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Man charged in Manhattan assault of Orthodox couple

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 17:26

NEW YORK (JTA) — A 23-year-old Brooklyn man was arrested for assaulting an Orthodox Jewish couple in Manhattan this summer.

A New York Police Department spokesman confirmed to JTA that Mustafa Mashni was charged with assault, as first reported on the Jpupdates website.

The victims, in their 20s, were walking on the Upper East Side at approximately 8 p.m. Aug. 25 when several vehicles, including a motorcycle adorned with Palestinian flags, pulled up to them. The occupants yelled several anti-Semitic slurs, threw a bottle of water at the woman and punched the man in the head. Police believe he was targeted because he was wearing a kipah.

According to Jpupdates, Mashni told detectives with the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force that he had wanted to stop the confrontation when he approached the Jewish male but accidentally hit him in in the face.

Mashni had been arrested three times previously by New York Police, Jpupdates reported.

The Upper East Side is an affluent neighborhood with a large Jewish population.

Far-right party asks for Jewish stats in German city

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 16:14

(JTA) — A far-right party in Germany asked to receive information on the number of Jews living in the city of Dortmund.

Councilman Dennis Giemsch of The Right party also asked for a breakdown of where the Jews live according to the city districts, according to reports.

Dortmund is located in western Germany in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and has a population of about 576,000.

The request made last week was reported in the German media over the weekend.

Giemsch said the information was relevant for his political party. He asked for data on other subjects in the same request.

The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, called the request “sickening and perfidious anti-Semitism.”

The party’s platform includes protecting the “German identity,” banning English words in advertising, protecting German culture, limiting immigration and supporting  German families to have German children, among other planks.

Norwegian doctor banned from Israel for security reasons

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 16:07

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Norwegian doctor who was among the authors of a letter slamming Israel published in The Lancet was banned from entering Israel, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.

Dr. Mads Gilbert has been banned from entering Israel for security reasons, the ministry told the French news agency AFP, and not Gaza as was widely reported. The ministry also said that the ban is not permanent.

Since Egypt’s Rafah crossing has been closed for several weeks, the only way to enter Gaza is via Israel.

In “An open letter for the people of Gaza” published this summer in The Lancet, a British medical journal, Gilbert and his co-authors accused Israel of committing a “massacre” in Gaza, among other things.

The doctor has spent over 30 years working in international conflict areas, especially Gaza. He spent more than a month this summer working at Shifa Hospital there helping to treat some of the thousands injured in Israel’s operation in Gaza.

Gilbert reportedly was traveling to Gaza late last month and was prevented from crossing from Israel into Gaza.

Norwegian government officials reportedly have asked Israel to change its decision.



Chief suspect in Palestinian teen’s murder says he can’t respond to charges

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 16:02

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The chief suspect in the murder of a Palestinian teenager said in court that his psychological condition prevents him from responding to the charges against him.

Yosef Haim Ben-David, 29, of the Adam settlement in the West Bank, made the statement Monday in Jerusalem District Court, according to the Times of Israel.

Ben-David, who owns an eyewear store in Jerusalem, was indicted in July for burning Mohammed Abu Khdeir to death in the Jerusalem forest with two accomplices, both minors, to avenge the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June.

According to the indictment, Ben-David has a history of mental illness, for which he is being medicated.

One of the minors said Monday that he was sitting in a waiting car during the incident. The other suspect said he took part in violence before the murder but did not intend to kill Khdeir.

Leaked EU document: Sanctions against Israel under consideration

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 15:52

(JTA) — The European Union is considering imposing sanctions on Israel for continued settlement building, according to a leaked document.

An internal document published Monday in Haaretz discussed the possibility of recalling European diplomats from Israel and cutting ties with Israeli leaders, including senior Cabinet members, who openly oppose a two-state solution.

The document also looks at reassessing the EU’s commitment not to participate in anti-Israel sessions at the United Nations Human Rights Council and taking actions to support the Palestinians’ statehood bid.

According to the Times of Israel, the document does not state official policy and is merely meant as a basis for future discussions.

In a news conference Monday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the document is a “hypothetical working paper.”


Glick: Gunman apologized before shooting

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 15:44

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick said the Palestinian gunman who shot him apologized before firing.

“He told me, ‘I’m very sorry, you are the enemy of Al-Aksa,’ ” Glick told Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, who was visiting Glick in his hospital room on Monday, Israeli media reported. The gunman was referring to the mosque on the Temple Mount.

Glick has been hospitalized at Shaarey Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem since the Oct. 29 attack outside a conference center in the Israeli capital. He began breathing on his own without a respirator nearly a week ago.

The assailant shot Glick at close range in the chest and abdomen before fleeing on a motorcycle.

Hours later the alleged assailant, a member of Islamic Jihad who worked in the center’s kitchen, was killed in a shootout outside his eastern Jerusalem home.

Immediately before he was shot, Glick had spoken at the center on the Jewish right to pray on the Temple Mount.

“I am praying with you that God willing, both of us will stand there in order to give thanks,” Lau said of the Temple Mount, referring to the messianic age.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has ruled that Jews should not visit the site because of its holiness.


Zim shipping, object of anti-Israel protests, suspends services at Calif. port

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 15:31

(JTA) — Israel’s largest cargo shipping company suspended its operations at a California port.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services, the 10th largest global container shipping company in the world, has temporarily cut off its shipping services to the Port of Long Beach, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reported.

The company has not offered a reason for the suspension, although the decision comes after months of picketing this summer against Zim vessels by anti-Israel protesters along the West Coast of the United States.

A Zim employee in Long Beach told the Jewish Journal that the suspension is “not a long-term thing.”

The protest campaign, Block the Boat, was organized by the San Francisco-based Arab Resource and Organizing Center and has been especially active in Oakland. In August and September, protesters there prevented Israeli cargo ships from unloading.

Lee Peterson, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, confirmed that Zim had temporarily suspended service at the port. He said he was not given a reason for the action.

“I’m not sure how long they will be in this mode,” he told JTA.

Peterson added that there were “some protests” in the summer, often on Saturdays.

“At the time,” he said, “it did not affect the longshore workers and operations continued.”


Prisoner suing for kosher food notes weight loss in amended complaint

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 15:04

NEW YORK (JTA) — A death-row inmate in Connecticut suing the state because he has not been provided kosher food filed an amended complaint noting that he has lost 50 pounds as a result of eating inadequate food.

Steven Hayes, who was convicted in the 2007 murder of a woman and her two daughters, sued the state’s Department of Corrections in August for allegedly not serving him kosher food.

The amended complaint says he has not eaten any non-kosher food since Aug. 24 and is now down to 120 pounds, The Associated Press reported. In the lawsuit, Hayes describes himself as an Orthodox Jew and says he has been asking for kosher food since May 2013.

Hayes and Joshua Komisarievsky were sentenced to death for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters during a home invasion in which two of the victims were sexually assaulted and the house was set on fire. They also severely beat Hawke-Petit’s husband, Dr. William Petit, who survived.

Hayes said the state is violating his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion by preventing him from eating kosher food. He also accused the state of violating his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.

In his lawsuit, Hayes said that the prison’s kitchen is not certified to provide strictly kosher food. He said the kitchen staff told him the food served at the prison is “kosher-like.”

“Kosher-like is not kosher,” Hayes said in his lawsuit, according to the Hartford Courant.

Hayes has been consulting and speaking with a rabbi, and has been asking for more time with the rabbi, according to the New Haven Register.

He is requesting a trial by judge and has asked for an injunction ordering the Department of Corrections to provide pre-packaged kosher meals to all Jewish prisoners in Connecticut’s prisons. Hayes also is seeking $15,000 in punitive and compensatory damages for “intentional infliction of pain, suffering and resulting weight loss from the deliberate denial of a kosher diet.”

Hadassah hospital’s board chair quits

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 14:50

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The interim board chairman of Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem resigned.

Avi Balashnikov stepped down over the weekend, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, because Health Minister Yael German had failed to find a permanent replacement by an agreed-upon deadline. Moti Debi, a member of the board of directors, also resigned.

The resignations are the latest development in an ongoing budget crisis at the Hadassah Medical Organization that began early this year.

The hospital declared bankruptcy in February and, after weathering an employees’ strike, finalized a bailout deal with the Israeli government and the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which built and partially funds the hospital.

Since the crisis began, the hospital has been forced to search for a new director general, as well as a new chair of the board of directors. The hospital is still struggling financially and saw eight of its doctors quit in recent weeks, Haaretz reported.

Israel’s Health Ministry earlier this month ordered the hospital to stop organ transplants for a month due to the continued dispute between doctors and hospital management.

Israel, Jewish Agency draft preliminary goals for Diaspora Jewish youth project

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 13:52

(JTA) — The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government drafted an agreement outlining their respective roles in a new initiative promoting Jewish identity in the Diaspora.

In a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding, the Jewish Agency and the government’s Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry outlined preliminary goals and structure for the project that had been previously mired in a dispute between the two players, according to The Jerusalem Post. While the government approved the initiative itself in June, few specifics had been announced.

The initiative plans to focus on seven program areas, eJewishPhilanthropy reported, including teen trips to Israel; summer camps; Jewish/Israel engagement on college campuses; internships in Israel for students and young adults; and community service projects in Israel and the developing world. Specific goals include doubling the number of teens traveling to Israel and doubling enrollment in Jewish summer camps.

Funding for the initiative is to be split among the Israeli government, Diaspora Jewish organizations and Jewish philanthropists.

However, while the Israeli government has committed to funding a third of the project, the private funds have not yet been raised.


Swastikas painted on Babi Yar memorial, Jewish school

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:46

(JTA) – Swastikas were painted on the Holocaust memorial monument at Babi Yar in Kiev.

It is the second time that the monument has been vandalized in two months.

The graffiti was found Monday during a tour at the site for schoolchildren, The Jerusalem Post reported.

A swastika was painted on the monument, located at the site where Nazi troops murdered more than 33,000 in September 1941.

In a separate incident, anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted on the walls of a Jewish school in Kharkov, Ukraine.

The graffiti included messages such as “Kill the Jews” and “Heil Happy Holocaust,” along with crossed-out images of Stars of David and swastikas, according to Israel National News.

Local police have launched an investigation into the Nov. 13 incident.

“At such a sensitive time, it is difficult to know who is behind this act,” Kharkov’s chief rabbi, Moshe Moskowitz, told the news website.

Israel adding F-35 fighter jets to Lockheed Martin order

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:42

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel will add another 10 to 15 F-35 stealth fighter jets to its order of 19 from Lockheed Martin.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Reuters on Monday that the Cabinet had approved the purchase. The number is below the additional 25 to 31 planes reportedly sought by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

“We are not the Defense Ministry’s rubber stamp,” Steinitz told the news agency.

Israel, facing budget restraints, recently canceled an order of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Israel first ordered 19 F-35s for $2.75 billion in 2010.

While led by the U.S.-based Lockheed Martin, the F-35, or Joint Stealth Fighter, is a joint project of a number of nations.

“The JSF program is central to the United States unwavering support for enhancing Israel’s qualitative military edge,” a Pentagon spokesman told JTA.

Israeli companies are manufacturing the jet’s wings and helmets for its pilots.

Planes will begin delivery to clients between 2016 and 2018.

Israeli ID cards adjusted for same-sex parents

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:36

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s national identity cards for children of same-sex parents will list the parents with gender-appropriate titles.

The Interior Ministry announced Sunday that the cards will list parents under the appropriate gender. Until now, the cards only allowed for the listing of one mother and one father, meaning one parent was registered as the other gender.

The new cards, with two lines for mothers or two lines for fathers, are expected to be available next month, Ynet reported.

The decision comes after four children each with two mothers appealed to the Population Immigration and Border Authority to make the adjustment.

In 2006, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the Interior Ministry to recognize same-sex couples and allow the non-biological parent to adopt his or her partner’s child.

Palestinian bus driver found hanged in his vehicle in Jerusalem

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 10:23

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Riots broke out in eastern Jerusalem following the discovery of a Palestinian bus driver hanged in his bus at a Jerusalem bus terminal.

The body of Egged driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, 32, was discovered late Sunday night. His family claims he was killed by “settlers.”

An autopsy Monday at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv found that the death was not criminally related, Israel Police said. The body was returned to the family.

However, a Palestinian pathologist said in a separate report that there were signs of violence on his body.

Closed circuit cameras on the bus could provide some insight into the circumstances of the hanging.

Al-Ramouni’s brother, Louy, told Reuters that he saw marks on his brother’s body that indicate he was killed.

Riots began Sunday night and continued into Monday in several eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, including the Arab and Jewish neighborhood of Abu-Tor, where Ramouni lived with his wife and two young children. Several Palestinian bus drivers reportedly did not show up for work on Monday in apparent protest of the incident.

Charley Levine, top Anglo-Israeli PR professional, dies

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 09:00

(JTA) — Charley Levine, a top public relations professional in Israel and well known in Ango-Israeli circles, has died.

Levine, of Maale Adumim in the West Bank, died Sunday after a short illness. He was 62.

Levine, the founder and CEO of the Israeli public affairs and media relations consultant company Lone Star Communications, worked with dozens of international leaders, including Al Gore, Mike Huckabee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Irwin Cotler, Rupert Murdoch, Ed Koch, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also served as a media adviser to national Israeli leaders including former president Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Silvan Shalom, Uzi Landau, Isaac Herzog, Gidon Saar and Yudi Edelstein.

Until 2006 he was the CEO of Ruder Finn Israel. In 1983, he had established Charles Levine Communications, which he served as president and CEO.

Levine worked in public relations for Jewish organizations including the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, Hadassah and the World Zionist Organization.

A native of San Antonio, Texas, Levine made aliyah in 1978 and served as a captain in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

He was a graduate of New York University and received a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.


Canadian prof extradited to Paris, charged in 1980 synagogue bombing

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 06:40

(JTA) — A Canadian university professor was charged in a deadly 1980 synagogue bombing in Paris hours after being extradited to the French capital.

Hassan Diab, 60, was charged in Paris on Saturday in the bombing of the Rue Copernic synagogue that killed four and injured more than 40.

Diab had fought his extradition from Canada for six years. Canada’s Supreme Court last week declined to hear his appeal without explanation.

French authorities allege that Diab was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and took part in the synagogue bombing. Diab, a dual Lebanese and Canadian citizen, has repeatedly denied the allegations.


Daughter of Polish interwar leader Jozef Pilsudski dies

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 06:13

WARSAW (JTA) – The last surviving daughter of Poland’s iconic interwar leader Marshal Jozef Pilsudski has died.

Jadwiga Pilsudska Jaraczewska, who met several months ago with Poland’s chief rabbi, died Sunday in Warsaw. She was 94.

Pilsudski was widely supported by Polish Jews as an opponent of extreme nationalism and anti-Semitism. He died in 1935. Jaraczewska was one of Pilsudski’s two daughters.

In June, at her and her family’s invitation, Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, met with Jaraczewska along with her children and grandchildren. Jaraczewska showed Schudrich a famous photograph of Jewish leaders in the town of Deblin greeting her father with bread and salt after the Polish army under his leadership captured the town from the Bolsheviks in August 1920.

Jaraczewska was a pilot in Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II. With the collapse of communism in Poland in 1990 she returned to Warsaw.


Mervyn Smith, South African Jewish leader, dies

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 16:16

(JTA) — Mervyn Smith, president of the African Jewish Congress and a major anti-apartheid activist in the Jewish community, has died.

Smith died Saturday after a long illness. He was 77.

“If there was a Jewish organization, I belonged to it – with my heart and soul,” Smith said frequently, according to the African Jewish Congress.

Smith also was a vice president of the World Jewish Congress and an honorary life vice president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. He served as the board’s national chairman.

At the Board of Deputies’ national conference in 1985, Smith was the prime protagonist in the passing of the historic resolution condemning apartheid.

Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, CEO of the African Jewish Congress, said in a statement that the South African Jewish community “has suffered a grievous loss.”

“Mervyn, an attorney by profession, was a leader of stature, not only in many spheres of Jewish communal life but also as a respected representative of the community  in South African national affairs,” Silberhaft wrote. “His presence, his wisdom and his experience will be sorely missed not only by his family, but by all his friends and colleagues.”

Smith, a practicing attorney, received the Lexus Lifetime Achiever Award at the Jewish Achiever Awards ceremony for his contributions to reconciliation, change and empowerment in South Africa in the fields of business and/or art, science, sport or philanthropy.

He was an expert on anti-Semitism and advised the board on legal matters, particularly regarding anti-Semitism. Active in Holocaust studies, Smith served as board chairman of the South African Holocaust Foundation.

He also served as president of the Law Societies of South Africa, chairman of the Performing Arts Council of South Africa and Cape Performing Arts Board, as well as chairman of the Cape Town City Ballet.

A cricket player for 25 years, he was life president of the Bellville Cricket Club.


British Jewry umbrella votes to include ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ group

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 16:01

(JTA) — The umbrella organization for British Jewry accepted for membership a group that backed the recent nonbinding parliamentary vote recognizing a Palestinian state.

On Sunday, the Board of Deputies of British Jewry voted 135 to 61 to accept Yachad UK, which calls itself “pro-Israel, pro-peace.” The group supports a two-state solution and takes British Jews on fact-finding tours of the West Bank.

The group needed a two-thirds majority for acceptance, and the vote had been delayed twice before, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.

Several speakers during Sunday’s debate said they did not agree with the policies of Yachad UK but felt it should be included as a member of the umbrella organization.

Yachad UK has also called for support of the Arab peace initiative offering Israel normalized relations with the Arab world in exchange for a return to the pre-1967 borders, as well as a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugee issue that would be “agreed upon” by the parties.

Israel orders razing of Palestinian car attacker’s family home

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 15:54

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The family home of the Palestinian man who killed two people when he drove into a crowd of commuters at a Jerusalem Light Rail stop was ordered to be demolished.

Israel sent the family of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi the demolition order on Friday; the family had 48 hours to appeal. The home is on the fourth floor of an apartment building in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

Shaludi crashed his car on Oct. 22 into the Ammunition Hill light rail station in northern. A 3-month-old girl died at the scene and a 22-year-old visitor from Ecuador, who was in the process of converting to Judaism, died four days later. Eight people also were injured in the attack as passengers were disembarking from the train.

Shaludi attempted to flee on foot and was shot and killed by police, who confirmed that he had previously served time in an Israeli prison.

The family has denied that Shaludi executed a terror attack, saying he lost control of his car.

The B’Tselem human rights organization in a statement issued Sunday called the demolition order “collective punishment that is both unlawful and immoral.” The group called upon the authorities to reverse the demolition order.