Weekly roundup of world briefs
January 15, 2021
France gives $10M to Palestinian group that promotes Israel boycott
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA) — The French government has allocated about $10 million to a Palestinian organization that is a leading promoter of the boycott Israel movement.
Promoting that boycott has been found illegal in France in several high-profile cases.
The French Development Agency, or AFD, which focuses on “on climate, biodiversity, peace, education, urban development, health and governance,” last year gave an 8 million Euro grant to the NGO Development Center, or NDC, a Palestinian group that says it promotes good government practices in the West Bank. It was behind the 2008 “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct,” a document includes a rejection of “any normalization activities with the occupier [Israel], neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.”
NGO Monitor, an Israeli group that investigates the activities of non-governmental organizations and foreign government in the framework of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in a statement last week called on the French government to “revise its grant in line with France’s clear rejection of BDS.”
In France, dozens of promoters of a boycott against Israel — including through the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement, or BDS — have been convicted of inciting hate or discrimination based on the Lellouche law, passed in 2003, which extends anti-racism laws to the targeting of specific nations for discriminatory treatment.
AFD Spokeswoman Magali Mevellec said that the funding “conforms to French law,” but offered no further commentary in a response to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s query on the issue.
France “supports strengthening local capabilities that improve the lives of populations” in what France considers Palestinian territories, Mevellec said.
“The sole purpose of France and AFD is improving the welfare of [those] populations,” she said.
Anti-Semitic flyers warning of Jewish ‘war’ on white people found around Staten Island
By Ben Sales
(JTA) — A white supremacist group from New Jersey posted more than a dozen anti-Semitic flyers on Staten Island.
The flyers, found over the weekend in the New York City borough, are emblazoned with a Jewish star and falsely claim that Antifa, the loose anti-fascist network, is a Jewish organization that is anti-white.
“The original Antifa was a Jewish anti-Nazi militia,” the flyers said, according to the New York Post. “There is a war against all non-Jewish European-American nationalists.”
The flyers also claim that “600 + Jewish Orgs Support BLM Communist Terrorists,” likely a reference to a statement in support of Black Lives Matter signed last year by hundreds of Jewish organizations.
They were posted by the New Jersey European Heritage Association, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as a white supremacist group that “espouses racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance.” The group has previously posted flyers around New Jersey, including in areas with large Jewish populations.
Kevin Mahoney, a Staten Island resident, told the Post that he spotted and took down at least 10 flyers.
“I have [a] beef with Nazis,” he said.
Five Hebrew U alumni listed as top 10 in their fields
(Israel Hayom via JNS) — Five alumni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been ranked among the top 10 researchers in their fields on a list published by Stanford University.
Professor Dror Feitelson of the Rachel and Selim Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering ranked 8th in the group of artificial intelligence researchers. Professor Emeritus Itamar Willner of the Einstein School of Mathematics was ranked 10th in the list’s nanotechnology group.
Professor Emeritus Eric Cohen of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology was ranked 4th in his group, and Professor Yitzhak Marcus, retired from the university’s Institute of Chemistry, was ranked 3rd in the chemistry group. Professor Steve Weiner, who currently works at the Weizmann Institute of Science, was ranked No. 1 in the world in the field of historical sciences.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Rep. Kat Cammack to place Israeli flag outside office, next to Rep. Tlaib’s
By Jackson Richman
(JNS) — Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) has pledged to put an Israeli flag outside of her Capitol Hill office, which is next door to the office of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who has been criticized for being anti-Israel, including for her support of the BDS movement against the Jewish state.
“She [Tlaib] has some very strong opinions about Israel, and I have some very strong opinions about Israel, so I have made a pledge that I’m going to be planting the flag of Israel outside my door right next to the American flag,” Cammack told local ABC News affiliate WCJB.
“I think it’ll be very helpful as she walks past it every day,” she said.
Cammack added that Gators for Israel, the University of Florida pro-Israel group, has included the flag in a package it is preparing to send to her office on Capitol Hill.
Tlaib’s office called Cammack’s pledge a publicity stunt.
“Congressional members were elected to take on pressing issues impacting their constituents, not publicity stunts,” Tlaib spokesperson Denzel McCampbell told JNS. “Rep. Tlaib is focused on solving issues and showing up for her constituents. One can only hope that Rep. Cammack will do the same.”
Son of Jewish judge who led a national synagogue group was among mob that entered the Capitol
By Shira Hanau
(JTA) — The son of a New York judge and former president of the National Council of Young Israel, an Orthodox synagogue association that has been outspokenly pro-Trump, was among the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, according to Gothamist.
Aaron Mostofsky, whose father is Kings County Supreme Court Judge Steven (Shlomo) Mostofsky, entered the building wearing fur pelts and a bulletproof vest and carrying a riot shield he said he found, Gothamist reported, citing the New York Post.
Mostofsky was photographed several times on Wednesday next to Jake Angeli, a QAnon supporter who also wore a horned hat and furry outfit, though it is not clear that their outfits were coordinated.
He was among the many Orthodox Jews who came to the Capitol to protest, telling the Post that he wanted “to express my opinion as a free American that this election was stolen” from President Donald Trump. Mostofsky is one of dozens of “persons of interest” sought by Washington police for unlawful entry to the building.
“We were cheated,” he said. “I don’t think 75 million people voted for Trump — I think it was close to 85 million.”
Mostofsky’s brother Nachman, the executive director of Chovevei Zion, a politically conservative Orthodox advocacy organization, as well as a Brooklyn district leader and vice president of the South Brooklyn Conservative Club, also attended the rally Wednesday but did not enter the Capitol.
Speaking to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Wednesday before his brother was identified as the man in the fur pelt costume, Nachman Mostofsky condemned the violence at the Capitol but suggested that it was carried out by the anti-fascist group Antifa — and said it was hypocritical to call out the violent protests in light of incidents of violence at the George Floyd protests over the summer.
“No conservative will condone what happened today, the actual storming of the Capitol … it was unpatriotic,” he said. “But we heard for months during the summer when people don’t feel heard, this is what happens.”
Asked by Gothamist on Thursday about his brother’s involvement with the mob that entered the Capitol, Nachman said Aaron was “pushed inside.”
“My brother did nothing illegal,” Nachman told Gothamist. “He definitely was not part of the riot.”
Gothamist reported that Aaron Mostofsky was not arrested and was allowed to walk out of the Capitol.
Zach Braff says he’d like to play Jon Ossoff on ‘SNL’
By Gabe Friedman
(JTA) — Zach Braff wants “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels to know: He’d be great at playing Jon Ossoff, the newly elected senator from Georgia, on the show.
“Lorne. I got this,” Braff tweeted Tuesday night as the election results continued to come in. Ossoff’s victory was declared the next day.
Some Twitter users objected, pointing out that Braff, 45, is too old to play the 33-year-old Ossoff, or doesn’t quite resemble the new lawmaker set to be his Southern state’s first Jewish senator.
Two other Jewish actors were suggested as alternatives for the portrayal: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Timothee Chalamet.
Still others thought that a reunion of Braff and his “Scrubs” co-star Donald Faison would be the perfect duo to portray Ossoff and his new fellow Georgia senator Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Michaels, who is also Jewish, has yet to respond. But the “SNL” team has been given plenty of material to work with this week.
In Ukraine, far-right protesters demand Israel apologize for communist oppression
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA) — After Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine condemned the honoring of Nazi collaborators in the former Soviet republic, dozens of people rallied outside the Israeli Embassy in Kyiv demanding that Jews apologize for Soviet oppression.
The far-right activists called on Israel and the Jews to assume responsibility specifically for Holodomor, a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s and is widely believed to have been caused by the government of Joseph Stalin, then the leader of the Soviet Union.
“Israel deliberately spreads anti-Semitism in Ukraine,” one protester, a white supremacist activist named Vladislav Goranin, said during a speech at the rally. He said Jews and Israel must “repent for genocide” on Ukrainians.
The action was in response to Israeli Ambassador Joel Lion’s tweet Saturday in which he condemned a torchlight march in memory of Stepan Bandera, a World War II Ukrainian leader whose troops killed thousands of Jews and who for a time was an ally of Nazi Germany.
Ultranationalists in Ukraine and beyond have often blamed Jews for Holodomor, citing the support of many Jews for communism and the prominent positions of power that some of Jewish origins achieved under its rule in the Soviet Union — even though they were often involved in the persecution of other Jews for their faith, which Eastern Bloc Jews were often discouraged from practicing.
Jewish support for communism increased as forces loyal to the czarist regime perpetrated multiple pogroms against Jews.