JNS BRIEFS 4-24-12


The latest news in the Jewish world, compiled by JNS

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Click photo to download. Caption: Harvard University. Credit: Jacob Rus.Harvard Israel Conference focuses on Israeli innovation, not war

BOSTON, Mass.—Israel “today draws more venture capital than anywhere in the world,” 30 times more than Europe and more than twice as much as the U.S, said Dan Senor, author of Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle and a speaker at the Israel Conference at Harvard University from April 19-20.

The Israel Conference came just over a month after another group of Harvard students held a conference to discuss a “one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, featuring Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) advocates and others seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Dr. Alan Garber, Harvard University Provost, said during his opening remarks on Thursday that Israel doesn’t have much oil, “but it has innovation and a little bit chutzpah.” Outside of Israel, all people hear about the country tends to be the conflict with the Palestinians, so this conference was the “greatest opportunity to introduce Israel as we know it,” Sharon Stovezky, one of the organizers, told JointMedia News Service.

Senor made the argument that Israel is a nation of immigrants, who “are the ultimate entrepreneurs” since “their whole lives are start-ups.” Additionally, men and women who have learned to lead in the Israeli army go on to front start-ups and lead major international companies in the country. The first night of the conference also attracted Niall Ferguson, a Harvard professor and world-renowned historian, and Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel.

“Israel is among the most advanced economies in the world,” Fischer said. Ferguson emphasized that Israel is a “citadel of Western civilization in an extraordinary hostile environment.” Between 1980 and 2000, Israel had about 7,000 patents, while all the Arab countries in the region had only about 300 combined.

Stovezky said she doesn’t think politics “is a very productive way to show Israel.” 

“We want people to think out of the box,” she said.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Dennis Ross. Credit: Nrbelex.In latest peace model, Ross talks of dismantling settlements but omits disarming Arabs

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—On the second day of Harvard University’s Israel Conference April 20, former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross proposed his latest model for Arab-Israeli peace negotiations.

The man who served as a Middle East adviser for five U.S. presidents and is often associated with the failure of the Oslo peace process of 1993 suggested a hybrid of two previous models:

The “incremental” model, in which each side fulfills step-by-step conditions, and the “comprehensive” model, that goes straight to final settlement negotiations ultimately producing a new Palestinian state including East Jerusalem as well as a durable peace including Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Freezing and dismantling of settlements must accompany final status negotiations, Ross reminded his audience, echoing the Israel policy of President Barack Obama. The former envoy—who last November resigned as special adviser to Hillary Clinton on Iran and Southeast Asia—did not call for all armed Arab factions to be disarmed and disbanded, a provision Israel has said is necessary for any peace agreement.

—JointMedia News Service

After Egypt cancels gas deal, PM says Israel can ‘make it energy independent’

The Egyptian termination of a contract supplying natural gas to Israel stemmed from a business dispute between an Israeli company and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday afternoon, echoing comments made earlier by both Israeli and Egyptian officials.

“We don’t see this cutoff as something that is born out of political developments,” Netanyahu said after the head of the Egyptian company on Sunday announced the termination of its contract to ship gas to Israel because of contractual violations, according to Israel Hayom. “It’s actually a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company. There are no political issues here. But there is a lot of gas.”

“As time passes, our gas reserves in the Mediterranean are increasing,” the prime minister noted. “We have, as I said, the gas reserves to make Israel totally energy independent, not only from Egypt but from any other source, and to have Israel become one of the world's large exporters of natural gas. So we're quite confident.”

—JointMedia News Service

Israel ranks among world’s fastest-growing housing markets

Israeli housing prices have increased by 54.5 percent since late 2006, the third-largest gain by any other country over the same period, the financial network CNBC reported Monday.

According to a newly released survey, the Israeli housing sector has experienced particularly rapid growth since 2009, “when house prices jumped more than 21 percent, followed by 16 percent growth in 2010.”

The survey, which looked at the average growth in housing prices between the fourth quarter of 2006 and the same period in 2011, is based on data recently released by Knight Frank, a private firm that monitors property values worldwide.

The U.S.-based network said Israel was one of the few countries whose economies saw impressive gains in the housing market, despite the “paltry 0.5 per cent” rise globally. Only China’s and Hong Kong’s real estate markets outperformed Israel during that period, with a 110.9 percent and 93.7 percent rise in housing prices, respectively.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Turkey blocks Israel’s participation in NATO summit

Turkey has blocked the participation of Israel in a key NATO summit that will take place in Chicago on May 20 and 21, despite calls from influential allies including the U.S., Western diplomatic have sources told Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News. The veto was conveyed to the NATO bodies by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during the alliance’s meeting last week in Brussels, Hurriyet reported.

Turkey said it will not allow Israel, a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program with seven non-NATO nations, to take part in the alliance’s new “Partnership Cooperation Menu.”

“There will be no Israeli presence at the NATO meeting unless they issue a formal apology and pay compensation for the Turkish citizens their commandos killed in international waters,” a senior Turkish official told Hurriyet.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Palestinian poem: Israel is ‘Satan with a tail’

Palestinian Authority TV recently broadcast a child reciting a poem including the line “Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail,” Palestinian Media Watch reported.

The host of the TV program, titled The Best Home, responds to the poem by telling the reader “Bravo, bravo, bravo.”

—JointMedia News Service

UK admits ignoring Palestinian violations

A British foreign minister admitted that the British government ignores the Palestinian Authority’s violation of its signed agreement to end incitement to hatred and murder against Jews and Israel, The Commentator reported April 18.

Asked in the British House of Commons about “the honoring by the Palestinian Authority of Palestinian citizens that have participated in terrorist acts,” Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt answered: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not received any recent representation on this issue. Our officials in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have not had any discussions with the Palestinian Authority on this issue.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: The Iron Dome battery in Ashkelon. Credit: Israel Defense Forces.Armed Services Committee eyes additional $680 million for Israel’s Iron Dome

A U.S. House of Representatives panel seeks to boost funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system by $680 million amid an election-year fight over whether President Barack Obama is doing enough for its longtime ally in the Middle East.

The House’s Armed Services Committee plans to allocate millions of dollars more for the system designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars, a congressional aide told Israel Hayom. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal announcement on the budget.

An increase in funding for the program was expected as the Pentagon said last month that it would work with Congress to steer more funds toward the system that has proven effective in intercepting rockets and mortars fired by Palestinian terrorists from Gaza. The budget plan also comes as the Obama administration tries to dissuade Israel from launching a potential unilateral strike against Iran to stop its disputed nuclear program.

—JointMedia News Service

Israeli airline banned from Sweden for security inspections

Israeli airline company Arkia will no longer fly to Stockholm unless Swedish authorities renege on their sudden refusal to allow Israeli methods of security inspections as dictated by the Shin Bet security agency. Denmark similarly refused to allow such security inspections last summer.

“It seems from the international media that additional European countries waving the flag of civil rights and equality will refuse the Israeli security demands, which I’ve warned would happen,” said Arkia CEO Gadi Tepper.

Israel’s Transport Ministry added that it is working with the Foreign Ministry, the Israeli embassy in Stockholm, and Israeli security authorities to try to resolve the dispute before customers who bought tickets to Stockholm for the summer lose their money and vacations.

—JointMedia News Service

Israel start-up could be ‘the next Instagram’

Forbes Magazine has chosen 12 companies that could become the “the next Instagram” by selling for $1 billion or more. One of these companies is UppSite, an Israeli start-up headed by Gal Brill.

Forbes chose the companies after they displayed their inventions at the recent VentureBeat 2012 DEMO spring conference in Santa Clara, Calif. UppSite allows website publishers to create a mobile app for their websites, free of charge in a basic format. It is listed at No. 4 in the Forbes list.

—JointMedia News Service

LGBT Palestinians escape to party freely in Tel Aviv

As the Palestinian territories have no specific civil rights legislation protecting LGBT people from discrimination or harassment, a group called the Palestinian Queer Party has held monthly parties in Tel Aviv for the last decade, according to an April 20 report in the Times of Israel.

“In our world it’s still very hard to be gay, and men do a lot of things to hide it,” an Arab man named Tamer said. In Tel Aviv, however, LGBT Palestinians can be anonymous and safe.

Hundreds of LGBT Palestinian men and women travel from East Jerusalem, Arab villages in northern Israel, Yafo and elsewhere to attend the parties. Some even come from Ramallah and Gaza, without official travel permits.

—JointMedia News Service

Hamas: Any deal with Israel is only a truce

Hamas has again refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The group’s second-in-command official, Mussa Abu Marzuk, said that any peace deal with Israel would only be considered a truce.

“We will not recognize Israel as a state,” he told the Forward, adding that Hamas could view the issue differently in “10 years.”

—JointMedia News Service

Israel marks Earth Day with power-saving measures

Israel joined the world in marking International Earth Day on Sunday with a long list of eco-friendly activities aimed at raising awareness for environmental protection.

One initiative was “Earth Hour,” which was observed in 22 Israeli cities by asking residents, business owners and institutions to turn off all lights for one hour, to signify their conservation efforts. The hour was staggered across the nation, starting in Tel Aviv, Yavne and Yeruham at 8 p.m. and in other cities at 10-minute intervals afterward.

The Israeli government is also implementing “greener” policies, led by the Environmental Protection Ministry. Ministries now use energy-efficient computers, and the government has plans to introduce energy-efficient screens and televisions, which would not only be good for the environment, but would also save the Finance Ministry millions of shekels annually.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Egyptian television host Hussam 'Aql, pictured holding a copy of the forged and anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” called the text a “matter of undisputable science.” Credit: MEMRI. Egyptian television host touts the forged ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’

In a recent broadcast, Egyptian television host Hussam 'Aql called the forged and anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” text a “matter of undisputable science,” the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.

“The Zionist entity and the Zionist movement are constantly 'playing' with revolutions,” 'Aql says. “What does that mean? After the revolutions, the situation is very fluid—the state is on its knees, and its institutions are shaky. This is the perfect opportunity for the Zionist entity to deal its blow and to play its little game.”

Watch the full video here: http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3396.htm

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: The Jewish Federations of North America logo. Credit: JFNA.Jewish Federations receive over $90 million in gifts since start of 2012

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has received more than $90 million in total donations since the beginning of 2012, the umbrella organization for local federations announced April 19.

JFNA has welcomed several major donations of $20 million or more to local communities. Leon and Toby Cooperman donated $20 million to the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. At least half of the money will go toward funding Birthright Israel, supporting Jewish summer camps for youngsters, and promoting mitzvah projects for teens.

Geri Brawerman donated a multi-million dollar sum the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles to provide scholarships for college students who have shown leadership in their Jewish communities. Additionally, the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation gave $31 million to the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal. 

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Maya Liss with her IDF Award of Excellence. Credit: Sasson Tiram.American IDF soldier gets excellence award

Twenty-four-year-old IDF soldier Maya Liss has been given an award of excellence for “outstanding” service in the Meitav unit by Major General Orna Barbivay, Head of the Personnel Directorate. 

Liss, a Los Angeles native, made aliyah through a Nefesh B’Nefesh program in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency in 2010.

“I had decided to dedicate my life to advocating for Israel and the Jewish people,” she said. “I felt that to be the best advocate I had to be an Israeli, and what better way to start my life as an Israeli than to serve in the IDF.

—JointMedia News Service

Al-Qaida essay: Toulouse killings a ‘practical lesson in bravery’

Mohammad Merah’s murder of three Jewish children and a rabbi in Toulouse, France, represented a “practical lesson in bravery,” al-Qaida forum moderator Abu Sa’d al-Amili wrote in a recent essay.

In the essay, titled “Lessons and Treasures from the Battle of Toulouse,” al-Amili calls for the formation of a new “school” of terrorism in the West, reported the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Merah “will be an example and a role model for whomever is behind him among the Muslim youth in the West,” al-Amili writes, adding that the al-Qaida terrorist’s “message” is that “the route to jihad is open and available.”

—JointMedia News Service 

Click photo to download. Caption: Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski, Gabriel Feldinger, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, philanthropist Sami Rohr, and interim Israeli Ambassador Shalom Cohen cut the ceremonial ribbon outside the new Feldinger Chabad Jewish Center in Basel, Switzerland. Credit: Chabad.org/Meir Dahan.Chabad center is Basel’s first new synagogue since 1929

The Jewish community of Basel, Switzerland, on April 18 dedicated its first new synagogue in more than 80 years.

Backed by philanthropist Sami Rohr, the Feldinger Chabad Jewish Center is the first synagogue to open in Basel since 1929, Chabad.org reported.

“This was a very exciting day for us a community,” said Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski, the new Chabad center’s director.

Rohr fled Berlin with his parents after Kristallnacht in 1939, and the family was smuggled into Switzerland by 1943. His parents were sent to a refugee camp on the French-Swiss border, and Rohr—16 at the time—first lived in an orphanage, then was welcomed into the home of the Feldinger family.

“To our parents he was like a child,” said Gavriel Feldinger.

—JointMedia News Service 

Click photo to download. Caption: The J Street logo. Credit: J Street.Philadelphia Federation distances itself from J Street

After the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia forwarded an email to its members publicizing an April 17 meeting it held with J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia CEO Ira M. Schwartz responded to the objections of federation donors by distancing the federation from J Street.

“Federation does not support or endorse any program funded or run by J Street, nor do we endorse or support J Street’s mission or policies,” Schwartz wrote in a widely distributed community email, according to Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent newspaper.

Schwartz, whose federation provides logistical support to the local board of rabbis, called the J Street email “an unfortunate incident,” adding that the federation “communicated our position and disapproval to the Board of Rabbis.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Rabbi Meir Lau. Credit: PD.BBC debate can’t secure Muslim cleric to participate in interfaith dialogue

Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi and current Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was scheduled to travel to Qatar in the coming weeks to take part in the monthly Doha Debates panel, together with other religious leaders. The event was canceled, however, because no Muslim representative could be found to participate.

The Doha Debates, which have been broadcast on BBC World News since 2005 and have a potential viewership of more than 350 million people, had already secured a Christian representative to speak alongside Rabbi Lau, but no Muslim cleric would agree to join them.

“They are always talking about dialogue and [peace] partners, but apparently they don’t really mean it,” Lau told Israel Hayom April 18. “We reach our hand out and they leave us hanging.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Benjamin Netanyahu—top right corner within this collage from time.com—was named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people. Credit: Time.com.Netanyahu named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people

TIME magazine named Benjamin Netanyahu one of its 100 most influential people.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu, 62, has provided a compelling and reasoned exposition of one of the gravest threats facing the world today,” wrote Eric Cantor, the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, in the magazine. “He deserves credit for drawing attention to the threat Iran poses to Israel, to America, to the region, to its own people and to the free world.”

“Confronting Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and sponsorship of terrorism is an urgent task for all of us. At this perilous moment, Prime Minister Netanyahu is the right leader for Israel—and the right partner for America,” Cantor added.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: The Best Buy logo. Credit: Best Buy.Best Buy funds CAIR banquet despite Hamas connection

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently listed Best Buy as a Platinum Sponsor for its 5th Anniversary Banquet.

The technology retail giant agreed to fund the dinner despite the fact that CAIR was one of three Islamic organizations labeled by federal prosecutors as an “unindicted co-conspirator” supporting Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism also shows that the U.S. government has listed CAIR as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and other relevant organizations.

“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant,” Omar Ahmad, CAIR’s co-founder and longtime board chairman, had said. “The Quran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called helping Holocaust survivors an “urgent” deed. Credit: PD.Israel to increase financial assistance for Holocaust survivors

Reports say that the Israeli Cabinet has boosted its budget for assisting Holocaust survivors. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called helping Holocaust survivors an “urgent” deed, according to the Associated Press.

About 200,000 Holocaust survivors still reside in Israel, and they are quickly aging. The government now plans to raise the funds it uses to help survivors to $60 million for 2012, a 13 percent increase. Some particularly needy survivors will get additional monthly stipends from an additional pool of $13 million.

—JointMedia News Service


Click photo to download. Caption: An IDF Caterpillar D9—a machine that often comes under fire when the Presbyterian Church considers divesting from companies doing business with Israel. Credit: MathKnight.Rabbis urge Methodist Church not to divest from Israel

As delegates at The United Methodist Church’s April 24-May 4 General Conference in Tampa, Fla., mull a resolution calling for divestment from three companies for their sales to Israel, more than 1,200 American rabbis signed a letter opposing that resolution.

Two months later, the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly will vote on a similar resolution recommending that Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard (HP), and Motorola Solutions “be placed on the General Assembly Divestment List until such time as they have ceased profiting from non-peaceful pursuits in Israel-Palestine.”

“For Jews, the use of economic leverages against the Jewish state is fraught with inescapable associations,” the letter states. “They resonate in the Jewish consciousness with historic boycotts against Jewish companies and the State of Israel…policies that knowingly tap into the deepest fears and pain of another is, in our tradition, a serious failure of [the Christian-Jewish] relationship.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Gilad Shalit. Credit: IDF.As Gilad Shalit becomes a civilian again, freed Palestinians return to terror-related activities

Half a year after his release from more than five years of captivity in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Sgt. 1st Class Gilad Shalit was discharged from the Israel Defense Forces.

Shalit recently signed his release papers in the presence of an officer from the IDF’s Personnel Directorate, Israel Hayom reported. Upon his release, he will be transferred to the Defense Ministry’s Rehabilitation Division as a disabled veteran.

After Shalit was freed Oct. 18, 2011 in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails—what some called the most lopsided prisoner swap in Israeli history—some of the Palestinians released have apparently returned to participating in terror-related activities.

Omar Abu Sanina, who was among those released, wrote an instruction manual for terrorists in Judea and Samaria on how to kidnap Israeli civilians or soldiers: “You must avoid hiding the [prisoner] in barren places, in a cave or in a wooded area, unless it is a body or a head. If it is a living person, who must be brought food and drink at least once a week, it is preferable to hide them in a home, a farm, a work place etc.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Credit: Daniel Baránek.New atom chip lap at Israeli university receives $3 million pledge

A $3 million pledge will support a new atom chip and quantum optics research and development facility at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Be’er Sheva, the first lab of its kind in Israel.

The facility “will contain advanced nanotechnology research equipment, including sophisticated optics and lasers, high level computing capabilities and complex electronics,” according to a press release from American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU).

Ruth Flinkman-Marandy, who made the $3 million pledge with Ben Marandy, said supporting such research at BGU “will attract great minds to live in the Negev and will be a magnet for high-tech companies that will leverage [BGU’s] resources.”

—JointMedia News Service 

Click photo to download. Caption: Anti-semitic graffiti. Credit: PD.Poll: Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism increasingly interrelated

Cyberspace has become the major conveyer of bigotry and racism in general, and anti-Semitism is no exception, a new poll on global anti-Semitism reported.

The Tel Aviv University annual survey of global anti-Semitic incidents reported that anti-Semitic incitement and hatred toward Jews, Zionism and Israel had in many cases become interrelated issues. As was the case in the past, in 2011 one of the most conspicuous motifs was the allegation of global Jewish power, which was allegedly behind every world event and unconditionally at the service of Israel. Another motif was allegations of conspiracies between Israel and the Jewish world.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Salam Fayyad. Credit: Pmfayyad.Fayyad pulls out of meeting with Netanyahu at last minute

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad pulled out of a planned meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 17, Israel Hayom reported, torpedoing what was set to be the highest-level talks between Palestinian and Israeli officials in nearly two years.

The meeting with Netanyahu and his special envoy Yitzhak Molcho, attended by two lower-level Palestinian officials, lasted less than an hour and ended with a brief joint statement pledging to seek peace – signaling that little progress was made.

Even before Fayyad’s last-minute cancellation, both sides had played down expectations for the meeting, which the Palestinians portrayed as a last-ditch effort to salvage peace talks before the U.S. presidential campaign picks up speed.

A spokesperson for Netanyahu’s office played down Fayyad’s absence, saying, “who arrives from the Palestinian side is an internal Palestinian issue.” 

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Rick Santorum. Credit: U.S. Congress.Amid criticism of polygamy comparison, Islamic polygamy persists in the West

While former presidential candidate Rick Santorum was jeered for comparing the legalization of same-sex marriage to that of polygamy, Islamic polygamy persists in the West, David J. Rusin wrote in an April 16 column for National Review.

Santorum, while still in the race, asked: “Are we saying everyone should have the right to marry? So anyone can marry anyone else?" So anybody can marry several people?”

Rusin notes that France, which has the largest Islamic population in Western Europe, in 2006 was estimated to contain 16,000 to 20,000 polygamous families, nearly all Muslim.

Muslims are able to circumvent the law prohibiting polygamy in all 50 U.S. States by wedding one woman in a government-recognized marriage and joining with others in unlicensed religious unions devoid of legal standing, according to Rusin. The Islamic Shariah says men can take up to four wives.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on April 23, 2012 and filed under Briefs, Israel, U.S., World.