Bush: 'Chabad saved lives'

President praises community that raised $17m. for Katrina victims.

"In the days after Katrina hit, Chabad saved lives", US President George Bush told Republican Jews in Washington on Wednesday. In a speech he gave at the 20th anniversary luncheon of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Bush called on the American people to keep on helping the victims of hurricane Katrina and praised the Jewish Community that raised $17 million for that cause. Bush, in the second appearance in one week before Jewish audiences, told the story of Jewish Rabbis in Louisiana who launched rescue missions to help the victims, among them Chabad people that went out to the flooded city of New Orleans and rescued stranded residents, supplied kosher meals and gave shelter to those who lost their homes. Bush also told the crowd of a Rabbi from Baton Rouge that helped a young African American woman to reunite with her family in Maryland. When she heard her relatives on the phone she cried "Thank you Jesus The Rabbi didn't have the heart to tell her she got the wrong Rabbi", joked Bush as he told the story. Bush also reiterated his condemnation of the destruction of the Jewish synagogues in the Gaza Strip by Palestinians after the Israeli withdrawal. "As we saw in the recent desecration of the synagogues in Gaza, the ancient hatred of Anti-Semitism still burns in the hearts of men," he said. The US president called on the Palestinians to show they can govern the Gaza strip in a peaceful way. He stressed the US administration's view that the Palestinians cannot allow armed groups to operate in the areas evacuated by Israel. "The policy of this government is to streamline the security forces so there is only one authority with security forces", Bush said. He praised again PM Sharon and called him "a partner in peace". The Republican Jewish Coalition has 21,000 members and 40 chapters all over the US. The event in Washington DC marked not only the 20th anniversary of the group, but also the growing power of the Republicans among the American Jewish community.