U.S. Briefs 12-13-11

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Click photo to download. Caption: Newt Gingrich. Credit: Pete Souza.In retrospect: PLO official confirms Gingrich’s statement on Palestinian people

A PLO official had already admitted in the 1970s what Republican presidential primary candidate Newt Gingrich said in an interview for the Jewish channel last week: that the Palestinians are an “invented” people.

“Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community,” Gingrich said in the interview according to Fox News. Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called this “the most racist statement” he’s ever seen, according to CNN.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad responded to Gingrich by saying that “The Palestinian people inhabited the land since the dawn of history, and intend to remain in it until the end times.”

However, PLO committee member Zahir Muhsein was already quoted in 1977 in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, according to WorldNetDaily.com, that “the Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.”

“For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan,” he added.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the candidate does support a Palestinian state “which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians… however, to understand what is being proposed and negotiated you have to understand decades of complex history.”

—JointMedia News Service

Brooklyn Prosecutors: 85 Orthodox Jews arrested for sex abuse over 3-year period

A scandal has erupted in Brooklyn’s Jewish community following prosecutors’ revelation Sunday that 85 Orthodox Jews haven been arrested on sex abuse charges over the last years, according to reports.

Among the most recent individuals charged is Andrew Goodman, 27. Goodman worked for Jewish social-service agencies and allegedly sexually abused two Orthodox boys between the ages of 11 and 16 for years, the New York Post reported. Following his 2010 arrest and subsequent release on bail, neighbors claim to have seen teenagers entering and leaving Goodman’s home.

“Andrew Goodman is known in our community as a lifelong molester who preys on young boys and ruins their lives,” wrote a Talmudic scholar at Congregation Bais Torah to Brooklyn Judge Martin Murphy, who is presiding over the case.

In all, 38 of the sex abuse cases in the Orthodox community (over the last three years) have closed, with 14 resulting in convictions. Those convicted were sent to jail for periods ranging from a month to up to 20 years for crimes such as sex abuse, attempted kidnapping, and sodomy, prosecutors in the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said. The cases involved roughly 117 victims.

—JointMedia News Service

Yeshiva University newspaper editor resigns after sex story scandal

The editor of Yeshiva University’s (YU) student newspaper resigned Friday due to the aftermath of an article describing premarital sex, the New York Daily News reported. The story, which was published Dec. 5 in The Beacon, included an advisory for graphic content. It described a YU student’s one-night stand with a lover and her subsequent regret over the incident.

“I have thus become uncomfortable remaining at the forefront of The Beacon,” Toviah Moldwin wrote on the paper’s website.

Although the story wasn’t explicit, a scandal erupted at the Orthodox Jewish university. The university eventually pulled funding from the Beacon because staffers refused to remove the article.

University spokesman Mayer Fertig said students were “deeply offended” by the article, but co-editor Simi Lampert responded by saying “No we don’t encourage or promote the act of premarital sex. However, it happens. It happens in our community and we as a community prefer to pretend it doesn’t happen.”

Devorah Deutsch, a former news editor at the Beacon, defended the university’s decision to pull funding from the Beacon. “They have the right to put their money where they want to,” she said.

—JointMedia News Service

U.S. could cut military aid to Israel

In the wake of the tough economy and budget struggles, the U.S. government is tightening its expenses and may be questioning its annual financial aid to the Israeli military, Globes-Israel Business News reported.

“Now aid to Israel is part of public discourse, it’s on the table, another government expense that needs to be cut—if not completely cancelled,” said an aid to a legislator on Capitol Hill, according to Globes.

The foreign aid budget of the U.S. State Department currently gives Israel $3.1 billion in annual military aid. Eight to 9 percent of this budget could be cut, a Washington analyst said. Even Republican primary candidates who traditionally support Israel, such as Rick Perry, have said that countries should justify financial assistance.

“We are certain that the automatic cut in the Pentagon’s budget scheduled to occur in 2013 will happen, in addition to the existing cut. We're talking about $1 trillion. This is a 15-20 percent cut over ten years … U.S. defense companies are laying off employees in droves, and even closing factories, following cancellations of projects by their clients the arms of the U.S. military,” an Israeli defense industry source said.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Sen. John Kerry. Credit: U.S. Congress.Sen. John Kerry meets the Muslim Brotherhood

U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) on Saturday met with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the radical Islamic group from which Hamas was founded, according to the Associated Press.

The Brotherhood said in a statement that Kerry told the group’s members he wasn’t surprised by their success in Egypt’s parliamentary elections; to this point, the Brotherhood has garnered 47 percent of the vote for the lower house of parliament.

Kerry, the former U.S. presidential candidate, called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down prior to Mubarak’s ouster in February.

—JointMedia News Service

Genetic screening advocate wins Federations’ Jewish Community Hero award

Randy Gold of Atlanta received the 2011 Jewish Community Hero of the Year Award from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) for founding the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen, an organization working to raise awareness about the importance of genetic disease screening for Jewish couples before pregnancy.

Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of JFNA, said the organization is “excited to name Randy Gold as this year’s Jewish Community Hero Award winner for his major contribution to the Jewish community and the positive, healthy future of the Jewish people.”

Gold and his wife had a child diagnosed with Mucolipidosis Type IV, a disease associated with the Jewish ethnicity. He will receive a $25,000 to continue encouraging people to screen themselves for up to 19 genetic diseases that could impact the Jewish community. Four other finalists will receive a $1,000 grant.

—JointMedia News Service

Number of Jewish Republican Senate and Congressional candidates rises

The number of Jewish Republican congressional candidates across the country is rising, UPI reported.

Among the candidates for U.S. Senate are Adam Hasner in Florida, Josh Mandel in Ohio and former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle.

Traditionally, Jewish candidates have come primarily from the Democratic Party. Currently, 24 Jewish Democrats are already members of the House and 12 Jewish Democrats are in the Senate. However, according to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who isn’t Jewish, this is changing.

“It was quite small initially. The number of Jewish Republicans who would gather in Illinois could fit in a small diner, and that’s it. But it has changed pretty profoundly so that now the Republican Jewish Coalition meetings in Illinois will have anywhere between 500 and 2,000 people at the events,” Kirk said, according to Roll Call.

—JointMedia News Service

Administration tries to weaken Iran sanctions proposed by Congress

The Obama administration wants to change wording in an amendment of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill so that sanctions on Iran’s central bank (CBI) will be eased. The amendment, proposed by U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), currently calls for more punitive damages against the bank.

According to reports, the Obama administration believes that current international efforts to sanction Iran are sufficient and that further penalties would only drive up Iranian oil prices, thereby actually helping finance Iran’s nuclear research and raising oil prices for Americans. Politicians from both sides of the spectrum are strongly criticizing Obama for this, the Washington Post reported.

“I will not, and Congress should not, give into entreaties from the administration or elsewhere ... to dilute our approach to sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran’s petroleum transactions … The Kirk-Menendez amendment is a good amendment,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), according to Foreignpolicy.com.

Meanwhile, the president has dismissed the criticism, saying his administration “has systematically imposed the toughest sanctions on Iran ever.”

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on December 12, 2011 and filed under Briefs, U.S..