World Briefs 11-21-11

The latest news from the global Jewish community. 

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JAFI active in South America

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) announced it will contribute funds to create cultural programs for young Jews in South America, the Jerusalem Post reported. The “Fund for the Jewish Future” is intended to develop Birthright and MASA-style programs in the region.

According to JAFI Chairman Natan Sharansky, "the fund is a new model developed by the Jewish Agency where the local community finances the Israel experiences for the members of their own community.”

This announcement only adds to existing programs and organizations striving to maintain young people’s ties to the Jewish religion in South America. In Argentina in particular, two ORT high schools in Buenos Aires require more than 7,000 students to study at least six hours of Jewish studies a week, including Hebrew, according to Adi Drenger, a Jewish Agency emissary. According to the Jerusalem Post, the schools are so good that even non-Jews are trying to enroll. Twelve percent of the current student body at one school is not Jewish.

--JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. Credit: Image by Aleph)

Merkel denounces neo-Nazi murders

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a full investigation of several neo-Nazi murders that occurred in recent years in the country, Deutsche Welle reported.

In a video message to the public, Merkel called the murders “a disgrace to our country” and argued for the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism in Germany.

The message came in the wake of the scandal rocking Germany, in which it was revealed that the National Social Underground (NSU), a radical neo-Nazi group, murdered 10 people predominantly of an immigrant background over the past decade.

"The danger was not taken seriously by many of the top politicians who carry the responsibility in this country, and partially denied," said Hajo Funke, a professor at Freie Universität Berlin and a leading expert on the far-right scene, according to the source.

In the wake of these revelations, German police reopened several other unsolved murders that may be linked to neo-Nazi groups.

--JointMedia News Service


Arab Spring Continues: Egypt in riots, Gaddafi’s son is captured

Egypt's revolutionaries can point to the moment their revolution began to go astray: It was the day of their greatest victory, when protesters ecstatic with the fall of President Hosni Mubarak cheered the army that stepped in to take his place.

In the nine months since, the ruling generals -- all appointees of Mubarak and diehards of his rule -- have kept an iron grip on a process that revolutionaries had hoped would mean the dismantling of the old regime in a transition to democracy.

Months of anger over the military's handling of the transition period boiled over this weekend, sparking deadly clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square that, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry, left at least 20 protesters dead and hundreds wounded. Protesters are calling on military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and his council of generals to step down in favor of an interim civilian administration.

Elections to choose the first post-revolution parliament start on Nov. 28. But the electoral system is cumbersome and complex and voting will be spread out over months—many are even unclear over who is running.

Meanwhile, Israel's ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon, is set to return to Egypt this week after being evacuated in September, in order to complete the remaining month of his term.The government announced that it had tapped Yaacov Amitai as Israel's new ambassador to Egypt several months ago.

In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam was captured on Saturday, officials said. Thunderous celebratory gunfire shook the Libyan capital as the news spread.

Libya's new leaders have said they will try Moammar Gadhafi's son at home and not hand him over to the International Criminal Court where he's been charged with crimes against humanity.

--Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


(Click photo to download. Caption: King Abdullah of Jordan and Mahmoud Abbas. Credit: EPA/Thaer Ganaim)

King Abdullah makes surprising visit to Ramallah

Jordan's King Abdullah II paid a rare visit to the West Bank on Monday to show support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as the two moderate leaders try to engage with previously shunned Islamists now on the rise in the region.

Abdullah and Abbas have met frequently in Jordan, which serves as the Palestinian leader's second home base. The king's visit on Monday was his first return to the West Bank in many years and is therefore being seen as a tacit acknowledgment of Abbas as the sole legitimate Palestinian leader.

"The visit comes in the context of Jordan's support for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people to achieve Palestinian national rights and an independent state," a Jordanian palace official told Reuters Sunday.

Jordan is one of the few Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, in 1994. However, King Abdullah has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policies and has blamed Israel for the stalled peace process, and has been particularly vocal since the Arab Spring revolutions have swept through the Middle East, threatening to unseat additional leaders through popular uprisings.

--Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Syrian Refugees Coming to Israel?

As the bloodshed in Syria intensifies, Israel, like much of the world, believes that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s days are numbered. Villages along Syria’s border with Israel have been fairly quiet, as they are held firmly by the Syrian military, but according to Ynet Israel is preparing for the riots to spill over to its borders.

If it does, there is a possibility, albeit slim, that Syrian refugees will attempt to escape and seek political asylum in Israel, Ynetreported. If this happens, refugees are expected to receive temporary shelter in Israel.

The Israeli government and military is also preparing for the renewal of border protests by Palestinian refugees living in Syria or Lebanon. The IDF has nearly completed various construction projects, including a lineup of barriers along the border with Syria and a new border crossing.

It has also been running drills, simulating different extreme scenarios including an attempted soldier kidnapping and gunshot fire during a border protest.

--JointMedia News Service

Posted on November 21, 2011 and filed under World.