May 27, 2024
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Matisyahu Faces Down BDS and Rocks Spanish Festival

(haaretz.com) An American Jewish musician, who was controversially bared from a reggae festival in Spain before being invited back to play, performed to catcalls from some pro-Palestinian protesters on Sunday, though the concert passed off peacefully after a tense build-up. Matisyahu, who fuses reggae, hip-hop and rock with Jewish influences in his songs, was uninvited from the Rototom Sunsplash festival last week when he failed to reply to a demand to clarify his position on Palestinian statehood.

Organizers were forced into a U-turn after an outcry, with the Spanish government and Jewish organizations condemning the decision, and invited the artist to play on the last night of the week-long festival.

Amid a packed audience at the event in Benicassim, near Valencia in eastern Spain, dozens of people whistled in disapproval as Matisyahu took to the stage in the early hours of Sunday, with some waving Palestinian flags and chanting “out, out.”

But many others in the audience of hundreds applauded the musician as the concert got underway.

“Whoever you are and wherever you come from, raise a flag and wave it in the air,” Matisyahu called to the crowd before his closing song. “Let music be your flag,” he added, after dancing his way through his 45-minute set.

Matisyahu, whose real name is Matthew Miller, earlier this week condemned the attempt to “coerce (him) into political statements,” and said politics played no part in his music.

The campaign to eject Matisyahu was led by the Valencia branch of the BDS group, which opposes Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and campaigns against groups and individuals over their links to Israel.

It had urged a boycott of the American Jewish musician after objecting to comments he had previously made, including in an interview where they said he had questioned the existence of a country called Palestine.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) Defends Support for Iran Deal

(haaretz.com) Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) on Friday defended his decision to support the Iran nuclear deal, pushing back against criticism that he had favored party loyalty over objective of stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Nadler, who represents a large liberal and Orthodox Jewish constituency in the largest Jewish district in the U.S., endorsed the Iran nuclear deal after receiving a lengthy letter from President Barack Obama, which answered his concerns on the international accord, and after concluding that there was no better alternative. As expected, his endorsement of the deal was met with strong approval of liberal and progressive residents in his district, and an equal disapproval by members of the Orthodox Jewish community residing in the Brooklyn part of his district.

Councilman David Greenfield, a Democrat representing Borough Park and Midwood, accused Nadler of lying to the Orthodox Jewish community when he said he’s undecided. “I believed then and am certain now that his mind was made up. That’s dishonest!” Greenfield tweeted. Others went as far as suggesting that Nadler “supports the destruction of the state of Israel.”

In a phone interview with JP Friday afternoon, Nadler insisted that while he was already leaning towards supporting the deal last week, he only made up his mind and came to a final conclusion at the beginning of this week.

“I was leaning in that direction last week, but I decided early this week. To me the whole question was how to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb—a nuclear bomb is an existential threat to Israel— but we have only two choices: to vote to support the deal or not to support the deal, and the question became are the odds of averting a nuclear bomb in the Iranian hands better if you support the deal, or are they better if you oppose the deal,” Nadler explained. “And what I came to a conclusion was that the odds of getting a bomb were better without the deal than with it; that the deal would prevent the bomb much better than not.”

First Ultra-Orthodox Woman Accepted Into El Al Pilot Training

Israel’s national airline, El Al, accepted an ultra-Orthodox woman into its pilot training program.

Identified in Israeli media only by her first name, Nechama, the new recruit is a mother of three children in her early 30s from a town near Jerusalem, the news site www.ch10.co.il reported on Wednesday.

Nechama, who will be El Al’s first female Charedi candidate, went to flight school in the U.S. after attending the Beit Yaakov seminary. She applied to El Al several years after receiving a pilot’s license and returned regularly to the U.S.s to fly in order to make the flight-hour threshold required of candidates for El Al’s training program.

She succeeded in the tryouts and tests for El Al’s upcoming class, and received notice of her acceptance in recent weeks, according to the report. She is scheduled to begin training in approximately three months. An El Al spokesperson described her as “an impressive woman with special abilities and a high level of personal qualities,” according to ch10.co.il.

She was quoted as saying: “Being a pilot has always been a dream of mine. My husband is very supportive, and he is helping realize this dream.”

Gay Pride Parade Stabber Charged With First-Degree Murder, Six Attempted Murders

(haaretz.com) Ultra-Orthodox ex-convict Yishai Schlissel was indicted on Monday morning for the murder of 16-year-old Shira Banki and the stabbing of six others during the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade last month.

Schlissel was charged with one count of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder and with causing injuries under aggravated circumstances.

The Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office has asked that Schlissel remain in custody until the end of the legal proceedings against him. The court extended his remand until Tuesday, when a hearing will be held. Schlissel has refused representation and said in the past he rejects the court’s authority.

During the reading of the indictment Schlissel said that “whenever there is a gay pride parade [you should] stop the blasphemy against God. Stop the madness and all the people of Israel should repent.”

Schlissel, a 39-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jew, was found fit to stand trial after undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. He was released from jail in June after serving 10 years in Ma’asiyahu prison for a similar stabbing attack at the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, where he wounded three people.

The Jerusalem police admitted that they were informed of his release and that Schlissel was flagged as someone who was liable to act against members of the gay community. However, these intelligence assessments did not specifically refer to Schlissel targeting this year’s parade.

A panel examining the performance of the police before and during the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, at which a released prisoner stabbed a teenager to death and wounded five others, is expected to recommend the removal of five senior officers from their operational posts.

Two Iron Dome Batteries Deployed in Southern Israel

(JNS.org) The Israeli military on Thursday deployed two Iron Dome missile defense system batteries in the country’s south, one in Ashdod and one in Beersheba. According to the Israel Defense Forces, the move was made due to concerns of an escalation of terrorist rocket fire at Israel should Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad Allan die, Israel Hayom reported.

Allan, an Islamic Jihad terrorist who in accordance with an Israeli High Court of Justice ruling is no longer an administrative detainee, remains hospitalized in intensive care at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. He informed doctors that his 65-day hunger strike was over and permitted them to administer full medical treatment, including feeding.

Barzilai hospital director Dr. Chezy Levy said Allan was conscious, no longer attached to a respirator and receiving supplementary treatment to replenish severe nutritional shortages caused by his prolonged fast. “Following the High Court’s decision in his regard, we are working to have him agree to receive the needed treatment and gradually mouth feed him,” Levy said.

U.K. to Reopen Embassy in Iran

(JNS.org) The United Kingdom is set to reopen its embassy in Iran nearly four years since it was closed. U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is scheduled to visit Iran this weekend with a delegation of business leaders, a senior government source told the BBC. Hammond will become the first British foreign secretary to visit Tehran in more than a decade. Hammond is scheduled to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani; Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei; and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The British embassy in Tehran was shuttered in 2011 when Iranian protesters stormed it. While the U.K. did not entirely sever relations with Iran, they were downgraded to the lowest possible level. But since then, ties between the two governments have been slowly warming up, with the nuclear deal signed last month being the impetus for the embassy’s reopening. Iran will also reopen its embassy in London, an Iranian Foreign Ministry official said Thursday.

Israeli Doctors Restore Sight to 90 Kyrgyzstanis in ‘Eye from Zion’ Initiative

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org)
A group of doctors from Israel restored the eyesight of 90 adults and children in Kyrgyzstan earlier this month in an ambitious endeavor undertaken by the “Eye from Zion” organization.

Eye from Zion is a volunteer Israeli-Jewish group established to provide medical treatment to underprivileged populations around the world. The organization sends delegations of experienced medical professionals and advanced equipment to places where they are needed most. The Eye from Zion delegations perform surgeries together with local medical teams and instruct local doctors on modern medical techniques.

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