U.S. Briefs 3-20-12

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Obama’s chief campaign strategist uses “Mittzkrieg” Nazi allusion

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) issued a statement Monday condemning a Tweet by David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s chief campaign strategist, who called campaign ads in Illinois a “Mittzkrieg.”

Axelrod’s full Tweet said: “The Mittzkrieg in Illinois isn't terribly inspiring, so turnout may lag. But the sheer volume probably has been grindingly effective.”

RJC responded quickly, saying that, “It is disturbing to see President Obama’s top campaign advisor casually throw Nazi imagery around in reference to a Republican candidate for President. Holocaust and Nazi imagery are always inappropriate in the political arena.” The organization also called on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, “to publicly rebuke Axelrod for his language.”

—JointMedia News Service

NYPD dispatches extra patrols after Jewish school shooting in France

The New York Police Department (NYPD) dispatched extra patrols to more than 50 locations around New York City following the news of Monday’s shooting at Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse, France, the Associated Press reported.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, told JointMedia News Service that the Jewish community’s relationship with the NYPD “is extremely strong.”

“Synagogues could not have better protection,” he said.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, “We have to be concerned about what happens overseas,” according to the AP. “We have a significant Jewish population in this city, and we have to take that into account,” Kelly said.

Four were killed Monday in France, including Yonatan Sandler, 30, his sons Gavriel, 3, and Aryeh, 6, and 8-year-old Miriam Monsonego, the daughter of Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school’s principal.

—JointMedia News Service

U.S. to renew aid to Egypt despite democratic uncertainty

The Obama administration will resume its military aid to Egypt, U.S. generals have announced, signaling a desire on the part of the U.S. government to remain involved in the country despite the growth of Islamist, anti-Democratic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Furthermore, in order to renew aid to Egypt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to wave a requirement that links American aid to the condition that nations receiving the aid protect basic human freedoms, according to reports.

About $1.3 billion in military aid will go to Egypt once Clinton waves the requirement.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the head of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the State Department’s budget, opposes the waiver.

“If the law is waived, I hope this flexibility will be used to release no more taxpayer funds from the Treasury than is demonstrably necessary, withholding the rest pending further progress in the transition to democracy,” Leahy said, according to Business Week.

—JointMedia News Service

ADL under fire for opposing anti-Sharia laws

Click photo to download. Caption: Abraham Foxman. Credit: Justin Hoch.The Anti-Defamation League, headed by National Director Abraham Foxman, is facing criticism for not supporting Florida legislation that would have made foreign laws from Islamic countries inapplicable in the U.S.

The National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA) released a press statement in which it described how the ADL sent a letter to a Florida senator urging him to oppose one such bill, SB 1360, because it is “an obstacle to Jewish divorce and remarriage, and an infringement on religious freedom.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also lobbied against the bill and Hassan Shibley, the Florida CAIR director, has since called the killing of the bill a “Sharia victory,” according to the New English Review. When a similar anti-Sharia bill, HB1209, passed in the Florida house, the ADL Religious Freedom Counsel, David Barkey, expressed concern in a statement that the measure could prohibit “divorce arbitrations by Jewish tribunals called Bet Dins.”

ADL did not return a request for comment from JointMedia News Service.

—JointMedia News Service 

Alan Gross appeals for release to see sick mother

Click photo to download. Caption: Alan Gross and his wife, Judy. Credit: Gross family.Alan Gross, the American-Jewish aid worker who has been imprisoned in Cuba since 2009, has pled with Cuban President Raul Castro for a two-week U.S. visit to see his sick mother.

Gross’s mother has terminal lung cancer and “her final wish is to be able to see her son once more before her battle with cancer is lost,” wrote Peter J. Kahn, U.S. counsel to Gross, in a letter to the Cuban president. Gross’s daughter also has cancer and Gross himself, 62, is reportedly suffering from several health issues in the Cuban prison.

Gross was arrested in 2009 in Cuba while he was working to install Internet access for Cuba’s small Jewish communities, and was sentenced to 15 years on espionage charges. Castro has told a visiting delegation of U.S. Senators that Alan was “no spy,” a press release reported but has still not released him.

—JointMedia News Service

Convicted Nazi U.S. immigrant dies

Click photo to download. Caption: John Demjanjuk hearing his death sentence. But instead of dying in prison, the convicted Nazi passed away in a nursing home. Credit: Israel government press office. John Demjanjuk, a retired Ohio autoworker who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship, extradited to Germany and then convicted of being involved in the murder of more than 28,000 people in the Holocaust, has died at the age of 91. 

Demjanjuk lived in a German nursing home while an appeal was underway for his conviction. He was allowed to stay there even though a judge had sentenced him to five years in prison. His relatives, who still live in the U.S., have maintained his innocence and called it a case of mistaken identity. However, experts said an identity card proved he was a guard at the Sobibor death camp.

The Jerusalem Post wrote in an editorial that the Demjanjuk case “underlines the limits of justice,” as he died in a nursing home rather than a prison cell. 

“Understandably, many—particularly Holocaust survivors—were disappointed by Demjanjuk’s ability to avoid justice,” the newspaper wrote.

—JointMedia News Service

AIPAC says ‘time is running out’ before Iran has nuclear capability

Echoing the words of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at its recent policy conference, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said in a statement March 16 that: “Time is running out to impose further crippling sanctions on Iran before it has a nuclear weapons capability, which would dramatically escalate Iran’s challenge to America’s national security and our interests around the globe.”

On March 5, Netanyahu told AIPAC delegates that the world “can’t wait much longer” for Iran to end its endeavor to produce nuclear weapons.

AIPAC also praised the March 15 decision by the European Union and the SWIFT Board to cut ties with blacklisted Iranian banks.

“We applaud the work done by Congress and the administration to press the Board to restrict bank transfers from these Iranian banks and increase the international sanctions campaign against the Islamic Republic for its ongoing pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” the pro-Israel lobby said.

—JointMedia News Service

Israel Film Festival honors ‘Moneyball’ star Jonah Hill

Click photo to download. Caption: Jonah Hill. Credit: John Jensen.At the 26th annual Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles last weekend, Academy-Award nominee actor Jonah Hill was honored with the 2012 IFF Achievement in Film Award and “Homeland” (based on the Israeli series “Prisoners of War”) producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (along with Showtime President David Nevins) were feted with the 2012 IFF Achievement in Television Award.

Special guests at the festival’s red carpet gala event were Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat and IFF Honorary co-Chairman Arnon Milchan. Hill, nominated at this year’s Oscars for his role in “Moneyball,” is mostly known for his comedic roles in movies including “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Knocked Up.” Hill’s colleague and frequent co-star Seth Rogen was on hand to present him with the award, and the punchlines just kept on rolling.

“Wow. That was a lot of Jews,” Rogen said. “I’m here to give an award to Jonah Hill, who’s Jewish, I assume that’s why we’re here ... Did they already give out the award for best circumcision? ... We have an award to Jonah Hill and to a show about Islamic terrorists. You’re really bursting outside the Israeli box this year, shattering our stereotypes.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on March 19, 2012 and filed under Briefs, U.S..