Reform Urges Pullout
WASHINGTON — The Reform movement last week marked the recent death of the 4,000th U.S. soldier in Iraq with a call to remove troops. “On this grim occasion, we say again: it is time to pursue a new strategy which better protects the troops who remain in Iraq and also begins to withdraw them in the most expeditious way possible,” it said.
French Aliyah Slows
PARIS — French Jewish emigration to Israel has dropped since Nicolas Sarkozy took office, Ma’ariv reported. Figures from Israel’s Immigration and Absorption Ministry show the French aliyah rate in 2008 is 42 per cent lower than in the same period last year. French Jews told Ma’ariv they feel more comfortable since Sarkozy, who is friendly to Israel and tough on crime, became president last year. Many had complained of a surge of anti-Semitic violence.
Kosher Papal Pastries
ROME — A kosher Italian bakery has a key local patron: Pope Benedict XVI. The owner of Pasticceria Boccione in Rome’s ancient ghetto said she recently got a thank-you letter from the Vatican revealing the Pope’s love of her biscotti and an almond-and-raisin creation called “Jewish pizza.” A papal doctor, a Jew who stopped by the 453-year-old bakery en route to giving the Pope a checkup, introduced him to the pastries, Yediot Achronot reported.
PARIS — French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie fired a top local official last month who said Israeli soldiers shoot little girls. Bruno Guigue, deputy prefect of the southwestern town of Saintes, described Israel in an online column as “the only state where snipers shoot down little girls outside their school gates.”
BBC Apologizes For Errors In Israel News
LONDON — The BBC apologized for major inaccuracies in two recent reports about Israel.
The British public broadcaster reported March 7 that Israel bulldozed the home of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva attacker while showing footage of a home being destroyed. In reality, the attacker’s home wasn’t demolished, as other news services showed. The BBC subsequently apologized and admitted using footage from the demolition of another home, the Jerusalem Post reported.
In a March 14 online report, the BBC said Israel deliberately targeted Palestinian civilians in Gaza during an incursion to take out Qassam rocket launchers, and that the UN secretary general also called it an attack on civilians.
But Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council, “While recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children.” He added later: “I condemn Palestinian rocket attacks and call for the immediate cessation of such acts of terrorism.”
In its apology, the BBC said it “should have made reference” to Ban’s comments about the rocket attacks as well as “‘excessive use of force’ by Israel.” It said it amended the report, removing reference to attacks on civilians.