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Vice President Joe Biden to headline Jewish Federations’ General Assembly

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 10:52

(JTA) — Vice President Joe Biden will headline the list of speakers at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Biden will speak on Nov. 10 during the Jewish Federations’ three-day event in suburban Washington, the umbrella group said in a statement Tuesday.

The U.S. vice president has a longstanding close relationship with the Jewish community and has been a frequent speaker at Jewish events, including at AIPAC and J Street conventions.

Biden last addressed the General Assembly, an annual event, in 2010.

Some 100 speakers will address this year’s assembly, including Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, actress Marlee Matlin, former chief rabbi of Britain Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and journalist Andrea Mitchell.


News photographers hit by Israeli rubber bullets during Palestinian riot

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 10:43

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two news photographers were hit by rubber-coated bullets fired by an Israeli border policeman during Palestinian rioting.

Majdi Mohammed was working for The Associated Press when he was struck Sunday at close range during riots following the funeral for a Palestinian-American teenager killed by Israeli soldiers, AP reported. The Israeli military said the teen was preparing to throw a firebomb at traffic.

Neither Mohammed nor Lazar Simeonov, a Swiss freelance photographer, were seriously injured in the incident, which was captured on video.

The shooting showed “reckless disregard for the safety of journalists who were doing their job in a lawful way,” said John Daniszewski, AP’s senior managing editor for international news, said.

AP said it would protest the incident to the Israeli military, police and government.

According to the photographers, they were not ordered away from the scene, nor was the area declared closed by security forces.

Mohammed told AP that an armored jeep pulled up behind him and a border policeman fired directly at him from a distance of 10 to 20 yards.

Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the AP that police “dispersed hundreds of rioters” in the area who were throwing rocks and firebombs at security forces. Rosenfeld said he did not know why the police fired on the photographers.

Jerusalem mayor visits Temple Mount amid violence

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 09:53

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat visited the Temple Mount despite increased violence at the holy site and in the Israeli capital.

Barkat went to the site Tuesday with the commander of the Israel Police’s David District, Brig.-Gen. Avi Biton.

“As part of ongoing cooperation w/ #Jerusalem Police, I visited Temple Mount this morning to gain deeper understanding of issues & challenges,” Barkat tweeted following his visit.

The Muslim Wakf, the religious administration charged with managing the Temple Mount site, condemned the visit, saying it was made for “publicity” and “political” purposes.

Sheikh Omar al-Kiwsani, the director of the Al-Aksa Mosque, told the Palestinian Maan news agency that “Barkat is the first mayor to storm Al-Aksa, joining the extremist groups and extremist Knesset members who usually storm the place and urge others to do the same.”

Tension on the Temple Mount has increased in recent months, coming to a head during the Jewish High Holidays when more Jewish pilgrims visit the site, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

Jerusalem has been at the center of violence and tension since the summer, when three Jewish teens were kidnapped and later found dead, and a Palestinian teen was abducted and burned alive in revenge. In recent days, the tension has increased due to an attack by a Palestinian driver on a light rail station in Jerusalem that killed two, including a 3-month-old girl, and the killing by Israeli soldiers of a Palestinian teen with American citizenship accused of preparing to throw a firebomb into traffic.

On Monday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount.


Netanyahu rejects U.S. criticism of Israel’s eastern Jerusalem housing plans

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 09:46

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected U.S. criticism of Israel’s plans for new housing units in eastern Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the criticism of Israel’s construction, not the building, is harming the chance for peace with the Palestinians.

“We will continue to build in Jerusalem, our eternal capital. We have built in Jerusalem, we are building in Jerusalem and we will continue to build in Jerusalem,” he said Tuesday.

“I have heard a claim that our construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem makes peace more distant. It is the criticism which is making peace more distant. These words are detached from reality.”

The United States on Monday condemned the reported approval by Netanyahu to plan construction of at least 1,000 new housing units in eastern Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods.

“If Israel wants to live in a peaceful society, they need to take steps that will reduce tensions,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday during a regular news briefing. “Moving forward with this sort of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace.”

Psaki said Washington was “deeply concerned” by the reports Monday that Netanyahu had approved going forward with planning for at least 600 apartments in Ramat Shlomo and 400 in Har Homa. The Prime Minister’s Office has neither announced the plans nor confirmed the reports.

“We view settlement activities as illegitimate and we are unequivocally opposed to unilateral steps,” Psaki told reporters.

Netanyahu said the criticism of building housing in Jewish neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem “foster(s) false statements among the Palestinians. When Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] incites to murder Jews in Jerusalem, the international community is silent, and when we build in Jerusalem they are up in arms. I do not accept this double standard.”

West Bank religious leader Rabbi Dov Lior moving to eastern Jerusalem

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 07:36

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rabbi Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of the West Bank settlement Kiryat Arba, is leaving his position to move to eastern Jerusalem.

Lior decided just before Rosh Hashanah to step down from the post he has held for 38 years in order to relocate to Beit Orot, a neighborhood on the Mount of Olives, the Hebrew language Kipa website reported Sunday. In recent weeks, Beit Orot has been the scene of increased violence by Palestinian youths throwing rocks and fireworks at police and the yeshiva.

Lior, 80, reportedly bought an apartment there two years ago.

In 2011, police questioned the rabbi over his support for the scholarly book “The King’s Torah,” which reportedly discusses situations in which it is permissible for Jews to kill non-Jews.

Lior is also known for saying that Jews should not rent homes to Arabs in Israel and for a proposal calling on Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to remove Jews from West Bank settlements.


Pope Francis honored at Vatican by Bar-Ilan University

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 06:56

(JTA) — Pope Francis received the president of Bar-Ilan University at the Vatican and was honored with the Israeli school’s highest award.

On Monday, Rabbi Daniel Hershkowitz bestowed the Award of Distinction on the pope in recognition of his lifelong efforts promoting peace and fighting for human rights.

“We are the sons of Abraham, and we have the privilege and the responsibility to guide humankind on the path to peace,” Francis told the Bar-Ilan delegation of 25 academics, as well as businesspeople from South America and Spain.

Hershkowitz told the pope that former Israeli President Shimon Peres asked that Bar-Ilan serve as a home base for dialogue among religions, an initiative that Francis and Peres have agreed to work together to advance. The pope welcomed the development.

The reception with Francis and presentation of the award marked the official opening of a year of festivities in celebration of the Ramat Gan school’s 60th anniversary.

“Peace and harmony were born much before religions were. The concepts of harmony and unity are shared by our respective religions,” Hershkowitz told the pontiff. “Unfortunately, however, we are living in a world that is filled with hostility and animosity. Our very presence here signals a new beginning, a vista of opportunity. We are ever so aware of the need for dialogue and harmony, peace and coexistence.”

The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization reportedly protested to the Vatican over the pope’s agreement to see representatives of Bar-Ilan over what they called the university’s right-wing positions and support for settlers and settlements, Haaretz reported.

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Israeli cult leader Goel Ratzon gets 30 years in prison

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 06:03

Goel Ratzon, a polygamist cult leader, seen at the district court room in Tel Aviv, Oct. 22, 2014. (Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli polygamist and cult leader Goel Ratzon was sentenced to 30 years in prison on sex charges.

Ratzon, 64, was sentenced Tuesday in Tel Aviv District Court on charges including rape, sodomy, indecent assault and sexual abuse after being convicted last month.

He was arrested and indicted nearly five years ago following a complaint filed by one of the 21 women he called his wives, with whom he fathered 38 children. Ratzon never officially married any of the women.

Ratzon made the women believe he was the savior of the world and that he had supernatural abilities. He also alienated the women from their families and only allowed them to speak in public areas of their home. He sexually abused his wives and children.

The sentencing was delayed by several hours when Ratzon failed to arrive for his court appearance after what the Israel Prisons Service called a glitch in its computer system. The glitch failed to alert prison authorities to transport Ratzon from his Beersheba cell to the court.


Polish official: Jewish gifts to Warsaw museum a show of trust, forgiveness

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 05:15

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Poland’s culture minister said the generosity of Jewish donors to the new Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews represented a sign of trust and even forgiveness.

More than 500 private and institutional donors, many of them Jewish, contributed a total of $48 million to the Warsaw museum’s core exhibition, which had its grand opening on Tuesday.

“The donations can be understood if not as a sign of forgiveness, then as a sign of trust and, perhaps, in the future as forgiveness,” Culture Minister Malgozata Omilanowska told the audience at a gala concert Monday night in Warsaw that was part of celebrations marking the opening.

Taube Philanthropies and the Koret Foundation, headed by the Polish-born, San Francisco-based philanthropist Tad Taube, are the largest private donors to the museum, jointly committing and organizing more than $16 million.

Other leading Jewish donors include Victor Markowicz, co-chair of the North American Council of the museum, and his wife, Monica; Holocaust survivor Sigmund Rolat; and Irene Kronhill Pletka.

The concert in the Great Theatre opera house was part of several days of events celebrating the grand opening. Celebrities in attendance included Poland’s president, prime minister and other senior political figures; the Polish-born actor and director Roman Polanski, a child survivor of the Holocaust whose mother was killed at Auschwitz; and government delegations including a U.S. group headed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

Orthodox yeshiva leader arguing for greater privacy in women’s conversions

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 19:18

(JTA) — In the wake of voyeurism allegations against a prominent Orthodox rabbi, the head of an Orthodox yeshiva for women is arguing that male rabbis need not be present for a female convert’s ritual immersion.

Rabbi Jeffrey Fox, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Maharat in New York, is preparing a teshuvah, or Jewish legal opinion, saying that Jewish law does not require a male rabbi to be in the room of the ritual bath, or even for the door to be ajar, to witness the immersion of a female convert. Fox expects to publish the teshuvah within the next week through Yeshivat Maharat, which focuses on training and ordaining women as Orthodox clergy.

The issue of privacy for female converts has taken on new urgency in the wake of allegations that Rabbi Barry Freundel, a high-profile Washington rabbi, used hidden cameras to watch female conversion candidates as they immersed themselves in the mikvah.

Fox said that he and others at Yeshivat Maharat would also push to give highly trained women a greater role in preparing and shepherding women through the conversion process rather than leaving such preparation as the sole province of male rabbis.

While steering clear of the specific allegations against Freundel, Fox said that the accusations in the case highlight the unequal power dynamic between men and women in many areas of Jewish ritual and the potential for abuse raised by those imbalances.

“A power hierarchy exists,” Fox told JTA. “Our goal is to shift that hierarchy.”

Officials from Yeshivat Maharat and its sister institution Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a seminary to ordain male rabbis, will host a community meeting on Thursday to discuss “protecting sacred spaces, clergy boundaries and rabbinic authority.”

CUNY grad students fail to advance Israel academic boycott resolution

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 16:57

(JTA) — A student group at the City University of New York failed to advance a resolution to boycott Israeli academics and divest from Israeli companies.

Thirty-one members of the Doctoral Students’ Council at CUNY voted in favor of the resolution on Friday — eight votes short of the amount required for the required majority. Twenty-five members opposed the resolution, which also calls for the divestment from Israeli companies, and 10 abstained.

It would have been the first student government in the United States to approve an academic boycott against Israel, according to Haaretz.

The council represents nearly 5,000 graduate students.

The vote had been postponed from September following a debate on the proposal, which is titled the “Resolution for the Endorsement of Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.” It calls for “the end to the partnership between Baruch College and the College of Management Academic Studies” in Israel.

Among other points, the proposal cites Israel’s alleged violations of international law and restrictions on Palestinian academics; universities’ shows of support for Israeli troops fighting Hamas in Gaza this summer; and a claim that “Israeli professors and students at Israeli universities who speak out against discriminatory or criminal policies against Palestinians are ostracized and ridiculed if not publicly shamed, or worse.”

The council voted a strong majority in favor of a similar resolution at the end of the spring term. However, the full DSC membership did not give the requisite majority.

U.S. slams Israel’s reported approval of eastern Jerusalem housing plans

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 15:35

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United States condemned the reported approval by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to plan construction of at least 1,000 new housing units in eastern Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods.

“If Israel wants to live in a peaceful society, they need to take steps that will reduce tensions,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday during a regular news briefing. “Moving forward with this sort of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace.”

Psaki said Washington was “deeply concerned” by the reports Monday that Netanyahu had approved going forward with planning for at least 600 apartments in Ramat Shlomo and 400 in Har Homa.

Netanyahu also reportedly ordered the advancement of infrastructure projects in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including the paving of roads, which will serve Israelis and Palestinians.

“We view settlement activities as illegitimate and we are unequivocally opposed to unilateral steps,” Psaki told reporters.

The Prime Minister’s Office has neither announced the plans nor confirmed the reports. Psaki acknowledged that Washington had not yet confirmed the approval.

Reports of the approvals came a day after Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the government was planning to build 2,000 more housing units in settlement blocs in the West Bank.


Netanyahu defends Israel’s right to build in Jerusalem

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 14:29

(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has just as much right to build in Jerusalem as France has to build in Paris.

Speaking at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session Monday, Netanyahu said Israel “has the full right to build the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem,” the Times of Israel reported.

“The French build in Paris, the English build in London, the Israelis build in Jerusalem. Should we tell Jews not to live in Jerusalem because it will stir things up?” he asked.

Netanyahu recently recommended that plans for about 1,000 housing units in eastern Jerusalem move forward. Israel’s Channel 2 news reported that Netanyahu is also in negotiations with right-wing politicians and settler leaders seeking approval for a large West Bank development project, including 2,000 new units, 12 new roads, parks, student villages and renovation of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

“The violence against us is not an outcome of the building in Jerusalem,” he said. “Terror comes from our enemies’ desire that we shouldn’t be here at all, in no place and in no part of Jerusalem. Not in Tel Aviv or Haifa. Since the dawn of Zionism, construction has been the natural and crushing answer to those who are harassing our existence and want to uproot us from our land. They want death, and we build here for life.”

Knesset members from two Arab parties and a mixed Arab-Jewish party boycotted the opening, citing racism and incitement against them, the Times of Israel reported.

No plans to change status quo on Temple Mount, Netanyahu says

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 14:25

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there are no plans to make changes in the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Netanyahu made the statement on Monday during a meeting to discuss the security situation in Jerusalem. His assurances came a day after Jordan warned that its peace treaty with Israel signed 20 years ago could be threatened by continued settlement construction and by any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount, including allowing Jews to pray there.

Several hours after Netanyahu’s statement, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited the Al-Aksa Mosque at the Temple Mount.

The meeting and the visit come amid tension in Jerusalem that has increased in recent days due to an attack by a Palestinian driver on a light rail station in Jerusalem and the killing by Israeli soldiers of a Palestinian teen with American citizenship accused of preparing to throw a firebomb into traffic.

Tension on the Temple Mount increased in recent months, coming to a head during the Jewish High Holidays when more Jewish pilgrims visit the site, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

Hamdallah visited the Temple Mount with the Palestinian Authority governor of Jerusalem, Adnan al-Husseini, and Palestinian security officials, according to reports. His visit was approved by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

During the security meeting, Netanyahu called for draft legislation levying severe punishment for rock throwing be advanced as quickly as possible. The legislation would call for detention and stiffer punishments for rock throwers, including criteria for the possible imposition of economic sanctions on the parents of minors who throw rocks.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, senior Israel Police officials, the deputy attorney general and military officials attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, also Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to the Obama administration calling on the U.S. government to “stop Israeli escalation in east Jerusalem, especially raids by settlers and extremists into the Aksa Mosque,” according to a statement released by his office in Ramallah, Israeli media reported.

Abbas threatened that the “dangerous escalation” would lead to  “a wider explosion.”

Brazil reelects Rousseff, Uruguay to hold presidential runoff

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 14:05

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who called Israel’s conflict this summer with Hamas “a massacre,” was reelected in a tight vote.

Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party edged Aecio Neves of the center-right Social Democracy Party, 51.6 to 48.4 percent, in a runoff Sunday to gain a new four-year term.

Also Sunday, in Uruguay, no candidate received the necessary majority in presidential voting, forcing a runoff next month.

Speaking about the Brazil vote, Jack Terpins, president of the Latin American Jewish Congress, told JTA that “with respect to the Jewish community, President Dilma has shown respect to our legacy more than once in her administration, attending the ceremonies of the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust. We want to continue enjoying the freedom of belief we have here.”

Terpins added that the Jewish community would work to strengthen the ties between Brazil and Israel.

In late July, speaking about the Israel-Gaza conflict, Rousseff said, “I think what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is dangerous. I don’t think its genocide, but I think it’s a massacre.”

Brazil, a country of some 110,000 Jews, pulled its ambassador from Israel during the conflict.

In Uruguay,  with 99 percent of the vote counted, the ruling leftist coalition candidate, Tabare Vazquez, was leading with 47.1 percent of the vote, but was short of the 50 percent majority needed to win the presidency in the first round. He will face Luis Lacalle Pou of the center-right National Party, who had 30.6 percent of the vote, in the runoff on Nov. 30.

The Jewish community has a fluid dialogue with Vazquez and Pou.

Eduardo Kohn, the director of Latin American Affairs for B’nai B’rith, told JTA that both candidates have spoken before the Jewish community in the last two months. Kohn said they agreed that “Hamas is a terrorist group, and as any terrorist group must be faced and combated. Both agreed that there should be a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians and the solution should be a two-state solution.”

Current Uruguayan President Jose Alberto Mujica said during the Gaza conflict that Israel was committing “genocide.” Vazquez, from the same party, when asked if he agreed with Mujica said that Israel “was not committing genocide.”

Pou, whose father was president between 1990 and 1995, criticized Mujica and the government not only for using the word “genocide” against Israel but for ongoing biased and unbalanced statements.

Vazquez paid an official state visit to Israel when he served as president between 2005 and 2010.

In Uruguay, home of nearly 20,000 Jews, anti-Semitic incidents rose during the recent conflict in Gaza, spurred on by charges by Foreign Minister Luis Almagro and Mujica that Israel was committing “genocide” and that “Gaza is a big concentration camp.”



Filipino diplomat lauds Jewish community for typhoon aid

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 13:33

(JTA) — The Philippines ambassador to the United States praised the Jewish community for its help in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

“The Filipino people will always remember that during their time of need, the Jewish people came to their succor the same way we did when we opened our door to them to save them from Nazi persecution more than seven decades ago,” Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. said in remarks during a recent screening of the documentary “Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust” at the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever, killed more than 6,000 people and displaced millions last November. While the damage was heaviest in the Philippines, the typhoon also killed people in China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Cuisia cited the important role of the American Jewish Joint Jewish Distribution Committee, the Israel Defense Forces and other humanitarian organizations that provided food, shelter, clean water and sanitation to typhoon victims.

“Rescue” tells how Phillipines President Manuel Luis Quezon and five Jewish-American brothers, along with U.S. High Commissioner Paul McNutt, then-Col. Dwight Eisenhower and the JDC, helped 1,200 Jews escape the Nazis and immigrate to the Philippines.


Bipartisan bill would end benefits to Nazi war criminals

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 13:29

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would cut off Nazi war criminals from U.S. benefits.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) introduced the bill this week in the wake of an Associated Press investigation that found that dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards collected millions of dollars after being forced out of the United States.

The measure authorizes new immigration hearings to determine whether suspected war criminals were receiving benefits.

Maloney said she hoped Congress would pass the bill in the “lame duck” session, the few weeks between the Nov. 4 elections and Christmas — the last weeks of this Congress, when it is unusual for new legislation to succeed.

“We should work in a bipartisan and expeditious manner to terminate these benefits once and for all,” she said at a news conference. “The American taxpayer should not be subsidizing the retirements of those guilty of the worst atrocities in human history.”

There are at least four living beneficiaries, including Jakob Denzinger, a former guard at Auschwitz. Denzinger, 90, lives in Croatia, where he receives approximately $1,500 a month in Social Security payments.

Jewish Agency investing $13.2M in southern Israel’s recovery

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 13:25

(JTA) — The Jewish Agency for Israel will invest $13.2 million to help southern Israeli communities affected this summer by the conflict with Gaza.

The aid package, announced at the agency’s Board of Governors meeting in Ashkelon, includes direct assistance to residents and businesses in areas near the Gaza border; grants for victims of rocket attacks; new and refurbished bomb shelters; loans for business owners; and support for new immigrants and students in the communities.

The gathering had been scheduled to take place in Mexico but was moved to southern Israel in a show of support for the communities after the summer.

Pakistani university suspends staff for permitting Israel display

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 13:19

(JTA) — A Pakistani university suspended three staff members for allowing students to exhibit a display about Israeli customs and traditions.

The display, which included Israeli flags and photos of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was part of a mock United Nations program at International Islamic University in Islamabad, the French news agency AFP reported.

Members of several student groups smashed the display’s contents, with some accusing the display’s creators of supporting Zionism.

A university spokesman said the school “strongly condemns” the hosting of the Israel display.

Pakistan and Israel have no diplomatic relations.

Second light rail victim, Palestinian attacker buried in Jerusalem

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 10:02

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds attended the funeral for the second victim of the driver who smashed his car into the light rail in eastern Jerusalem.

Karen Yemima Muscara, 22, who had come to Israel more than a year ago from her home in Guayaquil, Ecuador, to complete her conversion to Judaism, was buried Monday morning in the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem.

Muscara died the previous afternoon at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem from injuries suffered in the Oct. 22 attack. Her mother and her sister had been flown in from Ecuador and were with her when she died. Her father arrived in Israel to attend her funeral.

She was converting after discovering that she was descended from Conversos, Spanish Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism after 1492.

Her funeral took place shortly after the conclusion of the funeral in eastern Jerusalem for the Palestinian man who drove the car that crashed into the Jerusalem light rail stop, killing Muscara and a 3-month-old girl.

The funeral for Abdelrahman al-Shaludi  was held up following disputes with Israel. He was buried at a Muslim cemetery near the Old City walls. Some 300 people reportedly participated in a funeral procession, though only family members attended the burial, according to reports.

The funeral was postponed from Saturday night following protests outside his home in the eastern Jerusalem flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan that security forces feared would grow further out of control during a funeral. The family was limited to 20 mourners at the cemetery; the names had to be submitted in advance.

Shaludi’s family had said on Sunday that it would not take his body for burial unless the restrictions on mourners was lifted.

Israel and the U.S. State Department have called the crash a terror attack. Shaludi’s parents say he lost control of the car.




South Africans arrested over BDS protest at Woolworths

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 09:42

(JTA) — Some 57 protesters calling for a boycott of Woolworths in South Africa because it carries Israeli products were arrested in Johannesburg.

The protesters were arrested on Saturday and charged with public disturbance, the South Africa Press Association reported. They reportedly walked into the store and lay on the ground with signs.

Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment, or BDS, protests also took place in Cape Town.

Members of the Congress of South African Students Western Cape branch placed a pig’s head in the meat department of a local Woolworth’s last week as part of the protests.

“Many of our customers have asked if we source from the occupied territories. We do not,” Woolworth’s said in a statement published in the South Africa Independent. “Our suppliers are expected to adhere to the ethical standards in our code of conduct.”

The company added, “We fully comply with government guidelines on product from Israel. Less than 0.1 percent of our food is sourced from Israel.”

It is not known if the protests have hurt Woolworths sales.

BDS backers reportedly plan to continue to pressure the company, Woolworths Holdings Limited, until its annual general meeting on Nov. 26.

BDS activist Mohammed Desai told the South African daily The Times earlier this month that the movement knows there are other companies in South Africa with ties to Israel but said, “For now, Woolworths is our target. They are making a grave mistake by ignoring us and if we go to all those retailers our campaign will be diluted.”

In South Africa, BDS has received the support of the African National Congress’ Youth League, and the Times reported that the movement has lobbied influential ANC supporters to put pressure on one of Woolworths’ largest shareholders, the Government Employees Pension Fund, which holds 17.2 percent of the shares.

Woolworths, one of the largest companies in South Africa, is not related to the U.S. chain F.W. Woolworth Company.