The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Donors step up funds to UNRWA after US cuts, group says
The top official with the UN’s Palestinian aid agency UNRWA says countries including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and India have stepped up in recent months with a “very high amount” of $238 million in extra funding amid US cuts.
UNRWA Commissioner Pierre Kraehenbuehl reiterates his disappointment with the Trump administration’s announcement last week that it’s cutting all funding for the agency, after partial cuts announced earlier this year.
Despite the new contributions, Krahenbuehl tells reporters by phone today that the funding situation remains “critical,” and over $200 million is needed this year to “sustain our operations.”
The new commitments, including from Turkey and some European countries, come after the US announced plans in January to contribute $60 million this year, down from $360 million a year ago.
Russia says Assad army preparing to ‘solve’ Idlib ‘terrorism’ problem
The Kremlin says the Syrian army is getting ready to solve the problem of “terrorism” in the rebel stronghold of Idlib, apparently referring to a looming Assad regime offensive.
“We know that the Syrian armed forces are getting ready to solve this problem,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, calling Idlib a “pocket of terrorism.”
He does not give a timeframe, however. He also will not comment on reports that Russian warplanes had carried out airstrikes on Idlib earlier today.
Peskov says numerous “terrorists” are holed up in the country’s last rebel stronghold, causing a “general destabilization of the situation.”
“This undermines attempts to push the situation towards a political and diplomatic settlement and most importantly presents a significant threat for our temporary facilities,” he adds. “No doubt one needs to deal with this problem.”
Spain cancels bombs sale to Saudi Arabia amid Yemen concerns
Spain says it has canceled the sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia amid fears that the weapons could be used in the Riyadh-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The deal was originally signed in 2015 under Spain’s former conservative government, but the new center-left administration plans to return the 9.2 million euros ($10.6 million) already paid by the Saudis, Cadena SER radio reports on Tuesday.
Rights groups have criticized the coalition’s airstrikes and other attacks in Yemen for killing civilians, including children. UN human rights experts say all sides may have committed war crimes.
Paris Jew says he was beaten in robbery-turned-hate crime
Several men allegedly assaulted and robbed a Jewish man in Paris, who says the attackers hit him because he was wearing a Star of David pendant around his neck.
The incident occurred at around 3 a.m. on Monday morning, the victim tells police, according to a report by the France Bleu radio station. The man is not named in the report.
The complaint, as summarized by the radio station, says the man was crossing the Alexandre III Bridge over the Seine river in Paris’ center, near the prestigious Champs-Elysee Avenue and shopping area.
A man on a scooter drove up to the Jewish man and yanked the pendant off his neck from behind, in what up to that point appeared to be a random grab-and-run robbery, the man says. But upon seeing the chain had a Star of David pendant, the alleged culprit shouted “dirty Jew” at the complainant, he tells police.
A second scooter arrived with a driver and a passenger, who descended and started beating the complainant. The attackers, who have not been identified, then stole the man’s cellphone and wallet, he tells police.
In addition to anti-Semitic assaults motivated purely by racist hatred, French Jews have reported an increase in the number of incidents featuring both financial and hateful incentives. Some of these cases are robberies where the victims were selected because they are Jewish, whereas others began as random criminal acts before escalating into violent assaults following the perpetrators’ discovery of the victim’s Jewish identity.
Members of far-right Swedish party caught making anti-Semitic statements online
Regional politicians from the far-right Sweden Democrats party were caught making anti-Semitic statements online, including using a picture of Anne Frank to mock Holocaust victims.
Per Olsson, who represents the party on the city council of Oskarshamn, a coastal Swedish city, posted earlier this year a picture of Frank captioned “coolest Jew in the shower room” on the Russian social network VKontakt, the Expressen daily reported Friday.
Anne Frank, a Jew who wrote a famous diary while hiding for two years from the Nazis, died of typhus in 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Out of 6 million Jewish Holocaust victims, the Nazis and their collaborators killed more than half in gas chambers – some disguised as shower rooms.
The Expressen report was part of a project in which journalists for that daily and the Expo magazine look into the digital footprint of many politicians from various parties ahead of the country’s September 9 general and local elections.
Sweden Democrats is currently in third place according to various polls, with 18.7 percent of the vote. Its share was just under 13% in the 2014 elections.
The journalists also found anti-Semitic material on the social media accounts of Raghu Jacobsen, who represents the party on the city council of Stenungsund, located in western Sweden.
“As long as Rothschild controls the economy and with the modern slavery on this planet, there will be anti-Semitism. #Jews #israel,” he wrote in English in February on Twitter. One month later, he shared a picture of a woman with a milk package and the English-language text: “What is the difference between a cow and the Holocaust? You cannot milk a cow for 70 years.”
Martin Sihlén, representing the Sweden Democrats in Örkelljunga in Sweden’s south, wrote on Facebook that “Hitler wasn’t so bad” and “did not lie about Jews.”
He also wrote that “international Jewry is thirsting for destroying Europe. It was ultimately not Germany who started the Second World War, it was the Jews.”
Border Police officers arrested for stealing from Palestinian motorists
Two Border Police officers are under arrest for allegedly robbing Palestinian motorists.
The two are suspected of stopping Palestinian vehicles on a road near the West Bank settlement of Adam, then taking money and other property from the motorists.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extends their remand until Friday.
UK’s Labour Party meets in bid to calm anti-Semitism crisis
The governing body of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party meets in an attempt to defuse a crisis over anti-Semitism that has caused a schism within its ranks.
The party’s National Executive Committee is debating whether to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Labour’s adoption earlier this year of a more limited definition — omitting some of the alliance’s language around unfair criticism of Israel — renews claims that the left-of-center party has become hostile to Jews under leader Jeremy Corbyn, a longtime supporter of the Palestinians.
Corbyn says anti-Semitism has no place in the Labour Party, but some members think he has failed to stamp out anti-Jewish prejudice. Last week, veteran lawmaker Frank Field quit Labour’s grouping in Parliament, saying the party had become a “force for anti-Semitism.”
Anti- and pro-Corbyn activists protest outside Labour’s London HQ
As the British Labour Party’s National Executive Committee debates whether to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, rival groups of demonstrators shout chants for and against party leader Jeremy Corbyn outside Labour’s London headquarters.
Emotions run high outside the meeting.
Anti-Corbyn protesters hold signs altering the party’s slogan “For the many, not the few” to “Labour: For the many, not the Jew.”
The opposing group insists that “Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.”
— with AP
Egypt officials say suspected bomb found near US embassy
Egyptian security officials say they are investigating a suspected explosive device near the heavily fortified US Embassy in the heart of Cairo, Egypt’s capital.
They say the device was spotted Tuesday outside the concrete barriers that encircle the embassy and the ambassador’s residence in the leafy district of Garden City.
The US Embassy says in a tweet that it was “aware of a reported incident” near the embassy and advises American citizens to avoid the area.
The area around the embassy has for decades been heavily policed, with concrete barriers blocking vehicular traffic in its immediate vicinity.
Police, Shin Bet say they intercepted Hamas funds to East Jerusalem operative
Police seize thousands of shekels from an East Jerusalem Hamas operative sent to him by the terror group.
Following up on information obtained in an undercover intelligence operation, police and the Shin Bet security service raided the man’s home on Sunday and discovered NIS 18,000 ($5,000) in cash, officials reveal today.
“The operation was the result of covert activity and targeted intelligence gathering by the Israel Police and security forces which found that the activist, who lives in East Jerusalem, receives the funding from Hamas,” police say.
Cops say the operation is part of ongoing efforts to disrupt support for terrorist organizations and the families of terrorists.
Over the past year, police have confiscated a total of NIS 300,000 ($82,000) in Hamas funding sent to seven East Jerusalem families.
Three wounded in apparent organized crime hit in Afula
Three men are wounded in a drive-by shooting on Harod Street in Afula that police say is linked to organized crime.
All three wounded are in their thirties. One is in serious condition and the other two are in moderate condition. All three are being taken to Haemek Hospital in the northern city.
A massive manhunt is now underway for the shooters, who fled in a vehicle. Police say they are establishing roadblocks and using helicopters to catch the shooters.
Ahead of new year, figures show Israeli population up to 8.9 million
Israel’s population is 8,907,000 as the Jewish calendar year 5778, which ends Sunday, September 9, draws to a close.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, that’s about 162,000 more Israelis than at the last Jewish new year, the country’s official statistics body says in its traditional Rosh Hashanah statement.
Some 74.4% of the population is Jewish, and 20.9% is Arab.
Israel will have 10 million residents by 2024, 15 million by 2048 and a crowded 20 million by 2065.
The past year saw 175,000 births, 43,000 deaths and a net gain of 29,000 new citizens through migration.
90% of Israelis are happy with their lives, half exercise regularly
Tuesday’s annual Central Bureau of Statistics snapshot of the nation includes the findings that the vast majority of Israelis say they are satisfied with their lives, nearly one-third struggle to pay their bills and just over half exercise regularly.
According to the CBS report, 89 percent of Israelis say they are satisfied with their lives, though 37% are unhappy with their financial situation and 31% say they struggle to pay the bills.
Israelis, or at least 84% of them, say they are in good or very good health, and half, 51%, say they exercise regularly.
Perhaps that’s why Israelis enjoy relatively long lifespans, which hit 84.6 years for women and 80.7 for men in the past year.
Saudi Arabia declares online satire a punishable offense
Saudi Arabia will punish online satire that “disrupts public order” with up to five years in prison, the public prosecutor says as the kingdom cracks down on dissent.
“Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media … will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000),” the public prosecution tweets.
The kingdom’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has drawn harsh criticism from rights groups over the targeting of human rights activists and political dissidents since his appointment in June 2017. Saudi Arabia’s legislation on cybercrime has sparked concern among international rights groups in the past.
Iran moving main oil export terminal out of Gulf
Iran is to move its main oil export terminal from the Gulf to the Oman Sea, President Hassan Rouhani announces, sparing its tankers from using the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Rouhani says exports were already being shifted from the Khark Island terminal, deep in the Gulf, to Bandar-e-Jask in the Oman Sea, and the shift would be completed by the end of his term in 2021.
“This is very important for me, it is a very strategic issue for me. A major part of our oil sales must move from Khark to Jask,” Rouhani says in a televised speech as he inaugurates three new petrochemical plants in the southern energy hub of Asaluyeh.
To reach the oil terminal on Khark Island, tankers must currently pass through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, slowing down deliveries.
Iran has in the past repeatedly threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz — which is used by its Gulf rivals including Saudi Arabia — when faced with sanctions on its oil exports and possible military action by the US.
German minister: Mistakes made in Chemnitz suspects’ cases
Mistakes were made in the cases of two asylum-seekers accused in the slaying of a German man that sparked large-scale far-right protests, Germany’s top security official says.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says poor communication between Germany’s migration office and other authorities mean the deadline was missed to return Iraqi Yousif A. to Bulgaria, the country responsible for his case under European rules that say migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter the EU.
Seehofer says there were also cooperation issues between authorities in the case of Syrian Alaa S.
He says changes he has instituted in how Germany deals with migrants, including new centers being set up in border areas to process people quickly, should help stop similar failings in the future.
The men, whose last names weren’t disclosed, are being held on manslaughter charges in the August 26 fatal stabbing of 35-year-old Daniel Hillig, which sparked anti-migrant protests in the city of Chemnitz that shocked many in Germany and beyond. On Tuesday Saxony state authorities said they are seeking a third suspect in the killing, identified only as an asylum-seeker from Iraq.
At EU, Arab MKs denounce nation-state law, Israeli ‘apartheid’
A delegation of lawmakers from the Arab Joint List meets with senior European Union officials in Brussels to denounce Israel’s recently passed Jewish nation-state law and criticize the Israeli government for what it calls systematic discrimination against the country’s non-Jewish minority.
Party chairman Ayman Odeh meets with the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini while five of his fellow lawmakers meet with other top officials, including the foreign minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn.
“Our struggle against this law must be pursued in all areas and takes place first and foremost in Israel, in the cooperation between Arab society and democratic Jewish forces,” Odeh says in a statement released after his meeting with Mogherini. “However, our partners in the international arena have a very important contribution [to make] in their support for our struggle against the nation-state law that was legislated by the extreme-right and racist government.”
At about the same time, Israel’s ambassador to the EU attends an event held by a pro-settlement advocacy group at the European Parliament on Jewish-Arab “coexistence” in the West Bank.
— Raphael Ahren
Arab Israeli singer’s conversion to Judaism rejected by rabbinate
Popular Arab Israeli singer Nasreen Qadri is told that her conversion to Judaism will not be recognized by the official state rabbinate or the Interior Ministry because it was carried out by a rabbi independent of the authorities.
According to Hadashot news, she chose the rabbi because he said she will not be required to stop singing in public, which very observant Jews believe is contrary to Jewish law.
Sources close to the singer tells Hadashot news that she remains hopeful that her conversion will eventually be recognized by the rabbinical courts.
The Orthodox-controlled Chief Rabbinate has a monopoly on state-recognized conversions to Judaism conducted inside Israel.
Russia criticizes Trump’s warnings about attacking Idlib
The Kremlin criticizes US President Donald Trump’s warnings against a possible Syrian government attack on a rebel-held enclave.
Trump on Monday sent a tweet warning the Syrian government and its allies against a “reckless attack” on rebel-held Idlib province. Russia has been a key backer of President Bashar Assad and has complained about “terrorists” in Idlib targeting its own facilities and posing a terrorist threat on the whole.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday reiterated Russia’s stance and called Idlib “a hornets’ nest of terrorists.”
Asked about Trump’s tweet, Peskov said such warnings do not take into account “the dangerous and negative potential” of the rebel-held enclave and show that the White House does not have a “comprehensive approach” to solving the Syria crisis.
Liberman’s New Year video ‘encourages sexual harassment,’ say activists
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is facing criticism by activists for releasing a video that “encourages sexual harassment.”
The spoof video is based on Sacha Baron Cohen’s segment from “Who Is America?” with Jason Spencer, which led to the Georgia lawmaker’s resignation from the State House of Representatives. An instructor who looks and sounds similar to Baron Cohen’s character, Col. Erran Morad, teaches Liberman how to defend himself against a burqa-clad “terrorist.”
The video, released ahead of Rosh Hashanah, was intended to be a New Year’s greeting.
Paralleling the Baron Cohen clip, Liberman’s instructor shows the defense minister how to detect a terrorist using a selfie stick. After first pretending to take photos of himself, he puts the stick under the long dress of a burqa-clad dummy to check for bombs.
שנה טובה לחיילי צה"ל. עם ישראל אוהב אתכם! pic.twitter.com/XwgjQ6FmA1
— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) September 4, 2018
Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, condemns the video.
“Defense Minister Liberman’s choice of showing an act of sexual humiliation of Muslim women as a New Year’s greeting is perverse and distorted,” she says.
“Liberman presents the humiliation and degradation which women suffer during security checks as something funny,” she says. “Photographing under a dress is a criminal offense, but this video encourages sexual harassment and turns it into a joke.”
She says the defense minister must apologize and immediately remove the clip from his social media accounts.
London police to probe leaked Labour dossier on anti-Semitic incidents
Police in London say they will investigate a leaked Labour dossier containing dozens of allegations of anti-Semitism by party members.
Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick vows to probe whether the cases mentioned in the internal document, which was obtained by LBC radio, could constitute hate crimes.
The dossier lists 45 claims of anti-Semitic behavior by party members, though it was unclear what action, if any, the party took in the cases.
“We will scope it, we will see whether a crime has taken place,” Dick tells LBC. “I, of course, will pass this to my experts to look at.”
A former hate crime investigator for the police who read the dossier tells the Telegraph he believes at least 21 of the incidents merit further investigation by police.
IDF says it struck in Syria 200 times in 18 months
A senior IDF officer says the Israeli Air Force has carried out some 200 airstrikes against enemy forces in Syria over the past 18 months.
The strikes have mostly targeted advanced weaponry shipments and manufacturing facilities linked to Hezbollah, as well as military installations belonging to Iranian forces in the country.
The strikes included the dropping of some 800 bombs and missiles, mostly from warplanes, the officer says.
Russia says air leak at space station caused by drill hole
Russia’s top space official says that last week’s air leak at the International Space Station was a drill hole that happened during manufacturing or in orbit.
The leak, which was discovered last week, was traced to a small hole in one of the Russian Soyuz capsules docked at the station. The leak was patched over with a sealant that officials said was airtight.
Russian news agencies on Tuesday quote Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin saying that the hole was drilled by “an unsteady hand,” potentially during manufacturing. But he says it was possible that the hole was drilled while the capsule was already in orbit. He doesn’t say if he suspects one of the astronauts.
Three Americans, two Russians, and a German are currently aboard the station.
UN urges Putin, Erdogan to talk to avert Idlib ‘bloodbath’
The UN’s Syria peace envoy calls on the Russian and Turkish presidents to urgently speak to each other to help avert a “bloodbath” in rebel-held Idlib, as a military offensive appears imminent.
Staffan de Mistura appeals to “President Putin and to President Erdogan … to make a telephone call,” even before they are set to meet with their Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Friday.
“Let’s try to avoid that the last probably major battle of the Syrian territorial conflict … ends in a bloodbath,” he tells reporters in Geneva, insisting Russia and Turkey held “the key for the soft solution to the Idlib issue.”
After retaking a succession of rebel bastions this year, Damascus has set its sights on Idlib, which is held by a complex array of rebels and jihadists.
New Yorker magazine drops Bannon as festival headliner following backlash
New Yorker magazine drops former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as a headliner at its annual festival after several high-profile stars scheduled to participate said they would withdraw because of his appearance.
Among those who announced their withdrawal hours after the lineup was announced Monday were Jim Carrey, John Mulaney, and Judd Apatow. New Yorker staff members also tweeted their disapproval. New Yorker editor David Remnick was to have interviewed Bannon at the event.
Remnick said in a statement released later in the day that the main argument against engaging Bannon in debate is “that we are giving him a platform and that he will use it, unfiltered, to propel further the ‘ideas’ of white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, and illiberalism.”
But Remnick noted that an interview would not be endorsing Bannon or pulling him out of obscurity. “The point of an interview, a rigorous interview, particularly in a case like this, is to put pressure on the views of the person being questioned,” he said.
Bannon, the former editor of the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, which he once called a “platform for the alt-right,” responded by calling Remnick “gutless.”
Natalie Portman: US school shootings a ‘civil war’
Hollywood star Natalie Portman calls school shootings America’s “civil war,” comparing the psychological torment they cause to the threat of terror attacks in Israel.
The Oscar-winning actress draws the parallel in Venice before the premiere of her new film about a traumatized pop diva, “Vox Lux,” which opens with a Columbine-style massacre.
“I have been interested in the questions around the psychology of what violence does to individuals and in mass psychology for some time, coming from a place where people have encountered violence for so long,” says the Israeli-born star, best known for “Black Swan.”
“Unfortunately it is a phenomenon we now experience regularly in the United States with the school shootings. As [the film’s director] Brady [Corbet] has put to me before, it is a kind of civil war and terror that we have in the US,” she tells reporters.
The regular mass killings were having a “psychological impact on every kid going to school every day and every parent dropping their kids off,” said Portman. “Small acts of violence can cause widespread torment.”
Portman, 37, plays a singer who is badly wounded in a bloodbath at her school but builds a pop career after she sings at a memorial for her classmates.
Syria says it fended off an Israeli airstrike near Hama
Syria’s official state news agency says Israel attacked targets in the southern Syrian city of Hama, but the Israeli missiles were purportedly shot down by Syria’s air defenses.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the strike took place in the city of Masyaf, a location that foreign media outlets have claimed in the past was a scientific research site reportedly already struck by Israeli warplanes at least three times in the past.
The report of a strike comes just hours after an IDF official tells reporters in Israel that the Israeli Air Force has carried out 202 airstrikes in the past year.
After months of criticism, UK’s Labour adopts broader anti-Semitism definition
The governing body of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party decides to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism amid major public outcry, but decides to add a statement emphasizing the right to “free speech” on Israel — drawing more criticism from Jewish groups.
The National Executive Committee makes the decision after a tense meeting with party leader Jeremy Corbyn in attendance, the Guardian reports.
“The NEC has today adopted all of the IHRA examples of antisemitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians,” a Labour spokesperson tells the Guardian.
“The NEC welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s statement to the meeting about action against antisemitism, solidarity with the Jewish community and protection of Palestinian rights, as an important contribution to the consultation on Labour’s code of conduct.”
Labour’s pro-Israel group slams ‘free speech’ addition to anti-Semitism definition
Labour Friends of Israel slams the UK Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn for including a clarification with its acceptance of a broader, internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism that explains that the right to “free speech” on Israel would not be curtailed.
“It is appalling that the Labour party has once again ignored the view clearly and repeatedly stated by the Jewish community: that it should adopt the full IHRA definition without additions, omissions or caveats,” the group’s director Jennifer Gerber says in a statement.
“The IHRA definition has been adopted in full by 31 countries, including the UK, as well as over 130 UK local councils, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary,” she adds. A “freedom of expression on Israel” clause is unnecessary and totally undermines the other examples the party has supposedly just adopted. Labour appears determined to provide a safe space for antisemites. This decision is a sad reflection on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party and the culture it has instilled.”
Erdan plans to replace Israel Police chief — report
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is planning to replace Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich when his term ends in December.
According to Hadashot television news, Erdan is looking to appoint a new head of Israel’s national police force — this time from within the police.
Alsheich is nearing the end of his third year in the position, and had hoped for the usual one-year extension granted to most police chiefs.
Trump asks Abbas to meet at UN confab late this month — report
US President Donald Trump has asked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with him when he attends the UN General Assembly gathering in New York later this month, Hadashot television news reports.
The network also reports the Trump administration has told the Palestinians it will delay the presentation of its peace plan until after the November midterm elections in the US, and possibly longer if Israel goes to elections in early 2019.
British Jewish leadership group welcomes Labour anti-Semitism move
The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomes the “long overdue” Labour Party decision to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, but urges “action” to follow.
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) September 4, 2018
After Apple, Amazon is second company ever to reach trillion-dollar valuation
Amazon’s journey from an online bookseller started in a garage to a global e-commerce powerhouse valued at a trillion dollars has centered on obsession with the long road.
The company initially incorporated as “Cadabra” by Jeff Bezos in 1994 and backed with money borrowed from his parents joins Apple as the second US technology firm to be valued at $1 trillion on Tuesday.
“It’s funny comparing Apple and Amazon because they are very different companies,” says independent technology analyst Rob Enderle.
“Apple is basically a one product company nowadays; Amazon is anything but.”
While Apple makes most of its money from iPhones, the Amazon empire includes global e-commerce operations, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, streaming television, groceries, and more.
Sweden returns Nazi-looted Kokoschka painting to Jewish heir
Sweden’s modern museum says it had returned a Nazi-confiscated painting by Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka to the heir of a persecuted Jewish art collector.
“It is with joy and relief that we see the Kokoschka painting return to its rightful owner,” the state-owned Moderna Museet in Stockholm says in a statement.
Known for his expressionist portraits and paintings of landscapes, Kokoschka’s portrait of “Marquis Joseph de Montesquiou-Fezensac” (1910) initially belonged to Alfred Flechtheim, a well-known art collector and gallery owner who was forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1933.
“The painting was taken from him because he was Jewish,” the Moderna Museet in Stockholm says in a statement, adding it had therefore “decided to return the work to [his] heir.”
Flechtheim’s employee Alex Vomel sold the painting when the Nazis expropriated the gallery and artwork between 1933 and 1934.
“Vomel, who joined the Nazi party early on, took advantage of his former employer’s tragic situation,” the museum says.
A self-taught painter in the German Expressionism movement, Kokoschka was in the league of artists deemed “degenerate” by the Nazis.
The painting has been sent to the United States where Flechtheim’s heir Michael Hulton lives.
Ancient Torah scroll is safe after fire engulfs an iconic museum in Brazil
An ancient Torah scroll once owned by a Brazilian emperor had been removed from Brazil’s National Museum for restoration prior to the massive fire that engulfed the building in Rio on Sunday.
Unlike other irreplaceable treasures, the 13th-century Yemenite Torah scroll once owned by emperor Pedro II is safe in another building that belongs to the National Museum. The Jewish federation in Rio is expected to make an announcement about the Jewish artifact soon.
The National Museum housed Latin America’s largest collection of historical artifacts with over 20 million items, including extensive paleontological, anthropological, and biological specimens. It was home to a 13-yard-long dinosaur skeleton, an Egyptian mummy, and a skull called Luzia that was among the oldest fossils ever found in the Americas, which were all burned in the fire. The largest meteorite ever discovered in Brazil survived the flames.
Established in 1818, the museum’s building was once the home of the Portuguese Royal Family after it fled Napoleon’s troops and sailed to Brazil. It was later home to the Brazilian Imperial Family until 1889. Pedro II, the country’s last monarch, was born there in 1825.
IDF chief cancels speech, after reports of Israeli strikes in Syria
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot cancels a speech he was slated to give in the West Bank, following reports of Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
A military spokesperson confirms that the speech was canceled, but says he can not comment beyond that.
— Judah Ari Gross