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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Secretary of State John Kerry

Kerry leaves Israel without deal for peace talks, sees progress

JERUSALEM (JTA)—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel without bringing Israeli and Palestinian officials back to the peace negotiating table.

Kerry said, however, that “real progress” had been made during his whirlwind trip and he would return to the region.

He left Israel for Asia on Sunday afternoon following three meetings each with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We started out with very wide gaps and we have narrowed those considerably,” Kerry said before boarding his plane. “We are making progress. That’s what’s important and that’s what will bring me back here.

“I believe that with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach.”

Netanyahu hours after his third meeting with Kerry told his Cabinet on Sunday morning that Israel will not compromise on security in a peace deal with the Palestinians. He also said any agreement would be brought to a vote of the people.

The final Netanyahu-Kerry meeting took place over six hours on Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

“Israel is ready to begin negotiations without delay, without preconditions,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet. “We are not putting up any impediments on the resumption of the permanent talks and a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians.

“There are things that we will strongly insist on in the talks themselves, especially security.”

Iron Dome reportedly deployed near Haifa

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Iron Dome anti-missile system reportedly was stationed near Haifa.

The deployment of the system in a heavily populated area of northern Israel over the weekend comes amid increased tension from Syria and its two-year civil war.

The Israeli military moves its five anti-missile batteries around the country as needed in areas threatened by attack.

A sixth battery is due to be delivered in the coming month, according to reports.

Jaffa flea market vendors charged in rape of American tourist

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Two Jaffa flea market vendors were indicted in the rape and assault of an American tourist.

The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against the men on Sunday.

The names of the victim, 25, and her attackers, aged 39 and 44, are under a gag order.

The woman allegedly was assaulted in a jewelry store in the flea market and then raped in a nearby clothing store in the middle of the day, according to reports.

Israeli rabbi: Weed is kosher if it’s medicinal 

TEL AVIV (JTA)—An Israeli Orthodox rabbi ruled that distributing and smoking medicinal marijuana is kosher, but using weed for fun is forbidden.

Efraim Zalmanovich, the rabbi of Mazkeret Batia, a town south of Tel Aviv, made the distinction in a recent halachic ruling, NRG, the news site of the Maariv daily reported last Friday. Leading rabbis frequently weigh in on matters of reconciling halachah, or Jewish law, with modern living.

Zalmanovich’s ruling modifies an opinion by Rabbi Hagai Bar Giora, who in March told Israel’s Magazin Canabis, “If you smoke it, there is no problem whatsoever.”

Zalmanovich, the author of a book on alcoholism in Judaism, said, “Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden.”

However, if the drug is administered to relieve pain, then the person giving it is “performing a mitzvah” and the person using the drug is using it “in a kosher fashion.”

Some 11,000 Israelis use medicinal marijuana, including for post-traumatic disorders and Parkinson’s disease, according to the Israeli Health Ministry.

Media syndicate apologizes for puzzle clue

(JTA)—Tribune Media Services apologized for using Shylock as a clue in a nationally syndicated crossword puzzle for the answer “Jew” after the Anti-Defamation League said it was insensitive.

The media syndicate said in its apology that appeared in newspapers on Sunday that the puzzle “should not have been distributed with that clue.”

Tribune Media added that it “is very sensitive to racial or cultural references in the content we distribute and regret that this slipped through.”

The ADL had called on the syndicate’s editors to apologize for using the clue after it appeared last Friday in newspapers across the country.

Shylock refers to the Jewish moneylender in the play “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare.

Jewish ex-Argentina government official to be probed in AMIA bombing

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA)—The Jewish ex-interior minister of Argentina will be investigated for his ties to the AMIA Jewish center bombing.

The Buenos Aires Federal Appeals Court last week ordered the probe of Carlos Vladimir Corach in connection with an illegal payment of $400,000 to Carlos Telleldin, an auto mechanic who was among those charged in the 1994 attack that left 85 dead and hundreds wounded.

Telleldin, who allegedly provided the car bomb that blew up the Jewish center, has not been indicted.

The three Appeals Court justices called on Federal Judge Ariel Lijo to  investigate “the existence of concrete allegations involving Carlos Vladimir Corach, which have not been investigated until now” regarding the illegal payment to Telleldin.

Orthodox Jewish patrol pledges to guard London mosque

(JTA)—An Orthodox Jewish patrol group in London said it would protect a mosque after a rise in hate crimes against Muslims.

The Shomrim patrol group accepted a request for protection by the North London Community Centre in Cazenove Road, an Islamic institution in the heavily Jewish borough of Hackney in northern London.

The deal was brokered at a recent meeting coordinated by Ian Sharer, a member of the local council, the Hackney Gazette reported this week.

It came following a rise in anti-Muslim attacks after the slaying of a British soldier on May 22 in London. The suspect, a 22-year-old Muslim extremist, was filmed holding a large knife over the soldier’s decapitated body. A second suspect was charged with attempted murder and is believed to have acted as an accomplice.

The local Shomrim group was set up in 2008 in part as a reaction to anti-Semitic incidents and now has 22 members, the Gazette reported. Members of the 24-hour patrol have been trained by Hackney police and wear neighborhood patrol badges and uniforms.

Albert Einstein

Bible signed by Einstein fetches $68,500 at auction

(JTA)—A Bible signed by Albert Einstein sold for $68,500 at an auction in New York City.

The Bible was part of a fine books and manuscripts auction at Bonhams on June 25, The Associated Press reported. The final price far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of $1,500 to $2,500.

The German-born, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and his wife signed it in 1932 and gave it to an American friend, Harriett Hamilton.

In a German inscription, Einstein wrote that the Bible “is a great source of wisdom and consolation and should be read frequently,” according to AP.

The auction house did not reveal the buyer.


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