First Read For March 16

First Read For March 16

3 new bomb threats hit JCCs; LA Jews unite in opposition to Trump; French rightist suspended for Holocaust-denial comments; More

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore received a bomb threat Tuesday night. JTA
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore received a bomb threat Tuesday night. JTA


3 new bomb threats hit JCCs

Jewish community centers in three states were targeted with bomb threats between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, JTA reports. The threats, some coming via email, hit JCCs in St. Louis, Atlanta, and Boulder, Colorado, all of which were targeted earlier this year. All were deemed to be non-credible, JTA reported.

The threats are the latest of nearly 150 bomb threats to hit JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions since the beginning of the year. The threats have mostly come in waves, via phone and email. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the threats.

Also Tuesday, a website for the metropolitan Detroit area’s Walk for Israel was temporarily hacked with anti-Semitic messages.

NY chasid’s ‘political ties’ charged in indictment refusal

The lawyer for a black Brooklyn man who was beaten last year in an apparent racially-charged attack in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn yesterday accused prosecutors of refusing to indict one of the assailants because of his family’s political ties, the New York Daily News reports.

Attorney Andrew Stoll said that Yoelli “Joel” Itzkowitz, one of five chasidic men were charged in the brutal assault of Taj Patterson, has not been indicted because his brother Yanky is the politically-connected coordinator of the Williamsburg Shomrim volunteer security patrol.

President Donald Trump addressing a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives chamber, Feb. 28, 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Opposition to Trump unifies Los Angeles Jews

The rise of President Trump has sparked a new streak of activism in Los Angeles’ Jewish community that many veteran leaders say they haven’t seen in decades, the Los Angeles Times reports. Jewish leaders in the religious, political and cultural worlds have formed a coalition “aimed at denouncing what they perceive to be threats to religious tolerance, democratic values, equal rights and a free press.”

Trump’s rhetoric and actions toward Muslim immigrants were the impetus for the coalition, known as Jews United for Democracy and Justice, said Rabbi Ken Chasen, senior spiritual leader at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air. “Jews understand that an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us

Not since the 1960s, when Jewish leaders embraced the civil rights movement and denounced the Vietnam War, has there been such a galvanizing issue as this one, the rabbi said.

Jews United for Democracy and Justice has garnered the support of more than 2,000 Jewish people — including prominent rabbis and elected leaders such as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Atty. Mike Feuer — who signed the group’s organizing statement.

French rightist suspended for Holocaust-denial comments

France’s far-right National Front political party has suspended a regional official after reports that he had played down the Holocaust, according to the Jerusalem Post. The suspension of Benoit Loeuillet, a National Front regional councillor in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, deals a setback to party leader Marine Le Pen’s attempts to sanitize her party’s image weeks before a presidential election.

The C8 television channel said it had secretly recorded Loeuillet, using a hidden camera for a documentary, stating that “There was no mass murder as has been said.” He later denied in a statement on Facebook that he had in any way questioned the reality of the Holocaust and said he had asked his lawyer to sue the documentary-makers for libel. He also said he was resigning from the National Front.

The sign accused of being anti-Semitic in London.

London artist defends apparent anti-Semitic sign

A London artist said this week that he was behind a road sign apparently mimicking charedi Jews and confirmed that the project was not intended to cause offense, according to the London Jewish Chronicle. Franck Allais, who works as a freelance photographer, said he intended his work to be part of a project on identity, not an anti-Semitic statement.

Police were investigating the sign was found fixed to a lamppost near a synagogue in north London. Allais said he was upset that his work depicting a Jewish man in traditional Orthodox garb had offended members of the Jewish community. “It was a project about crossing the road … how everyone is different, everyone has an identity.”


Israel, a country not on some airlines’ maps

Leaving Israel off of airline maps appears to be good business, say University of Minnesota researchers who analyzed airline maps. They found that the airlines of several countries, including Saudia Arabia and Kuwait, “have used maps where countries are identified by name – but Israel is left out,” the London Jewish Chronicle reports.

“It’s repugnant morally but commercially it’s a viable strategy,” said Paul Vaaler, one of the researchers, adding that passengers would be put off by an airline that shows Israel on its maps.

The study found that airlines that omit Israel tend to get the most online traffic from countries that come at the top of the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-Semitism index. They also found that airlines that omit Israel are likely to also omit kosher


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