U.S. Briefs 10-4-11

12 news items of importance to the American Jewish community. 

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(Click photo to download. Caption: Vice President Joe Biden. Credit: EPA/Mike Nelson.)

President Barack Obama was considering granting clemency to Jonathan Pollard, but Vice President Joe Biden told his superior, “Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time,” the New York Times reported.

“If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life,” Biden recently told a crowd of 15 rabbis in Boca Raton, Fla., when asked about Pollard, according to the Times.

Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel, is serving a life sentence in a Butner, NC, federal prison while the Israeli government and global Jewish community repeatedly call for his freedom. His wife Esther said Sunday that when she recently visited him, the news of Biden’s refusal to consider a pardon “broke his heart.”

“We all cried. We hope that this will cause Obama to demonstrate leadership, and do the right thing now,” Esther Pollard told reporters, according to Israel Hayom.

—JointMedia News Service


U.S. Blocks $200 Million in Palestinian Aid

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Saturday moved ahead with plans to freeze $200 million in aid to the Palestinians “until the Palestinian statehood issue [at the United Nations] is sorted out,” Agence France-Pressereported.

Rather than cutting security aid, the U.S. is specifically blocking economic assistance to the Palestinians, AFP said. Democrats and Republican lawmakers alike are frustrated with the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid because of its disregard for direct negotiations with Israel.

“There must be consequences for Palestinian and UN actions that undermine any hope for true and lasting peace,” U.S. Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said, according to AFP.


Poll: 75% of Americans Say Statehood Won’t Change Palestinian Terrorism

A recent bipartisan poll reveals that 75 percent of Americans believe that even if they obtain their own state, Palestinians would continue a terrorist campaign to destroy the Jewish state. Only 15 percent of respondents disagreed with that statement.

The poll, conducted jointly by Democrat Pat Caddell and Republican John McLaughlin, also found that 71 percent of Americans believe Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel, while 66 percent say Iran would attack Israel with nuclear weapons once it obtains them.

“This latest survey shows that Americans continue to display strong support for Israel as a U.S. ally and clarity of understanding as to the nature of the Arab/Iranian war on Israel,” Zionist Organization of America National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said in a statement.

—JointMedia News Service


California Governor Enacts Law Prohibiting the Banning of Circumcisions

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a bill prohibiting the cities and counties from banning male circumcisions, countering a measure that had been placed on the San Francisco ballot, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Mike Gatto, a member of California’s State Assembly and a co-author of the legislation, said banning circumcision would deprive people of “an expression of personal, medical and religious freedom,” according to the newspaper.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi ruled in July that the circumcision ban violated an existing statute forbidding local governments from regulating medical procedures, striking the initiative from the ballot. The legislation signed Sunday by Brown—Assembly Bill 768—was introduced in February to combat the San Francisco ballot measure.

—JointMedia News Service


(Click photo to download. Caption: Etrogs. Credit: Yankelowitz.)

Lulav on Board: Guidelines for Traveling Before Sukkot

Traveling with the four species of Sukkot is “regulated to prevent the introduction of invasive pests and diseases,” but the items can be allowed into the country after inspection by agriculture specialists, according to recently issued guidelines by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

CBP “understands that observant Jewish travelers entering the United States during the Sukkot holiday might carry religious items (etrogs, palm fronds, twigs of willow and myrtle) in their vehicles if arriving at land borders, or in their personal baggage if they are arriving by aircraft,” the guidelines said.

Travelers will be asked to open containers with their etrogs and unwrap them, to allow for inspection by an agriculture specialist. Similarly, specialists will examine palm fronds (lulavs) and twigs of myrtle (hadasim) for pests and symptoms of disease. Twigs of willow (aravot) from Europe will be prohibited from entering the U.S., CBP said.

The full CBP guidelines for traveling with the four species can be found athttp://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/alerts/travelers.xml.

—JointMedia News Service


Comedic Actor Seth Rogen Ties the Knot in Jewish Ceremony

Actor Seth Rogen—best known for his role in Knocked Up and other comedic films—married his longtime girlfriend Lauren Miller at a Jewish ceremony in Sonoma, Calif., Us Weekly magazine reported on its website.

According to the website, the wedding was officiated by a female rabbi and attended by industry professionals such as director Judd Apatow, Craig Robinson of NBC’s The Office and actor Jonah Hill, who has partnered with Rogen in several comedies on the big screen.

“The wedding was more laughs than anything else,” a source told Us Weekly. “Every other line was a joke and the crowd couldn’t contain their laughter.”

—JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: U.S. Army Chaplain Jacob Goldstein, who is in Afghanistan for the High Holy Days. Credit: U.S. Army.)

Quartet of American Rabbis Stationed in Afghanistan for the Holidays

Four military rabbis are helping Jews in Afghanistan observe the High Holy Days this year.

The team includes Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidic Rabbi Jacob Goldstein of New York, Conservative Rabbi Laurence Bazer of Framingham, Mass., Orthodox Army chaplain and Chicago native Rabbi Avi Weiss, and Conservative Navy chaplain Rabbi Josh Sherwin, according to the Forward.

Though the number of Jewish service members in Afghanistan is unknown, at least 37 Jews have died there and in Iraq since 2001, the newspaper said.

“My real role is to take care of all service members and contractors and the government officials that fall under our command,” Bazer told the Forward of his work during the High Holy Days. “That’s something I’m very proud of, and that’s why I’m called chaplain.”

—JointMedia News Service


National Jewish Museum Dramatically Adjusts its Expectations

The Philadelphia-based National Museum of American Jewish History has sliced its attendance expectations in half leading up to its one-year anniversary, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Following an initial projection of 250,000 attendees, the museum now projects that 125,000 people will have walked through its doors by the time its first full year of existence is complete Nov. 26, the newspaper said.

Museum officials told the newspaper that the recession as well as a harsh winter during opening season contributed to the lower attendance figures. Chief Executive Officer and President Michael Rosenzweig, meanwhile, said the museum would not be self-sustaining until its endowment—currently at $10 million—reached $100 million.

—JointMedia News Service


Cuban Jewish Leaders Pay Holiday Visit to Jailed American Contractor

Adela Dworin and David Prinstein, two leaders of Cuab’s Jewish community, said they met with imprisoned Jewish American contractor Alan Gross the day before Rosh Hashanah, describing him as “gaunt and week,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Gross, 62, was arrested in 2009 for bringing satellite phones to Cuba in an effort to communicate with the Jewish community there. Dworin and Prinstein said their meeting with Gross ended on exchanges of “Shalom” and “Shana Tova.”

During the week leading up to the holiday, various U.S. Jewish groups held simultaneous vigils for Gross in New York and Washington, DC.

—JointMedia News Service


Give Us a Sign: Britney Spears May be on Her Way to Israel

Barring a last-minute change, the world's most successful pop diva, Britney Spears, is set to perform in Israel this November. A Spears concert in Israel has long been grist for the rumor mill, but now appears to be coming to pass as the singer's producers weigh various offers from Israel.

The contract will likely go to the highest bidder. Shuki Weiss, one of the country’s best-known producers, who brought Madonna and other top recording artists to Israel, is reportedly already in advanced talks with Spears’ production team.

Spears recently launched a European tour to mark the release of her new album, “Femme Fatale.” A concert in Israel, likely to take place in November, would be the final stop on her Middle East tour. The venue for the concert has yet to be determined, but those involved have indicated it would most likely take place in a soccer stadium in the Tel Aviv area or outdoors at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, which can accommodate much larger crowds.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Intel Acquires Israel Mobile Navigation Firm Telmap

U.S.-based chipmaker Intel Corp. has agreed to acquire Israel-based mobile navigation software maker Telmap, according to Telmap’s website. Details of the deal were not disclosed, but Israeli media said Intel was paying about $300 million.

“Telmap is happy to announce that it has been acquired by Intel,” Telmap said on its website, providing a link to a blog post by Peter Riddle, general manager of Intel's AppUp developer program.

Riddle said that Intel announced during the opening keynote at AppUp’s annual gathering of developers last week in Seattle that it had signed an agreement to acquire Telmap, which will become a wholly owned subsidiary.

“This move is a step towards expanding our mobile software services capabilities as Intel continues to grow in the area of software and services,” Riddle wrote.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Cheney: I Was Happy When Israel Destroyed Syrian Nuclear Reactor

For eight consecutive years, Dick Cheney served as vice president to U.S. President George W. Bush and was a partner in decisions that stirred the world. In an interview with Israel Hayom, he discussed everything from his support for Israel, his disappointment with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor, the missiles that Saddam Hussein fired at us—and President Barack Obama, whom he says has displayed inexperience, weakness and a lack of leadership.

“When I heard that Israel had attacked the Syrian reactor and totally destroyed it, I was happy and excited … I don’t recall any of my colleagues in the American administration displaying any lack of satisfaction from the fact that this reactor was destroyed,” Cheney said.

Cheney’s recently released autobiography, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” has rocketed to the top of U.S. best-seller lists. Read Cheney’s full interview with Israel Hayom at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=1283/

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on October 4, 2011 and filed under U.S..