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Dieudonne fined for saying Jewish journalist should have died in gas chambers

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:23

(JTA) — The French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala was fined $24,000 for saying that a Jewish journalist should have died “in the gas chambers.”

He was sentenced on Thursday in Paris for violating France’s laws banning hate speech, Reuters reported.

Radio France’s Patrick Cohen asked on air in 2013 whether the media should pay so much attention to Dieudonne. The comedian replied that the journalist should consider emigrating.

“When I hear Patrick Cohen speaking, I say to myself, you see, the gas chambers … too bad,” said Dieudonne.

The fine comes a day after a Paris court gave Dieudonne a suspended two-month jail sentence for social media posts sympathizing with the Islamist gunman who killed four Jews at a Paris-area kosher supermarket on Jan. 9.

Dieudonne has been convicted seven times for inciting racial hatred against Jews. He has been charged almost 40 times under France’s hate-speech laws.

Some see Dieudonne as a symbol of France’s growing anti-Semitism problem because of his performances featuring anti-Semitic jokes and creation of the quenelle, a Nazi-like salute that French Prime Minister Manuel Vals has called a “gesture of hatred” and anti-Semitic.

Australian PM angers Jewish lawmakers by comparing opposition leader to Goebbels

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 10:57

(JTA) — A Jewish lawmaker was thrown out of Australia’s Parliament after protesting Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s description of the opposition leader as the “Dr. Goebbels of economic policy.”

Joseph Goebbels was the propaganda minister for Nazi Germany.

Opposition Labor Party lawmaker Mark Dreyfus, one of three Jewish lawmakers in Parliament, jumped up to protest Abbott’s choice of comparisons, eventually being thrown out of the House of Representatives chamber. Jewish Labor lawmaker Michael Danby left with him in solidarity.

“There are no Nazis here and we shouldn’t be making comparisons with the paradigm of the ultimate evil in politics to heighten political differences,” Danby told The Associated Press.

“It’s beneath him, and it goes to the question of his judgment. I think a lot of his backbench will be groaning and tearing their hair out,”

Abbot withdrew the comment and apologized for making the comparison.

The comment comes more than a month after Abbott was forced to issue an apology for describing a cut in defense jobs as a “holocaust of jobs.”

British PM pledges additional millions for security for Jewish schools, synagogues  

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 10:11

(JTA) — British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged millions of dollars in new funds to Jewish schools and synagogues to be used for security.

Cameron, speaking Wednesday at the annual dinner of the Community Security Trust, Britain’s Jewish security watchdog group, pledged about $14.9 million in new money for security “this year and every year, for as long as necessary.”

The money is to pay for guards and other security measures for private Jewish schools and for synagogue security, as well as for a control center for the operations of the Community Security Trust.

Jewish state schools already receive about $3 million in funds for security.

Cameron in his speech praised the Jewish community for its “enormous” contribution to Britain, and vowed that his government would give “everything we have got” to protect Jews.

“If the Jewish community does not feel secure then our whole national fabric is diminished. It is not just about the enormous contribution you all make to our society — it is more profound than that. It is a measure of the vigor of our institutions and the health of our democracy that the Jewish community feels safe to live and flourish here,” he said.

“At a time when once again the Jewish communities of Europe feel vulnerable and when anti-Semitism is at record levels here in Britain I will not stand by,” Cameron added.

Cameron also congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his reelection, saying, “With me you will always have a British prime minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security will always be rock solid.”

The Community Security Trust  reported last month that it had recorded 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents for 2014, the highest annual total ever and more than double the previous year.

Some 269,000 Jews live in Britain, making up 0.4 percent of the population.

Reports: U.S. may no longer block anti-Israel U.N. actions

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 10:08

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration may reconsider shielding Israel from critical actions in international forums, according to reports.

Politico and the New York Times on Thursday each quoted unnamed senior administration officials as saying that the United States may back a U.N. Security Council resolution that would set the parameters for a two-state solution according to the 1967 lines.

The change comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the lead up to Tuesday’s elections, pulled back from endorsing a two-state solution, saying there would be no Palestinian state on his watch.

In the past, the Obama administration has shielded Israel from critical resolutions, even when such resolutions hewed with administration policy; one famous instance was a 2011 U.S. veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlement expansion that was in line with President Barack Obama’s opposition to settlement building.

Administration officials, asked by JTA for comment, pointed to statements Wednesday by spokesmen for the White House and State Department.

The spokesmen stopped short of saying that the United States would support Israel-critical actions in international forums, or would not veto such actions. However, they did say a change was possible.

“We are not going to get ahead of any decisions about what the United States would do with regard to potential action at the U.N. Security Council,” Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said in her briefing for reporters.

“I will reiterate that it has long been the position of the United States under Republican and Democratic presidents, and it has been the position of successive Israeli governments, that only a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and independent Palestine can bring lasting peace and stability to both peoples,” she said. “The prime minister, as we all know, in his comments earlier this week indicated that he is no longer committed to pursuing this approach. Based on the prime minister’s comments, the United States is in a position going forward where we will be evaluating our approach with regard to how best to achieve a two-state solution.”

Alberto Nisman was a ‘scoundrel,’ Argentinian Cabinet chief tells reporters

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 09:57

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Argentinian Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernandez  called the late AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman  a “scoundrel” and  a “wretch.”

Nisman “embezzled  public funds” using money meant to fund the AMIA special unit in order “to go out with women” and “to pay workers who did not work,” Fernandez told journalists Wednesday before entering the Government House.

Fernandez on Thursday clarified through the state news agency Telam that in his statements the previous day he was not referring to the late Alberto Nisman’s private life, but talking about his actions that have “penal significance,” such as the misuse of public funds or withholding half the salary of an employee.

Diego Lagomarsino, who has been charged in Nisman’s death for lending Nisman the handgun that was used to kill him, has through an attorney accused the prosecutor of withholding half of his wages.

On Wednesday, Argentine philosopher and writer Santiago Kovadloff responded to the Cabinet chief. “When you attack a dead man and discredit him in the way he did, it’s because that dead man is alive. If he’s alive, it’s because he’s has a great deal of significance. Because he has a great deal of significance, you have to discredit him,” Kovadloff said at the first of planned monthly rallies to remember Nisman, attended by about 200 people.

Nisman, who was Jewish, was found dead on Jan. 18, hours before he was to present evidence to Argentine lawmakers that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner covered up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires.

White House chief of staff to headline J Street conference

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 09:02

A sign welcomes attendees at J Street’s 2013 national conference in Washington. (Courtesy of J Street)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, will headline the annual J Street conference, at a time of U.S.-Israel tensions over the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group’s signature issue, the two-state solution.

J Street announced McDonough as its speaker Thursday, three days before the start of the conference, which is expected to attract a record 3,000 activists, including 1,000 students.

McDonough’s appearance at the conference for the group, which is strongly critical of the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, comes at a low point in ties between the Obama and Netanyahu governments.

Obama administration officials have sharply criticized aspects of Netanyahu’s campaign for reelection, including his repudiation of a two-state solution and his appeal to voters on election day Tuesday to head to the polls to counter the “droves of Arab voters.”

Netanyahu won a third consecutive term in the election and is about to launch coalition talks. President Barack Obama has yet to congratulate him, although John Kerry, the secretary of state, has done so.

Additionally, Obama and Netanyahu have clashed over Obama’s strategy to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu opposes talks underway between Iran and the major powers, which Netanyahu says will leave Iran a nuclear threshold state.

The two-state solution will feature prominently at the conference, which will include lawmakers in the new Knesset who represent parties backing an outcome that features an Israeli and Palestinian state existing alongside one another.

Another featured speaker will be James Baker, the secretary of state under President George H. W. Bush who clashed with a right-wing predecessor of Netanyahu, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Baker is currently advising Bush’s son, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor vying for the GOP nod for the 2016 election.

There will also be sessions on Iran and on J Street’s role in the wider Jewish community.

The conference comes as the group has staked out a niche backing liberal Democrats who tend to break from centrist pro-Israel Orthodoxy, but also a year after it failed to gain entry into the community’s foreign policy umbrella, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Eric Fingerhut, the CEO of Hillel International, this month cancelled his appearance at the conference, under apparent pressure from donors.

“Our job is to fix the broken politics in the Congress and on the Hill and to contribute to the dialogue in American Jewish community,” Alan Elsner, J Street’s vice president for communications, said in an interview. “You can be seen as a lover of Israel without backing every single policy the Israeli government takes.”

Public announcement to inform visitors about Shabbat’s start

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 07:58

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Visitors to the Western Wall will be informed of the beginning of Shabbat with a new public announcement.

In addition to the traditional siren heard throughout Jerusalem at the start of Shabbat, an announcement will be made over the public address system, beginning this Friday, according to Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

The announcement will say: “Dear guests, welcome to the Western Wall. In a few minutes the Sabbath will begin. Please respect our traditions and avoid taking photographs and refrain from using mobile phones at the Western Wall. Shabbat Shalom! ”

The announcement will be delivered in Hebrew, English and Russian in the moments before the start of Shabbat.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation said in its statement that it “believes that it is appropriate to apply the sanctity of the Sabbath properly to the Western Wall, a holy place.”

The foundation said it will distribute leaflets to visitors that talk about “the honor of the Sabbath.”

Final election results keep Netanyahu far ahead of challengers

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 07:33

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party garnered 30 Knesset seats, and the left-center coalition Zionist Union received 24 seats in the final results of the national election,

The Central Election Committee on Thursday released the final vote count, after the tabulating of an additional 200.000 absentee ballots from diplomats serving abroad, soldiers, prisoners, and hospitalized and seriously ill voters. Some 4,253,336 citizens voted, 72.3 percent of the electorate. It was the highest voter turnout since 1999, according to the Israel Democracy Institute.

The number of votes required to pass the minimum threshold of 3.25 percent was 136,808. The number of votes for each seat came out to 33,482.

The Joint Arab List placed third with 13 seats, down from a projected 14, but still remaining the third-largest party in the Knesset. Yesh Atid received 11 seats; Kulanu had 10, Jewish Home received eight, Shas , Yisrael Beytenu and United Torah Judaism each received six, and Meretz got five.

Meretz Party head Zahava Gal-on on Thursday said she would remain the head of the left-wing party after it gained a fifth seat. On Wednesday Gal-on had announced she would relinquish her seat and quit politics if the party dropped two seats from the last election to four seats.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will begin to meet with party representatives on Sunday to determine who should form the next government. He cannot task anyone with forming a government until after he is presented with the results on March 25.


Rivlin invites parties to meet

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 04:39

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will meet with representatives of each of the parties elected to serve in the 20th Knesset.

Through the meetings, which will begin on Sunday, Rivlin will determine which party head will be tasked with forming a new government.

Rivlin’s office on Wednesday evening sent a letter to all of the parties inviting the representatives to the consultations.

According to a statement from the president’s office, the letter read: “In accordance with Article 7 of Basic Law: The Government, President Reuven Rivlin will hold a round of consultations with representatives of the lists of candidates elected to the new Knesset, and shortly thereafter will bestow the task of forming the government upon one of the Members of Knesset.  In coordination with Central Elections Committee Chairman Justice Salim Joubran, it is the President’s intention to open the round of consultations already at the beginning of next week, out of an effort to conclude the process of establishing the new government as early as possible – in order to ensure the citizens of Israel have the assurance of a fully functioning government, in the face of the present challenges which lie before the State of Israel.”

It is expected that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who garnered the most seats, 30, in the election, will be asked to form the new government.

Rivlin cannot appoint anyone to form a new government until the election results are certified on March 25.

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning following the partial counting of some 200,000 absentee ballots from diplomats, soldiers, prisoners and hospitalized or ill persons, the left-wing Meretz Party picked up an extra seat, bringing its total to five, while the United Arab List lost one seat, for a total of 13. The haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism party also lost a seat for a total of six.

A final tally will be released Thursday afternoon.

Hate messages painted on Hollywood, Fla. synagogue

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 04:26

MIAMI (JTA) – Vandals defaced a synagogue in Hollywood, Fla.

Hate messages and cryptic warnings including “I’m watching you,” and “[expletive] Jews” appeared on B’nai Sephardim, a Sephardic synagogue, the Miami Herald reported. The synagogue serves about 700 families, according to the B’nai Sephardim website.

Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez said on Wednesday that his department takes “any type of hate messages very seriously,” and promised a thorough investigation.

“These are individuals that want to spread hate, and there is no place for that in our community,” he said.

Fernandez said the offensive painted vitriol appeared sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. The gate of the synagogue had been left open overnight because construction crews were working late.

The Anti-Defamation League  decried the incident. Hava L. Holzhauer, ADL’s Florida regional director, said Wednesday night that the vandalism “is damaging to the community. It is physical damage to a place of worship, and it’s also emotional damage.”

Rabbi Leol Benhamu told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 that seeing the spray-painted messages was painful.

“That bring up memories of the past, Holocaust memories and persecution for Jews. I got upset,” Benhamu told the station.

The Hollywood incident joins a string of hate-inspired vandalism in the area. On March 8, a 24-year-old man was arrested after police say he yelled in Arabic at the son of a rabbi in front of a Miami Beach synagogue and then threatened to cut his head off.

In February, hate messages appeared on homes, mailboxes and fences in Miami Gardens. There were several incidents last year, including one in September where a swastika and the letters “KKK” appeared on a temporary sign at Temple Emanu-el, the oldest Conservative Jewish congregation in Miami Beach.


Parents of Turin chief rabbi survive Tunis terror attack

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 17:26

ROME (JTA) — Two Italian Jewish tourists survived the terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunisia.

Alberto Di Porto, 71, and Anna Di Porto, 60, of Rome both managed to escape the shooting attack Wednesday in the capital city of Tunisia by gunmen wearing what appeared to be military uniforms which, according to reports at press time, left at least 19 people dead, including 17 tourists. The Di Portos, who were visiting Tunis as part of a cruise, are the parents of Ariel Di Porto, the chief rabbi of Turin, Italy.

According to a report by the Italian Jewish magazine Pagine Ebraiche, Alberto Di Porto injured his leg while running from the museum and was taken to a local hospital. The Italian news site La Voce reported that the couple was separated, with Anna Di Porto taken by police with other rescued visitors to a safe and secret location.

“They are both safe and that is the most important thing,” their daughter told Pagine Ebraiche. “I hope that they can get back to Italy as soon as possible. Hopefully even tonight.”

Y.U. to merge Stern, Yeshiva colleges’ faculties

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 17:06

NEW YORK (JTA) — Yeshiva University announced plans to merge the faculty of its two undergraduate schools, Yeshiva College and Stern College.

Richard Joel, president of the university, which is under Orthodox auspices, told students Wednesday that as of July 1, it will begin consolidating all arts and science departments. Stern, a women’s college, and the all-male Yeshiva have separate faculties and their campuses are located more than five miles apart from each other.

Joel said the move will allow for more diverse course offerings and will not affect faculty teaching loads.

The university has faced numerous financial challenges in recent years, and last week Yeshiva College faculty overwhelmingly passed a no-confidence resolution against Joel, who has been president since 2003. The university board responded with a statement in support of Joel.


Obama administration ‘deeply concerned’ about Netanyahu Arab comments

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 16:38

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration is “deeply concerned” about Likud Party rhetoric marginalizing Arab Israelis during the recent elections.

“There has been a lot of coverage in the media about some of the rhetoric that emerged yesterday that was propagated by the Likud Party to encourage turnout of their supporters that sought to, frankly, marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday in his daily briefing.

Earnest did not name Benjamin Netanyahu, but the Israeli prime minister posted a video on Tuesday, election day, urging followers to vote, saying “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the ballot box. The Likud Party also texted voters warning them that voting in the Arab sector was high.

“The United States and this administration is deeply concerned by divisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens,” Earnest said.

Earnest, notably, volunteered the criticism; reporters did not raise the issue with him. He also cast the criticism against the “shared values” that U.S. and Israeli leaders have for decades said the two countries have in common.

“It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the United States and Israel together,” he said.

“We’ve talked a lot about how our shared values are an important part of what binds our two countries together, and rhetoric that seeks to marginalize one segment of their population is deeply concerning and it is divisive,” Earnest said. “And I can tell you that these are views that the administration intends to communicate directly to the Israelis.”

Earnest also noted Netanyahu’s rejection in the election’s final days of a two-state solution for the foreseeable future.

“Based on those comments, the United States will evaluate our approach to the situation moving forward,” he said. He prefaced his comment by saying that the U.S.-Israel relationship remained close. “The unprecedented security cooperation between the United States and Israel, including our strong military and intelligence relationships, will continue,” he said.

Earnest also said that President Barack Obama would congratulate Netanyahu once he was charged with forming a government.

FEGS files for bankruptcy, gets debt financing from N.Y. federation

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 15:46

NEW YORK (JTA) — FEGS, one of the country’s largest Jewish social services agencies, has filed for bankruptcy.

A month after announcing that financial problems were forcing its shutdown, FEGS Health & Human Services made the bankruptcy announcement in a news release on Wednesday.

The release said FEGS was in the “final stage” of transferring its programs and contracts to other agencies and “winding down” its operations. It described the bankruptcy filing as a way of ensuring “the uninterrupted continuation of FEGS programs and services to clients under different agencies.”

UJA-Federation of New York said it would offer FEGS, which is a federation beneficiary agency, “debtor-in-possession financing” of up to $10 million to help ensure the smooth transfer of its programs. While FEGS is primarily funded through government contracts, it also provides several Jewish-specific services that are funded by the federation.

In an email to donors, UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein said his group was “actively working to find appropriate homes within our network for FEGS’s programs that are funded by UJA-Federation targeted grants” and will announce a “complete transition plan” by the end of this month.

The federation also is “carefully examining” accountability guidelines, other audit and governance requirements, and training for its network agencies.

At the time it announced its closing, FEGS (an acronym for Federation Employment and Guidance Service) had 2,000 employees and an annual budget of about $250 million. Its announcement in December that it had discovered a $19.4 million loss in the past fiscal year — and its subsequent decision to close — was described as a surprise by leaders of other Jewish and general nonprofit organizations.

New York State recently announced that it will transfer FEGS’ behavioral health programs contracts to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, another UJA-Federation beneficiary agency.

IDF defuses hidden explosive on Gaza border

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 11:48

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli forces defused an explosive device hidden near the security fence on the Gaza border.

The device was found near the border with the northern Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday hours after it was located and disabled.

A day earlier, Israeli troops captured a Palestinian man who had crossed into Israel carrying a knife.

Dieudonne convicted of condoning terrorism

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 11:42

(JTA) — The French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala was found guilty of condoning terrorism for social media posts sympathizing with the Islamist gunman who killed four Jews at a Paris-area kosher supermarket.

On Wednesday, a Paris court gave Dieudonne a suspended two-month jail sentence. He had faced up to seven years in jail and a $106,000 fine.

Dieudonne posted “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” on Facebook on Jan. 14, days after the hostage siege at the Hyper Cacher supermarket that ended with the four murders and an attack two days earlier at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo magazine that left 13 dead. His post mixed the phrase in support of the magazine — “Je suis Charlie” — with the name of the killer, who also shot a policewoman dead during the murderous spree.

He later removed the post from Facebook.

Dieudonne has been convicted seven times for inciting racial hatred against Jews. He has been charged almost 40 times under France’s hate-speech laws.

Some see Dieudonne as a symbol of France’s growing anti-Semitism problem because of his performances featuring anti-Semitic jokes and creation of the quenelle, a Nazi-like salute that French Prime Minister Manuel Vals has called a “gesture of hatred” and anti-Semitic.

Abbas: Will talk to any Israeli gov’t that backs Palestinian state

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 11:21

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he will talk to any Israeli government that accepts a two-state solution as the basis for negotiations.

“It doesn’t matter to us who the next prime minister of Israel is, what we expect from this government is to recognize the two-state solution,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Wednesday in a statement, the French news agency AFP reported, in the aftermath of Israel’s national elections the day before.

Without a commitment to a Palestinian state, any future peace negotiations have “no chance,” the statement also said.

Less than a day before Israelis went to the polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a Palestinian state would not be established under his watch.

Chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the election results.

“At a time when we are gravely concerned about a culture of hate which brings with it unprecedented levels of incitement against the 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, the results of the Israeli elections show the success of a campaign platform based on settlements, racism, apartheid and the denial of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people,” he said in a statement released Wednesday by the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The phrase “Palestinian citizens of Israel” refers to Arab-Israelis, who are full citizens and live throughout the country.

Erekat blamed the result on the international community, which he said has not “held Israel to account for its systematic violations of international law.”

European Union foreign policy chief  Federica Mogherini on Wednesday said that the EU “is committed to working with the incoming Israeli government on a mutually beneficial relationship as well as on the relaunch of the peace process.”

Mogherini congratulated Netanyahu for garnering the most seats in the new Knesset.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told reporters in Tehran that the results of the elections were not important, since “for us there is no difference between the Zionist regime’s political parties. They are all aggressors in nature,” Reuters reported, citing the semi-official Mehr News Agency.

Herzog: I won’t join a national unity gov’t

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 11:11

(JTA) — Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said he will lead the opposition rather than join a national unity government with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

“We will be an appropriate, real alternative in all areas and all subjects to this extreme-right government whose days are numbered,” Herzog said at a party meeting Wednesday, a day after his party finished with 24 seats in Israel’s elections, behind Likud’s 30.

The election winner must assemble a coalition of at least 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset in order to obtain a ruling majority and become prime minister. The right-wing and Orthodox camp won at least 57 seats, and the center-right Kulanu party, led by ex-Likudnik Moshe Kachlon, won an additional 10 seats.

Herzog said his party would continue to lead the camp of those who want a state that is “Jewish, democratic, secure and just.”

His campaign partner, Tzipi Livni, said the battle was not over.

“There are two paths with different values: one path of Netanyahu and his partners, and the other of ours and our natural partners,” she said. “We will continue to represent our path. Hope is not lost.”

How Israel’s cities voted: Likud in Jerusalem, Zionist Union in Tel Aviv

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 10:51

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Likud and haredi Orthodox parties dominated in Jerusalem, while the Zionist Union took the most votes in Tel Aviv in Israel’s national elections.

Nationally, the right-wing Likud Party garnered 23.3 percent of the vote and the center-left Zionist Union coalition garnered 18.7 percent of the vote, followed by the United Arab List with nearly 11 percent of the vote, according to Israel’s Central Elections Committee.

In Jerusalem, Likud finished with 24 percent of the vote and United Torah Judaism won 21 percent. The Sephardic Orthodox Shas party was next with 11 percent, followed by the Zionist Union at 10 percent and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party at 8 percent. The Yachad party, led by former Shas lawmaker Eli Yishai, garnered 7 percent of the vote in the city but failed to meet the minimum number of votes nationally required to enter the Knesset. The Joint Arab List picked up 1.2 percent of the vote in Jerusalem.

In Tel Aviv, the Zionist Union won 34 percent of the vote and Likud had 18 percent. Next were the left-wing Meretz with 13 percent and the centrist Yesh Atid with 11 percent. Both Jewish Home and the Joint Arab List had 3 percent of the city’s vote.

In Sderot, the southern Israeli city that has borne the brunt of rocket attacks from Gaza, 42 percent of ballots went to Likud, 11 percent to Jewish Home, 8 percent to Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party and 7.5 percent to the Zionist Union.

Record number of women elected to Knesset in race with high voter turnout

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 09:51

JERUSALEM (JTA) — In an election with the highest voter turnout since 1999, a record 28 women were chosen for the 20th Knesset.

The percentage of eligible voters who came out Tuesday was 71.8; the turnout 14 years ago was 78.7 percent.

Ten of the parties running in the election garnered seats in the Knesset, with 15 not reaching the electoral threshold of 3.45 percent, or four seats.

The number of women elected broke the record of 27 set in the 2013 elections, according to the Israel Democracy Institute. The Zionist Union had eight women elected, followed by the Likud Party with six.

The number of Orthodox and haredi Orthodox lawmakers fell from 39 to 25, while the number of Arab-Israeli lawmakers increased from 12 to 17, including one each in the Zionist Union, Likud and Meretz parties.

The Knesset will welcome 41 new lawmakers, or slightly more than one-third of the parliament, according to the Israel Democracy Institute.