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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Netanyahu launches Africa tour with Entebbe commemoration

(JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a tour of East Africa by marking the 40th anniversary of the raid at Entebbe that killed his brother.

“We were powerless no more,” Netanyahu said Monday of the July 4, 1976 Israeli commando raid on the Ugandan airport where German and Palestinian terrorists were holding more than 100 Israelis hostage after having hijacked a plane.

His older brother, Yoni, who commanded the rescue unit, was killed in the raid.

Netanyahu laid a wreath at a plaque marking the rescue. Also speaking at the commemoration was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

On his tour traveling with 80 businessmen in order to cultivate trade ties in Africa, Netanyahu will also visit Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia; he will address the Ethiopian parliament. In Uganda, the prime minister will meet with leaders from countries as well as Zambia, Tanzania and South Sudan.

Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to visit sub-Saharan Africa since 1987.

Marking 70th anniversary of Jewish massacre, Polish president slams anti-Semitism

(JTA)—The president of Poland strongly condemned anti-Semitism and all forms of racism and xenophobia in leading the commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of a massacre of Jews after World War II.

Andrzej Sebastian Duda spoke Monday in the southeastern town of Kielce, where communist police and a mob killed 42—nearly all Jews—on July 4, 1946.

“In a free, sovereign and independent Poland, there is no room for any form of prejudice, for racism, for xenophobia, for anti-Semitism,” Duda said, according to remarks carried by the Polish news agency PAP, The Associated Press reported.

Coming so soon after the Holocaust, the killings—spurred by a false rumor that returning Jews had attacked a local boy—sent a wave of fearful Jews out of Poland and left those remaining afraid of living in their homeland. Poland had an estimated 250,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors in a pre-World War II Jewish population of 3.5 million.

In recent months, Duda has strongly condemned anti-Semitism and xenophobia several times after sending mixed messages on matters of prejudice since the election last year that brought his coalition to power, AP reported.

A day earlier, the prime minster of Poland in a message to a Kielce commemoration said there is no place for racist violence in her country.

Andrzej Bialek, the vice president of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, which organized the commemoration, read aloud a letter from the prime minister, Beata Szydlo, to the gathering of some 200 people.

“Seventy years ago, shortly after the devastating war and the Holocaust drama, in Kielce again flowed the blood of innocent people,” the letter said.

Szydlo said there was no provocation that can be an used as an excuse for anti-religious and racist violence. She said the tragedy is still being studied by historians.

Anna Azari, the Israeli ambassador to Poland, also spoke at the ceremony, saying “We have to act together against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.”

Bogdan Bialek, the Karski Foundation official who organized the ceremony, spoke of a world without violence and hatred.

“We do not gather here in this place against anyone, even against those whom we think in our minds as our opponents, and perhaps - God forbid - as enemies,” Bialek said. “We gather here for us, for all people, for a better future.”

The Jan Karski Educational Foundation, named for the Polish underground fighter and righteous gentile who was among the first to report the dimensions of the Nazi genocide, promotes Catholic-Jewish interchanges and seeks to instill Karski’s example in young people.

Dutch Jewish woman evicted after anti-Semitic abuse, threats by neighbor

AMSTERDAM (JTA)—A Dutch court reviewing a neighborly dispute ordered the eviction of a Jewish woman whose neighbor reportedly threatened to kill her and used anti-Semitic insults against her.

The court ruled in favor of the Ymere housing corporation, which asked the court to evict the woman, Gabriela Hirschberg, the AT5 television channel reported last week.

Ymere asked the court to have Hirschberg evicted in connection with her years-long quarrel with her Amsterdam apartment building neighbor.

Last year, the neighbor offered in a Facebook post to pay 10,000 euros, about $11,500, to anyone willing to kill Hirschberg. The man posted the message recently along with anti-Semitic statements.

“I have one desire in my life: To tear out this nest of devils,” he wrote in reference to Hirschberg’s apartment. Naming Hirschberg and her partner, he added, “Each head is worth 10,000 euros to me.”

The neighbor also wrote: “Anyone may come along as long as I have the pleasure of punching the lights out.” Facebook followers offered to come and help find “a final solution” to the problem—language that echoes Nazi rhetoric about Jews during the Holocaust.

The two neighbors have been in conflict since 2009, when Hirschberg complained to police about the neighbor for excessive noise, The Telegraaf reported. They have since filed multiple complaints against each other, including for the destruction of property.

Ymere sought to have Hirschberg evicted rather than her neighbor also because she at one point was over $2,000 behind on her rent, AT5 reported. The debt has since been resolved. She was selected for eviction also for subletting a room in her apartment, the report also said.

Hirschberg said she was ill, calling her eviction, which is to become effective on July 7, “inhumane.” Ymere confirmed they are aware of her illness, but said it was a chronic condition that cannot interfere with the decision to have her evicted.

Peter de Vries, a prominent journalist who covered the affair for the De Telegraaf daily, criticized the ruling as “turning reality on its head” by punishing the victim, he wrote on Twitter.

Sarah Silverman, Jeffrey Tambor and Goldie Hawn to get Hollywood Walk of Fame stars

(JTA)—Comedian Sarah Silverman, actor Jeffrey Tambor, actress Goldie Hawn, Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban and actor George Segal are getting their own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Their names were announced last week in the annual list put out by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Among the five Jewish honorees, all but Hawn were listed under the television category. Silverman is best known for her standup comedy but created her own Comedy Central series, “The Sarah Silverman Program,” which ran from 2007 to 2010. She also performed on “Saturday Night Live” during the sketch show’s 1993-94 season.

Tambor has starred in dozens of films and shows since the 1970s but is most famous for his recent roles on the shows “Arrested Development” and “Transparent.” In the latter series he plays a transgender patriarch of a Jewish family in Los Angeles.

Hawn, who got her start as a ditzy go-go dancer on TV’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” went on to win an Academy Award for best supporting actress for “Cactus Flower” and appeared in a string of hit films in the 1970s, including “There’s a Girl in My Soup,” “Butterflies Are Free,” “The Sugarland Express” and “Shampoo.”  In “Private Benjamin,” she played a pampered Jewish girl who joins the Army.

Saban started the now defunct Saban Entertainment group, which distributed popular children’s action hero shows such as “Power Rangers” and the American versions of “Digimon” and “Dragonball Z.” His estimated net worth is over $3 billion.

Segal is more famous for his film work, having appeared in classics such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Hot Rock.” But he has also appeared on dozens of shows, including the current ABC sitcom “The Goldbergs.”

Others on the list include actors Amy Adams, Jason Bateman and Mark Ruffalo.

The cost of the brass stars on Hollywood Boulevard—which has to be covered by the celebrity, the star’s movie studio or the person who nominated each honoree—is $30,000 each. The new stars will be installed next year.

Trump supporter who urged Bernie Sanders to convert to Christianity backtracks

(JTA)—An African-American pastor who warmed up the crowd at a rally for Donald Trump by urging the religious conversion of Bernie Sanders said he hadn’t meant to insult the “Jewish faith.”

Mark Burns, the president of the Christian NOW Television Network and one of Trump’s few public supporters in the black community, spoke in March at a campaign event in Hickory, North Carolina. In discussing Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent senator and the first Jewish candidate to win a major party nominating contest, Burns said, “And Bernie Sanders, who doesn’t believe in God, how in the world are we gonna let Bernie? I mean, really!” he said.

“Listen, Bernie gotta get saved,” said Burns, according to The Associated Press. “He gotta meet Jesus, I don’t know. He gotta, he gotta have a comin’ to Jesus meeting.”

In an interview with The Washington Post in January, Sanders said he believes in God but is not actively involved in organized religion.

This week, in an interview with AP, Burns described criticism of his comments about Sanders as  a “wake-up call.”

“To be honest, that was the first time I really became conscious that the media was listening to what I said,” said Burns, who speaks frequently at rallies for Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and regularly promotes the candidate on his Twitter page.

Burns added that he hadn’t intended to criticize Judaism and that his remarks “had nothing to do with [Sanders’] faith or religion or conversion to Christianity.”

AP reported that Trump, when asked at a news conference in March about Burns’ remarks, said he was unaware of what Burns had said about Sanders.

“I didn’t hear this. When did he say this?” Trump told reporters. “I didn’t hear anything about it... Let me find out about it.”

Burns, who has spoken at Trump events in each of the past three months, said he never heard anything about the comment from the campaign.

Brexit poll: Jews voted 2-1 to remain in EU

(JTA)—Twice as many British Jews voted to remain in the European Union  than those who backed the Brexit, according to a new survey.

Conducted last week by the Survation polling firm for The Jewish Chronicle, the opinion poll of  1,000 British Jews showed that 59 percent were displeased by the narrow vote on June 23 to leave the EU, compared to 28.3 percent of respondents who were pleased with the result.

Surveyed after the vote, 59 percent of respondents said they voted Remain and 31 percent voted Leave. Six percent did not vote, they said.

Of those who voted for a British exit, or Brexit, 11 percent said they now regret their decision.

A similar poll conducted ahead of the vote showed a 50-50 split.

As a result of the referendum, 38 percent of Jews indicated they felt less safe, compared to 42 percent who said they did not feel any decrease in their level of security.

Xenophobic hate speech saw an uptick in Britain following the vote, with dozens of cases involving nationalistic rhetoric observed within days of the vote. But the Community Security Trust, the Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, said none of the reported incidents showed a direct link to anti-Semitism.

US sales of ‘Mein Kampf’ will benefit Holocaust survivors in Boston

(JTA)—The U.S. publisher of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” says it will donate all revenues from the infamously anti-Semitic book to a Jewish organization that helps Holocaust survivors in the Boston area.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which is based in Boston, had initially planned to donate proceeds from the Nazi leader’s tract to several non-Jewish cultural organizations, but changed plans after Jewish leaders criticized it, The Associated Press reported June 30.

The publisher worked with Boston’s Jewish federation to determine “how best to provide aid directly to the victims of the horrific events of the Holocaust,” Andrew Russell, the publisher’s director of corporate social responsibility, said in a statement, according to AP.

Proceeds will be directed to Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Boston for “direct support of the health and human services needs of (Holocaust) survivors,” Russell said.

From 2000 until last year, proceeds from “Mein Kampf” had gone to various organizations that fight anti-Semitism. However, according to the AP, last year Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced plans to use the money for cultural organizations as well, prompting an outcry from Jewish critics.

“JF&CS will direct the grant money exclusively to support the needs of the Holocaust survivors we meet with every day,” the Jewish agency’s CEO, Rimma Zelfand, said in a statement. “As Holocaust survivors grow increasingly frail, many of our clients have a far greater need for care than is covered by our existing funding.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt declined to say how much money “Mein Kampf” brings in each year.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has published a version of the book continuously since 1933, according to the AP. During World War II, proceeds went to the U.S. Justice Department. From 1979 until 2000, the publisher kept the proceeds for itself, and has since donated it.

The New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League applauded the decision to donate all the proceeds to JF&CS.

“It’s a reminder that efforts need to be put into combatting anti-Semitism, educating the next generation about the Holocaust and, of course, supporting the victims,” Trestan said.

“Mein Kampf” recently was republished in Germany for the first time since World War II, and  a new annotated edition sold out on the first day it was available in January.

Bernie Sanders’ appointee to platform committee says ‘I’m not anti-Israel’

(JTA)—James Zogby, one of Bernie Sanders’ appointees to the Democratic Party’s platform committee, said he had been unfairly typecast as an anti-Israel activist.

“I’ve just been cast as the anti-Israel guy,” Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute, said in an interview published last Friday in The Jerusalem Post. “People will type you.”

This view, which Zogby said does not reflect his views toward the Jewish state, “bothers me more than anything else [because] it fuels a simplistic, combative narrative,” he said.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee, Zogby has played a key role in attempts to include in the party’s platform language that recognizes Palestinian “dignity,” and opposes Israel’s “occupation” and “settlement activity” in what the proposed inclusions refer to as Palestinian lands, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The latest draft of the platform, which is set to be finalized in July, declares that achieving Palestinian statehood would provide “the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity,” whereas previous formulations referred to a two-state solution as benefitting only Israel. A proposed phrase calling on Israel to end “Israeli military occupation and illegal settlements” in the West Bank was defeated last week in an executive committee meeting in St. Louis.

Zogby supports the rights of Americans to boycott products produced in the settlements. He also told The Jerusalem Post that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “does more to delegitimize the State of Israel than the BDS movement ever has.”

But, “On the issue of delegitimizing Israel, I object to language that ultimately crosses the line into anti-Semitism,” he said. “That language is offensive, its anti-Semitic and its hurtful.”

The son of Maronite Catholic immigrants from Lebanon, Zogby has become one of the most prominent voices for the Arab-American community. He has a son who is married to a Muslim and a daughter married to a Jew, he said.

“When you type me and reduce me to one thing—which is some ‘hater of’ or ‘threat to’ or ‘danger to’ Israel—then there are crazy people out there who will decide to do things,” he complained. Zogby said he has received death threats. The Post article did not specify as to the nature of these threats.

In the 1990s, then-Vice President Al Gore tapped Zogby to help promote business investment in the Palestinian territories, in a project known as Builders for Peace. President Barack Obama has twice appointed him to serve on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in 2013 and 2015.

According to the Post, Zogby’s views are aligned with those of J Street, the Jewish organization which supports increasing international pressure on Israel to speed negotiations toward a two-state solution, which J Street says will benefit both peoples. J Street defines itself as a pro-Israel organization.

Zogby said his attempt to include language that speaks of Israel occupation reflects mainstream views. “There isn’t a president in the last 30 or 40 years who doesn’t call it an occupation,” he said, noting that consecutive Republican and Democratic administrations have also condemned Israel’s continued settlement activity in the West Bank.

Sanders, the first Jewish candidate to win major party nominating contests, named five of the platform committee’s members, including Zogby and two other frequent critics of Israeli policy, Cornel West, a philosopher and African-American social activist, and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Berlin rabbi: Jewish leaders need to help save the EU

(JTA)—A prominent rabbi in Berlin called on other Jewish community leaders to do everything in their power to prevent additional countries from leaving the European Union after Britain’s vote to exit the bloc.

Yehudah Teichtal, a rabbi of the Jewish community of Berlin, made the call last week in a statement about his meeting with Thomas Oppermann, the head of the German Social Democratic Party’s faction in the German parliament.

Teichtal told Oppermann that in his conversations with European rabbis and Jewish leaders he “encourages them to take action and prevent any further breaking in the EU,” the statement said. “I call upon the leaders of all Jewish communities around Europe to do whatever they can and execute all of their influence” to prevent additional exits, the rabbi was quoted as saying in the statement by his office.

“The establishment of the EU and the multi-cultural approach it symbolizes, contributes to the welfare of Europe’s Jewish communities”, said Teichtal, who is a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi. “Therefore, the possibility of dismantling the EU and reverting back to nation states should worry all Jewish people around Europe.”

Teichtal’s statement follows the June 23 vote in Britain, in which 51 percent of voters supported a British exit, or Brexit, as British media has dubbed the initiative. While this issue has divided British Jewry, several European rabbis issued calls similar to Teichtal’s.

The president of the European Conference of Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt, said last week that after Brexit, “we live in a new Europe.”

“The voices calling for the dismantling of the European Union are getting stronger and our continent is prone to more shakeups and changes,” he said.

Rabbi Mencahem Margolin, another Chabad rabbi and director of the Rabbinical Center of Europe and the European Jewish Association, said following the vote: “We have lost an important voice here in Brussels and across the continent as a whole. Brexit sees a number of threats from these parties who are licking their lips at the prospect of increasing power. It appears that Brexit has given them hope. And that is deeply worrying for Jews across Europe.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Loewenthal, a Chabad British rabbi who lives in Denmark, said following the vote:  “I would’ve preferred that they remain,” but added the European Union “needs to learn” to allow the peoples that make up the bloc to “be diverse, yet remaining connected.”

Only such an attitude, he said, would address the issue that the supporters of leaving the union have with the bloc, namely that “Brussels imposes laws for all its member states, and does not properly take into consideration the individual cultures and needs of the member countries,“ as Loewenthal described this attitude.

Judaism’s own attitude to these issues is reflected in the Menorah, he added, which “has different branches representing different attitudes, different traditions, and different personalities - yet they all face inward to the middle light symbolizing the light of God and the Torah.”

Turkish ship with Gaza-bound aid docks at Ashdod, first since reconciliation

(JTA)—A Turkish ship packed with aid for the Gaza Strip arrived in Israel, the first since Turkey and Israel reached a reconciliation deal that allows such transfers.

The cargo ship docking at Ashdod, just north of Gaza, on Sunday afternoon was bearing 10,000 tons of humanitarian equipment and food, Haaretz reported.

Israel and Turkey last month agreed to fully reestablish ties ruptured by Israel’s raid on a Turkish-flagged aid flotilla in 2010. Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish nationals in violent encounters during the raid on the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships attempting to breach a blockade on the strip imposed by Israel after the 2009 Gaza war with Hamas.

As part of the deal, Israel is keeping the blockade in place but is easing the transfer of Turkish aid to the strip.

Israel also will pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the Turkish nationals. Turkey will press Hamas to return the bodies of two Israeli soldiers slain during wars with Hamas and two Israeli citizens still being held in the strip.

The families of the slain soldiers and their supporters protested the arrival of the ship, Haaretz reported.

Father of 10 killed in terrorist shooting remembered as intellectual and giving man

(JTA)—More than 1,000 mourners attended the funeral for a father of 10 who was killed in a West Bank drive-by shooting.

The funeral of Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark was held Sunday in the Otniel settlement in the West Bank followed by his burial in Jerusalem. Mark was killed Friday when terrorists opened fire on his car as he drove near Hebron.

President Reuven Rivlin, a distant relative of Mark, delivered remarks at his funeral.

“I stand in front of your coffin, Miki, Michael, in sorrow and anguish, and with me stand an entire nation, together grieving,” Rivlin said, according to Haaretz. “Even before the Sabbath began, the murderer’s hand robbed your family of you in cold blood, in front of two of your children, and in front of your beloved wife, Chavi, who was seriously injured.

“Miki, I am sorry to say that I learned about you, only after your death. I learned that you were a loving and beloved father, grandfather and son. An intellectual who was also a man of action. A person who loved hands-on work, but also excelled in the house of learning.”

Mark’s son Yeshoshua said that “as the years pass, we find greater depth. More people you helped. A community of admirers. You taught us to accept the other. You were a giving man with endless time, attention and thought. A man of perception at all levels.”

One of Mark’s daughter, Orit, called her father “the most amazing in the world.”

“How much you gave. How much you did,” she said.

His children, in a video posted on social media, had appealed for mourners to attend the funeral to memorialize their father.

“Come and hear how good our father was, and you’ll be better people, more loving people,” one of his daughters said.

Along with his wife, Chavi, being seriously wounded in the shooting, two of his children were lightly injured.


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