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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Jared Kushner: Abbas might not have the ability to make a peace deal

JERUSALEM (JTA)—In a rare interview with a Palestinian newspaper, Jared Kushner called out Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for not having “the ability” to make peace with Israel.

“I do question how much President Abbas has the ability to, or is willing to, lean into finishing a deal,” Kushner told Al-Quds on Sunday, according to a transcript released by the U.S. National Security Council. “He has his talking points, which have not changed in the last 25 years. There has been no peace deal achieved in that time. To make a deal, both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions. I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that.”

Kushner also said that if Abbas is not willing to return to the negotiating table, he and his team of Middle East negotiators will air their proposed peace plan “publicly” and “soon.”

Kushner, who is Jewish and the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, said a peace deal would significantly benefit Palestinians economically.

“Think about the prospects for the Palestinian people over a five- to 20-year horizon if they get massive investments in modern infrastructure, job training and economic stimulus,” he said. “The world is going through a technological industrial revolution and the Palestinian people can be beneficiaries by leapfrogging to be leaders in the next industrial age.

“The Palestinian people are industrious, well educated and adjacent to the Silicon Valley of the Middle East—Israel. Israel’s prosperity would spill over very quickly to the Palestinians if there is peace.”

The Palestinian Authority’s chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, called the Kushner interview an attempt to “dictate” a peace solution.

“[It] represents a policy of dictation rather than negotiations,” Erekat said in a statement. “It is the Trump Administration that has walked away from the negotiations, from international law and U.N. resolutions.”

Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the Trump administration’s special envoy to the peace process, held meetings last week with leaders in Arab countries including  Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as in Israel, to discuss the peace plan and economic assistance to Gaza.

Abbas has refused to meet with Kushner and other members of the Trump administration, accusing them of bias toward Israel. The P.A. leader cut off all communication with the administration after Trump’s announcement in December that he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. The official move was made last month.

Podcast interview of emotional Roseanne Barr released by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

(JTA)—Actress Roseanne Barr became emotional and expressed regret for her tweet against a former Obama administration official during a podcast interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

The interview had taken place two days after ABC canceled her popular show, a reboot of her late 1980s sitcom, over the tweet mocking Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Barack Obama and an African-American. The tweet said the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” The actress later deleted the tweet and issued an apology, saying she had made “a bad joke about her politics and her looks.”

Boteach did not release the podcast at the time, saying “I want to give her space to reflect on the recent events and releasing the recording is a decision she will make at the appropriate time.”

He released the podcast early Sunday morning, a day after ABC rehired most of the cast of the rebooted show with reported plans to launch a new show, “The Connors,” about the popular working class family but without the original show’s namesake.

The podcast was aired on SoundCloud, and an edited transcript was posted on Facebook.

During the podcast, Boteach traced his 20-year relationship with Barr, who is Jewish, and noted that she “loves the Torah.”

Barr broke down crying during part of the interview, telling Boteach: “I’m a lot of things, a loud mouth and all that stuff. But I’m not stupid, for God’s sake. I never would have wittingly call any black person and say they are a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that. And people think that I did that and it just kills me. I didn’t do that. And if they do think that, I’m just so sorry that I was so unclear and stupid. I’m very sorry. But I don’t think that and I would never do that. I have loved ones who are African-American, and I just can’t stand it. I’ve made a huge error and I told ABC when they called me.”

Barr said she thought Valerie Jarrett was a white woman when she made her comments.

“Of course, no I don’t excuse it. I horribly regret it Are you kidding? I lost everything, and I regretted it before I lost everything. And I said to God, ‘I am willing to accept whatever consequences this brings because I know I’ve done wrong.’ I’m going to accept what the consequences are, and I do, and I have. But they don’t ever stop. They don’t accept my apology or explanation. And I’ve made myself a hate magnet. And as a Jew, it’s just horrible. It’s horrible.”

Barr noted during the interview that ABC had asked her to “get off Twitter” when they hired her for the reboot but that she told the network: “I have to tell you right now before we sign any papers that I will never stop defending Israel and the Jewish people. I cannot, if I were to do that, I would rather be dead, I can’t do that. So if you want to hire me, know that. I will never stop.”

Barr tweeted two weeks after the original Jarrett tweet that it was not meant to be racist, but rather was critical of anti-Semitism and the Iran deal.

“Rod Serling wrote Planet of The Apes. It was about anti-semitism. That is what my tweet referred to—the anti semitism of the Iran deal. Low IQ ppl can think whatever they want,” she tweeted.

Anthony Bourdain did not take drugs before he died

(JTA)—Celebrity chef and writer Anthony Bourdain did not have narcotics in his body when he died.

Bourdain’s death earlier this month at age 61 was ruled a suicide by hanging by French police after his body was found in a hotel bathroom in Kaysersberg, a small French village, where he was working on an upcoming episode of his CNN series “Parts Unknown.”

The New York Times reported over the weekend that a toxicology report showed no drugs were found in his body except a regular dose of a non-narcotic medicine.

Bourdain, who hosted popular food and travel shows on CNN, had been upfront about his use of cocaine, heroin and other drugs, and had filmed a 2014 episode of “Parts Unknown” that explored the nation’s opioid epidemic, where he talked about his own drug use.

Bourdain received critical acclaim for introducing viewers to often-foreign lands—providing a rough roadmap for adventure—without mocking but instead humanizing and engaging with local culture, implicitly encouraging viewers to do the same.

In 2013, Bourdain traveled to Israel for an episode of “Parts Unknown,” where he explored the culinary traditions of Jews and Arabs and reflected on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the show he said his father was Catholic and his mother was Jewish, but that he was raised without religion.

“I’ve never been in a synagogue. I don’t believe in a higher power,” he told viewers. “But that doesn’t make me any less Jewish, I don’t think.”

His mother, Gladys, told The New York Times that she would have the name Tony tattooed on the inside of her wrist as a memorial to her son.

Bourdain’s death came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report saying that suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race and ethnicity.

After banning Jewish flags last year, Chicago Dyke March displays Palestinian flags

(JTA)—The Chicago Dyke March, a queer pride parade, prominently featured Palestinian flags one year after ejecting marchers waving Jewish flags.

Participants in Sunday’s march can be seen waving Palestinian flags in a video posted by the Windy City Times, a newspaper serving Chicago’s LGBT community. Marchers also waved Mexican, Puerto Rican and rainbow flags, and chanted “No pride in occupation, no pride in deportation,” according to the newspaper.

The march this year was explicitly “a very pro-Palestinian event,” according to the Windy City Times.

Last year, three women were ejected from the Dyke March for waving rainbow flags emblazoned with Jewish stars. Critics accused the march of anti-Semitism, and one woman at the march wrote on Facebook that “Removing those flags, and the people who marched with it, shows a deep level of ignorance, and yes, it also shows antisemitism masquerading as liberal values.”

One of the ejected women, Laurel Grauer, works for A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel LGBT group.

“People asked me if I was a Zionist and I said ‘yes, I do care about the State of Israel, but I also believe in a two-state solution and an independent Palestine,’” Grauer said last year. “It’s hard to swallow the idea of inclusion when you are excluding people from that. People are saying ‘You can be gay but not in this way.’ We do not feel welcomed. We do not feel included.”

March organizers said last year in a statement that the women were ejected because they were pro-Israel while the march was explicitly anti-Zionist, and because of the Jewish star flag’s “similarity to the Israeli flag and the flag’s long history of use in pinkwashing efforts.” Pinkwashing is a term used by critics of Israel alleging that the Israeli government touts its pro-LGBT policies in order to distract from its treatment of the Palestinians.

Gretchen Rachel Hammond, the journalist who broke the Jewish flag story for the Windy City Times, was removed from her reporting duties following an outcry over the incident.


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