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Israeli youth soccer team suffers food poisoning in Bulgaria

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 09:13

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Members of an Israeli youth soccer team suffered food poisoning at a hotel in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The Maccabi Petah Tikva youth soccer team fell ill over the weekend in Sofia, where they were attending a training camp. Several players were admitted to the hospital, Israel’s Sport 5 television reported.

After the food poisoning incident, which began hours after a joint Friday night dinner, the team purchased its own food to avoid a similar incident.

Avi Luzon, a Maccabi Petah Tikva team official, told Sport 5 that they believed the team may have intentionally been poisoned after singing Hebrew songs at their Friday night dinner.

Luzon said the team would ask the Bulgarian soccer federation to investigate the incident.

Settlement preschool allegedly rejects student with non-Jewish mother

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 08:12

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A preschool in a West Bank settlement reportedly has refused to enroll a 2-year-old because her mother is not Jewish.

The child is the daughter of a Jewish man and his partner, a non-Jewish woman from Kenya, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday.

Amit Hai Rubin has lived in the Avnei Hefetz settlement in the northern West Bank for the last five years. When he tried to enroll his daughter, Hila, in a preschool operated by the community he said he was told that it would have to be approved because his daughter is not Jewish according to Orthodox Jewish law, Haaretz reported.

In a statement to Haaretz, Avnei Hefetz said that Rubin had requested a midyear placement for his daughter, when the program was full.

“The director said the child could register for the coming year and he was asked to register her when registration starts for the next year. Mr. Rubin agreed to these facts and they also appear in the letter by his attorney to the settlement. Since then, although he has been invited, he has not come to register the child and he chooses to hurl false accusations,” the statement said.

Israel’s Ministry of Economy, which oversees the country’s pre-schools, told the newspaper that the schools cannot discriminate against students and that it would investigate.

Matisyahu performs ‘Jerusalem’ in Spain amid Palestinian protests

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 06:45

Matisyahu performing at the opening ceremony of the European Maccabi Games on July 28, 2015, in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(JTA) — American Jewish singer Matisyahu sang his song “Jerusalem” as protesters waved Palestinian flags at a music festival in Spain.

Matisyahu performed a 45-minute set early Sunday morning at the Rototom SunSplash Festival, two days after the festival apologized for canceling his performance in the face of pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement.

Some in the audience expressed disapproval when the artist took the stage, including chanting “out, out,” but many others applauded the singer, whose given name is Matthew Miller.

“Whoever you are and wherever you come from raise a flag and wave it in the air,” Matisyahu said before his closing song. “Let music be your flag.”

Later he posted on his Facebook page: “Tonight was difficult but special. Thank you to everyone who made it possible! Every chance to make music is a blessing.”

Matisyahu is not Israeli, but was apparently singled out by BDS activists because he was the only Jewish performer on the festival’s roster. Last week, after he ignored requests that he issue a statement declaring his support for Palestinian statehood, the festival cancelled his appearance. That sparked condemnation from Jewish organizations, the government of Spain and Matisyahu himself, who wrote on his Facebook page Monday that the festival organizers’ behavior had been “appalling and offensive.”

In a lengthy apology posted on Facebook Wednesday, festival organizers wrote, “Rototom Sunsplash rejects anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination towards the Jewish community.”

The festival said it had cancelled Matisyahu’s performance under pressure from the BDS movement, citing a “campaign of pressure, coercion and threats” against it that stoked fears the festival would be disrupted and “prevented the organization from reasoning clearly.”

Gerald Bubis, Jewish communal service pioneer, dies at 91

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 06:01

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Gerald Bubis, who pioneered and shaped the field of Jewish communal service and was a passionate champion of a progressive Israel, has died.

Bubis died Friday evening at his Los Angeles home at the age of 91, following a series of lengthy illnesses.

Bubis was born in Winnipeg, Canada, but as a youngster moved with his sister and mother to Minneapolis.

In 1968, at the invitation of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), he established the School of Jewish Communal Service, now the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, at its Los Angeles campus. Bubis retired from the school’s directorship in 1989,

Bubis “was the first to conceptualize, initiate, establish and sustain a program for the education and formation of professionals who would serve the totality of the Jewish community,” according to Rabbi David Ellenson, chancellor emeritus of the HUC-JIR’s four-campus system.

Bubis forged his legacy through “his unique combination of charisma, warmth, intellectual acuity and boundless energy,” Ellenson said.

Parallel to his academic achievements, Bubis was a key figure in the Israel peace movement and among the first in the 1980s to advocate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at a time when such a stance was highly unpopular in the Jewish community.

“Jerry belonged to that generation of leaders who could be a beacon of moral conscience while remaining fully within the communal fold,” said David Myers, chairman of the UCLA history department.

Bubis’ energy and outreach were prodigious. In his 2005 autobiography, “Guide Yourself Accordingly: A Memoir,” a listing of his various achievements and associations takes up a full 20 pages of small print.

He wrote some 170 academic papers and popular articles and 14 books and monographs, ranging across his focus on the Jewish family, Jewish identity in the modern world, board-staff relations in volunteer organizations and the Israel-Diaspora relationship.

Bubis visited Israel some 50 times and created a biannual program in Jerusalem “dedicated to profound studies and critical exploration of Israel-Diaspora bonds,” according to Prof. Gideon Shimoni, former head of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Contemporary Jewry.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 67 years, Ruby, and two children.

Barak: Netanyahu was ready to bomb Iran in 2010, 2011

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 16:15

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak both wanted to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010 and 2011, but other Israeli leaders blocked the move, Barak said.

The retired Labor politician, who was prime minister from 1999 to 2001, revealed the formerly classified information in recordings that aired on Israel’s Channel 2 Friday night, the Times of Israel reported.

Barak attempted to prevent the broadcast of the recordings, which are apparently related to a forthcoming biography of him, but Israel’s military censors approved their release.

In the recordings, Barak said he and Netanyahu wanted to order an Israel Air Force attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, but Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi stopped them in 2010, saying the Israel Defense Forces was not prepared. Later, Barak said, Moshe Yaalon, now the defense minister, and Yuval Steinitz, then finance minister and now the minister of energy, objected.

Barak and Netanyahu both hoped to strike before Iran’s nuclear facilities were more heavily protected and before they had developed far enough that an attack would be ineffective over the long term, Barak said in the recordings.

In 2011, when Barak and Netanyahu again sought a strike, the heads of Mossad, Shin Bet and Military Intelligence opposed the move, as did Yaalon and Steinitz, Barak said.

Also in the recordings, Barak criticized Yaalon and Steinitz for using hawkish rhetoric on Iran given that they previously prevented military strikes against the Islamic Republic.

Both Steinitz and Ya’alon declined to comment on the recordings, according to the Times of Israel.

In letter to P5+1, Israel blames Iran for rockets from Syria

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 16:06

(JTA) — Israel submitted a formal diplomatic complaint to world powers about a recent rocket attack from Syria — blaming a specific Iranian general and warning of increased regional aggression by the Islamic Republic in the wake of the nuclear deal.

The demarche was sent Friday to the P5+1 — the six world powers, including the United States, that negotiated the nuclear agreement with Iran — a day after a barrage of four rockets hit Israel from Syria.

Sent by Jeremy Issacharoff, the vice director general of Israel Foreign Affairs Ministry, the document said Israel has “credible information” that Thursday’s rocket attack was ordered by “Iranian Operative Saeed Izaadhi” and carried out by the Palestinian branch of militant group Islamic Jihad.

The document called the attack “an indiscriminate and premeditated terrorist attack against Israeli territory without any provocation from the Israeli side.” Further, it said the attack was “another clear and blatant demonstration of Iran’s continued and unabating support and involvement in terrorist attacks” and “a clear indication of how Iran intends to continue to pursue its destabilizing actions and policies as the international sanctions regime is withdrawn in the near future.”

“The international community led by the P5+1 cannot enable Iran to gain respectability and political legitimacy from the [nuclear agreement, which lifts sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program], while in parallel it continues to actively and directly perpetrate terror throughout the region,” the document said.

Dore Gold, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “It is untenable that Iran can argue that it is in a diplomatic process with the West when its forces continue to wage wars of subversion and terror against Israel and across the Middle East.”

The nuclear deal is being hotly debated in the U.S. Congress, which has until September to decide whether or not to vote against the deal. President Obama has said he will veto any legislative attempts to block the deal.

Brooklyn Jewish businessman charged with not paying employees

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 13:39

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Jewish owner of a Brooklyn cleaning service has been charged with withholding pay from his employees.

Samuel Just, 21, the owner of Just Clean was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court Thursday on charges including scheme to defraud and failure to pay wages, after the Workers Justice Project filed a complaint with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the New York Daily News reported.

“This defendant allegedly preyed on vulnerable people seeking employment, then cheated them out of their hard-earned wages,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said, according to the Daily News.

Prosecutors said five employees, including a man whose job it was to pick up day laborers from a Williamsburg intersection, were not paid consistently. Just owes more than $4,500 in back wages, they said.

One of the employees, a woman who prosecutors say is owed $2,300, allegedly worked 27 hours straight during Passover and did not get paid.

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association names new exec

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 13:33

(JTA) — The professional association of Reconstructionist rabbis has hired Rabbi Elyse Wechterman as its executive director.

Wechterman, who replaces the interim executive director, Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, will begin at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association in September, the group announced in a news release Thursday.

A 2000 graduate of the movement’s rabbinical seminary, Wechterman served as spiritual leader of Congregation Agudas Achim in Attleboro, Massachusetts from 2001 to 2014.

The Wyncote, Pennsylvania-based association has approximately 350 members. The fourth-largest stream of American Judaism, the Reconstructionist movement teaches that Judaism is the continuously evolving civilization of the Jewish people, encompassing culture, art, music, food and everything else that makes up a civilization.

Menorah on U of Illinois campus upended for second time this year

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:21

(JTA) — A nine-foot menorah at the University of Illinois was knocked over in an act of vandalism.

Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel of the Illini Chabad Jewish Center in Champaign, Illinois, said he is raising money to replace the menorah vandalized on Wednesday with a larger and sturdier one, The Associated Press reported.

The menorah was knocked over in April as well.

University police are investigating the vandalism, which was caught on surveillance video. So far they do not have any suspects.

After apology from Spanish festival, Matisyahu confirms he will perform

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:01

(JTA) — After being re-invited, American Jewish reggae star Matisyahu confirmed he will perform at a Spanish music festival.

On Friday, two days after the Rototom SunSplash Festival apologized for canceling his performance in the face of pressure from the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Matisyahu announced on Facebook that he will perform at the festival on Saturday.

In his Facebook post, the singer wrote, “Today music wins. Freedom of expression wins.” Describing his feeling that he “was being used as a pawn for political convenience,” Matisyahu explained that, “It is my deep conviction however that acceptance and the ability for rebirth allow us to move forward.”

He added that the “incredible outpouring of worldwide support from fans and organizations who rose up as one to protest the intrusion of politics into a borderless celebration of music has been humbling.”

Matisyahu is not Israeli, but was apparently singled out by BDS activists because he was the only Jewish performer on the festival’s roster. Last week, after he ignored requests that he issue a statement declaring his support for Palestinian statehood, the festival cancelled his act. That sparked condemnation from Jewish organizations, the government of Spain and Matisyahu himself, who wrote on his Facebook page Monday that the festival organizers’ behavior had been “appalling and offensive.”

In a lengthy apology posted on Facebook Wednesday, festival organizers wrote, “Rototom Sunsplash rejects anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination towards the Jewish community.“

The festival said it had cancelled Matisyahu’s performance under pressure from the BDS movement, citing a “campaign of pressure, coercion and threats” against it that stoked fears the festival would be disrupted and “prevented the organization from reasoning clearly.”

Nadler supports Iran deal following Obama letter

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 10:17

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City on Dec. 11, 2011. (Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — Despite recognizing perceived faults in the Iran nuclear deal, Congressman Jerrold Nadler announced his support for the agreement, citing “in large part” his support for Israel.

The Democrat Jewish lawmaker from New York had withheld his support for the deal for over three weeks, during which he has studied its details and received answers to questions about it directly from President Barack Obama, he wrote in a statement his office released Friday.

To a large extent, it is “because of my support for Israel that I have made the decision,” he wrote. “I am convinced it is the best option for achieving our overriding security imperative.”

Nadler is the sole Jewish lawmaker from his state to support the deal, the New York Times reported.

The agreement, in which the United States and five other world powers offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for scaling back its nuclear program, “for all its flaws, gives us the best chance of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” Nadler wrote.

Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a vocal critic of the deal, which Netanyahu said “paves Iran’s path to the Bomb.”

Earlier this month, Sen. Chuck Schumer, another Democrat Jewish lawmaker from New York, said he would not support the deal.

In an apparent reference to some of Schumer’s critics, Nadler wrote: “I am outraged that some on the Left are making anti-Semitic accusations of dual loyalty or treason when someone, particularly a Jewish member of Congress, decides to oppose the agreement.”

“I am also deeply disturbed that some opponents of the agreement have taken to questioning the sincerity of people’s support for Israel (or their ‘Jewishness’, if it applies) if that person believes” in the agreement, Nadler wrote.

Since Schumer’s announcement, a total of 26 Senate Democrats have come out in favor of the agreement.

Nadler decided to support the deal after receiving a letter from Obama answering his critical questions about it. The letter, which Nadler shared on his website, promises to increase military aid for Israel’s defense and to keep pressure on Iran for its support for terrorist groups.

Congress will vote on whether to approve the deal in September. Obama has vowed to veto any legislation aimed at preventing the deal from materializing.

Brazilian ‘Model Knesset’ event draws 120 young Jewish, non-Jewish applicants

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 09:50

(JTA) — The Jewish Agency for Israel is organizing a model-Knesset event in Brazil for 120 young Jews and non-Jews who will simulate the work of the parliament in Jerusalem.

The “Model Knesset” event, which is scheduled to take place in Sao Paulo next month for the second consecutive year, will feature two days of mock votes and deliberations meant to simulate the Knesset.

The event on Sept. 6-7 is designed so that all major Jewish streams and political movements are represented, according to a statement about the project published last week on the website of CONIB, the umbrella group of Brazil’s Jewish communities. Delegates will include Israeli Russians, Ethiopians, haredi Orthodox Jews and secular Jews under age 26.

Non-Jewish participants will include Arabs, Druze and Bedouins, according to the statement.

But participants will not all necessarily be able to choose which party or stream they will represent at the event, according to the statement, which said that those who registered early will have priority in this regard over latecomers.

The exercise is meant to “get to know the complexities of social, religious, diplomatic and cultural issues in the State of Israel and the Middle East” and “experience the atmosphere in which decisions are taken” in the Jewish state.


British artist posts quenelle, questions gas chambers to spite ‘Zionists’

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 09:47

(JTA) — British police received a criminal complaint for incitement against a musician who performed the quasi-Nazi quenelle salute to spite Zionists and suggested that Nazi gas chambers did not really exist.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism group reported on Wednesday that an unnamed party filed a complaint this week against Alison Chabloz, a performer at the Edinburgh Festival — one of the Scottish city’s main cultural events — after she posted to Twitter a photo of herself performing the quenelle.

She also published on her blog an essay by Robert Faurisson disputing the use of gas chambers by the Nazis and another paper entitled “Did six million really die?”

As blogs and local publications reported on the actions of Chabloz — a singer-songwriter who has lived in Egypt, among other countries — she published another blog post, explaining that her gesture was a “massive up yours” as a reaction to being “hounded online by a small group of hardline Zionists.”

Chabloz has been criticized in recent months for suggesting on Twitter that “it would appear that Anne Frank’s diary was mostly fabricated,” and that British organizations teaching about the Holocaust were “indoctrinating children.”

In her defense, Chabloz wrote that “nobody denies that the Jews and other groups suffered horrendous atrocities,” but added that, “if people dug a little deeper into the issue they may discover some interesting facts regards the presumed existence of homicidal Nazi gas chambers.”

As for the quenelle, which French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in 2014 termed “an anti-Semitic gesture of hate,” Chabloz wrote that Roger Cukierman, president of France’s Jewish CRIF group, considers it “an anti-establishment gesture unless it is performed outside a place of worship or memorial to Holocaust victims.”

Cukierman said last year that even though many quenelle performers don’t understand its Nazi connotations, it is nonetheless a hateful gesture that should be punishable by law.

“All publicity is good, and it’s time more people started standing up to Zionist bullies,” Chabloz concluded, adding the hashtag #FreePalestine.

Dutch Christian couple honored for exceptional Holocaust-era bravery

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 09:36

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Dutch Christian Zionists who died as a result of their unrelenting efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust were recognized by Israel as Righteous among the Nations.

A medal attesting to the distinction, conferred by the Jewish state through the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, will be given on Aug. 24 by Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon, to Maya Schipper — a granddaughter of Johanna Engelberta Schipper-Kuiper and her husband, Klaas Abe Schipper.

Also present at the ceremony in Oosthuizen will be Meijer van der Sluis and Samuel Segal – two of the dozens of Jews saved because of the actions of the couple and members of their underground network.

From 1943 to 1945, the Schippers, a pastor and his wife from Schardam near Amsterdam, endured between them a total of at least four house searches by German Nazis and Nazi collaborators. In one search, they managed to avoid capture by hiding several Jews in secret hideouts in their home and in adjacent buildings. One of them, Ruth Lilienthal, concealed herself in a closet as Nazi troops searched for her. She passed away in 2001.

Klaas Abe was arrested twice, for several months at a time. His health deteriorated severely, and he died in 1949 at the age of 42 as a result of the abuse. Prior to the war, he organized meetings to protest anti-Semitism, which he considered a sin against God’s “chosen people.” Questioned by the Nazis, he explained his theological motives but betrayed no concrete information.

While he was arrested and perhaps tortured, Johanna was traveling with two Jewish children and her own son between safe houses. Her family, which was ardently Zionist, was heavily involved in her rescue operation. She smuggled one of the Jewish children, whom she later adopted, from a Nazi-run detention center. A wanted person, she showed up at the Amsterdam facility, engaged the guards and talked her way in — perhaps thanks to her excellent German.

Johanna Schipper died in 1956 at the age of 59 from an infection that developed in a wound that she sustained in a vehicular accident while bringing fake passports to Jews. The wound in her leg never fully healed, in part because her responsibilities toward the Jews she harbored prevented her from resting after the injury.

Hamas political chief confirms negotiations with Israel

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 09:28

(JTA) — Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal confirmed that his organization is negotiating with Israel over a long-term truce and described the talks as “very positive.”

In an interview with a London-based Qatari newspaper published Friday, Meshaal said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of the mediators and that talks have not yet produced an agreement.

In the interview, according to the Times of Israel, Meshaal listed five obstacles standing in the way of a long-term cease-fire with Israel: reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, which was badly damaged in last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas; removal of the blockade and opening of the border crossings; addressing Gaza’s high rate of unemployment; allowing the construction of a seaport and airport, and building water and electricity infrastructures in the territory.

Meshaal said, “We do not want wars, but the legitimate resistance against the occupation will continue so long as the occupation and settlements continue, but we do not seek wars.”

Earlier this week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied reports that his government was negotiating with Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization that governs Gaza. “Israel officially clarifies that there have been no meetings with Hamas. Not directly, not through another country and not through intermediaries,” he said in a statement issued Monday.

Crimea Reform Jewish leader thanks Putin in post-annexation meet

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 08:11

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — During a meeting with Vladimir Putin, a leader of Reform Jews in Crimea said his community’s situation has improved since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine.

Anatoly Gendin, chairman of the Ner Tamid Reform Synagogue in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, thanked the Russian president Monday for what Gendin described as Russian authorities’ attentiveness to the requests of Crimean Jews on restitution and other matters, and the rule of law in the disputed territory.

“After years of fruitless appeals to Ukraine, this year saw the resolution of the issues of returning to us Simferopol’s Talmud-Torah, the former religious school for boys,” Gendin told Putin. The get-together took place in Yalta, at a roundtable meeting between the president and leaders of minority communities. Gendin added that a framework agreement for restitution was reached with Russian authorities, including for a former synagogue in Yevpatoria.

Russia invaded Ukraine last year and annexed the Crimean Peninsula following a referendum of residents that showed majority support for the move. Ukrainian Jewish leaders, including Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Ya’akov Dov Bleich, have condemned the annexation, which prompted the former rabbi of Ner Tamid, Misha Kapustin, to leave in protest to Slovakia.

But many Jews in Crimea itself, including Reform and Orthodox rabbis and community leaders, say they feel safer under the sovereignty of Russia under Putin, who is widely credited for tough action on anti-Semitism and an attentive approach to the needs of local Jews.

Gendin asked Putin to help commemorate a Holocaust-era mass grave that grave robbers have repeatedly vandalized.

“I want to thank you, dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, for the attention and the help that we receive from you and the Russian Federation, to resolve all our questions,” Gendin said.

Israeli strikes in Syria prove deadly

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 08:06

(JTA) — At least one person was killed by Israeli air strikes in Syria following the firing of rockets into the Golan Heights and the Galilee.

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday that it targeted the cell that launched rockets at northern Israel from Syria on Thursday, and that at least four people were believed to have been killed a car some six miles inside Syria in territory held by the Syrian army.

“We were monitoring this cell,” an unnamed IDF source was quoted by Israeli media as saying Friday. “This is an Islamic Jihad cell directed by Iran.”

A Syrian military source said Friday that one person was killed. “The enemy aircraft struck a military position in the area of Quneitra at 11:30 p.m. (20:30 GMT Thursday), martyring one and wounding eight soldiers,” said the source quoted by the official Syrian news agency SANA.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least two people were killed in the strikes, possibly two military officials close to Syrian President Bashar Assad. According to the report, the Israeli strikes included a raid on a target outside Damascus and on a weapons depot belonging to the Syrian military. Syrian state television said the fatalities were unarmed civilians.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Friday morning that the strike was proof that Israel will not tolerate efforts to harm the security of its citizens.

“We have no intention of compromising on this issue, and I suggest no one test our resolve on this matter,” he said.

In first, haredi woman accepted to El Al’s pilot training program

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 08:05

(JTA) — Israel’s national airline, El Al, accepted a haredi Orthodox woman into its pilot training program.

Identified in Israeli media only by her first name, Nechama, the new recruit is a mother of three children in her early 30s from a town near Jerusalem, the news site www.ch10.co.il reported on Wednesday.

Nechama, who will be El Al’s first female haredi candidate, went to flight school in the United States after attending the Beit Ya’akov seminary. She applied to El Al several years after receiving a pilot’s license and returned regularly to the United States to fly in order to make the flight hour threshold required of candidates for El Al’s training program.

She succeeded in the tryouts and tests for El Al’s upcoming class, and received notice of her acceptance in recent weeks, according to the report. She is scheduled to begin training in approximately three months. An El Al spokesperson described her as “an impressive woman with special abilities and a high level of personal qualities,” according to ch10.co.il.

She was quoted as saying: “Being a pilot has always been a dream of mine. My husband is very supportive, and he is helping realize this dream.”

After release, Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 08:01

(JTA) — The Palestinian detainee who had refused to eat for 60 days broke his hunger strike following authorities’ decision to release him.

Mohammad Allaan’s brother, Amid Allaan, told Israeli media of the decision Thursday night at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, where the Palestinian detainee who is an alleged member of Islamic Jihad is being treated in connection with his protracted hunger strike.

“Mohammad Allaan in now neither a prisoner nor on a hunger strike,” Amid Allaan told Army Radio. “He’s a free man who’s in hospital for treatment.”

Mohammad Allaan is not expected to begin eating on his own for another two weeks and is currently being nourished intravenously.

Allaan was being held under administrative detention – a provision that allows authorities to hold individuals, mostly those suspected of terrorism or espionage, without charging them. But earlier this week, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered his release amid fears that he would die or cause himself irreversible brain damage.

Allaan fought in court against force feeding which authorities wanted to perform on him. Eli Ben-Dahan, Israel’s deputy defense minister, said Israel offered to release Allaan if he would agree to leave the country, including the Palestinian Authority, for four years but he declined.

The ruling by the court — which rightist leaders have long criticized for overruling majority-passed votes that the justices found undemocratic — to release Allaan provoked angry reactions from Ben-Dahan and other officials.

“If security forces believe Allaan is dangerous and needs to remain detained to prevent innocent casualties, then naturally it must not be allowed for the state to surrender to his demands and release him,” Ben-Dahan wrote on Facebook Wednesday.

Ze’ev Elkin, Israel’s minister for immigrant absorption, called the court’s ruling “scandalous” in an interview for Army Radio. “We cannot tolerate a reality in which the Supreme Court replaces the Knesset, the government and is now also replacing the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service, determining what’s dangerous and what isn’t,” he said.

The state’s intention to force feed Allaan, however, was opposed by Israeli physicians, including Leonid Edelman, head of the Israeli Medical Association, who called it torture and said Allaan should be released to save his life.

France’s far-right National Front boots founder, Jean Marie Le Pen

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 07:57

(JTA) — The executive bureau of France’s far-right National Front party voted to oust the movement’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and strip him of all official titles.

The vote Thursday evening by the bureau followed the decision last month by French prosecutors to charge Le Pen, 87, for genocide denial, which is forbidden in France, in connection with his statement that the Holocaust was a historical detail.

Le Pen, who has had multiple convictions for inciting racial hate against Jews and other minorities, last year entered into an open dispute with his daughter, Marine Le Pen, who as successor as party president has attempted to rehabilitate the National Front’s reputation in mainstream French society after decades of blatant xenophobia.

But the party, France’s third largest, would not immediately say why Le Pen, who had been its honorary president, was ousted.

“After deliberations, the National Front executive bureau, convened in a disciplinary forum, decided, through the required majority, on the exclusion of Mr. Jean-Marie Le Pen as a member of the National Front. The full decision and its motives will be given in the near future,” a statement read.

Striking an emotional note, Le Pen told RTL on Friday of his daughter: “It is awful to kill her father.”

The fight between the Le Pens became public last year, when he said during a video interview for his blog on the National Front website that Jean-Jacques Goldman, a Jewish singer who criticized the National Front, “should go to the oven” — a statement taken by many to be a reference to the Holocaust, though Le Pen denied this.

Marine Le Pen suspended his blog and distanced herself from his words.

Last month, the elder Le Pen said he would not vote for his daughter in the presidential elections because her actions amounted to “cutting the branch on which she is sitting.”