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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA



Salam Fayyad

Abbas accepts Fayyad’s resignation

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad after an internal power struggle.

Abbas accepted the resignation Saturday at a meeting of the two Palestinian leaders at P.A. headquarters in Ramallah. Fayyad reportedly had offered his resignation earlier in the week.

Abbas asked Fayyad to stay on and lead a caretaker government until a new government is formed, the WAFA-Palestine News Service reported.

The government will be formed after seats are redistributed in the Hamas politburo, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. New elections have not yet been scheduled, as the two major parties, Hamas and Fatah, work toward reconciliation. 

In the past few weeks, already tense relations between Fayyad and Abbas reportedly deteriorated due to major disagreements over government policy in the Palestinian Authority and rumors that Abbas would fire Fayyad, who also serves as finance minister.

Following the resignation, the United States praised Fayyad and thanked him for his leadership.

“We recognize the important roles played by both President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and appreciate both of their efforts as we and others work to support establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “Prime Minister Fayyad has been a strong partner to the international community and a leader in promoting economic growth, state building and security for the Palestinian people. We look to all Palestinian leaders to support these efforts.”

Fayyad, who was educated in the United States, had the backing of President Obama and other Western leaders, who believed him to be essential to building an independent Palestinian state.

New York teacher who gave ‘Jews are evil’ assignment is suspended

(JTA)—The New York teacher who assigned her students to write a persuasive essay on why Jews are evil was placed on leave and will be disciplined.

The teacher, who has not been named, was placed on leave last Friday from her job at Albany High School and could face a reprimand or firing, according to the Albany Times Union.

Albany Public Schools Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, speaking last Friday at a news conference with members of the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Federation, said the teacher will be disciplined by the school district and might not return to the classroom this year.

The writing project, assigned before the class read “Night,” the Holocaust memoir by Elie Wiesel, called on the students to research Third Reich propaganda and then write a letter to a Nazi officer arguing that “Jews are evil.” One of the three classes given the assignment refused to carry it out, the Times Union reported.

Bieber rapped for ‘Belieber’ message at Anne Frank House

(JTA)—Justin Bieber was being criticized for writing in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House that he hoped she “would have been a Belieber.”

The American pop star last Friday night spent more than an hour at the museum in Amsterdam before writing in the guest book, “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a Belieber.”

Leading Orthodox rabbi admits to identity deception

NEW YORK (JTA)—Rabbi Michael Broyde, a leading Modern Orthodox figure, confessed to using a fake persona to infiltrate a rival rabbinic organization and herald his own work in scholarly journals.

A lengthy expose on The Jewish Channel last Friday detailed how Broyde, a member of the Rabbinical Council of America who once was said to be on the short list of candidates to become the next chief rabbi of the United Kingdon, used the fake persona “Rabbi Herschel Goldwasser.” As Goldwasser, Broyde joined the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a rival to the RCA, heralded his own scholarship and corresponded with other rabbis.

Broyde at first denied the allegations, but then confessed last Friday shortly after The Jewish Channel piece was published.

Broyde first claimed that Goldwasser was a high school teacher of his who had immigrated to Israel about a decade ago. In his confession email, Broyde said he and a friend, whom Broyde does not name, used the pseudonym Goldwasser. Broyde even used the fake persona to argue with himself on discussion boards.

A professor of law at Emory University, Broyde also is a rabbinical court judge for the Beth Din of America.

Descendants of 16th century Jewish refugees may claim Portuguese citizenship

(JTA)—The Portuguese parliament passed legislation facilitating the naturalization of descendants of 16th-century Jews who fled because of religious persecution.

The motion, which was submitted by the Socialist and Center Right parties, was read April 11 in parliament and approved unanimously the following day as an amendment to Portugal’s Law on Nationality.

It allows descendants of Jews who were expelled in the 16th century to become citizens if they “belong to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin with ties to Portugal,” according to Jose Oulman Carp, president of Portugal’s Jewish community.

Applicants must be able to show “Sephardic names.” Another factor is “the language spoken at home”—a reference which also applies to Ladino. The amendment also says applicants need not reside in Portugal, an exception to the requirement of six years of consecutive residency in Portugal for any applicant for citizenship.

Swedish mayor fighting sale of anti-Israel T-shirts is attacked

(JTA)—A Swedish mayor working to stop anti-Israel propaganda from being sold at a municipal cultural center was assaulted.

Mats Green, the mayor of Jonkoping, was lightly wounded in an attack April 7 outside his home when two men struck and kicked him, the news site nyheter24 reported.

Dutch cities invite public to Holocaust victims’ homes

THE HAGUE (JTA)—Dozens of houses that belonged to Dutch Jewish Holocaust victims will be open to visitors on the country’s official memorial day for World War II victims.

The “open house” initiative commemorating deported Dutch Jews began in Amsterdam last year when 20 such addresses opened their doors to the public. It will be held on May 4.

This year, the project has spread to The Hague, Borne, Elburg, Groningen and Tilburg.

Some 75 percent of Holland’s Jewish population was murdered in the Holocaust, according to the Dutch Jewish Historical Museum, which helped organize the event with homeowners.

Separately, two Dutch cities dedicated memorial monuments for Jewish Holocaust victims.

In Rotterdam, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb on April 9 unveiled a semicircle-shaped bronze statue engraved with the names of 686 Jewish children who were deported from Rotterdam between July 1942 and April 10 the following year.

The same day, an exposition on the lives of Dutch Jewish children during the Holocaust opened in the city hall of Naarden, a municipality near Amsterdam.

In Castricum, a picturesque coastal town near Amsterdam, a monument shaped like a large rock is scheduled to be unveiled next week by Mayor Toon Mans in memory of 31 Jews who lived there and were murdered.

Last month, the Dutch Railway Museum opened a permanent exposition on the Jews’ deportation. Nazis deported some 12,000 Jews from where the museum now stands, an old train station in Utrecht.

Anti-Semitic slogans trigger violence at Ukraine political rally

  (JTA)—Several people were injured after protesters displayed anti-Semitic slogans at a political rally in Ukraine.

The April 6 rally in Cherkasy, a city situated 100 miles southeast of Kiev, turned violent after six men took off their jackets to reveal T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Beat the kikes” and “Svoboda,” the name of a Ukrainian ultranationalist movement and the word for “freedom” in Ukrainian.

Police arrested one of the men, who also were confronted by people attending the rally, a gathering of opposition parties.

Police questioned 36 people suspected of inciting ethnic hatred in connection with the incident, according to a report by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism, a watchdog group.

One of those injured at the rally, which was attended by a few hundred people, was Victor Smal, a lawyer and human rights activist.

“I told the men in the T-shirts they were promoting hatred,” Smal told the news site newsru.co.il. “They beat me to the ground and kicked me until I lost consciousness.”

Obama sees ‘window of opportunity’ for Mideast peace talks

WASHINGTON (JTA)—President Obama said there was a “window of opportunity” to kick-start Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Speaking after meeting April 11 with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Obama said the two “talked about Middle East peace, where there’s at least a window of opportunity for both Israelis and Palestinians to get back to the peace table.”

“We explored how the United States, as a strong friend of Israel and a supporter of the Palestinian state, can work with the United Nations and multilateral bodies to try to move that process forward,” the U.S. leader said.

The comments came two days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dubbed his talks this week with Israeli and P.A. leaders in the Middle East as “very constructive.”

Influential rabbi and son of Shas spiritual leader dies

(JTA)—Tens of thousands joined the funeral procession of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, the eldest son of the Shas party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Yaakov Yosef died last Friday at 66, succumbing after a long battle with cancer. He was buried in Jerusalem before the start of the Sabbath.

Joe Bielawa

Justin Bieber

Yosef, the rabbi of the haredi Givat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem and the Hazon Yaakov Yeshiva, was an influential right-wing rabbi. He was a Shas lawmaker in the Knesset from 1984 to 1988, as well as a member of the Jerusalem City Council.

Turkey nixes NATO group meeting with Israel

(JTA)—Turkey declined to agree to a meeting of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue group including Israel and six Arab countries.

Egypt also declined to convene the group for the first time in five years, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The Mediterranean Dialogue, founded in 2004, is intended to contribute to regional security. Along with Israel and Egypt, the other participating countries are Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Algeria and Jordan.


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