06.24.05 Update

6.24.2005

Normalizing Israel's status at the United Nations is one of five standards the United States should use in assessing U.N. reform, according to a congressional mandated task force. (JTA) Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives and a cochairman of the taskforce, presented its findings to Congress on Wednesday. "A true test of whether there is meaningful U.N. reform is whether there is a dramatic reform of the way that the U.N. treats Israel," Gingrich said. Israel is denied membership in a regional group, and the membership benefits it derives, including rotation on the Security Council, and is singled out for criticism by a number of subsidiary U.N. bodies. "Accepting Israel as a normal member should be considered a benchmark test of U.N. reform program and would demonstrate that the U.N is committed to the equality of rights that are enshrined in its charter," Gingrich reported.

The Masorti movement, the Israeli branch of the Conservative movement in the US, has fired its president according to Arutz Sheva.

The Anti-Defamation League accepted the apology of Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) for a Nazi comparison. (JTA) "We're glad that Senator Durbin has come to understand why his comments were so painful and inappropriate," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman in a statement Wednesday. Durbin had been under fire for comments made on the Senate floor June 14, in which he compared the conduct of U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay with Nazi practices. He issued an apology from the Senate floor Tuesday, saying that he had made a "poor choice of words” and that he was sorry if anything he had said "caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time."

Ha'aretz reports that Ra'anana Mayor Zeev Bielski has been voted the new chairman of the Jewish Agency.

An Orthodox Jew in an Ohio prison accused the prison of forcing him to shave his beard and sideburns. (JTA) Ralph Beasley, imprisoned in the Toledo Correctional Institution for murder, was transferred to the facility last year from one that had a religious living program, and was told he could no longer have a beard beyond a half-inch in length. A spokesperson for the state prisons department said long beards can be used to hide weapons and other contraband. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that religious minorities in prison have a right to religious practice, as long as it does not interfere with a compelling governmental interest.

Some students in Israel are joining forces against the disengagement during their summer break this year. Story from Arutz Sheva here.

Ha'aretz reports that Bill Gates will make his first visit to Israel later this year.

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