Newsletter : 5fax0302.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
March 2, 1995, V3, #42
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Quote of the Day: In a Palestinian Radio broadcast Sheikh Akrim
El-Savri has called for the "purification of Jerusalem of the
sinners." The sheikh continued to state that the "creator" will
bring about the destruction of the State of Israel and the Arabs
will destroy the settlements.
Israel Denies Secret Syrian Negotiations
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israel has denied a report that it is in active negotiations with
Syria, through US mediators, and that the two countries are close
to an agreement on several key aspects of a peace accord.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres dismissed the report by the Cable
News Network as "more of a media event than a political event." He
says there have been no meetings or negotiations between Israel
and Syria since senior military officers from the two countries met
late last year.
"Nothing is happening since the last meetings that took place
between the chiefs of staff. We are willing to renew the
negotiations. (That is) no problem as far as we are concerned.
And when you encounter difficulties in the peace process, you don't
stop the peace process, you are trying to stop the difficulties on
the road. (Pessin questions) Is an agreement taking shape
in any way? (Peres asks) Between us and Syria? (Pessin) Yes, sir.
(Peres) Not that I am aware of."
Peres said the Israel-Syria talks have been in recess, and reports
of no progress and time running out are "not pessimistic" but
rather are simply "factual." Peres specifically denied that there
has been any discussion between Israel and Syria on details of
security arrangements along their border -- a key aspect of the CNN
"Until now, there was no meeting with the Syrians, no
negotiations, nothing whatsoever. Maybe the Syrians talked with
CNN or somebody else. I wouldn't deny that. But, for the time
being, it is more of a media event than a political event."
According to the report on CNN, there have been almost daily
Israel-Syria contacts through US mediators in Washington. The
report says the two sides are close to an agreement which would
create a demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights and would involve
an exchange of ambassadors. The report acknowledges that the key
issue of where the border or ceasefire line will be has not yet
been decided. Peres says such security arrangements have never
been discussed in the various Israel-Syria contacts.
First Amendment Conflicts Heard by Supreme Court
By Jane Berger (Washington)
The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in a case that involves
a conflict between the constitutional guarantees of freedom of
speech and freedom of religion. The court's decision could have
wide-ranging consequences on the Constitution's requirement to
separate church and state.
The case began in 1991, when the state-supported University of
Virginia denied funds to a student-sponsored evangelical Christian
magazine. All university students pay an annual fee for student
activities, and money from the fund is allocated to various student
organizations. The university prohibits funding for religious,
political and social groups, such as fraternities or sororities.
The First Amendment to the Constitution says the government may
make no law respecting the establishment of religion. That
amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean that
government should remain neutral toward religion, and that
government, in general, should stay out of religious matters.
The Christian students sued the university, arguing the university
had violated their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and
religion. Two lower federal courts ruled in favor of the
university, and the students then appealed to the Supreme Court.
In arguments before the court, University of Chicago law professor
Michael McConnell argued, on behalf of the students, that the
government cannot take sides among different viewpoints.
After the court session was over, McConnell repeated his argument
for reporters. "My clients are trying to put out a student
newspaper. They address social and world and campus events of every
sort from their point of view. They are no different from any
other students at the University of Virginia. In our country,
religious speakers and people with religious points of view have
the same free speech rights as anyone else. That is what this case
is all about."
On behalf of the university, attorney John Jeffries told the
justices that all student groups, including religious ones, are
allowed, on an equal basis, to use university facilities and
distribute materials on campus. But Jeffries said the Constitution
requires the university to deny funding to religious groups.
The university's position was supported by the National Council of
Churches, and several prominent liberal organizations. Elliott
Mintzburg of People for the American Way said a decision in favor
of the Christian students would undermine separation of church and
"This is not a case of the government getting out the way of
religion. This is somebody asking the government to get behind and
push -- to push religion in a very specific and affirmative way
that the Establishment Clause (the Constitution's First Amendment)
forbids, mainly for the sake of religion."
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