U.S. counties late in sending ballots to voters in Israel
(JNS.org) Several U.S. counties are planning to send out absentee ballots to registered voters living abroad later than is required by federal law, essentially rendering these votes irrelevant, Israel Hayom reported. In a statement issued by iVoteIsrael— a group of American expats living in Israel spearheading a registration drive for citizens to be able to cast their ballot in the November elections — the organization cites data that explains low cooperation rates of overseas U.S. citizens in the general elections process. “According to the Overseas Vote Foundation, the primary reason why Americans living abroad do not vote more frequently is due to their failure to return their ballot to their local board of election on time,” the group said. “In this regard, the local boards of elections that mailed out the ballots to the voters bear much of the responsibility for the paltry 6.8 percent overseas voter participation.” Attempting to prevent such a situation from happening, iVoteIsrael has been contacting counties within the U.S., to make sure they mail their absentee ballots by Sept. 22 — 45 days prior to the elections, as is mandated by U.S. federal law. “A number of counties were either not aware of the law, or were planning to ignore the law until iVoteIsrael representatives inquired about their compliance,” iVoteIsrael said in a statement. The group said that despite their efforts to inform the different counties of their obligations toward their overseas voters, several counties still plan on sending out ballots after the specified date.
Israeli Jewish Congress launched
(JNS.org) The Israeli Jewish Congress (IJC), a new organization working to strengthen ties between Israel and the Diaspora, opened its inaugural conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Russian-Jewish businessman and community activist Vladimir Moshe Sloutsker, who founded the group, told attendees that antisemitism “is not disappearing, unfortunately it’s increasing, and so it’s important that all Jews know they have their own country. Israel is at the heart of the Jewish world and it is our duty to deliver this message,” Sloutsker told the attendees, which included Israeli Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom, according to the Jerusalem Post. IJC hopes to address a variety of issues, including Holocaust denial in Europe, the building of a stronger relationship between Diaspora Jews and Israel, and the “strengthening of Israel’s Jewish and democratic foundations.”
Jailed contractor Alan Gross’ health continues to deteriorate
(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 a 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.”
Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Josefina Vidal said in a statement Sept. 12 that Cuba “reiterates its willingness to talk with the United States government to find a solution in the case of Mr. Gross and continues to await an answer.” However, Gross’s attorney Jared Genser said in statement Sept. 13 that his “independent conversations with officials at the White House, State Department, and on Capitol Hill make clear that the Cuban government has been repeatedly asked through formal and informal channels to explain how Alan Gross’s case can be resolved.”
Additionally, on Sept. 11, Gross’s lawyers said 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.
Israeli tech company linked to new World Trade Center
(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. “In the 9/11 attacks, security cameras captured footage of many firefighters running up, while many policemen were running down,” Techmer CEO Itsik Ben Tolila explained. “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 firefighters and just a few cops were killed.” The unique infrastructure provided by Techmer will allow rescue forces to communicate with each other even in extreme states of emergency such as fires and terror attacks.
Israeli wins Paralympics gold in tennis
(JNS.org) Israeli tennis player Noam Gershony won a gold medal at the London Paralympics on Sept 8, marking the Jewish state’s seventh medal of this year’s competition and its first gold. The Israeli defeated American David Wagner — considered to be the world’s top wheelchair tennis player—6-1, 6-3. Gershony, 29, began playing wheelchair tennis only 18 months ago. Previously an Israeli Air Force helicopter pilot, he was injured in the Second Lebanon War. “It was a miracle I survived,” he told Yedioth Ahronoth. “That moment I decided I won’t waste my life and will try to do my best in the area I love. But I never imagined I would get to the Paralympics and pick up a gold medal. Hearing Hatikvah play and seeing the Israeli flag fly high—I can’t describe this feeling.”
Chili Peppers spice up the Holy Land
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) After a delay of exactly 11 years and two weeks, the Red Hot Chili Peppers finally performed before a cheering audience at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park on Monday night, Sept. 10. The Peppers wrapped up a summer in Israel that has been considered one of the best as far as performances go, and left behind expectations for even better shows next summer. In the early hours of Monday morning, long lines appeared outside ticket offices in Tel Aviv. Outside the Dan Hotel, throngs of fans and admirers gathered in the hope of getting a glimpse of the stars. A moment after the clock struck 9 p.m., Anthony Kiedis, the band’s front man, and the rest of the group alighted the stage and performed several of their greatest hits, including “Give it Away,” “Californication,” “Under the Bridge,” and some hits from their new album such as “Monarchy of Roses” and “Did I Let You Know,” which were accompanied by Israeli jazz trumpeter Avishai Cohen.