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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Report: Abbas threatens to dismantle Palestinian Authority

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly threatened to dismantle the P.A.

Citing unnamed Palestinian sources, the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot wrote Sunday that Abbas was considering the unilateral action, which would leave Israel with full responsibility for the Palestinians living in the West Bank. The action would annul the 1993 Oslo Accords.

“A new generation arrives and asks us: ‘What have you done?’ I am now 79 years old, I cannot escape from passing off the flag,” Abbas said in a weekend interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, according to Yediot. “The settlements endanger the peace process, and the new generation sees the two-state solution is becoming less and less likely, and that there is no escape from the one-state solution.”

Unless Palestinian and Israeli negotiators agree to extend peace negotiations, the current round of talks is scheduled to end on April 29, likely without an agreement.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economy minister and Jewish Home party chairman, responded, telling Ynet, “Abu Mazen encourages terror against Israel as the head of the Palestinian Authority, and then threatens that he’ll quit his job,” but “the people of Israel do not negotiate with the barrel of a gun pointed at their head.”

On his Facebook page, Bennett posted a brief history of the peace process and the results.

“The left used to say: Give away Judea and Samaria for peace. Instead it brought us war,” the post began, referring to the West Bank. “So then they said: Give away Judea and Samaria for security. Instead it brought terrorism. Over 1,000 Israelis were killed in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem.”

Concluding the post, Bennett wrote, “Now they are saying: Give away Judea and Samaria, otherwise Abbas will go home. You know what? Let him go home.”

Egyptian police seize Jewish artifacts being smuggled to Belgium

(JTA)—Egyptian police seized a collection of Jewish artifacts from a local port as they were about to be smuggled to Belgium.

The artifacts were discovered hidden among other cargo at the Damietta port, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said last Friday in a statement.

The objects are covered by a 1983 law on the protection of antiquities making it illegal to trade in antiquities, which are considered the property of the state.

Among the antiquities were several wooden boxes with silver plating used to house Torah scrolls, a silver knife dated to 1890 with inscriptions, a silver crown bearing Hebrew text, silver chandeliers and silver bells.

Ibrahim said the objects would be studied to determine their provenance.

Arab rioting spurs third Passover closing of Temple Mount

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Temple Mount was closed to visitors for a third day during the Passover holiday after Israeli police were attacked by Arab worshippers throwing rocks.

Sunday’s closure came as Christian worshippers and visitors marking Easter filled the Old City of Jerusalem.

Some 16 Arab rioters were arrested for throwing rocks and concrete blocks at police on the holy site, which had opened briefly to tourists on Sunday morning. Two Border Police officers were injured in the clashes.

Following the closure, Israeli police also restricted Muslim worshippers on the site, only allowing those with Israeli identification cards over the age of 50 to visit.

Five Arabs were arrested Saturday night as they attempted to gain access to the Temple Mount by climbing up its eastern side. They were discovered to be carrying tear gas.

The site was closed last week on Wednesday and Thursday due to Palestinian rioting. It had been shut down the previous Sunday in advance of Passover due to clashes between young Arabs and police.

K.C. suspect said world should be rid of Jews

(JTA)—The Missouri white supremacist charged in the Kansas City-area killings told a Manhattan rabbi that “we have to get rid” of every Jew.

Frazier Glenn Miller, who also goes by Frazier Glenn Cross, called the American Friends of Kiev hotline on March 30 and spoke with Rabbi Menachem Siegal, director of the United Jewish Communities of Eastern Europe and Asia, the New York Post reported Saturday.

Miller attacked Siegal for raising money for Jews who he said “cause all of the problems” and “destroyed the whole economy in the United States and the world,” Siegal told the Post. He also said, according to Siegal, that “Hitler should have finished off the job in Europe by coming to the United States and getting rid of every Jew.”

He did not indicate that he planned to actually attack and kill Jews.

Siegal provided a copy of the call log and caller ID of the 10-minute conversation for the U.S. Justice Department.

Miller was indicted for the April 13 shooting spree that killed three people at Jewish community buildings in suburban Kansas City, Kan. The victims, none of whom were Jewish,  were a man and his 14-year-old grandson outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park and a woman outside the nearby Village Shalom retirement community.

Missouri alderwoman quits over mayor’s backing of K.C. gunman

(JTA)—An alderwoman in Marionville, Mo., has resigned over comments by the town’s new mayor in support of suspected Kansas City Jewish center gunman Frazier Glenn Miller.

Jessica Wilson, an alderwoman for the past year, resigned last week shortly after Mayor Daniel Clevenger offered his endorsement of Miller, a white supremacist who lived in Marionville, during an interview with KSPR News.

Wilson said as Clevenger’s comments led to divisiveness in the community and calls for the mayor’s impeachment, she decided to offer her resignation, she told the local media.

Miller, who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Cross, has been charged in the fatal April 13 shootings of a man and his 14-year-old grandson outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan., and a woman outside the nearby Village Shalom retirement community.

Clevenger, who was elected earlier this month, said he “kind of agreed with him [Miller] on some things, but I don’t like to express that too much.” Several years earlier he had offered a more robust endorsement of Miller in a letter sent to a local newspaper.

“I am a friend of Frazier Miller helping to spread his warnings,” Clevenger wrote to the the Aurora Advertiser. “The Jew-run medical industry has succeeded in destroying the United State’s workforce.” Clevenger also spoke of the “Jew-run government backed banking industry turned the United States into the world’s largest debtor nation,” KSPR News reported.

A special Board of Aldermen meeting will be held Monday to accept Wilson’s resignation and fill the alderman’s seat vacated by Clevenger. A second meeting scheduled for Monday will discuss a request by two board members for the board to draft a response to Clevenger’s comments about Miller.

City Attorney Paul Link also resigned on Friday over the mayor’s comments, according to the ABC affiliate KSPR.

Israel asks Bangkok police to ramp up security for Israeli tourists

(JTA)—The Israeli Embassy in Bangkok asked local police to provide more security for tourists following a thwarted terrorist attack.

The request reported Sunday in the Bangkok Post noted that the embassy made special mention of Israeli backpackers on popular routes.

Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau Chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang said his force would follow through and increase security for Israeli tourists in the Thai capital.

Earlier this month in Thailand, two Lebanon-born men with ties to Hezbollah were arrested. They were believed to be planning attacks on Israeli tourists on Bangkok’s Khao San Road during Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year’s Day, celebrated in festivals from April 13 to 15 and coinciding this year with Passover.

Israel and the United States list Hezbollah as an international terrorist group.

Thoopkrachang told the Bangkok Post that the embassy’s Office of the Police Attache had provided police with “useful information,” including that Hezbollah terrorists were planning to carry out attacks at six locations in Bangkok during Passover.

Poker ace skips pair of mom’s seders, wins $1 million at tourney

(JTA)—A Montreal man who skipped both seders at his mother’s home in Florida to play in a poker tournament took home the $1 million title.

Eric Afriat on April 16 won the World Poker Tour/Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Hollywood,  Fla., in a field of 1,795 participants.

Afriat told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that he considered quitting the tournament even as he advanced to attend the seders in West Boca Raton with his extended family.

“Here I was moving up the ladder in a big poker tournament, yet I kept getting more depressed,” he said. “I was so sad I thought about just leaving my chips at the table Monday night and going home. But I’m now delighted everyone was in town to see me win.”

Afriat, 45, is an importer from Montreal. He was the only amateur player in the final round of the poker tournament.

Ukrainian synagogue reportedly firebombed

(JTA)—The main synagogue in the Ukrainian city of Nikolayev reportedly was firebombed.

The synagogue was empty of worshippers when it was firebombed early Saturday morning, according to the Chabad-affiliated Shturem.org website.

Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the door and window, the report said, citing Yisroel Gotlieb, son of the city’s chief rabbi, Sholom Gotlieb.

A passer-by put out the fires with a fire extinguisher, according to the report.

The attack was recorded by the synagogue’s closed circuit television security camera and uploaded to YouTube.

Nikolayev, a Black Sea port city of approximately 500,000, is located in southeastern Ukraine about 70 miles from Odessa.

The Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, located 250 miles southeast of Kiev, in eastern Ukraine, was firebombed in late February.

Last week in eastern Ukraine, fliers calling on Jews to register with pro-Russian separatists and pay special taxes were distributed in Donetsk.

Warsaw marks ghetto uprising

(JTA)—Warsaw residents, including representatives of the Jewish community, marked the 71st anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Saturday’s ceremony featured prayers and the laying of wreaths at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in the Polish capital. The approximately 200 participants then marched to the Umschlagplatz square, the site where Jews in the early 1940s were rounded up by German troops for deportation to the Treblinka death camp.

Some 7,000 Jews were shot by Nazi troops in the monthlong uprising of 1942. Approximately 40,000 Jews were ordered into the ghetto in 1940.

Utah man pleads guilty to firing on Salt Lake City synagogue

(JTA)—A Utah man pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights crime for firing a gun at a Salt Lake City synagogue in 2012.

Macon Openshaw, 21, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty on April 16 in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah to firing three rounds from a handgun at Congregation Kol Ami, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. The shots broke windows and damaged the window casings.

Openshaw admitted to firing at the synagogue because of its Jewish character.

As part of a plea bargain, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. He also agreed to pay to repair the damage.

Openshaw is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15.

“Religiously-motivated violence tears at the fabric of our diverse society,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Italy charges 7 on anti-Semitic site with racial discrimination

(JTA) – Seven people associated with the anti-Semitic website Holywar were charged with racial discrimination and defamation.

The charges came after a lengthy investigation in which the suspects are accused of defaming numerous public figures, including Pope Francis, who was depicted “in photoshopped images dressed as a bearded Orthodox Jew waving the Israeli flag with a swastika at the center of the Star of David,” according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

Based on a complaint lodged by Federico Steinhaus, a Jewish leader in the northern town of Merano, prosecutors in nearby Bolzano ordered raids on the homes of the suspects in towns and cities throughout Italy, ANSA reported. They seized “material of interest” that included computers and other IT material, letters, brochures, CDs and DVDs.

Other targeted figures included Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and the actor Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for his film “Life Is Beautiful,” set during the Holocaust.


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