Weekly roundup of world briefs
August 16, 2019
New CEO of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—William Daroff was named as CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The news was first reported by the JNS news website.
He will replace Malcolm Hoenlein, who has held the position of executive vice chairman for the last 33 years.
Daroff currently serves as senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Hoenlein, 74, announced in February 2018 that he would step aside. He will remain with Conference to ensure a smooth transition, to be of counsel and work on agreed-upon projects, JNS reported.
The Conference is a coalition of more than 50 Jewish organizations from across the ideological spectrum. The group’s purpose is to provide consensus on hot-button issues and in approaching the Executive Branch, and in doing so tends to reflect the positions of the Israeli government in power at the time.
Likud candidates pledge loyalty to Netanyahu
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The top 40 candidates on Likud’s candidates list have signed a pledge that they support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government and will not try to replace him.
The Likud Party on Sunday confirmed the signed statement.
The petition reads, “We the undersigned candidates on the Likud list for the 22nd Knesset emphasize that we will not receive any dictation from any other party. Without regard to the results of the election, Netanyahu is the Likud’s only candidate for prime minister, and there will be no other candidate.”
The statement also said: “Lapid and Gantz (referring to Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, leaders of the Blue & White Party), who work against one another, and the Labor party members who replace their leaders every two weeks, can only envy the Likud members who back their party chairman. Their frustration is understandable: Their scheme to replace Netanyahu after the election totally collapsed today.”
The petition reportedly was initiated after Yisrael Beiteinu party head Avigdor Liberman said Saturday night in an interview that he wants a different Likud candidate to be named prime minister, and recommended Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Ynet reported.
The Blue and White leaders have publicly announced they won’t join a Netanyahu-led government.
Netanyahu earlier this year failed to form a government following the April elections despite the right-wing parties garnering a majority in the Knesset after Liberman refused to join the government unless a draft law obligating haredi Orthodox men to participate in Israel’s mandatory military draft remained unchanged. The haredi parties demanded a softening of the law in order to join the government.
Anti-Semitic graffiti painted on door of Minneapolis school
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on the door of a school in Minneapolis, the 17th incident reported by the Jewish community so far this year.
The graffiti discovered on Thursday at the Lake Harriet Upper School in Minneapolis included a swastika and the words “Kikes must die!”
The graffiti was painted over on Thursday afternoon, according to local reports.
On Friday, students of the school created chalk street art to spread messages of love and acceptance. The artwork included Stars of David and messages such as “I belong, you belong, we all belong” and “Love all!” A second “Chalk the Walk: Love Lives Here” was scheduled for Sunday.
Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said that it is the 17th anti-Semitic incident reported to the JCRC in 2019.
“Perpetrators of these types of incidents are intent on spreading a message of hate and challenging the openness and respectful atmosphere of our community. Collectively, we must reject these chilling acts and the hate they represent,” Hunegs said in a statement.
He said the council has been in close contact with the school principal and law enforcement officials and that “We appreciate their swift response to this disturbing incident.”
Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff said in a statement: In the strongest terms, Minneapolis Public Schools condemns the anti-Semitic graffiti at Lake Harriet Upper school. Our schools should be safe, respectful and welcoming places for all of our students, families and community members. And we stand united against hatred in all its forms.”
Swastikas painted on Jewish-owned food truck in Miami
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Swastikas were spray-painted on a Jewish-owned food truck in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami.
The act of vandalism on the Bao Wow Burgers Bruh food truck was reported on Friday afternoon. It happened in the same week that a man was shot as he waited to enter a synagogue in Miami Beach, and another Florida synagogue received a package containing anti-Semitic and threatening objects.
The truck is not yet officially open for business, the news channel Local 10 reported, and it has previously been targeted with anti-Semitic vandalism.
“It’s really disgusting, honestly, to see this in the United States, in Miami. This is a place of all people, and it’s really unwelcoming to the community for us to start our business in a place where people are going to slap swastikas on our business before we open,” Alex Ovadia, who is Jewish, told Local 10.
Co-owner Robert Marks, who also is Jewish, told the Miami Herald that the swastika attack would not make them leave. “Obviously you can’t let that steer you out of the neighborhood because then that would make this have worked,” Marks said. “They would win.”
Iran foreign minister says will leave nuclear deal ‘if necessary’
(JNS)—Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday that Iran will leave the 2015 nuclear deal that it signed with world powers if its interests are not protected.
“Iran will leave its 2015 nuclear deal with powers if necessary,” Zarif told a news conference broadcast live on state TV, “calling on Europeans to accelerate their efforts to shield Iran’s economy from U.S. sanctions,” Reuters reported.
Zarif also claimed that the United States is isolated and cannot form a military coalition.
“The U.S. cannot form a coalition in areas that it claims to be a superpower such as the military area,” he said, according to the Iranian Tasnim News Agency. “Other countries are embarrassed to have their names on a list next to the U.S.,” he said.
“The era of [the U.S. being] a superpower and bully is over,” he further declared.
Meanwhile, officials in Iran said Sunday that Zarif was sanctioned by the American government after rejecting to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Sen. Rand Paul met with Zarif on July 18, reported Al-Monitor, citing “a non-government expert in contact with the Iranian team.”
Britain joins US to secure passage in Gulf following tanker seizures by Iran
(JNS)—Britain joined the United States in a maritime security mission on Monday to protect vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz after weeks in which Iran has been seizing ships.
“It is vital to secure the freedom for all international shipping to navigate the Strait of Hormuz without delay, given the increased threat,” said British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, reported Reuters. A fifth of the world’s oil passes through the Strait.
“The deployment of Royal Navy assets is a sign of our commitment to our U.K.-flagged vessels, and we look forward to working alongside the U.S. and others to find an international solution to the problems in the Strait of Hormuz,” he said.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the British tanker Stena Impero in the area last month.
No other countries are involved in the American-led mission.
Report: Amazon acquires Israeli startup E8 Storage
(JNS)—Amazon has acquired Israeli technology startup E8 Storage, reported Reuters on Wednesday, citing “a source familiar with the deal.”
E8 Storage will merge with the Amazon Web Services development center in Tel Aviv.
E8 Storage, Amazon and Amazon Web Services declined to comment to Reuters.
Shurat HaDin NGO asks court to block Rep. Omar from entering Israel
(JNS)—Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin filed a petition to an Israeli court this week seeking to block Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from visiting the country.
Omar has made several vocal anti-Semitic comments and recently introduced a pro-BDS resolution in the House. She has also accused American Jews of dual loyalty to Israel.
A 2017 Israeli law allows the state to block foreigners that promote BDS from entering the country. The motion seeks to force Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to bar Omar from entering.
However, it is unclear how effective the petition will be since Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer already said that Israel will not prevent Omar and fellow congresswoman, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who also supports BDS, from visiting later this month.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Shuran HaDin’s founder and chairwoman, said that it is hypocritical that Israel asks students in the U.S. to stand up to BDS activists, but is not serving as a “role model” to bar BDS supporters from entering the country.
“Israel shouldn’t let others, including young students, fight this battle for it, and in contrast surrender to the phenomenon here in Israel due to the prestige and status of certain important BDS activists,” she said in a statement.
Arab Israeli jailed for joining ISIS pleads for Netanyahu to help him return
(JNS)—An Israeli-Arab ISIS fighter captured in Syria asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to personally intervene to get him back to Israel in an interview on the Saudi Arabian Al-Arabiya Network.
“I am an Israeli citizen... You do not discriminate between Arabs, Jews and Druze... I am having a very, very tough time in this prison... I will return as a better [person],” said Sayyaf Sharif Daoud in Hebrew, according to the text of the interview published by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
In the interview that ran on Wednesday, Daoud also raised the possibility that ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was “created” by the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency.
Regarding Baghdadi, he said, “I saw how fat he was [in a video] while the people who left Baghuz weighed 50 to 60 kilograms. They would eat grass.”
He also pointed out that ISIS cells still continue to operate, and that the organization is perhaps stronger today than it was in the past.
Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson pledges to reverse Trump’s Golan recognition
(JNS)—Author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination next year, has pledged that, if elected, she would undo U.S. President Donald Trump’s official recognition in March of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“I would rescind the president’s affirmation of sovereignty of Israel over the Golan Heights,” she said in response to a questionnaire from the Council on Foreign Relations. “I understand the occupation of the Golan Heights, but only until there is a stable government in Syria with whom one can negotiate.”
Williamson, whose debate performances last month and on Tuesday caused a buzz, is one of 16 candidates who have said that they would re-enter the United States in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if they become elected president.
Finally, Williamson, who is Jewish, is one of nine candidates who has vowed to keep the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem. It was moved from Tel Aviv on May 14, 2018, five months after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“The capital of Israel is Jerusalem; it is the location of their Knesset, or Parliament building, and no one disputes that,” Williamson previously told JNS. “Countries such as the United States kept their embassies in Tel Aviv as a sign of the deference to the ongoing process of negotiations—or potential for negotiations—regarding parts of Jerusalem as related to any final plan for a two-state solution.”
“By moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump was making an unnecessarily aggressive statement, symbolically supporting the idea that Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a reality open to no negotiation whatsoever,” she continued. “Moving it back at this point, however, could create an unnecessary and unhelpful drama.”
Lionel Richie blocks CodePink after attacked for upcoming Israel concert
(JNS)—Music icon Lionel Richie snubbed the women’s anti-war group CodePink after the organization, which is active in the anti-Israel boycott campaign, launched a petition urging the singer to cancel his upcoming show in Israel.
CodePink: Women for Peace penned an open letter claiming that Richie’s scheduled Sept. 12 concert in Tel Aviv, as part of his “Hello” tour, “will act as an endorsement of Israel’s brutal systems of military occupation and apartheid,” and asked the artist, “Please act now for freedom, dignity, and equality for all in Israel/Palestine. Please cancel your concert in Israel.”
Richie blocked CodePink’s Twitter account on Wednesday.
Not long afterwards, CodePink’s national co-director, Ariel Gold, attacked the singer, saying, “don’t be such a snowflake. You closing your eyes to what is happening to Palestinians won’t stop it from happening or you from being complicit if you perform in Israel.”
His September show will be Richie’s first performance in Israel. The “Hello” singer and songwriter has been a longtime supporter of Israel, and in 2013, he entertained guests at a fundraiser in Los Angeles for the Friends of the IDF, according to The Jerusalem Post.
This is not the first time that CodePink has launched a campaign aimed at convincing artists to cancel their concerts in Israel. The group attempted to do the same with pop icon Jennifer Lopez, but to no avail; she performed on Thursday night in Tel Aviv to extremely supportive crowds.
Nearly 60,000 attend Jennifer Lopez’s first concert in Israel
(JNS)—Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park was packed on Thursday night with nearly 60,000 people gathered to watch pop icon Jennifer Lopez, aka “J.Lo,” give her first concert in Israel.
Lopez, who recently celebrated her 50th birthday, did six outfit changes during the 90-minute set, and sang both her new and classic hit songs.
Concert organizers added additional space two days ahead of the show to accommodate the number of fans wanting to attend the sold-out concert, according The Jerusalem Post.
Lopez told the crowd that she loved them multiple times, both in Hebrew and English, and concluded the night by telling the audience, “Tel Aviv, what an amazing night this has been. I want to thank you for coming to celebrate with me. Shalom! I learned how to say this—Ani ohev otcha, which is Hebrew for “I love you.”
The superstar’s manager, Benny Medina, told Israel’s Channel 12 that despite efforts by supporters of the anti-Israel BDS movement to dissuade Lopez from performing in Tel Aviv, nothing would stop the singer from putting on a show for her Israeli fans.
“There was nothing that was going to stop us from being in Israel. Nothing,” said Medina. “It’s really simple. Tel Aviv and Israel deserve Jennifer Lopez, and Jennifer Lopez deserves Israel.”
The “All I Have” singer is making six international stops, with Israel being the first, on her “It’s My Party” tour.
Israel says it thwarted a massive Hamas bomb attack in Jerusalem
By Marcy Ostser
JERUSALEM (JTA)—A Hamas cell in Hebron was planning a bomb attack in Jerusalem but was thwarted, the Israel Security Agency said.
The cell, operating under the direction of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip, had been ordered to carry out attacks against both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The agency arrested a member of the cell, a college student at the Polytechnic College in Hebron, in June, which led to the arrest of other members, including at least one other college student. A 6.6-pound bomb filled with metal fragment that was to be used in a bomb attack also was discovered. The metal fragments would have caused more serious injury to victims.
The investigation and arrest of the cell was a joint operation with the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police.