Weekly roundup of world briefs
August 9, 2019
Man shot outside of Miami synagogue
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A man was shot outside of a synagogue in North Miami Beach.
The victim was shot several times in the leg on Sunday evening, as he stood outside of the Young Israel of Greater Miami synagogue waiting for daily prayers to begin, according to multiple reports.
Police told local media that a man got out of a black Chevrolet Impala and opened fire, striking the victim several times in the leg.
Police chaplain Mark Rosenberg identified the victim to VIN News as 69-year-old Warren Lipschutz.
The Yeshiva World News website identified the man as Yosef Noach ben Leah Tzivyah—in the traditional manner in which prayers for someone’s health are recited.
The car had circled the synagogue several times before the attack, WSVN Channel 7 reported, citing unnamed officials.
The victim was taken to a local hospital where he underwent surgery and is in stable condition.
Police are investigating the incident but have not yet categorized it as a hate crime, according to the report.
”I call upon the U.S. authorities to put an end to the wave of anti-Semitic terrorist attacks that are being perpetrated against Jews in the United States. It’s time for Jews to be able to live their lives like any other citizen,” Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, said in a statement.
CNN contributor found making anti-Semitic tweets
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A CNN contributor has apologized for tweets offensive to the Jewish community.
Karim Farid, who comments on technology videos that appeared on the CNN Arabic website, came under fire Friday for Arabic tweets from 2011 where he tweeted “I love you Hitler,” and praised the Nazi leader for “his determination to reach his goal.” Farid, whom CNN said was an unpaid commentator, has said his tweets were taken out of context.
“I was horrified to re-read some of my old tweets from 2011 during the emotional Arab spring events in Cairo. I have never been a supporter of Hitler or any of his believes and actions and these translated tweets are not a reflection of who I am and what I believe in,” he said in a statement on Saturday in which he “deeply” apologized and that he had learned from his mistake.
The tweets were uncovered a day after the resignation of Mohammed Elshamy, a 25-year-old former photojournalist with the Anadolu news agency, who began working at CNN headquarters in Atlanta in January. His tweets also from 2011 referred to “Zionist pigs” and praised a Palestinian terror attack.
Bernie Sanders would consider cutting US aid to Israel to pressure government
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he would “absolutely” consider cutting U.S. aid to Israel to pressure the Israeli government to act differently.
“This is not easy stuff—to try to finally bring peace to the Middle East and to treat the Palestinian people with a kind of respect and dignity they deserve,” he told host Jon Favreau on the Pod Save America podcast. “Our policy cannot just be pro-Israel pro-Israel pro-Israel. It has got to be pro-region working with all of the people, all of the countries in that area.”
Sanders, who spent time in the 1960s when he was in his 20s working on a kibbutz in Israel, tried to clarify his statements “before the tweets start flowing” saying “I have family in Israel. I am Jewish. I am not anti-Israel. Okay, I believe that the people of Israel have absolutely the right to live in peace, independence and security. End of discussion—that is what I fervently believe.”
“We have spent trillions of dollars on the war on terror, and I, as president, would like to sit down in a room with the leadership of Saudi Arabia, with the leadership of Iran, with the leadership of the Palestinians, with the leadership of Israel and hammer out some damn agreements, which will try to end the conflicts that exist there forever.”
He criticized the current Israeli government, however, adding: “I think what has happened is in recent years under Netanyahu, you have an extreme right-wing government with many racist tendencies.”
Iran says it will restart activities at Arak heavy water nuclear reactor
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Iran will restart activities at the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor, the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization announced.
Ali Akbar Salehi made the announcement to lawmakers on Sunday, Reuters reported, citing an Iranian news report.
Heavy water can be used to produce plutonium, which is used in nuclear warheads, according to the report. Renovations recently were completed on the Arak heavy water plant, which allows it to increase its capacity.
At the beginning of the month, Iran announced that its stockpiles of enriched uranium had breached the limit set out in the nuclear deal it signed with the world powers.
Since the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal one year ago and reimposed economic sanctions, Iran has begun to abrogate parts of the deal.
China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union remain committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed in 2015. They were scheduled to meet with Iran on Sunday to discuss how to salvage the deal, according to Reuters.
Israel moves closer to adding long distance missile interception system
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel and the United States announced jointly conducted successful tests of the Arrow-3 advanced missile defense system over Alaska.
That means Arrow-3, which protects against long-range missiles, should join Israel’s other defense systems, which include the Iron Dome (designed to intercept medium range missiles), David’s Sling (for medium to long range rockets) and Arrow-2 (for short and medium range attacks).
“They were successful beyond any imagination. The Arrow 3—with complete success—intercepted ballistic missiles beyond the atmosphere at unprecedented altitudes and speeds,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday about the tests. “Today Israel has the ability to act against ballistic missiles that could be launched against us from Iran or anywhere else. This is a great achievement for the security of Israel.”
The successful test comes days after the United States said that Iran has tested a medium-range ballistic missile that could potentially reach Israel, though Tehran countered that it was testing the missile for defensive purposes and not to target another country.
“These successful tests mark a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System,” Vice Admiral Jon Hill, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement. “This unique success in Alaska provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing threats in the region.”
Abbas says the the Palestinian Authority will ‘sever all ties’ with Israel
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, reiterated statements about terminating his government’s dealings with Israel.
Abbas’ announcement Thursday followed an emergency meeting after Israel razed Palestinian buildings built without permit on the edge of Jerusalem, near the security barrier that Israel built in the West Bank. The Israeli Supreme Court has approved the demolition order, accepting the government’s position that they constitute a security risk. Palestinians have protested the move, calling it a war crime.
“From Friday onward, we will begin concrete steps against Israel and severe all ties with Israel,” Abbas said during an emergency meeting he convened following the demolition, Palestinian media reported.
Abbas has announced in the past that agreements between his government and Israel, including the Oslo Accords, were null and void but cooperation on the ground continued, Haaretz noted.
Abbas also said a committee would be formed to work out how to implement the decision, Israel Hayom reported.
In 2007, Hamas in Gaza staged a violent coup against Abbas’ government, taking over the Strip.
Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has for years kept Hamas operatives in the West Bank in check, often with Israeli assistance.
The Palestinian Authority depends on Israel for much of its water supply, electricity and aerial traffic within its borders.
MGM Resorts to change logo on security uniforms that resembles Jewish star
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—MGM Resorts International said it will change the logo on its security uniforms, yellow shirts with a symbol that looks like a Jewish star.
The announcement came after a Jewish woman who attended a show at MGM Northfield Park in suburban Cleveland noticed the logo and was upset by it. She contacted the Cleveland Jewish News, which called MGM.
“I have family that died in the Holocaust,” June Scharf of Mayfield Heights, Ohio, told the Cleveland Jewish News. “So I feel very close to that experience. And I take it seriously and seeing that imagery takes me right back to that past which is painful. A star on a yellow shirt screams the Jude stars that they made Germans wear, German Jews. My grandfather was German and he left Germany, but other members of his family perished.”
The logo is a six-pointed star with the MGM lion surrounded by a circle inside.
Debra DeShong, senior vice president of corporate communications for MGM Resorts, said in a statement sent to the Cleveland Jewish News and to the Casino.org website that the company would change the uniform, which is used at the company’s regional facilities and Las Vegas properties, including the MGM Grand. She did not give a timetable.
“We appreciate this being brought to our attention and will begin the process of changing the badges on the uniforms in question,” DeShong said in the statement. “We regret anyone was offended—it was certainly not our intention.”
Israeli Embassy in Finland attacked for 15th time in past 18 months
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Israeli Embassy in Finland has been vandalized by neo-Nazi and far right extremists for at least the 15th time in the last year and a half.
The glass front door of the embassy in Helsinki was shattered over the weekend, and images of swastikas and Adolf Hitler were hung in the entrance to the building, Ynet reported.
Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement called the attack “another link in the chain of anti-Semitic attacks targeting the embassy.”
“The Israeli Embassy in Helsinki expressed its disgust over the events to the Finnish authorities and demanded they act in full force to locate the culprits, bring them to justice and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future,” the statement said.
Senior officials in Finland have expressed concern over the attacks, Ynet reported, but have not taken real action against their perpetrators.
In February, the Nordic Resistance Movement, a far-right and neo-Nazi group, demonstrated illegally in front of the building.
108-year-old synagogue is becoming apartments for Syracuse University students
By Ben Sales
(JTA)—Central New York’s oldest synagogue is being redeveloped as student housing for Syracuse University.
Temple Concord, also known as the Temple Society of Concord, lays claim to being the ninth-oldest congregation in the United States. It sold its building for $9 million to Landmark Properties, a developer of luxury student apartments, according to Syracuse.com.
The synagogue’s board approved the sale on Sunday. The Reform congregation, which was founded in 1839, will move into a temporary space. It has 350 member families, a decline from 800 in the 1970s and 1980s, according to Syracuse.com. The congregation moved to its current site in 1911, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
The board decided to accept the developer’s offers in the face of shrinking financial reserves.
“People feel a real attachment to that building and its history, and it’s never an easy decision,” Rabbi Daniel Fellman told Syracuse.com. “I don’t think it’s an easy decision for anybody.”
Barbra Streisand says she will address anti-Semitism in her anticipated memoir
By Gabe Friedman
(JTA)—Barbra Streisand has been “writing a lot” about modern anti-Semitism in her memoir, which she has been working on for years.
“It’s an extremely complex topic, and there’s not enough room in this interview to adequately cover it,” the show business icon said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune last week. “So I’ll just say, as [a] person who is proud of my Jewish heritage, it’s deeply concerning. It’s undeniable that anti-Semitism is one of the most vexing, terrifying issues of our times.”
She continued, “But this anger and hatred has actually been here for 3,500 years. It just reveals itself in different ways through the millennia, but it’s ever-present. Jews have always been the scapegoats, blamed for the ills of the world.”
Viking Books announced in 2015 that Streisand’s memoir would come out in 2017, but she hadn’t turned in a rough draft as of 2018.
“It will come out when it comes out,” a Viking source told the New York Post last year. “The support for her autobiography is undiminished. It’s worth waiting for.”
Gal Gadot’s 8-year-old daughter is the voice of an ‘Angry Birds 2’ character
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Gal Gadot should watch out—her eight-year-old daughter might upstage her one day.
Alma Varsano, Gadot’s older daughter with her Israeli real estate-developer husband Yaron Varsano, is the voice of one of the hatchlings in “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” which is set to be released in mid-August.
She is joined by other children of actresses: Faith Urban, 8, and Sunday Urban, 11—Nicole Kidman’s daughters with Keith Urban; and Genesis Tennon, the daughter of Viola Davis.
“Looks like I’m out of the job... so proud of my little Hatchling Alma and all her hard work on Angry Birds 2,” Gadot posted on Instagram with a clip from the movie.
Orthodox woman to lead National Security Agency’s new cybersecurity division
(JNS)—An Orthodox Jewish woman has been picked to lead the National Security Agency’s new Cybersecurity Directorate, effective Oct. 1.
Anne Neuberger, a 10-year NSA veteran who lives in Baltimore, helped found the U.S. Cyber Command, where she was chief risk officer and headed the agency’s security initiative during the 2018 mid-term elections.
The 43-year-old is from the heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park, where she went to Bais Yaakov Jewish day school for girls.
Neuberger graduated from Touro College in New York and Columbia University business school. She was in the White House Fellows program.
She will be one of the highest-ranking women at the NSA since “Ann Caracristi was named deputy director in 1980,” reported The Wall Street Journal.
“You need to assess the risk of doing and the risk of not doing, as well,” Neuberger told the outlet. “If you only assess the risk of not doing, you end up behind the bunkers and not engaging in the fight.’’
Neuberger will report directly to NSA director general Paul Nakasone.
Syrian citizen arrested in attack on German man wearing kippah
By Toby Axelrod
BERLIN (JTA)—A resident of Potsdam who was wearing a kippah with a Star of David on it was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack.
The victim reported being followed, spat upon and insulted in the weekend attack.
Police quickly arrested two men, a 19-year-old Syrian citizen and a 17-year-old of unnamed origin. The younger of the two is now being treated as a witness, not as a suspect, police told the German press agency dpa.
In a statement after news of the attack broke, Potsdam Mayor Mike Schubert said he expected swift results from the police investigation, to clarify the motivation for and legal consequences of the attack.
There must be “no tolerance for politically and religiously motivated hate and violence in our city,” he added.
Anti-Semitic crimes in Berlin, mostly hate speech, graffiti and the display of banned Nazi symbols, rose by nearly 20 percent in 2018 over the previous year, according to statistics released in May by Germany’s Interior Ministry and Federal Crime Office.