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>JN April 2, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 58

Two Miracles in Gush Katif

Two suicide bombings, aimed against school buses carrying Jewish children in Gush Katif in Gaza, failed Tuesday morning. A few minutes before 7 a.m., a bomb, apparently hidden in an Arab wagon, was detonated on the road leading to the Gush Katif communities. Some 10 minutes later, another would-be suicide terrorist blew himself up at the entrance to the town of Netzarim.

Each of the bombs was made from 11 pounds of explosives, about twice as much the bomb in Tel Aviv which killed three women 12 days ago. Both terrorists were wearing uniforms of the Palestinian police. Why the explosions occurred only a few minutes before school buses passed by is still being investigated.

The Arutz-7 correspondent reports that Palestinian police usually man a station very close to the Netzarim explosion, but were not there at the time of the blast; however, Southern Command Maj. Gen. Shlomo Yannai says that this does not mean that they knew in advance of the attack. Security sources said again that Arafat has not taken any action against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad since the Tel Aviv attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's press advisor, Shai Bazak, told Arutz-7 that the two attacks, though they did not cause casualties, must be dealt with politically in the same manner. "There is no doubt," he said, "that the terror organizations understood from Arafat that attacks such as these may be carried out."


King Hussein Meets with President Clinton

By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)

President Clinton and Jordan's King Hussein met at the White House Tuesday to discuss ways to move the stalled peace process forward. Clinton says trust has broken down in the wake of Palestinian suicide bombings and Israel's decision to build a new Jewish neighborhood in mostly Arab east Jerusalem.

"We have got to reestablish the sense on the part of the Israelis that the Palestinian Authority is committed to security. We have to reestablish on the part of the Palestinians that the Israelis are committed to continuing to build confidence by doing concrete things as contemplated by the Oslo Agreement."

Clinton says he and King Hussein discussed ways for the parties to restore trust, but he did not elaborate. The president also said he looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli leader visits the United States next week to attend a conference of the Israeli American Public Affairs Committee.


Reform Judaism Rebukes "Ultra-Orthodox"

By Don Canaan

CINCINNATI, April 1 (UPI) -- Leaders of Reform and Conservative Judaism have attacked a declaration by a 600-member Orthodox rabbinical association that the Conservative and Reform branches "are not Judaism at all."

The president of Reform Judaism's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, described that declaration "as an authoritarian call to delegitimize pluralism in Jewish life."

The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada condemned Reform and Conservative Judaism for condoning intermarriage and assimilation.

A 1990 demographic study of American Jews found that 41 percent considered themselves Reform, 40 percent Conservative, 7 percent Orthodox, 2 percent Reconstructionist, and the remainder, unaffiliated.

The UOR, Monday, described the liberal movements as "another religion" and added "It is prohibited to pray in a non-Orthodox temple at any time."

Zimmerman said Reform Judaism has approximately 1,700 rabbis and Conservative Judaism, another 1,700.

Reform Judaism's umbrella organization, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, called the UOR's declaration "a sad and pathetic statement."

Zimmerman told UPI "this is an attempt to destroy the acceptance of pluralism and those who choose ways other than the ultra-Orthodox way. We're dealing here with a group that's hellbent on seeing to it that Israel will be divided from the rest of world Judaism, and that's ultimately what's going to happen."

The UOR declaration was also condemned by the Rabbinical Council of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America -- the two largest Orthodox rabbinical organizations in North America.


First Reading of Conversion Law Passed by Knesset

The Knesset voted Tuesday to approve the first reading of the Conversion Law, by a 51-32 margin (with 7 abstentions). The new legislation anchors the status quo in law, wherein, among Israeli conversions, only those performed by the Chief Rabbinate would be recognized in Israel.

President Ezer Weizmann met with the Knesset faction leaders, in an effort to find a solution to the Conversion Law controversy. As a result of his efforts, the religious parties announced that they would continue to conduct a dialogue with the other parties in order to come to a mutually-acceptable solution.


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