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Will the Knesset Recognize the Armenian Genocide in 2015?

PanARMENIAN.Net—Several Armenian media outlets have reported that “it’s possible for Knesset to recognize the Armenian Genocide in 2015, and an Israeli delegation is planning a visit to Armenia in the months to come. But Israeli political analyst Alexander Tsinker told pan-Armenian reporters he was surprised by that. “It’s now 2014, and Israel is busy trying to settle relations with Palestine. It’s not customary in Jerusalem to plan a year ahead… Unfortunately, the [Armenian] Genocide recognition issue won’t be discussed in near future. However the Knesset committee for education, culture and sports, where genocide-related discussions have been held, will continue work in 2014, despite shifts in its composition,” the analyst said, slamming sources for providing unverified reports. He added, “On April 24, Armenia … will mark the 99th anniversary of the first genocide of the 20th century. Millions of people will commemorate the victims of the atrocity perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire. The number of states who’ve recognized the Genocide has been growing … since 1965, when [it] was first recognized by Uruguay. The suit was followed by Russia, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina and 43 states of the U.S. Unfortunately, Israel is not in this list. As a citizen of Israel and founder of the Israeli-Armenian parliamentary friendship group, I am confident, that the people who survived the Holocaust have no moral right to ignore the tragedy of another nation.”

Israel to Create Kosher Supervision Authority

JNS.org—Israel’s Religious Services Ministry will create a kosher observance authority to put an end to the practice of business and restaurant owners having to pay individual kosher inspectors directly, Israel Hayom reported. According to the plan, which is expected to be presented for government approval in the coming weeks, business and restaurant owners seeking kosher certification will pay a fee to the government, which will then supervise and pay the inspectors. The authority will function under Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, which answers to the Religious Services Ministry. It is being done in response to numerous business owners who complain of overblown monetary and other demands by kashrut inspectors and of improper conduct by government service providers. The purpose of the plan is to fight underhanded deals between inspectors and business owners, and to ensure that state employees work independently of vested interests. The government body will be responsible for collecting the fee, similar to the body that collects municipal taxes.

Presbyterian Church’s New Arab-Israel Study Guide Blasted As Hateful

The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s new study guide on the Arab-Israeli conflict has been called a “hateful document” that “promotes the eradication of Israel” by targeting the core tenets of Zionism and Christian Zionism. The guide promotes historical figures who have “lost the argument over the need for a Jewish state and then presents them as credible voices to non-Jews,” said Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

Mizrahi Launches Yiddish-Speaking Aliyah Campaign

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Mizrahi Movement recently launched a Yiddish-language internet campaign to convince haredim and Hasidim to make aliyah. A Yiddish video was posted to YouTube by Jeremy Gimpel, the organization’s Vice Chairman and a controversial figure among right-wing, pro-Israel Americans. Gimpel told the Post that smartphones and the internet have penetrated into Hasidic groups and threaten to pull them into modernity, “Smartphones and YouTube allow us to reach communities at large that would never otherwise invite us to speak at their synagogues. Using the Internet properly has the potential to change world Jewry,” Gimpel said. “My hope for the Yiddish speaking Hasidim is that they begin to see living in Israel as a part of their religious responsibly and ultimately a part of Jewish destiny.” He also said that a Yiddish journalist told him that it might be time to reach out to the Satmar and other Hasidim, where “people are starting to consider Eretz Yisroel as a real option to raising their families in an uncorrupted Jewish environment. The State of Israel which was once seen as a threat to a Torah-based life is being seen as a potential safe haven for people who want to live a Torah-based life.”

Will the Vatican Open World War II Archives?

JNS.org— Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a close friend of Pope Francis, who co-authored On Heaven and Earth with him, thinks the pontiff may open up the Vatican’s sealed archives from World War II. The archive details the church’s activities during the war, and has been a point of controversy for several decades. Many Jews accuse the Vatican and former wartime Pope Pius XII of staying silent during the Holocaust. Skorka said he believes the pontiff will keep his word and eventually open the archives. “The Pope is consistent with all he said as a cardinal, and as Pope he will undoubtedly make happen what he said he would as cardinal. What we said to each other was between us, but I believe that, yes, he will open the archives,” Skorka told the Sunday Times of London.

 

Da Vinci Alive Multimedia Art Experience  In TA Through April 2014

Tel Aviv—Israel is hosting the world premiere of Da Vinci Live, a stunning new multimedia art experience showcasing the works of legendary Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci at the Israel Trade Fairs Center in Tel Aviv, now through April 28, 2014. The groundbreaking art experience brings travelers through the lifetime oeuvre of Leonardo Da Vinci, and features more than 3,000 images of his works projected onto massive high-definition visual screens and accompanied by music. The exhibition is highlighted by Secrets of Mona Lisa, a multimedia presentation showcasing the findings of French scientific engineer and fine art examiner Pascal Cotte and illustrated by 40 magnified, high-resolution images exploring every aspect of the artwork. Da Vinci Alive will also feature large-scale projections of the Virgin of the Rocks and The Annunciation, as well as anatomical sketches, a preparatory drawing of The Battle of Anghiari and three-dimensional interactive presentations of The Last Supper. For tickets and additional information, visit http://www.dv-alive.co.il/Eng.html

Chinese Conglomerate to Buy Tnuva?

JNS.org—Negotiations for control of Israeli dairy cooperative Tnuva are moving forward, as the company’s controlling shareholders—British investment firm Apax and Mivtach Shamir Food Industries Ltd.—consider selling Apax’s share in the company to China’s Bright Food Group. If the deal goes forward it would be for $2.4 billion to $2.7 billion. But contrary to rumors, the Chinese company is not planning to send representatives to Israel in the near future, according to Israel Hayom. Currently, Apax and Mivtach Shamir control 76.7% of Tnuva’s shares, with the remainder still controlled by kibbutzim and agricultural communities. The majority share, 56.5%, belongs to Apax.

Migdal Ohr Founder Earns Presidential Medal

Migdal Ohr (Tower of Light) founder and dean Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman was awarded Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction recently. It was presented by Israeli President Shimon Peres, and is an award given to those who have made outstanding contributions to the State of Israel or to humanity. Peres described the rabbi, who won the Israel Prize in the past, as a “tower of light that shines rays of hope on hundreds of thousands of children at risk. The Migdal Ohr Institutions which you have established have been in many instances, the last chance for these youth to realize their hidden potential.” Migdal Ohr provides free foster care, education, housing, clothing and food, medical care and counseling to underprivileged, impoverished, and at-risk Jewish children in Israel. Three main education campuses and 160 youth clubs located across the country serve over 10,000 youth from pre-school through college-age and across religious and socio-economic spectrums. Migdal Ohr alumni are among Israel’s top doctors, lawyers, community leaders, army generals, and even a member of the Knesset. Past medal recipients include Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Elie Wiesel.

Israeli Treatment for Acid Reflux Ready to Go

JNS.org—Israeli medical device-maker Medigus will begin selling its flexible endoscope for the treatment of acid reflux this year. The medical product is expected to garner several million dollars in revenue in 2014 alone. The Medigus device allows outpatient treatment without surgical intervention. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and staples the stomach to the wall of the esophagus to close the gap in order to prevent digestive acid from burning the base of the esophagus. Physicians can see what they are doing via a small video camera on the tip of the device, as well as with an ultrasound machine. The U.S. comprises about 25 percent of the global market for the device. By the end of the year, Medicus plans to open 10 treatment centers in the U.S. and 10 more in Europe. The cost for the device itself is between $10,000 and $12,000, significantly lower than the $18,000-$25,000 cost of conventional surgery.

A Day to Stop Sinat Chinom

For the second year running, the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies is calling on Jews around the world to commemorate a rarely observed Jewish fast on the 9th of Adar, that they are calling the International Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict, whose purpose is to try to create respectful and peaceful debate on the issues that divide Jewish communities around the world. The Ninth of Adar commemorates the little-known events that took place on that day in the year 70 CE—the day that Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai broke out in violent conflict against each other, leading to the deaths of 3,000 students. The event is mentioned in the Bavli and Yerushalimi Talmuds, and was declared a fast day in Babylonia in the 9th century. The ancient dispute that led to the conflict between the houses of Hillel and Shammai centered around arguments over 18 points of Jewish law, which more generally reflected opposing positions on whether or not to make peace with the Roman Empire, and immediately preceded the destruction of Bayit Sheyni by the Romans. Fasting, teaching and committing to engaging constructively in one’s own conflicts are among the recommendations Pardes makes for honoring that date.

Adelson’s Casino Websites Hacked

Las Vegas—Combined services report that the FBI and Secret Service are looking into the hacking of Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Casino websites, which were knocked out of commission for more than a day. A week ago Monday morning, the email crashed. On Tuesday morning, hackers controlled all the Sands sites, and posted a collage featuring a map of his casino locations engulfed in flames and a snapshot of Adelson posing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with a message condemning the use of weapons of mass destruction. (Adelson had suggested, on more than one occasion, that the U.S. and Israel bomb Iran with nuclear weapons.) The hackers also posted employee Social Security numbers and signed their work, “Anti WMD Team.” As we went to press, it was still unclear if there was credit card/identity theft from casino patrons. In addition to the FBI and Secret Service, the Nevada State Gaming Control Board is also investigating the cyberattack. Las Vegas Sands Corp. runs the largest casino in the world in the Chinese gambling enclave in Macau. It also owns hotel-casinos in Singapore and Bethlehem, PA.

Abbas Says He Doesn’t Want to Drown Israel in Refugees

Ramallah—PA President, Mahmoud Abbas last week told 300 young Israelis who visited him in the West Bank that he does not want to “drown Israel with millions of [Palestinian] refugees to change its nature.” The comment was made a little over a week ago, and was the “most conciliatory” statement that had been made on the issue of the right of return of Palestinian refugees uprooted from homes during the War of Independence. Today, there are about 5 million Palestinian refugees. Abbas said he is seeking a “creative solution” which analysts say is an indication that Abbas is not demanding a blanket “right of return.”

Rabbis say NO to Spain, Portugal Granting Dual Citizenship to Sephardim

(Combined Services)—Recently Spain announced that it will offer citizenship to Sephardim who descended from those who were expelled during the Inquisition in 1492. Now Portugal is also planning to grant citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews, who were expelled in 1493. The draft Portuguese legislation is identical to the Spanish bill. But according to Arutz 7, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner and others are unhappy. Aviner, rosh yeshiva of Ateret Cohanim (a pet project of the late PM Arik Sharon) has forbidden Israelis to obtain Spanish passports on the grounds that the gesture may be a political ruse to “make up for” the expulsion of Jews. He said the Jewish world cannot and should not forgive Spain for the expulsion and Inquisition. He asked, “Do we really need their favors?” Rabbi Haim Druckman, rosh yeshiva of Or Ezion, asked, “Why do we need Spanish citizenship? We are privileged to have our own country and we should be proud to be its citizens.” Rabbi Druckman’s wife is eligible for Spanish citizenship. Sephardic Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, Av Beit Din of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, was also critical. “There is an old cherem on returning to Spain after the expulsion.” In recent years, many Jewish families began to look for passports from the countries of their parents’ origins, ie. from Poland, Hungary and Germany. A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors who lived in Israel and is seeking a Polish passport told JLBC, “It doesn’t hurt to have them just in case we need them. You never know. After all, my grandparents didn’t have passports, couldn’t get them, and we know what happened to them. The more passports I can use to protect my family, the better.”

After Years, Dutch Diplomat Recognized As Righteous Gentile

Jerusalem—Yad Vashem and the Dutch Embassy have announced that Lt. Joop Kolkman, a Dutch diplomat who died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944, has, after years of research, been recognized as one of the Righteous Among the Nations in a ceremony at The Hague last Monday. Kolkman, a journalist who worked in Paris at the beginning of the war and served as a Dutch diplomat in France, worked to smuggle people through the Pyrenees, got them papers, had them released from concentration camps and did what he could to help refugees.

Kerry’s Jewish Brother Calls Attacks on Secretary of State Vile

Yediot Achronot reports that Bostonian and shul-goer Cameron Kerry, Secretary of State John Kerry’s Jewish brother, is fuming because of ad hominem attacks by Israeli officials on his brother. In an op-ed for an Israeli newspaper, he mentioned relatives who died in the Holocaust and said, “These experiences and their deeply personal meaning for my family make it all the more disturbing that some have recently suggested that my brother, John Kerry, had expressed ‘anti-Semitic undertones’ in his pursuit of a framework for negotiations, and some even suggested that he ‘has declared war on God,’” Cameron Kerry wrote. “Such charges would be ridiculous if they were not so vile.” Moti Yogev, an MK in the Bayit HaYehudi Party, said John Kerry’s mission had an “undertone of anti-Semitism.” Rabbis who support the settlers warned Kerry that he will face divine retribution for his mission. Major U.S. Jewish organizations have rebuked the attackers, and Bibi told them to stop attacking American diplomats.

Bi-Partisan Groups Undermine Iran Sanctions Effort

Behind-the-scenes dealings may undermine Iran sanctions effort. A letter to President Barack Obama opposing new Iran sanctions, drafted by U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and David Price (D-NC), has garnered more than 90 signatures from members of the House.

Magen Battles Child Sexual Abuse in Israeli Orthodox Communities

JNS.org—Magen, a Hebrew word meaning “protector,” is the catalyst for bringing the topic of sexual abuse of minors to light among Israel’s Orthodox community. In 2010, Magen was founded by David Morris in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. Three years later, the three-staff operation is becoming well known across the Jewish state, as its efforts have resulted in sweeping change for the 98,000-person community. Magen and the Haruv Institute have organized the First International Congress for Child Protection Organizations in the Jewish Community, taking place fromMarch 3-5 in Jerusalem. The conference will draw representatives from the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Belgium, South Africa, and Israel to talk about how to deal with sexual abuse in the Jewish community.

Forget the Kiki-Riki—Hadar Magazine Brings Fashion to  Frum Women Everywhere

JNS.org—Cool weather trends. Pop patterns. Couture for a cause. It could be Vogue or Elle. But it’s Hadar Magazine. This new Orthodox women’s fashion magazine, started one year ago in January 2013, will publish its third edition just after Purim. The glossy, high-end magazine—available for $3.99 in stores throughout the New York/New Jersey area and for purchase online (hadarmagazine.com)—is the brainchild of Stern College graduate Bari Weizman and the product of her and a good friend’s creativity and entrepreneurship. “I started thinking about all of these different fashion bloggers and how there is such a big interest in the Jewish community to add more fashion into one’s wardrobe, instead of just putting a Kiki Riki [shell] under everything,” Weizman said.

Turkish PM Says No Deal with Israel Unless Hamas Blockade is Lifted

TIP—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saidAnkara will refuse to normalize relations with Israel until Jerusalem lifts its blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, thereby reneging on commitments made to President Barack Obama in the context of a U.S-backed effort to achieve rapprochement between Turkey and Israel. A year ago, Erdogan was maneuvered by Obama into accepting reconciliation on terms that had long been offered by Israel, which did not include lifting the blockade. The diplomatic concession came amid a precipitous slide in Turkey’s foreign policy prestige, but the terms of the deal generated “hardline domestic criticism.” Israeli journalist Arad Nir noted that Erdogan today was “pouring cold water on reconciliation” just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was gearing up to publicly and privately “market” other concessions that Jerusalem was preparing to make to reestablish ties.

More Syrians Than Ever Killed During Peace Talks

TIP—Reuters on Wednesday conveyed statements from the UK-based Observatory for Human Rights assessing that ‘more Syrians have been killed in the three weeks since peace talks began than at any other time in the civil war,’ amid an ongoing offensive that has seen Hezbollah-backed Syrian troops consolidating control over critical border towns. The Observatory claimed that more than 230 have been killed every single day since January 22, when Geneva II talks between the Bashar al-Assad regime and opposition elements began. More than 130,000 Syrians have likely been killed in the nearly three-year war, though the numbers have become contested since the U.N. literally gave up trying to count the casualties.

Israeli Police Want Former Chief Rabbi Tried for Bribery and Fraud

Jerusalem— Haaretz reports that Israeli Police recommended that former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger be put on trial for bribery and fraud. They finished an investigation begun in November 2013 and sent their recommendations to the Jerusalem District prosecutor.

Israel’s attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, will decide if an indictment will be filed against him. Ynet said Metzger’s investigation was done in cooperation with the Israel Tax Authority.

He is accused of accepting several million shekel to advance the interests of several nonprofit organizations. He is also accused of trying silence witnesses and obstruct the investigation.

Beit Shemesh and Nazereth Ordered to Hold New Mayoral Elections

Beit Shemesh—The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered new elections in Beit Shemesh and Nazareth, where people were caught with false id’s and costumes on election day, voting early and voting often. Ballot boxes in Nazereth were found to be stuffed with fraudulent ballots. In Beit Shemesh, Eli Cohen, who challenged the haredi candidate, Moshe Abutbul of Shas, appealed the results of that election with Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. He said the court’s decision last week upheld the principle that “the integrity of elections and public trust are inviolable.” Abutbul said, “I was not surprised by the decision, but I was surprised by the ease with which it is possible to cancel an election result, with which it is possible to erase democracy.” Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced new mayoral elections in Beit Shemesh and Nazareth will take place on March 11.

60 Additional Masterpieces Removed From Gurlitt’s Properties

AFP reports that another 60 masterpieces that may have been looted-Nazi art have been recovered from Cornelius Gurlitt’s property in Salzburg, Austria. Among them were works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Auguste Renoir. For the moment, there is no proof that any of the newly discovered painting were looted, but investigations of provenance continue.

Gurlitt’s case made headlines late last year when it emerged that investigators had found more than 1,400 artworks in his Munich flat, including long-lost works by masters including Matisse and Chagall. Gurlitt, 81, is the son of Nazi-era art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, who acquired the paintings in the 1930s and 1940s and had been tasked by the Nazis with selling stolen works and art the Hitler regime deemed “degenerate.” WJC President Ronald S. Lauder has called for Germany to lift a 30-year statute of limitations on reclaiming stolen property as well as for the formation of an international commission to help process claims and examine public collections in Germany for stolen works. A task force appointed to research the origin of the 1,400-odd Gurlitt works has said that about 590 of them are suspected to have been looted or extorted by the Nazis from Jewish collectors.

Knesset Votes to Increase Aid to Holocaust Survivors

Jerusalem—18,500 legally recognized Holocaust survivors will be able to receive an annual grant of NIS 4,750 and a monthly stipend of NIS 1850. The Knesset voted for the government to spend an additional NIS 60 million to help Holocaust survivors last week. The bill passed in its final reading and gives all 18,500 legally recognized Holocaust survivors an annual grant of NIS 4,750. Currently, only 6,000 survivors who receive income support are eligible to get the grant.

Survivors will receive the grant for 2014 this month, as well as a retroactive payment for 2013. In addition, a monthly stipend of NIS 1850 will be now given in money as opposed to coupons for services, as it was before the law passed. As many as 35 Holocaust survivors die in Israel every day, and more than 18,000 live below the poverty line.

The Israeli start-up SlickLogin is Purchased by Google

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org)—Google has purchased its fifth Israeli company, the Tel Aviv-based start-up SlickLogin, whose technology verifies and authenticates user identity (when logging onto a website) by using an audio signal sent through a smartphone app. SlickLogin founders Or Zelig, Eran Galili, and Ori Kabeli began developing their program in August 2013. In September, they presented it at San Francisco’s technology start-up conference TechCrunch Disrupt, and in December registered as an official company. The three-man company—which has not yet registered a patent or recruited investors, and has no customers—joined Google’s global team operating out of Tel Aviv. SlickLogin said Google “shares our core beliefs that logging in should be easy instead of frustrating, and authentication should be effective without getting in the way.”

JNF plans to invest $285 million in Negev, Galilee

JNS.orgSpeaking at a media tour of the Negev and the Arava, Jewish National Fund (JNF) Chairman Efi Stenzler said last week that the organization plans to invest more than NIS 1 billion ($285 million) in the development of the Negev and the Galilee regions in the coming years, with the aim of creating a higher quality of life in both regions. “The JNF has made a strategic decision to reduce the gaps between the periphery and central Israel, the Negev and the Galilee,” Stenzler said. “We’re tenaciously pursuing the new Zionism, meaning settling the Negev, through vast and unprecedented investments in the area. The JNF, as a green Zionist organization, has chosen the geographic and social periphery as Israel’s future growth district,” he added.

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