Weekly roundup of world briefs
November 15, 2019
Hasidic Jews chased and punched in series of attacks in Brooklyn’s Borough Park
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Several identifiably Jewish men and boys were attacked in a string of assaults in the Borough Park community of Brooklyn on the same night.
Three of the attacks late Friday night involved the same passenger car over five blocks, the Yeshiva World News reported. Surveillance cameras captured each incident, in which several men jump out of the car and chase Hasidic men and boys. In one incident, the passengers punched a Hasidic man after their vehicle pinned him against a parked car. Victims also were punched in two other incidents.
Yeshiva World News reported that the victims are hesitant to file reports with the New York Police Department since suspects often are charged only with harassment.
The number of hate crimes against Jews in New York City rose significantly over the first nine months of this year. The NYPD reported 311 total hate crimes through September, as opposed to 250 through the same period in 2018. Some 52 percent of the reported hate crimes, or 163, targeted Jews. Over the same period last year, the NYPD reported 108 anti-Semitic hate crimes.
Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach to be honored for his support of Israel
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach will be honored “for his work as a strong supporter of Israel and other Zionist causes.”
The Bnai Zion Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in the United States that identifies and funds capital projects in Israel, will present the Dallas Cowboys great with its 2019 American-Israel Friendship Award at an event in Dallas on Monday.
Staubach wrote in a commentary published in the Dallas Morning News ahead of the awards ceremony that “(M)y Catholic roots have always helped me see the importance of an Israeli homeland.”
The Heisman Trophy winner called the purchase of Israel Bonds while a student at the U.S. Naval Academy, because they were affordable, “my first link to Israel.”
He also wrote: “Israel is a very special place that represents so many faiths. It covers everyone and everything, and you don’t have to be Jewish to understand its singular status and to support it as a nation and an idea.”
Proceeds from the event will support the Bnai Zion Medical Center in northern Israel. Dr. Zeck Lieberman, an oncology surgeon at the Baylor University Medical Center for 55 years, will receive the L’Dor v’Dor Award.
Since its founding in 1908, Bnai Zion has completed hundreds of life-changing projects in Israel in the areas of social inclusion, health and culture, the organization said in a statement.
Staubach joined the Cowboys in 1969 and played with the club for his 11 NFL seasons, leading them to the Super Bowl five times, including two victories.
Barney’s department stores to be sold off in pieces after nearly a century in business
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Barney’s New York, a century-old chain of department stores launched by a Jewish clothier, will be sold off in pieces after declaring bankruptcy in August.
The chain was sold on Friday to the fashion licensing company Authentic Brands Group and financial firm B. Riley for $271.4 million, a day after the sale was approved by a bankruptcy court.
Barney Pressman, whose father owned a clothing store, opened his first department store in Manhattan in 1923.
B. Riley said it will hold liquidation sales at Barney’s remaining seven U.S. stores, starting next week with private events for its most loyal customers, The Associated Press reported.
Authentic Brands said it will turn the iconic Madison Avenue store into a center for pop-up businesses, including boutiques as well as art and cultural installations. It also plans to license the Barney’s New York name to Saks Fifth Avenue, which will open a Barney’s New York reboot on Saks’ fifth floor. Saks also will launch Barney’s New York shops in some of its other stores in the U.S. and Canada.
A new Netflix comedy is about a young Orthodox man who falls for a non-Jewish woman
By Josefin Dolsten
(JTA)—A new Netflix rom-com may be its most Jewish offering yet.
“The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch” takes place in the Orthodox community in Zurich, Switzerland.
The titular character is a young man whose mother desperately wants him to marry a nice Jewish woman. But Motti, who is played by the Swiss-Israeli actor Joel Basman, ends up falling for a non-Jewish student named Laura, whom he meets at university.
The film came out in Switzerland in 2018 but joined the Netflix lineup last month. It is based on a novel “Wolkenbruch’s Wondrous Journey Into the Arms of a Shiksa” by the Swiss-Jewish author Thomas Meyer, and features dialogue in Yiddish and German.
Iran announces further violations of nuclear deal
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Iran announced further violations of the nuclear deal it signed with world powers.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said in an interview Monday on state television that the Islamic Republic is building a prototype centrifuge that is 50 times faster than those allowed under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in 2015, The Associated Press reported.
The announcement came on the day that Iranians marked the 40th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy, which marked the beginning of the 444-day hostage crisis.
Salehi also said that Tehran is now operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges, or double the number Iran was known to have, in violation of the nuclear deal.
Since the Trump administration pulled out of the agreement more than a year ago and reimposed economic sanctions, Iran has begun to arrogate parts of the deal.
China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union remain committed to the pact known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
In July, Iran breached the nuclear enrichment level set by the deal. Later the same month Tehran announced that it had exceeded the cap set by the deal on the purity of its uranium stocks.
With the advanced centrifuges, Iran soon will have enough material to build a nuclear weapon.
Men dressed as Jews hand out Holocaust denial fliers at Boulder mall
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—A group of men who appeared to be posing as Jews handed out fliers promoting Holocaust denial and hung up cards bearing anti-Semitic canards on a pedestrian mall in Boulder, Colorado.
The fliers handed out at the Pearl Street Mall claimed the Holocaust was “impossible.” The men, who wore large white kippahs and tallesim, or prayer shawls, also hung notes on index cards that claimed “Academia is dominated by Marxist Jews,” Jews run the porn industry” and “Jews ran the Atlantic slave trade,” the Daily Camera newspaper reported.
The men livestreamed their actions, according to the report.
As of Sunday morning, no reports were filed with police about the fliers, Boulder police told the newspaper.
Twitter suspends accounts associated with Hezbollah and Hamas
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Hezbollah’s television station Al-Manar said that most of the Twitter accounts associated with the station were suspended.
The accounts in English, French and Spanish were said to be suspended, but the Twitter handles of specific television shows seemed to be working, the news agency AFP reported.
“There is no place on Twitter for illegal terrorist organizations and violent extremist groups,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.
Hezbollah was part of the last government in Lebanon, but it is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States, Israel and several other countries. Its military wing specifically is designated as a terror group by the European Union.
Meanwhile, Twitter also suspended Hamas-affiliated accounts in English and Arabic, according to reports. The United States and Israel also classify Hamas as a terror organization.
“Kudos to @Twitter for suspending the accounts of terror groups #Hezbollah and #Hamas. Internationally recognized terror groups should never have a platform for their violent extremism,” Jonathan Conricus, international spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces tweeted.
Jewish astronaut Jessica Meir posts photos of Israel taken from space
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Jewish astronaut Jessica Meir posted photos of Israel that she took from space.
“My father’s globe spanning journey as a surgeon from the Middle East, to Europe, and eventually to the U.S. was an inspiration to many in my immediate and extended family. #TheJourney,” Meir tweeted on Friday.
In late September, Meir joined the crew of the International Space Station. Two weeks ago Meir participated in the first all-female spacewalk.
Meir’s late father was born in Iraq but immigrated with his family to prestate Israel as a young child, later fighting in the country’s War of Independence in 1948. He went on to become a doctor and take a job in Sweden, where he met Meir’s mother. The couple moved to Maine when Meir’s father was offered a job there.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin responded in a tweet.
“Dear Jessica, thank you for taking us with you on your space voyage. We are proud of you and send warm regards from Israel,” he tweeted.
Meir brought an Israeli flag to the space station as one of her allowed personal items.
Vladimir Putin claims he’s helping Jews in Syria—but there may not be any
By Ben Sales
(JTA)—Vladimir Putin claims that his country is aiding the Jews of Syria.
Except it’s unclear whether any Jews actually remain in Syria after more than eight years of civil war.
“We also help representatives of Judaism, we help Jews also in the restoration of their shrines in Syria, and we are in fact cooperating with them on an ongoing basis,” he said at a recent news conference in Budapest, according to a Kremlin news release.
Syria was home to some 100,000 Jews at the turn of the 20th century, but tens of thousands fled following the establishment of the State of Israel. A handful were left in the country at the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, but it’s unclear whether any of them are still there, according to The Times of Israel.
You can buy Marilyn Monroe’s menorah for $150,000
By Ben Sales
(JTA)—For $150,000, you can light a literal candle in the wind—or eight—on a menorah owned by Marilyn Monroe.
The bombshell film icon’s menorah will go up for auction by Kestenbaum & Co. on Nov. 7 in New York with a guide price of $100,000 to $150,000, according to CNN.
Monroe came to own a menorah when she converted to Judaism to marry playwright Arthur Miller. The brass-plated candelabra has a wind-up mechanism at its base that plays Israel’s national anthem. Miller’s parents bought it for Monroe.
The couple divorced in 1961, a year before Monroe’s death at 36.
Last year, Monroe’s siddur was auctioned off for $26,250. The prayer book, which looks to have been given to Monroe by Miller’s Brooklyn synagogue, apparently was used. A photo of one of the book’s pages shows the blessing for ritual fringes circled in pencil with the word “omit” scribbled next to it. According to Orthodox custom, only men put on ritual fringes.
Man tries to break into French Jewish school while shouting anti-Semitic slurs
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—A man who tried to break into a Jewish school in southern France while shouting insults about Jews was prevented from entering by the guard and arrested after fleeing the scene.
In the incident Tuesday at the Or Torah school in Nice, the man had come intimidate students, witnesses told the Nice Matain newspaper. While confronting the would-be intruder, the guard sounded an alarm system that alerted faculty to a threat, prompting them to evacuate hundreds of children into a safe space within a matter of minutes.
The guard’s “quick action,” as Mayor Christian Estrosi called it in a statement, allowed police to arrest the man shortly after he fled. Neither the suspect nor the guard were named in the French media.
“I would like to acknowledge the cool-headed and courageousness of the guard,” Estrosi wrote after praising the police’s handling of the incident and condemning anti-Semitic violence and hate as “unacceptable.”
In March 2012, a jihadist terrorist broke into the Otzar Hatorah school in Toulouse and killed three children and a rabbi before escaping on a scooter. The killings prompted an overhaul of the security arrangements of Jewish institutions throughout France and beyond.
Watch Iranian soldiers stand at attention and salute during Jewish mourner’s prayer
By Ben Sales
(JTA)—Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps stood at attention and saluted as a Jewish man recited a prayer of mourning in a cemetery.
The occasion was a memorial this week for Jewish soldiers who died in the Iran-Iraq war three decades ago. Members of the corps are seen saluting as a Jewish man in a black hat and beard recites a Hebrew prayer at a Jewish gravesite. Members of Iran’s Jewish community of 15,000 are subject to the country’s mandatory draft, according to The Times of Israel.
The video was shared on Twitter by Israeli reporter Nir Dvori, who called the video “unique and exceptional.” Iran’s leadership regularly calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.
Larry Cohler-Esses, a Jewish journalist who lived in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and visited the country in 2015 for the Forward, wrote in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last year that the country’s Jews face a complex situation.
“Many Jews in Iran are safe and happy—at least enough to prefer staying there rather than gamble by uprooting themselves for an uncertain future elsewhere,” he wrote. “And Iran is a country whose most powerful forces—within a divided government—are radical Islamists who do seek to do what they can to ultimately liquidate Israel as a Jewish state, albeit not at the cost of their own country’s existence.”
Jewish umbrella group condemns candidates’ calls to put conditions on Israel aid
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—An umbrella group of more than 50 Jewish organizations from across the ideological spectrum condemned calls by Democratic presidential candidates to condition military aid to Israel on its approach to making peace with the Palestinians.
“We are deeply troubled by recent statements that would place conditions, limitations, or restrictions on the U.S. security assistance provided to Israel, so vital for the defense and security of the country, the protection of essential U.S. interests, and stability in the region,” Arthur Stark, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman/CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement issued Friday. “This approach would harm American objectives in the Middle East and would undermine the ability of our key ally to defend itself against the threats it faces on all its borders.”
Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, along with Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, recently have indicated a willingness to use American aid to force policy changes by Israel, including halting settlement construction. The United States gives Israel $3.8 billion annually in military assistance.
“Adoption of this suggested approach would reward those who are the true obstacles to progress towards peace, engage in terrorism, and deprive the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank of the opportunities for a better life,” the Presidents Conference statement also said. “Further, it would harm the prospect of negotiations. Israelis must be assured that they will be able to defend themselves and deter those who would seek to destroy them” in order to negotiate.
The umbrella group criticized the candidates for making no mention of Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs Gaza.