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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘JTA’

Kidnapping Plot Against Tunisian Jewish Community Reportedly Foiled

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

A network plotting to kidnap and ransom members of a southern Tunisia town’s Jewish community was broken up by the country’s national guard, a Tunisian newspaper reported.

The network was started by a police officer who was formerly responsible for protecting the Jewish community, according to the report  in Al Hacad, a Tunisian weekly. The officer was reportedly recruiting young Tunisians to take part in a kidnapping operation that aimed to force Tunisian Jews to leave the country. He had a car registered in Libya as well as firearms stockpiled.

A Jewish resident of the southern Tunisian town of Zarzis told JTA that extra security measures had been taken up by the national guard in the Jewish neighborhood, where about 100 Jews live.

“I was wondering why we had a new army truck stationed about 40 meters from our synagogue for the past week, and then I read about this,” he said.

The police officer reportedly was known for being involved in an Islamic extremist group and was plotting to carry out a kidnapping operation on a Friday evening when local Jews spend Shabbat on the beach.

After the plot was foiled, all those behind it were arrested. The case has been referred to the Court of First Instance in Tunis.

While relations between Muslims and Jews in Zarzis have been relatively calm in recent years, there have been past incidents where the Jewish community was the target of violence.  In 1982 the synagogue in Zarzis was torched, and Torah scrolls were destroyed in the blaze. The arson attack was considered a response to the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon.

UN Official Calling to Boycott Firms Doing Business with Israel Chided for Openly Anti-Semitic Views

Friday, October 26th, 2012

U.N. Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called on the member nations of the General Assembly to boycott companies that do business with Israel.

“Rapporteur” is a French-derived word for an investigator who reports to a deliberative body. The Special Rapporteur is a title given to individuals working on behalf of the United Nations within the scope of “Special Procedures” mechanisms, with a specific mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council—either a country mandate or a thematic mandate.

Richard Anderson Falk, 82, is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and a renowned the author.

“My main recommendation is that the businesses highlighted in the report – as well as the many other businesses that are profiting from the Israeli settlement enterprise – should be boycotted until they bring their operations into line with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards,” Falk said in a statement Thursday after he presented his “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories since 1967″ to the U.N. General Assembly.

The report highlighted the activities of companies he said are involved in the establishment and maintenance of the Israeli settlements. He cited Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard and Motorola in the United States; Ahava, Elbit Systems and Mehadrin of Israel; and the Volvo Group and Assa Abloy of Sweden, along with Veolia Environment of France, G4S of the United Kingdom, the Dexia Group of Belgium, the Riwal Holding Group of the Netherlands and Cemex of Mexico.

Earlier this week, the British government protested to the U.N. the “anti-Semitic” remarks made by Falk, and urged the U.S., France, Germany and other democracies to do the same. It turned out that Richard Falk had collectively accused “the organized Jewish community” of responsibility for war crimes, and provided the cover endorsement of a virulently anti-Semitic book, “The Wandering Who,” which has been condemned as racist by Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah and other Arab activists.

“For the U.N. human rights system to be credible in the fight against racism, its own high representatives must not be allowed to incite hatred and racial discrimination with impunity,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

In “The Rise and Fall of Leftist Radicalism in America,” Edward Walter has this to say about Richard Falk:

“In an act of great irony, Princeton legal theirist Richard Falk, whose avowed purpose was to advance the incorporation of human rights into political institutions, supported the rightist Islamic revolution. … Turning to Iran, Falk called the Islamic Revolution an ‘extraordinary unarmed popular uprising against an extreme form of tyranny.’ … Falk asserted that summary trials and summary executions had to be considered in a regional and cultural context where human rights violations were widespread and severe.”

On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to distance his office from the report, saying its boycott call is one of the hallmarks of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to pressure companies doing business with Israel.

On the eve of a presentation to the United Nations of a misleading report targeting companies doing business with Israel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to rescind his preliminary endorsement of the report and to distance his office from the report’s biased author, U.N. Special Rapporteur Richard Falk.

ADL lambasted the report, titled “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories since 1967″ and due to be presented tomorrow to the General Assembly, as “tainted from the start in its message and by its messenger.”

“While the issue of human rights violations experienced by Palestinians is a legitimate area of concern and inquiry, Richard Falk has repeatedly abused his position as special rapporteur to unleash unrestrained hatred and disdain for Israel,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “This malevolence permeates his official reports and, at times, his personal statements, which include the use of anti-Semitic imagery and comparisons of Israeli actions to those of the Nazis.”

As Special Rapporteur, Falk has made it his mission to single out Israel as a human rights violator while using the imprimatur of the U.N. to advance a biased agenda fueled by anti-Israel animus which erodes the credibility of the U.N.

The JTA Politically Editorializes My Letter on The Soviet Jewry Movement

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

It’s here:

October 22, 2012

To the Editor:

The Op-Ed “Celebrate and learn from the Soviet Jewry movement” by Daniel Eisenstadt and Michael Granoff provides us with an immediate lesson to be learned: how the memory of the Soviet Jewry struggle can be misappropriated. The authors do note and give credit to a “generation-long struggle” and “grass-roots” activists, but constructing an entire memorial enterprise on 25 years since a very large demonstration in 1987 is wrong.

On May 1, 2014, it will be 50 years since the first mass public rally took place outside the Russian Legation to the United Nations. That is the true starting point. It also provides us with additional lessons to be learned — specifically, how an outsider group, quite non-establishment, initiated, led and persevered in a dual struggle against Soviet Russia and for too long, a complacent and even smug Jewish establishment.

I was there on the Manhattan sidewalk that day in 1964, and until and even after making aliyah with my wife, whom I met at a Soviet Jewry demonstration, I witnessed the so unnecessary energy and emotions required to be expended on the Soviet Jewry battle — a lesson I surely cannot forget.

Mark the 25th anniversary of the 1987 event, for sure, but use it as a lead-up to the 50th anniversary of the activist struggle for Soviet Jewry.

Yisrael MedadShiloh, West Bank

I most assuredly did not write “West Bank.”  It’s not a country.

That’s an act of prejudicial JTA interventionist editorializing.

But at least they didn’t employ “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Visit My Right Word.

Citing Betrayal of Trust, Jewish Groups Pull Out of Interfaith Dialogue

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

The old adage about going to bed with dogs and waking up with fleas appears to have been proven true yet again, as JTA is reporting that Jewish groups have pulled out of an upcoming meeting with Protestant colleagues over a letter from Christian leaders to congressmen calling for a possible suspension of U.S. aid to Israel.

“While we remain committed to continuing our dialogue and our collaboration on the many issues of common concern, the letter represents an escalation in activity that the Jewish participants feel precludes a business-as-usual approach,” stated a letter sent by seven Jewish groups to their Christian counterparts in canceling their participation in the Oct. 22 -23 meeting in New York.

The event, an annual gathering, is known as the Christian-Jewish Roundtable and began in 2004 when the issue of Protestant groups divesting from their financial portfolios operations doing business with Israel rose to prominence. Prior to the Protestants’ letter to the lawmakers, participants had pledged to update one another on activities regarding Israel, such as the Palestinians’ statehood push in the United Nations and the upcoming Israeli elections.

According to JTA, the letter by the Jewish representatives was signed by the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The Anti-Defamation League had announced earlier this week that it would not attend the meeting.

So, the main reason for the association between Jewish faith officials and the Christian churches—which gave oodles of good press to those churches, seeing as the Jews are dialoguing with them—the excuse for all that, which was that this is the way to prevent them from boycotting Israel – that’s been a sham all along.

Sometimes it’s so much fun to be a self-righteous Orthodox Jew. I’m not advocating against intellectual or even spiritual exchanges with fellow monotheists, including Protestants – but a dialogue is something else entirely. A dialogue implies finding the kind of common ground that makes faiths merge. We won’t have any of that.

Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs umbrella group. told JTA that the Jewish groups quit their participation because “There’s been a betrayal of trust. … We have to discern if there’s a positive path forward.”

What’s the positive path? What do you need from Christian churches? What’s the desired result, a “Judeo-Christian” church?

Signers of the Protestants’ letter to Congress included the heads of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches USA and the United Church of Christ.

Saying they have “witnessed the pain and suffering” of both Israelis and Palestinians, they implored the lawmakers to launch “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel” of agreements with Washington for alleged illegal use of U.S.-sold weapons against Palestinians.

Such peace loving folks, spreading all that good in the world to help not just the poor Palestinian victims, but also to save the souls of their Jewish oppressors…

And guess what – Rachel Lerner, vice president of the J Street Educational Fund, wrote last Friday on the Daily Beast website that J Street shared the Christian leaders’ “concern that conditions in the region are deteriorating to the point where they `threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace.’”

There you go. They’re all so concerned for us, we better go check our Uzis…

Lerner called for American Jews to put “at least as much energy and effort” into pushing for a two-state solution as they are putting into fighting such letters, of which she said there would be more.

Yes, another great idea that hasn’t lost its charm despite the rivers of blood it has spilled since we first tried it out in 1994. Why don’t we just pack our suitcases and go back to Poland – that might stop the boycotts.

Also—this was to be expected—a dozen Jewish clergy allied with Jewish Voice for Peace praised the Protestants’ leaders call. Many of the organization’s members have called for boycotts of Israel.

“It is altogether appropriate – and in fact essential – for Congress to ensure that Israel is not in violation of any U.S. laws or policies that regulate the use of U.S. supplied weapons,” said the statement signed by 10 rabbis, two rabbinical students and a cantor.

Emory University Apologizes for 2 Decades of Anti-Semitism at Dental School

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Emory University issued a formal apology to Jewish dental students who attended the school between 1948 and 1961 and faced anti-Semitism.

University President James Wagner delivered the apology at a special event Wednesday night that included 32 former students, now in their 70s and 80s, of the Atlanta school. The students had received failing grades, were thrown out of school or were forced to repeat classes only because they were Jewish.

“I hereby express in the deepest, strongest terms, Emory’s regret for the anti-Semitic practices of the dental school during those years,” Wagner said. “We at Emory also regret that it has taken this long for those events to be properly acknowledged. I am sorry; we are sorry.”

Among the 450 people present was Perry Brickman, a retired oral surgeon from Atlanta who was kicked out of Emory in 1952 along with his three Jewish classmates and whose subsequent research about anti-Semitism at Emory was an impetus for the apology. Brickman spent many years interviewing fellow Emory students who faced discrimination, and his work was featured in the documentary film “From Silence to Recognition: Confronting Discrimination in Emory’s Dental School History.”

The documentary was shown last year to Emory’s board of trustees, who decided there needed to be a public apology, Emory University Vice President Gary Hauk told JTA.

“When we saw Brickman’s documentary, it was evident he had a story about discrimination — one that needed to be confronted and needed an apology,” Hauk said. “It’s a regrettable part of the institution’s history, and it’s shameful that it did happen. But there’s a renewed agreement to make sure discrimination like this doesn’t happen at our school again.”

The documentary film also was shown at Wednesday’s event.

“I was a good student, I did my work and got good grades, but I still got a letter that I was kicked out,” Brickman told JTA in an interview. “The whole thing was so embarrassing. But there was nothing we could do about it, so we just moved on and didn’t speak to each other. Nobody in the community wanted to do anything. We were dealing with immigration issues and hate speech from the KKK, so we didn’t want to make waves.”

The anti-Semitic policies at the dental school have been attributed to its then-dean, John Buhler. In 1962, the Anti-Defamation League presented the university with data showing that 65 percent of Emory’s Jewish students faced trouble – a sign, the organization said, of obvious discrimination. The university at the time denied being anti-Semitic, but shortly after Buhler resigned as the school dean.

“We are grateful to President Wagner for his forthright leadership in acknowledging and apologizing for a policy that has haunted many of the Jewish students throughout their long lives,” Bill Nigut of the ADL said in a statement this week. “We are now hearing powerful, painful stories of how they came to doubt their own abilities, were viewed as failures by parents and friends, and had to rethink careers — all because the dental school dean at the time was an anti-Semite, and other administrators and faculty either ignored or abetted his prejudice.”

Israeli Rabbi Suspected of Stealing Torah Scrolls

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Police in Israel have reportedly arrested a rabbi suspected of stealing seven Torah scrolls from the synagogue of Moshav Brosh near Be’er Sheva.

Kikar HaShabat reported that on Oct. 10 police requested that the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court remand the suspect for a further 24 hours. He had been arrested the previous day, the news site reported.

According to police, the anonymous rabbi has already confessed to taking seven Torah scrolls from the synagogue.

The alleged theft was discovered on Simchat Torah, Oct. 8, atime when all the stored Torah scrolls are taken out for the hakafot ceremonies, as individuals carry them and dance with them in a circle.

As the Brosh synagogue one worshiper opened the ark, after his boy asked to see the sheepskin on which the Torah is written, and they discovered blank poster-board sheets which had been put there in place of the Torahs.

Mordechai Deri, a regular member of the synagogue, Ma’ariv that he inspected all other seven Torah scrolls and found they had been replaced, too.

“It was horrible,” he said.

Deri then related that the suspect approached him, saying, “Mordechai, talk to your son, tell him not to make a big deal out of this. I only took the Torah scroll to fix it and tomorrow I’ll bring it back.”

The day after, when worshippers sought to figure out the extent of the damage, they realized that seven scrolls had been stolen altogether.

JTA contributed to this report

 

NY Board of Health Votes to Require Parental Consent for Metzitzah B’Peh

Friday, September 14th, 2012

The New York Board of Health on Thursday voted 9-0 to require parents to sign a consent form in order for a mohel – ritual circumciser – to use direct oral-genital suction, known as metzitzah b’peh. The form would indicate that parents are aware of the risk of infection.

Haredi leaders have resisted calls to replace direct oral suction with the alternative approaches.

The health department’s vote represents the culmination of a year of debate surrounding the practice, which was sparked by the death of an infant in Brooklyn last September and the subsequent revelation that a mohel who performed the ritual on the infant had tested positive for herpes.

In June, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley condemned the practice of direct oral suction.

Agudath Israel of America reportedly is planning to sue the city of New York over the requirement. Some 200 Haredi rabbis in New York signed a statement last week accusing the health department of “spreading lies” in order to pass the waiver measure.

The Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly applauded the health commissioner’s push for parental consent.

The Rabbinical Council of America stated:

Many Jewish legal authorities have ruled that direct oral suction is not an integral part of the circumcision ritual, and therefore advocate the use of a sterile tube to preclude any risk of infection. The RCA has gone on record as accepting the position of those authorities. Nevertheless, the RCA respects the convictions and sensitivities of those in the Orthodox Jewish community who disagree with this ruling and joins in their deep concern about government regulation of religious practices. The RCA urges these groups to voluntarily develop procedures to effectively prevent the unintended spread of infection.

The RCA supports the recent call of the Agudath Israel of America to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Health Department that, instead of unilaterally imposing regulations, they collaborate with Orthodox Jewish leadership to develop protocols to address health concerns.

JTA content was used in this report.

ZOA Loses Tax Exemption Status, Will Apply for Reinstatement

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The Zionist Organization of America has lost its 501(c)3 tax exemption status, due to failure to file tax returns for the last three years.

In an interview with JTA, ZOA president Morton Klein confirmed the loss, and stated that his organization has hired a tax attorney to help them bring their files up to date and apply for reinstatement of their status.

According to Klein, the error in filing was due to the failure of a ZOA-funded school in Ashkelon to provide correct information in time, as well as a misunderstanding on the part of the ZOA as to the amount of time it had left to file for an extension.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/zoa-loses-tax-exemption-status-will-apply-for-reinstatement/2012/09/12/

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