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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


ISIS beheads American aid worker, an Iraq war veteran

(JTA)—The Islamic State jihadist group beheaded an American hostage.

In a video posted online Sunday morning on jihadist and social networking sites, the group also known as ISIS and ISIL said it beheaded American aid worker Peter Kassig, who went by the name Abdul-Rahman Kassig after converting to Islam.

Kassig, 26, of Indianapolis, was abducted in October 2013 in Syria. He founded a Turkey-based nonprofit group that assists refugees on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border.

Kassig served in the U.S. Army during the Iraq war and was honorably discharged in 2007 over a medical ailment.

President Obama confirmed that the video was authentic and said that Kassig was killed in “an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity.”

The video reportedly did not show the actual beheading but showed a black-masked man speaking with a British accent with a bloody decapitated head at his feet.

“This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen of your country; Peter who fought against the Muslims in Iraq while serving as a soldier,” the masked man said.

The one who purportedly is Kassig is dressed and sounds the same as the man seen in four other beheading videos, including that of dual American-Israeli citizen Steven Sotloff.

For the first time, the video identified where the beheading took place.

“Here, we are burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” the believed executioner said.

Dabiq is located in northern Syria near the border with Turkey.

The video also reportedly showed the beheading of several men identified as Syrian military personnel, the French news agency AFP reported.

Kassig founded SERA, or Special Emergency Response and Assistance, working from Turkey to provide food and medical supplies to refugee camps on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border while helping refugees flee the more then three-year-long civil war in Syria, according to ABC News.

Videos released since Aug. 19 have shown the beheading of Sotloff, American journalist James Foley, and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.

Netanyahu accuses Abbas of incitement in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of incitement as the P.A.’s official media called for a day of rage in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu pointed out the call at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

On Thursday, Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordan’s King Abdullah II agreed after meeting in Amman to de-escalate the situation on the Temple Mount and make it clear that the status quo will be upheld.

“Abu Mazen must halt the incitement that leads to acts of violence,” Netanyahu said Sunday, using Abbas’ nom de guerre. “This is one of the roots of the inflamed moods that are fueled by Islamist extremist propaganda and propaganda by the Palestinian Authority.”

Netanyahu also called rumors that Israel intends to change the status quo on the Temple Mount  “a gross lie.”

Since capturing the holy site during the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has severely restricted access for Jewish worshippers, in part not to inflame tensions. The status quo continues to restrict Jewish worship on the mount.

The day after the Jordan meeting, Israel removed its age limitation on entrance to the Temple Mount, for the first time in two weeks allowing Muslim men under the age of 50 to enter the compound that contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Army Radio reported.

The Palestinian Maan news agency reported Sunday that Netanyahu will meet again with Abdullah in the coming days to continue discussions over tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, citing  Jordanian parliament member Mohammed al-Katatshe.

Israel bans Norwegian doctor, co-author of Lancet letter, from Gaza

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A Norwegian doctor who was among the authors of a letter slamming Israel published in The Lancet was banned permanently from the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government said the ban on Dr. Mads Gilbert was for security reasons, according to an email from the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv to The Local, a Norwegian daily.

Gilbert, 67, told The Local he believes he is being excluded because he has made critical comments against Israel.

The doctor said he has spent over 30 years working in international conflict areas, especially Gaza, The Local reported. He spent more than a month this summer working at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital helping to treat some of the thousands injured in Israel’s operation in Gaza.

Gilbert reportedly was traveling to Gaza late last month and was prevented from crossing from Israel into Gaza.

Norwegian government officials reportedly have asked Israel to change its decision.

In “An open letter for the people of Gaza” published this summer in The Lancet, a British medical journal, Gilbert and his co-authors accused Israel of committing a “massacre” in Gaza, among other things.

“This is not about me. This is about Israel denying the Palestinian people in Gaza international support,” Gilbert told the British daily The Independent on Saturday.

“To deny professionals from the medical field the right to go to Gaza is another aspect of the collective punishment. They’re exercising the siege in an increasingly harsh and brutal way.”

Jewish man stabbed with screwdriver in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A Jewish man was stabbed with a screwdriver in central Jerusalem.

The victim, 32, was treated on the scene for stab wounds to his upper body before being taken to Shaarey Zedek Medical Center in the city.

The assailant reportedly was a Palestinian youth who was seen fleeing toward the Damascus Gate on the northwest side of Jerusalem.

Police said they set up roadblocks in their search for the attacker.

The attack comes on the heels of Arab unrest in Jerusalem and several attacks using cars and stabbing in the past two weeks.

Debate tabled on bill naming Israel national homeland for Jews

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A Knesset committee vote on a law to officially make Israel the nation-state of all Jews was postponed.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, head of the centrist Hatnua party, on Sunday postponed her ministerial committee for legislation’s vote on the bill known as the Nationality Law.

“The explosive situation that exists in the Arab sector at the moment has already led to violent clashes and casualties. A discussion on the Nationality Law at this time is irresponsible,” Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri said in requesting the delay of the vote during the committee meeting.

The bill calls Israel the national homeland of the Jewish people and would make Hebrew the official language, with Arabic having “special status.” It also calls Jewish law a basis for new legislation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supports the bill, said after the committee meeting that he would submit the bill directly to the full Cabinet for discussion.

“The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish People,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “This is a central issue which is important for the future of the Jewish People in the State of Israel.”

The statement came hours after Netanyahu had opened the Cabinet meeting by saying he would move forward on the bill, which was proposed by Zeev Elkin, a member of his Likud party.

Netanyahu acknowledged, however, that the bill “will yet undergo many changes and discussions, but we will make it clear that the State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish People, while providing for equal rights – and ensuring equal rights – for all its citizens.”

Israel orders razing of Palestinian car attacker’s family home

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The family home of the Palestinian man who killed two people when he drove into a crowd of commuters at a Jerusalem Light Rail stop was ordered to be demolished.

Israel sent the family of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi the demolition order on Friday; the family had 48 hours to appeal. The home is on the fourth floor of an apartment building in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

Shaludi crashed his car on Oct. 22 into the Ammunition Hill light rail station in northern. A 3-month-old girl died at the scene and a 22-year-old visitor from Ecuador, who was in the process of converting to Judaism, died four days later. Eight people also were injured in the attack as passengers were disembarking from the train.

Shaludi attempted to flee on foot and was shot and killed by police, who confirmed that he had previously served time in an Israeli prison.

The family has denied that Shaludi executed a terror attack, saying he lost control of his car.

The B’Tselem human rights organization in a statement issued Sunday called the demolition order “collective punishment that is both unlawful and immoral.” The group called upon the authorities to reverse the demolition order.

Knesset advances bill forcing free Adelson-owned newspaper to charge readers

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli lawmakers in a preliminary vote approved a bill that would make free distribution of a major newspaper illegal.

The bill’s chief target is Israel Hayom, a free Israeli newspaper owned by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The bill passed its first reading last week by a vote of 43 to 23.

Sponsored by Labor party lawmaker Eitan Cabel, the bill will now be sent to a Knesset committee to be revised for its second and third Knesset plenum votes.

While the bill targets all newspapers that are distributed for free, it has been clear its intent is to force the Adelson-owned newspaper, which is considered to be a mouthpiece for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to charge customers. Founded in 2007, Israel Hayom is the only major free Israeli paper and recently became Israel’s most-read. The bill would mandate that Israel’s least-expensive major paper charge no less than 70 percent the price of its next-most-expensive competitor.

“This is a bill in favor of pluralism and multiple opinions,” Cabel told the lawmakers. “It is a battle so that, in a few years, we do not become a country with only one newspaper. Sheldon Adelson wants to bury a market that is fighting for its life.

“Israel Hayom does not exist because of its success as a newspaper but because of the hundreds of millions in gambling funds that are funneled to it from overseas. Does anyone in this room honestly think that this is how a model for a normal newspaper looks? That this is how fair competition looks?”

Opponents of the bill, however, say it is a violation of democratic rights.

“What is this? Since when do parliaments close newspapers? Are we Bolsheviks?” asked Likud party lawmaker Moshe Feiglin, who has been the object of significant criticism in the newspaper.

Following Jordan talks, Israel lifts Temple Mount age limitation

(JTA)—Following trilateral talks with Jordan and the United States on de-escalating tensions in Jerusalem, Israel removed its age limitation on entrance to the Temple Mount.

Last Friday, Israel for the first time in two weeks allowed Muslim men under the age of 50 to enter the Temple Mount compound, which contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Army Radio reported.

The limitation came after several weeks of violent clashes in eastern Jerusalem between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters, and a spike in terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Its lifting came hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Amman with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

At a news conference in Amman on Nov. 13, Kerry said that in the talks the leaders agreed “to make sure that they de-escalate the situation, and that the steps they take will instill confidence that the status quo will be upheld.” He declined to specify the steps in question.

“There are firm commitments, particularly from the custodian of the holy mosque,” Kerry said in reference to Jordan, “as well as Israel, to guarantee that they will take these steps.”

Asked whether Jordan would return its ambassador to Israel, who was recalled for consultation during the escalation period, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said: “Let’s see what happens and then we’ll review our decision, but we have to see what happens on the ground first.”

Meanwhile, security forces in Jerusalem were deployed in large numbers to respond to rioting, Army Radio reported.

On Nov. 13, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was injured when a sponge bullet fired by Israel Police hit him in the face.

The incident happened during a demonstration in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya. Police fired the bullets, as well as tear gas and other crowd control methods, as masked Palestinian youths threw rocks at them, AFP reported.

The bullet smashed the youth’s nose and caused heavy bleeding. He is being treated at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, where he is listed in moderate condition.

Suspected Kansas City JCC shooter says he targeted Jews

(JTA)—The white supremacist suspect in the shootings of three people at two Jewish institutions in suburban Kansas City said he wanted to “be sure I killed some Jews before I died.”

Frazier Glenn Miller, who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Cross, told the Kansas City Star in an interview published Sunday that he decided in March to carry out the April attacks on two Jewish sites in the city after he became so sick with emphysema that he thought he would soon die.

“I was convinced I was dying then,” Miller, of Aurora, Mo., told the newspaper in his first published interview since the April 13 attacks.

He went on to say, “I wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews or attacked the Jews before I died.”

Miller is suspected of killing William Lewis Corporon, a retired physician, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan., and then shooting to death Terri LaManno, a Catholic mother of two, in the parking lot at Village Shalom, a Jewish assisted-living facility a few blocks away, where she was visiting her mother.

None of the three victims were Jewish.

Miller, a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon, told the newspaper that he conducted reconnaissance missions of the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in the days before the shootings.

“Because of what I did, Jews feel less secure,” he said. “Every Jew in the world knows my name now and what I did. As for these … white people who are accomplices of the Jews, who attend their meetings and contribute to their fundraising efforts and who empower the Jews, they are my enemy, too. A lot of white people who associate with Jews, go to Jewish events and support them know that they’re not safe either, thanks to me.”

He told the newspaper that he regretted killing “the young white boy.”

Miller was charged in April with capital murder and first-degree premeditated murder. The capital charge carries a death sentence; the premeditated murder charge could result in life in prison.

He had served three years in prison on weapons charges and for plotting the assassination of Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

French Muslims see Jews controlling nation’s economy, media

(JTA)—New surveys conducted in France suggested that Frenchmen of Muslim origin were far likelier to espouse anti-Semitic views than the general population.

In the two surveys, which were conducted in recent months, 74 percent of respondents who self-identified as observant Muslims agreed with the statement that Jews have too much influence on French economics, compared to 25 percent in the general population.

The assertion that Jews control the media received an approval rating of 23 percent in the general population group and 70 percent among practicing Muslims.

The surveys were released Sunday at the fifth annual national convention in Paris of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities and organizations. A total of 1,580 people older than 16 were polled after Sept. 25 by the IFOP polling company and the Foundation for Political Innovation.

In the first survey, 1,005 respondents from the general population answered a series of questions about their attitudes toward Jews. Their answers were compared with responses several days later to the same questions by 575 people who said they were either Muslim or were born to a Muslim family.

Among the general population, 32 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Jews use to their own benefit their status as victims of the Nazi genocide” compared to 56 percent of respondents from the Muslim group and among those who voted for the far-right National Front party in 2012. Among voters for the Front de Gauche far-left party, the assertion had a 51 percent approval rating.

The existence of “an international Zionist conspiracy” was endorsed by 16 percent of the general population and by 44 percent of Muslim respondents. The same figure among Front de Gauche voters called Zionism “a racist ideology” compared to 23 percent in the general population.

In the general population group, 46 percent of respondents endorsed the description of Zionism as “an ideology that proclaims the right of the Jews to have their own country on their ancestors’ land.”

Orthodox Jew stabbed in Antwerp in attack seen as anti-Semitic

LIEGE, Belgium (JTA)—An Orthodox Jewish man who was stabbed in the neck in Antwerp in a suspected anti-Semitic attack was released from the hospital.

Yehosha Malik, 31, sustained injuries classified as moderate on Saturday morning in the capital of Belgium’s Flemish region, the Gazet van Antwerpen reported. He was discharged the same day after medical staff determined his injuries were not life threatening.

In an interview with Hadrei Haredim, a Hebrew-language news website, Malik said he felt a jab to his neck “and saw a young man eagerly trying to stab again.”

Malik was on his way to synagogue in the city’s center, where a population of approximately 16,000 Orthodox Jews reside.

According to Malik’s account, the attacker fled after he was confronted by a witness, also an Orthodox Jew.

The region’s Forum of Jewish Organizations wrote in a statement that “there is very real chance we are dealing with an act of pure anti-Semitism.”

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, called on European authorities to step up efforts to protect Jewish communities that are being targeted by Islamists and other parties.

“There is a war against the Jews on the Internet and on the streets,” he said. “Until there is a crackdown on incitement to hatred and anti-Semitism, then more people will believe that these types of attacks are legitimate. We call on European authorities to form a specially dedicated pan-European body to deal specifically with the wave of anti-Semitism and the threat of radical Islam that threatens Jews and the continent of Europe.”

Rabbi Menachem Margolin of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association said his group will set meetings with European Union officials to discuss “the severity of the situation and ways to combat such phenomena at their core, through education.”


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