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Weekly roundup of world briefs


August 23, 2019

IDF thwarts third infiltration attempt from Gaza in a week

(JNS)—Israeli troops on Monday arrested an armed Palestinian man attempting to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

“A short time ago, IDF soldiers arrested a suspect crossing the security fence into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip in the south,” the IDF said in a statement on social media. “The suspect was captured and found carrying a knife along with two bullets.”

The attempted breach marked the third time in a single week that Israeli forces havethwarted infiltration attempts from the coastal enclave.

On Saturday, four heavily armed men were killed attempting to enter Israel from southern Gaza.

Less than a day later, IDF shot and killed a terrorist who opened fire on troops near the fence.

Israel to invest $8.6 million in new plastic-recycling technologies

(JNS-Israel Hayom)—The Israel Innovation Authority has approved the establishment of a new consortium aimed at promoting the development of recycling technologies and the use of recycled materials in Israel’s plastics industry.

Set to receive an investment of NIS 30 million (around $8,600,000), the CIRCLE consortium will enable companies in the recycling sector, plastic and polymer manufacturers, as well as academic and research institutes in the field to develop innovative technologies to give Israeli industry an edge in international markets. The technologies developed by the consortium will allow for the expansion of the range of recycled materials and their applications.

The consortium’s establishment is aimed at leveraging Israel’s academic and industrial capabilities to close the existing technological gap and situate Israel’s plastics industry as a leader in the field of plastic waste management.

It will operate within Israel Innovation Authority’s MAGNET consortium, a nonprofit association of industrial firms and academic research institutes for the research and development of cutting-edge technologies.

“The world is moving toward a responsible industry and economy through the use of recycled or innovative materials for the sake of environmental protection,” said Israel’s Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen.

Meanwhile, a new project in cooperation with Rotem Energy Mineral in the Negev in Israel’s south is expected to create some 2,000 jobs and convert hundreds of thousands of tons of urban plastic waste currently buried in the Ef’eh landfill, Israel’s largest landfill, into electricity and fuel.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

‘Schitt’s Creek’ star Dan Levy to be honored by GLAAD

By Emily Burack

(JTA)—Dan Levy, a star and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated show “Schitt’s Creek,” will be honored by GLAAD at their annual gala in San Francisco in September.

Levy, the son of fellow star Eugene Levy, will receive the Davidson/Valentini Award, named after the organization’s first executive director, Craig Davidson, and his partner, Michael Valentini.

The Levys, who created “Schitt’s Creek” together, play father and son on the show, and their interfaith family mirrors their real life.

Dan Levy, who identifies as gay, plays a pansexual character on “Schitt’s Creek.” He made a conscious decision to make the world in “Schitt’s Creek” a world without homophobia, explaining to the Advocate: “I have made a very strong point to not ever show bigotry, homophobia, or intolerance on our show because to me, it’s a celebration of love.”

“Through his work on-screen and behind the scenes of ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ Dan Levy moves LGBTQ visibility on television forward in humorous, compelling, and necessary ways,” Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, told Deadline on Tuesday. “By featuring and celebrating a pansexual character, Dan and ‘Schitt’s Creek’ are expanding representation of the spectrum of identities within the LGBTQ community in a way that other content creators should model.”

Previous recipients of this award include CNN anchor Don Lemon, Jewish musician Adam Lambert, and comedian Hannah Hart.

Trump official changes Emma Lazarus poem in arguing for immigration restrictions

By Sam Sokol

(JTA)—A Trump administration official changed the famous poem by Emma Lazarus engraved on the Statue of Liberty in arguing for immigration restrictions.

Asked about the Jewish poet’s words by an NPR reporter on Tuesday, Ken Cuccinelli, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting director, gave the old words a new twist.

“Give me your tired and your poor,” Cuccinelli said, then adding his own qualifier, “who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

In the original poem, the line reads “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Cuccinelli was defending the Trump administration’s newest regulation aimed at curbing immigration by withholding Green Cards from immigrants who receive, or the federal government thinks will need, government benefits.

President Donald Trump has sought to curb immigration, both legal and illegal. Paired with what many critics see as racially charged rhetoric aimed at African-Americans and Latinos, the president’s policies have set off a fierce backlash among his critics, including in the Jewish community.

Holocaust denying blogger says she has been banned from France for 40 years

By Sam Sokol

(JTA)—Holocaust denier and blogger Alison Chabloz said she was banned from France.

Chabloz, who is British, said in a Monday post on Gab, a social media platform popular among those on the far-right, that she was questioned when attempting to board a train to Paris, The Jewish Chronicle reported. She said she was told she was barred from entering the country until 2059. Holocaust denial is banned in France.

Last May, Chabloz, who posted songs on YouTube denying the Holocaust, was convicted by a London court of sending “offensive, indecent or menacing messages.”

The 55-year-old was found guilty of writing, performing and disseminating three songs about Nazi persecution. One was about the young diarist Anne Frank. In another, she claimed that the Holocaust was “just a bunch of lies.” During one session of her trial, Chabloz sang along in the courtroom as the judge reviewed the videos of her singing.

Hungary’s population has highest amount of Ashkenazi genes after Israel, study claims

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA)—Genetic tests conducted in Hungary suggest that the relative prevalence there of Jewish genes is double that of the United States.

In recent testing conducted by the MyHeritage firm and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, slightly more than 7.5 percent of 4,981 people tested had more than 25 percent Jewish Ashkenazi genes, the firm announced Tuesday.

Hungary has about 100,000 people who are considered Jewish by the largest organization representing Hungarian Jewry. That number accounts for about 1 percent of Hungary’s population.

Gilad Japhet, the CEO and founder of MyHeritage said  in  a statement that testing

in other countries suggests that Hungary has the highest prevalence of Ashkenazi Jewish genes after Israel.

In tests conducted in the United States and Canada, only 3.5 percent of tested individuals displayed Ashkenazi Jewish genes at a rate exceeding 25 percent of their genetic material.

Testing in Russia, Argentina and Ukraine all showed greater prevalence than in the United States but smaller than in Hungary, according to the study by MyHeritage, which markets DNA tests commercially.

Israeli flight attendant dies several months after catching measles on New York flight

By Sam Sokol

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A 43-year-old flight attendant for the Israeli national airline El Al has died several months after contracting measles on a transatlantic flight from New York.

She was hospitalized after contracting the infectious disease in late March and placed in an induced coma. She was on a respirator and reportedly had suffered brain damage. A passenger boarded the flight while sick with the virus, The Jerusalem Post reported at the time.

The flight attendant had only received one shot of the measles vaccine instead of the recommended two, according to The Times of Israel.

Israel saw a serious outbreak of measles in 2019 that was pegged to lower than average vaccination rates in the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, community. Two Israelis—an 18-month-old baby and an 82-year-old woman—have died from the disease.

In late April, more than 250 El Al crew members were vaccinated against the measles after the Health Ministry in Israel ordered all local airlines to inoculate their staffs, especially those who come into contact with travelers. At the time, the Health Ministry also called on Israelis to be fully vaccinated before flying out of the country.

Omri Casspi, first Israeli in the NBA, returns home to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv

By Sam Sokol

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA, will be returning home after 10 years.

Casspi will play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced Tuesday on its website. The 6-9 forward signed a three-year, $3.5 million contract with the club, according to Haaretz.

He led Maccabi Tel Aviv to an Israeli championship before making himself available for the NBA draft. The Sacramento Kings made him their No. 1 pick in 2009, when he was 21.

Casspi would go on to play for a number of teams, including the Golden State Warriors, with whom he received a championship ring even though he was waived before the playoffs. He averaged 7.9 points and 4 rebounds a game in his NBA career.

“The truth is that I am very excited, I did not believe I would be that excited,” said Casspi, 31, the captain of the Israeli national team since 2015. “I am returning home, returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv. I got here for the first time when I was 13 years old. I am proud and excited to be wearing the Maccabi jersey with the star of David on the back. This is a very big privilege.”

Maccabi’s head coach, Giannis Sfairopoulos, said “Maccabi brought back the best Israeli player and that is kind of a statement.”

Sarah Silverman says she was fired from film project over blackface clip

By Sam Sokol

(JTA)—Sarah Silverman said she was fired from a movie role after producers saw a clip of her in blackface, the Jewish comedian said in an interview on The Bill Simmons Podcast.

“I recently was going to do two days on a movie, a sweet part in a cool little movie, then at 11 p.m. the night before, they fired me because they saw a picture of me in blackface from that episode,” Silverman said, referring to her now canceled Comedy Central sitcom “The Sarah Silverman Program.”

In the episode, Silverman put on blackface in an effort to prove a point about who faces more discrimination, Jews or African-Americans.

In the interview, she said she had changed as a person and that she understood that wearing blackface is “never OK.”

Blackface, which has a long history in American entertainment, is considered deeply racist and offensive to African-Americans.

This is not the first time that Silverman has courted controversy with a racially charged comedy routine. In 2016, she appeared on the TBS show “Conan” dressed as Adolf Hitler.

Silverman recently was subject to racial harassment herself: Last week, she tweeted an undated video of a Florida pastor delivering an anti-Semitic rant in which he called for God to loose his divine wrath upon her.

Brooklyn Jewish school installs bullet-resistant classroom doors in wake of mass shootings

By Sam Sokol

(JTA)—An Orthodox girls’ school in Brooklyn has installed bullet-resistant classroom doors to keep out shooters.

Bnos Menachem in the heavily Hasidic Crown Heights neighborhood is the first of more than 50 Jewish schools and synagogues in Brooklyn to have the 150-pound metal doors installed by an Israel-based manufacturer, the New York Post reported Saturday.

The doors cost $2,500. The school was able to secure about $150,000 in a state Homeland Security grant, the Post reported, citing the manufacturer, Remo Security Doors.

The installation at Bnos Menachem started last week.

Remo’s president, Omer Barnes, said a bullet may penetrate the door, but a shooter could not get in.

“No weapon will open the door,” he told the Post.

A mother of one of the students told the newspaper that “it’s a very secure feeling to know that there’s a security measure and that they’re really thinking about the safety of the children.”

Following recent shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, California, congregations across the country are drilling their members on how to act in a shooting attack on their premises.

In May, the New York Police Department said that the number of hate crimes reported this year was nearly double the number reported in 2018 during the same period—and most incidents are anti-Semitic. Crown Heights, in particular, has seen a spike in violent anti-Semitic incidents.

Pittsburgh rabbi calls on US attorney general to forgo death penalty for synagogue gunman

By Sam Sokol

(JTA)—Don’t seek the death penalty for the Pittsburgh synagogue gunman.

That’s the message from a spiritual leader at one of the three congregations that share the Tree of Life synagogue building to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, whose New Light Congregation lost three worshippers in the October attack by Robert Bowers that killed 11, has written to Barr “as a victim of the attack,” reminding him that “both our religious traditions, yours Catholic and mine Jewish, vigorously oppose the death penalty.”

Although the Bible does condemn those who commit certain sins to death, he continued, the Talmud says that a court that puts a man to death once every 70 years is called a “bloodthirsty court.”

“I would like the Pittsburgh killer to be incarcerated for the rest of his life without parole. He should meditate on whether taking action on some white separatist fantasy against the Jewish people was really worth it,” Perlman said. “Let him live with it forever. I am mainly interested in not letting this thug cause my community any further pain.”

He added that his congregants were still tending their wounds and did not wish to have them opened anew.

Bowers allegedly yelled “I want to kill all Jews” during the attack. His indictment noted that he made statements against the Jewish immigration advocacy agency HIAS and Jews on the website gab.com.

Mahmoud Abbas snubs visiting Republicans

By Sam Sokol

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declined to meet with a Republican congressional delegation only a week after meeting with a Democratic group on a visit to Israel.

Abbas dropped out of a scheduled meeting in Ramallah with the delegation of 31 Republicans, according to Jewish Insider, leaving the lawmakers to meet with PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

The group’s visit was arranged by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation.

One lawmaker told Jewish Insider that he skipped the trip to Ramallah after finding out that Abbas would not be meeting with the group.

“He canceled on the Republicans,” Rep. Anthony Gonzalez told the news outlet. “I think it’s because the administration has been awfully hard on Palestinians and very supportive of Israel—which is the right thing to do—and I think he saw the Republicans as maybe not worth his time.”

The Palestinian Authority has been angered by Republican President Donald Trump’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, cut funding for aid programs and seemingly walk back the American commitment to a two-state solution.


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