World Briefs 9.20.11

The latest news of importance from the global Jewish community. 

(Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.) 

While dictators spoke at the UN, dissidents from the Arab world and China convened for a candid discussion on human rights.

 (Click photo to download. Caption: A Yemeni doctor carries a wounded child at a field hospital following assults against protesters by army and security forces loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, on September 19th, 2011. 22 people were killed in Sanaa, including a child, amidst two days of bloody clashes that resulted in the deaths of 50 protesters. Credit: EPA/YAHYA ARHAB.)

Clashes and Slow Progress in the Arab World

Unrest escalated in the Arab world this week, with Yemen security forces killing 50 people over two days, according to the BBC.

Clashes continued with attacks against a protestor camp in Sanaa, leading to the death of a child, as well as government shelling on various resistance outposts.

The U.S. and E.U. put pressure on the Yemen government and president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, during U.N. meetings in Geneva, to cease the use of force against protestors.

Meanwhile, forces of the Libyan National Transition Council, were unable to oust the remaining pro-Gaddafhi forces in their stronghold 95 miles outside of Tripoli, Global Post reported.

Libyan interim leaders have been unable to form a new cabinet to substitute the one that dissolved last month. In order to declare Libya liberated, the NTC must find and capture Gaddafhi, as well as quell any remaining resistance. Stand-in Prime Minister, Mahmoud Jibril, was meant to appoint a new cabinet, but failed to do so after claiming he did not receive enough backing for his proposals.

—JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download.)

Vatican’s Decision Raises Alarm in Jewish World

Jewish groups raised concern Friday over the Vatican’s decision to reach out to a group thought previously to be too controversial. The Society of St. Pius X, which includes a has been known to hold extremely right wing views, and has drawn accusations of anti-Semitism in the past.

Ynet reported that the Holy See told the group’s members that they must accept some core teachings in order to be reintegrated into the church, while others would be up for discussion. The Vatican refused to comment on which teachings would be classified as mandatory for reintegration.

Various Jewish groups released comments on the Vatican’s decision. Abraham Foxman, Anti-Defamation League’s U.S. executive director, said in a statement, “It would be unthinkable for the Vatican to allow a Catholic breakaway sect that includes a Holocaust-denying bishop…to be reintegrated into the church while still being allowed to promote anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism.”

—JointMedia News Service

Israel and Ghana Resume Diplomatic Relations

Israel re-opened its embassy in Ghana last week after a 38-year gap, the Jerusalem Post reported. Although it was the first African nation to recognize Israel in 1956, Ghana severed ties following the Yom Kippur War in 1973 amidst Arab pressure.

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to re-open the embassy in 2009 as part of an effort to build relationships with African countries.

Additionally, Israel came to the aid of Kenya last week, sending medical supplies to Kenyatta Hospital, according to the Foreign Ministry. The hospital was treating hundreds of patients, injured from a fuel-line explosion, which caused more than 100 deaths.

—JointMedia News Service


Jewish iPhone app pulled in France

An iPhone application, which provided information on whether thousands of celebrities were Jewish or not, was removed from Apple’s online store in France, various news sources reported. The app, called “Jew or not Jew,” garnered an onslaught of controversy and drew allegations of racism.

The app is still available in the U.S., selling for $1.99. According to French law, compiling personal information including race, sexuality, political leanings or religious affiliation is punishable by five-year prison sentences and fines of up to approximately $400,000.

The app’s creator, Johann Levy, who himself is Jewish, told AFP in Paris that the app was meant to “make Jews proud”.

—JointMedia News Service


First-Ever Jewish News Network Debuts

Jewish News 1 (JN1), the first Jewish news network, began broadcasts on Wednesday, Ynet reported. With 12 reporters currently deployed to 6 countries, the station is set to cover Europe, Russia, and Israel, broadcasting 24/7 to Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

Alexander Zanzer, the network’s editor-in-chief, told Ynet, “we are first and foremost a Jewish channel, which offers news about Jews and about issues that interest Jews. A large part of the reports will focus on Israel.”

The channel, whose owners are businessmen Igor Kolomoisky and Vadim Rabinovich (the president and vice president of the European Jewish Union), boasts an upcoming exclusive interview with director Steven Spielberg.

—JointMedia News Service

‘Turkey blocked new Israel office at NATO headquarters’

Turkey recently blocked Israel from opening a delegation office at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted by Hurriyet as telling the CNNTurk news channel in an interview Sunday.

An official from the Turkish Foreign Ministry told Hurriyet that Israel sought to obtain approval for the opening of the office earlier this month after Turkey downgraded ties with Jerusalem over its refusal to apologize for the 2010 raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. He added that the issue could not even be discussed by NATO after Ankara warned it would use its veto.

Davutoglu was also quoted as telling CNNTurk that his country would not share with Israel information collected by a U.S.-led radar system to be deployed in eastern Turkey as part of a NATO missile-defense plan.

The Turkish foreign minister stressed that data accumulated by the radar system to be installed in Turkey’s Malatya province would only be available to alliance members.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Former Egyptian Ambassador to Israel passes away

Mohammed Bassiouni, former Egyptian ambassador to Israel, died at his home on Sunday at age 74. Considered the longest-serving Egyptian envoy in Israel and an expert on Israeli affairs, Bassiouni was Egypt’s ambassador in Israel for 14 years and served before that as deputy ambassador for four years.

Bassiouni’s son said his father suffered from chronic diabetes and hypertension, although his conditions were stable, and was of sound mind and continued his diplomatic work in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry until the day he died.

Bassouini and his wife, Najwa, were involved with the upper echelons of political and diplomatic society in Israel. A few days before his death, Bassiouni was interviewed by Egyptian television with respect to the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. He said, “Although one may understand the angry demonstrators' motivations, it is forbidden to violently attack an embassy building.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


UBS Launches Investigation in Multi-Billion Dollar Loss

London trader, Kweku Adoboli, was charged last Friday with fraud after he cost Swiss bank UBS nearly $2.3 billion in losses, Reuters reported. The crisis led to criticism of UBS’ top management, with calls to step down.

UBS has launched an investigation into the failure, setting up a committee led by former Morgan Stanley CFO, David Sidwell. Other committee members include Joseph Yam, former Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and Ann Godbehere, non-executive director of Prudential.

According to a statement released by UBS, the loss is not expected to have an effect on client positions. 

—JointMedia News Service


Over 5,000 Killed in Syrian Uprisings

A total of 5,360 people are thought to have been killed by Assad’s regime in Syria, according to GlobalPost, which drew the statistic from research conducted by the human rights groups Avaaz, and Isan.From March 18, when the uprisings began, to Sept. 9, a team of 60 human rights researchers worked with Insan to verify the names of 3,004 people killed in over 127 locations across Syria.

The number determined is over twice that estimated by the U.N.’s human rights agency, UNHR, and nearly four times the 1,400 deaths acknowledged by the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition came a step closer to replacing the authoritarian regime with the formation of the Syrian National Council, an organization comprised of 140 delegates that is meant to unite the grassroots resistance efforts.

—JointMedia News Service


Egypt Puts a Stopper on Sukkot Celebrations

In a move to continue the tense relations between the two countries, Egypt has banned the export of palm fronds (lulavs), used during Sukkot, to Israel and Jewish communities abroad, the Israel Agriculture Ministry reported. The ministry has said it will issue special licenses to import the lulavs from Spain, Jordan, and the Gaza strip, so that no shortages are experienced.

Israeli dealers have imported approximately 700,000 lulavs in the past, the vast majority of which come from Egypt’s Sinai region. In response, the agricultural ministry “is encouraging local palm farmers to significantly increase the amount of fronds they will supply for the holiday,” a statement from Agriculture Minister Orit Noked said.

—JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: Ahmet Davutoglu.)

Turkey Allying Itself with Egypt against Israel

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu delivered a startling vision for the Middle East in an interview with the New York Times this week. The foreign minister suggested a partnership between Turkey and Egypt, two of the strongest and most influential countries in the region, turning a cold shoulder to former allies Syria and Israel.

According to the Times, Davutoglu blamed Israel for the collapse of diplomatic relations, and claimed the Syrian president lied to him after the Turkish Government offered Syria a “last chance” to remain in power by ceasing its brutal crackdown on opposition.

“This will not be an axis against any other country—not Israel, not Iran, not any other country, but this will be an axis of democracy, real democracy,” Davutoglu told the Times. “That will be an axis of democracy of the two biggest nations in our region, from the north to the south, from the Black Sea down to the Nile Valley in Sudan.”

—JointMedia News Service


Concerns Rise over European Economy

The European economy received blow after blow this week, with Greece nearing default, EU finance ministers failing to agree on steps to resolve Europe’s debt crisis, and Standard & Poor’s cutting its rating on Italy on Monday.

Reutersreported that Greece is near a deal to continue receiving bailout funds, and President Obama and Germany’s Chancellor Merkel had one of many conversations on Monday concerning the issues of the European economy and necessary actions to address them.

Last week, Treasure Secretary Timothy Geithner urged European finance ministers to take action. 

—JointMedia News Service


Posted on September 20, 2011 and filed under World.