Holocaust Film ‘Son of Saul’ Wins Best Foreign Language Film Oscar
(JNS.org) The Hungarian Holocaust film “Son of Saul” won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, about a month after winning the Golden Globe in the same category. The film stars Riverdale resident and SAR parent Géza “Rafi” Röhrig.
The movie tells the story of Saul Auslander, played by Röhrig, a prisoner at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp who was a member of the Sonderkommando, a unit of Jews who were forced to clear out corpses from gas chambers and move them to the crematoria.
Saul finds a body of a young boy whom he believes to be his dead son, and tries to save the corpse from burning in order to give his son a proper Jewish funeral, while the members of the Sonderkommando plan a rebellion.
The film was funded in part by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
“Son of Saul” beat out Colombia’s “Embrace of the Serpent,” France’s “Mustang,” Jordan’s “Theeb,” and Denmark’s “A War” in the foreign language category. The film also won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2015.
Israel’s Shin Bet Nabs Hebron Sniper Brothers Responsible for Multiple Attacks
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Two Palestinian brothers suspected of multiple sniper attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces over the past few months were recently arrested, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency revealed Monday. Authorities believe the two were involved in attacks in which four Israelis were wounded.
The brothers—Nasser Faisal Mahmad Badawi, 23, who has known ties to the Palestinian terror group Hamas, and Akram Faisal Mehmed Badawi, 33, both residents of Hebron—were dubbed the “Hebron snipers” by the Israeli defense establishment. The Shin Bet said the brothers were found in possession of an improvised sniper rifle and other firearms.
According to authorities, the first sniper attack the brothers carried out took place on Nov. 6, 2015, when they met on the third floor of a building owned by their father, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and fired at a group of Jewish worshippers. One man was seriously wounded and another was moderately wounded in the attack.
According to the Shin Bet, Nasser was arrested Jan. 9. While he was in custody, Akram carried out another shooting attack, which he told investigators was meant to deflect suspicion from his brother.
Israeli Defense Minister Says Syria Using Chemical Weapons During Cease-Fire
(JNS.org) Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused the Syrian government of using chemicals weapon against civilians, including during the current cease-fire.
“The Syrians used military grade chemical weapons and lately have been using materials, chlorine, against civilians, including in these very days, after the supposed cease-fire, dropping barrels of chlorine on civilians,” Ya’alon said during a speech at a conference near Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Despite agreeing in 2013 to dismantle and hand over its chemical weapons stockpile, reports have indicated that the Syrian government has repeatedly used chlorine barrel bombs against its opponents. While chlorine use is banned by the International Chemical Weapons Convention treaty, it was exempt from the 2013 agreement because of its industrial uses, such as for water purification.
In an attempt to end the five-year-old Syrian civil war, the United States and Russia brokered a cease-fire that took effect on Feb. 27. But opposition groups have accused the Syrian government of violating the cease-fire, an allegation that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied.
After Super Tuesday Surges, Questions Remain on Israel for Trump and Clinton
(JNS.org) Businessman Donald Trump and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton dominated the Super Tuesday primaries, with the most recent projections showing Trump in possession of more than 300 Republican delegates—nearly 100 more than his closest opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)—and Clinton’s more than 1,000 Democratic delegates far surpassing the 408 of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The results cemented Trump and Clinton as the likely nominees of their respective parties for the 2016 election in November. The results also come just days after Trump was criticized for his belief that he should not take sides regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he expressed in the final GOP debate before Super Tuesday last week. Trump defended his view, telling Israel Hayom in an interview published last Friday that his “friendship with Israel is stronger than any other candidate’s.”
“I want to make one thing clear: I want to strike a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It is what I aspire to do. Peace is possible, even if it is the most difficult agreement to achieve. As far as I understand, Israel is also interested in a peace deal. I’m not saying I’ll succeed, or even that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is within reach, but I want to try. But in order for an agreement to happen, the Palestinians need to show interest. It’s a little difficult to reach an agreement when the other side doesn’t really want to talk to you,” Trump said.
Meanwhile, another batch of Clinton’s controversial emails was released Tuesday, revealing an email from adviser Sidney Blumenthal in which he alleged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disrespected Clinton in a closed meeting. “If we can’t sleep, Hillary is not going to sleep,” Netanyahu reportedly said while asking meeting participants to be more aggressive in pressuring Iran.
In another email from 2010, Blumenthal writes to Clinton that she should “[h]old Bibi’s feet to the fire,” reminding her that “Israel has no oil” and only values, which it is sacrificing by not making peace with the Palestinians. He also urges Clinton to acknowledge the controversial left-wing Jewish lobby group J Street.
“Bibi is stage managing US Jewish organizations (and neocons, and the religious right, and whomever else he can muster) against the administration. AIPAC itself has become an organ of the Israeli right, specifically Likud. By acknowledging J Street you give them legitimacy, credibility…and create room within the American Jewish community for debate supportive of the administration’s pursuit of the peace process. Just by mentioning J Street in passing, AIPAC becomes a point on the spectrum, not the controller of the spectrum,” Blumenthal writes.
Intelligence Chief: ‘Israel Will Be the First to Feel it When Things Explode’ in Gaza
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The situation in Gaza is deteriorating to the point where the Hamas-ruled Palestinian coastal enclave could be facing a catastrophe, and Israel is likely to suffer the consequences, the head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee behind closed doors last week.
Israeli Knesset members who attended the meeting said Halevi based his assessments on a report published by the United Nations titled “Gaza 2020,” which said that if the situation in Gaza remains unchanged, the territory will become unlivable by 2020. According to one Knesset member, Halevi said, “If there won’t be improvement, Israel will be the first to feel it when things explode.” The intelligence chief also emphasized that at this time, the Hamas terror group does not want to re-open hostilities with Israel and is working to rein in other factions in Gaza to prevent them from firing rockets into Israel.
Addressing the situation along the Jewish state’s northern border, Halevi said Israel and Hezbollah alike have no interest in starting a war, but that one isolated incident is enough to potentially escalate matters.
Regarding Judea and Samaria, Halevi told the committee that Israeli cooperation with Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces is being maintained. Asked by a committee member whether there were concerns that the PA could collapse, Halevi replied that such a scenario can materialize once PA President Mahmoud Abbas is no longer in power, as Hamas would then attempt to seize positions of power within the PA.
Iranian Nuclear Chief: Israel Not a Threat Because It’s Not a State
(JNS.org) Iran’s nuclear chief said that Israel does not pose a threat to the Islamic Republic because it is not a state.
“We essentially do not see [Israel] as a state, therefore it’s not a threat to Iran,” the London-based news outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying in an interview published Monday.
Salehi was responding to a question about whether or not he thinks an Israeli-Iranian war could arise as a result of last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, an agreement that Israel staunchly opposes. Salehi was a major player in the nuclear negotiations that brought about the deal, which lifted about $150 billion in global sanctions on Iran.
Sixty-Two Percent of Americans Sympathize With Israel Over Palestinians, Survey Says
(JNS.org) A strong majority of Americans continue to sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
In Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey, 62 percent of American respondents said their sympathies lie with Israel, versus only 15 percent with the Palestinians. A steady pro-Israel trend has been evident in the last 15 years of Gallup surveys on the subject, the polling agency said.
Among all major demographic and political groups of Americans, Israel is favored over the Palestinians. Support for Israel is particularly high among Protestant Christians at 72 percent and Republicans at 79 percent. But the propensity to side with Israel over the Palestinians drops significantly among Democrats (53 percent) and nonreligious Americans (41 percent).