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

Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


October 13, 2017

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein fired following sexual harassment claims

(JTA)—Harvey Weinstein was fired from the movie production firm he started following sexual harassment allegations by several women, including actress Ashley Judd. The Weinstein Company’s directors announced the dismissal Sunday, citing “new information about misconduct” by Weinstein, who co-founded the firm in 2005. The board said in a statement that Weinstein’s employment “is terminated, effective immediately.”

Last week, The New York Times published an article alleging that Weinstein had harassed Judd and Rose McGowan, another Hollywood actress, as well as many other female talents and employees over decades.

In the aftermath Weinstein, 65, issued a statement in which he said he would “take a leave of absence” from his production firm and “spend more time with a therapist.” Despite saying that he could not be “more remorseful about the people I hurt” with his behavior, Weinstein also said The Times report was rife with inaccuracies and that he plans to sue the paper for $50 million, the New York Post reported.

According to The Times’ expose of Weinstein—who produced many box office hits including “Pulp Fiction,” “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “The Crying Game” and “Clerks”—he used his position of influence in Hollywood to demand sexual favors from actresses and female assistants over the past three decades.

He has paid off at least eight women to settle complaints about his lewd behavior, according to The Times.

The women, most in their early to mid-20s at the time, said Weinstein would appear near or fully naked, make them watch him bathe or give him a massage, and in at least one instance press a young employee for sex, The Times reported.

Some were paid $80,000 to $150,000 each to make their complaints go away, The Times said, with “Scream” actress McGowan, then 23, getting $100,000 in 1997 over an incident that took place during the Sundance Film Festival.

Weinstein, who is Jewish, wrote earlier this year that he planned to direct a film next year based on Leon Uris’ book about the Warsaw Ghetto, “Mila 18.” He recalled reading “Mila 18” during a trip to visit his great-grandmother in Israel as a kid

“I guess it is personal—I lost eight great aunts and uncles to Auschwitz. Luckily for me, my grandmother and grandfather moved to America in the ‘20s while their families stayed back in Poland and Belarus. My great grandmother escaped with the Zionists as did one of her sons,” Weinstein wrote in an op-ed for Deadline.

With his brother Bob, Weinstein founded Miramax—named for their parents, Mira and Max Weinstein—and later The Weinstein Company.

A prominent supporter of liberal and Democratic causes, Weinstein spoke in 2015 at a fundraiser for the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, where he was presented with the organization’s Humanitarian Award. In his speech, he urged Jews in the fight against anti-Semitism to “stand up and kick these guys in the ass.”

Brazilian newspaper’s five-letter response to pro-Palestinian crossword clue: ‘Sorry’

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA)—An influential daily newspaper in Brazil apologized for publishing a crossword puzzle that identified “Palestine” as a “territory that suffers Israeli occupation and bombings.”

Estado de S. Paulo’s readers received the crossword puzzle in the Oct. 1 edition.

“We apologize for the wrong way the question about Israel and Palestine was addressed,” the newspaper’s editor wrote in a retraction and apology published Sunday.

“Accurate research for correct information is within the main guidelines of our editorial content,” the statement said. “In this case, there was a failure to comply with such precepts. We are committed to taking the necessary measures to prevent this fact to happen again.”

Officials of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation and the Jewish federations of Sao Paulo and Rio led the reaction against the crossword puzzle. The apology was published on the confederation’s website.

Aussie lawmaker attacks national broadcaster over perceived anti-Israel bias

SYDNEY (JTA)—A Jewish lawmaker in Australia used taxpayer money to pay for ads criticizing alleged anti-Israel bias by the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Michael Danby took out two half-page ads in The Australian Jewish News saying that Jerusalem correspondent Sophie McNeill in her reporting on a West Bank terrorist killing in July dehumanized its victims—three members of the Solomon family—by not naming them.

By contrast, he noted, members of a Palestinian family, the Shamasnehs, who were evicted from their home in eastern Jerusalem were mentioned by name.

Danby justified the use of taxpayers’ money to make them aware of the government-funded ABC’s bias. However, Danby said the leader of the Labor Party, Bill Shorten, made the point when the two met “that ads weren’t the most subtle way of communicating the message.”

“I accept this was his view. I won’t be doing ads on the Jerusalem correspondent of the ABC in the future,” Danby added in a statement.

Danby represents Melbourne Ports, home to a large Jewish community.

The ABC has strongly defended its correspondent, who filed five stories on the Solomon murders. However, Danby’s office told JTA that the ads were approved by Parliament.

“Michael Danby’s office has confirmed that the advertisement about the ABC coverage advert has already been submitted and approved by parliament as being within guidelines,” a Parliament spokesman said.

Anton Block, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said Danby was correct in pointing out the disparity in coverage, saying McNeill “personalized what happened to the Palestinian family and named them, but did not do likewise for the Jewish family.”

30,000 Israelis and Palestinians gather for women’s peace rally in Jerusalem

(JTA)—Some 30,000 people participated in a peace rally organized by a group for Israeli and Palestinian women.

The men and women who gathered Sunday in Jerusalem as part of a two-week-long “peace walk” organized by the Women Wage Peace organization were marching for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as equal gender representation in peace negotiations, Haaretz reported.

The participants included Adina Bar-Shalom, the daughter of late Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and Druze former lawmaker Shakib Shanan.

“Palestinian families and Israeli families have lost their loved ones and been left with a wound that does not heal. I came here to say, we want to live!” Shanan, whose son Kamil was one of two Border Police officers killed in a July terror attack in Jerusalem, told the crowd. “We are allowed to say this out loud—we are peace loving.”

Women Wage Peace was founded three years ago following the 2014 Gaza War.

Druze Israeli lawmaker backs ex-defense minister against heckler in Morocco

(JTA)—An Israeli Druze lawmaker defended former Defense Minister Amir Peretz in Arabic after he was verbally accosted by a Moroccan lawmaker during a visit to the Parliament in Rabat.

On Sunday, Moroccan lawmaker Ahsan Abd al-Halek, wearing a scarf featuring the colors of the Palestinian flag, approached Peretz and shouted, “You’re a war criminal, you’re not welcome here.”

Peretz, a member of the opposition Zionist Union and a Morocco native, is part of an Israeli delegation to an international conference on trade among Mediterranean countries. Abd al-Halek was one of several Moroccan lawmakers who showed up at the conference with signs to protest Peretz’s presence, according to the Israeli Broadcasting Corp., which obtained a video of the exchange.

Magli Wahaba, a Druze lawmaker from Beit Jan who came with Perez to the conference, confronted the Moroccan, shouting back in Arabic that he is “with the extremists destroying” the Middle East and that Peretz “was born in Morocco, his parents were born in Morocco, and he has every right to be here.”

The hosts apologized to Peretz and the Israeli delegation for the interruption, Walla news reported. The conference, which was organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, continued as planned.

Richard Thaler, who recognized the humanity in economics, wins Nobel Prize

(JTA)—Richard Thaler, a professor at the University of Chicago, won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science for his pioneering work in the field of behavioral economics.

The Nobel Committee in announcing the prize for Thaler on Monday in Stockholm said his research helped lead to changes in public policy, such as employees being automatically registered in programs to save for retirement. Following the announcement Thaler, who is Jewish and was born in East Orange, New Jersey, said his work rested on the idea that “in order to do good economics, you have to keep in mind that people are human.”

His research helps predict human economic decisions. While people often behave in irrational ways, Thaler’s work showed that they do so according to certain patterns.

The 72-year-old economist, who made a cameo alongside Selena Gomez in the 2015 film “The Big Short, joked that he would spend the $1.1 million award “as irrationally as possible.” He said he would continue his work in economics.

London Jewish school principal ordained as priest

(JTA)—The principal of a Jewish school in London has been ordained as a Church of England priest. Patrick Moriarty, 51, who is not Jewish, has been headmaster of the Jewish Community Secondary School in north London, or JCoSS, since 2012, The Times of London reported Saturday. The school has 1,300 students and 100 teachers.

“The governing body is proud to have a non-Jew as its head teacher and prouder still that he has been able to find time to take his own religious beliefs to the next level,” said Jeremy Kosky, chairman of the school’s governors.

A handful of Jewish day schools in North America have non-Jewish heads of school or principals, who supervise the general curriculum or the entire school while a Jewish faculty member directs Jewish studies. JCoSS has a director of Jewish learning as well as a director of Jewish life.

Moriarty, who according to The Times works 70 hours a week, was appointed as assistant curate at St. Mary the Virgin, in the London borough of Barnet, following his ordination as a deacon in July at St. Albans Cathedral.

Moriarty’s new colleagues at St. Mary the Virgin were pleased to share him with the Jewish institution, they said.

“Patrick’s work within the Jewish community, and in wider interfaith circles, is incredibly enriching for us, as I hope our prayers and support are enriching for him,” said James Mustard, the rector of East Barnet.

Moriarty told The Times that his church responsibilities were mostly on Sundays, but he has already experienced having to exchange his casual clothes into clerical dress on a school day.

Asked how students at the Jewish school have responded to his new clerical role, he said, “They just say, ‘are those your vicar clothes, sir?’ Nobody really bats an eyelid, but I do try not to wander around school like that. It would be confusing in any workplace, but it certainly is as head of a Jewish school.”

In a newsletter to the students in May, Moriarty wrote: “From July I can officially use the title ‘Rev.’ (like a Rav [Hebrew for rabbi], but with different outfits...) and wear the clerical collar; I have no plans, however, to do either at JCoSS, and the day job will continue just as before.” Rev. is short for reverend.

Moriarty’s JCoSS colleagues have supported and encouraged him for what he described as a “rather unusual path.”

He received cufflinks and socks that said “Trust me, I’m a vicar,” as well as wishes from parents relieved that his new role didn’t mean he planned to resign, The Times reported.

Holocaust revisionism in Croatia not just a Jewish fight

(JTA)—In an unusual plea, the World Jewish Congress urged international bodies to oppose what it calls “brazen attempts” to whitewash Holocaust crimes in the European Union’s newest member, Croatia. The call came in a 4,000-word position paper published Monday in Tablet magazine by Menachem Rosensaft, the WJC’s general counsel.

The article, titled “Croatia is Brazenly Attempting to Rewrite its Holocaust Crimes Out of History,” examines dithering and mixed messages by the Balkan country’s highest elected officials on the Ustasha, a fascist movement led by Ante Paveli that murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs and tens of thousands of Jews during World War II. Reviled by many Croatians for their war crimes, Ustasha criminals are celebrated as heroes by many others—often with a nod from the government.

Last year, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic posed during a trip to Canada with an Ustasha flag. The previous year in Israel she expressed her “deepest regrets” to victims “killed at the hands of the collaborationist Ustasha regime.” Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic also condemned the Ustasha publicly, but did nothing when soccer fans chanted the Ustasha slogan during a match that he attended against an Israeli team.

These events and others prompted the local Jewish community to boycott government-sponsored Holocaust commemoration events for two consecutive years since 2016. That year, Croatia’s culture minister, Zlatko Hasanbegovi, praised a revisionist film claiming that Holocaust survivors’ testimonies from the Ustasha concentration camp of Jasenovac were exaggerated.

The veneration of pro-Nazi war criminals is not unique to Croatia in Eastern Europe, where Russian expansionism is serving to legitimize the open celebration of anti-Russian fighters who murdered Jews and perpetrated other war crimes on the side of Nazi Germany. Similar processes are the subject of an intense public debate Hungary, Ukraine, Lithuania and to some extent also Poland.

Croatia, which was accepted into the European Union in 2013, is unusual in that the veneration of war criminals comes from the top echelon politicians, and in the Jewish community’s resolute stance against such rhetoric.

Moreover, Rosensaft wrote, “the recasting of the Ustasha as national heroes and role models has ominous connotations in a country and region where ethnic hatred and strife have had catastrophic consequences, not just during WWII but more recently during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.”

As Croatian nationalists are “becoming increasingly brazen, if not overtly shameless, in their attempts to write the crimes against humanity committed by the Ustasha out of their nation’s history,” Rosensaft concluded, support for the Jewish community’s opposition to these efforts “should come not just from international Jewish organizations and other Jewish communities, but from institutions and agencies around the world that are dedicated to the preservation of the memory of the Holocaust and other genocides.”

While Israeli-Croatian bilateral relations “are excellent,” the WJC’s CEO, Robert Singer, said in a statement to JTA, his organization is “deeply concerned by what appears at best to be official indifference to the resurgence of the fascist Ustasha movement that actively participated in the perpetration the Holocaust.”

Ukraine teens arrested in vandalism at Jewish cemetery

(JTA)—Authorities in Ukraine have identified several teenagers whom police said desecrated at least 20 Jewish graves in August. The teens, all males younger than 18, were detained last month in connection with vandalism in Svalyava, a city in Western Ukraine that is located approximately 100 miles southwest of Lviv, the news site reported last week. The report did not say whether the suspects admitted the actions attributed to them or what punishments they will receive if convicted.

The teens pushed over at least 20 gravestones, causing some to smash, including the gravestone of the town’s former rabbi, Rabbi Shalom Goldenberg. The cemetery they allegedly vandalized has not been in use for decades.

In 2012, the Council of Europe adopted a nonbinding resolution placing responsibility for the care of Jewish cemeteries on national governments. The resolution was based in part on a report that said Jewish cemeteries are “probably” more vulnerable than other cemeteries.

In addition to frequent vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, including for anti-Semitic reasons, the report also noted instances of cemeteries in Eastern Europe that have been turned into “residential areas, public gardens, leisure parks, army grounds and storage sites; some have been turned into lakes.”

Canada to replace Holocaust memorial plaque that omitted Jews

(JTA)—The plaque marking the opening of Canada’s National Holocaust Monument will be replaced after the original failed to mention that Jews were the majority of the victims.

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly told the House of Commons on Thursday that the plaque will be replaced, and also reiterated that the monument commemorates the 6 million Jews and 5 million others killed by the Nazis and their supporters during the Holocaust.

“On the day the monument was unveiled, we noticed that the panel at the entrance conspicuously and curiously did not mention Jews,” Martin Sampson, director of communications for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said in a statement, according to the Toronto Star. “We raised our concerns with the government. They were very responsive, acknowledged the error and agreed to correct it immediately.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the monument at the end of last month. It states that the monument commemorates the “millions of men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust and honours the survivors who persevered and were able to make their way to Canada after one of the darkest chapters in history.”

“Today we reaffirm our unshakeable commitment to fight anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination in all its forms, and we pay tribute to those who experienced the worst of humanity,” Trudeau said at the opening of the monument. “We can honor them by fighting hatred with love, and seeking always to see ourselves in each other.”

Canada had been the only Allied power that fought in World War II not to have a national Holocaust memorial.

The memorial took a decade to build. Its more than $7 million cost is being split between the government and private donors.

Trump will not move US Embassy to Jerusalem before giving peace plan a chance

(JTA)—President Donald Trump said he will not move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv until after his administration’s peace plan has a chance to be implemented.

Trump made the remark Saturday on a Christian Trinity Broadcast Network talk show hosted by Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate

Trump said during the interview that a decision on moving the embassy would be made “in the not too distant future” before adding it would not be implemented before the peace proposal was given a chance to succeed.

“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump told Huckabee.

The U.S. peace proposal is still in the planning stages and has not been announced. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem was a Trump campaign promise.

In June, he signed a waiver delaying the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act passed by Congress in 1995, which mandates the move of the embassy to Jerusalem. The waiver can be signed every six months and has been signed by every president since the law was passed. It will come up again in January.

Trump also told Huckabee that his administration is “working on a plan that everybody says will never work because for many, many years it never worked—they say it’s the toughest deal of all, peace between Israel and the Palestinians, so we’re going to work on that, and if that doesn’t work, which is possible, to be totally honest—some people say it’s impossible, but I don’t think it’s impossible, and I think that’s something that can happen, and I don’t want to make any predictions.”

Trump has called making peace between Israel and the Palestinians the “ultimate deal.”

On the Huckabee show, the president also labeled the Iran nuclear deal “terrible,” but did not say whether or not he would pull the United States out of the agreement.

“I can tell you I’m very unhappy with the deal. The spirit is not there,” Trump said, adding later that “Iran is a bad player and they will be taken care of as a bad player.”

Huckabee is the father of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.


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