First Read For May 4
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News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are talking about today.

First Read For May 4

New U.S. Peace process on horizon; Idra Novey wins Sami Rohr prize; Anti-BDS bill signed in Texas; Israeli cafe chain offers discount to polite patrons; More

U.S President Donald Trump meets with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the Oval Office of the White House on May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. Getty Images
U.S President Donald Trump meets with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the Oval Office of the White House on May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. Getty Images

Trump to launch new Middle East Peace process

The United States will launch a new diplomatic effort to reach a comprehensive peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, President Trump said yesterday while hosting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.

Trump said he was impressed by the ability of Israeli and Palestinian security forces to work together. “We’ll start a process which hopefully will lead to peace,” Trump said. “Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Let’s see if we can prove them wrong.”

Idra Novey wins Sami Rohr prize for Jewish literature

(JTA) — Idra Novey, author of the novel “Ways to Disappear,” won the 2017 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

She takes home $100,000 for winning the prize, which was announced Wednesday by the Jewish Book Council at a ceremony at New York’s Jewish Museum.

Her book explores a translator’s search for a missing author in modern-day Brazil. It is the debut novel by Novey, a poet and translator who lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The runner-up, Daniel Torday, received the $18,000 Choice Award for “The Last Flight of Poxl West,” which features alternative narrations by a Czech Holocaust survivor and a teenage boy in Boston who considers him a hero. The novel also won the 2015 National Jewish Book Award for fiction, also given by the JBC.

The Rohr Prize, which has been awarded annually since 2007, considers works of fiction and nonfiction in alternating years. Here she reads from her book and discusses her inspiration for the book.

Texas governor signs anti-BDS bill

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that bans state entities from dealing with businesses that boycott Israel or its settlements, JTA reports. Abbott signed the bill at the Jewish Community Center of Austin.

“You can always count on Texas,” he said at the signing ceremony. “Any anti-Israel policy is an anti-Texas policy. Texas is not going to do business with any company that boycotts Israel.”

Texas becomes the 20th state with laws or executive orders banning state business with companies that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israel.

Newsweek: Russia risks showdown with Israel

Russia’s allies in Syria risk drawing Russia into a confrontation with Israel, columnist Jonathan Schanzer writes in Newsweek.

According to Schanzer, Hezbollah, “Iran’s most lethal proxy,” which is buttressing the “beleaguered” troops of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, is by its threats against Israel “provoking the Israelis, who may ultimately see little choice but to strike first,” drawing Russia into the conflict.

Iran is arming Hezbollah in preparation for the “next conflict with Israel,” Schanzer writes. “In fall 2015, Israel’s military assessed that Hezbollah had increased its rocket arsenal from an estimated 100,000 to roughly 150,000.”

“The Israelis have warned repeatedly that the next war with Hezbollah could be one in which Israel will seek nothing less than total defeat and ousting of Hezbollah from Lebanon,” Schanzer writes.

Israeli coffee shop gives a discount to customers who say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

Josefin Dolestin/JTA

A breakfast spread at the popular Israeli cafe chain, Café Café. Wikimedia Commons/Or Hiltch

Café Café, one of the country’s largest coffeehouse chains, is now offering a 25 percent discount to customers at its 157 branches who say “please” and “thank you” when ordering a regular size cup of coffee, Globes reported Wednesday.

A cup of coffee will cost well-behaved patrons only 6 shekels, or $1.66, rather than 8 shekels, or $2.20.

Café Café CEO Noam Zimerman told Globes that he hopes the initiative will “encourage more respectful conversation in Israel society.”

He also expects it will benefit his company financially: The chain saw a 30 to 40 percent increase in new customers when the price of a cup of coffee was slashed to 8 shekels several years ago from 11 or 12.

Zimerman anticipates a similar increase this time.

“When we cut the price the last time, we didn’t think we’d do it again,” he said. “But we saw it was good for both the franchise holder and for us, so we decided to take it one step further.”

Denver police investigating anti-Semitic vandalism

Swastikas and other hate symbols were carved into cars in a Denver neighborhood this week, according to JTA. The vandalism was discovered on the cars of residents who live across the street from the University of Denver Hillel.

Denver police, investigating the incident,  have not yet decided to label it a hate crime.

 

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