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EU members are locked in debates about whether to freeze aid to the Palestinians

(JTA) — A number of European countries — in addition to the European Union’s governing body — are considering suspending their financial assistance to the Palestinians in the wake of Hamas’ attacks that have left over 1,200 Israelis dead.

The EU and many of its member states provide over $700 million annually to the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. Many consider Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg announced Monday that his country was suspending all of its aid of close to $20 million. He did not distinguish between aid to Gaza and to the Palestinian Authority, which is based in Ramallah, Reuters reported.

Denmark and Sweden both announced on Tuesday that they would suspend developmental aid but continue to send humanitarian assistance.

Others are publicly wrestling with the issue in public view — including the European Union, which has see-sawed in statements from different officials.

European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said Monday that the EU would postpone all new payments, including for the current year “until further notice.” He said there could be no “business as usual” given the atrocities.

Then Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs commissioner, said after an emergency meeting of EU and Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers on Tuesday in Oman that the body would not be freezing Palestinian aid. He said an “overwhelming majority” of European foreign ministers supported continuing aid and that “some decisions” by the Israeli military in recent days — including the decision to cut off power and water in the Gaza strip — are “contrary to international law.”

But on Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission — one of the EU’s executive branches — signaled that the EU would indeed review its funding stance.

“Our humanitarian support to the Palestinian people is not in question. Yet it is important that we carefully review our financial assistance for Palestine. EU funding has never and will never go to Hamas or any terrorist entity. So we will now again review the entire portfolio in light of an evolving situation on the ground,” she wrote in a statement.

Ahead of the ministers’ meeting in Oman, Spain was among the member nations arguing that suspension of aid would be “counterproductive.” Acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told  Spanish media it was unfair to punish the Palestinian people.

According to Reuters, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte agreed with that stance and said aid to Palestinians should continue, since they also were the victims of Hamas. France, too, has rejected the total suspension of aid.

Germany announced Monday that it was reviewing its funding portfolio and will investigate Hamas for suspected murder, manslaughter and hostage-taking, the tabloid BILD first reported. Germany’s foreign ministry confirmed that German citizens were among those kidnapped by the terrorists.

Svenja Schulze, head of Germany’s economic and development ministry, told German media that all Palestinian projects would be reexamined thoroughly after the “shock” of Hamas’ violent attacks against civilians. Around $132 million had been earmarked for bilateral development in 2023-24.

In Germany, popular sentiment is increasingly critical of Israel’s settlement policies, though a survey of 2,512  adults last April marking Israel’s 75th anniversary showed overwhelming support for efforts to normalize relations between Israel and its neighbors. More than two thirds supported the notion of closer cooperation between Germany and Israel. About 60% agreed that Germany has a “special” relationship with Israel due to the Holocaust.

Felix Klein, the country’s commissioner against antisemitism, told the BILD newspaper that “all German and international aid funds for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank should be reconsidered.”

Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, in a statement argued that “The Palestinian terror that we see was also financed with German taxes.” He called for “an immediate end to all financial support.”

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Germans to “guarantee the safety of our Jewish fellow citizens” by showing solidarity with them.

The post EU members are locked in debates about whether to freeze aid to the Palestinians appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Jewish man dies after being struck by pro-Palestinian protester, LA Jewish federation says

This is a developing story.

(JTA) — A Jewish man has died after a pro-Palestinian protester struck him in the head with a megaphone on Sunday, according to the local Jewish federation.

The altercation occurred at a pro-Palestinian protest on Sunday in Westlake Village in the Los Angeles area. According to a statement by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the man was struck in the head with a megaphone held by one of the protesters and died of his wounds on Monday. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has confirmed that the man’s name is Paul Kessler. A Jewish security official confirmed the account of how he died.

A brief video circulating on social media shows an elderly man in a blue-and-white striped shirt and jeans lying on a sidewalk and clutching his head in a pool of blood. A woman wearing pro-Palestinian symbols crouches down to tend to him, as does another man. An Israeli flag is leaning against a nearby wall.

JTA calls to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and Misaskim, a local group that assists with Jewish burial, were not immediately returned. The federation said in its statement that it is awaiting more information from law enforcement.

“We are devastated to learn of the tragic death of an elderly Jewish man who was struck in the head by a megaphone wielded by a pro-Palestinian protestor in Westlake Village,” the federation statement says. “Our hearts are with the family of the victim.”

The man’s death occurred a month into a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which began after the terror group invaded Israel on Oct. 7, killing and wounding thousands. Mass pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations have occurred nationwide and globally, and officials have warned of rising antisemitism and islamophobia in the weeks since Oct. 7. While other physical altercations and assaults have taken place surrounding protests or the hanging of posters, this is the first death reported due to a protest connected to the war.

The federation’s statement also referenced previous antisemitic incidents in the area this year, including the arrest of a man in February who shot two men outside their synagogues. On Oct. 26, a man was arrested after breaking into a Jewish family’s home and saying he wanted to kill Jews. The suspect in that case did not injure anyone.

“We remind you that this is the fourth major antisemitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone,” the statement said. “Violence against our people has no place in civilized society. We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it.”

The post Jewish man dies after being struck by pro-Palestinian protester, LA Jewish federation says appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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National Jewish groups put out the call for a massive ‘March for Israel’ in DC on Nov. 14

WASHINGTON (JTA) — National Jewish organizations are calling on Jews from around the country to travel to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14 for a mass pro-Israel rally they hope will rival major Jewish demonstrations in 2002 and 1987 in size and impact.

The March for Israel has three goals, according to Eric Fingerhut, CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, which is organizing the rally jointly with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Participants will be demanding for the return of the estimated 240 hostages Hamas terrorists abducted during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, Fingerhut said. They will also be calling for efforts to combat antisemitism, which has spiked worldwide since the attack. And they will be demonstrating their support for the unabashed backing Israel has so far received from both parties in Congress and the Biden administration.

“All three elements are important to all of our communities,” Fingerhut said. “We’re proud of what our government has done” to support Israel “but we want them to know how much support there is not only for what they’ve done, but also for the continued efforts that are going to be needed as this long conflict continues.”

The rally, which will take place just over five weeks after Hamas’ deadly assault on Israel, was formally announced on Monday night. But efforts to fill buses and planes were already breaking into public view over the weekend.

“All classes for Yeshiva University undergraduate schools and high schools for Tuesday November 14 are canceled,” Rabbi Ari Berman posted on social media on Sunday. “We are going to Washington to stand with Israel.”

It’s the kind of move that Fingerhut and William Daroff of the Conference of Presidents said in a joint interview they were asking of affiliated groups, including Jewish community centers, day schools and other Jewish organizations. So far, they said, the response has been enthusiastic.

Daroff said the hope was that the rally would have the impact of a 2002 pro-Israel rally during the Second Intifada and a 1987 mass rally to support Soviet Jewry, each of which drew more than 100,000 Jewish demonstrators to the National Mall.

“Just as the American Jewish community and our allies spoke out with mass events in 1987 in support of Soviet Jewry and in 2002 in support of Israel during the Second Intifada, we are now in a similar moment where the American Jewish community and the American people are speaking out loudly and clearly in support off the people of Israel and demanding the unconditional return of the hostages,” he said.

The Biden Administration has so far backed Israel in its refusal to consider a ceasefire until the hostages are returned and Hamas is disabled. There have been calls from some on the progressive left for a ceasefire. Biden has asked Congress for $14 billion in emergency assistance for Israel, including $10 billion in defense assistance.

Reports of antisemitic expression and assault have spiked since Oct. 7 on campuses and in cities across the world. Biden wants Congress to appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars to help secure vulnerable institutions; on Monday Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Jewish Democrat who is the majority leader, announced plans to up the annual funding for security grants to $1 billion, from $250 million.

Hamas terrorists killed 1,400 people, most of them civilians, wounded thousands and abducted more than 200 in their Oct. 7 raid. Since then, Israel has launched counterstrikes and more than 10,000 Gaza residents have been killed, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry, among them 3,000 children. It is not known what portion of that number are civilians, and what portion have been killed by rockets launched by Palestinian militants that have fallen short of Gaza’s border with Israel.

The rally follows mass pro-Palestinian demonstrations in cities around the world, including in Washington on Saturday, and aims to show that Israel enjoys just as much support.

“We’ve all heard voices of hatred and antisemitism around the globe glorifying the October 7 attacks,” a flyer for the event says. “But these voices will never drown out this of Americans who stand against terror and with Israel.”

Daroff and Fingerhut said there were no confirmed speakers yet, although they had invited lawmakers and officials from the Biden administration at the highest level. They said that although their organizations were leading the effort, they were asking groups to put out the word in their own name about the rally, which will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. near the U.S. Capitol. (Hundreds of protesters affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist group, were arrested there last month while calling for a ceasefire.) Some groups, including the Conservative movement, had already done so as of Monday.

Fingerhut and Daroff said they were encouraging Jewish community centers and Jewish day schools to shut down for the day and send their students to Washington. Some had already taken up the call: North Shore Hebrew Academy on Long Island, for example, said it would bus students to D.C. for the day, and the Detroit Jewish federation on Monday invited locals to reserve spots on a chartered flight.

Ronald Halber, the director of the Greater Washington D.C. Jewish Community relations Council, said he expected all 10 campuses in the D.C. area to empty their buildings on the day.

“We have an obligation with a 300,000-strong Jewish community to bring a substantial number of people,” Halber said.

The post National Jewish groups put out the call for a massive ‘March for Israel’ in DC on Nov. 14 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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How New Yorker writer Ariel Levy adapted Philip Roth’s filthiest book for the stage

Collaborating with John Turturro, who played another Roth character in HBO’s ‘The Plot Against America,’ the play ‘Sabbath’s Theater’ is about sex and is a ‘meditation on mourning’

The post How New Yorker writer Ariel Levy adapted Philip Roth’s filthiest book for the stage appeared first on The Times of Israel.

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