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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Some headlines and summaries from JTA

Jews join letter against ‘anti-terror’ bill

More than 300 organizations and businesses, including about a dozen small Jewish groups, signed a letter opposing the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.
The petition presented this week to the act’s principal sponsor, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), says the act “would punish and isolate the Palestinian people for exercising their right to vote.”

The letter, drafted by the U.S. Committee to End the Occupation, is signed by Jewish Voice for Peace, Tikkun, and Bubbes & Zaydes for Peace in the Middle East, among other groups. The act, strongly backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, was drafted in the wake of the electoral victory of Hamas, a terrorist group.

It would severely limit assistance to the Palestinians and restrict contacts between the United States and the Palestinian Authority. The act has garnered the support of almost 200 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and more than 50 senators.

Arab Americans slam Dems

Arab American groups criticized Sen. Charles Schumer for allegedly denigrating Arabs.

Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish, was quoted last week in the New York Observer as defending his opposition to a now-scuttled deal that would have allowed a Dubai company to manage six U.S. ports. “Let’s say skinheads had bought a company to take over our port. I think the outcry would have been the same,” Schumer said.

The Arab American Institute described Schumer’s remarks as deplorable.

“Sen. Schumer’s brazen remark runs contrary to the Democratic Party’s principles of inclusion and diversity,” it said in a statement. “The senator owes Arab Americans an apology.” Schumer’s office did not respond to JTA calls for comment.

ADL: Assad aids Holocaust denial

The Anti-Defamation League accused Syria’s president of giving “aid and comfort” to Holocaust deniers.
Appearing on the “Charlie Rose” show on PBS recently, Bashar Assad repeatedly refused to say whether he thought the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews, but said that “what is going on in Palestine” is the same as what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust.

“Assad’s evasiveness, together with his odious comparison of the Holocaust to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, shows that this is a leader intent on encouraging those who attempt to diminish or ignore the Nazi campaign of genocide against Jews,” Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement.

The comments come after the president of Iran, a close ally of Syria, made several comments denying the Holocaust.

House considers university funding

A bill in Congress would establish a board to advise the government on whether federally funded international relations programs benefit U.S. interests.
Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee, have strongly backed the higher education funding bill before the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Two of its elements would address a perceived pro-Arab tilt in some federally funded programs.

One directs the education secretary “to take into account the degree to which activities of centers, programs, and fellowships at institutes of higher education advance national interests, generate and disseminate information, and foster debate on U.S. foreign policy from diverse perspectives.”

Another would establish the board to advise whether the programs are meeting “national needs.”

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