06.17.05 Update

6.17.2005

Israel launched plans to build a sea barrier to thwart attacks off the Gaza Strip coast. (JTA) The Israeli navy is planning the barrier to keep out potential terrorists after Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip later this summer. The barrier is expected to extend nearly 1,000 yards, officials told Israeli media. Palestinian officials said barriers are the wrong policy and that Israel should focus on working with the Palestinian Authority.

Jewish residents of the settlement of Nisanit requested from the Disengagement Authority Head to be relocated to an Askelon seaside neighborhood, complete with a private beach, shopping mall, and tax breaks, among other demands. Story from Yedioth Ahronoth here.

The Israeli embassy in Washington received a letter with an unknown powder in it. (JTA) Washington emergency services sealed the embassy for five hours, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, and kept inside about 50 staff members after a staffer opened an envelope and a small amount of powder dropped out. A threatening, anti-Semitic note said the powder was anthrax. The all-clear was given after an initial test indicated that the powder was harmless. Officials turned the matter over to the FBI, and a final result has yet to be announced.

The AP reports that the beatification process for a French priest who has been accused of anti-Semitism in his writings has been put on hold.

A Jewish museum in Dublin postponed its 20th anniversary celebrationafter vandals daubed the building with swastikas and SS markings. (JTA) The attack on the Irish Jewish Museum occurred early Tuesday. Curator Raphael Siev postponed the June 20 reception and concert at the former synagogue because he wasn’t sure the graffiti could be cleared in time. Three other Jewish sites in Dublin — the Orthodox synagogue, the Jewish cemetery and the former home of Isaac Herzog, Israel’s first chief rabbi — also were targeted. The attacks were the latest in a series of incidents occurring roughly monthly beginning in November 2004.

Arutz Sheva reports that Jewish National Fund has opened its 180th reservoir.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) refused to apologize for comparing U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis. (JTA) Durbin made the comments in the course of a floor speech Tuesday, during which he cited an FBI report describing the conditions of prisoners at the Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings,” he said. Urged to apologize Wednesday, Durbin refused, saying that instead the Bush administration should apologize to the American people for “abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorizing torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure.”

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