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GOD-TV, an evangelical Christian cable channel, loses its right to broadcast in Israel

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — GOD-TV, an evangelical Christian cable television channel, has lost its license to air in Israel, two months after launching to a chorus of concern about its mission.

Israel’s Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting announced Sunday that the channel would be taken off the air because it did not disclose when applying for a broadcast license that it was planning to proselytize to Jews.

The Hebrew-language channel has been broadcasting under the name “Shelanu,” meaning “Ours,” since the end of April on the HOT cable network on a seven-year broadcasting license. It will go off the air in the next week, although HOT can appeal the decision.

Israel authorities said that GOD-TV’s license did not allow missionary activity, and Haaretz reported that its application said its target audience was the Christian community in Israel. But statements on the channel’s website and from its CEO after it started broadcasting in Israel suggested that evangelizing to Jews in Israel was a core goal.

“Today we made history! For the first time ever, a Messianic television channel is broadcasting the Gospel across Israel in the Hebrew language,” read a post on the network’s website. “Shelanu translates to ‘Ours’ in Hebrew. We want every person in Israel to know, not a foreign Messiah, but a Jewish one! His name is Yeshua and He has not forgotten His people.”

It is illegal in Israel to proselytize to children under the age of 18 without the consent of their parents. But Christians proselytizing to Jews is a sensitive topic in general in Israel.

The Christian channels Daystar and Middle East Television both broadcast on another Israeli network, but they run programming only in English and do not tout any proselytizing.

Woman, 70, gets naked and takes shower during the Zoom bat mitzvah of Gilbert Gottfried’s daughter

By Ben Sales

(JTA) — At the moment when she became a woman in Jewish tradition, comedian Gilbert Gottfried’s daughter may have seen another woman naked.

During the Zoom bat mitzvah last week for the girl, a 70-year-old woman unwittingly removed her bathing suit and took a shower in full view of the other participants, according to Page Six.

An anonymous source told the gossip site that the woman, named Francine Leibman, had her sound off and could not hear people pointing out her mistake.

But Liebman apparently wasn’t concerned about what happened.

“That’s how I roll,” she said.

During the Zoom bat mitzvah last week for the girl, a 70-year-old woman unwittingly removed her bathing suit and took a shower in full view of the other participants, according to Page Six.

An anonymous source told the gossip site that the woman, named Francine Leibman, had her sound off and could not hear people pointing out her mistake.

But Liebman apparently wasn’t concerned about what happened.

“That’s how I roll,” she said.

Patinkin lends his voice to chorus of West Bank annexation opponents

By Philissa Cramer

(JTA) — People who watched geopolitical events unfold on the TV series “Homeland” will recognize a familiar voice if they watch the New Israel Fund’s new video opposing Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

Mandy Patinkin, the actor who played longtime CIA operative Saul Berenson, is the animated spot’s narrator. (Spoiler alert: Berenson defects to Israel in Season 5.)

Patinkin says that conditions in Israel and globally are aligning for “a single magical moment” for annexation supporters, but argues that the move would dark consequences.

“Israel’s annexation of the West Bank is a disaster for Israelis and Palestinians,” Patinkin wrote on Facebook late Monday. “It threatens Palestinian rights and formalizes an unjust and unequal system. We’ve got to do everything we can to stop it. That’s why I’ve lent my voice to this video.”

The ad comes days before the first possible date that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he could ask the country’s parliament to approve annexation, which would declare Israeli sovereignty over some settlements in the West Bank. A longtime Netanyahu promise to his right-wing supporters, annexation faces an increasingly uncertain future as criticism mounts at home and abroad. Catch up on the annexation story here.

Patinkin has long been involved in progressive Israel advocacy, which has included sitting on the board of the nonprofit Peace Now. In 2014, he joked that he would like to become Israel’s prime minister and bring peace to the region.

2 Ohio Little Caesars employees fired for making pepperoni-swastika pizza

By Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — A Little Caesars restaurant in Brook Park, Ohio, has fired two employees who made a swastika out of pepperoni slices on a couple’s pizza.

Misty and Jason Laska tweeted a picture of their pizza after picking it up over the weekend. “It’s not funny. It’s not funny. Especially with everything going on in the world right now,” Jason Laska told Cleveland 19 News.

Jason Laska later told Cleveland.com that he had been told the employees made the pizza as a prank and had not intended to give it to customers.

“We have zero tolerance for racism and discrimination in any form, and these franchise store employees were immediately terminated,” Little Caesars said in a statement. “We’re deeply disappointed that this happened, as this conduct is completely against our values.”

Dozens chant about an ancient massacre of Jews at pro-Palestinian rally in Brussels

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Dozens of protesters at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Brussels chanted the name of a locale where Muslims massacred Jews in the seventh century.

The Arabic chants about Khaybar, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia, were filmed at a rally Sunday in the Belgian capital against Israel’s plan to apply its civilian laws on parts of the West Bank.

“Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning,” at least 100 men chanted, according to the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA.

That’s incitement to violence, the LBCA’s president, Joel Rubinfeld, told the Belga news agency.

“They’re referencing a historic event in which Jews were exterminated and reduced to slaves,” he said.

LBCA has filed a complaint with police for incitement to violence against those filmed shouting the slogan.

The rally’s organizers, a nonprofit called the Belgo-Palestinian Association, condemned the chanting in a statement.

4 Democrats calling for cuts in Israel aid if annexation goes ahead

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Four progressive House Democrats have written to the secretary of state calling on the United States to cut assistance to Israel should it proceed to annex parts of Judea and Samaria.

In response, the AIPAC lobby has launched a campaign against the letter initiated by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Betty McCollum of Minnesota.

The letter, AIPAC said Monday on Twitter, “explicitly threatens the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that would damage American interests, risk the security of Israel & make a two-state solution less likely.”

An action alert urged activists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to contact their representatives to oppose the letter.

The letter to Mike Pompeo is circulating among Democrats in a bid to add signatures.

“Should the Israeli government move forward with the planned annexation with this administration’s acquiescence, we will work to ensure non-recognition as well as pursue conditions on the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel, including human rights conditions and withholding funds for the off-shore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them,” it says, according to a copy obtained by Jewish Insider.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he plans to launch the process to annex parts of the West Bank by July 1. His coalition partner, the Blue and White party, is resisting pressure to move so soon.

Last week, 191 of 233 Democrats in the House signed a letter warning Israel that annexation would endanger peace. AIPAC also opposed that letter, which expressed a commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship and did not include any threats to aid. The lobby, however, was unable to stop some of the House’s most stalwart pro-Israel Democrats from signing.

The US ambassador’s official residence in Israel up for sale

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The U.S. Embassy in Israel has put the ambassador’s official residence up for sale and stands to sell it for a record-breaking price.

The asking price for the home in Herzliya, which has a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea, is 300 million shekels, or $87 million, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.

If the embassy gets its asking price, it would exceed the record set in January when Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich bought an estate in central Israel for a record $64.5 million.

The 11,000-square-foot villa built in the 1960s likely would be demolished and a new home built on the desirable property, according to the report. The United States purchased the property in 1962.

According to Globes, the embassy said the decision to sell the property is part of the transfer of the U.S. Embassy, and most of its activities, to Jerusalem. The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, lives in “official residences in Jerusalem,” the embassy said.

Starbucks, Hershey and Coca-Cola join Facebook ad boycott

By Ben Sales

(JTA) — Reforms announced by Facebook have failed to stem a growing boycott against the social network’s policies on hate speech. Several major brands have joined a rising number of companies that have pledged not to advertise on the platform.

Starbucks is the latest large corporation to join the boycott, following the lead of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Hershey and nearly 100 other companies. The Anti-Defamation League, NAACP and several other civil rights groups announced the boycott on June 17, calling on companies to pause their advertising on Facebook for the month of July.

Protesting the company’s unwillingness to police hate speech or monitor posts for misinformation, the campaign points to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s repeated refusal to moderate posts for misinformation, even as extremists have used the platform to incite to violence.

Facebook makes nearly its entire $70 billion in annual revenue through advertising — and the boycott appears to have hurt its bottom line. The firm’s stock, listed as FB on the Nasdaq exchange, has fallen 8 percent.

The list of companies has continued to rise despite Zuckerberg’s attempt to address the complaints.

On Friday, Facebook announced that it would place warnings on posts that break its rules regarding hate or misinformation but still considers newsworthy. It will also ban a wider variety of hateful posts, according to NPR, and will post links to “authoritative information” on posts concerning voting.

But the boycott organizers are demanding much broader changes how Facebook monitors, responds to and reports posts. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted Friday that Facebook’s new policies amount to “small changes that don’t adequately address hate & misinformation.”

Israel strikes Hamas targets in retaliation for rocket attacks

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel launched airstrikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to two rockets fired from Gaza aimed at civilian communities in southern Israel.

The rockets fired Friday night from Gaza fell in open areas where no damage was reported. Sirens sounded in several southern Israeli communities, sending residents running for bomb shelters.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces targeted what it called “Hamas terrorist targets” in southern Gaza, including a rocket manufacturing workshop and a weapons manufacturing facility. There were no reports of any deaths.

“The IDF views any kind of terror activity aimed at Israel with great severity and will continue operating as necessary against attempts to harm Israeli civilians,” the IDF said in a statement.

The statement said that the “Hamas terror organization bears responsibility for what is happening inside of and what is coming out of the Gaza Strip, and that Hamas will bear the consequences for terrorist operations against Israeli citizens.” Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.

Later Saturday, Hamas said in a statement that Israel’s strike “increases our resolve to deal with the annexation plan,” The Times of Israel reported.

Over 400 Jewish groups and synagogues sign letter supporting BLM

By Marcy Oster

(JTA) — More than 400 Jewish organizations and synagogues in the United States have signed on to a letter that asserts “unequivocally: Black Lives Matter.”

The joint letter was an initiative of a diverse group of Jewish activists from across a range of religious, political, gender, and racial identities. The list of signatories — from small congregations to major Jewish organizations — represents millions of Jewish people in the United States, the organizers said in a statement.

“We support the Black-led movement in this country that is calling for accountability and transparency from the government and law enforcement,” says the letter, which had its hundreds of signers within 24 hours. “We know that freedom and safety for any of us depends on the freedom and safety of all of us.

“When politicians target Jewish people and blame us for problems, it leads directly to violence against us. When Black movements are undermined, it leads to more violence against Black people, including Black Jews.”

The letter calls Black Lives Matters the “current day civil rights movement” in the United States.

“When Jewish people join together with our neighbors across racial and religious differences, as we have in the past, we can protect each other and build the future of freedom and safety we all deserve,” the letter says.

In Germany, where police brutality is rare, cadets learn mandatory Holocaust history

By Gabe Friedman

(JTA) —In Germany, the process to become a police officer takes at least 2 1/2 years and involves learning Holocaust history: For example, since 1984, all trainees in Berlin must visit the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

In addition to decentralizing and “denazifying” the police, who were a crucial force in carrying out Hitler’s orders and murdered over a million people during the war, Germany sought to instill a new culture in its officers — what a historian calls demilitarization. Cadets must pass personality and intelligence tests before taking law, ethics and police history courses. They are taught to rarely draw their weapons. Minor things such as parking tickets are handled by unarmed officers.

Learning about the Holocaust plays a key role in the training. One officer interviewed said his entire graduating class watched “Schindler’s List” together in 1994. Through the federal police union, two trips to Israel and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum are offered every year.

Germany is a much smaller country than the U.S., but there have been results. according to statistics compiled by the German Police Academy in Münster, “[P]olice fatally shot 11 people and injured 34 while on duty in 2018.”

 

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