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Abbas: Arab-Israeli lawmakers to meet with Arab League in Cairo, Doha

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 12:46

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Arab-Israeli lawmakers will meet in two Arab capitals with the Arab League, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said.

Abbas made the statement on Saturday in Ramallah during his second meeting in less than a month with Ayman Odeh, the head of Israel’s Joint Arab List political coalition. The lawmakers would go to Cairo and Doha, Qatar, the P.A. leader said, but did not say when the visits would be arranged.

Also present at the meeting was the head of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Abdullah Nimer Darwish.

Odeh is scheduled to meet in the next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While Netanyahu reportedly plans to use the meeting to patch up relations with the Arab-Israeli community, Odeh told the Times of Israel he would use the meeting to push the Arab community’s agenda.

In a video posted on his Facebook page on Election Day, Netanyahu urged his right-wing supporters to vote to counteract the Arab-Israelis who he claimed were voting “in droves” with assistance from foreign groups. The statement was widely criticized.

Netanyahu later apologized to representatives of the Arab-Israeli community during a meeting in Jerusalem. Joint Arab List lawmakers were not invited to the meeting.

Odeh and members of the Joint Arab List also met with Abbas a week after Israel’s March 17 national elections.

Poland wants apology for FBI chief saying Poles were complicit in Nazi atrocities

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 10:49

WARSAW (JTA) — Poland’s Foreign Ministry protested remarks by FBI director James Comey in which he said the Poles were the Nazis’ accomplices during the Holocaust.

“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do,” Comey said in his April 14 speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner and published two days later by the Washington Post under the headline “Why I require FBI agents to visit the Holocaust Museum.”

A spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry, Marcin Wojciechowski, announced Sunday that the U.S. ambassador to Poland will be summoned to the ministry, where he will receive a “note of protest and call for an apology.”

“This statement is offensive to Poles, for the memory of the victims of the Nazi occupation of Poland and a profound ignorance of the history of this period,” said Poland’s ambassador to the United States, Ryszard Schnepf, adding that Comey was “accusing Poles of perpetuating crimes which not only they did not commit, but which they themselves were victims of.”

Poles mark anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto uprising

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 10:44

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Hundreds of people commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

The main ceremony was held Sunday afternoon in Warsaw at the monument to the ghetto heroes in front of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Polish authorities and visiting Israeli youth joined Warsaw residents at the commemoration.

Many of those on hand wore paper daffodils pinned to their clothes, symbolizing the memory of the uprising.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, secretary of state in the Prime Minister’s Office of Poland, participated in the uprising and spoke at the ceremony. Bartoszewski, 93, was an Auschwitz prisoner and a Resistance fighter who was recognized by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel as Righteous Among the Nations for his help in saving Jewish lives.

“This is not the speech of the representative of the government, but a man who was and is witness to historical events,” he said. “It is the fulfillment of my life that after 72 years since those events, I talk about it also in the name of those absent.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out on April 19, 1943, and lasted for a month. It was the first military action of underground organizations against Germany and the first urban uprising in occupied Europe.

“The insurgents were fully aware that they were fighting only for a dignified death,” Piotr Kadlcik, a board member of the Warsaw Jewish Community, told JTA.

Before the main ceremony, the Jewish Military Union fighters were commemorated at the memorial plaque.

Netanyahu and Putin exchange warnings on potential arms sales

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 09:36

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel views with “upmost gravity” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to sell advanced surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

Netanyahu made his remarks Sunday at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting, a day after Putin warned Israel against selling arms to Ukraine, which Israel floated as a response to the Russian sale of S-300 missiles to Iran.

“Israel views with utmost gravity the supply of S-300 missiles from Russia to Iran,” Netanyahu said, “especially at a time when Iran is stepping up its aggression in the region and around the borders of the State of Israel.”

Iran reportedly has said Russia could deliver the missile systems to the Islamic Republic this year.

“Every year the missiles are bigger and enhanced – in accuracy, strength and deadliness. However, one thing does not change. What does not change is the inscription ‘Death to Israel’ on the missiles,” Netanyahu said. “Against the threats that I have described, Israel will do whatever is necessary to defend the security of the state and its citizens.”

He reportedly called Putin last week to protest the sale.

“Vladimir Putin explained the rationale for the decision in the current context and highlighted the fact that due to their tactical and technical characteristics, S-300s have a purely defensive significance and pose no threat to Israel,” the Kremlin said in a statement, according to Russian media reports.

Putin also reportedly said that Russia’s withholding of selling the weapons to Iran had been voluntary and not connected to international sanctions against Iran.

The Russian leader, speaking to state-run media, in his warning to Israel reportedly said, “It’s the Israeli leadership’s choice. It’s their right to do what they think is appropriate.” Putin called the proposed sale “counterproductive.”

“It will only lead to another round of conflicts, to a rise in the number of victims, and the outcome will be the same,” he reportedly said.

Netanyahu to meet Rivlin, seek extension for coalition building

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 08:08

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Reuven Rivlin to request an extension in forming a ruling government coalition.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet Monday at the president’s residence in Jerusalem, the President’s Office said in a statement issued Sunday afternoon.

Under Israeli law, the head of the party who garnered the most votes in national elections is given 28 days to form a coalition and can request an extension of 14 days. The 28 days ends on Tuesday.

As of Sunday afternoon, Netanyahu’s Likud party had not signed coalition agreements with any parties. Likud representatives are negotiating with the Yisrael Beiteinu, Jewish Home, Kulanu, Shas and United Torah Judaism parties.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the left-wing  Zionist Union coalition, which received the second highest vote total, continued to assert over the weekend that he would not join a unity government and would remain in the opposition working to force Netanyahu from power.

Palestinian Authority to receive withheld tax revenues without Israeli deductions

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 07:26

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will transfer withheld tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority without deductions for Palestinian debts.

The transfer of about half a billion dollars in taxes collected between December and March was set to take place Monday following Friday’s agreement between Israel and the P.A., according to reports.

The P.A. has refused the transfer because Israel wanted to deducted some of the money to cover the Palestinians’ debts for utilities and hospital bills.

Under the agreement, Israel will transfer the full amount for December through February, and then a joint Palestinian-Israeli economic committee will discuss the remaining debt and how to repay it, Haaretz reported Sunday.

P.A. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that once the funds are received, the P.A. will pay the April salaries of its 180,000 employees, who have received 60 percent of their wages since December, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported.

Israel collects taxes for the Palestinians and transfers the funds to the Palestinian Authority, about $127 million a month.

Israel withheld the collected tax revenues beginning in January after Abbas signed requests in late December to join the International Criminal Court and other international conventions as a result of the failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a Palestinian statehood proposal.

The Palestinians are believed to owe millions of dollars to Israel for utilities, as well as for visits to Israeli hospitals.

Police: Deadly Jerusalem car-ramming was deliberate

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 06:57

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian man who drove his car into two Israelis at a Jerusalem bus stop, killing one and critically injuring the other, did so deliberately, police determined.

“Today we can say that it is a horrible attack,” Israel Police Chief Yohanan Danino said in a statement issued Saturday about the April 16 incident  in the French Hill neighborhood, near the border of eastern and western Jerusalem.

Police had originally treated the incident as an accident, saying at the time that the driver “swerved from his lane and hit two civilians standing at the station,” Ynet reported.

Shalom Sharki, 25, of Jerusalem, died hours later of his injuries. A 20-year-old woman remains in critical condition.

The driver, Khaled Kotina, 37, of eastern Jerusalem, was questioned by police and the Shin Bet security service. He reportedly is married with no children and has no criminal record.

There have been several terror attacks in recent months in which cars were used to ram pedestrians in Jerusalem. In one such incident in October, two people were killed, including a 3-month-old girl.

Obama: Sanctions deal will have to allow Iran’s leaders to save face

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 05:27

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama said a solution on sanctions must allow Iran’s leaders to present an “acceptable” version to their public.

Obama was asked at a news conference on Friday what his position was on phasing out sanctions as part of a nuclear deal with Iran. The agreement would exchange sanctions relief for restrictions aimed at keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that,” he said.

Obama then referred to the negotiators, including Secretary of State John Kerry and the P5+1, the acronym for the major powers in talks with Iran.

“Part of John’s job and part of the Iranian negotiators’ job, and part of the P5+1’s job is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable,” he said.

Obama also said he was likely to sign legislation that would mandate a congressional review of any Iran deal after the bill’s sponsors deleted language opposed by his administration. The measure was approved unanimously on April 14 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Among the stipulations in earlier versions opposed by the White House were measures that sought to shape the deal, including demands that Iran end its backing for terrorism. The White House said such provisions were a poison pill and asked for a bill that would require congressional approval and nothing else. A final Iran deal is due by June 30.

Obama praised the leaders of the committee — Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., its chairman, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., its top Democrat — for their work, and suggested that if the bill did not undergo any major changes throughout the legislative process, he would not veto it.

“Both Senator Corker and Senator Cardin, at least in my understanding, agreed that there is not going to be a whole bunch of poison pills or additional provisions or amendments added to it, and that they will be protective of this being a straightforward, fair process for Congress to be able to evaluate any deal that we may come up with, and then register its views, but that it’s not going to be tilted in the direction of trying to kill the deal,” he said.

Security consultants warn Jewish institutions on cyberattacks

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 15:53

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The security arm of the American Jewish community urged Jewish organizations to review cyber security measures after a number of attacks.

“Earlier today, SCN was contacted by the leadership of several Jewish institutions from around North America with information concerning their websites being taken down in cyberattacks,” Secure Community Network said in a communiqué to Jewish organizations.

“At this time, these attacks appear to be isolated to a few institutions, however out of an abundance of caution, SCN suggests all organizations review” U.S. government federal security recommendations “and contact law enforcement in the event your website is compromised.”

Paul Goldenberg, SCN’s director, told JTA that cyber attackers were shifting their focus from attacking only Israeli institutions to attacks on Jewish institutions.

“it’s time for Jewish institutions to take a close look at their technology, how they communicate and how they present themselves on the Internet,” Goldenberg said. “They need to assess technologies ASAP.”

SCN is affiliated with the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Obama taps Adam Szubin for top sanctions enforcement post

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 15:50

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama nominated Adam Szubin to be the top Treasury official monitoring sanctions compliance.

Szubin, nominated Thursday to be undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, would if confirmed by the U.S. Senate be the third Jewish undersecretary in the role.

He would follow David Cohen, who early this year became deputy director of the CIA, and Stuart Levey, who shaped the office’s role in enforcing Iran sanctions as an undersecretary who straddled the Bush and Obama administrations, from 2004-2011. Szubin has served as acting undersecretary since Cohen’s departure.

Szubin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has been a senior official in the sanctions enforcement regime since 2006, when he was named director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In 2002, he helped found D.C. Minyan, an Orthodox congregation based on egalitarian principles.

Vandals rip Holocaust sign in Upper Nyack

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 15:47

(JTA) — Vandals ripped down a Holocaust commemoration sign in Upper Nyack, N.Y.

The sign, set up Tuesday by Hebrew school students at Congregations Sons of Israel in the town in Rockland County, north of New York City, was used Wednesday evening in a ceremony marking Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began that evening.

It listed the number of Jews, citizens of the former Soviet Union, Poles, Roma, disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

The sign was destroyed sometime after the ceremony. Staff discovered the vandalism arriving at work Thursday morning, a congregant wrote in the Nyack News and Views.

A police report was filed.

Palestinian protesters clash with IDF in West Bank on ‘Prisoners Day’

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 14:22

(JTA) — The IDF clashed with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank during the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day demonstrations.

More than 100 Palestinians were dispersed with tear gas in the northern village of Bilin after some of the protesters threw stones at IDF soldiers. One protestor was reportedly wounded by a gas canister or rubber bullet, according to the Times of Israel.

Prisoners Day is marked every year by demonstrators to show solidarity with the more than 6,000 Palestinians who are held in Israeli jails. According to Haaretz, 14 Palestinian parliament members and 20 journalists are among those currently detained.

On Thursday, Hamas leaders called for the abduction of Israelis who could be used in a swap for Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli jails.

“We tell the Zionist enemy: You are all a target for us and the resistance, we will fight you until we finally get rid of you and take as many captives as possible to free our heroes,” said Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya said on Thursday.

According to AFP, the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is the highest it has been in at least five years.

WJC Latin America opens website to combat Holocaust denial

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 13:30

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The Latin American chapter of the World Jewish Congress launched a Spanish-language website to combat Holocaust denial.

The website targets Holocaust denial of the genocide on Spanish-language websites, something that is increasing according to the initiators of the WJC website.

The new site, www.seismillonesnuncamas.com, whose domain name means “six million never again,” went online on April 16, Israel’s national day of commemoration for Holocaust victims.

“We launched a website to show how the hate is spreading on the Web,” said Ariel Seidler, director of the Web Observatory, a watchdog group set up by several Latin American Jewish groups. “We encourage people to report videos that spread hatred and encourage the addition of positive content,” he told JTA.

According to the Web Observatory, some 350 Spanish-language videos denying the Holocaust  have received nearly 10 million views collectively.

Some of these films are tagged with the word “holocuento,” a term used to lampoon the Holocaust or suggest it did not happen, similarly to “holohoax” in English or “shoananas” in French.

In 2011, a civil court in Buenos Aires ordered Google to eliminate anti-Semitic search suggestions from its Argentinian browsers. The court ordered Google to drop some 76 websites described in the complaint as “highly discriminatory,” including some that deny the Holocaust.

While World War II ended in 1945, Nazism and Holocaust denial are still alive “and we can see this on the Internet,” said Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, or LAJC, the regional branch of the World Jewish Congress.

Brooklyn Jewish landlords arrested for harassing tenants

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 13:14

98 Linden Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, is one of the buildings where the Israel brothers allegedly trashed apartments. (Google Street View)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Two Jewish landlords in Brooklyn were arrested for intentionally wrecking apartments in order to drive tenants out of rent-stabilized buildings.

Brothers Joel Israel, 34, and Aaron Israel, 37, pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, burglary, grand larceny, submitting false documents and unlawful eviction, among others on Thursday. Rent-stabilized tenants at several buildings the Israels owned in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn allege that their apartment bathrooms and kitchens were uprooted and rendered unusable.

“We allege the defendants engaged in harassment, intimidation and fraud,” Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson told the New York Daily News. “The defendants destroyed bathrooms and kitchens to create horrendous conditions.”

Bushwick is one of the most rapidly gentrifying areas of New York City. By forcing longtime tenants out of rent-stabilized apartments, the Israels could lease to new, higher-paying tenants.

Prosecution of New York landlords is rare, but Aaron Israel was monitored after a car dealership insurance fraud scheme 10 years ago, and Joel Israel had been sued by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in the past for building code violations.

The second-degree burglary charge carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Photos obtained by the New York Times of apartments in buildings owned by the Israels depict the extreme damage done to the building walls and floors.

France to pour $107M into fighting anti-Semitism, racism

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 08:52

(JTA) — French Prime Minister Manuel Valls pledged to finance a $107 million plan to fight racism and anti-Semitism.

The recent increase in prejudice in France is “insufferable,” he said at a press conference Friday in which he announced the plan.

“Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners and homophobia are growing in an insufferable manner in our country,” Valls told reporters in Creteil, just outside Paris, after presenting his plan. Créteil was chosen because of an attack on a young couple in their home there five months ago, Radio France Internationale reported.

The attackers raped the woman and said that they believed the victims had money because they were Jewish.

In January, after Said and Cherif Kouachi murdered 12 people at the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, their accomplice Amedy Coulibaly took hostages and killed four people at a kosher supermarket, prompting the government to promise action against anti-Semitism, racism and terror attacks.

Five ministers, including Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, accompanied Valls in Creteil. The government pledged $107 million over three years to putting the 40-point plan into action.

Among its principal measures are the inclusion of hate speech, previously banned in the law on the press, in penal law; the establishment of racism or anti-Semitism as an “aggravating factor” that can lead to tougher sentences for a related crime; permitting class-action suits for discrimination and the creation of a national police unit to combat hate on the Internet.

The allocated funds will be spent on publicizing the aims and taking local action against prejudice.

“French Jews should not be afraid of being Jewish,” said Valls. “French Muslims should not be ashamed of being Muslims.”

Israeli FM sarcastically suggests E.U. put yellow star on settlement goods

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 08:45

(JTA) — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested stamping settlement goods with yellow stars to condemn demands for special labeling in Europe.

Liberman sarcastically suggested the move in an interview Friday with Israel Radio about a letter sent out earlier this week by foreign ministers of 16 of the European Union’s 28 member states, in which they asked E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to promote such labeling in store chains throughout Europe.

The ministers oppose the current labeling of goods from Israeli settlements as “Made in Israel,” claiming this violates consumers’ right to obtaining accurate information about products on sale.

“I have a suggestion for them on labeling,” Liberman said in the interview, conducted one day after Israel’s national Holocaust remembrance day. “They can … label all products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights with a yellow star. I think that is extremely fitting to the cynical and hypocritical position expressed in this letter.”

The E.U. letter’s cosignatories included the foreign ministers of Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, as well as from Sebastian Kurz, federal minister for Europe, integration and foreign affairs.

Germany wasn’t among the signatories.

A similar appeal from 2013 had the signatures of 13 E.U. member states. Italy and Hungary are among the countries whose foreign ministers joined the appeal this week.

Haredi soldier called ‘Nazi’ on Holocaust memorial day

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 08:37

(JTA) — Unidentified individuals in Israel threatened an Orthodox soldier and called him a Nazi.

The perpetrators of Thursday’s attack in Beit Shemesh near Jerusalem of the Israel Defense Forces soldier were haredi Orthodox, Jews like the victim, Army Radio reported on Friday.

Army Radio obtained footage documenting the attack, which occurred on Israel’s Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah.

The footage shows a group of several haredi men confronting the soldier on the street and calling him a Nazi, according to Army Radio.

The soldier targeted serves in the Netzach Yehuda program, which facilitates the integration of haredi troops into the IDF’s ranks.

“These actions of a radical fringe within the haredi public cannot be tolerated,” Yonatan Barensky, a reserves colonel who used to command the Netzach Yehuda program, told Army Radio after the incident.

Barensky said “strong action” was needed against the perpetrator. He did not say whether a police complaint had been filed.

Traditionally a contentious issue, the enlistment of haredi men in military service has evoked passionate resistance in haredi circles following the passage last year of a law designed to phase out the special exemptions given out of consideration for their religious lifestyles, which some believe precludes military service.

Even before the law’s passing, the government and the IDF encouraged haredi men to enlist, including by setting up programs like Netzach Yehuda. Last year, 2,068 Haredis enlisted in the IDF, compared to 1,858 and 1,447 in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

Holocaust victims’ names ring out at Dutch former transit camp

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:42

A monument at the Westerbork Transit Camp in the Netherlands. (Wikimedia Commons)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — The Westerbork Holocaust memorial museum installed an audio system that calls out the names of all known inmates of the former transit camp.

The system, unveiled earlier this week ahead of the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, is installed inside two cargo wagons of the kind used by German Nazi occupation forces and their Dutch collaborators to transport approximately 107,000 Jews to death and concentration camps in Eastern Europe.

Westerbork is where teenage diarist Anne Frank and her family arrived after Nazis raided their hiding place in Amsterdam. It was liberated by the 2nd Canadian Division on April 12, 1945.

The NOS public broadcaster had its presenters and reporters record the names of the camp’s former inmates. The recording is to be played daily at the Memorial Center Camp Westerbork, NOS reported.

Separately, a municipal alderman from The Hague, Richard de Mos, asked the city to explain why it has yet to act on a motion passed last year that mandates a visit to Westerbork by all pupils in Holland’s administrative capital at least once before they graduate.

De Mos said he believed the city should send pupils on a school trip to Auschwitz in Poland, “but an obligatory visit to Westerbork Camp would be a good first step,” he told the Omroep West broadcaster on Wednesday.

Israel Law Center nets $330 million for family of pastor abducted by North Korea

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 05:55

NEW YORK (JTA) — Lawyers for the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center helped win $330 million for the family of a South Korean minister believed to have been killed by North Korea’s intelligence service.

The Tel Aviv-based nonprofit that seeks justice for victims of terrorist regimes represented Rev. Kim Dong-Shik against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the case, which had started in 2009.

North Korea is not expected to pay the damages, but lawyers will seek the confiscation of North Korean assets such as bank accounts and company shares.

In 2000, the then-53-year-old Kim, a Christian missionary who has family in Illinois and was a permanent U.S. resident, was abducted by North Korean intelligence agents in northeastern China for helping North Koreans escape their oppressive government regime.

The case had stalled for a few years in federal court, because Kim was never seen after his abduction and his family could not obtain concrete evidence about his fate.

“The court decision marks the first time that an American court has concluded that a foreign regime which abducts an individual who is then never heard from again has the burden of proving that he has not been murdered,” Shurat HaDin said in a news release on Monday.

Kim’s family was represented by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of Shurat HaDin. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia awarded Kim’s son and brother $1 million each for every one of the 15 years Kim was missing. $300 million was awarded in punitive damages.

Moroccan authorities stop Dieudonne’s Casablanca show

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 05:51

(JTA) — The French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who has faced repeated charges of incitement of hatred toward Jews, was banned from performing in Morocco.

Dieudonne was slated to perform on April 29 in Casablanca, but organizers had to cancel because authorities withheld their permission for the show, Le Figaro reported Thursday, citing Moroccan media.

The show was scheduled to take place at an event hall named after the late King Mohammed V of Morocco, who was close to his country’s Jewish community, something that may have contributed to the sensitivity of local authorities.

Dieudonne has been the subject of multiple police investigations and executive bans against his shows in France for their anti-Semitic content. He has more than 10 convictions for inciting racial hate against Jews.

Moroccan officials offered no explanation for withholding permission for the performance.

Envoys of King Mohammed VI of Morocco have often touted the kingdom’s expenditure of millions of dollars on restoring Jewish heritage sites as an example of its policy of religious tolerance.

Dieudonne is the inventor of the quenelle, a quasi-Nazi salute that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called an anti-Semitic gesture of hate.

He also coined the term “shoananas,” a mashup of the French word for pineapple and the Hebrew word for Holocaust, which mocks the genocide without explicitly violating French laws against such denials.

Dieudonne’s current show, titled “The Impure Beast,” contains profanities connected to Ilan Halimi, a young Parisian Jewish phone salesman tortured and murdered in 2006 by a gang of kidnappers that targeted him because he was Jewish.

“If I knock down a Jewish journalist, it will be a serious thing,” Dieudonne said on stage. “They will reopen the Nuremberg trials. They will even exhume Ilan Halimi. They’re going to find my DNA in his asshole.”