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Jewish Alabama Hails Roy Moore’s Defeat As A Hanukkah Miracle

The Forward - 1 hour 30 min ago
Instead of Antiochus, there was the KKK. Prejudice in the Jim Crow South led to the desecration of sacred space in the 16th Street Baptist Church.

A liberal group celebrated Hanukkah in Trump Tower — to protest Trump

JTA - 1 hour 55 min ago

Rabbi Debra Cantor of Congregation B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom in Bloomfield, Conn., speaking at Trump Tower in Manhattan at the “Not The White House Chanukah Party,” a protest organized by T’ruah, Dec. 13, 2017. (Jake Ratner)

(JTA) — It would be reasonable to assume that the Jews lighting a Hanukkah menorah on the fifth floor of Trump Tower supported the president.

The front of the Midtown Manhattan high-rise, after all, bears his name in large gold letters, and the trash cans in its lobby are emblazoned with “Make America Great Again.” More than a year after the election, campaign gear is sold in the basement.

But the several dozen Jews who came together in the building Wednesday evening weren’t there to celebrate its namesake but to protest him.

Organized by T’ruah, the liberal rabbis’ human rights group, the protest was titled “Not the White House Chanukah Party.”

The president hosted his own Hanukkah party on Dec. 7, with a guest list notable for its omission of Democratic lawmakers and Jewish leaders who have objected to much of his domestic agenda. Some of them came to Wednesday’s protest instead.

T’ruah was able to use the building because a terrace on its fifth floor is technically a New York City public park open to anyone. All one needs to do is pass through security and go to the elevator, where a uniformed attendant will press the button for you.

The event itself was a relatively standard protest of Trump — with a Jewish holiday twist. There were songs (“Al Hanisim,” a Hanukkah prayer thanking God for miracles), chants (“More light, more justice!”), protest signs and snacks (fair trade Hanukkah gelt and decaf coffee). Nine leaders of liberal Jewish groups — including the Workmen’s Circle, HIAS, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice and Bend the Arc — spoke, then each held up a picture of a candle and lined up to form a human menorah.

“Tonight, I light this candle to banish the darkness that comes when power turns abusive, when sexual harassment and sexual violence put fear into our hearts and silence us,” said Dina Charnin, director of Israel policy and programs at the National Council of Jewish Women.

A handful of counterprotesters showed up on the terrace led by Karen Lichtbraun, head of the New York chapter of the far-right Jewish Defense League. She was wearing a camouflage Make America Great Again hat and called T’ruah anti-Semitic.

“T’ruah came here to bash the president and to bash Israel,” Lichtbraun told JTA. “We’re here to express ourselves. We stand with Israel. We stand with the president.”

T’ruah, for its part, sees itself as articulating Jewish values in Israel and the United States. And while it didn’t stand with the president, exactly, it did stand in his building — at least for one night.

Krakow opens first kosher hotel post-Holocaust

JTA - 2 hours 3 min ago

(JTA) — Seventy-five years after the Nazis deported Krakow Jews to concentration camps, descendants of survivors opened the Polish city’s first post-Holocaust kosher hotel.

Hotel Polin opened last month but will have an official launch on Saturday. The 38-room hotel has an in-house synagogue and elevators programmed for use on Shabbat without breaking Jewish Orthodox law.

Its kosher kitchen is under the supervision of the Polish chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, the hotel’s  manager, Eli Zolkos, told JTA on Thursday.

Plans calls for a mikvah, or ritual bath.

A double room at the hotel, which is located near John Paul II International Airport Krakow-Balice, including breakfast costs approximately $45 per night, Zolkos said. The hotel offers shuttles to the city center, to the historically Jewish Kazimierz district, approximately six miles away.

A non-Jewish local businessman invested the $560,000 cost to build the hotel, which may open a branch in Kazimierz.

Zolkos said the hotel’s business model is based on growing traffic between Israel and Poland.

The Nazi occupation forces in Poland at first expelled tens of thousands of Jews from Krakow. They began the deportations of the city’s remaining Jews to death camps in May 1942, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Hundreds of Jews were shot in the ghetto, while the others were dragged out of their homes and put on trains to Belzec and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In March 1943 the ghetto was liquidated, and the remaining 2,000 Jewish workers were taken to the nearby Plaszow forced labor camp. All the others were deported to Auschwitz.

Trump's Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt to travel to Israel next week

Haaretz - 2 hours 10 min ago
Senior Palestinian official says Greenblatt 'doesn’t qualify as a peacemaker'

Three Palestinians killed, dozens hurt in clashes with Israeli forces in Gaza, West Bank

Haaretz - 2 hours 14 min ago
Thousands of Palestinians protest Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Holocaust survivors light Hanukkah candles in inaugural global ceremony

JTA - 2 hours 23 min ago

BERLIN (JTA) — Hundreds of Holocaust survivors around the world participated in an an inaugural global Hanukkah ceremony meant especially for them.

In Jerusalem, New York, Berlin and other German cities, the survivors lit candles on Thursday night, the third evening of the eight-day holiday.

International Holocaust Survivors’ Night was sponsored by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

In the German capital, about 20 survivors met with Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble in the Reichstag and lit a menorah in the Jewish community center.

“They say every person is born with the Lebenslicht, the flame of life,” said Berliner Marlene Herzberg, born in 1934 to a Jewish father and Christian mother.

Herzberg survived because her mother had her baptized.

“The world should be filled with light,” she said.

Rudolf Rosenberg, 92, whose family fled Nazi Germany in 1935, ended up in what was then Leningrad.

“When it’s dark, you have to fight to bring the light back,” he said.

Rosenberg, a retired educator who taught Russian in the former East Germany, returned to live in Berlin in 1993.

“In my opinion, everyone has experienced a miracle at some time in their life,” he said. “For me it’s that I fled Berlin at the age of 10, and that I am here again.”

According to Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, there are some 450,000 survivors living around the world, most of them former Soviet citizens who like Rosenberg had fled eastward. About 90,000 who survived concentration camps, in ghettos or in hiding are still alive, said Schneider, who participated in the Jerusalem event.

“We need to dedicate at least one night of Hanukkah to reminding the world about Holocaust survivors,” Schneider told JTA, adding that he hopes to repeat this next year and beyond. The Hanukkah story “resonates with their story of resilience; of being powerless – you would not believe they could survive – and against all odds they come put triumphant and rebuild.”

In Berlin, some survivors expressed worry about rising anti-Semitism following recent street demonstrations where Israeli flags were burned. The demonstrations came in response to President Donald Trump’s pronouncement that the United States was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“They said that the very aggressive atmosphere and demonstrations at the Brandenburg Gate, right in front of the chanukiyah there, reminded them of 1938,” Rüdiger Mahlo, the Claims Conference representative in Germany, told JTA.

In New York, the Holocaust Survivors Night took place at the Park Avenue Synagogue. And in Israel, some 300 survivors attended a ceremony at the Western Wall.

4 Palestinians Killed In Protests Over Jerusalem — Including Wheelchair-Bound Activist

The Forward - 2 hours 25 min ago
Israeli troops shot dead four Palestinians and wounded 150 others with live fire on Friday

Dutch university’s professor emeritus questions Holocaust on TV, calls Jews ‘parasites’

JTA - 2 hours 36 min ago

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — A professor emeritus from an esteemed university in the Netherlands whose father was a Nazi called Jews “parasites” in a televised interview.

Jan Tollenaere, a lecturer on medicinal chemistry who retired from the Utrecht University in 2001, also questioned the historical record on the Holocaust in an interview aired Thursday by the Canvas broadcaster in Belgium about children of Nazi collaborators.

Tollenaere, whose father, Raymond, was in charge of propaganda for the Belgian pro-Nazi collaborationist government of Flanders during the German occupation of Belgium in World War II, said Jews “are not a nice people, I don’t feel any warmth toward them.” They are, he added, “parasites, speculators and mean people.”

In the interview, Tollenaere described himself as an anti-Semite.

About the Holocaust, Tollenaere said: “Was it really a reality? I think there was propaganda in play to underscore the Holocaust, to exaggerate it and cynically use it, leverage it to extract money.”

A Utrecht University spokeswoman said her institution “fully and clearly distances itself” from Tollenaere, whom she described as a “former employee and nothing more.” But Tollenaere’s page on the university’s website does not make clear he is no longer active with the university or that he retired from it.

The professor emeritus title “is no honorary title and cannot be taken away, it simply means that he is a retired professor,” the spokeswoman said.

Asked whether, given his heritage, the university had looked into Tollenaere’s politics prior to hiring him, she said, “We don’t judge people according to their parents; that would be unfair. We look at faculty and prospective faculty according to their actions.”

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, the Netherlands’ foremost watchdog on anti-Semitism, condemned Tollenaere’s remarks as disgusting.

“Such an anti-Semite must not be allowed to be associated with any educational institute in the Netherlands,” the group said in a statement.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations of the Flemish Region in Belgium and the Joods Actueel Jewish monthly in Antwerp also condemned Tollenaere. But the Forum also criticized Canvas, the broadcaster, for offering “a podium to the views of Tollenaere’s father.”

Separately, the Dutch Party for Freedom, a populist anti-Islam party, kicked out a local politician from Rotterdam who posted congratulations on Facebook to David Irving, a Holocaust denier from Britain, on his birthday in March.

“Many more productive years, you really have my respect,” wrote Géza Hegedüs, who headed the party’s Rotterdam operations.

Geert Wilders, the head of the party, which in the March elections emerged as the country’s second largest, said Friday in a statement that Hegedus “would have never received the position” had the party been aware of his views.

Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic Ed, Eats His Words In Interview With Nikole Hannah-Jones

The Forward - 3 hours 23 min ago
“I am not a slave. That’s true,” Hannah-Jones deadpanned.

Former NBA Star Was Inspired By Amar’e Stoudemire - And Lakewood - To Convert To Judaism

The Forward - 3 hours 24 min ago
Chris Smith, the latest American basketball pro to move to Israel, was inspired by Amar’e Stoudemire to convert to Judaism.

Steve Bannon Met By Protests At Jewish Congressman’s Fundraiser

The Forward - 3 hours 37 min ago
“It is deeply disturbing that Rep. Zeldin would ally himself with someone so clearly hostile to our community and our values.”

Israeli Man Shot His Daughter, 9, Before Killing Himself In His Texas Home

The Forward - 4 hours 6 min ago
Yariv Kaplan was going through a divorce and was fighting for custody of his daughter.

Controversial Israeli film ‘Foxtrot’ makes Oscar shortlist

JTA - 4 hours 51 min ago

(JTA) —  “Foxtrot,” a film that Israel’s culture minister said attempts to “undermine” her country and its soldiers’ morality, has been named to the Academy Awards shortlist for best foreign language film.

Director Samuel Maoz’s movie made the list of nine films announced Thursday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 92 submissions. Five finalists will be selected on Jan. 23, when all the Oscar-nominated films are announced.

Starring Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler, “Foxtrot” is a superb and wrenching film about parental grief at the death of a soldier’s son, the joys and stresses of marriage, the boredom of army life, and how Israel’s occupation humiliates the occupied and hardens the occupiers.

In a phone interview with JTA, Maoz described his film as “the dance of a man with his fate.” He said “there are many variations to this dance, but they end up at the same starting point.”

The film features a scene in which Israeli soldiers kill a family in their car and then cover up the act.

Israel’s culture minister, Miri Regev, has blasted the film.

“It is inconceivable,” Regev declared publicly, “that movies which shame the reputation of the Israel Defense Forces … and that are supported (financially) by the state …  are selected to showcase Israel cinema abroad.”

In the interview, Maoz did not directly address Regev’s criticism, but declared, “When my brothers are dying, I have the right to make such a movie.”

Maoz and Askenazi have defended the film as an “allegorical tale” about what they consider Israeli occupation, adding it does not seriously claim the Israeli army covers up civilians’ deaths.

It won the Silver Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival and swept the Ophir Awards, Israel’s version of the Oscars, with eight wins, earning it a place as Israel’s entry for the Academy Awards in the foreign language category.

Israel’s last nominee to make it to the Oscars was Joseph Cedar’s 2011 film “Footnote,” which lost to “A Separation,” the Iranian entry. That year was the last time an Israeli film made the shortlist, AFP reported.

Among its competition for the Oscar will be Lebanon’s “The Insult,” about the civil war in that country. French-Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri was briefly detained this year in Lebanon after arriving there to promote the film for having shot 2013’s ” The Attack” in Israel. He was eventually cleared by a military tribunal.

The German movie “In the Fade,” which also made the cut, addresses the rise of neo-Nazism in present-day Germany dramatized through the murder by a neo-Nazi couple of a German woman, her Kurdish husband and their small son.

Director Fatih Akin, a German-born citizen of Turkish descent, attributed the growing neo-Nazi sentiment mainly to hostility to the large number of refugees, mainly from Muslim countries, admitted into Germany.

“We are seeing the rise of a new racism in Germany based on the fear that the existing German identity will be altered by the refugees,” Akin said in a phone interview.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said hate groups everywhere “have perfected the delivery system” of their anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish messages through the use of social and other media.”

In contrast to nearly every other year since the end of World War II, none of the 92 entries dealt with the Holocaust or the Hitler era. This may well indicate that to a new generation, the horrors of the 1930s and ’40s are ancient history.

Conversely, there have been a few years during the past decade when producers and directors stayed away from this era, only to return to it in a subsequent year.



The Academy Awards will be handed out on March 4 in Los Angeles.

Israeli Film, Deemed ‘Enemy Propaganda’ By Government, Shortlisted For Oscar

The Forward - 4 hours 52 min ago
 A film which Israel’s culture minister said attempts to “undermine” her country and its soldiers’ morality has been named to the shortl

ISIS Could Rise Again - Foreign Affairs

ISIS Watch - 5 hours 14 min ago

Foreign Affairs

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Israeli soldier wounded in West Bank stabbing amid riots

JTA - 5 hours 40 min ago

(JTA) — An Israeli soldier sustained moderate injuries from a Palestinian who stabbed him while wearing what appeared like an explosive vest, the media in Israel reported.

The incident, in which other soldiers shot the suspected terrorist, causing him serious injuries, occurred Friday near Ramallah, where Israel Defense Forces and Border Police troops were confronting rioters, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The soldiers fired several rounds at the suspected terrorist upon noticing he was wearing what they thought to be an explosive vest.

Last week, two Palestinians were killed and hundreds more were wounded in widespread riots following President Donald Trump’s declaration that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In its monthly report on terrorist attacks in November, the Israel Security Agency listed 84 attacks – a slight increase over October’s 71 attacks, which was the lowest tally on the record since 2012. The tally for November is still significantly lower than the average of 125 incidents per month since 2012.

Protesters in Nablus in the West Bank waved Hamas flags at a demonstration in that city earlier this week. In Hebron, protesters waved posters of  Trump depicted as a pig and emblazoned with a Nazi swastika.

J Street slams Abbas’ ‘divisive, inflammatory’ speech on Jerusalem

JTA - 6 hours 33 min ago

(JTA) — J Street, the dovish lobby group on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, condemned remarks by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who said Ramallah may pull out of efforts to reach a settlement.

Abbas made the threat in a speech Tuesday at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, where he also said the United States can no longer mediate peace talks because of President Donald Trump’s declaration on Dec. 6 that the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The United States can and must play a vital and productive role in facilitating negotiations toward a comprehensive two-state solution,” read the statement by J Street, in which the organization said it “rejects” Abbas’ threat, which is called in a statement “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”

While routine for centrist and right-wing organizations supportive of Israel, J Street’s strong-worded rebuke is unusual for that organization.

The “harmful” actions of President Trump, the statement continued, “can be overturned by future administrations and leaders who understand the value of serious diplomacy and the urgent necessity of resolving this conflict.”

In his speech in Istanbul, Abbas made no acknowledgement of Jerusalem’s significance for Jews and Israel. “Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state,” Abbas told delegates. “We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on, because it is completely biased towards Israel.”

He added: “We will tell the Israelis that we are no longer committed to any agreement from Oslo until today,” Ramallah intended to return to the United Nations to circumvent negotiations and gain full membership, he also said.

Federal Judge Alex Kozinski May Be Investigated For Sexual Harassment

The Forward - 7 hours 20 min ago
Judge Alex Kozinski was accused of making sexual comments in front of female employees and of showing pornography to female staffers

Despite Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Pence’s visit to Western Wall expected to be 'private'

Haaretz - 8 hours 46 min ago
For years, American officials have avoided making official visits to the Western Wall, which the State Department considers 'disputed territory'; after Trump's decision, it seems that the situation has not changed
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