U.S. Briefs 1-24-12

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Verizon could be prosecuted for servicing PLO

Click photo to download. Caption: The Verizon logo. Credit: PD.The Verizon mobile phone company has been warned that if it continues supplying cellular service to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), it could be prosecuted for violating an American law forbidding private groups or individuals from servicing terrorist groups, the Israel National News reported.

The Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) also warned a realty company that it too is violating the law by supplying office space to the PLO in Washington, D.C. The PLO is an outlawed terrorist group, said the civil rights group’s attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. 

A waiver established since the Oslo Accords allows the U.S. government to deal with the PLO, but this “does not apply to private groups,” Darshan-Leitner said. If the two companies do not respond within several days, the attorney plans to notify the government that it is violating the law.

—JointMedia News Service

Former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross rejoins policy institute

Dennis Ross, who formerly worked as special advisor to President Obama and senior director of the Central Region (the Middle East, Iran, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South Asia), has rejoined the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) as Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors and Professional Guiding Council.

JPPI is a non-profit think-tank developing practical solutions to problems faced by global Jewry. Ross has had a long political career spanning five U.S. administrations on both political spectrums. He was the director of State Department’s policy planning staff during the George H.W. Bush administration and worked as Bill Clinton’s Middle East advisor. After Obama’s election, Ross returned to work for the government.

“His return shows once again that besides his strong commitment to the U.S. and its thriving as the leader of the free world, Amb. Ross never left behind his strong roots in the Jewish civilization,” said Avinoam Bar-Yosef, JPPI’s president and founding Director. Ross began his duties Jan. 24.

—JointMedia News Service

Groups object to NYC police viewing film on ‘Radical Islam’s Vision for America’

Click photo to download. Caption: A poster for "The Third Jihad." Credit: PD.While the New York City Police Department shows its officers a documentary titled The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision For America, Muslim leaders are calling this element of the training process offensive.

The NYPD, amid ongoing tension with the city’s sizable Muslim community, screens the film for officers “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training, according to internal police reports cited by The New York Times. At least 1,489 officers have viewed the film so far, the newspaper said.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, narrates the documentary and describes how few Muslim leaders are trustworthy. “Americans are being told that many of the mainstream Muslim groups are also moderate, when in fact if you look a little closer, you’ll see a very different reality,” Jasser says. “One of their primary tactics is deception.”

Among the Muslim objectors to the NYPD’s use of the film is Zead Ramadan, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who says a police offer “was completely offended by [the film] as a Muslim,” and that the film “defiled our faith and misrepresented everything we stood for,” according to the Times.

Additionally, Faiza Patel—director of New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice—told the newspaper that “the police have shown an explosive documentary to its officers and simply stonewalled us,” after the Brennan Center obtained police documents on the film’s usage through a Freedom of Information request.

Recently, the NYPD has defended security measures directed at Muslim groups by pointing out how those measures help foil terror plots.

—JointMedia News Service

Clinton aide backs Turkish newspaper supporting radical movement

Click photo to download. Caption: Hillary Clinton. Credit: Department of State.The former Director of Policy Planning for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter, has endorsed Today’s Zaman, a Turkish newspaper associated with the Islamist Gülen Movement, according to reports.

Many in the West treat Today’s Zaman as a major source for policy workers. However, according to the Middle East Forum, the newspaper supports the movement that is named for founder Fethullah Gülen and paints itself as advocating moderate Islam, peace and tolerance. In reality, the movement is working towards indoctrinating Turkish society in radical Islamist ideology. This is especially true in Turkish schools established by the movement.

“These schools are like shop windows. Recruitment and Islamization activities are carried out through night classes,” Nurettin Veren, Gülen’s right-hand man for thirty-five years, said in a 2006 interview. The movement is also said to be behind the arrests of several Turkish journalists and writers. The arrested journalists were targeted solely for writing critically about government actions, PEN International, an organization committed to the freedom of expression in journalism and writing, said.

—JointMedia News Service

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords retiring from Congress, to focus on recovery

Click photo to download. Caption: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Credit: U.S. Congress.Explaining that she has “more work to do” in recovering from an assassination attempt that took place one year ago, Jewish congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) announced that she will resign, according to reports.

Shot in the head on Jan. 8. 2011 outside a grocery store, where 13 were injured and six were killed, Giffords told the people of Arizone in a video on Sunday that, "I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice.”

“Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover,” she said. “I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week.”

—JointMedia News Service

IDF gives Israeli shoe manufacturer the boot, joins U.S. provider

Brill Shoe Industries Ltd., an Israeli shoemaker that manufactures some 90,000 boots for the IDF each year, is facing closure due to a Defense Ministry decision to purchase military boots from a U.S. manufacturer. More than 100 employees at Brill are at risk of losing their jobs.

The Israeli shoe factory has outfitted IDF soldiers for eight years. Its military department manager, Shimon Horovitz, said Sunday that the Defense Ministry informed the factory of its decision to buy boots from the U.S. in August, but then doubled back and decided it was important to preserve the Israeli production line, Israel Hayom reported.

Last week, however, the ministry told the factory it was cutting its order to 30,000 boots per year. "We can't sustain the factory on 30,000 boots a year," explained Horovitz. "It's impossible to hold on to employees like that. We told the Defense Ministry that if it’s a budget issue, we can offer them a better boot at a cheaper price than the American boot."

A Defense Ministry spokesperson said in a statement that “due to the budgetary hardship the defense establishment finds itself in,” it is “obligated to efficiency and money-saving measures.”

—JointMedia News Service

San Diego biologist receives Israel’s highest science prize

Ronald Evans, a biologist from San Diego, is this year’s recipient of Israel's highest prize for medical research, Israel Hayom reported. Evans, the March of Dimes Chairman in Molecular and Developmental Biology at San Diego's prestigious Salk Institute, has been selected to receive Israel’s 2012 Wolf Prize for his research into the role hormones play on asthma and osteoporosis.

Evans is known for contributing to the development of treatments for cancer, heart disease and diabetes, all through research on the role of hormones. He now joins the ranks of physicist Steven Hawking and mathematician Paul Erdos, who also earned the distinguished honor. He will travel to Jerusalem to be presented with the award at a special ceremony at the Knesset on May 13. Israeli President Shimon Peres will bestow the prize.

The Wolf Prize is given each year in five fields of science—chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics and agriculture—as well as in the category of the arts. Each winner receives $100,000.

—JointMedia News Service

Jewish novels win Sydney Taylor Book Award

The 2012 winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award, which honors new books for children and teens on Jewish themes, have been announced.

This year’s winners include Michael J. Rosen and Robert Sabuda, author and artist of

Chanukah Lights, a book that incorporates poetic prose with intricate paper cut pop-up art, and Susan Goldman Rubin for Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein. Robert Sharenow was awarded for The Berlin Boxing Club, which is about a boy growing up in Nazi Germany.

The award is named for Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. This year’s prizes will be given out at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Pasadena, Calif., in June.

—JointMedia News Service

Gingrich pulls off South Carolina upset

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who just a week ago was considered political road kill, staged a stunning upset in South Carolina Saturday by besting the front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, by almost 12 percentage points.

With a double-digit lead in the polls, it was abundantly clear to all political observers—with the sole of exception of Gingrich himself—that South Carolina was safely in Romney’s column. But Gingrich worked overtime, thrashing his opponents with unrelenting rage and clearly outperforming them in the two debates leading up to the vote. This paid off on Saturday. The final tally showed Gingrich garnering no less than 40 percent of the vote and putting Romney a distant second, with only 28 percent support.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul capped the top tier list, winning 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

After the results were announced, an emotional Gingrich addressed his supporters, and thanked them. “It is very humbling and very sobering to have so many people who so deeply want their country to get back on the right track,” Gingrich said, adding, “With your help, we are now moving to Florida and beyond.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on January 23, 2012 and filed under Briefs, U.S..