Weekly roundup of world briefs


February 17, 2023

Brazilian teenager dies after soccer accident at Hebraica Jewish sports club

By Marcus M. Gilban

SAO PAULO, Brazil (JTA) — A 14-year-old Brazilian boy died on Friday after a soccer goal post fell on him at Sao Paulo’s Hebraica club, the main meeting place for the local 60,000-strong Jewish community.

Alexandre Andrei Mirocznik was playing with four friends at one of the several courts and fields at the Hebraica, a sports facility that combines the functions of a Jewish community center and a country club. As he hung from a goal post and swung back and forth, the heavy metal beam fell on him.

“This is perhaps the most difficult moment experienced by our institution, and one of the most difficult of my life,” wrote Fernando Rosenthal, Hebraica’s president, in an internal message to the club’s staff.

Footage from surveillance cameras show that Mirocznik’s friends immediately removed the goalpost and security and firefighters arrived shortly after, followed by medical staff. The boy was transferred to a nearby hospital, but he died shortly after.

“There is nothing to identify that the accident could have been caused by a maintenance problem, as some irresponsible people have written on social media,” Rosenthal added.

The club suspended all festive activities and raised a flag at half mast.

Founded in 1953, Sao Paulo’s Hebraica is sometimes referred to as the world’s largest Jewish club, with over 22,000 members. Its activities include sports competitions, theater, youth movements, religious services, music and dance festivals. It also operates a day school.

Kanye West’s lawyers finally able to quit

(JNS) — “Seek, and ye shall find.”

So goes the verse in Matthew 7:7, as the King James Version renders it. That may have inspired Kanye West’s lawyers, who reportedly have finally tracked down the rapper, who goes by Ye, in order to tell him they are quitting.

The musician reportedly made himself scarce, including changing his phone number. His now ex-attorneys finally located him at an address “primarily used by persons and entities not affiliated with Ye or his businesses,” lawyers at Greenberg Traurig said.

In case one is wondering, the firm’s three founders, Larry Hoffman, Mel Greenberg and Robert Traurig are all Jewish.

The nomadic Ye, who is a Wandering Anti-Jew, has a widely-reported history of making antisemitic comments and peddling anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. He has the unenviable distinction of being named StopAntisemitism’s “Antisemite of the Year.”

United Hatzalah emergency response team departs for Turkey

(JNS) — United Hatzalah of Israel sent a delegation of 25 first responders and experts in search and rescue to Turkey on Tuesday.

The relief mission will assist in rescue operations and provide medical assistance following Monday’s earthquakes.

“As soon as we heard about the scale of the tragedy unfolding in Turkey, it was clear to us that we would send a team there in order to contribute to the relief effort,” said Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah Dov Maisel.

“The amount of damage wrought by the earthquakes is enormous. We are bringing all of our knowledge and manpower from previous experiences responding to disasters to assist in the rescue efforts,” Maisel said, adding that the charter flight will also carry 10 tons of supplies.

The massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Monday and its aftershocks have killed more than 6,000 people combined in Turkey and Syria, according to the latest numbers.

Upon landing, the mission will make its way by the land to the epicenter of the destruction and set up a command center and field clinics and begin administering medical aid and rescuing those trapped under the rubble.

The chartered flight was arranged by United Hatzalah together with Sun D’Or, an El Al-owned subsidiary airline, in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli embassy in Ankara.

Man charged with making threats against Toulouse Jewish school that was site of 2012 shooting

By David I. Klein

(JTA) — French authorities have placed under judicial supervision a man who allegedly made threatening phone calls last month to a Jewish school in Toulouse that was the site of a deadly terror attack in 2012.

The 34-year-old suspect made 163 phone calls in total, reports show, including some to a hospital and to a Marseille surgeon.

“I fear that he could attack the Jewish community,” a public prosecutor said, according to The Times of Israel.

In March 2012, an Islamist gunman entered the Ozar Hatorah school and shot dead a rabbi and three young students, wounding four others. He was killed after a 30-hour standoff with police. 

The attack was often cited as one of the manifestations of a rise in antisemitism in France that drove a surge in French-Jewish immigration to Israel throughout the 2010s. In 2019, the shooter’s brother was sentenced to 30 years in prison as an accomplice in the attack.

The defendant who made the phone calls throughout January, and whose identity has not been publicly revealed, was described as without a permanent home and staying in hotels. Last week, a court in Castres ordered a psychiatric assessment and put him under supervision in his mother’s house in the town of Mazamet, in southern France, and they adjourned his case until March. 

As storm batters Israel, Chabad program brings warmth to Holocaust survivors

(JNS) — With storm Barbara bringing freezing winds, rain and snow to Israel, over 200 volunteers braved the conditions to deliver portable heaters, blankets and prepared meals to 300 elderly and Holocaust survivors living in Jerusalem.

The initiative is part of Colel Chabad’s “Get Chessed” youth volunteer program, which launched in late 2021. In partnership with Chabad and Chabad on Campus, it brings together teens and university students from across the country with the continually shrinking community of Holocaust survivors and elderly living alone.

The volunteers visit with a specific person weekly, helping to distribute food packages, run errands and spend time to help ease loneliness.

“These visits provide me with a feeling of warmth and happiness,” said Chava, who lives in Jerusalem. “It’s very tough to be alone in my home, completely separated from my family.  It’s so nice for me to have visitors. It makes my day.”

Founded in 1788, Colel Chabad is Israel’s longest running social services organization, providing life-preserving assistance to the needy people of Israel regardless of gender, age, marital status, ethnicity or religious observance.

The organization offers a comprehensive range of material and social services for widowed and indigent families, Holocaust survivors, elderly, immigrants and the chronically ill.

“The warmth of the heaters brings with it the physical representation of the love and care that the volunteers have for these members of the community,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, director of Colel Chabad. “The special relationship that develops during these weekly visits brings light and life into the loneliness. “

Netanyahu, Modi vow to deepen Israel-India strategic partnership

(JNS) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed on Wednesday with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi ways to enhance bilateral relations.

The 20-minute phone call focused on the two leaders’ mutual desire to deepen cooperation in high-tech, economic matters and security, according to a statement by Netanyahu’s office.

Netanyahu and Modi also spoke by phone last month and vowed to advance their countries’ “strategic partnership.”

That call came after Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar phoned his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen to congratulate him on assuming his post.

India and Israel recently marked 30 years of full diplomatic relations.

India gained independence from Great Britain in August 1947 and Israel did so in May 1948.

UN data points to rise in illegal building demolitions under Ben-Gvir

(JNS) — Israeli demolition of illegal Arab construction has risen sharply under Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, according to data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 7, 42 structures were destroyed in eastern Jerusalem and 102 structures in Area C, a zone in Judea and Samaria under Israeli control.

In the same period last year, only 18 structures in eastern Jerusalem and 80 in Area C were demolished.

Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous government in 2021, during the same 38-day time period from Jan. 1 to Feb. 7, only four structures were demolished in eastern Jerusalem.

However, 152 structures were demolished in Area C over that timeframe, 50 more than during Ben-Gvir’s current tenure.

Ben-Gvir issued a directive to demolish illegal buildings in eastern Jerusalem following the shooting rampage at a Jerusalem synagogue on Jan. 27 that left seven Israeli citizens dead and a second shooting in the city the next morning that wounded two.

Demolitions began on Jan. 29, starting in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood where 14 illegal structures were demolished.

“Even this morning, the demolition of the illegal houses in Jerusalem continues,” Ben-Gvir tweeted on Jan. 30. “It’s one step in a series of important steps for governance and the war on terrorism.”

On Jan. 29, Ben-Gvir congratulated Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and the Jerusalem police for “enforcing the law and carrying it out immediately.”

Florida budget framework increases Jewish day school security funding 25 percent

(JNS) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed $5 million be allocated to secure Jewish day schools in the sunshine state as part of a $114.8 billion “Framework for Freedom” budget for fiscal year 2023-24. 

“Governor DeSantis has always been a steadfast friend of the Jewish people and a defender of the State of Israel,” Jeremy Redfern, the governor’s deputy press secretary, told JNS. “He has stood with Florida’s Jewish community not only in his words, but also in his actions.”

The governor has repeatedly allocated state funds to protect Jewish schools, signed legislation that leading rabbis supported for a daily moment of silence in public schools, enacted legislation allowing Hatzalah ambulances to operate in state and created a state-wide, Holocaust curriculum that is required in schools, Redfern added. 

The new budget framework comes after incidents of Jew-hatred in the state in recent months, including antisemitic fliers left outside of homes and a swastika and other antisemitic messaging projected onto the side of a Jacksonville building. Just last week, someone wrote antisemitic statements in chalk on sidewalks around the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The $5 million is an increase of $1 million from the previous budget. Schools could use the monies “to hire school safety officers, enhance safety measures, upgrade safety equipment, facilities and technology, and increase security services to ensure children at Florida Jewish day schools can learn in a safe environment.”

Moshe Matz, an Orthodox rabbi and executive director of Agudath Israel of Florida, said the allocation request shows the state “is taking the threat of rising antisemitism seriously.” 

“The recent public displays of antisemitism and distribution of antisemitic materials is deeply concerning to our community,” he stated. “We are heartened to see that Florida is taking action to respond.”

There were 190 antisemitic instances in Florida in 2021, a nearly 300 percent increase over the 48 in 2018, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in 2021 the most recent year with available data. 

Florida was also the state with the fourth-highest number of antisemitic incidents, behind New York, New Jersey and California. California is the largest state by population in the country and Florida the third, per the U.S. Census Bureau.

2 Dead, Including 6-Year-Old, in Eastern Jerusalem Car Ramming

By Ron Kampeas

(JTA) — A Palestinian rammed his car into civilians at a Jerusalem bus stop on Friday afternoon, killing  a 6-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man in Jerusalem.

An off-duty policeman killed the attacker, a 31-year Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem. Reports said at least five others, including an 8-year-old child, were injured in the attack outside Ramot, an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the sealing and demolition of the attacker’s home and that “arrests be carried out immediately in the terrorist’s circle,” a statement from his office said.

The Friday night attack two weeks ago came one day after an Israeli raid in the northern West Bank city of Jenin killed 10 people, including two civilians.

Netanyahu’s new government, which includes far-right parties, is considering toughening anti-terrorist measures, including expelling the families of terrorists. One of the proponents of that proposal, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, also proposed placing a lockdown on Isawiya, the attacker’s neighborhood, but was unsure that such a measure would be legal, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The 20-year-old victim, Alter Shlomo Liderman, was a student who had recently gotten married, multiple Israeli outlets reported. Some reports said he was killed by gunfire aimed at the attacker. The child who was killed has not yet been identified.

Multiple Israeli publications reported that a Facebook account that appears to belong to the attacker features praise of Palestinian terror attacks.

Hillel Ontario poll: Jewish students hide Jewishness, views on Israel

(JNS) — Hillel Ontario, the largest regional Hillel system, serving more than 13,000 Jewish students across nine universities, released the results of a poll of 500 Canadian students yesterday. The data, which it began collecting on Nov. 22, paints a picture of Canadian Jewish students that is simultaneously both promising and discouraging.

Three-quarters said their Jewish identity was either central or very important to their overall identity, and the same proportion told Hillel that it was the most important Jewish student voice on campus.

Yet 56 percent of the respondents have downplayed their Jewishness in interpersonal interactions, and 61percent reported having chosen to refrain from voicing views on Israel or Israeli policies, fearing criticism. (Three-quarters are at least somewhat attached to Israel, which about 70 percent have visited.)

Students reported being most concerned about antisemitism on social media, in student union activities and among student activist groups. Half said antisemitism was a source of stress to them.

Jay Solomon, Hillel Ontario’s chief communications and public affairs officer, told JNS it wasn’t a scientific survey, but Hillel made sure it was reaching respondents outside of its own mailing lists. Forty-six percent of respondents had little or no connection to Hillel, he said.

“We believe that this pulse check gives us a good sense of where Gen Z students are at,” he said.

Biden announces partial waiver of sanctions on Iran

(JNS) — The Biden administration on Friday evening notified Congress that it is waiving nonproliferation sanctions on Iran to allow Rosatom—Russia’s State Nuclear Energy Corporation—to profit without facing U.S. sanctions.

The waivers roll back former President Donald Trump’s sanctions on the Islamic Republic and permit Iran to cooperate with Russia at Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities.

Senior congressional sources say that the Biden administration is quietly renewing the sanctions waivers amid renewed concerns about the budding Tehran-Moscow military alliance. Critics charge that the administration is allowing Iran to develop its nuclear program while enriching Russia through business with state-controlled organizations.

“The Biden administration is pathologically obsessed with reentering a nuclear deal with Iran,” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “They’re so obsessed they’re implementing parts of the last catastrophic deal, even without a new agreement.”

Cruz has been working on legislation that would anchor this particular Trump sanction in law and will be moving forward with a bill designed to force President Joe Biden to reverse his presidential order.


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