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Man Who Firebombed NJ Rabbi’s Home Convicted of Terrorism Charges

(Menachem Rephun/jpupdates.com) Anthony Graziano, a 24-year-old Lodi resident, was convicted Friday on charges of terrorism and 19 other charges related to the 2012 firebombing of a rabbi’s home. Graziano is now facing 30 years to life in prison on the terrorism charge, and is set to be sentenced on July 22. According to authorities, in December 2011 Graziano and his accomplice, Aakash Dalal, vandalized Temple Beth Israel in Maywood and Temple Beth El in Hackensack. On Jan. 3, 2012, Graziano and Dalal tried to burn down Temple K’Hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus. The attacks ended in the firebombing of the Rutherford home of Rabbi Neil Schulman on January 11, 2012.

In his closing argument, Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Kearney described Graziano’s actions as “the essence of terrorism. He succeeded…in putting the Jewish community in fear. Fear of their own safety. And fear for the safety of their families.”

At the trial, Kearney added, “It takes two to tango in a case like this. Dalal was the smart kid, maybe the brains. But certainly, [Graziano] was a brawn. … He was the one who went about carrying it out.”

Graziano’s attorney said that his client did something “dumb and stupid,” and was not affiliated with an international terrorist organization, nor did he have murderous intentions.

“At no point did he ever have the intent to harm anyone,” Silvera was quoted as saying by NorthJersey.com. “His own words support that. He said it over and over again.”

In an emotional testimony, Graziano’s mother, Denis Rivas, said, “This is not the kid I raised. I don’t know what happened.”

 

New Israeli Defense Minister Takes Office, Plans to ‘Work 24/7’

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Newly appointed Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman sought to convey a message of unequivocal support to the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday, telling the officers that the IDF and its commanders “are the widest consensus in Israeli society, and that is the military’s greatest asset.”

“Israel is the only country in the world where the phrase ‘the people’s army’ is not a cliche but a reality,” Lieberman said at the IDF’s headquarters in Tel Aviv. “Even now, the majority of fighting forces comprise reservists, meaning civilians. This is why the IDF’s position and role in Israeli society is far more significant than the roles played by other militaries, and its missions are far more diverse.”

Lieberman stressed that “when there is a conflict between the unity of the nation and the unity of the land, the unity of the nation is of greater importance.”

“I believe in diplomatic pragmatism and military power,” he said. “I come here with an open mind and I plan to work 24/7. I would like to thank my predecessor, [Moshe] Ya’alon, and while I disagreed with him many times, he has many credits and he contributed greatly to Israel’s security. I plan on fully cooperating with [IDF] Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and the General Staff, and I’m sure that together we will keep Israel safe and secure.”

 

Jordan’s King Abdullah Appoints Prime Minister With Strong Ties to Israel

(JNS.org) Jordan’s King Abdullah II—after ordering to dissolve the country’s parliament on Sunday—appointed a politician known for his strong ties to Israel as the new Jordanian prime minister, Al Jazeera reported.

Although Jordan’s government has a peace treaty with Israel, a majority of the outgoing Jordanian parliament’s members held anti-Israel views. But the newly appointed prime minister, Hani Mulki, chaired the Jordanian government committee that negotiated peace with Israel from 1994-1996. He is expected to now join the effort to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Mulki will be working to bring Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiation table and work to bring a final solution to the Palestinian cause which most likely will be at the expense of the Palestinian people,” Husam Abdallat, a former senior government aide within the Jordanian prime minister’s office, told Al Jazeera.

Tareq al-Fayed, a Jordanian policy analyst and a journalist at the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, said Mulki will have two major tasks while in office.

“The first is to manage the news phase of the parliamentary elections and set the government’s political agenda. The second is to manage Israeli-Jordanian relations, which have seen tension over Israel’s policies and encroachment on the Palestinians in Jerusalem and against Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Fayed told Al Jazeera. Although Jordan in April released a statement slamming “Israeli settlers and police” for storming the “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount),” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to maintain the Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian status quo of a ban on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount.

Fayed also said that under Mulki, the possible strengthening of Israeli-Jordanian relations could encourage Israeli investment in Jordan’s economy.

 

David Blatt, Israeli-American Former NBA Coach, to Sign With Turkish Team

(JNS.org) David Blatt, the Israeli-American former head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers, is reportedly close to completing a deal to coach the Turkish professional basketball club Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul.

According to ESPN.com, Blatt is close to finalizing a multiyear contract with Darussafaka worth $1.7 to $2 million per season.

Blatt, 57, led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals last year, but was abruptly fired in January despite the fact that the Cavaliers led the Eastern Conference standings with a 30-11 record at that time. The Cavaliers, who lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 Finals under Blatt, will begin a Finals rematch with the Warriors on Thursday.

Blatt grew up in Framingham, Mass., and played college basketball at Princeton University. Following his college career, he played professionally in Israel for more than a decade, then coached several professional teams in Europe before becoming Maccabi Tel Aviv’s coach in 2010. He led Maccabi to a European league championship in 2014, his final season coaching the team.

 

Jewish Fertility Surpasses Arab Fertility in Jerusalem

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The fertility rate for Jewish women (4.3 children per mother) in Jerusalem has surpassed the fertility rate among the city’s Arab women (3.3 children), according to newly released data.

The 2016 fertility figures were provided by the Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem, which is issued annually by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the municipality. The overall fertility rate represents the number of children a woman is projected to give birth to in her life. Unsurprisingly, the high rate among Jewish women is heavily influenced by the city’s haredi and religious population.

Despite the fertility numbers, Jerusalem’s overall Arab population has continued to grow while the city’s Jewish majority shrinks. In 2014, the last year for which official figures are available, Jerusalem’s population of 849,000 residents comprised 533,900 Jews (63 percent) and 315,900 Arabs (37 percent). The Arab population growth rate that year stood at 2.7 percent, while the growth rate for the Jewish population was just 2.2 percent. Unofficial figures now show that the city’s Jewish majority has dropped to 61 percent of the population.

The Jewish majority has decreased not because of the fertility rate, but because more Jews are leaving Jerusalem than moving there. In 2014, 17,100 Jewish residents left the city, but only 10,400 new residents moved in. Research has attributed this trend to the shortage of available or accessible housing in Jerusalem. During the past decade, construction beyond the pre-1967 lines has fallen off due to political pressure. Construction in the western part of Jerusalem, over that same time period, has decreased due to pressure from environmental groups. Construction has been concentrated in the city’s central neighborhoods and primarily consists of high-rise buildings.

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