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Hundreds of thousands attend New York’s Celebrate Israel Parade

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Some 40,000 marchers participated in the Celebrate Israel Parade up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York.

Hundreds of thousands of onlookers lined the parade route on late Sunday afternoon, many waving Israeli flags. The theme of this year’s parade was Only In Israel.

The annual event, a 55-year-old tradition which formerly was called the Salute to Israel parade, has been organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York since 2011.

Businessman Edward A. Mermelstein, president of the ZAKA search and rescue organization, was the grand marshal of the parade.

Among the elected officials marching in the parade were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. In addition, delegation of United Nations ambassadors and diplomats from around the world marched behind a common banner.

A musical number from the off-Broadway show “Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish,” was scheduled to be performed live by cast members at the parade.

Muslim worshippers riot after Jews allowed on Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Jewish pilgrims were permitted to visit the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, coinciding with the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, sparking riots.

Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount on Sunday threw chairs and stones at police forces there, after it was announced that non-Muslims would visit the site, according to the Israel Police. Some of the worshippers barricaded themselves in the Al Aksa Mosque and several were arrested. The police responded with what it called “riot control measures” to disperse the rioters.

Some 120 non-Muslim visitors were then allowed to visit the site that is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

The site usually is closed to non-Muslim visitors every year on the last days of Ramadan. It is the first time that Jerusalem Day and the last days of Ramadan have coincided in about 30 years.

The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is the third holiest site in Islam and is believed to be the site where the prophet Muhammad was transported from Mecca before ascending to heaven.

Jews are allowed to visit the site at certain times of the day and week, but are not allowed to pray or display Jewish symbols. Thousands visited the Temple Mount for Jerusalem Day last year.

Palestinian terror groups threatened renewed violence over the Temple Mount incident.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that there “will be consequences” to an “attack of the Temple Mount’s worshippers by Israeli forces.” He added: “This constitutes an escalation and a violation of the compound’s sanctity.” Hamas also accused Israel of an attempt to “Judaize the Temple Mount,” Ynet reported.

Israel “will pay a price” for allowing “the settlers” to harm the compound, Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a statement, which also said that the “Palestinian nation has the right to defend itself and its holy places against the Israeli aggression.”

Israel strikes several military targets in Syria after rockets fired on northern Israel

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel’s Air Force struck several military targets in Syria in response to several rockets fired from Syria on northern Israel.

Three Syrian national soldiers and seven foreign nationals were killed in the attacks on military positions in the southern region of Quneitra, near the Golan Heights, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that it struck the targets early on Sunday morning, including two artillery batteries, observation and intelligence posts, and an SA-2 aerial defense battery.

“We hold the Syrian regime accountable and will firmly operate against any attempt to harm Israeli civilians,” the IDF said in a statement.

At least two rockets were fired from Syria toward Mt. Hermon in the Golan Heights, a popular tourist area, late on Saturday night. No injuries or damage were reported. Rocket warning sirens were not activated, meaning that the rockets were headed for unpopulated areas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as Defense Minister, said Sunday morning in a statement: “Yesterday I held security consultations in wake of the firing at the Golan Heights in which I instructed the IDF to take strong action. We are not prepared to tolerate firing at our territory and will respond with great force to any aggression against us. This has been my consistent policy and this is what we will continue to do for the security of Israel.”

Sarah Jessica Parker arrives in Israel for private family visit

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Sex and the City’s own Sarah Jessica Parker is on a private visit to Israel.

But that did not stop Israeli paparazzi from snapping her photo while she was out for dinner on Friday night in Tel Aviv.

Parker arrived in Israel Friday with her family for a one-week visit, Ynet reported.

She had dinner on Friday night with Nadav Peretz, owner of the gay tourism company, Outdoors, which planned her family’s trip, according to the report.

Parker’s father a native of Brooklyn, is Jewish, descended from a Jewish family from Eastern Europe, and she reportedly identifies as Jewish. Her husband, actor Matthew Broderick, has a Jewish mother.

Parker currently stars on the HBO series “Divorce.” She is best known for her role as Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City.”

Netanyahu fires acting goverment ministers Bennett and Shaked ahead of election campaign

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from his interim government.

Bennett and Shaked’s New Right Party did not garner enough votes in the April 9 national election to join the 21st Knesset, which dissolved last week. But since Netanyahu was not able to form a new government coalition before the dissolution of the Knesset, they have remained as ministers.

Netanyahu on Sunday fired the acting ministers, saying that they could not remain in the positions until the September 17 election after not being reelected to Knesset.

A government minister is not required to be a member of Knesset. But remaining as ministers would have given them a higher profile during the upcoming election campaign.

The two politicians had broken off from the religious Zionist Jewish Home Party to run in the April 9th elections with a religious-secular party called The New Right.

Bennett and Shaked said in a joint statement Sunday that they would ensure a smooth transition with their replacements, expected to be lawmakers from the Likud Party.

“Everything we have done was for the good of the State of Israel and its citizens. We will hand over the offices we chaired in an organized fashion, to the ministers who will replace us, to ensure a smooth transition and so that the next school year will open in order,” the statement said.

Bennett said Sunday several hours after Netanyahu announced his firing that his New Right Party would run in the September elections. He did not mention Shaked. Some reportedly had looked to bring Shaked into the Likud, and place her in a high position on the candidates’ list, which Netanyahu reportedly has rejected.

Volkswagen funds ADL office in Germany for combating anti-Semitism

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Volkswagen, the car manufacturing giant, is joining with the Anti-Defamation League to fund a Berlin-based office that will research and combat anti-Semitism in Europe.

“The initiative will focus on assessing the root causes of anti-Semitism, extremism and bigotry in society and develop programs to counter it through advocacy and education,” ADL said in a release Tuesday.

A Volkswagen spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the venture would open an ADL office in Berlin, the first ADL presence in Europe in more than a decade. The funding, over the three years, would be in the low seven figures, the official said, with an option to expand and continue the initiative thereafter.

Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen Group, the largest car manufacturer in the world, announced the bid Monday at the ADL’s annual Washington conference. In an interview with JTA, he said he was concerned about the recent spike in anti-Semitism in Europe, and that Volkswagen had a special obligation to combat racism because of its origins in Nazi Germany.

“We have more obligation than others,” he said. “The whole company was built up by the Nazi regime.”

The initiative will have four components: Education in schools, education in work places, lobbying in European capitals, and research through surveys.

California man made ‘kill lists’ of Jews and wanted to attack a synagogue

By Josefin Dolsten

(JTA)—A California man who wrote “kill lists” of prominent Jews pleaded guilty to threatening three houses of worship in Orange County.

Nicholas Wesley Rose, 28, of Irvine, was sentenced Friday for carrying a loaded firearm not registered to him and on three civil rights counts in relation to making the threats. Other felony charges were dropped.

His parents contacted the police last year after he said he wanted to “get a gun and kill some Jews,” The OC Register reported. Rose had composed lists of Jews he wanted to kill and threatened and visited a synagogue in Irvine that he wanted to attack. He also threatened and visited two churches, in Irvine and Lake Forest, that had expressed sympathy for the Jewish community.

He was sentenced to 825 days in jail, one year in residential mental health treatment and five years probation.

Rose’s lawyer, Brian Gurwitz, said his client was suffering from mental illness.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer decried Rose’s ideology in a statement.

“There is no place for hate,” Spitzer said. “He is a danger to society and every resident of Orange County should be aware of the threat he poses.”

US Embassy in Israel will hold annual July 4th celebration for the first time in Jerusalem

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The U.S. Embassy in Israel will hold its annual Fourth of July celebration for the first time in Jerusalem.

The event traditionally has been held at the home of the U.S. ambassador in Herzliya. In March, Ambassador David Friedman moved into a residence in a building in western Jerusalem that formerly functioned as a consulate. He also owns a home in Jerusalem.

Last year, two months after the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, the annual celebration was held in Airport City near Ben Gurion International Airport.

This year it will be held on July 2 at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

“The U.S. Embassy to Israel will hold its July 4th celebration in Jerusalem this year, consistent with the embassy’s move to Jerusalem and the recent fulfillment of the Jerusalem Embassy Act,” a State Department official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The 1995 act called for the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but President Donald Trump’s three predecessors exercised a clause that allowed a waiver due to national security reasons. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama insisted the status of Jerusalem should be determined in a peace agreement.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs legislation against anti-Semitism into law

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially signed into law legislation against anti-Semitism two days after a ceremonial signing in Jerusalem.

DeSantis had held the ceremonial signing during a Florida Cabinet meeting at the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday. He officially signed the bill on Friday in Tallahassee.

Using the State Department definition as its template, the legislation defines as anti-Semitism calls for violence against Jews, advancing conspiracy theories about Jewish control and Holocaust denial. It also includes “applying double standards” to Israel “by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

The measure also mandates that discrimination against Jewish people be treated the same as acts of racial discrimination in Florida’s public education institutions.

“I’m proud to sign this bill to make clear through a bipartisan effort that anti-Semitism has no place in our state and our educational institutions will not tolerate discrimination against the Jewish people,” DeSantis said at Friday’s signing.

He called Florida “the most Israel-friendly state in the country.”

 

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