U.S. Briefs 12-26-11

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Green menorah attracts attention in Woodstock, NY

Click photo to download. Caption: The solar-powered "green menorah" in Woodstock, NY. Credit: Lubavitch.com.Although Woodstock, N.Y., is primarily known for the large-scale music Festival of 1969, it now also has the recognition of hosting the world’s first solar-powered menorah, according to Chabad-Lubavitch.

Rabbi AB Itkin of Chabad of Ulster County designed the menorah using store-bought parts. Judaism requires that the menorah be lit using fire, meaning this menorah was not kosher for the holiday. However, the solar menorah still served to promote not only the festival of lights, but also environmental protection and energy conservation, Chabad said.

About 5,000 Jews live in Ulster County, and many of them have expressed enthusiasm about what has become known as the “green menorah.” Woodstock’s Village Green actually doesn’t have electricity, meaning that fittingly, this menorah literally illuminated this light-starved area on all eight days of Hanukkah.

—JointMedia News Service

University Muslim chaplain praises violence against U.S. military

Click photo to download. Caption: Northeastern University. Credit: PD.A Northeastern University Muslim chaplain reportedly called an attempted attack on American forces in Afghanistan “brave” and said Muslims should “grab on to the gun and the sword” to fight injustice, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported.

Abdullah Faaruuq made the remarks at a Dec. 8 fundraiser for Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who was found guilty of attempted murder and assault on United States officers and employees in Afghanistan. She was sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010.

“What a brave woman she is. What a brave woman she continues to be, and how much her bravery and her faith and her belief warrants our support at this time...She would have took (sic) her West Indian machete and cut her way through those kafirs [unbelievers],” Faaruuq said at the fundraiser.

Northeastern University officials have so far refused to comment on the issue.

—JointMedia News Service

Ron Paul blames anti-Israel newsletter content on his writers

Click photo to download. Caption: Ron Paul. Credit: U.S. Congress.Following reports of presidential candidate Ron Paul’s signature on a 1993 newsletter including racist, anti-gay and anti-Israel content, a spokesman for Paul said the Texas congressman “should have done more” to prevent the content from being published, Reuters reported.

On Dec. 23, Paul apologized for the direct mail campaign—which referred to Israel as “aggressive, national socialist state,” in addition to warning of a “coming race war” and a “federal-homosexual cover-up—by saying that he should have paid closer attention to his “ghost writers.”

“Dr. Paul did not write that solicitation. It does not reflect his thoughts and is out of step with the message he has espoused for 40 years,” spokesman Jesse Benton wrote in an email to Reuters.

—JointMedia News Service

Miami’s Steven Scheck named new chair of JFNA community network

The Jewish Federations of North America’s Network of Independent Communities has announced that Steven Scheck of Miami as will take over the position of Chair.

Scheck will be in charge of the Network’s new Advisory Committee, which guides the independent Jewish federations to organize activities and actions helping Jews in need around the globe, according to a press release. More than 300 North American communities participate in the initiative and raised more than $11 million for the project last year alone.

Previously, at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Scheck co-chaired the Federation’s under-40 community. He also co-chaired the National Young Leadership Cabinet and was a member of the JFNA Board of Trustees. He currently chairs the JFNA Jewish Service Initiative and helped launch TribeFest, a volunteer program for young Jews.

“With Steve’s extensive experience in the Jewish Federation world, he is the perfect leader to guide our Network communities to care for even more who are in need at home, in Israel and around the world,” said Paul Kane, senior advisor to JFNA’s CEO.

—JointMedia News Service

JCRC condemned for working with anti-Israel groups

New York-based JCCWatch.org has voiced anger at the local branch of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) because it maintains relations with groups that fund or support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Specifically, JCCWatch.org condemned JCRC’s decision to allow such groups to march in the New York City Israel Day Parade in June, a JCCWatch press release stated. Richard Allen, founder of JCCWatch, called the decision “irresponsible.”

Many of these organizations have called for a boycott of Israeli companies and businesses and supported the Goldstone Report, which falsely accused Israel of targeting civilians during Operation Cast Lead, its operation to stop terrorist missile attacks from Gaza. JCCWatch also criticized John Ruskay, Chief Executive Officer of the UJA Federation of New York, for giving funds to such organizations.

“John Ruskay has what I consider a long time radical history on Israel. Published reports show he collaborated with Noam Chomsky in advocating positions on political issues relating to Israel through the group CONAME (Committee on New Alternatives in the Middle East). These reports state he sat on the CONAME steering committee, founded by Noam Chomsky as well as the New Israel Fund's Advisory Council. While this is past history, it is illustrative of what I consider to be his motivation today,” Allen said.

—JointMedia News Service

Half of NYC terror plots targeted Jews, NYPD say

New York City police say that nearly half the plots to attack the city in the past 20 years were aimed at Jewish targets, Reuters reported.

A NYPD Intelligence Division analysis showed that eight of 18 plots to attack the city since 1992 targeted Jewish institutions or Jewish people. In total, the city has been home to 44 extremist militants since 2002—43 of which have been captured so far.

In addition to plots against Jewish targets and fear of another 9/11, the NYPD has been weary of terror plots during the holidays for years. Security is always heightened during this season. In 2009, a Nigerian man tried to take over and crash a passenger plane on Christmas with a bomb hidden in his underpants.

—JointMedia News Service

Army to allow Muslim JROTC members to wear headscarves and turbans

The Department of Defense will reportedly allow Muslim students in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) to wear headscarves and turbans while in uniform, the Associated Press reported.

The change in policy was made after a Tennessee Muslim student wasn’t allowed to participate because she wore a headscarf. After the incident, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, which prompted the new decision.

“The failure to protect religious rights sends a negative message to students of all faiths and sets a precedent that could be used to restrict the rights of future JROTC participants. As it stands, existing policy effectively bars any Muslim female student wearing hijab from inclusion in the JROTC. This policy of denial sends a message of exclusion to all Muslims and should be amended,” the CAIR letter stated.

Conservative journalist Aaron Klein voiced concern on his website, Kleinonline, that this decision is another sign of the “latest involvement of controversial Islamic groups in military affairs.”

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on December 26, 2011 and filed under Briefs, U.S..