Archive for the ‘Headlines & Breaking News’ Category

Police Find Driver From Beit Shemesh Hit And Run

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

mishtPolice announce having successfully located the driver from the hit-and-run accident in Beit Shemesh that occurred on Sunday 23 Shevat at 4:00PM on Ben-Ze’ev Boulevard.

A private vehicle struck a 60-year-old woman crossing in an authorized crosswalk. The victim was transported to the emergency room of Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in moderate condition.

Police accident investigation technicians worked the scene in the hope of gathering clues towards locating the driver who fled the scene. on Tuesday evening the driver was located and taken into custody. The driver is a 30-year-old Beit Shemesh resident and she was arraigned on Wednesday with police requesting she be held without bail.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

VP Pence Makes Unannounced Stop At Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

pVice President Mike Pence made an unannounced trip to the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City Wednesday.

Nearly 200 gravestones were damaged at the historic Jewish cemetery over the weekend. Police said they do not have evidence to indicate the vandalism was a hate crime, but said they are continuing their investigation. No arrests have been made.

“People in St. Louis are inspiring the nation,” said Vice President Mike Pence “You are showing the world what America is all about.”

Vice President Mike Pence is in Fenton to tour a plant and talk about job growth. He commented on the act of vandalism in St. Louis.

“Monday morning America discovered that nearly 200 tombstones were toppled in a nearby Jewish cemetery. Speaking just yesterday President Trump called this, ‘a horrible and painful act.’ And so it was. That, along with other recent threats to Jewish Community Centers around the country. He declared it all a sad reminder of hate, prejudice and evil.

We condemn this vile act of vandalism and the people who perpetrated it in the strongest possible terms.

It has been inspiring to people all across this country to see the people of Missouri rally around the Jewish community with compassion. You have inspired this nation with your kindness and your generosity.

Three days ago my wife and daughter and I were overseas. We saw first hand what happens when hatred runs rampant in a society. We were near Munich Germany where we visited where the first Nazi concentration camps were constructed. We were accompanied by a survivor of Dachau. A 93-year-old man who said he arrived there as a 17-year-old boy. He told us of his hellish life as we walked through that memorial. He toiled as a slave while others around him were taken away one by one to never return. By the grace of God he survived.

Before he left, he spoke words that touched my heart, and I’ll always carry with me throughout my life. They resonate with me today. He spoke of his hellish existence in the waning days of the war. He looked up at me with a smile and said, ‘Then the Americans came.’

He spoke of the kindness of the American soldiers that liberated that camp. He pointed a finger at me and said, ‘When you go back you thank every one of those soldiers for what they did. Will you join me in applause for every man and woman who has worn the uniform of the United States of America.’”

DEVELOPING STORY

2 Million Calphalon Knives Recalled Due To Laceration Hazard

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

1Cutlery maker Calphalon is recalling two million knives due to a laceration hazard.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the blades can break during use, increasing the risk. Calphalon has received 27 reports of finger or hand lacerations, including four that required stitches, in addition to about 3,150 reports of broken knives.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled cutlery and contact Calphalon for a replacement cutlery product.

The company can be reached at 800-809-7267 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or online at Calphalon.com. Click on “Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery Recall Information” for more information.

The recall involves Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery carving, chef, paring, santoku and utility knives, sold individually and in sets, made between August 2008 and March 2016.

The following models are included in the recall:
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery 4.5″ Parer KNR10045C
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery 7″ Santoku KNR0007C
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery Contemporary Paring Knife Set 1821332
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery 5″ Santoku KNR0005C
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery 8″ Chef Knife KNR4008C
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery Fruit/Vegetable Set – 3.5″ parer & 6″ utility KNSR002C
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery Carving Set – 6″ fork & 8″ slicer KNSR0102C
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery 21-piece set 3.5″ parer, 5″ boning knife, 5″ santoku, 5.5″ tomato/bagel knife, 6″ fork, 6″ utility, 7″ santoku, 8″ bread, 8″ chef’s knife, 8″ slicer, 10″ steel, kitchen shears, 8 steak knives, and knife block 1808009
–Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery 17-piece set 4.5″ parer, 6″ utility, 7″ santoku, 8″ bread, 8″ chef’s knife, 8″ slicer, 10″ steel, kitchen shears, 8 steak knives, and knife block 1808008
–Calphalon Contemporary SharpIN Cutlery 14-piece set 4.5″ Parer, 6″ Utility, 8″ Bread, 8″ Chef’s Knife, 8 Steak Knives, Kitchen Shears, Sharpening Knife Block 1922890
–Calphalon Contemporary SharpIN Cutlery 15-piece set 4.5″ Parer, 6″ Utility, 7″ Santoku, 8″ Bread, 8″ Chef’s Knife, 8 Steak Knives, Kitchen Shears, Sharpening Knife Block 1922971
–Calphalon Contemporary SharpIN Cutlery 18-piece set 4.5″ Parer, 5″ Boning, 5.5″ Tomato, 6″ Utility, 7″ Santoku, 8″ Bread, 8″ Chef’s Knife, 8″ Slicer, 8 Steak Knives, Kitchen Shears, Sharpening Knife Block 1932810
–Calphalon Contemporary SharpIN Cutlery 20-piece set 4.5″ Parer, 5″ Boning, 5″ Santoku, 5.5″ Tomato, 6″ Fork, 6″ Utility, 7″ Santoku, 8″ Bread, 8″ Chef’s Knife, 8″ Slicer, 8 Steak Knives, Kitchen Shears, Sharpening Knife Block 1922976

The items were sold at J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and other stores nationwide, and online at Amazon.com from September 2008 through December 2016. The recalled knives were sold from September 2008 through December 2016 for $25 for a single knife to $300 for a knife block set.

(Via: ABC News)

PHOTOS: Israel: B’chasdei Hashem United Hatzalah EMS Arrives In Time To Save Disabled Passengers From Burning Vehicle

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

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[PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]

B’chasdei Hashem a catastrophe was averted on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway near Chemed Interchange eastbound on Wednesday morning 26 Shevat. A van transported disabled persons caught fire. When EMS responders from United Hatzalah arrived on the scene, they quickly evaluated the situation and realized there were disabled persons trapped in the van which was ablaze.

Baruch Hashem, they were able to extricate everyone from the vehicle in time, leaving Beit Shemesh firefighters the task of extinguishing the blaze. As a result of their quick actions there was no loss of life or injuries.

United Hatzalah EMT Micha Shulam explained “There is no doubt this was a miracle. If were chas v’sholom would not have succeeded in getting everyone out of the vehicle to a safe distance, the incident would have ended with deaths. Seconds after the last person was out the vehicle it went up in flames and was totally engulfed. Traffic in the area was halted as result”.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photo Credit: United Hatzalah & Police spokesman unit)

Shechita Upheld By Belgian Court – Restricting Shechita Violates Religious Freedom

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

1It was a big victory for the Jewish community as the Belgian Wallonia District Court upheld the right of Shechita as the court ruled to forbid it, would be an affront to freedom of religion as well as significantly harming human and religious right, which would be a violation of the law.

A number of local senators have challenged kosher slaughter; claiming animal suffering and seeking to compel the stunning of an animal before shechita.

Belgian Chief Rabbi Avraham Gigi praised the court’s decision, which he explains is viewed as a message to neighboring European nations as well.

Rabbi Gigi explains rabbonim met with the president of Machzikei Hadas in Antwerp, Rav Pinchas Kornfeld, together with heads of parties, and they explained the significance of shechita to Jews, asking on the lawmakers to vote against any effort to set shechita restrictions in place.

Rabbi Gigi and Rabbi Kornfeld met again on Wednesday, 26 Shevat with the persons standing behind the bill to once again explain the significance of kashrus and shechita, hoping to win them over. Rabbi Gigi added after the verdict was announced that if efforts continue to pass a law limiting shechita, he and his colleagues not hesitate to take their case to the International Court in The Hague for adjudication.

Belgium is a federation made up of three regions: Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels.

Bologna is composed of residents of the community and Wallonia and 80% of French-speaking Brussels. Region Wallonia has some 3.5 million people or about 33% of residents of Belgium.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

WATCH: Left Fear-Mongering As Trump Enforces Immigration Laws?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017


Tucker takes on one immigration activist as the Trump administration looks to hire thousands more officers, end ‘catch-and release’ policies and begin work on president’s border wall.

Jack Teital Continues His Hunger Strike In Prison

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

1Yaakov (Jack) Teital, who is serving two life sentences for murdering Arabs,  is on a hunger strike. His wife, Mrs. Rivkah Teital has turned to Israel Prison Authority officials to cease the policy of violating her husband’s rights, which has had a major impact on her and their daughter.

Teital has been hunger-striking for eleven days after he was suddenly moved from Ayalon Prison to Rimonim Prison and now lives under harsher condition including fewer family visits. Mrs. Teital explains there was no reason for the move, which drastically limits her and her children’s ability to visit. To date they were entitled to three one-hour open visits monthly and now, they may come once monthly for a half hour and they are separated by a glass partition and compelled to speak via a phone.

Mrs. Teital explains this impacts her five children with the oldest being a 12-year-old girl and the youngest a 2-year-old boy. The reduced visitation and condition surrounding the visits she explains to prison officials is having a harsh negative impact on her children. She adds her husband cannot call because he is hunger-striking to demand his basic rights.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

WATCH: Karl Rove Says Trump Should Leave Political Commentating To Pundits

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Effort To Prevent Mandatory Autopsy On SIDS Babies

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

1Yahadut Hatorah MK Uri Maklev is among those working to prevent a mandatory autopsy regulation for children who die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). He accuses police of failing to be willing to accept responsibility in such cases which include clear evidence at the scene regarding the cause of death, but instead, Israel Police wishes to places the burden of the responsibility for determining the cause of death on the forensic institute. Such a reality he explains leads to additional delays surrounding kvura as well as anguish to the family. The new regulation was raised during a meeting of organizations for children’s rights, which support the move.

Maklev added this would demand an autopsy at a family’s worst time, adding he visited the forensic institute and spoke with personnel and clearly, they are uninterested in such a regulation. He concludes “In other nations, only certified SIDS deaths are recorded in statistical data but here in Israel all the deaths are included as a result of fewer autopsies. Nevertheless, there are fewer deaths than elsewhere in the world, not just increased awareness and knowledge of these incidents reduces the risk of death”.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

SpaceX Aborts Approach To Space Station, Delivery Delayed

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

1A navigation error forced SpaceX to delay its shipment to the International Space Station on Wednesday, following an otherwise flawless flight from NASA’s historic moon pad.

SpaceX’s supply ship, the Dragon, was less than a mile from the orbiting outpost when a problem cropped up in the GPS system. The approach was aborted, and the Dragon backed away. NASA said neither the station nor its six-person crew was in any danger.

“As a pilot it is sometimes better to accelerate and circle around than attempt a difficult landing,” French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said in a tweet from the space station. “Same in space – we’ll be ready tomorrow!”

Just a few hours earlier, Russia successfully launched a cargo ship from Kazakhstan, its first since a failed launch in December.

SpaceX launched the Dragon capsule Sunday from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, out of action since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011. It’s the same spot where astronauts flew to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. SpaceX has a 20-year lease with NASA for 39A; besides launching station cargo from there, the company hopes to send up astronauts as early as next year.

Everything was going well with this latest SpaceX flight until the GPS issue. The Dragon’s computers halted the rendezvous from just seven-tenths of a mile away. SpaceX said the problem is well understood and can be fixed before another delivery attempt Thursday. The Russian supplies should arrive Friday.

This was the first time that SpaceX had to abort a shipment at the last minute like this. The company, led by tech billionaire Elon Musk, has been making station deliveries since 2012.

The 250-mile-high station is home to two Americans, three Russians and France’s Pesquet.

(AP)

Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National Headquarters in NYC

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

btThe following is via Breaking911.com:

An anonymous bomb threat was called into the Anti-Defamation League’s headquarters in New York City on Wednesday, part of a rash of bomb threats to Jewish centers throughout the country.

The threat was called into ADL’s Murray Hill headquarters at about 11:08 a.m. on Wednesday, according to police.

“Today the ADL’s national headquarters in New York received an anonymous bomb threat,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “While there is no information at this time to indicate that this is more than a threat, we are taking it very seriously.”

Greenblatt said the civil rights group is working with law enforcement officials to determine if the threat is connected to a recent spate of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers around the nation.

At least 11 JCCs in 10 states received threatening phone calls on Monday. It was the fourth series of such messages this year. About 70 threats have been aimed at almost 60 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province since Jan. 1.

It remains unclear who is making the threats or if they are coming from a single person or a group.

The FBI and the Department of Justice have said they are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with the threats.”

Police Response In El-Chiran Vehicular Attack Under Fire

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

1The actions of police responding to the vehicular terror attack in the Bedouin community of Um el-Chiran are under investigation. Policeman Staff-Sgt. Erez Levy HY”D was killed in the attack.

Investigators now feel police fired warning shots at the vehicle prematurely, as well as firing disproportionately at the vehicle. The Justice Ministry Police Investigations Unit feels there are serious failures regarding the conduct of police.

The attack took place on 18 January 2017 as police were assigned to protect personnel involved in destroying illegal structures in the Bedouin community. During that operation, a vehicle began suspiciously heading in the direction of police. They opened fire, hitting the driver. The vehicle continued moving and struck and killed Erez Levy. The driver, Yaakoub Abu Elakin, 47, died of his wounds as well.

Investigators believe police did not have to open fire as they did at the approaching vehicle, and that the gunfire was too early. In addition, the probe determined the gunfire was “disproportionate” to the threat and failed to take into the account the position of many other police personnel in the area. Investigators feel their gunfire could have led to police injuries. They are still probing if some of the police who opened fire were fired upon. The findings of the probe are incomplete as they still await some ballistic findings. However, for the time being, it appears the actions of police were more an operational blunder than involving disciplinary or criminal misconduct.

Following the incident, there was violence in the community as Arab MKs were among those accusing police of shooting an innocent man to death.

Police who fired told investigators they felt threatened by the vehicle. They stressed on must understand there was total darkness and this is what they felt at the time, true danger. In addition, it was most difficult to identify the position of some of the force.

Investigators have not found evidence that Abu Elakin planned a vehicular attack or any evidence pointing to his intentions. However, the probe does not focus on the driver but rather on the police response.

Earlier this week, investigators announced the probe is still ongoing and it will not be submitted until such time it is complete.

Following the attack, it was reported the driver was influenced by ISIS and he was definitely trying to run over police. However today, it remains uncertain if this is true. While Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan referred to the driver as an ISIS terrorist after the incident, in statements in the Southern District this week he spoke of the “unfortunate incident”, avoiding the use of the word “terror” as the investigation continues.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Photo Essay: Siyum By The ‘Orchos Yosher’ Organization In Israel Attended By Gedolei Yisroel (Photos by JDN)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

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Man Who Smashed Trump Star To Pay Damages, Serve Probation

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

1A man who destroyed Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been sentenced to three years of probation for vandalism.

An attorney for James Otis says he pleaded no contest to the felony Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Attorney Mieke ter Poorten says Otis agreed to pay $4,400 for the damage and attorney’s fees and perform 20 days of community labor.

Otis used a sledgehammer and pickax to deface the star about a week before Trump was elected president.

Otis said he originally planned to the steal the star, sell it and give money to the 11 women who made allegations against Trump.

The star was for Trump’s work on the reality show “The Apprentice.” It has since been repaired.

(AP)

WATCH: Geraldo: Trump’s Immigration Plan Will Convulse This Country

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

PHOTOS: Defense Minister Lieberman Visits N. Command Escorted By IDF Chief Eizenkott

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

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[PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday 25 Shevat visited the IDF’s Northern Command escorted by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-General Gadi Eizenkott.

The senior minister also met with Golani Brigade commanders and troops involved in a training exercise in the Golan Heights, an exercise which also involved combat engineers, tank corps soldiers and artillery personnel in the Barak and Golan outposts.

After observing the forces involved in the exercise he applauded the number of mandatory service and reservist personnel participating, stating “Perhaps this is the best response to the many threats facing us across our borders. Anyone that does not see the Golani training exercise would be wise to hide in an underground bunker.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photo Credit: אריאל חרמוני, משרד הביטחון)

Wal-Mart Keeps Working To Make Inroads Against Amazon

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

wmThe nation’s largest retailer keeps working to make headway against the largest online seller.

Wal-Mart drew more shoppers to its namesake stores in the United States and its online sales soared 29 percent in the fourth quarter, which covers the critical holiday shopping season. That’s an indication that its efforts to lower prices and improve web services are helping it compete better against Amazon, which has built fierce loyalty with its Prime two-day shipping program.

Like other traditional retailers, Wal-Mart has been trying to improve its online operations to challenge Amazon, which accounted for 33 percent of total U.S. online sales last year, according to the research firm Euromonitor. Wal-Mart moved into second place last year ahead of eBay, accounting for 7.8 percent of online sales, up from 7.4 percent in 2015. But Wal-Mart’s online sales still only account for about 3 percent of its global sales, or about $14 billion. That compares with $94 billion in global net product sales for Amazon.com.

The holiday shopping season was tough for many retailers, underscoring the changes they need to make. Macy’s reported another quarter of sluggish sales, even as it’s been scrambling for new ways to bring shoppers in and beef up online services. And Target Corp., one of Wal-Mart’s main rivals, warned last month of weak sales for the holiday season. It reports final figures next week.

“We believe Wal-Mart is continuing to generate critical and increasing traction online,” said Moody’s retail analyst Charlie O’Shea.

Wal-Mart has retooled its online shopping programs and bought up some smaller companies with online strengths. And its aggressive effort to harness the power of its huge number of stores with its online business is starting to take form.

“We’re moving with speed to become more of a digital enterprise and better serve our customers,” CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

Last year, Wal-Mart spent more than $3 billion for Jet.com in a deal aimed at helping it attract younger and more affluent customers. Since then, it purchased online footwear retailer ShoeBuy.com for $70 million and the outdoor and gear seller Moosejaw for $51 million. These sites are operating as stand-alone sites. Wal-Mart last year also raised its stake in JD.com, China’s No. 2 e-commerce site.

Marc Lore, the founder of Jet.com who is now CEO of Walmart.com, said Tuesday the company is still looking for new startups to buy. Under Lore, the company has quadrupled the number of items available on its third-party online marketplace to more than 35 million.

Wal-Mart said it’s working to accelerate the integration between Wal-Mart.com and Jet.com, and trying to take advantage of its scale in areas like shipping and sharing its product selection.

Moving closer to the terms of Amazon’s powerhouse Prime program, Wal-Mart is now offering free two-day shipping on online orders of its most popular items with a minimum purchase order of $35. Amazon Prime costs $99 a year, but comes with services like streaming music and video.

Wal-Mart executives said Tuesday that shoppers are responding well to the program. In a move to rival Wal-Mart’s latest tactic, Amazon, however, quietly posted on its website over the weekend that it was dropping threshold for free shipping for non-Prime members to $35 from $50. But that applies to standard shipping of five to eight days, not two-day delivery.

Besides melding its online and store businesses so shoppers can jump back and forth, Wal-Mart is has launched changes designed to make its stores cleaner and its customer service friendlier and faster. The company has invested $2.7 billion in higher wages and training for workers, a move that it says has helped to lower turnover and improve customer service.

Wal-Mart saw the biggest gain in a key revenue measure in its U.S business in four years, marking the tenth consecutive increase. The number of customers rose for the ninth straight quarter. And the online sales gain of 29 percent, up from 20.6 percent in the previous period, marked the third straight quarter of gains.

Still, Wal-Mart is feeling some short-term pain. It reported fourth-quarter earnings that fell 18 percent as it spent money on online upgrades and stores. The results did beat Wall Street expectations. And total sales were hurt by a stronger U.S. dollar, which is making its international business more challenging.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. also said Tuesday it has seen sales weaken at the beginning of the first quarter in part because a slowdown in tax refunds amid a new tax rule. And it warned that any tax on imported goods, as in a proposal Republicans in Congress have floated, would raise prices and would hurt shoppers.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company earned $3.76 billion, or $1.22 per share in the three months ended Jan. 31. That compares with $4.57 billion, or $1.43 per share, a year ago. Excluding certain items, earnings per share were $1.30. Sales excluding membership fees rose 0.8 percent to $129.75 billion.

Analysts had expected earnings of $1.28 per share on revenue of $131.13 billion, according to FactSet.

The company forecasts earnings per share of 90 cents to $1 for the first quarter and $4.20 to $4.40 for the year. Analysts expect 96 cents per share for the first quarter and $4.32 per share for the year, according to FactSet.

Wal-Mart’s share rose 3 percent, or $2.08, to close at $71.45 on Tuesday.

(AP)

WATCH: Ex-Hospital Chief Says Health Care Swindling Must End

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017


One former hospital president has a message for new HHS Secretary Tom Price: end predatory health care pricing that’s scamming consumers.

Chareidim Insist On Firing Kiryat Yovel Community Council: Kiryat Yovel Community Council Leader’s Words Are Representative Of Mayor Barkat

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

kyJerusalem Councilman Rabbi Eliezer Reichenberg told Kol Berama Radio on Wednesday 26 Shevat that Kiryat Yovel community council official Yechiel Levy must be ousted from his post following his interview on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) on Tuesday.

During the interview, Levy explained his systematic plan to embitter the lives of chareidim in Kiryat Yovel towards getting them to leave. Reichenberg explains no apology can be accepted and he must be removed from his post.

The councilman’s words are in line with statements heard a day earlier from Minister Aryeh Deri and Yaakov Litzman, as well as Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Chareidi party heads sent a letter to Mr. Aviad Friedman, who heads the community councils. Both Yahadut Hatorah and Shas officials in the city government signed the letter.

Levy also sent a letter to Friedman on Tuesday, in which he expresses sorrow and remorse over his statements. “There is no justification for what I said and the words do not represent who I am” he wrote, adding he has been a faithful public servant for decades.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Evidence Of Anti-Semitism, But Data Mostly Elusive

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

asHas anti-Semitism accompanied Donald Trump’s rise to power? Some organizations that monitor hate groups and hate crimes believe so, noting a rash of recent incidents. But data is elusive, and the president’s supporters note his family connection – a Jewish daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren – and his comments this week condemning hate and prejudice.

Here’s a look at recent incidents targeting Jewish sites and anti-Semitism in the U.S.:

ARE HATE CRIMES TARGETING JEWS INCREASING?

Human rights activists and organizations are convinced that Trump’s popularity and electoral victory created an acceptance into the mainstream of the “alt-right,” an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism, and along with it, anti-Semitism.

There have been reports nationwide in recent months of anti-Semitic incidents, including people yelling pro-Hitler comments at a rabbi on the street in Providence, Rhode Island, swastikas drawn in subway cars in New York City, and bomb threats at Jewish buildings in several cities.

But determining whether such incidents have increased is difficult.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that monitors hate groups and extremists, reported last week that the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. rose from 892 in 2015 to 917 in last year. But that’s still short of the all-time high of 1,018 hate groups in 2011.

The organization also counted 1,094 bias-related incidents in the month following Trump’s November election victory, including 33 against Jews, 108 involving swastikas and 47 white nationalist fliers.

New York City police keep a running tab of hate crimes. As of Sunday, 31 hate crimes have been reported against Jewish people this year – more than double compared to the same period of 2016.

Official nationwide government data for the last year isn’t available. The FBI tracks hate crimes, but the most recent available data is from 2015.

WHAT HAS INCREASED CONCERNS ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM?

Among the most recent events were bomb threats phoned in to 11 Jewish community centers across the country on Monday, including in Chicago, Cleveland and Houston.

No bombs were found and no arrests have been made, but the threats – along with similar threats over recent months at other centers – created fear and uncertainty among Jewish people.

Also on Monday, roughly 200 headstones were found knocked over or broken at a Jewish cemetery in suburban St. Louis. No arrests have been made for the damage at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri. Investigators have not yet determined if it was a hate crime. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is Jewish, posted a statement on Facebook calling the vandalism “despicable” and “cowardly.”

WHAT HAS TRUMP SAID ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM?

Until Tuesday, it was what Trump hadn’t said that raised eyebrows.

Jewish groups and others were upset in January when a White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention Jews. Aides to the president defended the statement as “inclusive” of all who were killed by the Nazis.

Last week, when a reporter from the Orthodox Ami Magazine tried to ask Trump during a news conference about increased reports of anti-Jewish harassment and hate crimes, Trump interrupted, saying, “not a fair question.” When reporter Jake Turx tried to continue, the president said: “Quiet, quiet, quiet … I find it repulsive. I hate even the question.”

Trump went on to call himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your life,” and the “least racist person.”

But on Tuesday, Trump denounced threats against Jewish community centers as “horrible” and “painful,” saying more needed to be done “to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

Speaking after a tour of the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, Trump said: “This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.”

DOES TRUMP HAVE PERSONAL TIES TO JUDAISM?

The president is a Presbyterian, but his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism ahead of her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to the president.

Ivanka and Jared Kushner’s children – the president’s grandchildren – are Jewish.

On Monday, Ivanka Trump wrote on Twitter, “We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers,” and used the hashtag #JCC, which stands for Jewish community center.

(AP)