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Israeli swimmers set open-water relay distance record

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 10:09

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Six Israelis set a world record for open-water relay distance swimming.

The swimmers completed their 236-mile trek on Saturday, crossing the eastern Mediterranean from Cyprus to Israel in 123 hours, 10 minutes, according to the website of the World Open Water Swimming Association. The previous record was 228 miles set by a team of U.S. swimmers.

Ranging in age from 44 to 66, the Israelis swam in relay for an hour each four times daily, daytime and nighttime.

The Guinness Book of World Records documented the swim, which was undertaken to highlight pollution of the ocean. The swimmers said plastic bags in the water hindered their effort.

The success follows a failed attempt last year due to rough water.

Cameron sitting out nonbinding Parliament vote on recognizing Palestine

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 08:19

(JTA) — Prime Minister David Cameron will abstain from a vote in the British Parliament on recognizing the State of Palestine.

The nonbinding but highly symbolic vote is expected to take place Monday in the House of Commons. There are 650 voting members of the lower house of Britain’s Parliament.

The measure is expected to pass.

Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters Monday that the vote would not change Britain’s policies toward the Palestinians.

“I’ve been pretty clear about the government’s position and it won’t be changing,” the spokesman said.

Jewish lawmaker Ed Miliband, head of the opposition Labor Party, has ordered all party lawmakers to vote in favor of the recognition, despite calls from his party to allow lawmakers to vote their consciences. Several Labor lawmakers reportedly will not attend the vote, according to the Daily Mail.

A Labor lawmaker, Grahame Morris, sponsored the motion.

Israeli-Arab lawmaker Ahmed Tibi was in Britain on Monday lobbying lawmakers to vote in favor of the measure. He said he would attend the vote.

Also, some 300 Israeli public figures signed a letter on Sunday calling on the British Parliament to vote in favor of the motion.

The vote comes less than two weeks after Sweden announced it would recognize the State of Palestine.

Seven European Union members already have recognized a Palestinian state. They are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly accorded Palestine non-member observer state status, de facto recognizing it as a state. Some 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution.

U.N. chief Ban going to Gaza, raps Israel for West Bank building

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:59

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, criticized Israel for building in the settlements and condemned “provocations” at holy sites in Jerusalem.

Ban met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah. The visit came a day after a conference in Cairo at which donor countries pledged some $5.4 billion in aid to the Palestinians to assist with rebuilding in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement issued by the United Nations, Ban said he would visit Gaza on Tuesday “to listen directly to the people of Gaza, survey the situation for myself.”

“While rebuilding is important, we must tackle the root causes of instability. We must give renewed attention to the West Bank,” Ban said in Ramallah. “I once again strongly condemn the continued settlement activity by Israel.”

He called on Israel and the Palestinians to “show courage” and continue engaging in the peace process.

“I am also deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem. These only inflame tensions and must stop,” Ban said.

Earlier in the day, Israel Police quelled Arab rioters at the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount and allowed Jewish visitors on the site for the first time in several days.

Later on Monday, Ban was scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and separately with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Academics sign petition opposing Israel boycott

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 06:13

(JTA) — More than 1,350 academics from around the world have signed a petition opposing faculty or student boycotts of Israel.

The online petition of the Faculty for Academic Freedom was posted last week.

“We, the undersigned academics, vigorously support free speech and free debate but we oppose faculty or student boycotts of Israel’s academic institutions, scholars and students,” the introduction to the petition reads.

Academics from colleges and universities in countries such as France, Britain, the Netherlands and Russia, as well as the United States and Israel, have signed the petition.

An academic boycott “violates the very principle of academic freedom,” the petition says. It also states, “The factual record does not support the accusations and narratives of the BDS movement. Many are based on overstatements, cherry picked evidence, outright falsehood, or on disputed or highly biased data.”

The boycott also harms prospects for the peace it is calling for, according to the petition.

“By demonizing and seeking to isolate one of the two parties to the peace process, the anti-Israel BDS movement sets itself apart from the global consensus for peace,” the petition says.

A petition endorsing a boycott of Israel and its academic institutions has been signed by more than 800 anthropologists from around the world. It was posted Oct. 1 on the website jadaliyya.com.

Swiss art museum reportedly to accept Gurlitt collection

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 05:29

(JTA) — The Swiss art museum that German art collector Cornelius Gurlitt named as its sole heir reportedly agreed to accept the bequest of hundreds of works, which may include Nazi-looted art.

The Bern Art Museum’s decision was reported by the Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung. According to the newspaper, the museum will only accept works for which there are no restitution claims.

In a tweet Monday, however, the museum said the newspaper report was inaccurate and that a final decision will be made during a board of trustees meeting at the end of November.

The collection reportedly is worth about $1.26 billion.

“The Board of Trustees and directors of Kunstmuseum Bern are surprised and delighted, but at the same time do not wish to conceal the fact that this magnificent bequest brings with it a considerable burden of responsibility and a wealth of questions of the most difficult and sensitive kind, and questions in particular of a legal and ethical nature,” the museum said in a statement in May when it learned it was named Gurlitt’s “unrestricted and unfettered sole heir.”

The museum said it had no prior relationship with Gurlitt,

Some 1,400 works were confiscated from his Munich home in 2012 in the course of an investigation for tax evasion. Other works were subsequently found in Gurlitt’s second home in Salzburg, Austria.

Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, was an art dealer on assignment to the Nazis. When Hildebrand Gurlitt died in 1956, his son inherited the collection, which includes works by Picasso, Durer, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Beckmann and Matisse.

In April, Gurlitt signed an agreement with the state of Bavaria and the German federal government in which the provenance of all works would be researched, paving the way for the return of the paintings to the heirs of the rightful owners.

The work of the task force in searching for possible rightful owners has continued despite Gurlitt’s death.

Ashes of non-Jewish commander of WWI’s Jewish Legion to be buried in Israel

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 04:59

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The remains of the commander of World War I’s Jewish Legion were brought to Israel, fulfilling his wish to be buried there alongside his former soldiers.

The ashes of Lt.-Col. John Henry Patterson and his wife, Frances Helena, will be buried in a special plot at Moshav Avihayil overlooking the military section of the local cemetery that includes the remains of many Jewish Legion veterans, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement issued Sunday. They had been interred in a Los Angeles mausoleum.

The interment ceremony will be held near the Nov. 10 birthday of Patterson, a Christian Zionist, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, and the nearby Jewish Legion Museum will hold a memorial service in his honor. Patterson died in 1947.

The effort to bring the Pattersons’ remains to Israel took three years and involved obtaining the approval of their grandson Alan, as well as the permission of a U.S. court.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that his late brother, Yonatan, was named for Patterson, who was his godfather. Patterson, an Irish-born British soldier, attended Yonatan Netanyahu’s circumcision and gave him a silver cup engraved with the words “To my beloved godson Yonatan from Lt.-Col. John Henry Patterson.”

The Jewish Legion was the name given to several battalions of Jewish volunteers who fought with the British army against the Ottoman Empire.

“Lt.-Col. Patterson was one of the founders of the Jewish Legion, the first Jewish military force since the Bar Kochba Revolt and the basis upon which the IDF was established,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “My parents always spoke warmly of Lt.-Col. Patterson, who worked alongside my father in the 1940s in the U.S. to promote the Zionist idea.”

“As Prime Minister of Israel, I deem it to be a privilege to realize Lt.-Col. Patterson’s wish to rest in the Land of Israel alongside the soldiers of the Jewish Legion whom he commanded. His return to Israel does historic justice to the man about whom Zeev Jabotinsky wrote ‘Never in Jewish history has there been in our midst a Christian friend of his understanding and devotion.’ “

Richard Gere to star in Joseph Cedar movie filmed in Israel

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 04:39

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Actor Richard Gere is set to star in a new film by award-winning Israeli director Joseph Cedar.

Cedar also wrote the screenplay for the movie, which will be filmed in New York and Israel, the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot reported Sunday.

The movie will be called “Oppenheimer,” according to Yediot, and also star Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi.

Two of Cedar’s films, “Footnote” and “Beaufort,” were nominated for Academy Awards. Gere was a Golden Globe winner for his role in the film version of “Chicago.”

Meanwhile, the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats” is slated to come to Israel for the first time.

The musical, which has been running on Broadway for 18 years, will be performed in Israel in November, according to reports.



Rabbinic group: Women permitted to dance with Torah scroll

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 04:28

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Women are permitted to dance with a Torah scroll on the Simchat Torah holiday, an Israeli modern Orthodox rabbinical organization ruled.

Beit Hillel posted the religious ruling on its website for the holiday, which falls on Wednesday night and Thursday.

The ruling also encourages synagogues to be more inclusive of the elderly, the youth and people with disabilities during the celebration, which includes seven circuits of the Torah scrolls with singing and dancing.

In the Orthodox community, women generally are not permitted to read from the Torah scroll or hold a Torah scroll.

“Women who see this as important are permitted to dance with a Torah scroll or around a Torah which is on a table in the middle of the dancing,” the religious ruling read.

“In our generation, many women are active partners in prayers and classes as they are in other parts of community life. … If women’s participation on Simchat Torah amounts to watching from the women’s section or arranging the tables for kiddush, then this is a sad fact.”

The ruling also recommended other ideas for involving women more in Simchat Torah celebrations, including designating a woman as the kallah Torah, or bride of the Torah, in the same way as a man is designated as the chatan Torah, or groom of the Torah, and to make sure there is enough dance space for the women, as well as consult with the women on the songs that will be sung.

Beit Hillel was founded in 2012 to counter religious extremism and bridge the secular-religious divide.

Women of the Wall bus ads promoting bat mitzvahs at Kotel

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 03:55

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Women of the Wall launched an ad campaign on public buses in Jerusalem to promote bat mitzvah ceremonies at the Western Wall.

Unveiled on Sunday evening, the ads feature Israeli girls aged 11 to 14 wearing a prayer shawl and holding a Torah scroll in front of the Western Wall. The ad reads in Hebrew: “Mom, I too want a bat mitzvah at the Kotel.”

The girls featured in the ads — including Ashira Abramowitz-Silverman, the daughter of Yosef Abramowitz and Rabbi Susan Silverman, and niece of comic Sarah Silverman — have either had a bat mitzvah with Women of the Wall or are planning one.

“The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, overseen by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, runs a lucrative and active industry of Bar Mitzvah celebrations for boys at the Western Wall,” the Women of the Wall said in a statement. “The foundation offers no such ceremony for girls; in fact Rabinowitz actively prevents any type of bat mitzvah ceremony for girls by refusing women access to Torah scrolls at the holy site.”

The bus campaign is part of Women of the Wall’s efforts to be allowed to read from a Torah scroll in the women’s section of the Western Wall when they hold their monthly prayer service for Rosh Chodesh, the new month.

The Yerushalmit Movement, a group that aims to make Jerusalem a more pluralistic city, recently began a running a bus advertisement featuring photos of women from Jerusalem pictured from the shoulders up. The women include a mix of secular, modern and haredi Orthodox, and Arab.

Several of the ads already have been vandalized in haredi Orthodox neighborhoods.

The campaign reportedly is the brainchild of Jerusalem City Councilwoman Rachel Azaria, who was not permitted to run ads on buses during her campaign because of bus company fears that their vehicles would be damaged.


Israel Police lock Arab rioters in mosque to clear Temple Mount for visitors

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 03:35

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel Police pushed Arab rioters on the Temple Mount into the Al-Aksa Mosque and locked them inside.

Police who raided the mount early Monday morning following prayers at the mosque were attacked by the rioters, who had collected rocks, firebombs and broken pieces of furniture in preparation for attacks on police and Jewish visitors, according to reports. The rioters also used barbed wire to barricade parts of the site.

The Israeli forces used stun grenades, tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to contain the rioters, according to the Palestinian Maan news agency.

Jews were allowed to visit the Temple Mount on Monday for the first time since the start of the Sukkot holiday last week.

Among the visitors was right-wing Likud lawmaker Moshe Feiglin, who requested permission to bring a group to visit the Temple Mount following holiday prayers at the Western Wall.

“A pilgrimage to the courtyard of our Holy Temple should be accompanied by poetry, drums and song — not the background sounds of explosions and gunshots as riot police officers prevent the rioters from leaving their mosque,” Feiglin wrote in a Facebook post following the visit.

Police began clamping down on security in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, adding extra patrols and closing the major streets around the area to traffic. Tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers from Israel and abroad gathered at the Western Wall on Sunday for the traditional Birkat Kohanim, or priestly blessing prayer.

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

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

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 16:14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg letters available online

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 14:07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rome’s mayor slams Priebke tribute as ‘vulgar’

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 13:58

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

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

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

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

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

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




Gaza donors’ confab brings $5.4B in pledges

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 13:50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 12:10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historic Buffalo synagogue demolished despite demonstrators

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 10:45

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

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

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

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

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

Penn State students sentenced for vandalizing Jewish frat

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 09:18

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

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

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

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

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

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


Report: French Jewish girl joined ISIS

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 08:44

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

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

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

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


Arab-Israeli man fighting for ISIS killed in Iraq

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 08:25

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

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

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

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

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

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



Israel to screen arrivals from W. African lands for Ebola

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 07:33

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

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

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

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

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

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