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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

 


Israeli tourist jailed, fined for flying drone in Paris

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Israeli tourist was arrested and jailed for flying a drone over Paris landmarks.

The man, 24, was arrested Oct. 1 in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, where the drone, equipped with a professional mounted camera, was flying, the French news agency AFP reported. The drone also had flown over the historic Hotel Dieu hospital and a police station.

After spending the night in jail, he was levied a nearly $650 fine for “operating an aircraft non-compliant with safety laws.”

The tourist told police he did not know it was illegal to fly drones in France and that he was filming Paris landmarks for personal use only.

Part Jewish Frenchman among National Front’s first-ever senators

(JTA)—The 26-year-old son of a Jewish man is one of the first members of the far-right National Front party to be elected to France’s senate.

David Rachline and another National Front candidate, Stephane Ravier, were elected as senators on Sept. 28 in the national elections for the French upper house, which never before had lawmakers from the controversial party. Rachline is France’s youngest-ever senator.

He was born to Serge Rachline, whom David Rachline in 2011 described to the news site Rue89 as a Socialist, non-practicing Jew. Serge died when David Rachline was 16.

National Front was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who, like other senior members of the party, has multiple convictions for Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred against Jews.

But his daughter, Marine Le Pen, has, since her election in as party leader in 2011, tried to rehabilitate the party’s image, distancing herself from her father’s statement and from other racist expressions. Still, Jean-Marie Le Pen is the party’s honorary president.

Rue89 revealed Rachline’s Jewish roots when he was leader of the party’s youth division. Confronted with the site’s findings, Rachline downplayed their significance, saying he was neither circumcised nor did he have a bar mitzvah and that he is not Jewish “according to the books.”

According to Jewish law, only the descendants of a Jewish mother is considered Jewish. The Reform movement recognizes patrilineal descent in cases where a child is given a Jewish upbringing.

Rachline also said he was not practicing any religion, but that if he has to choose one it would be Catholicism because of its “egalitarianism.” In that interview with rue89, he acknowledged harboring sympathies for the “Equality and Reconciliation” movement of the far-right Holocaust-denier and anti-Israel activist Alain Soral.

“What I liked about Soral is his criticism of liberalism,” he said. “Besides, you can oppose Israel’s policies without being anti-Semitic.”

Rue89 journalist Nolwenn Le Blevennec wrote that she was motivated to research Rachline’s origins because, in defending a controversial statement by Jean-Marie Le Pen during an interview, he mumbled: “The things you make me say.”

Orthodox group sues to keep patient on life support

NEW YORK (JTA)—The head of an Orthodox Jewish organization that cares for people with special needs is suing to keep one of its patients on life support.

Samuel Kahn, the director of Hebrew Academy for Special Children, or HASC, a New York organization that cares for people with special needs, is suing to keep one of his organization’s patients on life support, DNAinfo New York reported.

Kahn claims that removing Eileen Beth Kramer, 60, from her life support at Maimonides Medical Center would violate her religious beliefs. He petitioned the Brooklyn Supreme Court in September after Kramer’s legal guardian, brother Howard Kramer, considered removing her from a ventilator, according to court papers obtained by DNAinfo New York.

According to Kahn’s court petition, HASC has cared for Kramer in one of its group homes for the past 40 years until she recently became sick. During that time, she kept a kosher diet, observed Shabbat and celebrated Jewish holidays.

“HASC was founded specifically to give people with developmental disabilities an opportunity to live a religious life,” said Chaim Wakslak, HASC’s clinical director. “Eileen had been living with us for several decades, living a religious life, and part of living religiously is dying religiously. So that is what this case is about.”

Howard Kramer maintains that HASC should have no role in the decision. He told DNAinfo that his sister, who has a developmental disability, was neither raised religious, nor is currently religious.

She doesn’t have the intellectual capability [to understand religion],” Howard Kramer was quoted saying. “She lived [at HASC], she followed their rules, but she couldn’t have held deeply religious beliefs because of her disability. She doesn’t have any concept of what religion is.”

After a first hearing in the Brooklyn Supreme Court on Sept. 18, Judge Larry Martin had issued a temporary restraining order on removing the ventilator  A second hearing in the case was held Sept. 30 before the same judge, whose decision is underway.

British MP: Study shows stunning is shechitah-compatible

(JTA) – A British lawmaker who advises the government on meat production said he hoped to prove to Jews and Muslims that slaughtering with the stunning method is ultimately compatible with their faiths.

Neil Parish, who heads the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beef and Lamb, was quoted by the news site Jewishnews.co.uk on Oct. 2 as saying: “If it can be scientifically established that stunning does not adversely affect blood loss then we reassure consumers of religiously slaughtered meat that stunning is compatible with their faith.”

Parish was commenting on a new report which suggested that meat from animals that were stunned before their necks were cut did not contain any more blood than the meat of animals that did not receive stunning prior to undergoing the same method of slaughter.

Religious laws in Judaism and Islam allow followers of those religions to eat the meat only of animals that were conscious when their necks were cut. In addition, Jewish religious law, or halachah, requires the removal of blood from the body of the animals prior to consumption and forbids the consumption of animals’ blood.

But Shimon Cohen, a spokesman for the Shechita UK Jewish lobby group, dismissed Parish’s logic as flawed, saying resistance to stunning does not stem from the prohibition on the consumption of blood.

“The community has never contended that there is less blood in a carcass following shechitah than following conventional mechanical slaughter,” Cohen told Jewishnews.co.uk, using the Hebrew word for ritual slaughter.“Shechitah is not carried out to facilitate the fastest and most effective blood loss. It is practiced because it is religiously mandated.”

Jewish groups file brief in Muslim woman’s headscarf appeal to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Two Jewish groups joined a brief on behalf of a Muslim woman whose right to wear a headscarf in a retail job is under consideration by the Supreme Court.

The court on Oct. 2 agreed to hear the case, Politico reported.

The American Jewish Committee and the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism joined a friend-of-the-court brief with Christian, Muslim and Sikh groups. The Anti-Defamation League and the Orthodox Union also are considering amicus briefs.

The federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission brought the suit against Abercrombie & Fitch on behalf of Samantha Elauf, who had been recommended for hiring at an outlet in Tulsa, Okla. The outlet subsequently reversed its recommendation.

A lower court, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, ruled against Elauf, saying that she needed to give “explicit notice of the conflicting religious practice and the need for an accommodation for it, in order to have an actionable claim for denial of such an accommodation.”

That decision described Abercrombie & Fitch’s “Look Policy,” which, the court said, the retailer considers “critical to the health and vitality of its ‘preppy’ and ‘casual’ brand.”

Elauf contends that wearing the headscarf during her interview and communications with managers through a friend who worked at the store was sufficient.

The friend had checked with one manager who, citing the case of an employee who had worn a yarmulke, said there should not be a problem.

Elauf interviewed with another manager who was not certain of the policy and after consulting with her superiors dropped her initial recommendation to hire. Elauf did not explicitly raise her faith as an issue during the interview.

The religious groups argue in their brief that requiring an explicit notice of religious requirements is overly stringent.

“Hiring processes are often technologically structured in a way that precludes the employee from even raising the issue during the application process,” the brief argues.

Swedish politician: ISIS is Mossad’s pawn

(JTA)—A local politician with Sweden’s ruling party said that Israel trained the jihadist ISIS group to wage war on Muslims.

Adrian Kaba, who represents Sweden’s Social Democrats in Malmo’s city council, made the statement this summer during a discussion on Facebook, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reported Oct. 2.

Reacting to the report, the chairman of the party’s regional branch, Joakim Sandell, said, “An elected official should not be spreading conspiracy theories.”

In his Facebook post, Kaba wrote on July 21: “ISIS is being trained by the Israeli Mossad. Muslims are not waging war, they are being used as pawns by other peoples’ game.”

Sandell said the party intends to deal with the issue internally, but did not elaborate.

Initially, Kaba argued he did not endorse the statement but merely forwarded it “because the main thing is to keep a debate going,” Sydsvenskan reported. But he later apologized for the remark, adding: “I now realize that I made a mistake. If there is evidence that this is an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, then I reject it unreservedly.”

In 2012, Kaba used the term “Jew-European extreme right-wing conspiracy” in an editorial in the Socialist newspaper Tro & Politik, according to Sydsvenskan.

Approached by the paper for a comment on Kaba’s July remark the party’s regional vice chairman, Andreas Schonstrom, said he would “rather not criticize a fellow party member,” but he added that “you need to think before spreading such conspiracy theories.”

The southern city of Malmo has attracted international attention for the prevalence of anti-Semitic attacks within its borders. Most attacks—which number several dozen every year—are by people of Middle Eastern descent or Muslim origins, Jewish community representatives told JTA.

Dutch police said to cite vandalism risk in opposing sukkah

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA)—Dutch police advised a municipality to forbid the public display of a sukkah out of concerns that it would be a target for vandalism, a Jewish resident said.

Fabrice Schomberg applied last month for a permit to erect a sukkah, a hut designated for meals during the holiday of Sukkot, outside his home in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Schilderswijk in The Hague.

On Sept. 30, city official Karin Wilthagen told Schomberg that the police advised the city against allowing him to build the sukkah, warning that it could be vandalized, he told JTA.

Despite the objection from police, the city approved his request last Friday.

Police declined to comment on the case and declined to say whether they considered Jewish symbols and the people who display them as being especially at risk. A city spokesman told JTA that Schomberg’s application was being processed.

In recent weeks, Schomberg has been featured in a series of articles about a Jewish-owned housing project of 200 apartments located among one of the Netherlands’ largest concentrations of Muslim immigrants. He is among only a dozen Jewish residents in the complex.

In one item, a news crew filmed Schomberg being verbally abused on the street outside his home because he put on a kippah. He usually conceals it to prevent such incidents.

Three times over the summer rioting took place in Schilderswijk, near the Jewish-owned area, and on each occasion there were flags identified with the ISIS Islamist group. Two of the rallies also featured calls to kill Jews, and in the third protesters hurled rocks at police and used municipal flowerbeds to barricade the neighborhood’s main street.

The rallies took place amid a series of attacks on Jews in the Netherlands in the wake of Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip with Hamas. Two people were physically assaulted for displaying an Israeli flag.

Separately, a Jewish man in the eastern city of Arnhem and identified in Dutch media only as Nathan was beaten on the street by seven men who heard him speaking on his cell phone in Hebrew, the De Telegraaf daily reported. He told the daily he would not speak the language in public again.

Pamela Geller-led group sues NYC’s MTA over ‘killing Jews’ ad

(JTA)—A pro-Israel group sued New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority for rejecting its advertisement on the city’s public transportation.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is headed by blogger Pamela Geller and is known for its sharp anti-Muslim rhetoric, sought to post an ad that included the quote “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” Geller says the quote is from Hamas-affiliated TV and exposes the organization’s true agenda.

The lawsuit was filed Oct. 1 in a federal court in Manhattan, The Associated Press reported.

The MTA had said that the ad could be seen as a call to violence against Jews and violated its “viewpoint-neutral” advertising standards.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative alleged that its free speech and due process rights were violated. It noted that the ad has run in other cities without inciting violence.

Geller and her group have drawn attention for their controversial ads. In a rare backdown recently, the group complied with a request from the family of journalist James Foley to remove from an ad an image from the video depicting his beheading in August.

ADL, O.U. score Obama administration on Jerusalem rebuke

WASHINGTON (JTA)—The Orthodox Union and Anti-Defamation League criticized as unhelpful the Obama administration’s sharp rebuke to Israel for announcing building plans in eastern Jerusalem.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, in a statement Wednesday said that the building announcement last week by Israel would “distance Israel from even its closest allies” and “poison the atmosphere.” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki delivered similar remarks.

The Orthodox Union in a statement Oct. 2 said that the statement ran counter to an otherwise constructive meeting the previous day between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Nathan Diament, O.U. Washington’s executive director, said the statements “suggest that the onus for the peace process impasse is upon Israel, when in fact it is decades of Palestinian and Arab rejectionism and incitement (such as that voiced by Palestinian President Abbas at the U.N. General Assembly last week) that ‘poisons the atmosphere’ for peace.”

The ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said in a statement that the remarks were “myopic, ill-timed and off the mark.” He also said they distracted from the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama.

“The United States and Israel should remain solidly focused on the issues the President and Prime Minister outlined in public comments before their private meeting—shared concerns about the global threat of Iran’s nuclear program, the battle against the peril to the region from brutal extremists, and a way forward for Israel and the Palestinians—after the seven weeks of fighting—to stop Hamas rocket attacks against Israel,” Foxman said.

 

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