The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Ankara warns of civil war if Iraqi Kurdish vote goes ahead
Turkey is warning that a plan by the leadership in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region to hold a referendum on independence next month could lead to civil war, in Ankara’s strongest warning yet against the poll.
“In that country (Iraq), which has been through so many problems, a referendum on independence can make the situation even worse,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tells the state TRT Haber broadcaster. “God forbid, it could even bring it to civil war.”
UN experts say Charlottesville exemplifies rising racism in US
UN human rights experts say racism and xenophobia are rising in the United States, pointing to far-right demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the latest examples and urging US authorities to punish the perpetrators of racist crimes there.
The three experts on the issues of racism, discrimination and the rights of people of African descent are seeking an independent investigation into the deadly events in Charlottesville.
The experts say they are “deeply concerned at the proliferation and increasing prominence of organized hate and racist groups” in the US, insisting in a statement Wednesday that racist hate speech “must be unequivocally condemned.”
They said far-right demonstrators chanted anti-Black, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant slogans, saying the violence in Charlottesville was “the latest examples of increasing racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, racist violence and xenophobia” in the US.
Liberman: IDF not promoting ‘feminist agenda’ with mixed-gender units
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman slams accusations the IDF is promoting a “feminist agenda” by maintaining mixed-gender units, a practice roundly condemned by the country’s ultra-Orthodox community.
“The IDF is not advancing any agenda, not a feminist or chauvinistic one,” he says at the inauguration of a combat training school in the Negev.
“The IDF has one agenda: Israel’s security, so its considerations are solely operational ones,” Liberman says.
Tel Aviv man seriously injured in stabbing
A 33-year-old man in Tel Aviv was moderately to seriously injured in a stabbing on Mount Zion Boulevard, police say in a statement.
Magen David Adom paramedics say the man was taken to the city’s Ichilov Hospital with stab wounds to his upper body.
Police are searching the area for the perpetrator. The police statement did not indicate whether the stabbing was criminally motivated or a terror attack.
British PM says ‘no equivalence’ in Charlottesville clashes
Far-right views should always be condemned and there can be no equivalence with opponents of fascism, British Prime Minister Theresa May says, in comments that implicitly criticize US President Donald Trump.
In the Virginia college town of Charlottesville on Saturday, a rally by neo-Nazis and white supremacists over the removal of a Confederate statue erupted in clashes with counter-demonstrators.
Trump has sparked a political firestorm by reiterating his views yesterday that there was “blame on both sides” for Saturday’s violence.
Trump praises N. Korean leader’s ‘wise’ decision to halt Guam missile
US President Donald Trump praises North Korea’s leader for backing off on plans to fire missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam.
“Kim Jong-Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!” Trump writes on Twitter.
Police arrest 72 Palestinians involved in Temple Mount riots
Police say over the last week 72 Palestinians have been arrested for their involvement in violent protests against Israel last month, when tensions surrounding Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound soared.
In a statement, police say those arrested had engaged in violent acts, throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and glass bottles at Israeli security forces as well as shooting fireworks at them.
So far, 43 of the detained Palestinians have been charged, according to the statement.
After Jordan, Lebanon repeals ‘marry the rapist’ law
Lebanon’s parliament votes to abolish a controversial article that allowed rapists to escape prison by marrying their victims.
The move by the legislature follows years of campaigning against articles dealing with violence against women. The law had been in place since the late 1940s.
Earlier this month, Jordan’s parliament repealed a similar law.
The Lebanese law stated that rapists are punishable by up to seven years in prison. If the rape victim is a person with a special need, physical or mental, the penalty was increased. Article 522 added that if the violator marries his victim, criminal prosecution is suspended.
Supporters of the law in socially conservative areas of the country argued that the marriage would salvage the honor of the woman and her family.
Iran rejects US religious freedom report as hypocritical
Iran rejects a US religious freedom report critical of Tehran as “hypocritical,” coming from a country where Islamophobia was widespread.
Washington released its annual religious freedom report yesterday, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticizing Iran for utilizing its “vague apostasy laws” to execute 20 members of religious minorities over the past year.
“Iran considers it an unrealistic, baseless, unfounded and biased report which has only been made with the intention of certain political gains,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi hit back on the ministry’s website.
“It is clear that religious and racial discrimination, Islamophobia, and xenophobia are a widespread and frequent phenomenon among American politicians,” Ghasemi says. “Muslims in America face violent and discriminating actions on a daily basis by state bodies like the police and security forces.”
— with AFP
High Court rules women allowed to supervise rabbinical courts
The High Court of Justice rules that women must be allowed to supervise rabbinical courts in Israel.
The ruling comes in response to a 2014 petition filed by women’s rights groups who protested the lack of female supervisors in rabbinical courts, according to the Ynet news website.
Court supervisors serve in an administrative capacity with no say in judicial rulings. The job’s requirements, which previously stipulated that candidates must be eligible to serve as a city rabbi in order to qualify, automatically excluded women from applying.
That requirement has now been dropped. According to the new requirements set by the court today, a potential candidate must be a resident of Israel; possess a rabbinical court advocate license or a law practicing license along with a master’s degree in Jewish law or Talmud; have at least seven years of experience in rabbinical court appearances; and possess “character and lifestyle befitting a director of rabbinical courts.”
PM distances himself from son’s statement
Netanyahu is distancing himself from a statement made by his son, Yair, who earlier asserted that American left-wing groups are more dangerous than neo-Nazis.
“Yair is an adult and his views are his alone,” sources close to Netanyahu say in a leaked statement.
— Raphael Ahren
US Coast Guard: Army helicopter reported down off Hawaii
The US Coast Guard and military crews are responding to a report that an Army helicopter with five aboard went down in the ocean off Hawaii.
The Coast Guard says Wheeler Army Airfield reported losing communications late Tuesday with the crew of a UH-60 Black Hawk.
Responding teams reported spotting a debris field about 2 miles (3 kilometers) west of Kaena Point, Oahu, shortly before 11:30 p.m. last night.
Several aircraft and boats are being used in the search.
Officials say two Black Hawk crews were conducting training between Kaena Point and Dillingham Airfield at the time communications were lost.
2 Gazans arrested after crossing border fence into Israel
Security forces apprehend two Palestinians crossing into Israel illegally from the southern Gaza Strip, the IDF says in a statement.
The suspects were taken in for questioning by security forces.
Brush fire in Jerusalem forces evacuation of 2 residential buildings
Emergency services evacuate two residential buildings in Jerusalem as a large brush fire breaks out in the city’s southern Armon Hanatziv neighborhood.
Police and firefighters are working to put out the blaze on on Mordechai Elkahi Street.
There are no reports of injuries or damaged property.
Confederate monuments removed overnight in Baltimore
Confederate monuments in Baltimore were quietly removed and hauled away on trucks in darkness early Wednesday, days after a violent white nationalist rally in Virginia that was sparked by plans to take down a similar statue there.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh tells The Baltimore Sun that crews began removing the city’s four Confederate monuments late Tuesday and finished this morning around 5:30 a.m.
At 3:40 AM in Baltimore, Confederate Statutes of Lee and Jackson were taken down with a crane and moved out of the city on flatbed trucks. pic.twitter.com/hKh5aueLex
— Girls Really Rule. (@girlsreallyrule) August 16, 2017
“It’s done,” Pugh tells the newspaper. “They needed to come down. My concern is for the safety and security of our people. We moved as quickly as we could.”
Workers used cranes to lift the towering monument to Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson onto a flatbed truck in the dark.
Israel to revoke credentials of local Al Jazeera journalist
The Government Press Office is moving to revoke the press credentials of an Arab Israeli journalist for Al Jazeera news network over his alleged support of “Palestinian resistance.”
The decision to revoke Elias Karram’s credentials stems from a May 2016 interview he gave to a TV station linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the GPO. During the interview, Karram, a 40-year-old resident of Nazareth, said journalism was an “integral part of the resistance” against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
Israel has regularly accused the Doha, Qatar-based broadcaster of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and incitement that leads to deadly terror attacks.
Earlier this month, Israel said it would revoke the credentials of journalists working for the channel and also cut its cable and satellite connections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said on July 27 that he wanted Al Jazeera expelled amid tensions over the Temple Mount.
Hamas chief says Israel would be ‘crushed’ in next war
Hamas’s Gaza Chief Yahya Sinwar says his movement is not interested in another war with Israel, but asserts the Palestinian terrorist group would “crush” Israel should another round of hostilities break out.
“We do not seek confrontation with the Israelis, but if the confrontation happens, we will crush them,” Sinwar tells a group of Palestinian journalists in Gaza last night.
Considered one of Hamas’s most ruthless leaders, Sinwar took over as the group’s Gaza chief six months ago. His rise to power fueled fears that Hamas might enter into another conflict with Israel.
However, since Sinwar assumed power in March, he and his deputies have repeatedly said Hamas is not interested in another war with Israel.
— Dov Lieber
University of Florida denies white nationalist event
The University of Florida denies a request by a group headed by white nationalist Richard Spencer to rent space on the campus for a September event and his supporters vowed to file a court challenge.
UF President W. Kent Fuchs says in a statement that the decision was made after assessing risks to the campus, community and law enforcement following last weekend’s deadly violence during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for,” Fuchs’ statement says.
Fuchs says UF is dedicated to free speech and public discourse, but the First Amendment does not require risk of imminent violence to students.
Spencer did not immediately return a text seeking comment.
Arab MKs: revoking Al-Jazeera journalist’s credentials ‘anti-democratic’
Arab Israeli Knesset members from the Joint List criticize the decision to revoke the press credentials of an Al-Jazeera journalist as a “blatant step against free speech.”
In a statement, Ahmad Tibi and Osama Saadi say the announcement made by the Government Press Office earlier today regarding Elias Karam is “vindictive and anti-democratic.”
“This decision must be reversed and Elias Karam and his fellow journalists must be allowed to work freely,” say Tibi and Saadi. “The Israeli government — which is responsible for killing Palestinian journalists and denying their freedom — is continuing its policies against Arab Israeli journalists.”
Top German lawmaker slams Trump’s ‘downplaying of Nazi violence’
A leading German politician brands US President Donald Trump’s comments on the events surrounding a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia as “highly dangerous.”
Martin Schulz, who is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s main challenger in next month’s election, says Germany has to “do everything to avoid things here going the way they are in America.”
Schulz was asked in an interview with German media group RND about Trump’s comments that “there’s blame on both sides” for the weekend violence in Charlottesville.
In extracts of the interview published today, Schulz is quoted as saying that “the downplaying of Nazi violence in Trump’s incoherent comments is highly dangerous.”
Schulz, who leads Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party, says it’s important to “stand decisively against those who sow hatred. Always. And everywhere.”
Iran supreme leader mocks US over Charlottesville
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei joins the international criticism of race-related violence in the United States with a mocking tweet.
“If US has any power, they better manage their country, tackle #WhiteSupremacy rather than meddle in nations’ affairs. #Charlottesville,” Khamenei’s official Twitter feed posts.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 16, 2017
Khamenei’s office was responding to the furore in the US over an attack in Charlottesville by a suspected Nazi sympathizer, who plowed his car into anti-racism protesters, leaving one dead and 19 injured.
US President Donald Trump has raised another huge controversy by saying there was “blame on both sides.”
Iraq asks UN to collect evidence to prosecute Islamic State
Iraq is asking the UN Security Council for assistance in collecting evidence to prosecute extremists from the Islamic State group for possible crimes against humanity.
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari says in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated today that his government and the United Kingdom are working on a draft Security Council resolution seeking assistance.
It was sent more than five months after human rights lawyer Amal Clooney urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send a letter so the council can set up an investigation into crimes by the extremist group. The wife of actor George Clooney said the world’s nations must not let IS “get away with genocide.”
Al-Jaafari says the crimes committed by IS make it important to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Former US presidents Bush condemn bigotry, anti-Semitism
Former US presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush on Wednesday issued a tough joint statement condemning racial bigotry and anti-Semitism, in a veiled rebuke of Donald Trump.
Yesterday, Trump sparked a political firestorm when he said that counter-protesters appeared to be equally to blame for violence over the weekend at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred in all forms,” the father-son former presidents say in a statement issued from Kennebunkport, Maine, where they have a family home.
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) August 16, 2017
The statement does not mention Trump by name.
Ex-US ambassador to Israel says Trump remarks ‘unacceptable’
Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro says that Trump’s claim that counter-protesters also were to blame for the deadly violence in Virginia has “shaken” him.
“It’s a moral issue,” he tells Channel 2 News in an interview. “Every time I hear or read about what he said yesterday, I am shaken once again.”
“The president of the US backed and supported the most radical and racist people in our society,” he adds.
Shapiro declines to say whether he believed the US president was a racist, but calls Trump’s latest remarks “unacceptable.”
Ramat Gan mayor to be indicted on bribery charges
The State Prosecutor’s Office announces that it intends to indict Ramat Gan Mayor Israel Singer for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Singer has nearly completed his first term as mayor, but allegations of corruption have plagued his political tenure from the start.
The offenses attributed to Singer relate to his conduct during the 2013 mayoral election campaign when he allegedly promised to appoint activists and service providers to the Ramat Gan municipality in exchange for their campaigning on his behalf.
Mother of Charlottesville victim: Find a way to make a difference
The mother of the young woman who lost her life during violent weekend clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, says the way to truly honor Heather Heyer is to “make a difference in the world.”
Susan Bro urges about 1,000 mourners gathered inside the Paramount Theatre to “find in your heart that small spark of accountability.”
“You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done and you make it happen,” she says. “You take that extra step and you find a way to make a difference in the world!”
Bro says Heather’s participation in the protests against white nationalists was “not the end of her legacy.”
“It was just the beginning of Heather’s legacy.”
Sen. Graham says Trump remarks divide Americans
Sen. Lindsey Graham says President Donald Trump’s comments about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia are dividing Americans instead of healing them.
The South Carolina Republican says in a statement that many Republicans “will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world.” Duke is a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Graham is responding to Trump’s comments at a news conference that white supremacist groups and the people protesting against them share the blame for the violence in Charlottesville.
Graham says Trump “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally” and people like Heather Heyer, who was killed at the rally.
McConnell slams bigotry, doesn’t address Trump’s remarks
The Senate’s top Republican is condemning what he’s calling the “messages of hate and bigotry” carried by the KKK and white supremacist groups.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement doesn’t specifically address widely criticized remarks by President Donald Trump, who said white supremacists don’t bear all the blame for last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
McConnell says the groups behind the Charlottesville violence are planning a rally in Lexington, in his home state of Kentucky. He says “their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America.”
Trump said there were “some very bad people” among the protesters. But he also said: “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
McConnell says “there are no good neo-nazis.”
Rivlin urges US Jews to ‘be strong’ after deadly Charlottesville rally
President Reuven Rivlin expresses support for American Jews, and urges them to “be strong” after the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.
“At this difficult time I want to express my support and solidarity, and that of all the Israeli people, with you and your communities,” the president says in a letter to Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag — perhaps the most vicious symbol of anti-Semitism — paraded in the streets of the world’s greatest democracy, and Israel’s most cherished and greatest ally is almost beyond belief.
In the face of such evil, we stand now as we did then. With faith. With faith in humanity, with faith in democracy, and with faith in justice,” Rivlin writes, adding that he is hopeful that US lawmakers will effectively combat the phenomenon.
“As we say, ‘Chazak, chazak ve’nitchazek.’ Be strong, be strong and we will be strong,” he concludes.
Fifth CEO resigns from Trump’s jobs panel
The chief executive of 3M is resigning from the US president’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative panel, saying it is no longer an effective forum for the company to advance its goals.
Inge Thulin’s resignation is the fifth following President Donald Trump’s comments after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In a statement, Thulin says: “Sustainability, diversity and inclusion are my personal values and also fundamental to the 3M Vision. The past few months have provided me with an opportunity to reflect upon my commitment to these values.”
Trump scraps business forums after CEO protest resignations
US President Donald Trump announces he is scrapping two business advisory councils in the wake of several high-profile resignations in protest over his comments on a white supremacist rally in Virginia that turned violent.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump says on Twitter.
The CEOs of Merck, Intel and Under Armour were among those who quit the forums following Trump’s comments about Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mandelblit comes out in favor of same-sex adoption
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reportedly told Culture Minister Miri Regev he supports same-sex adoption during a closed-door discussion at the Knesset earlier today.
According to Channel 2, Mandelblit told Regev his stance was his personal opinion and does not reflect the stance of the government, which last month told the High Court it opposed same-sex adoption because of the “additional burden” it would impose on the child.
UN chief calls to turn down rhetoric on Korea
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest level in decades and it’s important “to dial down the rhetoric and to dial-up diplomacy.”
The UN chief tells reporters that the world needs to heed the lessons of history and not repeat the mistakes that led to the Korean War, which started 67 years ago and killed more than 3 million people.
Guterres says that yesterday he told representatives of the countries in the stalled six-party talks — North Korea, South Korea, the US, Russia, China and Japan — that his “good offices are always available.”
He said the international community must send a clear message to North Korea’s leadership to comply with its international obligations, reopen communications and de-escalate the situation.
Facebook bans white nationalist’s accounts over hate speech
Facebook bans the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence.
Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja tells The Associated Press that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast. Cantwell was featured in a Vice News documentary about the rally and its aftermath.
Facebook has also removed at least eight pages connected to the white nationalist movement over what Budhraja says were violations on the company’s polices on hate speech and organizations.
Cantwell was listed on online fliers promoting the rally. The Keene, New Hampshire, man has been labeled an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Cantwell didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.