Shorts: World

Single Syrian male seeks American Jewish lesbian

toronto (jta) | A Syrian detained in Canada for his acknowledged links to Osama bin Laden offered to live with a Jewish American lesbian to show his good will if released.

Hassan Almrei, detained in solitary confinement for three years, is fighting deportation to Syria, where he says he faces certain death.

Almrei, who was admitted to Canada as a refugee in 1999, admitted to using fake passports, lying to the refugee board and attending al Qaida camps, the Canadian Press reported.

He made his appeal to be released at a hearing in Toronto on Dec. 16.

Almrei says he would observe the strictest of bail conditions, including an offer to live with a Jewish American lesbian.

Angry flowers Down Under

melbourne (jta) | Australian gardeners mistakenly left flowers shaped like swastikas along a Melbourne street.

Gardeners hired by the city council to arrange the purple and white plants into a geometric shape inadvertently used the swastika pattern for six garden beds, Ha’aretz reported.

Jewish community leaders were offended by the display, particularly as it came during Chanukah. The city council ordered gardeners to rearrange the design.

Montreal arsonist pleads guilty

montreal (jta) | A man pled guilty to setting a fire at a Montreal Jewish school.

Sleiman Elmerhebi’s guilty plea last week to arson charges spares him conspiracy charges, a deal that satisfied officials at the United Talmud Torah school. He will be sentenced at a later date.

“I showed my emotions in the wrong way,” Elmerhebi, 19, said about firebombing the school in April. A note left at the school at the time said it was in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

“Here is the consequence of your crimes and your occupation,” the note read. “Here is the riposte to your assassinations. Here is where terrorist Ariel Sharon has led you.”

French Jews flock to Israel

paris (jta) | Jewish immigration to Israel from France has reached record levels.

Aliyah from France is at its highest level in more than three decades, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel.

More than 2,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel from January to October 2004, up from 1,860 during the same period in 2003 and higher than the full-year report for any year since 1972.

France has seen a wave of anti-Semitic activity in recent years, with friction between its 600,000-strong Jewish community and 5 million-strong Muslim community.

Wiesel returns Romanian star

bucharest (jta) | Elie Wiesel returned Romania’s highest honor after learning that it also had been awarded to anti-Semites.

Wiesel, an author who is probably America’s best-known Holocaust survivor, accepted his native Romania’s National Star years ago, at a time when the country’s leadership was seen as reconciling itself to the collaboration of its Holocaust-era regime with the Nazis.

President Ion Iliescu. who awarded Wiesel the star in 2002, awarded it this week to two leaders of the Greater Romania Party, Cornelia Vadim Tudor and Gheorge Buzatu. Tudor, Buzatu and their ultra-nationalist party have published anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

“I hope you will understand that I cannot belong to any group of which Vadim Tudor is a member,” Wiesel said.

Anne Frank home to host writers

amsterdam (jta) | The Amsterdam apartment where Anne Frank began writing her famous diary will become a writers’ residence.

Sixty years after the teenager died in a concentration camp, local housing associations, the Anne Frank Museum and a cultural body are joining forces to make the apartment, located in an Amsterdam suburb, available as a guest residence to foreign writers and journalists who face censorship or persecution, Reuters reported.

“Anne Frank has become the icon of the persecution of Dutch Jews during the Nazi era and it is fitting that her former home should become a refuge for writers who are threatened with persecution or censorship,” said Maarten Asscher, chairman of the Amsterdam City of Asylum Foundation.

The Amsterdam building where Frank hid from the Nazis has become a renowned museum dedicated to her memory, but the three-bedroom apartment where she and her family lived from 1933 to 1942 has received little attention. The first visiting writer is scheduled to arrive there in September 2005 for a one-year stay.