Weekly roundup of world briefs


November 19, 2021

Polish soccer referee sends antisemitic rant to group fighting anti-Semitism

By Cnaan Liphshiz

KRAKOW, Poland (JTA) — Jewish groups in Poland complained after a professional soccer referee ridiculed the work of a group trying to root out antisemitism in the sport.

Lukasz Araszkiewicz, a referee from Poznan, called the work of the Never Again association “hogwash by Jewish centers and milieus.” Never Again, which seeks to curb expressions of racist hatred in soccer, had invited him and others to participate in the group’s activities, the Poznan edition of Gazeta Wyborca on Tuesday reported.

“Jews are not a chosen people despite this everlasting pretense of theirs,” Araszkiewicz replied in an email, “and portraying Poles as antisemites and talking about Polish concentration camps is the biggest Jewish f*****g despicable thing since World War II,” according to Never Again.

Never Again and the American Jewish Committee’s Warsaw office urged FIFA, the world soccer federation, to take disciplinary action against Araszkiewicz, Never Again wrote on Facebook Wednesday.

Gal Gadot tells a joke in Hebrew on James Corden’s ‘Late Late Show’

By Shira Hanau

(JTA) — Gal Gadot is back to speaking Hebrew on late-night American TV.

In an appearance on CBS’ “The Late Late Show” on Tuesday night, host James Corden subjected the Israeli star to a game titled “Gal Ga-YES or Gal Ga-NO.” Corden challenged Gadot to perform a series of tasks, including throwing a grape in the air and catching it in her mouth, and reading a line in a British accent in front of the studio audience.

The second challenge on the list had a more limited audience.

“Can Gal Gadot tell a joke in Hebrew and make Hagar laugh?” Corden asked the audience. Hagar Ben Ari, an Israeli musician, is a member of the show’s house band.

Gadot wasted no time telling her joke.

“A baby is like instant coffee, do you know why?” Gadot said in Hebrew. “It’s easy to make it and it keeps you up all night.”

It was a Gal Ga-YES.

“It’s really funny,” Ben Ari responded.

In UK poll, most respondents don’t know how many Jews perished in the Holocaust

By Cnaan Liphshiz

] (JTA) — In a survey among 2,000 adult Britons, 52% did not seem to know how many Jews died in the Holocaust and 22% couldn’t name a single concentration camp.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference, on Wednesday published the results of the survey, which it had conducted in the United Kingdom in October ahead of Nov. 10, the anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and Austria.

“We are very concerned to see the profound gaps in knowledge of the Holocaust,” said Gideon Taylor, the president of the Claims Conference, which is the body representing Jewish communities and organizations in reparations talks with Germany.

The organization’s findings about levels of Holocaust awareness in Britain suggest Americans are less knowledgeable than Britons.

In a Claims Conference survey in the United States last year, 31% of respondents said they believed that substantially fewer than 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. Almost half of Americans, or 45%, couldn’t name a single concentration camps. The survey had a 2% error of margin.

In the same survey, 76% said they had never heard of the Kindertransports, the name of an operation in which the U.K. government in 1938 granted life-saving visas to 10,000 Jewish children whose parents sent them from Europe to relative safety in Britain months before the Nazis took over the mainland.

Israel approves COVID-19 vaccination for 5-11-year-olds

(JNS) — Israel has approved coronavirus vaccination for children aged 5 to 11, the Health Ministry announced in a press conference on Wednesday night.

The nearly unanimous vote—73 in favor and two against—was reached by the Pandemic Response Team and the Advisory Committee on Vaccines.

According to the ministry, of the 73 experts who voted to approve the move, 67 supported recommending that young children get inoculated, and six were for merely allowing them to do so.

The decision comes on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approval last week of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for 5-11-year-olds.

At the end of August, Israel was the first country to extend eligibility for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all citizens aged 12 and above. The United States followed suit several weeks later, after chief U.S. medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that data from Israeli booster shots would clarify the level of risk involved in administering them to citizens under the age of 65.

As Israel began a national drill on Thursday to test the country’s preparedness for the outbreak of a new, more lethal variant COVID-19. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that though Israel is “is in an excellent situation” where managing the virus is concerned, “we are not closing up shop.”

To safeguard the public while maintaining the flow of normal life, he stressed, “we must continue to closely monitor the situation and prepare for any scenario.”

Israel, US, UAE, Bahrain launch joint naval drill in Red Sea

By Lilach Shoval

(Israel Hayom via JNS) — The navies of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and the United States made history on Wednesday as they began conducting a multilateral maritime security operations exercise in the Red Sea, the U.S. military said in a statement on Thursday.

The five-day exercise includes at-sea training aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland and will focus on “visit, board, search and seizure tactics,” according to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. The training will “enhance interoperability between participating forces’ maritime interdiction teams,” according to the statement.

“It is exciting to see U.S. forces training with regional partners to enhance our collective maritime security capabilities,” said NAVCENT and U.S. 5th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Brad Cooper. “Maritime collaboration helps safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability.”

The US 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb.

This is the first naval drill involving these four countries, and comes amid rising tensions with Iran and looming nuclear negotiations between the Islamic Republic and global powers.

Saudi media: Assad behind expulsion of Iranian military leader from Syria

(JNS) — Syrian President Bashar Assad was involved in the ejection of Iranian Quds Force Commander Jawad Ghafari, wrote Saudi publications Al Arabiya and Al Hadathon Wednesday.

According to reports, Assad asked the Iranian regime to withdraw Ghafari due to the “overactivity” of the Quds Force in Syria, which the Syrian dictator considered to be a breach of sovereignty in multiple sectors.

The Saudi media said Ghafari’s exit from Syria is part of a negative trend that Iran has faced regarding its entrenchment efforts there.

Al Arabiya quoted a “knowledgeable source” as saying Assad and other senior Syrian officials stand behind Ghafari’s return to Iran following months of disagreements between Damascus and Tehran.

The publications claimed that Ghafari circumvented Syrian mechanisms while smuggling goods for black-market production, forming competition to the legal Syrian market. It added that Iranian forces in Syria exploited the country’s natural resources for their personal gain and evaded tax payments to the Syrian state.

On Tuesday, Yediot Achronot published an analysis arguing that Assad is dissatisfied with Iranian forces operating in his area and that Israel is taking advantage of that fact to step up attacks on Iranian targets.

Murderer of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll sentenced to life
By Aaron Bandler

(Jewish Journal via JNS) — A French court on Wednesday sentenced Yacine Mihoub to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 22 years, for the 2018 murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll. A second man, Alexander Carrimbacus, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for theft with anti-Semitic intent.

In its ruling, the court said that the murder-robbery had been fueled by “a broader context of anti-Semitism,” which had led Mihoub to believe Knoll, as a Jew, had “hidden treasures” in her home, according to France24.

Knoll, 85, was stabbed 11 times, and Mihoub, her neighbor, is alleged to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” while killing her.

Knoll’s family lauded the court’s sentence as “just,” and Jewish groups also praised the verdict.

“Mireille Knoll survived the Holocaust only to die as the victim of violent antisemitism,” tweeted Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “My thoughts are with her loved ones as the trial comes to an end and the perpetrator is sentenced to life in prison. May her memory forever be a blessing.”

The American Jewish Committee tweeted: “Nothing can bring her back, but at the very least justice has been served. Our thoughts are with her family today.”

Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement, “There should be no reduction of sentences for such a heinous crime. We expect that – taking into account the antisemitic circumstances – this will represent a new step for French jurisprudence. The police and judges now have access to the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] Definition and hate-crime legislation.”

StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson tweeted, “Antisemitism is deadly. May Mireille’s memory be a blessing.”

This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.

Russian official claims its air-defense systems ‘intercepted six Israeli missiles’ over Syria

(JNS) — Russian-made air-defense systems in Syrian possession intercepted six Israeli guided missiles over Syria, a Russian official has claimed.

According to a report by Russian media outlet Sputnik, Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit, the deputy head of Russia’s Reconciliation Center for the Parties of Syria, said six Israeli F-15 jets entered Syrian airspace on Monday, firing eight guided missiles at Syrian military installations in the central-western province of Homs.

The Syrian military said two of its soldiers were injured in attacks that occurred in Homs and in the coastal city of Tartus.

Syrian state media said on Monday that Israel struck a number of targets in Syria’s central and coastal regions.

The missiles entered Syrian airspace at around 7 p.m. from the direction of northern Beirut, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency. The projectiles triggered Syria’s air defenses, which downed “most” of them, said SANA, citing a Syrian military source.

Jewish actor Paul Rudd is ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ for 2021

By Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — Paul Rudd, the Jewish movie star whose original family name was Rudnitsky, was named People magazine’s “sexiest man alive” in 2021.

He responded to the magazine with the signature sense of humility that has helped endear him to fans for over two decades of mostly comedic roles.

“When I think about myself, I think of myself as a husband and a father, like I’m that,” he said in the article published Wednesday. “I just hang out with my family when I’m not working.”

Rudd, 52, was born to English Jewish parents, and learned about the antisemitism their ancestors faced on the PBS genealogy series “Finding Your Roots” in 2017. Rudd said he grew up largely detached from religion but experienced some antisemitism himself as a kid growing up in Missouri and Kansas.

Before he made a name for himself in blockbuster comedies such as “Anchorman” and “Knocked Up,” Rudd was briefly a bar and bat mitzvah DJ.

Rudd has played a few Jewish roles, notably the former catcher and war spy Moe Berg in a feature film. His next big role is a very Jewish one: he will star as Dr. Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf in the Apple+ TV adaptation of “The Shrink Next Door,” a 2019 reported podcast about a Jewish psychiatrist plugged into the New York Jewish community who takes over the life of one of his Jewish patients.

The list of famous Jews formerly named “sexiest man alive” is short — pop star Adam Levine was given the honor in 2013, while actor Harrison Ford, who had a Jewish mother and partly defines himself as Jewish, was given the title in 1998. English soccer legend David Beckham, whose maternal grandmother was Jewish and has called himself “half-Jewish,” was People’s choice in 2015. Beckham also sent his youngest son, Cruz, to a Jewish nursery school in Los Angeles attached to the Reform Stephen S. Wise Temple.

Israeli fresh-water technology mobile systems to be installed on vehicles

(JNS) Ford has approached Israeli Watergen, one of the world leaders in atmospheric water generation, to collaborate as facilitators for its off-grid adventure recreational vehicles. The project will result in Watergen’s Mobile Box, the world’s first vehicle onboard water generating system, to be pre-installed on Ford vehicles.

The device extracts clean water from ambient air. It made its world debut on the Ford Ranger pick-up truck at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show from Nov. 2-5 in Las Vegas.

The Mobile Box can generate up to 25 liters per day of fresh drinking water, removing the need to carry bottled water and reducing plastic waste. The unit simply needs a 12V power supply and access to fresh air to produce it.

Ford will mount the unit—fitted with sturdy wheels for ease of transport—on the flatbed of the Ranger, where it occupies minimal space due to its compact dimensions. The portable device is equipped with replaceable filters and a mineralization system to ensure a constant and reliable water supply.

Due to its compact design, the system can be mounted externally on various types of vehicles, including trucks, trailers, buses, RVs, motor homes, and all modes of luxury land and sea transport, and at only 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds), the impact on fuel consumption is minimal.

All the system requires for optimal water production is access to fresh air in temperatures between 59 degrees and 113 degrees Fahrenheit and 20 percent to 99 percent humidity.

Israeli defense minister says left-wing threats force him to change his phone every two months

(JNS) — Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed on Tuesday that he regularly replaces his phone due to threats against his life by left-wing activists.

“It pains me to say it, but I replace my phone every two months due to threats from the left, not the right,” he said.

Speaking at a democracy conference organized by left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz, Gantz blamed the “toxic atmosphere” in Israel on “non-acceptance of the democratic rules of the game,” Channel 12 reported.

While emphasizing that most Israelis, whether left or right, are not violent, incitement, he warned, was spreading.

“My main concern is for the lives of citizens in the street, for my colleagues in the Knesset who do not have security details,” he said. “We all must internalize that hitting a key can be halfway to pulling a trigger,” he added.

The defense minister went on to say that he would be holding a comprehensive discussion in the coming days, and lead a series of actions, aimed at strengthening enforcement against nationalistically motivated crime in Judea and Samaria.

US tests Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system in Guam, eyeing China threat

(JNS) — The U.S. military is testing Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system in Guam because of the threat of Chinese cruise missiles.

Iron Dome has demonstrated an ability to intercept cruise missiles that travel below the speed of sound that the Pentagon says could be fired from Chinese bombers at Guam, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

Congress had ordered two Iron Dome systems in 2019 and said that one should be deployed this year.

The U.S. military also seeks some $200 million for other technologies, such as a land-based version of the Aegis missile-defense system built by Lockheed Martin that is commonly used on ships, according to the report.


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