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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 1, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 82

Britain Releases Names on Holocaust-era Accounts

Israel Faxx News Service

Britain has released the names of 25,000 Holocaust-era bank account holders whose assets were confiscated by the British government after World War 2. The World Jewish Congress was told the British government would open a site on the Internet to publish the names of former account holders making it possible to search by name, address or country.

Gore to Israel: Move Forward for Peace

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

As he joined in celebrating its 50th anniversary, Vice President Al Gore, Thursday, called on Israel to move forward in the peace process.

Gore pledged "unflagging" US support for Israel. But he also came with a message for Israelis and their leaders. "Today in the peace process, we are faced with the...need to move forward if we are to preserve the important gains we have made. Never has the opportunity for achieving peace been more real. It must not be lost."

The United States has been pressing Israel to accept a compromise on West Bank land, but Israel refuses, citing security concerns. Gore says he will tell Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat he needs to make a "100 percent effort" to fight terrorism. But he also said Arafat has been doing that in recent weeks.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright meets with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders in London Monday for talks some see as crucial for keeping the troubled peace process alive.

US Jews Urged to Help Genetic Testing

By IINS News Service

Top genetic researchers joined forces with leaders of the Jewish community urging Jews to take part in genetic tests they say will benefit Americans in general, and people around the world.

But they also said laws were needed to protect people's privacy and ensure that no one was discriminated against because of their genes.

The experts spoke at a conference called by the Hadassah Women's' Organization and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, to address fears that Jews were being singled out for genetic research, and stigmatized as being genetically flawed as a result. "We are all walking around with flaws," Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the National Human Genome Research Institute, told the conference.

Collins said many groups were studied by geneticists, not just Jews. He urged everyone who could, to take part in genetic trials if asked, and said many people could benefit from knowing about genetic variations that might predispose them to disease.

Genetic research brings results that can help all people, not just the groups being tested, the conference was told. "We are trying to impress upon everyone in the world that we are talking about them," said Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who has introduced legislation ensuring privacy for people who take genetic tests.

She noted scientists had estimated everyone has between five and 30 gene mutations that could be seen as defects. "That includes the presidents of the major insurance companies as well as everyone else." But she said people were nervous about tests for such variations, which already exist for a range of genes that can tell about the risk of breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease and other illnesses.

"People are already telling us that they are afraid of finding out their genetic makeup," Slaughter said. "People are going to have to feel comfortable about being identified as part of clinical trials."

Collins said Jewish women should not feel singled out by studies into breast cancer, for example. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes - which, with certain mutations, can predispose women to breast and ovarian cancer - were discovered with help from studies that focused on Ashkenazi Jewish women.

Referring to groups other than Jews, which were studied by geneticists Collins said: "For instance, the country of Finland is a favorite place for many genetic researchers, including myself." That is because of the "founder effect." Finland was settled about 1,000 years ago by a small group of only about 2,000 people. There has been little genetic influx from anywhere else, making the population pure, from a genetic point of view.

Ashkenazi Jews had a similar profile because communities tended not to marry outside. The Amish and Mormons in the United States were similarly studied, as were Icelanders.

But Karen Rothenberg, Director of the Law and Healthcare program at the University of Maryland, said Jews had special sensitivities. "Those other groups, none of them are stigmatized. The Finnish community doesn't have a history in the United States. That's why it's different. The one thing that everyone Jewish shares is a concern for anti-Semitism."

Slaughter noted that blacks had been discriminated against because of their genetic makeup and gave as an example African-Americans who could not get insurance in the 1970s because blacks are prone to sickle-cell anemia, a genetic disease.

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