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

Weekly roundup of world briefs

 

November 29, 2019



California Democrats vote down ‘highly flawed anti-Israel’ amendment to party platform

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—California Democrats voted down an amendment to their party platform that called for the right of return for Palestinians and eliminated references to the two-state solution.

The amendment presented Sunday at the state party’s fall convention also advocated for the return of the descendants of Jewish refugees in Israel to the countries from which they fled.

The Democrats for Israel Los Angeles chapter said in a statement that it coordinated the efforts to defeat the “highly flawed anti-Israel” amendment.

About 65 percent of the 2,500 delegates at the California Democratic Party State Central Committee had rejected the amendment language in the Israel section of the platform.

The party adopted language calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “directly negotiated by the parties that guarantees equality, security and democracy for all; recognizing Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders; and providing Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

The platform also recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, adding that the “decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem should not remove Jerusalem from final status negotiations, nor should the capital city be used to undermine the peace process.”

It also continues to denounce the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

The party also adopted planks advocating stronger measures to fight hate speech, including anti-Semitism.

Chabad of Hungary gets status upgrade from government

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA)—Amid a deterioration in relations between some Jewish groups in Hungary, the country’s government elevated the status of an organization affiliated with the Lubavitch-Chabad movement.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén signed a document that gives the Chabad-affiliated Orthodox EMIH group “special status” – recognition enjoyed by several churches and Mazsihisz, the country’s largest federation of Jewish communities.

Mazsihisz is widely seen as being Neolog, a Central European Jewish denomination that some people describe as being between Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism in its level of observance.

The special status title allows recognized organizations to receive types of government funding that bodies without the title cannot receive, including core funding and grants for educational work.

“We are pleased that the government has chosen to strengthen its relationship with EMIH, to recognize our achievements and acknowledge us as being one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in central Europe,” Rabbi Shlomo Koves, who heads EMIH, said in a statement.

In recent years, EMIH’s relationship with Mazsihisz has soured, including over Mazsihisz’ critical attitude vis-à-vis the government. Mazsihisz has led protest actions against the right-wing government of Viktor Orban, including on the government’s decision to erect a monument that Mazsihisz and other critics said whitewashes Hungarian complicity during the Holocaust.

EMIH has been less involved in campaigning. It also defended the government from some allegations by Mazsihisz, including that the government is encouraging anti-Semitism through its billboard campaign against the left-leaning Jewish billionaire George Soros.

4 rockets fired from Syria on northern Israel

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Four rockets were fired early Tuesday at Israel from Syria by Iran or on its orders, the Israeli military said.

Israel was said to have retaliated with strikes targeting Damascus, the Syrian capital.

The rockets from Syria were intercepted over the Golan Heights by the Iron Dome missile defense system, according to the Israel Defense Forces. They set off the Code Red alert sirens in cities in the northern Golan Heights and in the Galilee.

Israeli reports cited unnamed defense officials in saying the military believes the rockets were fired by Iran or by a group striking on its orders.

Reports said explosions were heard in Damascus shortly after the rocket attack on Israel. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights later reported that Israel fired five missiles at targets in the southern part of the capital, and that the targeted sites were located in the same area where the rockets targeting Israel were launched.

The report said that some of the Israeli missiles were intercepted and others hit their targets, but had no specific information on damage or casualties.

The IDF did not comment on reports of retaliatory attacks.

A week ago, a missile attack on the Damascus home of senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group Akram al-Ajouri killed the terrorist leader’s son. The attack has been blamed on Israel, which has neither confirmed nor denied being behind the attack.

On Monday, the IDF launched a surprise two-day military exercise in northern Israel.

Sacha Baron Cohen to be honored by ADL for his ‘vision, imagination and creativity’

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Sacha Baron Cohen will be honored by the Anti-Defamation League for his “vision, imagination and creativity.”

Cohen, who most recently portrayed the late Israeli spy Eli Cohen in a Netflix series, will receive the International Leadership Award during the civil rights organization’s Never is Now summit on anti-Semitism and hate. The summit will be held Thursday in New York City.

The actor, comedian and director, whose political satire films include “Borat” and “The Dictator,” will deliver a keynote address.

“Baron Cohen has used humor and satire to expose people’s inherent biases by depicting racists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, Islamophobes and others as deeply flawed, ordinary people whose prejudices are, ultimately, laughable,” the ADL said in a statement. “As a celebrity and public figure, he’s not shied away from taking on tough subjects off-screen, having recently spoken out about the failure of social media companies to adequately address the rampant racism, anti-Semitism and hate on their platforms.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in the statement that Cohen’s characters “help to expose how common prejudices are in our society and our world.”

“There’s many ways to combat prejudice, and anti-bias education, exposure and awareness are important tools. But there are other, more unorthodox ways to fight hate,” Greenblatt said. “Sacha’s hilarious characters fall into that latter category. They push envelopes. They cross boundaries. They evoke stereotypes and tropes, but for comedic effect.”

US Embassy in Jerusalem issues travel warning over settlements announcement

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a travel warning for visiting Americans in the aftermath of the U.S. announcement that the government does not consider the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in Judea and Samaria as illegal.

The warning issued Monday said the visiting Americans could be targets of “individuals and groups opposed to the Secretary of State’s recent announcement.” It covers those visiting or planning to visit Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and Gaza.

“Potential targets include public events, such as demonstrations, holiday events, and celebratory gatherings; hotels, clubs, and restaurants popular with U.S. citizens; places of worship; schools; shopping malls and markets; tourism infrastructure; public transportation and airports,” the statement said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement on settlements—a reversal of U.S. policy—that day.

The warning recommends that U.S. citizens “carefully consider risks to their personal safety and security at sites and events that are potential targets. In addition, U.S. citizens in Judea and Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem should avoid non-essential movements and events that attract attention. U.S. citizens should carefully consider risks to their personal safety and security at sites and events that are potential targets.”

Top Democratic candidates criticize Trump administration decision on settlements

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Several leading Democratic presidential candidates condemned the Trump administration’s announcement that it will no longer regard West Bank Jewish settlements as illegal.

Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders were among those who criticized the move.

Biden’s campaign spokesman, Andrew Bates, told Jewish Insider that the decision “harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region.” Approving of settlement expansion, he said, is “an obstacle to peace.”

Warren said she would reverse the policy.

“Another blatantly ideological attempt by the Trump administration to distract from its failures in the region,” the Massachusetts lawmaker said in a statement posted on social media. “Not only do these settlements violate international law—they make peace harder to achieve. As president, I will reverse this policy and pursue a two-state solution.”

Sanders asserted that “Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal.”

“This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions,” the Vermont senator said in a tweet. “Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said the decision would set back the peace process.

“The Trump administration’s statement on West Bank settlements is not only a significant step backward in our efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is the latest in a pattern of destructive decisions that harm our national interests,” he said in a tweet.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar also weighed in.

“The Trump administration’s announcement on Israeli settlements goes against long-standing U.S. policy,” the Minnesotan said. “Once again Donald Trump is playing politics and taking us further away from a path to a two-state solution.”

Julian Castro, the former U.S. housing secretary, called the decision a “grave error.”

“These settlements are a clear violation of international law and push us further away from a two-state solution,” he said in a tweeted statement. “This is a grave error that severely damages the prospects for peace, further isolates America, and undermines our moral leadership.”

California Democrats vote down ‘highly flawed anti-Israel’ amendment to party platform

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—California Democrats voted down an amendment to their party platform that called for the right of return for Palestinians and eliminated references to the two-state solution.

The amendment was presented Sunday at the state party’s fall convention. Somewhere between 65 to 75 percent of the 2,500 delegates at the California Democratic Party State Central Committee rejected the amendment language in the Israel section of the platform, according to the committee chair.

The group Democratic Majority for Israel corralled a large group of pro-Israel organizations

In the end, the party adopted language calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “directly negotiated by the parties that guarantees equality, security and democracy for all; recognizing Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders; and providing Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

The party also adopted planks advocating stronger measures to fight hate speech, including anti-Semitism.

Netherlands cuts aid to Palestinian Authority over terrorist salaries

By Cnaan Liphshiz

AMSTERDAM (JTA) – The Dutch government has cut funding for the Palestinian Authority over its salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.

The aid ministry announced the move Wednesday during annual budget talks.

In 2017, the Palestinian Authority paid about $198 million to a fund for the families of terrorists killed during their attacks and about $160 million to Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, according to Israeli Defense Ministry figures.

The Netherlands spends several million dollars each year on aid to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian populations elsewhere in the Middle East but most of that money is given to agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

The country had given about $1.6 million directly to the Palestinian Authority annually to pay the salaries of justice ministry employees.

The aid ministry said that talks with the Palestinian body “did not lead to the desired outcome.”

Idina Menzel gets Hollywood star

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Actress Idina Menzel got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Broadway, television and film star was honored with her star on Tuesday, days before the opening of “Frozen 2,” where she reprises her role as the voice of Elsa.

“Frozen” co-star Kristen Bell also received a star the same day.

Menzel was a recurring character on the television show “Glee” and starred in the original Broadway run of “Wicked.”

Buses to roll on Shabbat in Tel Aviv

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Tel Aviv will start providing public transportation on Shabbat.

Beginning this weekend, public transportation will run in the city on Friday night and all day Saturday.

The initiative, called “We move on weekends,” will have six routes as well as transportation to surrounding communities, including Ramat Hasharon, Givatayim, and Kiryat Ono. The routes will try to circumvent religious neighborhoods.

Ramat Hasharon, a city just north of Tel Aviv, started a pilot Shabbat transportation program several months ago. More cities are planning to follow suit, according to reports.

The city of Tel Aviv will pick up $2.6 million of the $3.6 million operating costs for the first year, i24 reported.

In Israel, buses and trains do not generally run in Jewish-majority cities on Friday night and Saturday before sundown. The practice was born of an agreement reached between the haredi Orthodox community and David Ben-Gurion before the formation of the state.

“The ability to move from place to place throughout the week is a fundamental right,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai told reporters. He challenged the Israeli government to approve such service for all citizens.

Jason Greenblatt joins board of Republican Jewish Coalition

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s former top Middle East peace negotiator, will join the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

The chief architect of the Trump administration’s still unreleased Middle East peace plan, Greenblatt left his job at the White House at the end of October. Trump has called the plan the “deal of the century.”

An attorney, Greenblatt was executive vice president and chief legal officer of the Trump Organization when Trump named him as his representative for international negotiations just prior to assuming the presidency.

“We are very excited that Jason Greenblatt’s first engagement since leaving the White House is in a leadership role with the Republican Jewish Coalition,” RJC National Chairman Norm Coleman said in a statement.

“It’s an honor for me to participate in the Republican Jewish Coalition, a respected organization that has done great work for over three decades. Republican leaders in D.C. and around the country know the tremendous value of the RJC’s work. The RJC is building a strong grassroots network of dedicated activists who bring Republican ideals and ideas to life in the Jewish community,” Greenblatt said in the statement.

Leonard Cohen album to be released posthumously

(JTA)—Leonard Cohen’s son is releasing a new album of his late father’s music.

By Ron Kampeas

Adam Cohen asked some of his father’s longtime collaborators to flesh out the raw tracks left over from Cohen’s 2016 album, “You Want It Darker,” released just before the singer’s 2016 death.

Among the performers on the new album are Jennifer Warnes, who interpreted Cohen’s songs in a well-received 1987 album, and Javier Mas, a Spanish guitarist.

One of the new album’s songs, “Moving On,” is about Cohen’s longtime muse, Marianne Ihlen, written just after he learned about her death in 2016 and just months before his own passing at 82.

 

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