Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


‘Armed presence’ part of Kansas City JCC security upgrade in wake of attack

(JTA)—An “armed presence” during most of the center’s operating hours is among the security upgrades at the JCC of Greater Kansas City in the wake of deadly shootings there.

Some of the security upgrades are already in place, and others will be phased in over the coming weeks, the Kansas City Star reported Saturday, citing an email from Jacob Schreiber, president and CEO of the Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan.

A security director will be hired “as soon as possible,” according to the report, and a security assessment will be undertaken.

The moves follow the April 13 attacks at the JCC and at Village Shalom, a Jewish assisted-living facility a few blocks away, that killed three.

Frazier Glenn Miller, a white supremacist who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Cross, is suspected of killing William Lewis Corporon, a retired physician, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, in the JCC parking lot and then shooting Terri LaManno, a mother of two, in the parking lot at Village Shalom, where she was visiting her mother. None of the victims were Jewish.

Anti-Semitic attacks almost a ‘daily phenomenon,’ global survey finds

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Acts of anti-Semitism are “growing in their intensity and cruelty,” according to an annual global anti-Semitism survey.

There were 554 reported violent anti-Semitic acts worldwide in 2013—a 19 percent drop from 2012, which had an “exceptionally sharp rise” in incidents, the report said. The 2013 figure was near the annual average of 550 cases over the past decade, a level that is high compared to the preceding decade, according to the report.

The findings were released Sunday, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, by The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and the Moshe Kantor database for the Study of Contemporary anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress.

“Antisemitism continued to infiltrate into the mainstream from the extreme left and right fringes, and its manifestations are no longer incidental, but rather have become an almost daily phenomenon,” according to the report.

France had the most attacks for the second year in a row with 116. Canada and the United Kingdom both saw a rise in incidents, with 95 in the United Kingdom in 2013 compared to 84 the previous year, and 83 in Canada compared to 74. Germany had 36 incidents. Ukraine 23, Russia 15 and Hungary 14.

The violent acts were perpetrated with and without weapons, by arson, vandalism or direct threats against Jewish individuals or institutions such as synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries, monuments and private property.

According to the report, the number of direct attacks against individuals are “steadily increasing”—slightly more than one-third of the targets were individuals.

“Jews do not feel safe or secure in certain communities in Europe,” the president of the European Jewish Congress, Dr. Moshe Kantor, said Sunday at Tel Aviv University. “Normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable if such huge numbers of European Jews are forced to live in fear and insecurity. European governments must be pressed to address this issue with utmost urgency.”

One incident cited not in Europe but in Argentina occurred on Oct. 7, when a 13-year-old Israeli-born boy was attacked by two children who mocked his accent. When the victim told them he was Jewish, they beat him with a stick and threw a brick at his face, breaking his nose.

Vandalism represented nearly two-thirds of the incidents, with 333. There were also 25 attacks with weapons (4 percent), 98 cases of weaponless violence (18 percent), nine cases of arsons (2 percent) and 89 direct threats (16 percent).

Argentina FM’s visit to Israel seen as launching ‘new era’ of ties

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA)—A visit to Israel by Argentina’s foreign minister and the signing of several agreements is being called a ‘new era’ in ties between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who is Jewish, is scheduled to meet in Israel with President Shimon Peres, his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. On the trip, which begins Monday, Timerman also will participate in Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies at Yad Vashem.

Under a recently signed deal, Argentina will buy a squadron of up to 18 upgraded Kfir fighter jets from Israel, according to the Israeli business daily  Globes.

“We are in a better mood now, the relationship is getting closer, we will receive Timerman in Israel and also we have four new agreements to sign with Argentina,” Dori Shavit, Israel’s ambassador in Buenos Aires, told JTA. “This new era will benefit both countries.”

Israel was among the critics of the memorandum of understanding that Argentina signed with Iran in January 2013 to jointly investigate the AMIA 1994 Jewish center bombing attack.

The four agreements involve film production, air space routes and a deal between Argentina’s Aerorlieas Argentinas and Israel’s El Al, a policy for the disabled and education.

“We expect that Timerman could sign some of these agreements in Israel; we are working hard on this,” Shavit said.

Last Friday morning, Timerman received a delegation from DAIA, the Argentine Jewish political umbrella, for discussions on the Argentine-Israel relations and the foreign minister’s trip to Israel. The DAIA group asked for a meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to ask that she cancel the agreement with Iran.

Two post-Holocaust popes proclaimed saints by Catholic Church

ROME (JTA)—Two post-Holocaust popes who revolutionized relations between Catholics and Jews were proclaimed saints of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Francis canonized popes John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday at an unprecedented ceremony in St. Peter’s Square attended by huge crowds of faithful and watched live around the world. It was the first time that two popes were canonized at the same time.

Calling them “men of courage,” Francis said they were “priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century” who “lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful.”

A Jewish delegation including about 18 representatives from the United States, Italy, Israel, Poland and Pope Francis’ native Argentina attended the canonization.

John Paul’s successor, Benedict XVI, who stepped down from the papacy last year, came out of retirement to attend.

John XXIII, born Angelo Roncalli in northern Italy, reigned as pope from 1958 to 1963. As pope, he convened the Second Vatican Council, whose landmark Nostra Aetate declaration in 1965 rejected the charge that the Jews killed Jesus, condemned anti-Semitism and opened the way to dialogue between Jews and Catholics. During World War II, he had worked to save Jews as a papal diplomat.

John Paul, born Karol Wojtyla in Poland, reigned from 1978 to 2005 and made bettering relations between Catholics and Jews a cornerstone of his papacy. He was the first pope since ancient times to visit a synagogue, and took many other steps, including praying at the Western Wall in Israel and overseeing the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Jewish state.

Jewish leaders and organizations welcomed the double declaration of sainthood.

“These two popes were integral to the post-Holocaust transformation of Catholic and wider Christian attitudes toward Jews and Judaism,” Noam Marans, the American Jewish Committee’s director of interreligious and intergroup relations, wrote in an Op-Ed. “It’s easy to take this change for granted, but this development moved the church from a force that endangered Jewish survival to one committed to the future of Jews and Judaism.

“We must never forget the centuries of Christian enmity that preceded the Holocaust, but we must also be ready to praise those who modeled a new narrative for the billions of souls in their care,” he added.

Probe of alleged Donald Sterling slurs will move quickly, NBA chief Adam Silver says

(JTA)—NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said racist remarks attributed to Donald Sterling, the Jewish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, are “truly offensive and disturbing.”

Silver, who also is Jewish, said in a statement Sunday that the league will move “extraordinarily quickly” in its investigation and that Sterling has agreed not to attend his team’s opening-round playoff game Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif. The Clippers own a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

TMZ published a 10-minute recording of the racist rant on its website late Friday, saying the recording was a conversation between Sterling and his model girlfriend, V. Stiviano.

Sterling, the son of Jewish immigrant parents, allegedly tells his girlfriend, who is black and Mexican, not to be seen in public with black people or to post photographs of herself with black people on Instagram. He also tells her not to bring black people, including Magic Johnson, to his team’s basketball games.

A statement issued by the team said “Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life.”

Sterling, who also is a landlord, has been sued in the past for discriminatory practices for refusing to rent to blacks and Latinos.

The American Jewish Committee condemned the remarks and  called on the NBA to take appropriate action against Sterling.

“Donald Sterling’s callous remarks regarding African Americans are a painful reminder that, 60 years after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, and 50 years after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act, there is still work to be done,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “And that someone so deeply involved in the NBA, which exemplifies the racial tapestry of our country, would think this way is all the more striking.”

Killer of Baltimore Jewish girl rejected in bid for new trial

(JTA)—The convicted murderer of an 11-year-old Jewish girl in 1969 will not receive a new trial, a Baltimore judge ruled.

Circuit Judge Edward Hargadon in his ruling last week on the appeal by Wayne Stephen Young said jurors who found Young guilty of killing Esther Lebowitz in 1972 were adequately advised of how to try the case, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Attorneys for Young, 68, had requested the new trial based on a 2012 ruling by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the state’s highest court, which found that many convictions before 1980 are invalid because jurors were given unconstitutional instructions. An attorney for Young said she would appeal the ruling.

Young was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and has been denied parole 12 times. He claimed during his trial that he was temporarily insane.

Esther, a fifth-grader at the Bais Yaakov School for Girls, was missing for two days before her body was found about a half-mile from her Baltimore home. She died from 17 blows to the head.

Her family has since moved to Israel and did not attend a hearing on the case last month. About 200 Baltimore Jews protested the hearing.

Spielberg launching center for genocide research

LOS ANGELES (JTA)—Filmmaker Steven Spielberg is establishing a Center for Advanced Genocide Research at the University of Southern California.

The formation of the new center was announced in a news conference Friday. Its primary goals will be to investigate the conditions leading to genocides and how to intervene in time to prevent such mass violence and slaughter.

Spielberg founded what is now the USC Shoah Foundation 20 years ago following release of his Oscar-winning movie “Schindler’s List.”

“The USC Shoah Foundation has made tremendous progress during its first 20 years, but its work is far from finished,” Spielberg said in a statement, noting the 52,000 testimonies it has gathered and the educational programs it has launched.

“Now comes the next significant chapter, one that establishes the Institute as one of the leading academic centers of excellence for the study of the Holocaust and genocides,” he said. “The potential is there for groundbreaking research.”

The Shoah Foundation’s testimonies deal primarily with the Holocaust but also include eyewitness accounts of the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide and the 1937 Nanjing massacre.

Material on the Armenian and Cambodian genocides will be added to the archives this year.

USC history professor Wolf Gruner will serve as director of the new center. Its first major conference, “Media, Memory and Technology: Exploring the Trajectories of ‘Schindler’s List,’” will be held in November.

Report: Anti-Semitism heard at major Islamic conference in France

(JTA)—A major conference on Islam in Paris featured anti-Semitic speeches, according to a sociologist who listened to the lectures.

The speeches on April 23 were given “a place of honor” at the 31st congress of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France, or UOIF, sociologist Michele Tribalat wrote in the Le Figaro daily the next day. He singled out a speech by Hasni Ramadan, a prominent Muslim leader from Geneva who spoke before thousands of congress participants.

“All the evil in the world originates from the Jews and the Zionist barbarism,” Ramadan said during his address, according to the news site http://www.europe-israel.org.

The UOIF congress is one of France’s largest and most prominent Islamic events.

Ramadan also condemned French Prime Minister Manuel Vals for “publicly wearing a kippah” while supporting a ban on the wearing of veils by Muslim women in some public areas.

Hani Ramadan is a brother of Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss professor who is banned from entering the United States because of donations he made to Palestinian groups designated as terrorist by the U.S. government.

“Against these international schemes of Zionist power, there is only one rampart: Islam,” Hani Ramadan reportedly said.

Reform Jews land victory in lawsuit against Hungary

DRESDEN, Germany (JTA)—European Reform Jews landed what they said was an important victory in their legal fight for equal recognition and funding from the governments of Hungary and Poland.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled earlier this month against the Hungarian government, the president of the European Union for Progressive Judaism, Leslie Bergman, said on Thursday, during his organization’s biennial conference in Dresden, Germany.

The EUPJ was among more than 10 religious organizations that sued the Hungarian government over its 2011 Churches Law, which stripped several denominations, including Hungary’s Szim Shalom and Bet Orim Reform communities, of government recognition and funding. The law recognized only those institutions in existence at least 100 years internationally and at least 20 years in Hungary, and that represented at least 0.1 percent of the population.

A panel of seven judges ruled on April 8 that Hungary had acted in a manner “inconsistent with the state’s duty of neutrality in religious matters” when it removed Szim Shalom, Bet Orim and several churches from its list of recognized institutions in 2012. The Churches Law, the court ruled, violates Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to freedom of assembly and association.

“This is important for Reform Judaism in Hungary, but it is extremely important European-wide,” Bergman told the approximately 300 delegates during his welcome speech at Dresden’s Kurlander Palais. The EUPJ, he said, is fighting to receive treatment equal to Orthodox-led communities in Poland.

“I believe the ruling will be referenced in the ongoing court case in Poland,” Bergman said.

The EUPJ’s affiliates have recognition issues in Spain, Italy and Austria, he told JTA.

In Hungary, recognized religious groups can benefit from restitution for real estate that communist governments confiscated. Additionally, Hungarian taxpayers may earmark 1 percent of their annual income tax for churches and charities recognized by the government.

Szim Shalom demanded $447,000 in compensation from the Hungarian government. The court urged the government to reach a compensation settlement with the claimants within six months. A separate lawsuit is being reviewed by Hungary’s constitutional court.

Held under the banner of “Faith in Action,” the EUPJ’s conference in Dresden featured workshops and lectures on engaging more Jews in Jewish life in general and in Reform Jewry in particular.


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