Weekly roundup of world briefs
December 18, 2020
A new Jewish streaming service, launched in London, aims to connect Jews and make them proud
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA) — A Jewish group based in London has launched Europe’s first Jewish streaming service, with the goal of “connecting all sorts of Jews to their culture and history.”
JEWZY.tv, which is currently available only in the United States — or to a computer connecting via a US-based server — on Friday announced its launch as “chicken soup for the eyes,” The Jewish Chronicle reported.
The new service follows the launch of two other Jewish streaming services: ChaiFlicks and Izzy. Its editorial focus is on “hidden gems,” Jeremy Wootliff, Jewzy’s founder, told the Chronicle. “We go out and find the wonderful movies and TV programs that have been forgotten over time,” or may not have enjoyed the exposure they deserved when made, he said.
An annual subscription costs $59.99 and offers 100 titles a month, including “Dark Horse” starring Mia Farrow; “The Double” with Jesse Eisenberg and “Defiant Requiem,” a feature documentary about the Theresienstadt concentration camps. Many of the titles are about Israel or made there.
Jewzy’s agenda goes beyond providing entertainment to subscribers. Its goals also include promoting positive images of Jews and Israel and countering anti-Semitism and bigotry. But its lineup is nonpartisan, Wootliff told the Chronicle.
“We want to bring Israel and the diaspora all together and under one roof,” he said.
Bahrain changes tune, says won’t allow imports from Israeli settlements
(JNS) — Bahrain will not allow imports from Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, Bahrain’s Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry said on Friday according to a report by the state news agency BNA. The ministry’s statement contradicted the country’s trade minister, who said during a visit to Israel last week that they would be allowed.
Bahraini Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani’s statement “was misinterpreted,” the ministry said, adding that “the ministry is committed to the Bahraini government’s unwavering stance regarding adherence to the resolutions of the United Nations, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation concerning the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki claimed that in a phone conversation with him, Zayani had denied ever making the comments.
“The alleged comments … totally contradicted his country’s [Bahrain] supportive position of the Palestinian cause,” said a statement from Maliki’s office, according to Reuters.
Al Zayani was in Israel last week at the head of a 40-member delegation. He signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with his Israeli counterpart Orit Farkash-Hacohen at a ceremony in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Israel triples pre-order of Moderna vaccine to 6 million doses
(JNS) — Israel’s Ministry of Health has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical giant Moderna to triple the number of vaccines it will purchase from the company in 2021 from 2 million to 6 million doses, according to a joint statement by the ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Six million doses will be sufficient to inoculate 3 million citizens, according to the statement.
Israel had previously pre-ordered doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States, pending their approval by health regulators. The country is also developing its own vaccine, called BriLife, which began clinical trials on Nov. 1.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the new Moderna deal was cause for hope though warned that it wasn’t time to celebrate just yet.
“I am pleased to announce that today we signed with Moderna for the supply of 6 million vaccines for you, citizens of Israel. This is triple the number of vaccines in the original contract with Moderna. This gives us hope. We see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
He emphasized, however, that the pandemic was not over yet, and that the public needed to maintain discipline.
“We need to follow the rules. Our mission is to bring vaccines. Your mission is to follow the rules. If we do this, we are going to win. Together, we will defeat the coronavirus,” he said.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein called the deal “wonderful news for the citizens and economy of Israel.”
“There will be no citizen who wants to be vaccinated whom we will be unable to provide with a vaccine,” he said.
Echoing Netanyahu’s words, Edelstein added that while “the professional teams have begun expedited work on the allocation of the vaccines,” it would take “several months” to vaccinate everyone, and until then, “we must all strictly adhere to the directives and not become complacent.”
Trump plans to appoint five individuals to US Holocaust Memorial Council
(JNS) — U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention on Thursday to appoint five individuals to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
Those named to the council, which is the governing body of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., include David Marchick, who served as the Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration; Republican strategist Jeffrey Miller, founder and CEO of Miller Strategies; U.S. International Development Finance Corporation CEO Adam S. Boehler; Miami Beach investor Jimmy Resnick; and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development General Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Resnick.
The appointments, which are made by U.S. presidents during their terms, are slated to become official in the next few weeks.
In October, Trump appointed real estate executive Loren Flaum and South Carolina Ports Authority chairman Bill Stern to the council as well.
Orthodox Jewish groups laud federal discrimination suit against New York village
By Faygie Holt
(JNS) — Orthodox Jewish groups are praising the U.S. Department of Justice after it filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the Village of Airmont in Rockland County, N.Y., claiming that its zoning laws are “discriminatory” and aimed at Chassidic Jews.
The suit alleges that the village’s 2018 zoning regulations not only violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), they are “applied … in a discriminatory fashion against Orthodox Jewish residents.”
“As a jury found over two decades ago, the Village of Airmont was born out of a spirit of animus against a religious minority,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said in a release. “Sadly, rather than working to overcome that shameful legacy, Airmont has flagrantly ignored the terms of a court judgment and implemented land-use practices that by design and operation are again meant to infringe unlawfully on the rights of a minority religious community.”
The lawsuit is the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between the Village of Airmont and a growing Chassidic presence in its community. Airmont, which was founded in 1991, split from the Town of Ramapo, N.Y., amid concerns that lax zoning regulations would lead to a large influx of Orthodox Jews in their midst.
Since then, the village, located about 35 miles north of New York City, has been the subject of federal lawsuits and judicial oversight.
“Airmont has a long history of ugly bias against the Jewish community, and clearly the Attorney General [William Barr] is as frustrated by this as we in the Jewish community, along with all who value religious freedom and the rights of property owners everywhere,” Rabbi Pesach Lerner, president of the Coalition for Jewish Values, said in a press release.
Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s vice president of government affairs and its Washington director, said, his organization is “looking forward to a satisfactory resolution to this case. Agudath Israel and others worked so hard to get RLUIPA passed because we knew how valuable it would be in fighting actions that too often mask religious bias. Kudos to the Justice Department for rightfully making this a priority.”
France, Germany, Britain find Iranian plan for new centrifuges ‘deeply worrying’
(JNS) — France, Germany and Britain expressed concern in a joint statement on Monday regarding Iran’s declared intent to install additional advanced centrifuges at its underground fuel enrichment facility at Natanz.
“If Iran is serious about preserving a space for diplomacy, it must not implement these steps,” said the statement, according to Reuters.
According to Reuters, a confidential IAEA report details Iranian plans to install three more cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at Natanz.
The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement limits Iran to using only first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz and stipulates that it may only accumulate stocks of enriched uranium using these machines.
“Iran’s recent announcement to the IAEA that it intends to install an additional three cascades of advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz is contrary to the JCPOA and deeply worrying,” said the three powers.
The Europeans further criticized a new Iranian law requiring the government to stop United Nations inspections of the country’s nuclear sites and to increase enrichment beyond the limits established by the JCPOA.
“Such a move would jeopardize our shared efforts to preserve the JCPOA and also risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the incoming U.S. administration,” they said, according to the report.
UAE ambassador on Israel ties: ‘We expect joint ventures in virtually every sector’
By Shiryn Ghermezian
(JNS) — The Emirati ambassador to the United States said on Sunday that Israel and the United Arab Emirates hope to cooperate in making advancements in all fields following the signing of the Abraham Accords.
United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba was a featured guest at the Iranian American Jewish Federation’s 2020 virtual gala on Sunday night. During his remarks, he highlighted how the “significant amount of cooperation” between the UAE and Israel since the signing of the normalization agreement on Sept. 15, including in artificial intelligence, health care and the creation of commercial flights to and from both countries.
“We expect a host of other similar joint ventures in virtually every sector going forward,” he said. “As more trade is conducted and more investment is executed, the relationship will only grow. More business means more people-to-people connection, more understanding and ultimately, more shared interests.”
“A vision has been set by the leaders of these countries. It is now to up to all of us in government and the private sector to make it a successful reality. We need to create a better future together,” he added.
The ambassador also noted that “beyond the obvious economic opportunities,” he is looking forward to the personal connections that will flourish between both countries.
“We are going to see a generation of young people who are working together to address the challenges of tomorrow. And whether it’s health care, agriculture, conversation or technology, the UAE and Israel or going to be at the forefront of this work in our region,” he said. “When people get to know one another, conflict is reduced, share prosperities increased, and peace becomes reality.”
“We cannot take this moment for granted,” he concluded. “Opportunity is knocking, and we must open the door.”
The gala also featured Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who spoke about how the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it “challenges and opportunities,” and that people should be “a source of strength and support for each other, no matter what comes.”
The online event concluded with a performance by Iranian-Israeli singer and actress Liraz Charhi, star of the Apple TV series “Tehran,” who sang one of her favorite Iranian tunes from a venue in the Old City of Jaffa.
The IAJF raised more than $5 million as a result of the gala.
Cruz reintroduces bill to label Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group
(JNS) — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has reintroduced a bill that calls on the U.S. State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
His office announced on Dec. 2 that the senator is again pushing for the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, which requires the State Department to report to Congress about whether the transnational Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt meets the legal criteria for designation.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).
“I am proud to reintroduce this bill and to advance America’s fight against radical Islamic terrorism,” said Cruz in a statement released by his office. “I commend the current administration’s work calling terrorism by its name and combating the spread of this potent threat, and I look forward to receiving the additional information this new bill requests from the Department of State.
“Many of our closest allies in the Arab world have long ago concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group that seeks to sow chaos across the Middle East, and I will continue working with my colleagues to take action against groups that finance terrorism.”
In the same statement, Inhofe said “since the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Brotherhood-affiliated groups have consistently preached and incited hatred against Christians, Jews and other Muslims while supporting designated radical terrorists.”
The Trump administration has reportedly considered designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group but has received pushback from Pentagon and other officials.
Netanyahu thanks Trump on three-year anniversary of US recognition of Jerusalem
(JNS) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for his great support for the Jewish state, saying that his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 would go down in history with President Harry S. Truman’s recognition of the State of Israel.
“Exactly three years ago, President Trump became the first world leader to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said Netanyahu at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.
“The proclamation will now be prominently displayed on the wall of Israel’s Cabinet room here in Jerusalem. It will be displayed alongside President Harry S. Truman’s 1948 proclamation recognizing the newly established State of Israel. These two historic proclamations will never be forgotten,” he said.
The Israeli premier noted that as significant as that recognition was, it was but one of many historic decisions that Trump made during his presidency.
“He recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He recognized Israel’s legitimate rights in Judea and Samaria, proposed a realistic peace plan that acknowledges those rights and maintains Israel’s ability to defend itself. He forged the historic Abraham Accords, which ushered in a new period of peace that is dramatically changing the face of the Middle East before our very eyes,” said Netanyahu.
“He withdrew from the dangerous Iran nuclear deal, placed crippling sanctions on Iran and took out the world’s most dangerous terrorist, Qassem Soleimani. And, of course, he brought the U.S.-Israel alliance to unprecedented heights,” he added.
“For all this and more, thank you, President Trump.”
Investment in Israeli companies to reach record $10 billion despite pandemic
(JNS) — Despite the global coronavirus pandemic, Israeli companies raised a record amount of capital in 2020, according to a new report by an Israeli NGO.
According to the report, released by Start-Up Nation Central, as of the beginning of December, Israeli companies had raised $9.5 billion in capital, putting 2020 on course to break the $10 billion threshold for the first time — a 20 percent increase over the $7.7 billion raised by Israeli companies in all of 2019.
The amount of capital already raised is nearly 20 percent more than the $7.7 billion, and well above the amount of high-tech investment recorded this year in Europe, Asia or the United States.
“The impressive investment figures are remarkable at this time of global crisis,” says SNC CEO Eugene Kandel. “They indicate global investors’ trust in the maturing ‘Start-Up Nation,’ and that support for the Israeli tech-innovation sector over the last decade has paid off,” he said.
SNC director of research Aviv Alper attributes the excess performance of the Israeli tech ecosystem to the “growing demand for Israel-led technologies and the unique qualities of the Israeli innovation industry.”
These qualities include “rapid response to change, cumulative technological experience and Israel’s branding as a global high-tech hub,” according to the SNC.