JNS Briefs 4-10-12

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U.S.

Click photo to download. Caption: Caption: Secretary Hillary Clinton, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, foreign minister Ali Babacan and United States Ambassador James F. Jeffrey at the Prime Ministry in Ankara, Turkey (March 7, 2009). Credit: State Department.Clinton discourages Israeli strike on Iran, offers no backup plan if diplomacy fails

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said that an Israeli strike on Iran, amid the Islamic Republic’s nuclear threat, is “not in anyone’s interest.”

“The U.S. has worked very hard with Israel on all levels from the military, intelligence, strategic, and diplomatic level to make sure we were sharing information,” she told ABC News. “It’s our very strong belief, as President Obama conveyed to the Israelis, that it is not in anyone’s interest for them to take unilateral action.”

According to reports, Clinton stressed that diplomacy is path that is in “everyone’s interest” but did not offer any alternatives if talks with Iran fail.

—JointMedia News Service

Christie on Ahmadinejad: ‘We have an obligation to bring down the craziest man in the world’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, on his first trip to Israel, outlined his views on the Iranian nuclear threat in an interview with Israel Hayom.

Click photo to download. Caption: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Credit: Walter Burns.“First of all, my position is that Iran must not be permitted to acquire nuclear capability because then it would acquire nuclear weapons,” Christie said. “That would permit it to influence the entire region, and potentially, the entire world.

“Second, Israel’s foundation rests upon its ability, and actual right, to defend itself without relying on any other nation in the world to guarantee its existence,” he continued. “I think that the U.S. must respect the fact that the State of Israel has the right to determine how it will defend itself. You’ve got an Iranian president who wants to wipe Israel off the map. I think we have an obligation to bring down the craziest man in the world.”

—JointMedia News Service

Santorum suspends presidential campaign

Rick Santorum has suspended his presidential campaign, the former Pennsylvania senator announced at a news conference Tuesday.

Click photo to download. Caption: Rick Santorum prays. Credit: Gage Skidmore.Santorum was the last remaining viable challenger to Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. In March, Santorum was the only Republican candidate to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in person, as Romney and Newt Gingrich spoke via satellite. 

At the time, political analyst Richard Baehr told JointMedia News Service that Santorum’s campaign was “on the ropes” and that his appearance at AIPAC wouldn’t do anything to change that. 

Santorum’s 3-year-old daughter, Bella, fell ill over the weekend due to her genetic condition, called Trisomy 18. She was released from the hospital Monday night. Despite suspending his campaign, Santorum pledged to help the Republicans defeat President Barack Obama in November, saying: “This game is a long, long way from over.”

—JointMedia News Service

Rutgers article praises Hitler, cites Jewish author as satire

Rutgers University is again accused of fostering anti-Semitism on its campus, this time through a satirical student newspaper column that praised Adolph Hitler. The article was attributed to a Jewish student who was not the author. 

The column titled “What about the good things Hitler did?” in The Daily Medium—a spoof of the mainstream Rutgers student newspaper, The Daily Targum—stated that “history has given the Third Reich a bad rap,” and that although Hitler was also responsible for genocide, he also dabbled in rocket science and was involved in the founding of the Volkswagen auto company. The article “is extremely offensive and repugnant,” said Rutgers president Richard McCormick, according to the Washington Post.

“To say anything praiseworthy of someone like Hitler, and to have people actually believe it was coming from me, even in a satirical manner, is just really painful,” said Rutgers student Aaron Marcus, to whom the story was attributed. Marcus had relatives who died in the Holocaust.

—JointMedia News Service

Holocaust survivor advocate Elan Steinberg dies at 59

Elan Steinberg, a longtime advocate for Holocaust survivors, died Friday from complications of lymphatic cancer, the New York Times reported. He was 59. The former World Jewish Congress head won more than $1 billion from Swiss banks for Holocaust victims.

Steinberg was known for his powerful leadership of the congress, ruffling a few feathers during his 26-year tenure. He led the effort to win the $1.2 billion for holocaust victims in the late 1990s, and earlier intervened in Austrian elections to attempt to prevent presidential hopeful Kurt Waldheim (who had hidden his membership in a Nazi unit) from winning. Waldheim later won the presidency. 

His leadership was seen as a departure from the Congress’s typical approach. 

“For a long time,” Steinberg said, “the World Jewish Congress was meant to be the greatest secret of Jewish life, because the nature of diplomacy after the war was quiet diplomacy. This is a newer, American-style leadership—less timid, more forceful, unashamedly Jewish.”

Steinberg is survived by his wife, three children, and brother.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Mitt Romney. Credit: Jessica Rinaldi.Romney, Netanyahu friendship dates to 1976 

Although their backgrounds are quite different, Republican candidate Mitt Romney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s paths have crossed quite a bit over the last 30 years. 

The two first met as consultants for the Boston Consulting Group, where they were said to bond over their shared view of the world. Since then, the two have continued their relationship, even sharing political advice. According to the New York Times, when Romney became governor of Massachusetts, Netanyahu offered advice on how to shrink the government; Netanyahu reportedly also called Romney on Super Tuesday to brief him on the situation in Iran.

“We can almost speak in shorthand,” Romney said. “We share common experiences and have a perspective and underpinning which is similar.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Jonathan Pollard. Credit: PD.

Pollard Hospitalized, White House rejects Peres request for his release

The White House on Monday announced that the U.S. rejected a request by Israeli President Shimon Peres to pardon Jonathan Pollard, who is serving his 27th year of a life sentence after being convicted of spying for Israel.

“Our position has not changed in this case,” National Security Council Spokesperson Tommy Vietor said.

Pollard was hospitalized April 6 in North Carolina, several miles from the prison where he is incarcerated. He complained of sharp pain and was rushed to a nearby hospital after prison medical officials were unable to ease his discomfort.

Pollard’s wife Esther met Israeli President Shimon Peres at the president’s residence in Jerusalem on Sunday and urged Peres to do what he can to free her husband. Peres, then, sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, expressing concern over Pollard’s failing health. 

JointMedia News Service

Show to focus on Jews who left ultra-Orthodoxy

A proposed new reality TV show could center on former ultra-Orthodox Jews who have chosen to leave the community. “It’s about twenty somethings who make the decision to leave everything behind, and are now faced with living their lives without help from anyone and very little knowledge of the outside secular world,” said producer Noah Scheinmann, according to the New York Daily News. 

However, critics are already slamming the show as trivializing and stereotyping a religious community. “You can’t sleep with a lot of women. You can’t try a lot of different kinds of food,” said Luzer Twersky, one of the confirmed cast members.

Just some of the elements reportedly to be included in the show include tasting bacon and watching Star Wars for the first time. “If this thing ever makes it to air, it’ll be the Luzer show, mark our words,” wrote New York Magazine. 

—JointMedia News Service

ISRAEL 

PA minister touts Palestinian unity as a means to destroy Israel

Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of Social Affairs Majida Al-Masri touted reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas as a means “to turn to the struggle for the liberation of Palestine—all of Palestine,” Palestinian Media Watch reported.

Al-Masri was one of three PA ministers attending a rally during which he urged Palestinians “to push ahead with reconciliation [between Fatah and Hamas] and to end the state of division, so that we will be able to stand against the occupation, to halt its activities against our prisoners,” according to the official PA daily publication.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Günter Grass. Credit: Florian K.Günter Grass says Israel is a threat to world peace 

German writer and Nobel Prize laureate for literature Günter Grass, 84, published a poem titled “What Must Be Said” in which he called Israel a threat to an “already fragile world peace” and referred to Israel’s “alleged right to the first strike that could annihilate the Iranian people.”

Israel has made no public threats against Iran, yet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad has notably called for Israel to be “wiped of the map.”

The Israeli government is outraged with the writer, who has previously admitted to his own Nazi past, and has declared him unwelcome in the Jewish state. “If Günter wants to spread his twisted and lying works, I suggest he does this from Iran, where he can find a supportive audience,” said Israel's interior minister Eli Yishai, according to reports.

Grass has responded that he was only criticizing Benjamin Netanyahu and the policies of the current Israel government, not the country as a whole, reported the Washington Post. 

—JointMedia News Service

Poll: Nearly half of Palestinians support terrorism against Jews

Nearly half of all Palestinians (47.5 percent) support terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians inside the 1949 armistice lines, according to a new poll from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey (PSR).

Additionally, according to the poll, 55 percent of Palestinians reject the recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people alongside a future Palestinian state, while 43 percent accept that proposal.

—JointMedia News Service

Netanyahu slated to present security arrangements to Fayyad

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to send the Palestinian Authority a letter outlining Israel’s security demands going into peace negotiations that will contain security arrangements the Palestinians refused to hear two months ago from Israeli representatives in Jordan.

The letter, which Netanyahu is set to deliver to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas next week via Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, will present Israel’s version of security arrangements in a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, reported Israel Hayom.

Netanyhau spokesman Ofir Gendelman said in a statement that the Israeli premier would meet with Fayyad. The meeting is set to take place after Passover, which ends April 13 in Israel. According to French news agency AFP, Palestinian officials confirmed the meeting and said Fayyad would deliver a letter from Abbas to Netanyahu about the stalled peace process.

—JointMedia News Service

Intelligence: more than 10 terrorist cells exposed over past 2 months in Sinai

The IDF has expressed concern over recent events emanating from the Sinai Peninsula, especially in the wake of the April 4 late-night rocket attack on Eilat.

Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said on April 5 that, “Over 10 terrorist cells have been exposed and neutralized in the past two months, and the terror organizations continue to establish themselves and strengthen their grip [in Sinai].”

The military intelligence chief added that, “The Middle East is undergoing drastic changes. We have learned from experience that we must prepare to overcome the security threats and instability that will characterize the region in the coming years.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Palestinian university lecturer arrested for criticizing Abbas

Ismat Abdul-Khaleq, a Palestinian university lecturer and a single mother of two, was recently arrested in the West Bank after criticizing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Facebook, the Washington Post reported. 

Slandering high-ranking officials carries a punishment of up to two years in prison under the regulations of the Palestinian Authority government. In March, Palestinian journalist Youssef al-Shayeb was jailed because he reported on the corruption of Palestinian diplomats. 

—JointMedia News Service 

Israel has 5th-highest life expectancy among OECD countries

A new report published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) shows that life expectancy in Israel is among the highest in the world and ranks in fifth place for life expectancy among the 34 countries in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Life expectancy in Israel currently stands at an average of 81.6 years, two years longer than the OECD average of 79.5 years and surpassing countries such as Iceland, Norway, New Zealand and Canada.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Damaged graves at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. Credit: Amelia Katzen.After Arab attacks, Mount of Olives cemetery gets new police sub-station

April 5 marked the opening of a police sub-station at Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, whose cemetery has fallen victim to desecration. In addition to damaging graves at the site, Arabs have attacked Jewish worshippers with rocks.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations praised the opening of the sub-station, expressing hope that the move “will stem the continuing acts of violence and desecration and add to the security of the residents and visitors from around the world who come to visit graves of the luminaries of Jewish history interned there.”

“This is an obligation that we bear to protect the dignity of the departed and sanctity of this 3,000-year-old holy place for future generations,” the Conference of Presidents said in a statement. 

—JointMedia News Service 

WORLD

European Jews call for Catherine Ashton resignation

Click photo to download. Caption: The European Jewish Union has called for British politician Catherine Ashton to resign, following her comparison of the tragedy in Toulouse to the situation in Gaza.The European Jewish Union and the European Jewish Parliament have asked British Prime Minister David Cameron to fire High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.

The petition by the Jewish organizations also calls on Ashton to “apologize or resign following her inappropriate comments on the horrific events that took place recently in Toulouse.” Ashton had compared the Toulouse murders, in which one adult and three Jewish children were shot, and the situation in the Gaza strip. “So far, this Petition has been signed by thousands throughout Europe, and increasing daily,” the letter said according to the Israel National News.

—JointMedia News Service

Orthodox Jew attacked by skinheads in Kiev

A Jewish man was allegedly attacked by neo-Nazis in the Kiev, Ukraine, and is now in serious condition. Aharon Alexander, 25, who is ultra-Orthodox, was attacked by the skinheads near the central synagogue of the city. The Jewish community is claiming that Ukrainian police are attempting to push the crime under the rug because officials say they are still considering a possibility that Alexander simply fell.

The head of Kiev's Jewish community Yaakov Zilberman told Haaretz said they intend to “act against a cover-up of incident as well as of the rise in anti-Semitism.” The European Jewish Congress called on European leaders in a statement “to act swiftly to strengthen legislation, bolster education and increase intelligence sharing to prevent what could become a tsunami of hate and violence against the Jews of Europe.”

—JointMedia News Service

Palestinian envoy calls for an end to settlement building

In keeping with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’ message, Palestinian U.N. observer Riyad Mansour accused Israeli settlements as being the main impediment to peace.

In a letter sent to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Monday, Mansour wrote Israel's "illegal and destructive plans" to build new settlements underscore "the dubious nature" of its assertion that it is ready to move forward in the peace process, the Associated Press reported. The letter comes ahead of the Quartet of Middle East mediators — the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia — meeting on Wednesday to discuss the peace process.

Israel has consistently rejected the notion that settlement building is an obstacle to peace. "The main obstacle to peace is not settlements," Karean Peretz, spokeswoman for Israel's U.N. Mission, said Monday. "It is the so-called 'claim of return' and the Palestinian leadership's refusal to return to the negotiating table. We need direct negotiations, not more provocations at the U.N." 

JointMedia News Service

Developments in Egypt elections 

Click photo to download. Caption: In a move that seems to be a challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood's rising popularity, longtime Mubarak aid Omar Suleiman announced his candidacy for the presidency last week.Omar Suleiman, deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s longtime deputy and intelligence chief, has changed his mind: he announced April 6 that he would be vying for the presidency of Egypt, despite declining to run early on, Israel Hayom reported.

Egyptian analysts surmised Saturday that Suleiman’s surprising announcement came as a result of an agreement with Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq to drop out, so as to not hurt Suleiman's chances, in a combined effort to block the Muslim Brotherhood from gaining control over the presidency after dominating the parliament.

The upcoming election is crucial for both the military and the Brotherhood, which are already sparring for power. The military wants to keep control of key security and economic portfolios until at least June, when a new president is announced, while the Brotherhood is pushing to name a new government first.

In a statement, the Brotherhood said it would put forth party leader Mohammed Morsi as an alternate to Khairat el-Shater, the group’s chief strategist and financier.

—JointMedia News Service

Muslim Brotherhood official says movement will honor Israel peace accord

Abd Al-Maujood Al-Dardiri, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice party in Egypt, told a Washington Post reporter on Saturday that his party would not demand a public referendum on Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.

“Our party will honor all international obligations that Egypt has committed to in the past, including its Camp David obligations,” Al-Dardiri said, according to the Associated Press.

This statement comes as an apparent departure from the Brotherhood’s previous position, as various officials have stated the contrary on multiple occasions. A senior member of the party told the London-based newspaper Asharq Alawsat: “The movement’s position is not to recognize the Zionist entity and not to recognize peace agreements with hostile entities, and this position will never change.”

—JointMedia News Service 

Concerns in France: Another Mohamed Merah?

A string of murders committed with a single weapon have raised concerns a serial killer may be on the loose in a Paris suburb, just as France is recovering from a recent wave of terror-related shootings in its south.

Four murders have taken place in the Essonne region of the capital since November, the latest victim being a 47-year-old woman who was killed April 5. The same semiautomatic gun was used in all four attacks, prosecutor Marie-Suzanne Le Queau said during a news conference April 6.

Authorities have stressed there is no evidence linking the murders in the Essonne killings to terror, but Interior Minister Claude Gueant told French radio Europe-1 that he feared that a serial killer may be behind the recent murders, and that “maximum resources” would be used to apprehend the perpetrator.

French agencies are already on high alert after a string of shootings last month in southern France that police say was the work of Mohamed Merah, an Islamic terrorist who used a motorbike, videotaped the shootings and claimed links to al-Qaida. Merah was shot dead in a standoff with security forces last month.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on April 9, 2012 and filed under Briefs, Israel, U.S., World.