Friday, October 25, 2002 | return to: international


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(JTA) -- A German politician accused of inciting anti-Semitism resigned as leader of his party in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Jurgen Mollemann quit the post Oct. 13 amid allegations that he financed an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic campaign with illegal donations.

In September, facing allegations that his anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian positions were responsible for his party's poor electoral showing, Mollemann resigned as national vice president of the Free Democratic Party.

Sachsenhausen camp undergoes restoration

BERLIN (JTA) -- Restoration work began Oct. 14 at the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany.

The site, already a memorial, will be remodeled and receive a new visitors center within three years, according to plans for the $14 million project.

Kazakhstan aids Israel track missing airman

ASTANA (JTA) -- Israel turned to Kazakhstan a few months ago for help in getting information from Iran on missing airman Ron Arad, Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Aliav Kusherbayev said.

In a related development, Kazakhstan president Nursaltan Nazzarbayev told a visiting delegation of rabbis Tuesday that he is willing to serve as a channel of communication to the Iranian Jewish community.

Nazzarbayev, who described his ties with Iran as "good," said he has raised the issue of the Jewish prisoners incarcerated in Iran with Iranian leaders in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

Nazzarbayev made his comments to members of the newly formed Euro-Asian Conference of Rabbis in a recent meeting at his presidential palace. When asked to serve as a conduit to the isolated Jewish community, Nazzarbayev said he would be happy to serve in this capacity.

Holocaust denial probe of Riefenstahl dropped

BERLIN (JTA) -- German prosecutors dropped a Holocaust denial investigation of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.

The lawyers said last Friday that comments by the legendary filmmaker, best known for her Nazi-era propaganda films, were not sufficient to lead to a prosecution.

Riefenstahl was accused of Holocaust denial by a Gypsy organization after telling a newspaper that none of the Gypsies taken from concentration camps to be used as extras in the wartime feature film "Lowlands" died in the camps.

Shul near Auschwitz gets Torah from U.S.

AUSCHWITZ (JTA) -- A group of American Jews presented a Torah to a century-old synagogue near the Auschwitz death camp.

On Oct. 17, a group of 26 Jews from Cleveland gave a scroll to the Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue, which reopened two years ago and was among a dozen shuls that served 7,000 Jews in the Polish city of Oswiecim before World War II.

The Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation raised $10 million to renovate the synagogue and an adjacent building. The city, which no longer has any Jewish residents, also has a center that houses videotaped testimony of Holocaust survivors, as well as documents tracing the history of Jewish life in the area since 1450.

'Material Girl' goes Jewish for video

LONDON (JTA) -- Madonna uses Jewish symbols in her latest video.

In her video for "Die Another Day," a song from the upcoming James Bond movie, the pop star is tattooed with Hebrew letters, wears leather straps akin to tefillin and is electrocuted in a chair bearing Hebrew markings.

"Some people could be offended not just because it's a woman" wearing tefillin, "but also because she appears to be using it for something other than Jewish prayer," said Kenneth Jacobson, the associate national director for the Anti-Defamation League.

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