Weekly roundup of world briefs
June 28, 2019
Palestinian village council head fired after Jews attend son’s wedding
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The council head of a West Bank Palestinian village was removed from his office after video from his son’s wedding showed that four Jews participated in the party.
Radi Nasser, head of the Deir Qadis Village Council was dismissed from the Fatah Party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Haaretz reported. Nasser also was fired from his position in the Palestinian Education Ministry.
The four Jewish men reportedly arrived with invited guests from the community, claiming that they work together as auto mechanics.
Nasser said that the guests arrived after midnight while he was in another part of the venue with other guests. “When they told me and my son that there are four Jews who entered the party, I went over and threw them out of the place,” he said, according to Haaretz.
Video of the Jewish men participating in the celebrations was circulated on social media, leading to the backlash, Haaretz reported. A list of the wedding guests also was passed on to Palestinian security officials, according to the report, citing Fatah.
Nasser claims that the Jewish men, who have been identified in Palestinian media as “settlers,” were brought to the wedding to harm his reputation.
Florida man arrested for threatening to kill minorities, including Jews
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A Florida man was arrested for threatening to kill minorities, including Jews.
Joshua John Leff, 40, was arrested at his home in Fort Myers and charged with intimidation, sending written threats to kill and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
He made the threats on social media sites Bitchute and Gab, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a statement. The department began its investigation after receiving a tip about Leff’s statements and videos inciting violence against minority groups.
Guns and ammunition were found at his home during a police search.
In his posts he praised several mass shooters, including John T. Earnest, the 19-year-old gunman accused of killing one and injuring three inside a synagogue in Poway, California in April. He said he wished they had killed more people.
He is being held in Lee County Jail on $1 million bond.
California man arrested after threatening synagogue mass shooting
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A California man who threatened in an online chatroom to kill Jews and to commit a mass shooting at a synagogue was arrested.
Ross Anthony Farca, 23, of Concord, California, said in the chatroom on the video game platform Steam that he wanted to emulate the Poway synagogue shooter “except with a Nazi uniform on,” The Mercury News reported.
He was arrested last week and charged with criminal threats and gun possession. Concord police said they found an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle with 13 magazines, a 3-foot sword, camouflage clothing, ammunition, and Nazi literature during a search of his home, that he shared with his mother.
He remains in custody at the Contra Costa County Jail in lieu of $125,000 bail, and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment hearing.
His screen name on Steam is “Adolf Hitler (((6 Million))).” He statements came to light via a cyber-tip to the FBI.
He said in his chats that he would livestream his massacre of Jews to the internet, and then murder as many police officers as he could before they killed or captured him.
“I would probably get a body count of like 30 kikes and then like five police officers because I would also decide to fight to the death,” Farca said in a post, The Mercury News reported citing court records. In other posts, he allegedly discussed picking a “better target than some random synagogue,” and referred to Jews as “subhumans.”
Sara Netanyahu admits to misusing state funds, avoids jail time
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, admitted in court Sunday that she misused state funds to order catered meals from high-end restaurants.
Her plea deal signed in late May involves no jail time, but she will pay $15,210 as part of a fine and of restitution, and now has a criminal record.
She was convicted of intentionally making use of another’s error after in a case that accused her of ordering $96,000 worth of meals rather than using the cook at the prime minister’s residence to prepare her food.
The state also can file a civil lawsuit to get Netanyahu to force the return the rest of the money, under the deal.
Sara Netanyahu violated the regulations that prevent those living in the residence from ordering meals from the outside when there is a cook on staff. The violations occurred in 2010 and 2013.
The investigation began in 2015 after the State Comptroller’s Office issued a report on the Netanyahu family household expenses.
Ezra Saidoff, a former caretaker at the prime minister’s residence who also faced charges in the case, under a separate plea deal will pay a fine and perform community service.
Malaysia’s prime minister mocks Jews at Cambridge University to audience laughter
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—An audience filled with students at Cambridge University laughed as Malaysia’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, unleashed a stream of anti-Semitic statements.
Mohamad spoke Sunday evening at the Cambridge Union, known as the world’s oldest debating society, at a question-and-answer session with Adam Davies, the speakers officer of the union.
“I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends,” Mohamad, a notorious anti-Semite, said in response to a question about previous anti-Jewish statements.
Some in the audience laughed with no response from the moderator Davies. Mohamad also said he was entitled to freedom of speech in order to speak “against the Jews.”
The Cambridge Union said later in a statement that those who laughed were part of Mohamad’s delegation and not its student members.
“The prime minister was scrutinized on his record throughout the event both from the moderator and the audience,” the statement also said.
Daniel Kosky of the Union of Jewish Students told the London-based Jewish Chronicle: “It is chilling to see a crowd of students laugh off flagrantly anti-Semitic comments. Freedom of expression is not a joke when it incites hatred against one people.”
The Union of Jewish Students and the Board of Deputies of British Jews had appealed to the Cambridge Union to cancel Mohamad’s appearance.
Mohamad, 93, wrote in his 1970 book “The Malay Dilemma” that “the Jews are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.” He also has questioned the fact that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, saying the figure was 4 million.
Father of Jewish Sandy Hook massacre victim wins lawsuit against denial authors
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—The father of a Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victim won a defamation lawsuit against the authors of a book that denied the 2012 shooting took place.
Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was the youngest victim in the attack by a lone gunman at the Connecticut school, filed the suit against the publisher Moon Rock Books and the authors of “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.” The publisher said it would no longer sell the book.
It is one of at least nine cases with Pozner, who is Jewish, as the lead plaintiff against those who deny the school massacre took place. The suits have been filed in federal and state courts in Connecticut, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin, according to The Associated Press.
A Wisconsin judge ruled Monday that Pozner had been defamed by authors James Fetzer and Mike Palacek. A trial to decide damages has been set for October.
The book claimed, for example, that Noah’s death certificate had been faked and the child in fact never existed, and that Pozner and the parents of the other victims were crisis actors.
“My face-to-face interactions with Mr. Pozner have led me to believe that Mr. Pozner is telling the truth about the death of his son,” Dave Gahary, the principal officer at Moon Rock Books, said in a statement Monday. “I extend my most heartfelt and sincere apology to the Pozner family.”
Pozner, joined by other parents of Sandy Hook victims, filed a lawsuit last year against radio talk show host Alex Jones, host of the conspiracy-driven Infowars website, for continuing to insist that the attack never occurred.
Miriam Adelson is Israel’s richest person, with $22 billion
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Dr. Miriam Adelson, the wife of American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, is Israel’s wealthiest person for 2019, according to a biannual list.
The Haaretz daily newspaper’s Israel’s rich list published Wednesday noted that Israel has 128 billionaires after having only eight in 2003.
Miriam Adelson, 73, is new to the list and jumped right to the top spot, “thanks to a recent transfer of assets from her husband,” according to Haaretz.
Adelson’s personal wealth is placed at $22 billion, most of it in shares in the Las Vegas Sands Corp. given to her last year by her husband, according to the report. Adelson also controls the free distribution newspaper Israel Hayom as its publisher.
Russian-born Roman Abramovich, 52, owner of the Chelsea FC soccer team, last year became the richest person ever to immigrate to Israel and claim citizenship. He comes in on the list at No. 2 with his total wealth valued at $13 billion.
Here is the rest of the top 10:
3. Eyal Ofer, son of the late billionaire Sammy Offer, at $10.7 billion, mostly in real estate holdings and shipping;
4. The Wertheimer family led by patriarch, Iscar founder Stef Wertheimer, $9.5 billion;
5. French-Israeli telecom magnate Patrick Drahi, who earlier this week purchased Sotheby’s auction house, $8.75 billion;
6. The Azrieli family, which invests in real estate and owns shopping malls, $5.54 billion;
7. Businesswoman Shari Arison, who recently liquidated most of her holdings in Israel, $5.5 billion;
8. Gil Shwed, who co-founded Check Point Software Technologies, $4.7 billion;
9. Idan Ofer, $4.5 billion; and
10. The Tshuva family, whose wealth comes from natural gas, $4.15 billion.
17. Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban of Power Rangers fame, $2.9 billion;
21. The Strauss family, owner of the third-largest food products manufacturer in Israel, $2.2 billion; and
30. Sylvan Adams, who brought the Italian bicycle race Giro d’Italia to the country last year, underwrote Madonna’s performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv and is heir to a real estate empire started by his father, $1.7 billion.
Merkel to Tehran: Uphold the nuclear deal, or there will ‘be consequences’
(JNS)—German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Iran on Tuesday to uphold the stipulations of the 2015 nuclear deal or else face repercussions.
“We are pushing for Iran to keep to [the nuclear accord]. If that is not the case, there will, of course, be consequences,” she said, without specifying what the ramifications would be.
The popular publication in Germany, Bild, called on Berlin to end its kowtowing to Tehran.
“That’s why there must finally be an end with the appeasement, the talk of Iranian partners, an agreement that supposedly makes the world safer. The current Iranian government, the mullahs, are not partners. For us and for our most important allies, they are only one thing: a threat,” wrote Bild journalist Maximilian Kiewel.
While Germany has sanctioned Iranian airline Mahan Air, it has taken favorable steps towards the Islamic Republic, it helped create the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or Instex, a financial mechanism, to evade U.S. economic penalties on Tehran.
Last week, the German parliament rejected a bill to ban Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, from the country.
California man indicted for plotting synagogue shooting
By Yoni Hersch
(Israel Hayom via JNS)—A California man who threatened to carry out a mass shooting at a synagogue was arrested on Sunday, local authorities said.
Ross Anthony Farca, 23, of Concord, Calif., had made repeated threats on his account on Steam, a popular video-game platform. He said that he wanted to imitate the shooter who entered Chabad of Poway in Southern California, killing one woman and injuring three, “except with a Nazi uniform on,” The Mercury News reported.
Farca, 23, was charged with felony criminal threats and gun possession.
His screen name on Steam was “Adolf Hitler (((6 Million))),” a reference to the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust.
In his posts, Farca allegedly “expressed a desire to massacre Jewish people, livestream it to the Internet, and then murder as many police officers as he could” before they killed or captured him.
“I would probably get a body count of like 30 [Jews] and then like five police officers because I would also decide to fight to the death,” he wrote, adding he would prefer to choose a “better target than some random synagogue.”
In other posts on Steam, Farca also reportedly said he was inspired by two 2019 mass shootings: the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, and the April shooting in the Poway synagogue in San Diego. He named both shooters and referred to the Christchurch shooter as a “hero,” said authorities.
Despite border issues, Israel reopens Gaza fishing zone
(JNS)—Israel has reopened the Gaza fishing zone to 10 nautical miles off the coast, despite recent tensions due to border riots, rocket attacks and incendiary balloons launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Jerusalem totally shut down the Gaza fishing zone on June 12 after Hamas failed to hold up its end of a ceasefire agreement with Israel, which included a total cessation of violence, balloon launches and rocket attacks in exchange for a 15-mile fishing zone and an array of economic incentives.
On Tuesday morning, a cluster of balloons bearing a suspicious package landed in Kibbutz Nahal Oz near the Gaza border. Police sappers neutralized the package. No injuries or damage were reported.
Two days earlier, on Sunday, a delegation from Qatar arrived in Gaza to distribute cash to needy families and United Nations work programs, in coordination with Israeli security.
An Egyptian security delegation is expected at the end of the week to discuss maintaining calm along the Israel-Gaza border, according to a report by Israel’s Kan news.
Ben-Gurion Airport workers arrested for smuggling illegals into Israel
(JNS)—Six people were arrested and eight others detained on Monday by the Israel Police Lahav 433 national crimes unit as part of an investigation into a smuggling ring responsible for bringing hundreds of foreign nationals into Israel.
The smuggling network, which operated out of Rishon Letzion, is believed to have brought over a thousand Georgian nationals into Israel since 2017.
The suspects include contract workers at the Israel Airports Authority, who are alleged to have bypassed security mechanisms and passport control at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
They allegedly received as much as $10,000 per person to smuggle Georgians into Israel, some of whom came to work in the country.
American tourist attacked in Berlin after saying he was Jewish
By Toby Axelrod
BERLIN (JTA)—A 23-year-old American said he was hit in the face in Berlin after telling a group harassing him that he was Jewish.
The man, described as a tourist, suffered a black eye in the incident, which he reported via a police website, according to news reports. Police are investigating the Tuesday night attack as an anti-Semitic crime.
The episode occurred in a park in the Steglitz district of the German capital at about 9 p.m. when three people in a group of 10 began to harass him. One reportedly asked the tourist about his religion, then hit him in the face after he answered that he was Jewish.
In April, the Berlin-based Research and Information Centre on Anti-Semitism said there had been a 14 percent increase in anti-Jewish incidents in Berlin over the previous year, when 951 anti-Semitic incidents were reported.