Shorts: World

Sharia compared to beit din

The Anglican Church likened the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposal for accommodating Muslim law to the British Beth Din, the Jewish rabbinical court.

Rowan Williams stirred a firestorm in Britain recently when he said that sharia, or Islamic religious law, in Britain was “inevitable.”

The controversy has led to calls for his resignation. In his defense, the church released a statement saying that he was addressing the complexities of a religiously pluralist society. — jta

Jewish pirates in Jamaica?

The discovery of an ancient cemetery in Jamaica has stirred speculation that Jews used to take part in piracy.

Several Jewish graves were found outside Kingston recently, some of them marked with the skull and crossbones.

Historians are investigating the find, but one expert in the history of Jewish piracy appears to have made up his mind.

“[Jews] were like the brains behind their brawn, i.e. we advised and backed them,” Ed Kritzler wrote on the Web site of the United Congregation of Israelites in Jamaica. — jta

Le Pen sentenced for Nazi comment

A French court gave Jean-Marie Le Pen a three-month suspended sentence for saying the Nazi occupation of France was not inhumane.

The sentence last week was the latest handed to the far-right leader of the National Front for diminishing the significance of the Holocaust. He also was fined about $14,500.

Le Pen told a far-right magazine in 2005 that “in France at least the German occupation was not especially inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses.” — jta

Catholic prayer still irksome

A coalition of Jewish groups expressed disappointment at the new text of the Catholic Church’s Prayer for the Jews.

The prayer removes language considered offensive to Jews, including a reference to Jews’ “blindness” and a call for God to “lift the veil from their hearts,” but still prays for the salvation of the Jews exclusively through conversion to Christianity.

Pope Benedict XVI last week unveiled the replacement for the Good Friday prayer in Latin, which is not used by most of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. — jta

Merkel, Olmert differ on Iran

Germany and Israel agree on the danger of a nuclear Iran, but not on the response.

At a news conference Feb. 12 in Berlin following their official meetings, German Chan- cellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made their different approaches clear: In pressuring the Islamic regime, Merkel looks to sanctions and diplomacy, while Olmert says all options, including attacks, are open.

The leaders also announced that in March the countries will hold their first-ever joint Cabinet meeting, in Jerusalem. — jta

Berlin schools use WWII comic book

Berlin schools are introducing a comic book on World War II to teach the Holocaust.

“The Search,” a 60-page book presented by the Anne Frank Center in Berlin, will be used for seventh- to 10th-graders. It deals with National Socialism, the persecution of Jews, Nazi concentration camps and death camps.

Thomas Heppener, the director of the Anne Frank Center, said that teachers are having trouble conveying the lessons of the era in schools. He pointed to the fact that eyewitnesses are dying out and students are bored by the topic, complaining they already have heard too much about the Holocaust. — jta

Russian questions Holocaust lessons

A leader in the Russian Orthodox Church said Russian students should not study the Holocaust.

Evgeny Nikiforov, chairman of the Radonezh Orthodox Society, said it’s absurd that Russian students should learn tolerance by studying the murder of Jews during World War II rather than the Russian tragedies of the 20th century.

“The history of Russian tragedy — the Russian Holocaust — has not been written down yet, and it is absolutely absurd to study the history of Jewish, Hungarian, Cambodian or other people’s tragedies while our own history has not been studied,” he said. — jta