Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka Trump declare election 2016 truce

(JTA)—Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump reportedly have decided not to let the 2016 presidential election ruin their friendship.

However, they have agreed not to see each other until after the November vote, the New York Daily News’ Confidenti@l column reported Saturday.

Confidenti@l had reported Jan. 1 that the relationship between the two high-profile women, who exchanged baby gifts and had a frequent text messaging relationship, was strained over the attacks by their parents—Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the Democratic and Republican front-runners, respectively—on each other as the campaign heats up.

Both women are married to Jewish men and are expecting babies this year. Trump has converted to Judaism.

The column cited a source close to the situation as saying that Chelsea Clinton called Ivanka Trump after a particularly bad exchange between their parents.

“Because Chelsea is more experienced in politics, she wanted to move forward,” the source reportedly said. “She knows not to take these things personally.”

During the phone call, Chelsea Clinton wished Ivanka Trump a Happy New Year and they agreed not to let the election ruin their friendship.

“They’ve agreed there won’t be any secret meeting or lunches and neither is going to try and broker a truce between their parents,” the source also said.

French PM joins Jewish community in remembering Hyper Cacher victims

(JTA)—The prime minister of France, speaking at a ceremony to remember four Jewish victims of terror at a kosher supermarket in Paris, said he regrets that large numbers of his country’s Jews have left for Israel.

“France would not be France” without its Jews, Manuel Valls said Saturday evening at the commemoration held outside the Hyper Cacher on the first anniversary of a hostage siege there by an Islamist who was killed that day in a police raid.

Families of the victims and survivors, along with French Jewish leaders, were on hand for the ceremony arranged by the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF.

Valls acknowledged the “immense anguish” of the Jewish community and scolded those who attack it.

“For these enemies who attack their compatriots, who tear apart the contract that unites us, there can be no worthy explanation,” he said.

French immigration to Israel, or aliyah, has rocketed to record levels over the past three years as the country has confronted rising anti-Semitism and a series of attacks that claimed nearly 150 lives in Paris in 2015. Nearly 8,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015.

“Despite continuing traumatic feelings, life has returned to normal with a renewed sense of fraternity,” Rabbi Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, said at the ceremony.

Also Saturday, French President François Hollande unveiled a plaque in memory of Clarissa Jean-Philippe, a 26-year-old policewoman who was killed by the Hyper Cacher terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, a day before the supermarket attack in the southern Paris suburb of Montrouge.

On Jan. 5, Hollande unveiled a memorial plaque outside the Hyper Cacher listing the names of those killed at the market on Jan. 9, 2015. He also unveiled a plaque at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine with the names of the 12 victims of the terrorist attack there two days earlier. Two brothers who were associates of Coulibaly perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo attack.

A public ceremony is set for Sunday at the Place de la Republique in Paris to remember the attacks as well as the unity march in the city a year ago that drew 1.6 million people along with French and international leaders. An oak tree will be planted during the ceremony.

Also over the weekend, mosques throughout France opened their doors to visitors.

Largest society of U.S. historians rejects anti-Israel resolution

(JTA)—The largest society of historians and history professors in the United States rejected a resolution condemning what it calls Israel’s restriction of Palestinians right to education in the West Bank and Gaza.

The American Historical Association resolution, submitted by the independent group Historians Against the War, was voted down 111-51 on Saturday during the association’s annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to the resolution, Israel placed “restrictions on the movement of faculty, staff and visitors in the West Bank to impede the regular functioning of instruction and university activities at Palestinian institutions of higher learning” and “routinely refuses to allow students from Gaza to travel in order to pursue higher education abroad, and even at West Bank universities.” Israel also was accused of bombarding 14 institutions of higher learning during the 2014 Gaza war and of “routinely” invading university campuses in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Two similar resolutions were rejected by the group last year, when members voted against a measure to suspend the association’s by-laws after the  anti-Israel resolutions failed to appear on the agenda because they were submitted late.

Van Gosse, an associate professor at Franklin and Marshall College and a member of Historians Against the War, told The New York Times that the vote was  “a complete moral victory.”

“The American Historical Association has just spend a spent a serious amount of time discussing the Israeli government’s violation of Palestinians’ right to education. This debate is not going away,” Gosse said.

Resolutions condemning Israel or endorsing an academic boycott of Israel have been passed by several American academic groups, including the American Anthropological Association, the American Studies Association and the Asian American Studies Association.

40 ex-Brazilian diplomats speak against appointed Israeli ambassador

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA)—A group of 40 retired Brazilian diplomats signed a statement against Israel’s controversial appointment of a former settler leader as ambassador in Brasilia.

The former diplomats said Israel bypassed protocol with its appointment of Dani Dayan because there was no prior communication with the Brazilian Foreign Ministry or any presentation of his credentials for an agreement.

“We consider it unacceptable. The rupture of the diplomatic practice seems to have been on purpose,” the diplomats wrote in the statement from Friday. “We support the Brazilian Government’s position on this issue and wish that the current episode is quickly overcome, so we can, together, strengthen the bonds between the two countries.”

The diplomats opposed remarks by Sen. Marcelo Crivella, who said last week that rejecting Dayan would convey a pro-boycott message and “the fact that he defends settlements in the West Bank is a weak motive for such discourtesy and so much political inability.”

Israel is expected to withdraw Dayan’s name to be its ambassador to Brazil, ending a diplomatic row that started in August. The Brazilian government has remained silent on the choice of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to signal an official rejection of Dayan, who may assume the Israeli consulate general position in Los Angeles or New York.

The 40 diplomats opened their statement by remembering the memory of Ambassador Luis Martins de Sousa Dantas, one of Brazil’s two Righteous Among the Nations recognized by Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum for saving hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust, and Oswaldo Aranha, the Brazilian diplomat who presided over the United Nations session that created the State of Israel in 1947.

7 rabbis quit Reconstructionist movement over non-Jewish partners policy

(JTA)—Seven rabbis have quit the Reconstructionist movement in the wake of an announced policy that allows rabbis to marry non-Jewish partners.

Several synagogues are also discussing potential responses to the new policy, the Forward reported over the weekend.

The policy was announced in September after the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College voted that having a non-Jewish partner would no longer bar qualified applicants from admission to the rabbinical college or from graduating as rabbis.

According to the Forward, one of the seven rabbis who has withdrawn from the movement is Rabbi Reba Carmel, who serves at a nondenominational synagogue in Warrington, Pennsylvania. She told the Forward that the policy allowing intermarried rabbis is “detrimental to the Jewish people in America.”

Carmel, a 2009 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, said she was concerned that “ultimately we will be assimilated out of existence.”

Meanwhile, four rabbis who were ordained by Jewish seminaries of other movements have requested to join the Reconstructionist movement since the policy was announced, Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, told the Forward.

The Kol Haneshama synagogue in Sarasota, Florida, is openly considering leaving the movement, according to the Forward. Other synagogues discussing the new policy, the Forward reported, include the West End Synagogue in Manhattan and Bet Am Shalom in White Plains, New York.

Grandson of Vilna rabbis awarded prestigious science award

LOS ANGELES (JTA)—The son and grandson of Vilna rabbis was named the winner of a prestigious science award for his work in mathematics formulas.

Solomon Wolf Golomb, a University of Southern California professor, will receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal given out by the Franklin Institute for his work on the leading edges of science and engineering. The medal will be conferred at the Philadelphia-based institute in April.

The Franklin Medal was the most prestigious of the awards presented by the Franklin Institute since 1824. With other awards, it was merged into the Benjamin Franklin Medal in 1998. A number of its recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

Golomb, 83, deals with formulas that have applications in space and cellular communications, cryptography, missile guidance, radar, sonar and GPS, or global positioning system. In one part of his research, Golomb’s work underlies the process called CDMA, or Code Division Multiple Access, which allows hundreds of thousands of cell phones in the same city to communicate at the same time.

Among “recreational mathematics” gamesters, Golomb is revered as a guru and, among other contributions, is the inventor of “cheskers,” a hybrid of chess and checkers.

He serves on the Technion’s international board of governors and speaks fluent Hebrew. Golomb serves as a Torah reader at campus High Holidays services and is involved in both Hillel and Chabad activities.

Born in Baltimore, Golomb graduated from Johns Hopkins and Harvard and subsequently became a leader in military and space communications at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

NYC restaurateur claims synagogue threatened to pull his kosher certification

NEW YORK (JTA)—A New York restaurant owner claims in legal papers that a prominent Orthodox synagogue threatened to have his kosher certification revoked if he does not drop a $1.8 million lawsuit against it.

Joseph Allaham, who operates several kosher restaurants in Manhattan, said Lincoln Square Synagogue wants him to move his legal dispute with the shul from civil to religious court, the New York Post reported last Friday.

Allaham made the allegations in legal papers filed Jan. 7 in Manhattan Supreme Court. He told the Post that he objected to bringing the case before the Beth Din of America, which Lincoln Square requested, because the Manhattan shul’s rabbi, Shaul Robinson, is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, which oversees the court.

“That’s the conflict of interest,” Allaham told The Post.

The RCA has over 1,000 members; Robinson is on the board.

The legal dispute between Allaham and Lincoln Square stems from an agreement he made to help build the congregation’s new banquet hall and provide catering for it. Because delays in the construction hurt his business, Allaham objects to the $300,000 in unpaid fees for use of the hall and $1.5 million for his share of construction expenses that the synagogue says he owes.

Nazi gestures get Southampton soccer fans 3-year ban from Premier League matches

(JTA)—Two fans of the Southampton soccer club have been banned from attending English Premier League games for three years for making “fascist salutes” and “racist gestures” at Jewish fans during a recent match.

Thomas Flynn, 22, and Michael Haydon, 23, pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive and insulting behavior in a religiously-aggravated public order offense, the Daily Mail Online reported. The men were charged for their behavior at a Dec. 19 Premier League match between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur.

Haydon, who reportedly had been drinking since the morning, and Flynn also made hissing sounds meant to resemble the sounds of Nazi gas chambers.

“There was a white male raising his right hand and finger below his nose and making hissing sounds imitating gas escaping,” prosecutor Charles Nightingale said a Jewish Hotspur fan reported, according to the Daily Mail Online.

The two Jewish fans who reported the incident—one of whom said he had lost relatives in the Holocaust—also reported hearing chants of “gas the Jews.” Tottenham has traditionally had a large Jewish fan base.

Haydon’s lawyer said her client admitted to making the hissing sounds but not to the verbal abuse.

“This is very out of character and a blip,” the lawyer, Jane Hiatt, said of Haydon. “He’s horrified and ashamed.”

Judge Victoria Parker banned the two Southampton supporters from attending soccer matches in Britain or going near St. Mary’s Stadium around match times. She also ordered them to show passports to police before attending games abroad and gave them fines and a curfew.

H&M pulls tallit-like scarf from Israel, apologizes ‘if we have offended anyone’

(JTA)—The Swedish retail chain H&M apologized for marketing a Jewish prayer shawl-like fringed scarf and said the item will no longer be sold in Israel.

“We are truly sorry if we have offended anyone with this piece. Everyone is welcome at H&M and we never take a religious or political stand,” the retailer said last week, according to Women’s Wear Daily. “Our intention was never to upset anyone. Stripes is one of the trends for this season and we’ve been inspired by this.”

The striped, beige scarf drew attention earlier this week when its resemblance to a tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl, sparked debate on social media. The company also sells a similar poncho, and in 2011 marketed another tallit-like poncho.

The scarf, which retails for $17.99, will still be available outside Israel, but “the quantities were small and the products are no longer available in some markets,” including Israeli stores, “following a local decision of removal,” H&M said, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

Pot doesn’t need kosher certification, Canadian agency says

(JTA)—On the day kosher-certified medical marijuana first went on sale in New York, Canada’s largest kashrut agency said it believes such certification is unnecessary.

Following a debate Jan. 7, the Kashruth Council of Canada announced that medication need not be kosher, The Canadian Press reported.

Last month, Vireo Health of New York announced that the Orthodox Union, one of the largest kashrut agencies in the world, is certifying its medical marijuana products, which come in three forms: pills, oils and vapor.

Canada’s Kashrut Council considered the issue after MedReleaf, a producer of medical marijuana, inquired about obtaining certification.

“Something that is medicine, that’s prescribed from your doctor, that you need to take for your health, that doesn’t need kosher certification,” the group’s managing director, Richard Rabkin, told the Press.

“We don’t really want to get into the business of providing kosher certification for something that is doctor-prescribed,” he added.

Not all kashrut agencies are in agreement on the issue, however. In a statement on its website, the New York-based OU said claims that cannabis, because it is a natural product and because it helps with life-threatening conditions, requires no certification are “factually incorrect.”

“While the cannabis plant is inherently kosher, the final product may contain kosher sensitive ingredients such as alcohol, gelatin and oil,” the statement said. “ The qualifying medical conditions are not always life threatening, and even in such instances where there is a threat to life, it is preferable to use a kosher medication when available.”

Noting that it “stands by” its decision to certify medical marijuana, the OU statement concluded: “New York residents who are experiencing intense pain, can now use OU supervised Vireo Health medical marijuana and not be concerned that the product might contain non-kosher ingredients.”

Kosher Check, a global kosher certification agency headquartered in Canada’s British Columbia decided two years ago in favor of certifying edible medical pot products, but has not yet certified any such products, according to The Canadian Press. A representative of the group said smokable marijuana does not need to be certified kosher, but that edible forms, including capsules, should be certified.

On Jan. 7, New York became the 23rd U.S. state where medical marijuana is legal. However, it is subject to numerous regulations: Only five producers, including the kosher-certified Vireo Health of New York, have been approved by the state, and sales must go through state-approved dispensaries. In Canada, all forms of medical marijuana are now legal.

Congress considers bills that would slap Iran for missile tests

WASHINGTON (JTA)—At least two congressional initiatives would penalize Iran for its recent ballistic missile tests, signs of growing unease in both parties with the Obama administration’s perceived inaction.

The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Jan. 7 approved, largely on partisan lines, a Republican-sponsored bill that would restrict the president’s ability to waive existing sanctions on Iran. Democrats separately introduced a bill that would introduce more narrowly cast sanctions.

Iran has in recent months tested ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead; such tests do not directly contravene the sanctions relief-for-nuclear restrictions deal achieved last summer between Iran and six major powers. However, they appear to violate U.N. Security Council resolutions cited in the deal.

Democrats rejected the bill, saying it effectively would kill the Iran deal. President Barack Obama plans to abide by the deal, once Iran fulfills its commitments to roll back its nuclear capability, by exercising his waiver on existing sanctions.

“I believe it doesn’t serve any purpose to have bills like this that are designed to kill the deal,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., one of a minority of Democrats who opposed the deal and who is the senior Democrat on the committee.

Obama vetoed an earlier attempt to kill the deal, and Republicans were unable to muster the votes necessary to override his veto.

“Congress has spoken, and it’s done,” Engel said. “And I think that we have to work together on bipartisan legislation that will hold Iran’s feet to the fire on its nuclear program, and hold the regime accountable for its support of terrorism and other nefarious activities. And also to help our ally Israel with her legitimate security needs.”

Democrats, nonetheless, are frustrated with what they perceive as administration inaction in the wake of the missile tests. The Obama administration says it prefers to garner international support before advancing punitive measures through the U.N. Security Council.

Reps. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., who backed the deal, and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who is Jewish and opposed the deal, on Jan. 7 introduced legislation that would allow Congress to re-impose sanctions quickly should Iran be shown to violate U.N. Security Council resolutions or to back terrorism. The Deutch-Kennedy bill has some GOP backing.

Separately, some of the top Jewish Democrats in Congress—Engel, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee—were among seven signatories to a letter this week to Obama urging him to reintroduce sanctions against Iran.

“We understand the administration is preparing sanctions against individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and we urge you to announce such sanctions without further delay,” said the letter.

Also signing were Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y; Susan Davis, D-Calif .; Gerald Connolly, D-Va., and Albio Sires, D-N.J. Davis and Nadler also are Jewish.


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