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

Weekly roundup of world briefs


December 20, 2019

Columbia and Tel Aviv U will offer a dual degree program

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Columbia University in New York and Tel Aviv University in Israel will offer a dual degree program.

Columbia made the announcement last week.

Students will spend their first two years at Tel Aviv University and their third and fourth year attending Columbia’s School of General Studies.

Upon completion of the four-year program, graduates earn two bachelor’s degrees, one from each institution.

Columbia has dual degree and joint degree programs at Sciences Po in France, Trinity College Dublin, City University of Hong Kong and List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Created in 1954, the joint program with JTS was the first program of its kind to be established at Columbia.

“By giving students the opportunity to study full time at a top-tier university in the Middle East before bringing them to study in the Ivy League, they will not only benefit from being immersed in a wide range of cultures and experiences, but will also make an immense contribution to the Columbia undergraduate classroom,” said Lisa Rosen-Metsch, dean of Columbia University School of General Studies.

The program’s inaugural class will start in fall 2020.

First trailer drops for ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ starring Gal Gadot

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Gal Gadot appears in the first trailer for her much-awaited Wonder Woman sequel.

“Nothing good is born from lies and greatness is not what you think,” she says in the trailer for “Wonder Woman 1984.”

Gadot reprises her role as Diana Prince, the Amazonian Princess Diana of Themyscira, in the sequel to the 2017 DC film. She appears in the golden eagle armor seen in the DC Comics and swings from lightning bolts in the trailer.

The trailer was released on Sunday after it was screened before fans at the 2019 Comic Con Experience event in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Wonder-Woman 1984″ is set to be released on June 5.

The first “Wonder Woman” film was the highest-grossing movie in the summer of 2017 with $412.5 million in the U.S. and $821.8 million worldwide.

Gadot and her husband, Yaron Varsano, have launched several projects since founding the production company Pilot Wave earlier this year, including a series about the actress Hedy Lamarr and a film about Polish Underground leader Irena Sendler, with Gadot playing the title character in each. Pilot Wave is also working on “My Dearest Fidel,” an adaptation of Peter Kornbluh’s magazine article about the close friendship between ABC journalist Lisa Howard and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Gadot 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.

Joe Biden takes swipe at Bernie Sanders over idea to withdraw military aid from Israel

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Joe Biden told voters in Iowa that support for withdrawing military aid from Israel over its interactions with the Palestinians is “bizarre.”

Biden was attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders, a fellow Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential nomination in 2020, and others.

“In terms of Bernie and others who talk about dealing with Zionism, I strongly support Israel as an independent Jewish state,” Biden said during a question-and-answer session with voters in rural northeastern Iowa, The Associated Press reported.

“The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre. I would not do that. It’s like saying to France, ‘Because you don’t agree with us, we’re going to kick you out of NATO.”

Sanders has said he would “absolutely” leverage the $3.8 billion in annual military assistance from the United States to Israel to pressure the Israeli government to act differently.

Biden has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions regarding the Palestinians “counterproductive,” and also called the Israeli leader an “extreme right” government official. He also has accused Palestinian leaders of instigating hatred against and attacks on Israelis.

Man injured in Chabad of Poway shooting sues Jewish center for lax security

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—A man who was injured in the shooting attack at the Chabad of Poway is suing the Jewish center for not protecting its worshippers.

Almog Peretz was shot in the leg in the April 27 attack. His 8-year-old niece also was injured.

Peretz was shot while gathering children in the synagogue and ushering them to safety. One woman was killed in the attack, and the synagogue’s rabbi was shot and lost a finger.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that the synagogue did not have proper security despite a rise in anti-Semitic attacks nationally and did not use a $150,000 government grant to upgrade security, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Chabad of Poway received the grant a month before the attack because the synagogue “believed that it was at risk of an anti-Semitic attack on its congregants,” according to the lawsuit. On the day of the attack, the building’s doors were unlocked with no guards or other security measures in place, it says.

Peretz plans to sue the gun store that sold the shooter his weapon, as well as the Chabad organization, Fox5 San Diego reported.

Attorney Yoni Weinberg told Fox that the federal government had sued the Chabad of California in 2014 for not using grant money toward security.

The accused gunman in the Poway shooting, John Earnest, 20, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. The murder charge is classified as a hate crime, making Earnest eligible for the death penalty. Earnest told a 911 operator right after the attack that he did it to save white people from Jews.

Chabad of Poway had no comment for either news outlet.

Albania’s prime minister lauds Israeli soldiers helping country in aftermath of deadly earthquake

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Albania’s prime minister publicly praised Israeli military engineers who have been in the country since an earthquake struck late last month.

The Israeli engineers are among the foreign volunteers who are working to determine whether buildings not felled by the earthquake are habitable.

Prime Minister Edi Rama, visiting the western port city of Durres on Monday, told a resident who was afraid to enter his apartment building that he could have confidence in the go-ahead from the Israeli engineers.

“They are from Israel and they are No. 1,” Rama said, The Times of Israel reported. “The engineer says that after the catastrophe you should kiss your home because it has resisted [the earthquake] and has protected you.”

Later Monday, Rama in a video message sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Israel for its support while surrounded by the 10 Israeli active duty and reserve soldiers.

“Bibi, shalom from Durres. We’re here with your fantastic guys. They are doing a great job in calming the people and telling them how to be resilient,” Rama said. Bibi is Netanyahu’s nickname.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck on Nov. 26 killed 51 people and injured more than 3,000. More than 11,000 buildings were damaged, leaving about 13,000 people homeless.

2 Jewish Congress members want White House to shun news outlet that called Trump impeachment effort ‘Jew Coup’

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Two Democratic Jewish Congress members have called on the White House to condemn anti-Semitic comments by TruNews founder and host Rick Wiles and deny TruNews any future access to the White House.

Reps. Ted Deutch of Florida and Elaine Luria of Virginia sent a letter on Monday to White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney expressing surprise that TruNews participated in White House media events and Trump took a question from the website during a news conference.

In a video posted to the conservative TruNews YouTube channel on Nov. 22, Wiles, a Florida pastor known for his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, called the effort to impeach President Donald Trump a “Jew Coup,” and said that Jews also will “kill millions of Christians” after they overthrow Trump.

YouTube banned the channel following the rant.

“As members of Congress, we are committed to combating and preventing anti-Semitism and hatred of all kinds,” the letter signed by Deutch and Luria reads. “We believe that this requires a whole-of-government approach, including public statements by our national leaders to consistently and firmly reject anti-Semitic ideas, language, and violence.”

The letter continues: “An extremist website that frequently attacks Jews and other minorities has no place in the White House. President Trump and other officials in this Administration should publicly condemn these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and make clear that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated by this White House, including from its supporters.”

Rabbi films threats against him at Long Island Costco, aggressor arrested

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—A rabbi who was harassed and threatened with physical violence at a suburban New York Costco recorded the encounter, leading to the arrest of the aggressor.

In a Facebook post late Sunday, Rabbi Avrum Fri wrote that the man said to him in the restroom of the store in Lawrence, Long Island, “[expletive] Jew, the Nazis will finish you off.”

Fri said he followed the man out of the bathroom and told him to make the comment to his face while the rabbi was recording with his cellphone.

The man—identified as Justin Pichizaca, 20, of Queens—twice made a move toward Fri to hit him and said “Record all you want because a Nazi is going to f***ing kill you.”

Pichizaca also threatened another Jewish customer, saying “I’m going out to get my gun and will come back to shoot you up.”

Fri said no one interceded during the extended rant.

The police officer who responded to Fri’s call said there was no case since once Fri followed Pichizaca out of the bathroom, he “became the aggressor.” A second officer said his actions were not smart since Pichizaca “clearly” is mentally ill.

On Monday, Fri was called to the police station, where the officers apologized. Pichizaca was arrested later that day and will appear in court on Tuesday.

Facebook removed the cellphone video for violating community standards.

“I do not recommend that most people do what I did,” Fri wrote in a second Facebook post on Monday night. “If you do not have the ability to defend yourself, it’s not worth the risk. What you can do is report events like this to the police, even if it can’t lead to charges. Post information on Facebook. Remain vigilant and teach the same to your children.”

Police warn of fake GoFundMe pages for officer killed in Jersey City shooting

By Ron Kampeas

(JTA)—Police are warning that several online fundraisers for the family of a detective slain prior to the shootout at a kosher market in Jersey City are fake.

“We found out last night that a reprehensible group of people are online trying to profiteer off the misfortune of others,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Wednesday at a news conference. “I can’t find the words for how disgusting this conduct is. What I can tell you is we’re looking at it. We’re investigating it.”

Det. Joseph Seals was shot dead Tuesday at a cemetery before the suspects, a man and a woman, proceeded to the JC Kosher Supermarket, which law enforcement believes was deliberately targeted. They killed three people there during a gun battle with police before being shot dead.

The New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association also posted a warning on Twitter.

“Warning – We have been alerted that there are numerous GoFundMe pages set up for Det. Joseph Seals most, if not all, are fake,” it said on Tuesday morning.

That afternoon, the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association posted a link on Twitter to the genuine GoFundMe page for the Seals family.

Postage stamp features Brazilian who helped rescue Jews from the Nazis

By Marcus M. Gilban

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA)—One of Brazil’s two Righteous Among the Nations—non-Jews recognized by the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem for saving Jews from the Nazis—is featured on a new postage stamp in the South American country.

The stamp with the face of Aracy Moebius de Carvalho Guimaraes Rosa, who obtained visas that paved the way for several Jews to take refuge in Brazil, was released on Wednesday. She also is known by the nickname “Angel of Hamburg.”

Aracy de Carvalho served as head of the passport section of the Brazilian consulate in Hamburg, Germany. The Brazilian president at the time, Getulio Vargas, restricted the entry of Jews into the country.

“One of the tactics adopted to camouflage her actions was to omit the letter J, in red, on passports, a mark imposed by the German government as a way of identifying the Jew,” historian Maria Luiza Tucci Carneiro told the UOL news website.

Born in Brazil to a German mother, Aracy de Carvalho moved to Germany in 1936. She took the job at the Brazilian consulate and married assistant consul Joao Guimaraes Rosa, who later would become a famed Brazilian writer with his masterpiece “Grande Sertao: Veredas.”

The couple remained in Germany until 1942, when Brazil broke relations with Germany and joined the Allies. Aracy de Carvalho was recognized by Yad Vashem in 1982. She died in 2011.

Brazil’s other righteous gentile is the diplomat Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas, who worked in France during World War II.

Harvey Weinstein and former company reach tentative $25 million settlement with dozens of his accusers

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein and the board of his former film studio have reached a tentative $25 million settlement deal with dozens of women who accuse him of sexual misconduct.

The deal would not require Weinstein to admit wrongdoing or pay anything out of his own pocket, The New York Times reported, citing lawyers involved in the negotiations.

More than 30 actresses and former Weinstein employees, whose lawsuits have accused him of offenses from sexual harassment to rape, would share in the deal. It would end nearly every such lawsuit against him and his former company, according to The Times.

Insurance companies for the former Weinstein Co. studio would fund the payout. The deal requires court approval and a final signoff by all involved parties.

The payout to the women would be part of a $47 million settlement as part of the company’s bankruptcy proceedings, the newspaper reported, citing company attorneys.

Weinstein is scheduled to go on trial in a Manhattan courtroom in early January on charges of sexual assault involving two women.

Among the more well-known actresses who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct are Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, Jessica Barth, Cara Delevingne, Romola Garai, Judith Godreche, Heather Graham and Angelina Jolie.

Weinstein, 67, was one of Hollywood’s top producers and has worked on a number of award-winning films, including “Shakespeare in Love,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.”

Netanyahu can keep prime minister’s post despite indictments, Israel’s Supreme Court says

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Benjamin Netanyahu may remain prime minister of Israel despite his indictment on corruption charges.

Responding to a lawsuit seeking Netanyahu’s ouster, Israel’s Supreme Court said it was not practical to rule on the issue because a prime minister’s resignation would bring about new elections, which are already scheduled. During the run-up to the election, the court noted, the outgoing prime minister remains in his job.

Also Thursday, Netanyahu told the high court that he would resign his other ministerial posts by Jan. 1. He also serves as minister of agriculture, Diaspora affairs, health and welfare.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said he would force Netanyahu to resign the ministerial positions if he did not voluntarily.

Under Israeli law, a sitting prime minister charged with a crime is not required to step down. Resigning from other ministerial posts became requisite in 1993 when the Supreme Court ruled that then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin needed to fire minister Aryeh Deri after Deri was accused of taking bribes and having an indictment filed against him.


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