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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Israeli soldier who shot downed Palestinian moving to house arrest

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting a downed Palestinian terrorist, will be released to house arrest.

Azaria, who was convicted in January and sentenced in February, has been confined to the closed Nachshonim military base since being arrested in March 2016. However, his military service is ending Thursday and he must leave the base.

A military court ruled Monday that Azaria will go to house arrest. He will be required to remain at his parents’ home in Ramle, in central Israel, and can attend Shabbat services in a synagogue on Friday night and Saturday if accompanied by a family member.

Azaria is appealing his conviction and military prosecutors are appealing his 18-month jail sentence for being too lenient. He does not have to report to prison until his appeals are exhausted.

A military court will rule on the appeals by the end of the month, according to reports.

Azaria, a medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, came on the scene following a Palestinian stabbing attack on soldiers in Hebron in the West Bank on March 24, 2016. One assailant was killed, and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was injured. Minutes later, while Sharif was lying on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head in a shooting that was captured on video by a local resident for the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem.

Azaria was arrested the same day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots by Azaria killed Sharif. Prior to shooting Sharif, Azaria had cared for a stabbed soldier.

Martin Landau, Oscar winner and ‘Mission: Impossible’ star, dies at 89

(JTA)—Martin Landau, a versatile actor who won an Academy Award for the 1994 film “Ed Wood” and played a spy on TV’s “Mission: Impossible” in the 1960s, has died.

Landau died Saturday at the UCLA Medical Center of “unexpected complications” from surgery several days earlier, his publicist told media outlets. He was 89.

He won his Oscar for best supporting actor playing the fading horror film star Bela Lugosi in “Ed Wood,” a Tim Burton film. He had been nominated several times in the same category before snagging the award.

Landau’s career took off after his appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film “North by Northwest.” He appeared for three seasons as agent Rollin Hand on “Mission: Impossible” until 1969, when he and his actress wife, Barbara Bain, left over a contract dispute.

He resurrected his career in 1988 with a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tucker: The Man and his Dream,” for which he won a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actor, and then starred in Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” in 1989.

Landau reportedly turned down the role of Mr. Spock on the NBC series “Star Trek,” which went to another Jewish actor, Leonard Nimoy.

Temple Mount reopens to Jewish visitors

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Temple Mount was reopened to Jewish visitors three days after being closed following a terror attack that killed two police officers.

Both Jewish visitors and tourists were allowed on the holy site Monday, a day after two of the nine entrances reopened to Muslim worshippers with metal detectors and security cameras installed. The Mughrabi Gate entrance for Jews and tourists already had metal detectors in place.

Monday marks the first time that Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount are not under scrutiny by guards for the Muslim Waqf, the Islamic trust that oversees the holy site, since Muslims are boycotting the site over the presence of the metal detectors. The Waqf guards usually watch to make sure Jewish visitors do not pray or perform any religious rituals at the site.

Israel closed the site on Friday after three Arab-Israeli visitors opened fire on Israel Police guarding the area, killing two Druze-Arab officers. The three gunmen were shot dead.

Police spent the two days of the Temple Mount closure searching the site for weapons, and reportedly removed their shoes when they entered the holy site to conduct their searches. Knives, slingshots, batons, spikes, unexploded ordnance, binoculars and dummy plastic weapons were found at the site, but no firearms or ammunition, Haaretz reported.

Muslims say the metal detectors and other security measures violate the status quo at the Temple Mount. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will retain the status quo there.

Why dividing Jerusalem in a peace deal just got harder

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli ministers approved a bill that would make it difficult to divide Jerusalem in a peace deal.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved an amendment to the Basic Law that would require a two-thirds majority of at least 80 Knesset members to pass a decision to cede land in Jerusalem. The current law requires a simple majority of 61 lawmakers to approve the transfer of sovereign control of any part of the city, including as part of an Israel-Palestinian peace deal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his governing coalition support the amendment, which is expected to pass the required three readings in the Knesset.

Jewish Home Party head Naftali Bennett and lawmaker Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli proposed the United Jerusalem bill.

“We will prevent a situation like in 2000, when Ehud Barak wanted to hand over the Temple Mount and three-quarters of the Old City, the Mount of Olives and the City of David, to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the Camp David talks,” Bennett said in a Facebook post.

Manischewitz to close Newark plant, lay off 169 workers

(JTA)—The Manischewitz Co. said it will close its plant in Newark, New Jersey, cutting the jobs of 169 workers.

The kosher food manufacturer’s announcement last week came in the form of a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN notice, that it would be cutting the jobs. According to the notice, which is required 60 days before a mass layoff, the closing and layoffs will be effective as of Sept. 14.

“At a challenging time in the retail and grocery business, we have made the difficult decision to close our plant in Newark,” a Manischewitz spokesman told njbiz.com, a local business news website. “Beginning this fall, our products will be made at more modern New Jersey facilities.”

Manischewitz is working to help the laid-off employees find jobs, the spokesman said.

The company’s executives will remain at the current offices in Newark, where they moved in 2006 following a consolidation effort. At the time, Newark Mayor Cory Booker said the company’s presence in his city “makes me the proudest mayor in America. It gives me great nachas.”

The 129-year-old company calls itself “the nation’s largest manufacturer of processed kosher food products and the No. 1 baker of matzah in the entire world.”

Roger Waters concert on Long Island violates anti-BDS law, lawmaker says

(JTA)—Allowing BDS proponent Roger Waters to perform at a Long Island arena violates a local law against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Nassau County lawmaker said.

Waters, the former Pink Floyd frontman, is scheduled to appear at the Nassau Coliseum on Sept. 15 and 16.

The lawmaker, Howard Kopel, asked the county attorney last week to determine whether the Nassau Coliseum lease requires compliance with the county law adopted in May 2016 that prevents the county from doing business with any company that participates in the economic boycott of Israel.

Kopel, an Orthodox Jewish legislator who represents a district with a large Jewish population, said in a Facebook post that the Waters concert violates the anti-BDS law while calling the musician a “notorious front-man for the BDS movement and virulent anti-semite.”

In a Facebook Live chat Saturday with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Waters said he would play his shows in Nassau, saying an artist’s rights should not be attacked over his stand on an issue.

“I think they’re gonna fail,” Waters said of attempts to prevent him from playing in Nassau County. “I don’t think, I know they are, because you would have to tear up the Constitution of the United States of America, particularly the First Amendment, and throw it into the Hudson River, or the East River if that’s closer, in order for that to happen.”

Waters also noted an incident in Miami last week in which a dozen teens from a Miami Beach Parks summer program who were to perform on stage with him backed out amid accusations of anti-Semitism.

Miami Beach spokeswoman Melissa Berthier told the Miami Herald on Thursday, hours before the scheduled concert, that the teens would not be participating, saying in a statement, “Miami Beach is a culturally diverse community and does not tolerate any form of hate.”

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation in an online ad on the Miami Herald website posted a link to a statement on its website reading, “Mr. Waters, your vile messages of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and hatred are not welcome in this community.”

Waters is embroiled in a controversy with Radiohead after he publicly called on the band to cancel its Wednesday concert in Tel Aviv.

Israel says it will expand space for non-Orthodox prayer at Western Wall despite freezing agreement

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The government of Israel told the nation’s Supreme Court that it plans to expand and upgrade a space for non-Orthodox prayer at the southern section of the Western Wall near Robinson’s Arch.

The government made the declaration in documents submitted to the court in response to a petition filed by the non-Orthodox Jewish movements and the Women of the Wall group that calls on the state to create the permanent space for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall.

Haaretz reported that the government also asked the court to dismiss the case, since it has frozen an agreement that would have provided the permanent prayer space, equal access to the site from the Western Wall plaza and allowed the liberal groups to administer the area.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau already has allocated the more than $5 million needed to upgrade and improve the non-Orthodox prayer space, and said it will take 10 months to complete.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on July 30.

“We are not buying the substitute Kotel Agreement that the State is trying to sell to the Supreme Court,” Anat Hoffman, chairperson of Women of the Wall, said in a statement issued after the documents were filed. “We hope that the Supreme Court will insist on our right to receive a prayer plaza in which we can pray according to our custom, whether by full implementation of the agreement, or by re-dividing the current prayer plaza into three sections: men’s, women’s and egalitarian.”

Ancient Roman amphitheater in Caesarea sold to foreign buyer

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Israel has secretly sold the ancient Roman amphitheater and hippodrome in the coastal city of Caesarea to an anonymous foreign buyer.

Some 172 acres of land, including a large chunk designated as a historic national park, were sold to the Saint Ventures Limited holding company, which is registered in the Caribbean, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.

Earlier this month, the church secretly sold about 123 acres of property in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Jerusalem to several private real estate developers.

The Greek Orthodox Church is one of the largest landowners in Israel, including 1,110 acres in Jerusalem that it acquired in the 19th century. The church leased the land to the Jewish National Fund in the early 1950s for a period of 99 years, with an option to extend the lease.

Israel’s Knesset building is built on such leased land, according to The Times of Israel.

King Herod established Caesarea about 2,000 years ago, and significant archaeological discoveries continue to be made there. The amphitheater is now in use as a concert venue; the port area has been turned into a tourist attraction.

Netanyahu opposes Syrian cease-fire, fearing Iranian military expansion

(JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he opposes the cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia in southwest Syria, near the border with northern Israel’s Golan Heights.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told reporters in France following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron that the cease-fire that went into effect last week will allow Iran to expand its presence in Syria close to the Israeli border.

The cease-fire was announced earlier this month following a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 conference in Hamburg, Germany.

Netanyahu said a week after the cease-fire went into effect that the agreement will not keep Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria, including an air base and naval base.

The Israeli leader said he told Macron that he opposes the cease-fire, and reportedly also expressed his opposition on Sunday evening in a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In comments made the day the cease-fire went into effect, Netanyahu said that Israel “will welcome a genuine cease-fire in Syria, but this cease-fire must not enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular.”

He also said he “had deep discussions” about the cease-fire a week earlier with Tillerson and Putin.

“Both told me that they understand Israel’s position and will take our demands into account,” Netanyahu said.

He called the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria a red line that Israel will uphold.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters outside a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization that Israel’s security concerns were taken into account while brokering the cease-fire.

“I can guarantee that the American side and we did the best we can to make sure that Israel’s security interests are fully taken into consideration,” he said.

Director Ken Loach boycotts Israel but still shows his films there

(JTA)—The British film director Ken Loach has become a fierce advocate of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, but his films have been shown there for over 20 years.

Loach’s producer told the Guardian on Friday that it is a “mistake” that his latest film, “I, Daniel Blake,” is currently showing in Israeli cinemas. Rebecca O’Brien said the distribution company Wild Bunch had made a deal to bring the film to Israel during last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

“We have asked Wild Bunch before not to sell to Israel,” O’Brien said. “But what happened this time – and what has happened before – is that during Cannes, things happen very fast and a junior member of the company went and sold it to Israel in the heat of the moment, forgetting we had asked for it not to be sold there.”

Loach’s Israeli distributor told the Guardian that the claims are “absurd.”

“We’ve been showing his movies for years,” said Guy Shani, who runs Shani Films and the Lev cinema chain. “I have been paying him money every year. His latest film, ‘I, Daniel Blake,’ has been really successful in Israel.

“It is a conundrum that has puzzled me, too. It seems that Ken Loach feels himself exempt from the cultural boycott.”

O’Brien said it this was the “second or third time” that one of Loach’s films has been shown in Israel without his consent. Vincent Maraval, head of Wild Bunch, said Friday on Twitter that the company made a deal “against [Loach’s] will.”

Loach has been critical of the British band Radiohead’s show in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. He signed a letter circulated in February by former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, another BDS supporter, urging Radiohead not to perform in Israel. Loach became embroiled in a personal spat with Thom Yorke, the band’s singer.

Michael Stipe, the former singer of the band R.E.M., weighed in on the debate, saying Sunday on Instagram that he supports Radiohead’s decision.

“Let’s hope a dialogue continues, helping to bring the occupation to an end and lead to a peaceful solution,” Stipe wrote.


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