THE WEEK

Middle East

There is no safe place, a deadly university bombing suggests

August 12 2002
THE WEEK

Middle East

There is no safe place, a deadly university bombing suggests

August 12 2002

Middle East

THE WEEK

There is no safe place, a deadly university bombing suggests

Jewish students at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University often said they felt safe because many Arabs also attended the school, making it an unlikely bombing target. Hamas had other ideas. The militant Islamic group—willing to spill Arab blood to kill Jews—exploded a bomb in the university cafeteria, killing seven people and wounding more than 80. The bomb, apparently left inside a bag and triggered by remote control, blew out the building’s massive plate glass windows, collapsing the ceiling in on the students. Survivors, many covered in blood, fled outside. Police put up roadblocks in an attempt to catch the bomber, but no one was apprehended.

The blast sent a chill through the Canadian Jewish community. Two leading businessmen, Montreal-born billionaire Charles Bronfman and Winnipeg broadcasting tycoon Izzy Asper, have supported

the university with massive donations. And more than 1,000 Canadians have studied at the school as part of an exchange program, but none were reported injured. The blast did kill five American students and injured three South Koreans and 10 Arabs. A Hamas spokesman denied the group had deliberately targeted foreigners—but George W. Bush still said he was “furious” over the bombing.

The remote-control attack was a departure from the suicide bombings that have killed more than 250 people since IsraeliPalestinian fighting erupted in September, 2000. But it wasn’t clear whether it signified a change in tactics by Palestinian extremists. The blast did coincide with a session of the Israeli security cabinet, where the main item on the agenda was a series of measures designed to stop or at least inhibit suicide bombings.

“I have been dreaming about seeing my family for 103 days. The hardest thing was that at first I did not know if my family knew I was alive.”

GILLES PREGENT, of île Bizard, Que., in Toronto after Colombian guerrillas freed him, Jay Riddell of Abbotsford, B.C. and Frenchman Pierre Galipon

Finding Jabarah

A suspected Canadian al-Qaeda operative is being held by the U.S. Justice Department at Fort Flamilton military base in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to U.S. officials who were responding to inquiries made by the Canadian embassy in Washington. Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, 20, of St. Catharines, Ont., was arrested in Oman in early June and is believed to have been involved in plans to blow up the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Singapore. The man’s father claims his son was taken to Canada by agents working for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and then handed over to the Americans without being formally charged. U.S. officials say he is being held as a material witness.

Farm aid rolls west

At least 70 rail cars filled with hay are rolling west from Ontario and Quebec in a desperate bid to save hundreds of animals from starvation. The shipment, paid for by donations, comes as the two-year-long drought, covering wide parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, continues to scorch the region. Farmers receiving the hay will be chosen in a lottery. About 10,000 have entered their names but only 50 to 90 will be picked.

The trouble with Angels

The trial of 17 Hells Angels—one of the costliest in Quebec history—is on life support, with lawyers, the jury and the judge haggling over whether to call a new trial. A mistrial seemed imminent after five of 12 jurors told Quebec Superior Court Justice Pierre Beliveau they wanted out after learning the case, which began April 19, would not conclude for several months. The trial was postponed on July 22 when Justice Jean-Guy Boilard announced that he was withdrawing from the case after receiving a letter of reprimand from the Canadian Judicial Council. The council claimed he had shown disrespect toward one of the lawyers in the case.

Political interference charged

The mother of a woman allegedly assaulted by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s son claims a Liberal MP tried to talk her out of pressing charges. Chrétien’s adopted son Michel, a 33-year-old graphic artist, is charged with assaulting an 18-year-old

Yellowknife woman at his apartment on July 15. The victim’s mother claims that after she called the office of Ethel BlondinAndrew looking for information, the Liberal MP for the western Arctic riding called her back and urged her not to press charges. Blondin-Andrew, the Secretary of State for Children and Youth, denies the accusation. In 1992 Chrétien’s son was convicted of sexual assault in Montreal. He served two years of a three-year sentence in prison, but nine days after being released in 1997, he was charged with assaulting the six-year-old son of a former

girlfriend, earning him a nine-month suspended sentence.

U.S. tortoise vs. Canadian hare

The U.S. economy is barely inching forward. Only 6,000 jobs were created in July instead of the 70,000 predicted by economists, and second-quarter gross domestic product grew by an annual rate of just 1.1 per cent. That bad news was coupled with major revisions to last year’s statistics, showing the economy was in a deeper recession than previously announced. GDP barely grew during 2001, managing an annual increase of only 0.3 per cent, down sharply from 1.2 per cent previously announced. There was better news north of the border. The Canadian economy is growing at a much livelier rate—second-quarter GDP is now estimated to be up by at least 4.5 per cent.

SPUTTERING AGAIN

Change in the U.S. gross domestic product, at an annual rate

Let’s scram

Researchers in Australia test fired a new supersonic jet engine that could one day

lead to 45-minute commercial flights between Toronto and London. Engineers strapped a scramjet, short for supersonic combustion ramjet, to a rocket and launched both almost 350 km above Earth. On the way back down, the scramjet engine, fuelled by hydrogen ignited by hot, highly compressed oxygen, was started. Scientists say it will take several weeks to analyze their data, but believe the engine performed successfully. Eventually scramjets could lead to travel at about eight times the speed of sound.

Nystrom joins the race

Lome Nystrom, 56, the former boy wonder of the NDP, who was first elected to the House of Commons when he was 22, has entered the race to replace Alexa McDonough as party leader. The Saskatchewan MP joins four other leadership hopefuls and said he plans to campaign on a platform of fiscal responsibility. “When people trust you at the till,” he said as he unveiled his campaign on the steps of the Saskatchewan legislature,“then they’re likely to vote for you on other issues as well.”