Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Jared Kushner to be named Trump White House senior adviser

(JTA)—Jared Kushner, the Orthodox Jewish son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump, will be named senior adviser to the president, Trump transition officials reportedly have confirmed.

The official announcement is expected as early as Tuesday, The New York Times and several other major news outlets reported Monday.

Citing people close to the transition, the Times reported that Kushner’s title might be adjusted.

A front-page article Sunday in the Times reported that Trump transition officials have told the Obama White House that foreign policy matters that must be brought to Trump’s attention should be relayed through Kushner. The article also reported that Kushner has hired a leading Washington law firm, WilmerHale, to advise him on how to comply with federal ethics laws should he join the White House staff as an adviser to the president.

Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday, his first since before the November election, in which he reportedly will explain how he will avoid conflict of interest with his company while he serves as president. He reportedly will say during the news conference that his daughter Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife, will not run the company, according to CNN.

It is not clear whether Kushner could be paid for his work. Laws in place since after President John F. Kennedy named his brother Robert attorney general ban a president from nominating or appointing close family, including in-laws, to administration positions.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump reportedly will be moving to a home in Washington, D.C., in the tony Kalorama neighborhood. President Barack Obama and his family also are expected to move there when he completes his second term next week.

Obama: ‘No basis in fact’ to accusations US orchestrated UN anti-settlements vote

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Accusations that the United States orchestrated last month’s U.N. Security Council anti-settlements resolution have no basis in fact, President Barack Obama said.

In one of his final interviews as president, Obama spoke to Ilana Dayan, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 2, who has interviewed him in the past. The interview is to be broadcast Tuesday, but Channel 2 teased a portion on Monday.

Dayan asked Obama about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the U.S. abstention allowing through the Security Council resolution was “shameful” and about Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer’s claim that there was evidence that the Obama administration orchestrated it.

“I’ll be honest with you, that kind of hyperbole, those kind of statements, don’t have basis in fact,” Obama said. “They may work well with respect to deflecting attention from the problem of settlements, they may play well with Bibi’s political base as well as the Republican base here in the United States, but they don’t match up with the facts.”

U.S. officials said they could not vote for the resolution, advanced by four countries led by New Zealand, because it was imbalanced and because the United Nations itself is an inherently antagonistic forum to Israel. However, they said they could not vote against it—triggering an automatic veto—because they agreed with its premise that settlements were undercutting prospects for peace and a two-state solution. The officials adamantly denied they led the effort to advance it.

President-elect Donald Trump objected to the resolution and tried to thwart it. It was the first resolution opposed by Israel that the Obama administration allowed through.

Obama also rejected criticism that he should not have allowed through a dramatic Security Council resolution in the last month of his presidency.

“The fact of the matter is that I’m president until Jan. 20 and I have an obligation to do what I think is right,” he said.

Dayan, describing the full interview, quoted Obama as saying that he was always a friend to Netanyahu, but that Netanyahu would not recognize his friendship.

In the clip that appeared on the Channel 2 website, she asked Obama if he has any more surprises in store for Israel, or will Netanyahu be able to “sleep well at night” until Jan. 20, when Trump assumes the presidency.

Obama, in an apparent allusion to Trump’s reputation for being unpredictable, replied: “There’s an interesting question as to whether he’ll sleep better after Jan. 20.”

UN Security Council condemns deadly truck-ramming attack on Israeli soldiers

(JTA)—The United Nations Security Council condemned the truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem that left four Israeli soldiers dead.

The statement tweeted late Sunday night by Sweden’s mission to the United Nations “condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack” in the eastern part of the city on Sunday and expressed condolences to the families of the victims and the government of Israel. Sweden holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month.

“The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” the statement said, and that the council finds any acts of terrorism “criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation.”

The statement “reaffirmed the need for all states to combat by all means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.”

The soldiers were killed and at least 15 were injured when the driver of a large truck, a resident of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, drove into a group of soldiers who had just exited a bus on the promenade in the Arnon Hatnatziv neighborhood, which marks the border between the eastern and western halves of Jerusalem.  The driver then reversed back over the bodies after he had hit them before being shot by a civilian tour guide and at least two soldiers.

The Security Council late last month passed a resolution by a vote of 14-0, with the Unites States abstaining, condemning Israeli settlements, calling them illegal and an obstacle to achieving peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world.

Anti-Semitic note with yellow Star of David left on car of Maryland couple

(JTA)—A Maryland couple said they found an anti-Semitic note on their car with a drawing of a Nazi yellow Star of David and the word “Jude” written on it.

The note was left on Saturday, days after they hung a Black Lives Matter flag on the window of their home, BuzzFeed reported the following day. The note refers to the movement.

Sonya and Mikey Franklin, who moved to the U.S. from London, also reported that their home in Rockville was vandalized with toilet paper and eggs. Franklin posted a copy of the letter on Twitter.

A Rockville Police Department spokesman told BuzzFeed that the incident is classified as a “possible hate crime and will be investigated as such,” though the detective interviewed said he did not know what “Jude” meant.

The couple had been forced by their condo association to remove the Black Lives Matter sign on Friday, a day before the attack, though a sign for the movement remained visible in their car.

Franklin later tweeted that he did not believe the police were taking him seriously.

“What should I do about this? I’m literally being gaslit by the police after reporting an antisemitic hate crime,” he tweeted.

‘La La Land’ composer, Jewish actors take prizes at Golden Globes

LOS ANGELES (JTA)—Although many of the Jewish Golden Globes nominees went home empty handed, a few actors and filmmakers with Jewish ancestry—and one young director who might be classified as an “honorary” Jew—made it to the winner’s podium.

Justin Hurwitz’s musical gifts contributed immeasurably to the success of “La La Land,” which won seven awards in the musical or comedy film category at the Sunday night ceremony. Hurwitz was rewarded with Golden Globes for original score and the original song “City of Stars”—he shared the latter with co-writers Benj Pasek, who is Jewish, and Justin Paul.

Hurwitz is 31, as is Damien Chazelle, the film’s director, and they were roommates as undergraduates at Harvard. Chazelle, who won Golden Globes both as director and screenwriter of “La La Land,” was raised by Catholic parents.

But as Chazelle told the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles last year, the parents were dissatisfied with their son’s education at a church Sunday school and enrolled him in the Hebrew school of a liberal synagogue.

Over the next four years, Chazelle recalled, “I had that period of my life where I was very, very into Hebrew and the Old Testament, and then I went with my class to Israel when we were in the sixth grade. I don’t think they even knew I wasn’t Jewish; I was, like, ‘passing.’”

English actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson took home the award for best supporting actor for his performance in “Nocturnal Animals.” In the drama-thriller, Taylor-Johnson portrays the leader of a vicious gang of fictional criminals in a book with which the main character becomes consumed.

Veteran French film star Isabelle Huppert won as best actress in a drama for her role in the French film “Elle,” which also received a Golden Globe for best foreign-language movie.

Huppert, who plays a successful businesswoman who plots an elaborate revenge on the home intruder who raped her, is the daughter of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. Her parents married while France was under Nazi occupation, with the father hiding his Jewish roots.

Tracee Ellis Ross won the award for best actress in a musical or comedy TV series for her portrayal of a biracial anesthesiologist in the sitcom “Blackish,” which follows the life of an upper-middle-class African-American family. She is the daughter of Jewish music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein and Motown singer Diana Ross.

The awards ceremony featured a montage honoring actress Carrie Fisher and her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, who died late last month two days apart.

President-elect Donald Trump was the target of a number of jibes and denunciations, though his name was never mentioned. Meryl Streep, who received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment, was the most outspoken.

Streep denounced Trump for mocking a disabled New York Times reporter, and after asking the audience to back the Committee to Support Journalists, ended with a strong warning.

“Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence,” she said. “And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

Trump responded immediately by telling The New York Times that such words would have no impact on attendance at his upcoming inauguration.

“We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” Trump said. “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”

Streep had said earlier that the Hollywood Foreign Press and the crowd on  hand “belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now.”

“But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places,” she said, singling out various actors and actresses and saying where they grew up, including actress Natalie Portman, who was born in Jerusalem.

Whitefish, Montana, rally held in solidarity with Jewish community

(JTA)—Several hundred people reportedly turned out in sub-zero-degree weather for a rally in Whitefish, Montana, to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which has been targeted by a neo-Nazi website.

The rally Saturday was sponsored by the Love Not Hate organization, which the Daily Stormer has accused of threatening white supremacist leader Richard Spencer’s mother, who lives in the town along with him.

Billed as a block party, the rally included speeches from city and faith leaders, local singers and storytellers, according to Montana Public Radio.

“This is indeed a community where the voices that speak love and acceptance are so many more numerous than those that speak for hate and division,” Jessica Loti Leferrier, a Love Not Hate rally organizer, told the radio station.

The Daily Stormer said last week that it had filed the paperwork for an armed neo-Nazi march designed to harass the Whitefish Jewish community. The march was moved to Jan. 16, which is Martin Luther King Day this year, a day later than originally scheduled.

Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi website, posted a photo Thursday of the filed application. The Whitefish City Clerk’s Office told the Forward that it had not received an application, and that what was on the website appeared to be incomplete.

Anglin wrote in a post published Thursday that nationalist groups from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Greece will attend the march. He also confirmed that “a representative of Hamas will be in attendance, and will give a speech about the international threat of the Jews.”

He said that participants will march through the center of Whitefish and end at Memorial Park, where several people will speak.

Spencer is the president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank. In November, he spoke at a white supremacist event in Washington, D.C., to celebrate President-elect Donald Trump’s election. He called out “Hail Trump!” and was greeted by Nazi salutes.

The Daily Stormer published a blog post last month calling for followers to “take action” against Jews in Whitefish by writing and calling them with anti-Semitic messages. The post claimed that Jewish residents were “threatening” the business run by Spencer’s mother in the town.

The post included the names, phone numbers and addresses of Jewish Whitefish residents, as well as their photos emblazoned with yellow stars. It also showed the Twitter handle and photo of a child. Along with using a number of anti-Semitic slurs, the post warned readers against using “violence or threats of violence or anything close to that.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald  Lauder is demanding that authorities in Montana immediately put a stop to the march, calling it “a dangerous and life-threatening rally that puts all of America at risk.”

“When notorious and self-professed neo-Nazis announce that they are planning to march through a town carrying ‘high-profiled rifles’ in an action targeting ‘Jews, Jewish business, and everyone who supports either,’ the local authorities must respond with quick alarm and vigilance,” Lauder said in a statement, adding that the rally “crosses the line between freedom of expression and incitement to hatred.”

There are about 100 known Jewish households in Whitefish and nearby Kalispell, part of the Flathead Valley.

Montana lawmakers and faith leaders have issued statements in support of the Whitefish community.

Whitefish has a population of about 6,000 full-time residents and is home to a ski resort on Big Mountain called Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Belgian newspaper fires columnist over praise of truck-ramming terrorist

(JTA)—A Belgian daily newspaper fired one of its columnists following his praise for the slaying of four Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem.

De Standaard, a left-leaning Flemish-language daily, said Monday that it would no longer feature columns by Dyab Abou Jahjah, a Lebanon-born activist from Belgium who has called for violent attacks on Jewish Israelis.

A day earlier, Belgian Jews took to Twitter to condemn Abou Jahjah’s remarks, which included: “By any means necessary, #freepalestine,” following an attack in which a Palestinian terrorist plowed a truck through a crowd of soldiers. The driver, who was shot dead, reportedly was a supporter of the Islamic State terror group.

He also wrote on Facebook that the attack was “not terrorism but resistance.”

Abou Jahjah, a Hezbollah supporter who has accused Israel of genocide, has written a weekly column for De Standaard for the past three years.

“Debate has borders and for us the border lies short of support of violence of any kind,” De Standaard wrote in an editorial announcing the dismissal.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations of Flemish Jews said in a statement Monday that it was “shocked” by Abou Jahjah’s remarks and called on “certain media offering him a platform” to stop publishing his writings.

In 2015, Abou Jahjah called Antwerp’s mayor “a Zionist c***sucker” on Twitter. He founded a Muslim European group that published on its website a picture of Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler as well as a caricature suggesting that Jews invented the Holocaust.

The Jewish Chronicle of London has described Abou Jahjah, who famously posed for a picture while holding an AK-47 assault rifle in his native Lebanon, as a former Hezbollah combatant.

After the 9/11 attacks of 2001 in New York, Abou Jahjah spoke of his “feeling of victory.” He has called Antwerp, which has a large community of Orthodox Jews, the “international capital of the Zionist lobby,” according to NRC.

In an interview published last year in the Dutch daily Volkskrant, Abou Jahjah defended his claim that the Israeli flag is comparable to that of Nazi Germany “because both countries practiced ethnic cleansing.” He rejected claims that the statement and others by him were anti-Semitic.


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