U.S. Briefs 3-27-12

Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.

Federal courts ‘fully capable’ of deciding on ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ passport issue

Click photo to download. Caption: A U.S. passport. Credit: PD.An 8-1 U.S. Supreme Court judgment Monday stipulated that federal courts can determine the consitutionality of Jerusalem-born Americans listing “Israel” as their birthplace on U.S. passports, overturning a lower court ruling that precluded the judicial branch’s control over such decisions.

After the State Department refused to issue Jerusalem-born Menachem Zivotofsky a passport stating he is from Israel, citing a 2002 U.S. law, Zivotofsky’s parents sued the government. Zivotofsky’s passport lists only “Jerusalem” as his birthplace.

Federal courts “are fully capable of determining” whether the 2002 law “may be given effect, or instead must be struck down in light of authority conferred on the executive by the [U.S.] Constitution,” said Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court’s majority opinion Monday.

The Supreme Court, however, did not make a final decision on 2002 law’s actual constitutionality, instead sending the case back down to lower courts for rehearing on that matter.

—JointMedia News Service

Israeli diplomat to J Street: ‘We need you to stand with us’

Barukh Binah, deputy chief of the Israeli mission in Washington, DC, told J Street conference audience members on Monday that they should consider Israel’s precarious situation before criticizing the country’s policies.

“Unlike your secure existence at these happy shores, at our borders there are missiles and mayhem,” Binah told the crowd.

“Unlike you, sometimes we have to make decisions of life and death,” he said. “We welcome your opinion, but we must pay the ultimate price. We have no margins of error. We need you to stand with us.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Stony Brook University Medical Center. Credit: PD. University cancels observance of Jewish, Christian holidays to make Muslim students ‘equally recognized’

Officials at New York’s Stony Brook University chose to cancel observance of major Christian and Jewish holidays, calling it unfair that the school has never recognized Muslim and Buddhist holidays.

“As a state-funded university our priority must be to maximize instructional opportunities for our students…Now all segments of our population will be equally recognized,” said Charles Robbins, vice provost for undergraduate education, according to Fox News.

Critics of the decision note that the school’s demographics don’t justify the move, as the majority of the school’s students are Christian. “The goal here is radical secularism being shoved down the throats of the people at Stony Brook,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

Rabbi Joseph Topek wrote a complaint letter on behalf of university chaplains of all religions, stating that: “This will be seen as making Stony Brook a less tolerant community that seeks conformity over diversity.”

—JointMedia News Service

At J Street conference, Israeli author Amos Oz slams AIPAC

Click photo to download. Caption: Amos Oz speaks at the J Street conference Saturday night. Credit: J Street.Keynote speaker Amos Oz used the opening plenary of J Street’s conference Saturday night as a platform to slam the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Oz, the famed Israeli author and left-wing activist, received a standing ovation when he questioned the “hawkish, militaristic banner of AIPAC” and encouraged the crowd to “unite now under the banner of J Street.”

AIPAC did not return a request for comment regarding Oz’s statement. Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Mort Klein said in a telephone interview with JointMedia News Service that Oz’s words show that he “knows nothing about what AIPAC does, or says, or supports.”

“AIPAC embraced Oslo from day one, they embraced the Gaza withdrawal as soon as [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon mentioned it, before any discussion of the issue…They (AIPAC) repeatedly, regularly lobby for aid to the Palestinian Authority, openly support a Palestinian state,” Klein said.

—JointMedia News Service

U.S. decreases global scope of Iran sanctions

The U.S. government will exempt 11 countries—10 European Union countries and Japan—from economic sanctions because they have cut down on their purchasing of Iranian oil.

The government did not release the names of the countries, except for Japan. Twelve other countries that continue to engage in economic activity with Iran could still be subject to U.S. sanctions. China and India purchase the most Iranian oil of any countries.

—JointMedia News Service

J Street conference fails to attract top-level officials

Click photo to download. Caption: Ehud Olmert. Credit: PD.In addition to President Barack Obama, addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference from March 4-6 were dignitaries including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

By comparison, the J Street conference from March 24-27 couldn’t attract the same top-level lineup of speakers. The Israeli mission in Washington, DC, sent its deputy chief, Barukh Binah, and the U.S. government sent the vice president’s national security adviser, Tony Blinken.

J Street also hosted embattled former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert—who has been indicted on bribery charges.

“I would find it deeply inappropriate to be inviting an indicted person to be a speaker at your conference,” Zionist Organization of America President Mort Klein told JointMedia News Service. “I think that until his legal problems are cleared up, nobody should be inviting Ehud Olmert to speak.”

—JointMedia News Service

Brandeis professors honored for research on circadian rhythm 

Click photo to download. Caption: Prof. Michael Rosbash. Credit: Brandeis.Two Brandeis University professors won the prestigious Canada Gairdner Prize for their research on the biological clock and the circadian rhythm.

Michael Rosbash, the Peter Gruber Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Brandeis National Center for Behavioral Genomics, and Professor Emeritus of Biology Jeffrey C. Hall, won the top international prize for “medical researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life,” according to the Jewish-sponsored university’s official website.

Circadian rhythms are physiological responses synchronized to the time of the day. They regulate sleep and wakefulness, activity and rest, hormone levels, body temperature and more. The Brandeis researchers found a group of genes in fruit flies responsible for regulating the rhythm.

—JointMedia News Service

Reports: New Jersey synagogue attacker also planned to bomb school

A teenager awaiting trial for a series of attacks on synagogues in northern New Jersey and the firebombing of a rabbi’s home appears to have also planned an attack on a public school in the southern portion of the state.

A blueprint for an attack on John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Berlin Township was found at the home of the suspect, Aakash Dalal, 19, with the words “Project Anarchy” written on it, according to reports.

Dalal has pleaded not guilty to charges of arson, bias intimidation and criminal mischief. His bail is $2.5 million.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on March 26, 2012 and filed under Briefs, U.S..