Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Sanders sweeps 3 Western states, winning handily

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Sen. Bernie Sanders handily won Democratic nominating contests in Washington state, Alaska and Hawaii, narrowing the delegate gap with front-runner Hillary Clinton but still facing a daunting challenge to secure the party’s presidential nod.

With the Sanders’ victories on Saturday, Clinton now leads the Vermont Independent in the number of pledged delegates, 1,234 to 956. But his overwhelming wins in all three states could lend his campaign momentum and bring in donations.

In Alaska, Sanders had 82 percent of the vote to 18 percent for Clinton; in Washington, it was 73-27. Sanders, the first Jewish candidate to win major party nominating contests, had 71 percent in the Hawaii caucuses with nearly all of the vote counted, according to The Associated Press.

Candidates need 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

Clinton, a former secretary of state, leads Sanders 469-29 in “superdelegates” who have said they plan to vote for her. But the superdelegates, or party officials, are not formally pledged and would be under pressure to support the candidate who won the majority of pledged delegates.

The next nominating contest for both parties is in Wisconsin on April 5. Among Republicans, Donald Trump, a real estate magnate, is leading Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Printers at Princeton, other college campuses hacked with anti-Semitic message

BOSTON (JTA)—Printers at a half dozen college campuses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were hacked with an anti-Semitic, racist flier in a breach of the schools’ computers that also turned up at several other colleges across the country.

The flier reads: “White man, are you sick and tired of the Jews destroying your country through mass immigration and degeneracy?” It also says: “Join us in the struggle for global white supremacy,” which is bookended by two large Nazi swastikas.

The source of the hacking, which occurred March 24, is not yet known, according to Robert Trestan, executive director of the New England Anti-Defamation League. The web address of the Daily Stormer, described by the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center as a neo-Nazi website, is included on the bottom of the flier.

Copies of the flier were discovered in printers and fax machines at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College, all in western Massachusetts, and at Northeastern University in Boston, Clark University in Worcester, and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. They were also reported at Princeton University, DePaul University in Chicago and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“It’s concerning because it is so widespread,” Trestan told MassLive.com. He described the hacking as a troubling development because it represents a security component. “This represents a new strategy to anonymously disseminate anti-Semitism,” he said.

Trestan has been in contact with law enforcement and college officials, and reported there is no indication of any public safety threats to Massachusetts students. The FBI would not confirm or deny any investigation, the Boston Globe reported.

In an email at UMass Amherst, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy wrote, “As a campus community, we condemn this cowardly and hateful act,” the Globe reported. The Globe also cited a communication from leaders at Smith College who rejected the flier’s message as hateful and intended to shock and intimidate.

“The contents have no place in our community,” the email said.

At Northeastern, where more than 20 printers were involved, the school put up a firewall to prevent further attacks, its spokesman, Michael Armini, told the Globe. While that mitigates the risk, “it cannot be completely eliminated,” he said.

A statement on the ADL national website said the Daily Stormer was created in 2013 by Andrew Anglin, a 31-year-old neo-Nazi.

“Regardless of whether Anglin or one of his supporters sent the flyer to campuses, the Daily Stormer promotes virulent anti-Semitism on a daily basis and attracts thousands of visitors each day to the site,” the ADL website stated.

Canada’s foreign minister urges UN to review appointment of anti-Israel law prof

TORONTO (JTA)—Canada’s foreign affairs minister has called on the United Nations to review its appointment of a Canadian law professor with a history of anti-Israel bias to a key Middle East post.

Stephane Dion is questioning the naming of Michael Lynk of Western University in Ontario as the U.N. Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on human rights in Palestine.

Last Friday, the day after the council tapped Lynk, Dion tweeted: “We call on UNHRC President to review this appointment & ensure Special Rapporteur has track record that can advance peace in region.”

Canada’s opposition Conservative Party also called for Lynk to be disqualified from the position based on his past statements on Israel.

Lynk “was not put forward by Canada and does not represent the views of this government,” Dion’s office said in a statement to the Canadian Press, a national news agency.

The statement also said Canada’s U.N. ambassador made it clear that the Human Rights Council should appoint a “professional, neutral and credible” candidate, the Canadian Press noted.

Jewish advocacy groups in Canada used some of the strongest language in recent memory to denounce Lynk as having a long and public history of anti-Israel bias.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said Lynk “has been significantly involved in anti-Israel advocacy in Canada,” including signing anti-Israel petitions, calling for Israel to be prosecuted for war crimes, accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing, addressing conferences promoting one binational state, and serving as a leader of a group that promotes Israeli Apartheid Week.

Similar positions were sounded by B’nai Brith Canada and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Geneva-based group UN Watch said the council’s choice of Lynk was “a travesty of justice.”

Suicide bombing in Pakistan park kills at least 65

(JTA)—At least 65 people, mostly women and children, were killed in a suicide bombing at a park in Lahore, Pakistan.

More than 300 were wounded in the attack for which the Pakistani Taliban faction claimed responsibility, saying it was targeting Christians on Easter Sunday, Reuters reported.

The explosion occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park near the children’s swings. The park is a popular spot for the Lahore Christian community.

“When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air,” said Hasan Imran, 30, a resident who had gone to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park for a walk, Reuters reported.

Police Superintendent Mustansar Feroz said most of the casualties were women and children.

A spokesman for the Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said the target was Christians.

“We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore,” spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said, according to Reuters. “He can do what he wants, but he won’t be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks.”

Islamist militants in Pakistan have attacked Christians and other religious minorities often over the past decade.

The United States condemned what it called a “cowardly act” in a statement Sunday, saying it “stands with the people and Government of Pakistan at this difficult hour.”

“We send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured, and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Lahore as they respond to and recover from this terrible tragedy,” the statement said.

Black-faced apparent Purim effigy in Rockland County draws condemnation

NEW YORK (JTA)—Leaders in the Jewish community of New York’s Rockland County condemned the hanging of a black-faced doll with dreadlocks outside a local home apparently in celebration of Purim.

The effigy, which according to a News12 Hudson Valley report on March 24 was spotted outside a Spring Valley house, angered many African-Americans and others in the area for its reminder of the lynchings, often by a mob of whites, that have historically terrorized black men.

Barry Kanarek, the director of the Jewish Federation of Rockland, told News 12 on March 24 that the effigy was a means of celebrating “the defeating of the evil Haman who wanted to kill all the Jews.”

Last Friday morning, the federation and the Rockland County Board of Rabbis, a group made up solely of non-Orthodox Jewish clergy, issued a joint statement condemning the “insensitive and offensive ‘hanging of Haman’ practice on display during Purim.”

“There is no requirement in Jewish law for this activity,” the statement said. “We fully recognize, as do the overwhelming majority of the members of the Jewish community, the powerful and hate-filled memories that such images evoke in modern America. We call on all members of the Jewish and broader Rockland community to behave in accordance with the golden rule, ‘Do not do to others what is hateful to you.’ It is only from this principle that a society that respects differences and celebrates diversity can be built …”

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz of Monsey posted a separate condemnation on his Facebook page, linking to it from the comments section on the News12 site and urging people to “like/share” it as a sign of support.

Horowitz’s statement, which has been shared 49 times, describes the effigy as “gruesome” and offers his “sincere apology to my African-American neighbors who were understandably hurt/offended by it.”

According to his website, Horowitz has studied and taught at numerous haredi Orthodox yeshivas. He is founder of Yeshiva Darchei Noam in Monsey and founder-director of Project Y.E.S., which provides mentoring and other services for “at-risk teens.”

Home to a growing population of haredi Orthodox Jews, many of them Hasidic, Rockland County has been the site of numerous conflicts between the haredi community and others. An issue spurring  particular tension has been the East Ramapo Central School District, where the elected school board is majority haredi Orthodox and has been accused of illegally siphoning funds from the public schools to enrich the yeshivas. Last week, the FBI raided several yeshivas and companies in Rockland County as part of an ongoing fraud investigation.

Wilbur Aldridge, regional director of the NAACP, told News12 this was the second consecutive year a black-faced doll was displayed for Purim.

“I’m sure they can find some other way of depicting their disdain for this particular king,” he said.

In the comments on the News12 article, several viewers expressed outrage.

Tammy Kay Kuiper of Piermont wrote: “Please don’t say this represents an ancient king … there were no jeans, t-shirts or hoodies during king Haman’s time. I also seriously doubt he wore dreadlocks... If someone hung a dummy dressed as a Hasidim out their window on Purim or Halloween or any other ‘occasion’ the Hasidim would be relentlessly all over them, accepting no excuses, demanding arrest and filing law suits...”

Joseph Sher, Holocaust survivor and tailor to stars, dies at 100

(JTA)—Joseph Sher, a Holocaust survivor who became a New Orleans tailor with such celebrity clients as Fats Domino and Elvis Presley, has died at 100.

Sher died March 24 at Lambeth House, a New Orleans retirement community and assisted-living facility, The Times-Picayune reported. He was the oldest Holocaust survivor in New Orleans and the leader of the local survivor community, according to the Crescent City Jewish News.

During the Holocaust, Sher was sent to several Nazi-run slave labor camps, where he was forced to build roads. Only three of 1,000 men on his detail survived the experience. Sher, his two brothers and his wife survived the Holocaust, but he lost his parents and three sisters, who died at the Treblinka death camp.

In 1949, Sher, his wife and a child born in a displaced persons camp settled in New Orleans, where he found work as a tailor, a trade he learned from his father in Poland.

Working at Harry Hyman Tailors, Sher specialized in performance clothes for entertainers and uniforms for tall hotel doormen. When the shop changed its name to Murphy the Tailor, Sher “managed dozens of employees, each working at a busy sewing machine,” the Crescent City Jewish News wrote. He retired in the 1990s.

“He could take a piece of fabric from anywhere on a garment and make the garment absolutely new-looking,” his son Leopold told The Times-Picayune.

A funeral was held last Friday morning at Congregation Anshe Sfard in New Orleans.


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