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

Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


August 3, 2018

Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she plans to spend 5 more years on Supreme Court

(JTA)—Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she hopes to remain on the court for another five years.

“I’m now 85,” Ginsburg said, according to CNN. “My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years.”

Ginsburg made the statement on Sunday night in New York during a discussion following a production of “The Originalist,” a play about the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

When asked in October at an event sponsored by Equal Justice Works in Arlington, Virginia, if she was contemplating retirement, Ginsburg said, “As long as I can do the job full steam, I will do it,” CNN reported.

Ginsburg, who this year is marking her 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court, has hired law clerks for the next two terms, taking her at least through 2020.

Asked Sunday night by “The Originalist” director Molly Smith what keeps her “hopeful,” Ginsburg quoted her late husband, Marty.

“My dear spouse would say that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle—it is the pendulum. And when it goes very far in one direction, you can count on its swinging back,” she said.

Ginsburg has survived colon and pancreatic cancer while serving on the court.

Restaurant owner evicts Dutch Jewish community from synagogue

DEVENTER, Netherlands (JTA)—The Jewish community of this Dutch city was evicted Monday from its former synagogue in what members said was the first such occurrence in years in the kingdom.

Members of Beth Shoshanna, a Masorti/Conservative Jewish congregation of approximately 30 people, packed up and loaded into a van their Torah scroll and other scripture, as well as other items used for worship and furniture. The move followed a legal fight against the building’s new owners, who are seeking to turn it into a restaurant.

“It’s a very heavy feeling that this thing can happen here in 2018,” said Tom Furstenberg, the community’s chairman.

His community had been told to move out by the office of Ayhan Sahin, a Dutch-Turkish developer and owner of several eateries, who in January bought the building housing the Great Synagogue of Deventer with a partner Last week, the city blocked his plan to open an eatery in the 125-year-old synagogue. But as the owners, Sahin and his associate can still determine who has access to the building and have asked the congregation to move out, according to Sanne Terlouw, a member of the congregation.

The community has found a new home in the nearby municipality of Raalte.

“We will continue. But this means the end of centuries of Jewish life in Deventer itself,” Terlouw said.

A dozen community members sang songs in Hebrew, including “Am Yisrael Chai” and “Kol Ha’Olam Kulo,” before leaving the synagogue. Furstenberg, wearing a tallit, or prayer shawl, blew the shofar one final time before leaving. He helped carry out the portable ark holding the Torah scrolls.

Several Dutch journalists documented the move, which Terlouw and Furstenberg said was the first such case in years.

The synagogue on Gol Street, a tall building in the neo-Moorish style, was built in 1892. Of the 590 people who in 1942 were registered as Jewish residents of Deventer, 401 were murdered in the Holocaust. The depleted community could not afford the building’s upkeep and sold it in 1951 to a Christian church group, which installed a massive pipe organ in the spacious interior.

In 2010, Beth Shoshanna got permission from the church group to use the space as a synagogue. The Jewish congregation installed a Torah ark and scroll, and held regular services there until the sale. Attempts to raise enough funds to buy the synagogue from the church did not succeed.

In 1940, in the days following the German invasion of the Netherlands, members of the Dutch National Socialist Party ransacked the Deventer synagogue as police stood by, destroying the interior.

Trump says he would meet Iran’s leaders without preconditions

WASHINGTON (JTA)—President Donald Trump said he was ready to meet with Iran’s leaders anytime with no preconditions, a pivot from his administration’s policy of encouraging “soft” regime change by isolating its ruling elites.

“No preconditions, no, they want to meet I’ll meet, anytime they want,” Trump said Monday at a press availability with Prime Minister Guisseppe Conte of Italy when asked if he would meet with Iran’s leaders. “It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world.”

Trump maintained a tough line on Iran, again congratulating himself for pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, which traded sanctions relief for a rollback in Iran’s nuclear activity, and calling for other nations to reimpose sanctions.

“The brutal regime in Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon—never,” Trump said. “We encourage all nations to pressure Iran to end the full range of its malign activities.”

But he ridiculed the notion that refusing to meet leaders of enemy states was an effective means of pressure, noting renewed talks with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons capability that ensued after he agreed to meet with its leader, Kim Jong Un, whom he once called “Little Rocket Man.”

“Speaking to other people, especially when you’re talking about potentials of war and death and famine and other things, you meet,” Trump said.

The president’s willingness to meet with the leaders of Iran is a sharp divergence from a policy of encouraging its people to rise up against those leaders. A week ago, Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, delivered a speech directed at the Iranian people in which he asserted that Iran “is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government.”

“While it is ultimately up to the Iranian people to determine the direction of their country, the United States, in the spirit of our own freedoms, will support the long-ignored voice of the Iranian people,” Pompeo said.

In the Q&A following his speech, Pompeo said that Trump is prepared to have a “conversation” with the leadership in Iran, “but not until such time as there are demonstrable, tangible, irreversible changes in the Iranian regime that I don’t see happening today.”

Israel has joined calls for regime change, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posting on social media this week the tale of a fictional 15-year-old Iranian girl and the agonies she must endure just to live in Iran.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton had, before assuming his position earlier this year, encouraged hard regime change—through U.S. military intervention, among other options.

And Trump himself appeared to threaten war against Iran just last week in an all-caps tweet, responding to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s warning to the United States that war with Iran would have far-reaching consequences.


Within minutes of Trump’s news conference on Monday, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who is Jewish and one of Trump’s most reliable backers in Congress, pushed back against any notion that Iran and the United States are peers.

“I have ZERO respect whatsoever for this Iranian regime, which will never be anything close to US equals,” Zeldin said. “They are not. They’re horrible people of worst kind with US blood on their hands; world’s largest state sponsor of terror & danger to all that’s good & humane in world.”

CBS will keep Leslie Moonves as CEO pending outcome of sexual misconduct investigation

(JTA)—CBS is looking into sexual misconduct allegations against its CEO, Leslie Moonves, who was accused of inappropriate behavior in a New Yorker exposé last Friday.

Ronan Farrow interviewed six women who alleged that Moonves sexually harassed them between the 1980s and the late 2000s. They said they feared that Moonves, one of Hollywood’s most powerful executives, would sabotage their careers if they rebuffed his advances.

Four of them allege that Moonves inappropriately touched and kissed them during business meetings.

Farrow, the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault history, also interviewed other current and former CBS employees over eight months. Some described an environment rife with sexual harassment across multiple departments of the company, including at “60 Minutes” and “CBS News.”

“I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” Moonves said in a statement to Farrow for the New Yorker piece. “Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected—and abided by the principle—that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”

CBS stock shares took a hit on Monday, and the CBS board of directors met later in the day to discuss Moonves’ fate.

The meeting ended without immediate recommendations and CBS said Moonves would remain CEO pending the outcome of an investigation by outside counsel. It postponed its annual shareholders’ meeting, which had been scheduled for Aug. 10.

Moonves and Shari Redstone, the network’s controlling stockholder, have already been locked in a public tussle over control of the company. Deadline reports that it was unclear if Redstone attended the board meeting Monday.

Moonves was the head of Viacom before becoming board chairman of the CBS Corp. in 2016. He grew up in a Jewish family in New York City, and is a grand-nephew of the late Paula Ben-Gurion—born Paula Munweis—the wife of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

University of Kentucky student found dead in Israel after late night swim in Mediterranean Sea

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The body of a University of Kentucky sophomore was found Monday morning washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea after she went missing in a late-night swim on Saturday.

TeNiya Jones, a biology major with a minor in Islamic studies, was on a weekend visit to Israel from Jordan, where she was enrolled in a seven-week exchange program. She was due to return home to Fort Myers, Florida, in a week.

Jones’ mother, Tosha Thomas-Mora, was scheduled to travel to Israel on Monday.

Jones, 19, went out for the swim with two other exchange students. She disappeared off of a beach near Bat Yam, a suburb of Tel Aviv, The Times of Israel reported.

According to one of the students, a strong current pulled the three of them out deeper to sea while they were swimming. Two of the students were able to swim back to shore, but Jones did not make it back, according to a statement issued by the University of Kentucky.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with TeNiya, her family and the students and others impacted,” the statement issued Sunday morning said. “We are in continual contact with TeNiya’s family, officials in Israel, officials from the State Department and our Congressional delegation to provide all the support we can for the family, students and others involved. We will do everything possible to provide whatever support is needed.”

Thomas-Mora said she received a call from Bill Bull, vice president of the university’s health and safety security, about 2 1/2 hours after her daughter went missing on Saturday night informing her of the incident.

Israel launched a search and rescue operation to find Jones, and officials from the U.S. Embassy were involved in the process, according to the university.

Palestinian teen who slapped Israeli soldier released from prison and returned to West Bank

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen arrested in part for slapping and harassing Israeli soldiers standing guard in a West Bank Palestinian village, was released from prison.

Tamimi, 17, and her mother, who also was jailed for incitement, were released early Sunday morning and taken by Israeli officials to the West Bank checkpoint of Jabbara, located south of Tulkarm near their hometown of Nabi Saleh.

She was then taken by convoy to Ramallah to lay a wreath on the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. While in Ramallah, Tamimi and her family met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who praised her as “a model of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, independence and statehood,” the official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

The teen was sentenced in March to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of assault, including the one in which she slapped a soldier in front of her house that was videotaped and went viral on social media. She spent three months in jail prior to her plea bargain. Tamimi reportedly completed high school while in prison and had begun applying to colleges.

She initially had been charged with 12 counts, including aggravated assault, hindering a soldier in the line of duty, incitement, threatening a soldier’s life and rock throwing. The indictment covered six incidents in recent months in which she was involved in altercations with Israeli soldiers, including the Dec. 15 slapping incident.

Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, also was arrested and charged over her involvement in the slapping incident, in which she filmed her daughter with a cellphone camera calling on her fellow Palestinians to stab Israelis, throw rocks at them and offer themselves as suicide bombers in order to “liberate Palestine.” Nariman Tamimi also was charged with incitement to terrorism on Facebook for posting the video of the incident. She reportedly also has accepted a plea bargain.

At a news conference on Sunday afternoon in her hometown, Tamimi thanked “everyone who has stood with me while I was in prison” and praised her mother, saying that “her ability to remain strong is what helped me endure.”

“My message here is that our resistance will continue, particularly our resistance for equal rights,” she said, and also “I want to also reiterate the message that Jerusalem is and will always be the capital of Palestine.”

Tamimi said that with the completion of her high school studies, she intends to study law “and focus on holding the occupation accountable.”

On Saturday, Israeli Border Police detained two Italian artists who painted a large mural of Tamimi on the West Bank security barrier in Bethlehem.

Airbnb removes Chicago listing that would not tolerate Zionism

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Airbnb removed a Chicago-area listing after a prospective renter posted its prohibition on expressions of “zionism.”

“This apartment strives to be a safe space—no sexism, homophobia, zionism, racism, classism, transphobia, xenophobia, fatphobia, or other hatred and prejudice is tolerated,” said the listing that appeared earlier this month advertising a bedroom in a “massive loft” located “at the heart of Wrigley and Boystown.”

“Guests who make the space unsafe or exhibit problematic behavior WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE WITHOUT A REFUND,” it said.

Nick Papas, a spokesman for the popular tourism rental website, told JTA on Monday that the listing was suspended and Airbnb will investigate.

“Airbnb hosts may not decline a guest based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status,” Papas said.

The listing also said unaccompanied straight men “should look elsewhere.”

The Airbnb host is named Sarah. With her listing removed, she could not be reached for comment.

Suzanne Vega, a New Yorker who planned a visit to see friends in Chicago, first posted the listing on Facebook and noted her concerns. An acquaintance, Lea Speyer, reposted it on Twitter.

Vega, 27, of Brooklyn, told JTA that she was searching the site for “progressive” spaces because she is LGBTQ.

“I needed an environment that was going to be safe to me all around,” she said.

Vega believes in engaging with those with political differences, but not those who would negate the rights of LGBTQ people.

“I can’t get along with ultra-right people,” she said.

The listing unsettled her, Vega said, because the ban on expressions of “zionism” and the penalty for doing so would inhibit her talking about her Judaism and her recent visit to Israel.

“What does it entail? I can’t say anything about Israel, I can’t say anything about being Jewish?” she said.

Additionally, Vega noted, the listing did not prohibit exhibitions of anti-Semitism.

“It bothered me so heavily I posted about it,” she said. “I felt unsafe.”

Vega said she was on the alert heading into her Chicago vacation because of the controversy last year when the Chicago Dyke March banned marchers showing Jewish pride by bearing Stars of David.

“I’m very progressive and somewhat left-wing for sure,” she said. “The extreme left are incapable of having a dialogue.”

3 Gazan Palestinians, including 12-year-old boy, killed in border clashes

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Three Gazan Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed during clashes at the Israel-Gaza border.

Some 7,000 Palestinians gathered in several spots along the border and participated in riots including throwing rocks and burning tires and throwing pipe bombs and other incendiary devices.

The boy, 12, was identified by Palestinian officials as Majdi al-Satari of Rafah. He acted as a “martyr” who is killed by Israeli troops in a film widely shared on Palestinian social media earlier this month, the Times of Israel reported. In the video he is seen attempting to damage the border between Israel and Gaza before being shot by teens dressed as Israeli soldiers. He is then borne to his funeral on a stretcher draped with a Palestinian flag. His funeral on Saturday looked much the same.

Also killed Friday was Moumin al-Hams, 17, and Ghazi Abu Mustafa, 43, who witnesses said was rushing to the border when he was shot.

Also Friday, the Israeli military carried out an airstrike on a squad of Palestinians in northern Gaza as they flew arson balloons carrying incendiary material towards Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces. No one was injured in the attack.

The United Nations envoy for Middle East peace, Nickolay Mladenov, on Saturday condemned the death of Majdi al-Satari in a tweet. Yesterday’s killing of a 12 year old #Palestinian boy by #Israeli fire in #Gaza is shocking and tragic. Children are #NotATarget! Too many lives have been lost. Its time for this to stop. My hearfelt thought and prayers go out to the bereaved family,” the tweet said.


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