Weekly roundup of world briefs
January 24, 2020
Israeli intelligence helped US assassinate top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—Israeli intelligence reportedly helped the United States assassinate top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
NBC News reported Friday that Israeli intelligence helped the U.S. confirm a tip about when Soleimani’s plane from Damascus to Baghdad took off. Soleimani was killed by a U.S. drone airstrikes on Jan. 2 while he was riding in a vehicle near Baghdad International Airport.
“Intelligence from Israel helped confirm the details,” NBC reported.
Soleimani was the head of the Iranian Quds Force, which operates a number of regional militias and is allied with terrorist groups targeting Israel, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran retaliated for the killing with missile strikes on two U.S. bases on Monday, with no reported American casualties.
Pompeo announces intensified sanctions on Iran
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—The United States levied intensified sanctions on Iran, extending existing sanctions on its financial and energy sectors to its trade in metals.
The sanctions announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday are “in response to Iran’s attacks against U.S. forces and interests, and to deprive the Iranian regime of revenue to conduct its violent foreign policy,” according to a statement issued by the State Department.
The Treasury Department will sanction 22 companies and three ships “for operating in the iron, steel, aluminum, or copper sectors of Iran, and related activities,” the statement said.
In addition, President Donald Trump will issue an executive order authorizing sanctions on other sectors of the Iranian economy, including construction, manufacturing, textiles and mining. “This action will significantly expand the United States’ ability to target this regime’s various revenue streams,” Pompeo said.
Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors after pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.
The statement added that “our sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior. The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Iran’s campaign of terror, murder, and mayhem will not be tolerated any longer.”
The sanctions also target eight senior Iranian leaders, including Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council; Gholamreza Soleimani, commander of the Basij; and six other senior officials who were appointed by and act on behalf of Iran’s Supreme Leader. “These individuals have carried out Iran’s terror plots and campaigns of mayhem across the region and are complicit in the recent murders of around 1,500 Iranians protesting for freedom,” the statement said.
4 Jewish tourists injured in brawl with locals in Uman, Ukraine
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Four Jewish tourists were lightly injured in the Ukrainian city of Uman in a violent altercation with a group of non-Jewish locals.
The incident happened Friday night, JewishNews.com.ua reported Sunday.
Violence broke out between the four Jews and as many as 30 men, some of them wielding clubs, the report said. The incident began as a dispute between a Jewish person and a non-Jewish local. Both parties called on friends and a brawl ensued, according to the report.
Police were called and arrived at the scene. The report did not say whether they made any arrests.
About 40,000 Jews from Israel and beyond arrive in Uman each year in autumn for the Jewish new year. Uman is the burial place of Rabbi Nachman, an 18th-century luminary and founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.
Uman also has a permanent Jewish population of several hundred people, almost all from Israel.
Larry David and Bernie Sanders appear together on the ‘Today’ show
By Emily Burack
(JTA)—With a big smile on his face, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared alongside the man who plays him on “Saturday Night Live,” the comedian Larry David, on NBC’s “Today” show Friday morning.
Both Sanders and David were interviewed, and in an introductory clip, Al Roker jokingly mixes them up.
If Sanders is elected, David complains, “It’ll be great for the country, terrible for me.”
Why? He would have to fly back and forth from LA to keep appearing on “SNL” as Sanders, something he has done since the 2016 campaign.
In response, Sanders jokes, “I’m getting you a good job for four years and you’re complaining!”
“They’re not related at all,” Roker then quips. He’s likely joking about the fact that the two are distantly related, as was revealed on an episode of “Finding Your Roots” in 2017.
Later on the show, David joined Roker to do the weather forecast, and David used the time to just mercilessly tease Roker about his glasses and his job.
It’s worth noting that David, whose HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns for 10th season on Jan. 19, recently got a dog and named it Bernie.
EU gives $1.1 million toward preserving Jewish burial sites
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—The European Union has allocated $1.1 million toward mapping and preserving Jewish burial grounds.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the union, announced last week its decision to extend the funding to the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, or ESJF.
The group uses innovative tools, ranging from mapping drones to Nazi aerial photography archives, to preserve what the Council of Europe said in 2012 were “vulnerable” sites.
Since the group’s establishment in 2015 with a German government grant, it has helped protect dozens of Jewish cemeteries in seven Central and Eastern European countries.
ESJF also surveyed 1,500 cemeteries and mass graves in Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine and Slovakia during 2019. The new funding will allow it to survey and demarcate a further 1,500 such sites in Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, and Poland, among other countries over the coming 18 months.
The project will be carried out with help from two Jewish groups, Centropa and the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, helping to “enhance local engagement in our collective goal to protect this vital heritage,” ESJF Chief Executive Officer Philip Carmel said in a statement.
French Jews commemorate 5th anniversary of Hyper Cacher murders
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—Several hundred people attended a ceremony commemorating the fifth anniversary of the murder of four Jews at a Paris kosher supermarket by a jihadist.
At the event Thursday outside Hyper Cacher in the Porte de Vincennes area in eastern Paris, candles were lit for each victim and the crowd sang the French national anthem. It was attended by Interior Minister Cristophe Castaner.
Francis Kalifat, the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, said that the memory of the four victims will “forever be treasured” by French Jewry.
Kalifat devoted a significant part of his speech to criticizing the handling of another killing from 2017, in which a Muslim man beat his Jewish neighbor, Sarah Halimi, and threw her to her death from the third-story window of her apartment. In November, an appeals court ruled that the killer was found unfit to stand trial because he was high on marijuana.
“The work of commemorating her cannot properly take place,” Kalifat said, until her killer is “brought to justice.”
“This ruling is a stain on our society because it prevents the wounds from healing,” he added.
The 2015 attack at Hyper Cacher was one of the most traumatic events to befall the French Jewish community in recent years. Four people died in the attack—Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab and Francois-Michel Saada—which came in the wake of a shooting at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, which killed 12 people and injured 11 others.
Rubio, Coons introduce bill to give $3.3 billion in annual assistance to Israel
(JNS)—Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced a bill on Thursday to give $3.3 billion in annual U.S. assistance to in accordance with the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Israel.
While the Trump administration has upheld the MOU—the biggest promise of U.S. military aid made to any nation—the bill would put it into law.
Rubio told Reuters the bill was crucial amid “unprecedented threats,” while Coons told the outlet that “the events of the past few days are a stark reminder of the importance of U.S. assistance to Israel’s security.”
U.S. forces killed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a strike at Baghdad Airport on Jan. 3.
Four days later, the IRGC launched missiles at the Ain Al-Asad and Irbil air bases in western Iraq, which also house U.S. soldiers. No casualties were reported.
Model says Lebanese designer dropped her from Paris show because she’s Israeli
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—An Israeli fashion model said that she was denied a job offer from a Lebanon-born French designer because of her nationality.
Arbel Kynan told At magazine in Israel earlier this week that Maison Rabih Kayrouz cancelled a gig that had been lined up for her at Paris Fashion Week on Jan. 20 in Paris. She would have modeled the designer’s clothes in the haute couture part of the show.
Kynan said her agent received an email that her invitation was canceled and that it informed her that the reason was because she is Israeli.
Kynan had told employees of Kayrouz’s fashion house during a photo shoot for the show that she’s living in Tel Aviv.
“An hour ago I got an email from my agency telling me the client is Lebanese and isn’t interested in having me take part in the show because I live in Tel Aviv, Israel,” Kynan wrote on Instagram on Monday. “That’s literally what the email said.”
She added that she cried after learning of the cancellation, which made her angry. But she decided to “not to let it get to me.”
In an email replying to At’s request for a reaction to Kynan’s claims, Maison Rabih Kayrouz said: “The photo shoot was never cancelled, that’s incorrect information.”
At replied that the this was not the subject of their query, reiterating that they sought a reaction to claims that Kynan had been dropped from a show that the photo shoot was meant to promote. The designer did not reply to that email, At wrote.