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Military airfield lands as alternative to banned Ben Gurion

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:23

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Foreign airlines banned from using Ben Gurion Airport will be able to use a military airfield in southern Israel as an alternative, Israel’s transportation minister said.

The opening of Ovda Airport to increased commercial traffic is aimed at encouraging the resumption of flights to Israel, Yisrael Katz said Wednesday in his announcement.

Ovda, which is nearly 40 miles north of Eilat, now serves many commercial flights to the resort city.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority prohibited all U.S. airlines from flying to Israel for at least 24 hours after a rocket destroyed a house in Yehud, a city near Ben Gurion. That night, the European Aviation Safety Agency night canceled all flights to and from Europe for 36 hours.

The FAA on Wednesday extended the ban another 24 hours.

Some 160 flights in and out of Ben Gurion were canceled on Tuesday night and Wednesday, according to Israel’s Channel 2.

Passengers that arrive at Ovda would take buses to the center of Israel, Haaretz  reported. No airline that flies into Ben Gurion Airport has said it will use Ovda.

U.S. Airways and United will restart flights to Israel on Thursday, the Times of Israel reported, citing Israeli air officials. Germany’s Lufthansa suspended flights for another 24 hours, according to reports.

Among the European airlines that have continued to fly to Israel are British Airways, Azerbaijan Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, Russia Airlines, Yakutia Airlines, Bluebird Airways and Siberia Airlines, according to Haaretz.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Ben Gurion on Wednesday morning aboard a military plane. Earlier in the day, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg arrived aboard an El Al flight.

El Al has continued to fly in and out of Ben Gurion. Israel’s national airline has sent planes to pick up stranded passengers from other airlines.


Kerry lands in Israel for cease-fire talks

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 11:17

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel to advance cease-fire talks between Hamas and Israel.

A statement by his spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said Kerry arrived Wednesday.

“He will also travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank, and will be meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Palestinian Authority President (Mahmoud) Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu,” the statement said.

Kerry flew into Ben Gurion Airport on a military jet despite a ban by the Federal Aviation Agency on U.S. commercial flights to and from the airport due to the Gaza conflict, The Associated Press reported.

Kerry spent the past two days in Egypt working on a proposal with that country’s government to halt hostilities that have killed some 600 Palestinians and more than 30 Israelis. Hamas rejected an earlier Egyptian proposal that was accepted by Israel.

After meeting with Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday, Kerry said there has been some progress toward a cease-fire, Haaretz reported. Ban has been in the region since the weekend.

Tens of thousands attend funeral for U.S. lone soldier Max Steinberg

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:16

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A crowd estimated at 30,000 attended the funeral for Max Steinberg, an American lone soldier who was killed in Gaza.

The service for Steinberg, 24, a southern California native who was killed Sunday in a Hamas attack on his armored personnel carrier, was held Wednesday morning at the Har Herzl military cemetery.

Steinberg’s parents and siblings traveled to Israel for the funeral. His mother, Evie, told Israel’s Channel 2 upon her arrival at Ben Gurion Airport that her son was “a hero.”

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said in a Facebook post later Wednesday that the number of mourners “was an amazing show of support and love, which gave real comfort to his wonderful family.” Shapiro had spoken at the funeral.

Steinberg was riding in the armored vehicle with six other members of the Golani Brigade when it was attacked by Hamas explosives. He was a sharpshooter in the elite brigade who had enlisted in the army several months after visiting Israel for the first time on a Birthright trip.

On Sunday night, family, friends and community members gathered for an impromptu memorial service at a park near the Steinbergs’ home in the San Fernando Valley.

Funerals for two other lone soldiers killed in the same attack were held this week.

Jordan Bensemhoun, 22, was buried in Ashkelon’s military cemetery on Tuesday night. Some 6,000 mourners, mostly from the large French-Israeli community, attended the service for the 22-year-old Lyon native despite warnings against large gatherings in the southern city, which is under frequent rocket fire from Gaza.

On Monday night, some 20,000 mourners attended the service for Sean Carmeli, 21, at the Sde Yehoshua military cemetery in Haifa. Social media sites had called on Israelis to attend the funeral for the Texas native, as Carmeli did not have much family in Israel.

Maccabi Haifa, Carmeli’s favorite soccer team, asked its fans on Facebook to “accompany him on his final road and represent us as one family.”


Met Council’s William Rapfogel sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:00

NEW YORK (JTA) — William Rapfogel, the former chief of New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, was sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison for his role in a kickback scheme.

Rapfogel, the longtime executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, also was ordered to pay $3 million in restitution, according to a news release issued Wednesday by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Rapfogel, 59, pleaded guilty in April to stealing $9 million from the taxpayer-funded Met Council in a grand larceny and kickback scheme spanning two decades. His co-defendants — David Cohen, Herb Friedman and Joseph Ross — also have pleaded guilty.

Rapfogel personally stole $3 million, using the money to “fund a lavish lifestyle,” according to Schneiderman.

“This sentence sends the message that there has to be one set of rules for everyone, no matter how rich or powerful, and that those who rip off the neediest New Yorkers will be prosecuted,” Schneiderman said in the news release.

Also in the statement, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli called the fraud “shocking and very damaging to an organization that has literally helped countless people.”

“Those involved in this scam have been held accountable for their wrongdoing and this should serve as an example of what happens when individuals lose their way and become more focused on filling their own pockets than doing good works,” DiNapoli said.

The Met Council, which provides services to the poor and elderly in the New York City area, receives funding from state and city government, as well as from private sources.

The conspiracy began in 1992 when Ross, of the Century Coverage Corp., and Cohen had Century Coverage submit inflated invoices for insurance coverage to the Met Council. The nonprofit knowingly paid the inflated premiums, and Ross gave cash kickbacks to Cohen and Friedman, the Met Council’s chief financial officer.

Rapfogel, who took over as executive director in 1993, joined the scheme soon after and began receiving his own kickbacks. Rapfogel was receiving the largest share of the kickbacks — approximately $30,000 per month at one point — according to Schneiderman.

Last August, investigators from the state Attorney General’s Office found more than $400,000 in cash hidden in Rapfogel’s various homes. Rapfogel, widely considered a power broker in New York political circles, was earning a salary of more than $400,000 at the time and receiving subsidies for day school tuition.

As part of the scheme, Rapfogel and Cohen also directed Ross to make political donations to political candidates seen as potentially helpful to the Met Council using money obtained from the inflated insurance payments.


Israel’s Gaza actions could be war crimes, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay says

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 09:23

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s military actions in Gaza could be considered war crimes, U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

Pillay made the assertion on Wednesday at the start of an emergency debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

She referred to incidents in which Israeli attacks hit houses and hospitals in Gaza, which Israel says are housing rockets, launchers and terrorists.

“These are just a few examples where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” Pillay said.

She called for each incident to be investigated.

Pillay also condemned the “indiscriminate nature” of rocket fire from Gaza that appears to be targeting civilians. She did not refer to them as war crimes.

The special one-day session of the Human Rights Council was convened at the request of the Palestinians, Egypt and Pakistan, according to Reuters.

“Israel will destroy Hamas’ military infrastructure,” said Eviatar Manor, Israel’s ambassador to the council. “However, the Gaza residents are not our enemy. Israel is fully committed to international law.”

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riad al-Malki, said “Israel must be held accountable for its crimes.”



Two IDF soldiers killed in Gaza, Thai worker dies in Ashkelon attack

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 08:52

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza fighting and a foreign worker died from injuries suffered in a mortar attack from Gaza on a hothouse in Ashkelon.

Lt. Nathan Cohen, 23, of Modiin, was killed “in combat” and Capt. Dmitri Levitas, 26, of Jerusalem, was killed by sniper fire, both on Tuesday night, the Israeli army said in a statement.

Their deaths bring the number of Israeli soldiers killed since the July 8 launch of Operation Protective Edge to 29. Another soldier declared missing is widely presumed to be dead.

On Wednesday, the migrant worker from Thailand killed in Ashkelon became the third civilian killed by Gaza rockets since the start of Israel’s operation to halt a bombing barrage from the coastal strip. He died after being flown by helicopter to Barzilai Medical Center in that southern Israeli city.

IDF strikes Gaza hospital it calls Hamas command center

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 08:28

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel bombed a Gaza City hospital that its military said has been used as a Hamas command center and rocket-launching site.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces said it “has targeted specific sites and terrorists located within the premises of Al-Wafa hospital in Gaza City.” It was the second time in a week that the IDF had hit the hospital.

In the latter strike, the hospital was empty of staff and patients, who were transferred to a different Gaza City hospital a week ago, its director told Haaretz.

The hospital was targeted, the IDF said, “in light of several occasions in which fire was opened at IDF forces from within the hospital grounds, and despite repeated warnings against such activities, and notifications to civilians to vacate the premises.”

The IDF said the hospital grounds and its immediate surroundings “have been repeatedly utilized by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a command center, rocket launching site, and a post enabling terrorists to open fire at soldiers.”

In the previous strike on the hospital, doctors and patients had to flee the premises, according to the Palestinian Maan news agency.

The IDF said it has “raised its concerns” about the use of the hospital by Hamas with international organizations, as well as directly to the hospital administration and other Palestinian officials.


‘No Jews allowed’ sign removed from Belgian cafe following complaint

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 07:47

A sign reading “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Jews are not under any circumstances” in a cafe near Liege, July 2014. (Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism)

(JTA) — Police removed a sign from a Belgian cafe saying that Jews were not allowed following a complaint by an anti-Semitism watchdog.

The Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA, filed the complaint Wednesday with the mayor of Saint-Nicolas against the parties responsible for hanging a Turkish- and French-language sign at a cafe in the Liege suburb.

The Turkish text reads, “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Jews are not under any circumstances.” The French text replaces “Jews” with “Zionists.”

Following the LBCA complaint, Saint-Nicolas Mayor Jacques Heleven dispatched police to the cafe, who had the sign removed and confirmed the LBCA report. 

The window display also included a Palestinian flag, an Israeli flag crossed out with a red “X” sign and a kaffiyeh, or Palestinian shawl, draped around it.

“LBCA will file in the coming hours a criminal complaint with the Liege prosecutor over the actions of those responsible for this violation of the July 30 law against racism and xenophobia of 1981,” LBCA said in a statement.

Last week, the Belgian Jewish newspaper Joods Actueel reported that a shop owner in Antwerp had refused to sell an Orthodox Jewish woman clothes “out of protest.” An employee confirmed that the shop had temporarily adopted a policy of not selling to Jews.

Western Europe has seen a significant rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and attacks — including against nine synagogues in France — since Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza on July 8 following a barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israeli cities and towns.

Paris protest of Israel’s Gaza campaign to go ahead under heavy guard

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 07:13

(JTA) — In a reversal by Paris officials, organizers of a demonstration against Israel’s actions in Gaza received permission to march through the city’s center.

Approximately 1,500 police officers have been assigned to provide security at the march, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening, the Le Figaro daily reported.

The heavy police presence is meant to prevent disturbances like those witnessed in France in recent weeks, including attacks against nine synagogues, which led the French Ministry of Interior to impose a ban on anti-Israel protests out of concern for public order.

Thousands defied the ban in additional violent and nonviolent protests against Israel’s assault on Hamas in Gaza, which Israel launched on July 8 following repeated rocket launches at the country from Gaza.

City officials told the Le Parisien daily that the organizers of Wednesday’s rally from the umbrella group “National collective for a just and durable peace between Palestinians and Israelis” have proven themselves to be “serious and responsible” in previous events.

On Sunday, approximately 200 protesters assembled at a banned protest rally outside the main synagogue of the heavily Jewish Paris suburb of Sarcelles. Police prevented them from approaching the synagogue, where 100 Jewish youths assembled to defend the building.

A group of protesters threw a firebomb at a nearby synagogue, resulting in minor damage.

Jewish groups praise Obama on LGBT worker rights expansion

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 07:04

President Obama signs executive order extending work protection rights to LGBT employees of federal contractors, as Rabbi David Saperstein (l), director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, looks on at the White House on July 18 2014. (Hadar Susskind/ Bend the Arc)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A number of Jewish groups praised President Obama for extending federal job protections for gay employees to employees of government contractors.

Obama signed two executive orders, one extending existing job protections for federal employees who are gay to employees of federal contractors, and another adding transgender employees to those deserving protections.

Praising the move this week were Bend the Arc, a social action group; the Anti-Defamation League; the National Council of Jewish Women; and the Religious Actions Center of the Reform movement. The orders were signed on July 18.

“The immediate impact of this executive order is that the many LGBT Americans who are part of the vast workforce of federal contractors no longer have to fear that they might be fired from their job because of who they are,” Stosh Cotler, Bend the Arc’s CEO, said in a statement. “There are still millions of LGBT Americans working in private industry with no protection from discrimination.”

LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender.

Hospitalized Nazi guard granted bail in extradition case

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 06:53

(JTA) — An 89-year-old Philadelphia man who served as a Nazi concentration camp guard has been granted bail in an extradition case after being hospitalized.

A U.S. Magistrate Court judge reversed a previous ruling and granted bail to Johann Breyer on Monday, according to reports. German authorities in the town of Weiden in Bavaria have been seeking to extradite Breyer and try him for  war crimes in connection with his time as a guard at Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

Breyer was hospitalized over the weekend, and his lawyers have argued that his health has deteriorated in federal detention since his arrest in June. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Breyer has suffered a series of strokes in recent years and suffers from heart disease and dementia. His lawyers claim that he has little memory of his service during the war.

Breyer, a retired toolmaker who has lived in Philadelphia since 1952, became a U.S. citizen in 1957. When U.S. authorities attempted to revoke his citizenship in 1992 to make extradition easier, he successfully argued that it could not be revoked since his mother had been a U.S. citizen. He was ordered deported in 1997 by the U.S. Immigration Court in Philadelphia, based on his admitted service as a guard at a Nazi death camp.

Breyer has previously claimed that he only served because he was required to do so, and that he merely served as a perimeter guard and never harmed anybody.

Judge quashes terrorism lawsuit subpoena for Israeli agent

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 06:29

(JTA) — A U.S. federal court agreed to a request by Israel not to require a former intelligence official to testify in a terrorism lawsuit against the Bank of China.

Israel had asked Judge Shira Scheindlin, a Manhattan judge, to quash a subpoena for the testimony of Uzi Shaya in the terrorism financing lawsuit against the state-owned bank, and on Monday, Scheindlin agreed, Reuters reported.

The lawsuit has been filed by the family of Daniel Wultz, an American teenager killed in a 2006 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv; a similar lawsuit has been filed by 22 families of terror victims seeking millions of dollars in damages. The family is accusing the Bank of China of funding terrorist organizations through U.S. accounts.

Wultz, of Weston, Fla., was 16 when he died of injuries sustained in the bombing of a shwarma restaurant. Eleven people were killed in the suicide attack by a Palestinian bomber.

Shaya, according to reports, alerted Chinese security officials in 2005 to suspicious transactions, including transfers of money to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Israel says if Shaya is forced to testify, he could reveal state secrets.

A guilty verdict under anti-terrorism laws could affect the bank’s ability to continue conducting business in the United States.

The family has said it was encouraged by Israeli officials to file the suit and has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of acceding to Chinese pressure to scuttle the lawsuit.

Poll shows 57 percent of Americans back Israel in Gaza conflict

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 06:10

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A majority of Americans back Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, according to a poll.

The CNN poll conducted from Friday to Sunday – just as Israel was launching its ground operation in the conflict, which started July 8 – found that 57 percent of Americans see Israel’s actions as justified, with 12 percent among those respondents saying Israel is not using enough force.

CNN noted that the same percentage, 57 percent, believed Israel was justified in its use of force during the previous conflict with Hamas in Gaza in 2012, and 63 percent thought it was justified during the 2008-2009 Cast Lead conflict.

The survey carried out by ORC International found, however, that Israel’s unfavorables were climbing, with 38 percent saying that they had an unfavorable opinion of the country, up 14 percent from February, and 60 percent posting a favorable opinion, down from 72 percent in February.

The telephone poll of 1,012 Americans had a margin of error of three percentage points.

House passes bill expanding Hezbollah sanctions

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 06:01

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that would target banks that deal with the terrorist group Hezbollah.

The legislation passed Tuesday, initiated by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), expands sanctions already in place due to Hezbollah’s designation as terrorist group to target financial institutions that do business with Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.

It also targets Hezbollah’s media affiliate, Al-Manar, and requires periodic government reporting on Hezbollah’s alleged dealings in drugs and blood diamonds.

The bill, introduced in April, was fast-tracked with the support of House Foreign Affairs Committee leaders, Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat.

“This important legislation will result in fewer resources falling into the hands of Hezbollah terrorists who have shown great resilience in attacking Western targets, in addition to their destabilizing efforts in the Middle East,” Schneider said after its passage.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

London Jewish mother reunited with kidnapped sons

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 05:51

(JTA) — Two British boys who had been kidnapped by their father in Russia have been reunited with their Orthodox Jewish mother in London.

Rachael Neustadt announced that she was reunited with her sons Daniel Jacob, 8, and Jonathan, 6, after extensive court proceedings in the United Kingdom and in Russia. According to The Telegraph, the boys returned home at the end of June, and the details of their homecoming were publicly revealed on Monday.

The kidnapping occurred in December 2012, when the two boys went to visit their father, and Rachael’s former husband, Ilya Neustadt, in Russia for the Christmas holiday and he then refused to return them to their mother, who is their primary caretaker. Ilya Neustadt subsequently went into hiding, and the children were found living in Moscow with their paternal grandmother, Irina Mogilevsky.

The case made legal history when a Moscow court recognized a legal holding by the United Kingdom’s high court, reportedly the first time that a Russian court has complied with a UK court order. The ruling was made under the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention.

Rachael Neustadt, who was born in the United States and also has a two-year-old son, said in a statement that “I am thrilled and relieved that the boys are back home,” according to The Jewish Chronicle. “We have so much to catch up on and so many hugs to make up for.”

Nominee as Hungarian envoy to Italy called ‘raging’ anti-Semite

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 05:41

(JTA) – Opposition parties in Hungary are protesting the nomination of a figure described as a far-right activist and anti-Semite as the country’s new ambassador to Italy.

The Parliament’s Committee for European Affairs accepted the nomination by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s rightist government of Péter Szentmihályi Szabó, but he still must face a hearing in the Committee for Foreign Affairs and be accepted by the Italian government.

Two opposition parties protested the appointment, noting that Szentmihályi Szabó has published articles in several far-right newspapers and been associated with a radical-right political party. The leftist Democratic Coalition wrote to Italy’s foreign minister urging Italy not to accept his appointment. “It would be shameful not only for the government but for the whole of Hungary if the ambassador were allowed to take his post,” the letter said, according to the Hungarian news agency MTI.

The U.S.-based anti-Orban blogger Eva Balogh described Szentmihályi Szabó as a “raging” and “inveterate” anti-Semite. She quoted an article written by him in 2000 in the far-right Magyar Forum, called “The Agents of Satan,” which, though it doesn’t specifically use the term “Jew,” clearly describes Jews in classic anti-Semitic terms similar to those used in Nazi propaganda.

The Hungarian Jewish leadership did not immediately respond to the nomination. But a source close to the leadership of the main Jewish umbrella group Mazsihisz told JTA that the nomination was a “very unfriendly gesture from the government” during the year designated by the government as an official Holocaust Memorial Year.



French Socialist politician removed from party over anti-Semitic statement

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 05:27

(JTA) — A local Socialist politician from France’s Lyon region was booted from the party for making statements deemed anti-Semitic.

A disciplinary board of the Socialist Party in Lyon, located in east-central France, ejected Ahmed Chekhab, a deputy mayor of the town of Vaulx-en-Velin, from the party Monday evening, the LyonCapitale.fr news website reported.

Chekhab was heard telling the president of a local sports club: “Would you rather get f**ked by Zittoun, by a Jew, then get the help of someone like yourself?”

Chekhab was commenting on Philippe Zittoun, his Jewish predecessor as deputy mayor. He was angry at the sports club president over the cancellation of a sports event for 800 children.

The committee said in its decision to boot Chekhab that “in the current political context, his remarks were inexcusable.”

The affair became public earlier this month following a report by Le Progres daily. Chekhab, who is in his thirties and was elected to the post of deputy mayor earlier this year, later apologized for the remark.

“These were idiotic remarks,” he wrote. Zittoun replied he would accept the apology only if Chekhab resigns.


Iron Dome ineffective, says MIT scientist

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 05:18

(JTA) — An MIT security expert says that Israel’s famed Iron Dome missile defense system is flawed, with a success rate of under five percent.

An analysis posted on the website of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, thebulletin.org, by Theodore Postol, a professor of science technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, indicates that Israel’s low casualty rates are due to the widespread availability of shelters and to the country’s early warning system, as well as the relatively small size of Hamas rockets.

Postol based his analysis on photo and video evidence as well as an analysis of Israeli insurance claim data.

Postol has previously criticized the Iron Dome system. In 2013, the Israeli Institute of National Security Studies rebutted his criticism, saying it was “dubious research without access to credible data,” according to a report by the International Business Times. Israel reportedly has claimed to have a 90 percent success rate in intercepting missiles.

Postol has responded that if the missile system matched Israeli claims, the government would make available the data to prove it.

In his post on bulletin.org, Postol wrote, “In the absence of Israeli data backing claims of Iron Dome efficiency, and based on the unambiguous evidence I have reviewed, a conclusion seems clear: The Israeli government is not telling the truth about Iron Dome to its own population, or to the United States, which has provided the Israeli government with the bulk of the funding needed to design and build the much-heralded but apparently ineffective rocket-defense system.”

Protesters arrested after ‘die-in’ at Friends of IDF office

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 16:58

NEW YORK (JTA) — Nine protesters against Israel’s Gaza operation were arrested inside the Manhattan offices of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.

Some two dozen protesters gathered for the “die-in” at FIDF’s New York office on Tuesday. The incident was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say NO, groups opposed to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Twelve of the protesters entered the offices and began reading aloud names they said were Palestinians killed in Gaza.

“The employees became upset and eventually called the police,” said Lizzie Busch, one of the JVP protesters.

Busch and two other protesters left the office when police arrived and ordered them to vacate, according to Donna Nevel, a JVP board member. The remaining nine protesters, including JVP’s executive director, Rebecca Vilkomerson, were arrested.

Some reporters were on hand to witness the incident. FIDF declined to comment.

Emergency transfer denied in kosher prison food case

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 15:33

(JTA) — A federal judge rejected a request by a Venezuelan Jewish detainee for an emergency transfer from an Alabama prison over complaints that it was not providing kosher meals.

In a ruling last week on the case of Rafael Alberto Lloveras Linares, U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre found that Linares was offered an alternative kosher diet, although he complained that it was not prepared in accordance with Jewish tradition, according to a report by AL.com, the online edition of the Huntsville Times.

Linares, a federal immigration detainee, had asked to be transferred from the Etowah County jail in Huntsville to a prison in New Jersey or Florida. He alleged that he was assaulted by other prisoners after filing suit to demand kosher food.

Linares requested the injunction for an emergency transfer on May 1 — and claimed he was assaulted four days later — after submitting his original complaint about the kosher food on April 21. He filed an additional lawsuit last week against officials at the Etowah County jail for allegedly failing to address the assault, the Huntsville Times reported.

Linares’ original lawsuit about the kosher food will proceed in court.