Shorts: U.S.

House bill backs peace plans

washington (jta) | A new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives embraces unofficial Israeli-Palestinian peace proposals.

The resolution, introduced Tuesday, Dec. 9 by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), calls on Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. leaders to work with advocates of alternative peace plans to end violence in the region and seek lasting peace.

“We must support the pursuit of peace in the Middle East through all serious and credible means,” Capps said.

An identical resolution was introduced last month in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Touchdowns for Allah

los angeles (jta) | The names of some teams in a Muslim football tournament in California are causing controversy.

Jewish leaders are protesting after some of the teams in the Jan. 4 tournament chose names such as Intifada, Soldiers of Allah and Mujahadeen, or Holy Warrior.

“A lot of the kids on our team are from Palestinian origin,” The Associated Press quoted Tarek Shawkya, the captain of the Intifada team, as saying.

“We are in solidarity with people in the uprising. It’s about human rights and basic freedoms.”

Rabbi Bernie King, who lives in Irvine, where the tournament is being held, said the team names undermined those who worked to have closer relations with Muslims.

U.S. Arabs double since 1980

washington (jta) | The number of U.S. residents of Arabic descent has doubled since 1980.

According to a U.S. Census report published Dec. 3, some 1.2 million people reported Arab ancestry in the 2000 census, up from 610,000 in 1980.

More than a third, 37 percent, said they were of Lebanese descent. The next largest groups were Egyptian and Syrian, at 12 percent each.

Palestinians constituted 6.1 percent of the respondents. Half of the population lived in five states: California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.

Rabbi says Israel stance hurt him

new york (jta) | A New York rabbi says he lost his pulpit job after criticizing Israel and the U.S. war in Iraq.

Temple Emanuel, a 600-family Reform congregation in Lynbrook, N.Y., voted last week not to renew Rabbi Paul Joseph’s contract when it expires this month.

The vote came after Joseph delivered a Kol Nidre sermon saying Israel and the United States “have lost their moral compass and slipped back into more primitive modes of acting,” the New York Jewish Week reported.

Temple leaders maintained that while the rabbi’s remarks divided the congregation, Joseph was being fired mainly over criticism of his pastoral work.

Yom Kippur discharges lead to protest

washington (jta) | Two congressmen are asking why two Jews were discharged from the U.S. Army for missing a class scheduled for Yom Kippur.

Reps. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Chris Bell (D-Texas) wrote to the army asking why Refael and Margaret Chaiken were dismissed from their five-year commitment to be interrogators in the U.S.-led war on terrorism after they missed a class on Yom Kippur.

An army spokeswoman told The Associated Press that the two were dismissed because they did not meet course requirements at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., adding that the army acted within its policy on accommodating religious practice.

Reps: Israel peace key in Iraq

washington (jta) | Two congressmen who toured Iraq say solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is key to fighting terrorism.

Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) say negotiating a successful Israeli-Palestinian peace is key to bolstering U.S. credibility among Iraqis.

“You will not solve the war on terrorism until you solve the problem in the Middle East,” Wolf said Tuesday at a briefing on his tour. “It has an impact on what takes place in Iraq.”

The two recommended that President Bush name a high-level envoy to the region, suggesting as possibilities Bush’s father or George Shultz, President Reagan’s secretary of state.