Shorts: World

Switzerland opposes Israel action

Switzerland was the only European country last week to support a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel for its recent military operation in the Gaza Strip.

A Swiss representative said the nation wanted to send a strong signal to Israel about the “particular gravity of the events in the southern part of Israel and Gaza.”

The resolution sponsored by Pakistan and other Muslim countries said Israeli incursions into the Palestinian territory inflicted collective punishment on the civilian population.

The 47-member rights body approved the resolution 33-1. Russia, China and India supported it; European countries were among the 13 abstaining; and Canada voted against it. The United States is not a member of the council. — ap

No more revision for Catholic prayer

A Vatican official said the pope has no plans to make further alterations to a prayer that has riled Jewish leaders.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, speaking to a German television audience this week, said there was no need to change the Good Friday prayer because “it is entirely correct from a theological perspective,” Catholic World News reported.

In June, Pope Benedict XVI upset many veterans of Catholic-Jewish interfaith encounters when he moved to revive the Latin, or Tridentine, Mass, a liturgy that includes a prayer for the conversion of the Jews. The Anti-Defamation League called the move a “body blow” to Catholic-Jewish relations.

In February, the pope released a revised text of the prayer that removed the most offensive passages — such as one referring to the “blindness” of the Jews — but retained the prayer for Jewish conversion. — jta

Belgium to pay $170 million in restitution

The Belgian government and banks agreed March 11 to pay $170 million to Holocaust survivors, families of victims and the Jewish community for their material losses during Word War II.

Campaigners welcomed the decision to compensate those whose property and goods in Belgium had been looted by Nazi occupiers. Belgium is facing 5,210 outstanding claims for restitution stemming from the Holocaust. From those, 162 amount to more than $30,000.

Overall, $54 million will be paid to individual claimants with the rest going to a Jewish trust, which will help the poor and keep the memory of the horrors of the Holocaust alive. — ap

Chassidic rabbi’s grave desecrated in Poland

The grave of one of Poland’s most famous Chassidic leaders was desecrated last week.

Police discovered the desecration at the grave of Elimelech Weisblum of Lezajsk, who is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Lezajsk in southern Poland. The grave was covered with swastikas, anti-Semitic slogans and a Star of David in a noose.

Thousands of Chassidic Jews from around the world flock to Elimelech’s grave each year on the anniversary of his death. — jta

Jewish club seized by Nazis reopens

A Jewish sports club that was seized by the Nazis 70 years ago is reopening in Vienna.

The Hakoah club was rededicated March 11 in its new home in the Austrian capital’s sprawling Prater park.

Vienna’s once-vibrant Jewish community founded the club in 1909, and it produced a number of Olympic athletes. But the Nazis seized it in 1938 after Hitler’s Germany annexed Austria, and organizers struggled for years to acquire property for a new clubhouse.

The club was reopening on the eve of the anniversary of the Nazi takeover. — ap

Holocaust historian being investigated

Lithuania is investigating a former chairman of Yad Vashem on suspicion that he murdered civilians during the Holocaust.

Yitzhak Arad, a noted historian and partisan fighter who served 21 years as the chairman of Israel’s national Holocaust museum, is suspected by Lithuanian prosecutors of being involved in the wartime killing of Lithuanian civilians.

The issue came to light when Lithuanian authorities sought to question Arad, a request Israel has refused. The current chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, recently delivered a written protest of the matter to visiting Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas. Shalev urged the minister to bring the matter to a speedy resolution. — jta