Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA
Sharansky: Women saying Kaddish at Western Wall won’t be arrested
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Women who recite the Mourner’s Kaddish at the Western Wall will not be arrested, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said he has been assured, despite a police vow to enforce a ban.
Jerusalem police Commissioner Yossi Pariente in a letter sent April 4 to Women of the Wall Chairwoman Anat Hoffman said he would enforce the Justice Ministry’s strict interpretation of a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting women from violating the traditional practices at the site, which is overseen by haredi Orthodox officials. The letter said the ban on women saying the Mourner’s Kaddish and other prayers at the Western Wall would be enforced.
Later in the day, however, Sharansky said in a statement that Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, assured him during a meeting that contrary to the letter, no woman would be arrested for reciting Kaddish at the Western Wall.
Sharansky, at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request, is in the final stages of drafting recommendations to decrease tensions at the Wall and ensure that all Jews can pray in a comfortable manner at the site.
Women of the Wall has held a prayer service at the holy site, known as the Kotel in Hebrew, almost every month for the past two decades. The service is held on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the new Hebrew month, at the back of the women’s section.
Rockets fired on Israel from Gaza
JERUSALEM (JTA)—A rocket fired from Gaza struck southern Israel, the third consecutive day that rockets have been fired at Israel from the coastal strip.
Several rockets were fired from Gaza on April 4; only one landed in an open area in southern Israel. The rest exploded within Gaza’s borders. No damage or injuries were reported.
On April 3, two rockets fired from Gaza landed near Sderot as schoolchildren were returning from the Passover break. The attacks came after Israel the previous night struck what the military called “two extensive terror sites” in the northern Gaza Strip, following the firing of three mortar shells on Israel from Gaza on April 2.
Four rockets also were fired on Israel during President Obama’s visit last month. One was found April 2 crashed into the roof of a kindergarten building.
Computer virus attacks Israeli Facebook users
JERUSALEM (JTA)—A computer virus attacked thousands of Israeli Facebook subscribers days before a threatened mass cyber attack on Israeli websites.
More than 2,000 Israeli Facebook users clicked on the malicious link April 3; 14,500 users worldwide clicked on the link. Nearly 4,000 Israeli Facebook users also shared the link with their friends.
It was unclear exactly what the link does besides replicating itself on Facebook, according to reports.
Kamm sues Haaretz newspaper for exposing her as source
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Anat Kamm, the Israeli soldier who was jailed for turning classified Israeli military documents over to a reporter, is suing the Israeli daily Haaretz and journalist Uri Blau for revealing her identity.
Kamm filed a lawsuit April 4 with the Tel Aviv District Court, asking for $716,000 and lawyer’s fees. She reportedly claims that Haaretz exposed her to Shin Bet scrutiny and criminal proceedings, and thus owes her the compensation.
She was convicted in February 2011 of collecting, holding and passing on classified information without authorization. An espionage charge was dropped as part of a plea bargain.
Arrested in late 2009 or early 2010, Kamm admitted to stealing about 2,000 documents, hundreds identified as classified or top secret, which she downloaded to two discs, while serving her mandatory military service in the Israeli army in the Central Command. She gave the information to Blau, a Haaretz reporter who wrote stories based on the information that was approved by the military censor. The stories led to a search for Blau’s source.
Blau served a four-month suspended prison sentence, which he served through community service, for accepting the information,
Following her military service, Kamm was a media reporter for Walla, an online news site that at the time was partly owned by Haaretz. She has been in the Neve Tirzah women’s prison since November 2011.
Dutch Jewish museum wins national popularity contest
THE HAGUE (JTA)—Holland’s Jewish Historical Museum won a $130,000 prize for winning the country’s national museum contest.
The Jewish museum received 40 percent of the popular vote in the online competition for the 2013 Museum Prize, nearly doubling the second-place finisher, The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.
Some 29,000 people voted on the contest’s website, according to a report Aprl 4 on Amsterdam’s AT5 television station.
Voters particularly liked the Jewish museum’s database meant to help families trace their genealogies and reconnect with lost members.
Jewish leaders urge Netanyahu to work with Obama on peace
WASHINGTON (JTA)—More than 100 U.S. Jewish leaders urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make clear “Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.”
“We believe that this is a compelling moment for you and your new government to respond to President Obama’s call for peace by taking concrete confidence-building steps designed to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a ‘two-states for two peoples’ solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” said the letter sent April 3 and organized by the Israel Policy Forum. “We urge you, in particular, to work closely with Secretary of State John Kerry to devise pragmatic initiatives, consistent with Israel’s security needs, which would represent Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.”
The leaders left out affiliations, speaking only for themselves, but some of those represented were significant for their leadership—including Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism—and for not usually being associated with pressing an Israeli prime minister to advance peace talks.
Vienna archbishop opposes recognizing Jewish, Muslim holidays
(JTA)—The archbishop of Vienna has advised Austria’s government not to add Jewish and Muslim dates to the list of national holidays.
“Both the Jewish and the Muslim community are not big enough in Austria that their holidays should be holidays for the entire population,” Cardinal Christoph Schonborn said March 30 during a television interview for the ORF broadcaster.
Schonborn said 80 percent of the country’s population was Christian and mostly Catholic.
The Islamic Religious Community in Austria estimates the Muslim population in Austria at 400,000 to 500,000 in a country of about 8.5 million. About 15,000 Austrians are Jewish, according to the European Jewish Congress.
Air France fined for kicking pro-Palestinian activist off flight to Israel
(JTA)—A French court ordered Air France to pay a $12,800 fine for ordering a non-Jewish pro-Palestinian activist off a flight to Tel Aviv.
In its ruling April 4, the court in the Paris suburb of Bobigny also ordered the French flagship carrier to pay nearly $3,000 in damages to Horia Ankour, a nursing student, and her legal fees, the L’indépendant daily reported.
Ankour, 30, had attempted to fly to Israel from France last April to take part in the Flytilla campaign, which saw hundreds of activists seek access to Israel in a bid to travel to the Palestinian territories.
Europe’s main airlines faced a wave of passenger fury during the campaign after canceling some 300 tickets at Israel’s request.
An Air France spokesperson said the company was acting in compliance with the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, which requires airlines to refuse to fly passengers who are “declared inadmissible in the country of destination.”
Dutch researcher who exposed anti-Semitism hid out based on mayor’s advice
THE HAGUE (JTA)—A Dutch-Turkish researcher who exposed anti-Semitism among Muslims went into hiding, following the advice of a Dutch mayor.
Mehmet Sahin left his home for several days last month after being advised by Pauline Krikke, the mayor of the eastern city of Arnhem, according to De Telegraaf daily.
Sahin, a researcher at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit, said he received death threats after a Dutch television show in February aired filmed interviews he conducted with Dutch-Turkish youths who made anti-Semitic statements.
Sequester cuts White House Jewish heritage reception
WASHINGTON (JTA)—The White House will not hold a Jewish History Month event this year because of the sequester.
A White House official confirmed to JTA that the reception, which usually takes place toward the end of May, would not take place this year because of the congressionally mandated across-the-board budget cuts that kicked in last month.
Congress passed legislation creating Jewish American Heritage Month in 2006, and President Obama hosted the first reception commemorating the month in 2010.
Jewish invitees usually include luminaries in the arts, sports and sciences, lawmakers, armed services personnel and the Israeli ambassador, as well as organizational leaders and political supporters of the president.
Citing the sequester, Obama also has cut White House tours and his own salary by 5 percent.
New York newborn contracts herpes from circumcision rite
(JTA)—The parents of a Jewish newborn who reportedly contracted neonatal herpes following a controversial circumcision rite did not sign the required consent form.
According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the newborn is the second in three months to contract the virus due to metzitzah b’peh, in which the circumciser uses his mouth to draw blood from the baby’s penis.
The baby’s parents did not sign the form advising that “direct oral suction should not be performed” because of the risk of contracting herpes, a recently required New York City health board regulation, and they have refused to identify the mohel, or ritual circumciser, who apparently is carrying the virus, The Forward reported.
Using oral suction to take blood from the area of the circumcision wound is common in some of New York’s haredi Orthodox communities.
Nazi-looted art going back to heirs of N.Y. collector
(JTA)—Two artworks sold under duress during the Nazi occupation of Germany will be returned to the heirs of a New York art collector.
The drawings are being returned to the estate of Michael Berolzheimer, who died in 1942 after escaping from Germany and settling in suburban Westchester County, according to a statement from the office of Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of financial services for the State of New York.
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters pulls out of New York Y event
NEW YORK (JTA)—Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, who supports the boycott movement against Israel, pulled out of a speaking engagement at the 92nd Street Y in New York.
A Y spokeswoman told JTA that she had no information on why Waters would not appear as scheduled.
Waters, the creative force behind the iconic band, is a vocal supporter of the Palestinians and has endorsed the boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign against Israel.