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Women of the Wall smuggle Torah scroll into Kotel plaza

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 07:29

(JTA) — Women who defied Western Wall Plaza rules by bringing a small Torah scroll there were allowed to finish praying.

The decision to allow a few dozen members of the Women of the Wall feminist group to continue their prayer was made to prevent desecration of the scroll even though their actions were in breach of the rules, according to a statement Friday by the office of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, who runs the Western Wall, or Kotel, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

“A small group of women carried out a deception this morning by bringing in a small Torah scroll into the women’s section after they had been prevented from bringing in a large one,” read the statement. “In the future, efforts will be made to prevent such events from recurring, as it is forbidden for anyone, man or woman, to bring in a Torah scroll into the plaza.”

According to Israel Radio, 150 women participated in the prayer with a small Torah scroll, which they concealed prior to entering the women’s section. The Torah scroll is 200 years old and was brought especially from Britain for the prayer, the report said.

Women of the Wall gathers at the Western Wall at the start of each Jewish month. The group’s members have clashed frequently with staff from Rabinovitch’s office and with police for holding services that violate the rules enforced by that office, including singing, wearing prayer shawls and other customs that are forbidden to women under the office’s interpretation of Orthodox Jewish law.

Dutch mayor likens jihadis to Jews who left for pre-state Israel

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 07:22

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — A Dutch mayor said Holland should not prevent Islamists from leaving for Syria just as it let Jews immigrate to pre-state Israel.

Pieter Broertjes, the mayor of Hilvresum — a small, affluent municipality near Amsterdam that is considered to be the country’s media capital — made the comparison on Thursday during an interview with Radio 1.

Later that day, a municipal spokesperson called the comparison “unfortunate.”

In the interview, Broertjes, a politician for Dutch Labor and former editor-in-chief of the highbrow Volkskrant daily, was asked whether he thought jihadists who are leaving to fight in Syria and Iraq should be prevented from departing.

He opposed such steps, adding: “Dutchmen after World War II went to Israel to fight the English. We didn’t prevent them then.”

Esther Voet, the director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, reacted to the comparison by calling it “ridiculous” on Twitter. And Elbert Dijkgraaf, a lawmaker for the conservative Reformed Political Party in the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch parliament’s lower house,  said it was “astonishing” and “devoid of any understanding of historical context.”

Interviewed about Broertjes’ comparison by the local Gooi-en Eemlander paper, a spokesperson for the municipality of Hilversum said: “What Broertjes wanted to say was that government just can’t forbid people to settle elsewhere for whatever reason. That’s the point he wanted to make. He made a blunt comparison, and that was unfortunate.”

Broertjes himself was not available for further comment on the issue, Dutch media reported.

U.S. makes some light rail stations off limits to gov’t staffers in Israel

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 15:29

JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. government personnel have been restricted from using Jerusalem Light Rail stations in parts of eastern Jerusalem for a month.

The U.S. State Department announced the ban Thursday in a security message emailed to Americans in Israel the day after a terrorist attack on a light rail station left an infant dead and seven people injured.

The restriction is for the area where Wednesday’s attack occurred and further into eastern Jerusalem. The restriction will be reviewed after 30 days.

Also in the security message, U.S. citizens were warned against entering eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods that have been the scene of demonstrations and violent clashes since Wednesday night.

“The current dynamic security environment underscores the importance of situational awareness, especially in crowded public places that may have minimal overt police presence,” the statement said.



Moscow JCC renamed for JDC’s Ralph Goldman

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 14:29

(JTA) — One of Moscow’s largest Jewish community centers, the Nikitskaya, was renamed in honor of the late Jewish leader Ralph Goldman.

The institution, which opened in 2001 with support from the JDC, was rededicated as the Ralph I. Goldman Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center in a ceremony Wednesday.

Goldman, a former head of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, died Oct. 7 in Jerusalem at the age of 100.

“Renaming this institution in his honor is a fitting tribute to a man whose story was so inextricably bound with that of his people and who was one of the visionaries who helped rebuild Jewish life in Russia,” said Penny Blumenstein and Alan Gill, the JDC’s president and CEO, respectively, in a statement.

Goldman was a driving force in JDC’s low-profile activities behind the Iron Curtain, and in the 1970s and ’80s brought JDC programs back into the open in communist countries. He led sensitive negotiations with Soviet leaders, navigating JDC’s return to what would become the former Soviet Union almost immediately after its collapse.

Russia is home today to an estimated 600,000 Jews. JDC supports 55 JCCs in Russia.

Israel slams Latvian show celebrating Nazi’s life

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 14:11

(JTA) — Israel’s Foreign Ministry slammed the production in Latvia of a show celebrating the life of alleged Nazi war criminal Herbert Cukurs.

Titled “Cukurs, Herbert Cukurs,” the musical premiered earlier this month. The play is based on the life of the deputy commander of the Arajs Kommando force that participated in the near annihilation of Latvian Jewry after the Nazis invaded Latvia. Israel’s Mossad spy agency reportedly killed Cukurs in South America.

The Latvian government has criticized but not banned the privately produced work.

“Israel strongly condemns the production in Latvia of a musical that honors the memory of Latvian Nazi war criminal Herberts Cukurs,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which rarely comments on artistic endeavors that are not about Israel, said in a statement Thursday.

Efraim Zuroff, who heads the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said: “This is the first time in years that Israel has denounced the attempt to whitewash crimes against humanity in the Baltics, and it is a welcome step.”

According to Holocaust survivors’ testimonies, Cukurs personally killed and tortured Jews, he added.

Many in the Baltic nations today view Nazi collaborators as national heroes because they fought the Russian army and Moscow’s grip on the region before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

After Twitter ruling, tech firms increasingly toe Europe’s line on hate speech

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 12:16

The French comedian Dieudonne demonstrating the quenelle, a Nazi-like gesture he created whose popularity has soared in France. (YouTube)

BRUSSELS (JTA) — A little over a year after a French court forced Twitter to remove some anti-Semitic content, experts say the ruling has had a ripple effect, leading other Internet companies to act more aggressively against hate speech in an effort to avoid lawsuits.

The 2013 ruling by the Paris Court of Appeals settled a lawsuit brought the year before by the Union of Jewish Students of France over the hashtag #UnBonJuif, which means “a good Jew” and which was used to index thousands of anti-Semitic comments that violated France’s law against hate speech.

Since then, YouTube has permanently banned videos posted by Dieudonne, a French comedian with 10 convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews. And in February, Facebook removed the page of French Holocaust denier Alain Soral for “repeatedly posting things that don’t comply with the Facebook terms,” according to the company. Soral’s page had drawn many complaints in previous years but was only taken down this year.

“Big companies don’t want to be sued,” said Konstantinos Komaitis, a former academic and current policy adviser at the Internet Society, an international organization that encourages governments to ensure access and sustainable use of the Internet. “So after the ruling in France, we are seeing an inclination by Internet service providers like Google, YouTube, Facebook to try and adjust their terms of service — their own internal jurisprudence — to make sure they comply with national laws.”

The change comes amid a string of heavy sentences handed down by European courts against individuals who used online platforms to incite to racism or violence.

On Monday, a British court sentenced one such offender to four weeks in jail for tweeting “Hitler was right” to a Jewish lawmaker. Last week, a court in Geneva sentenced a man to five months in jail for posting texts that deny the Holocaust. And in April, a French court sentenced two men to five months in jail for posting an anti-Semitic video.

“The stiffer sentences owe partly to a realization by judges of the dangers posed by online hatred, also in light of cyber-jihadism and how it affected people like Mohammed Merah,” said Christophe Goossens, the legal adviser of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism, referring to the killer of four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012.

In the Twitter case, the company argued that as an American firm it was protected by the First Amendment. But the court rejected the argument and forced Twitter to remove some of the comments and identify some of the authors. It also required the company to set up a system for flagging and ultimately removing comments that violate hate speech laws.

Twitter responded by overhauling its terms of service to facilitate adherence to European law, Twitter’s head of global safety outreach and public policy, Patricias Cartes Andres, revealed Monday at a conference in Brussels organized by the International Network Against Cyber Hate, or INACH.

“The rules have been changed in a way that allows us to take down more content when groups are being targeted,” Cartes Andres told JTA. Before the lawsuit, she added, “if you didn’t target any one person, you could have gotten away with it.”

The change went into effect five months ago, but Twitter “wanted to be very quiet about it because there will be other communities, like the freedom of speech community, that will be quite upset about it because they would view it as censorship,” Cartes Andres said.

Suzette Brokhorst, the secretary of INACH, said Twitter’s adjusted policies are part of a “change in attitude” by online service providers since 2013.

“Before the trial, Twitter gave Europe the middle finger,” Brokhorst said. “But they realized that if they want to work in Europe, they need to keep European laws, and others are coming to the same realization.”

According to Komaitis, the Twitter case was built on a landmark court ruling in 2000 that forced the search engine Yahoo! to ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia. But the 2013 ruling “went much further,” he said, “demonstrating the increasing pressure on providers to adhere to national laws, unmask offenders and set up flagging mechanisms.”

Still, the INACH conference showed that big gaps remain between the practices sought by European anti-racism activists and those now being implemented by the tech companies.

One area of contention is Holocaust denial, which is illegal in many European countries but which several American companies, reflecting the broader free speech protections prevalent in the United States, are refusing to censure.

Delphine Reyre, Facebook’s director of policy, said at the conference that the company believes users should be allowed to debate the subject.

“Counter speech is a powerful tool that we lose with censorship,” she said.

Cartes Andres cited the example of the hashtag #PutosJudios, Spanish for “Jewish whores,” which in May drew thousands of comments after a Spanish basketball team lost to its Israeli rival. More than 90 percent of the comments were “positive statements that attacked those who used the offensive term,” she said.

Some of the comments are the subject of an ongoing police investigation in Spain launched after a complaint filed by 11 Jewish groups.

But Mark Gardner of Britain’s Community Security Trust wasn’t buying it.

“There’s no counter-speech to Holocaust denial,” Gardner said at the conference. “I’m not going to send Holocaust survivors to debate the existence of Auschwitz online. That’s ridiculous.”

Canadian Jewish institutions ramping up security following jihadist incidents

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:12

MONTREAL (JTA) — Canadian Jewish institutions are stepping up security after the murder of two Canadian soldiers by homegrown pro-jihadist terrorists.

While it is not clear whether the two attacks, which included a shooting Wednesday at the Parliament in the nation’s capital, were related, they have shaken a country that has experienced few acts of terrorism and has often felt immune from attack.

While no direct threats were reported against Jewish institutions, they reportedly are heightening security measures in response.

“The Jewish community takes these incidents very seriously,” said Martin Sampson of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Ottawa. “We have security protocols in place and remain vigilant.”

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said in a statement, “The attacks this week have demonstrated that Canada is no longer immune to the danger of individuals harboring and propagating radical ideologies.”

On Wednesday in Ottawa, a 32-year-old man identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed a war memorial just off Parliament Hill and shot dead a reservist soldier standing guard with an unloaded weapon. Zehaf-Bibeau, described by some as wearing a keffiyah-like head covering, invaded the main building on Parliament Hill before being shot dead by the Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms.

Two days earlier, Martin Rouleau of Quebec ran over two soldiers in a Montreal suburb, killing one before he was fatally shot by police.

News reports described Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau, both recent converts to Islam, as “radicalized” Canadians. The two were among 90 Canadian-born citizens being monitored by domestic security authorities for their expressed sympathies toward extreme Islam.

CORRECTION: This article incorrectly stated the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. The new CEO is Michael Mostyn, who succeeded Frank Dimant.

Netanyahu vows to secure Jerusalem against terror, international ‘weakness’

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:03

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Attempts to attack Jerusalem residents “will be met with a sharp reaction,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu held a security consultation Thursday afternoon at Israel Police headquarters in Jerusalem a day after a terror attack on the city’s light rail killed a 3-month-old girl and injured seven.

“United Jerusalem was — and will remain — Israel’s eternal capital. All attempts to attack its residents will be met with a very sharp reaction; we will restore quiet and security to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said following the meeting.

Netanyahu said he has ordered additional security for Jerusalem, including more Border Police units, lookouts, intelligence and enforcement measures.

“These, along with other steps that I will not detail here, can and will restore quiet to the capital,” Netanyahu said. “We have proven that with determination and patience we can achieve these goals in all parts of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu again charged that the attacks in Jerusalem are supported by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, “who both extols the murderers and embraces the organization that the terrorists belong to, Hamas.”

He also condemned the international community for showing “weakness” against Abbas’ actions.

“They are not prepared to utter so much as a word of criticism against him. We have no such weakness,” Netanyahu said. “We will insist on our rights and on our obligation to defend our capital. We will do strongly – and we will win.”

Joining Netanyahu at the security meeting were Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, Israel Security Agency director Yoram Cohen, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Jerusalem District Police Commander Moshe Edri.

U.S.-based Helmsley Trust awards Israeli institutions over $9 million

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:35

(JTA) — The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is giving more than $9.6 million in new grants to four Israeli institutions.

The grants announced Monday are being awarded to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

A $1.5 million grant will allow the Technion and south China’s Shantou University to collaborate on field studies in China and train Chinese post-doctoral students studying pollution solutions at the Technion in Haifa, as well as support Technion collaborations with scientists in China. A $2.2 million grant will support the recruitment of science faculty at Hebrew University and provide laboratories for neurobiology and structural biology research.

Two grants to the Weizmann Institute will fund research in the Department of Biomedical Sciences on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and the purchase of a superconducting magnet for the Department of Biological Chemistry.

A $191,000 grant to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in conjunction with the Center for Jewish Community Studies, will fund “an unbiased, educational report that accurately details what transpired before and during the 2014 Gaza war,” according to the trust. The report will be distributed widely.

The New York-based trust, which began awarding grants to Israel in 2009 and holds more than $4 billion in assets, has committed over $131 million to organizations in the Jewish state. It also funds a range of education, health care and environmental projects in the United States.

The grants, Helmsley trustee Sandor Frankel said, “strengthen Israel’s scientific, technological and medical research, benefiting the nation’s top tier institutions and academics. They also help to solve problems leading the global agenda. These grants will support Israeli innovation so it will continue to make Israel and the rest of the world a healthier and safer place for all.”

Jerusalem hosting challah bake as part of Shabbos Project

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:05

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jerusalem will host a challah bake as part of the Shabbos Project being held in 170 cities around the world.

Hundreds of Jerusalem women and girls are expected to take part Thursday evening in the Great Big Jerusalem Challah Bake hosted by celebrity chef and author Jamie Geller.

Events for The Shabbos Project are scheduled to take place this weekend. The project, which originated in South Africa as an initiative of the country’s chief rabbi, calls on Jews to keep the upcoming Sabbath together.

“Preparing the challah for Shabbat is known to be a time of reflection and devotion to the Jewish faith and tradition,” Geller said. “What an amazing experience this will be together with hundreds of other women from all backgrounds, coming together to perform this mitzvah.”

Additional Shabbos Project events scheduled for Friday and Saturday include joint communal meals and festive havdalah ceremonies and concerts.


Rivlin heading to new Warsaw Jewish museum aboard Polish president’s plane

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:05

(JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is set to leave on his first official visit abroad on the plane of his Polish counterpart.

Rivlin earlier this week accepted Bronislaw Komorowski’s offer to give him a ride on his plane to the unveiling of the core display of Warsaw’s new Jewish museum on Tuesday, the Israeli daily Maariv reported Monday.

Rivlin needed the favor because he will attend the opening meeting of the winter session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, the day before. To bring Rivlin to the ceremony in Warsaw on time, the Polish president offered to send his own plane and bring Rivlin and his entourage to Poland.

In Poland, Rivlin is scheduled to meet Polish heads of state and speak in Hebrew before the Polish parliament.

The centerpiece of the core exhibition of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews is a replica of the 17th century Gwozdziec Synagogue featuring an ornately painted ceiling and timber-framed roof.

Standing on the historic site of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and facing the Monument of the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes, the museum is among the largest Jewish museums in Europe.

It cost $110 million to erect and two decades to design, according to organizers. The Polish government financed the 138,000 square-foot building at a cost of more than $60 million, organizers said in a statement.

The remaining funds were raised in donations by the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland.





Arab-Israeli soccer team fined for honoring ex-Knesset lawmaker

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:01

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab-Israeli soccer team was fined for honoring former Knesset lawmaker Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel amid accusations of treason and espionage.

The Bnei Sakhnin club was fined $4,000 on Wednesday by the Israel Football Association’s disciplinary court for its tribute to Bishara, who was accused of providing information to the terrorist group Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Bishara left Israel in 2007 while under investigation and now lives in Qatar.

The club also was levied a suspended fine of about $10,000. It said it would not appeal the fine.

The Oct. 18 tribute also honored an anonymous Qatari donor who gave $2 million to the team, the only Arab club in Israel’s Premiere League.

The team’s stadium is called Doha Stadium, named for the capital of Qatar. It was built with millions of dollars in donations from Qatar.

Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat earlier in the week had threatened to remove the Jerusalem-based squad from the league, saying in a statement that penalties and fines “are not sufficient measure.”

During the Oct. 18 match against Hapoel Tel Aviv, Sakhnin fans raised a banner reading “Jerusalem is ours” beneath a picture of the Al-Aksa Mosque in the city.

U.S. condemns Jerusalem terror attack that killed infant

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 05:45

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United States condemned as “despicable” a terror attack in Jerusalem that claimed the life of a 3-month-old girl.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral late Wednesday night in Jerusalem for Chaya Zissel Braun, who is reported to be an American citizen.

Chaya was killed when a driver crashed his car into the light rail stop near Ammunition Hill, in northern Jerusalem, that afternoon as passengers were disembarking. Eight people were injured.

The driver, Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, died early Thursday morning at Jerusalem’s Shaarey Tzedek hospital from gunshot wounds inflicted by Israel Police officers as he fled the scene.

Hours after the attack, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem. We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack, and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured. We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement that the Jerusalem attack and an attack on the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa are both a result of the rise of radical Islam.

“The terror attacks which took place yesterday almost simultaneously at two sides of the world, Jerusalem and Ottawa, demonstrate again that terrorism is a worldwide epidemic that must be fought strenuously and without compromise,” Liberman said.

“Terror is not the result of building in Jerusalem, Ottawa, New York, Madrid, London or Mombasa, but of the war of radical Islam against the Western world. We stand alongside our friends in Canada, who have demonstrated by their firm stand alongside Israel and again recently in joining the war against ISIS, that they will not give in to terror. Israel, too, will remain firm in the fight against terror and terrorists.”

Family members told the Palestinian Maan news agency that Shaludi, 21, of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, had been released recently from an Israeli prison where he served 14 months. He was the nephew of Mohiyedine Sharif, the former head of Hamas’ armed wing who was killed in 1988.

Shaludi posted messages and video clips in support of Hamas on his Facebook page, the Times of Israel reported.


British man gets jail time for sending lawmaker anti-Semitic tweet

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 16:24

(JTA) — A 21-year-old British man was sentenced to four weeks in jail for sending an anti-Semitic tweet to a Jewish member of Parliament.

Garron Helm pleaded guilty Monday to sending the offending message to Labour Party member Luciana Berger. In addition to the jail sentence, Helm was ordered to pay Berger $128.

The tweet, which called Berger a “communist Jewess,” showed a photograph of her with a Holocaust yellow star photoshopped onto her forehead and the words, “You can always count on a Jew to show their true colours eventually.” It had the hashtag “Hitler was right.”

Helm’s home contained Nazi memorabilia and a flag for an extremist right-wing group called National Action.

“This sentence sends a clear message that hate crime is not tolerated in our country,” Berger said in a statement. “I hope this case serves as an encouragement to others to report hate crime whenever it rears its ugly head.”

Poll: Majority of Denmark citizens want circumcision banned

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 16:16

(JTA) — A new poll indicates that 74 percent of Denmark’s citizens believe circumcision should be fully or partially banned.

The survey was released Tuesday, the day before a parliamentary hearing believed to be a potential first step in implementing a circumcision ban. Two Danish parties favor a ban, while others are divided on the issue. Only 10 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed believed the decision should be left to parents.

“As I see it, [circumcision] goes against the [United Nations] Convention on the Rights of the Child to circumcise children. I’m leaning toward a ban until the person is of legal age,” Hans Christian Schmidt, a former health minister and now a Venstre member of parliament, told Metroxpress, the newspaper that conducted the poll, according to Denmark’s The Local.

In 2013, the Danish Health and Medicines Authority determined that there was not enough evidence to merit either banning or encouraging the practice. The authority made its determination following a study on the health risks and benefits of circumcision.

According to Danish health officials, between 1,000 and 2,000 circumcisions are performed in Denmark annually, primarily on Jewish and Muslim boys. Both faiths require the circumcision of boys.

Sweden and Norway also are discussing circumcision bans. Earlier this year, Norway’s association of nurses urged the government to outlaw the procedure.

Palestinian-American student alleges anti-Muslim assault at Brooklyn arena

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 16:10

(JTA) — A Palestinian-American student alleged that she was assaulted by a group of Jewish fans at a Brooklyn arena during an exhibition basketball game between the host Nets and Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Nerdeen Kiswani, 20, said that she was punched in the stomach and had a Palestinian flag taken from her hands during the Oct. 7 game at the Barclays Center by a group that included Leonard Petlakh, the executive director of the Kings Bay YM-YWHA, who was punched outside the arena after the game. Kiswani, who wears a hijab, is a student at Hunter College in Manhattan, where Petlakh also teaches.

In a statement to the New York Daily News, Petlakh’s attorney, former City Councilman Lew Fidler, denied that Kiswani was punched by his client or anybody else.

A video taken of the incident shows a flag being taken from Kiswani by a single individual, but does not indicate that she was struck or attacked by a group. Shawn Schraeder, who is accused of assaulting Petlakh and is awaiting arraignment, is seen in the video.

Kiswani’s attorney, Lamis Deek, said the punch occurred but cannot be seen on the video. Deek also is representing Schraeder in his case.

At a news conference Tuesday, Kiswani said that she was assaulted because she was “the only visibly Muslim women in the arena.” She is the founder and editor of the I Stand with Palestine web magazine and president of Hunter College’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Police said Monday that Schraeder would not be charged with a hate crime because they no longer think bias was involved in the punching of Petlakh.

Kiswani said that when she reported the attack to Barclays Center security staff, the alleged assailants were stopped only briefly before being allowed to proceed; they were later escorted from the arena. NYPD officers also did not act, Kiswani said, and threatened to arrest her friends who alerted them to the incident during the game featuring Maccabi Tel Aviv and the NBA team.

This article has been updated and revised.

Netanyahu slams Abbas over deadly rail attack in Jerusalem

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 14:35

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the light rail attack in Jerusalem that killed a 3-month-old girl.

The Prime Minister’s Office spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, on his official Twitter feed identified the driver of the car that crashed Wednesday into the Ammunition Hill station in northern Jerusalem as a Hamas member. Eight people also were injured in the suspected terror act as passengers were disembarking from the train.

Netanyahu in a statement referred to the fact that Abbas’ Fatah party recently formed a unity government with Hamas.

“This is how Abu Mazen’s partners in government act, the same Abu Mazen who — only a few days ago — incited toward a terrorist attack in Jerusalem,” the prime minister said, using Abbas’ nom de guerre.

The driver of the car attempted to flee the scene on foot and was shot by police, who confirmed that he was from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and had previously served time in an Israeli prison.

After the attack, which was captured on security camera video, Palestinians and Israeli forces clashed in Silwan, which has been a recent source of Arab-Jewish tension. Israeli security forces also reportedly raided the home of the suspect in the attack, Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, who is the nephew of Mohiyedine Sharif, the former head of Hamas’ armed wing who was killed in 1988.

Netanyahu ordered tightened security in Jerusalem. The city’s mayor, Nir Barkat, called for the reinforcement of police forces in order to “restore peace and security.”

“As I have said for months, the situation in Jerusalem is intolerable and we must act unequivocally against all violence taking place in the city,” he said in a statement. “Today, more than ever, it is clear that we must send police forces into neighborhoods where there are disturbances, placing them strategically and widely in significant numbers.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the attack. “The atrocious murder of an innocent baby girl, a victim of indiscriminate terrorism, should disgust all those who have a heart,” he said in a statement.

“The increasing incitement on the Arab streets and the streets of Jerusalem, which unfortunately receives the backing of leaders in the Arab world, has the ability to destroy the delicate balance of life in Jerusalem, and carry us all into a maelstrom of destruction and pain.”



Infant killed, 8 hurt in suspected terror attack on Jerusalem light rail

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:07

The car that crashed into a Jerusalem train station, killing an infant and injuring eight, in what is being probed as a terrorist attack. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A 3-month-old girl was killed and eight people were injured when a car crashed into a light rail station in Jerusalem.

The suspected terror attack, captured on security camera video, occurred Wednesday afternoon at the Ammunition Hill station in northern Jerusalem as passengers were disembarking from the train. Several of the injured passengers reportedly are American citizens.

The driver of the car attempted to flee the scene on foot and was shot by police. Israeli media have published unconfirmed reports naming the driver as a former Palestinian prisoner from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, which has been a recent source of Arab-Jewish tension.

The infant girl, identified as Chaya Zissel Braun, died at the Hadassah hospital on Mount Scopus of her wounds. The driver reportedly was hospitalized with serious wounds.

The infant’s grandfather, Shimshon Halperin of Israel, told reporters later that the baby was born after her parents had tried for years to conceive with no success. The family was returning from the Western Wall when they attack occurred, he said.

The light rail has come under attack in recent weeks by stone-throwing Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem.

Hagel, meeting with Yaalon, reaffirms U.S. commitment to Israeli security

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 08:59

(JTA) — U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reaffirmed the “deep commitment” of the United States to Israel’s security at a meeting with his Israeli counterpart.

Hagel in his meeting Tuesday with Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon at the Pentagon in Washington also noted the importance of the U.S.-Israel defense relationship.

The defense chiefs discussed the coalition efforts to counter ISIS, Iran and other regional issues. They also agreed to continue to work together to maintain the strength of the U.S.-Israel security relationship, according to a Pentagon statement.

Israel and the United States have disagreed on what could be the terms of a nuclear agreement between the world powers and Iran. Israel wants all of Iran’s centrifuges to be dismantled, while the United States is willing to consider leaving a limited civilian nuclear program in place with strict international monitoring.

“We must not forget that the United States is really the State of Israel’s most important strategic ally,” Yaalon said in Washington following the meeting, according to the Times of Israel. “In every aspect they are the leading power in the world, whether it is economically or militarily or diplomatically, and it is good that we have the opportunity to share our opinions.”

Haredim’s refusal to sit next to opposite sex delays Delta flight

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 08:41

(JTA) — A Delta Airlines flight to Israel was delayed after haredi Orthodox men and women deplaned rather than sit next to members of the opposite sex.

The flight Monday night from New York’s Kennedy Airport arrived more than an hour late on Tuesday afternoon due to the incident, Haaretz reported.

After the haredi passengers decided to leave the plane, their baggage had to be removed, causing the delay.

It is not known if the passengers’ fares were refunded.

In September, an El Al flight that landed in Israel on the morning of Rosh Hashanah eve was delayed in New York after haredi Orthodox men assigned to sit next to women attempted to switch their seats.

The haredi passengers who could not switch their seats stood up immediately upon takeoff and remained in place throughout the flight, crowding the aisles and inconveniencing fellow passengers and flight attendants, Ynet reported at the time.