World Briefs 11-1-11

The latest news from the global Jewish community. 

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(Click photo to download. Caption: A vending machine for kosher gummy bears at the cafeteria of Jewish Museum Berlin. Credit: Jess & Peter, Geneva, Switzerland.)

Kosher Food Hits Berlin Shelves

Although already offered in small niche shops, kosher food has finally hit the mainstream shelves of a Berlin supermarket, Reuters reported.

Many see this as a reflection on Jews becoming a part of every day life in Berlin. Yehuda Teichtal, a Brooklyn-born Hasidic rabbi who advised the Nah und Gut (“Near and Good”) supermarket on its selections, told Reuters, “The Nazis failed. Where do you find Hitler and Eichmann now—on Wikipedia. Where do you see Jewish life in an open way—on the streets of Berlin!”

According to the Jewish Community of Berlin, only 8,000 of its original 160,000 Jewish members were left in Berlin in 1945. The population has been steadily increasing due to influx of immigrants from Israel and the former Soviet Union.

Stefan Voelker, the store manager of Nah und Gut, who is not Jewish, said “We always try to have different products from around the world,” and described kosher food as “a bit multicultural, a bit exotic,” according to Reuters.

—JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: Richard Goldstone. Credit: PD.)

South African Tribunal to Make Judgment on Whether Israel is Apartheid State

A London-based NGO, called the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, is hosting a session in South Africa starting Saturday to determine whether Israel is an apartheid State.

Richard Goldstone, who headed the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict of 2008 and laterretracted his claim that Israel deliberately sought to target and kill Palestinian civilians, condemned the session in a recent op-ed in the New York Times. “It is not a ‘tribunal’,” he wrote. “The ‘evidence’ is going to be one-sided and the members of the ‘jury’ are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known.” He proceeded to defend Israel against any claims of its being an apartheid state.

Members of the 10-person jury include:

Mairead Maguire, a Northern Irish peace activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976. She is known for calling on the United Nations to revoke Israel’s membership in 2008, accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing in 2009, and encouraging people to participate in the Boycott and Divestment campaign, according to Haaretz and AFP.

Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, who is known for being on board the Dignity ship in 2008. The ship was attempting to cross Israel’s blockade and reach Gaza, but was “rammed” by Israel in the process, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Alice Walker, an author and activist, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Color Purple. She is known for participating in the flotilla of ships that attempted to break the Israeli Naval blockade in June, but was halted from departing by Greece. She called Israel and the United States “great terrorist organizations” in an interview with Foreign Policy.

—JointMedia News Service

Tunisia issues arrest warrant for Suha Arafat

Tunisian authorities over the weekend issued an arrest warrant for Suha Arafat, wife of late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, on grounds of corruption.

Suha arrived in Tunisia after Yasser’s death in 2004 and was awarded Tunisian citizenship in 2006. She reportedly then founded the International School of Carthage with the former Tunisian first lady. According to reports, the two succeeded in manipulating the competition and closing down the only other private school in the area.

Suha is known for her extravagant lifestyle among the elite in Paris prior to her husband’s death. Media outlets often speculated that the late Palestinian leader's wife was enjoying the fruits of the Palestinians’ labor, as Arafat was widely accused of pocketing funds and aid money meant for the Palestinian people.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Bosnia dispute could stymie UN vote on Palestinian statehood

Palestinian hopes of rallying the required nine-vote majority in a U.N. Security Council vote on Palestinian statehood suffered a major blow Monday, with a Bosnian presidential adviser saying the country would be forced to abstain.

Palestinian officials have said they already have eight votes, and had counted heavily on Bosnia to give them the ninth.

The U.S. has promised to veto the measure in any case. But the Palestinians had hoped to win enough support to trigger the veto, which would have embarrassed the U.S. by forcing it to go against the will of the international community.

The three presidents had to agree in order for Bosnia to vote. So far the Muslim Bosnian leader supports the bid, the Serbian member is pro-Israeli and the Croat member has not yet not clearly stated his position. The three members have to agree on a common policy or abstain.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Syria Resorts to Threats Under Pressure

The Arab League handed Syrian officials a plan for ending seven months of increasingly violent unrest against President Bashar Assad’s rule, and Assad told Russian Television he would cooperate with the opposition.

“We will cooperate with all political powers, both those who had existed before the crisis, and those who arose during it. We believe interacting with these powers is extremely important,” Assad said in the interview on Sunday.

The U.N. says more than 3,000 people have been killed in the Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters demanding political reforms and an end to Assad’s rule.

On Sunday, Assad warned Britain’s Sunday Telegraph Newspaper that western powers risk causing an “earthquake” across the Middle East if they intervene in Syria.

Meanwhile, U.N. investigators have identified a previously unknown complex in Syria that bolsters suspicions that Damascus worked with Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, to acquire technology that could make nuclear arms.

Details of the Syria-Khan connection were provided to the Associated Press by a senior diplomat with knowledge of the agency’s investigations, and a former U.N. investigator. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Report: Egypt issues suspended sentences for Israeli Embassy attackers

An Egyptian military court on Monday issued suspended six-month prison terms for 87 Egyptians arrested over the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo in September, Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported Monday. Among those sentenced were nine minors.

The defendants were arrested in September following riots in front of the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Cairo’s Giza Directorate. Three people died and 1,049 were injured, including 44 policemen, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm. The suspects were charged with committing acts of thuggery, intimidating the public, assembling a crowd and assaulting a public employee.

“The court dismissed the charges of thuggery and intimidating the public,” Mohamed Abdel Aziz, the defendants’ lawyer, was quoted as saying by Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The attack on the embassy in September began when protesters, angry over the accidental killing of five Egyptian soldiers by Israeli forces, stormed the Israeli Embassy building. Israeli Embassy staff locked themselves inside a reinforced room inside the building, and were rescued by Egyptian police and soldiers.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

‘First Lady of Al-Qaeda’ Incarcerated for 15 Years

A woman who is known as the ‘First Lady of Al-Qaeda’ was committed to 15 years in prison and a 15-year ban on travel after her incarceration. Local media have identified the woman as Heila al-Qusayyer, despite Saudi officials abstaining from naming her. She was arrested in February 2010.

According to The Telegraph, she was radicalized by her first husband Abdulkareem al-Humaid, who gave up his career as an oil industry executive to become a radical preacher before being jailed. They divorced so that she would be able to re-marry into Al Qaeda, and her second husband was killed during an altercation with Saudi police. Before her arrest, she was set to marry the deputy leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Saeed al-Shehri.

According to The Telegraph, at the time of her arrest al-Qusayyer was managing a terrorist cell of 60 people, and actively recruiting young women to her cause.

—JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with his wife Lyudmila. Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office.)

Putin Advances “Soviet-style” Union

Putin is attempting to create an Eastern version of the European Union, Global Post reported. Tagged the “Eurasian Union” it would integrate the former states of the USSR into one economic and political unit.

In St. Petersburg last week, four states, including Ukraine, signed a free-trade treaty in what Putin billed as the first step to the union, he added that he expected it to take shape within four years, according to Global Post. Analysts say the union is likely to succeed as many former Soviet States, with Ukraine at the helm, have found it difficult to join other economic unions.

“We propose creating a powerful supranational union capable of becoming a pole in the modern world, and at the same time an effective bridge between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region,” Putin wrote in Izvestia.

But according to various analysts, a Eurasian Union would be far different from the EU in that most of the participating countries have espoused authoritarian regimes and values, according to Global Post.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on November 1, 2011 and filed under World.