Costa Rica Criticized
WASHINGTON — U.S. Jewish groups criticized Costa Rica for recognizing “Palestine” as a state last month, saying it undermines Mideast peace efforts. Costa Rica was long a pro-Israel stalwart in Latin America and until 2006 was one of only two nations with an embassy in Jerusalem. Few non-Arab and Muslim states recognize Palestine.
Families Settle Suit
BALTIMORE — Two Jewish families have settled with a Delaware school board over pressure on their kids to become Christian. The suit against the Indian River School District was settled in a deal filed Feb. 21, Jews on First, a website that follows the case, reported. The deal provides compensation and orders schools to change practices. The problem started in 2004 when a pastor singled out a girl at a high school graduation to pray for her conversion. When her family complained, they were harassed, and a younger son was bullied at school with anti-Semitic epithets. The son in the other family was pressed to join a middle school Bible club. One of the families moved to avoid harassment.
Muslims Reach Out
LONDON — U.K. Muslim leaders issued an unprecedented appeal to world Jewry to help bridge the gap between the two faiths. The letter came from the Muslim-Jewish study centre at the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge, England. Woolf Institute lecturer Sheik Michael Mumisa said the letter is the first in modern times to be sent with the backing of Muslim leaders and scholars. British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has reportedly seen it and is expected to respond soon.
Iran Ordered To Pay
WASHINGTON — A U.S. judge ordered Iran to pay $33 million (US) to the family of U.S.-born Israeli diplomat David Ben-Rafael, who died in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina. The Feb. 25 ruling held Iran liable for the attack, which killed 29 people. Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, took responsibility. The ruling is one of a number in recent years holding Iran liable for Hamas or Hezbollah attacks against Americans. Iran doesn’t acknowledge the rulings, the result of judgments in the absence of an Iranian defence. Plaintiffs have had limited success collecting on judgments by seizing Iranian assets.
Obama Rejects Farrakhan’s Support
CLEVELAND — Barack Obama rejected the support of Louis Farrakhan during a presidential debate last week.
The Illinois senator and U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton met Feb. 26 for the 20th debate in the run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency.
Moderator Tim Russert of NBC News pressed Obama on Farrakhan’s praise for him the previous weekend, noting that the Nation of Islam leader had often made anti-Semitic remarks, once calling Judaism a “gutter religion.”
“This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better,” Farrakhan said of Obama at a rally in Chicago on Feb. 25.
“I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments,” Obama told Russert. “I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can’t censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we’re not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.”
Pressed by Russert to reject Farrakhan’s support, Obama said: “Tim, you know, I can’t say to somebody that he can’t say that he thinks I’m a good guy.” Russert then noted that Obama’s pastor had expressed admiration for Farrakhan. Obama countered by noting his pro-Israel record, his denunciation of anti-Semitism in the black community and his strong support among Jews nationwide.
Clinton then interjected, saying “there’s a difference between denouncing and rejecting,” and that she believed Obama was sincere, but “we’ve got to be even stronger.”
Obama didn’t see the difference, but added, “I’m happy to concede the point. And I would reject and denounce.”