Weekly roundup of world briefs


State funds $1.5 million of Florida Holocaust Museum’s $7.5 million request

(JNS) — Having requested $7.5 million to improve security, among other things, the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg received $1.5 million in funding from the state senate for 2023-24. In 2022, it received $5 million for the same reasons.

The money is for “facility improvements, remediation and related costs to expand, preserve and secure the museum’s environment, and resources for students, teachers, scholars, descendants and visitors.”

Per the museum’s appropriations request, it has also received $500,000 from the state and $350,000 each from the county, Pinellas, and the city, St. Petersburg, where the museum is located, in addition to $100,000 from private donors.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, on a trip to Jerusalem last week, signed a bill that increases penalties for religious and ethnic harassment.

Open call for artists to design mural for Philadelphia Holocaust memorial

(JNS) — Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation issued an open call to artists to design a 2,000-foot mural to be a part of the city’s Holocaust memorial. The site is home to a 1964 statue that reportedly is the oldest such work commemorating the Holocaust in the United States.

The foundation would like the mural to address the themes of “hope, resilience, tolerance and unity,” said Eszter Kutas, its executive director. Given its prominent location in the city’s center on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the mural will not contain disturbing imagery, she added.

Holocaust survivors commissioned Jewish artist Nathan Rapoport (1911-1987) to create the sculpture, titled “Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs,” on the site, which also contains a 30-foot maple tree that comes from one that children tended at Theresienstadt.

‘You look beautiful tonight,’ Biden tells Omar, Tlaib at White House Eid al-Fitr

(JNS) — At a reception in the White House’s East Room celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which concludes Ramadan, on Monday evening, U.S. President Joe Biden complimented two female members of Congress known for antisemitic statements on their looks.

“Congresswoman Omar. Where are you, Congresswoman Omar?” Biden asked, per an official White House transcript, although in video footage, he appeared to say “congressman.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) made her location known.

“There you go. God love you,” Biden said, to laughter. “I’m not supposed to—I’ll get in trouble for saying this, but you look beautiful tonight.” After the applause died down, he kept going. “And Congresswoman Tlaib. Where’s—where’s the congresswoman? There you are. Okay. So do you!” he said, with the official transcript again correcting his apparent references to “congressman.”

White House says still no plans to host Netanyahu

(JNS) — U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday that no visit is currently planned for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come to the White House, repeating comments from March.

“Israeli leaders have a long tradition of visiting Washington. President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu have known each other for a long, long time. I expect the prime minister will visit at some point,” Kirby said.

Kirby was reacting to comments made on Monday by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “I expect the White House to invite the prime minister over for a meeting, especially with the 75th anniversary,” said McCarthy, who is leading a bipartisan delegation to Israel this week on the 75th anniversary of the state’s founding.

Kirby told reporters he was aware of McCarthy’s comments.

McCarthy said on Sunday that if the president doesn’t invite Netanyahu to the White House, then he will extend his own invitation to the premier to come to Washington.

“He’s a dear friend, as a prime minister of a country that we have our closest ties with,” McCarthy told the daily.

McCarthy said that Israeli President Isaac Herzog will be visiting the White House. “I know President Herzog will be coming soon for a Joint Session [of Congress],” he said.

Documents detail Ehud Barak’s close relations with Jeffrey Epstein

(JNS) — New documents reveal that leading figures continued to associate with hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein years after he was convicted of sex crimes.

The Wall Street Journal culled through thousands of pages of unreported emails and schedules from 2013 to 2017 to discover that “Epstein arranged multiple meetings with prominent individuals after he had served jail time in 2008 for a sex crime involving a teenage girl and had been registered as a sex offender.”

A name frequently mentioned in the April 30 report was former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, described as a “regular guest.”

In September 2013, Epstein arranged a meeting with Barak and Joshua Cooper Ramo, who then served on the boards of Starbucks Corp. and FedEx Corp.

In 2015, Barak met Epstein with Noam Chomsky, a linguistics professor who has expressed virulently anti-Israel views.

Chomsky said Epstein arranged the meeting with Barak to discuss “Israel’s policies with regard to Palestinian issues and the international arena,” according to the Journal.

Barak said he frequently met with Epstein on trips to New York, where he was introduced to Ramo, Chomsky and others. “He often brought other interesting persons, from art or culture, law or science, finance, diplomacy or philanthropy,” Barak said.

Epstein, then 66, was arrested in July 2019 on charges of molesting underage girls in his homes in Florida and New York. He had previously served a relatively light sentence of 13 months in jail after a plea deal in 2008 on similar charges, avoiding a life sentence.

Barak admitted at the time that he had met Epstein at least 10 times. In fact, Epstein planned at least three dozen meetings with Barak between 2013 and 2017. Documents show they had appointments every month for 11 consecutive months beginning in December 2015.

However, Barak condemned Epstein’s actions. “I am a feminist. The deeds attributed to Epstein are heinous and I had nothing to do with them,” he said, adding that he’d cut all ties with the billionaire financier.

Barak‘s reputation was damaged as he attempted to make a political comeback at the age of 77 with a new political party he founded, the Israel Democratic Party. He has since taken an active role in the anti-judicial reform movement.

On Aug. 10, 2019, Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Herzog to represent Israel at King Charles coronation

(JNS) — Israeli President Isaac Herzog will represent the Jewish state at Saturday’s coronation in London of British monarch King Charles III.

Herzog will depart Israel on Thursday, and the following day attend a reception at Buckingham Palace for visiting heads of state.

The Israeli president said that he would walk to the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Shabbat, in order not to publicly desecrate the Jewish day of rest.

This will be Herzog’s third meeting with Charles since becoming president. The two men met in November 2021 when Charles was still crown prince, and again last September at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth.

King Charles to be anointed with oil from Mount of Olives

(JNS) — On May 6, oil that comes from the Jewish state will be used to crown King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

“The oil that will be used to anoint him as king was consecrated in Jerusalem’s Old City, two minutes away from my office, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith, editor-in-chief of Aish.com, wrote in a recent column.

The oil is made from olives of Mount of Olives’ fame, according to Coopersmith, who notes that Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, has noted the “deep historic link” between the oil that will crown King Charles and that of biblical kings.

New forum to boost Israel-Baltics security cooperation

(JNS) — MK Yuli Edelstein, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, met online Monday with his counterparts from the parliaments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They decided to establish a joint forum to boost military and intelligence cooperation.

Lawmakers Žygimantas Pavilionis, Marko Mihkelson and Rihards Kols, who respectively chair the Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian parliamentary committees on foreign affairs, expressed interest in tightening security collaboration in light of the developments in the Middle East and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Of particular interest was Russian cooperation with Iran.

Edelstein called on his Baltic counterparts to push for the European Union to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.

“Every terrorist incident or attack against Israel, on its territory or outside, bears the imprint of Iran,” Edelstein said.

The Baltic lawmakers agreed to jointly visit Israel in the coming months to learn more closely about its experiences in security affairs.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, now in its second year, prompted European countries to boost defense spending, contributing to a spike in Israeli arms sales.

Three civilians wounded by Gaza rocket

(JNS) A 25-year-old civilian was moderately wounded on Tuesday by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into the southern Israeli city of Sderot.

The victim was evacuated in critical condition to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, the Magen David Adom emergency medical service said.

“The injured man was lying on the ground floor of the construction site, unconscious and suffering from shrapnel injuries to his body,” said an MDA first responder.

Two other civilians were lightly wounded while working on the same construction site.

The Israel Defense Forces said the terrorists fired at least 22 projectiles in a major barrage.

Earlier Tuesday, IDF Armored Corps tanks fired shells at terrorist assets in the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rocket fire targeting Israeli civilian population centers in the morning.

The military has instructed residents along the border with the Hamas-ruled enclave to remain close to shelter, in anticipation of a possible escalation in violence.

Four projectiles fired at Israel after terrorist’s hunger-strike death

(JNS) — Nearly three months after Israeli forces arrested Khader Adnan, the senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative has died in prison, following an 87-day hunger strike.

Reuters cited Israeli prison authorities who said Adnan, 45, “refused to undergo medical tests and receive medical treatment” and “was found unconscious in his cell” at Nitzan Prison in Ramle early Tuesday morning.

Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Around 6:30 a.m., sirens sounded in southern Israel.

“Three rockets were launched from Gaza towards Israeli territory. No interceptors were launched in accordance with policy,” the Israel Defense Forces tweeted.

A fourth projectile was shortly thereafter fired towards the Jewish state, striking in an open area.

The Iron Dome missile defense system only fires interceptor missiles to down projectiles headed towards populated areas.

“The occupation [Israel] will pay the price for [Adnan’s] death,” which “will be a lesson for generations,” said PIJ in a statement. “We will not leave this path as long as Palestine remains under occupation.”

Hamas, which rules Gaza, described Adnan’s death as a “coldblooded execution by the Israeli security services,” and warned that “the Palestinian people will not let this crime pass by in silence.

“The path of revolution and resistance will escalate,” said the terror organization.

The IDF instructed residents of the South to stay close to shelter and was preparing for a possible escalation in Palestinian violence.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called Adnan’s death a “deliberate assassination.” Ramallah said it would lodge a complaint at the International Criminal Court.

In February, Israeli security forces detained Adnan in his hometown of Arrabe, near Jenin, on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.

Adnan, long accused of being a spokesperson for PIJ, has regularly been held in administrative detention over the past 15 years, and is known for having gone on several lengthy hunger strikes.

IDF tanks shell terror assets in Gaza amid rocket barrages

(JNS) — IDF Armored Corps tanks fired shells at terrorist assets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon, following Palestinian rocket fire targeting Israeli civilian population centers in the morning.

After the IDF strikes, a barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza into southern Israel, setting off warning sirens in numerous communities.

The military instructed residents along the border with the Hamas-ruled enclave to remain close to shelter, in anticipation of a possible escalation in violence.

IDF hits terrorist targets in Gaza after day of rocket barrages

(JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces struck terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night following a series of rocket attacks throughout the day, the army said in a statement.

In the latest barrage, terror groups launched rockets at Israeli territory after dark. Sirens sounded in the southern city of Sderot with one of the projectiles intercepted by the Iron Dome air-defense system and the other three landing in open areas.

Four rockets were also launched at Kibbutz Kissufim on Tuesday night, according to the IDF, with one intercepted and the others falling on the ground.

According to Israeli media reports, some three-dozen rockets had been launched during the course of the day from the Palestinian coastal enclave. One of the rockets hit a construction site in Sderot with the shrapnel moderately wounding a 25-year-old foreign national and lightly wounding two other foreign workers. They were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.

A 75-year-old man and a 49-year-old woman were slightly injured when they tripped and were bruised on their way to a protected area. Also, several people were treated for anxiety. In Gaza, it was reported that five Palestinians were moderately and slightly injured by shrapnel from an Iron Dome battery in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

“The security system will act with determination and strength against anyone who tries to harm the citizens of Israel,” said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after completing a security assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi.

Israel, China hold first direct talks on free-trade agreement since 2019

(JNS) — Israel and China participated in the first direct talks on a free-trade agreement at the end of March since November 2019 and the eighth round since 2016, Globes reported.

A source close to the talks told Globes that the two sides were “at an advanced stage of tying up loose ends” and that “the agreement between the two countries could be signed this year.”

China is Israel’s second-largest trading partner by country after the United States, with the value of trade increasing last year by 11.6 percent to $24.45 billion. Israel’s exports to China in 2022 were valued at $4.68 billion, second to the United States.

Israel is also negotiating bilateral trade agreements with Abraham Accords partner Bahrain as well as Australia, India, Japan, Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union.

Lucy Dee’s family meets patients that received her organs

(JNS) — Lucy Dee’s family on Tuesday participated in an emotional meeting with the recipient of the murdered Israeli woman’s heart.

The gathering took place at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and featured a touching moment when Dee’s surviving daughters Keren, 19, and Tali, 17, felt their mother’s heart beating in Lital Valenci’s chest.

Valenci, 51, a mother of two, suffered from severe heart failure for five years before receiving Dee’s heart last month.

The surgery was performed in the early hours of April 11, shortly after Dee died on April 10 at Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem from wounds sustained in 0the attack.

“I was so moved when I learned who I was receiving a heart from as I had read about Lucy Dee and what an incredible woman she was, with an exemplary family,” said Valenci.

Dee’s husband, Rabbi Leo Dee, and their son Yehuda, 14, were also present at Beilinson for the meeting.

A total of five people received organ transplants from Dee. The Dee family also met Mordechi Elkabetz, 51, who received one of her kidneys, and Daniel Geresh, 25, who received her liver. Ahmed Suliman, 38, also received one of her kidneys but was unable to attend. He instead sent a plaque with bible verses as a tribute to Dee.


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