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>Israel Faxx
>PD Dec. 23, 1994, V2, #231

Top Saudi Arabian Cleric Says Peace with Israel Permissible

In a surprise move, a senior Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia issued a decree stating that a peace agreement with Israel is permissible if agreed upon by political leaders. Mufti Abed el-Azib Bin Abdallah Bin Baz reportedly based his statements on passages from the Koran. The mufti is a senior Muslim cleric who has long been associated with conservative religious groups.

Two Palestinians Killed in Separate Incidents

By Susan Sappir (Jerusalem)

A 27-year-old member of the Muslim Hamas group has been killed in the West Bank Palestinian self-rule area of Jericho. But it is not clear who ran over Ibrahmir Yaghi with a car and then shot him. Hamas quickly declared him a martyr and called a three-day strike to mourn his death.

A neighbor said the Palestinian police in charge of the Jericho area had to decide whether to investigate the killing or hand the case over to the Israeli army.

In the West Bank town of Hebron, a 19-year-old palestinian died in an explosion. The Israeli army said he was preparing a home made bomb.

Off the coast of Gaza an Israeli naval patrol fired at a Palestinian boat that had strayed into Israeli waters. Two fishermen were wounded, one of them seriously.

Beirut Car bomb Kills Senior Hizbullah Figure

Four people were killed and at least 15 others were severely injured when a car bomb exploded Wednesday in Beirut. Fuad Moughniyeh, a senior member of Hizbullah, was among those killed. The Hizbullah blamed Israel for the blast. The report added that the IDF has issued no official response to the incident.

The IDF and the South Lebanese Army are on high alert in southern Lebanon. There are also reports that Syrian and Lebanese forces are increasing their activity in the Ba'albek area of eastern Lebanon, a region with a large Hizbullah presence.

Survey Examines Religious Affiliation

By Paul Francuch (Chicago)

What are the religious affiliations of America's elite, and how has the character of this affiliation changed over time? That is the question a group of social scientists examine in a newly-released study which compares data between the years 1930 and 1992. The researchers found that mainline Protestants -- while a small minority of the US population -- still constitute a disproportionate share of the elite.

The research led by sociologist James Davidson of Indiana's Purdue University relied on religious citations among those listed in the authoritative annual publication "Who's Who in America." Davidson says mainline Protestants who now make up less than 5 percent of the US population constitute more than one-third of the elite, as defined by "Who's Who."

"There has been considerable persistence, so that people who belong to the old-line establishment groups -- the Episcopalians, Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ -- remain over-represented among the elite, though there has been some decline, especially among members of the United Church of Christ. At the same time, groups such as the Jews and the Catholics and, to a lesser extent, the Lutherans have made considerable progress over the last 60 years."

Davidson says the percentage of Jews listed today in "Who's Who" is considerably greater than their percentage of the overall population (Editor: 2 percent of population and 12 percent of "Who's Who" listings). Catholics -- who constitute about one-quarter of the US population -- now have about one-quarter of the elite listings. In 1930, Catholics held only about 4 percent of the listings. So far, there are few named in "Who's Who" who identify themselves as Muslims. And some conservative Protestant denominations, notably Baptists, have lost some of their elite standing, as measured by listings in "Who's Who."

So what is the message in all of this? Davidson offers this observation: people's denominational affiliations affect the way they think about not only religion but the society that they live in. They also provide people with social networks that are important, in terms of gaining access to power and privilege in our society. They are the basis on which a number of policies have been institutionalized in society that favor people who are members of the old establishment group."

The Making of a 'Green' Synagogue

By Terri Keefe (Washington D.C.)

It is Friday evening at Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Md. and the weekly Sabbath service has begun. But tonight's worship is different -- dedicated to a special theme.

For the next hour of the service, about 100 men, women and children explore the Judaic roots of environmentalism. They watch as candles are lit, and as the Torah is removed from the Ark, read from, and returned to its sacred place. They listen as the cantor sings from the biblical text of Ecclesiastes.

Temple members are teaching ecological values to their children, exploring solar heating, and recycling glass, cardboard, and paper.

Temple Emanuel plans to revamp its sanctuary, making it an environmental model. The new building will be as energy efficient, using a solar-powered light to illuminate the Ark.

Concern for the ecology is a relatively new cause for American Jews. Although Reform Jewish congregations like Temple Emanuel have a rich tradition of social action, Jews historically have ministered to the poor and the oppressed, not to the earth. Nevertheless, the environmental ethic is steeped in ancient Judaic teachings and embedded in the Hebrew language. For example, Adam, the Hebrew word for human is formed from Adamah, which means earth.

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