Settlement Building Up
Jerusalem/JTA — Jewish construction
in the West Bank and Jerusalem has
increased since Annapolis, a Peace Now
Though Israel promised to freeze
construction in the settlements at the
Annapolis peace conference in November
2007, the left-wing organization said in its
report released Monday that the construc-
tion has continued and increased.
Construction has taken place in 101
settlements, excluding East Jerusalem,
in the past four months, according to the
report. About 275 new buildings were
started since Annapolis, with 20 percent of
the construction taking place east of the
national security fence. In addition, the
Defense Ministry has approved plans for
the construction of 946 units. In eastern
Jerusalem, tenders for the construction of
750 housing units were granted after the
summit, while in the year before the sum-
mit only 46 housing units were approved.
The report also found that there was
construction in 58 "illegal outposts:'
including 16 permanent structures, and
that none were evacuated.
`Any construction in the settlements,
including the settlement blocs and East
Jerusalem, simply reinforce the opinion
of Palestinian extremists who see this
as 'proof' that Israel does not truly want
peace, that there is no use to talk with
Israel, but instead, one has to fight Israel
with force the report said.
Utah Monuments Case
Washington/JTA — The U.S. Supreme
Court will hear a Utah case involving reli-
The high court agreed Monday to
hear a case in the term beginning in
October brought by the Summum reli-
gious group against Pleasant Grove City,
which refused to allow the building of a
religious monument in a park that houses
a Ten Commandments monument. The
free speech case will determine whether
the monument is the private speech of
the donor or is government speech, and
whether the government has the right to
decide what to display in a public park.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
ruled previously that banning a monu-
ment where others already stand violates
the freedom of speech, paving the way
for any organization to erect a monu-
ment. Summum was founded in 1975
and is headquartered in Salt Lake City.
Addressing displays of religious sym-
bols on public property in two cases in
2005, the Supreme Court ruled that a Ten
Commandments monument can be dis-
played on the grounds of a state capital
that also has other monuments.
Speak Up, Rabbis Urged
Cincinnati/JTA — Reform rabbis were
urged to "exercise moral leadership" on
Rabbi Peter Knobel, the president of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis,
on Monday said the movement's rabbis
should discuss the presidential race with
their congregations, including the "moral
tragedy" of the Iraq war, the need for uni-
versal health care and the pressing need
for peace in the Middle East.
Knobel was speaking at the CCAR's
national convention in Cincinnati. More
than 450 rabbis from the 1.5 million-
member American Reform community,
the largest Jewish denomination, are
attending the four-day gathering.
"We have an important role in bring-
ing the insights of Judaism to bear on
the great issues of today',' Knobel said at
CCAR's 119th convention.
Adding that he hoped Protestant,
Catholic and Muslim clergy would speak
to their congregations as well, he said,
"Often religion is decried as irrelevant.
Quite the contrary, our moral values
should be heard by all."
Knobel blasted the Iraq war, saying it
is "eating the flesh of our country" even
as it is "killing and maiming thousands,
alienating the Muslim world and wast-
ing resources that would make for a safer,
more secure and just world:'
He also warned against the growing
disconnect between Israel and North
American Jewry, calling it "a virus."
Jerusalem/JTA — An online contest to
showcase Israel@60 was launched.
The Israel Project invited filmmakers,
writers and other artists worldwide to
submit entries in the categories of televi-
sion advertisement, video and printable
flyer to commemorate Israel's founding in
Winning entries in the TV and video
categories will be posted on YouTube.com .
Contest entries will be accepted in those
languages through June 30.
Voting for the TV and video entries
will take place via YouTube. Judges will
use those votes as part of their criteria in
determining the winners. The winning 30-
second ad in English will air on CNN at
the Democratic and Republican national
The Israel Project said it expanded its
Web site and launched the online contest
to counteract the Internet's exploitation
by terrorist groups. For information on
the contest, visit www.theisraelproject.
New York/JTA — The Anti-Defamation
League criticized an advertisement in
the New York Times in which evangelicals
defend their efforts to convert Jews.
Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national
director, called the ad "offensive and
insulting." The ad, which appeared in the
March 28 issue, was sponsored by the
World Evangelical Alliance, a 162-year-old
global network that claims to represent
420 million evangelicals. In the ad, the
affiance acknowledges that "church history
has been marred" by anti-Semitism and
that "the church did far less than it should
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have" to protect Jews at moments of peril.
But it also defends conversion efforts,
saying "it is out of our profound respect
for Jewish people that we seek to share the
good news of Jesus Christ with them."
In a separate statement, the group's
CEO and international director, Dr. Geoff
Tunnicliffe, said the advertisement was
intended as a gesture of friendship.
"It is our hope that it will be received
in the spirit it is intended by the non-
evangelicals who see it," Tunnicliffe said.
"Namely that it is a statement of friend-
ship and profound respect for the Jewish
people, a commitment to stand with the
Jewish people who have suffered mis-
treatment simply for being Jewish. And
that part of our friendship and care and
respect is shown in our commitment to
share the love of God in Christ whom we
believe is their Savior as well as ours."
Among the signatories is Chuck
Colson, a former Nixon aide who was
jailed for involvement in the Watergate
scandal and went on to found Prison
Fellowship, a Christian group ministering
Hamas: Shoah 'Exaggerated'
Gaza City/JTA — Hamas believes the
Holocaust was "exaggerated:' its supreme
Khaled Meshaal said in a Sky TV inter-
view aired Monday that the numbers were
embellished to justify the existence and
actions of Israel.
"We don't deny the Holocaust, but we
believe the Holocaust was exaggerated by
the Zionist movement to use as a whip:'
the Palestinian faction's leader said.
"We don't deny the fact but we don't
accept two issues. We don't accept the
exaggeration of numbers and we don't
accept that Israel uses this to do what
it wants." Though Hamas' charter calls
for the destruction of the Jewish state,
Meshaal likened the group's terrorist and
guerrilla attacks to French resistance
against the Nazis and the American
Meshaal said Hamas has offered Israel
a deal in which each side would attack
only military targets. Hamas, like many
Palestinians, considers Israelis living in
the West Bank and east Jerusalem to be
Asked about Gilad Shalit, an Israeli sol-
dier abducted to Gaza by Hamas in June
2006, Meshaal said he is alive and well and
that negotiations on his return are being
held up by Israel.
The Israeli government has balked
at Hamas' demand for the release of
hundreds of jailed Palestinians, includ-
ing hard-core terrorists, in exchange for