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Steven Sotloff’s parents to light public menorah in his memory

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 06:52

(JTA) — The parents of Steven Sotloff, the Jewish journalist who was beheaded by a member of ISIS, will light a public menorah in Miami in his memory.

Arthur and Shirley Sotloff will light the first candle of Hanukkah on Tuesday night at the Chabad center.

“Steve was a proud Jew who always enjoyed the holidays,” Arthur Sotloff told Chabad.org. “It was one of his defining characteristics.

“Hanukkah is a time we commemorate the vanquishing of our enemies who tried to deprive us of our right to live with Torah. The Maccabees fought for Judaism, and Steve fought for the values they endowed us with.”

The directors of the Chabad center in Miami, Rabbi Yossi and Nechama Harlig, got to know the Sotloffs during the shiva period for their son and decided Hanukkah would be the appropriate time to honor the slain journalist, “who sought to bring a little more light and truth to the world,” according to Chabad.org.

On Sept. 2, ISIS released a nearly three-minute video showing the beheading of Sotloff. He had been abducted on Aug. 4, 2013, after crossing the Syrian border from Turkey.

Sotloff, 31, who grew up in Miami, had articles from Syria, Egypt and Libya featured in publications including Time.com, the World Affairs Journal and Foreign Policy. He also freelanced for The Jerusalem Post and the Jerusalem Report magazine.

It was revealed after his death that Sotloff held Israeli citizenship. His connections to Israel and the Jewish community reportedly had been sanitized from the Internet and social media in order to keep the information from his radical Islamic captors.

Sotloff, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, made aliyah in 2005.

His parents have established The 2Lives Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation to provide scholarships for journalism students.

Israel’s Shin Bet nabs Palestinian terror cell planning Tel Aviv attack

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 06:34

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Shin Bet security service said it thwarted a Palestinian terror cell planning to carry out a suicide bombing attack in Tel Aviv.

Several Palestinian operatives were arrested during October and November in connection with the plot, the Shin Bet said Monday in a statement.

Under the plan, a Palestinian woman from Jenin would disguise herself as a pregnant Jewish woman, acquire a medical permit to enter Israel and wear an explosives-laden belt under her clothes, according to the Shin Bet.

Four others reportedly had been instructed on how to handle the explosives by an operative from Gaza.

The cell also had planned other terror attacks, according to the Shin Bet.

Also Monday, Israel Police announced the arrest of eight Arabs from eastern Jerusalem for using Facebook as a tool to incite terrorist attacks against Jews.

The suspects, who were arrested in a raid late Sunday night, are affiliated with Hamas and Fatah, police said. They disseminated photos and videos on Facebook calling for attacks on Jews and Israeli security forces, according to police.

Women of the Wall snuffed out in request for Hanukkah candle-lighting

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 17:30

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A request by Women of the Wall to hold a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony in the women’s section of the holy site was denied.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbinic authority of the Western Wall and holy places, denied its request, Women of the Wall said in a statement Sunday. According to the group, Rabinowitz said the menorah lit on the men’s side can be seen by all.

“It is difficult not to suspect that Women of the Wall’s real intention is not prayer but rather their determination to change the customs at the Western Wall at any cost, while offending many of the masses of those who pray at the Western Wall and the traditions developed there over hundreds of years of prayer,” Rabinowitz wrote in his denial letter.

In its statement, Women of the Wall said its members will bring their own menorahs to the wall on Thursday evening and light them together in the women’s section. The group meets at the Western Wall once a month for prayers for the new month.

Women have the same obligation as men to light a Hanukkah menorah, the organization pointed out.

“Unfortunately, Rabinowitz does not recognize the genuine intention and right that Jewish women have to heartfelt prayer at the Kotel,” Women of the Wall wrote. “He has chosen to respond negatively to such a basic request for Women of the Wall and many other women to hold a Jewish ritual at the Kotel, which is permissible and required of us according to Jewish law.”

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declined to respond to the denial, Women of the Wall said in its statement. Writing to Netanyahu last month, the group asked that a large menorah equivalent to the one lit in the men’s section be placed in the women’s section, allowing the women to hold their own public lighting.

Netanyahu transferred the letter to Vice Minister of Religious Affairs, Eli Ben Dahan, who passed the letter on to Rabinowitz.

Eli Yishai leaving Shas, launching party for elections

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 17:15

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Eli Yishai will leave the Shas party he once headed and has registered to run in the March elections with a new party.

The new party is called Maran, the title used to refer to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the late spiritual leader of Shas, the Times of Israel reported.

On Sunday, nine of Shas’ 11 government ministers signed a statement indicating their support for Aryeh Deri, the current party leader and also Yishai’s predecessor heading the Sephardic Orthodox party.

Also, Yosef’s daughter, Adina Bar-Shalom, announced at a news conference with Deri that she would remain within the Shas movement, despite offers to run for Knesset with other parties, and form a women’s council within the party. The council is seen as a consolation prize for a group of haredi Orthodox women who demanded that the haredi Orthodox parties place a woman in a realistic spot on their party lists.

The party’s Council of Torah Sages ordered Deri to cancel a weekend meeting with Yishai during which the two planned to attempt a reconciliation.

Yishai and Deri have been at odds since the death last year of Yosef, and last week their arguments came to a head with Deri reportedly demanding a letter of resignation from Yishai that Deri could put into effect at any time if Yishai did not toe the line.

Yishai led the party for 14 years after Deri resigned due to a conviction for bribery. Deri was sentenced in 2000 to three years in prison and barred from public service in the political arena for seven years. Yosef said at the time that Yishai would take over as Shas leader until Deri’s return.

Deri, Yishai and Ariel Atias led the party during the 2012 elections after which Yosef named Deri party head.

Weapons from Israeli Embassy shooting were used in ’13 Athens attack

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 16:55

(JTA) — The two rifles used in a shooting spree on the Israeli Embassy in Athens were used in a similar attack last year on the German ambassador’s home in the Greek capital.

Dozens of shots from the Kalashnikovs were fired on the embassy, which was closed at the time, in the attack early Friday morning.

There was no claim of responsibility, though Greek police believe a group from the far left was responsible. Greek anarchist groups have attacked several foreign embassies in Athens in recent years.

Ballistic tests run by the Greek Police counterterrorism unit showed that the rifles in Friday’s attack were the ones used in the December 2013 attack on the envoy’s home, according to the Greek Reporter.

The United Nations Security Council “condemned in the strongest terms” the Israeli Embassy attack.

“Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed,” the 15-member council said in a statement on Saturday that also “reaffirmed that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security.”

Meanwhile, the Security Council in a statement Friday night called on Israel and the Palestinians to “exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation” following the death two days earlier of Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein during a clash with Israeli troops during a West Bank demonstration.

The council called for a “swift and transparent investigation” and praised the government of Israel for its offer to conduct a joint probe.

Portugal’s parliament passes symbolic Palestine resolution

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 15:04

(JTA) — Portugal’s parliament passed a nonbinding resolution calling on the government to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Only nine members of the 230-member Assembly of the Republic opposed the resolution in Friday’s vote.

The resolution calls on the government to  “recognize, in coordination with the European Union, the State of Palestine as an independent and sovereign state, in accordance with the principles of international law,” the Palestine News Network reported.

Rui Machete, Portugal’s foreign minister, said her government will choose “the moment best suited” to recognize a Palestinian state.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, in a statement Sunday thanked the parliament for recognizing the state of Palestine.

“This significant vote constitutes a step in the right direction for peace,” Ashrawi said, according to the Palestine News Network.

France’s Senate and Ireland’s lower house of Parliament last week approved similar nonbinding resolutions. Spain and Britain recently passed similar symbolic motions.

Sweden officially recognized Palestine in October.

Congressional spending bill OKs Israel defense aid, Iran and P.A. oversight

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 13:17

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The massive spending bill passed by Congress includes defense assistance for Israel along with tightened oversight of Palestinian funding and Iran nuclear talks.

Included in the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill passed in the Senate by a 56-40 vote on Saturday night was the $3.1 billion in annual defense spending for Israel under a 2007 memorandum of understanding between the United States and Israel. An additional $620 million in joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs also was part of the measure.

Passed in the waning days of the congressional session, the bill also includes provisions requiring the White House to report to Congress every 30 days on Iran’s compliance with the terms governing nuclear talks between Iran and major powers.

In a statement praising passage of the measure, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee noted that it “also reiterates that it is the policy of the United States to seek to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to produce or otherwise manufacture nuclear weapons.”

Keeping Iran from obtaining “nuclear weapons capability” has been a key point of contention between the Israeli and U.S. governments. Israel and some lawmakers in Congress want any deal to end Iranian uranium enrichment; the Obama administration has said that a final deal likely will allow for a minimal enrichment capability.

New strictures in the spending bill would reduce or eliminate funding for the Palestinian Authority should it not combat incitement to violence; should Hamas have “undue influence” over its workings; and should Palestinian representatives gain statehood recognition in international forums outside of the context of talks with Israel.

The omnibus bill was the result of contentious negotiations between the White House and both houses of Congress on the eve of the Senate’s transfer of leadership from Democrats to Republicans.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the bill last week.

Slain K.C. teen’s scout troop completes his volunteer project

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 13:05

(JTA) — The Eagle Scout troop of the teen shot to death last year at a suburban Kansas City JCC completed his project to collect food for needy mothers and children.

On Saturday, the scouts in Troop 92 canvassed the neighborhood as part of Reat Underwood’s project to collect food and other staples for Operation Breakthrough, a local early childhood education center, the Kansas City Star reported Sunday. Underwood, 14, and his mother volunteered at the center.

Underwood had aimed to bring in enough goods to fill 30-some cardboard boxes, according to the newspaper. The troop’s drive, which ends Monday, has amassed several truckloads of food and supplies, as well as approximately $6,000 in donations.

The teen and his grandfather, William Corporon, were killed on April 13 in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan., where Underwood was part of a singing competition.

White supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Cross, was charged with capital murder and first-degree premeditated murder in their deaths, as well as the fatal shooting of Terri LaManno in the parking lot at Village Shalom, a nearby Jewish assisted-living facility where she was visiting her mother. LaManno was the mother of two.

None of the victims was Jewish.

Group slams changes to Spanish bill naturalizing Sephardic Jews

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 10:30

(JTA) — Revisions to legislation in Spain that would naturalize Sephardic Jews make the measure nothing more than symbolic, the head of an organization for Spanish-speaking Israelis charged.

The changes were introduced last month during deliberations at a congressional committee, Leon Amiras, chairman of the Association of Olim from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, told JTA on Sunday, two days before a vote by the Spanish Congress. Olim are immigrants to Israel under its law of naturalization for Jews and their relatives.

Under the revisions, applicants must be tested in Spain by a government-approved notary on their knowledge of Spanish and Sephardic culture. If they pass, applicants would need to return to Spain at a later date for another procedure.

Amiras said the changes “render the bill declarative but ultimately meaningless.”

He added that “the law would be an empty gesture. Ordinary would-be applicants are not going to jump through these hoops.”

Amiras said he has written to Spanish government officials to ask that they address the issue but said he has not received a reply.

The current draft bill stipulates that applicants must have cultural and linguistic ties to Spain, and lineages accepted by recognized rabbinical authorities as Sephardic and thus traceable to Jews who resided in Spain before the mass expulsions of the Inquisition starting in 1492.

Speaking in the Spanish Congress on Dec. 2, Spain’s newly appointed justice minister, Rafael Catala, said the law on the Sephardim would “correct a historical error.”

Court IDs Israeli officer charged in shooting death of Palestinian teen

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 09:10

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The identity of the Israeli Border Police officer indicted for killing a Palestinian teen during a West Bank demonstration was revealed.

The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday named Ben Deri, 21, as the officer who was charged last month with manslaughter in the death of Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, during a violent Nakba Day protest in May outside Ramallah. The name had been under a gag order by the court for several weeks.

Deri is accused of firing a live bullet rather than a rubber bullet during efforts to quell the demonstration. The Israel Defense Forces said at the time of the incident that rubber bullets had been used.

An autopsy performed on Nawara showed that he was killed by live fire. The bullet was consistent with those used by the IDF.

Deri is accused of switching to live fire during the incident, which violates the rules of engagement, according to the indictment. The shooting was captured on video.

Another Palestinian teen, Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 15, also was killed at the demonstration by live fire, but no indictments have been handed down in the shooting.

On Nakba Day, also known as “the catastrophe,” Palestinians lament the displacement of their people following Israeli independence in 1948.

Rabbi David Saperstein wins Senate nod for religious freedom post

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 08:20

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate confirmed Rabbi David Saperstein, a Reform movement leader, for a State Department post.

On Friday, Saperstein in a 61-35 vote won confirmation as ambassador at large for international religious freedom. He will be the fourth person and the first non-Christian to serve in the post.

The ambassador travels the world making the case for minorities facing persecution or discrimination. In recent years, ambassadors have taken up the causes of Muslims in Burma and Christians in China and Sudan, among other cases.

Saperstein, a veteran civil rights activist, had served as director and counsel of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism since 1974.

“David’s clear and powerful voice has been the voice of our movement for 40 years,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement released Friday. “More than that, it has been the voice of the all-too-many among us who are often voiceless.”

National communal umbrellas, including the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, welcomed Saperstein’s confirmation. They were joined by the Interfaith Alliance, a religious freedom lobbying group that has 75 affiliates including all four major Jewish streams, and the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly.

Saperstein was a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships from 2010 to 2011. He also was a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001.

Separately, the Senate on Friday confirmed two new members to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the body that supervises U.S. government underwritten media, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. They are Leon Aron, a Russian affairs scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Michael Kempner, a New Jersey-based public relations executive and philanthropist.

Ex-envoy Michael Oren said to be still weighing political run

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 07:45

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Michael Oren has not decided whether he will run in Israel’s upcoming elections, a source close to Israel’s former U.S. ambassador said.

Israeli media had reported over the weekend that Oren would join the new Kulanu party of former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, who left the Likud Party and politics in 2013.

On Sunday, the source told JTA that Oren has not made his call about joining anyone’s list for the March 17 vote.

“Right now Israel is in tough shape with its international relations and international standing, and Michael is considering the best path to continue his life’s work of serving the state of Israel and helping improve Israel’s international standing,” the source said. “Politics is only one of those potential paths.”

Oren is now teaching at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center in Israel and writing a book on his tenure in Washington from 2009 to 2013. He is the author of the award-winning book “Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East.”


Gadi Eisenkot approved as IDF chief of staff

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 07:13

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot won confirmation as the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff.

The Cabinet approved his appointment on Sunday during its regular meeting.

Eisenkot, 54, has served as deputy chief for the past four years under Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz. He will assume his new post on Feb. 15, when Gantz’s four-year term ends, and be the IDF’s 21st chief.

“Gadi Eisenkot is the right man in the right place at the right time,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting. “Gadi has been a soldier and a commander. He is a veteran commander and he can lead the IDF in the face of the major challenges that surround us.”

In 2011, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to nominate Eisenkot to the position, but Eisenkot deferred to Gantz, who had seniority.

Eisenkot began serving in the Golani Brigade in 1978, and became its commander in 1997. He also served as commander of the Bashan Armored Division, the Judea and Samaria Division, the IDF’s Operations Branch and the Northern Command, and was the head of the Operations Branch of the IDF General Staff during the Second Lebanon War.

He also served as Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s military attache in 1999.

Youth who terrorized Jewish schoolkids on bus to visit Jewish museum

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 06:35

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – One of the five drunken youths arrested for terrorizing Jewish children on a school bus will visit the Sydney Jewish Museum as part of his punishment.

The offender, who cannot be named because he is a minor, also will participate in a tolerance program run by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, attend a Shabbat dinner, and read Primo Levi’s “If This Is A Man” and Elie Wiesel’s “Night.”

The punishment, which was agreed upon by both sides, was levied at a youth justice conference on Dec. 9 in Sydney at which the offender expressed remorse for his actions.

The conference was held solely for the one youth, whose offenses were too serious for a caution. All five offenders were minors: Two others received warnings; the other two were let off.

On Aug. 6, the five youths terrorized a bus in Sydney carrying Jewish students, some as young as 6, with threats of slitting their throats and chants of “Kill the Jews” and “Heil Hitler.”

Police, however, said they did not believe the children were targeted because they were Jews.

At the justice conference, alongside one victim and her parents were NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff, who was representing the other victims, a police officer, a social worker and the offender’s parents.

Alhadeff said the conference offered closure to the 12-year-old victim who was present.

“It gave her an opportunity to question the offender, to hear from him and to hear him express remorse for his actions,” he said.

Some Jewish leaders had linked the incident to Israel’s war in Gaza.

Hanukkah-decorated Florida home vandalized with swastika

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 14:49

(JTA) — In an apparent anti-Semitic incident, a Jewish man found a swastika drawn on his Florida property.

David Cohen, a resident of North Fort Myers, Fla., told police that he found the swastika drawn onto his gate on Monday afternoon, according to news-press.com, a local news site.

Cohen, 72, had put up handmade Hanukkah decorations outside his home the day before and believes it was targeted as a result.

“I can’t even say how mad it makes me feel,” Cohen told news-press.com. “If it was a kid, I’d say they were very stupid. If it was an adult, they are very ignorant.”

Cohen reported the incident to the sheriff’s office and painted over the symbol .

Met Council official steps down

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 13:12

NEW YORK (JTA) — The chief financial officer of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty has resigned after two years with the organization.

Melvin Zachter, a former partner at the accounting firm Loeb & Tropper who had been the Met Council’s CFO since 2012, stepped down in late November, the Forward reported.

The Met Council, which offers support for poor New Yorkers, is still recovering from a large embezzlement scandal that led to the arrest of its former executive director William Rapfogel in September 2013. Rapfogel, another former executive director, David Cohen, and former chief financial officer Herb Friedman all pled guilty to stealing more than $9 million in from the charity. In July, Rapfogel was sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison.

Zachter’s resignation comes less than four months after the announcement that current Met Council CEO David Frankel will resign as soon as the organization finds a replacement for him. Frankel’s replacement has still not been named.

Dutch Jewish mayor quits over secretly filmed date with younger man

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 11:28

(JTA) — The Dutch Jewish politician Onno Hoes stepped down as the mayor of Maastricht after media published secretly filmed footage of him on a date with a 20-year-old man.

The publication last week of the footage of Hoes, who is openly gay, followed an earlier paparazzi report from last year in which he was photographed kissing another young man, 24, in a hotel lobby. Hoes was married in 2001 to Albert Verlinde, who is a well-known television personality in the Netherlands. Verlinde told media he know of Hoes’ extramarital affairs. The couple announced their breakup in October.

“The city is really struggling to deal with the consequences of a very controversial publication in the media, and I can no longer subject the city, its administration and myself to this struggle,” Hoes said in a statement Wednesday.

On Thursday, Hoes’ attorney told Dutch media Hoes is taking legal action, charging the news and blogging site PowNed.tv that published the footage with slander and libel.

The paparazzi publication, dubbed by Dutch media as “Onnogate,” triggered deliberations in the city council of Maastricht on whether Hoes should stay on as mayor. The mayor apologized for what he said was inappropriate behavior, and the council gave him a vote of confidence.

Earlier this year, Hoes, 53, stepped down also as chairman of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, which is the Dutch Jewish community’s foremost watchdog on anti-Semitism and is also a pro-Israel lobby group. Hoes, who is a member of the VVD ruling party, said he was leaving CIDI because his schedule and other obligations prevented him from properly fulfilling his CIDI duties.


Jewish family attacked with acid in West Bank

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 08:26

(JTA) — A Palestinian man threw acid at a Jewish family of five in the West Bank and was then shot and wounded by a civilian as he attempted to flee.

Israeli police arrested the Palestinian attacker and took him to a hospital, The Associated Press reported.

The assailant hurled the liquid acid through the car window on Friday afternoon near a checkpoint between the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit and the Palestinian village of Husan, the Times of Israel reported.

The five members of the Jewish family were slightly injured, suffering light burns.

Yaalon: Settlement slowdown temporary since Obama only has two years left

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 07:54

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said his difficulties in advancing plans for settlement construction are temporary, since the Obama administration only has two more years left in power.

“I want to advance plans [for settlement construction] and to build more,” he told students at the Makor Haim Yeshiva located in the Gush Etzion bloc of the West Bank.

Tuesday’s meeting was not open to the media, but Yaalon’s talk was recorded, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Yaalon said that since the settlements cause a negative reaction from the U.S., “we are very, very careful not to pull on this rope too much.”

Yaalon told the students that things would change. “At present there is a certain administration in Washington, and it is the U.S. that is setting the tone. But this administration won’t be [in power] forever, and I hope it’s temporary,” he said.

In response to Yaalon’s statements, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that the United States will continue to oppose Israeli settlements and settlement construction after Obama leaves office.

“This administration’s opposition to settlements is fully consistent with the policies of administrations for decades, including of both parties. So the notion that that would change is not borne out by history,” Psaki said.

Yaalon has a track record of making negative comments about the U.S. and its officials. In January he called Kerry’s pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace  “messianic and obsessive.”

Iran to expand its media influence in Latin America

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 07:51

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The Iranian Fars News Agency has opened a Buenos Aires office to cover Latin America.

Managing Director Seyed Nezamoddin Moussavi this week traveled to the Argentine capital with a team of Fars managers and met with Iran’s charge d’affaires in Buenos Aires, Ahmadreza Kheirmand.

“Iran’s strong and rapidly growing ties with Latin America have raised eyebrows in the U.S. and its Western allies since Tehran and Latin nations have forged an alliance against the imperialist and colonialist powers and are striving hard to reinvigorate their relations with the other independent countries which pursue a line of policy independent from the U.S.,” Fars said.

Kheirmand pointed to the minimal coverage of Latin American news and developments by the Iranian media outlets as well as the lack of news reports on the West Asian countries and Iran in the Latin American media, and said the opening of the Fars office in Argentina is a useful and effective move that can further broaden the relations between Tehran and Buenos Aires.

The Iranian agency also stated that “Iran has been seeking to broaden ties and cooperation with Latin American states, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Argentina and Cuba”.

Moussavi and an accompanying team of Fars managers traveled to Argentina to inaugurate the Iranian news agency’s office in Buenos Aires in order to cover developments and events in 18 Latin American states.