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7 members of India’s Bnei Menashe community killed in rocket attack near synagogue

(JTA) — Seven members of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community were killed Monday in a rocket attack near a synagogue in the Indian state of Manipur, according to an Israeli parliamentary body.

The attack, which occurred amid ongoing interethnic conflict in the eastern Indian state, was not meant to target Jews, said a press release from the Israeli Knesset’s Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Committee.

This is the third instance in recent months in which the community in the Manipur area — composed of practicing Jews who hope to emigrate to Israel — has been affected by the conflict. Two synagogues and ritual baths had already been burned down due to the conflict. One community member was killed in May.

The violence in Manipur, a state east of Bangladesh that borders Myanmar, began in May. It stemmed from student protests against an effort to grant “scheduled tribe” status to the Meitei community, which makes up more than half of the state’s population of more than 3 million. That status comes with special employment and education benefits reserved for other minority tribal groups, who say the Meitei community already benefits from extensive representation. The Bnei Menashe belong to the Kuki tribe. In the past, members of the Jewish community in Manipur have been targeted because they are dual minorities — both Kuki-Mizo and Jewish.

The Bnei Menashe believe they are descended from the Israelite tribe of Menasseh, one of the “lost tribes” of ancient times. That claim was endorsed in 2005 by Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, who affirmed the Bnei Menashe’s status as a “lost tribe,” though some researchers and officials cast doubt on those claims. Due to their “lost tribe” status, Bnei Menashe Jews have undergone formal Orthodox conversion following their immigration to Israel, which began in the 1990s.

Some 5,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community have immigrated to Israel, including almost 1,500 in the past five years, according to the press release. Another 5,500 still live in India and are waiting to immigrate. About 4,000 live in Manipur, and another 600 live in the neighboring Mizoram region.

The Absorption Committee, chaired by lawmaker Oded Forer, held a discussion Tuesday on Bnei Menashe immigration and the community’s integration in Israel’s job market.

“The State of Israel must promote the immigration of the members of the community who remain in India,” Forer said, according to the press release.

He said the Knesset had not prioritized the immigration of the Bnei Menashe community, which he called a “historical mistake.”

“Last night the community of Bnei Menashe buried seven people who were killed as a result of a bomb falling near the synagogue,” said Tzvi Khaute, coordinator of the Bnei Menashe in Israel for Shavei Israel, a nonprofit that has facilitated and advocated for the community’s immigration, according to the press release. “I am begging thart this community be allowed to immigrate to Israel. Every day that they stay in India and do not immigrate to Israel, they risk their lives.”

Other figures remarked on the challenges facing Bnei Menashe community members who want to immigrate to Israel — including undergoing an Orthodox conversion and finding employment after they arrive — but said the need to get them to Israel was paramount.

“There are riots in northern India, but the very identification of the Bnei Menashe community as Jews does not pose a danger,” said Michal Wheeler Tal, director of the Southeast Asia section of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, according to the press release. “We recommend that the community that remains in India immigrate to Israel, but with a low profile, in order to avoid being criticized for intervening in the internal affairs of the state. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will help in every way to bring the members of the community to Israel.”

The post 7 members of India’s Bnei Menashe community killed in rocket attack near synagogue appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Newly released documents from the Deschênes Commission show Canada’s reluctance to prosecute Nazi war criminals

The release of formerly classified documents from the 1986 Deschênes Commission—which investigated how Nazi war criminals entered Canada after the Second World War—reveals greater details about why the government was reluctant to prosecute them once they were in the country, says David Matas, the lawyer who represented B’nai Brith Canada at the inquiry. Canada released […]

The post Newly released documents from the Deschênes Commission show Canada’s reluctance to prosecute Nazi war criminals appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government

The International Court of Justice in The Hague in session in January 2020. Photo: Reuters/Eva Plevier.

Dozens of South African immigrants to Israel protested against their former country’s government on Friday, standing with their new home against political and legal attacks from South Africa’s ruling ANC party, highlighted by accusing Israel of “genocide,” last Thursday in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

“The demonstration is not against South Africa or its people, but against its disgraceful government. I am proud to stand here as an Israeli, but I am ashamed of the government of my homeland, for stooping so low. It is a danger to Judaism,” said David Kaplan, an attendant of the event.

Former Knesset member Ruth Wasserman Lande, who was raised in Cape Town, South Africa before moving to Israel for military service, living in Israel since, added “Justice is with us, the ruling party of South Africa has sold its soul to Iran.”

The protest in Ra’anana in central Israel comes a few weeks after Israel was forced to stand trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against charges of “genocide” in its current defensive war against Hamas in Gaza. The charges were filed by South Africa’s government, a noted friend of Hamas leadership and outspoken critic of Israel and the Israeli government.

In South Africa’s case against Israel, the country alleges that the IDF is acting “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”

The suit came as both countries are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, passed after the Holocaust and with the goal of creating proceedings to ensure no genocide like what happened to the Jews of Europe occurs in the future.

Israel said South Africa was acting as “the legal arm of Hamas,” and called the charges “baseless,” especially as the country has been noted to take unprecedented steps to protect civilians in the war. Furthermore, the war began after Israel was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, when they invaded southern Israel, murdering more than 1,200 and taking hostage over 240.

The ICJ refused to grant South Africa’s wish of calling for an immediate ceasefire, but nevertheless ruled to investigate the genocide charges and called on Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of [genocide].”

Even this past week South Africa continued its attacks, calling for the defunding of Israel, with Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor saying “This necessarily imposes an obligation on all states to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions.”

The post South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government first appeared on

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Robert Kraft Antisemitism Nonprofit to Air Super Bowl Ad Featuring Associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and team owner Robert Kraft celebrate winning Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Kevin Lamarque.

Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), a group created by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, will air its first Super Bowl commercial when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 11.

An estimated 100 million television viewers will see the commercial, which features Dr. Clarence B. Jones, a former legal adviser of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jones, according to FCAS, helped King draft the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on Aug. 28, 1963.

“I know I can speak for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when I say without a doubt that the Civil Rights movement (including the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Acts) would not have occurred without the unwavering and largely unsung efforts of the Jewish people,” Jones said in a press release issued by FCAS. “With hate on the rise, it is as important as ever that all of us stand together and speak out. Silence is not an option. I’m glad that I’ve lived long enough to partner with Robert Kraft and FCAS to continue to spread the message to the widest possible audience — the Super Bowl.”

This year’s Super Bowl commercial mark’s FCAS’ biggest push to promote awareness of antisemitism since its founding in 2019. Last year, the nonprofit launched a $25 million multimedia campaign, which asked supporters to use the “Blue Square” emoji available on iOS devices in their social media posts.

FCAS has undertaken numerous other initiatives to address rising antisemitism.

In March 2023, it announced a partnership with Brandeis University, which will include a student fellowship program for undergraduates, conferences featuring leading experts on antisemitism, and collaborations with K-12 administrators. Additionally, Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Jewish Leadership Program will expand to include “Kraft Scholars,” who will participate in new online degree and certificate programs that will train them to respond to crises caused by antisemitic incidents.

Kraft, who led the remarkable transformation of the New England Patriots from a second tier club to an annual Super Bowl contender and winner of six such titles in under twenty years, founded FCAS after being awarded $1 million through Genesis Prize, an honor given to successful members of the Jewish community. FCAS focuses most of its resources on social media, aiming, it says, “to stand up against racist and violent rhetoric aimed at the Jewish people through the most accessible and most powerful avenue of information in the world.”

In a statement, Kraft, expressed hope for this latest campaign and praised Dr. Clarence Jones as an emblem of his FCAS’ highest aspirations.

“The work Dr. Jones has done over the course of his entire life and career is the embodiment of FCAS’ mission to build bridges and stand up to Jewish hate and all forms of hate. In the time we have spent together and through his work, I have become a huge fan of Dr. Jones, and I am proud to spotlight all that he has done for our nation,” he said. “With this ad, we hope to continue to spread Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and equality at a time in which the country needs it mist most, and our goal is to reach a wide audience of people and inspire all Americans to stand up together, arm in arm, and fight this horrific rising hate.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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