The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Israeli minister in Japan: Iran may become ‘tomorrow’s North Korea’
Iran “must be contained so that it doesn’t become tomorrow’s North Korea,” Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz says during a state visit to Japan.
In a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Katz urged Japan to support efforts to amend the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers.
In a statement, Katz says, “Japan is on the front line facing North Korea just as Israel is on the front line facing Iran. The lesson from North Korea is that dictatorships must not be allowed to obtain nuclear capabilities, and Iran must be prevented from acquiring the missile capabilities with which it could threaten the region and the entire world.”
According to the statement from Katz’s office, Kono responded that Japan sees the connection between Iran’s threats against Israel and North Korea’s against Japan, and that his country supports enforcement of the nuclear deal and steps against additional actions Iran is undertaking that are undermining the stability of the Middle East.
Abbas calls for ‘one law,’ no militias in PA-ruled Gaza
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says that after the PA returns to Gaza, its leaders “don’t want to see all sorts of militias” in the territory. “There must be one authority, one law and one gun — like every other country in the world.”
He demands that “no one interfere in our internal affairs, just as we don’t interfere in theirs,” a likely reference to US and Israeli demands that Hamas disarm and recognize Israel as part of the reconciliation agreement between it and the PA.
He also says that “any country that wants to offer aid must do so via the Palestinian Authority.”
Activists say malnutrition on rise in Damascus
BEIRUT — Syrian opposition activists say malnutrition and shortages in medicine are increasing the suffering in besieged, rebel-held eastern suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus, adding that two children have died as a result in the past two months.
The activists blame a four-year government siege and greed by local businessmen who hide food and medical products in orders to raise the prices, for the malnutrition mostly among children.
The crisis in the suburbs, also known as eastern Ghouta have worsened since May after government forces seized the Qaboun and Barzeh neighborhoods in northeast Damascus. The two neighborhoods were hubs for smuggling supplies into the Ghouta region through tunnels.
International aid organizations have been sending food to Ghouta, home to tens of thousands, but the last convoy entered more than a month ago.
Ahmad Khansour, a Ghouta-based opposition activist, says via text messages that high prices are far beyond people’s reach, saying that a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of sugar is selling for up to $12 while a kilogram of rice sells for nearly $5. He says a family’s monthly income is about $100.
Far-right AfD takes its first seats in German parliament
BERLIN, Germany — Germany’s new parliament elects Wolfgang Schaeuble, the country’s longtime finance minister, as its speaker Tuesday while the nationalist Alternative for Germany party declares that a “new era” had begun as its lawmakers take their seats for the first time.
The new lower house has 709 lawmakers, a record size. It includes 92 lawmakers from Alternative for Germany, or AfD, the first party to the right of Merkel’s conservatives to enter parliament in 60 years.
AfD won 12.6 percent of the vote last month after a campaign that centered on loud criticism of Merkel and her 2015 decision to allow large numbers of migrants into Germany, but also harnessed wider discontent with established politicians.
“The old parliament, in which you were able to sort out everything among yourselves and push away competition … has been voted out,” AfD chief whip Bernd Baumann tells lawmakers. “The people have decided and now a new era is beginning,” he says.
Colombian pop star faces backlash over photo with Israeli border guard
A photo published by a Colombian pop star posing beside an Israeli border police officer leads to a passionate debate among his nearly 30 million followers on social media.
Singer Maluma, who performed in Tel Aviv on October 12, shared on his Instagram account a picture with a smiling female Israeli border police officer above the caption “New security” in both English and Spanish, reported the Enlace Judio news website on Sunday.
The photo garnered nearly 1.3 million likes and 28,500 comments mostly debating Israel and its policies toward the Palestinians. While several followers supported the photo, others wrote messages such as “You lost all your Palestinian fanatics and I am the first of them,” “Did you ask how many Palestinians she killed before posing for a photo with her?” and “Posing with a member of Israel’s killer army.”
A post shared by MALUMA (@maluma) on
The singer also posted a second picture with Jerusalem in the background, drawing over 1.2 million likes and over 17,200 comments. In addition to Maluma’s nearly 30 million followers on Instagram, he has another 23 million on Facebook and 4.7 million on Twitter.
Former Italian PM blasts Rome’s Lazio fans over anti-Semitic Anne Frank stickers
ROME, Italy — Fans of the Lazio soccer team have a long history of racism and anti-Semitism. A Lazio banner in the intra-city derby nearly 20 years ago aimed at Roma supporters read: “Auschwitz Is Your Homeland; The Ovens Are Your Homes.” Another message honored the slain Serbian paramilitary leader, Arkan.
But the Roman club’s supporters established another low over the weekend. They littered the Stadio Olimpico with superimposed images of Anne Frank — the young diarist who died in the Holocaust — wearing a jersey of city rival Roma.
“The anti-Semitic squalor that prompted some Lazio fans to make fun of even Anne Frank’s memory is a shameful gesture,” says ex-Italian premier Matteo Renzi. “Obviously we’re talking about a small minority but not shedding light on this news would be a mistake. Because when things like this happen it’s important that children know and learn how to deal with a complete lack of dignity,” Renzi adds.
Russia: Less than 5 percent of Syria still under IS control
BEIRUT, Lebanon — After losing major strongholds and key urban areas across Syria, including its self-proclaimed capital, the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State group now controls only 5 percent of the country’s territory, according to Russia’s defense minister.
That’s a dramatic decline from the height of the rise of IS in 2014, when the extremist group seized about a third of both Syria and Iraq, before its downfall began.
The remarks by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu come as Russia-backed Syrian troops are pushing deeper into the eastern Syrian town of Mehkan, one of the few still held by IS.
Speaking at a conference in the Philippines, Shoigu said on Monday that “terrorists” — a term the Syrian government and its allies use for all armed opposition, including groups such as IS and al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate — controlled more than 70% of the country before Russia launched its air operation at the end of 2015 to support President Bashar Assad’s offensive against IS militants and opposition forces.
Saudi crown prince pledges to restore ‘moderate Islam’
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday vows to restore “moderate, open” Islam in a kingdom known for its ultra-conservative rule.
“We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he says at an economic forum in Riyadh.
“We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today,” he adds. “We will end extremism very soon.”
The crown prince’s statement is the most direct attack by a top official on the Gulf country’s influential conservative religious establishment.
Since his sudden appointment on June 21, Prince Mohammed has pushed ahead with reforms. He is widely regarded as the force behind King Salman’s decision last month to lift a longstanding ban on women driving.
Anne Frank passage to be read before matches
ROME, Italy — The Italian soccer federation says a passage from Anne Frank’s diary will be read before matches this week to condemn the acts of anti-Semitism by fans of the Lazio soccer team and to keep alive memories of the Holocaust.
The FIGC also says a minute of silence will be observed before Serie A, B and C matches this week, plus amateur and youth games over the weekend.
Lazio fans earlier this week littered the Stadio Olimpico with images of Frank — the young diarist who died in the Holocaust — wearing a jersey of city rival Roma.
The diary passage reads: “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”
Iran sentences alleged agent for Israel’s Mossad to death
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s judiciary says a court has sentenced an alleged agent for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency to death.
Tuesday’s report on the judiciary’s news website Mizanonline.ir quotes Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying that the suspect had relayed information about some 30 significant Iranian figures to Mossad during meetings with more than eight members of the Israeli agency at various occasions.
He says the 30 Iranians were involved in research, military and nuclear projects, including two who were killed in bomb attacks in 2010, nuclear engineer Majid Shahriari and physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi.
The report says the suspect provided information in return for money and obtaining residency in Sweden. It did not elaborate.
Iran occasionally announces similar verdicts. The fates of those sentenced remain unknown.
Outrage after Portugal court quotes Bible on woman’s assault
LISBON, Portugal — Women’s rights groups in Portugal react angrily to a court decision that quoted the Bible and a 19th-century law in justifying a suspended sentence for a man convicted of assaulting his ex-wife with a bat because she allegedly committed adultery.
The man was given a 15-month suspended sentence and a fine of 1,750 euros ($2,000) for using a bat spiked with nails to assault the woman in the street in 2015, leaving her covered in cuts and bruises.
The prosecutor had argued the sentence was too lenient and asked an appeals court for prison time of 3 years and 6 months. But the appeal judges on Oct. 11 rejected his request.
In their written ruling, the judges expressed “some understanding” for the attacker, saying a woman’s adultery is “a very serious offense against a man’s honor and dignity.”
They noted the Bible says an adulterous woman should be punished by death and also cited a 1886 Portuguese law that gave only symbolic sentences to men who killed their wives for suspected adultery.
Police reveal massive defense agency bribery scheme
The elite Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit of the Israel Police says that seven people were arrested ten months ago, in December 2016, on suspicion of masterminding a massive bribery and graft scheme in an Israeli defense agency.
A court gag order is lifted on Tuesday on the case, allowing police to reveal details of the case.
According to a police statement, three of the seven suspects are current or past employees of an Israeli defense agency. The three are suspected of accepting “massive” bribes to tilt tenders in favor of civilian companies represented by the four other suspects.
The suspects spent many weeks under arrest, and are now free with court-imposed limitations.
New Austrian chancellor invites far-right to coalition talks
VIENNA, Austria – Austria’s far-right Freedom Party agrees to enter talks on forming a coalition government with incoming chancellor Sebastian Kurz, offering a fresh boost to populist parties in Europe.
The conservative chancellor, 31, invites the FPOe (Freedom Party) for talks, paving the way for the party to return to power nearly two decades after it last entered government in 2000.
“We have accepted this invitation,” says FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache. His party came third in elections on October 15.
The last time the FPOe entered government Austria was ostracized in Europe. Its then leader Joerg Haider praised Hitler’s “orderly” employment policies.
But such a backlash is not expected this time. The FPOe — Founded by ex-Nazis after World War II — has sought to soften its image.
Ukrainian president mistakenly tweets photo of Jews deported by Nazis
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in a post on Twitter adds a picture of Jews being deported by Nazis to a text about mass deportations carried out by Soviets against Ukrainians.
On Friday, Poroshenko, who rose to power in 2014 following a revolution fueled by anti-Russian sentiment and dissatisfaction over corruption, wrote on Twitter: “Today is the 70th anniversary of the mass deportation of the population of Ukraine’s western regions to Siberia and the northern regions of the former USSR.”
The tweet included a photograph from the US Holocaust Museum archive taken in 1942 that shows Lodz Jews in Poland advancing toward an assembly point for deportation to the Chelmno death camp, the website Defending History notes.
Сьогодні 70-ті роковини масової депортації населення західноукраїнських областей до Сибіру і північних регіонів колишнього СРСР
— Петро Порошенко (@poroshenko) October 21, 2017
Eduard Dolinsky, the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, writes on Facebook that the photograph’s reproduction in a message about the deportations of Ukrainians was “strange.”
The apparent gaffe comes amid a polarizing debate in Ukraine over municipalities and other state institutions honoring alleged anti-Semitic nationalists, including one SS officer and collaborators with Nazi Germany whose troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.
Documentary director apologizes for Holocaust statement about Hasidic Jews
A director of a new Netflix documentary about Hasidic Jews who leave their communities apologizes for making inaccurate statements about the Holocaust concerning Hasidim.
Heidi Ewing in an interview late last week on “The Charlie Rose Show” on PBS said the majority of Hasidic Jews in Europe were killed in the Holocaust partly because they refused to “blend in.”
“They kept wearing the clothing,” Ewing, who co-directed “One of Us” with Rachel Grady, told guest host Jeff Glor. “They sort of were loud and proud about their identity, and the vast majority died in the Holocaust.”
In fact, the Nazis targeted all Jews, including those who were assimilated.
Ewing posted a statement apologizing on her Loki Films website.
“I am sorry if my words on Charlie Rose caused any pain and would like to clarify their meaning,” she says. “The devastating losses that the Jewish community suffered at the hands of the Nazis is unspeakable. Almost half the population of world Jewry was destroyed by the Nazis and their collaborators, whole communities destroyed. In the midst of this sweeping genocide, Hasidic Jews suffered disproportionate losses during the Holocaust partially because they were more easily identified and therefore had more difficulty hiding. This has been documented by multiple historians. It took great courage for Hasidic Jews at that time to refuse to change their appearance to look more like the general European public. I am only filled with respect and admiration for any person who chooses to live their own truth.”
Russia vetoes extending Syria chemical weapons inspectors
Russia vetoes a US-sponsored UN resolution that would extend the work of inspectors seeking to determine who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, accusing the United States of calling the vote “to show up and dishonor Russia.”
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia tried unsuccessfully to postpone the vote until next month, after the joint body comprising investigators from the UN and the chemical weapons watchdog issues a report on Oct. 26.
The resolution was then put to a vote Tuesday and received 11 “yes” votes, two “no” votes from Russia and Bolivia, and two abstentions.
Nebenzia says Russia has criticized the Joint Investigative Mechanism but doesn’t want it terminated. It wants its mandate amended.
Einstein note on happy living sells for $1.56m – auction house
A note that Albert Einstein gave to a courier in Tokyo briefly describing his theory on happy living sells at auction in Jerusalem on Tuesday for $1.56 million, the auction house says.
The winning bid for the note far exceeds the pre-auction estimated price of between $5,000 and $8,000, according to the Winner’s auction house website.
Netanyahu: World should take care of Kurds
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has “great sympathy” for Kurdish aspirations and that the world should concern itself with their wellbeing.
Netanyahu speaks at a memorial ceremony for far-right Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi, assassinated by Palestinians in Jerusalem in 2001.
Ze’evi, he says, went on a secret mission in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region in the 1960s and supervised the setting up of an Israeli army field hospital there.
“The visit made a deep impression on him,” Netanyahu’s office quotes him as saying. “He came face to face with warm expressions of support for Israel which continue to this day.
“The Kurds demonstrate national maturity and international maturity,” he adds.
“We have very great sympathy for their desires and the world needs to concern itself with their safety and with their future.”
Israel has been the only country to openly support Kurdish independence, with Netanyahu last month backing “the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”
Settler leaders launch tent protest over lack of security funds
Settler leaders launch a tent protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem Tuesday, demanding that Benjamin Netanyahu immediately allocate funds for bypass roads and other security improvements for residents over the Green Line.
Joined by two chairmen of local settler councils as well as members of bereaved families who lost loved ones in terror attacks that took place on West Bank roads, Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan calls on Netanyahu to transfer the NIS 300 million ($85 million) that he had promised the settlers two years ago in the form of a security package.
“Mr. Prime Minister, you think that sourpusses exist only on the left. I regret to inform you that there are another half a million sourpusses in Judea and Samaria as well,” says Dagan, a reference to Netanyahu’s Monday speech opening the Knesset’s winter session in which he labeled his opponents “sourpusses” for downplaying the country’s many successes.
“(West Bank) residents do not receive the basic right to security. The nationalist camp won the elections (promising) to pave these roads and build up the settlements,” Dagan says sternly.
Draped across their protest-tent is a black sign with the biblical verse, “do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.”
— Jacob Magid
Settler leader tells Netanyahu, ‘we are disappointed’
At a protest tent outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, settlement leaders are venting their anger at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over what they say is a lack of government funding for bypass roads and other security measures in the West Bank.
״You know, we worked very hard to put you in power and for there to be a right-wing government. The entire settlement movement was mobilized for this purpose. And we are sitting here today very disappointed,״ says Beit Arye Local Council chairman Avi Naim.
— Jacob Magid
UK MP asks Facebook about Russian-linked ads in Brexit vote
A British parliamentary committee investigating “fake news” and suspected foreign interference in politics says it has asked Facebook for details on Russian-linked ads used during the Brexit vote and June’s general election.
Damian Collins, the chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, says the information he requested was similar to that already provided by the social media giant to US Senate committees looking into last year’s US presidential election.
In the letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Collins notes that his committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the “phenomenon of fake news.”
“Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations,” he says. “It is for this reason that I am requesting that Facebook provides to my committee details relating to any adverts and pages paid for, or set up by, Russia-linked accounts.”
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