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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Clinton and Trump, meeting with Netanyahu, share commitment to US-Israel alliance

(JTA)—Hillary Clinton said she opposed any U.N. Security Council bid to impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just hours after a summit between the Israeli leader and Donald Trump.

Netanyahu’s meetings with the Democratic nominee and earlier Sunday with her Republican rival were a study in similarities—principally in pledging close defense cooperation with Israel—and differences, especially in Clinton’s holding up Israel as a model for pluralism and Trump lauding its erection of a separation wall from the Palestinians.

“The secretary reaffirmed her commitment to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity,” said a statement from the presidential campaign of the former secretary of state.

“Secretary Clinton reaffirmed her opposition to any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council,” the statement said.

Netanyahu, who is in New York to attend the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, met with the nominees on the eve of their first debate. He met with Trump at the real estate developer’s headquarters in Manhattan, Trump Tower, and Clinton at the W Hotel in the same borough. Her headquarters are across the river, in Brooklyn.

The prime minister sought assurances that neither nominee would join international efforts to preempt the direct talks with the Palestinians that Israel wants. Palestinian officials prefer international mediation until Israel freezes settlement expansion.

Netanyahu also reportedly fears that President Barack Obama in his final months in office will allow a Security Council resolution outlining a final status for a two-state solution to go through. Obama has taken pains to keep that from happening in his nearly eight years in office and has not indicated any plans to reverse course.

Unlike Clinton, Trump in his statement did not explicitly commit to opposing outside attempts to impose a solution, but he did check off other boxes on Netanyahu’s list of expectations from U.S. nominees, including the expectation that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and his pledge to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.

Clinton did not mention Jerusalem in her statement, but she affirmed Israel’s status as a “democratic Jewish state.” She said she would enforce last year’s deal between Iran and six major world powers to exchange sanctions relief for a rollback of nuclear development. Netanyahu vehemently opposed the deal.

Trump’s statement said only that the two men discussed the agreement at length; Trump in the past has said he would renegotiate the deal.

Clinton in her statement committed to combating the boycott Israel movement; Trump did not mention it. Both nominees swore to uphold defense assistance for and cooperation with Israel.

Clinton affirmed “the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism.” Trump’s statement said he “recognized that Israel and its citizens have suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism” and discussed with Netanyahu Israel’s security wall in the West Bank.

One of the keenest differences in this election has been over diversity. Clinton embraces it, while Trump has delivered broadsides against Muslims and Mexicans and has pledged to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

The one after the meeting with Trump noted that his ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner were present at the meeting.

Following the meeting with Clinton, its statement noted that Dermer and Clinton’s top foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, were also in attendance. He noted both meetings with photos on Twitter.

The handshake with Trump was set against the opulent gold leaf background of the nominee’s office. The one with Clinton was set against Israeli and American flags.

Israel advances to World Baseball Classic for first time

(JTA)—Five pitchers combined on a four-hitter and Israel slammed three home runs in a 9-1 victory over Great Britain in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Brooklyn, earning its first bid to the international tournament.

Israel took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of Sunday’s game at MCU Park on Coney Island, with starter Jason Marquis throwing four innings and striking out five and winning pitcher Josh Zeid the next three with three strikeouts.

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway had two hits, including a two-run homer in a four-run fifth inning, and drove in three runs.

Israel advances to the World Baseball Classic, a quadrennial event modeled after soccer’s World Cup, and will play March 7-10 in South Korea. The other teams in their pool are Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Netherlands.

In the March games, major leaguers will be released from their spring training commitments to play for their countries’ teams. Israel’s manager, Jerry Weinstein, said after Sunday’s win, however, that he preferred maintaining the camaraderie of the Brooklyn roster.

“I feel very loyal to the guys I was with for the last week and a half. I feel an obligation to them,” said Weinstein, 73, a coach in the Colorado Rockies system. “For me as a manager, I’m connected to these guys. I’d be very happy to take this team and go anywhere to play.”

Pitchers Dean Kremer and Shlomo Lipetz are the only Israeli citizens on the squad. The rest are players who qualify under the WBC’s “heritage rule,” which allows Israel to field players who would qualify for citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return.

In 2012, Israel fell a game short of qualifying for the tournament.

Against Great Britain, outfielder Blake Gailen snapped a scoreless tie in the fifth with a two-run homer.

Shortstop Scott Burcham contributed three of Israel’s 11 hits and scored twice. Outfielder Zach Borenstein added two hits, including a run-scoring triple, and third baseman Cody Decker belted a solo homer.

It was the second victory for Israel in the qualifying tournament over Great Britain, which defeated Brazil on Saturday to reach the title game.

Marquis had also started the opener against Great Britain, a 5-2 victory.  For the clinching game, the longtime major leaguer told reporters after the game, he “went back to the drawing board” to work on his off-speed pitches to “make sure I’d be sharp.”

Israel edged Brazil, 1-0, on Friday to advance to the final.

10 US Muslim leaders urge Hamas to release remains of Israeli soldiers

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Ten U.S. Muslim leaders, including both Muslims in Congress, urged Hamas to return to Israel the remains of two soldiers.

“In the name of Almighty God the most merciful and compassionate, we appeal to you on the basis of humanity and charity to release the remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, two Israeli soldiers killed in action, to their families,” said the letter sent Sept. 21 to Khaled Meshal, a leader of Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

Signatories include Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Andre Carson, D-Ind., the two Muslim congressmen; M. Ali Chaudry, the former mayor of Basking Ridge, New Jersey.; Sayyid Syeed, the director of interfaith alliances at the Islamic Society of North America; and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who directed an unsuccessful and controversial effort to build an Islamic community center near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York.

“Both Israelis and Palestinians have felt the pain of war, of losing loved ones and children far too soon,” the letter said. “The Holy Qur’an reminds us that ‘Whoever pardons and makes reconciliation will receive his reward from Allah.’ We ask you to act upon these words and allow the Goldin and Shaul families to bury their loved ones.”

Shaul and Goldin were killed during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, the president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, initiated the letter. He made it public on Sunday at the annual Washington conference of the Israeli-American Council, where Goldin’s parents were in attendance.

“Here, in the presence of the Goldin family, I am proud to share that many of the most prominent leaders of America’s Muslim community have joined their humanitarian campaign,” Schneier said. “We are hopeful that these voices can make an impact in bringing Hadar and Oron home.”

The Israeli-American Council’s CEO, Shaul Nicolet, praised the foundation “for taking a leadership role in this campaign to bring Israel’s boys home.”

Goldin’s parents last week opened an exhibition of their son’s artwork at United Nations headquarters in New York in a bid to raise awareness about their quest to return their son’s remains.

Shaul’s father, Herzl, died Sept. 2, from intestinal cancer. His family released a letter he had written to his son.

Sheldon Adelson to give up to $25 million to super PAC dedicated to derailing Clinton

(JTA)—Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson reportedly will contribute as much as $25 million to a super PAC dedicated to derailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

The Future 45 fund was founded by Joe Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball franchise and his wife, Marlene, and is overseen by the Ricketts’ longtime political adviser, Brian Baker.

The effort to defeat Clinton will focus on taking shots at her rather than promoting the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

The Guardian newspaper based in London also reported that Adelson plans to donate as much as $25 million to Future 45, citing an unnamed donor briefed on the PAC’s fundraising.

Some $5 million of the total, to go toward anti-Clinton ads, was reported previously by CNN. The other $20 million appears to be a new commitment.

CNN also reported last week that Adelson would give $20 million each to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC supporting GOP candidates, and the Congressional Leadership Fund, a similar super PAC supporting GOP candidates for the House of Representatives.

In May, Adelson bucked a substantial number of Republican Jews who opposed Trump, even though by that time it was clear he would be the party’s presidential nominee. Adelson endorsed the pugnacious real estate magnate and reality TV star and appealed to other top Republican Jewish donors to follow suit.

The New York Times reported at the time that Adelson was prepared to spend up to $100 million to elect Trump.

American intellectuals call for boycott of settlement goods and services

(JTA)—More than 70 American intellectuals called for a targeted boycott of all goods and services from Israeli West Bank settlements.

The boycott call, an open letter, was published in the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books, which is dated Oct. 13.

Among the signers are Bernard Avishai, Peter Brooks, Peter Beinhart, Todd Gitlin and Martin Sherwin.

The letter said the signatories “oppose an economic, political, or cultural boycott of Israel itself as defined by its June 4, 1967, borders,” which they refer to as the “so-called Green Line.” This boundary, according to the letter writers, “should be the starting point for negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian parties on future boundaries between two states. To promote such negotiations, we call for a targeted boycott of all goods and services from all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, and any investments that promote the Occupation, until such time as a peace settlement is negotiated between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.”

The letter also calls on the U.S. government to remove Internal Revenue Service tax exemptions from West Bank entities and to exclude the settlements from Israeli trade benefits.

Yankee Stadium kippah-grabbing incident has Orthodox fan ‘scared’

(JTA)—An Orthodox Jewish man said the New York Yankees have failed to investigate his claim that a fan sitting behind him snatched the kippah off his head and taunted him at a recent game.

Ben Lapin, 45, told the New York Daily News late last week about the Sept. 12 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lapin, who said an act like this “hasn’t happened to me since I was 12 years old,” told the newspaper that he begged the man to return the religious item, calling the experience “humiliating.”

“He was teasing me,” Lapin said, according to the Daily News. “The police were right there. Nobody did anything.”

Lapin said he tried to report the incident to several security guards and other stadium employees but got the runaround, including claims that the aggressor must have been a Dodgers fan and that nothing could be done since he had already left the stadium.

Yankees officials told the Daily News that they have taken the complaint seriously and are working to find the man.

Lapin was offered free tickets to a future game.

“I didn’t take the tickets,” Lapin told the newspaper.  “This isn’t about getting free tickets. I’m scared to go to a Yankee game. I don’t want to go back there. There’s a lot of anti-Semitism. We don’t have to be afraid to wear a yarmulke at Yankee Stadium.”

US, Jewish security officials urge business as usual for the High Holidays

WASHINGTON (JTA)—In a pre-Rosh Hashanah briefing, Jewish community and U.S. security officials urged Jewish institutions to be resilient and keep up morale in the face of terrorist threats.

Hundreds of officials from more than 100 institutions across the country participated in the conference call last Friday. Speakers included Paul Goldenberg, the director of Secure Community Network, the security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America, and a top Department of Homeland Security official whose identity SCN declined to reveal to the media.

The speakers briefed listeners on recent terrorist attacks, including last week’s series of bombings in the New York-New Jersey area believed to have been carried out by an Afghani-American man. One of the bombs injured 29 people.

In addition to reviewing security procedures, including training staff on how to deal with active shooters, and establishing relationships with local police, Goldenberg emphasized that U.S. Jewish institutions should continue business as usual and keep security unobtrusive, so it does not hinder High Holidays worship.

“We have come to learn that the goal of terrorists is to wear down our citizens’ spirits and endurance, destroying national morale,” he said.

Goldenberg said on the call that the barricades placed around Jewish worship in Europe have created a psychology of being under siege.

“According to a recent poll, nearly 70 percent of European Jews may decide not to attend High Holy Days services this year,” he said.

One key, Goldenberg said, was for the public not to panic or demand drastic changes in national policies.

Terrorists “recognize that if their attacks cause large-scale mobilization of the public to put pressure on their governments to change policies or positions, they could indeed enjoy agenda-setting powers over a democratic society,” he told the call.

IFCJ, JDC to distribute $52 million in humanitarian aid to Jews in former Soviet Union

(JTA)—The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has pledged $52 million to provide food and medicine to elderly Jews living in the former Soviet Union through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The Food and Medicine Lifeline, a four-year, $13 million per year commitment, was announced Monday by the IFCJ. Many of the tens of thousands of recipients of the aid are elderly and impoverished Holocaust survivors, according to the IFCJ.

The assistance will be delivered through the JDC’s local network of humanitarian services throughout the states of the former Soviet Union.

“There are countless hungry and sick elderly Jews across the FSU, including over 100,000 needy elderly and Holocaust survivors, who depend on our help,” Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, IFCJ founder and president, said in a statement.

“Too many Jews around the world, but especially in the former Soviet Union, struggle to meet their most basic needs, including securing the food and medicine they need simply to survive.”

IFCJ raises more than $140 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding more than 30 years, the organization said it has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to assisting poor and elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union.

JDC works in more than 70 countries, including Israel, to assist Jews in areas ranging from alleviating hunger to providing disaster relief.

Israel’s envoy working to bring kosher food to UN cafeterias

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations hopes to soon be eating kosher food in the cafeterias of the international institution.

Danny Danon, writing last week to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said there are many U.N. employees and diplomats from around the world who observe kashrut, yet kosher food is not available in any of the cafeterias or restaurants in the U.N. headquarters in New York.

U.N. cafeterias offer halal, vegetarian and vegan selections.

“For many Jews around the world, eating kosher food is a fundamental aspect of religious practice,” Danon wrote, according to Israel’s diplomatic mission at the United Nations. “We believe that all citizens of the world should feel welcome in the U.N.”

He also requested that the institution act to lower the high cost of kosher catering at the United Nations by allowing more kosher caterers to work at its headquarters. Danon said that the Israeli diplomatic mission, which only orders kosher food, is limited by the U.N. to one supplier and pays about 40 percent more than other missions who have a choice of caterers.

Danon said he would “work to ensure that the parliament of nations be open and respectful to the traditions of the Jewish people.”

In December, the United Nations announced that starting this year no official meetings will take place on Yom Kippur at the international body’s New York headquarters, and Jewish employees there will be able to miss work without using vacation hours.

Bill to help recover Nazi-looted art introduced in House

(JTA)—A bill to facilitate the return of Nazi-looted artworks to their original owners or heirs was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Two members of the Judiciary Committee, Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., introduced the bipartisan Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act on Friday. Goodlatte chairs the committee.

A day earlier, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced the measure to the full Senate for a vote.

The bill would extend the statute of limitations for the stolen artwork to six years from the date that the art in question is identified and located, and from when the claimant has shown evidence of possession of the art.

In some past cases, defendants were able to avoid restitution because states had statutes of limitations as short as three years.

“While we can never erase the horrors of the Holocaust from human history, we can do our part to bring these treasures back to the families of those who suffered and sacrificed so much during that dark time,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “This legislation will ensure that the rightful owners and their descendants can have their claims properly adjudicated.”

The Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act was introduced in the Senate in April by Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both Texas Republicans, along with Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

During World War II, the Nazis stole valuable belongings, including art, from Jewish families. Much of the looted property was not returned after the war, and heirs of the families have faced lengthy legal battles to recover their family belongings.


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