JNS news briefs: September 13, 2012
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) As violent anti-American protests spread to Yemen on Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said the U.S. “would not consider Egypt an ally, but we would not consider them an enemy.”
In his first interview since the murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens by a mob in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday night, as well as the violent protests outside the American Embassy in Egypt, Obama told the Spanish-language TV network Telemundo: “We are going to have to see how they respond to this incident, how they respond to, for example, maintaining the peace treaty with Israel. So far, at least, what we’ve seen is, in some cases, that they’ve said the right things and taken the right steps; in others, how they’ve responded to various events may not be aligned with our interests, and so I think it’s still a work in progress.”
Protests continued outside the American Embassy in Cairo early Thursday morning. The violent protests spread to Yemen on Thursday, with hundreds of demonstrators storming the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa. Security guards tried to hold them off by firing into the air, witnesses said.
They said the demonstrators smashed windows of the security offices outside the embassy before breaking through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in eastern Sanaa. Yemeni security forces who rushed to the scene fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators and were eventually able to drive them out of the compound.
(JNS.org) Judy Gross, the wife of jailed American Jewish contractor Alan Gross, said her husband’s health “continues to deteriorate” upon returning from visiting him in Cuba.
“[Alan] has lost 105 pounds and developed degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his right shoulder blade,” Judy said in a statement issued Sept. 11. “While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal. I beg President [Raul] Castro, as a husband and father himself, to put an end to our anguish and let Alan come home to his loving family, including his dying mother.”
Gross, who was a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor, has been held in Cuban prisons since December 2009. He received 15-year sentence for bringing communications equipment into Cuba in an effort to give the country’s Jewish community Internet access. The U.S. said he was working with only with “peaceful, non-dissident, Jewish groups,” but Cuba convicted him of “crimes against the state.”
On Sept. 11, Gross’s lawyers announced that they filed a petition asking the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to conclude that Cuba has violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—a treaty that guarantees freedom of expression and the rights to receive and disseminate information freely through any media of choice—by imprisoning Gross.
“Alan’s detention is in flagrant violation of international law,” his attorney, Jared Genser, said in a statement. “It was clear from the court judgment he did nothing wrong and is merely being punished because of the Cuban government’s dislike of the U.S. government.”
(JNS.org) The great-granddaughters of Max Liebermann, a renowned German-Jewish Impressionist painter, are asking the Berlin Museum to return two drawings their family lost due to Nazi persecution.
Liebermann was a major collector of pieces by other artists, including works by Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir and the two paintings in question by Adolph Menzel. Most of Liebermann’s collection disappeared in the Nazi era, and the Menzel paintings eventually found their way to the Berlin Museum.
Post-World War II laws stated that any art sales by Jews after 1935 likely came under duress and were therefore invalid. In 1998, the U.S. and 44 other nations required public museums to find “just and fair solutions” for the original owners of such lost art. The two Menzel paintings remained in the family until 1938. The family most likely had to sell them for food or medicine, supplies that were often restricted to Jews at the time.
Menzel was one of the most prominent artists of 19th-century Berlin. One of the pieces the family is demanding back is a pre-sketch for one of his famous paintings, “Floetenkonzert” (Flute Concert), that shows Frederick the Great playing to an audience at Sanssouci Palace. The other sketch, “Koenigshuette,” shows a mining scene.
“The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has been brooding over these drawings for more than three years,” said Monika Tatzkow, a researcher of Liebermann’s collection on behalf of the great-granddaughters, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “It is completely incomprehensible. We know they were lost due to Nazi persecution.”
Stefanie Heinlein, a spokeswoman for the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the organization that runs Berlin’s museums would not release an official comment on the issue, but the foundation did recently return four other Menzel drawings to the Liebermann family.
(JNS.org) The E.L. James novel Fifty Shades of Grey, which has become a huge hit in the U.S. and worldwide, sold out in its Hebrew edition just one day after it was launched in Israel on Sept. 10.
Yediot Books, the publisher of the Hebrew translation, plans to print more copies after all 50,000 initial copies of the erotic book were gone by Monday, according to Globes.
Fifty Shades of Grey, which was originally published in June 2011, has sold 40 million copies in the U.S. and 10 million copies in the UK. The book, which is part of a trilogy, is known for the graphic details it offers on a romantic relationship between a college graduate and a young businessman. Universal Pictures and Focus Features plan to make movies based on the novels.
(JNS.org) An Israeli technology company, Techmer, has won a $11 million bid to deploy smart communication systems at One World Trade Center, the 104-story skyscraper currently under construction in lower Manhattan, Ynet reported.
The need for an advanced communication system at the new WTC arose during the 9/11 attacks when first responders had difficulty communicating.
Techmer CEO Itsik Ben Tolila explains, “In the 9/11 attacks, security cameras captured footage of many firefighters running up, while many policemen were running down. The reason is that a police helicopter warned the police forces that the building was about to collapse and they managed to escape. The firefighters did not receive such a warning, and therefore many firefighter and just a few cops were killed.”
The unique infrastructure provided by Techmer will allow rescue forces—including firefighters, police and other units—to communicate with each other even in extreme states of emergency such as fires and terror attacks. First responders in the Carmel Tunnels near Haifa currently use Techmer’s technology.
(JNS.org) The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other diplomats were killed when Libyan extremists stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi late Tuesday night.
There are conflicting reports regarding the deaths. One Libyan security official said the ambassador’s convoy had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Another said the diplomats died of smoke inhalation.
The violence in Libya followed a similar attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday when Islamic extremists stormed the embassy’s outer walls and tore down the American flag, replacing it with an Islamic flag. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations condemned both attacks, saying there is “no justification and no legitimization for such violence.”
“We hope that all parties, governmental and non-governmental alike, will strive to restore calm and prevent the exploitation of the situation by extremist elements,” the Conference of President said in a statement.
On Wednesday, USA Today reported that Islamists planned the Egypt attack well in advance. The newspaper—citing Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as its source—said that on Aug. 30, a terrorist group called Jamaa Islamiya announced plans to protest the imprisonment of Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman, its leader and a perpetrator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Initial reports had said that an obscure anti-Islamic film called “Innocence of Muslims”— produced by Sam Bacile, a California real estate developer—inspired both attacks. Bacile, who has since gone into hiding, told a reporter that Islam is a “cancer” and said that he “intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.”
According to the New York Times, American anti-Islamic activists promoted the film— specifically an Egyptian-American activist named Morris Sandek, who wrote an Arabic language blog post promoting the movie. The blog post eventually came to the attention of Sheikh Khaled Abdalla, a radical Egyptian television host who broadcasted the film and sparked outrage, according to the Times.
The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo is the latest embassy attack in Egypt. Last year, protesters stormed the Israeli Embassy there. Meanwhile, in Libya, the government has condemned the deaths and promised to find those responsible. However, the weak central government has had difficulty asserting its authority over the numerous militant factions.
Preceding provided by JNS.org. It is reprinted with permission
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