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VIAB fate still unclear

The future of the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board will likely be decided by a Virginia General Assembly conference committee after the Virginia House and Senate each passed their respective budgets last week. The House approved funding for the agency with a 15 percent cut from last year, while the Senate consolidated VIAB with four other economic development agenices within the commerce and trade department. The General Assembly session wraps up next week.

Canada's wartime refugee policy scored

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney criticized past Canadian leaders who barred Jewish refugees during the Holocaust era. "To this day I cannot watch footage of the faces of Jewish mothers, fathers and children consigned to the gas chambers without, as a Canadian, feeling a great sense of sorrow, loss and guilt," said Mulroney, who opened a two-day conference on anti-Semitism at the University of Toronto. He also voiced strong support for Israel, saying he still believes Israel is better qualified than most observers to judge its internal security needs and make determinations about its own well-being. "Contemporary anti-Semitism, without changing its stripes, has added the state of Israel to its list of targets," he said Monday, adding that it is still possible to criticize Israeli policies while supporting the state's right to exist.

Alleged Nazi expelled

Costa Rica has expelled an alleged Nazi war criminal. Harry Mannil, 82, was prevented from moving from Venezuela to Costa Rica after the U.S. Justice Department notified officials in Costa Rica that he had served with the Estonian Political Police, who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, praised Costa Rica's "prompt action in denying a known Holocaust perpetrator the privilege of residing in Costa Rica, one of the world's leading democracies." Zuroff also called on Estonia to prosecute Mannil. "It is high time that the Estonian government finally realize that he is a Nazi war criminal and Holocaust perpetrator who must be brought to justice," he said.

Umpire can't work at fantasy camp

A baseball umpire has been hit with a second punishment after making an anti-Semitic remark about an umpiring administrator. Suspended for 10 days without pay for the derogatory comment, Bruce Froemming was told to stay away from the Los Angeles Dodgers' adult baseball camp that began on Thursday of last week in Vero Beach, Fla.

Last week, Froemming called umpires administrator Cathy Davis a "stupid Jew bitch" after Froemming was chastised for not allowing the league to handle his travel arrangements for an umpiring trip to Japan. Froemming later apologized.

Rally against HUC fizzles

A Baptist church's protest of the Reform movement's Cincinnati seminary didn't take place as planned. It was unclear why members of the Westboro Baptist Church failed to appear as planned on Tuesday to protest Hebrew Union College's support for gay rabbis and gay marriage. The HUC administration had reacted to the protest threat by closing the campus and inviting faculty and students to a voluntary teach-in. About 50 members of the HUC-JIR community gathered for the lectures.

The church has picketed the gay community at numerous events nationwide, including the funeral of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard.

Barking over kosher dogs

A dispute over umbrella ads for kosher hot dogs may soon hit the U.S. courts. A restaurant owner in Maine filed a civil rights lawsuit last month, alleging that a town official ordered him to paint or tape over signs for Hebrew National hot dogs because the official told him that the words "Hebrew National" offended him, according to The New York Times. The owner of Bartley's Dockside also asked a judge to prohibit the town of Kennebunk from enforcing its legal ordinance against a restaurant having too many signs. The city, which denies any anti-Semitism, previously sued the restaurant, seeking tens of thousands of dollars for the ordinance violation.

Spain tough on looted art

Spain is refusing to discuss claims that an Impressionist painting hanging in one of the country's museums was stolen during the Holocaust era. Spanish authorities have told lawyers assisting the claim on the work by Camille Pissarro that they should pursue the matter in court, even though Spain has signed on to four international agreements that attempt to restore looted artworks to their rightful owners. Claude Cassirer, 81, a retired photographer in San Diego, says "Rue St.-Honore, Apres-Midi, Effet de Pluie," hung in his grandmother's apartment in Germany until it was seized by Nazi officials.

Jewish leader's speech prompts suit

Two French Trotskyist organizations said they plan to sue a Jewish leader for defamation. In a speech last month, Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella organization for secular Jewish institutions in France, said the Revolutionary Communist League and Workers Fight are part of an anti-Semitic alliance involving neo-Nazis, environmentalists and left-wing groups. In a related development, a Jewish leader in the Lyon region criticized Cukierman's comments on Wednesday of last week in the daily newspaper Liberation. "French Jews have suffered enough from negative linkages and caricature to not use it themselves," Alain Jakubowicz wrote.

Dictionary publisher changes entry

The publisher of a Scrabble dictionary agreed to alter its definition of "Jew," used as a verb, following a complaint by a leading British Jewish group. The Board of Deputies welcomed the decision by Chambers Publishers to replace its old entry "to cheat or get the better of" with "old offensive word meaning to haggle."

Russian Communist blasted on remarks

Russian Jewish groups are criticizing the leader of Russia's Communist Party for a comment they say will fan anti-Semitism. Speaking on Feb. 5, Gennady Zyuganov said Jews are overrepresented in the government, business and media. Such remarks "can be viewed only as fomenting ethnic animosity toward Jews," the president of the Russian Jewish Congress, Yevgeny Satanovsky, said in a news release. Experts have predicted that Communist Party officials plan to play on anti-Semitic and xenophobic sentiment before the nation's parliamentary elections, slated for December. According to the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, the comments by Zyuganov are the most openly anti-Semitic remarks the Communist leader has made since 1998, when the previous elections to Russia's Parliament were held.

New York, Jerusalem bond

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg hosted a summit on Thursday of last week with representatives of nine cities, including Jerusalem, that are sister cities with New York. The summit, which focused on tourism, is part of a business, cultural and security partnership the cities have with New York. Other cities include Budapest, Cairo, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Israeli Tourism Minister Yitzhak Levy, along with several Israeli tourist operators, attended the meeting.

-- Compiled by Aaron Leibel with reports from Eric Fingerhut, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and other sources.

This story was published in the WashingtonJewishWeek
on: Thursday, February 13, 2003








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