Weekly roundup of world briefs
May 1, 2020
Danish Bible Society’s translation omits dozens of references to Israel
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—The Danish Bible Society has omitted dozens of references to Israel from translations of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.
Defending the deletions, the society said they prevent confusion with the modern-day country.
The omissions occurred in a project titled “Bible 2020” that was published earlier this year under the society’s supervision, the 24NYT news site reported Sunday. It’s the first translation into Danish in more than 20 years.
Jan Frost, a Bible enthusiast and supporter of Israel from Denmark, drew the media’s attention to the omissions on YouTube and other social networks. He counted 59 omissions out of 60 references to Israel in the Greek origin for New Testament texts. References to “the People of Israel” were replaced with “Jews,” while “Land of Israel” became “the land of Jews.”
In other places, references to Israel were translated as referencing all readers or all of humanity.
The Song of Ascents from the Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible, a popular Shabbat hymn for Jews, originally states that “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” In the new translation, Israel is replaced by the word “us.”
A Bible Society representative told Frost that the decision was made to avoid confusing the Land of Israel with the State of Israel. However, the names of other countries from that time that still exist, such as Egypt, have not been changed.
“The old theological expression for this is ‘replacement theology,’ in which you replace Israel with the church,” Frost wrote Monday on Facebook.
Dutch-Muslim politician tweets Jewish yellow star to protest coronavirus surveillance plan
By Cnaan Liphshiz
AMSTERDAM (JTA)—On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Dutch-Muslim politician has tweeted a picture of a Jewish yellow star to protest plans to monitor coronavirus carriers.
Arnoud van Doorn, a member of the City Council of The Hague, posted the picture on Monday, the birthday of Adolf Hitler. Yom Hashoah, Israel’s day of mourning for Holocaust victims also observed by many Jews worldwide, starts in the evening and extends to Tuesday evening.
In 2018, van Doorn tweeted a prayer to Allah to “exterminate the Zionists” and said that fasting on Yom Kippur won’t help Jews atone for Israel’s sins. His Party of Unity says on its website that it strives to “promote the interests of the Islamist community.”
His tweet shows a yellow star of the kind that Nazis made Jews wear during the Holocaust bearing the words “corona app.” Its caption reads “No obligatory corona app,” a reference to a test being carried out by the Dutch government for a smartphone app that would help authorities monitor the whereabouts and interactions of people, including those they know or suspect are carriers, in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Tom de Nooijer, a member of the City Council of Oldebroek, a town situated some 40 miles east of Amsterdam, was among the many who criticized the tweet.
“Remove that star, Arnoud. You have no right to reference it,” wrote de Nooijer, who represents the pro-Israel Christian SGP party.
Worldwide population of 14.7 million Jews falls well short of pre-World War II numbers
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The worldwide population of Jews stands at 14.7 million, still short of the pre-World War II numbers, according to a report by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
The figures, which are similar to the population of world Jewry in 1925, were released ahead of Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. The numbers are current to the end of 2018.
World Jewry reached a population of 16.6 million right before the start of World War II in 1939.
Israel’s 6.7 million Jews make up 45 percent of the world total. Some 5.2 million Jews were born in the country, while about 1 million are natives of either Europe or the Americas, as well as about 293,000 of Africa and 164,000 of Asia.
The United States has the second-largest Jewish population with 5.7 million, followed by France at about 450,000 and Canada at some 392,000. Next is the United Kingdom (292,000), Argentina (180,000), Russia (165,000), Germany (118,000) and Australia (116,000).
In 1948, on the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel, the number of Jews in the world was 5.11 million, including 650,000 in prestate Palestine, according to the report.
Also on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s Ministry of Finance reported that there are about 189,500 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, with some 31,000 over the age of 90 and more than 800 over 100 years old. In the past year, some 15,170 survivors have died.
Violent anti-Semitic crimes worldwide reached 5-year record in 2019
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA)—The number of anti-Semitic violent crimes documented worldwide last year rose to 456 cases, an 18 percent increase over 2018 and the highest tally since 2014, the European Jewish Congress said.
EJC and the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry presented the data on Monday in a report, the Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide 2019.
More than a quarter of the cases that are classified in the report as violent were threats. The rest involved actual physical violence, including 242 cases of vandalism, 21 cases of arson and 62 assaults on people, with about a quarter of them involving a weapon.
The data were not aggregated according to country, though the report does include many Western countries and countries with large Jewish populations.
“Not only have the numbers increased substantially but the worst types of attacks grew, which should be extremely disturbing for leaders and authorities around the world,” EJC President Moshe Kantor wrote in a statement about the report.
He added that the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way in which anti-Semitism is being expressed.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it,” Kantor said. “The language and imagery used clearly identifies a revival of the medieval ‘blood libels’ when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies.”
After racist tweets surface, Republican Jewish Coalition withdraws support for GOP congressman’s challenger
By Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA)—The Republican Jewish Coalition is withdrawing its support for a challenger to a Kentucky GOP gadfly after racist tweets by the challenger surfaced.
The RJC’s political action committee had donated $5,000 to the primary campaign of Todd McMurtry, who is facing off against Rep. Thomas Massie in a primary. It was a rare move last month when the PAC involved itself in the primary.
Massie’s campaign unearthed recent tweets by McMurtry in which he disparaged Mexicans and transgendered people, and decried the “demonization of white people.”
“The RJC has consistently spoken out against hate, bigotry, and racism,” the group said Friday on Twitter. “As a result of troubling comments that have come to light by congressional candidate Todd McMurtry which don’t share our values or the values of the GOP, we are asking for a refund & withdrawing our PAC support.”
Massie had angered the GOP establishment by invoking his prerogative to insist a majority of members of the U.S. House of Representatives attend a vote on the pandemic stimulus after most had retreated to their homes because of the coronavirus. He had already been in the sights of Jewish Republicans for opposing Holocaust education funding and actions condemning the boycott Israel movement.
His contrarianism spurred condemnation by President Donald Trump. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the third-ranked House Republican, donated to McMurtry, as did the RJC and other Republicans. McMurtry was well known in conservative circles as a lawyer for a high-schooler whose encounter on the National Mall with a Native American was depicted in some media as racist.
Cheney has since dropped her support for McMurtry and, like the RJC, has asked for her money back.
NJ man accused of ordering attacks on synagogues released from jail
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—The New Jersey man arrested for allegedly ordering the vandalism of two synagogues in other states on behalf of a neo-Nazi group was released from jail and sent to house arrest.
Richard Tobin was released last week by a federal magistrate in Camden on a $100,000 bond, The Associated Press reported late Monday. He was ordered to stay off the internet and refrain from contact with current and former members of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups called The Base and Atomwaffen Division, AP reported, citing court records.
Tobin, who was arrested by the FBI in November, is accused of using The Base social network to find volunteers for the September graffiti attacks on synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Tobin also allegedly said he planned the attacks as part of a nationwide campaign he called Operation Kristallnacht, a reference to the 1938 pogrom against Jewish homes, synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in Germany and Austria.
He has also confessed to driving to a New Jersey mall with a machete that he planned to use to kill black shoppers.
Neo-Nazis crash Holocaust survivor’s Zoom testimony
By Ariel Kahana
(Israel Hayom via JNS)—Neo-Nazis on Monday crashed an online Holocaust Remembrance Day event hosted by the Israeli embassy in Germany.
The embassy hosted survivor Zvi Herschel, who told his story to the public through the Zoom meeting application, when suddenly Nazi activists appeared on the screen, waving photos of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and shouting anti-Semitic slogans. The incident brought the event to a halt.
After the embassy was able to remove the neo-Nazis from the platform, the video conference was resumed, with embassy staff approving each of the participants individually so as to prevent a recurring incident.
Restrictions imposed on public gatherings over the coronavirus pandemic have seen most Remembrance Day gatherings canceled in favor of online events.
In response to the incident, Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff tweeted: “During a zoom meeting on the eve of #Holocaust Memorial Day by the Embassy of Israel in Berlin that hosted survivor Zvi Herschel, anti-Israel activists disrupted his talk posting pictures of Hitler and shouting anti-Semitic slogans. The event had to be suspended.
“After a short break the event was reconvened without the activists and conducted in an appropriate and respectful way. To dishonor the memory of the #Holocaust and the dignity of the survivor is beyond shame and disgrace and shows the blatant anti-Semitic nature of the activists.”
He later told Israel Hayom that “in the three years I have been here as an ambassador, I see that the majority of Germans respect the memory of the Holocaust. This incident is unfortunate but also extremely unusual and it, of course, deserves every condemnation.”
Student government at UC Irvine repeals BDS resolution
(JNS)—The student government at the University of California, Irvine, has voted to repeal a 2012 resolution that called for the school to divest from firms that conduct business in Israel.
The March 12 resolution passed with 16 votes in favor, six against and two abstentions.
It stated that “anti-Semitism is a universally condemned discriminatory activity that premises itself on ethnic, cultural and economic practices that seek to undermine the legitimacy, life and property of the Jewish people,” and that “a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation has been waged against Jewish students and their allies on UCI’s campus with impunity.”
The resolution also said that the BDS resolution “has created a noxious campus climate that has fostered the aforementioned campaign of harassment.”
Moreover, its “very title is an Orwellian smear intended to stain indelibly any who would question its true and malicious intent” as the “baseless and bigoted assertion that the State of Israel is apartheid is nothing less than a blood libel.”
Palestinians launch diplomatic offensive to prevent Israeli annexation
(JNS)—PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said on Sunday that he was in talks with various international parties about the need to “preserve the two-state solution” in the face of possible annexation by Israel of territory in Judea and Samaria under the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan.
Erekat listed the European Union Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Susanna Terstal, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney as being among those he was in contact with regarding the issue.
“Erekat discussed in his talks the situation in the Palestinian territories and the prospects of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement based on international laws, serving the peace process with the help of the international community, especially members of the U.N. Security Council, and the release of [Palestinian] prisoners,” the PLO said in a statement, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Danon slams claims that Israel is impeding Palestinian efforts to combat coronavirus
(JNS)—Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations strongly criticized a letter by the Palestinians to the U.N. Security Council accusing Israel of impeding efforts by the Palestinian Authority to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the West Bank.
“As Israel remains open and able to help the Palestinians living under P.A. rule to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the P.A. only remains interested in continuing its diplomatic warfare against Israel,” Danon said in a statement.
“The Palestinian leadership will have to choose between slandering or receiving support from Israel. It cannot have both,” he continued. “Its rhetoric against Israel, the [Israel Defense Forces] and the Jewish people is inciting, baseless and threatens to undo any progress we’ve made in combating the virus.”
In his letter to the U.N. Security Council, Palestinian representative to the United Nations Riyad Mansour claimed that IDF soldiers are spitting on Palestinian cars and homes, and dumping trash, needles and used gloves between villages.
He also accused Israel of forcing Palestinian workers to return to P.A.-controlled territory through wastewater tunnels, so to smuggle them past P.A. authorities mandating coronavirus testing.
Late last month, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov praised the recent cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s Celebrate Israel parade is called off as New York City cancels events through June
By Shira Hanau
(JTA)—Among the many signs of summer that the coronavirus pandemic is silencing: the annual parade that draws tens of thousands of supporters of Israel to New York City’s Fifth Avenue.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which organizes the Celebrate Israel parade, confirmed Monday that this year’s parade, scheduled for June 7, will not take place. Organizers are working on a virtual event to take place that day, according to Michael Miller, the council’s executive vice president and CEO.
“We’re saddened by the necessity of canceling this parade,” Miller said. “Its absence on Fifth Avenue will be notable, but its absence in the hearts of New Yorkers, Jewish and non-Jewish, who support Israel is incalculable.”
The Celebrate Israel parade was first held in 1965 on Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side. In recent years, the parade has marched up Fifth Avenue. Approximately 40,000 people march in the parade each year, according to the organizers, including thousands of Jewish day school students.
The decision to cancel had seemed inevitable as the pandemic brought New York City to a halt, but on Monday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all non-essential events scheduled for June, including concerts, rallies and parades, would be nixed.
“They will be back,” said de Blasio, who mentioned the Celebrate Israel parade along with the Pride Parade and Puerto Rican Day Parade as hallmarks of New York City culture that had to be suspended to protect public health. “That joy and that pride that all of these events bring will be back.”