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November 28, 2003 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-11-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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not endorsed any specific language.
A leading Reform group praised the
Massachusetts decision. So did the Anti-
Defamation League, which has been
working closely with gay rights groups
on new hate crime legislation.
"The issue is discrimination and preju-
dice," said Abraham Foxman, ADEs
national &rector. "It's an issue of fairness;
whether or not one likes the lifestyle or
agrees with it is irrelevant."
Religious marriage is an issue for reli-
gious authorities, he said, but "not recog-
nizing this as a marriage in the secular
world — for death benefits, life benefits
and the like — is discrimination."
Outside the Jewish community, the
rhetoric was more strident, pointing to
what is certain to be a take-no-prisoners
debate that may dominate the upcoming
election year. Gary Bauer, a former GOP
presidential contender and religious ri ght
spokesman, called for Massachusetts citi-
zens to rise up.
Conservative groups are pressing the
GOP Congressional leadership to make
passage of a "defense of marriage" consti-
tutional amendment their top priority
for 2004.

Syria Sanctions

With a long-delayed Syria sanctions bill
on its way to the White House, pro-
Israel groups are hoping to up the pres-
sure on President George W. Bush to
actually implement the legislation and
take steps to make it more effective.
But in the Middle East, Syrian
President Bashar Assad is already work-
ing to blunt the impact of what even
supporters concede will be mostly sym-
bolic sanctions. And the Europeans,
eager to make some money off the con-
troversy, are giving the young dictator a
hand.
The new law, which the administra-
tion initially opposed, threatens a variety
of sanctions if Syria doesn't stop its sup-
port for terrorism, its weapons of mass
destruction program and unless it starts
pi lling out of Lebanon. But it also
includes broad presidential waiver
authority — generous in
the House-passed bill,
even more expansive in
the final version, thanks
to an amendment by
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-
ind. And in the end,
Assad
there's precious little to
sanction, said Shoshana Bryen, special
projects director for the Jewish Institute
for National Security Affairs.
"To the extent we have cut off various
economic avenues with Syria, who
cares?" she said. Weapons and "dual use"

exports to Syria are already prohibited,
she said; the Syrian national airline does
not fly to this country, negating another
of the potential sanctions. And the
Europeans, she said, are "already out
there, signing new economic agreements
with the Syrians."
To make the Syria sanctions act work,
she said, the president will have to avoid
the temptation of a waiver, and he will
have to press the Europeans hard not to
undercut the limited sanctions.
"The way to make this effective is to
sanction the European companies that
do business with the Syrian government
by not permitting them to business with
the U.S. government," she said.
But Bryen said that even with the big
loopholes, the Syria sanctions act was a
worthwhile exercise. "It's a positive for
the Congress to be on record recognizing
the damage Syria does in the world," she
said. "The section of the legislation
which is a description of Syrian misdeeds
is outstanding. But the sanctions we
have to apply are very limited."

Holocaust Meeting

Representatives of 15 countries will be in
Washington next week for the annual
meeting of the International Task Force
for Holocaust Education, Remembrance
and Research, under the auspices of the
State Department and the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The meeting is especially important
this year because mounting worldwide
bias against Israel has prevented the
Jewish state from taking its usual role in
promoting Holocaust education and
remembrance.
"Yad Vashem can't handle the interna-
tional issues because of Israel's terrible sit-
uation in Europe," said a longtime
Holocaust activist. "It's been robbed —
unfairly — of the moral capital to han-
dle these issues, so the burden is falling
on the Holocaust Museum here."
And_ the current leadership of the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Council, the presi-
dentially appointed panel that oversees
the museum, has been shifting its focus
from international affairs to Holocaust
education in this country.
"So this is an enormously valuable
conference because it will focus more
attention on the worldwide problem,
and the important role the museum can
play," the observer said.
The international task force promotes
and helps fund projects in a number of
countries, according to museum officials,
who cited Lithuania as an example of a
country that has significantly improved
Holocaust education and remembrance

HOLOCAUST MEETING on page 24

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11/28
2003

23

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