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Netanyahu does not have to resign as prime minister, attorney general decides

Tue, 2019-11-26 12:07

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not legally have to resign his position as head of the current caretaker government in the wake of criminal indictments against him, Israel’s attorney general has decided.

A prime minister who resigns, under Israeli law, continues in his position until a new government has been formed.

Avichai Mandelblit in his Monday pronouncements did not issue any decision on whether Netanyahu would be allowed to form a government or not, saying it remains a theoretical question.

Mandelblit last week announced indictments on bribery and breach of public trust in three cases against the prime minister.

Government ministers other than prime minister who are under indictment are required to resign from their positions. Netanyahu has not yet resigned his portfolios as ministers of health, welfare, diaspora and agriculture.

On Tuesday, Likud Party lawmaker Gideon Saar, who is challenging Netanyahu for leadership of the party, called on Netanyahu to resign, and allow the party to work to form a new government instead of going to a third national election in less than a year. Saar has called for a snap primary for leadership of the party.

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In unprecedented intervention, British chief rabbi warns against Labour victory

Tue, 2019-11-26 10:21

(JTA) — In an unprecedented move, Britain’s chief rabbi warned ahead of the country’s general elections that Labour’s anti-Semitism problem means that the “very soul of our nation is at stake.”

Ephraim Mirvis made his intervention, which is an unusual foray into partisan politics for someone bearing his title, on Tuesday in a column published in the online edition of The Times of London.

“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote,” Mirvis wrote, adding: “I regret being in this situation at all.” But in the text, he listed anti-Semitism scandals involving only Labour and its leader since 2015, the far-left politician Jeremy Corbyn.

“Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe that this is the same party that they proudly called their political home for more than a century. It can no longer claim to be the party of diversity, equality and anti-racism. This is the Labour Party in name only,” he wrote.

Mirvis then wondered “how complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office,” asking: “Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would support for a racist mural, depicting powerful hook-nosed Jews supposedly getting rich at the expense of the weak and downtrodden be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not.”

Come the December 12 election, “the very soul of our nation is at stake,” he wrote.

Corbyn in 2013 defended a mural depicting Jewish men playing monopoly on the backs of dark-skinned men. In 2014, he laid a wreath on a monument commemorating Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends in 2009.

Under Corbyn, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel vitriol proliferated in Laour’s ranks, prompting the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a government watchdog, to launch its first inquiry into the handling of racism in any mainstream British party.

Corbyn has denied harboring or encouraging any anti-Semitic bias.

Amanda Bowman, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said Mirvis’ call is unprecedented, adding that it is “sadly reflective of how many British Jews feel.” They are “fearful that if Labour has allowed antisemitism to take hold in this way while in opposition, that things will become worse if they are in government,” she wrote in a statement Tuesday.

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New York enacts law to teach police officers how to recognize hate crimes amid rise in anti-Semitism

Mon, 2019-11-25 22:21

NEW YORK (JTA) — New York state police officers must be trained in how to recognize and respond to hate crimes under a new law.

The bill comes as hate crimes in general — and anti-Semitic incidents in particular — are on the rise in New York City. Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn have seen a string of assaults and vandalism directed at Jews and Jewish institutions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure on Monday. Its chief sponsors are State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic of the New York City borough of Queens and State Sen. Todd Kaminsky of Long Island, both Jewish lawmakers.

“Hatred has no place in New York State and we will continue taking aggressive measures to stamp out hate whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The bill instructs the state Division of Human Rights and Hate Crimes Task Force to develop procedures for training law enforcement to handle hate crimes. It does not detail exactly what the training will entail.

“With the steady surge of hate crimes across New York, there is little room for complacency,” Rozic said in a statement. “This new law will equip local law enforcement with the proper tools to identify, report, and respond to these crimes that continue to divide and instill widespread fear.”

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Charges dropped against Belgian soccer fans who sang about burning Jews

Mon, 2019-11-25 20:00

(JTA) — Prosecutors in Belgium decided not to prosecute soccer supporters who sang at a match about burning Jews, explaining the supporters’ three-year stadium ban was punishment enough.

The news site HLN reported on Thursday about the decision to dismiss charges against four Bruges supporters, who last year were banned by the national soccer association from entering all major stadiums in Belgium for up to three years.

Michael Freilich, a Jewish lawmaker in federal parliament, criticized the decision, which follows a string of incidents in which Belgian authorities were seen to be lax on anti-Semitic hate speech.

“This is a bad signal,” he told HLN. “Anti-Semitic hate speech is an offense according to the criminal code. So it must be punished. Otherwise, why do we have laws?” he said.

The four supporters were the ones identified from dozens who in August 2018 were filmed celebrating their local team’s victory over Brussels’ Anderlecht team by singing in Flemish: “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews ’cause Jews burn the best.”

Separately, in the Netherlands a former soccer player, Marco van Basten, apologized Saturday for using a Nazi greeting on the air to ridicule a television journalist’s German.

Ronnie Eisenmann, the chairman of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, a Dutch-Jewish watchdog, told the Telegraaf daily that he thought van Basten’s joke was “unprofessional” but added he had no reason to believe it was meant to be offensive.

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Lithuanian state theater stages controversial play on Holocaust complicity

Mon, 2019-11-25 19:40

(JTA) — A Lithuanian state theater staged a play about local complicity in the Holocaust, in what commemoration activists called a milestone on the path to recognizing the country’s complete history.

The Juozas Miltinis Drama Theater in Panev?žys, some 70 miles north of Vilnius, staged over the weekend the world premiere of a theatrical adaptation of the 2016 book “Our People” by the Israeli Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff and the Lithuanian author Ruta Vanagaite. Several hundred people attended the show, which was so controversial that the theater’s former managing director resigned during its production.

The book generated a storm in Lithuania also because in it Vanagaite explored her family’s complicity in the exploitation of murdered Jews. Local complicity is a taboo for many Lithuanians who view their nation solely as a victim of Nazism and communism.

In 2017, Vanagaite’s former publisher, Alma Littera, recalled all her books amid resentment toward her led by ultra-nationalists and some mainstream former politicians.

The agitation against Vanagaite caused her to leave Lithuania, first for Belgium and later to Israel.

The theatrical adaptation begins in the Seventh Fort, a Holocaust-era killing site near Kaunas that is now an events venue despite protests by Jewish groups and activists. The opening scene features a couple inquiring about getting married and hosting a wedding reception on the grounds.

“The fact that a major theater group is putting on this show today shows major progress in the road toward accepting and dealing with the Holocaust history of Lithuania,” Zuroff said.

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Church of England says centuries of Christian anti-Semitism led to the Holocaust

Mon, 2019-11-25 19:28

(JTA) — Centuries of Christian anti-Semitism led to the Holocaust, the Church of England said in a new report that called for repentance.

“God’s Unfailing Word: Theological and Practical Perspectives on Christian-Jewish Relations,” which was released last week, also asked Christians to accept the importance of Zionism for most Jews.

The report, more than 140 pages, calls the Christian-Jewish relationship “a gift of God to the Church, to be received with care, respect and gratitude, so that we may learn more fully about God’s purposes for us and all the world.”

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis criticized the report, however, and in an afterword to the document wrote that it fails to reject targeting Jews for conversion.

“Even now, in the 21st century, Jews are seen by some as quarry to be pursued and converted,” Mirvis wrote. “The enduring existence within the Anglican Church of a theological approach that is permissive of this behavior does considerable damage to the relationship between our faith traditions, and, consequently, pursuing a comprehensive new Christian-Jewish paradigm in this context is exceptionally challenging.”

The report suggests that Christians “think carefully” about evangelizing their Jewish neighbors.

“Conscious of the participation of Christians over the centuries in stereotyping, persecution and violence directed against Jewish people, and how this contributed to the Holocaust, Christians today should be sensitive to Jewish fears,” it says.

The report states that “Christians have been guilty of promoting and fostering negative stereotypes of Jewish people that have contributed to grave suffering and injustice. They therefore have a duty to be alert to the continuation of such stereotyping and to resist it.”

It also says the Holy Land had significance for Jews and Christians “beyond the significance of all other lands.”

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PepsiCo will expand SodaStream plant in southern Israel

Mon, 2019-11-25 18:49

JERUSALEM (JTA) — PepsiCo, which acquired the Israeli home soda maker manufacturer SodaStream last year, is planning to expand the company’s plant in southern Israel.

The $92 million expansion will enable the plant to hire 1,000 more workers.

Located in an industrial park near Rahat, the plant currently employs 1,500 people. Bedouin Arabs from the surrounding area make up one-third of the workforce. Seventy-four of the employees are West Bank Palestinians who worked at SodaStream when the factory was based in the West Bank. It closed under international pressure.

PepsiCo acquired SodaStream for $3.2 billion in August 2018.

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Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party pledges to ban local councils from boycotting Israeli products

Mon, 2019-11-25 18:44

(JTA) — The Conservative Party in Britain, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will ban local councils from boycotting products from foreign countries, including Israel.

The pledge is made in the party’s election policy manifesto in the run-up to the Dec. 12 general elections.

“We will ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries. These undermine community cohesion,” the document released Sunday says.

Introducing a law against such boycotts would prevent Labor-majority local councils from imposing boycotts against Israel, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

In its election policy manifesto published Thursday, the Labour Party said it would stop selling weapons to Israel.

British voters will choose a new Parliament in the wake of the Brexit controversy. Parliamentarians backed Johnson’s call for a vote in late October.

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New competition provides $1 million in grants to combat BDS and Israel delegitimization

Mon, 2019-11-25 17:52

TEL AVIV – The Genesis Prize Foundation and 2019 Genesis Prize laureate Robert Kraft have launched a competition that will award grants to Israeli organizations on the front lines of the war against anti-Semitism and efforts to delegitimize Israel.

Kraft, the Jewish businessman, philanthropist and NFL team owner who received this year’s $1 million Genesis Prize, previously had announced he would use the prize money to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism.

This week, the Genesis Prize Foundation announced details of how the money will be distributed: a grants competition called “Speak Out for Israel.”

Nonprofit Israeli organizations that educate Jews or non-Jews around the world about Israel in a positive and engaging way will be eligible. The minimum grant amount awarded will be $50,000 and grant terms may last up to two years.

The goal behind the “Speak Out for Israel” competition is to shift focus from organizations working against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement to those promoting a positive image of Israel.

“We see our role as being a catalyst in helping to bring about the change we want to see in the world,” said Steven Rakitt, president of the Genesis Prize Foundation. “We bring together philanthropists to respond to the most critical issues in our community. Given the sharp rise in anti-Israel sentiment around the world, there is no question that we feel a responsibility to focus on combating this scourge.”

To be considered for this year’s competition, organizations should be working in a unique and innovative way to show the real face of Israel. Too often that face is overshadowed by anti-Israel propaganda, said Sana Britavsky, Genesis Prize Foundation’s deputy CEO in Israel.

“We want to enlarge the conversation about Israel beyond the security situation, not only in Israel but around us as well,” Britavsky said. Organizations in the competition should be presenting “a realistic, truthful, positive view of Israel. We want to give voice to Israel and to Israelis who are working hard and making the world better.”

Upon receiving the Genesis Prize in June in Jerusalem, Kraft not only committed to forgoing the $1 million monetary award and directing it toward projects fighting global anti-Semitism and efforts to delegitimize Israel, but he also announced a $20 million personal donation to seed the creation of the Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism. Philanthropist Roman Abramovich later added $5 million, and an anonymous donor committed an additional $5 million.

In October, the foundation announced that it had hired as its executive director Rachel Fish, who formerly headed the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University.

The grants competition to distribute the $1 million in prize money is being run by the Genesis Prize Foundation and administered by Matan-United Way, an Israeli organization that creates corporate-community partnerships and effective community investments.

“The main idea is to empower Israelis to speak out firsthand on behalf of their own country, reaching Jews and non-Jews in all corners of the world and in all walks of life,” said Ahuva Yanai, director of Matan-United Way. “We want to leave no opportunity for BDS activists and anti-Semites to focus media spotlight on their propaganda and poison minds with hatred and false stereotypes that will affect lives for generations to come.”

Since the awarding of the first Genesis Prize in 2014, each laureate has directed his or her $1 million award to a cause about which they are passionate, often with a dedicated Israel component. Over the past six years, Genesis Prize Foundation grants have supported organizations that promote gender equality, Jewish engagement of interfaith families, social entrepreneurship based on Jewish values, and the rights of people with disabilities, women and refugees. Globally, the foundation has distributed some 130 grants in 16 countries, and more than 60 Israeli nonprofit organizations have received grants.

Past Genesis Prize winners have included Michael Bloomberg, Michael Douglas, Itzhak Perlman, Anish Kapoor and Natalie Portman. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the recipient of the inaugural Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thirty-seven Israeli organizations won grants from The Genesis Prize Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Initiative in 2018. (Natasha Kuperman)

The administrators of the current grants competition will be looking for organizations that are innovative both in their messaging and their methods to reach the largest possible number of people.

“We want to see models that are really working, especially from young people who know how to attract positive attention,” Britavsky said.

The winning organizations will be asked to broaden their work in order to engage a wider demographic. They’ll also be able to tap the expertise and networks of the Genesis Prize Foundation and Matan.

“This isn’t just a one-time opportunity,” Yanai said. “We try to give them more: an opportunity to take part in Matan’s track for excellence in running organizations. Perhaps they will receive a volunteer to help them. We’re connected to businesses, foundations and individuals — all of whom want to invest wisely and effectively in the Israeli community.”

To learn more about the competition, visit http://www.matanisrael.org.il/?p=4928.

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Spanish fashion house removes $1,840 outfit that looks like a concentration camp uniform

Mon, 2019-11-25 17:26

(JTA) — A luxury fashion house based in Spain removed an outfit that closely resembled concentration camp uniforms from the Holocaust.

The striped pantsuit was removed from the Loewe website on Friday and the company issued an apology.

The outfit, which was being sold for $1,840, was part of a capsule collection inspired by the tile drawings of the 19th-century British ceramicist William De Morgan.

Diet Prada, a fashion industry watchdog account on Instagram, called out Loewe for the outfit and called for a response.

“Unable to see anything but concentration camp uniforms in this $1,840 ensemble from @loewe‘s William De Morgan capsule, a collection meant to ‘capture a freedom of imagination,’ … There’s not actually much left to the imagination when the resulting look is so uncannily disturbing.”

In its statement, Loewe said: “It was brought to our attention that one of our looks featured in a magazine and part of our Arts and Crafts ceramicist William De Morgan could be misconstrued as referring to one of the most odious moments in the history of mankind. It was absolutely never our intention and we apologize to anyone who might feel we were insensitive to sacred memories. The products featured have been removed from our commercial offering.”

The international clothing chain Zara has removed several pieces of clothing over complaints from the Jewish community, including a skirt with an image resembling the “alt-right” hate symbol Pepe the Frog, a shirt for toddler boys that resembled a Holocaust concentration camp inmate’s uniform and a handbag with embroidered swastikas.

View this post on Instagram

Unable to see anything but concentration camp uniforms in this $1,840 ensemble from @loewe ‘s William De Morgan capsule, a collection meant to “capture a freedom of imagination”. But with the particular stripe proportions and layout, uniform-style garments, and prominent chest patches, there’s not actually much left to the imagination when the resulting look is so uncannily disturbing. Fast fashion retailers like Urban Outfitters and Zara have had similar products slip through the cracks, which were generally blamed on third-party vendors and swiftly destroyed. Loewe has week-old comments calling this out on post featuring a black and white image from @britishvogue … when will we see a response? • #Loewe #jwanderson #williamdemorgan #loewewilliamdemorgan #britishvogue #capsulecollection #fashion #designer #luxury #luxurybrand #fail #insensitive #holocaust #holocaustmemorial #uniform #prisoner #stripes #stripeshirt #pajamas #history #wwii #loewebag #jwandersonconverse #jwandersonxuniqlo #fashionfail #zara #urbanoutfitters #model #news #dietprada

A post shared by Diet Prada (@diet_prada) on Nov 22, 2019 at 8:06am PST

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10,000 passengers ride buses as Shabbat service launches in Tel Aviv

Mon, 2019-11-25 17:08

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The new Shabbat bus service in Tel Aviv was such a hit that some passengers were left waiting at the station.

More than 10,000 passengers used the public transportation service, an initiative called “We move on weekends.”

There are six routes — most circumvent religious neighborhoods — with minibuses scheduled to come every half hour. The service includes transportation to surrounding communities including Ramat Hasharon, Givatayim and Kiryat Ono.

Three hours after the service was launched on Friday evening, Tel Aviv announced that it would add more vehicles after passengers were left waiting due to large demand, the Israeli business website Calcalist reported.

The city of Tel Aviv will pick up $2.6 million of the $3.6 million operating costs for the first year, i24 reported.

In Israel, buses and trains do not generally run in Jewish-majority cities on Friday night and Saturday before sundown. The practice was born of an agreement reached between the haredi Orthodox community and David Ben-Gurion, the nation’s first prime minister, before the formation of the state.

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Bloomberg or Bernie: Which Jewish candidate do American Jews want?

Mon, 2019-11-25 16:51

NEW YORK (JTA) — First Bernie Sanders. Now Michael Bloomberg. This cycle’s Democratic primary is shaping up to be the all-time greatest troll of white nationalist Twitter — a battle royale featuring both a Jewish socialist from Brooklyn and a Jewish billionaire who made his fortune catering to Wall Street.

Talk about trope bait!

It’s not necessarily just the anti-Semites who will be triggered. The fight between Uncle Bernie and Mayor Mike has the potential to tap into a century’s worth of Jewish dinner table political arguments and set off a vigorous debate over the past, present and future of American Jews and their politics.

Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Jews have been voting for Democratic presidential candidates, almost always by overwhelming margins — hence sociographer Milton Himmelfarb’s famous quip that American Jews “earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” His point was that even as they grew more affluent during the post-World War II era, the overwhelming majority of American Jews stayed true to their outsider roots by casting their ballots for liberal candidates.

But the story is a bit more complicated.

In 1880, there were only 250,000 Jews in America, most of them of German and Portuguese origin and fairly well established. By 1920, thanks to decades of immigration, the total had spiked to 4 million, with five out of six American Jews hailing from Eastern Europe. Many of these new Jewish immigrants arrived with next to nothing. 

Back then the Jewish street wasn’t Democrat. It was decidedly socialist.

Take 1920, the last time a Democratic nominee failed to win the Jewish vote. That year the Republican, Warren G. Harding, not only recorded a landslide victory, but according to the book “Jews in American Politics,” is believed to have won 43 percent of the Jewish vote. Only about 20 percent of Jews voted for the Democrat, James Cox.

The real Jewish story that election year was Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist candidate for president (and Sanders’ hero). Debs did 13 times better with Jews than with the rest of the electorate, finishing a close second in the Jewish vote with 39 percent — compared to just 3 percent of the overall vote. 

Jewish politics changed, however, as the Jews escaped the sweatshops of the Lower East Side and eventually settled into the American Dream. While most of them remained on the left side of the political spectrum, they traded in their socialism for a different brand of liberalism.

Which brings us to Bloomberg, who in many ways embodies this political shift. The former New York mayor is an outspoken social liberal who supports a strong safety net and public education system — but is also an enthusiastic defender of capitalism and free trade. Worker rights were paramount for Jews who voted for Debs. Bloomberg’s liberalism — like the liberalism of many contemporary American Jews — is more animated by social issues.

Bloomberg, for example, defends Wall Street while waging war against the gun industry. In contrast, Sanders has sought compromise with gun advocates but is uncompromising in his attacks on the financial sector and its billionaires.

Until relatively recently, it was safe to say that Sanders was the relic, a reminder of where Jews once were politically. Bloomberg told us about where they were today.

After all, Bloomberg received high levels of support from the Jewish community during much of his time as mayor of New York. Sanders, on the other hand, trailed Hillary Clinton in Jewish support in 2016.

This time around, Sanders is working hard to fuse his old-school it’s-economic justice-stupid message with a more hearty embrace of intersectionality and identity politics. Not surprisingly, his criticisms of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau are sharpening and he’s promising to use U.S. aid to pressure Israel into achieving a two-state solution.

In past years this tack, along with Sanders’ corresponding embrace of prominent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions supporters, would have sunk the Vermont senator among the majority of Jewish voters, especially with a familiar pro-Israel Democrat like Joe Biden in the race. But with anti-Trump passions raging and many Democratic presidential candidates stampeding to the left, it’s unclear if the old rules still apply.

Bloomberg is positioning himself as the candidate best suited to grab the steering wheel from President Trump and get America back on track. Sanders’ message is that America had been broken for a very long time; Trump just made things worse.

Bloomberg promises a restoration; Sanders wants a revolution.

Which vision of the future do America’s Jews see themselves in?

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Nearly 6,000 Chabad emissaries from 100 countries gather for conference

Mon, 2019-11-25 16:04

(JTA) — Nearly 6,000 Chabad rabbis and lay leaders are participating in the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries.

The rabbis come from all 50 U.S. states and some 100 countries. The most recent Chabad center was established in Kigali, Rwanda, becoming the Central African nation’s first synagogue.

The annual conference banquet on Sunday filled the New Jersey Convention Center. The keynote address was given by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. He has been study partners with a Chabad rabbi in Woodmere, New York, on Long Island, for more than two decades.

The some 4,900 emissaries, known by the Yiddish term shluchim, gathered on Sunday morning in front of Chabad headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights for the annual “class photo.”

In the wake of the April shooting at the Chabad center in Poway, California, the rabbis were scheduled to participate in seminars and workshops on the topics of combating anti-Semitism, the pressing need for moral education and fostering Jewish pride in the face of growing hostility, among other topics.

On Friday they visited the Ohel, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe’s gravesite. The thousands of emissaries waited in line to deliver handwritten notes to the grave.

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Columbia College Student Council approves holding campus-wide Israel divestment referendum

Mon, 2019-11-25 14:07

(JTA) — Columbia College Student Council voted in favor of holding a campus-wide referendum over divesting from Israeli companies.

Elected student representatives voted on Sunday evening by secret ballot by a vote of 25 to 12 to hold the referendum on whether the university should divest “from companies that profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s inhumane acts against Palestinians,” the campus student newspaper the Columbia Spectator reported.

The vote will be scheduled in the coming months.

It is the third time that the student council has voted on whether to hold such a referendum, in initiatives spearheaded by the camps organization Columbia University Apartheid Divest. Some 34 campus organizations supported the initiative, according to the Spectator.

The council said at Sunday night’s meeting, which heard students speaking on both sides of the issue, that the vote would be gauging students’ perspective on the issue, not taking a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In March 2018, Barnard College students, who are part of Columbia University, passed a referendum, with 64.3 percent in favor, that called for the Student Government Association to write a letter to administrators in support of divestment

The university is not bound by any student vote on divestment.

The results of a referendum would go to the university’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing. In the past five years, this committee has approved the divestment from private prisons and from public companies whose primary business is the production of thermal coal. If the committee decides to reconsider the university’s investment in the Israeli companies, it would present the proposal to University President Lee Bollinger and the university’s board of trustees.

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Ex-WeWork CEO Adam Neumann helped Jared Kushner on Mideast peace plan

Mon, 2019-11-25 13:07

(JTA) — The ousted CEO of WeWork Adam Neumann believed he “was even capable of solving the world’s thorniest problems,” including the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Israeli-born Neumann, who stepped down as WeWork CEO in September, helped President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner on his Mideast peace effort, Vanity Fair reported in a Nov. 21 article.

Neumann assigned WeWork’s director of development, Roni Bahar, to hire an advertising firm to produce a video for Kushner showing what an economically transformed West Bank and Gaza would look like, the magazine reported, citing two unnamed sources. Bahar said he only advised on the video and no WeWork resources were used.  Kushner used the video during the Bahrain conference which launched the economic portion of the Trump administration’s peace plan.

Neumann also told one investor that he’d convinced Rahm Emanuel to run for president in 2020 on the “WeWork Agenda.” He told colleagues that he was saving the women of Saudi Arabia by working with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to offer women coding classes, the magazine reported. In another meeting, Neumann said three people were going to save the world: bin Salman, Jared Kushner, and Neumann, according to the report. This was before the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Neumann in a meeting with George W. Bush’s former national security adviser Stephen Hadley said that the bin Salman mess could be sorted out if bin Salman had the right mentor. He said that mentor was himself.

The Neumanns were heavily involved in the Kabbalah movement and made the mystical tradition part of the office culture, including scheduling meetings on the 18th day of the month, seen as a more auspicious time.  His mother told an Israeli station last month that Neumann had joined the Chabad movement and become religious.

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Jewish director and journalist each receive Ukrainian civil honor for women

Mon, 2019-11-25 12:13

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Polish-Jewish director Agnieszka Holland and American journalist Anne Applebaum were honored with the country’s Order of Princess Olga of the 3rd Degree for “telling the truth about the tragedy of the Great Famine in Ukraine.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the awards on Saturday on the occasion of the Day of Great Famine Victims.

The Great Famine in Ukraine was artificially induced in 1932-1933 by the Soviet Union to punish Ukrainians who opposed the forced collectivization of agriculture. It is estimated that between 3 million and up to 10 million people died of hunger during this time.

Holland is the director of the film “Citizen Jones,” which tells the story of journalist Gareth Jones, who was the first to describe the Great Famine in Western media. Other Western journalists – particularly those linked to the communist authorities, such as Walter Duranty, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for reports from communist Russia – then considered his information to be untrue. Jones was soon killed, believed to be by Kremlin collaborators.

Applebaum, a Washington Post columnist, is the author of the book “Red Famine,” in which she shows that the Great Famine was the largest genocide of the 20th century after the Holocaust. In 2004 she received the Pulitzer Prize for the book “Gulag.”

 

 

 

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Red swastikas daubed on Sholem Aleichem statue in Ukraine

Mon, 2019-11-25 09:57

(JTA) – A statue of the Yiddish author known as Sholem Aleichem was vandalized in Ukraine by unknown perpetrators who drew swastikas on it.

The incident happened Sunday night in Kyiv, according to Rabbi Mosh Azman, a well-known community leader based in the Ukrainian capital.

He reported the incident to police, who are investigating it but currently have identified no suspects, according to several Ukrainian news sites.

The incident involving the Kyiv statue of the late author, whose real name was Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich and who was born in a town south of Kyiv, is the latest in a string of acts of vandalism against Jewish property in Ukraine in recent months.

In August, at least 20 headstones were damaged at a Jewish cemetery in Svalyava in western Ukraine. In February, unidentified individuals painted anti-Semitic cartoons on a memorial wall in Kolomyya that was made of ancient Jewish headstones destroyed by Soviet authorities.

Last week, the Anti-Defamation League published a poll in which 46 percent of 510 interviewed about Jews agreed with anti-Semitic statements about them. In a previous poll from 2017, only 32 percent agreed with the same statements.

Haim Ben-Yakov, CEO of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, or EAJC, called on Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to “do everything possible to find and prosecute the criminals.” He added that, “It is urgent that we act promptly and decisively in order to avert further escalation of anti-Semitic sentiment in the country.”

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