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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


December 21, 2018

Evelyn Berezin, who built word processor, dies at 93

By Andrew Silow-Carroll

(JTA)—Evelyn Berezin, a Bronx-born daughter of Jewish immigrants from Russia who built and marketed the first computerized word processor, died Saturday in Manhattan. She was 93.

A founder in 1969 of the Long Island-based Redactron Corp., Berezin created the Data Secretary, a processor-enhanced typewriter that jump-started a market later to be dominated by IBM and brands like Osborne, Wang, Tandy and Kaypro.

She sold the company to the Burroughs Corp. in 1976 and went on to careers in venture capital and consulting, according to her obituary in The New York Times.

“Why is this woman not famous?” British writer Gwyn Headley wrote in a 2010 blog post. “Without Ms. Berezin there would be no Bill Gates, no Steve Jobs, no internet, no word processors, no spreadsheets; nothing that remotely connects business with the 21st century.”

Jewish teacher sues NJ Catholic school for alleging daily anti-Semitism

(JTA)—A Jewish teacher at a Catholic high school in New Jersey is suing the school for religious discrimination, claiming he faced anti-Semitism daily and was fired when he complained about it.

Jacob Rabinowitz filed a lawsuit last week in Newark federal court against St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale alleging religious discrimination, unlawful retaliation and creating a hostile work environment.

The school and the Archdiocese of Newark, which oversees the all-boys school, were named as defendants.

Rabinowitz, a first-year teacher from West Orange, said in the lawsuit that the anti-Semitism began on the first day of class, NJ.com reported. A swastika was carved into his blackboard, students threw coins at him, one student acted out the murder of a Jewish woman from a scene in “Schindler’s List” and another wrote, in German, “Six Million was just the beginning,” the lawsuit alleges.

The diocese told NJ.com that Rabinowitz did not complain about religious discrimination until after he received a less-than-satisfactory evaluation. He was told in March that he would not be rehired for the following school year.

The swastika was not removed from Rabinowitz’s classroom until April 23, according to the lawsuit.

Pregnant victim of shooting attack reunited with husband

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The pregnant woman who was injured in Sunday’s drive-by shooting in Judea and Samaria was reunited with her husband, who also was injured in the attack.

Amichai Ish-Ran on Tuesday evening entered the hospital room of his wife Shira, 21, who had her baby delivered surgically at 30-week gestation to save the mother’s life. It was the first time they had seen each other when Shira, who had been in an induced coma, was conscious.

The couple smiled at each other and held hands, her father, Chaim Silverstein, told reporters. The young mother could not speak due to tubes in her throat.

She reportedly has asked about the condition of her baby, but has not been told about his serious and deteriorating condition, according to reports.

“We have no words to describe the joy, even though she is still in serious condition,” Silverstein said. “The baby’s condition has not changed since yesterday. His life is still in danger and he is fighting for it, a small baby who was born prematurely along with a great trauma, and he started his life in a very difficult situation and we pray that he will survive.”

Seven people were injured in the shooting attack on a bus stop outside the Samarian settlement of Ofra. The search for the shooter or shooters continued on Tuesday.

Rabbi arrested at interfaith border protest for migrants

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—A rabbi was among 32 religious leaders arrested in San Diego, California, at the U.S. border fence demonstrating in support of migrants from Central America.

About 400 people gathered at the Border Field State Park on Monday to support the migrants as part of a nationwide week of action called “Love Knows No Borders: A moral call for migrant justice.” The American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker social action organization, sponsored the protest.

Several religious leaders, including Rabbi Brant Rosen, a staff person with American Friends and a co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace rabbinical council, led the protest into a restricted area in front of the border fence. They were met by federal border control agents, who handcuffed them and arrested them. The agents wore riot gear, including bulletproof vests, and carried night sticks.

Rosen offered the priestly blessing in Hebrew in support of the migrants, seen in a video on the Facebook page of American Friends.

Someone bought Frank Sinatra’s yarmulke for almost $10,000

By Andrew Silow-Carroll

(JTA)—A hand-crocheted yarmulke that once belonged to Frank Sinatra sold at auction for nearly $10,000.

The black kippah, with musical notes and “Frank” decorating its border, was auctioned off by Sotheby’s on Dec. 6 in New York as part its sale of items belonging to the estate of the singer’s late wife, Barbara.

The catalog did not indicate who made the kippah or gave it to Sinatra, although it does note that he was “a lifelong sympathizer with Jewish causes.”

The yarmulke sold for $9,375, shattering its original estimate of $200-$400.

Trump invokes Israel’s wall in tense budget negotiation

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA)—In an extraordinarily tense exchange Tuesday with Democratic leaders, President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the government unless his proposed wall between the United States and Mexico is funded, and invoked an Israeli wall to defend his position.

“I am proud to shut down the government over border security,” Trump said in the White House Oval Office meeting with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the speaker-designate, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader, according to a pool report. “If you really want to find out how effective a wall is, just ask Israel.”

It’s not clear which wall Trump is referring to; Israel credits a wall and fence running through the West bank with stopping terrorist attacks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cited another wall, along Israel’s southern border with Egypt, as a model for the United States in its bid to stop migrants from crossing without approval. The Israel-Egypt wall is a fraction of the size of Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico.

Democrats won the U.S. House of Representatives in last month’s elections, and this was the first meeting since then between the Democratic leaders and the president. The acrimony and raised voices were unusual for such a meeting. Pelosi told Trump repeatedly that he did not have the votes in either chamber to get approval for funding of his proposed wall. She said she would call a government shutdown a “Trump shutdown.”

“Elections have consequences, Mr. President,” said Schumer, who is Jewish. “We shouldn’t shut down the government over a dispute, and you want to shut it down.”

Trump says a wall would keep criminals and terrorists among others from entering. Democrats and immigrants advocacy groups say Trump has massively overblown the risk posed by migrants.

Baby born prematurely to mother shot in West Bank attack dies in hospital

By Sam Sokol

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A baby born prematurely after his mother was shot during a drive-by terror attack in the West Bank died on Wednesday.

The statement from Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital announcing the boy’s passing said the parents met their son earlier Wednesday morning.

The baby had been delivered by cesarean section at 30 weeks gestation to save the life of his mother, Shira Ish-Ran, 21. The newlywed’s husband, Amichai, also was among the seven Israelis wounded in the shooting Sunday outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra when a car carrying Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a bus stop where soldiers were waiting to hitch rides.

Shira remains in serious condition but is improving. Amichai is in moderate condition after being shot in the leg, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau expressed his condolences to the couple and wrath toward the killers in a Twitter message.

“Our hearts are with Shira and Amichai on the death of the four-day-old baby who does not even have a name,” Netanyahu tweeted on Wednesday evening. “[These are] despicable murderers, the most despicable criminals on earth. [Our] security forces are chasing the murderers and I hope that there will be news soon. We will not let go until we find them and bring them to justice.”

Israel’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, in a Facebook post called the baby’s death a tragedy and said “our heart is with Shira and Amichai, the heart cries out,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

“It’s a vile murder of terrorists that stopped being afraid of us,” he said. “We have to bring back deterrence that was lost. Otherwise, a wave of murders are on the way. Not with statements. In actions.”

Two of the other Israelis injured in the attack were 16-year-old girls.

The shooters remain on the loose.

Haley: ‘a new day at the UN’

By Aaron Bandler 

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a Dec. 6 speech that U.S. President Donald Trump wanted to cut funding to countries that voted against a United Nations that condemned Hamas as a terror group.

The resolution received 87 votes in favor, 57 against and 33 abstentions on Dec. 6, falling short of the two-thirds threshold needed for it to pass.

According to The Times of Israel, Haley said at the Israel U.N. mission’s Chanukah menorah-lighting that Trump called her after the vote and said, “Who do we need to get upset at? Who do you want me to yell at? Who do we take their money away?”

“I’m not gonna tell you what I told him,” Haley added.

Haley praised the 87 countries that voted for the resolution as a sign of “a new day at the U.N.”

According to the Gatestone Institute’s Bassam Tawil, the fact that Hamas viewed the resolution’s failure as an indicator that “the resistance is a legitimate right guaranteed by all international laws and conventions,” including the use of “armed struggle,” shows that Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups have been emboldened by the failed resolution.

“What Hamas is telling the U.N. and the rest of the world is: ‘Now that you have refused to brand us terrorists, we have the right to launch all forms of terrorist attacks and kill as many Jews as possible,’ ” wrote Tawil. “Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders are, in fact, threatening not only to continue, but also to step up their terrorist attacks on Israel.”

South Florida town passes resolution against Airbnb boycott of Judea and Samaria

(JNS) The town of Surfside, Fla., in Miami-Dade County, condemned Airbnb for violating an agreement with the town that prohibits discriminatory boycotts amid the online hospitality service removing its listings in Judea and Samaria last month over what the company alleged as “Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Surfside commission unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Vice Mayor Daniel Gielchinsky.

“Let’s make South Florida a shining light and beacon of truth, good and love prevailing over hatred, evil and hypocrisy throughout the world,” he exclaimed.

“BDS is a campaign disguised as anti-Semitism. We have a responsibility to speak up against hate and condemn this actions Airbnb from city hall to the governor’s mansion.” said StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein in a statement. “We applaud the efforts of the vice mayor and governor-elect [Ron] DeSantis. We urge other cities, counties and states to follow their lead.”

According to StandWithUs, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez will be introducing a resolution to the city government.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis has promised to take strong action against Airbnb shortly after being sworn into office next month.

“They delisted all Jewish listings in the West Bank,” said DeSantis last month. “They do not treat anybody else in the entire world like this. It’s only targeted to the Jewish community.”

UC condemns faculty support for BDS

(JNS)—The University of California became the first institution of higher education to issue a condemnation against faculty support for BDS in the aftermath of such cases at the University of Michigan and Pitzer College.

“As chancellors of the University of California campuses, we write to reaffirm our long-standing opposition to an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions and/or individual scholars,” they stated. “Our commitment to continued engagement and partnership with Israeli, as well as Palestinian colleagues, colleges and universities is unwavering.”

The University of California’s 10 chancellors added: “We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse regarding conflicts in the Middle East.”

These incidents caused more than 100 national and local groups to call on the same 250 higher-education leaders who denounced the American Studies Association’s anti-Israel boycott to sign a letter to affirm their opposition to the anti-Israel movement.

“While the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel [PACBI] has long been understood as an effort aimed at Israel and Israeli universities and scholars, that is only a piece of the actual picture,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, founder and director of the AMCHA Initiative.

“As UC has correctly recognized, an academic boycott, if allowed to be implemented, will directly violate the rights of, and substantively harm, students and faculty on U.S. campuses—many of them Jewish students,” she continued. “If this was just about Israel, we would not be involved, as AMCHA is not an Israel-advocacy organization. However, this is about protecting the academic freedom and educational rights of Jewish students, which will be violated if an academic boycott is permitted.”

“Now that professors are actually attempting to implement PACBI’s academic boycott and curtail American students’ rights, the statements issued in 2013 are no longer sufficient,” added Rossman-Benjamin. “University leaders must sign the University Leaders Statement or issue their own statements as UC has done, making it abundantly clear that under no circumstances will faculty be allowed to implement an academic boycott of Israel and put their own political interests above their own students.”

There have been 564 anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses so far in 2018, compared to 652 the previous year and 639 in 2016.

US ambassador to Israel slams Palestinian terrorist salaries

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA)—Following multiple terrorist attacks on Israelis, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman condemned Palestinian laws that reward perpetrators of such acts.

Noting on Twitter that in the past week #Palestinian terrorists have killed or wounded 14 #Israelis in multiple attacks, Friedman wrote Thursday that the Palestinian Authority “maintains laws that will compensate these terrorists and their families for their heinous acts.”

The P.A., he said, “can be a political body OR a sponsor of terror, not both.”

Last year, the Palestinian Authority paid about $198 million to a fund for the families of terrorists killed during their attacks and about $160 million to Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, The Times of Israel reported, citing Israeli Defense Ministry figures.

Separately, earlier this week, President Donald Trump’s envoy for Middle East peace condemned a far-right Israeli group urging the “elimination” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The call appeared in a poster depicting Abbas in rifle crosshairs and the Hebrew words “Eliminate the murder funders.”

“Just like I condemn incitement from the Palestinian side, I condemn the incitement calling for the assassination of President Abbas,” White House Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt wrote in a tweet. “This is completely unacceptable! All peace-loving people should condemn actions like this as well.”


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