Justice Antonin Scalia Mourned by Jewish Leaders
(JLNJ) The leaders of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical Council of America issued the following statement with regard to the death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, who passed away in his sleep early this week:
“The leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical Council of America was saddened to learn of the passing of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia was a towering intellect, passionate architect of American law and dedicated public servant. Of course, as a member of the high court, Justice Scalia shaped so many areas of the law. But for the American Orthodox Jewish community, among the issues dealt with by the court, one of the most important to us is that of religious liberty. Through his opinions in many cases interpreting the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, (with the notable exception of his majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith), Justice Scalia moved the jurisprudence of that topic away from an extreme view of strict separationism and back to a principled approach of government neutrality toward and equality among religions.
“On the whole, Justice Scalia contributed much to expanding religious liberty in the United States and we are thankful for his service.”
U.K. and Paris Step Up Fight Against BDS
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The United Kingdom plans to step up its fight against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, British Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock said Tuesday during a visit to Israel.
The British government is currently pursuing a new bill that would prevent public bodies, universities, and student unions from boycotting Israeli products.
Hancock is leading a visiting delegation of British lawmakers. The new bill aims to prevent any public body from imposing a boycott on a World Trade Organization member, which Israel has been since 1995. The regulation will essentially outlaw boycotting Israeli products—a threat often made against goods produced in Judea and Samaria—and allow the British government to take legal action against organizations that impose such boycotts.
Hancock met Tuesday with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who heads the Israeli government’s public diplomacy efforts against the BDS movement.
Also on Tuesday, the Paris Municipality approved a bill barring city departments and city-affiliated organizations from hosting events or fostering ties with the BDS movement or any other group urging divestment from Israel or boycotting Israeli products.
“The Paris Municipality condemns the boycott of Israel, opposes any initiative to isolate Israel, and clearly states its commitment to promoting a nonviolent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through strengthening its ties with Israeli and Palestinian cities,” the French capital’s administration said in a statement quoted by the Walla news website.
The bill was sponsored by the French Republican Party. In a statement issued after the vote, the party said BDS efforts are “divisive and hateful,” and “have no place in Paris.”
Jerusalem’s Zion Square to Be Renamed in Honor of Slain Teen
(JNS.org) Jerusalem’s Zion Square is slated to be renamed as “Tolerance Square” in honor of 16-year-old Shira Banki who was stabbed to death last summer by a religious extremist during the city’s Gay Pride Parade in 2015.
“Zion Square, in the historic heart of downtown Jerusalem – which for many years attracted protests, demonstrations and clashes – will soon become a square to represent tolerance and mutual respect in the spirit of the late Shira Banki, murdered during the Gay Pride Parade,” the Jerusalem municipality said in a statement, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Banki was murdered by Yishai Schlissel, a Haredi extremist who had been released from jail after a 10-year sentence he served for stabbing people during the 2005 Gay Pride Parade. Schlissel also wounded five others during the 2015 attack.
“We decided together with the Bankis to make the square a place that promotes connection, tolerance and mutual respect, as represented by their late daughter,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said.
Likud Knesset Members Support Israeli Public Transport on Shabbat
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Several Likud party members of the Israeli Knesset, at a Knesset Economic Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday, expressed support for the prospect of running public transportation on Saturdays.
The surprising Likud support for the controversial move comes amid Likud MK Miki Zohar’s recent efforts to enforce the closure of businesses on Shabbat. Still, Zohar voiced support for limited public transportation on Saturdays.
Likud MK Nava Boker said, “We need to arrange public transportation on Shabbat while being considerate to religious people. The current situation not only harms the Jewish religion, bringing needless hatred upon it, but it also harms disadvantaged community members [who may not have access to private transport].”
Boker suggested implementing public transportation on Shabbat in accordance with the Gavison-Medan Covenant, a document drawn up by Professor Ruth Gavison and Rabbi Yaaqov Medan in an effort to find solutions to the issues caused by the rift between the observant and secular communities in Israel.
Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria also supported finding a public transportation solution for Saturdays.
“I come from a traditionally observant family, and it is precisely for that reason that it is so hard for me to see so much hostility and disagreement over the day that should unite us the most,” she said.
Knesset research on the topic presented at the meeting revealed that since 2012, the number of bus lines allowed to run on Shabbat has jumped from 164 to 387, though some 15 percent of routes are driven without a permit for Shabbat driving.
IDF Officer Rules Out Reported Intelligence Exposure
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer has denied a recent report that U.S. and British intelligence services have monitored secret communications by the Israeli Air Force in a hacking operation dating back to 1998.
In a briefing to the press on Tuesday, the senior officer denied the report’s findings, saying that “none of the IDF’s encoded transmissions were intercepted, and our code remains unbreached.”
Discussing the IDF’s security systems, the officer noted that none of the tests conducted by the army revealed the presence of a superpower in its classified networks, although that did not mean such a presence could be ruled out entirely. Meanwhile, the IDF’s Computer Service Directorate believes it is unlikely that “delayed offensive measures”—or pre-deployed threats waiting to be activated—are hiding in the IDF’s systems.
“In 2015, the number of cyberattacks across the globe decreased, possibly due to the nuclear deal with Iran that was coming together,” the officer said.
But towards the end of 2015 and now in 2016, “cyberattacks have become a legitimate tool,” said the officer. Two significant attacks have been documented. In November, the Internet in Turkey was disabled for 20 hours after Ankara shot down a Russian plane, and one-third of Ukraine’s power stations were shut down for a week. The IDF officer declined to deliberate on the identity of the attacker behind those incidents.
Hezbollah Leader Irked by Growing Sunni Arab Ties With Israel
(JNS.org) Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah appeared upset with reports that Sunni Arab leaders are increasingly viewing Israel as an ally in the fight against Iran.
In a speech broadcasted on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television in honor of “Martyrs Leader Day” Nasrallah said that Israel was “taking advantage” of Sunni Arab states’ confrontation with Iran to forge “relations and alliances with the Sunni Arab states.” He also said that Israel viewed the Islamic State as a “lesser” threat than Iran and Hezbollah.
“Do you accept a friend occupying Sunni land in Palestine? Can you become friends with an entity that has committed the most horrible massacres against the Sunni community?” he said.
“You are free to consider Iran an enemy but how can you consider Israel a friend and an ally?” he asked.
In an address to American Jewish leaders on Sunday in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said some Arab leaders are forming discreet ties with Israel.
“They don’t see Israel anymore as their enemy, but they see Israel as their ally, especially in the battle against militant Islam with its two fountainheads: the militant Islamists led by Iran, and the militant Islamists led by Daesh (Islamic State),” Netanyahu said.