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Thousands of pro-peace demonstrators gather in Tel Aviv

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 04:16

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv to call for peace with the Palestinians.

Signs at Saturday night’s rally in Rabin Square read “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” “When there is no peace war comes,” and “Yes to a diplomatic solution.”

Israeli media reported the number of demonstrators ranged from 2,000 to the 10,000 estimated by rally organizers.

The demonstration, which was organized by Peace Now and the Meretz and Hadash parties, was postponed from last week, when Israel’s Home Front Command refused to give organizers a permit due to safety concerns as rockets fired from Gaza continued to fall on the area.

Zahava Gal-On, leader of the left-wing Meretz, called for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he failed to bring quiet to Israel’s southern communities. She said Netanyahu must return to peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

“You could have achieved the framework you are willing to accept now without paying the price of 64 dead soldiers and the deaths of civilians,” Gal-On said.

Author David Grossman said many Israelis still want peace.

“There is no military solution for the conflict between Israel and Hamas. There is no military solution that will end the suffering of Israelis in the south and the inhumane suffering of people in Gaza,” he said. “People in Israel won’t be able to breathe freely either until the stranglehold on Gaza is lifted.”

There was no significant counter-demonstration, according to reports.

British Jewish paper responds to outcry over Gaza appeal ad

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 17:25

(JTA) – Britain’s Jewish Chronicle responded to controversy over a Gaza aid appeal that it ran as an advertisement.

The Disaster Emergency Committee, a British umbrella organization for international aid organizations, began running the advertisement for its Gaza crisis appeal in various publications.

In response to controversy over its decision to run the ad, The Jewish Chronicle’s editor, Stephen Pollard, issued a statement Thursday explaining that the ad was not an expression of the newspaper’s editorial view, which he said is separate from its commercial operations.

“The ad was approved by the chairman of the JC, who has no involvement in editorial decisions, as an ad for humanitarian aid which nowhere makes political or partisan points,” Pollard wrote.

The ad features an image of a Palestinian child and states: “Thousands of children in Gaza … are injured, homeless and living in fear. They desperately need medical supplies, shelter, food and water right away.”

Pollard wrote that he and the newspaper “are entirely supportive of Operation Protective Edge, as our coverage has demonstrated.”

Pollard concluded his statement by writing: “Even if you profoundly disagree with the ad appearing in the paper, I hope this will go some way to explaining its presence and that it is in no way part of our editorial stance.”

Ukrainian court nixes controversial Jewish heritage projects in Lviv

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 14:44

(JTA) — A Ukrainian supreme court forbade the Municipality of Lviv from going ahead with controversial plans for commemorating Jewish heritage sites.

The Supreme Economic Court of Ukraine issued its ruling Wednesday against the city’s plans to design and build projects that would commemorate three Jewish sites instead of restoring them.

In 2010, the city announced an international competition for architects interested in designing projects that would commemorate Lviv’s old Jewish quarter; the city’s 14th-century Jewish cemetery — which is now being used as a market — and a former Nazi camp.

But the plan was opposed by the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union and the Golden Rose Synagogue of Lviv, because “it was meant to cover up and commemorate the Jewish past instead of restoring its ruins and celebrating Jewish life here and now,” Meylakh Sheykhet, director of the union’s Ukraine office, told JTA Friday.

In its ruling, the court found the city’s plan did not conform to international preservation standards.

Following unproductive negotiations with city officials, the union filed this year for an injunction to stop the city’s plan. In March, a regional court ruled in favor of the union’s motion but the city appealed. On Wednesday, the supreme court upheld the lower court’s ruling and rejected the city’s appeal.

“The city’s plans conformed neither with international standards for heritage preservation nor with Ukrainian law and government resolutions on this matter,” Sheykhet said. He also said the city was not interested in restoring heritage sites in the Jewish quarter, because this would come at the expense of restaurants and other business operating on what used to be synagogues.

The ruling Wednesday represented “a new era for the resolution of the complex issues surrounding the proper preservation of the Jewish heritage sites that sustained severe damage by totalitarian regimes,” Sheykhet said.

He added the ruling shows that “Ukraine changed and it will never return to what it was before Maidan,” the Ukrainian word designating the revolution that erupted in November against former president Viktor Yanukovyich over his alleged corruption and perceived allegiance to Russia.

London theater will host Jewish film fest after all

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 12:46

(JTA) — A London theater that refused to host a Jewish film festival because of the event’s Israeli government funding has reversed course.

The Tricycle Theatre decided to continue serving as a venue for the UK Jewish Film Festival after the theater’s initial refusal earlier this month sparked criticism, The Telegraph reported.

The Tricycle earlier said it would not host the UK Jewish Film Festival, which it has hosted for eight years, unless the annual festival eschewed funding from the Israeli embassy, which the theater described as “party to the current conflict” in Gaza.

Festival organizers said the demands were “entirely unacceptable.”

On Friday, the festival and theater issued a joint statement saying that the Tricycle’s initial decision “provoked considerable public upset” and that the theater has “invited back the UK Jewish Film Festival on the same terms as in previous years with no restrictions on funding from the Embassy of Israel in London.”

The ban had divided the artistic community, with opponents branding the theater “anti-Semitic,” according to The Telegraph.

Warsaw to restore 1,000 Jewish tombstones used for construction

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 09:05

A structure made out of Jewish headstones at a park in Warsaw earlier this year. (Courtesy of From the Depths)

(JTA) — The City of Warsaw has agreed to return and preserve 1,000 Jewish headstones that were used to construct a recreational facility inside one of the city’s parks.

The headstones, which are currently part of a pergola and stairs at a park in Warsaw’s Praga district, will be returned in the coming months to the Brudo Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw, according to a statement Friday by From the Depths, the international commemoration nonprofit that led talks on the subject with city officials.

The city allocated a budget of $180,000 for the project, according to Jonny Daniels, From the Depths’ U.K.-born, Israel-based founder.

The pergola at Praga district is one of countless sites scattered across Poland in which Jewish tombstones were used as construction material, according to Daniels, whose group earlier this year brought dozens of Israeli lawmakers to a meeting with counterparts from Poland and other countries, and a visit to the Auschwitz death camp on the 69th anniversary of its liberation.

“In the 1950s, the communists were in full swing of building structures and monuments out of matzevas, which they often broke into pieces,” Daniels said, using the Hebrew word for a Jewish tombstone.

From the Depths’ involvement in the subject is part of the organization’s Matzeva Project, which aims to restore an estimated one million gravestones hidden in buildings and urban spaces. The Jewish Historical Institute and the chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, are official partners of the project.

An effort to locate headstones will begin this month with help from volunteers from the University of Warsaw.

“Since we’ve started being interested in the question of matzevas used as a building material, there was a noticeable influx of information,” Daniels said, adding that his group is receiving calls and emails on a daily basis with information about tombstone and fragments that were used to make roads, walls, knife sharpeners and even toilets.

Dutch minister suspends official who said Zionists created ISIS

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 08:57

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — A Dutch government employee who said the ISIS terrorist group was a Zionists conspiracy has been suspended pending further disciplinary steps.

Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten announced the decision about Yasmina Haifi, a former project manager for the ministry’s Cyber Security Center, on Friday, the news agencies ANP and Novum reported.

On Wednesday, Haifi wrote on Twitter: “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name.”

She later removed the statement, citing work-related “sensitivity.” Two rightist lawmakers for the VNL faction said they would query the justice ministry as to whether employing Haifi posed a security threat.

Commenting on Haifi’s statement, Vice Premier Lodewijk Asscher said: “When I heard it it made me sick to my stomach.” Asscher is a member of Dutch Labor, or PvdA, which is also Haifi’s party, according to her personal profile on the social network LinkedIn.

On Friday, Opstelten said: “She will not be returning to this function, not ever,” adding he was “shocked” by the contents of her message. Her statement, he also said, was “incompatible with her responsibilities” and “therefore she was removed. She is not the right person for this job.”

He added: “This is not about what anyone’s own beliefs are but about what one expresses, as a civil servant.”

Haifi’s comments came amid a polarizing public debate in the Netherlands about ISIS following three rallies over the past month in The Hague that featured ISIS flags. Two of the rallies also featured calls to kill Jews and in the third protesters hurled stones at riot police.

Ban Ki-moon meets with Jewish leaders

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 06:05

(JTA) — Leaders of several Jewish organizations met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to express concerns about recent actions and comments made by U.N. officials.

The meeting took place on Wednesday morning at the U.N. and included representatives from several major Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai Brith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

According to participants in the meeting, the organizational leaders raised several issues, including the recently announced U.N. Human Rights Council investigation into Israel’s conduct in the fighting in Gaza, which the communal leaders argued had been framed in a biased fashion against Israel, and the appointment of Canadian legal academic William Schabas to the probe given his past criticisms of Israel and its leaders. The Jewish leaders also objected to critical statements made about Israel by officials with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency and expressed concern about UNRWA facilities in Gaza being used to store rockets.

The Jewish officials also objected to Moon’s recent statement accusing Israeli of committing a “criminal act” in shelling a U.N. school.

According to the participants, Moon listened respectfully and took notes but offered no endorsement of their objections and promised no specific action.

“The secretary general reiterated that he fully understands Israel’s legitimate security concerns but also stressed the need to show restraint in their actions in Gaza so as to avoid civilian casualties,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“It’s always important when someone like the secretary general is willing to listen, to meet and to take the time to hear critique,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Even when people say you’re wrong, if they’ve listened and heard you — and there’s no question in my mind that the secretary general listened — it will have an impact in the future.”

Anti-Semitic flyer left for Jewish store owner

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:59

LOS ANGELES  (JTA) — A store owner who is Jewish found an anti-Semitic flyer slipped under his door Tuesday morning .

The flyer, adorned with swastikas, the words “Wanted” and “Warning” and a hand-written rant, surfaced at a store in the Westwood neighborhood, close to the campus of University of California Los Angeles, according to a report by CBS 2 News in L.A.

The text of the flyer featured numerous misspellings and addressed a wide range of seemingly disparate topics, referencing O.J. Simpson, Regis Philbin, air pollution and weather patterns.

The store owner, who declined to be identified, notified Boruch Cunin, a local Chabad rabbi, of the discovery.

CBS 2 also noted that the flyer bore some resemblance to anti-Semitic leaflets found in a pair of other Los Angeles neighborhoods in June. Those leaflets also bore swastikas, the word “Warning” and hand-written screeds.

Islamic Jihad: Cease-fire agreement on Gaza expected next week

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:52

(JTA) — A spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad in Gaza said a cease-fire agreement will be signed with Israel next week, though Israeli officials have not confirmed this.

Yousef al-Hasayneh told the Ma’an news agency Friday that his group “expects a complete truce agreement to be signed right as the five-day cease-fire ends.”

Islamic Jihad fought alongside Hamas against Israel in hostilities that erupted on July 8 following an escalation in the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. On Wednesday night, Israel and Hamas agreed on a five-day cease-fire while the parties were discussing a permanent cease-fire during Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo.

The Palestinian delegation to Cairo “has made much progress in ending the siege and the offensive on Palestinians,” al-Hasayneh said, adding that the “final truce” would ease Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, expand the fishing zone and increase imports into Gaza, especially of construction materials.

But Israeli defense officials told Army Radio Friday that there were “areas of disagreement” and that it was too early to know whether an agreement could be reached. A meeting of the Israeli cabinet Friday ended without any dramatic decisions, Haaretz reported.

In his statement, al-Hasayneh said that construction of an airport and seaport in Gaza will be discussed a month after signing the agreement.

More than 1,700 Palestinians have been killed in the war. Sixty-five Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

Israel has demanded the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, while Hamas has demanded the construction of a seaport and airport, as well as the lifting of the blockade.

South African Jews to sue union leader over Gaza murder charges

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:47
CAPE TOWN (JTA) — A South African Jewish group said it would file charges for alleged hate speech against a trade union leader who accused it of complicity in murder in Gaza. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies, or SAJBD, decided to take legal steps against Tony Ehrenreich, provincial secretary of trade union umbrella body COSATU, after he wrote about the group on Facebook Wednesday.

“The time has come to say very clearly that if a woman or child is killed in Gaza, then the Jewish board of deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the People of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye,” he wrote. “The time has come for the conflict to be waged everywhere the Zionist supporters fund and condone the war killing machine of Israel.” The board said it was instituting criminal and civil charges against Ehrenreich for alleged hate speech and incitement to violence against the community’s representative body. In a media statement issued Thursday, SAJBD chairman Mary Kluk said the post was “a flagrant violation of South African law prohibiting hate speech and incitement to cause harm” and inflamed “an already volatile situation.” Ehrenreich said that he stood by his statement, that he was not anti-Semitic and was not calling for violence against Jews, the daily Cape Times reported. His focus was on the SAJBD for what he described as condoning violence against the Palestinians. “The killings in Gaza by the Israeli army have never been condemned by the Jewish Board of Deputies,” he said, adding he was laying charges against it  “for supporting crimes against humanity in Gaza.” The Facebook post comes in the wake of another statement by Ehrenreich warning the SAJBD to cease its “Zionist propaganda” in Cape Town by Aug. 7 or face a COSATU-led campaign of strikes and boycotts against its members, supporting companies and organizations. “It is unprecedented in a democracy for a political lobby to threaten violent reprisals against the SAJBD, or against any individual or group for that matter,” Kluk said.

7 arrested for storming Elbit’s Australia HQ

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:41

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Police in Melbourne arrested seven pro-Palestinian protesters who stormed the roof of an Israel-based company, accusing it of “supporting genocide.”

The protesters, from a coalition called the Melbourne Palestine Action Group, surrounded the factory belonging to Elbit Systems Friday morning, chanting “Elbit, Elbit you can’t hide, you are supporting genocide.”

Elbit Systems of Australia manufactures defense equipment, including the drones used by the Israel Defense Forces during its war in Gaza. The company also manufactures defense equipment for the Australian army.

The protesters occupied the roof around 5 a.m.. and were arrested around 10 a.m., according to police. They were released with a court summons for trespassing.

A spokeswoman for the group, Sam Castro, said the group would continue to target Elbit. “This draws attention to the fact the Australian government has complicity in the killing of children in Gaza by allowing a war profiteer to operate in our city,” she was quoted as saying in the Guardian Australia.

Nina Bassat, the president of the Jewish community in Melbourne, said the protest “accentuates” the difference between the how the two sides are responding to the conflict. “The Jews in our community pray for peace and the Palestinian supporters express aggressive behavior,” she was quoted as saying on J-Wire, a local Jewish blog.

New Zealand election posters defaced with anti-Semitic messages

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:36

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Campaign billboards in New Zealand were defaced with anti-Semitic slurs about Prime Minister John Key, the son of a Jewish refugee from Europe.

Ahead of the election on Sept. 20, several billboards were daubed earlier this week, local media reported. One billboard was scrawled with the words “Lying Jew c—-sucker” and defaced the image of Key with a black hat and sidelocks.

Key, the leader of the conservative National Party, is seeking a third term in office.

“I just find it disappointing for the Jewish community,” Key, who acknowledges his Jewish ancestry but is not a practicing Jew, told local media. “I have a Jewish past, which is extremely well known. My mother was Jewish, and some of my mother’s family went to the concentration camps. But for the Jewish community in New Zealand, they are hard-working, decent people and they don’t deserve to be brought into some sort of personal campaign that’s directed at me.”

Stephen Goodman, the president of the New Zealand Jewish Council — a body representing the country’s 7,000 Jews — was quoted by the  J-Wire local Jewish blog as saying: “The New Zealand Jewish community is concerned about the rise in anti-Semitic acts and statements being made at present.” He also said: “Recent activity, such as the defacing of John Key’s billboards and actions associated with political rallies, is an unacceptable.”

The incident comes days after Steve Gibson, a candidate for the opposition Labor Party, apologized for posting a message on Facebook describing Key as “Shonky Jonkey Shylock … nasty little creep with a nasty evil and vindictive sneer.”

The post has since been deleted, and Gibson was censured by the Labor leader.

Jew assaulted in Marseille over Gaza

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:29

(JTA) – A man in his 60s was lightly wounded in an apparent anti-Semitic assault in Marseille.

The assault Tuesday began after the victim drove up to his own garage to discover it had been blocked by a parked car, the local branch of the CRIF umbrella organization of French Jewish communities wrote in its report of the incident.

The attacker showed up after the victim, who wears a kipah, sounded the horn. The attacker began chasing the victim while shouting: “Dirty Jew, this isn’t Gaza, I’m going to kill you and your family.”

Catching up to the victim as he was heading for the stairs of his apartment building, the attacker, who was much younger than the victim, began hitting the victim in his face. The attacker was joined by several other people who are believed to be relatives. He continued to attack the victim, also using headbutts.

The victim has filed a complaint with police for racially aggravated assault, the CRIF statement said. It did not say whether police have a suspect in custody.

The assault in Marseille — a city where such violence is relatively rare despite it being home to France’s second-largest Jewish community and a sizable Muslim population — comes amid a wave of anti-Semitic assaults triggered by Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza.

Even before the latest Israel-Gaza war, community leaders said anti-Semitism levels had reached worrisome dimensions and were spurring on record levels of Jewish emigration out of France.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, Israel saw the arrival of 2,830 new immigrants from France – nearly a 250 percent increase over the 811 French immigrants who arrived in Israel in the corresponding period in 2013.

Dutchman who saved Jew returns medal to protest Gaza deaths

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:22

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — A Dutch man who risked his life to save a Jew during the Holocaust gave back a medal he received for his actions  in order to protest Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Henk Zanoli, 91, returned his medal to the Israeli embassy in The Hague after a member of his family died in an Israeli strike in Gaza, the Haaretz daily reported Friday.

Zanoli and his mother were recognized by the State of Israel and its Holocaust commemoration authority, Yad Vashem, in 2011 for hiding a Jewish child in their home from 1943 to 1945.

A great-niece of Zanoli is a Dutch diplomat whose husband was born in the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. Last month an Israeli bomb killed several members of his family, Haaretz reported.

“It is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the murder of our kin in Gaza. Murder carried out by the State of Israel,” Zanoli wrote in a letter to the embassy explaining his decision to return the medal. “For me to hold on to the honour granted by the State of Israel, under these circumstances, will be both an insult to the memory of my courageous mother who risked her life,” and to relatives in mourning in Gaza, he added.

Israeli rights group loses national service slot

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:18

(JTA) — Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is no longer eligible for Israeli national service volunteer placements because it has acted “against the state and its soldiers.”

In a letter to B’Tselem, the head of the national service program, which coordinates placements for young Israelis doing national civilian service as an alternative to military service,  said he objected to the group’s actions during this summer’s Gaza war, Haaretz reported.

B’Tselem’s full name is B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. B’Tselem is Hebrew for “in the image,” a reference to the Bible saying that humans were created in God’s image. During the war it sought unsuccessfully to broadcast the names of Palestinian children killed as a result of Israeli missiles.

The national civilian service program places volunteers in organizations across the political spectrum. B’Tselem has received one volunteer each year through the program since 2012, according to Haaretz.

Earlier this year, national service head Sar-Shalom Jerbi said national civilian service would be available “only to bodies that do not subvert the existence of the state as a Jewish and democratic state.”

In his letter to B’Tselem, Jerbi added that “there is a clear line separating a legitimate political opinion in the Israeli political discourse and the dissemination and publication of lies and slander in Israel and worldwide …. Therefore I see no possibility of continuing to approve your organization as a participating body in the national civilian service, which receives assistance from the State of Israel.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Jerbi’s letter also criticized B’Tselem for refusing to call Hamas a terrorist organization.

B’Tselem told Haaretz Jerbi’s move “increases the flames of intolerance” and that he “joins the dubious club of those inciting to harm anyone who expresses opinions that could be interpreted as criticism.”

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel sent a letter to the national service chief warning that if he did not reverse his decision, the group would challenge it before the High Court of Justice.

U.S. officials: No change in procedure for arming Israel

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 05:11

(JTA) — U.S. officials denied reports of a change in the procedure through which their government supplies arms to Israel.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “Let me be clear: There has been no change in policy, period.” But she also said that,  “Given the crisis in Gaza, it is natural that agencies take additional care with deliveries as part of an inter-agency process.”

Harf’s statements were in reply to questions based on a reported that appeared earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, which said that the White House is delaying the completion of a sale of Hellfire missiles to Israel and that the Obama administration has made even routine arms transfers subject to White House and State Department approval.

Speaking to reporters at a U.S. Department of Defense press briefing on Thursday, Rear Adm. John Kirby said: “There is a normal process for the provision to a foreign military sales program of arms and ammunition to Israel. And the resupply that was done a couple of weeks ago was under that process.”

But he added that, “It makes sense for us to continually assess and review the process through which those foreign military sales are provided.”

The uncertainty regarding arms transfers comes amid reports of tense relations between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Friday, Netanyahu convened the Israeli cabinet for a second time in 24 hours to discuss ongoing Egyptian-brokered negotiations between Hamas and Israel on ending the fighting in Gaza.

Call for protest spurs Arab groom, Jewish-born bride to hire security for party

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 16:33

(JTA) — An Arab man and his Jewish-born bride hired 14 security guards for their wedding celebration in Israel in response to an anti-intermarriage Jewish group’s call for a protest rally at the hall.

Mahmoud Mansour, who is Muslim, and Morel Malka, who recently converted to Islam, reportedly are concerned for their safety at Sunday’s event in Rishon Lezion after the group, Lehava, posted photographs of their invitation on social media and urged protesters to rally outside the hall with megaphones and banners, the NRG news site reported.

Police said they will send personnel to the area to prevent any disturbance.

The couple is already legally married, according to Haaretz; the Sunday reception is merely a celebration. The groom’s parents and bride’s mother reportedly support the union.

Bentzi Gupstein, the chairman of Lehava, told NRG that his group was particularly upset about the wedding because of this summer’s escalation in tensions between Hamas and Israel.

“We are still at war and she is marrying a member of the enemy,” he said.

Mansour, of Jaffa, is an Israeli citizen. Gupstein said he was also angry that the wedding is taking place in Rishon Lezion, one of many cities targeted by rockets from Gaza this summer.

The father of the bride told Israel’s Channel 10 in an interview that he did not know about the relationship until recently and that he plans to boycott the wedding, the Times of Israel reported.

“I never dreamed that my daughter would marry an Arab,” he said. “I’m not going, period.”

The banquet hall management said several people have called to criticize the hall for hosting the event, while others have made threats, Haaretz reported.


Leonard Fein, liberal activist and scholar, dies

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 12:06

NEW YORK (JTA) — Leonard Fein, a veteran Jewish activist and writer, has died at 80.

Fein died Thursday morning, announced the Forward newspaper, where he was a longtime columnist.

A prominent voice of Jewish liberalism and left-wing Zionism, Fein was the author of numerous books on Jewish issues and politics.

Fein was the founder of Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger and of the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy.

He also was a founder and board member of Americans for Peace Now, the American affiliate of Israel’s Peace Now movement.

In 1975, he co-founded Moment Magazine with Elie Wiesel. Fein was a former professor of political science and social policy and of Jewish studies at Brandeis University.

3 charged in scuffle at Calgary pro-Palestinian rally

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 10:26

TORONTO (JTA) – Three pro-Palestinian activists were charged with assault stemming from a rally for Gaza in Calgary that turned violent.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists had converged July 18 outside City Hall in the western Canada city when a small group of pro-Israel demonstrators gathered across the street. A series of scuffles broke out and three people were assaulted.

On Tuesday, Aziz Mohammad Madi, 18, was charged with two counts of assault, according to Sunmedia, while Arlsan Khan, 27, and a 16-year-old who cannot be named under Canadian lawn are each facing one count. All three are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 15.

It took police nearly a month to press charges because of the complexity of the investigation, Inspector Cliff O’Brien told Sunmedia.

“One of the challenges with an investigation like this is you have several hundred people who are very passionate and emotional,” he said. “And there are thousands of images out there, including video.”

Charges are also expected against a fourth man, whom police have identified but not yet found.


1,000 gather for Max Steinberg memorial service

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 08:30

(JTA) — Fallen Israeli soldier Max Steinberg found “inner peace” in his army service, his mother told a crowd of 1,000 at a memorial service in his native Southern California.

The service Tuesday night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills paid tribute to Steinberg’s American childhood and his service in the Israel Defense Forces, according to the Times of Israel. Steinberg, 24, a sharpshooter in the Golani Brigade, was killed on July 19 while fighting in Gaza. He joined the Israeli army two years ago.

Steinberg’s parents, community rabbis and U.S.-born Israeli Knesset member Dov Lipman spoke at the service, praising his dedication to Israel. He first visited Israel on a 2012 Birthright trip before moving there later that year. Steinberg’s parents’ first trip to Israel was for his funeral in Jerusalem, which drew 35,000 mourners.

“Nothing can duplicate the love showered on our family by the people of Israel,” Steinberg’s mother, Evie, said at the memorial service, according to the Times of Israel. “We have no regrets that Max made the choice to enlist in the IDF. Max was a Golani, a trained, expert sharpshooter, and was determined to fulfill his service. On the way, Max found his inner peace.”

Due to fears of anti-Semitic attacks, the event was surrounded by heavy security.