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Late Filipino president honored for taking in Holocaust refugees

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 16:04

(JTA) — The Raoul Wallenberg Foundation posthumously honored Philippines President Manuel L. Quezon for providing a haven in his country to more than 1,300 Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis.

In a ceremony Wednesday at Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, Zenaida Quezon Avancena received the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation Medal on behalf of her father, Filipino media outlets reported.

Quezon, who led the Philippines from 1935 to 1944, was recognized for his “life-saving plan” and for “reaching out to the victims of the Nazi murderous machine.”

READ: May 24, 1940: Quezon dedicates home for refugees near Manila 

Effie Ben-Matityau, Israel’s ambassador to the Philippines, and Lee Blumenthal, board member of the Jewish Association of the Philippines, presented the medal. Several government officials, including President Benigno Aquino, attended the ceremony.

In a statement, the Wallenberg Foundation said Quezon had “wanted to absorb some 100,000 Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe,” but “his monumental project was thwarted by the outbreak of World War II and the Japanese invasion of the Philippines.”

At the ceremony Ben-Matityau called Quezon a “great leader and humanitarian,” according to the Manila Times.

IDF soldier wounded by explosive on road near Jerusalem

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 15:41

(JTA) — An Israeli soldier was moderately wounded by an explosive device thrown at a security checkpoint near Jerusalem.

The soldier injured in the Wednesday night attack on the Tunnel Bypass Road was taken to Hadassah Medical Center, and the terrorist fled the scene, Ynet reported.

A few hours earlier, a toddler and her father were lightly wounded after assailants threw stones at two vehicles on Route 45 near Jerusalem. The IDF is searching for the perpetrators of both attacks.

Five people were lightly wounded Tuesday evening when assailants hurled stones at a bus and two cars in the At-Tur neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem.

Four of those wounded were teens, including three Jordanians.

AP: UN letting Iran do its own nuclear inspections

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 15:18

A view of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant on Aug. 21, 2010. (Iran International Photo Agency via Getty Images)

(JTA) — Iran has a secret agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency enabling it to choose its own experts to inspect its Parchin nuclear site.

In a finding that could have implications for the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, The Associated Press reported Wednesday that it had obtained a document outlining a “separate side agreement worked out between [the United Nations agency] and Iran.”

While the United States and the five other world powers that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal were “not party to this agreement,” they “were briefed on it by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package,” the AP reported.

Under the agreement, the IAEA allows Iran “to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence or activities that it has consistently denied — trying to develop nuclear weapons,” the article said.

While the document obtained by the AP is a draft, and not the final version of the agreement, one official familiar with its contents told the news service it “doesn’t differ substantially from the final version.”

Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal in Israel and the United States quickly responded to the report.

While the White House declined to comment on the reported document, according to the Times of Israel, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said sarcastically, “One must welcome this global innovation and outside-the-box thinking. One can only wonder if the Iranian inspectors will also have to wait 24 days before being able to visit the site and look for incriminating evidence?”

He was referring to a section in the nuclear deal that gives Iran 24-days notice prior to inspections of its undeclared nuclear sites.

“This side agreement shows that true verification is a sham, and it begs the question of what else the administration is keeping from Congress,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader, said, according to the Times of Israel.

John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said, “Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the U.N. in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement.”

In Jerusalem, Huckabee says West Bank not occupied, two-state solution unworkable

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 14:42

(JTA) — Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Israel has as much right to the West Bank as the United States has to Manhattan.

Speaking at a press conference at Jerusalem’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Wednesday, the former Arkansas governor, who gave a speech in the West Bank settlement Shiloh on Tuesday said, according to The Guardian: “I don’t see it as occupied, that makes it appear as if someone is illegally taking land. I don’t see it that way.”

He added: “In America, we have about a 400-year relationship to Manhattan. It would be as if I came and said we need to end our occupation of Manhattan. I’m pretty sure most Americans would find that laughable.”

Huckabee, an evangelical Christian who has visited Israel “dozens of times,” said his connection to Israel “is not so much political as it is visceral, personal.”

Asked Wednesday about his Shiloh appearance, which was sponsored by Simon Falic, an American Jewish supporter of Republican candidates and right-wing Israeli politicians, Huckabee said he “wasn’t in the least hesitant” to go there, describing it as “a place of great connection to the history of the Jewish people,” Bloomberg reported.

According to Bloomberg, the Falic family was the largest contributor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest election campaign.

Huckabee also said he is opposed to a two-state solution, saying “the notion of two governments working the same piece of land is unrealistic and unworkable.”

During his Israel visit, Huckabee has met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government officials. Huckabee declined to say what was discussed other than their shared opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement. He also emphasized that “there was no implicit or explicit endorsement” from Netanyahu.

The prime minister “made it very clear he has no intention of getting in the middle of American politics,” Huckabee said.

Huckabee, who on Tuesday said he stands by his comment last month comparing the Iran deal to the Holocaust, said at the Jerusalem press conference that numerous Israelis during his visit had approached him about the “ovens” comment, saying they appreciated “the candor and the clarity.”

High Court orders temporary release of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 14:14

(JTA) — Mohaamad Allaan, the Palestinian prisoner and alleged Islamic Jihad member whose months-long hunger strike has drawn international attention, will be temporarily released from administrative detention.

The High Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that Allaan, 33, would remain in the Israeli hospital where he is in critical condition and that his relatives and friends will be able to visit him as a patient, rather than as a detainee, Haaretz reported.

Allaan has been held by Israel without charges since November.

The court ruling suspends Allaan’s administrative detention while he is receiving medical treatment. Hours before the court ruling, doctors said that Allaan has suffered irreversible brain damage as a result of his hunger strike, and the Israeli government said it would release Allaan if his medical condition deteriorates to the point that he is permanently incapacitated.

Medical officials said Allaan’s cognitive abilities declined dramatically on Wednesday and that he was confused, incoherent and unable to make decisions. Allaan’s attorney tried to communicate with him Wednesday but was unsuccessful because of his poor condition.

On Monday, Israel said it would free Allaan if he agreed to leave the country for four years, but his lawyer rejected the offer.

Allaan’s case spurred Israeli lawmakers to pass a law last month legalizing the force-feeding of prisoners. The Israeli Medical Association has announced that it plans to challenge the law in the Supreme Court and has urged physicians not to comply with it.

Reform movement: No position on Iran deal; Jewish congressman supports

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 12:02

(JTA) — The Reform movement released a statement neither supporting nor opposing the recently signed agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D – Tenn.), who is Jewish , said he would support the deal, which lifts sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program. He noted, though, that the deal has flaws and that “perfection simply isn’t an option.”

“Through my intense study of this agreement, I am convinced that it is the most effective way to ensure Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “The agreement represents global consensus on that point as well, and its long-term success relies on the ongoing support and hard work of all involved nations, who I am convinced will continue to work together to guarantee compliance.”

The Reform movement statement Wednesday thanked President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their diplomatic efforts, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his focus on the dangers of a nuclear Iran. It expressed several concerns related to the agreement and called on parties on both sides of the debate to “tamp down their rhetoric.”

But the statement said the movement was divided, and that there were valid arguments both for and against the agreement, which it referred to using the abbreviation JCPOA.

“We recognize that these arguments have merit,” the statement, released Wednesday, read. “The JCPOA does present a way forward, there are real dangers to rejecting it, and it does not foreclose Iran’s ability to become a nuclear weapons threshold state.”

The statement continued, “there is simply no clarity that would support taking a position ‘for’ or ‘against’ the JCPOA itself.”

The statement expressed concerns with certain elements of the agreement and of Iran’s activity. It called on Obama to make clear that the United State would not allow an Iranian nuclear weapon; urged the U.S. to combat Iran’s support for terror groups; voiced concerns about the agreement’s inspections regimen; condemned Iran’s violation of human rights; and encouraged the U.S. to continue strongly supporting Israel.

The statement also called on Obama and Netanyahu to improve relations between their two governments, although they disagree about the Iran accord.

“We are deeply concerned about the tension, and the harsh rhetoric, in the discourse between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu,” the statement said. “We fervently hope that both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu will take concrete steps, transcending politics, to repair the rifts that impede this relationship between longstanding and essential allies.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the deal’s most vocal opponents, and many centrist Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee, have come out against the deal.

On Monday, 340 American rabbis signed a letter to Congress urging it to vote in favor of the deal

While most Republicans are against the deal, negotiated between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, Democrats have mostly supported it.

Congress has until late September to decide whether to reject the agreement. President Obama has pledged to veto a rejection.

Former Subway rep Jared Fogle pleads guilty to pornography charges, sex with minors

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 11:52

The Indiana home of Subway’s longtime spokesman Jared Fogle, shown here at a fashion in New York in February 2015, had been raided by federal and state law enforcement. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)


(JTA) — Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesman, pleaded guilty to charges of distributing and receiving pornography, and having sex with minors.

As part of his plea deal, Fogle, who is Jewish, will serve between five and 12-and-a-half years in federal prison, according to the Indianapolis Star. He will also pay 14 victims $100,000 each as part of the agreement.

Fogle traveled to New York and had sex with at least two minors, ages 16 and 17, between 2010 and 2013, according to the Star. He also solicited acquaintances — from child victims to adult prostitutes — to put him in contact with other minors so he could have sex with them.

In addition, the Star reported that he received child pornography from Russell Taylor, who served as executive director of his charity, The Jared Foundation. Taylor was arrested in April on preliminary child pornography charges, and Fogle’s home was searched by police last month. Subway suspended its relationship with Fogle following the search.

Fogle became Subway’s spokesperson in 2000, after dropping nearly 250 pounds on a regimen of eating two Subway sandwiches a day.


Israeli filmmaker rejected from Oslo festival due to boycott of Israel

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 10:27

(JTA) — A film by Roy Zafrani, an Israeli filmmaker, was rejected from an Oslo film festival because it dealt with Israeli subject matter but did not address the Palestinians.

The film, “Other Dreamers,” is about disabled children in Tel Aviv. The film was rejected last week from the Human Rights Human Wrongs festival, which screens political documentaries, according to the New York Times, because it concerned Israel but did not deal directly with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank or discrimination against Palestinians.

Zafrani said he sees the decision as tied to the broader movement to boycott Israel, and opposes cultural aspects of that boycott.

“I think the larger issue is that there is a boycott — which I can understand and not understand,” he told the Times. “I’m not political. But I think we should suspend it for some things.”

The decision to boycott Zafrani drew criticism even from Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, which encourages boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel. Barghouti said the boycott should target Israeli institutions, not individuals.

“Mere affiliation of Israeli cultural workers to an Israeli cultural institution is therefore not grounds for applying the boycott,” Barghouti wrote in an email to the Times. “If, however, an individual is representing the State of Israel or a complicit Israeli institution, or is commissioned/recruited to participate in Israel’s efforts to ‘rebrand’ itself, then her/his activities are subject to the institutional boycott the B.D.S. movement is calling for.”

Spanish festival apologizes, re-invites Matisyahu to perform

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 08:39

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

(JTA) — The Spanish Rototom Sunsplash music festival has issued a lengthy apology to Matisyahu for disinviting him from performing and has invited him again to perform on his original concert date.

The reggae festival had cancelled American Jewish musician Matisyahu’s performance on Aug. 22 because he had refused to publicly support Palestinian statehood. Following a chorus of condemnations faulting the festival for singling Matisyahu out as a Jew, including condemnation from the Spanish government, the festival backtracked.

“Rototom Sunsplash rejects anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination towards the Jewish community,” read a statement Wednesday on the festival’s Facebook page. “We respect both their culture as religious beliefs and we sincerely apologize for what has occurred.”

The statement continued, “Rototom Sunsplash would like to publicly apologize to Matisyahu for having cancelled his concert and invite him to perform at the festival next Saturday 22 August, as was initially programmed in the lineup.”

The statement said that the cancellation came due to pressure from the BDS movement, which seeks to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. The statement cited a “campaign of pressure, coercion and threats” against it that stoked fears the festival would be disrupted and “prevented the organization from reasoning clearly.”

The festival, according to the statement, “reaffirms its commitment to a Culture of Peace and respect between cultures, including the freedom of belief as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Spanish Constitution.”

The World Jewish Congress and Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain welcomed the reversal.

“On behalf of the Spanish Jewish community, I thank the organizers for their statement, and we hope that lessons have been learned for the future,” said FCJE President Isaac Querub in a statement. “We need to stand together and work together in the fight against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and hatred.”

Israel demolishes nearly 40 illegally built Palestinian buildings

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 08:06

TEL AVIV (JTA) — In the largest string of home demolitions in more than three years, Israel demolished nearly 40 Palestinian structures in the West Bank.

The demolitions took place, according to Haaretz, because the structures were built without the necessary permits. More than 120 people were left homeless from the demolitions, which took place Monday and Tuesday.

The structures were located in four Bedouin villages near the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, outside of Jerusalem, as well as in village of Fasa’il in the Jordan Valley. According to United Nations figures quoted by Haaretz, it was the largest string of demolitions since October 2012.

“These are illegal structures that were built without permits in violation of the law, some of which have been built in recent years, said a statement from the Israel Defense Forces’ coordinator of government activities in the territories, according to Haaretz. “The structures were demolished after the enforcement process was completed and the appropriate orders were issued.

Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control, often complain that it is near impossible to obtain construction permits, forcing them to build illegally.

Israeli lawmaker’s email leaked from Ashley Madison cheating site

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 07:48

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The government email address of Knesset Member Taleb Abu Arrar was one of millions leaked from AshleyMadison.com, a website for people seeking extramarital affairs.

Abu Arrar, of the Arab Joint List party, already has two wives, according to the Jerusalem Post. Because polygamy is illegal in Israel, he has a common-law marriage with his second wife. He has 10 children.

“Someone signed up with my email address in order to sully my good name,” he said, according to the Post. He plans to file a complaint with police.

Knesset members’ aides can also access the members’ official email addresses.

The address was revealed among some 36 million others Tuesday night by hackers who stole the information last month. They had threatened to release the email addresses unless the website shut down, which it has not. The site claims to have 38 million users.

Avid Life Media, which owns the website, said in a statement that “These are illegitimate acts that have real consequences for innocent citizens who are simply going about their daily lives,” according to Reuters.

Spanish Foreign Ministry joins chorus of critics of Matisyahu exclusion

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 07:21

(JTA) — The Spanish Foreign Ministry condemned the exclusion of American Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu from the Rototom Sunsplash music festival.

Matisyahu was disinvited from the festival after he refused to make a statement in support of Palestinian statehood, as festival organizers had demanded. He was to perform on Aug. 22.

“Requiring a public declaration, which was demanded of him alone, is a violation of conscience and — to the extent that it came because Matisyahu is Jewish — challenges the principle of non-discrimination which is the basis for all plural and diverse societies,” the ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The United States Embassy in Madrid welcomed the ministry’s statement with its own statement Wednesday condemning the incident. The embassy said the United States promotes and defends “fundamental liberties,” and called reports of the cancellation “troubling.”

The World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defemation League and Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain also condemned Matisyahu’s exclusion.

In an editorial, leading Spanish newspaper El Pais wrote Tuesday that “He is the only musician performing at Rototom, which is funded with public money, who has been requested to make such a statement, and to make matters worse, he has been asked to do so solely on the grounds that he is Jewish: as said, he is not an Israeli national”

In a statement on his Facebook page Monday, Matisyahu called the cancellation “appalling and offensive.” He is currently touring in Europe and is scheduled to perform Wednesday in Frankfurt.

Jewish woman to be White House’s first openly transgender staffer

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 07:07

(JTA) — A Jewish woman of color will be the first openly transgender person to serve in the White House.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who was born in Honduras and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts by a single Jewish mother, has been hired as an outreach and recruitment director in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, the White House announced Tuesday.

According to Keshet, a Jewish LGBT advocacy group, Freedman-Gurspan “was a powerful leader for trans inclusion” in her Brookline synagogue, Temple Beth Zion, “and mobilized faith leaders in the campaign to pass the Massachusetts Trans Equality Bill,” which went into effect in 2012. She also was active in the Jewish Student Union as an undergraduate at St. Olaf College in Minneapolis.

Freedman-Gurspan, 28, moved to Washington in 2014 to work with the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Although Freedman-Gurspan is the first transgender White House staffer, another Jewish woman, Amanda Simpson, is the first transgender individual to hold a position in the U.S. executive branch. Simpson was appointed by President Obama in 2010 to the position of senior technical adviser in the Bureau of Industry and Security at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Birthright sets record for summer participants

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 05:41

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Birthright, the free 10-day trip to Israel, has brought a record 30,000 young Jewish people on its trips this summer.

The number of summer participants, coming one year after Israel endured a 50-day war last summer, is Birthright’s highest in its 15 years of existence. The participants came from 32 countries on six continents, and were joined by 5,000 Israeli soldiers and students, according to a Wednesday press release.

Birthright brings Jews aged 18 to 26 on a free trip that takes them to a range of historical, religious and outdoor sites across Israel. Overall, half a million people have gone on Birthright’s trips.


First transgender official in White House is Jewish

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 05:17

(JTA) — The White House has appointed its first openly transgender official, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who is Jewish.

Freedman-Gurspan was appointed Tuesday as an outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel in the Office of Personnel, according to reports. Previously, she was a policy adviser at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Born in Honduras, Freedman-Gurspan was adopted by a Jewish mother in Brookline, Mass. She was active in the Jewish Student Union at St. Olaf College in Minneapolis.

Advocates for transgender equality welcomed her appointment, while White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Freedman-Gurspan “demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions.”

“A transgender person was inevitably going to work in the White House,” said Mara Keisling, who worked with Freedman-Gurspan at the National Center for Transgender Equality, according to reports. “That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant.”

Jewish youth group affirms gender inclusivity

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 04:52

(JTA) — BBYO, a pluralistic Jewish American youth group, affirmed in a motion that it is fully inclusive of its members regardless of gender.

The motion was passed Friday by BBYO’s leadership fraternity and sorority at the group’s International August Executives Conference, according to a press release.

“Young people who genuinely identify as Jewish – male, female or gender neutral – are given full eligibility to join and afforded full status as members of the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph and the International Order of the B’nai B’rith Girls in any matter, business or forum,” the motion read, referring to the fraternity and sorority, respectively.

BBYO CEO Matthew Grossman said the group was founded to create a space for Jewish students excluded from other groups, and that this motion continues that tradition of acceptance.

“BBYO members have stood up for each other and the entire Jewish community for more than 90 years,” he said. “This motion is a testament to BBYO’s commitment to inclusivity and just one example of how BBYO is a welcoming place for every Jewish teen.”

Israel offers to free Palestinian hunger-striker in November

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 04:22

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel has offered to free Mohammed Allaan, a Palestinian prisoner on a hunger strike, in November, should he end his strike.

His lawyers, according to reports, rejected the offer.

Allaan, a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, is under administrative detention — or imprisonment without trial. He has been refusing food since June 16 to protest his imprisonment.

On Friday, Allaan was placed in a medically-induced coma after his condition deteriorated, and was awakened Tuesday after his condition stabilized. He agreed to accept intravenous fluids for a 24-hour period to allow time for a deal to be reached. Allaan said he will stop accepting fluids if Israel does not agree to free him.

He rejected an earlier Israeli offer to free him on condition that he live abroad for four years. Allaan is demanding to be freed immediately, but had previously said he would end the strike if he is released in time for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on September 22.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported that 250 Palestinian administrative detainees began a hunger strike in support of Allaan.

Rahm Emanuel supports Iran deal

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 17:04

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel attending the Inspirational Forum during Opportunity Fair and Forum in Chicago, Illinois on August 13, 2015. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for 100,000 Opportunities Initiative)

(JTA) — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he supports the Iran nuclear deal.

Asked about it at a press conference Tuesday, Emanuel, a Democrat who is President Obama’s former chief of staff, said, according to the Chicago Tribune: “The simplest way to say it is, if I was in Congress, I would support the president’s initiative. But I’m not in Congress, thank God.”

Emanuel served in the House of Representatives from 2002 through 2008.

In explaining his support for the Iran deal, which would lift sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program, Emanuel said it is “the best alternative, and not only that, it is exactly the end point that the original coalition and sanctions were intended to produce.”

Emanuel’s statement of support came the same day Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey became the second Senate Democrat after New York Sen. Chuck Schumer to oppose the deal.

Emanuel, who is Jewish, is the son of an Israeli.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the deal’s most vocal opponents, and many centrist Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee, have come out against the deal.

On Monday, 340 American rabbis signed a letter to Congress urging it to vote in favor of the deal.

Emanuel said he has not made any calls on behalf of the White House to Jewish members of Congress or anyone else, according to the Tribune.

Asked whether Israel’s fears are legitimate that the nuclear deal could threaten the security of the Jewish state, Emanuel said, “Let me tell you this. I’m not joking. I told you what I would do if I was there [in Congress]. I’m focused on my job, and that’s right here as mayor,” adding that the issue “is not my day-to-day focus at all.”

While most Republicans are against the deal, negotiated between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, Democrats have mostly supported it.

Congress has until late September to decide whether to reject the agreement. President Obama has pledged to veto a rejection.

Islamic Jihad may order imprisoned members to start hunger strikes

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 15:54

(JTA) — Islamic Jihad is considering ordering all its members who are imprisoned in Israel to go on hunger strikes.

The Palestinian terrorist group is considering the move as a show of solidarity with Mohammad Allaan, a Palestinian attorney who has been accused of being an Islamic Jihad member, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.

Allaan began a hunger strike two months ago to protest his administrative detention. He has been held by Israel without charges since November.

Waking from a medically induced coma on Tuesday, Allaan said he would resume his hunger strike if his case is not resolved within 24 hours. While in the coma for several days, Allaan received water and salts intravenously, and was connected to a respirator.

Allaan “declared in front of his doctors that if there is not any solution to his case within 24 hours, he will ask for all treatment to stop and will stop drinking water,” the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said in a statement, according to the Times of Israel.

On Monday, Israel said it would free Allaan if he agreed to leave the country for four years, but his lawyer rejected the offer.

His case spurred Israeli lawmakers to pass a law last month legalizing the force-feeding of prisoners. The Israeli Medical Association has announced that it plans to challenge the law in the Supreme Court and has urged physicians not to comply with it.

Lodz to have first Jewish kindergarten in decades

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 15:08

(JTA) — A Jerusalem-based group announced the opening of the first Jewish kindergarten in decades in the Polish city of Lodz.

Shavei Israel, which tries to bring people with Jewish roots back into the Jewish fold, said Monday that the kindergarten would open in partnership with the city’s Jewish community of a few hundred members. The first class of 10 children will start in September.

“There is a growing Jewish community in Lodz, as well as many Poles with Jewish roots who are becoming more and more interested in reconnecting with their heritage,” said Michael Freund, a New York native who founded Shavei Israel in 2002 after immigrating to Israel.

The city in central Poland, about 80 miles from Warsaw, was historically home to one of the country’s most vibrant Jewish communities – and one of the largest ghettos during the Holocaust. But Jewish life all but disappeared from Lodz in 1944, Freund said.

Nearly all of the ghetto’s 164,000 residents were murdered in the Holocaust, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, along with 90 percent of Poland’s pre-Holocaust Jewish population of 3 million.