Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

 


In historic acquisition, Israel’s Teva to pay $40.5B for Allergan generics

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. will buy Allergan’s generic drug unit for $40.5 billion in what is believed to be the largest acquisition by an Israeli company.

Both companies announced the transaction on Monday. The deal, in cash and stock, will close in the first quarter of 2016, according to Teva, and bolster the Jerusalem-based firm’s standing as the largest generic drug company in the world.

The acquisition will “provide patients and consumers across the globe with better access to high quality affordable medicines,” Teva said in a statement.

Allergan, which is based in Dublin, Ireland, said in a statement that it would obtain a minority equity interest in Teva.

“Teva presented an offer at a very compelling valuation that reflects and recognizes the significant value that our global generics team has generated in creating and managing a world-class generics business,” Allergan said.

Teva said it would now drop its $40 billion-plus takeover offer for pharmaceuticals company Mylan N.V., which had been rejected.

Founded in 1901 as a medications importer, Teva began manufacturing drugs in the 1930s.

Teen terrorism suspect killed in fall while fleeing IDF

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An 18-year-old Palestinian terrorism suspect was killed as he ran from Israeli troops.

Muhammad Abu Latifa was the third Palestinian death involving an encounter with Israel’s military in a week. He was shot in the leg on Monday morning by troops pursuing him in the West Bank town of Qalandiya, near Ramallah. The teen was jumping from roof to roof in order to escape the soldiers and fell to his death, the Israel Defense Forces told Israeli media outlets.


An IDF medic attempted to treat the teen.

Abu Latifa was planning a terrorist attack inside Israel, according to reports.

The Palestinian Maan news agency quoted family members as saying that Abu Latifa did not fall from a rooftop, but was detained after being shot in the feet and then “executed” by Israeli soldiers.

On July 22, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man after they entered his home near Hebron to arrest his son.  The previous day, Israeli soldiers killed a 21-year-old man in a clash over an arrest near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

2 suspects to be indicted in alleged arson on historic church

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Two suspects in the alleged arson attack on a historic church in northern Israel are slated to be indicted.

The indictments stemming from the June 18 attack on the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes are scheduled to be handed down Wednesday in Nazareth Magistrate’s Court, Haaretz reported. The suspects have been in jail since their arrest earlier this month.


Two other suspects were released on bail and one remains in custody until at least Tuesday.

Police initially detained 16 youths, reportedly all Jewish residents of the West Bank who were hiking in the area on the evening before the attack.

Along with the fire that struck the church, located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, graffiti reading “False idols will be smashed” and “pagans” were found on its walls. The site is where Jesus is believed to have fed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish.

Built on the site of a fifth-century church, the church contains restored mosaic floors from the time period.

The fire reportedly damaged the church’s roof and structure and burned hundreds of books, according to Haaretz.

Meanwhile, a crowd-funding initiative launched by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein as of Monday had raised nearly $15,000, or more than its goal of 50,000 shekels, for repairing the church.

The initiative was endorsed by more than a dozen Israeli rabbis, and the funds raised are being matched by what the initiative describes as an “important Jewish North American organization.”

Mossad: 3 Iranian Jews who disappeared in 1997 were murdered

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Three Iranian Jews who disappeared in 1997 were murdered while attempting to immigrate to Israel, according to the Mossad.

Two brothers, Cyrus and Abrahim Karamani, and Nurallah Ravizada, left Tehran in February 1997 after being told by agents from Israel’s secret service to approach the Iran-Pakistan border in order to be smuggled out of the country, but they never arrived, Ynet reported Monday.


The findings come a year after the announcement that eight other Iranian Jews who left for Israel in three separate groups for the border with Pakistan in 1994 at the direction of Israeli officials also were caught and murdered.

The Mossad reportedly has not said who killed the three men and how they were killed.

Arab-Israeli lawmaker: Jews have no religious ties to Temple Mount

(JTA)—An Arab Knesset member claimed that Jews have no religious ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

On Monday, Masud Ganaim of the Joint Arab List told Israel Radio that “historically, religiously, it is a Muslim site, period,” the Religion News Service reported.

The remarks came a day after Tisha b’Av, when Jews mourn the destruction of the first and second Temples on the Temple Mount, the scene of Palestinians rioting on Sunday. Four Israeli police officers were lightly injured and three Palestinians were arrested in the clashes. A similar riot occurred there last year on Tisha b’Av.

The Temple Mount, located adjacent to the Western Wall, is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, making it one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Israeli law bars non-Muslims from praying on the site, which is managed by Muslims and is the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Many rabbis, including Israel’s two chief rabbis, have ruled that visiting the Temple Mount is a violation of halachah, or Jewish law, although in recent years, several modern Orthodox rabbis have argued that Jews should be allowed to visit the site and pray there.

In his comments to Israel Radio, Ganaim said, “The State of Israel knows that Jews and Israel have no legitimacy to the site, except for their legitimacy as an occupier—a legitimacy [won] by force.”

Formerly a member of the Islamic Movement party, Ganaim, 50, has been in the Knesset since 2009 and joined the Joint Arab List in the lead-up to the 2015 elections, when the new party formed as an alliance of four Arab parties.

Monday’s comment about the Temple Mount was not Ganaim’s first inflammatory remark. In May 2010 he said the State of Israel should be replaced with an Islamic caliphate.

Huckabee tweets Iran, Hezbollah threats in continued assault on Iran deal

(JTA)—Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee cited threats from Israel’s enemies in his continued assault on the Iran nuclear deal.

A series of Twitter posts on Sunday night followed a day after Huckabee said that President Barack Obama will march Israelis “to the door of the oven.”

Bolstering his argument of the potential harm the agreement signed by Iran and world powers earlier this month would do to Israel, Huckabee tweeted quotes from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, among others.

“It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region,” read one of the posts attributed to Khamenei.

A quote attributed to Nasrallah read: “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

Huckabee also said in a tweet, “Tell Congress to do their constitutional duty & reject the Obama-Kerry #IranDeal.”

In an interview Saturday with Breitbart News, Huckabee evoked Holocaust images of the ovens used to dispose of the bodies of Jews gassed in Nazi concentration camps.

“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history,” the former Arkansas governor said. “It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

Obama criticized Huckabee’s comments on Monday while on a visit to Ethiopia, saying they are “part of just a general pattern that we’ve seen would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.” The president added that Huckabee was making an “effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines,” referring to another Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

The Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, called Huckabee’s comments “completely out of line and unacceptable.”

“To hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel’s greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening,” Greenblatt said. “The great tragedy of the Holocaust saw the Jews of Europe without allies and without power at the worst possible moment.”

The Democratic National Committee took issue with what it called Huckabee’s “cavalier” analogy to the Holocaust, saying such rhetoric “has no place in American politics.” Its chair, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, in a statement issued Sunday called on Huckabee to apologize to the Jewish community and the American people.

Joe Lieberman calling on key Jewish senator to block Iran nuclear deal

(JTA)—Former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is pressuring a top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, to block the Iran nuclear deal.

Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew who was a vice presidential candidate in 2000, said in an interview that “Chuck is the key” to blocking the deal. Schumer also is Jewish.

“I just can’t believe Chuck Schumer will support this,” Lieberman, who served four terms representing Connecticut in the Senate, first as a Democrat and then as an Independent, said Sunday on a New York radio show, “The Cats Roundtable,” The Hill website reported. “How can you make a deal with somebody who says they want to kill you?”

Schumer, who is Jewish, reportedly is being pressured by the White House to back the deal and Israel to oppose it.

Lieberman said Schumer’s rejection of the deal “opens the way for a lot of other Democrats to oppose it as well.”

Schumer said Sunday that he is “studying [the agreement] very carefully.”

Lieberman has called on the White House to renegotiate the deal with better terms that also would better protect Israel.

Congress has two months to consider whether to reject the deal reached July 14 between Iran and six major powers to roll back sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. Israel’s government says the deal does not go far enough and leaves Iran a nuclear threshold state.

5 ex-U.S. ambassadors to Israel back Iran deal

(JTA)—Five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel sent a letter to Congress in favor of the Iran nuclear deal.

James Cunningham, William Harrop, Daniel Kurtzer, Thomas Pickering and Edward Walker Jr. signed the letter, along with R. Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state for political affairs and ambassador to NATO, and Frank Wisner, former undersecretary of state for international security affairs and undersecretary of defense for policy, the Times of Israel reported.

“No agreement between multiple parties can be perfect or without risks,” the letter states. “We believe that without this agreement, however, the risks will be much higher for the United States and Israel. We see no fatal flaws that should call for the rejection of this agreement and have not heard any viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation” of the deal.

Congress has started its 60-day review of the agreement reached by Iran and six world powers led by the United States. The Israeli government and several Jewish-American groups oppose the deal.

NYC education officials urged to investigate quality of yeshivas

(JTA)—Fifty-two people—former yeshiva students, parents of current yeshiva students and former teachers from schools—reportedly signed a letter sent to New York City education officials expressing “deep concern” about “the poor quality and scant amount of secular education” at the 39 schools with which they say they are affiliated.

The letter, sent to seven district superintendents in Queens and Brooklyn and New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, allege that the yeshivas are failing to meet New York state law requiring all nonpublic schools to provide an education that is “substantially equivalent” to what is offered in public schools. The letter urges the superintendents to “investigate the quality of secular education and, in particular English instruction, at the listed Yeshivas and to take steps to ensure that pupils at these Yeshivas receive the essential and substantially equivalent education to which they are entitled.”

The letter-writing campaign was organized by Yaffed, a 3-year-old advocacy group that seeks to improve the quality of secular education in haredi Orthodox schools in New York state. Haredi Orthodox schools devote far greater time and resources to religious instruction than to secular instruction, particularly in boys’ schools. As a result, some graduates complain that they are unprepared for careers and unable to support themselves financially.

Yaffed shared a copy of the letter in a news release, but is withholding the names of the signatories and is asking the letter’s recipients not to release them in order to protect the letter-writers’ “safety.” The group also did not release the names of the 39 schools it said were identified in the letter.

Oklahoma City Jews bury Holocaust victim’s remains

(JTA)—Members of the Oklahoma City Jewish community buried the remains of a Jewish Holocaust victim at a local cemetery.

The traditional Jewish funeral was held Sunday at the Fairlawn Cemetery in the Oklahoma capital, The Oklahoman reported.

A local minister had received the remains of the woman, a skull, from the daughter-in-law of a Jewish man who had investigated Nazi war crimes as a member of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, a wartime intelligence agency. The Rev. Charles McDade said the woman asked him to reach out to the local Jewish community to see if they could take care of the remains, according to the newspaper.

In 2014, McDade contacted Rabbi Abby Jacobson of Emanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City. Jacobson told The Oklahoman that she contacted several Holocaust memorial and education groups, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which as a federal agency is not authorized to deal with such matters.

The remains were buried in a hand-carved wooden coffin with a Star of David carved on top made by Fred Poplin, a member of the community. Many of the worshippers who came to the funeral lost grandparents in the Holocaust, and at least one had parents who survived the horrors in Europe.

The burial took place on Tisha b’Av, a Jewish day of mourning.

“We are able to right a wrong to a person and give dignity to the deceased,” Jacobson said. “We are honored to bring some final dignity to this nameless woman.”

London faith schools meeting scheduled for Rosh Hashanah

(JTA)—Britain’s Office for Standards in Education scheduled a meeting of London’s faith schools on Rosh Hashanah.

The government office, known as Ofsted, offered to find alternative dates for the Jewish schools after the Orthodox community reacted angrily, the Jewish News website reported last week. Rosh Hashanah this year starts at sundown Sept. 13.

A similar meeting scheduled for Salford, near Manchester, is scheduled to be held on an intermediate day of Sukkot, which goes from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4.

“Orthodox Jewish schools are a valued section of the independent sector,” an Ofsted spokesman told the Jewish News, though he did not say whether or not the scheduling was an oversight. “We hope that representatives are able to attend events on days that do not fall within holidays or on religious days. If this is not possible, then we will work with them to find alternative dates.”

Rabbi Avroham Pinter, a spokesman for the large haredi Orthodox community of Stamford Hill, a London district, called it “a blatant disregard for our faith.”

The meeting was called to brief schools on a new inspection framework. Several Jewish day schools have faced downgrades and surprise inspections.

Last October, the Beis Yaakov secondary school for girls in Salford received an “inadequate” in snap inspections conducted by educational officials from Ofsted. Before the inspection, the school had enjoyed a “good” ranking.

Two additional Jewish schools had their rating lowered following inspections conducted last September in the wake of what the British media called “Operation Trojan Horse.” The inspections of all religious schools came in response to allegations that Muslim lay leaders were imposing discriminatory and extremist practices in their administration of publicly funded schools.

Microsoft buys haredi-founded tech firm

NEW YORK (JTA)—Microsoft has purchased a software company created and run by a Hasidic Jewish man from the Satmar village of Kiryas Joel in New York.

The purchase price of FieldOne, a New Jersey-based company’s whose software helps companies manage employees when they are out on assignment, has not been disclosed. However, Geektime, a site that covers tech and start-up news, described the deal as “one of the largest exits for a Hassidic, or Haredi, company.”

Shloma Baum, the company’s founder, president and chief technology officer, is a Satmar Hasid who taught himself several computer languages. He is “part of a growing movement of haredi startup entrepreneurs in both Israel and the diaspora,” according to GeekTime.

Baum also created a filter for Orthodox Internet users that blocks sexual websites and other sites deemed inappropriate.

“I am personally excited about what the potential for this transaction with Microsoft could mean for the tens of thousands of people in Israel who identify with this religious background and who live in a cycle of poverty with little means to extract themselves from it given their lack of education,” Ilan Slasky, FieldOne’s CEO, told GeekTime.

 

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