Shorts: World

U.N. commissioner gets mixed reviews

A United Nations watchdog gave mixed reviews to Louise Arbour, the U.N. human rights commissioner who resigned in June.

The U.N. Watch’s review of Arbour’s four-year term says her critics and defenders alike tended toward hyperbole.

For example, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) once called the Canadian judge a “disgrace” and said, “While genocide rages in Darfur and political dissidents are tortured in Iran, she chooses to spend her time condemning democracies and defending tyrants.” Arbour was a frequent critic of Israel.

In fact, a thorough assessment of Arbour’s statements showed her to be a consistent critic of Sudan and its abuses in Darfur, and an occasional critic of Iran, according to U.N. Watch.

On the other hand, claims by her defenders that she challenged abusers great and small also were unfounded, U.N. Watch reported. Citing Amnesty International’s praise of Arbour as “unflinching,” the watchdog noted that she criticized China only once, never criticized Russia and ignored other abuser states, including Algeria, Belarus, Burkina Faso and North Korea.

Arbour, who stepped down in June, will be replaced by Navanethem Pillay, a South African judge. — jta

Hezbollah targeting Israelis in Africa?

Hezbollah might try to attack Israeli tourists in West Africa, according to a recent Israeli Channel 2 report.

The Lebanese militia is looking to strike Israelis in nations such as Ivory Coast. According to the report, which cited intelligence sources, Hezbollah wants to carry out a “small-scale” attack that wouldn’t draw too much attention.

West Africa has a large Lebanese expatriate community as well as a number of Israeli diplomats and contractors. — jta

Construction begins on $70 million center

Construction began last week on a towering community center in the Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. Community leaders hope to complete the building within two years.

The center, which will cost about $70 million, will be built around the city’s 19th-century synagogue. The center includes seven towers that together give the impression of a terraced menorah.

The nearly 400,000-square-foot Menorah Community Center will house a Holocaust museum, offices for local charities, a hotel and apartments for visiting Jewish community workers. The center is slated to be the largest Jewish building in the former Soviet Union.

Dnepropetrovsk, home to between 10,000 and 30,000 Jews, is a tightly organized community under the leadership of Chabad Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky. — jta

60-year-olds beat workers in Ukraine

Two adult workers at a Jewish youth center in western Ukraine were severely beaten with metal rods last week.

Several assailants burst into the Shalom Chaverim Center for religious Jewish youth in downtown Lvov and attacked the victims. They also shattered windows and shouted anti-Semitic slogans, including “Kikes leave Ukraine.”

Police identified the alleged attackers as neighbors of the Jewish center. The attackers were said to be in their 60s. Local Jews said it wasn’t the first time the neighbors insulted Jews at the center, but it was the first physical attack. — jta

Group loses funding for Iran comment

A German nongovernmental organization that supports a last-resort military strike on Iran lost its funding from the Swiss branch of a major Catholic charity.

Directors of the NGO, Wadi e.V., say they were merely upholding Israel’s right to exist in the face of verbal threats from Iran.

In a June 10 letter recently made public, the Catholic charity Caritas wrote that it regretted having to stop funding Wadi e.V., one of the few NGOs that has remained active in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion. Wadi e.V.’s main focus has been on the prevention of female genital mutilation. — jta

Lawmaker calls for market investigation

Irish parliamentarian Ruairi Quinn called for an investigation into the sale of Nazi memorabilia and propaganda materials at a market in north Dublin.

The items include DVDs of the anti-Semitic film “The Eternal Jew,” as well as Nazi-era ashtrays featuring Jewish caricatures.

While Nazi items are not specifically banned in Ireland as they are in Germany, the country’s anti-incitement laws prohibit the distribution of material that is threatening, abusive or insulting and intended, or likely, to stir up hatred. The prohibitions include written material, audio recordings and videos.

The vendor said he plans to continue selling the merchandise, which he said is selling well, despite the negative reaction — jta