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Julian Edelman wears custom cleats to support baseball in Israel

Mon, 2019-12-09 18:40

(JTA) — New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is wearing his support for baseball in Israel on his feet.

Edelman debuted custom cleats on Sunday featuring a Star of David and the logo of the Israel Baseball Association as part of the NFL’s fourth “My Cause, My Cleats’’ campaign. They will be auctioned off to raise money for his cause.

Twenty-two teammates and Patriots coach Bill Belichick also wore custom footwear in support of different charities and causes.

In a post on social media featuring a close-up photo of the cleats, Edelman recalled his first visit to Israel in 2015, which he called a “meaningful experience.”

“This year my cleats will benefit the Israel Baseball Association. They do so much for the Israeli community, bringing together people of all ages through the love of the game,” he wrote in the post. “They also support minor league youth baseball in Israel, and if you know anything about me you know I lived for little league.”

He concluded: “The Hebrew on the cleats says ‘yalla’ which means, ‘let’s go,’ because for the first time in the country’s history, Israel is going to compete in baseball in the Olympics. Baseball has always been my second favorite sport, and I’m pumped to see what those studs can do in Japan. Yalla!”

The Patriots lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, but Edelman scored a touchdown.

A year ago, during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he wore special cleats in honor of the victims of the October 2018 shooting attack on a synagogue building in that city.

The cleats bore the words “The Tree of Life” written in Hebrew, the logo of the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Congregation — the synagogue targeted in the mass shooting — and an Israeli flag with the hashtag #strongerthanhate. He tweeted the list of the names of the 11 worshippers killed in the attack. The initials of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston also were stamped on the shoes.

The Golden West Food Group of California bought the cleats for $10,000 to benefit the families of the victims.

View this post on Instagram

Back in 2015 I had the chance to visit Israel for the first time with some of my buddies. It’s hard to describe how meaningful the experience was because looking back it really helped shape my perspective on things. Israel and the Jewish people have always been the scrappy underdogs and it reminded me a lot of my story. Passion and hard work are part of who I am, and it was obvious that the people of Israel have both in their blood. . This year my cleats will benefit the Israel Baseball Association. They do so much for the Israeli community, bringing together people of all ages through the love of the game. They also support minor league youth baseball in Israel, and if you know anything about me you know I lived for little league. . The Hebrew on the cleats says “yalla” which means, “let’s go”, because for the first time in the country's history, Israel is going to compete in baseball in the Olympics. Baseball has always been my second favorite sport, and I’m pumped to see what those studs can do in Japan. Yalla! #IsraelBaseball

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on Dec 7, 2019 at 6:33am PST

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My Jewish Learning launches Talmud study project

Mon, 2019-12-09 17:54

(JTA) — My Jewish Learning is launching a Talmud study series to coincide with the renewal of the Daf Yomi cycle on Jan. 5.

Sometimes referred to as the world’s largest book club, Daf Yomi is a century-old practice of studying a page of the Babylonian Talmud each day. At that rate, the cycle takes 7 1/2 years to complete. Tens of thousands of Jews across the world participate in Daf Yomi every day and the conclusion of the cycle is marked by massive celebrations in Israel and the United States.

The current cycle will conclude on Jan. 4 and restart the following day.

My Jewish Learning’s free daily email series is called A Daily Dose of Talmud and will follow the prescribed Daf Yomi schedule that begins with Berakhot, the first tractates of the Talmud. In keeping with the educational website’s mission to empower Jewish discovery for people of all backgrounds and levels of Jewish knowledge, the email series assumes no prior experience with Talmud study.

“Talmud study is one of the oldest and most important Jewish practices — and one of the most rewarding,” said Ami Eden, the CEO and executive editor of 70 Faces Media, My Jewish Learning’s parent company. “We are honored and humbled to be offering a way in for people of any Jewish educational background.”

Founded in 2003 by the late Edgar Bronfman, My Jewish Learning offers thousands of articles on Jewish religion, history, values, traditions and culture from a nondenominational, pluralist perspective.

My Jewish Learning and JTA are both subsidiaries of 70 Faces Media, the largest Jewish media organization in North America.

Click here to sign up for A Daily Dose of Talmud.

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Israel sets a March 2 election date if government isn’t formed. That’s 3 votes in less than a year.

Mon, 2019-12-09 17:51

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Blue and White and Likud parties can agree on something: a date for Israel’s third election in less than a year.

That will be March 2, they said, if a new government cannot be formed. Israeli lawmakers have until the end of the day Wednesday to form a coalition government or move to another election. They’ve have had two weeks to get together and find 61 colleagues to agree to support a candidate for prime minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White head Benny Gantz previously were unable to form a government.

The Knesset must vote to support the election date agreed to Monday by the parties, the top vote-getters in the balloting from April and September. Israel’s parliament is expected to vote to dissolve itself on Wednesday night.

March 2 is a Monday. Elections are generally held in Israel on Tuesdays, but the Tuesdays in March include a holiday and remembrance days.

Also Monday, Blue and White’s Yair Lapid, who holds the party’s No. 2 slot, announced that he would give up a rotation agreement for the prime ministership that originally brought his centrist Yesh Atid party into Blue and White.

“If there are elections, we’ve decided that this time there won’t be a rotation agreement,” Lapid said. “We will go together, all of us, a large and united Blue and White behind Benny Gantz, our candidate for prime minister.”

The move is seen as helping the party in the potential election.

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‘Uncut Gems’ is Adam Sandler’s Oscar moment

Mon, 2019-12-09 17:20

NEW YORK (JTA) — As soon as I got out of a recent screening of “Uncut Gems,” I had to share the feelings of sheer cinematic bliss I had just experienced nonstop for two hours.

“Just got out of ‘Uncut Gems,’ the new Adam Sandler movie coming out. He is sooooo good in it,” I texted my friend.

“Oh cool! What’s it about?” she responded.

“He plays a sleazy diamond dealer,” I said, adding a laughing emoji.

“Wow! So he does dramatic movies? Pulling a Steve Carell!”

She wasn’t exactly living under a rock: Sandler is obviously best known for his many potty humor comedies that pimply teenagers love and their parents hate. Some film fans are aware that he’s also come into his own as a dramatic actor over the past couple of decades. His foray into that world started around 2002 with Paul Thomas Anderson’s bizarre “Punch-Drunk Love,” and continued most recently in Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” in 2017.

But the name Adam Sandler in pop culture still evokes that feeling one might experience after lighting a bag of poop on fire on your nemesis’ doorstep: I’m laughing at this, but I feel dirty doing so, and I shouldn’t be. Or perhaps, especially for Jews, his name brings to mind the lovable Hanukkah song.

That could be about to change. His performance in “Uncut Gems” might just bring him an Oscar.

“Uncut Gems” is the sixth film by Josh and Benny Safdie, a pair of thirtysomething Jewish brothers who have earned serious acclaim for their gritty indie works that probe the New York City underworld — like “Heaven Knows What” (2014), about a homeless heroin addict, and “Good Time” (2017), which stars Robert Pattinson as a bank robber.

In “Uncut Gems,” Sandler plays Howard Ratner, an unscrupulous jeweler in New York’s extremely Jewish Diamond District. Howard’s marriage (to Dinah, played with steely resolve by Idina Menzel) is in tatters after he has had an affair with a young employee in his shop, and he has a debilitating gambling problem. He pools money he makes from sales and under-the-table deals to bet impulsively on NBA games, and is in debt to the kinds of characters whom no one wants to be indebted to.

From left, Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie and Adam Sandler on the set of “Uncut Gems.” (Wally McGrady/Courtesy of A24)

But there’s so much more going on here above and below the surface that words on a page won’t do the visceral experience of watching the film justice. It’s a frantically paced freight train of suspense and emotion capped off with a bombshell ending. It’s full of nuanced underlying commentary on consumerism, the downsides of international trade, addiction, family life and even basketball — former NBA star Kevin Garnett portrays himself in a slightly alternate universe in which he believes a rare stone that Howard lends him improves his play on the court.

The film also deeply explores modern Jewish identity. Like the Safdies, who are distant relatives of the famed architect Moshe Safdie, Howard is part of a tight-knit Syrian Jewish clan rooted in New York City. While he fits in comfortably among the other Jews of the Diamond District, he is still a proud outsider to the wider world of wealth with which he regularly interacts. His Jewishness defines him to that world — to Garnett and his posse, he’s a “crazy Jew,” not a crazy jeweler.

The Garnett role was actually written with Amar’e Stoudemire — the fellow former NBA star who has converted to Judaism and played pro ball in Israel — in mind. A large part of the plot revolves around an opal from Ethiopia that takes on a mystical significance for everyone who comes in contact with it. Howard believes it’s a kind of gem coveted by Ethiopian Jews, which endears it to him even more.

Through it all, Sandler is uncannily good. He deploys a subtle but idiosyncratic ethnic New York accent. He oozes an eagerness to please his many clients and the many people he owes money to. He explodes with frustration when conflict caves in on him. Sandler not only keeps up with the film’s frenetic, disorienting pace, he pushes it forward.

The now 53-year-old actor has been great in dramatic form before, perhaps most notably in “The Meyerowitz Stories.” But this is a new level for Sandler, an intense character study that ranks alongside other Oscar-winning performances from years past.

In fact, Sandler just beat out the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro and Adam Driver to win the National Board of Review’s award for best actor, an early indicator of Oscar success.

The Safdies originally wrote the lead role for Sandler, but he didn’t see the script for years. As he told sports radio host Dan Patrick in a recent interview, Sandler’s manager kept it from him at first, thinking it wasn’t a good fit.

Idina Menzel in her character’s old bat mitzvah dress in “Uncut Gems.” (Courtesy of A24)

“Maybe he was right, I was a little young for that movie 10 years ago,” Sandler said.

Years later, after seeing some of the Safdies’ other films (and after Jewish actors like Jonah Hill and Sacha Baron Cohen were considered for the part), Sandler grabbed the role. But he went on in the Patrick interview to describe how scared he was at tackling the dark character.

“I read the script and I was terrified … I said, ‘I’m terrified to do this, it’s two months of being this guy,’” he said.

Sandler would call his wife at times while filming, asking for her help to prepare for an emotional scene. But eventually it clicked.

“I grew to love being the guy,” he said.

Well, it shows.

“Uncut Gems” gets a limited release Dec. 13 before a nationwide release on Christmas.

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Ronald Lauder is funding a $25 million campaign against anti-Semitism in US politics

Mon, 2019-12-09 16:57

(JTA) — Billionaire philanthropist Ronald Lauder is funding a $25 million campaign against political candidates in the United States who support or normalize anti-Semitism.

Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, announced the new campaign, called the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project, or ASAP, on Monday. The effort will include a nonprofit organization and a super PAC.

Lauder will have the final say on which politicians — federal, state and local — will be targeted for defeat, according to The New York Times.

He is a longtime Republican donor, but Lauder told the newspaper he planned to use the organization to go after both Democrats and Republicans who traffic in anti-Semitic language and tropes.

A statement announcing the launch of ASAP said it would “also respond and take action against institutions and cultural figures who support anti-Semitism.” Lauder also told The Times that he would look into universities and their professors, and pressure them to stop anti-Semitic statements and actions by contacting major donors.

ASAP will partner with existing organizations that are working across the country to combat anti-Semitism, the statement said, and encouraged contact from those groups through its website.

The launch comes in response to a documented surge in anti-Semitism across America, according to the statement. According to a poll commissioned by ASAP and conducted by Douglass Schoen of Schoen Consulting, anti-Semitism has doubled over the past five years. Today, 14 percent of Americans hold anti-Semitic beliefs, as compared to 7 percent from a survey released by the Anti-Defamation League in 2014.

The poll used the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Lauder told The Times that he has hired teams of researchers to follow political races across the country “from the most local to the major ones” to track anti-Semitic comments.

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Tires of more than 160 cars slashed in Arab neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem

Mon, 2019-12-09 16:38

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The tires of more than 160 cars were slashed in an eastern Jerusalem Arab neighborhood.

In addition to the damage to the cars discovered Monday morning in Shuafat, graffiti reading “When Jews are stabbed we will not be silent” and a Star of David were spray-painted on one wall, and graffiti reading “Arabs = enemies” and “There’s no place in Israel for enemies” also was found.

The attack is being investigated as a “price tag” action, which is one often perpetrated against Palestinian villages and towns in the West Bank and usually in retaliation for actions taken against Jewish settlers.

The Israel Police said the vandalism was carried out by several masked suspects.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion in a tweet condemned what he called a “hate crime” and called on police to do everything to apprehend and punish the vandals.

“The city of Jerusalem is a mixed city for all its residents, and such cases are severe and directly affect the fabric of life in the city,” he said in the tweet.

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— ????? ????? (@IL_police) December 9, 2019

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Golden Globes 2020: The Jewish nominees

Mon, 2019-12-09 16:20

(JTA) — The 2019 Golden Globe nominees were announced Monday morning, and the film “Marriage Story,” written and directed by Noah Baumbach, leads the pack with several nominations. Here are the other Jews and Jewish productions that were nominated:

“Marriage Story”

The movie is up for best drama film, and Baumbach also scored a nomination for best screenplay. Jewish co-star Scarlett Johansson is nominated for best actress in a drama (her co-star Adam Driver, who isn’t Jewish but often plays Jewish characters, is nominated as well, for actor in a drama).

The film draws on Baumbach’s own divorce from Jewish actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. He has called it a “love story about divorce.”

Randy Newman, the Academy Award- and Grammy-winning Jewish songwriter, is also nominated for his score.

“Jojo Rabbit”

Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire about a German boy who wants to be a Nazi toward the end of World War II is up for best musical or comedy film. Waititi, who wrote and directed the film — and also co-starred as an imaginary version of Hitler dreamed up by the protagonist — is Jewish and a New Zealand Maori.

“I experienced a certain level of prejudice growing up as a Maori Jew,” he wrote in the film’s production notes. Making the film in 2019 “has been a reminder, especially now, that we need to educate our kids about tolerance and continue to remind ourselves that there’s no place in this world for hate.”


Jewish director Sam Mendes got a nod in his category for helming this World War I drama, which is also up for best film.

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Everyone’s favorite show set in late 1950s Upper West Side New York is up for best TV comedy series. Lead Rachel Brosnahan (who is not Jewish, but plays the very Jewish Midge Maisel) is up for best actress in the TV comedy category.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency spoke recently with one of the show’s stars, Tony Shalhoub, before the debut of season 3.

Sacha Baron Cohen

The Jewish actor, known for his comic roles, is nominated for best actor in a miniseries or TV movie for his dramatic turn in “The Spy,” a six-episode Netflix series on the Israeli spy Eli Cohen. Cohen — the real spy — embedded himself in the upper echelons of Syrian society in the 1960s to provide Israel with crucial intelligence before being discovered and killed.

Beanie Feldstein   

The Jewish actress and sister of Jonah Hill is up for best actress in a comedy film for her scene-stealing performance in “Booksmart.”

Ben Platt

The Jewish Broadway star, best known for his lead role in the musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” is up for best actor in a TV comedy for his performance in Netflix’s “The Politician.”

Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd is nominated in the same category for playing two versions of the same character in “Living With Yourself,” which was created by “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” alumnus Timothy Greenberg.

Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin

The Jewish pair earned nominations for their performances in “The Kominsky Method,” Douglas for lead actor in a TV comedy series and Arkin for supporting actor in “a series, limited series or motion picture made for television.” They play an aging Jewish acting coach and his aging Jewish agent, respectively.

Henry Winkler

Winkler, the winner of two Golden Globes for playing The Fonz on “Happy Days,” is nominated in the same category as Arkin for his role in the HBO series “Barry.”

The 2020 Golden Globes airs on Jan. 5 on NBC.

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Netanyahu says he and Mike Pompeo talked about annexing the Jordan Valley

Mon, 2019-12-09 16:09

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he discussed annexing the Jordan Valley with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when they met in Portugal, but the State Department has denied the claim.

On Thursday, a day after meeting Pompeo in Lisbon, Netanyahu told reporters that they had talked about the possibility of annexing the West Bank territory.

The following day, however, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said at a Washington news conference that no such discussion had taken place.

“I can tell you that there was no annexation plan, full or partial, for any part of the West Bank was presented to – by Israel to the United States during the meeting, and that has long been the U.S. Government position, that the ultimate disposition of territory is to be determined between the parties,” Schenker said, according to a readout of the news conference.

On Sunday, Netanyahu doubled down on his assertion.

“It was said that we had not discussed a formal plan and that was true, but the issue was raised and I raised it with Secretary of State Pompeo and I intend to raise the issue with the Trump administration,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the Makor Rishon newspaper annual conference.

“I want American recognition of our sovereignty in the Jordan Valley. This is important,” Netanyahu told the conference hosted by the right-wing newspaper.

Palestinians and most of the international community see the West Bank as occupied Palestinian territory. Successive Israeli governments have viewed control of the Jordan Valley, which is home to several Jewish settlements, as a strategic asset.

Pompeo announced last month that the Trump administration will no longer regard West Bank Jewish settlement as illegal.

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First trailer drops for ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ starring Gal Gadot

Mon, 2019-12-09 15:59

(JTA) — Gal Gadot appears in the first trailer for her much-awaited Wonder Woman sequel.

“Nothing good is born from lies and greatness is not what you think,” she says in the trailer for “Wonder Woman 1984.”

Gadot reprises her role as Diana Prince, the Amazonian Princess Diana of Themyscira, in the sequel to the 2017 DC film. She appears in the golden eagle armor seen in the DC Comics and swings from lightning bolts in the trailer.

The trailer was released on Sunday after it was screened before fans at the 2019 Comic Con Experience event in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Wonder-Woman 1984? is set to be released on June 5.

The first “Wonder Woman” film was the highest-grossing movie in the summer of 2017 with $412.5 million in the U.S. and $821.8 million worldwide.

Gadot and her husband, Yaron Varsano, have launched several projects since founding the production company Pilot Wave earlier this year, including a series about the actress Hedy Lamarr and a film about Polish Underground leader Irena Sendler, with Gadot playing the title character in each. Pilot Wave is also working on “My Dearest Fidel,” an adaptation of Peter Kornbluh’s magazine article about the close friendship between ABC journalist Lisa Howard and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Gadot also will star in “Red Notice,” also starring Ryan Reynolds and Duane Johnson, the biggest feature film ever made by Netflix. The action thriller, set for release in late 2020, is centered around the pursuit of the most wanted art thief in the world.

A new era of wonder begins. #WW84 in theaters June 5. pic.twitter.com/803dDBaYTA

— Wonder Woman (@WonderWomanFilm) December 8, 2019

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Thousands rally in London’s Parliament Square against anti-Semitism

Mon, 2019-12-09 15:55

(JTA) — Thousands rallied in London’s Parliament Square against anti-Semitism.

More than 3,000 participants, Jews and non-Jews, held signs reading “Together against anti-Semitism,” “Antisemitism = Racism,” “Solidarity with British Jews” and “racist Corbyn unfit to be PM,” referring to the head of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The demonstration Sunday, led by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, was held four days before national elections.

No speaker directly mentioned Corbyn or his party, which has been accused of institutional anti-Semitism. Corbyn has been dogged by criticism over anti-Semitism in Labour since his election as party leader in 2015.

Some party members have been kicked out for anti-Semitic rhetoric, but others have been readmitted and thousands of complaints have gone unprocessed. Corbyn himself has called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends.”

“Today we are here in this square standing before the Mother of Parliaments in the country of the Magna Carta, the country that stood alone as a light in Europe as the hatred of Nazi Germany enveloped the continent,” Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said at the rally. “We stand here to say that Britain is better than this. We stand here to ask all of the people of our country to stand with us.”

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Israeli taxi driver finds $60,000 cash left in his cab and returns it

Mon, 2019-12-09 15:35

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli taxi driver who is used to finding items left in his cab by passengers was surprised to find a bag containing $60,000 in the back seat.

Moshe Barkat made the discovery at the end of his shift on Friday, then immediately tried to figure out who forgot to take the bag of $100 bills, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.

“People usually forget cellphones, small change, but this sort of sum?” he said.

Barkat finally located the passengers: an elderly woman in a wheelchair accompanied by two young men. He had taken them to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. The money was earmarked to fund medical treatments for the woman there.

Barkat, who lives in Bat Yam, a coastal city south of Tel Aviv, said they “weren’t very excited to get the money back. I thought they would cry from joy, but it didn’t happen.”

He said it never occurred to him to keep the cash.

“I am a man of faith,” Barkat said. “The money isn’t mine, and I returned it wholeheartedly.”

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— ?????? (@NewsChannelIL) December 8, 2019

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Boris Johnson serves up doughnuts in London kosher bakery

Mon, 2019-12-09 15:18

(JTA) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson frosted and served up doughnuts at a kosher bakery in London less than a week ahead of Britain’s national elections.

Johnson wore an apron that read “Get Brexit Done” behind the counter at the Grodzinski bakery in the Golders Green neighborhood, which is home to a substantial Jewish population.

Prior to his stint Friday behind the bakery counter, Johnson visited Jewish Care, a health and social care organization serving the London Jewish community. Photos of the event showed black-hatted haredi Orthodox Jewish youths crowding at the counter listening to Johnson.

Local conservative Tory Party candidate Mike Freer joined Johnson at both stops. Freer is facing off Dec. 12 against Jewish Liberal-Democratic candidate Luciana Berger, who left the Labour Party over its years-long anti-Semitism problem. She canvassed the district last week with actor Hugh Grant.

Johnson was later criticized for choosing to make the appearance at the bakery rather than sit for an interview with the BBC.

This morning I made some ‘Get Brexit Done’ donuts at a wonderful bakery in Golders Green, North London. Thank you Grodzinski Bakery & to everyone who stopped by to say hello. pic.twitter.com/Ztrtvtgq4D

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 6, 2019

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Over 30 West Virginia correctional academy trainees suspended over Nazi salute photo

Mon, 2019-12-09 15:12

(JTA) — More than 30 employees of West Virginia’s Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation have been suspended over a photo showing trainees making a Nazi salute.

The photo of dozens of participants in a basic training class reads “Hail Byrd!” at the top, a reference to a training instructor for the class.

Two correctional academy trainers and a cadet from the class shown in the picture were fired, The Washington Post reported.

The class was conducted Oct. 21 through Nov. 27, local news station WCHS reported.

“It is distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive and completely inappropriate,” West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy said of the photo in a memo obtained by The Post. “It betrays the professionalism I have seen time and time again displayed and practiced by our brave correctional employees.”

Sandy has not said how or when the photo came to his attention.

He also said that faith and community leaders were informed of the incident and were asked for their help to address it, including recommending changes or additions to the training program.

It was released by the department with the faces of the trainees and others in the photo blurred.

Division of Corrections Commissioner Betsy Jividen ordered all copies of the photo be destroyed or otherwise taken out of circulation, according to WCHS.

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Joe Biden takes swipe at Bernie Sanders over idea to withdraw military aid from Israel

Mon, 2019-12-09 15:03

(JTA) — Joe Biden told voters in Iowa that support for withdrawing military aid from Israel over its interactions with the Palestinians is “bizarre.”

Biden was attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders, a fellow Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential nomination in 2020, and others.

“In terms of Bernie and others who talk about dealing with Zionism, I strongly support Israel as an independent Jewish state,” Biden said during a question-and-answer session with voters in rural northeastern Iowa, The Associated Press reported.

“The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre. I would not do that. It’s like saying to France, ‘Because you don’t agree with us, we’re going to kick you out of NATO.”

Sanders has said he would “absolutely” leverage the $3.8 billion in annual military assistance from the United States to Israel to pressure the Israeli government to act differently.

Biden has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions regarding the Palestinians “counterproductive,” and also called the Israeli leader an “extreme right” government official. He also has accused Palestinian leaders of instigating hatred against and attacks on Israelis.

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Man injured in Chabad of Poway shooting sues Jewish center for lax security

Mon, 2019-12-09 14:53

(JTA) — A man who was injured in the shooting attack at the Chabad of Poway is suing the Jewish center for not protecting its worshippers.

Almog Peretz was shot in the leg in the April 27 attack. His 8-year-old niece also was injured.

Peretz was shot while gathering children in the synagogue and ushering them to safety. One woman was killed in the attack, and the synagogue’s rabbi was shot and lost a finger.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that the synagogue did not have proper security despite a rise in anti-Semitic attacks nationally and did not use a $150,000 government grant to upgrade security, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Chabad of Poway received the grant a month before the attack because the synagogue “believed that it was at risk of an anti-Semitic attack on its congregants,” according to the lawsuit. On the day of the attack, the building’s doors were unlocked with no guards or other security measures in place, it says.

Peretz plans to sue the gun store that sold the shooter his weapon, as well as the Chabad organization, Fox5 San Diego reported.

Attorney Yoni Weinberg told Fox that the federal government had sued the Chabad of California in 2014 for not using grant money toward security.

The accused gunman in the Poway shooting, John Earnest, 20, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. The murder charge is classified as a hate crime, making Earnest eligible for the death penalty. Earnest told a 911 operator right after the attack that he did it to save white people from Jews.

Chabad of Poway had no comment for either news outlet.

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Catholic group to honor activist promoting sanctions on Israel at Holocaust museum

Mon, 2019-12-09 11:42

(JTA) — A promoter of sanctions against Israel who said its supporters “vastly inflate” anti-Semitism is scheduled to receive an award for promoting peace at Belgium’s main Holocaust memorial museum.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations on Sunday protested in a letter to Belgian government officials, including Flemish Region Prime Minister Jan Jambon, the plan to honor Brigitte Herremans, an aid worker for the Catholic Broederlijk Delen organization who in 2016 was banned from entering Israel. The honor is set to be presented at Kazerne Dossin, a transit camp from which Belgian Jews and Romani were sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust, in Mechelen.

Another Catholic group, Pax Christi, which in 2017 called on the European Union to “suspend economic relations” with Israel until it “respects International law,” plans to award Herremans its title of “ambassador for peace” at the state-run former camp. During the Holocaust, Nazis and local collaborators sent from there about 25,000 Jews to be murdered in Nazi death camps in occupied Poland.

“Brigitte Herremans is on an anti-Israel mission,” Hans Knoop, a spokesperson for the Forum, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “She shouldn’t be honored at a Holocaust monument, it’s a disgrace.”

Asked about the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe in a radio interview in 2016, Herremans said: “When you sometimes hear criticism from certain pro-Israel circles, also in Belgium, then I think that mostly they try to vastly inflate this business to distract” from how Israel “wants to do only as it pleases in the Palestinian territories.” She also has called for sanctions on Israel and on Israelis visiting Europe.

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Bernie Sanders staff member who posted anti-Semitic, homophobic tweets ‘no longer with campaign’

Mon, 2019-12-09 00:45

(JTA) — A newly hired staff member on Bernie Sander’s 2020 presidential campaign left his job after reports surfaced about past anti-Semitic and homophobic tweets.

Darius Khalil Gordon announced on Wednesday that he had joined the Sanders campaign team as deputy director of constituency organizing. The following day, the conservative news website the Washington Free Beacon reported that Gordon had posted anti-Semitic and homophobic tweets from 2010 to 2012.

Gordon has since deleted his Twitter account.

The Sanders campaign told CNN on Friday that Gordon was “no longer with the campaign.”

A tweet from Sept. 22, 2010 preserved in a screenshot read: “Working hard so one day I can make that Jew Money.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition in a statement issued on Friday afternoon called on the Sanders campaign to fire Gordon.

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Florida naval station shooter called U.S. ‘evil’ for supporting Israel

Sun, 2019-12-08 20:16

(JTA) — A military student from Saudi Arabia who killed three people during a shooting attack at a Navy flight school in Florida appeared to have posted a message slamming the United States for supporting Israel.

The gunman in the Friday attack at the Naval Air Station Pensacola was identified as Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Saudi air force who was a student naval flight officer. His training with the U.S. military began in August 2017, and he was scheduled to finish in August 2020.

Shamrani hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three other students watched videos of mass shootings, The Associated Press reported on Saturday, citing an unnamed U.S. official.

One of the three students who attended the party filmed the shooting from outside the classroom building where the shooting took place, the AP reported. Two other Saudi students reportedly watched the shooting from a nearby car.

A Twitter account bearing Shamrani’s name tweeted a message shortly before the shooting calling the U.S. a “nation of evil” for supporting Israel, according to SITE intelligence group, which tracks extremist activity, the Daily Beast reported. Another tweet reportedly quoted former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Fellow Saudi students at the base who were close to the shooter are cooperating with investigators, said Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville office and lead investigator on the case, on Sunday, Reuters reported. The FBI is investigating the attack on the assumption that it was terror-related.



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Israel strikes Hamas targets in Gaza after rockets fired at Sderot

Sun, 2019-12-08 15:07

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three rockets were fired at southern Israel from Gaza.

Two of the rockets fired on Saturday night at the southern Israeli city of Sderot were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system. There were no reports of injury or damage.

The Israel Defense Forces launched retaliatory airstrikes on military targets of the Hamas terror organization, which controls Gaza, the IDF said in a statement.

Among the targets were a Hamas naval base, as well as weapons warehouses and watchtowers, according to the IDF. Two Palestinians were moderately injured in the airstrikes, the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

No Palestinian terror organization claimed responsibility for the attack, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for any attacks emanating from Gaza.

The rocket fire came a day after the renewal of weekly Palestinian protests on the Gaza border with Israel. Some 4,000 Palestinians took part in the Friday protests with some throwing rocks and explosives at the Israeli troops. The troops responded with anti-riot measures including tear gas and some live fire.

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Speaking to Israeli-American group, Trump slams Jews who ‘don’t love Israel enough’

Sun, 2019-12-08 04:15

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (JTA) — President Donald Trump slammed American Jews who he said did not sufficiently “love Israel.”

“So many of you voted for the people in the last administration. Some day you will have to explain that to me because I don’t think they like Israel too much,” the president said Saturday evening at the Israeli-American Council’s annual conference.

More than 4,000 people gathered at the Diplomat Beach Resort here for the four-day conference, which concludes Sunday and features sessions on topics such as the Israeli-American relationship, anti-Semitism and Israeli technology.

After being introduced by Israeli-American philanthropist and Republican mega-donor Miriam Adelson, Trump spoke for nearly an hour.

In his address, the president surveyed his record of Israel-related policies, including moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, ending U.S. policy labeling settlements as illegal as legal and pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

His descriptions of his policies were met with enthusiasm from the audience, including loud applause and vigorous chants of “four more years.”

He twice called out Jews who he said did not adequately support Israel.

“You have people that are Jewish people that are great people, they don’t love Israel enough, you know that, but David Friedman is not one of them,” he said, referring to his former lawyer who now serves as the U.S Ambassador to Israel.

When he spoke about finding a location for the U.S. Embassy in Israel he told the audience that “a lot of you are in the real estate business.”

“I know you very well, you’re brutal realtors. But you have to vote for me. You have no choice, you’re not gonna vote for Pocahontas,” he said, using a pejorative nickname for Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who claims to have Native American ancestry.

Trump also denounced anti-Semitism.

“My administration is committed to aggressively challenging and confronting anti-Semitic bigotry in every resource and using every single weapon at our disposal,” he said, adding that he chose to withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. Human Rights Council due to its singling out Israel in its condemnations.

He called out anti-Semitism on the far left, including anti-Israel activism on campuses and a tweet by Rep. Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota. Omar has apologized for the tweet, which critics said had invoked a trope of Jews paying for influence. Trump did not mention anti-Semitism on the extreme right, including the massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh last year.

The Democratic Majority for Israel on Twitter slammed Trump for peddling anti-Semitic tropes and ignoring the threat from the far right.

Watching Trump “traffic in antisemitic stereotypes is disgusting,” the tweet said. “Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacy when discussing antisemitism is equally distressing.

During his speech, Trump called up two people to address the audience.

One was Elan Carr, the State Department’s anti-Semitism monitor. The other was Adela Cojab, an undergraduate student at New York University, who took legal action against her school because of anti-Semitism she said she experienced. She said the Education Department was now investigating her complaint.

Trump addressing the conference represented a significant achievement for the IAC, which has risen in prominence in recent years but still lags behind Israel lobby groups AIPAC and J Street. The group was founded in 2007 and seeks to connect Israelis living in the United States and strengthen the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

The crowd at the conference cheered loudly as Trump finished his speech and walked off the stage.

The organization’s co-founder and CEO, Shoham Nicolet, called Trump’s address “an incredible honor and milestone.”

“It is also a message of unwavering support for the entire pro-Israel community in America,” he said in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Jewish Democrats said Trump’s speech would not assuage the concerns of a community that continues to vote in large majorities for Democrats.

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