(JNS.org) The Los Angeles Jewish Journal is campaigning online for director Woody Allen to film his next movie in Israel in light of several Allen films that featured destinations from around the world, including “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Midnight in Paris” and, most recently, “To Rome with Love.”
The Oscar-winning filmmaker, who only makes one movie a year, said he chooses locations based on “where the money is,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The Jewish Journal’s campaign is dubbed “The Woody Allen Israel Project.”
“Here’s this week’s not-so-crazy idea: Let’s all pitch in, just a few dollars each, and fund Woody Allen’s next movie — in Israel…($18 million) is what an Allen movie costs... That will enable Israel to enter the world’s imagination in a way a billion dollars of hasbara (public relations efforts) couldn’t possibly buy,” said Jewish Journal Editor Rob Eshman.
Legal panel says Judea and Samaria are not occupied
(JNS.org) A report by the Commission to Examine the Status of Building in Judea and Samaria—a legal panel headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy—was made public Monday and concluded that according to international law, the classical definition of “occupation” cannot be applied to Israel’s presence in the area.
The Levy Committee, formed in January, explained that no other legal entity, including Jordan, “has ever had its sovereignty over [Judea and Samaria] cemented under international law.”
There is also no provision making the Jewish population in the area illegal under international law, and Israelis “have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered to be illegal,” the report reads.
“I was very surprised [by the report],” said Attorney Talia Sasson, who authored the 2005 Sasson Report on construction in the West Bank, which classified 120 outposts as illegal, Yediot Achronot reported.
Merah recording on French TV angers victim families
(JNS.org) The families of three Jewish children and a rabbi shot by Islamist terrorist Mohammed Merah outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse have expressed anger after the French TV channel TF1 broadcast recordings on Sunday of the negotiations between Merah and police during the 32-hour siege on his apartment.
Lawyers of the families said they would work to prevent the spreading of the recording, in which Merah described one of the shootings in chilling details, on the Internet. “I know that you might kill me, it’s a risk I take. So here it is, you must know that in front of you there is a man who is not afraid of death. Death, I love it, as you love life,” Merah is heard saying on the tape, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“We do understand the shock and the violence for the victims’ families who had to hear the man who, in absolute cold blood and determination, assassinated one of their family members,” said Catherine Nayl, the managing director of news and information at TF1, before concluding, “[but] we are journalists, and our job is to inform.”
Israel excluded from U.S. counterterrorism forum, State Dept. confirms
(JNS.org) The State Department confirmed to members of Congress that Israel was not included in the 29-country Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), which was organized by the U.S. and held its first meeting June 8 in Istanbul, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“The State Department told us that only the 29 original member countries were involved—and that means no Israel,” said an anonymous congressional source cited by the Free Beacon.
The U.S. excluded Israel due to objections from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Globes reported.
Launched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September 2011, the GCTF intends to “provide a unique platform for senior counterterrorism policymakers and experts from around the world to work together to identify urgent needs, devise solutions and mobilize resources for addressing key counterterrorism challenges,” according to the State Department. Israel was not included despite having some of the world’s most comprehensive counterterrorism experience.
(JNS.org) Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert—who faced multiple corruption charges in a five-year legal proceeding—was acquitted Tuesday of the major charges that prompted him to resign from the prime minister’s post, but was found guilty of breach of trust, Israel Hayom reported. It is not clear whether the conviction will carry any jail time.
The verdict was seen as a major victory for Olmert, who stepped down as prime minister for the centrist Kadima party in 2009 to battle allegations that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from a supporter and pocketing the proceeds from a double-billing scam on overseas travel.
His conviction on the charge of breach of trust made him the first Israeli prime minister ever convicted of a crime. In addition, Olmert's legal troubles are far from over: He will be sentenced on Sept. 6 and is currently standing trial in a separate real estate bribery case.
Palestinian youths arrested for setting fire near kibbutz
(JNS.org) Two Palestinian youths from the West Bank village of Katana were arrested on Monday on suspicion of igniting a large fire near Kibbutz Ma’ale HaHamisha, Israel Hayom reported. The youths were said to have confessed to the crime and re-enacted it for police, who said the crime was a nationalist act.
The fire was set in late June near the kibbutz, which is located in the Judean hills just off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. After investigating the incident, police officers from the Harel station in Mevaseret Zion arrested the two suspects, ages 17 and 18. After their arrest, the two confessed to the crime and other acts of arson that took place in the same area over a period of several months.
“They reconstructed the act and said they did it to cause damage to the area. Their motivation was nationalistic,” Harel station commander Chief Superintendent Gilad Bahat said.
(JNS.org) The heads of China’s Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd., the world’s largest maker of solar panels, met with executives of Israel’s solar energy industry in an effort to increase the dialogue on solar energy between the two countries.
The meeting, which comes in the wake of the signing of another agreement between Israel and China to build the Eilat railway, was arranged by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute and included executives of Pythagoras Solar Ltd., Solaris Synergy Ltd., Watts and More Ltd., bsolar Ltd., and SolarBead Ltd.
“Israel is a growing market in the solar energy industry, and we hope to deepen the dialogue with Israeli companies in the field to better understand their technologies and expand our activity and bring it to new levels,” said Suntech CTO Dr. Stuart Wenham, according to Globes.
JDC activates emergency procedure for southern Russia floods
(JNS.org) In the wake of severe floods in Russia’s Krasnodar Region near the Black Sea last weekend, more than 170 people were killed, over 5,000 were evacuated, and the town of Krymsk has been devastated, BBC reported. More than 500 Jews live in the affected areas.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) activated its emergency network and staff in the region and is assessing the damage. Although there are currently no Jews among the reported dead, some elderly Jewish citizens—including Holocaust survivors—reported serious damage to their homes.
JDC said its staff has been in continuous touch with clients in the towns of Krimsk, Gelendzhik and Novorossiysk, which have been hit the hardest by the flooding, to ensure their safety. The humanitarian group is also aiding in the repair and rebuilding of homes.
(JNS.org) Palestinian Authority TV (PA TV) recently honored Ali Ja’ara and Muhammad Za’ul, terrorists who carried out Jerusalem bus bombings that killed 11 and eight people, respectively.
“This is Palestine, which embraces its Martyr sons, who are more honored than all of us, and which sends a message to the whole world that its Martyrs are not numbers, but rather a candle that lights the tunnel of liberty for the Palestinian people on the way to independence,” a PA TV reporter said on a broadcast of a burial ceremony for the two terrorists, whose bodies were handed over to the PA, Palestinian Media Watch reported.
Ja’ara killed 11 in a January 2004 suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem, while Za’ul killed eight in a similar attack just one month later.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leader calls Israelis ‘rapists’
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israelis are “rapists” and it is a necessity for every Muslim to save Jerusalem from their clutches, the Supreme Leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood organization is reported to have said July 5.
According to that day’s edition of Al Wafd, an Egyptian daily newspaper, during his weekly sermon, “Muhammad Badi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, confirmed the necessity for every Muslim to strive to save al-Quds [Jerusalem] from the hands of the rapists [Israelis] and to cleanse Palestine from the clutches of the occupation, deeming this an individual duty for all Muslims.”
More specifically, he “called on all Muslims to wage jihad [holy war] with their money and their selves to free al-Quds.”
The article was first reported on by the website Jihad Watch.
Proposed bill would limit Palestinians’ ability to sue Israel
(JNS.org) The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is planning in coming weeks to discuss a bill meant to restrict Palestinians’ abilities to sue the State of Israel for physical injury or property damage they suffer due to actions by the Israeli Defense Forces, Israel Hayom reported.
The bill was approved in a preliminary reading by the previous Knesset. The current committee has worked on formulating its final details.
“This is a just and righteous bill, whose purpose is to grant the government immunity from damages claims made by Palestinians due to the army’s actions against terrorism and to ensure Israel's security,” said committee chairman MK David Rotem (Israel Beytenu).
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, as well as rights groups such as Adalah and Hamoked, have all stated that Israel’s High Court already ruled that the bill was unconstitutional in 2006. The organizations have asked the committee members to oppose the bill.
UN watchdog: Council biased for investigating West Bank Jews, but not Palestinians
(JNS.org) United Nations watchdog group UN Watch is calling the UN Human Rights Council’s probing of Jewish communities in the West Bank unbalanced because the council is much more focused on examining violations by Jews than those of Palestinians in the region.
The terms of the inquiry “were framed in a 4-page resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab and Islamic groups, that omits any reference to Arab terrorism against Israeli civilians, including the hundreds of rockets fired recently from Gaza and Sinai into Israeli towns and villages…The only victims it contemplates are Palestinians, the only perpetrator, Israel,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
Israel severed contact with the Human Rights Council in March over the issue, saying that the council is “singling out” the Jewish state.
(JNS.org) Speculation that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned to death continued when Lebanese television released a July 6 video apparently showing a Palestinian prisoner in Israel confessing he was recruited by Israeli security forces to poison Arafat.
The video followed an Al-Jazeera report that a Swiss lab that examined Arafat’s clothes found high levels of radioactive polonium, as well as a Hezbollah TV report that Arafat died of AIDS.
However, Palestinian politics expert Hillel Frisch told The Times of Israel that the Arafat reports are no coincidence given that the PA is under pressure to deliver a political breakthrough amid the upheaval of the “Arab Spring.”
“This is the only weapon at their disposal,” Frisch said. “But they’re not going to get anywhere with it. The dead don’t mobilize the living.”
Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) center, wrote that the Arafat reports reminded him of when Islamists have claimed that Jews tried to murder Muhammad and “even if they failed, that the poison shortened his life.” This storyline is a “blood libel” that is “frequently heard from Hamas and others,” according to Rubin.
“There is no reason to think Arafat was a homosexual or died of AIDS or poisoning,” Rubin wrote. “He was overweight, ate an unhealthy diet, worked long hours, didn’t take care of himself (he believed eating honey would keep him healthy), and had very bad doctors despite their local reputations.”
Report: Hitler ordered temporary reprieve for Jew
(JNS.org) As 6 million Jews were being murdered in the Holocaust, Ernst Hess may have survived due to a special reprieve from Adolf Hitler himself.
A letter obtained by the Jewish Voice from Germany newspaper shows that Hess, the decorated World War I soldier who served as Hitler’s commanding officer, received a reprieve from Hitler that protected him and his family while the Nazis Jews persecuted other Jews around them in Germany. The reprieve was only temporary, and he was eventually sent to a concentration camp.
Hess was actually raised Protestant and had married a woman of that faith. “For us, it is kind of spiritual death to now be branded as Jews and exposed to general contempt,” he wrote in the letter as he pled for leniency from Hitler.
However, Hess’s appeal was initially denied since he was still considered a Jew under Nazi law. While imprisoned after the temporary reprieve, the Nazis began referring to Hess as “a Jew like no other.” Hess survived the Holocaust, but his sister was killed in Auschwitz.
(JNS.org) U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) became the first sitting congressman to marry a same-sex partner. The wedding took place July 7 in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages are legal. The state’s governor, Deval Patrick, officiated the ceremony between the Jewish Frank, 72, and James Ready, 42.
“Barney was beaming,” said Al Green, a Democratic congressman from Texas who attended the wedding. “It was no different than any other wedding I’ve attended when you have two people who are in love with each other,” Green said.
(JNS.org) Israeli navigation app company Waze, the developer of technology enabling smartphone owners to transform their mobile devices into a GPS, has reached 20 million registered users around the world.
Waze CEO Noam Bardin said the company now plans to add travel services features to the app, Globes reported.
"Every driver needs fuel and parking along the route,” Bardin said.
In Israel, 1.1 million people have registered to use Waze, and 1.8 million have downloaded the app.
(JNS.org) Lord Coe, head of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympics, said he plans to hold a “personal moment” at the games marking the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli team members by Palestinian “Black September” terrorists in Munich.
Coe’s announcement comes after International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said the IOC would not hold an official moment or minute of silence for the Israelis this summer. It is unclear, however, exactly what Coe meant by a “personal moment” and what that moment would entail, The Jewish Chronicle of London reported.
Following Rogge’s denial of Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s request for the Israeli team members to be recognized, the U.S., Canada, Germany and Australia have all joined the call for a moment of silence.
(JNS.org) Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) on July 5 voted 333-331 against a resolution to divest from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Motorola because those companies profit “from non-peaceful pursuits in Israel-Palestine.”
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) advocates claim that the three companies benefit from Israeli “occupation” by selling bulldozers and surveillance technology to the Israel Defense Forces. Jewish groups, however, have spoken out against proposed divestment resolutions by the Presbyterian and Methodist churches as damaging blows to Jewish-Christian relations.
“This was not just a major defeat for the divestment movement,” Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) President Rabbi Steve Gutow said in a statement July 6. “It was a victory for peace. The church adopted a path of creative peacemaking and investment in positive outcomes. Delegates recognized that divestment is a path toward division, not reconciliation.”
The Methodist Church voted down a smiliar resolution in May. PCUSA’s vote, which took place during its June 30-July 7 General Assembly in Pittsburgh, Pa., followed two hours of deliberation, the Associated Press reported.
Responding to the vote, the Israel Palestine Mission Network, a pro-Palestinian Presbyterian group, said in a statement that it would continue to “alleviate the suffering of Palestinians and to help bring peace and justice to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has expressed regret over a statement he made last year calling a possible Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities “stupid.” In a recent interview in the Lochem (“Warrior”) magazine, Dagan said he still opposed the idea of Israel’s attacking Iran, but his statement was unfortunate and the result of his being distracted.
Last year, asked what he thought about a potential Israel Air Force attack on nuclear facilities in Iran, Dagan said he thought this was “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.” Dagan said an effective attack on Iran would be difficult because Iranian nuclear facilities were scattered and mobile, and warned that it could trigger war.
Use of the term “stupid” by Dagan prompted Likud Minister Without Portfolio Benny Begin to call Israeli public debate about a possible strike on Iran “reckless abandon.” Begin lashed out at Dagan and said his comments were a “betrayal of trust and an abomination that stem from illusions of grandeur.”
(JNS.org) Young Judaea will become an independent, not-for-profit entity in the culmination of a yearlong process to separate the 103-year-old Zionist youth movement from its sponsor, Hadassah (the Women’s Zionist Organization of America).
More than 5,000 children and teens participate in U.S. camps and Israel programs organized by Young Judaea. Inaugural Executive Director Simon Klarfeld, who was hired last December, will manage the staff of the new independent organization. A board of directors is also forming.
“Like a child leaving the nest, Young Judaea will always be part of the Hadassah family. Hadassah members take tremendous pride in how effective Young Judaea is in creating permanent connections between American youth and Israel,” Hadassah National President Marcie Natan said in a statement.
Russia, Canada alignment with Israel could change Middle East energy landscape
(JNS.org) Canada and Russia have decided to collaborate with Israel on energy initiatives, a move that could place Israel in a stronger position relative to other Middle-Eastern countries.
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently visited Israel, meeting with Israeli Water and Energy Minister Uzi Landau and agreeing to boost ties and launch several joint renewable energy projects, Yediot Achronot reported. Additionally, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Israel came in the wake of news that Russian gas company Gazprom and Israel will cooperate on gas extraction, according to Globes.
Israel, previously thought to contain few oil and gas reserves, has begun attracting interest in the wake of recent natural gas discoveries off of its coast. Five billion barrels of recoverable oil and over a trillion cubic feet of gas have been discovered off Israel’s shore, and estimates say the reserves contain much more.
The decision of Russia and Canada to collaborate on energy with Israel shows increased interest in the Jewish state’s potential resources and the possibility for a changed dynamic in the region. Lebanon disputes the undersea boundary with Israel in an effort to claim some of these oil discoveries. Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have also claimed possession of the discovered oil. Now, Russia is likely to block any efforts to stop gas development in the region, American Interest reported.
Student from Toulouse Jewish school attacked on train
(JNS.org) A student from the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France, was attacked on a train in Lyon on July 4. The student is 17 years old and attends the same Jewish day school where Islamist Mohammed Merah gunned down three children and a rabbi in March.
A statement by the French Interior Ministry released Thursday said that the teenager was insulted and “then attacked in the platform toilets by two individuals who beat him up.”
Another passenger intervened in the assault, and the train controller caught the perpetrators. The student later submitted a complaint with Lyon police. This “is another development in the worrying trend of anti-Semitism in our country,” said CRIF, the umbrella group representing French Jewry, in a statement.
(JNS.org) While the death toll in Syria has topped 14,000 (according to activists) since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began, the country is now a candidate for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, UN Watch reported.
UN Watch, an NGO that monitors the international body’s activity, cited a draft resolution in which the U.S. reveals that Syria announced its candidacy for a Human Rights Council seat in 2014. The resolution, which is also supported by the European Union, says Syria “fails to meet the standards” for Human Rights Council membership.
Syria is likely to win a spot on the 47-nation council “due to the prevalent system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate uncontested elections, naming only as many candidates as allotted seats,” according to UN Watch.
(JNS.org) An Islamic group said tomatoes are forbidden to eat because they are a “Christian food,” according to a report on NowLebanon.com.
The “Popular Egyptian Islamic Association” posted on Facebook that the tomato “praises the cross instead of Allah,” claiming that the interior of a tomato resembles a cross when the tomato is cut in half.
Additionally, the group cited “a sister from Palestine who saw the Prophet of Allah in a vision and he was crying, warning his nation against eating [tomatoes].”
German hospital suspends circumcisions after controversial ruling
(JNS.org) Following a German court’s recent decision that the physical integrity of a child is more important than parents’ religious beliefs, Berlin’s Jewish Hospital suspended circumcisions.
“We are suspending circumcisions until the legal position is clear,” Jewish Hospital Dr. Kristof Graf told AFP.
The court’s ruling, which came under fire in the Jewish community, was made after the circumcision of a 4-year-old Muslim boy caused the child heavy bleeding. Prosecutors had charged the doctor who performed the procedure with grievous bodily harm. The doctor was eventually acquitted, but a regional court ruled that circumcision “contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.” Though this ruling does not explicitly prohibit male circumcision in Germany, it sets a new legal standard for similar cases on the issue.
About 300 circumcisions, including 100 religious ones, were performed at the Jewish Hospital last year, according to Israel National News.
Marking July 4, Peres says Obama ‘will stand strong as a lion’ for U.S. and Israel
(JNS.org) U.S. President Barack Obama “will stand strong as a lion in order to ensure his country’s security and Israel’s well-being,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said at an event marking the 4th of July at U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro’s Herzliya home.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was also in attendance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who could not be there, congratulated the U.S. on Independence Day through a video message.
“July 4th is a time to not take freedom for granted,” Netanyahu said. “It’s a time to be thankful that history granted America the power to match its ideals with action.”
(JNS.org) The Obama administration approved a move by the UN to invite Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to brief the Security Council on Israel. According to National Review, the invitation was approved in return for the high commissioner also briefing the Security Council on Syria.
Pillay is known for her anti-Israel views. She has compared “violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers” with “summary executions, rape and torture” in Cote d’Ivoire, “brutal violence” affecting “tens of thousands” in Syria, and “systematic torture” in Afghanistan.
JDC appoints new director for former Soviet Union department
(JNS.org) Ofer Glanz—previously an NGO, telecommunications and software executive—will take over as director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) Former Soviet Union department, the humanitarian organization announced July 3.
The executive director of Israel’s Metzilah Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought, Glanz succeeds Asher Ostrin, who served in the position for 21 years and is moving to a different senior role at JDC.
Glanz’s global experience has spanned Russia, Ukraine, India, Israel, and China, JDC noted in a press release.
“I am honored to become part of the JDC team, understanding full well the responsibility and impact that this wonderful organization has on Jewish lives across the former Soviet Union,” Glanz said in a statement. “Having seen this work first-hand, and growing up knowing the name of ‘the Joint,’ I am looking forward to furthering JDC’s mission in a region with pressing challenges and extraordinary opportunities.”
(JNS.org) The United States has sent ships and aircrafts to the Persian Gulf in an attempt to show Iran that it can pursue a military option if the Islamic Republic blocks the Strait of Hormuz. “When the president says there are other options on the table beyond negotiations, he means it,” an Obama administration official said, according to Israel National News.
“Don’t even think about closing the strait [of Hormuz]. We’ll clear the mines… Don’t even think about sending your fast boats out to harass our vessels or commercial shipping. We’ll put them on the bottom of the gulf,” a U.S. Defense Department official said.
Israel and China sign agreement to build Eilat railway
(JNS.org) Israel and China signed a major agreement to build the Eilat railway and other projects. Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz, who headed a 12-member delegation of officials and executives that traveled to China, signed the document with Chinese Minister of Transport Li Shenglin in Beijing.
Israel wants the Chinese to handle these projects because of their record of working efficiently, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared the Eilat railway a national priority project. The Chinese are interested in the Israeli project because they see it as a way to strengthen international trade routes.
The Eilat railway line will be 180 kilometers long. Officials hope it will cut travel time between Tel Aviv and Eilat to two hours. The project will cost at least NIS 20 billion, reported Globes.