Weekly roundup of world briefs
May 17, 2019
Hundreds attend funeral of American killed by Hamas rocket
By Sam Sokol
JERUSALEM (JTA)—An American citizen killed while running for cover from a Hamas rocket was laid to rest in Jerusalem on Sunday evening. Hundreds turned out to bury Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, a 21-year-old American Israeli from Ashdod.
Prezuazman, a member of the Ger Hasidic sect, leaves behind a wife and baby. He was the fourth Israeli to be killed before the conflict eased with a cease-fire early Monday morning.
He was in the stairwell of an apartment building when it was struck by a rocket late Sunday afternoon. Prezuazman had been running to the building’s bomb shelter. He was taken to the hospital in very critical condition and later died of his injuries, the Kan national broadcaster reported.
According to Yeshiva World News, his father, Haim Dov Prezuazman, is a prominent rabbi in Beit Shemesh, an Israeli city about 20 miles from Jerusalem.
“I don’t understand why this is happening, but I am sure that you have fulfilled your purpose on this earth,” his father said at the funeral. “I had a great blessing to raise you for 21, nearly 22 years.”
Earlier Sunday afternoon, two Israeli men were killed, one when a rocket slammed into a factory in Ashkelon and a second when a rocket fired from Gaza directly hit a car driving near Yad Mordechai in southern Israel.
Early that morning, Moshe Agadi, a 58-year-old father of four, was hit with shrapnel to his chest and stomach in the yard of his home in Ashkelon after a rocket fired from Gaza slammed into an apartment building. He died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Agadi had gone outside to smoke a cigarette between frequent rocket warning sirens and did not make it to the home’s bomb shelter in time.
President Trump made a strong statement in favor of Israel over the weekend, tweeting that “we support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens.”
Rashida Tlaib says New York Times headline promotes ‘lack of responsibility on Israel’
By Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA)—Palestinian American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., criticized The New York Times for a headline on a story about the recent violence on the Israel-Gaza border, saying it promotes a “lack of responsibility on Israel.”
The headline read “Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, and Israel Responds with Airstrikes.”
“When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free?” Tlaib’s full comment on Twitter read. “Headlines like this & framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families. #FreePalestine”
The executive director for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Yousef Munayyer, was first to call the headline “irresponsible” and “misleading,” noting that the rockets were launched after the latest Friday protests on the Israel-Gaza border, when Israel killed four people.
Israel sees the weekly protests, which have at times turned violent and which have as their stated aim breaching the border, as a security threat.
Tlaib is one of two current members of Congress who back the boycott Israel movement—Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is the other—but she is the only one who calls for the replacement of Israel as a Jewish state with a binational state.
American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris pushed back against Tlaib.
“Do you endorse attacks of Hamas & Islamic Jihad?” Harris said on Twitter. “Is 2-state deal w/ Israel their goal? Is firing 100s of rockets at Israel justifiable? Does Israel have a right to defend itself? Btw, didn’t Israel leave Gaza in 2005, only asking for quiet border in return?”
Ukraine’s Jewish president-elect meets with Chabad rabbis
By Cnaan Liphshiz
KIEV (JTA)—Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian Jewish actor who was elected president last month, met the country’s top Chabad rabbis.
The meeting took place in Kiev, the Jewish community of Dnepro wrote on its website Monday, but did not say when or what Zelensky said.
Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, a Chabad leader who attended the meeting along with five other rabbis, was not immediately available to speak about the encounter.
Zelensky, also a comedian, has joked about his Jewish origin, saying during the campaign that it “barely makes 20 in my long list of faults.”
Elan Carr, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, said at a conference Monday in Kiev that the “absence of anti-Semitic rhetoric during the campaign is a miracle, a stunning fact that shows how far Ukraine has come.”
Speaking at the Kyiv Jewish Forum, Carr said he would serve as a “champion of Ukraine,” partly for that reason.
Alexander Paliy, an influential political analyst who supports the outgoing president, Petro Poroshenkco, stirred controversy in March when he wrote on Facebook that, despite his “respect” for Jews and some Russians, “The president of Ukraine should be Ukrainian and Christian, like the absolute majority of Ukrainians.”
Israeli city to name square after Donald Trump
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—A square in the central Israel city of Petach Tikvah will be named after President Donald Trump, the city’s mayor announced.
Rami Greenberg said Monday that he decided to name the square adjacent to City Hall for the U.S. president because of “his unqualified support for the State of Israel,” the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv reported.
The square will be dedicated officially on July 4, Greenberg said. The mayor said he will invite the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, government ministers and public figures.
Last month, Netanyahu said he would name a new community on the Golan Heights after the president to thank him for recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the territory.
A week ago, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said in a tweet that a train stop in the Old City of Jerusalem would be named for Trump.
Pittsburgh couple name baby girl after Poway victim Lori Gilbert-Kaye
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A Jewish couple in Pittsburgh named their baby girl after Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in the attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue.
Judah and Chaya Cowen welcomed Noa Lea—Gilbert-Kaye’s Hebrew name was Leah—on May 3. She is the couple’s fifth child.
“Before I knew her name, I thought that if we have a girl, it would be an honor to name her after Lori,” Judah Cowen told Chabad.org News. “Everything I was reading about her—her dedication to her community and various organizations, her loyalty to friends and caring for other people, and her love for Israel—it just seemed like she was an extraordinary lady, just an amazing, tremendous human being. … I felt connected to her, even though I never met her or heard of her before. It just felt right that we name our daughter after her, a true hero.”
The Cowens live a few miles from the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where exactly six months before the attack on the Poway synagogue, a gunman killed 11 worshippers at Shabbat services.
“We basically know what that community is going through because we just went through it ourselves,” Judah Cowen said of Poway.
Israeli restaurant Zahav named best in the US by James Beard Awards
By Josefin Dolsten
(JTA)—Zahav, an Israeli eatery in Philadelphia, won the James Beard Foundation award for outstanding restaurant.
The 2019 winners of the prestigious award were announced Monday during a ceremony in Chicago.
Jewish chefs Michael Solomonov, a native of Israel, and Steve Cook founded the restaurant, whose name means “gold” in Hebrew, in 2008. Zahav’s website describes it as “a modern Israeli restaurant that brings the authentic flavors of Israel’s cultural heritage to Philadelphia.”
The pair, who also own the restaurant group CookNSolo, previously won the foundation’s best book award in 2016 for “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.” Solomonov won the best chef award the following year.
Solomonov’s connection to Israel is deeply personal. He moved to Pittsburgh as a child, but returned to Israel as a teenager for a short time. His younger brother, David, was killed on Yom Kippur 2003 while serving in the Israeli army.
After the tragedy, Solomonov noted in the 2017 documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” he became more interested in cooking foods that reflected his Israeli heritage, moving away from his classical European training.
“Attaching myself to the country and the culture and the food are things that have kept me going,” he said.
Last year, Jewish author Michael Twitty won the foundation’s award for best book for his memoir on African-American Southern food.
Miami bagel shop gets threatening anti-Semitic phone calls
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—An unknown man made anti-Semitic threats against the Jewish owners of a Miami bagel shop.
The man called the Bagel Time Café several times on Monday, and in his last call threatened to “get rid of” Jews, Miami’s Local10 reported.
The man first told the owners over the telephone that he would “expose you all” after asking if they were Jewish. In another call he said that Jews were taking over the world, saying, “We’re going to make sure you can’t overpopulate like you are now and we’re going to get rid of you.” He added: “I’m here. That’s my mission,” according to the report.
Yehoshua Nodel, who owns the café with his wife, said they called in the police because they felt threatened, especially in light of the attack last week on a synagogue in Poway, California.
“This thing could happen in any of our businesses all around Miami,” Nodel said. “Personally, I wouldn’t get a gun permit until today, but now I’m rethinking it, you know? Maybe it’s something I should have.”
Police are investigating the incident. They have not yet identified the caller.
Israel Space Agency gives $5.6 million to help launch 2nd shot at moon
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Israel Space Agency will put about $5.6 million toward Beresheet 2, a second attempt to land an Israeli spacecraft on the moon.
The 20 million shekels is double the 10 million shekels, about $2.8 million, that the agency under the auspices of the Ministry of Science gave to the first Beresheet mission, which crash landed on the surface of the moon on April 11.
Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis made the announcement Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The agency also has asked NASA to be more involved in the new effort. NASA provided SpaceIL, the private foundation behind the Israeli lunar landing effort, with special laser technology to help in communication with the Beresheet spacecraft.
The first Beresheet effort cost nearly $100 million and was mostly funded by donors.
The results of an investigation into the crash will be published later this month.
Less than 48 hours after the crash, SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn announced the launch of the Beresheet 2 project. The South Africa-born billionaire donated much of the funding for the first effort.
“The Beresheet project fascinated and united all Israeli citizens in anticipation of a successful landing on the Moon,” Akunis said in the announcement. “The enormous public interest, along with breakthrough technological achievements, sharpened the need to increase the tremendous mobilization for the success of the project.”
The spacecraft was developed in response to the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which challenged nongovernmental groups to land a spacecraft on the moon. That challenge finished last year without a winner of the $30 million prize.
But the prize committee decided days after the crash that it would award SpaceIL a $1 million “Moonshot Award” for its achievements.
Swastika daubed on London fish factory owned by pro-Brexit Jewish politician
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—A large swastika was painted Wednesday on a London fish factory owned by a pro-Brexit Jewish politician.
Lance Forman reported the vandalism at H. Forman & Son, a century-old salmon smoking company and restaurant in the eastern part of the city, to police, The Guardian reported. There are no suspects.
Forman’s business, near the Olympic Park, is the United Kingdom’s oldest salmon curer and was set up by his great-grandfather in 1905.
Earlier this year, Forman became a founder of the Brexit Party, which is running for elections in the European Parliament this month.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned the incident.
“Awful to see that a Jewish political candidate has had a swastika painted at his workplace,” a board spokesperson wrote on Twitter.
“This kind of hatred and extremism have no place in politics or our society. We hope that the culprit is brought to justice.”
Rashida Tlaib sets dates for congressional visit to West Bank
By Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA)—Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., set the dates for her congressional visit to the West Bank.
Tlaib, a Palestinian American, proposed the trip last year after she was elected to Congress for the first time as a counterbalance to Israel trips organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
On Wednesday, Jewish Insider posted the flier that Tlaib was distributing to promote the Aug. 17-22 trip.
A sponsor appears to be the Humpty Dumpty Institute, a development nonprofit.
Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the minority leader, are set to lead the AIEF trips for their respective party’s freshmen this summer.
Jewish voters overwhelmingly prefer Joe Biden for Democratic nominee, poll finds
By Laura E. Adkins
(JTA)—Jewish voters overwhelmingly favor former Vice President Joe Biden over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, a new poll finds.
In the survey conducted by Morning Consult, 47.1 percent of Jewish registered voters planning to vote in a Democratic primary or caucus cite Biden as their first choice, while 11.1 percent favor Sanders, who is Jewish.
The next three choices: Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, at 8.9 percent; Sen. Kamala Harris of California, 8.2 percent; and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, 7.3 percent.
Pollsters interviewed 15,770 registered voters who are planning to vote in a Democratic primary or caucus, 581 of whom identified as Jewish, between April 29 and May 5. The margin of error is 1 percentage point.
Biden, first elected senator in 1972, has cultivated close ties with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and appeared to weather the pro-Israel community’s tensions with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal and other disagreements.
Sanders, an independent and self-described “democratic socialist,” has defended Israel from attacks by the left but is also frequently critical of its current right-wing government.
French widower leaves Israel $14.5 million to support bereaved families
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—A French widower with no children left about $14.5 million to the State of Israel to assist families who lost loved ones serving in the military or to terrorism.
Most of the inheritance of Nicolas Bauman, who died in 2009, was transferred to Israel last week, Keren Kayemet L’Israel-Jewish National Fund announced on the eve of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day.
The fund established in Bauman’s will for bereaved families will operate for 10 years under the trustee management of the Ministry of Justice administrator general and KKL-JNF.
The trustees decided that the fund will assist siblings, who do not receive full support from the official commemorative bodies in Israel.
“The fact that Jews around the world are deciding to leave their life’s inheritance for the benefit of the state of Israel constitutes an example of the power of the Jewish people everywhere, and the importance the state of Israel holds for those in the Diaspora,” KKL-JNF’s world chairman, Daniel Atar, said in a statement.
Bauman was born in Hungary. It is not known where he was during the Holocaust or when he moved to France.