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>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
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
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
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
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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