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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Israeli honeymooner killed, wife injured in zip-line accident in Honduras

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA)—A newly wed Israeli man was killed and his wife seriously injured in a zip-line accident during their honeymoon in Honduras.

Egael Tishman, 24, and Shif Fanken, 27, were on a zip line over a treetop canopy near Roatan on the island of Bahia when they crashed into each other on Thursday, according to local media.

“The girl stayed halfway on the cable and the guy came from behind and hit her up there,” chief firefighter Wilmer Guerrero told La Prensa newspaper.

Fanken was taken to a local hospital in serious condition and later flown to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she underwent surgery to stabilize her condition.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Friday that its embassy in Guatemala was arranging for Tishman’s body to be flown back to Israel for burial.

According to the La Prensa news website, the couple was on a cruise that had stopped in Roatan, a popular tourist destination. The island has several zip-line attractions that zoom tourists over treetops at high speeds.

In April, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez canceled his trip to Israel to participate in the torch-lighting ceremony for Israel’s 70th Independence Day ceremony amid calls for the invitation to be rescinded over what critics called “gross violations of human rights” in his country.

In March, Honduras and Paraguay announced that they were ready “in principle” to proceed in relocating their embassies soon to Jerusalem on the condition that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes an official visit to each of their countries.

Gal Gadot visits Virginia children’s hospital in full Wonder Woman costume

(JTA)—Israeli actress Gal Gadot took a break from filming the sequel to the 2017 movie “Wonder Woman” to visit a Virginia children’s hospital in full costume.

On Friday, Gadot posed for photos with patients and staff at Inova Children’s Hospital in Annandale during her visit.

The hospital posted photos of the visit on Twitter. Several Gadot and “Wonder Woman” fan pages also posted the photos.

Gadot has been spotted in Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area, where she is filming “Wonder Woman 1984,” which is scheduled for release in November 2019.

Muslim Democratic congressional candidate calls Israel ‘apartheid regime’

(JTA)—A Somali-American congressional candidate running for the Democratic nomination in Minnesota called Israel “the apartheid Israeli regime.”

Ilhan Omar’s tweet came in response to accusations that a tweet she wrote in 2012, accusing Israel of “evil doings,” amounts to anti-Semitism.

In an interview with ABC News for a segment titled “Progressive Democrats increasingly criticize Israel, and could reap political rewards,” Omar rejected accusations of anti-Semitism by conservative critics.

“These accusations are without merit,” the Minnesota state representative said. “They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe.”

Earlier she had tweeted a response to a critic who had accused her of anti-Semitism: “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness.” She added, sarcastically: “Well you know, if a Muslim says something negative about Israeli government, they must hate Jews. Didn’t you get that memo.”

Minnesota’s primary election is Aug. 14.

Omar, who is among several Muslim women in the U.S. running for Congress, wrote in a tweet in November 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza  #Palestine #Israel”

The tweet came two days after the Israeli army began an operation in Gaza triggered by the launching of 100 rockets at Israel from the strip over a 24-hour period.

Omar has neither apologized for nor retracted the tweet.

She is running to succeed Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to the Congress. Ellison is running for attorney general in Minnesota and is not seeking re-election.

Omar has received some pushback on social media in recent weeks.

A tweet from a Twitter user with the handle @shabbosgoy called her a “proud Jew hater” after she made a brief appearance in the music video of the pop group Maroon 5’s song “Girls Like You.”

The ABC News segment noted the recent upset primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, calling her one of several progressives whose willingness to criticize Israel’s actions have paid off politically.

Israel to close main crossing with Gaza over flying firebombs

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel will close the main crossing between Israel and Gaza in response to repeated arson attacks from incendiary kites and balloons coming from the coastal strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision announced Monday to close the Kerem Shalom crossing was taken in agreement with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Kerem Shalom is the only crossing for commercial goods and the main crossing for humanitarian aid between Israel and Gaza.

On Monday, Netanyahu called the closing “a significant step.”

“There will be additional steps,” he told the Knesset. “I will not go into details.”

Humanitarian aid, especially food and medicine, would still be allowed into Gaza through the crossing, but will require special permission.

Palestinian protesters and rioters have been gathering at the border with Israel since mid-March as part of the so-called March of Return. The use of incendiary objects as a tactic began with the border protests.

Thousands of acres of farming land and natural forest have been consumed in the flames sparked by the flying firebombs. At least 17 fires were sparked on Sunday alone from the kites and balloons.

Female tourists barred from Israeli cable car because haredi men refuse to ride with them

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Three female tourists were barred from riding a cable car down the Manara Cliff in northern Israel because a group of haredi Orthodox men would not ride with them.

The women and their male tour guide waited a short time for the next car, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported.

“There was a specific group that requested of us, at a time when we were not experiencing heavy crowds, that when they go down in the cable car not to have men and women together. We agreed as a gesture of good will,” Doron Medina, director of the site in the Upper Galilee, told Channel 10. “They only waited a few minutes for the next car. We explained it very nicely to their guide. We won’t go on doing it, it was an isolated incident.”

Channel 10 reported that the site regularly accedes to such requests, including groups that do not want to ride with Arabs.

The site said in a statement to Channel 10 that management would conduct an investigation based on the issues raised in the report.

The report comes less than a month after an El Al flight from New York to Israel was delayed by more than an hour after four haredi Orthodox men refused to take their assigned seats next to women. Two women eventually agreed to change their seats in order to allow the flight to take off.

Days later, the airline’s CEO announced that El Al will “immediately” remove any passenger who refuses to sit next to another passenger for any reason, hours after a major Israeli tech company announced it would no longer fly its employees on El Al due to gender discrimination.

Plans for Eurovision 2019 in Israel continue despite plagarism accusations

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The European Broadcasting Union is continuing plans to host the 2019 edition of Eurovision in Israel despite accusations of plagiarism against the song that won this year’s edition.

The EBU told The Jerusalem Post late last week that it considers accusations against Israel’s song “Toy” as “baseless rumors.”

Songwriters Doron Medalie and Stav Beger received a letter last week from the Universal Music Group claiming that “Toy” was plagiarized from the White Stripes’ signature song, “Seven Nation Army,” released in 2003.

The letter requests clarification stemming from the similarity of the harmonic progression in the chorus of “Toy.” No lawsuit has been filed.

Among the possible solutions would be for Medalie and Beger to turn over the Eurovision-winning song’s rights to Universal, which would make the company the song’s publisher and distributor, the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot reported.

Israel won the right to host the 2019 Eurovision after singer Netta Barzilai won the competition in May.

Four Israeli cities are said to meet the criteria to host Eurovision and submit bids:  Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat.

Nigerian mother and her 4 children deported from Israel after being jailed for 3 weeks

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A Nigerian woman and her four children were deported from Israel on Sunday night after they spent three weeks in an Israeli prison.

The case of the woman, identified as Marcy, who had been in Israel illegally since 2010, gained public attention after her children were brought to prison three weeks ago, after school let out for the summer. The children range in age from 2 to 7 years old.

Marcy, who had defied several court orders to leave Israel, departed after being persuaded by Nigerian diplomats there. One of the diplomats accompanied her on the flight back to Nigeria, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported Sunday night. The TV station first reported the woman’s story.

Her husband was deported a year ago.

“The long stay of the mother and her children in custody was initiated by the mother, who could have flown to Nigeria many days ago,” Israel’s Immigration and Population Authority told Channel 10 in a statement. “The mother preferred not to cooperate and to stay with her children in prison in order to exert pressure on the decisions of the Israeli courts.”

Marcy wanted to remain in Israel, even if it meant being in prison, in order to get her son medical treatment for what is reported as severe asthma, though reports of his condition have varied.

Two other children also were incarcerated with their mother, a migrant from Ethiopia, in the Givon Prison, Channel 10 reported. They are aged 1 and 3.

Prison staff have brought toys, books and candy for the children. The prison is not equipped to handle young children, according to local reports.

Sunglasses company holds a photo shoot at Croatian Holocaust memorial

(JTA)—An Australian sunglasses company that used a Holocaust memorial in Croatia for a photo shoot has removed its new advertising campaign and apologized to a Jewish leader.

The Valley Eyewear company shot the photos for the campaign for its Black Zero collection at the Spomenik memorial at the site of the Jasenovac extermination camp, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

More than 70,000 people—mostly Serbs and Jews—were murdered at the camp by order of the Nazi-allied Croatian government during World War II, which established the camp in 1941.

The Spomeniks are a series of concrete sculptures and monuments commemorating historical events throughout the former Yugoslavia. The Jasenovac memorial appeared in the background of the photos and video shot for the eyewear firm.

Valley Eyewear Director Michael Crawley apologized to Peter Wertheim, head of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

“Valley Eyewear was completely unaware of the sensitivity of a number of the locations, in particular the Jasenovac site where a photo shoot was undertaken for approximately 30 minutes,” Crawley said in a statement to the newspaper’s parent company, Fairfax Media.

The company has not offered a public apology, however.

Valley Eyewear had traveled to Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia to create a marketing campaign documenting locations of Spomenik sculptures.

Tourists have come under fire in recent years for taking selfies at the former site of the Auschwitz Nazi camp and the Berlin Holocaust memorial, among others.

“The purpose of these monuments to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust is to evoke a response from an audience that will give them some level of insight into events that are well beyond their range of experience and understanding,” Wertheim told the Sydney newspaper.

“In an educational or cultural context, this can be a powerful experience. But if images of these monuments are commercially exploited to market products, especially if the purpose is to glamorize or otherwise add to the appeal of the products, then the effect is the opposite, one of desensitization.”

Another resignation keeps Knesset committee on Western Wall egalitarian section from meeting

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The third member of the Knesset ministerial committee charged with deciding whether to approve the plan to upgrade the Western Wall’s egalitarian section resigned.

Religious Services Minister David Azoulay quit the committee on Sunday His resignation follows the resignations last week of the committee chairwoman, Miri Regev, and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Azoulay, of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party, resigned following instructions from the party’s rabbinic leadership in order to prevent the committee from meeting, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Regev late last month announced that she had “decided to be faithful to my conscience” and vote against the plan, due to political pressure. The chair’s permission is necessary to advance the plan.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is pushing the plan, took Regev’s place as head of the committee. Days later, Shaked asked Netanyahu to allow her to resign. Hours later, Netanyahu named Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz of Likud, a supporter of the plan, as the replacement for Shaked.

On Thursday, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, repeating a rabbinic ruling, said the entire Western Wall is holy, including the Robinson’s Arch area at the southern end where the egalitarian section is located. He also ruled that “all the laws of a synagogue and a house of study apply,” and that “No person has permission to trample a holy site, not through transgressing Shabbat or festivals and not with men and women praying together.”

Plans to renovate the site, with a budget of more than $7 million, have continued, despite the suspension of a comprehensive plan approved in 2016.

In June 2017, the Cabinet suspended the deal as a result of negotiations between the Reform and Conservative movements, the Women of the Wall, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government. The suspension came after the government’s haredi Orthodox coalition partners pressured Netanyahu to scrap the agreement, including threatening to bring down the government.

The plan would have included a common entrance to the Western Wall plaza for all three sections and a public board to oversee the egalitarian prayer space and would include representatives of the non-Orthodox movements and Women of the Wall.

South Carolina is first state to adopt uniform definition of anti-Semitism

(JTA)—South Carolina became the first state to adopt a uniform definition of anti-Semitism, but it is only on the books for the next year.

The definition is contained in a proviso to the annual state budget bill, which was signed into law on July 6.

Under the measure, universities must take the definition into account when reviewing charges of discrimination or bias.

Efforts earlier this year to pass a permanent version of the law were frustrated when concerns about an impingement on free speech hindered its advance in the Senate.

The proviso uses as its template the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which includes as anti-Semitic calls for violence against Jews, advancing conspiracy theories about Jewish control and Holocaust denial. It does not target speech, only unprotected conduct such as harassment, assault and vandalism, according to StandWithUs, an Israel education organization that operates on college campuses.

In a statement, StandWithUs praised Gov. Henry McMaster for signing the proviso.

“We need to define Anti-Semitism in order to defeat it,” said Roz Rothstein, the group’s CEO. “Thankfully, South Carolina is leading the way.”

3 who committed Paris-area anti-Semitic rape and robbery are sentenced to prison

(JTA)—Three men who committed an anti-Semitic rape and robbery in a Paris suburb four years ago were sentenced in a French court.

Two of the men, Abdou Salam Koita, 26, and Ladje Haidara, 23, who committed the rape in Creteil, were sentenced to eight years and 13 years, respectively, on Friday. They were in court in Val-de-Marne, southeast of Paris, when the sentences were announced.

A third man, Houssame Hatri, 22, remains on the lam and was sentenced to 16 years.

Two accomplices in custody were sentenced to five and six years in prison.

The court recognized the anti-Semitic nature of the 2014 attack on the young couple in an apartment.

The attackers chose their victims because they were sure they had money since they are Jewish. The couple, aged 19 at the time, were staying at the apartment of the man’s parents.

Haidara raped the woman while another guarded her boyfriend inside the apartment. The third went out to withdraw the couple’s money from a cash machine with their stolen credit cards and ATM cards while the other two stayed behind. They also stole jewelry from the apartment.

“Jews, you have money at home, you do not put it in the bank,” one of the assailants said during the attack.

Hatri said that it was “for my brothers in Palestine” before suggesting they “gas” their victims with teargas, the French news service AFP reported.

The men denied that they had anti-Semitic motives in carrying out the attack.

The incident sparked outrage in France’s Jewish community and came amid a string of anti-Semitic attacks.

Illinois governor: ‘Vote for anybody’ but neo-Nazi congressional candidate

(JTA)—The governor of Illinois, who called on a neo-Nazi candidate for a Chicago-area congressional seat to drop out of the race, has called on voters to “vote for anybody” else.

Last week, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner denounced Arthur Jones, also a Republican and a former leader of the American Nazi Party, but declined to endorse the opposing Democratic candidate or recommend a write-in candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat.

His response differed from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a former presidential candidate, who in a tweet had called on Illinois voters to “write in another candidate, or vote for the Democrat” running against Jones.

On Thursday, Rauner clarified in a tweet: “To the voters of the 3rd Congressional District: vote for anybody but Arthur Jones. Nazis have no place in our country and no one should vote for him. For the media or anyone else to suggest I think otherwise is offensive and irresponsible.”

New Jersey borough discriminated against Orthodox congregation, federal lawsuit alleges

(JTA)—The federal government is suing a New Jersey borough over allegations that it improperly restricted an Orthodox Jewish congregation from expanding its house of worship.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil lawsuit against Woodcliff Lake, a Bergen County suburb about 20 miles northwest of New York City.

As reported by NorthJersey.com, the Valley Chabad congregation operated a 3,194-square-foot building on a 1.27-acre site since 1998, often holding events off-site, as it claimed the site did not meet its needs.

The congregation attempted to relocate at least three times since 2005, but could not because of action by the borough council or its members.

In 2014, the congregation applied to the borough zoning board to raze its building and replace it one nearly six times larger. The board held 18 hearings, eventually suggesting six alternative properties, before denying the application, causing Valley Chabad to lose money, according to the lawsuit.

“Federal law protects all religious communities from discrimination and unlawful barriers when they seek to build a place of worship,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a news release. “According to the complaint, the Borough of Woodcliff Lake imposed a substantial burden on Valley Chabad’s religious freedom by repeatedly meddling in its attempts to purchase property in the area and citing subjective and misleading reasons to justify denying its zoning application.”

An attorney for Woodcliff Lake disputed the claims.

“There is no evidence to support the claim that borough officials did anything to interfere in the attempts by Valley Chabad to purchase other properties,” Ronald Dario told NorthJersey.com. “In fact, the borough has attempted to assist Valley Chabad by identifying other larger plots that can easily accommodate their needs. For reasons unknown to the borough, Valley Chabad has walked away from other projects and failed to entertain the idea of building on approved locations within the borough, which were in conformity with the borough’s land use regulations.”

Israeli sprinter breaks country’s record set at 1972 Munich Olympics

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Israeli sprinter broke her country’s women’s record in the 100 meters set at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Diana Vaisman, who will be 20 at the end of the month, ran the race in 11.38 seconds last week at the Israel Athletic Championship in Tel Aviv to beat the time of 11.45 by Esther Roth-Shahamorov.

On Facebook, Vaisman wrote: “New national record! After 46 years, it was my turn, my opportunity and finally I did it. It’s hard to express all the feelings and to show how excited I am, but now I’m just looking forward and getting ready for my next challenge.”

Roth-Shahamorov said after the race that “A burden has been lifted off my shoulders,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

She told Vaisman at the finish line: “You chose to do it here. Based on what I see, you can still improve. You have the legs to do it. Now give it everything you have in competition.”

Vaisman, of Ashkelon, is serving in the Israeli army.

The world record for women in the 100 meters is 10.40 set by American sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988.

At the ‘72 Olympics, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed by Palestinian terrorists in what has come to be called the Munich Massacre.

Knife-wielding man threatens Swiss Jewish family on way to synagogue

(JTA)—A man was arrested in the Swiss city of Zurich after allegedly threatening Orthodox Jewish children and chasing a Jewish family with a large knife.

The incident, in which no one was injured, occurred Saturday night, the Blick news website reported Sunday. The man was released the following day pending an investigation, the report said. Police said he “was obviously very drunk.”

Witnesses said the man accosted the Jewish children on the street, shouting anti-Semitic profanities at them. Thirty minutes later he allegedly began harassing the family of a Jewish man from Zurich whom Blick identified only as Johnny T. He followed the family, who were walking to synagogue with small children, from some distance while shouting and brandishing a knife.

When the family began to run away from the man, whose name was not published, he lunged at them. A passer-by, who was Jewish, intercepted the knife wielder and subdued him until police arrived and the man was arrested, the report said.

A police spokesman, Marco Cortesi, told the news website: “A man approached the Orthodox Jews and made anti-Semitic remarks. He carried a knife with him. He was obviously very drunk.”

The suspect is “neither a Nazi nor an Islamist,” Cortesi said.

Jonathan Kreutner, secretary-general of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, in an interview with Blick called the incident “startling.”

“It is not commonplace for Jews in Zurich to be threatened on the street in such a manner,” Kreutner said.

Physical attacks on Jews are rare in Switzerland. In 2011, a Jewish man was stabbed in front of his family near Geneva by a man who was later found to be unfit to stand trial because of a mental disability.


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