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Email from 1999: Bill Clinton didn’t commit adultery according to Talmud

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 16:14

(JTA) — An email passed around the Clinton White House in 1999 argued that under Talmudic law President Bill Clinton’s infamous encounter with intern Monica Lewinsky did not constitute adultery.

The email was sent on Jan. 27, 1999 to Hillary Clinton’s domestic policy adviser, Ruby Shamir, by Linda Commodore of Long Island. Commodore was forwarding a Jewish legal analysis of Clinton’s actions by Susannah Heschel, a professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth and the daughter of theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel.

The email ended up with White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal, according to the New York Post.

“According to classical Jewish law, President Clinton did not commit adultery; adultery is defined as a married man having intercourse with a married woman, and Monica Lewinsky is single,” the email said. “At worst, President Clinton is guilty of the common sin of onanism [masturbation], a sin that probably afflicts the consciences of most Jewish men at one time or another.”

The document was one of about 10,000 previously unreleased records that was released publicly last Friday by the Clinton Presidential Library.

“From the perspective of Jewish history, we have to ask how Jews can condemn President Clinton’s behavior as immoral, when we exalt King David?” Susannah Heschel wrote. “King David had Batsheva’s husband, Uriah, murdered.

“While David was condemned and punished, he was never thrown off the throne of Israel. On the contrary, he is exalted in our Jewish memory as the unifier of Israel.”

It’s not clear whether White House officials considered deploying the Talmudic analysis in defending Clinton’s actions with the White House intern.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg letters available online

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 14:07

BOSTON (JTA) — A new website on convicted Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg provides access to a collection of more than 500 letters between the couple while they were imprisoned.

The website was launched last week by the Howard Gotlieb Archival Center at Boston University.

Maintaining their innocence until the end, the Rosenbergs were executed on conspiracy charges for passing along secret information to the Soviet Union.

The controversial Cold War-era trial of the Jewish couple, and their execution in 1953, sparked worldwide protests and continues to capture the attention of students and scholars of law, history and politics as well as artists, musicians, filmmakers and the general public.

The extensive collection of letters, acquired from the Rosenbergs’ sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol, includes more than three dozen letters between the Rosenbergs and their lawyer, Emanuel Bloch, that have never been available to researchers or the public, as well as more contemporary publications from the National Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case.

Additional material includes pamphlets, newspaper clippings, sheet music of songs about the Rosenbergs and the Rosenbergs’ wills. The letters between the couple are high resolution digitized images.

In the last letter Ethel wrote to her children, on June 19, 1953, she says she is innocent and goes to her death unafraid because she knows she is doing it for a greater cause.

“Eventually, too, you must come to believe that life is worth the living,” Ethel wrote.


Rome’s mayor slams Priebke tribute as ‘vulgar’

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 13:58

ROME (JTA) – The mayor of Rome condemned a public commemoration in the city for the late Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke.

Ignazio Marino called Saturday’s event downtown a “vulgar provocation” that “wounds the entire civic community and represents a real slap in the face to the city of Rome, which played a fundamental role in the Italian Resistance.”

Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, thanked the mayor and called on all civic authorities to be vigilant against any similar episodes.

At the commemoration, which was organized by Priebke’s lawyer to mark the first anniversary of Priebke’s death at the age of 100, an improvised Mass was celebrated at a makeshift altar made of flowers and placards set up against a lamppost on the Sant’Angelo Bridge.

Posters reading “Ciao Captain” — Priebke was a Nazi SS captain — were plastered on some walls in Rome.

Priebke died on Oct. 11, 2013 while serving a life sentence under house arrest for his role in the 1944 massacre of 335 Romans, about 75 of them Jews, in the Ardeatine Caves south of Rome.




Gaza donors’ confab brings $5.4B in pledges

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 13:50

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The international community reportedly pledged about $5.4 billion in reconstruction aid for Gaza at a donors’ conference in Cairo.

The French news agency AFP cited the foreign minister of Norway, co-host of Sunday’s conference, in reporting the figure.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States would contribute $212 million to be delivered through U.S. Agency for International Development to rebuild Gaza in the aftermath of this summer’s 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The U.S. has provided more than $400 million in assistance to the Palestinians over the last year, with $330 million donated since the start of the conflict.

Israeli representatives did not attend the conference, reportedly based on a tacit understanding between Israel and Egypt, which feared that Arab countries would not send representatives if the Israelis were there.

Israel and the Palestinians must return to the peace table, Kerry said. Nine months of U.S.-led negotiations ended in April.

“A cease-fire is not peace, and we’ve got to find a way to get back to the table and help people make tough choices, real choices — choices that everybody in this room and outside of it understands have been on the table for too long. Choices about more than just a cease-fire, ” Kerry said.

Israel and Gaza have engaged in conflict three times in the last six years, each conflict requiring major rebuilding efforts.

“The United States remains fully, totally committed to returning to the negotiations not for the sake of it, but because the goal of this conference and the future of this region demand it,” Kerry said. “There is nothing sustainable about the status quo.”

In his address to the conference, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also called on Israel to return to talks.

At the opening, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promoted the Arab peace initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002 in which the countries of the Arab League offer Israel full recognition in return for all land won by Israel in 1967 as well as a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees.


Lancet editor in editorial regrets, but does not retract, Gaza letter

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 12:10

(JTA) — The editor of The Lancet wrote in the British medical journal that he regrets the polarization caused by the publication of an open letter accusing Israel of a “massacre” in Gaza, but did not retract it.

“At a moment of unbearable human destruction in Gaza, the unintended outcome of the Manduca et al letter was an extreme polarization of already divided positions,” Dr. Richard Horton wrote in an editorial in the latest issue of The Lancet following a visit to Israel and Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa. “This schism helped no-one and I certainly regret that result. I have seen for myself that what was written in the Manduca et al letter does not describe the full reality.”

Horton said that the journal has proposed new guidelines to deal with “submissions that lie at the difficult intersection of medicine and politics.” Under the guidelines, “editors should always pause, reflect, and consult before publishing any manuscript that might unnecessarily polarize, or foster or worsen political division.”

He also announced that the journal would publish a series on Israel’s health and medical research system.

NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute that monitors nongovernmental organizations, in a statement called Horton’s editorial “another step towards ending the exploitation of this journal for demonizing Israel,” but said it did not go far enough since it failed to retract or apologize for the publication of the open letter.

The group called on Horton to issue a formal retraction and apology and to remove the letter from The Lancet’s website.

The open letter to the people of Gaza was published during this summer’s conflict in the coastal strip between Israel and Hamas. Several dozen physicians from the West signed the letter, which also accused Israel of “cruel” and “vicious war crimes.” Physicians, researchers and Israeli officials decried the letter.

NGO Monitor unearthed evidence tying two of the letters’ authors to support for David Duke, who circulated a video supporting the white supremacist.

Following the publication of the letter, Horton was invited to visit Israel to see Jewish-Arab medical cooperation firsthand.

“At Rambam I saw an inspiring model of partnership between Jews and Arabs in a part of Israel where 40 percent of the population is Arab,” he wrote in Lancet. “I saw Rambam offering an open hand, gladly grasped by families from Gaza, the West Bank, and Syria, who were living with life-threatening health-care needs. I saw Rambam as one example of a vision for a peaceful and productive future between peoples, which I learned exists throughout Israel’s hospitals.”

Historic Buffalo synagogue demolished despite demonstrators

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 10:45

(JTA) — The oldest synagogue in Buffalo, N.Y., was demolished despite the efforts of two demonstrators who chained themselves to a pillar in the building.

The Jefferson Avenue building was demolished on Saturday after the demonstrators, identified as David Torke and Rabbi Drorah Setel, were peacefully removed and detained by police, the Buffalo News reported.

Police said the building posed a safety hazard and thus was condemned. Preservationists said it should have been listed as a historical landmark.

The building, which was designed in 1903 by A.E. Mink, once was the home of Congregation Ahavath Sholem, also known as the Jefferson Avenue Shul. It was sold in 1960 to Saints Home Church of God and later to Greater New Hope Church of God in Christ, which owned it for about 30 years. The building has been empty since 2005.

At first the demolition crew did not realize there were people in the building. Eight other demonstrators remained outside the structure.

Penn State students sentenced for vandalizing Jewish frat

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 09:18

(JTA) — Two Penn State students who pleaded guilty to spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti on a mostly Jewish fraternity house were sentenced to community service and probation.

Eric Hyland, 20, was sentenced last week in Centre County Court to 200 hours of community service and two years probation, and ordered to pay $6,000 restitution.

Last month, Hayden Grom was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and two years probation.

Last November, Hyland and Grom spray-painted swastikas and anti-Semitic words and images on the Beta Sigma Beta fraternity building, on cars parked outside the house and on a dumpster. Their actions were captured on security cameras.

The students were charged with ethnic intimidation, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

They were kicked out of their own fraternity, Acacia, which reportedly condemned their actions.


Report: French Jewish girl joined ISIS

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 08:44

(JTA) — A Jewish girl was among the some 100 girls and young women who have left France in recent weeks to join ISIS in Syria, according to a French security official.

The French security official, who spoke anonymously to the Daily Mail, did not provide any other details on the Jewish girl, such as her age and how she made her way to Syria.

The girls’ decision to join ISIS and their actual departure came after months of recruitment, mostly online, targeting adolescents, the British newspaper reported. They are serving as wives, babysitters and housekeepers for jihadists.

Between 20 and 50 young girls have also come to Syria to join ISIS from Britain, according to the newspaper.


Arab-Israeli man fighting for ISIS killed in Iraq

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 08:25

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab-Israeli man who joined the jihadist group ISIS was killed in fighting in Iraq.

The parents of Ahmed Habashi, 23, were notified of his death over the weekend, according to Israeli media reports.

Habashi, who is from the Galilee in northern Israel, traveled with four friends in January to Turkey and from there to Syria, where he joined ISIS.

He reportedly was killed near Ramadi in western Iraq. The family was notified of his death in a phone call from another Arab-Israeli friend who also joined the rebel group.

Earlier this month, gardeners in the Israeli city of Nazareth Illit discovered a bag containing about 25 ISIS flags.

In late September, a 24-year-old Arab-Israeli from Kfar Kana who was suspected of being associated with ISIS was arrested and questioned. Earlier last month, another Arab-Israeli was arrested for allegedly traveling to Syria and training with ISIS. Israel has made contact with the group illegal.



Israel to screen arrivals from W. African lands for Ebola

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 07:33

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will screen travelers arriving from West African countries in an effort to prevent the Ebola virus from entering the country.

Travelers arriving from  Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the countries currently most affected by the virus, will be questioned at all border crossings — land, sea and air — according to a statement issued Sunday by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The statement was released after a Sunday morning meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on the Ebola crisis of officials from the health, transportation, interior and justice ministries, as well as officials from the military, police and airport authority.

“This is a global epidemic and we are cooperating with other countries and, in addition to protecting our borders, we are taking a series of steps to isolate patients, if they come, and of course to treat them in our healthcare systems,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “We hope there will be no need for it, but we are prepared for all scenarios.”

Israeli and Palestinian Authority representatives met on Saturday night to discuss cooperation on preventing Ebola from spreading to the area as well as what to do should the disease hit either population. Future meetings reportedly are scheduled.

The new screening guidelines came as a second Ebola victim was identified in the United States — a health-care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who cared for an Ebola patient who died at the hospital last week.

Temple Mount closed to non-Muslims as 80,000 Jews gather at Western Wall

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 06:35

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Temple Mount was closed to non-Muslim visitors as about 80,000 Jewish worshippers visited the Western Wall for Sukkot prayers.

Police clamped down on security in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, adding extra patrols and closing the major streets around the area to traffic.

On Friday, Israel Police restricted the entry of Muslim men to the Temple Mount to those over the age of 50 in response to riots at the holy site two days earlier. Four policemen were injured during the violence and at least five protesters were arrested, according to Israel Police.

The tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers from Israel and abroad gathered at the Western Wall for the traditional Birkat Kohanim, or priestly blessing prayer. Some 300 Kohanim raised their hands in the special blessing, according to the office of the rabbi of the Western Wall. Special prayers for the safety and welfare of Israeli soldiers and security forces also were recited.

On Saturday night, the Jerusalem Light Rail came under attack at the stop near the Arab village of Shuafat in eastern Jerusalem. In at least five separate rock attacks, the windows of the train cars were damaged.

The cars could be out of service, which would slow the rail service during the Sukkot holiday, one of its busiest times of the year.

Since July, the light rail has been attacked more than 100 times, causing railroad cars to be taken out of service, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing data collected by Jerusalem Light Rail.

Works of Nobel Prize for Literature winner Patrick Modiano deal with Holocaust issues

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 07:33

(JTA) – The works of Patrick Modiano, the French author awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, deal frequently with the experience of Jews under the collaborationist Vichy Regime in World War II occupied France.

His works also deal with the ambiguous role played during the Holocaust by ordinary Frenchmen, including their role in deporting Jews to Nazi camps.

Modiano, whose father came from an Italian-Jewish family, was awarded the $1.1 million prize, the Nobel committee said, “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

Born in a Paris suburb soon after the end of World War II, Modiano, 69, has written more than two dozen novels, as well as children’s books and screenplays, but relatively few have been translated into English. While famous in France, he is little known in the United States.

His first novel, “La Place de l’étoile,” was published  in 1968 and was, in part, about a Jew who engaged in shady activities during the Nazi occupation.

He also co-authored the screenplay of Louis Malle’s acclaimed 1974 film “Lacombe, Lucien,” which focused on a young man who joins pro-Nazi French collaborators after being rejected by the anti-Nazi resistance, but then falls in love with a Jewish girl. “Dora Bruder,” published in 1997, traces the life of a girl deported and killed at Auschwitz.

“I have always felt like I’ve been writing the same book for the past 45 years,” he told a news conference after the award was announced on Wednesday.

On Friday, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai, 17, of Pakistan, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for calling for her right and that of other Arab girls to education, and to Indian children’s right activist Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai becomes the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Prize.

Israeli Nobel Peace Prize winner, former president Shimon Peres, congratulated Malala on her honor.

“The Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s decision to award Malala the prize is a worthy one,” Peres said. “She is a symbol to women and girls across the world and an example to all of us. Malala, you defeated those who tried to silence you and your victory is a victory for peace. We are all proud of you.”

Murder of Arab Silwan resident may be related to sale of building to Jews

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 06:27

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab resident of Silwan in eastern Jerusalem was stabbed to death in what could be retaliation for selling an apartment building to Jews.

Other reports say the early Friday morning murder by a family member was the result of a family feud.

Neighbors who witnessed the fight told police that the argument was over the sale of the homes to a Jewish group, according to the Jerusalem Post, though police said the murder was part of a family dispute.

Some Silwan residents have questioned the legality of the purchase, saying the buildings belong to three established Arab families in the neighborhood, the Times of Israel reported.

On Sept. 30, several families moved into the apartments in eastern Jerusalem, causing rioting in the neighborhood.

The apartments were vacant when the Jewish families moved into them.

“There is absolutely no connection between the parties involved in the killing in Silwan overnight Thursday and any real estate transactions between Jews and Arabs in the vicinity,” Ze’ev Orenstein, director of International Affairs for Elad Foundation, told JTA. “The events took place in the context of a local clan dispute. This is nothing more than an effort to enflame tensions between local Arabs and Jews.”

About 50 families live in Silwan, known to Jews as Shiloach, located next to the City of David and across from the Western Wall.

Homemade bomb discovered at West Bank junction

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 06:13

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli military bomb sappers detonated a homemade bomb placed at a bus shelter in the northern West Bank.

The device was discovered on Friday morning  neat the Tappuach junction, located near the West Banks city of Ariel and the Palestinian city of Nablus.

It was later determined that the device, an empty can connected to a cell phone, was a fake.

The fake bomb was placed in the same place as a real bomb that went off late last night in what was determined to be a terror attack. No one was injured in that attack. Also this month, two Palestinians were arrested at a checkpoint at the junction for carrying three pipebombs and a weapon.

Other attempted and successful attacks have occurred at the junction in recent months.


Israel Police restrict Muslim worshippers on Temple Mount following riots

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 06:00

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel Police restricted entry of Muslim men to the Temple Mount to those over the age of 50 in response to riots at the holy site two days ago.

The police also dispatched extra police units throughout the old city of Jerusalem on Friday morning.

Hamas reportedly called on Muslims to assemble Friday at the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount to “defend it.”

“We will fight till the last drop of blood,” Hamas reportedly said.

Masked Palestinian rioters on Wednesday threw rocks, concrete blocks and firebombs at police at the Mughrabi Gate entrance. Four policemen were injured during the violence and at least five protesters were arrested, according to Israel Police.

Report: Iran ordered Hezbollah to carry out attack on Israel over nuclear facility bombing

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 05:44

(JTA) — Iran instructed Hezbollah to attack Israeli forces on the border with Lebanon in retaliation for the “bombing” of Iran’s Parchin nuclear facility, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported.

The report Friday in the al-Rai newspaper cites high-level Washington-based European diplomats, who said a “foreign country” was responsible for the bombing of the military base and suspected nuclear facility.

The report also says that Western intelligence agencies believe that Iran has been conducting tests at Parchin. The bombing thwarted the tests, according to the report.

Hezbollah said Wednesday the attack on Lebanon’s border with Israel that left two Israeli soldiers injured was a “message” for Israel.

“This is a message. Even though we are busy in Syria and on the eastern front in Lebanon, our eyes remain open and our resistance is ready to confront the Israeli enemy,” Sheik Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general, told Lebanese OTV television late Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Satellite images taken of Parchin after the explosion at the military facility show damage consistent with an air attack, defense expert Ronen Solomon told Israel Channel 2 and Defense Magazine.

Reform rabbis nudge ICE on deportations

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 03:58

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Reform rabbis are contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in an attempt to delay the deportation of undocumented workers.

Rabbis Organizing Rabbis partnered with immigration advocacy organizations to ask the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to exercise discretion when deciding whether or not to deport anyone, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center.

While “deportation is an important part of border enforcement, we have learned that too many innocent people are caught in the system,” said Rabbi Peter Berg of Atlanta. “The good news is that ICE legally has the right to use discretion about whom to deport and actually will exercise that discretion – if they hear from enough people.”

Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, more than 60 Reform rabbis called or wrote on behalf of Luis Lopez-Acabal, who is facing deportation back to Guatemala following his involvement in a traffic accident.

Rabbi John Linder of Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, Ariz., met Lopez at the church where he has taken sanctuary. If deported, Lopez would have to leave behind his wife, a legal resident of the United States, and two young children including one with autism.

“We are called as a faith community to stand against injustice,” Linder said, according to the Religious Action Center release. “The family is a sacred institution that is being violated by tragic separation throughout the country, while desperately needed immigration reform is stalled on Capitol Hill. These families should not continue to be victims due to a lack of political resolve.”

Earliest video images of Italian Jews screened

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 03:54

ROME (JTA) – Brief film clips from 1923 made public this month are believed to be the earliest video images of Italian Jews and among the oldest home movies produced in Italy.

The nine minutes of film were screened in Rome Oct. 5 after being restored and digitized by Italy’s Central Institute for the Restoration and Conservation of Library and Archival Heritage.

Shot in 35 mm by industrialist Salvatore Di Segni, the clips show scenes from the life of two Jewish families — the Di Segnis and the Della Setas – and were brought to light by Italian TV journalist Claudio Della Seta.

The clips show the wedding of Della Seta’s grandparents, Silvio Della Seta and Iole Campagnano, in the central Italian city of Perugia on Oct. 14, 1923; as well as family outings that year to the beach at Anzio -where one man is seen wearing a suit and tie on the sand,  and to the mountains, where they are shown cross-country skiing.

In the wedding video viewers can identify the parents of the groom, Samuele Della Seta and Giulia Di Segni, who, 20 years later almost to the day, on Oct. 16, 1943, were rounded up by the Nazis in Rome and deported to their deaths in Auschwitz.

The original negatives have been presented to the Milan-based Contemporary Jewish Documentation Center Foundation.



HIAS scores Netanyahu for seeking refugees’ detention

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 03:27

WASHINGTON (JTA) — HIAS, a U.S. Jewish organization dealing with refugees, criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for seeking the continued detention of asylum seekers.

Netanyahu on Tuesday asked ministers to draft new legislation that would allow the government to work around a Supreme Court ruling in September that struck down much of an earlier law legislating indefinite detention for Africans seeking asylum in Israel. He also said he would keep open the Holot migrant detention facility in the Negev.

In the HIAS statement issued Wednesday, HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield expressed disappointment that Netanyahu was circumventing the Israeli Supreme Court soon after his address to the United Nations General Assembly describing Israel as the only country in the Middle East that protects human rights.

“‎While Netanyahu’s fence has succeeded in reducing the inflow of migrants into Israel to a trickle, he is squandering yet another opportunity, handed to him by the Supreme Court, to celebrate freedom and treat asylum seekers with the hospitality and dignity worthy of a Jewish and democratic state,” Hetfield said.

Netanyahu has called the refugees from Sudan and Eritrea illegal work immigrants and not asylum seekers.
According to HIAS, the refugee recognition rates around the world for Eritreans and Sudanese is between 70 and 80 percent while in Israel, it is less than one percent.

Lawsuit: Tad Taube used Koret Foundation as ‘personal piggy bank’

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 14:26

(JTA) – The longtime president of the Koret Foundation, Tad Taube, is being sued by the widow of foundation founder Joe Koret for treating the institution as his “personal piggy bank.”

Susan Koret alleges in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court that Taube used the San Francisco-based foundation to promote his own causes and ego rather than serve the foundation’s mission. The foundation responded with a countersuit.

A major supporter of Jewish and nonsectarian Bay Area institutions, the foundation also supports Jewish life in Poland and Israel, academic institutions and conservative groups like the Hoover Institute.

Earlier this year Taube, 83, announced that he would retire as foundation president, a position he has held since 1982. He will be succeeded by Michael Boskin and Anita Friedman.

“Taube, thirty years the Foundation’s president, has autocratically controlled the Koret Foundation as a personal piggy bank to aggrandize his name and funnel millions of dollars annually to favored causes, many of which are politically and socially at odds with the core mission of the Foundation,” Susan Koret charged in the lawsuit. “Taube has created a board structure that gives him ultimate power to make decisions, often without consulting the board in advance.”

Joe Koret would be “turning over in his grave” if he knew what Taube had done with the foundation, the lawsuit charges.

In its countersuit, the foundation charges that Susan Koret is incompetent and seeks to remove her from the foundation’s eight-member board despite her lifetime appointment. The countersuit was brought by the board’s other seven members.

Susan Koret “is an incompetent director who lacks an even basic understanding of the governance of the foundation, the grant-making process and the good work done (and communities served) by the Foundation’s grantees,” the foundation’s countersuit charges.

Koret Foundation spokesman Nathan Ballard noted that Susan Koret voted in favor of many of the grants she now seems to be protesting.

“She’s not following what’s going on in board meetings,” Ballard told JTA. “Her behavior is increasingly confused and erratic, so it’s time for her to go.”

The countersuit also notes that Susan Koret was brought on as a housekeeper in the Koret household when Joe’s wife of more than 50 years, Stephanie, became ill, and that Joe and Susan were married for just four years. The two married in 1978, the year Stephanie died. Joe Koret died in 1982.

Koret’s lawsuit alleges that Taube and others, including his lawyer Richard Greene, have conflated the Koret Foundation and Taube’s own charitable organizations to make a “plethora of donations to Taube’s personal causes that deviate from and confused the Foundation’s core missions.”

In 2012, the most recent year for which records are publicly available, the foundation gave out $26 million and had more than $500 million in assets.

Nearly 60 percent of the $64 million provided by the foundation between 2010 and 2012 went to causes tied to Taube and Koret board members, Koret’s lawsuit alleges. That includes $3.2 million to right-wing political causes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle: $1 million for the American Values Initiative at Hoover, where Taube and Koret’s executive director are on the board; and smaller grants to the Ayn Rand Institute, the Federalist Society and the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

The foundation also has sent millions to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, which is set to open later this month. Taube also has supported the museum with millions from his Taube Family Foundation and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.