Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

 


Two Jewish-Israelis indicted in deadly Duma firebombing

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Two Jewish-Israelis have been indicted in the deadly firebombing of a Palestinian family’s home in the West Bank village of Duma.

Israeli prosecutors filed the indictments in Lod District Court on Sunday, when a gag order was lifted on some details of the July 31 arson attack case.

The main suspect is Amiram Ben-Uliel, 21, of Jerusalem, who was charged with three counts of murder, according to Israel Police. Three members of the Dawabshe family—an 18-month-old boy and his parents—were killed in the firebombing.

A minor, who cannot be named because of his age, also was charged as an accessory to murder, the police said in a statement.

According to the indictment, Ben-Uliel admitted to planning and carrying out the Duma attack. He said it was in retaliation for the murder of Malachi Rosenfeld, 25, in June in a drive-by shooting by Palestinian attackers in the West Bank on a road near Duma.


The police said in a statement that Ben-Uliel returned to the scene of the Duma attack and walked them through its events, in which he allegedly spray-painted graffiti including “vengeance” and “long live the Messiah” on the house before throwing firebombs through the window. Along with the three deaths, a child remains hospitalized and faces a difficult rehabilitation.

Members of Ben-Uliel’s family say they believe he is innocent and that he confessed to the crime because he was tortured during questioning.

The Shin Bet has denied allegations of torture, though it has acknowledged the interrogations included extraordinary actions, including “moderate physical pressure” that was approved and overseen by the relevant government authorities.

Ben-Uliel reportedly was detained by the Shin Bet security service on Dec. 1. His father, Reuven, is the rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Karmei Zur, where he grew up. The younger Ben Uliel was active in the movement to save the Ramat Migron outpost. Since the arson attack, he and his wife, who also was a settlement outpost activist, moved to Jerusalem, where they had a baby and became haredi Orthodox.

In its statement, the police hailed the “extraordinary cooperation among the security agencies” during what it called a “complex investigation.”

“The investigation was of national importance and came to an end with the filing of indictments,” the police said. “In the fight against terrorism there are no shortcuts.”

Also Sunday, in the same court, charges were filed against Yinon Reuveni, 20, for an arson attack in June on the Church of Loaves and Fishes in the Galilee. Reuveni and two minors also was charged with another arson attack in Jerusalem more than a year ago. Another minor was charged in a series of incidents of vandalism and arson.


Tel Aviv shooter identified as Arab-Israeli with history of violence

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The gunman who shot up a bar in central Tel Aviv, killing two, was an Arab-Israeli man with a history of violence, Israel Police said.

The attacker was named as Nashat Melhem, 31, of Arara, a village in Wadi Ara in northern Israel. A gag order was lifted on his identity on Saturday evening, the day after the shooting that also injured several people.

As of Sunday night, a massive manhunt was on for Melhem, who received a five-year jail sentence in 2007 for attacking an Israeli soldier and attempting to seize his gun.

Schools in Tel Aviv opened as scheduled, but only about half the students showed up. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said children whose parents did not send them to school would not be penalized.

Leaders of the Arab-Israeli community in Wadi Ara condemned the attack.

Melhem’s father, a volunteer policeman, called police Friday after seeing security camera footage of the attack on television and recognizing his son. Melhem’s brother, Jaudat, was arrested Friday on suspicion of being an accessory to the crime, according to reports.

The shooter opened fire on a pub next to the popular Dizengoff Center Mall in an area full of people enjoying what is a weekend afternoon in Israel.

In 2007, Melham said he attacked the soldier to avenge the death of his cousin, who was killed in 2006 in a police raid. Melhem also was arrested prior to his jailing for selling drugs. According to the family attorney, he suffers from mental disorders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site of the Tel Aviv attack on Saturday night. Standing amid a makeshift memorial to the victims of the attack, including dozens of memorial candles, he sent condolences to the families of the victims of what he called a “heinous and unbelievably vicious murder,” and wishes for a quick recovery to the injured. He called on the public to be on “maximum alert.”

“I appreciate the condemnations of the crime that have been made by the Arab public,” Netanyahu said. “I must say that I expect all Arab MKs, all of them without exception, to clearly condemn the murder without hesitation. Murder is murder, and must be condemned and acted against from whatever quarter.”

The prime minister also acknowledged what he called “wild radical Islamic incitement against the State of Israel in the Arab sector.”

“There is incitement in mosques, in the educational system and in social media,” he said. “I am not prepared to accept two states of Israel—a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of them, in enclaves in which there is no law enforcement and in which there is Islamist incitement, rampant crime and illegal weapons that are frequently fired at events such as weddings. This era has ended.”

2 Israeli soldiers hurt in Hebron-area shootings

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Israeli soldier was injured in a shooting attack in the Hebron area hours after another soldier was wounded in a shooting attack in the area.

In the second West Bank attack, on Sunday evening in the south Hebron Hills, the soldier was moderately wounded with a bullet to the leg. Israeli soldiers were searching the area for the shooter, the Israel Defense Forces spokesman said.

The previous attack occurred in the afternoon, when a female soldier was shot by a sniper near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The soldier, 20, was taken in moderate condition to Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem. The shooter aimed at the site’s parking lot from a nearby Palestinian village, Israeli military forces said.

The IDF was searching for the gunman.

The attack cames days after an Israeli man who worked as a maintenance worker at the site succumbed to injuries sustained there in a Dec. 7 stabbing attack. There have been several stabbing or attempted stabbing attacks at the site in the last two months.

Jews and Muslims revere the Tomb of the Patriarchs as the gravesite of their forefathers. There is Jewish worship and a mosque there.

Between the two shooting attacks Sunday, a Palestinian youth attempted to stab an Israeli man at a bus stop in eastern Jerusalem, Israel Police said. Israeli security forces caught the assailant, who had fled the scene.

Palestinian apprehended after stabbing attempt at Jerusalem bus stop

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A Palestinian youth attempted to stab an Israeli man at a bus stop in eastern Jerusalem.

The failed attack occurred Sunday afternoon in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. The would-be attacker fled but was caught by Israeli security forces, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Twitter.

Hours earlier, a female Israeli soldier was shot and moderately injured by a sniper at the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The Armon Hanatziv neighborhood was the site of a Rosh Hashanah eve rock attack on a car that left a Jewish-Israeli dead. The attack spurred the recent wave of Palestinian violence on Israelis.

The neighborhood, also known as East Talpiot, also was the site of a shooting attack that left three dead, including a dual American-Israeli citizen, Richard Lakin.

Novel banned from Israeli high schools is runaway best-seller

JERUSALEM (JTA)— A novel about a Israeli-Palestinian romance that was banned at secular state schools in Israel is a runaway best-seller.

Following reports that “Gader Haya,” or “Borderlife,” by Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan, was banned from the curriculum of advanced high school literature classes, the book was leading sales in Israeli bookstores, according to reports.

The Education Ministry last month rejected an advisory panel’s recommendation to include the book, about a romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, in the curriculum for advanced literature students.

Meanwhile, Haaretz reported Sunday that Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will investigate the ministry’s decision to ban the book from high school reading lists.

The decision to open the investigation came after a letter sent by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which called on the ministry to change its decision.

The Education Ministry said last week it rejected the book, Haaretz reported, in part because of the need to maintain what was referred to as “the identity and the heritage of students in every sector” and the belief that “intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threatens the separate identity.”

Naftali Bennett, chairman of the right-wing religious Zionist Jewish Home party, heads the ministry.

“The minister backs the decision made by the professionals,” Bennett’s office told Haaretz.

Bar Refaeli announces pregnancy on Instagram

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli announced in an Instagram post that she is expecting her first child.

Refaeli, 30, posted a photo of a positive pregnancy test on her Instagram account on Dec. 31.

“2016 is going to be like …” she wrote, followed by an icon of a baby bottle and one of a baby. The post received over 75,000 likes in just a few hours.

In September, Refaeli married businessman Adi Ezra, whose family owns the Israeli food importing company Neto ME Holdings. The wedding was preceded by a conflict over whether it was permissible to impose a no-fly zone over it.

2 Israeli actors to appear in ‘Game of Thrones’

(JTA)—Two Israeli actors will appear in the upcoming sixth season of the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.”

It is unknown what roles Ania Bukstein and Yousef Sweid will play, the Times of Israel reported last week.

Bukstein, 33, is a household name in Israel for roles in shows and movies such as “Rabies,” “False Flag” and “The Secrets.” Sweid, 39, an Arab-Israeli, is known for parts in shows like “Homeland” and plays like “Walk on Water.”

According to the Times of Israel, three other Israeli actors—Yuval Scharf, Neta Garty and Leem Lubany—have also tried out for “Game of Thrones” roles. Lubany is rumored to have secured a part.

The sixth season of “Game of Thrones,” based on the fantasy book series by George R. R. Martin, will air in April.

Rabbi apologizes for lowballing number of halachic Jews killed in Holocaust

(JTA)—A New York-based haredi Orthodox rabbi apologized for saying that only about 1 million halachic Jews died in the Holocaust.

“I wish to apologize for my incorrect statement regarding the six million Kedoshim (holy ones) that were tragically murdered in the Holocaust,” Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi said in an apology emailed to the Yeshiva World News, the news website reported Sunday.

Mizrachi, who has posted thousands of popular outreach lectures online, said in the apology, “I have been shown the accurate statistics and I realize that those that were not halachically Jewish were a very small minimal number. I do not wish to offend any of the Holocaust survivors or their family members it has never ever been my intention.

“The Kedoshim of the Holocaust need to be remembered and sanctified in the most honorable way possible. My goal was to wake up our nation to the silent holocaust that is happening now which is the increasing intermarriage cases in the U.S.A. and the rest of the world.”

Mizrachi said his words were taken out of context since only part of the video, made several years ago, was broadcast.

In the video posted Tuesday on his YouTube channel, Mizrachi cited high assimilation rates in Europe before World War II to make his claim that 80 percent of those identified as Jews killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust were not Jewish according to halachah, or Jewish law.

“If you look at the percent of assimilation that there was in Europe, which already reached 80 percent, it’s reasonable to assume that 80 percent of the 6 million were not Jews,” said Mizrachi, who teaches at a yeshiva in Monsey.

“The truth is that not even 1 million Jews were killed. Not that this is, God forbid, an insignificant number, it’s massive, but there is a difference between 1 million and 6 million.”

‘Diary of Anne Frank’ published online with expiration of copyright

(JTA)—Two editions of the “Diary of Anne Frank” were published online in a challenge to the foundation that allocates the book’s royalties.

A French lawmaker and a French scholar published the diary on Jan. 1, when the current copyright expired.

European copyrights generally expire 70 years after an author’s death, thus the copyright was expected to expire at the end of 2015. However, Anne Frank Fonds, the Swiss foundation that Frank’s father, Otto, established to allocate the book’s royalties to charity, announced recently that it planned to list Otto Frank as a co-author, thus adding 35 years to the copyright. Otto Frank, the sole survivor of the eight Jews who sought refuge in the attic, died in 1980.

Early last week, however, an Amsterdam court ruled that the original text of the diary may be copied for academic research.

Isabelle Attard, a French Parliament member whose grandparents died in the Holocaust, published the entire Dutch text of the diary on Friday, the French news agency AFP reported. Separately, Olivier Ertzscheid, a lecturer at the University of Nantes, published the text on his website the same day.

“The intimate diary, written in a secret apartment in Amsterdam by a Jewish teenager, born German but stripped of her nationality, has finally entered the public domain,” Attard said in a statement on her website. “Seventy years after the author’s death, the whole world can use, translate and interpret these works, and use them to create new ones.”

Frank’s diary, which chronicles two years of hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic, may be the most famous Holocaust-era document and has inspired several play and film adaptations. Anne died in 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen extermination camp.

Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic book “Mein Kampf” also entered the public domain on Jan. 1.

Treaty between Vatican, state of Palestine goes into effect

ROME (JTA)—Nearly three years after the Vatican recognized a state of Palestine, a treaty signed this summer defining relations between the two entities has gone into effect, despite condemnation from Israel.

The Vatican announced Saturday that in reference to the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine signed June 26, “the Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for its entry into force have been fulfilled.”

It said the agreement “regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region.”

Israel sharply criticized the agreement when it was signed as “a hasty step” that “damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel.”

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said it also could have “implications” for Israel’s relations with the Holy See.

The Vatican extended de facto recognition to the Palestinian state in February 2013, making the recognition official with the Comprehensive Agreement.

Dutch Jewish family’s home vandalized in anti-Semitic attack

AMSTERDAM (JTA)—The Amsterdam home of a Jewish family was vandalized by assailants who shouted “cancer Jews” and “Free Palestine.”

The incident on the night between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 was reported on the political blog Dagelijkse Standaard. Louis Bontes, a former police officer, and Joram van Klaveren subsequently reported the incident to the minister of social affairs and employment, as well as to the minister of security and justice.

The article did not identify the victims, but featured a reproduction of their Facebook post in which they wrote: “Last night, a few teens decided their celebrations are not complete without some hatred. While yelling ‘Cancer Jews’ and ‘Free Palestine,’ they kicked our doors and windows.”

The blog also showed a picture of damage caused to the door.

Police have not made any arrests in the incident, which occurred more than a week after the the Dutch capital’s mayor pledged $1.27 million for the protection of Jewish institutions in the city.

Bontes and van Klaveren, independent members of the Dutch lower house who once belonged to the right-wing Party for Freedom, asked the ministers in their query: “To what degree do you accept that Jewish museums, schools and synagogues in 2016 in the Netherlands require protection from violence and intimidation is a sign of social decline?”

In 2014, the Dutch watchdog group CIDI recorded 171 anti-Semitic incidents. The figure was 100 in 2013.

Hasidic newspaper’s airbrushed photo subject of newly released Clinton email

(JTA)—Hillary Rodham Clinton complaining about being airbrushed from an official White House photo for use in a New York-based Yiddish language Hasidic newspaper is among 5,000 pages of emails of the former secretary of state released by the State Department.

The emails released Dec. 31 are part of a trove sent and received by Clinton, the leading contender among Democrats for the 2016 presidential nomination, on a personal account while serving as secretary of state.

The State Department also announced Dec. 31 that 275 of the emails were upgraded to classified, bringing to 1,274 the number of emails that were newly classified. More emails are scheduled to be released this month; others were released previously.

Clinton’s email on the airbrushed photo has the subject line “Unbelievable,” the VosIzNeias news website reported. Some Hasidic and haredi Orthodox newspapers have a policy of not publishing photos of women, citing modesty concerns.

Clinton wrote: “The Jerusalem Post reported today that a NY Hasidic paper Der Zeitung published the sit room photo w/o me (or Audrey T) photoshopped out perhaps because no woman should be in such a place of power or that I am dressed immodestly!!”

Der Zeitung apologized to the White House and the State Department for altering the photo. The White House photos are provided with the stipulation that they not be altered.

2 teens arrested in attack on Jewish man in Brooklyn

(JTA)—Two Brooklyn teenagers have been arrested in the beating and robbery of a 60-year-old Jewish man in the New York City borough.

Eldin Sabovic, 17, and Baskim Huseinovic, 19, were arrested Dec. 31, the New York Post reported, and were charged with robbery and assault. The attack is not considered a hate crime.

The attack on the kippah-wearing victim, whose first name is Eli,  took place Dec. 27 in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a large Orthodox Jewish population. It was recorded on a nearby home’s surveillance video.

Eli was punched at least four times and thrown to the sidewalk. With the help of an accomplice, the assailant then stole the victim’s iPhone and wallet. The two assailants fled the scene in a black car driven by a third man, according to WPIX-TV.

The following day, a 17-year-old yeshiva student was attacked in the same neighborhood.

“I’m just in complete shock over the recent spate of violence and brutality,” New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind told Yeshiva World News following the second attack.

Shomrim, a Jewish security patrol, reportedly stepped up its activity in the neighborhood after the attacks.

 

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