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Hillary Clinton backs nuclear deal, calls for coalition to block Iranian ‘bad behavior’

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 15:54

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hillary Rodham Clinton said as president she would hew to the Iran nuclear deal just completed, but would also build a coalition to stop Iranian bad behavior in other areas.

“We have in the agreement the access for inspections and the transparency that was absolutely necessary,” Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Wednesday as she met Democrats in Congress. “But we have to treat this as an ongoing effort and as president, I would be absolutely devoted to ensuring the agreement is followed.”

Clinton, who was President Barack Obama’s secretary of state in his first term, has broadly embraced his foreign policies. But since mounting her presidential run earlier this year, she has endeavored to depict herself as more hawkish than her former boss.

“We still have a lot of concern about the bad behavior and the actions by Iran, which remains the largest state sponsor of terrorism, which does go after and undermine governments in the region, that poses an existential threat to Israel, that unfairly, unlawfully confines and tries Americans on trumped up charges,” Clinton said.

“That bad behavior is something we have to address. Having been part of building the coalition that brought us to the point of this agreement, I think we will have to immediately upon completion of this agreement and its rigorous enforcement look to see how we build a coalition to try to prevent and undermine Iran’s bad behavior in other arenas.”

Israel adamantly opposes the deal for a range of reasons, among them the prospect of money flowing into Iran as a result of sanctions relief being used to fund Iranian-backed insurgencies and terrorism.

The deal achieved Tuesday exchanges restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities for sanctions relief.

Virtually every one of the large crop of candidates seeking the Republican nomination has rejected the deal, with some calling it appeasement.

AIPAC calls for rejection of Iran deal, J Street launching campaign backing pact

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 15:53

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking in Washington, D.C., at AIPAC’s annual conference, March 2, 2015. AIPAC is following Israel in rejecting the nuclear deal with Iran. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — AIPAC called on Congress to reject the Iran nuclear deal, saying it does not meet critical markers that the influential pro-Israel lobby outlined in recent weeks. But the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby J Street announced a multimillion-dollar campaign to support the agreement.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee made its case against in a statement Wednesday delivered after President Barack Obama conducted a news conference of more than an hour defending the deal achieved a day earlier.

“We strongly believe that the alternative to this bad deal is a better deal,” AIPAC said in its statement. “Congress should reject this agreement, and urge the administration to work with our allies to maintain economic pressure on Iran while offering to negotiate a better deal that will truly close off all Iranian paths to a nuclear weapon.”

Under the law, Congress may disapprove the deal. AIPAC’s call to reject the agreement achieved between six world powers and Iran will make it likelier that Congress will send Obama a “no,” although it is unlikely that opponents will have the numbers to override the veto that Obama has pledged to deliver. Disapproval requires a simple majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate; overriding a veto requires two-thirds majorities in both chambers.

On Tuesday, AIPAC had expressed skepticism about the deal, but held back from calling for its rejection until its details became clearer. A number of other major Jewish groups have expressed reservations about the pact, but only a handful have come out absolutely on either side.

Israel rejected the deal immediately and plans to lobby the Congress to reject it. In a show of national unity, Yitzhak Herzog, the leader of the opposition Zionist Union party, is coming to Washington next week to lobby against the deal.

AIPAC said the deal did not meet key markers that it has circulated since June. Among other complaints, AIPAC noted that the agreement does not grant inspectors immediate access to sites, lifts restrictions as early as eight years, does not require the dismantling of centrifuges and allows sanctions relief before compliance, although Obama administration officials have said that sanctions will not be lifted until Iran meets certain markers.

The lobby appeared to challenge claims by Obama – made as recently as his Wednesday news conference – that the likeliest alternative to the deal was war.

“Proponents of the proposed agreement will argue that the only alternative to this agreement is military conflict,” AIPAC said. “In fact, the reverse is true. A bad agreement such as this will invite instability and nuclear proliferation. It will embolden Iran and may encourage regional conflict.”

J Street, announcing its campaign on Wednesday, said it will make the case to lawmakers that the agreement “advances both U.S. and Israeli security interests.” The lobby has raised $2 million thus far for the drive, a source said.

“J Street wants Congress to know that, despite some loud opposition to the deal coming from Jewish organizational leaders, our polling suggests that a clear majority of Jewish Americans agrees with us and backs the deal,” the group said in a statement.

The campaign will launch this week with a 30-second TV advertisement highlighting the unprecedented inspections and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear and military sites under the agreement, along with more broadcast and print ads over the next 60 days.

Obama in his news conference asked lawmakers not to heed lobbyists in considering the deal. Earlier Wednesday, his vice president, Joe Biden, had met Democratic lawmakers in a closed session to persuade them to back a deal. Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the deal.

The president seemed eager to counter criticism of the deal.

“With this deal we cut off every one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons program,” he said.

Knesset rejects death penalty bill

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 14:40

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Knesset voted down a bill that would allow judges to more easily sentence a terrorist to death.

By a vote of 94-6, the bill was rejected in its first reading on Wednesday. The six votes came from members of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, which proposed the measure, The Jerusalem Post reported. In the March election, the party ran on a platform that included death sentences for terrorists.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation did not vote on the measure at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and instead formed a committee to look at ways to change the death penalty law. Under current law, the death penalty can only be levied in case of judicial consensus.

Palestinian arrested in West Bank killing of Israeli

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:34

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian man was arrested in the murder of an Israeli man who was shot at point-blank range in the West Bank.

Mohammed Abu Shaheen, 30, of Kalandiya, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah, was taken into custody on Wednesday in a joint operation of the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service, each said in a statement. Shaheen reportedly is an employee of the Palestinian Authority.

Danny Gonen, 25, of Lod in central Israel, and a friend had stopped their car on June 19 after being flagged down by a Palestinian man asking about the spring they had just come from near the West Bank settlement of Dolev. Shaheen then allegedly open fire on the Israelis. Gonen died on the way to the hospital. His passenger, Netanel Hadad, was wounded in the legs.

Four other members of the terror cell to which Shaheen allegedly belonged, all residents of Kalandiya, also were arrested on Wednesday, and a cache of weapons was seized.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Israel’s security agencies for apprehending the alleged assailant.

“Now that it becomes clear that this was a Palestinian Authority man, it will be interesting to see if the Palestinian Authority condemns the murder or continues its silence,” he said in a statement. “Those who do not attack terrorism will, in the end, be attacked by it.”

Univ. of California regents to take up anti-Semitism issue in September

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:21

(JWeekly) — The University of California Board of Regents will wait until September to address adopting the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.

The expectation was that the board was going to discuss the issue during its July 22-23 meeting in San Francisco and take a vote. No reason for the delay was given. The regents do not meet in August.

The State Department’s definition, which has generated controversy, notes that denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and holding it to a double standard are ways in which anti-Semitism can be manifested.

In May, 57 California rabbis signed an open letter to the board urging the regents to adopt the definition. The letter read, in part: “We believe that it is essential for campus administrators and staff to be trained in using the State Department definition to identify anti-Semitic behavior and to address it with the same promptness and vigor as they do other forms of racial, ethnic, and gender bigotry and discrimination.”

At the same time, a petition sponsored by pro-divestment groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace garnered 4,000 signatures. It reads in part: “The proposed definition does not protect students and in fact endangers the capacity of students and faculty to be critical thinkers and speakers.”

In a radio interview with a Boston radio station in May, U.C. President Janet Napolitano said that her “personal view” is that the University of California should adopt the State Department’s definition, but that the regents must vote to adopt it before it can become U.C. policy.

Meanwhile, the California Assembly this week passed a resolution urging “each [U.C.] campus to adopt a resolution condemning all forms of anti-Semitism.” Originally passed by the state Senate in May, the amended version of the bill now returns to that body for final approval. If the measure is passed there, it does not need to be signed by the governor.

Though the latest version of the bill omits references to Israel and Zionism, it borrows from the State Department definition of anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Israel’s opposition leader backing Netanyahu on Iran deal

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:09

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The opposition leader in Israel said he is in agreement with the nation’s prime minister on the dangers of the final Iran nuclear deal.

“I have told Prime Minister Netanyahu that despite our disagreements, as a responsible leader of the opposition I will do all I can for the sake of Israel’s security,” Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union party said in a statement after meeting Tuesday night with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “This is a bad agreement for Israel’s security both now and in the future.”

Herzog had previously criticized Netanyahu for allowing the deal to go through.

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Herzog said he would travel soon to the United States to discuss the deal and how the United States can provide Israel with a “security umbrella” to maintain its strategic advantage in the region. Herzog also said that he has spoken with officials from pro-Israel groups about the deal.

Netanyahu said in a statement after the meeting that “it is important to show the world a united front on this issue, which is linked to Israel’s most significant national interest.” But Herzog rejected calls for his party to join the government over the issue.

Speaking to the Knesset on Wednesday, Netanyhu asserted that the signed agreement “is not the final word. We will continue to fight.”

“When we examine this agreement — which is bad in every aspect — when we read this agreement, the picture becomes more bleak and we discover it’s filled with absurdities,” Netanyahu said.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Tuesday said he would travel to Israel and personally brief Netanyahu on the deal in a meeting scheduled for Thursday. He told his Parliament that “Israel wants a permanent state of standoff and I don’t believe that’s in the interests of the region. I don’t believe it’s in our interest.”

S. African gov’t official threatens students who visited Israel with investigation

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 08:44

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — Jewish groups in South Africa condemned a government official for threatening to punish students who visited Israel.

Obed Bapela, a deputy minister in President Jacob Zuma’s office, charged the students, who visited Israel recently under the auspices of the South Africa Israel Forum, with bringing the ruling African National Congress into “disrepute” and said the party would “summon” them to an investigation.

The director of the South Africa Israel Forum, Dan Brotman, told the Israeli daily Haaretz that “some of the participants, who will be future leaders in South Africa, were under enormous pressure not to come or received threats over being kicked out of their political parties.”

“The goal is not to make them pro-Israel, but to expose them to a narrative they really don’t hear in South Africa,” he said.

Bapela said Israel was “offering free trips and holidays to embarrass the ANC,” adding that it was a “campaign by Israel to distort our stand on Palestine. We have a clear position that supports Palestinian freedom. No leader of the ANC in a private capacity or for the party will visit Israel. It will be putting the ANC in disrepute.”

No official ban has been placed on members of the government or ANC traveling to Israel.

Denis Goldberg, a South African social activist who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela over the anti-apartheid movement, issued a statement last week slamming “Israeli propaganda holiday trips.”

The South African Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies in a joint statement said it was “deeply disturbing that a member of the South African government should condemn and threaten to punish those who have simply exercised their democratic right to freedom of thought and association. What is so wrong – either legally or morally – about a group of young South Africans travelling to another country in order to broaden their knowledge about the situation there? Is Mr. Bapela afraid that by being exposed to information and opinions that differ from his own, they might end up coming to the ‘wrong’ conclusions?”

The groups charged that Bapela’s attitude goes against South Africa’s approach to engagement with other countries, noting that groups from South Africa have traveled consistently to all parts of the world, “including to countries where serious human rights abuses are taking place. Why is it only Israel that they should not be allowed to visit?”

French Jewish family apparently targeted in home attack

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 08:43

(JTA) – A family that was assaulted and robbed in their suburban Paris home may have been targeted because they are Jewish, a watchdog group said.

The report Wednesday by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, was about an aggravated robbery that occurred earlier in the day in Le Blanc-Mesnil.

Three masked men of African descent armed with handguns sequestered the family, two parents and their daughter, according to BNVCA. One or more of the men also attacked the daughter, causing “serious injuries” that required hospitalization, the report said. The parents were injured as well and hospitalized.

BNVCA said the perpetrators told the family they had targeted their home because they were Jewish and have money.

The perpetrators stole 2,500 euros, about $2,740, in cash, a Mercedes car and keys to the family’s jewelry shop in Paris’ 10th arrondissement, or district.

“This attack bears an uncanny resemblance to the attack committed recently in Creteil,” BNVCA wrote in reference to the rape and robbery committed in December in that Paris suburb against a Jewish couple by robbers who said they were targeted because they were Jews. “The cliche that Jews have money remains strong in people’s minds.”

Teenage Palestinian girl stabs soldier in West Bank

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 08:19

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A teenage Palestinian girl stabbed a soldier in the back near the West Bank settlement of Nahliel, Israel said.

The soldier, 20, was reported to be moderately wounded in the Wednesday afternoon attack while he was on routine patrol. He was taken to a Tel Aviv hospital for treatment.

The alleged attacker was arrested at the scene and taken in for questioning, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Former student leader’s Hitler statements are free speech, South African university says

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 06:58

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — A South African university has let a former student leader off the hook for making pro-Hitler comments.

The University of the Witwatersrand said in a statement Tuesday that its legal office “found that Mr. [Mcebo] Dlamini’s utterances did not breach the exceptions to the Constitution regarding freedom of speech.”

Although there were grounds for him to be charged for failing to meet his fiduciary requirements as president of the Students’ Representative Council, given the fact that he had already been removed from the position, the university “did not deem it appropriate to charge him in this regard,” while describing his remarks as “abhorrent,” The Mail and Guardian reported Wednesday.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies, or SAJBD, the community’s representative body, said in a statement that the decision was relevant only with respect to the internal rules and procedures of the university and had no judicial relevance outside its confines.

“The SAJBD remains convinced that Mr. Dlamini’s comments are not protected by the Constitution and will continue to pursue the cases of hate speech that have been laid both with the South African police and with the SA Human Rights Commission,” it said in a statement.

Dlamini made headlines after a graphic appeared on his Facebook page in April comparing the Israeli government to the Nazi regime.

“In every white person there is an element of Hitler,” he wrote.

He was subsequently ousted from his position, but Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib said at the time that it was unrelated to his Hitler comments. Rather, Dlamini had been removed following a finding of misconduct against him by a disciplinary panel in February.

At the time of the Facebook post, Dlamini told the Wits newspaper Vuvuzela, “What I love about Hitler is his charisma and his capabilities to organize people. We need more leaders of such caliber.”

In defending his Facebook remarks, Dlamini said he was looking at “Hitler’s good side. Hitler managed to uplift the spirit of the German people.”

The Wits statement said it was “embarrassed” that a member of its community could have made such remarks.

“However, given its commitment to freedom of speech as espoused in the Constitution, the university is committed to providing a space for the free exchange of ideas, whether or not it agrees with those ideas,” it said.

BBC defends translation of Gaza kids saying Israel perpetrated massacres

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 06:19

The BBC’s “Children of the Gaza War” follows the lives of Israeli and Palestinian children during and after the 2014 Gaza war. (screen grab/YouTube)

(JTA) – The BBC defended its decision to translate the words of Gaza children saying that Israel was responsible for massacres rather than Jews.

The translation appears in subtitles that BBC editors prepared for the public broadcaster’s documentary “Children of the Gaza War” by Lyse Doucet, which was cleared for airing this week.

In one interview, a Gazan child says the “yahud” are massacring Palestinians. However, the subtitles read “Israel is massacring us.” The Arabic words for Jews and Israelis are pronounced “yahud” and “yisraelina,” respectively. The BBC in the past has offered a correct translation of the word “yahud.”

Responding to complaints by viewers, the British Broadcasting Corp.’s complaints department sent one complainant a letter that read, “We took advice from a number of translators in Gaza and London and were advised that the most accurate interpretation of what the contributors were saying in this context was ‘Israeli.'”

The reply letter was posted online Sunday by the website BBCwatch.org, where writers critically examine the state-funded medium’s coverage of Israel.

The Jewish Chronicle of London, which reported last week on the translation, quoted the filmmaker Doucet as saying, “We talked to people in Gaza, we talked to translators. When [the children] say ‘Jews,’ they mean ‘Israelis.’ We felt it was a better translation of it.”

She added that the translation was rechecked.

“We are not trying to cover it up,” Doucet said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have accused Palestinian leaders of inciting against Jews and rejecting the legitimacy of a Jewish national homeland in parts of the Land of Israel.

French court cancels Paris suburb’s honor for Palestinian terrorist

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 06:11

(JTA) — A French court nullified a Paris suburb’s decision to honor a Palestinian leader who is serving multiple life sentences in Israel for acts of terrorism.

The ruling by the Administrative Court of Montreuil dealt with the honorary citizenship conferred last year by the municipality of Aubervilliers on Marwan Barghouti, according to a report published by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA.

The mayor of Aubervilliers announced the honor for Barghouti, a member of the Fatah faction, as part of his city’s commitment to support political prisoners. The city’s statement compared Barghouti, the mastermind of dozens of deadly terrorist attacks, to the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa.

The decision to honor Barghouti came shortly before a French court ordered another Paris suburb, Bezons, to nullify an honor conferred on Majdi Irhima al-Rimawi, a Palestinian who assassinated Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi more than a decade ago.

BNVCA wrote that the court’s  decision last week to nullify the Aubervilliers honor relied on previous rulings against such honors that determined they constituted political acts that exceeded the duties and responsibilities of municipal governments.

Last month, the Seyne-sur-Mer municipality in southern France announced plans to name a street after the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Ex-rugby star turned NFL player apologizes for ‘Jews killed Jesus’ tweet

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 05:44

(JTA) — A former Australian rugby star trying out for the NFL apologized for a “hurtful” tweet suggesting that the Jewish people killed Jesus.

In a tweet addressed to the Jewish community and using the hashtag #WeAreAllOne, Jarryd Hayne on Wednesday “sincerely” apologized for the tweets.

“I have come to understand how my words were hurtful to the Jewish community and this was not my intention,” said Hayne, 27, who is trying to earn a spot on the San Francisco 49ers, likely as a kick returner.

He removed the tweets on July 10 after articles about them appeared in Jewish media, and local media called his manager.

“I have and always will accept people of all faiths. I encourage my fans around the world to do the same,” Hayne, one of the best rugby players in his country for years, also tweeted Wednesday.

On July 1, Hayne tweeted that “Jesus wanted to help people but was killed by his own people. A day later he added, “The Jews were the people who took him [Jesus] to the Romans n [sic] forced them to give the order because they couldn’t.”

In 1965, the Vatican issued the Nostra Aetate, which officially stated that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus.

Ex-Auschwitz guard, 94, sentenced to 4-year prison term

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 05:18

BERLIN (JTA) — A 94-year-old former Auschwitz guard was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews in the concentration camp.

Former SS member Oskar Groening was sentenced Wednesday in the District Court of Luneburg.

He had admitted to being tasked with gathering the money and valuables found in the baggage of murdered Jews and handing it over to his superiors for transfer to Berlin. Groening said he had guarded luggage on the Auschwitz arrival and selection ramp two or three times in the summer of 1944.

Groening expressed remorse and accepted moral responsibility for his role; he did not ask for leniency.

Welcoming the sentence, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said in a statement that “there must never be impunity or closure for those who were involved in mass murder and genocide, irrespective of their age.

Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and director of its Israel office, called the conviction “well deserved” and hoped it would “pave the way for additional prosecutions of individuals who served in death camps and the special mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen).”

The sentence exceeded the 3 1/2 years of jail time requested by the prosecution, the German news agency dpa reported. The court must determine whether Groening’s health will allow him to serve the time.

During the trial, Groening asked for forgiveness while acknowledging that only the courts could decide when it came to criminal guilt.

Plaintiffs in the case included more than 60 Holocaust survivors and their relatives. Several survivors testified during the trial, which lasted about three months.

Groening was held in a British prison until 1948. He eventually found work as a payroll clerk in a factory.

The first investigations of Groening took place in 1977, but it was only after the successful trial against John Demjanjuk in 2011 that the courts were emboldened to try camp guards on charges of complicity in murder.

Demjanjuk was convicted in a Munich court as an accessory to the murders of nearly 30,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp in Poland, where he had served as a guard. The case set a precedent in that being a guard at a death camp was sufficient to prove complicity in murder.

Netanyahu, Obama have contentious conversation about Iran deal

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 16:52

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, foreground, meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, Oct. 1, 2014. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a contentious phone call after the major world powers achieved a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

Netanyahu in a statement said he raised two objections to the deal in the phone call on Tuesday.

“One, the agreement allows Iran to develop extensive capabilities that will serve it in arming itself with nuclear weapons whether at the end of the period of the agreement in another 10-15 years, or earlier if it violates the agreement,” the statement said.

“Two, the agreement channels hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran’s terrorism and war machine, a war that is directed against us and against others in the region.”

Netanyahu’s statement said twice that the desire by the major powers to reach an agreement was “stronger than anything else,” although it did not say whether Netanyahu made this accusation directly to Obama in their conversation.

The White House also released an account of the phone call saying that Obama told Netanyahu the deal would “verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon while ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.” He also told Netanyahu that the U.S. defense secretary, Ashton Carter, would visit Israel next week.

The visit, the White House statement said, “is a reflection of the unprecedented level of security cooperation between the United States and Israel, and that the visit offers a further opportunity to continue our close consultation on security issues with Israeli counterparts as we remain vigilant in countering the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities in the region.”

California Assembly calls on U.C. schools to condemn anti-Semitism

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 15:39

(JTA) — The California State Assembly unanimously approved a resolution calling on University of California campuses to condemn all forms of anti-Semitism.

The bipartisan resolution, sponsored by State Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican, passed the Assembly on Monday. The State Senate had passed it unanimously in May.

The resolution, which will not have the force of law, now returns to the State Senate for a concurrence vote.

“We applaud the California Legislature for unanimously passing this important resolution,” said the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles Regional president, Dean Schramm. “Anti-Semitism must be confronted without any equivocation, for it threatens not only Jews but the values Americans cherish.”

The resolution includes a reference to the State Department definition of anti-Semitism but does not include the definition in full, the Los Angeles Times reported. It omits the part of the definition that talks about demonizing Israel.

Jewish and pro-Israel groups, as well as alumni, have called on U.C. President Janet Napolitano and the Board of Regents to formally adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism in order to properly identify anti-Semitic expression on campus. The definition includes more general ethnic and religious hatred against Jews as well as demonizing Israel, and denying Israel’s right to exist.

Organizations critical of Israel say that such a definition would limit free speech and conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Recent incidents on U.C. campuses include swastikas drawn on a Jewish fraternity house at Davis and the questioning of a candidate for student judiciary board about her Jewishness and Jewish affiliations at UCLA.

The University of California Board of Regents will discuss various forms of intolerance, including anti-Semitism, and issues of free speech at a meeting in September, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a statement released Monday by the university system.

Sheldon Silver’s son-in-law pleads guilty to $7 million Ponzi scheme

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 12:47

NEW YORK (JTA) — The son-in-law of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver pleaded guilty to running a $7 million Ponzi scheme.

Marcello Trebitsch, 37, offered his plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Monday on charges of wire fraud and securities fraud. He was arrested in April.

“I’m sorry for what I’ve done and I apologize to the court and my family,” Trebitsch reportedly said in court.

Trebitsch is facing up to 20 years in prison. The plea deal calls for him to serve between 51 to 63 months, according to the New York Daily News. He must also pay nearly $5.9 million in forfeiture and restitution.

He is married to Silver’s daughter Michelle, a certified public accountant, who was a co-owner and managing partner of the fraudulent investment fund, Allese Capital. She has not been charged in the fraud, which ran from 2007 to 2014.

Silver resigned in January after being arrested in an anti-corruption investigation.

Sentencing for Trebitsch is scheduled for Nov. 2 — the same day that Silver, who has pleaded not guilty, goes on trial, according to Reuters.

Bar mitzvah guest pleads not guilty to indecent acts at party

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 11:52

(JTA) — An adult bar mitzvah guest pleaded not guilty in Arizona to charges on actions including exposing her breasts to underage boys.

Lindsey Ann Radomski, a 33-year-old yoga instructor, pleaded not guilty to 18 misdemeanor counts at a hearing Monday in Scottsdale City Court stemming from the March incident.

The charges include public sexual indecency, contributing to the delinquency of a child, indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. Radomski faces a maximum of six months in jail, a $2,500 fine and three years probation, the Arizona Republic reported.

A Maricopa County grand jury failed to find enough evidence to indict Radomski on felony charges.

Police said that after the 80 to 100 guests had left the bar mitzvah at a private home in Scottsdale, Radomski invited several boys aged 11 to 15 into a private room and let them fondle her breasts. After the other boys left the room, she performed oral sex on a 15-year-old, police allege.

Radomski told authorities that she was intoxicated and did not remember the encounter with the teen. Her attorney has said she was drugged while at the bar mitzvah.

You, too, can read the text of the Iran nuclear deal

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 10:41

World leaders speak at a NATO summit on September 4, 2014, in Newport, Wales. (Guido Bergmann /Getty Images)

World leaders, political analysts and journalists are all poring over the text of the Iran nuclear deal. News junkies who want to read the 159-page final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program can do so here, thanks to Foreign Policy.

Hadassah taps new national president

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 10:13

(JTA) — Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America has elected Ellen Hershkin, currently a national board member, as its new national president.

Hershkin, of Dix Hills, N.Y., was elected the group’s 26th president on Monday at its annual meeting in Philadelphia.

She will succeed Marcie Natan, the president since 2011 whose term ends Dec. 31. Under Natan’s leadership, the historic agreement between the government of Israel, Hadassah Medical Organization and Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America was negotiated.

Hershkin has been a member of the 300,000-member organization for 42 years, and has served on Hadassah’s national board and executive committee. She has been a national vice president and secretary, and served as the national coordinator or chair for several departments.

She also is a former board member of the Jewish National Fund and the United Israel Appeal Board.

Hershkin studied speech and education at Hofstra University and Jewish studies through a program of the Melton School of Jewish Education/Hebrew University. She was a travel consultant for 20 years and specialized in Israel travel.