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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

 


Suspect in knifing of soldiers guarding French JCC charged with attempted murder

(JTA)—The alleged knife-wielding attacker of three soldiers guarding a Jewish community center in France was charged with attempted murder during a terror operation.

Moussa Coulibaly, 30, was indicted Saturday, according to the French news agency AFP, citing an unnamed judicial source. He was ordered held until trial.

On Feb. 4, during questioning a day after the attack on the JCC in Nice, in southern France, Coulibaly spoke of his hatred of France, Jews, the police and military, France 24 reported. He also said he believed Muslims were persecuted throughout the world. He reportedly already was known to police, including for robbery and drug use.

In the attack, one soldier was stabbed in his arm and another was cut on his face. The soldiers were on anti-terror patrol outside the JCC, which is located in the center of the city.

Police detained the attacker, but two alleged accomplices fled after the stabbing, according to France 24.

Jewish institutions, mosques and heavily trafficked areas throughout France have been under military protection by more than 10,000 soldiers since last month’s attacks by Islamic extremists, including one at a kosher supermarket in Paris, left 17 dead. Coulibaly is not related to the attacker with the same surname in the kosher market.

Slain journalists Foley and Sotloff honored in memory of Daniel Pearl

(JTA)—James Foley and Steven Sotloff, American journalists who were killed by ISIS, were honored with an award in memory of the murdered Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl.

The ADL Daniel Pearl Award was presented to the parents of Foley and Sotloff on Friday during the organization’s National Executive Committee meeting in Palm Beach, Fla.

Foley, an Illinois native, was killed in Syria in August after being held hostage by the Islamist State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, for nearly two years. He was captured while reporting in Syria, near the Turkish border. He had worked in northern Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Sotloff, a Florida native who held dual U.S.-Israel  citizenship, was killed in early September after being kidnapped a month earlier by ISIS while working in Syria. He had worked for media outlets such as Time magazine, The Jerusalem Post, The National Interest, Media Line, World Affairs and Foreign Policy, notably covering the Arab Spring. His friends and family made efforts to remove references on the Internet to the fact that he was Jewish, had dual citizenship and had studied in Israel.

Pearl was a Wall Street Journal reporter who was abducted and killed in Pakistan in February 2002 while pursuing a story about international terrorism.

“In many ways, James and Steven followed in Danny’s footsteps,” Abraham Foxman, ADL national director, said in presenting the awards. “It was their thirst for knowledge, their quest for answers, their interest in understanding more deeply that impelled them into journalism.”

Foxman added that rather than being interested in the “big stories” that would advance their careers, “They were more interested in the people behind the stories, in finding the humanity behind the headlines.”

New Yorker with Israeli citizenship barred from Kuwait Airways flight

(JTA)—An Israeli woman who has lived in the United States for 15 years was barred from boarding a Kuwait Airways flight in New York because of her Israeli citizenship.

Iris Eliazarov, 26, who came to the United States when she was 11 and has a green card, was not allowed on the Nov. 1 flight from Kennedy Airport to London, The New York Daily News reported Friday. Her husband, David Nektalov, a U.S. citizen, was allowed to board the flight.

A Kuwaiti law prohibits Israeli citizens from flying on Kuwait Airways.

Eliazarov has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the airlines contending that its policy violates state and federal civil rights laws.

“I take strength from the experience of Rosa Parks,” Eliazarov said in a sworn affidavit, the Daily News reported. “She became famous for her principled stand. This experience has awakened the nightmare of the experience of the Jewish people in Europe in the last century. That was a time of the wrongful splitting of families, often at transportation facilities.”

The airline’s attorney, John Maggio, told the newspaper that the suit has no merit because the policy is based on citizenship, not religion. He said that a Muslim with an Israeli passport also would not be allowed on the plane.

Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein considering second presidential run

(JTA)—Dr. Jill Stein, a Boston-area Jewish internist, has launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 presidential race in what would be her second run.

Stein, 64, of Lexington, Mass., announced the committee’s launch on Friday during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, the Boston Globe reported.

As the Green Party candidate in 2012, Stein appeared on ballots in 36 states and won 469,000 votes, or some 0.36 percent of the ballots cast.

Stein ran unsuccessfully for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010.

Assailant charged in robbery of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s son

(JTA)—A juvenile was charged in the robbery and assault of the son of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The alleged attacker of Zach Emanuel was arrested Saturday, the Chicago Sun Times reported. His name is not being made public because he is under 18. He confessed to the crime and was charged as a juvenile with robbery and aggravated battery in the public way, police told the Sun Times.

Zach Emanuel, 17, the son of Chicago’s first Jewish mayor, was put in a chokehold and robbed of his cellphone up the street from his Chicago home on Dec. 17. He was treated for cuts and bruises by a doctor who visited his home. His tooth also was chipped.

Rahm Emanuel, a former aide in the Obama and Clinton administrations, is running for reelection.

Uruguay eyeing Israeli help on security in wake of suspected bombing try

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA)—Uruguay said it has “opened the door” to Israel’s help on security following a suspected bombing attempt near Israel’s embassy in which Israel implicated Iran.

The South American country’s foreign affairs and interior ministries each released a statement on Friday to that effect while also saying that an Iranian diplomat was not expelled over the suspected bombing, contrary to reports. The statement also said that Uruguay’s government pledged to protect the Israeli Embassy in Montevideo, the capital, and the Jewish community.

Although there was no evidence linking the diplomat to an empty suitcase discovered near the embassy, the statements said, “the situation was extremely worrying.”

The statements followed a day after rumors and unconfirmed reports of the diplomat’s expulsion after the suitcase was discovered in the area on Nov. 24. Israeli officials provided a video to Uruguayan officials of the area showing a car with Iranian diplomatic license plates.

The Iranian ambassador was summoned to Uruguay’s foreign ministry on Dec. 10. The ministry later said that “the coincidence of the presence of the Iranian official just a few dozen meters from the briefcase was unfortunate and inadmissible” and that the Uruguayan government would adopt “more severe measures should similar circumstances arise in the future.”

Ministers from the foreign affairs and interior ministries said that “immediate help was requested to prevent and protect the Embassy of Israel, its officers and the Jewish community in Uruguay. Also, a door was opened to Israeli cooperation on security. Both ministers allowed the visit of Israeli experts to deepen the investigation.”

The Iranian diplomat, Ahmad Sanad Gol, left Uruguay on Dec. 7, before any Uruguayan punishment, and according to Iranian sources “because he completed his duty.”

The statement stressed that although Uruguay did not expel a diplomat, the ministries of foreign affairs and interior will take steps steps “to ensure national security” and also to “protect diplomatic missions.”

On Jan. 8, Uruguayan police detonated an explosive device also near the Israeli Embassy. The head of the local bomb squad, Alfredo Larramendi, told reporters that the device was placed there to “measure police response and times of evacuation.”

Head of N.Y. Jewish legal aid group resigns amid financial probe

NEW YORK (JTA)—The head of a Jewish legal aid charity for low-income New Yorkers has stepped down amid a federal investigation into his alleged “accounting irregularities.”

Yisroel Schulman, 51, has resigned as president and attorney-in-charge of NYLAG, the New York Law Journal reported last Friday. Sources told the Law Journal that the case involves Schulman’s “handling of finances” but that “NYLAG’s financial stability was not at risk.”

“We are confident the matter involving our former CEO will not interfere with the important legal services our dedicated team provides New Yorkers on a daily basis,” NYLAG spokeswoman Camilla Jenkins said in a statement.

NYLAG, which Schulman helped found in 1990, offers legal assistance to residents of the five New York City boroughs, Long Island, and Rockland and Westchester counties who cannot afford a private attorney. The organization, which is a member of the UJA-Federation of New York’s agency network, employed 250 people in the 2014 fiscal year and had a budget of $20 million, the Law Journal reported.

In a letter to the NYLAG board on Feb. 3, Schulman defended his track record at the organization and did not comment on the probe into his conduct.

“During my tenure, NYLAG has grown from a small ‘mom and pop’ operation of only a few staff members covering a few legal areas to one of this country’s largest, most outstanding and innovative civil legal service providers,” Schulman wrote.

NYLAG told the New York Law Journal that it served 65,000 low-income New Yorkers in 2014.

Schulman will be replaced by Beth Goldman, 52, who was appointed as New York City’s commissioner of finance in 2013 by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Goldman will start her new position at NYLAG on Feb. 17.

Dutch shipping giant changes name of vessel honoring Nazi

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA)—A Dutch ship that sparked controversy because it was named after a Nazi will have its name changed, its owner said.

The change was announced last Friday by Allseas, the shipping giant that built and named the Pieter Schelte for a prominent Nazi industrialist and Waffen-SS officer.

“As a result of the widespread reactions which have emerged over the last few days, Edward Heerema, president of the Allseas Group, has announced that the name of the vessel ‘Pieter Schelte’ will be changed,” Allseas said in a statement. “It has never been the intention to offend anyone. The new name will be announced within a few days.”

Edward Heerema is the son of the late Pieter Schelte.

The ship’s arrival in Rotterdam last month prompted a new wave of protests against Allseas, which has been resisting calls to change the ship’s name since before the vessel was built.

Also facing criticism was Royal Dutch Shell, which  proceeded despite protests with plans to use the ship—the world’s largest crane vessels of its kind. The Dutch government was also forced to explain why it offered Allseas over $1 million in subsidies to build the ship.

“In the end, I believe it was external pressure and particularly the threat of losing money that moved the company to this decision,” said Ton Biesemaat, an investigative journalist from The Hague who exposed the affair and has been fighting Allseas for years.

“Honestly, I already had given up hope of effecting change against what was a scandalous situation, but I am very happy to see this collective effort finally bear fruit.”

Sky News sorry for Gaza images during chief rabbi interview on Holocaust

(JTA)—The British broadcaster Sky News apologized for showing images of the Gaza conflict during an interview about the Holocaust with British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

The apology over the Jan. 27 broadcast came in a letter sent by managing editor Peter Lowe to a viewer who sent Sky News a letter of complaint about the interview conducted by Adam Boulton, The Jewish Chronicle of London reported Feb. 5.

Lowe said showing images of Gaza while the chief rabbi talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was logical, but that with hindsight he would not have combined the two, calling it “an indelicate clash.”

He added: “I’m sorry if you or anyone was upset by the interview Adam did with the chief rabbi. I agree that the particular circumstances of the use of the pictures from Gaza was unfortunate.”

The complaint by viewer Jacqui Rudolph also concerned Boulton’s questioning on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Memorial Day, whether Israel provokes anti-Semitism. She called it “an ancient anti-Semitic device,” but Lowe rejected the assertion.

“I don’t think it is something we should edit out from the comparatively rare opportunity to interview the Chief Rabbi in front of a general audience in order to give him the opportunity to confront these ideas and perhaps lay them to rest,” he wrote.

Netanyahu sounds warning as Iran talks framework deal

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel “will take any action” to prevent the world powers from signing a “bad and dangerous” deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

Netanyahu made the remarks Sunday at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting after Iran’s foreign minister said his country and world powers intend to complete a framework agreement by the end of March.

“From this stems the urgency of our efforts to try and block this bad and dangerous agreement,” Netanyahu told the Cabinet. “The major powers and Iran are galloping toward an agreement that will enable Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons, which will endanger the existence of the State of Israel.”

Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif met Friday and early Sunday on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Zarif called for the lifting of sanctions on Iran, calling them a “liability” and saying that “You need to get rid of them if you want a solution.” He said he did not believe an extension of the nuclear talks past the June 30 deadline would be “either necessary or useful.”

“I don’t think if we don’t have an agreement it will be the end of the world,” Zarif added.

The two sides when they extended talks in November set a March deadline for a framework agreement.

Zarif criticized Netanyahu, saying that Israel is hiding behind an existential Iranian threat.

“They cannot create a smokescreen to hide their atrocities against the Palestinian people, their continued violation of Palestinian human rights, their continued acts of aggression against Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordan and Syrian people under the guise of a hypothetical Iranian threat that is more hype than anything else,” Zarif said during a speech at the conference.

“Iran is not threatening anybody. We are not threatening to use force, we are not saying that all options are on the table.”

Mideast Quartet calls for resumption of peace talks

(JTA)—The Middle East Quartet called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations as soon as possible.

Representatives of the Quartet—the diplomatic grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations that guides the Middle East process—met Sunday on the sidelines of the Munich Economic Conference.

They called for a “sustainable peace,” which the Quartet says “requires the Palestinians’ aspirations for statehood and sovereignty and those of Israelis for security to be fulfilled through negotiations based on the two-state solution,” according to a statement issued Sunday by the U.S. State Department.

Secretary of State John Kerry was among the Quartet representatives at the meeting.

The Quartet said it would continue to remain “actively engaged in preparing for a resumption of the peace process in the coming period, including regular and direct outreach to Arab states,” and called on both the Israelis and Palestinians “to refrain from actions that undermine trust or prejudge final status issues.”

It also stressed the “importance of ensuring that the acute fiscal challenges faced by the Palestinians are addressed and of supporting Palestinian institution-building efforts.”

The Quartet also expressed its concern over the “difficult situation in Gaza” and called for donors to honor their financial commitments for reconstruction “to address the basic needs of the Palestinian population and to ensure stability.”

 

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