news aggregator

'Take her out': Trump appears to call for ambassador's ouster in recording

Haaretz - 4 hours 35 min ago
If verified, tape could bolster argument that president's aides spent almost a year trying to oust envoy as they sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden

Morocco opens $1.5 million center dedicated to Jewish culture in city of Essaouira

Haaretz - 5 hours 34 min ago
Once 40 percent of the population, less than a handful of Jews live in the city today

China expands lockdown against virus as France announces first cases in Europe

Haaretz - 6 hours 17 min ago
Transportation shut down in at least 13 cities, affecting 36 million people ? Number of worldwide cases jumps to 850

Tel Aviv, lagging behind in helping the homeless, embraces a New York program

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 22:28
The Housing First apartment and rehab system has been working for 30 years – maybe a good solution for Tel Aviv, which is handling 41 percent more homeless cases than five years ago

Nazi-branded beer sells out at German drinks store

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 22:25
Thuringia police have already established the brand itself is legal

At least four dead after strong earthquake strikes eastern Turkey

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 21:22
Tremor felt throughout the region and as far south as Israel

34 U.S. troops in Iraq diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after Iran strike

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 20:48
President Trump in hot water after minimizing the injuries as 'headaches and things'

Morocco opens $1.5 million center dedicated to Jewish culture in city of Essaouira

JTA - Fri, 2020-01-24 20:37

(JTA) — Morocco’s king has inaugurated a $1.5 million center dedicated to Jewish culture in the city of Essaouira.

Last week, King Mohammed VI attended the inauguration for Bayt Dakira, which means House of Memory in Arabic.

The port city was formerly home to a large population of Jews, who at one point making up 40 percent of the population. Most Jews fled Morocco because of the hostility they felt following the establishment of Israel in 1948 and in decades after.

Today less than a handful of Jews reside in the city.

The center is located in a restored home that houses a small synagogue and includes a museum, research center and space that will host cultural events. The project was created by Andre Azoulay, a France-educated Moroccan Jew who serves as a senior adviser to the king.

Most of the funding came from the Moroccan government, with a quarter coming from private donors.

Among a number of high-profile Moroccan Jews who attended the event and a dinner with the king afterwards were Azoulay and his daughter, Audrey, who serves as the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, Moroccan Jewish comedian Gad Elmaleh and the chief rabbi of Geneva, Switzerland Izhak Dayan.

Under King Mohammed VI, Morocco has made efforts to preserve Jewish sites. The country is home to a Jewish museum in Casablanca, which along with an adjacent synagogue was renovated and rededicated in 2016.

Jason Guberman, the director of the American Sephardi Federation, which is serving as a partner organization to Bayit Dakira, praised the king for his efforts.

“On the one hand it has the museum and it’s going to be about studying the past, but it’s also very much about doing events and bringing people to Essaouira today,” Guberman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “It says a lot about Morocco’s future, the fact that the king would come to open up a center like this.”

The American Sephardi Federation also sent a letter together with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to the king of Morocco thanking him for opening the center.

The post Morocco opens $1.5 million center dedicated to Jewish culture in city of Essaouira appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Bus carrying Hasidic boys to weekend retreat in the Catskills flips over, injuring 18

JTA - Fri, 2020-01-24 20:33

NEW YORK (JTA) — A bus carrying approximately 40 teenage boys from a Hasidic town in upstate New York to a weekend retreat flipped over, injuring 18.

The incident occurred around 1:20 p.m. on Friday.

The bus was coming from the village of New Square and heading into the Catskills for Shabbat, according to a spokesman for Catskills Hatzalah. The injured teenagers, who sustained a range of injuries, were sent to three local hospitals.

Hatzalah did not know what caused the accident.

The post Bus carrying Hasidic boys to weekend retreat in the Catskills flips over, injuring 18 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Trump’s previous 'election gifts' to Netanyahu didn’t pay off, but this one could

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 20:30
The U.S. has invited the prime minister (and Benny Gantz) to Washington and is releasing its Mideast peace plan the day of a Knesset vote linked to Netanyahu’s graft indictments. But will this be enough at the polls?

Germany to honor 1700 years of Jewish culture in 2021

The Forward - Fri, 2020-01-24 20:00
The festival will highlight Germany’s Jewish heritage through live concerts, dancing, the publication of a Jewish food guide and commemorative stamps.

The Tell: It’s candidate endorsement season

JTA - Fri, 2020-01-24 19:53

The Tell is a weekly roundup of the latest Jewish political news from Ron Kampeas, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Washington Bureau Chief. Sign up here to receive The Tell in your inbox on Thursday evenings.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — It’s less than two weeks to the first nominating contest, the Iowa caucus, which means that congressional endorsements of presidential candidates are beginning to trickle in.

A lawmaker backing a candidate this early in the race may reflect a desire to tap into the White House wannabe’s support system or a bid to be considered for a top job in the next administration. If the lawmaker is in a position of leadership or prominence, it’s also a means of shaping the race at a critical juncture. Sometimes it’s simply a function of being from the same state as the candidate.

Nine Jewish lawmakers have made their choices known — that’s not counting the two who are running — Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Michael Bennet of Colorado, whose mother is Jewish but who does not identify as Jewish.

There are 28 Jewish members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 26 Democrats and two Republicans, and nine Jewish Democrats in the Senate with Bennet included.

More endorsements will come as the crowd of 12 Democrats thins in the wake of early nominating contests in Iowa (Feb. 3) New Hampshire (Feb. 11), Nevada (Feb. 22) and South Carolina (Feb. 29), and then the 16 primaries on March 3, Super Tuesday.

The two Jewish Republicans, Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee, are like the vast majority of the GOP caucuses solidly in the camp of President Donald Trump, who faces just two long-shot primary contenders.

The seven Jewish Democrats who have endorsed don’t follow such a homogenous pattern:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Warren has garnered the endorsements of Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Andy Levin, D-Mich.

It’s a grouping that reflects the subtle division that the Massachusetts senator has forged between herself and Sanders, the other candidate who is a flag-bearer for party progressives. Warren has made peace with the party establishment in a way that Sanders has not: Former President Barack Obama has talked Warren up to donors, while Hillary Clinton, the 2016 nominee, has made clear that she still holds a grudge against Sanders for his challenge.

Warren has the endorsement of 13 lawmakers overall, while Sanders has eight.

Schakowsky, Levin and Raskin are each in their way progressive royalty within the establishment. They are also in easy-win districts, meaning their endorsement of Warren is less a matter of mutual back-scratching — they won’t really need her in November — and more a matter of signaling to their followers whom to back at this early stage.

Schakowsky and Levin also are from the Midwest, already perceived as a must-win battleground in November’s contest against Trump, and are useful endorsements ahead of the Iowa caucus. Levin’s endorsement emphasized the economic insecurity that helped drive Trump to the presidency.

“I’m going for the kitchen-table stuff — trade, wages, good jobs, education, health care,” Levin told the Detroit News in July. “I think she’s the whole package and I’m really excited to support her.”

Schakowsky, who was first elected in 1998, wields considerable power as the chief deputy whip in the House and has been a mentor to younger progressives. In her Warren endorsement video posted Dec. 12, Schakowsky comes across very much as a party elder, saying that her closeness to the senator dates back to 2008, when Warren first advocated for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Schakowsky also reminds viewers that she was among the first to see potential in “a skinny guy from Chicago,” a reference to Obama.

In 2018, Levin inherited his Detroit-area district from his father, Sander, who had served since 1983. The younger Levin has attracted attention for his ability to work with Rashida Tlaib, the Palestinian-American congresswoman who has rattled the party establishment with her anti-Israel views and confrontations not only with Republicans but her party’s leadership. (Tlaib has endorsed Sanders.)

Raskin also has a progressive pedigree — his father, Marcus, founded an influential progressive think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies. He has shone since his 2016 election as a constitutional scholar on the House Judiciary Committee and has taken a lead in impeaching Trump.

Of the three Warren endorsements, Raskin’s was the only one to emphasize a specifically Jewish issue: combating anti-Semitism.

“All over the world authoritarianism, anti-Semitism, racism and fascism are on the march and the forces of democracy and freedom and equality are under siege everywhere,” Raskin begins. “And our president in his bottomless stupidity and greed finds very good people on both sides in this struggle and repeatedly aligns our country with the despots and dictators, from Putin in Russia and Orban in Hungary and al Sisi in Egypt.” (Viktor Orban, particularly, has come under fire from critics who say he is allowing anti-Semitism to fester in his country.)

Raskin, Schakowsky and Levin also all have been endorsed by the political action committee aligned with J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group.

Joe Biden

The former vice president has garnered the endorsements of Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

For Luria, the endorsement is at least in part payback — Biden endorsed the freshman in 2018 ahead of a close race in a district that had voted Trump in 2016, and where she has faced some backlash for supporting Trump’s impeachment.

It also sends an early and clear signal to her voters that she remains very much in the center that is the former vice president’s stomping ground. It’s not a coincidence that she announced her endorsement on Jan. 5, the same day as two other freshmen in Pennsylvania districts that Trump won, Conor Lamb and Chrissy Houlahan.

Luria’s endorsement says that Biden is more likely to win “in tough districts like mine,” but also alludes to the foreign policy hawkishness that is popular in her district, which includes the largest Navy base in the world (Luria is a former U.S. Navy commander). She calls Biden “battle tested” and predicts he will “restore our standing on the world stage.”

Feinstein’s Biden endorsement in October set tongues wagging — the prediction had been that she would endorse her old friend, but as a courtesy would wait until Sen. Kamala Harris, the state’s junior senator, had dropped out of the presidential stakes. (Harris quit the race in December.) Feinstein certainly didn’t need to endorse anyone: She was re-elected easily in 2018 and, at 86, is not likely to seek a Cabinet post.

In her endorsement, Feinstein cited her years working with Biden in the Senate — she was first elected in 1992, two decades after his election — and his support for gun control. The issue has defined Feinstein since she became mayor of San Francisco following the assassination of the incumbent.

Another factor might be their shared belief in a robust American foreign policy, a contrast with the retreat of an American presence overseas that Trump has embodied — and which to a degree Sanders and Warren have embraced.

Biden also has the majority of congressional endorsements overall: 36 in the House and five in the Senate.

Mike Bloomberg

The former NYC mayor earned the endorsement of Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., on Jan. 13.

Like Luria, Rose is a military veteran seeking centrist traction in a district that he first won in 2018, but that Trump won two years earlier. Rose’s district encompasses Staten Island and a patch of Brooklyn. For Rose, though, Bloomberg — who in 2018 gave money to Rose’s Republican opponent — makes more sense than Biden. Bloomberg was a popular, thrice-elected mayor who entered City Hall as a Republican and on some issues is to the right of Biden. Rose has pugnaciously taken on not only Trump but at times his party’s leadership.

“I have no problem with people who are independent thinkers and who choose to support people who are at times across the aisle,” Rose told NY1 last month.

Amy Klobuchar’s campaign on Tuesday announced that freshman Rep. Dean Phillips, also of Minnesota, would join other Minnesotans, including USA curling gold medalist coach Phill Drobnick, in organizing “Hotdish House Parties” — apparently a thing in Minnesota — for the U.S. senator. Phillips’ endorsement appears to be in the “she’s from my state” category.

In Other News Calmpeachment

Much of the coverage of the Senate’s impeachment trial of Trump has focused on the rancor. The Washington Post captures the notorious early Wednesday morning back-and-forth between New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, one of the Democrats managing impeachment, and White House lawyer Pat Cipollone, culminating in an admonishment by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who gets to say “pettifogging.”

Here are two moments of comity, or something approaching it. NBC News caught Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s most strident defenders, telling Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., that he was doing a “good job” as the lead impeachment manager, a role that Graham held during the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton. (Schiff and Nadler are Jewish.)

And Halie Soifer, the director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, got a much coveted seat to watch the proceedings live and saw senators paying close attention and taking “copious” notes. Soifer credited “both sides of the aisle” for “understanding the gravity of the moment,” a tonic — from a partisan, no less! — to reporting that Republicans are not taking the proceedings seriously.

Fool you twice

The first time giving press credentials to TruNews, an outlet that deals in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, may have been a White House oversight. A second time — for a major event like the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, and after multiple news outlets (including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency) explicitly pointed out the toxicity of the TruNews content to the White House — and you gotta wonder.

The fire this time … didn’t happen

Did right-wing extremists make good on a promise to show up and disrupt a pro-gun in Richmond, Virginia? A few showed up, but there were no disruptions of consequence. The vast majority of protesters were conventional, and peaceful, Second Amendment enthusiasts. It was not Charlottesville 2.0. The town’s JCC was running a Jewish food festival, which some locals preferred to the Capitol goings-on.

Mike doesn’t like

We wrote last week about where the leading Democrats are on Iran policy. A spokesman for former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg updates us with more detail: Hizzoner didn’t like the Iran deal, but also didn’t like how Trump pulled out of it.

Mayor Pete talks

Pete Buttigieg contributes the second piece in our solicitation from leading presidential contenders on how they would combat anti-Semitism and relate to Israel. The first was by Biden.

Worth A Look

A fabulist insinuated herself into a group of formerly Orthodox Jews and persuaded her new friends that she had a similar upbringing … and was dying of cancer. Neither claim was true. At Longreads, Dvora Meyers writes about the devastation her former friend left in her wake.

Tweet So Sweet

At the risk of getting in the middle of it — I like @BernieSanders.

Now let's move on, America.

— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) January 21, 2020

Tom Steyer, a billionaire, keeps on trying to get the attention of Bernie Sanders, who does not love billionaires, and keeps getting the brush-off. Steyer wants America to get over it.

Stay In Touch

Share your thoughts on The Tell, or suggest a topic for us. Connect with Ron Kampeas on Twitter at @kampeas or email him at

The Tell is a weekly roundup of the latest Jewish political news from Ron Kampeas, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Washington Bureau Chief. Sign up here to receive The Tell in your inbox on Thursday evenings.

The post The Tell: It’s candidate endorsement season appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

After 38 years, Jewish convict who helped 1,500 inmates earn degrees is released from prison

JTA - Fri, 2020-01-24 19:51

BLYTHE, Calif. (J., the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California via JTA) — James A. “Sneaky” White Jr., a Jewish inmate convicted of murder and imprisoned for nearly four decades, is now a free man. As he stepped out of prison on Jan. 21 to begin his life anew, his many supporters in the Jewish community were rejoicing with him.

Among them was Rabbi Mendel Kessler, a Chabad rabbi who worked as the Jewish chaplain at Ironwood State Prison in Riverside County, where White spent nearly two decades of his life-without-parole sentence.

“Many tried over the years with better connections” to get White released, said Kessler. “It was just what the Almighty wanted, at this time, in this way.”

White, who grew up in a mostly kosher Jewish home, ordered kosher meals in prison and wore a kippah while at Ironwood, gained supporters during his long incarceration by doing charitable work, initiating a college education program for inmates and starting a veterans organization. He also put effort into his own self-improvement.

Chabad Rabbi Yonason Denebeim, who was chaplain at Ironwood before Kessler, said in a 2018 interview that White had “a genuine concern about other inmates, and his desire to assist those who were willing to put in the effort to improve the quality of their lives went far beyond the prison system.”

Major life highlight happened today, watching James A. White, Jr., a lifer who I wrote about in 2018, go free. Kvelling.

— Alix Wall (@WallAlix) January 21, 2020

“I am truly grateful to the creator and all of his agents that have held fast and true in reaching this joyous day, Baruch HaShem,” Denebeim said.

White gave additional credit for his release to J., which published an article about him on March 22, 2018.

“None of this would have been possible without the J.,” White said, his voice cracking, over his first non-prison meal in 38 years — a vegetarian omelet with an English muffin and tea at the Black Bear Diner in Vacaville, about a mile from the California Medical Facility where he had been incarcerated for the past two years because of his age (he’s approaching 80). “The article the J. did about me is what finally forced the governor to deal with my case.”

A few months after the J. piece was published, an investigator from then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s office visited White, and after a long interview told him that he’d be recommending parole. That August, a number of advocates — former inmates whom he had helped, fellow Vietnam vets and Kessler — spoke on his behalf before the parole board in Sacramento. White was approved for parole later that day. His case was forwarded to the state Supreme Court, and in December 2018 his sentence was commuted by Brown. (His release was delayed another year after a district attorney from Los Angeles County, where the crime was committed, argued against it but did not prevail.)

White was a highly decorated helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War, which is where he earned the nickname Sneaky, for sneaking through a field filled with landmines. He was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when in 1980 he shot and killed the violent ex-husband of his wife, Nancy. White said the man had threatened both of them and molested his own stepdaughter. In 1981 White received his life sentence with no possibility of parole.

Resigned to that reality, he began community outreach programs, including a Vietnam veterans’ group while in San Quentin, one of several prisons where he spent time. At Ironwood, after reading a study about the recidivism rates for those who leave prison with a college degree, he convinced a warden to help him start the college program. At the time there was only one other program like it in the state, at San Quentin; now nearly every prison in California has adopted the format.

White also created a culture of charity in prison, convincing fellow inmates and guards to donate to local organizations. Over the years, he helped raise several hundred thousand dollars for everything from seeing-eye dogs for veterans to a local girls’ softball team, all through in-prison fundraisers like walkathons and pizza sales.

“I’ve been on this case since 1982, working with nonprofit legal groups and law students through the ’80s and ’90s, into the new century, working alongside veterans who served with him, all of us trying to get Jim released,” added Shad Meshad, founder and director of the Los Angeles-based National Veterans Organization. White “has long been a hero of mine for what he accomplished for others. This is just overwhelming for me.”

At breakfast with a group of friends that included three former inmates White had met inside prison (some of whom he hadn’t seen in 15 to 20 years) and this reporter, he commented on how heavy the silverware was — plastic sporks are used in prison — spoke on a cellphone and posed for selfies for the first time. Using the phrase “when I get out,” he immediately laughed and corrected himself.

The post After 38 years, Jewish convict who helped 1,500 inmates earn degrees is released from prison appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The Kurdish economy is tottering, but at least they can still afford fireworks

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 19:43
Iraqi Kurdistan is stuck between a deadlock in Baghdad and a ballooning debt – but restaurants and hotels are packed and New Year’s celebrations were nothing less than spectacular
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