World Report

BUDAPEST (JTA) — An Israeli transsexual singer highlighted an Israeli Independence Day celebration recently in Budapest.

Dana International sang to some 3,000 people at Sunday's event, which was sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel. After Dana International won the Eurovision song competition in 1999, she was feted by some Israelis and condemned mainly by observant Jews.

Brits feared militants in pre-state Israel

LONDON (JTA) — Britain feared Jewish terrorism that aimed to drive it out of Palestine in the years before the establishment of the state of Israel, newly declassified documents reveal.

The director of Britain's MI5 intelligence organization warned in 1946 that then-Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was a potential target for assassination and that Jewish militants from the Stern Gang and Irgun could join forces and "send five cells to London to work on Irish Republican Army lines."

In fact, no Jewish groups carried out attacks in Britain. The Stern Gang bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 80 people, and the Irgun hanged two British soldiers after Britain executed Jewish militants.

Complaint dismissed over Sharon cartoon

LONDON (JTA) — Britain's press watchdog dismissed a complaint that a cartoon showing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon eating a baby was anti-Semitic.

The Press Complaints Commission accepted the assertion by the Independent newspaper that the cartoon was based on the Goya painting "Saturn Devouring One of His Children" and rejected the Israeli Embassy position that the cartoon referred to a blood libel against Jews.

"The Commission considered that it would be unreasonable to expect editors to take into account all possible interpretations of material that they intend to publish, no matter what their own motive for publishing it," the ruling said.

French Muslims form secular group

PARIS (JTA) — French Muslims on Saturday held the opening conference of a new secular umbrella organization that mirrors a similar secular Jewish group.

According to Amo Ferhati, principal organizer of the French Council of Secular Muslims, which claims the backing of more than 500 Muslim institutions across France, the secular umbrella organization will adopt "strong positions against sectarianism and anti-Semitism."

The council will seek to form an alliance between secular Muslims and moderate forces in the new Council of French Muslims, formed just over a month ago as a national body representing French Islam, as "a safety net" against the fundamentalist Union of French Islamic Organizations, the second largest body on the Muslim Council, Ferhati said.

Israel will boycott Belgian court case

BRUSSELS (JTA) — Israel plans to boycott all future proceedings of a lawsuit filed in Belgium against a senior government official for alleged war crimes.

A Belgian court is set to rule next month in a lawsuit filed against Gen. Amos Yaron for alleged war crimes in a 1982 massacre by Lebanese militiamen of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps during the Lebanon War.

Israel says Belgium's universal jurisdiction law is heavily politicized. Belgium recently amended its laws so that suits against defendants who come from democratic countries where they could receive a fair trial could be returned to those countries.

New Zealand offers peacekeeping role

SYDNEY (JTA) — New Zealand is offering to send peacekeeping troops to the Middle East if Israel and the Palestinians implement the "road map" peace plan.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Phil Goff said he raised the proposal in a meeting Tuesday in Tel Aviv with his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom.