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Utah man gets five years in prison for firing on synagogue

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 08:39

(JTA) — A Utah man was sentenced to five years in prison for firing a gun at a Salt Lake City synagogue in 2012.

Macon Openshaw, 22, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty on April 16 in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah to firing three rounds from a handgun at Congregation Kol Ami, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. The shots broke windows and damaged the window casings.

Openshaw admitted to shooting at the synagogue because of its Jewish character.

“Religiously motivated violence cannot be tolerated by civil society,” Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels said in a statement.

Openshaw also was ordered to pay $1,969 to the synagogue to pay for the damage caused by his attack.

U.S. trust awards $1.75 million to Israeli agencies for disabled

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 07:02

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two agencies that care for Israelis with disabilities and their families will receive $1.75 million in grants from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The grants announced last week will go to two Israeli institutions that help disabled children and Israeli army veterans and their families.

A $1 million grant will go to Shalva, The Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel, to fund a dining hall and events floor in the organization’s new National Children’s Center in Jerusalem.

Shalva provides services to more than 500 Israelis with special needs, from infants to young adults, providing tailored programs and round-the-clock therapies.

A $750,000 grant will go to the Beit Halochem-Tel Aviv, which provides services for disabled Israeli army veterans. The grant is to provide funding for the creation of a professional hydrotherapy facility and renovations to pool facilities.

The Beit Halochem center serves about 5,500 disabled army veterans living in the center of the country, as well as about 13,000 members of the veterans’ immediate families. The center provides rehabilitation services and a place to spend time with their families.

Since the Helmsley Charitable Trust began awarding grants to Israel in 2009, over $112 million has been committed to charitable organizations, including scientific research, health care and communications.

400 French immigrants to arrive in Israel

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 05:48

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 400 immigrants from France are coming to Israel amid rocket fire on their new home country.

The two chartered flights organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption are set to arrive Wednesday evening, where the new olim, mostly from Paris and its suburbs, will be welcomed in a special ceremony. The new immigrants include 18 babies and 195 children and teens.

Some 60 of the new immigrants will move to the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, which have been under regular bombardment by rockets fired from Gaza. More than 100 will reside in Tel Aviv and the center of the country, 130 in Netanya and about 50 in Jerusalem.

None of the immigrants scheduled to arrive have canceled due to the current rocket fire on the country, according to the Jewish Agency.

“Every immigrant who arrives in Israel strengthens us as a people, and this is all the more so when it comes to the growing aliyah from France,” Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said in a statement.

France, notably the Paris region, has seen an elevated level of anti-Semitic attacks in recent months and more dramatically in recent weeks. The Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency recently implemented a plan to encourage aliyah from France and ease French Jews’ integration into Israeli society.

More than 5,000 French Jews are expected to immigrate to Israel by the end of 2014, up from 3,289 in 2013 and 1,917 in 2012. Some 2,600 French Jews arrived in Israel during the first six months of this year.

 

IDF warns northern Gaza residents to leave ahead of airstrikes

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 05:22

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli military warned residents in three northern Gaza cities to evacuate their homes ahead of planned airstrikes.

Recorded phone and text messages telling the residents of Beit Lahyia, Shuja’iya and Zeitoun to leave were delivered early Wednesday morning. Leaflets also were dropped throughout the area.

The messages said that a high volume of rockets being shot at Israel were originating from these areas and that the Israel Defense Forces planned to carry out aerial strikes on targets in the communities.

“The IDF does not want to harm you, and your families,” the message said. “The evacuation is for your own safety. You should not return to the premises until further notice. Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately, endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families.”

Hamas told the civilian residents of the communities to disregard the warnings, according to the IDF.

Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, the IDF said it targeted at least 39 of what it called terror targets, four people it identified as terrorists, and command and control centers used by senior Hamas leadership and other terrorists.

Since Tuesday afternoon, when Israel halted its unilateral observance of a cease-fire, the IDF said it struck some 100 targets, about half of which were rocket launchers, as well as terror tunnels, weapon storage and manufacturing facilities, and various military compounds and facilities.

In total, throughout Operation Protective Edge, the IDF said it has struck about 1,825 terror-related targets across the Gaza Strip.

More than 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed during the operation. One Israeli was killed Tuesday — the first Israeli fatality in the conflict.

At least 20 rockets were fired Wednesday morning at Israel from Gaza, including a large salvo at Tel Aviv that was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Shrapnel from one of the rockets fell through the roof of a home in south Tel Aviv, landing in a bedroom.

Since the beginning of the operation nine days ago, more than 1,260 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, extending beyond targets in the south and reaching to the center and north of the country. Some 225 rockets have been intercepted by Iron Dome, with an overall success rate of 86 percent, according to the IDF.

 

 

50 righteous gentiles honored in Warsaw

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 04:38

(JTA) — U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull called 50 Holocaust-era rescuers of Jews “a light in the darkness” at a Warsaw reception in their honor.

The reception was hosted by the New York-based Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, which provides material assistance to hundreds of people who aided Jews during the war.

“You knew that the Hitlerites killed people — sometimes entire families — for aiding Jews during the German occupation of Poland,” Mull reflected, “but at the same time you decided to help your Jewish brothers and sisters.”

The honorees are Righteous Among the Nations, a designation bestowed by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial authority on non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi genocide.

Leszek Mikolajkow, one of the righteous gentiles who attended Sunday’s reception, said he was “slightly embarrassed” by the ceremony, although he acknowledged that he understood the need for such events, the PAP news agency reported.

“We had to save them, it was just a reflex,” he said.

Poland is home to the world’s highest number of righteous gentiles at 6,454, followed by 5,351 in the Netherlands and 3,760 in France.

In 2013, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous distributed approximately $1.7 million to some 675 needy rescuers living in 21 countries.

Among the rescuers at the reception in Warsaw was Anna Stupnicka, who at the age of 12 helped her mother smuggle 11-year-old Liliana Adler out of the Warsaw Ghetto. The mother and daughter had entered the area in 1941 to give out food and books in defiance of orders by the Nazi occupation force.

ANC refuses to apologize for employee’s Hitler post

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 16:19

(JTA) – The African National Congress indicated it would not take action against an employee who posted a Facebook message lauding Hitler’s genocide against the Jews.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe in an interview with the South African Jewish Report said Rene Smit, who works as social media manager at ANC Western Cape, posted the item on her own Facebook page and not in her ANC capacity. Therefore, Mantashe said, the ANC — South Africa’s ruling party — would not take responsibility for the episode.

The post has since been deleted.

The post displayed an image of Hitler with the title “Yes man, you were right …” followed by the line, “I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them to let you know why I was killing them.” At the bottom of the image was the message, “Share this picture to tell the truth a whole world.”

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies said it complained to Mantashe about the post.

The incident comes days after the ANC’s deputy secretary general, Jessie Duarte, posted a statement on the party’s website comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi war crimes.

“As we move towards the month of August and are reminded of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, surely we must ask the people of Israel: has the term ‘lest we forget’ lost its meaning?” Duarte wrote.

The Board of Deputies also complained to Mantashe about that remark, which was condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Dutch travel firm follows German lead, cancels Israel trips

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 16:10

(JTA) — Following its German sister company’s lead, the Dutch branch of Europe’s TUI travel giant has called off all tours of Israel due to the rocket fire there.

TUI Nederland, which is Holland’s largest travel group, on Tuesday announced the cancellation of its tours and flights to Eilat, Israel’s southern port city and holiday destination, following a similar move over the weekend by the much larger German branch, which is Germany’s largest travel group and the operator of the TUIfly airline.

While the German company suspended all flights and tours until July 31, the Dutch company will reevaluate next week, the Dutch NOS broadcaster reported.

The cancellations in Holland affected only a few dozen passengers with flight tickets and vacation reservations, according to NOS, which noted that TUI Nederland organizes flights through its Benelux subsidiaries Arke and Kras.

In its announcement, the German company wrote, “TUI Germany is reacting to the current situation in Israel and has cancelled all tours in the country until 31 July inclusive. Holidaymakers who have booked a TUI tour through Israel in the next three weeks will be contacted.”

The company said it would accept no new bookings for Israel with departure dates in the next three weeks.

A German Foreign Ministry travel advisory notes there have been “massive rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip in recent days,” adding that the Tel Aviv region also has been targeted.

On Friday, Hamas officials warned airlines not to fly to Israel because Hamas would be targeting its airports.

 

Report: Antwerp shop owner won’t sell to Jews in ‘protest’

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 16:03

(JTA) — A Belgian Jewish woman said an Antwerp shop owner refused to serve her “out of protest.”

The woman, identified by the initials B.H., told police and the Jewish monthly Joods Actueel that she was declined service on Monday when she entered his clothes store in the shopping district of central Antwerp.

A spokesman from the Antwerp police department confirmed to Joods Actueel that the case was being investigated.

“When I came to the cash register to pay for a few items I was told, ‘We currently don’t sell to Jews out of protest,’ ” the woman, who is Orthodox and identifiable as Jewish, told the weekly.

According to the report, which did not name the shop or its owner, the man would not say what he was protesting.

The weekly then sent a reporter with a hidden video camera to the store, where the reporter interviewed an employee about the incident.

Asked about the incident, the employee told the reporter, “It was my boss and he was protesting.” Asked again whether the shop owner had a policy of not selling to Jews, the employee said, “Yeah, that’s what he says.”

But when Joods Actueel contacted the shop owner, he denied his business has such a policy.

“On the contrary, we have many Jewish clients and we buy our products from a Jew,” the owner said, adding, “Why would we not sell to Jews? We’d only be hurting ourselves.”

Also in central Antwerp, a few dozen men on Saturday shouted “slaughter the Jews” during a protest against Israel’s operation in Gaza that has killed nearly 200 Palestinians. The operation is aimed at halting rocket fire from Gaza on civilian targets in Israel.

3 arrests made in N.Y. hate graffiti; swastika painted on London home

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 15:40

(JTA) — Three men were arrested for vandalizing a yeshiva property and nearby house in New York City.

The New York Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force arrested the men on Monday for acts they are alleged to have committed in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the jpupdates news site.

The suspects allegedly spray-painted hate statements on a building under construction in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood before breaking into a nearby yeshiva in the heavily Orthodox Jewish area, spray-painting a swastika on a bus parked outside.

In London, a vandal painted a large blue swastika on a home on Sunday night in the Shirehall Park neighborhood.

The property’s Jewish owners painted over the offending symbol placed above their front porch, according to the thisislocallondon.co.uk news site.

One of the home’s residents said surveillance cameras caught the vandal — a white male — in the act and that the police have opened an investigation, Arutz Sheva reported. The resident said the house may have been mistaken for a nearby synagogue.

 

Major teen engagement project launches in Colorado

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 15:28

(JTA) — A national and local foundation are teaming to launch a wide-ranging initiative for Jewish teens in the Denver-Boulder area.

The San Francisco-based Jim Joseph Foundation pledged to help fund the Colorado effort by matching local individual and foundation contributions totaling up to $2.26 million over four years. The Denver-based Rose Community Foundation has made an initial grant of $1.07 million over two years.

The initiative, which was launched Monday, is designed to increase the number and diversity of high school-age Jewish teens participating in Jewish education and engagement experiences, and to improve the quality and variety of experiences. It also seeks to expand the Jewish Student Connection network of Jewish clubs in secular schools, as well as the Moving Traditions organization’s teen discussion groups Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! and “Shevet Achim: The Brotherhood.

Also, the effort aims to facilitate collaboration among Jewish youth groups and synagogues, increase training and support for youth professions, and provide micro-grants and support to Jewish teens interested in creating peer-led Jewish programs.

Kerry: U.S. would consider extending Iran talks

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 15:21

WASHINGTON (JTA) –  The United States would consider an extension to the July 20 deadline for an Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Kerry, speaking Tuesday in Vienna after meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, and representatives of other nuclear powers negotiating with Iran, said one of the options he would put to President Obama and the Congress would be extending the talks.

The possibility of a six-month extension was written into the interim agreement governing the talks, launched in January, but the Obama administration has focused until now on the deadline date. Kerry, who was returning to Washington on Tuesday, appeared to suggest that advances in the talks merited the extension.

“We have made progress,” Kerry said, referring both to the negotiations and his recent round of direct talks with Zarif. “We have all continued to negotiate in good faith. But after my conversations here with both Iran and with our P5+1 partners in particular, it is clear that we still have more work to do.”

The P5+1 includes the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

Republicans in Congress and a number of Democrats oppose an extension. Israeli leaders have said that it is the better of two bad choices, as it would at least delay a deal they see as too concessionary.

Kerry did not outline the progress he said the sides had achieved, but Zarif in an interview with The New York Times posted Tuesday said for the first time that Iran was ready to freeze uranium enrichment at civilian-use levels, between 3 and 5 percent, for up to seven years. Zarif also said Iran would not dismantle its centrifuges, a key U.S. demand.

Obama and others have said that they would find such a limit acceptable, but want it guaranteed by a dismantling of most of Iran’s centrifuges.

Western diplomats also have not spoken of a time limit for the enrichment freeze, although The New York Times quoted U.S. officials as saying that it should be at least 10 years.

Israel has said that any deal that does not complete dismantle Iran’s enrichment capacity is a bad one.

 

Kerry slams Hamas for ignoring cease-fire

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 15:12

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ripped Hamas for ignoring a cease-fire call and affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself.

“I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to offer a cease-fire in which Egypt and Israel have joined together,” Kerry said Tuesday in Vienna, where he was attending Iran nuclear talks.

The previous evening, President Obama defended Israel at an annual White House event honoring prominent Muslim Americans.

Israel abided for six hours by the terms of an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire on Tuesday, the eighth day of the Gaza conflict, before resuming airstrikes due to the unabated rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

“Israel has a right to defend itself, and it is important for Hamas not to be provoking and purposefully trying to play politics in order to gain greater followers for its opposition, and use the innocent lives of civilians who they hide in buildings and use as shields and put in danger,” Kerry said.

“That is against the laws of war and that’s why they are a terrorist organization. So we need to remember what is at stake here, and we will continue to work for a cease-fire.”

President Obama at the Iftar dinner said, “I will say very clearly, no country can accept rocket fired indiscriminately at citizens. And so, we’ve been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas.

“At the same time, on top of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that we’ve worked long and hard to alleviate, the death and injury of Palestinian civilians is a tragedy, which is why we’ve emphasized the need to protect civilians, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

Nearly 200 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed in the Israeli operation dubbed Protective Edge. The Israeli army said it is striking at military targets.

A number of prominent Muslim Americans, and at least one umbrella body, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, had called for a boycott of the dinner, citing in part Obama’s backing for Israel in the current conflict.

“In the government’s silence, Israel is committing a massacre in Palestine with the possibility of an all-out ground assault,” the ADC said in a statement.

The Obama administration has said it would oppose an Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

“Nobody wants to see a ground invasion because that would put even more civilians at risk,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. “But again, this is Israel’s decision to make, and Israeli political leaders certainly have the right — even the responsibility — to protect their citizens, and that’s what they’ll do.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until now has resisted calls from some members of his Cabinet for a ground invasion, although on Tuesday, after Israel suffered its first death in the Gaza conflict, he said Israel would expand its attacks on the coastal strip.

 

Netanyahu fires deputy defense chief over criticism of Gaza campaign

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 14:43

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed Danny Danon from his post as Israel’s deputy defense minister after Danon criticized the government’s handling of the Gaza operation.

“At a time when the Government of Israel and the IDF are in the midst of a military campaign against the terrorist organizations and is taking determined action to maintain the security of Israel’s citizens, it cannot be that the Deputy Defense Minister will sharply attack the leadership of the country regarding the campaign,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued Tuesday evening. “These sharp remarks on the Deputy Defense Minister’s part are irresponsible, especially given his position.”

Danon is a Knesset member from Netanyahu’s Likud party and is chairman of World Likud.

Netanyahu said that given Danon’s stated lack of confidence in the government, it would have been expected that he would resign from his position.

“Since he has not done so, I have decided to dismiss him from his post,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Danon criticized the security Cabinet’s decision to approve an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire.

“Once again Hamas is setting the tone for this operation,” Danon said while visiting reservists on the Gaza border. “We must retake the initiative and correct the mistake made in this morning’s Cabinet meeting. Now is the time to let the IDF win this battle.”

Following his firing, Danon said in a statement, “It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not accept that there are different voices than his within our party. The Prime Minister capitulated to Abu Mazan (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) when he agreed to release murderers in return for negotiations, did not react strongly enough when our three teenagers were brutally murdered, and this morning he accepted a cease-fire with Hamas that weakens Israel.  I could not accept the defeatist atmosphere that has become prevalent in our Cabinet.”

Earlier in the day in a televised news conference at the Knesset, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman also was critical of the Netanyahu government’s handling of the Gaza operation, saying Israel should retake Gaza.

“Israel must go all the way in Gaza. The world must give us its full backing to go all the way,” Liberman said. “All this hesitation works against us.”

After agreeing to the cease-fire, Israel had halted its operation known as Protective Edge. But after six hours and more than 40 rockets fired throughout Israel, the military resumed its campaign to stop the attacks from Gaza.

Netanyahu: Hamas leaves Israel no choice but to intensify Gaza op

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 13:02

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will “expand and intensify” its military operation against Hamas in the wake of a failed cease-fire attempt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

In an address to the nation Tuesday night, which came less than an hour after the announcement of the first Israeli death in the latest Gaza conflict, a civilian, Netanyahu said, “If there is to be no cease-fire, our answer is fire.”

“It would have been preferable to have solved this diplomatically, and this is what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire, but Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it,” he said.

Netanyahu said the campaign will continue until the military has eliminated the threats to Israel.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in the same address that the country is “determined to continue the operation” in Gaza and “will not compromise the security of the state.”

The person killed was a 37-year-old civilian who brought food and treats to Israeli soldiers operating near the Erez border crossing with Gaza. He was hit with a mortar fired from Gaza.

Nearly 200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since the start of the operation.

Shortly after Netanyahu made his televised remarks, he fired Likud Party member Danny Danon from his position as deputy defense minister, reportedly for remarks he made criticizing the government’s handling of the Gaza operation.

“Once again Hamas is setting the tone for this operation. We must retake the initiative and correct the mistake made in this morning’s Cabinet meeting,” Danon had said, referring to the Security Cabinet’s decision to approve an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire. “Now is the time to let the IDF win this battle.”

Also Tuesday, 25 mobile bomb shelters donated by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews were placed in southern Israeli communities hard hit by rockets from Gaza, including Ashdod, Ashkelon and Lachish.

The group raised more than $2 million in the early days of Operation Protective Edge, now in its eighth day. Part of the funding was used to open an emergency support center for the elderly in areas affected by the rockets, providing assistance including delivering food and medicines, as well as staying in contact with them.

Civilian visiting soldiers is first Israeli killed in Gaza conflict

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 12:20

A fire caused when a rocket from Gaza, struck near the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon on July 15, 2014. The IDF reports that Gaza terrorists have fired nearly 35 rockets at Israel since Tuesday morning. (Yossi Aloni/FLASH90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A civilian bringing food to Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border was the first Israeli killed by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge.

The 37-year-old man was pronounced dead upon arrival at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon on Tuesday afternoon; he had received emergency treatment in the field. He was visiting soldiers at the Erez border crossing when he was hit by mortar fire.

The CrownHeights.info news site identified the man as a Lubavitcher named Dor Chanin.

Nearly 200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed during the first eight days of the operation.

About 40 rockets were fired at Israel during the 7 p.m. hour, bringing the day’s total to nearly 100.  Israel observed a cease-fire for about six hours on Tuesday, but rockets from Gaza continued to rain down on Israel.

Following the resumption of Israeli attacks on Gaza Tuesday, Israel’s Air Force attacked 30 targets across Gaza, including 20 underground launchers, tunnels, an ammunition depot, and the house of an Islamic Jihad official, Haaretz reported, citing the Israel Defense Forces.

Also Tuesday afternoon, rocket fire from Gaza hit a second power line that provides electricity to Gaza, lowering the strip’s power supply by 20 percent. The Israel Electric Company said it will not repair the lines until it can be sure of its employees’ safety.

Dutch city to remove Palestine from Jerusalem, Tiberias street signs

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 12:03

(JTA) — A Dutch city that described several Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tiberias, as situated in Palestine has agreed to remove the description.

A spokesman for Eindhoven, in the eastern Netherlands, said Monday that the city would remove the designation pertaining to street signs named for the biblical cities.

City officials argued that the description pertained to historical or biblical Palestine and “were in no way meant to express a political standpoint or to offend.” But at the insistence of Likoed Nederland, a local association supportive of Israel’s Likud ruling party, the city ultimately agreed to remove the reference to Palestine, the association said Monday on its website.

The announcement quoted a letter by a Eindhoven municipal spokesman, who said, “I am able to inform you that the municipality of Eindhoven has decided to remove the text from the street signs and from the street register.”

Likoed Nederland had reported the description to the media in May, calling it an attempt to “wipe Israel off the map.” The city had printed text on street signs bearing the names of biblical cities and areas that described them as being located in Palestine.

On Saturday, Likoed Nederland accused the Dutch ANP news agency of referring to Israeli territory targeted by rockets from Lebanon as “occupied territory.”

The report concerned rockets fired from Hasbaya in Lebanon that landed in the Galilee, which ANP, citing a Lebanese news agency, said may have been fired “in the direction of territory occupied by Israel.”

The managing editor of ANP’s foreign desk, Bengt van Zwol, told JTA the territory in question was not the Galilee, which his agency does not regard as occupied, but the Golan Heights.

Separately, a state-owned university in Barcelona, Spain, corrected its online course application form amid criticism over its omitting of Israel from a list that contained more than 200 “countries of residence,” including “Palestine Territory” and Antarctica.

Responding to criticism by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a spokesman for the Autonomous University of Barcelona apologized last week and added that “it has been an unfortunate technical mistake, without any political background.” But Shimon Samuels, the center’s director of international relations, said this claim “is of course nonsense, unless the software company is also complicit.”

Antwerp demonstration features calls to ‘slaughter the Jews’

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 10:53

(JTA) — Dozens of men at an anti-Israel demonstration in Antwerp shouted slogans about slaughtering Jews.

Approximately 500 people attended Saturday’s protest in the capital of Belgium’s Flemish region, where one of the speakers used a loudspeaker to chant a call in Arabic that means “slaughter the Jews.”

The demonstration against Israel’s assault on Hamas in Gaza happened amid a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in Western Europe that coincided with the Israeli actions, and one day before a similar demonstration in Paris escalated into what European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor called an “attempted lynch” outside a local synagogue.

The Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism filed a complaint for incitement to violence against participants and organizers of the Antwerp demonstration, dozens of whom were recorded making the calls.

“International politics cannot serve as a pretext for incitement to anti-Semitic hatred,” the organization’s president, Joel Rubinfeld, said in a statement.

It also condemned the presence at the demonstration of three local politicians: Karim Bachar of the Flemish Socialist Party; Ikrame Kastit of the Flemish Green Party; and Mohamed Chebaa of Labor.

The protesters also called out “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning,” referencing a seventh-century slaughter against Jews in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, the same call was heard at a demonstration in The Hague in favor of the ISIS Sunni militia in Syria and Iraq. The protest was held six days before Israel launched its military operation in Gaza.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in a letter to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte protested that the demonstration was allowed to take place.

“Unless Jihadism in your country is totally quashed, Dutch returnees from their Syrian baptism of fire and Jihadist websites at home will menace Jewish, Muslim and all other citizens of the Netherlands,” wrote Shimon Samuels, the center’s international relations director.

In Paris, approximately 200 Jews were besieged on Sunday inside the synagogue by dozens of young men who confronted police and Jewish guards outside in what turned into a street brawl before police reinforcements dispersed the crowd.

The CRIF umbrella group of Jewish organizations and communities appealed to French President Francois Hollande to temporarily ban “pro-Hamas protests” for fear they would escalate into similar attacks.

Jewish Iranian lawmaker compares Israel in Gaza to Nazis

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 10:22

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jewish representative in Iran’s Parliament condemned Israel’s military actions in Gaza, comparing it to the actions of Nazi Germany.

“The Zionist regime’s crimes are reminiscent of the actions taken by the German Nazis during the first and second World Wars,” Dr. Siamak Moreh Sedgh, who represents the Jewish minority, told the semi-official Iranian FARS news agency on Monday.

Sedgh, 50, also serves as director of the Tehran Jewish Committee and has been in the Parliament for two years. He is the only Jewish member of Parliament and has criticized Israel on several occasions.

The Parliament’s vice speaker, Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabifard, on Tuesday also condemned Israel’s strikes on Gaza, saying, “The hatred of the Americans and criminal Zionists has caused the people of Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Bahrain and Afghanistan to live in difficult situations.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry called on “friends of Palestine” to prosecute “the Zionist criminals” in international tribunals and legal bodies.

 

Brooklyn baby named for three murdered Israeli teens

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 09:52

(JTA) — A Brooklyn baby was named Eyal Gilad Naftali in memory of the three murdered Israeli teens.

The name was announced at the baby’s bris on Monday, according to the NRG news website. He is the son of Yankee and Bina Teitelbaum, who live in the Crown Heights neighborhood.

Reports that circulated on social media saying that a set of triplets was named for the boys proved to be false.

The teens who were kidnapped and killed last month are Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, both 16.

Two of the couple’s other five children also were named for terror victims. Their daughter Shalhevet was named for Shalhevet Pass, an infant who was killed by a Palestinian sniper in 2001, and their son Ehud Daniel was named for the captive and murdered Israeli soldier Ehud Goldwasser, whose body was recovered from Hezbollah in 2008, and Daniel Agami, an American soldier killed in 2007 in Iraq.

“Those three boys are our family, even more now that we gave our own son their names,” Bina Teitelbaum said in an interview cited by NRG. “We called him this name because we want him to continue the unity the boys have brought to all of Israel — united in prayer, and then reunited in grief.”

Avigdor Liberman: Israel should retake Gaza

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 09:44

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, said Israel should retake the Gaza Strip in the current military operation.

“Israel must go all the way in Gaza. The world must give us its full backing to go all the way,” Liberman said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference at the Knesset. “All this hesitation works against us.

“A cease-fire is a tacit agreement that Hamas can continue to build up its power,” he said of the failed attempt by Egypt to broker a cease-fire.

Israel’s security Cabinet on Tuesday morning agreed to the proposed cease-fire and halted its operation known as Protective Edge. But after six hours and more than 40 rockets fired throughout Israel, the military said it would resume its operation.

Liberman said the end result of Protective Edge, in its eighth day, “would see the IDF control Gaza.”

The foreign minister’s Yisrael Beiteinu party severed its connection with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud a week ago over disagreement on how to handle the rocket fire from Gaza.