Latest US/World News


Barak indicates Israeli role in Syrian airstrike
( Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak indicated that Israel was behind last week’s reported Israel airstrike on Syria. “I cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria several days ago,” Barak told a security conference in Munich on Sunday, Reuters reported. “But I keep telling frankly that we said, and that is another proof that when we say something we mean it. We say that we don’t think it should be allowable to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon,” he said. Barak’s comments were the first by an Israeli official since the strike last week.
U.S. officials said the strike hit both the research center and the convoy of anti-aircraft missiles. Additionally, Time Magazine reported that Israel had received a “green light” from the U.S. on the attack. In recent weeks, U.S. and Israeli officials have expressed concern over Syria’s vast weapons arsenal falling into the wrong hands as the civil war drags on. Syrian officials, backed by Iranian support, have vowed revenge for the strike.

UK paper apologies for cartoon
( The UK’s Sunday Times newspaper has issued an apology for the antisemitic cartoon featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it published last week on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “It is one thing to attack and caricature a leader — and it is as legitimate to attack Israeli leaders in cartoons as anyone else. But it is another thing to reflect in a caricature, even unintentionally, historical iconography that is persecutory or anti-Semitic,” the paper wrote on its editorial page. The cartoon was entitled “Israeli elections—will cementing peace continue?” and featured a large-nosed Netanyahu laying bricks over bleeding Palestinians. The Sunday Times had at first said the cartoon was not antisemitic, but Rupert Murdoch, whose multinational mass media organization, News Corporation, owns the paper, called the cartoon “grotesque” and called on the paper to apologize.

Senators seek to halt arms sales to Egypt
( Two Republican U.S. senators are aiming to stop America’s sale of weapons to Egypt. Sen. Rand Paul (R–KY) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) each introduced legislation prohibiting the sale of F-16 aircraft, tanks and other advanced weapons to Egypt, whose president, Mohamed Morsi, comes from the historically anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood party. “I think it is a blunder of the first proportion to send sophisticated weapons to a country that allowed a mob to attack our embassy and to burn our flag,” Paul said in the Senate. Although Inhofe initially voted against Paul’s amendment on the grounds that it is too costly for the U.S. defense budget to ban these sales completely, he then introduced his own bill to suspend sales until Egypt shows a commitment to a peaceful relationship with Israel, for securing U.S. embassies and consulates, and for respecting minority parties, The Hill reported. “For decades, the U.S. has had a good relationship with Egypt, training their troops and working together to maintain peace and stability in the region… Under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, this relationship has come to a halt. We need to continue to support the Egyptian military, which Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have currently distanced themselves from,” Inhofe said.

Israeli astronaut may be headed into space
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology announced that it intends to renew its initiative to send another Israeli astronaut to space. The first and only Israeli astronaut was Ilan Ramon, who died in 2003, along with the rest of the space shuttle Columbia crew. Representatives of the Israel Space Agency (ISA) have begun initial talks with international space officials with the goal of exploring the ramifications of such an eventuality. The ISA hopes to place an Israeli astronaut at the International Space Station in the next few years. More than 14 senior space officials from around the world were in attendance at The 8th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference, recently held in Herzliya, organized by the ISA, the Ministry of Science and Technology and The Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies.

Australia schedules election on Yom Kippur
( Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that the Australian national election will be held Sept. 14, a date that falls on Yom Kippur, stirring a major debate among politicians on whether the choice of the date is insensitive to Australia’s Jewish community. “As a matter of personal conscience I will be unable to participate on election day. It is my practice, with my wife, Amanda, to observe Yom Kippur,” Australian Jewish parliament member Michael Danby of the Labor party said in a statement, according to the Jerusalem Post.
About 107,000-120,000 Jews live in Australia and constitute about 0.5 percent of the population. There are a few federal electorates in the country with a large number of eligible Jewish voters. Traditionally, Australia holds elections on Saturday, which makes it impossible for observant Jews to participate, though they are allowed to submit their votes by mail. Given that many more members of the Jewish community observe Yom Kippur than Shabbat, Jewish Liberal party parliament member Josh Frydenberg tweeted that the decision “disenfranchises many Jewish Australians.”

Hagel troubles continue
( Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, who has come under fire for his record on Israel, mistakenly expressed support for a U.S. policy of “containment” in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat at his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, Jan. 31. “I’ve just been handed a note that I misspoke and said I supported the president’s position on ‘containment,’” Hagel went on to say. “If I said that, I meant to say that obviously — his position on containment — we don’t have a position on containment.” U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) then intervened, saying, “Just to make sure your correction is clear, we do have a position on containment — which is we do not favor containment.” Democrats and Republicans alike have questioned whether Hagel is truly committed to a military option for the Iranian nuclear threat and to broader U.S. support of Israel.
Hagel also expressed regret for the infamous comment he made to former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller in 2008 that “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” Hagel said he should have instead used the term “pro-Israel lobby.” “I’m sorry and I regret it,” Hagel said. “On the use of ‘intimidation,’ I should have used ‘influence,’ I think would have been more appropriate.”
Hagel also chairs the Atlantic Council think tank, which in December published a column titled “Israel’s Apartheid Policy,” as well as a policy paper predicting that Iran “should be viewed as a potential natural partner” for the U.S.  Hagel did not sign various pro-Israel letters backed by AIPAC while he served in the Senate, but did sign a 2009 letter asking Obama to directly negotiate with Hamas.
Hagel recently protested what he called a “completely distorted” interpretation of his previous comments on Israel in an interview with his hometown newspaper, the Lincoln Journal Star. But in the same newspaper in 2003, he said Israel is “keep[ing] Palestinians caged up like animals,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Drew Barrymore to raise daughter Jewish
( Actress Drew Barrymore, 38, has announced she plans to raise her infant daughter in the Jewish faith. Barrymore, who first made the announcement on the daytime talk show The View, married art consultant Will Kopelman, 35, eight months ago in a Jewish ceremony. Their daughter Olive was born last October. “He’s a nice Jewish man from a nice Jewish family… I’m a shiksa (gentile). I do the seders and we do Passover. I haven’t converted yet, but Olive will be raised traditionally,” Barrymore said, according to USA Today.
Barrymore also called Judaism “a beautiful faith” and said she is “so honored” to be around it. “It’s so family-oriented… The stories are so beautiful and it’s incredibly enlightening. I’m really happy,” she said.

Israel, Vatican on the verge of agreement
( Israel and the Vatican are on the verge of signing a historic agreement that will formalize diplomatic relations as well as potentially improve Israel’s ties with the global Catholic community. While Israel and the Vatican established formal diplomatic relations in 1993, they have differed on a number of key areas, the status of the Catholic Church in Israel, sovereignty over Catholic sites, taxation and expropriation. One of the most contentious areas was a dispute over the Cenacle — the traditional site of the Jesus’s Last Supper on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. According to the agreement, Israel did not give up sovereignty over it, but will allow the Vatican control over the site, Israel Hayom reported. In comments to the Jerusalem Post, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that the two sides were “on the verge of signing, subject to final approval by the government of Israel and the Holy See.”

Morsi aide: Holocaust was U.S. hoax
“The myth of the Holocaust is an industry that America invented,” said Fathi Shihab-Eddim, a senior figure close to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi responsible for appointing the editors of all state-run newspapers, Israel Hayom reported. “U.S. intelligence agencies in cooperation with their counterparts in allied nations during World War II created [the Holocaust] to destroy the image of their opponents in Germany, and to justify war and massive destruction against military and civilian facilities of the Axis powers, and especially to hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atomic bomb,” Shihab-Eddim said. His remarks came Sunday as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Shihab-Eddim said he believes the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust were not murdered by the Nazis, but were actually moved to the U.S. in an operation carried out by American intelligence. He said all of the reports about the numbers of Jews killed are lies intended to damage Germany’s image during World War II and to allow the U.S. to split Germany with the former Soviet Union. Government-sponsored Holocaust denial is the most dangerous… as opposed to attempts by individuals to convince people that the Holocaust did not take place,” Efraim Zuroff, Israel director of the Wiesenthal Center, told “When it comes with a strict Islamic interpretation and one which is basically anti-Semitic, then it becomes much more dangerous,” he said.

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