JNS news briefs: April 24, 2014

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Palestinian unity pact followed by rocket fire at Israel
(JNS.org) Following the signing of a unity agreement between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and the Gaza-based terror group Hamas on Wednesday, five Qassam rockets were launched from Gaza toward Israel, with four failing to reach Israeli territory and the fifth exploding near the Israel-Gaza border fence.

Also on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces said it carried out a “counterterrorism operation” in northern Gaza, but that “a hit was not identified.”

“We don’t always hit the target, it happens,” an Israeli security official told Israel Hayom. “But in a vast majority of cases, we hit [the target].”
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Israeli-American journalist detained in Ukraine

(JNS.org) The Israeli embassy in Kiev is communicating with Ukrainian authorities in the eastern city of Slovyansk regarding an American-Israeli journalist being held by pro-Russia separatists. Simon Ostrovsky, a reporter for global news channel Vice News, holds dual Israeli-American citizenship and was abducted Tuesday, according to Ukrainian media reports.

Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the “People’s Mayor” of Slovyansk, said that Ostrovsky was detained for reporting false information that was “destabilizing for us,” reported the Russian news outletGazeta.ru. Initial reports were mixed, and at one point Ponomarev backtracked, saying that “no one holds [Ostrovsky] hostage.”

But pro-Russian separatists on Wednesday confirmed they did detain Ostrovsky, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Vice News issued a statement that the organization “is aware of the situation and is in contact with the United States State Department and other appropriate government authorities to secure the safety and security of our friend and colleague.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the Israeli embassy is “looking into the matter, seeing what is known, what the local police know.” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also expressed concern at the detainment of Ostrovsky and others in eastern Ukraine.

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Suffolk University students protest ADL director Foxman’s commencement speech
(JNS.org) Some students at Boston’s Suffolk University are protesting the decision by the university’s law school to invite Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Abraham Foxman to be its commencement speaker on May 17.

The students, who have launched a petition against the decision, cited Foxman’s opposition to U.S. congressional recognition of the 1915 Armenian massacre as a genocide, as well as his opposition to the building of a mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York City.

“Suffolk claims to embody diversity and be a place for all people, but this clearly is a speaker who does not embody those values,” said Amy Willis, president of Suffolk Law School’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, according to the Boston Globe.

On the Armenian genocide issue, Foxman wrote in 2008 that ADL “has never denied the tragic and painful events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians,” and that “all of ADL’s anti-hate programs classify genocide as the ultimate crime against humanity.” ADL said it opposed the congressional resolution because it believed it to be “a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.”

Regarding the mosque near Ground Zero, Foxman wrote, “In our judgment, building an Islamic center in the shadow of the World Trade Center would unnecessarily cause some victims more pain.”

The administration of Suffolk University President James McCarthy said in a statement provided to the Boston Globe, “We value the views of all of our community members, and have examined the concerns which have been raised. Mr. Foxman’s body of work is well deserving of recognition. … It is our hope that Mr. Foxman’s personal story as a Holocaust survivor and attorney who has dedicated his life to public service will inspire our graduates as they embark on their professional careers.”

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U.S. to resume partial military aid to Egypt
(JNS.org) The United States is likely to resume limited military aid, including the release of Apache helicopters, to Egypt.

“Today, Secretary Kerry spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy to inform him that he is certifying to Congress that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States—including by countering transnational threats such as terrorism and weapons proliferation—and that Egypt is upholding its obligations under the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The decision likely means that the U.S. will clear the way for the transfer of Apache helicopters to Egypt, which were held up last summer following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, the Washington Post reported.

Additionally, the decision will also allow the U.S. to resume a portion of its $1.3 billion in annual military assistance to Egypt to help the government handle the deteriorating security situation in the Sinai Peninsula.

The announcement comes amid media reports of Egypt looking to purchase two-dozen advanced Russian MiG-35 fighter jets.

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Starbucks in talks to buy stake in Israel’s SodaStream
(JNS.org) American global coffee giant Starbucks is reportedly in talks with the Israel-based SodaStream beverage-carbonation company to buy a 10-percent stake in the company, Globes reported.

Sources indicate that both sides are close to announcing the deal, which would value SodaStream at $1.1 billion, 30 percent above its current market price of $850 million.

According to the report, SodaStream is looking for a partnership similar to the one between coffee machine maker Green Mountain Coffee and Coca-Cola, where the two companies are collaborating on their own home carbonated beverage machines.

“Collaboration with Starbucks would give SodaStream a distribution platform and marketing incentives, such as sales campaigns and special flavors for Starbucks customers,” the Globes report said.

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