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

Weekly roundup of world briefs


January 11, 2019

2 swastikas drawn on apartment in Brooklyn

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Two foot-long swastikas were drawn outside the apartment door of an elderly Jewish woman in Brooklyn.

Miryam Marc, 77, said her late husband was a Holocaust survivor, and she escaped from Europe to Israel during the Holocaust.

The large swastikas were drawn in red marker on either side of Marc’s door on Saturday afternoon, WCBS-TV reported.

The apartment building installed security cameras after the incident.

“Now I am very, very, very depressed and I am scared even in the night. I cannot sleep,” Marc told WCBS.

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the vandalism. There are no suspects.

Law banning ritual slaughter of animals in Belgium

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA)—A ban in Belgium on the Jewish and Muslim methods of ritual slaughter of animals went into effect on New Year’s Day.

The Flemish Region, whose capital is Antwerp, passed the measure in July 2017 over vociferous objections by faith community leaders. It became effective on Jan. 1.

A similar ban in the Walloon Region, another of the three parts that make up the federal kingdom of Belgium, is set to become effective in September.

2018 report shows Israeli unemployment rate low, though cost of living high

(JNS)—Israel’s cost of living is rising more slowly than that of other developed countries, but still maintains a high cost of living.

According to a report published on Monday by the Taub Center, Israeli unemployment is at its lowest in years, with consumer prices in Israel falling by 5.2 percent relative to the OECD average and with wages increasing.

Israel’s employment rate is currently at 78 percent, having risen by 7 percent among men and 13 percent among women—more than in all other OECD countries.

However, the discrepancy between high earners and those below the poverty line remained among the highest in the OECD, according to the report.

The report comes as Israel announced a 2019 wave of price hikes for electricity, water, gas, cell phones, food, drink, insurance and property tax.

Israeli exports worldwide mark record performance in 2018

(JNS, Israel Hayom)—Israeli exports hit a record high of $110 billion in 2018, up 8 percent from 2017, when exports totaled $103 billion.

According to Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen, the government’s exports goals are to cross the $120 billion mark by 2020. This year’s performance may realize this goal sooner.

According to a report by the Economy and Industry Ministry and the Israel Export Institute, the increase in Israeli exports exceeds the growth seen in global trade, which in 2018 is expected to reach 4.2 percent.

The data shows that the goods and services sector was the strongest performer in 2018: the export of high-tech services noted a 14 percent increase and a record $51 billion, while the export of electronic and chemical goods rose by 3 percent, reaching $60 billion.

Exports to Asia grew by 20 percent in 2018, reaching $10 billion. Exports to the European Union held steady at $16 billion, and exports to the United States amounted to $11 billion.

IEI CEO Gadi Arieli said that “2019 is likely to see significant challenges for exports given the projected slowdown in global economic activity over the [U.S.-China] trade war.”

Cohen noted that “the international arena poses complex and difficult challenges for Israeli exporters, and I am pleased that the ministry’s various aid programs are helping exporters to cope with international markets.”

The Palestinian Authority’s apartheid land laws

By Maurice Hirsch

(JNS, Palestinian Media Watch)—A Palestinian American who facilitated the sale of an apartment by Arabs to Israeli Jews was condemned to life in prison, with hard labor, by a Palestinian Authority court on Monday.

“In accordance with the instructions of clause 2/274 of the criminal procedures law, the Grand Criminal Court, which convened in Ramallah, convicted the accused I.A. on the charges attributed to him—an attempt to cut off part of the Palestinian territories and annex them to a foreign state [as described in] Penal Code Number 16 of 1960. Relying on the conviction and in accordance with the instructions of clause 2 of Decision with Legislative Force Number 20 of 2014, the court sentenced him to life with hard labor. The lawsuit was submitted to the court on Dec. 23, 2018, and the verdict was given approximately a week later.” [WAFA, official P.A. news agency, Dec. 31, 2018]

The basis for the P.A.’s prosecution of Palestinians for selling land to Jews is article 114 of the Jordanian Criminal Code (1960), which the P.A. later adopted. The original Jordanian provision stated that a person who attempts to sever any part of the Jordanian territory in order to annex it to a foreign state will be subject to at least five years of hard labor.

In 2014, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas passed an amendment to the law—Government Decision with Legislative Effect (No. 20), 2014—in which he raised the maximum sentence to life imprisonment with hard labor.

The prosecution of Palestinians for selling land to Jews is not new and enjoys overwhelming Palestinian support.

Full report at PMW.

IDF data sheds light on number of rockets, attacks, arrests in 2018

(JNS)—The Israel Defense Forces released statistics on Sunday showing that attacks by Hamas on Israel have risen dramatically in the last three years.

According to the data, Israel was hit by 1,000 rockets and mortars in 2018, with 250 intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system and 45 landing in populated areas.

The majority of the projectiles were fired into southern Israel in late November, when nearly 500 rockets were launched at Israel in just 48 hours after a botched Israel Defense Forces’ commando raid in Khan Younis.

The IDF responded to the attacks by targeting 865 terror and military positions in Gaza.

In 2017, Hamas fired 35 projectiles at Israel and even less the year before that.

To date, Israel has completed 27 kilometers of an underground barrier to prevent the digging of tunnels to cross from Gaza into Israel.  Israel has destroyed 15 terror tunnels in the past year.

According to the IDF, seven soldiers and nine civilians were killed, and 199 injured, in 87 terror attacks in 2018.

Stone-throwing attacks were also down to 2,057 from 5,082 in 2017.

Stabbing attacks were up to 17 from five in 2017.

A total of 406 weapons were confiscated by authorities this year. The IDF said that a total of 3,173 Palestinians were arrested by security authorities in 2018.

Woman claims Apple used her voice without permission

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The woman behind the female Hebrew voice of the Waze navigation app is suing Apple for using her voice as the Hebrew Siri.

Israeli radio broadcaster Galit Gura-Eini filed a lawsuit last week for about $66,000 in Tel Aviv District Court, the Israeli business daily Calcalist reported. The lawsuit alleges that Apple has been using her voice recordings without authorization.

Apple has responded that her “voice on the Siri app is nothing but syllables joined together by an algorithm.”

Gura-Eini has been the voice of Siri since it launched in Hebrew in 2016, according to the report. Earlier this year she asked Apple to remove her voice from the Siri app, a request that was denied.

The lawsuit also alleges that Apple has turned her voice “into a vehicle for improper and humiliating speech,” and that people have been using her voice to produce sexual, racist and otherwise violent speech through the Siri app, Calcalist reported.

Gura-Eini’s voice was recorded in 2007 by Nuance Communications Inc. Gura-Eini gave Nuance the rights to use the recordings in speech production software, and for “legitimate” purposes only, according to Calcalist.

Her voice was deleted from the Waze app last year.

Caroline Glick joins ‘New Right’ party

(JNS)—American-Israeli political pundit Caroline Glick will be joining Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s new party ahead of elections this April, the Breitbart contributor announced on Wednesday.

“Together we will work to protect Israel, to increase its security and to enact truly right-wing policies,” said Glick. “This is an emotional day for me. I call on all those whose hearts beat with a Zionist spirit, secular and religious, to join us. This is your home.”

“Caroline is a relentless Zionist fighter,” said Bennett. “With her, we are building today the dream team of the Israeli right in order to expand the right-wing block, and so that Israel can be triumphant again.”

Shaked labeled Glick “a courageous fighter symbolizing the real, pure, conservative right. She will be a great addition to the Knesset from our side.”

Bennett and Shaked left the religious, right-wing Jewish Home Party late last month, hoping to unite religious and secular Israelis.

Israeli startups raise record $6.1 billion in 2018

(JNS)—Israeli startups raised a record $6.1 billion in 2018.

This figure was calculated with $400 million fundraised in December, plus the $4.5 billion raised in the first nine months of 2018, according to a joint report from the IVC Research Center and the law firm Zag-S&W.

This is in addition to an estimated $1.2 billion raised in October and November.

The total figure beats last year’s record of $5.24 billion.

Israel is known as a “Startup Nation,” having the third-most companieson the Nasdaq.

Comedian Bob Einstein of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ dies at 76

(JTA)—Comedian Bob Einstein, who often performed as the satirical daredevil character Super Dave Osbourne and played Larry David’s friend Marty Funkhouser on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” died Wednesday after a bout with cancer. He was 76.

Einstein was the older brother of the comic and filmmaker Albert Brooks. Their late father, Harry Einstein, was a radio comedian best known for playing the Greek immigrant Parkyakarkus.

In a memorable episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” David invites Funkhouser to a new Palestinian-owned chicken restaurant in Los Angeles. The Einstein character, who has become more serious about his Jewishness, refuses to takes off his yarmulke before going inside.

Brooks, on Twitter, remembered Einstein as a “great brother, father and husband” and a “brilliantly funny man.”

New Orleans cancels Women’s March

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—At least two more Women’s Marches have been canceled, including in New Orleans, where its chapter cited “several issues.”

“Many of the sister marches have asked the leaders of Women’s March, Inc. to resign but as of today, they have yet to do so,” the New Orleans chapter said in its announcement Saturday.

Top leaders of the main organization have been accused of engaging in or condoning anti-Semitism, of not cutting ties with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and of failing to heed the concerns of its thousands of Jewish backers.

“The controversy is dampening efforts of sister marches to fundraise, enlist involvement, find sponsors and attendee numbers have drastically declined this year. New Orleans is no exception,” the chapter said.

New Orleans has held a Women’s March for the past two years. Marches are scheduled for across the country on Jan. 19.

On Friday, the march in Eureka, in Northern California’s Humboldt County, was canceled over concerns that participants would be “overwhelmingly white, lacking representation from several perspectives in our community,” the group said in a statement. Humboldt County is about 74 percent non-Hispanic white, The Washington Post reported, citing Census Bureau data.

Organizers in Chicago had previously canceled the city’s march, citing the high cost and overextended volunteers.

Actress Rosanna Arquette, who spoke at the 2017 Women’s March in Los Angeles, tweeted her concern about the allegations of anti-Semitism against national leaders. In response, a Women’s March tweet assured supporters that it would take place in Washington, D.C., even during a government shutdown.

Non-Jewish governor of Brazilian state requests sound of shofar at his inauguration

By Marcus M. Gilban

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — The non-Jewish governor of a Brazilian state was inaugurated with the sounds of a shofar blown by a rabbi.

The shofar “represent[s] the call for freedom, to bring good vibes and positive energies to the new government,” according to organizers of the inauguration in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Wilson Witzel, an ardent supporter of Israel who is not Jewish, took office surrounded by several members of the local Jewish community at a ceremony held Wednesday in Rio’s Legislative Assembly.

On Sunday, Witzel and his wife escorted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Sugarloaf Mountain as part of his five-day visit to Brazil, the first by a sitting Israeli prime minister.

“One of the most touching moments during my campaign was when I heard the shofar at the Beit Lubavitch synagogue. It gave me the strength I needed to carry on,” Witzel told reporters.

Witzel, 50, is a right-wing politician who is affiliated with the Social Christian Party. Elected in October to a four-year term, he has pledged to fight corruption and clean up politics—language that is aligned with newly installed President Jair Bolsonaro, his political godfather.

Last month, Witzel spent a week in Israel to learn anti-terror techniques that can be deployed against urban violence in his home state.

“We have very similar situations,” he said. “Our policemen will come to Israel to get familiar with the patrolling techniques in conflict areas, checkpoints and borders.”

Congress is now 3 times more Jewish than the United States as a whole

By Ben Sales

(JTA)—More than 6 percent of the new Congress is Jewish, with 34 Jews among the total of 535 lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, so Congress as a whole is more than thrice as Jewish as the country in general, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center on religion in the new Congress, which was inaugurated Thursday.

The number is even larger in the Senate, where eight of the 100 members are Jewish. That’s 8 percent, for the math challenged.

This Congress has four more Jews than its predecessor, which had 30 Jewish members. But it’s far from the most Jewish Congress ever. That was the 1993 Congress, which boasted 51 Jews—nearly 10 percent of the total.

All of the Jews in the Senate are Democrats, as are all but two in the House. The Republican exceptions are Reps. Lee Zeldin and David Kustoff, from New York and Tennessee, respectively. They are the only non-Christian Republicans in the Congress, according to Pew.

Congress as a whole is overwhelmingly Christian—even more so than the country. Seventy-one percent of Americans identify as Christian, compared to 88 percent of Congress. Both Protestants and Catholics are overrepresented on Capitol Hill.

The most underrepresented group is unaffiliated Americans. Twenty-three percent of Americans don’t identify with a religion, but that’s true of just a sole member of Congress—new Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Unitarians are also represented in Congress.

More than half of new immigrants to Israel in 2018 were not considered Jewish

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—More than half of the immigrants to Israel in 2018 were not recognized as Jewish under religious law.

According to end of the year data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, of the 30,300 immigrants who arrived in Israel last year under the Law of Return, some 12,600 were recognized as Jewish and 17,700 were not.

That means 54 percent of the new immigrants are not Jewish. Some 39 percent are recognized as Jewish and 7 percent are Arab.

Under the Law of Return, anyone with a Jewish grandparent can immigrate to Israel. But he or she must have a Jewish mother in order to be registered as Jewish.

Most of the immigrants came from Russia, Ukraine, France and the United States.

Up to 400,000 citizens of Israel are registered as “lacking a religion” by the Interior Ministry because they are not halachically Jewish.


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