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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Report: Israel stopped producing nukes in 2004

(JTA)—Israel stopped producing nuclear warheads nine years ago when it reached a stockpile of 80, according to a new report.

According to the September-October issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which was released over the weekend, some 125,000 nuclear warheads have been built since 1945—approximately 97 percent by the United States, the Soviet Union and Russia.

The report by Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris calculated that Israel began making nuclear warheads in 1967 and produced between two and three each year through 2004 before freezing production.

Citing U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency data, the article said that Israel’s nuclear stockpile will “modestly increase” by 2020.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that is possesses nuclear weapons.

The article noted rumors that Israel is equipping some of its submarines with nuclear-capable cruise missiles and is estimated to have produced fissile material sufficient for 115 to 190 warheads.

Kerry, in Israel, says Syria weapons deal sets standard for Iran

JERUSALEM (JTA)—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Israel that the U.S.-Russia deal on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons also will have an impact on Iran and the threat of force remains.

Following a meeting Sunday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kerry told reporters that the agreement “will only be as efficient as its implementation will be” and that “President Obama has made it clear that to accomplish that, the threat of force remains.”

Kerry said the agreement reached the previous day between him and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “has the full ability to strip all of the chemical weapons from Syria.”

He also said that destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal sets a standard on Iran, and that the world must not allow “hollow words” to dominate international affairs.

Under the agreement, Syria would provide a full account of its chemical weapons stockpile within a week, and the arsenal would be destroyed  “in the soonest and safest manner,” according to the State Department. The agreement followed three days of talks in Geneva.

Netanyahu following his meeting with Kerry said the world must ensure that radical regimes don’t have weapons of mass destruction “because as we’ve learned once again in Syria, if rogue regimes have weapons of mass destruction, they will use them.”

“The determination the international community shows regarding Syria will have a direct impact on the Syrian regime’s patron, Iran. Iran must understand the consequences of its continual defiance of the international community by its pursuit towards nuclear weapons.”

Kerry and Netanyahu also discussed the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

At a ceremony Sunday morning at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem marking the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, Netanyahu cautioned that “Israel must be prepared and ready to defend itself by itself against any threat. Today, this ability and this willingness are more important than ever.”

On Saturday, Syria formally to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Nations announced. The document signed by Syria, however, stipulates that “the accession of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Convention shall not in any sense imply recognition of Israel, and shall not entail entering into any relations with Israel in the matters governed by the provisions thereof.”

Chabad center in flooded Boulder hosts Yom Kippur services

(JTA)—Some 300 worshipers attended Yom Kippur services in the lobby of the Chabad on Campus center in flooded Boulder, Colo.

The lobby of the synagogue building is above the flood line, according to  Chabad.org, which reported Sunday on the services.

Rabbi Yisroel Wilhem, co-director of Chabad of the University of Colorado, said many were unable to leave their homes to attend services, but others came because of the tragedy of the flash flooding that continues to batter the Boulder area.

Rabbi Yaakov Borenstein, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center in Longmont, Colo., was forced to evacuate his home late Thursday night, according to Chabad.org, booking the last room at the hotel in which he had booked a room to host the center’s Yom Kippur services.

Rain continued to fall Sunday in Colorado, with the death toll as high as six and nearly 500 people unaccounted for, according to reports.

New IOC chief Thomas Bach says he’ll quit Israel boycott group

(JTA)—Thomas Bach, the newly elected president of the International Olympic Committee, said he will resign from an Arab-German trade group that boycotts goods from Israel.

Bach, a German lawyer, told the ZDF-Sportstudio TV program over the weekend that before taking the IOC presidency, he will quit several posts on Sept. 16—including the presidency of Ghorfa, the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

His announcement followed days of pressure from, among others, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee.

Bach, 59, said that “Monday will be the day of resignations. I will resign as president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, I will have to resign from my position in the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, and as president of the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry.”

He added that he would have to leave at least 12 more positions.

The Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry was set up in the 1970s by Arab countries to boycott trade with Israel.  Ghorfa helps German companies ensure that products meet the import requirements of Arab governments, some of which ban products and services from Israel.

Bach, who most recently served as IOC vice president, supported the refusal of the IOC to hold a moment of silence at the 2012 Summer Olympics for the nine Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games.

He won a fencing gold medal at the ‘76 Games in the team foil.

Wiesenthal Center rips Argentina soccer squad with Jewish ties over slurs

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA)—The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged an Argentinian soccer association to sanction a team associated with the Jewish community for making racist chants.

The center made its request in a letter late last week to the Argentine Football Association’s Disciplinary Court over chants by fans of the Atlanta Football Club in its Aug. 25 match against the Chacarita Juniors.

Atlanta fans called Chacarita “Bolivians who belong in shantytowns, go back home.”

“In the past we asked for sanctions for anti-Semitic chants that Atlanta fans received,” Sergio Widder, the Wiesenthal Center’s director, told JTA. “So now we cannot keep silent when they proffer racist chants against others.”

The Argentine National Institute Against Discrimination already has intervened.

Atlanta is a professional club founded in 1904 in the Jewish neighborhood of Villa Crespo that historically has received the support of Jewish fans. The team features several Jewish players and administrators.

In 1963, Atlanta became the first Argentinian team to visit Israel, defeated its national squad.

In February 2000, fans of a rival team greeted Atlanta with Nazi flags and threw soap on the field while singing “with the Jews we make soap.” Their actions spurred the national soccer association to establish rules requiring the referee to end or suspend a match due to racist expressions.

In March 2012, the Wiesenthal Center called on the Argentine Football Association to penalize the Chacarita Juniors over anti-Semitic chants from its fans.

London soccer club’s fans use banned term ‘Yid’ at match

(JTA)—Supporters of London’s Tottenham Hotspur team chanted “Yid Army,” a term banned by the governing body of English soccer, during a match on Yom Kippur.

Spurs fans, who call themselves the Yid Army, also chanted “We’re Tottenham Hotspur, we’ll sing what we want” during the Premier League match against Norwich City on Saturday and applauded team stars with the chant “Yiddo.”

The chants come days after the English Football Association released a statement saying that the association believes the term “is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer and considers the term to be inappropriate in a football setting.”

The statement also said that “use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offense, and leave those fans liable to prosecution and potentially a lengthy football banning order.”

The statement has angered the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, which represents more than 5,000 fans, The Telegraph reported.

The Trust said in a statement that “should Spurs’ fans’ use of the Yid identity come to an end, this should be as a result of the feeling among the Spurs community that it was time to move on.”

“While we recognize that Spurs fans use of the Y-word and associated identity may have caused some upset to members of the Jewish community, we sincerely believe no Spurs fan uses the term in a malicious way.”

The term is often used by other soccer teams to describe Spurs fans in a derogatory way.

Budapest to receive $22 million Holocaust memorial center

(JTA)—Budapest will erect a $22 million memorial at a train station from which many Hungarian Jews were deported during the Holocaust.

Janos Lazar, the Hungarian prime minister’s chief of staff, said the memorial will feature an educational center and will be opened by the spring at Budapest’s Jozsefvaros train station, the Hungarian news agency MTI reported Sept. 12.

That timing coincides with the 70th anniversary of the deportation of 437,000 Hungarian Jews, which began in the spring of 1944.

Some 565,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Many of them were deported to Auschwitz from the Jozsefvaros station, which hasn’t been used since 2005.

Balazs Furjes, a government commissioner who heads the commemoration project, told MTI that the center will cover four acres, including a park and a parking lot. The exhibition space will be underground and the old station building will be preserved, he said.

In a meeting last week of the Hungarian Holocaust-2014 Memorial Committee, Lazar said that the government plans to set up memorials at as many locations as possible throughout Hungary next year.

Child victims of the Holocaust will receive special commemoration and an emphasis will be placed on Hungarians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, MTI reported.

Additionally, the government will allocate a little over $6.5 million toward setting up a fund for Hungarian Jewish public organisations, civil organizations and educational institutions to finance local projects that help remembrance, Lazar said.

Last year Hungary announced plans to double pensions paid to Holocaust survivors by 2014.

Jewish teens attacked at Paris sports court

(JTA)—A group of teenagers assaulted 10 Jewish students at a public sports center in Paris.

According to France’s Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism, several teenagers “of African and North African origins” attacked the group of Jewish 13-year-olds from the Ner HaThorah Jewish school on Sept. 12. There were no serious injuries.

The attackers asked the Jews to stop “occupying the area,” the report said, called them “dirty Jews” and said “Hitler didn’t finish the job.”

When police arrived, the attackers fled, according to a bureau report published last Friday on the French Jewish news site JSSnews.

Parents and pupils said the attack, in the 19th Arrondissement, turned into a fight as the Jewish pupils tried to defend themselves.

The Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism called on French police to prosecute the attackers.

NCJW official arrested at immigration reform sit-in

WASHINGTON (JTA)—The Washington director of the National Council of Jewish Women was among those arrested during an immigration reform sit-in at the U.S. Capitol.

Sammie Moshenberg represented NCJW and the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, an alliance of 26 domestic policy groups, at the sit-in Sept. 12 by more than 100 women.

We Belong Together, a coalition of women’s groups who favor immigration reform, organized the demonstration.

Moshenberg and the others were arrested by Capitol Police in the morning and were released by the evening.

Comprehensive immigration reform, while garnering majority support in the Senate, has been stymied by opponents in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Separately, more than 1,200 rabbis from across the denominational spectrum wrote Sept. 12 to every member of Congress urging immigration reform.

The letter, timed for the High Holidays and organized by the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, was signed by leaders of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements as well as rabbis from across the country, including a number from the Orthodox movement.

It called for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a reduction in family reunification wait times, effective but “humanitarian” border protection policies, safeguards for legal working migrants, and “welcoming” and “humane” policies for asylum seekers.

Thousands of kapparot chickens die in New York heat

NEW YORK (JTA)—Thousands of chickens designated for the pre-Yom Kippur kapparot ritual died in New York due to unseasonable heat.

An estimated 2,000 chickens died in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park on Wednesday, when temperatures climbed into the mid-90s, the New York Daily News reported.

Chaim Singer,32, told the newspaper that water and shade were provided for the animals. But activists have long claimed that thousands of chickens suffer and die unnecessarily during the kapparot ritual, in which a chicken is swung over the head in a symbolic transference of a person’s sins.

“I am horrified, I am upset, but I am not surprised,” said Rina Deych, 57, a member of the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos.

U.S. authorities issue Sukkot advisories

WASHINGTON (JTA)—U.S. authorities released travel guidelines for Sukkot.

“TSA’s screening procedures do not prohibit the carrying of the four plants used during Sukkot—a palm branch, myrtle twigs, willow twigs, and a citron—in airports, through or security checkpoints, or on airplanes,” the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement, noting the dates of this year’s Sukkot holiday, Sept. 18 to 25.

The TSA notice said, however, that all passengers undergo security screening at checkpoints.

In a separate statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection also noted that the four species were allowed entry, but noted a number of restrictions subject to inspection.

“Travelers will be asked to open the container with the ethrog and unwrap it,” its advisory stated. “The agriculture specialist will inspect the ethrog. If either insect stings or pests are found, the ethrog will be prohibited from entering the United States. If neither is found, the traveler will be allowed to rewrap and re-box the ethrog for entry into the United States.”

Twigs of willow from Europe are banned, it continued, and any sign of pests or disease will mean confiscation of the product.

In a press statement noting the allowances, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who directs American Friends of Lubavitch, also urged observant Jews to cooperate with airline staff and authorities, for instance when praying aboard aircraft.

“Particularly, one should let flight attendants know if they will be davening in flight BEFORE they begin, and understand the implications, as well as potential prosecution, for ignoring requests to sit down when requested, etc.,” said Shemtov, who consulted with Rabbi Abba Cohen, the director of the Washington office for Agudath Israel of America, in setting out the guidelines. “For example, flight attendants do not usually understand ‘nu,’ ‘uh,’ and hand signals, etc. especially when you are already in tallis and tefillin.”

Shemtov told JTA that religious Jews should appreciate the efforts of travel authorities to facilitate their travel.

“We in the Jewish community are fortunate to live with an unprecedented level of personal liberty,” he said. “I hope everyone will appreciate that cooperation with authorities that are so sympathetic to our traditions is the least we can do in return.”


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