Weekly roundup of world briefs
October 25, 2019
Fliers with anti-Jewish and anti-Israel messages left on cars in New Jersey township
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Fliers with what police described as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish messages were left on cars parked near a restaurant and movie theater in Evesham Township, New Jersey.
One of the fliers tied Jewish Hollywood producers to pedophilia and child rape, the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia reported. The township is considered a suburb of Philadelphia.
Police told the news outlet that a second flier made racist statements about Israel and a third is about Jews and world finances.
“Evesham Township has absolutely zero tolerance for such flagrant anti-Semitism, or any other form of evil and bigotry in our town,” Mayor Jaclyn Veasy said, CBS reported.
Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat wins silver at World Championships and qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Games
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Gymnast Artem Dolgopyat became the latest Israeli to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
He won a silver medal in the men’s floor exercise at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
It is Dolgopyat’s second silver medal at the World Championship, after winning one in 2017.
Dolgopyat, 22, scored 15.200 points, just behind Carlos Yulo of the Philippines, who scored 15.300 to win the gold medal in Saturday’s competition.
Alexander Shatilov, 32, who has represented Israel at the last three summer Olympics, also qualified during the World Championships for the Tokyo games.
Swastikas spray painted on gravestones in Haifa cemetery for Commonwealth WWI casualties
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Swastikas were spray painted on dozens of gravestones in a Haifa cemetery for World War I casualties from the United Kingdom and its former colonies.
“The desecration of the graves of the World War I heroes in Haifa is an abhorrent crime. We owe these soldiers a historical debt for the liberation of the Land of Israel from Ottoman rule. We are doing everything necessary to find those responsible and bring them to justice,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued Saturday night.
The vandalism of about 50 gravestones at the Commonwealth military cemetery was discovered on Friday. In addition to the spray-painted graffiti, some of the gravestones were knocked over, and at least three were smashed and destroyed.
The cemetery includes the graves of 305 soldiers who fought in the region in World War I, 86 of whom are unidentified. There are also graves for 36 casualties of World War II. In addition to the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Nations also includes Australia and Canada.
Several gravestones also were vandalized in the Templar Cemetery located next door.
Gal Gadot to star in film about Polish heroine Irena Sendler
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli actress Gal Gadot will star as Polish heroine Irena Sendler, who saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazis, in a film produced by the actress and her husband.
Gadot and her husband Yaron Varsano have formed the production company Pilot Wave. Gadot will star as Sendler in the historical thriller for Warner Bros, and she and Varsano will produce with Marc Platt, Deadline Hollywood first reported.
Gadot, whose Wonder Woman sequel is set to be released early next year, said in a post on Instagram that she and her husband have been “working on this for quite some time and I just CAN’T wait to bring to life all the amazing stories we’re working on with all of our wonderfully talented partners.”
“As producers, we want to help bring stories that have inspired us to life. Pilot Wave will create content that promotes the perspectives and experiences of unique people and produce impactful stories aimed at igniting the imagination,” she also wrote.
Gadot also will star in a Showtime limited series about Jewish actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, with she and her husband also serving as executive producers.
She also will star in “Red Notice,” also starring Ryan Reynolds and Duane Johnson, the biggest feature film ever made by Netflix. The action thriller, set for release in late 2020, is centered around the pursuit of the most wanted art thief in the world.
Florida jury finds hit-man guilty in murder of Jewish law professor
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A Tallahassee, Florida jury has found a man guilty in the murder of Dan Markel, a Jewish law professor shot outside his home in 2014.
The jury on Friday found Sigfredo Garcia, 37, guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, the New York Times reported. Sentencing begins on Monday. Garcia faces the death penalty in the case.
The same jury was unable to reach a verdict on the same charges against Katherine Magbanua, 35, leading the judge to declare a mistrial.
A third person charged in the murder, Luis Rivera, a close friend of Garcia and a former leader of the North Miami Latin Kings gang, cooperated with law enforcement. Under a plea deal, Rivera testified against Garcia and Magbanua, receiving a 19-year sentence and avoiding the death penalty.
Markel was a popular 41-year-old professor at Florida State University at the time of his death. He was a well-known criminal law scholar who had helped build a network of online legal scholarship.
He and his wife Wendi Adelson divorced in 2013 and received joint custody of their sons. At the time of Markel’s death, Adelson had asked for and been denied permission to move with the boys to South Florida.
Adelson’s brother and mother then arranged the murder for hire of Merkel for $100,000, prosecutors said. None of the Adelsons has been charged in the case.
Netanyahu intervenes in case of Israeli-American woman jailed in Russia, but can’t strike deal with Putin
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has personally intervened in the case of an Israeli-American woman who was sentenced in Russia to 7 1/2 years in prison after being convicted of smuggling marijuana into the country. But Russia has not shown signs that it will release her.
Netanyahu has been involved in the case of Naama Issachar for several weeks, according to a statement from his office issued on Friday. He has discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Sochi on Sept. 12 and during a phone call last week.
Russia had tried exchanging Issachar for Aleksey Burkov, a Russian hacker held in Israel set to be extradited to the United States.
Burkov is wanted in the U.S. on embezzlement charges for a massive credit card scheme which allegedly stole millions of dollars from American consumers.
Netanyahu requested a commuting of the sentence and an easing of the terms of Issachar’s detention.
A Moscow court handed down the sentence to Issachar, a 26-year-old Israeli army veteran, on Friday.
She has been detained in Russia since April after 9 grams of marijuana were found in her luggage before a connecting flight in Russia on the way from India to Israel, where she moved while in high school. She denies the marijuana was hers.
Nine grams is less than a third of an ounce and is within the legal limit for personal use in Israel.
In Russia, possession of such an amount by a foreigner would normally result in up to a month’s detention, a fine and expulsion, her lawyer told her family, according to The New York Times.
“The punishment being demanded by the Russian prosecutor is disproportionate and does not fit the nature of the offense being attributed to Issachar,” the statement from Netanyahu’s office said.
German synagogue attacker confesses and says he had anti-Semitic motive
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—The German man suspected of killing two people near a synagogue on Yom Kippur has confessed to the attack and said that he had anti-Semitic and far-right motives, the German federal prosecutor’s officer said.
Stephan Balliet, 27, made a “very comprehensive” confession during an hours-long interrogation, according to a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe, who spoke to reporters on Friday. “He confirmed far-right and anti-Semitic motives” for the attack, the spokesman also said, the AFP news agency reported.
Despite the guilty plea, Balliet still will stand trial for the attack last week, on a synagogue in the city of Halle, in central Germany. He tried to enter the synagogue with explosives but was stymied by its locked doors. He then turned his gunfire on a woman outside and a man in a nearby kebab shop, killing both.
It is not clear how his confession will affect sentencing in his case, which is being treated as a terrorist attack.
California establishes fund to protect nonprofits from hate crimes
By JTA staff
(JTA)—California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that provides grant funding to nonprofit organizations at risk from hate-inspired violence.
AB-1548, partially catalyzed by the deadly shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, in April, establishes the California State Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides grants up to $200,000 for security guards, reinforced doors, alarm systems and other measures to protect “high risk” nonprofits.
The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, the vice chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. In a statement Friday, Gabriel welcomed the signing of the law, saying it “sends a powerful message that California stands firmly with those targeted by hate.” The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California also welcomed the law.
“As a sponsor of AB 1584, the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California is grateful to Governor Newsom for his leadership on the California Nonprofit Security Grant Program and his commitment to funding the program in his 2019 budget,” said Julie Zeisler, JPAC’s executive director.
The new law is part of a $15 million increase in state funding to help protect nonprofits that Newsom announced in the wake of the Poway shooting.
Teach CA, a project of the Orthodox Union, advocated for the funding. “Today, the California state legislature and the Governor have shown their commitment to the safety and security of all Californians, including those most at risk of bias or hate crimes,” said Dan Mitzner, Teach CA’s director of state political affairs.
German synagogue attacker reportedly admits to receiving anonymous financial support online
By JTA staff
(JTA)—The German man suspected of killing two people near a synagogue this week reportedly told German investigators that he received approximately $800 from an anonymous online donor prior to the attack.
The German publication Der Spiegel reported Friday that the accused, Stephan Balliet, had received the money in the form of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin from an unknown person with whom he communicated on the internet, according to his defense attorney Hans-Dieter Weber.
Balliet is accused of an attack Wednesday on a synagogue in the city of Halle, in central Germany. He tried to enter the synagogue with explosives but was stymied by its locked doors. He then turned his gunfire on a woman outside and a man in a nearby kebab shop, killing both.
The victims were identified Friday as Jana Lange, 40, and Kevin S., 20.
Brazilian scholarship campaign for Jewish students collects $4.1 million in 3 days
By Marcus M. Gilban
SAO PAULO (JTA)—Donations to a Brazilian scholarship campaign to benefit Jewish students collected $4.1 million in three days.
More than 3,000 donors contributed Oct. 5-7 to assists students from the 15 Jewish schools in Sao Paulo.
“Everyone was highly committed, including synagogues, schools, member of Orthodox and Liberal communities, all of them talking, meeting, and respecting each other,” the president of the Sao Paulo Jewish federation, Luiz Kignel, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We are setting an example of community living and we should be proud of our community.”
Donors, known in the campaign as matchers, included the Jewish-Brazilian billionaire businessmen and philanthropist Elie Horn. Thanks to generous matchers, each donated real—the Brazilian currency, worth about a quarter to the U.S. dollar—was eventually multiplied by four.
The Charidy Scholarship Fund aims to provide formal Jewish education for those with economic need. Supported by the Sao Paulo Jewish federation and other institutions, the fund was created in 2016 as an independent entity to manage the scholarships.
Some 1,900 Jewish students, or 40 percent of the 4,800 who attend Jewish schools, count on the support to pay monthly tuitions of up to $1,500.
Sao Paulo is home to half of Brazil’s Jewish community of 120,000. In 2018, a record 700 Brazilian Jews moved to Israel, according to the Jewish Agency, due to quality of life, urban violence and a longtime economic crisis in the South American nation.
2 children riding bicycles killed in separate incidents in Israel on Yom Kippur
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Two children riding bicycles were killed in two incidents in Israel on Yom Kippur.
Israeli children and adults flood the streets of Israel on the holiday, when the roads are empty of cars, buses and trucks.
An 8-year-old boy was hit by a car on a main thoroughfare in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. The driver is suspected of drug dealing and of trying to hide the evidence after he hit the boy. Amir Abu Laben, 20, from Ramle, was seen throwing something into the bushes after the accident. Police searched the bushes and found 1.6 grams of cocaine.
A 10-year-old boy on a bicycle was hit by a motorcycle on Route 443 near the Ben-Shemen Youth Village in central Israel.
Magen David Adom told Israeli media that it treated more than 250 people for injuries related to cycling, rollerblading, scooters, and skateboards. Another nearly 270 people were treated for conditions related to fasting, including being dehydrated, feeling ill or fainting. MDA paramedics also delivered three babies and took care of 140 women in labor.
Bernie Sanders says he will run ‘vigorous’ campaign after heart attack
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Sen. Bernie Sanders backpedaled after indicating he would curtail his campaign following a heart attack, saying he would run a “vigorous” campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
“I misspoke the other day. I said a word I should not have said and media drives me a little bit nuts to make a big deal about it,” Sanders said during an interview with NBC News on Wednesday evening. “We’re going to get back into the groove of a very vigorous campaign, I love doing rallies and I love doing town meetings.”
He added, “I want to start off slower and build up and build up and build up.”
On Tuesday, in remarks to reporters in front of his home in Burlington, Vermont, Sanders suggested that he would “change the nature of the campaign a bit. Make sure that I have the strength to do what I have to do.”
He also said that he was “dumb” for ignoring warning symptoms, including being more fatigued than usual while on the campaign trail.
On Oct. 1, Sanders experienced “chest discomfort” at a campaign event in Nevada and was taken to the hospital, where two stents were inserted in his heart for an artery blockage. Days later his campaign confirmed that he had suffered a heart attack.
His campaign says he will participate in the next Democratic presidential debate, in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 15.
Sanders said that he plans to release all of his medical records, but did not say when.
Backpack set alight on steps of Jewish center in Brooklyn over Yom Kippur
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A backpack was set alight and left on the steps of a Jewish center in Brooklyn on Yom Kippur.
The burning backpack on the steps of the Park Slope Jewish Center was reported at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, the New York Post reported. The New York City Fire Department extinguished the blaze.
An unidentified man was seen rummaging through the backpack and setting it on fire, the Post reported citing police sources.
Police throughout New York had increased patrols around synagogues for the Yom Kippur holiday.