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Around The Jewish World




Afghan baby’s heart surgery story captures hearts


HOLON – Baby Yehia has enormous chocolate-brown eyes. His family, Afghani refugees living in Pakistan, nicknamed their huggable little boy “Yaya”.

They almost lost Yaya because he was born with multiple severe heart defects that doctors in India and Pakistan could not repair – or at least not for a price the family could afford.

Yaya is now a 16-month-old walking miracle. Paediatric cardiologists from Israel’s Save a Child’s Heart nonprofit organisation, based at the Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon, performed a complex eight-hour operation, paid for by donors.

Yaya and his father are staying in SACH housing as he heals and they should be able to return home in two or three weeks’ time to meet Yaya’s newest sibling, born just before the surgery.

Since 1995, SACH doctors have repaired the hearts of more than 4 000 children from 51 countries, at no charge. About half of these children are Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza. Others, like Yaya, live in countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, including Iraq and Syria. No children from Afghanistan had been treated by SACH previously.

Arranging to bring sick kids from hostile countries is complicated. In Yaya’s case, the process involved determined, goodhearted people in several parts of the world. – Israel 21c


Life-saving Israeli app used at Olympics

BEERSHEBA – As the world looked to Brazil for the Olympic Games, an Israeli startup was there to improve the safety of millions.

SayVU is an application that sends a distress signal to an emergency call centre from any phone, even if it is locked.

The company was selected as part of the Olympics’ comprehensive security network.

“We see the Olympics as a main stage for global exposure of the unique technology we developed,” SayVU CEO Amotz Koskas said.

The app cuts response time and brings assistance more rapidly from emergency services, including police, firefighters and first responders.

SayVU contacts emergency services without the user needing to open or log in to the application. When triggered, the app immediately starts to compile data using the phone’s microphone. That data then transfers a comprehensive picture of the emergency to service providers.

The app also tracks and reports to a predetermined list of emergency responders and family members.

The startup was founded shortly after the tragic kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths, which sparked the 2014 Gaza war.

After realising they were in danger, one boy dialled the police for help, but the operator thought the call was a prank and did not take it seriously.

Koskas, who was studying at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev at the time, was inspired to develop an application to prevent a repeat of such a tragedy.

Koskas won the “Innovation in the Public Sector” competition the next year. That contest was a joint BGU/Google venture designed to promote public-service innovation using technology, information and communication.- Jerusalem Post


Australian foreign minister calls for Wallenberg facts


CANBERRA – Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has called for the truth to be revealed about the fate of Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, after news of an initiative to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to return the remains of Australia’s first and only honorary citizen,for burial alongside his parents in Sweden.

With new details of his death in a Soviet prison coming to light, Bishop has described the Swedish diplomat as “a courageous hero who saved so many people from the murderous Nazi regime.

“I support the efforts to determine his fate following his arrest in 1945 and I wish the Wallenberg family every success in seeking to close the chapter on Raoul Wallenberg’s extraordinary life.”

In Hungary in 1944, Wallenberg issued protective visas that saved tens of thousands of Jews from transportation to Auschwitz. But apparently suspected of espionage against the Soviet Union, he was last seen in Soviet custody after its army entered Budapest in January 1945.

New information seems to indicate Wallenberg was executed by lethal injection at Moscow’s Lubyanka prison in 1947 on orders that can be traced to Joseph Stalin.

However, child survivor Professor Frank Vajda, an acclaimed Melbourne neuropharmacologist whose life was saved by Wallenberg, is sceptical about the campaign.

Vajda was a key campaigner for Wallenberg to be made an honorary citizen of Australia, and in 2013, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard conferred Australia’s first honorary citizenship on the Swedish envoy, citing his courage and humanitarianism. – Australian Jewish News

Celtic charged by Uefa after Palestinian flags flown inside stadium


GLASGOW – Celtic Football Club has been charged by Uefa after fans flew Palestinian flags before and during the Glasgow side’s match against Hapoel Beersheba.

Uefa had warned prior to last week’s Champions League qualifier that the club could face sanctions if flags were displayed by protesters inside Celtic Park.

In a statement last week Friday, the football governing body confirmed it had opened disciplinary proceedings against the Scottish champions.

The case will be heard on September 22. Uefa is more likely to hand down a severe punishment if a rule breach reoccurs within a five-year period.

Celtic fall into this category, having been fined in 2014 after fans staged a similar demonstration and waved Palestinian flags at a match against KR Reykjavik.

A small group of demonstrators shouted “Israel is a racist state” and “Viva Palestina” on the concourse outside the ground before this week’s match against the Israeli champions. Officers mounted on horseback patrolled the area.

Stanley Lovatt, the honorary Israeli consul in Scotland, said he saw “a couple of dozen protesters” before kick-off.

He added: “There was a flurry of Palestinian flags inside the ground just as the game started, but absolutely no trouble at all.”

Before the match, hundreds of fans had joined a Facebook page titled “Fly the flag for Palestine, for Celtic, for Justice”, calling on supporters to display the flags as a protest against Israel.

A group called Celtic Fans for Palestine set up the page. It called on Celtic fans to use their “democratic rights to display our opposition to Israeli apartheid”. – Jewish Chronicle, London


Canadian Greens’ leader mulls quitting over BDS vote


OTTAWA – Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is contemplating stepping down from her role after party members voted to adopt a policy in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, despite her vocal opposition to it.

Following the Green Party’s national convention in Ottawa – during which delegates passed a resolution in favour of the BDS campaign – May told CBC News reporter Rosemary Barton that she is “struggling with the question of whether I should continue as leader or not.

“I’m quite certain most of our members don’t support this policy, but weren’t fully engaged in the consensus building process we normally would have had,” she said.

“So if I can’t find a way to bring that back and have the members review it with a consensus decision-making process, then I have to profoundly question whether I can continue as leader and that’s obviously heart-breaking.”

Earlier, in a statement released by the party after the convention, May said she was disappointed the party membership adopted a policy she considers to be “polarising, ineffective and unhelpful in the quest for peace and security for the peoples of the Middle East”.

Green Party federal council president, Ken Melamed, who is Jewish, said he wasn’t surprised by May’s comments about stepping down.

“Elizabeth has expressed her opposition to using BDS as a method to achieve the party’s goals, which is a peaceful two-state solution for Palestine and Israel… Where the polarisation has occurred is in how you get there,” Melamed said. – Canadian Jewish News


Outrage grows over UCLA discrimination case


LOS ANGELES – Numerous major community organisations have joined the attorney of former UCLA Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Milan Chatterjee in denouncing a UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) finding that Chatterjee violated university policy by saying that he would not approve using organisational funds for an event that engaged with the divest-from-Israel issue.

An August 15 letter, co-signed by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Israeli American Council, StandWithUs and other groups, demanded that the university apologise to Chatterjee. It was addressed to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and copied to several elected officials, including Governor Jerry Brown and US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

“We urge you to intervene immediately and put a stop to these activities,” the six-page letter states.

“Mr Chatterjee should be exonerated, apologised to, and permitted to finish law school in peace and to pursue his personal and professional goals without any unjust and undeserved blemishes on his academic record.”

Chatterjee’s attorney, Peter Weil, managing partner at the Los Angeles law firm Glaser Weil, expressed opposition to the DPO’s investigation in an earlier letter, dated July 28, that was addressed to UCLA Discrimination Prevention Officer Dion Raymond.

“The UCLA administration has engaged in flawed and unfair investigative processes which, not surprisingly, has resulted in a flawed and erroneous conclusion,” Weil’s 15-page letter says. 

University officials said they plan to respond to the letters, but a response was not available by the press time. – Jewish Journal, Los Angeles


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