Weekly roundup of world briefs
June 4, 2021
International Christian Embassy donates 15 bomb shelters to Israeli towns
(JNS) — Amid the intense rocket barrages of recent days, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is pressing ahead with orders for 15 new portable bomb shelters—nine to be delivered as soon as possible to vulnerable Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip and the other six to exposed villages along the northern border with Lebanon.
Thanks to gifts from concerned Christians worldwide, this will bring to 132 the total number of bomb shelters the ICEJ has donated since 2008. The majority of these shelters have gone to towns along the southern border with Gaza with the remainder going to communities near the Lebanese border in the north.
The pro-Israel organization has issued an appeal to raise additional funds for more shelters in the coming weeks.
“We want to do all we can to stand in solidarity with Israel during these difficult days of relentless Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza,” said ICEJ president Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “And that starts with providing life-saving bomb shelters to the most vulnerable Israeli communities nearest Gaza, where the Iron Dome is less effective in intercepting rockets.”
Federal court strikes down Georgia’s anti-BDS law
By Ron Kampeas
(JTA) — A federal court struck down a Georgia state law that required contractors with the state to swear not to boycott Israel, the latest in a series of legal defeats for an anti-boycott campaign that pressed hard for laws targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
“The requirement … that parties seeking to contract with the state of Georgia sign a certification that they are not engaged in a boycott of Israel also is unconstitutional compelled speech,” said the ruling filed Friday by Mark Cohen, a U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta.
Cohen was ruling on a lawsuit brought by Abby Martin, a journalist who is harshly critical of Israel and embraces BDS. In 2019, Georgia Southern University had invited Martin to be the keynote speaker at a media conference for a $1,000 honorarium, then withdrew the invitation when she would not sign a contract swearing off BDS, as required by state law passed in 2017.
The ruling was the latest blow to a surge in anti-BDS laws passed with the help of a number of pro-Israel groups, particularly Christian pro-Israel groups, in the middle of the last decade. In addition to Georgia, courts in Arizona, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas have ruled anti-BDS laws unconstitutional.
Civil liberty groups have mounted legal challenges to the laws. Martin was joined in her lawsuit by a number of organizations opposed to anti-BDS legislation, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, J Street, the rabbinical human rights group T’ruah and the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law School.
“My First Amendment rights were restricted on behalf of a foreign government, which flies in the face of the principles of freedom and democracy,” Martin said.
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo increases police patrols of Jewish neighborhoods amid wave of antisemitic attacks
By Shira Hanau
(JTA) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the State Police to increase patrols in Jewish neighborhoods across the state Monday amid a rash of antisemitic incidents following the violence in Israel and Gaza.
“In the wake of the unacceptable recent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes nationwide, I am proactively deploying State Troopers to provide security at Jewish religious, educational, and community facilities,” Cuomo said in a statement, according to the New York Post.
The increased patrols follow a wave of antisemitic attacks that include the beating of a Jewish man while he walked to a pro-Israel rally, a brick thrown through the window of a kosher pizza store and people spitting on Jewish restaurant patrons in midtown Manhattan. It also came just a day after hundreds of people flocked to Lower Manhattan for a pro-Israel rally.
Simon Cowell pulls out as judge on Israeli counterpart to ‘America’s Got Talent’
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA) — Simon Cowell, a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” has canceled his appearance on the popular show’s Israeli counterpart, “X Factor.”
A source close to Cowell confirmed that “Simon won’t be going to Israel after all,” The Jewish News of London reported Tuesday. The report did not indicate why the British music impresario nixed plans to participate in the show later this year, or whether it was connected to the 11-day exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that ended with a ceasefire on May 21.
“For a number of reasons he just can’t be there in Israel to film the show now,” said the source, who was not named. “Of course he is bitterly disappointed — but it was a decision he had to take.”
Cowell is Christian, but his late father, Eric, was Jewish, as is his current partner, Lauren Silverman, who recently gave birth to the couple’s first child.
In UK, Hamas-Israel ceasefire hasn’t slowed the spike in antisemitic incidents
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA) — Acts of antisemitism in the United Kingdom continued to rise this week, despite the ceasefire in hostilities between Israel and Hamas that had triggered the outbreak there and beyond.
Over the past 17 days, at least 267 incidents of antisemitism have been reported – an increase of over 500% compared to the previous 17 days, the Community Security Trust security group told The Jewish News of London. CST said 151 of the incidents have come after May 20, when the ceasefire was announced.
In Borehamwood, a town north of London, the mezuzahs of two Jewish families were vandalized and destroyed on Monday, The Jewish News reported.
Prior to the ceasefire in Londonderry, a city in Northern Ireland, graffiti was spray-painted May 15 on the entrance of a Jewish-owned business, the Belfast Telegraph reported Monday.
Separately, a high school principal in the city of Leeds, in northern England, told students in a video message that Palestinian flags can be seen by Jewish students of Allerton Grange High School as a “call to arms” and “as a message of support for antisemitism.”
On Monday, the principal, Mike Roper apologized, saying in a statement: “I am deeply sorry that a particular example I used […] has caused such upset.”
Arab woman receives kidney from a Jew killed in Lod riots
By Abigail Klein Leichman
(Israel21c via JNS) — Deadly riots in the mixed Jewish and Arab city of Lod claimed the life of 56-year-old Jewish electrician Yigal Yehoshua on May 17. He died of head injuries sustained when he was struck by a brick on his way home from a Torah dedication ceremony. But his tragic death led to a medical miracle, as Yehoshua’s organs saved four lives.
Two Muslim surgeons at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem successfully transplanted one of Yehoshua’s kidneys into a Christian Arab mother of six.
“Yigal will go straight to heaven, to a better place,” said the recipient, 58-year-old Randa Aweis, after her surgery.
“Here we must all, Christians, Muslims and Jews, strive for peace. All of us. I can’t wait to host Yigal’s family in my home,” added Aweis, who had been awaiting a kidney transplant for nine years.
Dr. Abed Khalaileh, director of Hadassah’s Kidney Transplantation Service, performed the surgery, together with Dr. Ashraf Imam.
In an interview with Channel 12 news, Khalaileh thanked the family of the donor “in what was such an appalling situation,” and expressed his wish for health and peace for all.
“Medicine in general and transplantation, in particular, symbolizes humanity,” he said. “In this case, a woman received a new lease on life.”
Yehoshua’s other organs saved additional lives.
His second kidney was transplanted into a 67-year-old retired career soldier, his liver into a 22-year-old woman, and his lungs into a 69-year-old man. Each of these patients had no other hope for survival.
This article was first published by Israel21c.
Israel issues severe COVID travel warning for Argentina, Russia, Seychelles
(JNS) — The Israeli Health Ministry on Sunday issued a severe travel warning for Argentina, Russia and the Seychelles, due to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in those countries.
The ministry warned that if morbidity figures in these countries do not improve significantly, they are expected to join the list of “maximum risk” countries to which Israeli citizens are forbidden to travel, and called on the public to plan their travel spots accordingly.
The list of countries currently on the “red list” are Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, India, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey. Travel to these countries by Israeli citizens and residents requires special approval, and all individuals entering Israel from one of those locations must enter quarantine upon arrival.
The ministry also warned against traveling to Africa and South and Central America, as well as to India, Greece, Egypt, Germany, Serbia, Poland, Croatia and Romania.
“In light of increasing global morbidity, the Health Ministry recommends avoiding all non-essential travel at this time,” the warning concluded.
Temple Mount reopens to Jewish visitors after 19 days
By Efrat Forsher and Ariel Kahana
(Israel Hayom via JNS) — After 19 days during which Jews were banned from visiting the Temple Mount due to Muslim unrest in Jerusalem, a group of 20 Jewish visitors was allowed on Sunday morning into the compound.
On Friday, hundreds of young Muslims threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police. Jerusalem District Police Chief Maj. Gen. Doron Turgeman ordered police to enter the compound and handle the rioters.
Small-scale disturbances at the Temple Mount were reported early Sunday morning, but the visit by the group of Jewish visitors went ahead as planned.
Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party, called the decision “an important step by the prime minister, which shows that Israel has not folded on its principles.”
However, he added, “We need to pay attention to the situation on the mount, to the unceasing discrimination, the fact that Jews may not pray publicly in a minyan, the limit to groups of 20 and shorter visiting hours for Jews.”
“I call on the prime minister to make the situation on the Mount equal for Jews and Muslims, and prevent racism and inequality,” he said.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
‘Israel destroyed 62 miles of Hamas tunnels and killed 25 top operatives’
By Lilach Shoval
(Israel Hayom via JNS) — In the 11 days of “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” the Israel Defense Forces destroyed some 62 miles of Hamas’s tunnel network in the Gaza Strip, according to IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman.
Speaking hours after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect on Friday, Zilberman reported that some 200 Hamas operatives, including 25 high-ranking members, had been targeted and killed in IDF strikes during the fighting in Gaza.
Israeli forces also demolished some 340 rocket-launchers and 70 multi-barrel rocket-launchers, as well as 35 mortars, according to the IDF.
Ten Hamas government offices were destroyed, as well as 11 buildings belonging to its internal security forces and five banks used by Hamas.
Israel also targeted and destroyed “dozens” of training camps and outposts, a command and control center and nine high-rise buildings that housed Hamas infrastructure, added Zilberman.
The IDF also destroyed several dozen anti-tank targets and two unspecified “maritime threats.”
Zilberman also said that two drone attacks by Hamas had been thwarted and that Hamas’s manufacturing and development capabilities had been degraded.
As for the performance of Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, Zilberman said that over the course of the operation, the system had intercepted 90 percent of incoming rockets deemed to pose a threat to populated areas.
After Israel’s Diplomatic-Security Cabinet voted on Thursday night to accept the ceasefire, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “the defense establishment maintains its willingness to defend the citizens of Israel, and the security forces and the IDF are deployed in the field, on all fronts, for defense and offense. The reality on the ground will decide how we continue to operate.”
Gantz said that the IDF and Israel’s other security forces had secured “military achievements unprecedented in their power, precision and strategic significance” during the operation.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Jewish history and Holocaust studies scholar murdered in Ukraine
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA) — A 29-year-old man has been arrested in Ukraine in the suspected murder this month of a prominent Holocaust and Jewish history researcher there.
Police in Nikolayev, near Odessa, made the arrest Tuesday in the May 14 slaying of Vladimir Shchukin, 67, who had worked at the State Archive of the Nikolaev Region. The suspect was not named in the media and police have not indicated whether they believe the motive was connected to Shchukin’s writings on the Holocaust, the Strana news site reported.
Shchukin, who was not Jewish, was found dead in his apartment.
In addition to writing the definitive work on the Holocaust in the Nikolayev region, Shchukin also authored research papers on the Jewish presence in Ukraine more broadly. In 2016 he co-authored a Russian-language work titled “Jewish agricultural colonies of the Kherson province.”
In 2018, another historian, Mikola Shityuk, was killed in Nikolayev. Police arrested a suspect but he was released soon thereafter. The case has remained unsolved.
Shityuk, who also was not Jewish, had published multiple research papers on Holodomor, a famine inflicted on what is now Ukraine by the Soviet Union. Many Ukrainians consider Holodomor an attempt at genocide.
Fitness enthusiasts volunteer to escort LA Jews to Shabbat services
By Ron Kampeas
(JTA) — Remi Franklin thought about his two communities and realized there could be a match: His pals at the gym might want to volunteer to walk with Los Angeles-area Jews who were fearful of attending services on Shabbat following attacks on Jews in the city during the latest Israel-Hamas war.
The Los Angeles Times interviewed Franklin on Saturday while he was greeting congregants at an Orthodox synagogue and asking them if they wanted a walk home. Franklin, a jiujitsu practitioner who according to the Forward is coordinating his volunteer effort with Magen Am, a security service for the Jewish community, told the Times a lot of friends signed up.
He said his effort has recruited Jews and non-Jews, including practitioners of jiujitsu, boxing and mixed martial arts.
“We have ladies who are former dancers and gymnasts,” he told the Times.
Last week, pro-Palestinian attackers threw punches and bottles at diners at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles.
Among the volunteers Franklin recruited was Jonathan Lipnicki, who starred as a child in “Jerry Maguire” and is now a Brazilian jiujitsu black belt. He said he attends Shabbat dinners hosted by Franklin.
“It’s a scary time for the Jewish community,” Lipnicki, who is Jewish, told the Times.