The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.
Israel urges ‘decisive international response’ to North Korea
Israel’s Foreign Ministry urges a “decisive international response” to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, which took place yesterday.
“The test constitutes yet another example of North Korea’s aggressive pattern of behavior,” a statement says, adding that “only a decisive international response will prevent other states from behaving in the same way.”
“North Korea must carry out all [UN] Security Council decision on this issue, and refrain from testing or developing weapons of mass destruction or the means to deliver them.”
North Korea’s latest test, which Pyongyang said included the detonation of the country’s first hydrogen bomb, has been roundly condemned by the international community, including the country’s closest ally and trading partner China.
China urges North Korea not to launch ICBM
SEOUL, South Korea — China warns North Korea against proceeding with its reported plans to launch another ballistic missile, saying it should not worsen tensions.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang tells reporters Monday that North Korea “must be very clear” that UN Security Council resolutions prohibit such activities.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry says that North Korea appeared to be planning a future missile launch, possibly of an ICBM.
In Beijing, Geng says China hopes all parties, especially North Korea, “exercise restraint and refrain from further escalating tensions.”
Geng also says that China had lodged “stern representations” with the North Korean Embassy in Beijing after the North conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.
Mayor says Houston ‘open for business’ despite huge hurdles
HOUSTON, Texas — Houston’s mayor insists that America’s fourth-largest city is “open for business,” but with areas under water, people not yet in their homes, and billions in damage to repair, major disasters that Harvey created are by no means resolved.
Mayor Sylvester Turner says much of the city is hoping to get back on track after Monday.
“Anyone who was planning on a conference or a convention or a sporting event or a concert coming to this city, you can still come,” he tells CBS. “We can do multiple things at the same time.”
Thousands of Houston dwellings were under mandatory evacuation orders 10 days after Harvey slammed into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. The rain totaled nearly 52 inches (1.3 meters) in some spots, and the storm is blamed for at least 44 deaths.
Texas chemical plant area declared safe after controlled blaze
HOUSTON, Texas — A fire at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, has been put out and authorities have lifted an evacuation order after declaring it safe, the company says in a statement.
The remaining chemical containers at the Arkema plant were deliberately ignited on Sunday and burned themselves out, it says.
“The Crosby Fire Department and unified command has determined it is safe for residents to return to their homes,” Arkema says.
“The 1.5 mile evacuation zone around the Arkema Inc. facility has been lifted and is no longer in effect.”
Explosions and fire ripped through containers holding highly flammable organic peroxides early Thursday, after heavy flooding knocked out power to critical refrigeration units.
The area around the plant had already been evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey.
Belarus Jewish community okayed construction on former Jewish cemetery
Authorities in Belarus defended a court’s authorization of controversial construction atop what used to be a Jewish cemetery.
The Belarus foreign ministry on Sunday said the local Jewish community of Gomel in southeastern Belarus approved of the plan because it is impossible to pinpoint where the bones are buried, in defense against criticism in international media over the planned construction in Gomel.
The consent which led to the court’s authorization was granted by the Beit Ya’akov Orthodox congregation led by Rabbi David Kantarovich, the foreign ministry said.
A judge of the Tsentralny District Court on Aug. 21 against intervening in plans for the construction of two luxury apartment buildings on the grounds of a former cemetery on Sozhskaya Street in the eastern city. The court was responding to a motion for an injunction submitted by Yakov Goodman, a Jewish-American activist for the preservation of Jewish heritage sites in his native Belarus who is outspoken in his criticism of the treatment of Jewish heritage sites in Belarus.
The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the World Jewish Congress and the Union of Public Associations and Jewish Communities criticized the ruling, urging authorities to hold off on any construction.
Israel looks to send $1m. in aid to Houston Jewish community
The Diaspora Ministry is planning to allocate $1 million for emergency aid to the hurricane-ravaged Jewish community of Houston, Texas.
“The Jewish state is measured by its response when our brothers around the world are in crisis,” Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett says in a statement.
The aid must be approved by the cabinet, which is slated to hold its next meeting on Sunday.
The plan calls to distribute the funds through Israel’s Houston consulate, earmarking much of the money for repairing damaged infrastructure in communal institutions such as schools, synagogues and community centers devastated by ten days of flooding since Harvey made landfall on August 25.
“The city of Houston was hurt badly last week, and the Jewish community, 70% of which lived in the flooded neighborhoods, was hit hard,” Bennett is quoted as saying. “Schools and synagogues were flooded and can’t be used. The old-age home and JCC were damaged, and hundreds of families will remain homeless. From talks we’ve had over the past week with the heads of the community and Israel’s consul general we learned the damage is vast, and the rehabilitation will take years. For years the Jewish communities stood by Israel when it needed their help; now it is our turn to stand by Houston’s Jewish community.”
Polish Jewish cemetery destroyed by contractors’ illegal digging
Building contractors in Poland destroyed a Jewish cemetery approximately one year after it was entered into a local register of protected sites.
The old Jewish cemetery in Maszewo, a city located near Poland’s border with Germany, was completely destroyed in digging performed illegally earlier this month, the Polsat news website reported Thursday.
Wojciech Janda, a member of a historical association in Poland that had the Maszewo cemetery registered as a protected landmark in 2016, told the news site a bulldozer leveled the headstones, pushing the debris, along with bones, to the edge of the plot where the headstones used to stand.
The digging came roughly three months after a woman, who was not named, bought the plot for development purposes. The deed of sale did not specify that it was a cemetery, according to the report.
A spokesperson for the Maszewo municipality told Polsat that the municipality was not aware of the digging at the site, which the spokesperson said had only recently been found to contain a small Jewish cemetery.
Alerted by locals, Janda’s historical association called the police who made sure the digging stopped. The municipality intends to restore what it can of the cemetery, its spokesperson said. The owner of the plot is being investigated for destruction of a protected heritage site.
South Korea simulates attack on North’s nuke site after test
SEOUL, South Korea — Following US warnings to North Korea of a “massive military response,” South Korea fires missiles into the sea to simulate an attack on the North’s main nuclear test site, a day after North Korea detonated its largest-ever nuclear test explosion.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry also says that North Korea appeared to be planning a future missile launch, possibly of an ICBM, to show off its claimed ability to target the United States with nuclear weapons, though it was unclear when this might happen.
The heated words from the United States and the military maneuvers in South Korea are becoming familiar responses to North Korea’s rapid, as-yet unchecked pursuit of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can strike the United States. The most recent, and perhaps most dramatic, advance came Sunday in an underground test of what leader Kim Jong Un’s government claimed was a hydrogen bomb, the North’s sixth nuclear test since 2006.
The United Nations Security Council plans to hold its second emergency meeting about North Korea in a week on Monday to discuss responses to the test.
Top aide to Energy Minister Steinitz detained in submarines affair
A senior aide to Energy and Infrastructures Minister Yuval Steinitz is named as a suspect in the ongoing and ever-expanding corruption investigation into the multi-million-dollar purchase of naval vessels from Germany.
Rami Taib, a veteran political operative who currently serves as Steinitz’s political adviser, is suspected of bribery, money laundering and conspiracy to commit a crime. His identity, initially withheld by a gag order, is cleared for publication by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court during his remand hearing on Monday afternoon where he is ordered to stay in police custody for a further three days.
Taib is one of six people arrested in police raids on Sunday linked to the affair.
— Raoul Wootliff
UC Irvine pro-Palestinian group sanctioned for disrupting Israel event
The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of California, Irvine is punished with disciplinary probation for two academic years for disrupting a pro-Israel event held on campus.
After the announcement of the punishment last month, the SJP said Friday it would appeal the decision. The appeal process is expected to take several weeks.
In addition to the two years of probation, the campus group must hold six meetings a year to discuss free speech, and adhere to a requirement to meet with university administrators two weeks before hosting any event, according to a statement from the university.
The group was sanctioned for disrupting an event held in May by the Students Supporting Israel organization which featured a panel of Israeli military veterans from the Israeli group Reservists on Duty.
About 30 members of the JVP entered the auditorium during the question and answer session and began chanting slogans such as “Israel, Israel what you say? How many people did you kill today?” and “Free Palestine,” in a protest captured on video.
SJP at UC Irvine was sanctioned for disrupting a pro-Israel campus event in May 2016 as well.
Brief soccer hopes for Iranian women quickly extinguished
TEHRAN, Iran – For a brief moment, Iran’s female football fans thought they were finally allowed to attend a match, but their hopes were dashed on Monday when authorities said their tickets were sold by mistake.
Women have been barred from attending football matches, and some other sporting events such as wrestling, since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with officials saying they must be protected from the vulgar atmosphere.
But when seats for Tuesday’s qualifying match against Syria at Tehran’s Azadi stadium went on sale on Saturday, many were shocked to see an option for women’s tickets on the website.
Some shared their surprise and joy on Twitter with a Farsi hashtag meaning “I_have_ticket.”
But it did not take long for reality to reimpose itself, as Iran’s football federation said it was all a mistake.
“There is no plan to allow the presence of women in Azadi stadium for the Iran-Syria match,” it said in a statement, blaming a “technical glitch”.
Tickets held by women would all be cancelled and refunded, it said.
UN looking into 2nd North Korean seismic shock
SEOUL, South Korea — The head of the UN organization looking into North Korea’s recent nuclear test says it is seeking information about a second seismic shock that followed the detonation to rule out the possibility it was a second explosion.
Lassina Zerbo of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization says experts believe the second shock was geological and was caused by the blast.
But he tells reporters Monday that because it was recorded at the same location, the experts are working to have a better understanding of what caused the second shock.
The UN Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss responses to Sunday’s nuclear test, North Korea’s most powerful to date.
Energy Minister Steinitz to be questioned in naval corruption probe
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit authorizes summoning Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz for questioning in the growing police investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the purchase of naval vessels from Germany.
The report of Mandelblit’s decision comes just hours after a gag order is lifted on the arrest of Steinitz’s senior aide Rami Taib on suspicions of bribery, money laundering and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Taib is one of six people arrested in police raids on Sunday linked to the affair.
Steinitz is not believed to be a suspect in the case.
‘Birthright for Moms’ to lead trips for Spanish-speakers
BUENOS AIRES — The Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project is meeting in Buenos Aires as part of its new focus on Spanish-speakers.
The group is set to announce during the meeting on Monday and Tuesday for 100 Spanish-speaking women from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Brazil and Miami its first Spanish-speaking subsidized trip to Israel, known as “Birthright for Moms.”
“We chose Buenos Aires because of the magnitude of the local Jewish community here and also because we have seen a very significant impact by local Argentinian Jewish women who have gotten increasingly active in the Jewish community after our MOMentum trip to Israel and we want to strengthen and replicate that experience. Latin American women need greater skills, support, and tools to rise as leaders and face the challenges of living in a culture that has not nurtured female leadership. Our strategic focus now is in the Spanish-speaking world,” Galia Rubinstein, who oversees JWRP Latin American partnerships, tells JTA.
The JWRP “MOMentum” trip to Israel is an eight-day, highly subsidized trip to Israel for Jewish mothers with children under the age of 18 living at home. Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs is partnering with the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project in bringing Jewish women on these educational trips to Israel.
MOMentum will have its first-ever Spanish-language version in May 2018 when more than 150 women from Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Barcelona and Madrid, Spain; Ciudad de Mexico and Cancun, Mexico; San Jose, Puerto Rico; Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala; and Bogota, Colombia will have an educational experience in Israel. The Israeli guide and teachers will all be Spanish speakers.
MOMentum trips have brought nearly 1,000 women from Latin America to visit Israel.
UN diplomats call for more sanctions against North Korea
NEW YORK — UN Security Council members call for further sanctions against North Korea after a powerful nuclear test explosion added another layer of urgency for diplomats wrestling with what to do about the North’s persistent weapons programs.
Scheduled after North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb underground Sunday, the emergency session comes six days after the council strongly condemned Pyongyang’s “outrageous” launch of a ballistic missile over Japan.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley said North Korea’s relentless actions show that its leader, Kim Jong Un, is “begging for war,” and the time has come for the council to adopt the strongest diplomatic measures.
“Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited,” Haley said.
Diplomats from France, Britain, Italy and elsewhere reiterate demands for the regime to halt its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and urged further sanctions.
“Pyongyang poses a clear threat to international peace and security,” says Sebastiano Cardi, the UN ambassador from Italy, which heads the North Korea sanctions compliance committee.
The North trumpeted “perfect success” Sunday in its sixth nuclear test blast since 2006.
Egypt finalizes deal with Russia for first nuclear plant
CAIRO — Russian media say Egypt has finalized a deal to build a nuclear power plant with funding from Moscow after nearly two years of negotiations.
The reports Monday come after Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in China, where they were attending a summit.
The nuclear plant will be built in Dabaa, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast.
Egypt’s presidency says el-Sissi has invited Putin to Egypt to mark the start of construction.
In 2015, Egypt signed an agreement with Russia to build a four-reactor power plant. It will receive a $25 billion Russian loan to cover 85 percent of the plant, with a capacity of 4,800 MW.
IDF to stage mock war with Hezbollah in largest drill in 20 years
Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers, naval ships, drones, helicopters and fighter jets will stage a mock 10-day war against the Hezbollah terrorist group in northern Israel beginning Tuesday, making it the IDF’s largest exercise in nearly 20 years, the army announces Monday.
The drill, known as “Or Hadagan” in Hebrew, is named for Meir Dagan, a former head of the Mossad intelligence service and former commander of the IDF’s Northern Command who died last year.
It is slated to begin at daybreak Tuesday and end on September 14, the military says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Motorcyclist killed, 13 hurt in car accidents
A 20-year-old motorcyclist is killed when his motorcycle slams into a guard railing on the Route 4 highway near the village of Kfar Masaryk in northern Israel.
Earlier Monday, 13 people were injured, one seriously, when a bus collided with a car in the southern city of Dimona. The car’s driver, a 40-year-old man, was seriously hurt, while the rest of the injured were passengers on the bus. The collision took place on Route 25, the desert highway leading into the city.
Former minister held in naval corruption probe named
A former minister and associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was named Monday as a suspect in the ongoing and ever-expanding corruption investigation into the multi-million-dollar purchase of naval vessels from Germany.
Eliezer (Modi) Sandberg, who served short stints as Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of National Infrastructure in 2003 and 2004, was questioned at the police’s anti-corruption unit Lahav 433 in Lod Monday morning, before being formally arrested on suspicion of fraud, breach of trust and conspiring to commit a crime.
His identity, initially withheld by a gag order, was cleared for publication by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court during his remand hearing on Monday evening.
Currently serving as the World Chairman of Keren Hayesod and a partner in the H2 Technology venture capital fund, Sandberg was first elected to the Knesset in 1992 and served 14 years as an MK in the now-defunct Tzomet and Shinui parties.
— Raoul Wootliff
German soccer boss wants ticket checks after fans’ Nazi chants
BERLIN, Germany — The head of the German soccer association (DFB) wants tighter ticketing controls for international matches, after Germany fans chanted Nazi slogans during a 2018 World Cup qualifier, with FIFA poised to investigate.
The world champions are incensed after a group of German hooligans chanted “Sieg Heil” (Hail Victory) and verbally abused their own players during Friday’s 2-1 win at Prague’s Eden Arena in a World Cup qualifier.
On Monday, a FIFA spokesman said world soccer’s governing body is considering whether to investigate the misconduct and is waiting for the match report.
The 200-strong group of Germans managed to get hold of tickets in a fan block meant for home supporters from a local ticketing outlet in Prague.
They hurled verbal abuse, as well as disrupted the minute’s silence for two deceased Czech officials before kick-off, which has led to calls for tighter ticket checks.
Olympics: North Korea tests in IOC spotlight
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it is closely monitoring the North Korea situation after a fresh nuclear arms test, just six months from the opening of the 2018 Winter Games in neighboring South Korea.
“Obviously we are following the situation closely. We are in contact with all the countries concerned,” the IOC tells AFP on Monday.
Pyongyang launched its largest-ever weapons test on Sunday, firing a hydrogen bomb that was felt in Chinese cities hundreds of kilometers from the North’s border.
Preparations for the Winter Olympics which take place from February 9-25 “were continuing as scheduled,” the IOC says.
“We enjoy excellent working relations with the organizing committee and we are expecting a great Games in a few months in Pyeongchang,” it adds.
Michigan Jewish woman sues eatery over bacon omelet error
A Jewish woman from Michigan is suing a restaurant for serving her bacon in an omelet that was supposed be without meat.
That lawsuit is being filed on behalf of Angela Montgomery, 30, of Sterling Heights, by her attorney Majed Moughni, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Montgomery is seeking monetary damages for emotional and physical distress caused by eating bacon. She alleges breach of contract and negligent representation.
Pig meat is forbidden under traditional Jewish law.
Montgomery says she found bacon in a vegetarian omelet she ordered on August 25th in a local Denny’s restaurant. After taking a few bites, she realized something was wrong and then noticed bacon in the meal. According to the lawsuit, she is “a practicing Jew and whose religion forbids the eating of any pork product.”
The waitress and manager both apologized and said it was a mistake that happened because the bacon was stored next to the vegetables in the kitchen, the report says.
— Stuart Winer
NY Jewish radio personality Nachum Segal to broadcast from Houston
Jewish radio personality Nachum Segal will broadcast live from Houston this week.
Segal, president of the Nachum Segal Network and host of the network’s flagship broadcast “JM in the AM,” which is taped in New Jersey and broadcast to the New York metropolitan area, will begin broadcasting in Houston on Wednesday from sites around the city.
Special coverage of the recovery will include first-hand reports of the storm, its devastation, and the recovery efforts by Houston’s Jewish residents.
“Our brothers and sisters in Houston have gone through a terrible ordeal with so much of the community they built sitting in ruins,” Segal says in the statement. “The goal of our trip is to highlight the community, what they’ve gone through and what lies ahead of them, sharing their stories and showing them the support from their brethren around the world. Our hope is that by being there and dedicating our shows to their stories, that listeners from all across the world will get involved with the recovery efforts. We’ve partnered with the Orthodox Union so that listeners who are inspired through our show can donate to help the Jewish community of Houston.”
Jewish music singer Mordechai Shapiro and social media activist Meir K. will join Segal in Houston, according to the network.
Segal previously broadcast from Houston in 2015, following the Memorial Day flood.
German neo-Nazi candidate vows to ban ‘Arabic numerals’
A mayoral candidate for a neo-Nazi party in Germany says he will ban Arabic numerals if elected, in response to a question, apparently unaware the question is a prank.
During an event in the southwestern German town of Volklingen, Olfried Best — the mayoral candidate for the far-right National Democratic Party — is jokingly asked by an audience member from the satirical Die Partei what he would do about the Arabic numerals on people’s addresses.
“I find it alarming that in Völklingen, many house numbers are displayed in Arabic numerals. How would you like to take action against this creeping foreigner infiltration?” Uwe Faust from the satirical party asks, according to The Independent.
In response, Best says, “You just wait until I am mayor. I will change that. Then there will be normal numbers,” apparently unaware that Arabic numerals are the “normal numbers” he was referring to.
As the crowd of some 600 people erupts in laughter, Best continues: “Wait a moment, Mr. Faust, until I’m Lord Mayor, and I’ll change that.”
— Agencies contributed to this report
Minister ‘shocked’ at arrests of aides in corruption probe
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz says he is “shocked and stunned” to learn of multiple aides and confidantes under arrest Monday in the growing corruption probe surrounding the acquisition of submarines and patrol vessels for the Israeli Navy.
“This fell on me like lightning on a sunny day. I’m known as one of the most honest people,” Steinitz tells those close to him, according to leaks reported by Channel 2. “No one is more careful with these things.”
Steinitz says he never suspected corruption on the part of suspects — and former advisers and aides — David Sharan and Rami Taib.
Another suspect in the investigation, former deputy national security adviser Avriel Bar Yosef, served as director of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee while Steinitz served as its chairman. Steinitz notes that he appointed Bar Yosef to the post immediately after the retired brigadier general left the army.
“If they call me in for questioning, I’ll come just like any other citizen, and I’ll cooperate,” he reportedly says. “But I believe and hope that nothing will be found” in the probes into Sharan, Taib and Bar Yosef.
Haredi Orthodox man allegedly attacked for being Jewish in Antwerp
Police in Belgium apprehended and briefly detained a man who allegedly assaulted a Haredi Orthodox man on the street in Antwerp while shouting “Jew.”
The incident happened Friday evening on a central street in the capital of the Flemish Region, the alleged victim, who spoke to JTA on condition of anonymity, says Monday.
The alleged attacker approached the man smiling and in a relaxed manner that left the alleged victim not expecting an assault, he says. “Then he hit me on the chin, said ‘Jew’ and just walked away,” the alleged victim says.
The Jewish man says he filed a complaint with police that night, but would not sign it, citing a religious prohibition on writing on Shabbat. He tells JTA he intends to press charges and sign the deposition in the coming days. Reports that he had been injured in the altercation were exaggerated, he says.
The alleged victim followed the attacker as he walked away and shouted that he had been assaulted. Jewish men living in the area joined the alleged victim and forcibly detained the alleged attacker until army soldiers, guarding the area due to the presence of several Jewish institutions, arrived. They called police, who arrested the man on suspicion of assault.
Some 3,600 African asylum seekers leave Israel for Western nations
Some 3,600 asylum seekers in Israel left the country since 2014 for Western nations, Channel 2 reports.
The largest group, 2,200, went to Canada. Holland took 381, Sweden 359, the United States 320, Switzerland 90, Norway 86 and Germany 66.
The asylum seekers, most of whom hail from Eritrea, are given a free plane ticket and $3,500 in cash by the government, if they agree to leave. Many of the receiving countries, such as Canada, condition their arrival on successful completion of a course that confers on the migrants a trade.
Some 20,000 have left Israel in recent years, less than a third of the over 60,000 who arrived in the country before the erection of a border fence on Israel’s border with the Sinai stopped the migration.
Israel has struck agreements with Uganda and Rwanda to absorb some of the asylum seekers, and many have gone to those countries.