Weekly roundup of world briefs
July 26, 2019
Netanyahu accuses Europeans of appeasing Iran like they did Germany in the ’30s
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—The European Union said it remains committed to the nuclear deal with Iran despite that country’s claims that it violated its terms, prompting Israel to accuse Brussels of 1930s-like appeasement.
The allegation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed an announcement Monday by Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, that “For the time being, none of the parties to the agreement has signaled their intention to invoke” an article dissolving the deal, Reuters reported.
Fars, the Iranian state news service, reported this month that the country’s enriched uranium stockpile exceeded 300 kilograms—a level that violates the 2015 deal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, offers Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for its scaling back of parts of its nuclear program until 2025.
The United States, which under former President Barack Obama was the driving force behind the deal, pulled out last year under President Donald Trump and snapped back sanctions on Iran and third parties that do business with the Islamic Republic. With its economy crippled by the sanctions, Iran has threatened to pull out of the JCPOA as well, though the other parties to the agreement—the European Union, Russia and China—have called for its adherence.
The European decision to overlook Iran’s alleged violation of the deal “reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s,” Netanyahu said in a video statement Monday.
In that decade, Britain and the Soviet Union avoided conflict with an increasingly belligerent Nazi Germany, allowing the country to develop its military ahead of World War II.
Hamas official calls on Palestinians abroad to kill Jews
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—A senior Hamas official urged Palestinians abroad to kill Jews in Israel and beyond.
“All of you 7 million Palestinians abroad, enough of the warming up. You have Jews everywhere and we must attack every Jew on the globe by way of slaughter and killing, if God permits,” Fathi Hammad, a Hamas Cabinet minister until 2014, said Friday in a speech in Gaza.
A Hamas official in Gaza said Hammad’s views do not represent the official position of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist movement in the European Union and the United States, among other countries.
“These are personal statements that do not represent Hamas. They are no more than emotional comments that he may have said because of the killing of one of our members,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the Israeli press, told The Times of Israel. “Our problem is not with the Jews, but rather the occupation and the Zionist movement that is occupying Palestine.”
The Israeli military acknowledged that it killed a Hamas member at the Gaza border by mistake on Thursday, and Hamas threatened in a statement that “Israel will pay for its actions.”
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, on Monday condemned Hammad’s statements.
“The just values of the Palestinian cause include love for freedom, justice and equality,” Erekat tweeted Monday. “The repugnant statement of Hamas leader Mr. Fathi Hammad about Jews doesn’t represent any of them.”
Body turns up of rabbi who saved student from drowning
(JNS)—A body believed to be of a rabbi who went missing in the ocean in Virginia Beach while saving a student was found on Sunday by search and rescue volunteers.
Rabbi Reuven Bauman, a 35-year-old teacher at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Norfolk, Va., was last seen around 12:30 p.m. on June 9 when he helped rescue a student—reported to being 11 years old, but in actually is 13—who was trapped by a current during a school trip to False Cape State Park.
Misakim of Maryland, a nonprofit that assists members of the Jewish community dealing with hardship, in addition to rescue and recovery services, found Bauman’s body.
The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its nearly 24-hour search on June 10.
“We never make the decision to suspend lightly, and in this particular case, it’s especially difficult,” said Capt. Kevin Carroll, commander of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. “We share our deepest sympathies with the family of a man who risked his own life to save another.”
Police said that a positive identification is expected to be made by the medical examiner’s office.
Daniel Radcliffe cries when learning about anti-Semitism his great-grandfather faced
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Actor Daniel Radcliffe broke down in tears on television after reading his great-grandfather’s suicide note, which he possibly wrote after suffering anti-Semitic prejudice at the hands of British police.
The scene was filmed for the television show “Who Do You Think You Are,” a British show similar to PBS’ “Finding Your Roots,” in which celebrities learn about their family histories.
The Sun of London reported the news Thursday. The BBC show’s episode about Radcliffe’s family aired on July 22.
The “Harry Potter” actor’s relative, Samuel Gershon, had been ruined by a 1936 robbery at the family’s jewelry business in the London neighborhood of Hatton Garden. But police accused the Jewish businessman of faking the raid to claim insurance cash in what may have been anti-Semitic treatment by the officers. Gershon took his life at age 42.
The insurance company eventually paid the claim.
Evidence suggesting that detectives were anti-Semitic and reluctant to properly investigate the crime include a police report that said, according to The Sun: “Jews are so frequently responsible for the bringing down of their own business premises.”
Radcliffe said it was “very jarring to see being a Jew to be taken as a piece of evidence in itself.”
“You want to just reach into the past and just go ‘whatever you’re going through, you have so much to offer the people who are around you still... you have so much to give to them,’” the Sun quoted Radcliffe as saying.
Radcliffe’s maternal ancestors were from Poland and Russia, while his father is from Northern Ireland.
Remains believed to be from actor Charles Levin of ‘Seinfeld’ fame found in Oregon
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Police in Oregon believe they have found remains of the body of Charles Levin, a Jewish actor who played an edgy mohel in an episode of “Seinfeld” and had gone missing earlier this month.
Levin was reported missing from Grants Pass, Oregon, on July 8 by his son, Oregon Live reported Sunday.
A resident found Levin’s car, an orange 2012 Fiat, in a remote and nearly cut-off road Saturday, the New York Post reported.
Troopers found the remains of Levin’s fawn-colored pug, Boo Boo Bear, inside the vehicle.
Crews scouring the steep terrain found the human remains, and there’s a “high probability” they belong to the 70-year-old actor, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety said Sunday.
No other details were given, and the medical examiner will make the final identification.
Born in Chicago in 1949, Levin was known for his recurring role as Elliot Novak on the CBS sitcom “Alice” that aired from 1976 to 1985.
He also portrayed the mohel who snips part of Jerry’s finger in the “Seinfeld” episode “The Bris” and Coco, the gay cook, on the pilot of “The Golden Girls.”
His film credits include “Annie Hall,” “The Golden Child” and “This Is Spinal Tap.”
Northern Israeli city rescinds ban on non-residents in its park deemed racist
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The northern Israeli city of Afula agreed to lift a ban on non-residents visiting its city parks, after being accused of trying to keep Arabs out.
The city said Sunday that the signs prohibiting non-residents from entering the parks would be removed by Tuesday, forestalling a ruling by the Nazareth District court, where a lawsuit was filed against the rule.
The lawsuit was filed by Adalah-The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
Rights groups charged that the city policy set in place a month ago was designed to keep Arabs from neighboring villages out of the city.
Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz during his recent reelection campaign in November ran on a platform of “preserving the Jewish character of Afula,” and promised that “the conquest of the municipal park must stop. We must proudly hoist Israeli flags throughout the park and play music in Hebrew,” The Times of Israel reported.
Two investigations by television news programs also found that the ban on non-residents was only enforced when the family trying to enter the park was Arab.
The municipality said it made the decision to restrict entrance to the park to reduce overcrowding.
Jeffrey Epstein gave $50,000 to UJA-Federation in 2017
By Ben Sales
(JTA)—Tax records for Jeffrey Epstein show that he gave $50,000 to New York’s UJA-Federation in 2017.
The convicted sex offender, who was arrested this week and is alleged to have sexually abused dozens of underage girls, gave the donation through his charity, Gratitude America. The charity was first linked to Epstein by the Daily Beast.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has reached out to UJA-Federation, the umbrella Jewish philanthropy organization for metropolitan New York’s Jewish community.
The gift was one of more than a dozen Epstein gave that year, according to his tax return, though according to NBC, charities Epstein claims to have given to said they never received the money. Epstein’s tax return shows that he gave to several cancer research organizations.
Israel will deal a ‘crushing military blow’ to Lebanon if it attacks, Netanyahu warns
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will deal a “crushing military blow” to Lebanon if it attacks.
His remarks Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem come two days after the head of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror organization, Hassan Nasrallah, said that Israel could be wiped out in a war between the United States and Iran.
“Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force. When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider,” Nasrallah said on Friday in an interview on Hezbollah’s Al Manar television.
Nasrallah pointed to specific targets on a map of Israel, including Ben Gurion International airport, Ashdod port, water desalinization plants, petrochemical plants, and military installations.
Netanyahu returned the threat on Sunday at the beginning of the meeting, to which reporters are invited.
“Over the weekend we heard Nasrallah’s remarks on his attack plans. It should be clear that if Hezbollah dares to do some nonsense and attacks Israel, we will hit him and Lebanon with a crushing military blow,” Netanyahu said. “In contrast to Nasrallah, I do not intend to detail our plans.”
Netanyahu also said: “It is enough to recall that Nasrallah had—for years—dug terrorist tunnels, which we destroyed within days.”
Hezbollah has been named a terrorist organization by both Israel and the United States, as well as the European Union.
The threats come amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States.
Israel has almost as many religious restrictions as Iran, report says
By Ben Sales
(JTA)—When it comes to restrictions on religious freedom, Israel is in the company of countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran, a new report says.
The report also noted a rise in restrictions on Jewish practice in Europe, as well as an increase of attacks on Jews. It said Jews were harassed in 87 countries in 2017, the third-highest figure for any religion.
The report, published Monday by the Pew Research Center, tracks the rise of religious restrictions globally. Israel was one of the top 20 most religiously restrictive countries in the world, according to Pew. It also has the fifth-highest level of “social hostilities related to religious norms,” and the sixth-highest level of “interreligious tension and violence”—a worse score than Syria.
The report cited incidents in Israel like harassment of people who drive cars near haredi Orthodox neighborhoods on Shabbat, or government officials who “defer in some way to religious authorities or doctrines on legal issues.”
Israel self-defines as a Jewish state. Its haredi Orthodox Chief Rabbinate controls all recognized marriage, divorce, burial and Jewish conversion in the country, which means that non-Orthodox weddings, divorces, funerals and conversions are not recognized by the state. The state likewise does not recognize intermarriages conducted in the country. Most cities do not run public transit on Shabbat.
Regarding restrictions on Jews worldwide, the report pointed out government interference in circumcision in Germany and Slovenia. And the report noted rising anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi activity, including assaults on Jews, in Europe and the United States.
Original copy of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ screenplay will be displayed at Tel Aviv museum
By Gabe Friedman
(JTA)—Israeli Stanley Kubrick fans are getting a treat: An original copy of his screenplay for “2001: A Space Odyssey” will be shown at Tel Aviv’s Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfusot.
The script, which Kubrick used himself on set during the filming of the 1968 science fiction classic, will become part of the museum’s new permanent collection starting next spring.
The script, written by Kubrick and the famed science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, contains scenes that were not included in the final cut, according to a news release from Monday.
The museum’s new permanent collection will “touch on issues of religious and cultural diversity in Judaism, and the continuity, faith and creativity of the Jewish people.”
Kubrick, who died in 1999, was born to Jewish parents in New York City.
Pink defends her kids’ behavior at Holocaust memorial
By Josefin Dolsten
(JTA)—Pink defended a photo she posted of her children running at Berlin’s Holocaust memorial.
The Jewish pop singer, whose real name is Alecia Beth Moore, shared photos on Instagram Sunday from her trip to the German capital. One of the images in a post captured “Berlin, I love you” showed her two young children running among the large stone blocks that make up the vast memorial.
Some commenters said their behavior was a sign of disrespect at the solemn site. In response, the singer disabled comments on her posts on Monday.
“[F]or all of the comments; these two children are in actuality Jewish, as am I and the entirety of my mothers family,” she wrote as part of the post. “The very person who constructed this believed in children being children, and to me this is a celebration of life after death. Please keep your hatred and judgment to yourselves.”
Pink has spoken about her Jewish identity, including after the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 that turned deadly.
“It’s incredible to watch neo-nazis march in 2017, while I, a Jewish woman, headline a show in Berlin where these tunnels were built by him,” she wrote at the time, referring to the tunnels built by Hitler leading to the Waldbühne, the amphitheater where she performed.
Rhoda Smolow becomes Hadassah president
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Rhoda Smolow was officially elected as national president of Hadassah.
The new president, the organization’s 27th in its 107 years, will lead over 300,000 members, associates and supporters claimed by the world’s largest women’s Zionist organization, Hadassah announced Tuesday.
The announcement camed during Hadassah’s convention at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel.
Smolow, of Great Neck, N.Y., has been active with Hadassah for 39 years and served as the group’s national secretary before becoming its president. The president’s role is voluntary, although Hadassah’s lay leaders are considered some of the most hands-on in Jewish philanthropy.
In addition to supporting its namesake hospitals in Jerusalem, the organization advocates for women’s health, reproductive rights and leadership training, and fights anti-Semitism.
Outgoing National President Ellen Hershkin, whose term ends Dec. 31, oversaw the reopening of Hadassah’s Washington office last year. It had closed nearly a decade before after Hadassah took a huge, unwitting financial hit in Bernard Madoff’s investment fraud. The organization will mark its 100th anniversary next year.
“Rhoda Smolow exemplifies the ideal of selfless service to Hadassah,” Hershkin said.