Categorized | International

JNS News Briefs: August 29, 2012

Anti-Semitic attacks in France up 40% since March, month of school shooting

( French Jews have seen an uptick of 40 percent in anti-Semitic attacks since March, when Islamist terrorist Mohammed Merah killed three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, Reuters reported.

According to Simon Wiesenthal Center Dean Abraham Cooper, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls confirmed in a meeting that “there was an increase of 40 percent in anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish crimes in France” after Merah’s murder, which was inspired by al-Qaida.

Cooper, who told Reuters that the increase in anti-Semitism is “shocking” because “the French authorities on both sides of the political aisle did exactly the right thing immediately after [the] Toulouse [attack],” said he asked Valls to implement further measures ensuring the security of French Jewry.

Lieberman invites Egyptian president to Jerusalem

( A surprising invitation was extended to Cairo on Tuesday, when Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman suggested that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi visit Israel, reported Israel Hayom. Lieberman, while speaking at a legal conference in Tel Aviv, expressed his pleasure at hearing Morsi’s statements in a recent interview in which he reassured Egypt’s neighbors that they need not worry about Egyptian forces in Sinai.

“I was happy to hear President Morsi speak about his commitment to peace with Israel, the Camp David Accords and fighting terrorism,” said Lieberman. “This is very important news; but those who talk about peace and stability must also understand that it is not just a hypothetical idea. Peace has tangible aspects to it, too. It is not a telepathic connection. This is why we hope to see President Morsi receiving Israeli delegates. We want to see him give interviews in the Israeli media and we want to see him in Jerusalem as President Peres’ guest.”

Lieberman also spoke about the Israeli-Egyptian relationship: “We need to thank our friend, the United States, for performing very important and even critical work during an extremely sensitive period. When necessary, the U.S. has been a balancing element, in addition to relaying messages. Any form of orderly communication that may currently be transpiring between Israel and Egypt is in large part due to the U.S.”

Orthodox rabbi delivers opening invocation at GOP convention

( Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, a rising intellectual star, delivered the invocation at the opening of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday afternoon.

Soloveichik opened his prayer by quoting the biblical verse on the Liberty Bell, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” According to Soloveichik, this verse “embodies American independence… that unites faith and freedom, in asserting that our liberties are your gift, God, not that of government.”

Soloveichik, 35, is an associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshrun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University. He hails from one of America’s most prominent Orthodox Jewish families and is widely considered to be a brilliant scholar—graduating summa cum laude at Yeshiva University, studying at Yale University Divinity School and receiving a PhD in religion from Princeton University.

The rabbi also writes for the conservative publication Commentary and the Christian journal First Things. He testified before Congress against President Barack Obama’s mandate requiring Catholic employers to provide contraception coverage.

Soloveichik’s selection for the opening invocation is indicative of the larger trend of Orthodox Jews gravitating towards conservative politics. Orthodox celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a former registered Democrat, has garnered national headlines in his run for Congress as a Republican candidate in New Jersey, and last year U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY) won a special election in a heavily Orthodox Jewish district in Brooklyn, NY, to fill Anthony Weiner’s seat. Though Orthodox Jews only represent a small (yet rapidly growing) segment of America’s Jewish population, many are attracted to the GOP’s social conservatism and Israel policies.

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