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Israeli accused of hunting rape victims by Sea of Galilee indicted for indecent acts

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-08-07 18:36
28-year-old Mohammed Shalbi from near Nazareth in northern Israel is accused of sex crimes against a number of victims, including minors, at beaches along the lake

Israel shoots down own drone over Golan Heights, suspecting it came from Lebanon

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-08-07 18:30
Later in the day sirens sounded in several communities in the Galilee, near Israel's border with Lebanon, in a false alarm

French police arrest hostage-taker who made demands from Israel

JTA - Fri, 2020-08-07 18:20

(JTA) — French police arrested the man who on Thursday took six people hostage at a bank and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

The man is 34 years old and was identified in the French media only by his first name, Mehdi. He released all the hostages gradually on Thursday and surrendered himself to police. He was believed to be armed.

Prior to his arrest, Mehdi told the media from the local branch of the BRED bank at the center of Le Havre, a coastal city located about 100 miles northwest of Paris, that his demands included Israel releasing “Palestinian children unjustly imprisoned” and allowing greater access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

He has a history both of Islamist radicalism and of psychiatric problems, Liberation reported.

In 2013, Mehdi had already taken four people hostage at another bank, CIC, in Paris, demanding housing solutions for himself and his son, according to Le Monde.

The post French police arrest hostage-taker who made demands from Israel appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

David Goldfein, Jewish US Air Force chief, is stepping down

JTA - Fri, 2020-08-07 18:07

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Gen. David Goldfein, who for a time was in line to become the first Jewish chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has retired as Air Force chief.

Goldfein, 60, stepped down as scheduled on Thursday, The Washington Post reported.

James Mattis, the defense secretary in 2018, had tapped Goldfein to be the country’s next top uniformed military official. In December, just as President Donald Trump was falling out with Mattis over the president’s insistence on pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, Trump instead named Mark Milley, then the army chief, to the role. Mattis quit in January 2019.

Goldfein was named to the top Air Force job by President Barack Obama in 2016.

In June, Goldfein took the unusual step of issuing a declaration on the police killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, calling it a “national tragedy.”

The post David Goldfein, Jewish US Air Force chief, is stepping down appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Jewish educator’s ‘Yo Semite’ T-shirt back in spotlight following Trump gaffe

JTA - Fri, 2020-08-07 18:05

(J. the Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — When Berkeley resident Sarah Lefton awoke on Tuesday morning, her phone was lit up with notifications.

While she was sleeping, President Trump had signed the Great American Outdoors Act, a piece of legislation that will protect the nation’s parks and finance the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

What prompted the calls, however, was that Trump had mispronounced the name of one of America’s most famous parks, calling it “Yo Semites” and thus invoking, albeit unwittingly, a T-shirt Lefton had created in 2004.

Here’s the clip

— Brennan Murphy (@brenonade) August 4, 2020

“I went to Twitter and there were hundreds of notifications,” she said. It didn’t take long to discover that Lefton’s friend, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, had given a shoutout to her more than 114,000 followers.

“Brilliant,” Lefton tweeted in response. “You can still get them from Afikomen in Berkeley and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia! I was there first, Trump.”

Lefton, a Jewish educator and media consultant, immediately put in an order for hundreds of T-shirts with her Bay Area printing company, to be shipped to retailers near and far who expected a sudden swell of orders after the presidential mispronunciation.

Just did a drive-by and confirmed that YO SEMITE shirts are in stock at my favorite local Judaica store! #BERKELEY #YoSemites #jewish

— Sarah Lefton (@sarahlefton) August 4, 2020

Kristen Kreider, director of retail and visitor experience at the Jewish museum in Philadelphia, said in an interview that while 15 shirts might be sold in a typical month, there were already 54 orders by Tuesday afternoon. As of midday Wednesday, that number had grown to 500 orders.

Chaim Mahgel, co-owner of Afikomen Judaica in Berkeley, is also seeing an uptick. For the past several years, the T-shirt was “usually displayed” in the store window.

“It’s a great draw for people who are walking and driving past,” he said.

Afikomen sold 20 of the shirts last year, alongside other Judaica items and novelties. This week there already has been an increase in phone and online orders, some of them “before we knew what was going on,” said Mahgel. The store has now placed the shirt prominently on its website and Facebook page, “so we are able to ride the wave.”

Lefton came up with the T-shirt idea during her years at Camp Tawonga, the Jewish summer camp in Yosemite Valley where she was first a camper and then marketing director from 2001 to 2005. She was inspired, she said, by visitors’ unintentional mispronunciations of the park’s name.

One day she said the name out loud and realized it could be separated into two words and given a more Jewish context. She created one shirt for herself using her home screenprinter, and was wearing it one day walking in her San Francisco neighborhood.

“It must have been Saturday, because I ran into these two Jews in kippahs who were like, ‘Girl, where did you get that [T-shirt]? That is awesome!’ And I said, ‘Oh, I made it.’ And they were like, ‘Oh my God, make us one.’” (The three later became friends, she notes.)

Lefton wondered if other people would actually buy them, so she put in a minimum order of 12. She created a basic website — — with just the one product featured, fed some friends pizza in exchange for stuffing envelopes, and the business was born.

Camp Tawonga remained a part of the “Yo Semite” story, as Lefton stored the T-shirts “in huge boxes under my desk, thanks to the loving indulgence of my supervisors.” After the shirt caught on, Lefton also designed camp merchandise, including bumper stickers that say “I’d rather be at Camp Tawonga.” And Jewish Fashion Conspiracy went on to sell additional items, including boxer shorts and underwear reading “a great miracle happened here” and additional T-shirts with tongue-in-cheek phrases like “Jews for Jeter,” “Geltdigger” and “Red Sea Moving Company.”

The “Yo Semite” shirts pop up every now and again, even when they don’t get an inadvertent mention from the presidential podium. “One time I was walking around the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I saw a guy wearing a ‘Yo Semite’ T-shirt and I was so excited to approach him!” Lefton said. “We took a photo together, of course. And friends routinely text me photos of themselves in Yosemite Valley wearing their T-shirts.”

Lefton’s next venture was, which after two years in development launched a full year’s worth of Torah portion-oriented animated videos. The G-dcast team then moved on to prophets, megillahs and Psalms, and created Jewish content for children as well as young adults. The site was renamed BimBam in 2016 and officially closed in 2019, although the catalog is still accessible at

Post-BimBam, Lefton continues to do independent animation production. She has resurrected the website a few times in the past, and thought she might do it again now. “But in this pandemic moment, I just can’t,” she said. “I don’t have the koach (strength) to stuff envelopes and deal with the post office… also thank you Mr. President.”

She can also thank the president for saving her from a life of TV reality show fame; in early Jewish Fashion Conspiracy days, she had applied to be a contestant on Trump’s NBC show “The Apprentice.” After making it through the second round of auditions, she was cut.

“Thank God,” she said.

The post Jewish educator’s ‘Yo Semite’ T-shirt back in spotlight following Trump gaffe appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Ruins of ancient Jerusalem help unravel enigmas of Earth’s magnetic field

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-08-07 17:59
Floor tiles from house burnt down by the Babylonians 2,600 years ago yield data that could help better understand the erratic behavior of the planetary shield protecting us from cosmic radiation

Pete Hamill was New York’s last great storyteller

The Forward - Fri, 2020-08-07 17:40
For Hamill, there were never enough stories, never enough ways to speak truth to power and never enough ways to make a tale just a little more grand.

Netanyahu and Gantz are already campaigning, and Israel slides into election No. 4 on autopilot

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-08-07 17:03
The prime minister will bang on about the horrible protesters, the imagined violence, the ‘anarchists,’ the wider left and the ‘mobilized’ media

‘Dirty Dancing’ sequel starring Jennifer Grey announced

JTA - Fri, 2020-08-07 16:04

(JTA) — It’s official: A “Dirty Dancing” sequel is coming, and it’s starring Jewish actress Jennifer Grey, who played Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 original.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer confirmed the news to Deadline on Thursday, while keeping the plot secret.

“It will be exactly the kind of romantic, nostalgic movie that the franchise’s fans have been waiting for and that have made it the biggest-selling library title in the Company’s history,” Feltheimer said on a company call, according to Deadline.

The site had reported on the rumor last month.

Jewish filmmaker Jonathan Levine, known for helming “50/50” and “Warm Bodies,” will direct. Grey, 60, will also executive produce the film.

The original movie took place at a resort in the Borscht Belt, the vacation destination popular with New York Jews for decades in the mid-20th century, which has also been lovingly depicted in the hit show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

A poorly received prequel of sorts, “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” was released in 2004.

The post ‘Dirty Dancing’ sequel starring Jennifer Grey announced appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

As the corona crisis continues, our kids could use some Tchaikovsky

The Forward - Fri, 2020-08-07 15:43
Despite the anti-Semitism of certain composers, we do our children a disservice by deleting these masterpieces out of our cultural memory.

Tiffany Haddish found love with Common during quarantine

The Forward - Fri, 2020-08-07 15:30
They almost convinced us that virtual dating is a good idea.

Trump’s Germany ambassador pick under fire from Jewish groups for statements on immigrants and Nazi history

JTA - Fri, 2020-08-07 15:19

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish groups are taking aim at President Donald Trump’s pick for ambassador to Germany for his past statements about Muslim immigrants and for downplaying the importance of Nazi history.

The nomination of Douglas Macgregor, a decorated combat veteran who now frequently appears on Fox News, made headlines this week after CNN’s K File unearthed a long history of the retired colonel’s comments. In 2018 he said “There’s sort of a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone sins of what happened in 13 years of German history and ignore the other 1,500 years of Germany.”

He also called Muslim immigrants “invaders” who want to turn Europe “into an Islamic state” and called for martial law at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying U.S. authorities should “shoot people” if necessary to prevent immigrants from entering the country.

Prior to the CNN report, B’nai B’rith International had already expressed concerns about Macgregor. In a July 28 release, it noted his past propensity to insinuate that “neocons” serving Israel’s interests were controlling U.S. foreign policy.

“It is important that American diplomats not question the patriotism of other Americans who hold political views different from their own, especially given that questioning Jewish loyalty to America is an anti-Semitic trope,” B’nai B’rith said.

The American Jewish Committee on Friday urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to withdraw Macgregor’s nomination.

“It is because of our intensive engagement with Germany that we were so troubled by the reports of recent days regarding Col. Macgregor’s many incendiary comments over the years about the German government, Germany’s confrontation with its Nazi past, the NATO alliance, immigration policy, and other topics,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a letter to Pompeo.

The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said on Twitter that some of Macgregor’s past statements were “bigoted and abhorrent.” He also critiqued Macgregor’s comments on Nazi Germany.

J Street Vice President Dylan Williams on the same platform decried Macgregor’s “shameful record of expressing profoundly bigoted views.”

The post Trump’s Germany ambassador pick under fire from Jewish groups for statements on immigrants and Nazi history appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Nasrallah: Beirut warehouse did not contain Hezbollah weapons; we know more about Haifa port

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-08-07 15:08
'We as Hezbollah know perhaps more about what goes on at the Haifa port than what happens in the Beirut port'
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