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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Two teens arrested in firebombing that severely injured Israeli girl

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Two Palestinian teens were arrested in connection with a firebombing that left an 11-year-old Israeli girl fighting for her life.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service said in a statement Saturday that the two were arrested Dec. 25 night in the village of Azzoun.

The arrests occurred just hours after the attack that severely injured Ayala Shapira and lightly injured her father, Avner, who live in the nearby outpost of El Matan.

One of the arrested teens confessed to throwing the firebomb, according to the IDF.

Ten other Palestinians from the village reportedly were taken in for questioning.

Ayala, who suffered third-degree burns over most of her body, remained in serious but stable condition on Saturday night, according to reports.

Doctors at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv reportedly operated on her Saturday, the first of many operations that she will require.

“I told her parents the struggle will be long, and the beginning consists of stabilizing her, reviving her, and getting her to a state where we can begin to reconstruct her face,” Eyal Winkler, director of the plastic surgery department at Sheba, told Ynet.

“In this kind of situation, hospitalization can last two to three months, and facial reconstruction can last even longer. But we are full of desire to succeed and are optimistic.”

Israel shuts Gaza border crossing following Palestinian rioting

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Israeli military closed a border crossing with Gaza following riots by Palestinian demonstrators there.

The protesters threw rocks at Israeli troops and rioted on Sunday afternoon at the Erez crossing, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman told Israeli media, and the troops fired at the demonstrators’ legs to disperse the rioters.

Three Palestinians were injured, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

The demonstrators had marched to the border fence to protest Israel’s control of the Gaza crossings and call for the reconstruction of the coastal strip following Israel’s operation there this summer.

Rallies took place Sunday across Gaza calling for an immediate start to reconstruction.

Lindsey Graham in Jerusalem: Senate vote coming on Iran sanctions bill

JERUSALEM (JTA)—U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said in Jerusalem that the Senate will vote on an Iran sanctions bill next month.

Graham (R-S.C.), who is expected to take over as chairman of the Foreign Appropriations Subcommittee when the Republicans assume control of the Senate in January, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Israeli capital on Saturday night.

Graham told Netanyahu that “the Congress will follow your lead” and will want to have a say about any final deal.

“In January of next year, there will be a vote on the Kirk-Menendez bill, bipartisan sanction legislation that says, if Iran walks away from the table, sanctions will be reimposed,” he said. “If Iran cheats regarding any deal that we enter to the Iranians, sanctions will be reimposed.”

U.S. sanctions currently in place target Iran’s energy and banking sectors, as well as any trade that might benefit its nuclear enterprise. Some sanctions have been rolled back, allowing Iran to retrieve about $5 billion of the $100 billion per year that the penalties cost its economy, according to U.S. estimates.

Netanyahu in his meeting with Graham also stressed the Iranian threat, noting that Iran on Saturday conducted an exercise with a suicide drone. He said more and stronger sanctions were required.

“And I welcome your leadership in this effort,” Netanyahu said.

Graham also discussed the possibility of cutting off U.S. funding for the United Nations if the Security Council passes a pending Palestinian state resolution.

“Any effort by the French, the Jordanians or anyone to avoid direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the peace process, anyone who tries to take this to the U.N. Security Council, there will be a violent backlash by the Congress that could include suspending funding to the United Nations,” Graham said. “We will not sit back and allow the United Nations to take over the peace process.”

Stabbing tutorial being shared on Palestinian social media

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Palestinian social media networks are showing a video on proper stabbing techniques.

The video began circulating on Saturday, the Israeli news website NRG reported.

Two masked men in black wearing black-and-white checkered keffiyehs present demonstrations on how to turn the knife after stabbing, as well as how to stab quickly and walk away.

At the end, in Arabic writing, the video says, “What are you waiting for? Rise up and stab.”

On Friday, two Israel Police officers were stabbed near the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Apartment firebombed in Jewish neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An apartment in a Jewish neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem was firebombed.

A Molotov cocktail caused the balcony of an apartment in Armon HaNatziv to catch fire on Saturday night. There were no injuries reported.

Israel Police and Border Patrol units searched the nearby neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber for suspects.

The building has been hit with rocks in the past and a firecracker recently was thrown at the building, according to Ynet.

The attack came days after a car in the West Bank was hit with a firebomb, severely injuring an 11-year-old girl and lightly injuring her father.

Arab countries ban release of ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’

(JTA)—Several Arab countries banned the release of the film “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”

Egypt on Friday barred what its culture minister called a “Zionist film.”

“It gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies, and that’s why we have decided to ban it,” Gaber Asfour told the French news agency AFP.

A day earlier, Morocco banned the Ridley Scott movie as it was about to be screened in theaters throughout the country, The New York Times reported. Morocco banned the film because of scenes that showed God in a corporeal form.

The United Arab Emirates over the weekend also reportedly decided to bar the release of the film, claiming inaccuracies in the account of the biblical story.

“This movie is under our review and we found that there are many mistakes not only about Islam but other religions, too,” Juma Obeid Al Leem, the director of Media Content Tracking at the National Media Council in the UAE, told Gulf News. “So we will not release it in the UAE.”

Israeli actions save Palestinian baby who collapsed at border

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli paramedics and the Israel Defense Forces saved the life of a Palestinian baby who collapsed at the border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.

The family was taking the 6-month-old baby with heart problems to Jordan on Saturday morning to receive medical attention when he suffered what is believed to be a heart attack, Ynet reported.

Magen David Adom paramedics treated the child until an IDF helicopter evacuated him to Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem.

A representative from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit, which coordinates between the IDF and the Palestinian Authority, arranged for members of the baby’s family to enter Israel with him, according to Ynet.

Ex-U.S. envoy Michael Oren announces Knesset run

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Michael Oren, the former Israeli envoy to the United States, will run in Israel’s upcoming elections.

On Dec. 24, Oren was presented as a candidate for the new political party Kulanu, which is headed by former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon. Oren would help retain good relations with Israel’s allies, said Kahlon, who left Likud in 2013.

“Michael Oren is the right person to handle this responsibility. He proved that, even when there are disagreements, he can maintain close ties. Michael is the best in his field,” Kahlon said in Tel Aviv.

Oren said Israel “is at a critical junction.”

“I couldn’t look from the side and do nothing when Israel is under diplomatic attack,” he said.

Oren, a resident of Jerusalem, earlier this year called for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

He resigned as Israeli ambassador to Washington in July 2013. He is now teaching at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center in Israel and writing a book on his four years as ambassador in Washington.

Israel returns bodies of Har Nof terrorists

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel returned the bodies of two Palestinian cousins who perpetrated a deadly attack in a Jerusalem synagogue.

The bodies of Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal were transferred to their families on Dec. 25, more than a month after the attack during morning worship services at Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov in the Har Nof neighborhood. Four rabbis and a police officer were killed.

Shortly after the transfer, the cousins were buried in a West Bank cemetery and not in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber where they had lived. The speedy interment was required by Israel, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

Only 40 relatives were allowed to attend the funeral. The families paid a $5,000 deposit to insure that they adhered to Israel’s stipulations.

Following the attack, Israel’s Interior Ministry revoked the residency permit of Ghassan Abu Jamal’s widow, requiring her to leave Israeli territory and stripping her of any financial benefits she receives from the state. Demolition orders also have been issued for the homes of both terrorists.

New construction approved in eastern Jerusalem

(JTA)—Israeli authorities approved hundreds of new homes in Jewish neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem.

The approvals were issued Dec. 24 for the neighborhoods of Ramot and Har Homa, though reports varied on the number of units approved.

The Times of Israel reported that 243 new units had been approved for Ramot along with amendments to previously approved projects for another 270 units in Ramot and Har Homa. The Jerusalem Post reported that 380 units had been approved, with 307 in Ramot and 73 in Har Homa.

The city of Jerusalem said in a statement that the permits did not reflect any policy changes, adding that “we continue to build in all neighborhoods of the city according to a master plan for both Jews and Arabs.”

However, Jerusalem City Councilor Pepe Alalu, a member of the opposition Meretz party, told the Times of Israel that officials were using the attention focused on Israel’s upcoming elections as cover to move forward with expanded construction.

The municipality of Jerusalem had previously approved $12.7 million in improvements for Har Homa, including funds for roads, parks, sidewalks and streetlights, according to The Jerusalem Post.

DCJCC chief: Theater J head Ari Roth not fired over politics

(JTA)—The DC Jewish Community Center did not fire Ari Roth, the artistic director of its Theater J, over his politics on Israel, CEO Carole Zawatsky said in a statement.

“Ari Roth’s dismissal related to a pattern of insubordination, unprofessionalism and actions that no employer would ever sanction,” Zawatsky said in the statement addressed to members of the Israel Arts Community and posted on the group’s Facebook page.

Roth, the artistic director of Theater J for 18 years, was fired on Dec. 18. In recent years, Roth and the JCC had clashed over several plays criticized for being anti-Israel.

Zawatsky said in the statement that Roth had been planning his departure from the DCJCC for several months, already indicating to management that the current season was his last, and that he had begun a new venture while still employed by the JCC.

Roth “was offered an amicable separation with generous severance of six months, positive references and a joint press statement praising his work. He immediately violated this agreement,” Zawatsky said.

“Ari’s creative vision—which included significant works of a political nature—was always defended and supported by Theater J and the DCJCC. Our commitment to challenging theater never wavered. But Ari’s failure to maintain basic professional conduct and standards made it impossible to continue his employee relationship of the DCJCC,” she said.

Sixty-one artistic directors of U.S. theater companies denounced his firing in an open letter last week.

Zawatsky said in her statement that the DCJCC “will continue to support Theater J as a vibrant, creative and provocative outlet for great theater. Our commitment to Theater J is as strong as ever, and we will resist any efforts to politicize our creative output.”

Roth in an interview published on the website of DCMetroTheaterArts acknowledged that he was working to identify stakeholders and a board of directors for a not-for-profit theater company called Mosaic, which he said will have “a lot of continuity with what we’ve had at Theater J.”

The new theater’s mission and vision “is all going to be refined through a group process over the next months,” Roth said.

Two headstones smashed at Dutch Jewish cemetery

(JTA)—Two headstones were smashed at a Jewish cemetery in the southern Dutch city of Vlissingen.

The vandalism was discovered last week. It was not immediately clear whether the incident was motivated by anti-Semitism, the news site jonet.nl reported on Dec. 25.

One of the smashed headstones marked the grave of Joseph van Raalte, a director of the Royal Schelde shipyard, which built vessels for the Dutch Navy. Police are looking for suspects.

Anti-Semitic incidents increased dramatically in the Netherlands during Israel’s summer operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The CIDI watchdog group registered 105 complaints during the two-month operation. By comparison, the organization registered 147 during the whole of 2013.

In one incident this summer, a firebomb was hurled at the Amsterdam home of a Jewish woman from Mexico who displayed an Israeli flag on her porch.

The incidents are causing a growing number of Dutch Jews to avoid displaying Jewish symbols, according to Manfred Gerstenfeld, a scholar of anti-Semitism in Europe who grew up in the Netherlands.

Earlier this week, the Jewish community of Heemstede near Haarlem inaugurated a new synagogue displaying few Jewish symbols on the building’s facade for security reasons, according to the Heemsteedse Courant daily.

Los Angeles philanthropist Guilford Glazer dies

LOS ANGELES (JTA)—Guilford Glazer, a leading Los Angeles philanthropist and real estate developer, died in his Beverly Hills home.

Glazer, 93, died on Dec. 23. He was well known for his support of Israeli universities, including Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and for his friendships with prominent Israeli leaders, including Israeli Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Glazer was born in 1921 in Knoxville, Tenn. He was one of eight children, and he attributed his love of philanthropy to his parents Ida and Morris, who taught him the value of giving despite the fact that the family was not wealthy. His father ran a small welding company, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported.

After serving in World War II, Glazer took over his father’s welding business and eventually renamed it Glazer Steel Corp.

During the 1950s and ’60s, he developed shopping centers, moving to Los Angeles and most famously opening the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, Calif., in 1971. In 2005, Forbes estimated his net worth at $900 million, of which he donated a large part to philanthropic causes.

Glazer and his wife, Diane Pregerson Glazer, co-founded the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. Glazer also held an honorary doctorate from TAU and is the founder of American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

He was also the principal supporter of the business school at Ben-Gurion University, known as the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management. He also established the Glazer Institute of Jewish studies in Nanjing, China.


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