Weekly roundup of world briefs
June 21, 2019
Jewish directors dominate at Tony Awards
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—“Hadestown,” a musical about the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and the underworld, won best new musical at the Tony Awards, and a coveted prize for its Jewish director.
Rachel Chavkin won the Tony Award for best director of a musical for “Hadestown,” the tenth woman ever to win best director for a Broadway play or musical, during the award ceremony on Sunday night.
Sam Mendes, the Jewish director of the “The Ferryman,” also won for best director of a play. “The Ferryman” also earned a Tony for Best Play. Mendes is known for his work on the James Bond films “Skyfall” and “Spectre,” and won an Academy Award for directing “American Beauty.”
Actress and comedy legend Elaine May received her first Tony award—for best leading actress in a play. She stars in Jewish playwright Kenneth Lonergan’s “The Waverly Gallery,” his semi-autobiographical play about a family dealing with the declining health of its matriarch.
Actor Bryan Cranston, whose father is of Austrian Jewish descent, won the Tony Award for best leading man in a play for his performance as newscaster Howard Beale in “Network.”
Sound designer Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz were awarded for their sound design of “Hadestown.”
James Corden hosted the awards ceremony.
Iran accuses Israel of threatening to destroy it
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Iran’s foreign minister accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of threatening to destroy the Islamic Republic and warned that Tehran would not remain passive.
“You should ask a regime possessing nuclear weapons about how Netanyahu stands next to the Dimona (reactor), a nuclear weapons site, and says Iran should be destroyed,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday in Tehran during a news conference with visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
His comments came on the same day as the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA, said that Iran is increasing its uranium enrichment.
Netanyahu responded to Zarif by saying that he is “lying again.”
“Iran is the one that openly threatens, every day, to destroy the State of Israel. Iran continues to entrench itself militarily in Syria. And today, the IAEA reports that Iran is accelerating its nuclear program,” Netanyahu said Monday evening in a statement issued by his office.
“I repeat: Israel will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that threaten our existence and endanger the entire world,” Netanyahu said.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano in his quarterly report failed, for the first time since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, to state that Iran was observing its commitments under the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.
He told reporters that Iran’s uranium enrichment has increased, but could not say how much.
Iran said last month that it would partially withdraw from the nuclear deal, a year after the United States withdrew, and keep its excess enriched uranium and heavy water rather than limit its stockpile by selling it to other countries, as mandated under the deal.
Jewish Pride flags allowed into DC Dyke March after standoff
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A handful of protesters carrying Jewish Pride flags, a rainbow-striped flag with a Star of David in the middle, were allowed into the DC Dyke March despite a ban on the flags.
The march, a leftist alternative to the main LGBTQ parade in Washington, D.C., the next day, said it was banning the flag because it looks too much like the flag of Israel. The march banned the flags of countries with “specific oppressive tendencies.” The flags of Israel and the United States were the only two mentioned specifically in the ban. There was no such ban on Palestinian flags.
Some would-be marchers carrying the Jewish Pride flag were blocked by Jewish marshals at an entrance point to the march. In video taken of the event, Jill Raney, a marshal also affiliated with the left-wing Jewish group IfNotNow, said they could enter if they removed the Star of David from the flag. Jewish stars were welcome in any other context.
“In order to have the Jewish Pride flag not be about Zionism, all you have to do is move the star,” Raney told a group of Jewish marchers holding the flags. “With respect, we are all Jewish dykes here and we just want to march in solidarity with Palestinian dykes, and if y’all want to march also, great.”
The group holding the flags included representatives of Zioness, a women’s group that demonstrates openly as pro-Israel activists in progressive spaces, A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel LGBTQ group, and the local Jewish Community Relations Council.
“You are creating a binary in which the only way to be a dyke is to explicitly denounce the existence of the Jewish state, which is an important thing for most Jews, the vast majority of Jews in the world” said Amanda Berman, the founder of Zioness. “We support liberation for all dykes. You support the Palestinian flag. You support Palestinian nationalism.”
The marchers were eventually allowed to enter the march. The march aimed to focus on combating gentrification and displacement.
The march’s Facebook page was full of comments criticizing the decision to ban the Jewish Pride Flag, accusing the organizers of placing “an unwarranted burden of proof [on] Jewish dykes that they don’t approve of the actions of another country [in] which they do not vote,” and “discriminat[ing] against gay Jews while marching against discrimination.”
Rocket attacks make May Israel’s deadliest month in two years
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Rockets attacks from Gaza made May Israel’s deadliest month in almost two years, tripling the number of terrorists attacks over April’s tally.
The increase to 449 incidents in May over April’s 126 incidents owes to the launching of hundreds of rockets last month from Gaza into Israel, the Israel Security Agency said in its monthly report for May published earlier this week. The rockets killed four people and wounded eight. TWoother Israelis were injured in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.
Terrorist attacks in the West Bank, meanwhile, decreased by 43 percent, from 88 in April to 50 last month.
Last week, the Israel Security Agency, or ISA, revealed it had foiled a plan by Hamas to set off an explosive charge inside Israel on April 9, during the general elections. A 23-year-old man, Yihia abu Dhia, whom ISA says is a Hamas operative, was arrested on March 31 in the West Bank village of A-Zaim in connection with the alleged plot. He had agreed to carry out a suicide bombing for handlers in Gaza, ISA said.
The intended target was a traffic artery in Ma’aleh Adumim, a settlement near Jerusalem, ISA’s statement read.
Ryan Braun breaks Hank Greenberg’s record for most home runs by a Jewish player
By Gabe Friedman
(JTA)—Ryan Braun now holds the record for most home runs by a Jewish baseball player.
The 35-year-old outfielder passed Hank Greenberg on Friday when he hit his 332nd career homer in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Braun, who has spent his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers and now also holds the team’s all-time home run record, tarnished his reputation in the baseball community in 2012. After testing positive for outlawed performance-enhancing drugs, Braun lied about his use of them and lobbied fellow players to support his false claims.
Braun is the son of an Israeli father and has said he is proud of being Jewish but does not observe the faith.
Incendiary balloons from Gaza ignite fires in southern Israel
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Incendiary balloons ignited three fires Tuesday in the Kissufim forest on the border with the Gaza Strip.
A day earlier, incendiary balloons ignited four fires—several in the same forest and another in a wheat field—that burned dozens of acres.
The balloons, carrying flammable materials, are lit and sent to fly over the border fence with Gaza toward southern Israel.
The arson attacks are a violation of an unofficial cease-fire between Israel and terror groups in the strip.
Congress wants to protect US forces using Israeli defense system
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—The Congress wants to use Israeli technology to protect American forces overseas.
The House of Representatives introduced a bill on Monday that would have the Army purchase two Iron Dome missile defense batteries from Israel. The measure has bipartisan support.
Four months ago, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced that the U.S. military would purchase the system from its developer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., under an agreement between the ministry and the U.S. Department of Defense “for immediate needs of the U.S. Army.”
The U.S.-Israel Indirect Fire Protection Act of 2019 was sponsored by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Jewish New Jersey Democrat, and co-sponsored by Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican.
“Iron Dome is a proven defense system that will provide increased protection for our troops in the field,” Sherrill said in a statement. “Access to this technology addresses critical gaps in our current capabilities.”
Since it was deployed in 2011, Iron Dome has intercepted over 2,000 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza.
For first time at UN, India votes with Israel and against group with ties to terror
By Jackson Richman
(JNS)—For the first time ever, India voted last week with Israel at the United Nations against granting observer status to a Palestinian human-rights organization named “Shahed.”
The motion at the U.N. Economic and Social Council was rejected by a 28-14 tally.
“Thank you #India for standing with @IsraelinUN and rejecting the request of terrorist organization “Shahed” to obtain the status of an observer in #UN. Together we will continue to act against terrorist organizations that intend to harm,” tweeted Maya Kadosh, deputy chief of mission at the Israel embassy in India.
Kadosh told ThePrint that Shahed is connected to the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“This is a good sign... India was the first country to support us amongst the Asia group, so we are very happy,” she said.
“This is a truly historic vote. By taking a principled stand at the United Nations, India has finally broken a voting pattern reminiscent of the Cold War era,” Vijeta Uniyal, founder of Indians for Israel, told JNS. “In my opinion, the position taken today by Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi’s government finally reflects the long held of wishes and attitudes of the Indian people.”
Tel Aviv beaches found to be among most plastic-polluted
(JNS)—Israel was featured in a report by the World Wildlife Fund last week as home to the third most plastic-polluted shoreline in the Mediterranean, according to a report by Ynet.
The Tel Aviv coast ranked behind Turkey’s Cilicia beaches and those along the coast of Barcelona, Spain.
Not all Mediterranean coastal cities were included in the investigation.
According to WWF, 46 pounds of plastic waste wash up every day along a single kilometer of Tel Aviv beach.
Barcelona’s beaches accumulate 57 pounds of plastics a day, and Turkey’s beaches more than 68 pounds.
All in all, the amount of plastic dumped into the sea equals approximately 33,800 plastic bottles’ worth every minute.
Egypt was found to be the biggest plastic waste culprit in the region, followed by Turkey.
NYT to scrap daily political cartoons over anti-Semitism controversy
(JNS)—The international edition of The New York Times will no longer feature daily political cartoons, according to the paper’s editorial-page editor James Bennet.
While Bennet says the policy change has been in the works for a year, one of the paper’s leading cartoonists, Patrick Chappatte, said the decision was directly related to a public outcry against an April caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog wearing a Star of David collar and seemingly guiding a blind U.S. President Donald Trump, who was wearing a yarmulke.
“In April 2019, a Netanyahu caricature from syndication reprinted in the international editions triggered widespread outrage, a Times apology and the termination of syndicated cartoons,” Chappatte said on his website. “Weeks later, my employers tell me they’re ending political cartoons altogether by July. I’m putting down my pen, with a sigh: that’s a lot of years of work undone by a single cartoon—not even mine—that should never have run in the best newspaper of the world.”
The paper apologized for the offensive cartoon, but then days later published another cartoon featuring Netanyahu, this time with blacked-out eyes, holding a stone tablet emblazoned with a Star of David while appearing to take a selfie with a smartphone.
The decision to scrap the cartoons will come into effect on July 1, according to a statement by Bennet on Monday.
US reps introduce bipartisan bill to purchase Iron Dome air-defense system
By Jackson Richman
(JNS)—U.S. Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) and Representative Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced on Monday the U.S.-Israel Indirect Fire Protection Act of 2019 to authorize the Secretary of the Army to procure for the U.S. military two Iron Dome short-range air-defense-system batteries.
“Iron Dome is a proven defense system that will provide increased protection for our troops in the field,” said Sherrill. “Access to this technology addresses critical gaps in our current capabilities. It is an important interim step as we invest in the future of our military, and I’m glad to join with Representative Wilson, my colleague on the Armed Services Committee, to introduce this bill.”
AIPAC told JNS on Tuesday that it supports the measure.
At an April 2 hearing by the House Armed Services Committee, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley said “the Iron Dome is a very capable system. It has basically a 100 percent track record in combat. We clearly need it to protect our formations.”
Iron Dome system is manufactured by Raytheon and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The U.S. Marine Corps has expressed interest in acquiring the anti-missile defense system, which has an almost 90 percent success rate, reported Marine Corps Times.
More than half of House Democrats slam any Israeli-Palestinian plan that does not include 2 states
By Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA)—More than half of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives say a peace plan that does not expressly have as its outcome two states would endanger the prospects of peace.
The resolution, a dig at the Trump administration’s peace policies, was backed by J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group. It says not mentioning two states in a deal would “put a peaceful end to the conflict further out of reach.”
The non-binding resolution, which so far has garnered 123 co-sponsors out of 235 in the Democratic caucus, alludes to the as-yet- unveiled peace plan drafted by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Kushner has not counted out Palestinian statehood as an outcome, but he also says that the phrase is not a useful one.
The resolution, introduced last month by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., who is Jewish, calls for “a two-state solution that is consistent with the broadly held consensus positions for resolving the conflict’s final status issues as reflected in previous United States proposals.”