Shorts: U.S.

Anti-Iran measure sunk again by GOP

Republicans in the U.S. Senate sank anti-Iran sanctions for the second time in less than a month on Oct. 2, leading Democrats to suggest that the GOP was putting politics ahead of the need to confront Tehran’s nuclear program by obstructing legislation championed by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Senate Democrats made one final bid last week to pass legislation that would tighten sanctions aimed at getting Iran to stand down from its suspected nuclear weapons program. Republicans said they objected to the the wording of the legislation. — jta

O’Reilly comparison ‘trivializes’ Hitler

A Reform Jewish leader criticized Fox TV talk show host Bill O’Reilly for comparing Nancy Pelosi to Adolf Hitler.

O’Reilly made the analogy on the “O’Reilly Factor” Sept. 30 when discussing the speaker of the House of Representatives’ body language. “You know who used to do that, who practiced for hours before making a speech? And I’m not making any comparison here. So don’t — your crazy left-wing Web sites out there, it’s not a comparison. Adolf Hitler,” O’Reilly said.

Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, wrote in a letter to the program’s executive producers, David Tabacoff and Amy Sohnen, that “such an inappropriate, ill-conceived analogy represents a smear campaign designed to further divide an already politically polarized American public.”

Noting that O’Reilly in the past has drawn parallels between current politicians and Nazi Germany, Saperstein stated that “such repeated comparisons by Mr. O’Reilly display blatant insensitivity to the far-reaching effects of the evil perpetrated by Hitler and the Nazis” and [his lastest comment] “trivializes the distinctive evil that Hitler represents.” — jta

Al Franken going to Washington?

Al Franken has taken the lead over incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota’s race for the U.S. Senate, according to a new poll.

The Minnesota Star-Tribune poll, conducted Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, showed the Democrat and former writer-performer for “Saturday Night Live” with a

43 percent to 34 percent advantage over Coleman, a Republican, in a race between two Jewish candidates. Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley garnered 18 percent. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 points. — jta

New group aims to defend free speech

The Coalition to Defend Free Speech was launched Oct. 2 in Washington by the American Jewish Congress. The group will fight laws banning speech that defames religion, and will begin by focusing on a campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (the association of all 57 Muslim states) to change international law to ban speech “defamatory of religion.”

First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, the honorary chair of the coalition, said it came together to resist “the intolerable effort of one group of nations to determine what may be thought and said throughout the world.” — jta

Beaten Jewish soldier claims religious bigotry

A Jewish soldier in basic training said he was beaten after complaining of religious discrimination.

Pvt. Michael Handman, 20, of Atlanta alleged one drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Ga., used a slur and another made him take off his kippah while eating and would not allow him to pray during his guard duty shift. The sergeants received letters of reprimand after a congressional inquiry, according to a report in the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer. Less than a week later, Handman got a concussion in a fight Sept. 26 with another trainee soldier.

The command staff of the 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment determined the fight was not motivated by Handman’s religion, nor was it connected to the reprimand. Handman has been reassigned, according to the Ledger-Enquirer. — jta