JNS BRIEFS 6-19-12

 

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More rockets fired at Israel as Gaza-IDF clashes continue

(JNS.org) Hamas fired four rockets from Gaza towards Ashkelon on Tuesday in the latest of multiple clashes between Gaza terrorists and the IDF. The latest rockets fell in an open area. No one was harmed.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam brigades, Hamas’s military wing, claimed responsibility for launching the rockets, saying the launch was in response to the killing of one of its members in an IDF strike. That strike came in the wake of a previous rocket attack on Israeli territory, reported the Times of Israel.

Click photo to download. Caption: Protests outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo in May 2011. Later that year, in September, a mob of angry Egyptian protesters attacked the embassy, trapping six security guards inside and prompting the emergency evacuation of all but one member of Israel’s diplomatic staff in the country. Credit: Gigi Ibrahim.Egyptians unwilling to rent offices to house Israeli embassy in Cairo

(JNS.org) The Israeli Embassy in Cairo continues to be homeless since its staff was forced to evacuate in September 2011 following a mob attack on the embassy’s building in Cairo’s Giza Directorate.

According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, no one in Egypt is willing to rent offices to house the embassy. During the week, Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Amitai works in Cairo, but leaves Egypt on the weekends.

“Those who agree [to rent space to the embassy] are asking for an amount of money with which you can rent an entire neighborhood,” the Foreign Ministry said this week.

In September of last year, a mob of angry Egyptian protesters attacked the embassy, trapping six security guards inside and prompting the emergency evacuation of all but one member of Israel’s diplomatic staff in the country.

Israel training lawyers around the world to deal with delegitimization 

(JNS.org) Israeli foreign ministry officials have been training lawyers and jurists from around the world to confront legal claims against Israel, Israel Hayom reported.

For years, pro-Palestinian individuals and organizations have tried to defeat Israel with lawsuits, boycotts and by adding a legal dimension to the political conflict. Now, a new initiative by the Israeli Foreign Ministry is working to train lawyers around the world how to handle delegitimization claims brought before their local courts.

The Foreign Ministry has arranged organized briefings for lawyers considered friendly to Israel, in which it presents examples and background information on delegitimization attempts by Palestinians, and provides tools and recommendations to counteract such attempts.

Until recently, these training sessions and conferences have been held under the radar. There have already been conferences with lawyers in New York and Sao Paulo, and this week two more conferences are expected to take place in London and Paris.

Senators urge Obama to stop nuclear talks without Iranian concessions

(JNS.org) Forty-four U.S. senators sent a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama urging him to cease negotiations with Iran if the country does not make three specific concessions regarding its nuclear program.

The letter, organized by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), said Iran must shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility near Qom, freeze all uranium enrichment above 5 percent, and ship all uranium enriched above 5 percent out of the country, Foreignpolicy.com reported.

“Absent these steps, we must conclude that Tehran is using the talks as a cover to buy time as it continues to advance toward nuclear weapons capability. We know that you share our conviction that allowing Iran to gain this capability is unacceptable,” the letter said. 

Click photo to download. Caption: Benjamin Netanyahu. Credit: PD.Netanyahu recommits to security fence after attack along Egypt border

(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to building a security fence on Israel’s southern border with Egypt in light of a terrorist attack against workers near the fence on Monday. 

“Today there was a terror attack on our border with Egypt…An Israeli citizen was killed in this attack, as were two terrorists…this was an apparent attack on Israeli citizens, aimed at construction workers building the security fence in the south. Attacks like these will not stop us,” Netanyahu said.

The fence will not only prevent terrorism but also “prevent illegal aliens from entering the country,” the prime minister said, according to Israel National News.

Click photo to download. Caption: The Facebook logo. Credit: Facebook.Facebook to buy Israeli face recognition start-up

(JNS.org) Facebook is acquiring Israeli facial-recognition company Face.com for about $100 million.

Founded in 2007, Face.com is based in Tel Aviv. Its technology enables facial recognition from photos uploaded online and on mobile applications. Facebook has been using two applications from Face.com, Photo Finder and Photo Tagger, according to Globes. 

Face.com technology “has helped to provide the best photo experience” for people sharing photos over the social network.

“This transaction simply brings a world-class team and a long-time technology vendor in house,” Facebook said in a statement. Facebook previously acquired Israeli company Snaptu for $70 million, in March 2011.

Terrorist attack underscores instability at Egypt-Israel border

(JNS.org) Coupled with the radical Muslim Brotherhood’s declaration of a presidential victory, the latest terrorist infiltration from Sinai has made Israel wary of further instability along the Egyptian border.

Palestinian terrorists on Monday killed Israeli-Arab Defense Ministry contractor Saed Fashafshe, 36, and injured another Israeli when they infiltrated the Kadesh Barnea area from Sinai and opened fire on the Israelis’ vehicles, Israel Hayom reported. Fashafshe, of Haifa, was a father of four.

The same day, the Associated Press reported that the Muslim Brotherhood—before Thursday’s official results were due—announced a victory for its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, in Egypt’s presidential election. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that Israel expects the winner of Egypt’s election “to take responsibility for all of Egypt’s international commitments, including the peace treaty with Israel and the security arrangements in the Sinai; swiftly putting an end to these attacks.”

 Monday’s terrorist infiltration—in which a three-man cell broke through an incomplete section of the Israel-Egypt border fence—represented a “disturbing deterioration of Egyptian control in the Sinai,” Barak said.

Palestinian youths set fire to IDF base, injure 14 soldiers

(JNS.org) Fourteen soldiers were injured when Palestinian youths lobbed fireworks into the Israel Defense Forces Ofrit army base on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem on Sunday, sparking a large fire, Israel Hayom reported.

The assailants threw the fireworks over the gate at the entrance to the base, after which fire broke out in a field and spread almost into the base itself. The base serves the Jerusalem sector of the Homefront Command. Soldiers who tried to put out the fire suffered smoke inhalation injuries and were treated at a nearby hospital.

Asaf Abras, a spokesman for the Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Service, said the fire spread quickly from the valley of the Arab village of Issawiya, and that it was “definitely a deliberate case of arson.”

FSU immigrants make up half of Israel’s 4,000 converts to Judaism

(JNS.org) Israel announced last weekend that more than 4,000 people within the country converted to Judaism in 2011, with almost half the converts coming from the former Soviet Union (FSU).

The Conversion Authority of the Prime Minister’s Office said that among 4,239 converts, 1,936 were from FSU countries and 1,647 were from Africa.

“Anyone who converts is truly doing so in order to join the Jewish People, and not for any other reason—since new immigrants who are not [halakhically] Jewish [already] receive all the benefits that Jewish immigrants do,” said Rabbi Haim Drukman, director of the Conversion Authority, according to Israel National News.

Click photo to download. Caption: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.Ahmadinejad says he will retire from politics in 2013

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he plans to retire from politics at the end of his second term next year, according to an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung published Saturday.

Ahmadinejad told the German newspaper that he intends to return to academia. He said that although he might engage in political activity at a university, “I will not found any political party or group.”

Forbidden from running in Iran’s June 2013 elections because of term limits, Ahmadinejad could still run in later elections. When asked whether, like Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, he envisions returning to the presidency at a later date, he replied, “No, eight years are enough.”

 

Orthodox police recruit sues NYC after being fired for not trimming beard

(JNS.org) Fishel Litzman, an Orthodox police recruit, has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department, the City of New York and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly after he was allegedly discharged for refusing to trim his beard. 

New York City police rules say religious recruits can only have one millimeter of facial hair. However, Lewin & Lewin, LLP, the law firm representing Litzman, said the incident constituted religious discrimination.

“Although Mr. Litzman advised the NYPD at the outset of the application process that his religious observance forbade the trimming of his beard, the NYPD swore him in as a Probationary Police Officer and caused him to resign the job he previously held as a paramedic. Since the NYPD permits police officers to grow beards after they graduate from the Police Academy, there is no legitimate governmental purpose in directing him to trim his beard to a length that does not exceed one millimeter while he is in the Police Academy,” the law firm said in a statement.

Three Israelis in finals of YouTube film competition

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive JNS.org) Three Israelis have reached the finals in the Your Film Festival competition, sponsored by British director-producer Sir Ridley Scott and YouTube. The competition began June 12, with 50 finalists selected by Scott from more than 15,000 short films submitted by creators from 160 countries. 

Voting for the 10 winners ended June 13, and the results will be announced Aug. 1. Among the three Israelis who made it to the finals is Harel Yanna, 30, who produced a short film titled “Photo for Baba” centering on Isam, a Tunisian boy who agrees to carry out a terrorist attack in Munich to save his sick father.

The 10 winners will have their work screened as part of the opening days of the festival and judged by a jury of industry professionals, including Scott and actor Michael Fassbender. The winners will then propose their next film project to Scott’s team at the Venice International Film Festival in August, vying for a $500,000 production grant to work with the award-winning crew in creating a new work for YouTube. 

Medal of Freedom recipient Peres lauds Obama as ‘champion of peace’

(JNS.org) Israeli President Shimon Peres, accepting the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, called Obama “a great leader” and a “champion of peace.”

“You have pledged a lasting friendship for Israel,” Peres told Obama June 13. “You stated that Israel’s security is sacrosanct for you. So you pledged; so you act.”

Obama credited Peres with “strengthening the bonds” between the U.S. and Israel for 65 years.

“In [Peres] we see the essence of Israel itself—an indomitable spirit that will not be denied,” Obama said.

Peres also called attention to the Iranian nuclear threat as well as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, stating that peace is “more urgent than ever before.”

“It is necessary,” Peres said of peace with the Palestinians. “It is crucial. It is possible. A delay may worsen its chances.”

Click photo to download. Caption: Richard Prasquier (pictured), president of the French CRIF Jewish umbrella, was outraged after an exam from the Bichat Hospital Faculty of Medicine at Paris’s Diderot University included a question on whether IDF strikes in Gaza can be classified as genocide. Credit: Maxine Dovere. Paris school under fire after exam question asks if IDF strikes are genocide

(JNS.org) A French umbrella Jewish organization, CRIF, is outraged after an exam from the Bichat Hospital Faculty of Medicine at Paris’s Diderot University included a question on whether IDF strikes in Gaza can be classified as genocide.

In reference to the deaths of 22 family members in a bombing during Operation Cast Lead, Diderot’s Professor Christophe Oberlin reportedly formulated a question asking the following: “To what extent does it constitute a perpetual crime (war crime, crime against humanity, genocide crime)?”

CRIF called the inclusion of the question a blatant anti-Israel move. “It has no place in medical education, much less in a university, and amounts to a violation of the neutrality (demanded of) professor Oberlin,” said Richard Prasquier, president of CRIF.

Diderot university officials were concerned because the question was included in a non-compulsory medical exam. Bichat’s Dean Benoit Schlemmer expressed his regret for the question.

Hamas founder’s son: I love Israel

(JNS.org) Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a founder and leader of Hamas, visited Israel to express his love for the Jewish state. Yousef converted to Christianity and operated as an undercover Israeli Shin Bet agent for more than a decade. 

Yousef came to Israel as a guest of Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee Ayoub Kara. “I want to tell the people of Israel that I love you,” he said in an interview on Israeli television, according to Israel National News.

“I don’t think there was ever something called ‘Palestine…I don’t think that what my people needs is a state—they need freedom,” he added, warning against any Israeli deals with Hamas. Yousef has written a book, Son of Hamas, about his experience in the home of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef.

Libyan-Jewish property confiscated by Gaddafi could be returned

(JNS.org) A high-ranking Libyan official reportedly said that discussions on restoring Jewish property confiscated by slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi will begin next year. Many Libyan Jews immigrated to Israel in the 1940s and 1950s or were forced out by Gaddafi in the late 1960s. Those who were forced out lost all their personal assets.

“They will start giving back lands taken by Gaddafi from Muslims, and then there will be a second wave for Jews…Whoever will present official documents will get back the money, but we need another year and only after the second election they will appoint such a man,” said Raphael Luzon, a Libyan-born Jew whose family was forced into exile in 1967, according to the Jerusalem Post. Luzon received the announcement from an official in Libya.

Israeli embassy among top 3 foreign Facebook pages in India

(JNS.org) The official Facebook page of the Israeli Embassy in India, established shortly after Israel and India reported $4.1 billion in bilateral trade, now has nearly 20,000 “likes.”

Only the embassy Facebook pages of the United States and the United Kingdom have a larger number of likes among foreign pages in India. Alon Ushpiz, Israel’s ambassador to India, said the trend indicates strengthening ties between the two nations.

“Thousands have visited the new website, as well as the Israel in India Facebook page, to learn about Indo-Israel agriculture cooperation, economic and business ties, various Israeli cultural events taking place across India, education opportunities, tourism information and more,” said David Goldfarb, an Israeli spokesperson located in New Delhi.

Goldman Sachs partner puts Israel with U.S. at ‘top of the table’ for tech

(JNS.org) Israel should be rated ahead of China and India and grouped with the U.S. as “top of the table” when it comes to advanced technology, senior U.S. investment strategist Abby Joseph Cohen said at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology board of governors meeting June 13.

“We’re used to seeing China and India as future technological superpowers, but that’s a mistake,” said Cohen, a Goldman Sachs partner, according to Globes. “Those two countries don't have high tech in the Israeli and U.S. sense.”

Cohen said technology in China and India is a notch below Israeli technology because the Asian countries “manufacture products requiring relatively simple technology, and a cheap workforce, and not products with high added value.” She also noted the importance of Technion’s recent partnership with Cornell University, explaining that investment in education “is the most important economic investment.”

Canada joins the call to honor Israelis slain at 1972 Olympics

Click photo to download. Caption: Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who wrote a letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacque Rogge regarding honoring the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Credit: PD.(JNS.org) Canada is the latest country asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to pay tribute to 11 Israeli team members killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

The Canadian House of Commons unanimously voted June 13 to call for a moment of silence in honor of the Israelis at this summer’s London Olympics, the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

Last month, the IOC rejected Israel’s request for a minute of silence at the start of the summer Olympics, saying it had paid tribute to the victims before. Earlier this month, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a non-binding resolution by voice vote, with the measure asking for a moment of silence in London and at all future Olympics.

“Given the impact of this tragedy, on the Olympic community as a whole and the world, it should be marked publicly,” reads a recent letter from Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird to IOC President Jacque Rogge.



Click photo to download. Caption: U.S. Rep. Chris Smith. Credit: U.S. Congress.Congressman witnesses ‘justice delayed’ for Jewish businessman jailed in Bolivia

(JNS.org) U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) visited jailed American entrepreneur Jacob Ostreicher in Bolivia, continuing a push for the New York-born Hassidic Jew’s release after more than a year in prison without formal charges or bail.

Ostreicher traveled to Bolivia in December 2010 to oversee rice production and was arrested in June 2011 on suspicion of money laundering and criminal organization. On June 11, Smith—chairman of a congressional panel overseeing global human rights—attended a hearing with Ostreicher during which the Bolivian judge passed the matter on to a higher court, “likely guaranteeing more months of delay,” according to the New Jersey legislator.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Smith said in a statement. “Jacob has been cooperative, patient to the extreme. There is no evidence offered against him. The rule of law must prevail in Bolivia. Innocent people must have a path to justice. He must be released.”

Click photo to download. Caption: President Obama as depicted in the new ad by the Emergency Committee for Israel. Credit: YouTube.New ad contrasts Obama’s statements with Iran’s nuclear development

(JNS.org) President Barack Obama’s approach has not deterred Iran from continuing its march toward nuclear capability, claims a 30-second advertisement released June 14 by the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI).

ECI, a political advocacy group whose board includes Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol, contends in the ad that “President Obama has spent four years talking” while “Iran has spent four years building a secret nuclear site, nuclear fuel near weapons level, long-range missiles.”

The ad features Obama saying in 2008 that “Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable,” and in 2009 that “We do want to make sure that by the end of this year we’ve actually seen a serious process move forward.”

However, Iran now “has six times more enriched uranium than when President Obama came into office—enough for five nuclear bombs,” ECI Executive Director Noah Pollak said in a statement.

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) responded that the ad “has nothing to do with Iran, or Israel,” but instead “has to do with one thing: electing Republicans and defeating President Barack Obama.”

View the full ad here: http://youtu.be/Kf0fDoPp49s

Click photo to download. Caption: A French SNCF train. Credit: SreeBot.French railways to reveal role in Holocaust deportations

(JNS.org) The French railway system, SNCF, has signed an agreement with the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem to increase research into the role the company played in deporting Jews to concentration camps.

SNCF will provide the museum with testimonies and documentation on about 80 mass transports of Jews from France, Yedioth Ahronot reported. This “strengthens SNCF’s commitment to complete transparency, acknowledgment of the past and commitment to remembrance of the victims of the tragedy of the Holocaust,” said SNCF senior vice president Bernard Emsellem.


Shalit accepts job as sports columnist

Click photo to download. Caption: Gilad Shalit. Credit: IDF.

(JNS.org) Gilad Shalit has found his calling for now, accepting a position as sports columnist for Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Channel 2 news reported June 13.

Shalit, who was abducted by Gaza militants in 2006 while serving in the Israel Defense Forces and held captive for more than five years, is an avid basketball aficionado and Maccabi Tel Aviv fan and has even attended a workout with the team in Tel Aviv. He also attended the NBA All-Star game that took place in Orlando, Florida in February.

Shalit told family members and friends that during his captivity in Gaza, his guards allowed him to view sports shows on TV, something that he said helped him pass the time and keep his mind active.

U.S. rules against forcing Iran to reveal its assets

(JNS.org) The U.S. government has ruled in favor of Iran in a case where the Islamic Republic hid its assets to avoid paying damages to victims of a Hamas suicide bombing it sponsored. The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to review the ruling by June 25, the Jerusalem Post reported.

In a 2003 lawsuit, Rubin v. the Islamic Republic of Iran, the plaintiffs won $71.5 million in compensatory damages from Iran. A U.S. district court ruled that Iran was responsible because it provided training to Hamas and subsidized the terror group’s efforts.

However, the Iranian government has never paid those damages and Iran and has shielded its U.S. assets from discovery. A U.S. Court of Appeals later ruled that the terror victims could not access information about all Iranian assets in the U.S. “Compelling a foreign state to produce extensive material pertaining to its assets may impose significant burdens and impugn the state’s dignity, and may have implications for the United States’ foreign relations,” a Department of Justice brief said.

Click photo to download. Caption: Shimon Peres. Credit: World Economic Forum.White House not likely to pardon Pollard despite Peres’s effort

(JNS.org) The White House reiterated June 13 that it has no intention of releasing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard on humanitarian grounds amid Israeli President Shimon Peres’s Washington visit to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“Our position has not changed and will not change today…I would simply remind you that Mr. Pollard was convicted of very serious crimes,” White House Spokesman Jay Carney said at a press briefing.

Peres asked President Barack Obama for Pollard’s release during their private meeting the same day, and the U.S. president reportedly “did not close the door” on the idea. 

 

Click photo to download. Caption: An IDF Caterpillar D9—a machine that comes under fire when the Presbyterian Church considers divestment companies doing business with Israel. Credit: MathKnight.14,000 Jews sign letter opposing Presbyterian divestment from Israel

(JNS.org) More than 14,000 Jews signed a letter urging Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) General Assembly delegates to reject a resolution that asks for three companies to be placed on the general assembly’s divestment list until “they have ceased profiting from non-peaceful pursuits in Israel-Palestine.”

The “Letter of Hope,” which follows an earlier letter signed by 1,300 rabbis sent to the PCUSA, comes in advance of the church’s June 30-July 7 conference in Pittsburgh, Pa. Presbyterians should deepen their “understandings of the multiple narratives in the region” and “focus on positive steps including economic development, Palestinian state building, and a return to negotiations.”

“Peace is our mutual goal,” Jewish Council for Public Affairs Chair Larry Gold said in a statement. “Divestment is the wrong means for achieving it.”

Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions are the three companies in question under the Presbyterian resolution. Last month, the United Methodist rejected a similar divestment resolution by a 2-1 margin.

Poll: Most Israelis back Jewish building in West Bank, don’t trust two-state solution

(JNS.org) Sixty-four percent of Israeli respondents in a new poll support the expansion of Jewish communities in the West Bank, while 73 percent believe a two-state solution will not foster Israeli-Palestinian peace.

According to the Maagar Mohot Institute poll, 15 percent of Israelis support a full moratorium on Jewish building in the West Bank, down from 20 percent last year. Additionally, 64 percent of last year’s respondents did not believe in a two-state solution’s potential to bring about peace, a figure that increased by 9 percentage points this year. 

Forty-six percent of respondents this year oppose territorial concessions by Israel in peace negotiations, up from 38 percent in 2009.

Click photo to download. Caption: The Al-Quds Brigades—the military wing of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group—sets Gaza children out on a mission of violent resistance against Zionism as early as kindergarten. Credit: MEMRI.Palestinians committing to jihad as kindergarteners

(JNS.org) A recent article posted online by the Al-Quds Brigades—the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group—details how children of Gaza set out on a mission of violent resistance against Zionism as early as kindergarten, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.

The children, according to the article, are raised “on the love of jihad, of resistance and of Palestine, and on the massacres and crimes of the Zionists—to the point that their lives, even in kindergarten, have become similar to those of the resistance fighters, in all domains, and it is hoped that they [too] will become jihad fighters.”

In the story, a kindergarten teacher is quoted as saying she aims to raise “commanders who will defend the soil of Palestine and Jerusalem,” and a little boy says he plans to carry out a martyrdom operation against Zionists on a bus.


Click photo to download. Caption: Mayor Mike Bloomberg with Hassidic Jews in Brooklyn. Credit: PD.Orthodox growth spurs Jewish population increase in NYC

(JNS.org) A newly released study shows that the Jewish population of New York City has increased by 10 percent to nearly 1.1 million, primarily due to major growth of the Hassidic and Orthodox communities, the New York Times reported.

The study, sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, reveals that a third of the 1.5 million Jews in the eight-county New York area are Orthodox.

Additionally, the study shows that religious observance among non-Orthodox Jews has declined. The Reform and Conservative movements in New York each lost about 40,000 members between 2002 and 2011, according to the study.

Israeli-American scientist wins World Food Prize 

(JNS.org) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on June 12 named Israeli-American scientist Dr. Daniel Hillel the winner of the 2012 World Food Prize for his development of “micro-irrigation,” a method which involves using less water to irrigate crops while increasing agricultural yields, Israel Hayom reported.

Hillel proved that plants grown in soil that was kept constantly moist could use less water and produce higher yields than those grown using traditional sprinkler and flood irrigation methods. Over the past five decades, his techniques have been used in dry-land regions around the world and have “revolutionized food production,” a U.S. State Department statement released Tuesday said.

“Today, farmers using micro-irrigation produce high-yield, nutritious crops on more than 6 million hectares worldwide,” Clinton said during the ceremony where Hillel was named winner of the prize.

Click photo to download. Caption: Rita Jahanforuz. Credit: rita.co.il.Israeli singer a (secret) hit in Iran

(JNS.org) Despite the political tension between Israel and Iran, an Iranian-Israeli singer has gained significant popularity among music lovers in the Islamic Republic.

Rita Jahanforuz was born in Iran but immigrated to Israel as a child. As one of Israel’s most famous singers, she is known simply as Rita in the Jewish state. Rita’s latest album, “All My Joys,” reinvents Persian songs in the kind of Mediterranean style popular among Israelis.

The album went gold in Israel in three weeks, but has also become popular among Iranians. The Wall Street Journal reported that Rita fans in Iran use software to secretly download her songs in order to avoid the government’s filtration of the Internet. Street merchants even sell her albums in unmarked packages.

“She is singing from her heart. So what if she is from Israel?” said Manijeh, a 43-year-old who asked that her surname not be published. “We love her.”

Watch Rita in concert here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NnsIqN2yLk

Forbes Israel identifies 13 richest rabbis

(JNS.org) Forbes Israel has released a list of the 12 richest rabbis in Israel—one of whom is a woman. The richest rabbi in Israel is Rabbi Pinchas Abuhatssira, 36, who lives in Be’er Sheva with his wife and five children. His estimated wealth is NIS 1,300,000,000 ($334,947,000). 

Number 13 on the list is Rebbetzin Bruria Zvuluni, 51, who lives in Jerusalem with her husband and eight children. Her estimated wealth is NIS 20,000,000 ($5,159,000). 

Radical Islamist killer’s family sues police for his death in Toulouse

(JNS.org) The family of radical Islamist Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah, who killed three Jewish children and a rabbi at a school in Toulouse, France in March, is alleging that French police committed murder against Merah.

On June 11, the family filed a lawsuit against police accusing them of intentionally killing Merah, rather than capturing him alive and allowing him to speak, the Associated Press reported. Police shot Merah following a 32-hour standoff at his Toulouse apartment.

One of the Merah family’s lawyers is Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who has also represented Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez. Known as Carlos the Jackal, Ramírez Sánchez is serving a life sentence in France for murdering two counter-intelligence agents and a French government informant.

Click photo to download. Caption: An illustrated photo of two ostensibly gay combat soldiers. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office.IDF posts illustrative gay photo on Facebook

(Israel Hayom/JNS.org) The recent international Gay Pride celebrations have not skipped over the manliest of manly bastions in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces. On June 11, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office posted an illustrative photograph on its Facebook page of two male soldiers, ostensibly from combat units, holding hands under the headline: “It’s Pride Month. Did you know that the IDF treats all of its soldiers equally?”

Years have passed since the fictional characters, soldiers “Yossi” and “Jagger,” hit the Israeli silver screens in trailblazing fashion and, for the first time (albeit in a movie), depicted the army’s pride.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office, meanwhile, says the IDF has embraced the gay and lesbian community and treats it with respect. In contrast to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mantra used by United States military for years, the IDF has told everyone.

Posted on June 19, 2012 and filed under Briefs.