Zio-Watch News Round-up

Dr. Patrick Slattery’s News Roundup, December 8-15, 2014


From the Jewish Telegrapic Agency

Congressional spending bill OKs Israel defense aid, Iran and P.A. oversight

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The massive spending bill passed by Congress includes defense assistance for Israel along with tightened oversight of Palestinian funding and Iran nuclear talks.

Included in the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill passed in the Senate by a 56-40 vote on Saturday night was the $3.1 billion in annual defense spending for Israel under a 2007 memorandum of understanding between the United States and Israel. An additional $620 million in joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs also was part of the measure.

Passed in the waning days of the congressional session, the bill also includes provisions requiring the White House to report to Congress every 30 days on Iran’s compliance with the terms governing nuclear talks between Iran and major powers.

In a statement praising passage of the measure, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee noted that it “also reiterates that it is the policy of the United States to seek to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to produce or otherwise manufacture nuclear weapons.”
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From the Jewish Telegrapic Agency

Obama: ‘Conversations’ about freeing Alan Gross have been ongoing

(JTA) — President Obama said the United States has been “in conversations” about trying to free American-Jewish contractor Alan Gross from a Cuban jail.

“We’ve been in conversations about how we can get Alan Gross home for quite some time,” Obama toldJorge Ramos of the Florida-based Fusion television network, a sister to ABC.

Obama said the conversations were through a “variety of channels,” but did not say whether that includes the Cuban government.

“We continue to be concerned about him. We think that he shouldn’t have been held in the first place,” Obama told Ramos.
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From the Jewish Telegrapic Agency

Is Israel responsible for Palestinian minister’s death?

Here’s what we know: Israel Defense Forces soldiers grabbed Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein during a scuffle at a West Bank protest and tear-gassed him. He died en route to treatment at a Ramallah hospital.

Abu Ein, the P.A.’s minister in charge of opposition to Israel’s West Bank settlements and security barrier, was participating in a protest Wednesday near Ramallah against Adei Ad, an Israeli outpost. The protest escalated into an altercation with Israeli troops, who then grabbed and tear-gassed Abu Ein.

Everything else is up for dispute, from what happened at the protest (was Abu Ein hit by a rifle butt?) to how he died to who is responsible. Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian doctors present at Abu Ein’s autopsydisagreed on the cause of death.

The Israeli doctors, noting the minister’s high blood pressure and poor health, say he died of a heart attack caused by stress. They say that his being grabbed by the neck accelerated the heart failure. But Palestinian doctors say he died from inhaling tear gas, from being struck at the protest and from a delay in getting medical attention.
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From PressTV

Israel premier rejects Palestine UN draft

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected an attempt by Palestinians to hand over a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council to put pressure on Tel Aviv to end its occupation.

“We will not accept attempts to impose unilateral measures upon us by a set date, at a time when radical Islam is spreading throughout the world,” the Israeli premier said on Monday.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in the Italian capital, Rome, to discuss the move by the Palestinians.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organization member Wassel Abu Yussef said on Sunday that the Palestinian leadership has decided “to go to the Security Council next Wednesday to vote on their project to end the occupation” of West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
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From PressTV

Gaza jobless rate reached 60% after Israel war

Palestinian men look on as a bomb from an Israeli airstrike hits a house in Gaza City on August 23, 2014.

The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip has soared to nearly 60 percent after Israel’s summer war on the Tel Aviv-blockaded Palestinian enclave, Press TV reports.

During the aggression, which lasted for 50 days, entire industrial zones were directly hit by Israeli warplanes and tanks, some of them beyond repair.

Businesses lost millions of dollars worth of machinery and equipment and two office buildings housing dozens of companies were completely destroyed.

“Most businesses in Gaza were targeted during the war and that has played a major role in the sharp increase in unemployment,” said Moeen Rajab, a professor of economics.

“Many companies are currently unable to operate in the same capacity they did before the war and many workers have no place to work. The slow reconstruction process is not helping the situation and I expect unemployment rate to continue to climb,” he added.
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From PressTV

Israeli forces injure 4 Palestinians in West Bank

Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli security forces following Friday prayers in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) on December 12, 2014.

Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli security forces following Friday prayers in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) on December 12, 2014.

Israeli forces have injured four Palestinians by firing rubber bullets at a group of people protesting in the occupied West Bank.

The occupied Palestinian territories were the scene of violent clashes on Friday as Israeli forces engaged in street battles with stone-throwing Palestinians.

Muhammad Awad, the spokesman for a local popular resistance committee, said that one of the injured was shot in the chest and the right foot, while the two others were wounded in the hand and the back in Beit Ummar near the city of al-Khalil (Hebron).

In a separate incident, a Palestinian man was seriously injured after being hit by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops in the village of Belin, west of the city of Ramallah.

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From the Jewish Daily Forward

U.S. Undecided on Security Council ‘Palestine’ Deadline Resolution

Europe Aims for Compromise — Israel Hopes for Veto

Israel said it hoped the United States would veto any moves at the United Nations to set a time frame for its withdrawal from territory Palestinians seek for a state, but a senior U.S. official said it was too early to say.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome on Monday to discuss various proposals for a Palestinian state that are circulating at the United Nations.

Later on Monday, Kerry will travel to Paris for talks with European counterparts and then on to London to meet Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and a delegation from the Arab League, who will urge the United States not to use its U.N. Security Council veto to block the proposals.
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From the Jewish Daily Forward

32 Things You Should Know About The Forward’s 2014 Salary Survey

How Little Difference 5 Years Makes for Female Leadership

Published December 15, 2014.

1) The number of women in leadership roles is no better now in major national Jewish federations, service and advocacy groups and religious and educational institutions than it was five years ago, when the Forward compiled its first list of executive salaries in communal institutions. There were 11 in 2009; there are 11 today.

2) On average, men run large organizations and women run small ones.

3) That’s true among all American charities. But the disparities are greater in the Jewish ones.
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From the Jewish Daily Forward

Beyond Ferguson and Staten Island, So Much Cause for Outrage

Let’s Not Forget the 291,000 That Die Yearly of Poverty

Published December 15, 2014, issue of December 19, 2014.
You may have heard about that huge wave of labor protests that swept across the country on December 4. You know, the one-day surge of strikes and rallies in about 190 cities (!) by low-wage workers — fast-food, home healthcare, chain-store and airport employees, all demanding a $15 hourly wage, all complaining that their industries’ pay scales leave full-time workers in poverty. The New York Times called them “the largest labor protests in the nation in years.”

You didn’t hear about it? Not surprising. The Times and Washington Post stuck it inside, in their business sections. The PBS NewsHour gave it 21 seconds. The network news shows didn’t even mention it.

In a way, it’s understandable. The labor protests came one day after the Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a cop in the choking death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner. The Garner ruling, in turn, came just nine days after another grand jury decided not to indict another cop in the killing of another unarmed black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri.
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From the Jewish Daily Forward

Dear Santa, Stay Away From My Son

Lily Padula
Published December 14, 2014.

I’m Afraid He’s Going to Fall for Christmas

I’m a Jewish man married to a Jew-ish woman, who grew up celebrating Christmas with her non-Jewish mom. We decided that our children — we have one 3-year-old boy and plan on more — will celebrate the holiday exclusively at my in-laws 100% Jesus-free house, and never in our Jewish home.

Now that my son is getting older, I am struggling with this more than I anticipated. Whenever we pass by Christmas decorations or Santa he gets so excited, and I feel as though it is my responsibility to suppress this excitement and remind him we are Jewish. The funny thing is, I grew up getting excited about Christmas, but it was okay because we didn’t actually celebrate it. Seesaw, is it time to let go and make peace with the fact that Christmas is something my son celebrates? Or can I find a way to make it clear that it is something his grandparents do that we join them for, but it isn’t really our thing?
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From the Jewish Daily Forward

3 Women on Top (and How They Got There)

By Martyna Starosta

“It was a shock to come into a prominent leadership position in the Jewish community and realize that the Jewish community was behind all of those other systems,” remembers Ruth Messinger who was named to lead American Jewish World Service in 1998.

I interviewed Messinger about gender equality in Jewish not-for-profits and contrasted her voice with the insights of two younger women who had just become CEOs this year: Naomi Adler who is heading the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and Stosh Cotler, who was recently named head of the social justice organization Bend the Arc.
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From the Jewish Telegrapic Agency

Rabbi David Saperstein wins Senate nod for religious freedom post

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate confirmed Rabbi David Saperstein, a Reform movement leader, for a State Department post.

On Friday, Saperstein in a 61-35 vote won confirmation as ambassador at large for international religious freedom. He will be the fourth person and the first non-Christian to serve in the post.

The ambassador travels the world making the case for minorities facing persecution or discrimination. In recent years, ambassadors have taken up the causes of Muslims in Burma and Christians in China and Sudan, among other cases.

Saperstein, a veteran civil rights activist, had served as director and counsel of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism since 1974.
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From the Jewish Telegrapic Agency

Gunmen fire on Israeli embassy in Athens, no injuries

ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the Israeli embassy in Athens before dawn Friday but caused no injuries.

Greek police shut down roads around the embassy as white-clad  forensic experts searched through the driving rain  for clues of the attackers.

Police said the attackers were probably on motorbikes and were armed with Kalashnikov rifles. More than a dozen shell casings were found at the scene.

The Greek Foreign Ministry “unequivocally condemned the attack” and vowed that it would not harm burgeoning Greek-Israeli relations.
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From PressTV

Israeli opposition parties set to oust Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during the vote to dissolve the Knesset (Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during the vote to dissolve the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) on December 3, 2014 in al-Quds.

Political experts say Israeli opposition parties are working together to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming snap elections.

They say Netanyahu is facing a growing threat from centre-left rivals following infighting in his coalition cabinet in which fired Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and called the early vote.

The embattled premier will face a challenge from an alliance between Labour party and the centrist HaTnuah of Livni in the elections set for March 17.

“Unlike in the previous elections (January 2013), we have a common goal — to replace Mr Netanyahu,” Livni said in a television interview.
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From Haaretz

Australian police locked down the center of the country’s biggest city on Monday after an armed assailant walked into a downtown Sydney cafe, took hostages and forced them to display an Islamic flag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack.

Police said they knew of one armed assailant involved in the incident at the Lindt chocolate cafe in the heart of Sydney’s financial district, but there could be more.

Australian police said negotiators had been in contact with the gunman holding hostages, but refused to speculate on his possible motivation.

At least five hostages have escaped since the mid-morning siege began. It was not clear how many more hostages remained in the cafe but it was not as high as the 30-40 that had been reported earlier, police said.

Police told reporters there was no indication that any of the remaining hostages had been harmed.

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