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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner reportedly worked to stop anti-LGBT executive order

(JTA)—Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner reportedly helped push President Donald Trump to uphold a 2014 executive order protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination.

The president’s daughter and her husband, who serves as a White House senior adviser, worked to nix a draft executive order outlining how to roll back some of the protections granted by former President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order, Politico reported Friday, citing “multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.”

The White House said Tuesday that President Trump was “determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community.”

“The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump,” the White House said in a statement.

Progressive groups have expressed concern that Trump could overturn protections and rights gained by the LGBT community under the Obama administration. Vice President Mike Pence has a long history of opposing gay rights, and as governor of Indiana he opposed legalizing gay marriage.

Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus drop Ivanka Trump label

(JTA)—Nordstrom said it was dropping the Ivanka Trump label due to poor sales, and the label was pulled as well from the Neiman Marcus website.

Racked, the fashion news site, reported Thursday that a Nordstrom spokesperson insisted the decision by the chain of luxury department stores was unconnected to any political stance involving President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior White House adviser.

“Based on the brand’s performance, we’ve decided not to buy it for this season,” the spokesperson said.

Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism before marrying Kushner in 2010.

At Neiman Marcus, another high-end chain, the Ivanka Trump line of jewelry items was pulled from at least one store, Racked reported. Ivanka Trump products, which were displayed Thursday on the chain’s website, were no longer accessible Friday. Racked was not immediately able to reach Neiman Marcus for a reaction on the status of Ivanka Trump products with the chain.

The moves by both companies come after months of campaigns on social media against Ivanka Trump, who has come under criticism for some remarks by her father deemed divisive or discriminatory, and incompatible with Ivanka Trump’s stated commitment to women’s rights.

Anti-Trump activists Shannon Coulter and Sue Atencio started the campaign under the headline “Grab Your Wallet” in reference to a lewd remark made by Donald Trump 10 years ago that came to light in a recording during the campaign. They aimed to pressure businesses not to offer Ivanka Trump products.

What started out as list of retailers that do business with the Trump family, including stores that carry Ivanka Trump’s label, was moved to its own website, GrabYourWallet.org.

Since the campaign started, thousands have taken to Twitter to voice their support of the boycott.

UK lawmaker: Anti-Semitism rising due to Jews not criticizing Israel

LONDON (JTA)—Reacting to the record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain in 2016, a lawmaker who was suspended from her party for anti-Israel rhetoric accused pro-Israel Jews of creating the situation by not criticizing the Jewish state.

Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat in the upper house of the Parliament before her suspension in October, sent an email to the Jewish community’s main watchdog group on anti-Semitism, the Community Security Trust, on Thursday in reply to its report showing a 36 percent rise in incidents over 2015, the Jewish News of London reported.

“Do you NEVER consider that the actions of the Israeli government are contributing towards this rise?” Tonge wrote “If the Board of Deputies and the CST spoke up against the abuse if (sic) human rights, flagrant disregard of international law and the Geneva Conventions they would do much to improve the situation here.”

Of the 1,309 incidents recorded by CST in 2016 noted in the report, which was sent to all lawmakers, discourse relating to the Middle East was used in 105 cases, of which 62 showed evidence of anti-Israel motivation or beliefs, the watchdog said. Unlike in years that saw conflagrations between Israel and its enemies, the increase in 2016 was not directly attributable to any single factor, CST further wrote.

This ambiguity, Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress said in a statement, “demonstrates clearly that anti-Semitism requires no outside factors and without strong action by authorities will continue to grow.”

Tonge, who in July accused Israel of causing a rise in jihadist violence worldwide and in October hosted an event that according to reports featured anti-Semitic speakers, also wrote: “The perpetual victim mentality of your organization is counterproductive and does not help real decent Jewish people.”

Tonge has a history of suggesting that Jews are culpable for attacks against them. Some of her critics allege that her rhetoric sometimes veers into anti-Semitism; she has consistently denied the accusations.

Last year, she wrote to The Guardian, saying: “It is difficult to believe that a 75 percent increase in antisemitism it reports have been committed by people who simply hate Jewish people for no reason. It is surely the case these incidents are reflecting the disgust amongst the general public of the way the government of Israel treats Palestinians and manipulates the USA and ourselves to take no action.”

Jewish woman shoved, called ‘dirty Jew’ on N.Y. subway

(JTA)—A Jewish woman was verbally abused and shoved aboard a New York City subway by a man with a German accent who recited from an anti-Semitic pamphlet, according to a newspaper report.

The incident Monday evening occurred shortly after the suspect, a white man in a dark blue jacket with close-cropped blond hair, boarded the train at a downtown Manhattan station, according to the report Thursday by the New York Daily News, which cited unnamed police sources.

The suspect shoved the woman, an unnamed 25-year-old, after shouting at her “Dirty Jew” and “Hail the Hitler Youth!” He was carrying a black bag or briefcase and is still at large, the report said.

In an apparently unrelated incident, a swastika was found etched in a subway window at a station in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood on Wednesday morning.

The New York Police Department said it has seen a dramatic rise in hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump, with the majority of incidents directed at Jews.

Police stop suspected terror attack near the Louvre

(JTA)—Police foiled a suspected terrorist attack near the Louvre museum in Paris, winning plaudits again for security forces from the president of France’s Jewish umbrella group.

In the incident Friday morning, a soldier shot and seriously wounded a man wielding a machete who shouted “Allah hu akbar”—Arabic for “Allah is the greatest”—while approaching the soldier with the weapon. Paris Police Commissioner Michel Cadot was among the officials who said the alleged assailant shouted about Allah during the incident.

The soldier, one of 12,000 troops deployed in 2015 around Jewish sites and tourist areas in France in response to deadly jihadist attacks, was not hurt, Le Figaro reported. The deployment followed the slaying of 17 people at and around the Charlie Hebdo magazine in January 2015, and the murder two days later of four Jews at a kosher store in Paris.

“I am concerned following this attack, which bears terrorist characteristics, in the heart of Paris,” Francis Kalifat, the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, wrote on Twitter. “Support for police and troops.”

CRIF has consistently expressed gratitude to security forces when they come under attack.

Gil Taieb, a vice president of the CRIF, last year led a delegation from his organization to a rally at Republique square in Paris, where some 3,000 current and former members of the security forces demonstrated in civilian clothing against “anti-cop hatred,” as the organizers of the demonstration defined it.

The rally took place following violent clashes between police and protesters in rallies.

Russian chief rabbi, Reform dissident in London for event for ex-Soviet Jews

LONDON (JTA)—Hundreds of Russian-speaking Jews from across Western Europe convened in the British capital for a conference on learning whose organizers at the Limmud FSU group said was the largest of its kind.

The weekend event—the first entry into Western Europe by the Limmud FSU group for Russian-speaking Jews in the former Soviet Union and beyond—drew 650 participants on Friday to the plush De Vere Beaumont Estate Hotel in Windsor, a town located 18 miles west of London that features Windsor Castle, a residence of the British Royal Family.

The broad spectrum of speakers slated to attend the event, whose focus is the Balfour Declaration’s centennial anniversary, include Berel Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia who is affiliated with the Chabad movement, and Misha Kapustin, a Reform rabbi from Crimea who left the area in 2014 to Slovakia following its occupation and subsequent annexation by Russia from Ukraine.

The Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917 by the British government vowing to help establish a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel without jeopardizing the rights of other inhabitants of the area.

The roster of guests and speakers from Israel is equally diverse, ranging from the left-wing Knesset member Merav Michaeli, a liberal outlier of the Zionist Camp party, to David Bitan, a senior member of the Likud ruling party.

From the United States, guests include Matthew Bronfman, a philanthropist and chair of Limmud FSU’s International Steering Committee, and historian Deborah Lipstadt, whose legal fight in London against the Holocaust denier David Irving is the subject of the Oscar-nominated film “Denial,” which premiered in the United Kingdom last week.

Western Europe has some 300,000 Russian-speaking Jews, according to Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler. Most settled there after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. The majority of them live in Germany, but setting up the first Limmud FSU Europe conference was easier in London due to organizational issues, a spokeswoman for Limmud FSU said.

“The plan is to make Limmud FSU Europe an annual event, moving it to additional destinations in Western Europe, including Germany,” said the spokeswoman, Natasha Chechik.

Founded in 2006, Limmud FSU has annual events in over a dozen cities annually, including in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Israel, the United States and Canada.

The previous large-scale event for Russian-speaking Jews in Western Europe took place in 2012 in the Netherlands, where the Jewish Agency for Israel brought together more than 200 Russian-speaking young Jews for a conference about Israel

Israeli judge frees Ethiopian delinquent citing racism in society

(JTA)—In a controversial and precedent-setting ruling, an Israeli judge acquitted a youth of Ethiopian descent of assault citing perceived discrimination against his community.

Avital Molad, a juvenile court judge, last month acquitted the youth, who resides in an institution for underage delinquents, of two separate assault charges—once by hurling objects at police during a demonstration and again for hitting a fellow inmate, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

Rather than address the charges brought against the youth, she cited in her acquittal a Ministry of Justice report published in July stating that “for years, people of Ethiopian origins are discriminated against by the establishment, citizens, in education and employment and are excluded from the public sphere as well as targeted in negative stereotyping, overtly and discretely, and are even exposed to expressions of physical and verbal violence.”

Noting the report’s assertion that Ethiopian Israelis have an outsize proportion of juvenile delinquency, and citing the youth’s “family situation,” Molad wrote: “In some cases, the court must take a clear stance to encourage and back minors in correctional frameworks.”

The defendant had agreed to be committed into the institution where he lives following previous altercations involving violence, Army Radio reported.

She was letting off the defendant, who was not named because he is underage, “to send a clear message to minors generally and specifically to ones from the Ethiopian community that a youth who submits to correctional frameworks with dormitory conditions will receive considerable consideration even if they are charged with serious offenses.”

The defendant’s lawyer called the ruling a legal milestone, but a prominent member of the Ethiopian-Israeli community of some 140,000—half of whom were born in Israel to parents who immigrated from the 1980s onward—condemned it as promoting inequality and patronizing.

Danny Adino Abebe, a well-known journalist and activist for the rights of Ethiopian Israelis, told Army Radio on Thursday that the judiciary is no place for affirmative action because this “does irreparable damage to the principle of equality before the law.”

Molad, he added, “decided to give Ethiopians a leg up in a patronizing, insulting and quite outrageous manner.”


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