Weekly roundup of world briefs
March 1, 2019
Thousands protest anti-Semitism in marches across France
By Josefin Dolsten
(JTA)—Thousands participated Tuesday in demonstrations against anti-Semitism across France.
Protesters took to the streets in some 70 marches only hours after nearly 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in the eastern French village of Quatzenheim were discovered vandalized with swastikas. Some protesters held posters saying “That’s Enough.”
“Whoever did this is not worthy of the French republic and will be punished,” President Emmanuel Macron said at a visit to the vandalized cemetery on Tuesday.
The marches follow a wave of anti-Semitic incidents in Paris, spurring 14 political parties to urge a protest rally in response. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said last week that anti-Jewish acts rose by 74 percent in 2018 over the previous year.
Last Monday, a tree planted in memory of Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man tortured to death in 2006, was cut down, and earlier this month anti-Semitic epithets were painted around the city, including on a local bagel shop.
France is home to some 550,000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe.
KFC set to relaunch in Israel
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The American fast food chain KFC is recruiting staff ahead of a planned reopening in Israel, the business daily Globes reported.
The company announced six months ago that it would relaunch in Israel for the fourth time.
Kentucky Fried Chicken opened and closed in Israel in the 1980s and the ’90s, and then remained open between 2003 and 2012.
In KFC’s last incarnation in Israel, franchise owner Udi Shamai’s eight locations went kosher after the company allowed him to switch the milk powder in the crispy coating to soy and to use kosher-killed chickens instead of those provided by the company.
“The moment we switched to kosher, sales began to plunge and it was no longer economically viable. The product was less good, whereas things had gone fine with un-kosher chickens,” Shamai told Globes.
KFC has 45,000 outlets in over 135 countries. It has six outlets in three West Bank Palestinian cities.
Man shot by air rifle outside Paris-area synagogue
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—French police arrested two teenagers in a suburb of Paris on suspicion that they wounded a person while firing an air rifle at a synagogue on Shabbat.
The two teenagers, who were being investigated as suspects in an anti-Semitic hate crime for the incident, lightly wounded a passerby near the synagogue of Sarcelles on Friday by shooting a lead projectile into his calf, the AFP news agency reported Tuesday.
The two alleged shooters are ages 15 and 16, the Le Parisien newspaper reported.
They had staked out the synagogue from a balcony overlooking the building on Friday night, as worshipers began to gather there.
Moïse Kahloun, the president of the Jewish community of Sarcelles, said he does not believe the attack was anti-Semitic. “This is not an anti-Semitic attack, just kids who shot at random.”
Pro-BDS Tlaib uses Israeli web-development platform for campaign website
(JNS)—Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a supporter of the anti-Israel BDS movement, just so happens to have used the Israeli web-development platform Wix to create her campaign website.
“I personally support the BDS movement,” said Tlaib in December,following the lead of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
Democratic Majority for Israel applauded Tlaib for utilizing a product from a country she seeks to boycott.
“We congratulate Congresswoman Tlaib for her decision to use the best products she can find, instead of discriminating against Israel in way that increases hostility, thereby making peace between Israelis and Palestinians more difficult to achieve,” said the group’s president, Mark Mellman. “We need to foster economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians instead of encouraging boycotts. We hope Congresswoman Tlaib’s use of Israeli products indicates she has changed her mind on boycotting Israel.”
Tlaib’s office nor Vanguard Public Affairs, which designed the website, immediately responded to a request for comment.
Kinneret reaches best water levels in two years and rising
(JNS)—Despite dour summer predictions by Israeli weather experts that Israel would suffer a sixth year of insufficient rainfall and an ecological disaster at the Sea of Galilee, officials are now announcing that the water level in the Kinneret would rise above the lower red line for the first time in two years, easing restrictions on pumping from Israel’s largest natural freshwater source.
A particularly rainy winter has raised the level of the Kinneret by nearly 4.9 feet—a relief given that it dropped by 4.1 feet during the summer of 2018, leaving the critical water source just 7.5 inches from the black line, below which the Kinneret would become impotable.
Water Authority officials reported that the waterline is expected to rise above the lower red line by the beginning of March, and noted that this year’s heavy snowfall on the Hermon is also expected to raise the water level by dozens of centimeters.
The Kinneret waterline decreases between 0.5 centimeters and 1 centimeter daily during the summer due to water evaporation.
Former Iraqi prime minister: ‘Zionist Jews brought us ISIS, terrorism, sectarianism’
(MEMRI)—Former Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri Al-Maliki said in a meeting with educators that aired on Afaq TV (Iraq) on Feb. 12, 2019 that Iraqi society is under “a dangerous attack” in the form of moral depravity that is taking place in the universities and elsewhere. He said that this is a result of a plot by the Zionist Jews.
He further said that they brought ISIS, terrorism and sectarianism to Iraq in an attempt to bring down Iraqi society.
Following are excerpts:
Nouri Al-Maliki: “Let me tell you in all honesty: Our Iraqi society is under a dangerous attack. We hear certain information about cases of moral depravity at the universities and elsewhere. Instead of becoming schools for the leaders of the future, they have become agents of destruction. This is all the result of plots... The Zionist Jews head those who plot to bring Iraqi society down.
“They are exerting efforts to thwart everything we have achieved in Iraq. When they saw that we had escaped from the bottleneck, they brought us ISIS, the terrorists and the sectarians.”
Egyptian researcher: ‘We should erect statue of Hitler’
(MEMRI)—Egyptian researched Mohamed Gad El-Zoghby was asked in a Feb. 9 interview on Safa TV (Saudi Arabia/Egypt) who was worse: Adolf Hitler or Imam Khomeini? He answered: “Objectively speaking, Hitler wins. But as far as we’re concerned, we should erect a statue of Hitler for what he did to the Jews.”
El-Zoghby accused Imam Khomeini of collaborating with the Jews and praised Hitler for supporting the Arab cause in Palestine.
A researcher and a poet, he has a master’s degree in Shari’a and law from Ain Shams University. Interviewer: Who was worse, ideologically and in practice, Hitler or Khomeini?
Mohamed Gad El-Zoghby: Objectively, or just as far as we are concerned? Objectively speaking, Hitler wins. But as far as we’re concerned, we should erect a statue of Hitler for what he did to the Jews. Khomeini allied himself with the Jews, whereas Hitler was their enemy and fought them. In addition, Hitler met with the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-Husseini, and he completely supported the Arab cause in Palestine. We must never forget this.
$55 million to be invested in Jewish Quarter of Old City of Jerusalem
By Yori Yalon
(Israel Hayom)—The Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem has several projects underway at a total cost of 200 million shekels ($55 million).
The initiative seeks to improve public spaces in the Jewish Quarter and adapt them to the needs of residents, as well as tourists. The project entails making infrastructure accessible; outdoor improvements such as shaded areas and recreational areas; the installation of uniform outdoor furniture and advanced lighting; and laying out clearly marked tourist routes, including explanatory signs at important points and signs leading to the Western Wall.
The first stage of the project was carried out at Resnick Square on Hayehudim Street, a main tourist route that runs parallel to the Byzantine-era Cardo, where the Burnt House, the home of a wealthy Jerusalemite from the Second Temple period, has been refurbished. The new site was scheduled to be inaugurated on Sunday in a special ceremony led by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
Under the auspices of the project, the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter has also started renovating the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, which was destroyed in 1948. Work is expected to take a few years, and the completed building will reach a height of 25 meters (82 feet).
Another issue the company is addressing are the staircases that lead from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall plaza, which are not accessible to the disabled. The company has launched a project to build an elevator and tunnels that will lead directly to the plaza. The elevator and passageway encompass a total of 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet), with the project to be completed at an estimated cost of 57 million shekels ($16 million). The elevator is expected to be operational by January 2022.
In addition, the company plans to renovate the exterior of the Wohl Archaeological Museum, one of the largest and most important sites in the Jewish Quarter. The museum includes the remnants of homes that belonged to the city’s aristocracy from the time of King Herod to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E.
Company CEO Herzl Ben Ari said, “I hope that everyone who comes to the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem will feel that we have fulfilled a dream for them and that every guest and tourist who arrives from all over the world will sense the uniqueness and the eternal values of the capital of Israel.”
CNN and NBC agree to air ad for Oscar-nominated documentary about NY Nazi rally
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—CNN and MSNBC have each agreed to broadcast an ad that Fox News rejected in its original form for a documentary about a Nazi rally held in New York in 1939.
The filmmakers of “A Night at the Garden,” which has been nominated for an Oscar in the category of documentary short, confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday that the 30-second ad spot would air during “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” on CNN and “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC on Monday.
The documentary contains footage of the Nazi rally.
“We decided to dig deep and pay for television ads we weren’t planning to buy because we wanted to make the point that Fox News is out of the mainstream,” the movie’s director, Marshall Curry, told The Post, adding that he believed the network’s rejection of the ad was politically motivated.
NBCUniversal said the company had initially rejected the ad for MSNBC because an NBCUniversal standards group deemed the content too provocative, so the filmmakers added context with a title card that explains the footage is part of an Oscar-nominated film, the Post reported.
Fox declined to run the original ad because it was “full of disgraceful Nazi imagery regardless of the film’s message and did not meet our guidelines,” ad sales president Marianne Gambelli had said in a statement. It is not known if Fox would have agreed to run the ad as reworked for MSNBC.
The rally’s 80th anniversary was on Feb. 20.
Israeli director’s film takes top prize at Berlin International Film Festival
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—A film by an Israeli director won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms” on Saturday was awarded the Golden Bear Award.
The film, about identity, is the semi-autobiographical story of a young Israeli man who moves to Paris and tries to become thoroughly French.
The festival’s jury was headed by French actress Juliette Binoche. The film competed against 15 other entries for the top award.
Lapid is the director of “The Kindergarten Teacher,” which recently was remade in English in the United States.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday congratulated Lapid on his success.
“One doesn’t have to agree with every point or every position expressed in the film to recognize the importance of daring, smart and beautiful Israeli cinema gaining international recognition. It has always been and always will be a great source of pride. Mazal Tov, Nadav!” he said in a statement.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to Supreme Court for 1st time since cancer operation
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has returned to her place of work for the first time since cancer surgery in December.
Ginsburg, 85, on Friday attended a private conference at the Supreme Court in Washington D.C., CNBC reported.
Following the surgery in December to remove cancer from her lungs, Ginsburg was declared cancer-free. She has had two other bouts of cancer.
Abbas won’t accept Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel
By Josefin Dolsten
(JTA)—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not accept tax that Israel collected on its behalf.
The move announced Tuesday came after Israel said Sunday it would not distribute part of the revenues, amounting to more than $138 million, because the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists’ families, The Times of Israel reported.
Under the current agreement, the Jewish state collects taxes from the West Bank and Gaza on behalf of the financially struggling Palestinian Authority.
“We refuse to receive all of the tax funds. We don’t want them. Leave them over with them,” Abbas told a delegation of U.S. Congress members and representatives from the liberal Mideast policy group J Street in Ramallah.
“I tell you honestly that if we only had 20 or 30 million shekels, which is what is paid [monthly] to families of martyrs, we will give them to the families of martyrs. I mean if the [Palestinian] Authority doesn’t have anything other than that [amount], I will pay it to the families of martyrs and prisoners and wounded persons. This needs to be understood,” he said, according to The Times of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying terrorists who kill Israelis or their families has been decried by Israel and the United States.
Reports about Jewish cemetery’s desecration in Poland are false
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Reports in Poland and beyond about the desecration of a Jewish cemetery near Wroclaw are incorrect, Polish officials and Jewish community representatives said.
Marek Magierowski, the Polish ambassador to Israel, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the deputy mayor of Swidnica told him that reports about the destruction of 15 headstones in that suburb of Wroclaw were made up.
The municipality has not replied to JTA’s requests for information.
On Tuesday, JTA reported about the incident based on reports by the news sites Publiszer and Wmeritum. The reports said 15 headstones had been smashed and others had graffiti painted on them.
Earlier this week, Poland pulled out of a diplomatic conference over remarks by Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz, who said Poles get anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the statement racist. Poland’s pulling out of the conference led to its cancellation.
Alleged attacker of French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut arrested
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Paris police arrested a man for shouting anti-Semitic epithets at French philosopher and writer Alain Finkielkraut.
The incident on Saturday was captured on camera, with Yellow Vest protesters yelling “Dirty Jew,” “you’re a hater, you’re going to die, you’re going to hell,” “Dirty Zionist,” “France is ours” and “return to Tel Aviv.” Police intervened to protect Finkielkraut,69.
The man was taken into custody on Tuesday night. Police said he is a salesman from the eastern Alsace region, France 24 reported. He is under investigation for “public insult based on origin, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.”