- federal holiday based on the Semitic per se. cause the Salvation Army is philosopher Jesus and you Now, however, he appar- a Christian organization, the don't want to hear about it? ently sees Foxman as "a nut" commentators say. Come on, Joel. If you're really for saying O'Reilly's recent After November's election offended, you've got to go to remarks to Joel crossed the showed greater support for Israel then." O'Reilly's corn- line. O'Reilly two weeks ago traditional family values, ments angered several U.S. described the ADL as an Christian conservatives are Jewish officials, and their "extremist group that finds perceived to be seeking more responses started a heated offense in pretty much ev- influence over public policy, exchange between Jewish erything."ADLspokeswoman which could set the stage for and conservative Christian Myrna Shinbaum said it was battles with liberal Jewish leaders, important to take O'Reilly groups. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) to task, "ADL is being accused of sent a letter to congressional "Millionsofpeopleheardit. trying to ban Christmas," colleaguesonWednesday, Dec. He's a celebrity," she said. "To Shinbaum said. 8, asking them to demand an let the comments go unchal- "We're not trying to ban apology from O'Reilly. lenged is wrong." O'Reilly has Christmas." By Rachel Pomerance NEW YORK (JTA)--For the first time, Israel is send- ing humanitarian aid to an Arab nation with which it has no ties. The Jewish state has joined the American Jewish World Service, the Union for Reform J udaism, the UJA- Fed- eration of New York and the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest, N.J in donat- ing $20,000 apiece for an educational project in Chad, now home to at least 200,000 refugees from Sudan. Israel also has no ties with Sudan. The Sudanese situation re- minds Jews of the Holocaust, said Ambassador Arye Mekel, consul general of Israel in New York. "Israel, as the Jewish state, can't sit idly by when such a humanitarian disaster is tak- ing place," Mekel said, adding that this is only Israersflrst step in offering aid to affected Sudanese. Since last year, govern- ment-backed Arab militias have killed tens of thousands of Africans in the country's Darfur region. The new program in Chad, set to begin Jan. 1, 2005, is run through the International Rescue Committee and offers schooling to the children of the Kashuni camp--many of whom have been or- phaned. Children comprise more than half of the camp's population. The funds will help train teachers and provide mate- rials at several neighboring schools to offset tension between the camp and its surrounding community. Giving displaced Sudanese children "something of a rou- tine and quality educational programming is really impor- tant," said Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service. "It is critical for the Jewish community to respond to this genocide" and to back the Jew - ish promise that "we would never again let the world stand silently by," she added. Help Wanted Freelance writer with knowledge of Jewish community to work on various assignments. Photography experience a plus. E-mail samples of published articles to with subject line Freelance. When Messinger visited a camp for displaced Sudanese refugees in August, an aid worker approached her about a notebook he was keeping-- packed with stories of 5,000 women who were raped in their villages. Messinger was visiting the ironically named Abu Shock camp during a trip to Sudan to see the devastation firsthand. "I was there," Messinger says. "I saw the level of fear and depression and the unbelievable boredom for the children who have been uprooted, frightened and now have nothing to do all day." In addition to the deaths and countless rapes, some 1.6 million people have been displaced in the conflict that broke out in Feb. 2003. Some groups, like the International Rescue Com- mittee and Doctors Without Borders, have been fundrais- ing for distressed Sudanese already, funneling money to nonprofits serving some of the camps. The Jewish Cqalition for Sudan Relief, made up of 24 mostly North American Jewish groups, was created in June and has raised some $250,000. Separately, the American Jewish World Service has raised $500,000, and the Union of Reform Judaism has raised $172,000. "We're the community that knows better than anybody else the dangers of silence from the international com- munity and we ought to lead the way," Messinger said. Cek recc SUC( stal~