Shorts: World

Russians want security force

moscow (jta) | In the wake of two recent attacks on Russian synagogues, the Federation of Jewish Communities, Russia’s largest Jewish organization in charge of most of the country’s synagogues, has announced the launch of Magen David, a Jewish security fund.

The group has called on its supporters in Russia and abroad to raise donations toward providing 24-hour security for its institutions and synagogues across Russia.

But a leading figure in the country’s Jewish community criticized these steps, saying the community should demand that the state take appropriate measures to protect it.

“It all sounds like an internal police force is being created,” Vyacheslav Kantor, president of the Russian Jewish Congress, said last week.

Australian editorial cartoon blasted

melbourne (jta) | An anti-Sharon cartoon in one of Australia’s leading newspapers is causing controversy.

Melbourne’s leading broadsheet, the Age, printed a cartoon last week depicting two characters discussing Ariel Sharon’s health.

One character tells the other, “There was a small movement in his right arm.” The other character responds, “So he’s fit enough to work. That’s all the movement it takes to order a missile attack against an old Palestinian man in a wheelchair,” a reference to Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, whom Israel assassinated in 2004.

This is not the first time cartoonist Michael Leunig has had a brush with the Australian Jewish community: In 2002 he was responsible for a cartoon equating Israel and Nazi Germany.

Holocaust memorial opens in Croatia

zagreb, croatia (ap) | A memorial center opened last week for the 70,000 people killed during World War II in Croatia’s Jasenovac concentration camp.

Israel’s ambassador to Croatia, Shmuel Meirom, who attended the ceremony in the village of Jasenovac, said Croatia has proved that it was now “willing to face the dark sides of its past.”

An estimated 85,000 Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats were herded together between 1941 and 1945 at the Jasenovac camp, the worst of about 40 run by Croatia’s pro-Nazi regime at the time.

Anti-Semitic acts drop in France

paris (ap) | The number of racist and anti-Semitic attacks and threats dropped by more than one-third in France last year compared with 2004, in part because of stronger policing, police said last week.

France has the largest populations of Jews and Muslims in Western Europe and has experienced a rise in anti-Semitic crime since 2000, when tensions between Israelis and Palestinians flared in the Middle East.

The number of anti-Semitic acts fell for the first time since 2000, from 974 in 2004 to 504 in 2005, a drop of 46 percent, police said.