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Israel helps Brazil fight Amazon fires Israel will help Brazil in battling fires raging in the Amazon rain forest.
by JTA | Aug 29, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday to offer assistance in extinguishing the blazes. Israel will send a firefighting aircraft and flame-retardant materials to the country.

On Monday, world leaders pledged more than $22 million (R336 million) to help combat the fires, which many environmentalists and scientists inside and outside the country said were deliberately lit by farmers and loggers, and which they attribute to Bolsonaro’s policies of opening up protected parts of the Amazon rain forest for development.

Under international pressure, Bolsonaro on Friday authorised the use of 44 000 troops to battle the fires, the most serious since 2013, when the country began tracking them using official data.

Bolsonaro’s supporters say the country’s far left and detractors abroad are using the fires to discredit his right-wing government.

Father-in-law of Hasidic singer attacked

A 64-year-old rabbi, the father-in-law of popular Hasidic singer Benny Friedman, was hit in the head by a stone brick thrown at him while walking in the Crown Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn on Tuesday morning.

Rabbi Avraham Gopin was hospitalised with “a broken nose, missing teeth, stitches on his head, and lacerations to his body,” Friedman posted on Twitter.

“This morning, at 07:45, my father-in-law went for his morning walk, like he always does. Suddenly a man started yelling at him, and chasing him, holding a huge brick,” Friedman tweeted in a thread that included a photo of his father-in-law’s bloody tzitit, (ritual garment).

New York city council member Chaim Deutsch tweeted that the police were investigating the attack as a hate crime. The Anti-Defamation League is offering a reward of up to $5 000 (R76 500) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the assailant.

San Francisco flyers blame Jews for 9/11

Anti-Semitic fliers saying that Jews and Israel are behind the 9/11 attacks appeared in Northern California about 30 miles (48km) from San Francisco.

The fliers, discovered last weekend in Novato, a city of about 52 000 in the North Bay area, were plastered on telephone poles, storefronts, and a high-school campus. They said Israelis were seen dancing on the site of the collapsed Twin Towers, that a Jewish-Israeli man made billions in insurance money, and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had praised the attacks. At the bottom of the page, it said, “Wake up USA!”

Police Chief Adam McGill urged citizens to “stand up to hate,” but told the Marin Independent Journal that the fliers were protected by the First Amendment, and there would be no investigation. No group has claimed responsibility.

On Tuesday, the mayor, police department, school district and anti-hate group Not In Our Town published an open letter condemning the fliers.

Israeli security officials warn about annexing West Bank

Twenty-five former Israeli senior security and defence officials have thanked congress for passing legislation that endorses a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while condemning efforts to boycott Israel, including those from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.

The letter, sent on Tuesday, also weighed in against Israel unilaterally annexing all or part of the West Bank, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is considering if re-elected.

“Any unilateral annexation of territory or extension of sovereignty to the West Bank will put Israel’s security and safety along with the well-being of its citizens at risk,” the letter said.

It was signed by the former heads of the Mossad and Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet, and three former advisers to Netanyahu.

Pope Francis meets Hispanic Jewish world

Pope Francis had an audience at the Vatican with representatives of Hispanic Jewry from his native Argentina, as well as from Spain, and the United States.

The US delegation included Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York, also known as the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. The Spanish delegation featured the president of the Hispanic Jewish Foundation, David Hatchwell Altaras, and former Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon.

Hatchwell gave the pope a copy of the Alba Bible, a manuscript from 1422 of a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Castilian, or Medieval Spanish, by Rabbi Moses Arrajel of Toledo. The text was written to teach Jewish heritage to church members.

New Zealand suspends Palestinian funding

The New Zealand government has suspended funding to the United Nations’ aid agency for Palestinians.

The funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is on hold until the release of the October report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services on allegations against the agency including misconduct, corruption, links to terror groups, perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and anti-Semitism.

“We expect UNRWA to co-operate fully with the investigation underway, and to report back on the investigation’s findings and recommendations,” the New Zealand ministry of foreign affairs said.

From January to June, New Zealand provided nearly $1.6 million (R24.5 million) to UNRWA.

Last month, the Netherlands and Switzerland announced the suspension of funding for UNRWA following the damning report.

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