Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Weekly roundup of world briefs

 

November 22, 2019



Virginia House will have its first female and first Jewish speaker

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—The Virginia House of Delegates will have its first female and first Jewish speaker.

The current minority leader, Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn, 55, of Fairfax County, Virginia, was chosen as speaker by the House’s incoming Democrats on Saturday. She has served in the state General Assembly since 2010.

Filler-Corn said in a statement that she is “humbled and honored” to have been chosen speaker by her colleagues.

“The firsts are not lost one me—the first woman and the first Jewish person elected Speaker-designee in our 400-year legislative history—but it doesn’t define me. When I joined this body less than 10 years ago, I was the only mom serving with school-aged kids. We have come so far since then. We have the most diverse House Caucus in our history, which includes cultural, gender and geographic diversity. It also means a diversity of experience and perspectives on issues that affect Virginians, in all regions,” she said in the statement.

Democrats won a majority in the Virginia State house on Tuesday. It is the first time in 20 years that Democrats will be the majority, The Associated Press reported.

Filler-Corn is on the board of directors of the Washington region’s American Jewish Committee chapter. Until Saturday she had been serving as leader of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.

Arizona opens trade office in Tel Aviv

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—The state of Arizona opened a trade and investment office in Israel.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the opening on Friday, Arizona Public Radio KNAU reported.

The office, established with $250,000 from the state’s 2020 budget, is part of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Imports and exports between Arizona and Israel totaled more than $460 million in 2018, according to the report, double the amount in 2010. Ducey led the first ever Arizona trade mission to Israel in 2015.

Iran announces discovery of new oil field containing 50-plus billion barrels of crude

(JNS)—Iran has discovered a new oil field containing more than 53 billion barrels of crude, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Sunday, increasing the country’s proven reserves by more than a third.

Speaking on official state TV, Rouhani called the new field, which he said covers some 920 square miles in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province, “a small gift by the government to the people of Iran,” according to AFP.

If the figures stated by Rouhani are correct, the new field would add some 34 percent to Iran’s proven reserves, estimated by energy giant BP at 155.6 billion barrels of crude oil, according to the report.

Iran is a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and possesses what were already the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest gas reserves.

Before sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump disrupted Iran’s oil sector in 2015, Iran was the second-largest oil exporter in the world.

Hot and dry conditions spark fires in northern Israel

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Hot and dry conditions in Israel have sparked forest fires in the country’s north.

At least four fires broke out overnight Sunday to Monday as Israel’s unseasonable heatwave continues.

The weather is expected to remain hot and dry through Thursday.

The largest fire, involving 10 firefighting teams, continued to rage Monday in the village of Nahalal in the Jezreel Valley. The fire consumed the agricultural community’s straw storage.

Three people sustained light injuries—two in an apartment fire in Haifa and a third by a bushfire near the village of Dahi in the country’s northeast, the Times of Israel reported.

The fires burning on Monday come after large fires on Sunday, including one outside of Jerusalem near Tzur Hadassah, which required 18 firefighting teams, including six firefighting planes to bring it under control, the Times of Israel reported.

A second fire on Sunday next to Kibbutz Ein Shemer located near Hadera in the north, required 15 firefighting teams and two firefighting planes.

1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible goes on display in Washington

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—A 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible has gone on public display at a museum in Washington, D.C.

The bible, called the Washington Pentateuch, was unveiled Thursday at the Museum of the Bible.

It is one of the oldest intact Hebrew Bible manuscripts in the United States, according to a statement from the museum. It contains all five books of Moses.

The Bible was first owned by a Jewish community in Ukraine, which gave it as a gift to a local archbishop in the 19th century. During the 20th century, the manuscript was owned by collectors in Israel and the United Kingdom before it was purchased by the museum and went on display in D.C., according to Haaretz.

The Museum of the Bible, which opened in November 2017 and cost $500 million to build, was largely funded by the evangelical Green family, which runs the Hobby Lobby chain of crafts stores. Its president, Steven Green, serves as the museum’s chairman.

Iran announces discovery of new oil field containing 50-plus billion barrels of crude

(JNS)—Iran has discovered a new oil field containing more than 53 billion barrels of crude, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Sunday, increasing the country’s proven reserves by more than a third.

Speaking on official state TV, Rouhani called the new field, which he said covers some 920 square miles in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province, “a small gift by the government to the people of Iran,” according to AFP.

If the figures stated by Rouhani are correct, the new field would add some 34 percent to Iran’s proven reserves, estimated by energy giant BP at 155.6 billion barrels of crude oil, according to the report.

Iran is a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and possesses what were already the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest gas reserves.

Before sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump disrupted Iran’s oil sector in 2015, Iran was the second-largest oil exporter in the world.

In Veterans Day address, Trump told story of American who defied Nazi command to identify Jewish soldiers

By Josefin Dolsten

NEW YORK (JTA)—President Donald Trump told the story of an Army sergeant who defied a Nazi command to identify which of his fellow American soldiers were Jewish.

During his Veterans Day speech Monday in New York, Trump told the story of Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, Military.com reported.

Edmonds, who died in 1985, was a senior noncommissioned officer in a German prisoner of war camp in 1944. When the camp commander ordered all the Jews to step forward, he refused to allow it.

“We are all Jews,” said Edmonds, who was not Jewish.

Threatened with a gun, he said, “You can shoot me, but you will have to shoot all of us, and when the war comes to an end you will be tried as a war criminal.”

The commandant turned and walked away.

Trump pointed out that two people connected to Edmonds were in the audience: his granddaughter Lauren Matthews and former Staff Sgt. Lester Tanner, one of the Jewish soldiers saved by Edmonds.

Tanner gave testimony that helped Edmonds get posthumously recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as a Righteous Among the Nations. He was the first American soldier to receive the award.

Haim, Jack Black and more record songs for a Hanukkah album

By Gabe Friedman

(JTA)—Adam Sandler is finally getting some competition in the Hanukkah music world.

Haim, Jack Black, the Flaming Lips, Yo La Tengo and other prominent artists have recorded songs for a Hanukkah album titled “Hanukkah+,” the record label Verve Forecast has announced.

The album is out Nov. 22 and also features contributions from folk singer Loudon Wainwright III, Adam Green (of the band Moldy Peaches), Alex Frankel (of the electronic group Holy Ghost and a founder of the Jewish deli Frankel’s in Brooklyn) and more.

Rolling Stone reported that the record is a mix of covers and original songs. Haim’s contribution is a cover of the late Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will.” Black wrote two originals, and the Flaming Lips and Wainwright also penned new songs for the album.

The project is the brainchild of Grammy-winning music supervisor Randall Poster, who was inspired by Yo La Tengo’s annual run of Hanukkah concerts.

“When our old friend Randy Poster asked us to contribute to an album of Hanukkah songs he was putting together, we were kind of stumped,” Yo La Tengo, which is led by singer Ira Kaplan, said in a statement. “As non-practicing Jews (and non-Jews), truthfully the holiday has little meaning for us (that’s the meta joke behind Yo La Tengo’s Hanukkah shows), but we were open to inspiration.”

Quentin Tarantino and Israeli wife Daniella Pick rent home in Tel Aviv

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—U.S. filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and his Israeli wife, actress and model Daniella Pick, are renting a home in Tel Aviv.

The home in an affluent neighborhood in the northern part of the city rents for nearly $23,000 a month, the Israeli business daily Globes reported. It is two floors and 5,000 square feet, and is located near the Kikar Hamedina, a major plaza of high-end shops and restaurants.

The couple, who were married a year ago, are expecting their first child. They announced the pregnancy in August but did not say when the baby was due.

It will be the first child for both Tarantino, 56, and for Pick, 35. She is the daughter of the popular Israeli singer and composer Svika Pick.

State Department says EU court decision on settlement labeling promotes Israel boycott

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—The decision by the European Union court to uphold the requirement to label foodstuffs that originate in Israeli settlements is ”suggestive of anti-Israel bias,” the  U.S. State Department said.

“This requirement serves only to encourage, facilitate, and promote boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel,” the statement issued Wednesday said.

The statement also said that the United States “unequivocally opposes any effort to engage in BDS, or to otherwise economically pressure, isolate, or otherwise delegitimize Israel.”

The ruling Tuesday by the Court of Justice of the European Union was on a case brought by Psagot, a West Bank winery that claimed it was being discriminated against because of a requirement passed by the French government for labeling. The requirement was based on European Commission regulations from 2015.

The court rejected the lawsuit and reaffirmed both the French government’s requirement and the European Commission regulation.

The statement added that the “path toward resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations.  America stands with Israel against efforts to economically pressure, isolate, or delegitimize it.”

Jews again were the victims of most of the religion-based hate crimes in 2018

By Ben Sales

(JTA)—Despite the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting last year, hate crimes against American Jews decreased 11 percent overall in 2018, according to the FBI’s annual hate crimes report.

But Jews were again were the victims of the majority of hate crimes that were based on religion last year in the United States.

The 2018 Hate Crimes Statistics Report found that of 1,419 incidents of hate last year based on religion, Jews suffered 835, or about 58 percent of the total. That’s a drop of 11 percent in anti-Semitic incidents from 2017, when Jews suffered 938 incidents. Religion-based hate crimes also decreased approximately 10 percent from 2017.

But hate crime murders totaled 24—the highest number since the FBI began tracking statistics in 1991, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL said that the high number was attributable to the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October 2018.

Overall, hate crimes decreased slightly, to 7,120 in 2018 from 7,175 the previous year, with the majority based on race. Almost 19 percent were based on religion and nearly 17 percent on sexual orientation.

Israel’s National Library partners with Google to digitize 120,000 books

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Some 120,000 books from the collection of the National Library of Israel will go online in a collaboration between the library and Google.

The digitation process, which is expected to take about two years, is underway, the library said in a statement, which calls the process “complex.”

The books must be shipped in containers meeting strict climate-control and security requirements from the library located in Jerusalem to the Google digitization center in Germany.

The collection includes the library’s out-of-copyright books that have not yet been digitized.

About 45 percent are in Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino, with the rest in languages including Latin, English, German, French, Arabic and Russian.

The collaboration is part of the Google Books project, which includes over 40 million books from over 70 major libraries in the United States, Europe and Japan, as well as from thousands of publishers. It includes books in over 400 languages, including Hebrew.

“We are very happy to be working with Google in fulfilling our mission to open access to the treasures of Jewish, Israeli and universal culture for diverse audiences across the globe,” Yaron Deutscher, head of Digital Access for the National Library, said in a statement. “More specifically, it is a significant contribution to our work opening digital access to all books published in the first 450 years of Hebrew printing.”

Amazon adds Hebrew to its international website

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Amazon has made its international website available in Hebrew and is offering free delivery on purchases over $49.

Hebrew becomes the eighth language offered by Amazon. The Hebrew site launched Monday also provides prices quoted in shekels. Customer service also will be available in Hebrew, according to the Israeli business website Calcalist.

International orders from Amazon will continue to be subject to local import laws and regulations. Duty on imports is waived for orders under $75.

Amazon also has a local sales platform that hosts Israeli merchants for Israeli customers.

Among the other languages offered by Amazon are English, Chinese, German, Spanish and Korean.

Foods from Israeli settlements must be labeled as such, European top court rules

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA)—Foods made in Israeli settlements that the European Union views as occupied must be marked as such when they are marketed in EU members states, the European Court of Justice ruled.

The ruling Tuesday was on a court case brought before the court by the Psagot winery, which claimed that it was being discriminated against because of a requirement passed by the French government for labeling. The court rejected the lawsuit and reaffirmed both the French government’s requirement and the European Commission regulation.

“Foodstuffs originating in territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin, accompanied, where those foodstuffs come from a locality or a group of localities constituting an Israeli settlement within that territory, by the indication of that provenance,” a statement about the ruling said.

The NGO Monitor organization in Israel condemned the ruling.

Both the European Commission regulations and the ruling are binding, though some EU member states have not implemented them.

 

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