The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.

German department store denies removing Israeli products

Israel’s Channel 10 reported this week that Galeria Kauthof, a major German department store, had removed Israeli products.

The chain has now denied the report, according to the business journal Globes.

Galeria Kaufhof’s head of corporate communications, Gerd Koslowski, is quoted as saying, “Our company has not removed any of those products from the shelves. We import the goods via European importers who are responsible for correct declaration.”

He adds: “We do not get involved in politics with our assortment. Our core customer’s demands set the standards for the products we sell.”

High Court stops demolition of terrorist’s home

The High Court of Justice rules this morning that the state cannot demolish the home of a Palestinian terrorist’s family.

Nur al-Din Abu Hashayeh stabbed and killed Almog Shiloni in Tel Aviv in November 2014. Hashayeh was tried and convicted of murder, and 11 months after the incident — that is, a month ago — the state decided to demolish his family’s home, near the West Bank city of Nablus, as part of escalating deterrent measures being taken against the families of terrorists amid a wave of terror attacks.

In a 2-1 decision, the High Court rules that the deterrent effect is too weak 11 months later to justify punishing innocent family members by carrying out the demolition.

Justices Zvi Zylbertal and Menachem Mazuz, who wrote the majority opinion, explain that they are not questioning the legitimacy of home demolitions as a deterrent measure, even arguing that it is a legitimate and effective policy, but rather are questioning the slow implementation of the policy in this case.

Fire strikes Yehud kindergarten; none hurt

A kindergarten in Yehud is evacuated after being engulfed by flames. No one is hurt in the blaze.

Firefighters are on site. There is no immediate word as to the cause of the fire.

Hebron-area Palestinian held after troops find rifle in his home

A 45-year-old Palestinian man is arrested in the West Bank village of Yatta, near Hebron, after security forces find a rifle and ammunition in his home.

The home is raided by police and IDF engineering corps troops after security forces receive intelligence that the man is in possession of firearms.

MKs temporarily blinded, deafened in disability-awareness lunch

Lawmakers in the Knesset eat an unusual lunch today in the parliament’s cafeteria.

In each of three courses, the 12 participating MKs had one sense blacked out in order to experience the course as a handicapped person might. Their eyes are covered during the appetizer, loud music played in their ears during the main course and large, unwieldy gloves are placed on their hands for dessert.

Wheelchair-bound Meretz MK Ilan Gilon spearheaded the initiative, together with the handicapped-rights NGO Access Israel and the Knesset’s director general Ronen Plot.

“The experience allows us for a moment to enter the shoes of people for whom simple activities like eating and drinking are daily challenges,” says Gilon.

Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, praised the Knesset’s chief executive, Plot, for ensuring that the parliament building is accessible.

“Accessibility is not a slogan, but a way of life, and he does everything to make the Knesset accessible to everyone,” Elharar says in an unusual moment of cross-party praise, as Plot is a Likud appointee.

Acting Knesset speaker accepts Yinon Magal’s resignation

Acting Knesset Speaker MK Yitzhak Vaknin receives and accepts the resignation letter of Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal, who is leaving the Knesset under a cloud of sexual harassment accusations.

The journalist-turned-lawmaker, who is married, has been accused by four women in the past two weeks of making untoward advances and sexual harassment while he served as editor-in-chief of the popular Hebrew-language news site Walla and shortly after.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein is abroad on a formal visit to Germany.

French IS fighter-recruiter goes on trial

A ranking French member of the Islamic State group goes on trial on charges he ran a network to recruit fighters to Syria.

Salim Benghalem, who has featured repeatedly in IS propaganda and is believed to be in Syria, will be tried in absentia along with six in France on allegations of running the network, which the government considers a major source of European fighters.

His wife, who left Syria with their children, has told investigators that he would return to France only to carry out an attack “with a maximum of damage.” She has said he believed bombs were not enough, that “a series of killings is recommended.”

Benghalem, 35, has been linked with Cherif Kouachi, who along with his brother attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January.

— AP

Egypt begins final 2 days of parliamentary elections

Egyptian polling centers in nearly half of the country, including in the capital of Cairo, have opened their doors to voters for the final round of runoffs in parliament elections.

The balloting is for Egypt’s first legislature since a chamber dominated by Islamists was dissolved by a court ruling in 2012. Tens of thousands of troops and policemen have been deployed to safeguard the two-day vote, which started on Tuesday.

The measures reflect growing security concerns amid an Islamic insurgency and after a suspected explosive device downed a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in late October, killing all 224 people on board. An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for that attack.

Results will be announced later this week and parliament is to hold its inaugural session later in December.

In this Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015 file photo, a woman reads a ballot inside a polling station for women during the second phase of the parliamentary elections in Qalyoubiya governorate, north of Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

In this Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015 file photo, a woman reads a ballot inside a polling station for women during the second phase of the parliamentary elections in Qalyoubiya governorate, north of Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

— AP

EU anti-terror chief says airstrikes hurting IS

The European Union’s counter-terrorism coordinator believes the Islamic State group is resorting to attacks abroad because it is hurting from coalition airstrikes.

Apart from the Nov. 13 massacres in Paris, the group has also launched attacks in Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt’s Sinai in recent weeks and Gilles de Kerchove says that it appears to be changing strategy.

De Kerchove told EU lawmakers on Tuesday that “the pressure of the coalition airstrikes … in Raqqa and around Raqqa maybe forced them to seek successes abroad.”

He said: “Is this a sign of weakness? I believe so.”

The city of Raqqa in northern Syria is the group’s headquarters and a focus of an air campaign by Russia and a US-led coalition including France.

EU counter-terror chief Gilles de Kerchove. (YouTube screenshot)

EU counter-terror chief Gilles de Kerchove. (YouTube screenshot)

— AP

Acre motorcyclist critically injured in crash with truck

A man, 40, is critically injured when his motorcycle was hit by a truck in the northern city of Acre today.

Magen David Adom officials evacuate him to the Medical Center of the Galilee in Nahariya.

Paris police ban demos during climate talks

French police on Tuesday ban demonstrations on Paris’s prestigious Champs Elysees avenue and near the venue for the UN climate conference at Le Bourget north of the capital during the two-week talks.

“Other bans could be implemented, depending on the necessity and the circumstances,” police warn.

The measures will remain in force until December 13.

French authorities are seeking to avoid any repetition of Sunday’s clashes between hard-left demonstrators and riot police in a city still reeling from the jihadist attacks last month that killed 130 people.

The French government introduced a state of emergency following the attacks, and parliament gave the green light to prolong the extraordinary set of security measures for three months.

A mass march by climate activists planned in Paris on Sunday on the eve of the COP21 talks was canceled. Instead, protesters formed a human chain through part of Paris.


Fire kills 6 children at Quran school in Turkey

Turkey’s state-run news agency says six children have died in a fire that broke out at a school teaching the Quran.

The Anadolu Agency says three other children are injured Tuesday in the fire at the school in Karaagac village, in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

Anadolu says an electrical heater is believed to have caused the fire.

— AP

Moscow: Russian plane crash complicates Syria talks

Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border has not only frayed previously warm ties between Russia and Turkey, but has also put a strain on the peace talks for Syria, Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman says Tuesday.

Turkey shot down the Russian jet last week, insisting it violated its airspace despite numerous warnings and has said it will not apologize for the incident that killed one Russian pilot and a Russian serviceman trying to retrieve the other pilot.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin claims Turkey shot down its plane to protect what he describes as Turkish profiteering from the oil trade with the Islamic State group, and has slapped a package of sanctions against Turkish products.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tells The Associated Press the downing has not only caused a diplomatic rift but would also complicate peace talks for Syria that are taking place in Vienna.

Russia insists the talks cannot go ahead until all parties agree on which opposition groups should be covered by a possible cease-fire and which should be targeted by airstrikes.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, after meeting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss a Russian warplane downed by a Turkish fighter jet at the border with Syria. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, after meeting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss a Russian warplane downed by a Turkish fighter jet at the border with Syria. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

— AP

Foreign Policy names Arab MK one of 2015’s ‘100 global thinkers’

Foreign Policy magazine names Arab Israeli lawmaker Ayman Odeh, who heads the Joint List faction in the Knesset, as one of its 100 “leading global thinkers of 2015.”

“The 40-year-old lawyer heads the Joint List, a coalition of Arab political parties that united for the first time ever to run in Israel’s March elections…. Odeh yoked diverse leaders – Islamists, secular feminists, socialists – with a forthright argument that Arabs deserve the same rights as Jewish citizens…. Odeh is hoping to push Israeli leaders to fulfill the promises of their democracy and to reinvigorate Palestinians’ wilting faith in national politics,” the magazine explains.

UN says 888 killed in Iraq violence in November

The United Nations says 888 people were killed in violence in Iraq in November, up from 714 the previous month.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq says in a statement Tuesday that 489 of those killed in November were civilians, including police. The other 399 were members of Iraqi security forces, including the Kurdish peshmerga, Interior Ministry SWAT forces and militias fighting alongside the Iraqi army.

The figures do not include casualties in Anbar province, which the UN says it could not obtain or verify. Much of the vast desert province, including the city of Fallujah and the provincial capital Ramadi is controlled by the Islamic State group.

The UN says 1,237 civilians were wounded in November.

Iraqi security forces take combat positions at the front line with Islamic State fighters as Iraqi Army and allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters supported by US-led coalition airstrikes tighten the siege of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)

Iraqi security forces take combat positions at the front line with Islamic State fighters as Iraqi Army and allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters supported by US-led coalition airstrikes tighten the siege of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)

— AP

White House gets new Islamic State adviser

The White House says it is appointing Robert Malley, former Middle East and North Africa senior director at the National Security Council, as its senior adviser to the president on the fight against Islamic State.

According to CNN, the announcement comes amid new measures to tighten scrutiny of those entering the US through America’s visa waiver program, which sees 18 million people from 38 countries are able to visit the US every year.

At a press briefing in Paris, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says Malley will work with the State Department’s Islamic State pointman, Brett McGurk.

Netanyahu says IDF operating in Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says publicly that Israel operates “from time to time” in Syria.

At the Galilee Conference in Acre, the prime minister says, “We operate in Syria from time to time to prevent it turning into another front against us. We act, of course, to prevent the transfer of deadly weaponry from Syria to Lebanon.”

He also notes Israel is taking special care to prevent friendly-fire incidents with US-led coalition forces or Russian military units operating in the war-ravaged country.

Syrian refugees become issue in Illinois Senate race

A Republican senator in a tough re-election race is attacking his top Democratic rival for supporting more Syrian refugees in the US, marking the issue’s first appearance in Senate campaign advertising.

In the ad released Tuesday, GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois harshly criticizes Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth for voicing support for allowing as many as 200,000 Syrian refugees into the US in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

“ISIS [Islamic State] disguised as Syrian refugees attack Paris. Next target? The US,” the ad says.

“Mark Kirk opposes more Syrian refugees until it can be done safely. For your family’s safety: Who do you trust?”

The Kirk campaign says about $180,000 is being spent to air the ad on TV, a relatively tiny sum. But his focus on the issue highlights the Republican view that it can be a vulnerability for Democrats, especially those like Duckworth who opposed recent GOP legislation cracking down on the refugee program.

Duckworth, a military veteran, has been outspoken about the need to show compassion to refugees, many of whom are women and young children themselves victimized by the Islamic State.

— AP

Obama offers governors reports on refugees

The White House is proposing to offer governors individualized reports about refugees in their states.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says in letters to all 50 governors that upon receiving a governor’s request, the State Department would send back a “tailored report” on refugees resettled in the last month and throughout the year so far.

McDonough says the State Department would update the information monthly on a password-protected website. He says it would break down refugees by nationality, gender and age range.

The new system comes as governors have sought to block Obama from placing Syrian refugees in their states following the Paris attacks linked to the Islamic State group.

— AP

Interior minister says Holot migrant facility is full

Interior Minister Silvan Shalom says the facility that houses African asylum seekers in the south of the country will reach capacity in the coming days.

The Holot facility currently has 2,495 asylum seekers, Shalom says at the Galilee Conference in Acre.

“We’re working in every legal way to stem the infiltration,” Shalom is quoted as saying by the Walla news site.

Some 45,000 asylum seekers from war-torn African states are in Israel, most of them living in Eilat and Tel Aviv.

Turkey YouTube ban violated freedom of expression – Europe court

The European Court of Human Rights rules Tuesday that Turkey had violated conventions on freedom of expression when it banned YouTube for more than two years.

An Ankara court had barred access to the video-sharing site from May 2008 to October 2010 over 10 videos deemed insulting to modern Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Strasbourg-based rights tribunal says.

“Blocking without a legal basis users’ access to YouTube infringed the right to receive and impart information,” it says, ruling on a case brought by three Turkish law professors.

“The court also found that there was no provision in the law allowing the domestic courts to impose a blanket blocking order on access to the Internet, and in the present case to YouTube, on account of one of its contents.”

The lengthy ban on YouTube — and thousands of other websites — had prompted widespread concern about freedom of expression under then prime minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who critics say has become increasingly authoritarian.


Lebanese media says Israeli espionage device blown up in country’s south

An alleged Israeli listening device was exploded near the southern Lebanese town of Marj Ayoun, a Lebanese media outlet reports.

Beirut-based Al Mayadeen says two people were hurt in the detonation.

Obama says Russia may agree to Assad leaving

US President Barack Obama expresses optimism Tuesday that Russia will ultimately come around on the need for Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power to end his country’s long civil war, but warns the turnaround would not come overnight.

Discussing the Syria crisis with world leaders in Paris, Obama also urges Turkey and Russia to set aside recent tensions that have undermined his efforts to strengthen the US-led coalition fighting defeating the Islamic State group. Instead, he asks the two countries to focus on IS as a common enemy and on reaching a political solution for Syria.

Obama’s remarks on the sidelines of global climate talks come as the US continues to press Russia to focus its airstrikes in Syria against IS, rather than on US-backed rebel groups fighting Assad. Obama says it was possible over the coming months that Russia would undergo a “shift in calculations” and back away from its support for Assad.

“I don’t expect that you’re going to see a 180-degree turn on their strategy over the next several weeks,” Obama says. “They have invested for years now in keeping Assad in power. Their presence there is predicated on propping him up. That’s going to take some time for them to change how they think about the issue.”

— AP

PA arrests Islamic Jihad cell carrying explosives intended to attack IDF troops

The Palestinian Authority uncovers and arrests an Islamic Jihad cell caught transporting explosives.

According to Israel Radio’s Palestinian affairs reporter Gal Berger, authority security forces found an improvised explosive device, several grenades and firearms inside an emptied gas tank being transported by the six-member cell.

They were reportedly intended for use in attacks against IDF troops.

Syria deal for rebels to leave last Homs district – governor

Syria’s government and opposition forces have reached a deal for rebels to leave the last part of Homs city under their control, the provincial governor tells AFP Tuesday.

The deal, to be implemented over two months, will see the city once dubbed “the capital of the revolution” come fully under the control of the government.

Under the agreement, according to governor Talal Barazi, some 2,000 rebels will quit the city’s Waer district in several stages.

Some families of rebels will also leave.

In return, the regime will lift its siege of the district, which is in the west of the central city, and end its military operations against Waer, which is the frequent target of government shelling.


Researcher who boycotted 13-year-old girl: ‘Jews have become Nazis’

The Jewish Chronicle follows up on an ex-Cambridge academic who refused to answer a 13-year-old schoolgirl’s question about horses until “there is justice for Palestine.”

The article lays out the play-by-play of responses.

Israeli schoolgirl Shachar Rabinovitch wrote the former researcher last week: “I know you are a very important person and I’ve read your article about horses (Domestication, Breed Diversification and Early History of the Horse) and I love horses very much and it will be an honour if you will answer my questions.”

Former archaezoologist Marsha Levine, replies: “I’ll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians in Palestine…. You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people.”

Shamir Rabinovitch, Shachar’s mother , says: “Boycotting a 13-year-old girl just to prove something is no better than not treating some kid in an Israeli hospital just because his father is a terrorist. Kids for me are out of the equation.”

Levine, reached by the JC, says, among other things, that “The Jews have become the Nazis.”

“The violence against Palestinians never stops,” she tells the Jewish paper. “The people who live in Gaza cannot get education, health, water. What does it say about Jews that they support that? Jews have turned themselves into monsters…. I want this girl not to worry about horses. I don’t need people emailing me. I’m not an academic anymore. My research was all in the past. I’m doing other things now. I don’t see any obligation to further her ego or make her feel better about herself. I don’t think it’s about her – I think it’s about her parents.”

And she adds: “Benjamin Netanyahu wants ethnic cleansing. The Jews have become the Nazis. Jews are behaving just like the people who treated them.”

Naftali Bennett praises ‘love of Judaism’ at Conservative day school

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Orthodox Jewish political party Jewish Home, tweets from New York to praise a Conservative day school, even calling it “Conservative” in the tweet.

The tweet reads: “Meeting with students at the wonderful Conservative school ‘Solomon Schechter’ in New York. So much love of Israel, so much love of Judaism.”

It is accompanied by a short video of the minister sitting with Solomon Schechter schoolchildren.

Explosion at Istanbul subway station causes injuries

Turkish NTV television reports an explosion at an Istanbul subway station, which causes injuries, AP and AFP report.

Campaign tries to stop far-right victory in France

France’s far-right National Front (FN) faces a ferocious campaign Tuesday to stop it taking two of France’s most important regions in elections starting this weekend.

As Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the party a “menace to the economy” and business leaders warn of the “ruin” it could cause, two of the main newspapers in the north launch an unprecedented campaign to stop its leader Marine Le Pen taking control of the region.

La Voix du Nord daily and its sister paper Nord Eclair run a second day of attacks on Le Pen and the party Tuesday, questioning their competence to rule the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region.

Articles headlined “Marine Le Pen and the Front are not who they say they are” and “Who are the members of the FN really?” cast doubt on the party’s ability to govern the depressed region, once a Socialist stronghold.

Le Pen, who looks set to win the region — France’s second biggest — in the two-round vote which ends on December 13, reacts with fury to the “scandalous” attacks.

She brands the four pages dedicated to the party she inherited from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, little more than “tracts” in support of the ruling Socialist party.


Historic synagogue in Australian outback vandalized

A historic synagogue in the Australian outback mining city of Broken Hill is defaced with Nazi and Islamic symbols on its 105th anniversary.

The curator of the synagogue, Margaret Price, says she arrived at work Monday to prepare for a visit by tourists and found the front of the building had been vandalized with the symbols and slogans.

“We are dismayed by this scurrilous attack on the building on the very day of its 105th anniversary,” Price, the coordinator of the Synagogue of the Outback Museum, tells JTA.

Price says the synagogue, which is under the ownership of the Broken Hill Historical Society, was vandalized about 10 years ago, when it was painted with swastikas on Hitler’s birthday. In 2010, a local bookstore that featured Hanukkah material in its window also was defaced with Nazi symbols.

“Although there is no Jewish presence in the city these days, I grew up with Jews and my family worked with them,” Price says. “They were Broken Hillers and a strong part of our community.”

The Broken Hill Synagogue was established in 1910 to meet the spiritual needs of a small but vibrant Jewish community serving the booming mining town. When the mining boom slowed down, most of the Jewish community left.


Blast at Istanbul subway station causes injuries

Turkey’s private NTV television says an explosion at an Istanbul metro station has caused some injuries.

The cause of the explosion isn’t immediately known. Subway services in Istanbul have been halted on the entire network.

The state-run Anadolu Agency says the explosion occurred at an overpass near the station, not in the station.

— AP

US defense chief: US expanding special ops force in Iraq

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the US is expanding its special operations force in Iraq to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces fight Islamic State.

Carter tells the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that over time, these special operators will be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture IS leaders. Carter says this will improve intelligence and generate more targets. He does not offer troop numbers, but says it is being done in cooperation with the Iraqi government.

The defense secretary says the special operators will be focused on defending Iraq’s borders and building the capacity of Iraqi government forces.

He says the forces also will be in a position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the US strategy for Syria and Iraq and its implications for the region. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the US strategy for Syria and Iraq and its implications for the region. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

— AP

Paris police tell Chabad not to light Hanukkah candles in public spaces

Miri Michaeli, Europe correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10 news, tweets a troubling report from Paris.

The tweet reads, in Hebrew: “Chabad: Paris police order [us] to cancel most of our public [Hanukkah] candlelighting in the city, in light of the terror attack and the fear of additional attacks. Efforts [are underway] to approve a candlelighting at the foot of the Eiffel [Tower].”

Update: Michaeli later updated her claim, saying the lighting has been given an okay to go ahead as planned.

PLO terrorists castrated Israeli hostage in 1972 Olympic attack

The New York Times reveals today some of the grisly, tragic details of the 1972 attack on the Israeli Olympic delegation by Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists.

The treatment of the hostages has long been a subject of speculation, but a more vivid — and disturbing — account of the attack is emerging. For the first time, Ms. Romano, Ms. Spitzer and other victims’ family members are choosing to speak openly about documentation previously unknown to the public in an effort to get their loved ones the recognition they believe is deserved.

Among the most jarring details are these: The Israeli Olympic team members were beaten and, in at least one case, castrated.

“What they did is that they cut off his genitals through his underwear and abused him,” Ms. Romano said of her husband, Yossef. Her voice rose.

“Can you imagine the nine others sitting around tied up?” she continued, speaking in Hebrew through a translator. “They watched this.”

The article notes that it took until this year, 2015, for the International Olympic Committee to agree to a formal commemoration for the massacre.

Polish Jewish leader heads protest against new parliament

A Jewish communal leader in Poland is leading a civil protest against the country’s new government.

Krzysztof Izdebski — a lawyer, academic and self-described transparency activist, as well as the president of the governing council of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland — organized the Nov. 26 demonstration in front of the Polish parliament building in Warsaw.

In an email to JTA, Izdebski says he was not acting on behalf of the Polish Jewish umbrella organization.

He organized the demonstration with Jacob Gornicki of the ePanstw (or eState) Foundation to protest the lack of transparency in making changes to the Constitutional Tribunal.

Last week, the parliament, known as the Sejm, revoked a law passed several years earlier governing how to elect the five judges of the tribunal without prior discussion with the opposition.

“We are disappointed by the Sejm,” Izdebski and Gornicki say in a statement posted on Facebook.

Another protest is scheduled for Wednesday.


Blast near Istanbul subway may have been faulty transformer

An explosion near a subway station in Istanbul on Tuesday injures at least one person, a Turkish official said. The cause of the blast isn’t immediately known, but some reports say it might have been caused by a faulty transformer.

The state-run Anadolu Agency says the explosion occurred at an overpass near the city’s Bayrampasa station. Several ambulances are sent to the area.

Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin says at least one person is slightly injured.

“The cause of the explosion is not known. We are assessing every possibility,” Sahin says.

NTV television says six people are injured. The Istanbul mayor’s office says subway services in Istanbul are halted on the entire network following the explosion.

— AP

No such thing as ‘male’ and ‘female’ brains, Israeli study suggests

The Telegraph reports on new research by Tel Aviv University scientists that contradicts the common view that there are “male” and “female” brains.

Just six percent of 1,400 brains scanned by the team showed discernibly “male” or “female” forms.

Daphna Joel, from the School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, said: “It is a very popular belief, even among scientists, that brains have a male and female form. What we were interested in is looking at the entire brain.
“Even if there are differences, does it mean brains come in two different forms?”
Their research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved taking MRI scans of more than 1,400 brains, focusing on anatomy rather than how brains work.
They analysed brain features like tissue thickness or volume in different parts of the brain. They focused on traits that showed the biggest sex differences, dividing the scores into a predominantly male zone, a predominantly female zone, and an intermediate range.
Researchers found that it was rare for brains to fall into one of these three distinct categories- just six per cent of brains they analysed could be placed in one particular group.

And further:

The researchers also used a similar approach to analyse psychological and behavioural scores from two prior studies that covered more than 5,000 participants, and again they had similar results.
Overall, the results show “human brains do not belong to one of two distinct categories,” male and female, the researchers concluded.

For those eager for some background, Daphna Joel gave a TEDx talk on the subject back in 2012.

Official: Bomb caused explosion near Istanbul subway station

A local mayor in Istanbul says an explosion on a highway overpass near a subway station was caused by a bomb.

Atilla Aydiner, the mayor for Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district, also says five people were wounded in the explosion on Tuesday.

Earlier, Istanbul’s governor said one person was slightly injured in the blast.

— AP

Barrel-bombing of Syria hospital kills 7, says aid group

The Doctors Without Borders charity condemns Tuesday the repeated barrel-bombing of a hospital in a besieged, opposition-held part of the war-ravaged Syrian province of Homs, leaving seven dead and 47 wounded.

The organization, which goes by its French initials MSF, says the hospital attacked Saturday morning was one it supports.

“This bombing shows all the signs of a double-tap, where one area is bombed and then a second bombing hits the paramedic response teams or the nearest hospital providing care,” Brice de le Vingne, MSF director of operations, says in a statement.

“This double-tap tactic shows a level of calculated destruction that can scarcely be imagined,” he adds.

MSF says the first barrel bomb was dropped from a helicopter on a populated area of Al-Zafarana town near the city of Homs on Saturday at 9:40 am (0740 GMT), killing a man and a young girl and wounding 16 people.


Yet another ‘dramatic development’ in the Jewish terror case that cannot be named

In the continuing non-reporting of a dramatic non-story related to Jewish terrorism, the Walla news site reports that “another dramatic development [has taken place] in the investigation into a Jewish terror case.”

The case, which all Israelis understand to mean one particular incident that rocked the national conscience when it took place, cannot be named because of a court-imposed gag order which includes a prohibition on revealing any details of the investigation, so journalists are left reporting vaguely about “dramatic developments” they cannot specify about a case they cannot name.

2 Jewish minors arrested for racist arson are released

Two Jewish youths arrested last week on suspicion of racist arson attacks are released to their homes.

According to police, the two minors are suspected of setting a car on fire in the Arab village of Umm Tuba and spray-painting anti-Arab slogans.

The two, who cannot be identified because they are minors, denied involvement in the arson, and have been sent home, the Jerusalem Police says.

Police seek public’s help in search for missing Jerusalem resident

The Jerusalem Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a missing person.

Shaul Abata, 27, a resident of Jerusalem, has not been seen since Saturday evening.

He is 1.8 meters (5’11”) tall, light-skinned, with a full build, black hair and a balding scalp, and black eyes.

Police ask that anyone who knows of his whereabouts call the police emergency hotline (dial 100) or the Lev Habira police station in central Jerusalem at 02-539-1550.

Man walks into NY Jewish bookstore, threatens to ‘kill you all’

The New York Post reports on an apparent anti-Semitic assault in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

A man who identified himself as Muslim reportedly walks into a Jewish bookstore, West Side Judaica, on Broadway and W. 89th Street, Monday afternoon and shouted, “F— you Jews, I’ll kill you all!”

Citing police, the Post says he then punched a 52-year-old man who approached him.

“He was wearing a red jacket and jeans and fled on a razor scooter,” the tabloid says.

Iraqi Kurdish minister denies Kurds are buying IS oil

The Iraqi Kurdish minister for natural resources rejects accusations that Iraqi Kurdistan is buying oil from Islamic State-controlled territory, and thus helping to fund the terror group.

Reports that Kurds are helping smuggle oil out of IS territory are “wild imagination and unsubstantiated,” Reuters quotes Ashti Hawrami as saying Tuesday.

“We do everything to ensure that every barrel is accounted for,” Hawrami says at a London conference.

Egypt official says journalist detained for ‘false news’

An Egyptian researcher and freelance journalist is detained upon arrival at Egypt’s Hurghada airport, says his wife and a police official.

Speaking anonymously on Tuesday because he is not authorized to brief reporters, the official says the Egyptian embassy in Berlin had notified airport authorities of Ismail Alexandrani’s arrival on Sunday.

The official says he was detained for “cooperating with international human rights organizations” and spreading “false news.”

Alexendrani’s wife Khadeega Ga’far confirms his detention, saying he’s being “interrogated” Tuesday in the presence of lawyers in Cairo.

Journalist Abdelrahman Ayyash says on his Facebook page that Alexandrani, an expert on militants operating in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, gave a recent presentation in Berlin on the topic.

— AP

Marcus Klingberg, Israeli who spied for Soviets, dies at 97

Marcus Klingberg, an Israeli scientist jailed for passing information on biological warfare to the Soviet Union, dies at 97.

Klingberg, who served in a senior position at a secretive Israeli biological research institute when he was arrested for spying, dies in Paris on Monday, according to his grandson, Ian Brossat.

Klingberg’s case, including his arrest and trial, was for years shrouded in secrecy. One Israeli newspaper once described Klingberg as the spy who caused the greatest damage to Israel.

“This is the type of story they write TV series or movies or captivating books about,” Avigdor Feldman, a lawyer who once represented Klingberg, tells Army Radio on Tuesday. “There aren’t many people like him.”

— AP

Iraqi forces surround Ramadi, but it could be a long siege

After months of sluggish progress, stalled advances and outright failures, Iraqi troops and militias backed by US-led airstrikes have surrounded the key city of Ramadi and appear poised to launch a new attempt to wrest it from the Islamic State group.

The battle that is shaping up threatens to turn into a drawn-out siege, with thousands of residents caught in the middle as the forces try to wear down the militants since they took over the capital of western Anbar province in May. Western officials and analysts warn that the strategy of a methodical, slow siege could make the fight even more difficult.

On Monday, the Iraqi military drops leaflets into the city, telling the remaining residents — estimated at anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 — to leave, the strongest signal yet that an assault is imminent.

But residents tell The Associated Press Tuesday that the militants have clamped down, setting up checkpoints across the city to monitor civilians’ movements and prevent anyone from going.

Iraqi security forces take combat positions at the front line with Islamic State as Iraqi Army and allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters supported by US-led coalition airstrikes are tightening the siege of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)

Iraqi security forces take combat positions at the front line with Islamic State as Iraqi Army and allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters supported by US-led coalition airstrikes are tightening the siege of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)

— AP

17 Palestinian prisoners in Israel are in serious medical condition, group says

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an says 17 Palestinian prisoners in a Ramle prison face serious medical conditions.

The agency quotes Jawad Bolous, a lawyer with the Palestinian Prisoners Society, who says Tuesday that two of the prisoners, Sami Abu Diak and Bassam al-Sayeh, have cancer.

Bolous charges prison medical personnel of “medical negligence,” noting that Diak has been hospitalized at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center multiple times.

Chicago’s top cop fired after black teen’s shooting

Chicago’s mayor says Tuesday he fired the city’s police chief after a graphic video of an officer shooting a black teenager 16 times sparked a week of protest.

“The public trust in the leadership of the department has been shaken and eroded,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel tells reporters.

“Now is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership to confront the challenges,” he says, adding that outgoing police Superintendent Garry McCarthy’s record was nonetheless “a strong one and one he can be proud of.”

Tensions flared after officials released a dashcam video last Tuesday showing police officer Jason Van Dyke kill Laquan McDonald by shooting him 16 times as the teenager walked away in October 2014.


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