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

Weekly roundup of world briefs

 

January 25, 2019



IKEA Israel to open fifth store in Tel Aviv

(JNS)—The Swedish furniture and home accessories chain IKEA will open its fifth store in Israel later this year in Tel Aviv.

The store will have just 21,500 square feet of floor space. It will focus on kitchens, reported Globes on Thursday.

IKEA’s largest Israeli store, in Rishon Lezion, is 366,000 square feet and was opened in 2010, but not before the first one in the country opened in 2001 near Netanya.

The other megastores are in Kiryat Arba, opened in 2014, and Beersheva, opened in 2018.

IKEA is also planning to open a location that is a little more than 269,000 square feet in Eshtaol, near Bet Shemesh, in 2020.

The chain currently has more than 420 stores in 52 countries.

US military purchases Israeli missile-defense systems

(JNS)—The U.S. military has completed a nearly $80 million purchase of the Israeli-developed missile-defense system Trophy to protect tanks and armored-personnel carriers, announced the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems contractor Leonardo, which is American.

This development comes after the United States reached a similar $200 million agreement last summer.

As part of the agreement, the United States is expected to pay an additional $120 million for more defense systems, contingent on final approvals, bringing the sum of the two contracts to around $400 million, according to a Rafael spokesperson, as reported by The Times of Israel.

The Trophy consists of a radar-detection system that recognizes incoming missiles and projects their trajectories, with launchers that shoot metal pellets, causing the incoming missile or rocket to explode away from the tank.

It was created by Rafael and the Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group, and became operational in 2009.

First kosher brewery in Portland opens taproom

(JNS)—Portland’s first kosher brewery announced this week that it will expand and open a taproom.

Leikam Brewing co-founder Sonia-Marie Leikam told Willamette Week that she and her husband, head brewer Theo Leikam, have acquired a building that used to house a Thai restaurant in the Mount Tabor neighborhood.

“We have plans for community-focused activities like trivia nights, jewelry-making classes and gatherings,” Sonia-Marie Leikam told the outlet. “And we will continue to give back to local nonprofits with designated sales from beers going back to the community.”

The timeline has yet to be determined, though the couple aims to open it in the summer. In addition to beer, a limited kosher food menu will be available.

The brewery obtained its kosher certification from Oregon Kosher, which is a member of the Association of Kashrut Organizations under the auspices of Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, kashrut administrator of the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

House GOP leader says Steve King will face consequences

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Iowa Republican Steve King will face consequences for wondering why the term “white supremacist” was offensive.

“That language has no place in America,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I have a scheduled meeting with him on Monday. I am having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party.”

CBS said that McCarthy said off camera that consequences might include removing King from committee assignments, depriving the congressman of the key outlet for influence in the body. Republicans also could join in a motion of censure, which the Democratic leadership has indicated it might initiate.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” King said in a New York Times profile last week. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

King later said he rejects “those labels and the evil ideology they define,” but the damage was done. The entirety of the GOP House leadership condemned the remarks, as did the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Jewish man assaulted in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—A 19-year-old Jewish man was attacked by a group of black teenagers in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

There have been several assaults by blacks on identifiably Jewish victims in Crown Heights, a neighborhood with large Hasidic Jewish and black populations, over the last year.

The victim was “violently assaulted,” Collive reported, and was taken to Maimonides Hospital to be treated for light injuries.

A nearby security camera captured the teens on video, though not the actual assault, according to the report. The alleged assailants fled.

The New York Police Department is investigating the attack in conjunction with the Hate Crimes Task Force.

Mahmoud Abbas set to assume chairmanship of major UN bloc

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in New York City to assume the chairmanship of a major bloc of developing countries at the United Nations.

Abbas on Tuesday will succeed Egypt as the leader of the Group of 77. He is scheduled to address the General Assembly, which elected the “State of Palestine” in July to head the bloc.

The Palestinians’ presidential spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, called it “an important historical event.”

“It is also an important achievement to assert the Palestinian identity in the international community, which colonial powers have tried to abolish over many centuries,” he told the Palestinian Maan news agency.

The G-77 has recognized Palestine as a member since 1976. The bloc is made up of 134 member states, representing at least 80 percent of the world’s population, though it originally started with 77. It was designed to promote its members’ economic advancement and uses its size to leverage its negotiating capacity.

Palestine was elevated to nonmember observer state in the General Assembly, the same status given to the Vatican, in 2012.

Last week, Abbas began serving the 15th year of the four-year presidential term to which he was elected in 2005 to replace the late Yasser Arafat.

Israeli pop star turns down Eurovision performance

(JNS)—One of Israel’s most popular singers, Omer Adam, has rejected an offer to perform at the international singing competition Eurovision because rehearsals for the finale will be held on Shabbat.

According to a statement, he declined “despite the great honor,” and “thanks them from his heart for approaching him.”

Adam, while not Orthodox, has made it a matter of principle not to perform on Shabbat.

The finale of Eurovision is scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv on Saturday, May 18, with rehearsals taking place throughout the day.

Adam was born in the United States, grew up in Israel, and has risen to the top of the charts. His most popular song of 2018, “Sheni Meshugaim” (“Two Crazy People”) garnered more than 48 million hits last year on YouTube.

Gal Gadot to voice Wonder Woman in ‘The Lego Movie 2’

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Gal Gadot will be heard as Wonder Woman long before the sequel to her megahit film is screened in 2020.

Gadot will voice the character in “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” which will open next month in U.S. theaters, according to movie blogs and fan sites, including Flickering Myth.

The Israeli actress will be joined by several others who portray DC characters on the big screen, with Jason Momoa voicing Aquaman and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn from “Suicide Squad.”

“The Lego Movie” was released before Gadot first performed as Wonder Woman in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Jewish Democrats say party has dropped Women’s March sponsorship

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA)—The Jewish Democratic Council of America said the party will not sponsor the national Women’s March in the wake of accusations of anti-Semitic associations against the movement’s leadership.

In a statement Tuesday, the JDCA said the Democratic National Committee was joining the increasingly popular strategy of joining local women’s march organizers while avoiding affiliation with the national group.

“JDCA supports the objectives of the Women’s March and stands with sister marches across the country this weekend,” its executive director, Halie Soifer, said in a statement. “At the same time, we welcome the DNC, SPLC, Emily’s List, and other organizations’ decision to not sponsor and participate in the Women’s March and take a principled stand against anti-Semitism.”

JTA has asked the DNC to confirm its nonparticipation in the national Women’s March.

Emily’s List is a group that encourages women to run for office. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate groups.

Top leaders of the national Women’s March 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.

Palestinians to lead UN’s largest bloc of nations

(JNS)—The Palestinians are set to lead the largest bloc of members in the United Nations, known as the Group of 77 (G77) and China, on Tuesday.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is expected to be in New York for the ceremony, followed by a meeting with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, U.N. Security Council president Francisco Antonio Cortorreal of the Dominican Republic, in addition to other world leaders.

Because the Palestinians have the status of a non-member state at the United Nations that would have made them ineligible for the chairmanship of the bloc without a special vote, the U.N. General Assembly held one last October to temporarily elevate the Palestinians’ status at the world body to resolve the issue.

The G77 was established in 1964 and seeks “to articulate and promote their collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues within the United Nations system, and promote South-South cooperation for development,” according to its website.

“This is an important historical event added to the political achievements of the State of Palestine since it joined the UN as an observer state in 2012. It is also an important achievement to assert the Palestinian identity in the international community, which colonial powers have tried to abolish over many centuries.” Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Palestinian Wafa news agency on Monday.

Jewish-American businessman among 21 killed in Nairobi terrorist attack

By Ron Kampeas

(JTA)—Jason Spindler, a Jewish American whose life was changed when he survived the 9/11 attack in New York, was killed in a terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya.

The shooting attack Tuesday on a business complex, claimed by the Somali Islamist terrorist group Shabab, claimed at least 21 lives. Shabab said it was motivated in part to commit the attack by President Donald Trump’s recognition in 2017 of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Spindler, a young investment banker in 2001, helped save lives in New York on 9/11, friends told The Washington Post.

The experience led Spindler to leave investment banking, earn a law degree from New York University and join the Peace Corps. He was in Kenya as a social entrepreneur, helping others start small businesses as a means of alleviating poverty.

An avid climber, he maintained a goofy sense of humor: In November, on Facebook, he posted a picture of the Finger Board Room in his Houston hometown synagogue, Beth Israel, and captioned it “Synagogue or climbing gym #badclimbingjokes.”

Spindler’s Houston-based family was flying to Kenya to retrieve his body and would hold a funeral service for him on Monday on what would have been his 41st birthday.

Sweep of the Danube riverbed finds no bones of Holocaust victims

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA)—A sonar scan of the bottom of the Danube River in Budapest revealed no human remains.

Volunteers for Zaka, an Israel-based Orthodox Jewish group, conducted the search Tuesday for the bodies of some of the thousands of Jews shot dead on the banks of the river in 1944-45 by Hungarian Nazi collaborators.

Slomo Koves, the head of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH Jewish federation of Hungary, told JTA that the team operating the sonar will be back next month for another scan. Zaka provides emergency services and collects human remains for burial after natural and manmade disasters.

In October 1944, tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were shot on the banks of the river and their bodies dumped in the water as part of mass executions by members of the Arrow Cross party.

In 2011, human remains were discovered during construction work on a bridge overlooking the Danube. DNA tests run on the bones in August 2015 found that at least nine of the 15 samples were Ashkenazi Jews from Europe and that six others could also be.

The murders by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross are at the heart of an ongoing and polarizing debate in Hungary about how government-led and other commemoration efforts should address the issue of complicity. The Mazsihisz Jewish federation has accused the government of whitewashing this complicity, though EMIH has disputed this.

A memorial to those murdered on the banks of the Danube was erected in 2005. “Shoes on the Danube” features dozens of pairs of empty shoes lined up at the edge of the river, where the Jews were told to step out of the footwear before being shot so the shoes would not fall in the water.

“Whether this is controversial or not is really not an issue,” Koves said of his group’s efforts to find the remains of Arrow Cross victims. “The only thing that matters is the major mitzvah of bringing the victims to burial.”

The rabbi said the government was helpful in obtaining permits for the searches.

Stolen stumbling stone Holocaust memorials replaced

ROME (JTA)—A group of 20 Holocaust memorials in downtown Rome that were stolen in December have been replaced.

The Stolpersteine, or stumbling stone, memorial project was begun in the 1990s by the German artist Gunter Demnig. Brass plates, like cobblestones, are placed in front of the homes of people deported during the Holocaust, with the name, year of birth and fate of the person memorialized.

Demnig personally installs the stones, and he replaced the stolen ones in Rome ahead of Tuesday’s ceremony attended by the city’s mayor, Jewish leaders and other dignitaries.

In addition, on Tuesday and Wednesday he installed 26 other stumbling stones in various parts of Rome. He will install others this month in more than 30 towns and cities around Italy.

Yad Vashem designer Moshe Safdie among winners of Israel’s Wolf Prize

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The architect who designed the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem was among the winners of the 2019 Wolf Prize.

Moshe Safdie, 80, chosen for architecture, was one of five recipients honored Wednesday at the president’s residence in Jerusalem. The Wolf Prize is given by the president of Israel on behalf of the Wolf Foundation.

Each year the Wolf Foundation awards $100,000 prizes in five fields.

This year’s other winners are: Jeffrey Friedman, Rockefeller University; Mathematics: Gregory Lawler, University of Chicago and Prof. Jean-Francois Le Galle, University Paris-Sud Orsay; Agriculture: David Zilberman, University of California; Chemistry: Stephen L Buchwald, MIT, and John F Hartwig, University of California, Berkeley.

Rivlin noted that no women were named this year.

“The Foundation would do well to make sure that each year they find a groundbreaking woman scientist and artist, who certainly exist, and award her a prize.”

 

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