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>JN May 16, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 89
10 percent of Nazi Gold may be from Victims
Research shows that about 10 percent of the gold looted by the
Nazis during World War 2 could have came from concentration camp
victims, according to an internal World Jewish Congress memorandum.
The memo came a week after a U.S. government report confirmed that
the Nazis sold Switzerland and other neutral nations gold looted
from individuals along with gold stolen from the national
treasuries of the European nations they occupied. The WJC memo
makes its 10 percent estimate partly on smelting records.
Ross Ends His Mediation Today
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The senior US Middle East mediator, Dennis Ross, met with the top
Palestinian and Israeli leaders Thursday, after a late-night
negotiating session that Israel says was positive and the
Palestinians say was not.
After the first of two meetings with Ross, Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu said the first direct Israeli-Palestinian
meeting in two months created a basis for further talks. Netanyahu
called the meeting between lower-ranking officials "a beginning,"
which he hopes will lead to enhanced security cooperation and to
talks on a final peace settlement. He said formal negotiations will
resume eventually because they are in the interest of both sides.
Ross had made similar comments, calling Wednesday's meeting a
useful beginning of a dialogue that he hopes can be developed.
He also said both sides had recommitted themselves to the peace
But the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, said the meeting did
not achieved what was needed. And the chief Palestinian negotiator,
Sa'eb Erakat, described the session as "bitter and angry" at some
points, and said for him, it exposed the depth of the crisis in the
Ross and his team are expected to end their two-week mission
today. He managed to get some Israeli-Palestinian security
cooperation going again, although not as much as Israel wants.
Israel Couple's Lawsuit Attacks Orthodox Judaism
An Israeli couple is fighting the Orthodox definition of
Judaism. David and Ayala Milstein had adopted their son, Omri, as
a 7-week old baby from an orphanage in Uzbekistan, brought him to
Israel and considered him Jewish.
Orthodox rabbis declined to convert Omri to Judaism unless the
Milsteins, who are secular, agreed to follow an Orthodox lifestyle,
And the Israeli government has refused to recognize Omri's
conversion by non-Orthodox rabbis.
The Milsteins filed a lawsuit this week in Israel's Supreme Court
to force Jerusalem to recognize the child as Jewish. Such
recognition ensures that a person can marry or even be buried in
Israel, a nation in which the Orthodox establishment controls
marriage, divorce and death proceedings.
Last month, a bill to invalidate conversions by non-Orthodox rabbis
inside Israel passed the first of three readings in parliament.
Although the bill addresses only conversions inside Israel, it
outraged thousands of Reform and Conservative Jews in the United
States who provide Israel with political and financial support.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has assured American Jews that
his government would not do anything to affect their status.
But religious parties say they want to expand the bill to include
overseas conversions as well.
Like most Israelis, the Milsteins had never had any contact with
non-Orthodox Judaism before they turned to Reform rabbis to convert
their son. "People don't know what Reform is about," David Milstein
said. "The Orthodox are making it look like a big circus, not like
a religious movement."
When the Milsteins brought their son to Israel last fall, they took
him to the Orthodox rabbinate in Beersheva to be converted.
"How do we know the biological father wasn't a murderer?" the rabbi
Another rabbi told them he was willing to convert the boy, but only
if the Milsteins agreed to raise him according to Orthodox Jewish
law -- including sending him to religious schools, keeping the
Sabbath, and observing Jewish dietary laws.
On the advice of a Reform rabbi, the couple took Omri to London,
where he underwent conversion -- including a ritual immersion --
before four Reform rabbis.
In Israel, the Interior Ministry registered Omri as Israeli, but
refused to list him as a Jew -- leaving blank the space for
nationality that appears on every Israeli's ID card.
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