07.21.05 Update


The Bush administration expressed its opposition to a number of pro-Israel provisions in a congressional finance bill. (JTA) A "statement of administration policy" issued Wednesday came too late to stop the U.S. House of Representatives' passage of a State Department authorization bill. Among the provisions the administration opposed were further restrictions on direct aid to the Palestinian Authority; allowing applicants born in Jerusalem to list "Jerusalem, Israel" as their birthplace on their passports; and the transfer of $240 million in assistance to Egypt from military to economic aid. "The permanent status of Jerusalem is a volatile issue with sensitivities throughout the region and needs to be resolved by the parties," the statement said. "The president has stated that such provisions impermissibly interfere with his constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the nation in international affairs, and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states." The Senate has yet to consider a similar bill; the provisions are not expected to survive the House-Senate conference.

Israel authorized the transfer of 5,000 Palestinian police from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip to maintain security during next month's Gaza withdrawal
. (JTA) Daniel Ayalon, Israel's ambassador to the United States, announced the agreement Wednesday at Hadassah's annual conference in Washington. Ayalon said the gesture showed Israel's goodwill in encouraging the Palestinian Authority to face down terrorists, and suggested that Israel might allow more policemen to be transferred. The United States has been pressing Israel and the Palestinians to coordinate ahead of Israel’s upcoming withdrawal in order to smooth the transition to Palestinian self-rule. "In order for them to become an effective partner, a trustworthy partner, they must take the necessary steps to do away with terrorism and incitement," Ayalon said.

Jewish groups joined groups in America, Britain and France urging their governments to sponsor a U.N. resolution to address the genocide in Sudan. (JTA) The Save Darfur Coalition in America, which includes Jewish groups from across the denominational spectrum, joined the Collectif Urgence Darfour in France and Protect Darfur in Great Britain in asking the countries to sponsor a Security Council resolution. "It is imperative that the U.N. Security Council give a mandate, through a new resolution, for the protection of Darfur's African population through peace enforcement in Darfur," the statement says. "The government of Sudan bears primary responsibility for their protection, but has failed to provide it. As a matter of urgency, this must now become an international responsibility."

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein's 'miracle year', and Hebrew University, the custodian of Einstein's estate, may bring in upwards of $4 million in fees for the his image rights this year. Einstein's 'miracle year' refers to the period when he did some of his most important work, including the Special Theory of Relativity. Bloomberg reports here.

Only 18 percent of new immigrants between the ages of 18 and 35 are happy in Israel, a new study found. (JTA) Among veteran Israelis in the same age bracket, 43 percent are satisfied with their lives in Israel, according to a Hebrew University School of Social Work study, Yediot Achronot reported. The study, conducted for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, is to be presented to the JDC and Israel's Absorption Ministry to address challenges facing young immigrants. Though 41 percent of new immigrants have graduated from institutions of higher education, compared to 27 percent of veteran Israelis, they are less happy professionally because they have difficulty finding work in their fields and are more likely than their veteran counterparts to work in blue-collar jobs, the study found. Additionally, some 25 percent of those who immigrated between 1996 and 2001 said they are not Jewish.

Members of the U.S. Congress negotiating the final version of an energy bill agreed to halve a proposal to expand daylight-savings time, addressing an issue that had concerned observant Jews. (JTA) Negotiators from the Senate and House of Representatives met Thursday to finalize the 2005 Energy Policy bill. Negotiators had considered expanding daylight savings time by two months, so that it would run from March to November instead of April to October. Orthodox and Conservative Jews argued against the change, saying it would make it difficult for Jews who attend morning services to reach work on time. Under the compromise, daylight-savings time would begin three weeks earlier in the spring and last a week longer in the fall.

Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that he will visit a synagogue in Cologne next month. (JTA) The visit to Germany will be Benedict's first return to his homeland since he was elected to the papacy in April. According to details of the trip announced Wednesday by the Vatican, Benedict will visit the Cologne synagogue for an hour at noon on Aug. 19. It will be the first official visit by a pope to a synagogue since John Paul II's historic visit to the main synagogue of Rome in 1986. Benedict's visit will be the latest in a series of steps he has taken since his election to demonstrate his commitment to furthering Jewish-Catholic relations.

The world's oldest married couple is Jewish. (JTA) Philadelphia residents Herbert and Magda Brown, 105 and 100, respectively, have been recognized as the "oldest living married couple, aggregate age" by The Guinness Book of World Records. Magda attributes her long time with Herbert to communication. "He is very easy-going, I am the strong one," she told Reuters in an interview. "We never argued, we just had discussions." The couple married in Magda's native Hungary in 1930 and then moved to Austria, Herbert's homeland, where he was arrested by the Nazis and sent to Dachau. Herbert was released in exchange for all of the family's possessions, and he, Magda and their only daughter fled to London, later making their way to the United States.

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