Gaza, Passion, security barrier test Jews worldwide

October 2003

new york | Russian Jewish scientist Vitaly Ginzburg is awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. Ginzburg is honored “for pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids,” the Nobel Prize committee says.

jerusalem | Twenty-one people are killed by an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing at Maxim’s, a Haifa restaurant. In retaliation, Israel bombs an empty terrorist training camp in Syria, where Islamic Jihad is headquartered.

new york | Malaysian officials defend the country’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohammed, who said Jews rule the world and called on Muslims to defeat them.

gaza city | Three American security guards are killed when a U.S. diplomatic convoy is bombed in the Gaza Strip. The attack leads to a severe diplomatic rupture between the United States and the Palestinian Authority.

jerusalem | An Israeli raid in the Gaza Strip leaves more than 1,200 Palestinians homeless, the United Nations says. U.N. officials say the weekend operation was the largest demolition of houses since the Palestinians launched the intifada three years ago.

ramallah | Ahmed Qureia is sworn in as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, two months after his predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas, resigned after a power struggle with President Yasser Arafat.

istanbul | Two Istanbul synagogues are bombed, killing 24 people, mostly non-Jews. An organization affiliated with al-Qaida claims responsibility.

December 2003

geneva | Israeli and Palestinian political activists and former Cabinet ministers launch the “Geneva accord,” an unofficial peace proposal. The Israeli government rejects the document, saying the activists have no authority to propose concessions in Israel’s name, but the initiative receives wide support across Europe.

berlin | The European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia commissions but then suppresses a report that shows the majority of anti-Semitic attacks are committed by young Muslims of North African origin. Under pressure from Jewish groups, the center ultimately releases the report, but says it considers the report flawed.

herzliya, israel | In a landmark speech, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel will have to leave its Gaza Strip settlements in a process of unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians.

January 2004

new york | Fifty percent fewer Israelis are killed in terrorist attacks in 2003, according to a report issued by the Shin Bet security service. Some 213 Israelis die in Palestinian attacks in 2003, compared with 451 in 2002, the report finds.

jerusalem | A suicide bomber kills 11 people aboard a Jerusalem bus.

February 2004

jerusalem | A Palestinian suicide bomber kills eight people aboard a Jerusalem bus. The al-Aksa Brigade, the terrorist wing of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, claims responsibility for the blast.

new york | Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” debuts nationally, despite fears that it may inflame anti-Semitism. The $30 million epic about the death of Jesus opens in more than 2,500 theaters on the Christian holy day of Ash Wednesday.

March 2004

jerusalem | Nine victims are killed in a double suicide bombing in the Israeli city of Ashdod. Sixteen people are wounded in attacks at the southern Israeli port city. Hamas and the al-Aksa Brigade claim responsibility for the blasts.

buenos aires | Argentine Jews mark the 12th anniversary of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.

new york | The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association endorses civil marriages for same-sex couples.

madrid | Spanish investigators say evidence suggests that the Muslim terrorists who carried out a string of bombings on Madrid trains also had plans to bomb Jewish sites near the Spanish capital.

jerusalem | Israel assassinates Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

April 2004

washington | President Bush offers historic assurances recognizing some Israeli claims to the West Bank and rejecting a “right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees.

jerusalem | Mordechai Vanunu is released from prison after serving 18 years for spilling Israel’s nuclear secrets to a British newspaper.

May 2004

paris | More than 100 Jewish tombs are desecrated at a cemetery in eastern France. Swastikas and other Nazi insignia are scrawled on 127 gravestones at the Herrlisheim-Hasttatt cemetery near Colmar.

jerusalem | Likud Party members overwhelmingly vote against Ariel Sharon’s plan for withdrawal from Gaza, but the Israeli prime minister and Likud head vows to press on.

jerusalem | An Israeli mother and her four children are killed in a drive-by shooting in Gaza.

June 2004

jerusalem | Palestinian militia leader Marwan Barghouti is sentenced to 165 years in prison. The Fatah leader is found guilty of planning shootings in which five people were killed, being a member of a terrorist organization and ordering a failed bombing in Jerusalem.

new york | The United Nations holds its first-ever conference on anti- Semitism.

new york | Followers of the Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, converge on his grave in New York on the 10th anniversary of his death.

jerusalem | Israel’s high court rules that a stretch of the West Bank security fence causes undue hardship to Palestinians and must be rerouted, even if it means less security for Israelis.

July 2004

jerusalem | The International Court of Justice in The Hague says Israel’s West Bank security barrier is illegal wherever it crosses the pre-1967 boundary and must be dismantled. Israel says it will ignore the U.N. court’s decision, which is an advisory opinion and not binding, because the court lacks jurisdiction in the matter.

auckland, new zealand | Two Israelis accused of being Mossad agents plead guilty to unlawfully trying to obtain New Zealand passports, and the country’s prime minister imposes diplomatic sanctions against Israel. In the days after the verdict, several anti-Semitic attacks are carried out against Jewish cemeteries in New Zealand.

jerusalem | Israel reroutes part of its West Bank security fence closer to the Green Line, as the pre-1967 boundary is known, to conform with a ruling of the country’s High Court of Justice.

buenos aires | Argentine President Nestor Kirchner joins thousands of people attending a memorial for the 10-year anniversary of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and injured 300. Similar ceremonies are held in New York and Jerusalem.

new york | The Presbyterian Church USA calls for proselytizing of Jews and divestment from companies doing business with Israel.

new york | The U.N. General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to order Israel to dismantle its West Bank security barrier.

jerusalem | Tens of thousands of Israelis who oppose Ariel Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal plan form a human chain between the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.

boston | Ilana Wexler, a 12-year-old from Oakland and head of Kids for Kerry, gives a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

August 2004

athens, greece | Wind surfer Gal Fridman wins the first Olympic gold medal in Israel’s history, and judoka Arik Ze’evi wins a bronze.

washington | A Pentagon official is investigated on suspicion of passing classified material to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which may have passed the material to Israel. Both Israel and AIPAC deny any wrongdoing.

beersheva, Israel | Sixteen people die in a double suicide bombing aboard Israeli buses, the first time Palestinian terrorists have managed to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel in six months.