Thursday, January 29, 2015

From Ian:

Richard Millett: Israeli deaths glorified at LSE on Holocaust Memorial Day.
Tuesday was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau but that same night at the London School of Economics at a joint Palestine Society and Feminist Society event Israelis were portrayed as rapists and those who killed Israelis were applauded.
In front of a banner that read “Towards Freedom and Independence the Uprising Continues” a panel of four women described the role Palestinian women should play in the “uprising”.
Rana B. Baker, a student at SOAS who also writes for the Electronic Intifada, said Leila Khaled‘s “hijacking of planes was amazing”. The only problem, Baker said, was that Khaled had now aligned herself with the Assad regime.
Baker reserved her highest admiration for Sana’a Mehaidli who she said “deserves a standing ovation”. She told how, in 1985 in south Lebanon, Mehaidli “drove a car full of explosives and blew it up near an Israeli convoy killing two Israeli soldiers and injuring between 10 and 12 more.”
Israel praises German prosecutor for rejecting Mavi Marmara complaint
The Israeli Embassy in Germany on Monday welcomed a decision by the federal prosecutor to dismiss a criminal complaint filed by a Left Party MP alleging illegal imprisonment and war crimes during the seizure of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara when it tried to run the Gaza blockade in 2010.
The embassy wrote in an email to The Jerusalem Post that it “takes positive note of the decision taken by the general federal attorney (Generalbundesanwalt) to reject the complaint of Ms. Inge Höger.
The same stance was reflected by the decision of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to close the preliminary examination into the Mavi Marmara incident that was opened following a referral submitted to the ICC in the name of the Union of the Comoros in May 2013.
The prosecutor decided to close the file without seeing a need to address the issue of self-defense by IDF soldiers who were attacked by activists of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), as it occurred in the context of a flotilla which the prosecutor considered as not constituting a humanitarian mission.”
Gaza flotilla lawyers ask ICC to reconsider probe
Lawyers representing the Comoros on Thursday asked International Criminal Court judges to order its chief prosecutor to reconsider her decision not to probe Israel’s deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.
The Comoros, which has referred the case to the ICC, “asks the Chamber to request the Prosecutor to reconsider her decision not to open an investigation,” its lawyers said in papers filed before the Hague-based court.

Rivlin at 9-11 Memorial: We Will Continue to Fight Terror
At Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Towers, Rivlin laid a wreath on the newly built memorial.
“Once to stand at this place, was to stand in the shadows of two magnificent towers, examples of modern development and human achievement. But now, we stand in the shadow of the valley of death.”
Rivlin, echoing his speech to the United Nations earlier Wednesday in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, called on the international community to unite in the fight against terrorism.
“We stand here, united as those who choose life, freedom, and equality, and understand the horror of what occurred here, and the enormity of the task before us. We will continue to fight terror. We will continue to fight fundamentalism. This is an obligation for the whole world, for its leaders, those who believe in peace, and all citizens of the world."
"Terrorism is not an Israeli or American problem. Extremism is not a destined decree. The free world, democracy, the value of life, will endure, and stand strong in the face of this threat. I take from this place not anger, but hope. I take from this place, not hatred, but a desire for peace. May the memories of those who died here be a blessing.”
Rivlin calls on UN to do more to prevent atrocities
Speaking Wednesday at the organization’s ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Rivlin said that it was the duty of the international community to lay down a bottom line when defining genocide and to make clear that crossing that line means intervention.
“We must remember that definition of the red lines requires putting an end to the devaluation and the cynical, supposedly objective usage in rhetoric on human rights of concepts such as ‘genocide’ for political purposes,” Rivlin said.
“[I]s our struggle, the struggle of this Assembly, against genocide, effective enough?” Rivlin asked. “Was it effective enough then in Bosnia? Was it effective in preventing the killing in Khojaly? Of Afghans by the Taliban? Is it effective enough today in Syria? Or in the face of the atrocities of Boko Haram in Nigeria? Are we shedding too many tears and taking too little action?
“I am afraid that the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that came into force as long as 64 years ago has remained a merely symbolic document.”
‘Night Will Fall’ Holocaust Documentary Omits the Word ‘Jewish’
Last night, I prepped myself mentally for the difficult visual experience ahead and sat down to watch the much-anticipated Night Will Fall documentary, which premiered Monday on the HBO network just before International Holocaust Memorial Day.
The film tells the story of another documentary made in 1945 with the involvement of famous director Alfred Hitchock, using real footage taken by Soviet and British soldiers while liberating concentration camps such as Bergen-Belsen.
I believe this documentary—perhaps more so the original 1945 production, if and when it is publicly released—should be viewed by all around the world as a reminder of what happened during the Holocaust and what could happen again. But I was troubled by one seemingly small, but in my view major, faux pas.
In addition to Jews, the Nazis persecuted a variety of groups such as the Roma (or Gypsy) people, homosexuals, people with disabilities, and dissidents. While these victims of the Holocaust are notable, no one can deny that the Nazi system, from the Nuremberg Laws to the Final Solution, primarily targeted the Jewish people. Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
As such, it surprised me greatly that the narration of “Night Will Fall” never once mentioned the word “Jewish” when describing the victims seen in the footage. This word is uttered only once, well into the film, by a Jewish survivor.
Auschwitz Survivor: ‘We Do Not Want Our Past to Become Our Children’s Future’
Holocaust survivors do not want the atrocities they faced to be repeated in future generations, Auschwitz survivor Roman Kent said in an emotional speech on Tuesday at a memorial marking 70 years since the concentration camp’s liberation.
“We do not want our past to be our children’s future,” Kent explained, holding back tears before being cut off by applause from the audience. Wanting to reiterate the importance of what he said even though he was interrupted, he continued, “I will still repeat it because that’s the key to my existence.
“We survivors do not want our past to be our children’s future. I hope and believe that this generation will build on mankind’s great traditions and understanding that these traditions must embrace pluralism and tolerance; decency and human rights for all people. And must include opposition to antisemitism and to racism of any sort. It should be commonplace rather than exceptions.”
At Terezin, passing the torch on commemoration
En route to Terezin, the bus marked “survivors” is mostly empty.
Arriving at the site of the Theresienstadt concentration camp, several dozen children lay candles in the shape of a Jewish star over the graves of their slain relatives at a more modest ceremony than the one taking place at Auschwitz, where the world’s eyes are turned as leaders mark 70 years since its liberation.
Weighing heavily in the air here is the dread that the survivors may not see the next round anniversary.
The candle-laying ceremony is “the best evidence, the best proof that there is a chance for a better life and future,” says Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel and survivor himself.
At Terezin, some 33,000 Jews were killed, and some 90,000 were deported to Auschwitz and Treblinka — the majority of which were subsequently murdered.
Nightmare for Italian Jewish leader and TV crew after being locked inside Auschwitz
The head of Rome's Jewish community and a TV crew spent a horrifying night in Auschwitz on Tuesday after being locked inside, following the official ceremony held there commemorating 70 years since the camp's liberation.
Riccardo Pacifici, the head of Rome's Jewish community, was trapped inside the infamous death camp alongside journalist David Parenzo and three members of an Italian film crew, according to Italy's ANSA news agency
They were at the site filming a live episode for the Italian TV show Matrix and had already acquired the necessary authorization to film there.
Around 11:00 p.m., however, as taping finished up, it became clear that they were locked inside the camp and that security guards had already left for the evening.
'Turkish criticism inappropriate at Holocaust memorial'
Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Cicek late on Wednesday addressed members of Turkey's tiny Jewish community and others at a Holocaust Memorial Day event and said rising anti-Semitism was linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"As we remember the pain of the past, no one can ignore the last attacks on Gaza, in which 2,000 innocent children, women were massacred," Cicek said, referring to last summer's Operation Protective Edge. "We need to see the picture as a whole."
Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, told Reuters that Cicek "unjustly and harshly criticized [Israel] at a moment that is absolutely inappropriate."
"Israel expresses its disappointment that a solemn event of an international nature dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust victims was misused in order to criticize Israeli policies," Nahshon said.
Clifford May: Cry for Argentina ?
"When heads of state become gangsters, something has to be done." Winston Churchill said that. ‎It's a proposition not many people nowadays endorse. Fewer still take it upon themselves to ‎stand up to the thugs-cum-statesmen. ‎
Alberto Nisman was an exception -- right up until last week when he was found dead, a .22-‎caliber bullet in his brain. Shocking? Yes. Surprising? Hardly. He and those who knew him ‎‎(myself included) were always keenly aware that this was possible -- perhaps likely. To say he ‎was courageous would be a gross understatement.‎
A little background: Nisman, 51, was an Argentine federal prosecutor, chief investigator of ‎the 1994 bombing of AMIA, a Jewish cultural center, in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were ‎killed in that terrorist attack.‎
In 2006, Nisman formally accused the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran of directing the ‎bombing, and of deploying Hezbollah, Tehran's terrorist foreign legion, to carry it out. ‎
Nisman buried in same cemetery as victims of AMIA bombing he probed
Alberto Nisman was buried in the same section of the main Jewish cemetery in Buenos Aires as the victims in the 1994 AMIA bombing that he was investigating.
On Thursday morning, a police escort led the funeral procession to the Tablada Jewish Cemetery. Along the procession route, people waved Argentine flags and held signs that said “Justice,” “Thank you, Nisman” and “We all are Nisman” in Spanish. Some chanted Argentina’s national anthem.
Nisman’s grave was located in the “Martyrs Section,” where the victims of the AMIA Jewish center attack are buried. Eighty-five people were killed in the Buenos Aires bombing; some are calling Nisman the 86th victim.
Eulogies were presented by the writer and philosopher Santiago Kovadloff and Waldo Wolff, vice president of the DAIA umbrella Jewish communal organization in Argentina. The mourners included Nisman’s two daughters, Lara and Kala; Nisman’s mother, Sara Garfunkel; and his ex-wife, Sandra Arroyo Salgado.
Nisman was wary of own bodyguards before death, assistant says
The Argentine prosecutor whose sudden death has set off a crisis for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner no longer trusted even his bodyguards at the end of his life, an assistant said Wednesday.
A tense Diego Lagomarsino, his voice breaking at times, recounted at a news conference here how he came to give Alberto Nisman the .22-caliber revolver used to put a bullet through his head.
The 51-year-old special prosecutor was found dead at his home January 18, a day before he was to go before a congressional committee to accuse Kirchner of shielding Iranian officials implicated in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.
Lagomarsino, a computer expert who is the last person known to have seen Nisman alive, said the prosecutor asked him for the gun, saying: “I no longer trust even the guards.”
Argentinian President Accused of Nisman's Murder
Kirchner has tried her best to stifle an investigation, asking the congress to dissolve the intelligence services. She said Nisman’s death was due to “rogue elements” in the intelligence service who were opposed to her. Nisman was found dead with a bullet wound in the head on January 18, the day before he was to accuse Kirchner of a cover-up.
Nisman claimed that after Kirchner fired the intelligence director John Stiusso in December for his close relationship with the U.S. and Israel, Kirchner’s Peronist faction took control of the service. Stiusso reportedly fed Nisman telephone intercepts in which Argentinian government officials dealt with Iranian agents.
The former senior counter-terrorism official stated that the intelligence service, now run by those headed by Kirchner's son, Maximo, had been tailing Nisman home and abroad. He added that Nisman normally had 12 federal bodyguards outside his apartment, but when he was murdered they were absent. He said of the assassins, "They would have known when his federal police protective detail were off duty and when Nisman was alone in this apartment.” He also claimed that Damian Pachter, the journalist who reported Nisman’s murder and left Argentina, is being tailed by the same loyalists.
The Future of Jews in France, the Land of Apartheid
The 2012 Toulouse killings of three French soldiers and four Jews perpetrated by Mohammad Merah were of a different nature, however, and the recent round of terror attacks in Paris had a similar structure. They first targeted specific French citizens, and thereafter, the Jews. It may very well be that future attacks against French targets will be accompanied by attacks against the Jews. The Jewish community only represents one percent of the country’s population, and is likely to continue to be targeted disproportionately.
One can see the degradation of the situation for the Jews since the beginning of this century. Besides the frequent anti-Semitic attacks, a trend developed where many committed Jews took their children out of public schools where they had been harassed because of their religion. The children were then placed in Jewish or private schools. Now the children who go to Jewish schools face armed soldiers on a daily basis, who are guarding the school gates from possible attack and stationed there to protect the lives of the students, staff, and parents. The soldiers serve as a reassurance but are also a daily reminder of the problematic realities facing French Jewry.
Any structural efforts made by the French government to solve the many problems coming from elements within the Muslim community are likely to lead to increased tensions. The unrest to follow is likely to affect Jews disproportionally. A strengthening of the far-right National Front, with its many anti-Semites, may intensify the general atmosphere.
Voltaire's book on tolerance climbs French bestseller lists
A 250-year-old book by the Enlightenment anti-establishment writer Voltaire is climbing best-seller lists in France weeks after the attacks by French-born Islamic extremists that left 20 people dead, including the gunmen.
The “Treatise on Tolerance” is a cry against religious fanaticism and stemmed from Voltaire’s conviction that religious differences were at the heart of world strife. He wrote at a time of bloody tension between French Protestants and Catholics.
The Jan. 7-9 attacks started when two gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly that had received death threats for caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, decimating the paper’s staff. Also attacked was a kosher supermarket, where four hostages died.
Voltaire’s book came out in 1763 and now has a place among the bestsellers for Amazon, FNAC and French bookseller Gibert Joseph.
France prayer rug artwork pulled over Muslim concerns
An art installation showing high heels on Islamic prayer rugs was pulled from an exhibition near Paris after a Muslim group complained the work could provoke “uncontrollable” reactions, the artist said Tuesday.
“Silence,” which has already been shown in Paris, Berlin, New York and Madrid, was supposed to go on display in Clichy La Garenne, which is just north of the capital, in a woman-themed art show.
But French-Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah decided to replace the work after a local Muslim group told Town Hall last week that “uncontrollable, irresponsible incidents could result” if the installation was shown there.
Bouabdellah said she was surprised by the “incomprehension” her work has met, but added she believes it is tied to emotions stirred by the jihadist attacks in France earlier this month that left 17 people dead.
 Teacher suspended for defending Paris attacks
The man, who teaches at a school for ten to 14-year-olds, reportedly told his students that it is acceptable to hurt somebody if they have offended Allah.
The school board told the Austrian Press Agency (APA) that his students also said that he told them in a conversation outside of school that he considered killing someone to be a legitimate form of punishment for insulting Islam.
His students reported him to social workers and the school principal.
The case has been handed over to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT). If the allegations are confirmed the man will be banned from teaching, the president of the school board told APA.
Terrorism: 53% of French think country is 'at war'
Some 53% of French citizens believe the country is ''at war'', according to a survey carried out by the IPSOS/Sopra Steria institute for the daily Le Monde and Radio Europe 1 about three weeks after jihadist attacks in Paris. The survey shows that 51% of respondents feel that Islam is ''incompatible'' with the values of French society (12% fewer than in January 2014 and 23% fewer than in January 2013) and 66% believe that Islam is a ''religion that is as peaceful as others'' and that Islamic fundamentalism is a ''perversion of this religion''.
However, 90% want anti-jihad measures stepped up, while only 9% say that they are against ''the publication in the press of satirical caricatures on religion''.
At least five held in 'anti-jihadist' raid in France
The operation took place in the small town of Lunel east of Montpellier in southern France, from where around 20 young people have left for Syria. Six of them, aged 18 to 30, have been killed since October.
Crack French security forces launched the operation at 6am in a building in the centre of the town, according to witnesses that spoke to AFP.
"Several unmarked cars drew up. Masked men got out and smashed in the doors to the apartments in the building," said one resident of the block, who said they had threatened him.
 Bulgaria extradites suspect linked to Paris attacks
A Frenchman wanted in connection with deadly terrorist attacks in Paris has been extradited from Bulgaria to France, where he is facing charges of links to terrorism.
Fritz-Joly Joachin was arrested January 1 on an unrelated warrant while trying to cross from Bulgaria into Turkey. French police say that Joachin, 29, was an associate of the Kouachi brothers, who killed 12 people in an attack January 7 against newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Joachin is accused of participating in an organized crime group with a terrorist aim, and having links to a network feeding fighters to Syria. A judicial official said he arrived in France on Thursday, and is expected to appear before a judge imminently. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
Anti-Israel BDS movement is fashionable in academia, but far from invincible
Several conclusions can be drawn from these events. First, BDS is well-organized and well-orchestrated. BDS activists often belong to several different academic organizations, and they push their agenda in each one. They also put on one-sided panels featuring major BDS activists who are not scholars in the association’s field.
Second, these resolutions degrade academia. They do not meet elementary scholarly standards. They are cookie-cutters of one another, repeating the same false claims and suspect sources. It is extremely disappointing to see scholars supposedly trained to weigh evidence and examine context stoop to supporting what amounts to little more than propaganda. In passing these resolutions, they sacrifice their scholarly and moral standing. But we have seen it happen before: academics provided justification for the anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime.
Third, BDS does have momentum. Being anti-Israel is fashionable in academia, and many scholars sincerely worry about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Young and even well-established scholars need courage to stand against the anti-Israel consensus, and can risk losing promotions, career opportunities, and respectability if they speak against this prevailing zeitgeist.
Fourth, the BDS movement can be halted. Many academics worry about the politicization of their scholarly associations, which were founded to deal with matters of concern in their fields and not to make pronouncements on international affairs. Furthermore, most attendees of annual conventions are simply not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They attend the conventions to present papers, to keep up in their field, and to network. When a core of scholars mobilizes and resists the hijacking of their organizations by anti-Israel ideologues, they can prevail, as they did at the American Historical Association.
Steven Salaita files federal lawsuit over non-hiring (Update: Glaring defect)
Steven Salaita, the controversial former professor who was denied a tenured job at the University of Illinios at Urbana-Champaign, has filed a lawsuit against the university trustees and unnamed (“John Doe”) donors who allegedly pressured the university. The one trustee who voted in favor of hiring, James Montgomery, was not named as a defendant. Chancellor Phyllis Wise also was named as a defendant.
The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Illinois, rather than the Central District where the campus is located, based on the Trustees having voted not to hire Salaita at a meeting in Chicago. Strategically, Salaita presumably prefers a Chicago jury, if it gets to that.
There is a glaring defect in the Complaint which at least would go to Salaita’s contractual claims and perhaps even his free speech claims. Salaita never says in the Complaint that anyone ever told him that Board of Trustee approval was a formality and certainly would be obtained. That was a condition of the offer, yet in the Complaint Salaita only says he assumed Trustee approval was a formality:
Legal Insurrection: Boycotting Israel – The insidious threat of the BDS movement
In my speech I put the aggressiveness of anti-Israel student groups in context.
I focused on the academic boycott movement pushed by faculty professional organizations, which deprives faculty, students and the greater academic community of academic freedom.
There also were some really good questions about what can be done, how we got here, and how to respond on campus.
I had a chance to talk with some crowd members one-on-one, including Legal Insurrection commenter Philly Guy.
Thanks to Roc4Israel for the invite. The group can serve as a model for how Christians and Jews can come together to promote and defend Israel in a positive way.
Boycotting Israel - The insidious threat of the BDS movement

Has the United Methodist Church Rejected Divestment?
Recently publicized guidelines by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church seem specifically designed to ward off the BDS movement’s near pathological obsession with Israel. The pension board manages over $21 billion in assets for over 91,000 participants, including clergy and lay staff.
The General Board and its Wespath investment management division have recently announced the implementation of new investment guidelines, using environmental and human rights factors for determining ethically sound investments
The board will scrutinize companies that operate in nations with the worst ranking in Freedom House's annual “Freedom in the World” In 2014 report, the lowest scores went to the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
According to Freedom House, Israel consistently is ranked as the only free country in the Middle east. These new rules make divestment from companies doing in business in Israel, including Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar highly improbable.
Anti-Semitic Right-Wing Politician Now Greek PM's Key Ally
Panos Kammenos, who recently accused Greek Jews of not paying their taxes, is now an unlikely but crucial ally of Greece's new leftist PM.
Panos Kammenos, whose nationalist Independent Greeks party has entered into an unlikely coalition government with the radical left-wing Syriza, once walked the corridors of parliament wearing a T-shirt that read: "Greece is not for sale."
At first glance, the bombastic 49-year-old leader of the ANEL party and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Syriza may seem strange bedfellows, but both are vehemently anti-austerity and equally determined to renegotiate the country's international bailout.
The burly politician's decision to immediately ally his party with Syriza following Sunday's election saw him rewarded with defense minister's post in the new government unveiled on Tuesday.
Dieudonne trial over ‘gas chambers’ remark starting
The French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is standing trial for saying that a Jewish journalist should have died “in the gas chambers.”
The trial in criminal court begins Wednesday for Dieudonne, who has been convicted seven times for inciting racial hatred against Jews.
He was filmed with a hidden camera in 2013 making the comment about Patrick Cohen, according to The New York Times. The footage, which was broadcast on French television, led the French government to investigate Dieudonné and ban his show.
If Dieudonne is found guilty of violating France’s laws banning racist speech, he faces a fine of up to $45,000 and one year in prison. He has been charged almost 40 times under hate-speech laws.
Topless, on a camel, for peace
Ever the provocateur, professional funnywoman Chelsea Handler enlisted two Zionist assistants during her recent trip to the Jewish state: Israeli flag pasties.
The bestselling author and television presenter landed in Israel on Sunday and has been documenting her visit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
She’s uploaded pictures of herself at the Western Wall, with a disgruntled, yarmulke-wearing man in the background, and in Old Jaffa “with [her] jugs in [her] jacket.”
On early Thursday morning, despite the Israeli winter chill, Handler took her “jugs” out of her jacket and uploaded a photograph of herself on a camel, topless, with only Israeli flag pasties covering her nipples.
Israeli company eager to solve Texas’ water woes with desalination
A well-established Israeli water treatment company has opened its first U.S. office in Austin with plans to market its desalination services to water utilities in Texas and across the nation.
The company, Kadima, Israel-based IDE Technologies Inc., has brought on Mark Ellison – who most recently served as former Gov. Rick Perry's manager of strategic water initiatives in the Texas economic development office – to establish the company's presence here.
Ellison makes no bones about it: The reason IDE is expanding here is because Texas' water infrastructure faces serious challenges to meet the needs of the Lone Star State's booming population.
No ‘Queen of Mean,’ Leona Helmsley’s billions help Israelis
Leona Helmsley may have had a reputation as a tough boss – and a conviction for failing to pay taxes in a timely manner – but the wife and sole heir of hotel magnate Harry Helmsley left behind a legacy that has gone to help millions of people around the world, as well as in Israel. Israel, in fact, gets a special section all of its own in the Helmsley estate, which is valued at $5 billion and is being given away on a daily basis by a group of four trustees whose job it is to disburse the late Mrs. Helmsley’s money.
“Mrs. Helmsley had a vision of her money being used to improve the lives of people around the world,” said Sandy Frankel, Leona Helmsley’s attorney for nearly two decades and now one of the trustees charged with giving away her money. “I am often asked questions about what she did or didn’t during her lifetime, but I prefer to concentrate on her legacy, and that, I think, is what she should be remembered for.”
In the the past five years, Frankel and his fellow trustees have given away nearly a billion dollars, almost $150 million of it just in Israel. Currently, the Leona B. and Harry M. Helmsley Charitable Trust is one of the top ten such trusts in the world. “It’s a pretty unique job,” said Frankel of his task of giving away the Helmsley fortune. “Not everyone has the chance to do something like this.”
Portugal approves Sephardic Jew citizenship plan
Five centuries after burning thousands of Jews at the stake, forcing them to convert to Christianity or expelling them, Portugal is granting citizenship rights to their descendants as part of an attempt to make amends.
The Portuguese Cabinet on Thursday approved a law offering dual citizenship to the descendants of those Sephardic Jews — the term commonly used for those who once lived in the Iberian peninsula.
The effective date of the law will be made public soon and similar legislation in Spain is awaiting final legislative approval.
The Portuguese rights will apply to those who can demonstrate “a traditional connection” to Portuguese Sephardic Jews, such as through “family names, family language, and direct or collateral ancestry.”
Like Spain, Portugal says its sole reason for granting citizenship is to redress a historic wrong.
Ancient skull found in north sheds new light on journey out of Africa
A crucial piece of the story of humankind’s exodus from Africa was recently found near the northern Israeli city of Nahariya — a 55,000-year-old skull of an anatomically modern human, among the first to leave the cradle of humanity and populate the globe.
Scientists from Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University and the Israel Antiquities Authority who found and studied the fossilized skull said the rare find was a “connecting link” between Homo sapiens worldwide and the core population that left the cradle of humanity around 60,000 years ago and began replacing other hominin species.
A paper detailing their findings was published Wednesday in the scholarly journal Nature.


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