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>JN June 20, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 111

Egypt Says it will Continue Peace Initiative

By Douglas Roberts (VOA-Cairo)

Egyptian officials acknowledge they have made no progress in efforts to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. While hoping for a new initiative from the United States, the Cairo government is also seeking further diplomatic backing from key European governments. Egypt launched its diplomatic effort to break the stalemate in the peace process several-weeks ago.

Presidential advisor Osama al-Baz travelled to Jerusalem and Gaza, seeking ways to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

Baz has since hosted a string of separate meetings with representatives from the two sides here in Cairo -- most recently on Wednesday, when Israeli Cabinet Secretary Dani Naveh spent three hours with the Egyptian official.

In a frank and glum account of the diplomatic effort, Foreign Minister Amr Moussa told the newspaper "Al-Ahram" Thursday Cairo's initiative has produced no results. The gap between the two sides remains very wide, he said, blaming Israel for the continued impasse.

There has been some speculation Cairo will soon abandon its initiative. But in Thursday's newspaper interview, Moussa said Egypt will continue its effort to salvage the peace process.


Two Women Married by Rabbi in Tel Aviv

Haaretz reported Thursday that Reform Rabbi David Ariel-Yoel, of the Harel synagogue in Jerusalem, performed a wedding ceremony between two women at a Tel Aviv catering hall.

The women each wore evening gowns and carried floral bouquets. A tallit was raised over the couple to serve as a chupah. They signed a marriage contract in the presence of witnesses, and exchanged vows and rings. The rabbi then invoked a priestly blessing.

Ariel-Yoel told the daily newspaper that it was the first time he had performed a wedding for a lesbian couple. He said he decided to perform the ceremony because he felt it was important that Jewish couples mark their union with some sort of religious ceremony,

"In my eyes this was certainly a wedding, and if...these women ever choose to separate, they will have to do this through a ceremony with religious context."


AJC Poll: U.S. Jews Still Anxious About Anti-Semitism

An American Jewish Committee survey shows that US Jews have an "ongoing sense of anxiety" about anti-Semitism. A majority of US Jews believe anti-Semitism is a greater threat to Jewish life in America than intermarriage. However, of the 61 percent of respondents who selected anti-Semitism as a greater threat, 82 percent of them were intermarried.

The 1997 annual survey of American Jewish Opinion found that 61 percent of American Jews said they supported the "Netanyahu government's current handling of the peace negotiations with the Arabs."

The AJC said the February survey of 1,160 adults was taken after the Netanyahu government signed the Hebron agreement, transferring most of the West Bank city to the Palestinians. But was taken before the controversy over construction of a Jewish housing project at Har Homa in Jerusalem.

AJCommittee's director of research, David Singer, said the main finding of the survey is the Jewish perception of anti-Semitism.

the United States is either a "very serious problem" or "somewhat of a problem."

anti- Semitic groups.

The study, released this week, found that:

and 75 percent of those who said they were "just Jewish" answered that intermarriage was less of a threat than anti-Semitism.

among those who are older, have lower incomes or have less education.

Forty-three to 44 percent of respondents over 40 years old said anti-Semitism is "a very serious problem," compared with 34 percent of those under 40.

In terms of income, 52 percent of those who make less than $30,000 backed that view, compared with 36 percent of those who make more than $50,000.

On questions related to Jewish identity, 47 percent of those surveyed said that "being part of the Jewish people" was most important to their Jewish identity; 18 percent said "social justice" was; 16 percent cited "religious observance." Seventy-one percent of American Jews said celebration of the Jewish holidays was "extremely important" or "very important."

The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.


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