JNS BRIEFS 5-15-12


The latest news in the Jewish world, generated by JNS

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Palestinian arrested over brutal assault in Tel Aviv parking lot

After three days of an intensive manhunt, police arrested a man on Monday suspected of perpetrating the brutal attack on a young couple in the Gan Ha'ir (City Garden) parking lot on Friday, Israel Hayom reported. The suspect, a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of Nablus, was picked up by police as he walked along Ibn Gvirol street, not far from the scene of the attack.

On Friday night, a security guard at the Gan Ha'ir parking lot heard screams and called the police. When they arrived, they found a woman, 18, and her boyfriend, 17, who said they had been sexually and physically assaulted by a man described as belonging to an ethnic minority.

According to the couple, they were sitting on a bench near Gan Ha'ir when they noticed a man watching them. They decided to enter the Gan Ha'ir parking lot and, when they were in the public restroom, the man surprised them and forced them to have sex at knife point. The man then tried to sexually assault the boyfriend, but after failing in his attempt, he brutally raped the young woman instead for more than an hour, after which he fled.

—JointMedia News Service

Iran hangs ‘Mossad Agent’ accused of killing nuclear scientist

Iran has hanged a man it said was a Mossad agent who killed an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010, Iranian state media reported on Tuesday.

Majid Jamali Fashi, 24, was hanged at Tehran's Evin Prison after being sentenced to death in August last year for the murder of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, Iran’s state news agency quoted the central prosecutor’s office as saying. It said he had confessed to the crime.

Ali-Mohammadi was killed in January 2010 when a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded outside his home in Tehran. Tuesday’s report said Fashi had travelled abroad on several occasions to receive training from the Mossad before returning to Iran to plot the assassination. Yet Western analysts said Ali-Mohammadi, a 50-year-old Tehran University professor, had little, if any, role in Iran’s sensitive nuclear program.

Last month, Iranian intelligence officials said they had arrested 15 people they called a “major terror and sabotage network with links to the Zionist regime.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

EU releases documents with false accusations against Israel

The European Union is under fire for releasing six documents between 2010 and 2012 that criticized Israel but later proved to contain many inaccuracies. 

Some of the errors include misrepresentations of statistics. One document claims that the population of the Jordan Valley prior to 1967 was nearly 300,000. However, NGO Monitor noted that, “according to the 1961 Jordanian West Bank census, the population of the ‘Jericho district’ was 63,980. The entire population of the West Bank was only 600,000 in 1967 (and the Jordan Valley was one of the least populated regions).” 

One of the reports states that only citizens of Israel or Jews can buy property built on state-owned land, ignoring the fact that Israeli law allows every citizen or permanent resident to buy property regardless of religion, race, or nationality.

Another document states that Israeli ambulances can enter Palestinian areas only with a police escort, which results in unnecessary and life-threatening treatment delays. That document ignores the fact that many of the ambulances are frequently attacked by Palestinians while responding to emergency calls in those areas.

—JointMedia News Service 

Click photo to download. Caption: The Golan Heights. Credit: Nadavspi.Israel resumes oil exploration in Golan Heights

The Israeli government decided to resume granting exploration licenses for gas and oil in the Golan Heights, 20 years after deciding to cease for diplomatic reasons.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin froze the exploration due to negotiations with Syria during the 1990s. Now, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau has decided to resume, and the decision was secretly approved by the Knesset, reported Globes.

—JointMedia News Service

NY teen wins national Torah competition

A high school freshman recently won her division of the Chidon HaTanach, a national Torah competition that took place at Yeshiva University.

According to the New York Times, modern Orthodox teen Shalhevet Schwartz of New York, age 14, faced questions such as “Which king bought Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver—Omri, Zimri, Ahab or Baasha?" (Answer: Omri)

The U.S. competition is sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, which writes the quiz. Shalhevet will now travel to Israel to compete in the international championship, where she will compete against champions from 21 other countries.

—JointMedia News Service

Abbas rejects Netanyahu’s proposal to renew peace talks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to resume negotiations without preconditions, prolonging the long-standing impasse in the peace process, Israel Hayom reported.

The cool reception bodes poorly for hopes of the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and Netanyahu, who fortified his ruling coalition last week by bringing in the main opposition party.

Netanyahu's alliance with the centrist Kadima Party raised speculation that he might make a more generous proposal to the Palestinians now that he no longer has to rely on hard-line nationalists to keep his governing coalition intact.

Netanyahu's proposal, as well as Israel's demands for security arrangements that would need to be agreed upon as part of any final peace deal, were presented in an official letter delivered to Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday by the prime minister's special envoy for peace talks, attorney Yitzhak Molcho.

—JointMedia News Service

Obama meets with critics of Israel for foreign policy advice

President Barack Obama reportedly held a recent meeting with nine foreign policy editors to discuss Afghanistan, Israel, NATO and the G8 Summit at Camp David. Some of the participating editors are known for being critical of Israel. 

The journalists came from publications such as The New Yorker, Time Magazine, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. According to the Washington Free Beacon, the meeting included author Peter Beinart, who has come under fire since writing a New York Times op-ed titled “To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements.” Beinart’s opinions are considered extreme even among those who regularly criticize Israel.

Additionally, the meeting included The New Yorker’s David Remnick, who has called Israel undemocratic and compared the Jewish state to Syria and Egypt, and Time’s Joe Klein, who has written that Iran is developing nuclear weapons merely to “deter Israel.”

“If President Obama believes Peter Beinart’s opinions are credible or anywhere near mainstream thought, then that is a five-alarm fire for Israel supporters all across the world,” said one senior GOP adviser, according to the Free Beacon. 

—JointMedia News Service

JDC CEO, known for relief work, to step down

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Executive Vice President and CEO Steven Schwager will step down as CEO by June 30 and completely retire from JDC by January 31, 2013. Schwager has worked at JDC since 1989 and served as CEO since 2002. 

Schwager is known for spearheading Operation Solomon, which airlifted Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, and establishing JDC’s welfare program in the former Soviet Union. He helped grow an organization that now assists to 30,000 poor children, and led a program offering humanitarian aid and development assistance to victims in disaster-stricken Haiti and South Asia.

“I concluded that after nearly 23 years serving this marvelous organization, it was time for me to retire. I do this with the deepest of pride, knowing that the work we have done together has helped ensure that Jews around the world face their future a little less hungry, with deeper connections to their Jewish identity, and with the profound hope to build a better tomorrow,” Schwager said in a statement.

—JointMedia News Service 

Click photo to download. Caption: Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. Credit: Maxine Dovere.Minister’s plan for conserving energy: cut off Gaza electricity

In light of an expected electricity shortage this summer, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) suggested Sunday that Israel cut off electricity to Gaza, thus conserving 4 percent of its energy consumption.

Speaking to Army Radio, Erdan also suggested possibly cutting off the supply of electricity to Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

Army Radio reported that Erdan had issued a letter on this issue to cabinet ministers ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, during which the ministers were set to discuss possible solutions to the electricity shortage.

Israel’s electricity rates have recently soared—rising by 8.9 percent—due to a shortage of natural gas. Israel had relied on a natural gas supply from Egypt in recent years, but the supply dwindled (due to multiple terror attacks on the pipeline) until it finally stopped altogether when Egypt unilaterally revoked its gas deal with Israel last month.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Hezbollah can strike targets in Tel Aviv, warns Nasrallah

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said May 11 that his Lebanon-based terrorist group was capable of striking any target in Israel, declaring that “the days when we fled and they did not are over.”

“Today we are not just able to target Tel Aviv as a city but also with God's will and strength we are able to strike very specific targets in Tel Aviv and in any place in occupied Palestine,” Nasrallah said in a televised address, essentially admitting that his militia was arming itself with advanced long-range missiles in violation of U.N. Resolution 1701.

Hezbollah is based in southern Lebanon, which borders Israel. According to the U.N. resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, only U.N. forces can carry arms south of the Litani River.

“For every building that is destroyed in the suburbs, there will be buildings destroyed in Tel Aviv,” he said, referring to Hezbollah’s stronghold in a suburb of southern Beirut.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Israel unveils new butterfly-shaped aerospace vehicle 

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is developing a new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in the shape of a tiny butterfly. IAI hopes the vehicle can be used to reach remote locations and gather information. The artificial butterfly weighs only 20 grams and is capable of a vertical takeoff, just like a helicopter.

The butterfly can take color pictures and is managed remotely with a special helmet. “When you put this on you are actually inside the butterfly’s cockpit. You see what the butterfly sees. You can fly at any altitude and distance and see everything in real time,” said Dubi Binyamini, head of IAI’s mini-robotics department, according to Israel Hayom.

“The butterfly’s advantage is its ability to fly in an enclosed environment. There is no other aerial vehicle that can do that today,” he added.

Potential locations ideal for the butterfly are forests and jungles, and even closed man-made spaces like airports terminals and train stations. 

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Credit: PD.Before nuclear talks, Iranian president compares Israel to mosquito

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on May 12 said that Israel poses little threat to the Islamic Republic and compared it to a pesky insect.

“Israel is nothing more than a mosquito which cannot see the broad horizon of the Iranian nation,” Ahmadinejad said while speaking in northeastern Iran’s Khorassan province, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Ahmadinejad’s comments come ahead of Iran’s second round of nuclear talks with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, which are scheduled to take place in Baghdad on May 23.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Abbas denies Jerusalem's Jewish history

Click photo to download. Caption: Mahmoud Abbas. Credit: World Economic Forum.Palestinian Authroity President Mahmoud Abbas recently called Israel's presence in Jerusalem “Judaization,” accusing Israel of stealing “cultural, human, and Islamic-Christian religious history,” Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported.  

Furthermore, Abbas’s advisor for Jerusalem said in April that Israel is trying “to create an artificial heritage with a Jewish spirit at the expense of its true and authentic [identity] as an Arab, Islamic and Christian city,” according to PMW. 

—JointMedia News Service

NYT under fire for one-sided report on Palestinian hunger strike 

New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren is under fire for writing an article on the Palestinian prisoners who recently went on a hunger strike in protest against Israel. Critics claim the article is heavily biased in favor of the Palestinians. 

Rudoren begins her article by calling the prisoners “the newest heroes of the Palestinian cause” and refers to Islamic Jihad as a “radical and militant Palestinian faction” despite the fact that it is recognized as a terrorist organization by many countries and has been referred to as such in previous New York Times articles. As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) points out, Rudoren provides numerous quotes from Palestinians who support the protest but no comments from Israelis explaining the rationale behind detaining the prisoners.

American Thinker notes that  the use of renewable periods of administrative detention without actual trial—panned by Palestinians in Rudoren’s story—is a tactic “not unknown in the West, including the United States, when resorting to full trials would jeopardize valuable intelligence sources inside terrorist camps.” Prisoners in Israeli jails also have regular access to their own lawyers and to reviews by Israeli courts. 

Read the original New York Times article here.

—JointMedia News Service

New Brooklyn gallery dedicated to Hassidic art

Click photo to download. Caption: Hassidic Curator Shmuel Pultman. Credit: Betzalel Gallery. A new fine art gallery in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn will display work by Hassidic artists.

The Betzalel Gallery will focus on Judaic artists. But its hassidic curator, Shmuel Pultman, is also an expert when it comes to notable classic artists such as Rembrandt, Goya, Velazquez and Sargent.

“Twenty years ago, the most a Judaic artist was able to command for a painting was $20,000-$30,000,” he said. “The Betzalel Gallery's top painting has an asking price of $175,000, although there are paintings starting from $3,000.”

The gallery opens with a reception on May 17, with a display of works by Judaic artist Itshak Holtz. Holtz is known for depicting Jewish life as well as the streets of Jerusalem in his paintings.

—JointMedia News Service

BioMed 2012 to showcase notable Israeli medical advances

Tel Aviv will be hosting the BioMed 2012 conference May 21-23 to display advancements in the biotechnology industry, including in stem-cell research. Sixty Israeli medical device and biopharmaceutical companies will present at the conference to about 6,000 visitors, reported the Times of Israel.

Israel has made notable advancements in the biopharmaceutical and stem cell research industries. Recently, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital doctors succeeded in significantly increasing the number of red blood cells in a 7-year-old girl suffering from aplastic bone marrow. The disease was impeding her body from manufacturing new red blood cells.

Also recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug developed by Israel’s Protalix to treat Gaucher’s disease.

—JointMedia News Service

Israeli could become world chess champ

Boris Gelfand, originally from Belarus, could become the first Israeli to win the World Chess Federation championship. He will attempt to defeat the current champion, Viswanathan Anand from India, in a 12-game, three-week tournament.

According to Israel Hayom, the championship officially opened May 10. The winner will be the first player to win 6.5 points, with each win worth one point and each draw half a point. If necessary, a tiebreaker game will be held May 30. The winner will get $1.55 million and the second place winner, $1 million. Anand has been the World Chess Champion since 2007.

—JointMedia News Service

New Kadima chairman admits party was ‘on its way down’

Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli Kadima party’s new chairmain who recently entered a unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud, said he is “not afraid to say it out oud” that Kadima was “on its way down” in a possible early election before the deal with Netanyahu was reached.

“The predicament in which Kadima finds itself is the result of more than three years of mismanagement under Tzipi Livni,” Mofaz said in an interview with Israel Hayom published May 11. “We have gotten to this point because of her. Until now, we haven’t dealt with any issues of substance despite the fact that we were the largest party in the Knesset.”

“Entering the coalition now stems from our intention to promote key items on the national agenda, and it’s not motivated by ministerial posts and other jobs,” he said.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: President Barack Obama reflects. Credit: White House.Mixed response from Jewish groups to Obama’s gay marriage endorsement 

President Barack Obama release of a public statement in support of the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S has prompted responses from a variety of American Jewish groups. Obama said, “At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

The Orthodox Union (OU) said it is “disappointed by (the) statement by President Obama endorsing legal recognition of same sex marriage. Jewish law is unequivocal in opposing same sex relationships.” However, the OU thanked Obama for “acknowledging that that in states where same sex relationships are legally recognized, such laws must carefully address and protect the religious liberties of dissenting individuals and institutions.”

National Jewish Democratic Council (JNDC) chair Marc R. Stanley said, “I am pleased that the President has made a decisive statement in support of marriage equality…President Obama has admirably continued to demonstrate the values of tikkun olam in his work to make America a better place for all Americans.”

—JointMedia News Service

Books vilifying Jews in Canada produced by Iran 

Law enforcement has discovered that textbooks vilifying Jews used by a Toronto Islamic school were produced with Iranian support. The books contrast Islam with the “the Jews and the Nazis” and discuss “Jewish Plots and Treacheries,” explaining an Islamic-armed struggle against Jews.

The two books in question were published by the Al Balagh Foundation in Iran and by the Mostazafan Foundation of New York, which the U.S. government alleges was a front organization for the Iranian government, according to the National Post.

—JointMedia News Service

Report: Imagery shows Iran may be ‘washing’ site of nuclear activity

New satellite imagery has raised concern that Iran might be “washing” a building the UN wants to inspect for nuclear activity, Reuters reported.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency suspects that the Islamic Republic has conducted research relating to nuclear weapons production at the Parchin complex, while Iran has denied the report.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said it is not possible to “wash” nuclear activity, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

The Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security said it has satellite imagery that supports the IAEA’s concern, writing on its website about the newfound nuclear activity “outside a building suspected to contain an explosive chamber used to carry out nuclear weapons related experiments.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: The Palestinian "key of return" on display in Berlin. Credit" YouTube.Palestinian ‘key of return’ on view in Berlin

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and some of its most pressing core issues, including the so-called “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, are among the weighty subjects that viewers can look forward to at the 7th Berlin Biennale through July 1. So weighty, in fact, that one of the pieces on view at the exhibition—a one-ton, nine-meter-long Palestinian “key of return”—was dismounted from its home at a Bethlehem refugee camp in March and flown across thousands of miles to be installed in Germany.

The piece called “Key of Return” was crafted in 2008 by residents of the Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem, who claim it is the largest key in the world. Its creators are working to have the key recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

According to the Berlin Biennale's website, the enormous steel key, which was mounted at the entrance to refugee camp, is a "critical manifestation of nonviolent expression and a means of overcoming victim portrayals."

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Teva CEO steps down

Click photo to download. Caption: Production of the Copaxone drug, a revolutionary treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, by Teva Pharmaceuticals. Credit: Teva.The CEO of Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva left the company May 9, although the company reported a net revenue of $5.1 billion, up 25 percent from the corresponding quarter of 2011, reported Globes.

“It has been an immense privilege to lead Teva’s outstanding global team through such an exciting period. Together we turned Teva into a highly diversified global pharmaceutical company, with an expanded geographical footprint and additional lines of business,” said exiting CEO Shlomo Yanai.

As JointMedia News Service previously reported, Yanai will be replaced by new global CEO Dr. Jeremy Levin. The company had boasted a presence in 60 countries and employed about 40,000 employees in 2012, resulting in $16 billion in sales that year. Teva is especially known for manufacturing Copaxone, a revolutionary drug treating Multiple Sclerosis developed at the Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Read more here.

—JointMedia News Service

Famed Jewish author/illustrator Sendak dies at 83

Jewish author/illustrator Maurice Sendak—best known for his children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are—died May 8 at age 83 following a stroke, according to reports.

Click photo to download. Caption: Graffiti of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are." Credit: Scott Woods-Fehr. Born in Brooklyn to Polish immigrants, Sendak had described his childhood as a “terrible situation,” as much of his extended family died in the Holocaust.

Last December, Sendak was behind a New York City museum exhibit titled “An Artist Remembers: Hanukkah Lamps Selected by Maurice Sendak,” featuring 33 menorahs of varied eras and styles. At the time, Sendak told JointMedia News Service that the simplicity of the menorahs he chose reminded him of the Holocaust.

“It is inappropriate for me to be thinking of elaboration,” Sendak said. “[The menorahs] are very beautiful. But this is not what instinctually I want to say about this kind of thing. So, I surprised myself, because there are some very beautiful ones. The beauty is contained in the fact that it’s a menorah, and that you never forget what its purpose is. So all the elaboration goes into what the purpose of the ornament is.”

Over a 60-year career during with he drew up 100 books, Sendak took characters, stories, and inspirations from his neighbors, family, pop culture, historical sources, and long-held childhood memories—winning every important prize in children’s literature along the way.

—JointMedia News Service

Jordanian journalist: Talmud says to use Christian blood for matzah

A Jordanian journalist recently wrote an article describing that the Talmud instructs Jews to kill Christian children and use their blood to bake matzah. The claim rehashes an age-old anti-Semitic myth about Jews.

Among other falsehoods in the article on Gaza-based website Alwatanvoice.com, author As'ad Al-'Azouni, a Jordinian of Palestinian origin, writes that “it says in the Talmud: '[Even] the best of Gentiles should be killed, and [even] the best of vipers should have its brains dashed out’….The Jews make great efforts to cause war between the Muslims and Christians, like what happened during the protest over the disappearance of a Christian boy in Damascus in 1890.”

"This proves only one thing, namely [the extent of] the Jews' influence on, and infiltration of, all circles in Christian societies and even Muslim ones, and their success in harming anyone who opposes them and exposes the secrets of their Talmudic hatred,” he wrote, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.

—JointMedia News Service

Cick photo to download. Caption: Rabbi Gerald Skolnik, president of the Rabbinical Assembly, introduces Vice President Joe Biden before his speech May 8. Credit: Eric Bern Studio.Biden deflects blame away from Iran

Addressing the Rabbinical Assembly National Convention in Atlanta on May 8, Vice President Joe Biden deflected blame for Iran’s nuclear program away from the Islamic Republic.

“When we took office [in 2009], let me remind you, there was virtually no international pressure on Iran,” Biden said. “We were the problem. We were diplomatically isolated in the world, in the region, in Europe.”

Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, called Biden’s remark “outrageous.”

“Iran was the problem then and it is the problem now,” Brooks said in a statement. “It’s foolishly misguided for the vice president to blame anyone, or any country, other than Iran.”

Biden also said Israel can decide for itself whether or not to strike Iran.

“If Israel made the conclusion that Iran was close to becoming nuclear, we would not tell them what to do,” Biden said.

—JointMedia News Service

Poll: Netanyahu gains strength after coalition deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political position has received a significant boost thanks to his coalition agreement with Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, a new poll of Israeli public opinion has revealed. More Israelis, 39.8 percent, said they supported the newly formed unity government, which was brokered early Tuesday morning, than the 31.9 percent who opposed it. In contrast, 28.4 percent said they were undecided.

The Israel Hayom poll was conducted by the New Wave Research company and questioned a representative sample of the Jewish population in Israel.

When asked who they felt is most suitable to serve as the next prime minister of Israel, 39.8 percent of respondents said Netanyahu, a significant uptick compared to an Israel Hayom poll conducted two weeks ago in which 29 percent said they would vote for Netanyahu.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Chabad hosted 10 wounded female IDF soldiers in New York on May 6. Credit: Bentzi Sasson.Chabad hosts 10 wounded female IDF soldiers in New York

Chabad-Lubavitch welcomed a group 10 wounded female soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces on March 6 in New York City, kicking off a 10-day trip for the soldiers.

The soldiers’ trip, hosted by the Chabad Israel Center, includes an array of recreational and VIP events. One trip participant, Chani Avramov, has endured 15 surgeries over a 10-year period after four terrorists shot her army jeep with a slew of bullets, according to a press release.

Thirty-four percent of the IDF's positions are held by women, making it the most female-heavy military in the world.

“Judaism has the greatest respect and admiration for women, and so we are delighted to be honoring 10 of Israel’s heroines,” Rabbi Uriel Vigler, director of Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side, said in statement.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on May 15, 2012 and filed under Briefs, Israel, U.S., World.