Rachel Corrie’s family loses appeal in Israel’s Supreme Court seeking damages
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision on civil damages in the case of U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed in the West Bank in 2003 by a military bulldozer.
The high court on Thursday upheld a ruling by the Haifa District Court exempting Israel from paying civil damages for wrongful death to Corrie’s family since the incident occurred in a war zone.
Corrie, 23, a pro-Palestinian activist from Olympia, Wash., was wearing an orange vest and attempting to stop a bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian home in Rafah in the West Bank when she was killed. The army said that the area where the incident occurred was named a closed military zone; the claim has been disputed.
An Israeli army investigation following Corrie’s death found that the driver of the bulldozer could not see Corrie and did not intentionally run over her. The report accused Corrie and the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement of “illegal, irresponsible and dangerous” behavior.
Witnesses say that Corrie was clearly visible and that activists shouted for the bulldozer to stop before it hit the college student.
The Supreme Court on Thursday reversed a separate lower court decision, however, on the possible mishandling of the autopsy on Corrie’s body, which will require further investigation by the court into the autopsy and the possible misplacement of some of Corrie’s remains.
The Corries lost a lawsuit against Caterpillar Inc., the U.S. company that manufactured the bulldozer that killed their daughter.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Wednesday that the one-woman play “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” based on the activist’s journal writings, will be staged Off-Broadway in April at the Culture Project’s Lynn Redgrave Theater in the East Village. The play was last performed in New York a decade ago amid great controversy in the theater and Jewish communities.
EU official: No new sanctions against Israel in pipeline
(JTA) — The European Union and its member states do not envision passing any new sanctions against Israel, an EU official said in refuting reports to the contrary.
The official spoke to JTA on Wednesday under condition of anonymity about a report that appeared the previous day on the Israeli news website Walla.
The report quoted unnamed Israeli officials as saying that they heard from European diplomats, who also were not named, that the EU or member states are discussing “applying sanctions against companies that will do business across the border,” in reference to Israel’s 1967 borders.
“The assumption in Europe is that Israel will have a right-wing government after the elections and in that situation it would be easier for them to promote such moves,” one Israeli official said.
But the EU official said there is no intention now of passing new sanctions or regulations against Israel, which is officially not subject to any EU sanctions, though EU steps designed to prevent member states’ involvement in settlements are often perceived in Israel as punitive.
“The report is absolutely wrong about the incoming government and the elections, or that after the elections there will be all sorts of moves,” the EU official said. “I think that this is not being discussed at all among member states.”
However, member states are discussing applying existing regulations that Israel opposes, such as labeling settlement goods, the EU official said, referencing a 2012 statement by 27 EU foreign ministers who vowed to “fully and effectively implement existing EU legislation and agreements with Israel regarding products from the settlements.”
Israeli firms based in the Golan Heights, eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank mark their produce as Made in Israel, though the European Union, like all other international institutions, does not recognize those areas as being part of Israel and therefore have pushed for separate labeling. Last year, several European foreign ministries advised businesses from their countries against activity in territory regarded by the European Union as occupied, citing potential legal complications.
However, EU regulations on settlements have been only partially implemented “because everyone hoped peace was around the corner,” the EU official said. Now that the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians seems unlikely, “member states are insisting on applying the rules that we have,” the official added. These discussions, the official said, are ongoing.
CEO Tim Cook to open Apple Israel’s new headquarters
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Apple CEO Tim Cook will inaugurate Apple Israel’s new headquarters.
During his visit to Israel next week, Cook will meet with former President Shimon Peres and senior figures in the nation’s high-tech industry, the Israeli business daily Globes reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.
Apple Israel headquarters in Herzliya Pituach, a wealthy beachfront district in central Israel, will house 800 employees.
Cook met last year with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Apple’s international headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.
Netanyahu, Israel Prize judges clash over alleged politicization
(JTA) — Several judges from Israel’s prestigious Israel Prize resigned, accusing the Prime Minister’s Office of political meddling.
Six judges resigned from the literary panel after the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vetoed nominations for two other judges, apparently due to political objections, and attempted to name a replacement, according to reports. Netanyahu’s office also dismissed a member of the Israel Prize’s film panel and attempted to name a replacement, causing another member of the film panel to drop out in solidarity.
On the literary panel, Ariel Hirschfeld and Avner Holtzman were nominated by the staff of the Education Ministry, which administers the annual prize, in November or December. However, Netanyahu assumed the post of education minister in early December with the resignation of Shai Piron and the dissolution of the coalition government.
Netanyahu’s office released a statement Tuesday saying that it “decided to review the panel’s composition” upon learning that Hirschfeld had supported the practice of boycotting army service as a form of protest. This was confirmed obliquely by a statement posted on Netanyahu’s Facebook page that did not mention Hirschfeld by name but stated that the Israel Prize panels had come to be dominated by “extremists” who support “anti-Zionist causes,” including “refusal to serve in the IDF.”
No reason was offered for the veto on Holtzman. Netanyahu’s office also reportedly attempted to appoint another judge of the prime minister’s choosing.
The Prime Minister’s Office also reportedly ordered the dismissal of film jury member Chaim Sharir in favor of another appointee who subsequently refused upon learning of Sharir’s dismissal. Fellow jury member Ram Loevy resigned in protest of Sharir’s dismissal.
Literary prize jurors Nurith Gertz, Ziva Ben-Porat, Ephraim Hazan and Uri Hollander resigned en masse to protest the dismissal of Hirschfeld and Holtzman, and author Gail Hareven also resigned separately over the same issue.
In addition, Yigal Schwartz withdrew his candidacy on Tuesday for a prize in the field of literary research to protest Netanyahu’s involvement with the jury, which Schwartz described to Haaretz as “sabotage.”
Zoabi, Marzel disqualified from upcoming elections
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Arab-Israeli lawmaker Hanin Zoabi and far-right Jewish activist Baruch Marzel were disqualified from running in Israel’s March 3 elections.
At hearings Thursday, the Central Elections Committee voted 27-6 to ban Zoabi, a Knesset member from the Arab-Israeli Balad party since 2009. The vote on Marzel, of the Yachad party, was 17-16.
Both bans will be automatically appealed to the Supreme Court.
Zoabi and Marzel previously have been banned from running in elections, most recently Zoabi in January 2013. The Supreme Court overturned those decisions.
Zoabi, who participated in the 2010 flotilla sail to Gaza to bust Israel’s blockade organized by the Islamic IHH group in Turkey, has been censured before for anti-Israel statements. Most recently she was suspended from the Knesset for statements she made encouraging Palestinian “popular resistance” and saying that the kidnappers of three Israeli teens, who later were murdered, were not terrorists.
Marzel, who headed the outlawed Kach movement after the death of Rabbi Meir Kahane, has previously run for Knesset.
Report: Widow of Paris kosher supermarket terrorist with ISIS
(JTA) — The widow of the terrorist who killed four Jewish men at a kosher supermarket siege in Paris apparently is in Islamic State territory.
Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of slain Hyper Cacher gunman Amedy Coulibaly, was interviewed by a magazine run by ISIS, Reuters reported. It was the first evidence that she fled to Syria following the Jan. 8 attack on the kosher market. French authorities began searching for her following the attack.
The ISIS-supported, online French-language magazine Dar al-Islam published an interview with an unnamed woman it said was Coulibaly’s widow. Police killed Coulibaly at the kosher market.
Boumeddiene in the interview confirmed that her husband had been a supporter of the Islamic State.
She has been shown in photos published in French media wearing a full veil.
Poll: Americans want Obama-Netanyahu meeting, half say invite ‘inappropriate’
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Nearly half of Americans think the invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress was inappropriate, but more believe President Barack Obama should meet the Israeli prime minister in Washington.
The YouGov poll posted Wednesday showed that 47 percent of respondents said it was “inappropriate” for Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House speaker, to invite Netanyahu to speak March 3 without first consulting with the White House. Thirty percent of respondents found it appropriate.
Still, 58 percent said Obama should meet with Netanyahu and 46 percent said their Congress member should attend.
Obama has said he will not meet with Netanyahu because of the proximity of Israeli elections, and a number of congressional Democrats, who also were not consulted, have said they will not attend the speech. Nineteen percent of respondents were opposed to an Obama-Netanyahu meeting and 24 percent said their representative should not attend the speech.
The survey of 1,000 adults was taken Feb. 4-8 and had a margin of error of 4.1 percent.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) on Thursday became the third Jewish member of Congress to say he would not attend. Among the 28 Jewish members in Congress, 15 have said they will attend, although many of them regret the circumstances of the invitation.
A Times of Israel poll published this week showed 59 percent of Israelis registered an unfavorable opinion of Obama, while 33 percent were favorable to the president. Netanyahu registered 41 percent favorable and 54 percent unfavorable in the same poll.
Asked whether they trust “Obama to ensure that Iran does NOT receive a nuclear weapon,” 72 percent said no and 21 said yes. Boehner wants Netanyahu to speak to Congress in part to rebut Obama’s claims that nuclear talks now underway with Iran are the best path to keeping it from obtaining a weapon, and Netanyahu says that is his main mission in Washington, otherwise praising Obama for preserving a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Only 10 percent of Israeli respondents, however, said Iran was their main concern heading into the March 17 election. Economic issues was the main concern, with 48 percent of respondents listing it as a top concern.
The Feb. 1-3 Times of Israel survey reached 824 Israeli voters and had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.
Jewish GOPers: Include Jews as threatened group in ISIS bill
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish Republicans want Jews added to a military force authorization bill as one of the minorities threatened by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), the sole Jewish Republican in Congress, told CNN on Thursday that in the wake of the apparent ISIS affiliation of a terrorist who last month attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris and killed four Jews – whom the terrorist said he targeted because they were Jewish – Jews should be added to the authorization for use of military force under consideration.
Backing his call was the Republican Jewish Coalition.
The White House, submitting the language this week, mimicked language in a proposed bill in the last Congress that named as threatened by Islamic State Iraqi Christians, Yezidis and Turkmens, as well as Muslims who do not follow its extremist precepts.
The bill, however, was drafted before the killings in Paris.
“I strongly believe we were reminded in Paris that these radical Islamic extremists, they want to wipe Israel off the map,” Zeldin told CNN.
“They target not only Jews but our freedom and our exceptionalism as Americans — the whole Western world,” he said. “The pursuit of ISIS includes a threat not just to Muslims, not just to Jews, not just to Christians, but everyone and it all should be recognized in the resolution.”
Jewish groups join call on Obama to stop marginalizing American Muslims
WASHINGTON (JTA) – Three Jewish organizations joined 15 other interfaith groups to express concern that the White House is marginalizing American Muslims.
Bend the Arc: a Jewish Partnership for Justice, the National Council of Jewish Women and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call to Justice signed a Feb. 12 letter to President Barack Obama ahead of the upcoming White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, which criticized the publicity for the upcoming summit as focusing only on Islamic extremists.
“As you know, studies by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center have shown that the overwhelming majority of terrorist incidents in the United States were committed by non-Muslims,” the letter said. The groups said that they were concerned about “focusing exclusively on Islamic extremists, which risks contributing to the marginalization of American Muslims.”
The letter was spearheaded by the Interfaith Alliance, whose executive director is Rabbi Jack Moline, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
“Unfortunately, no single religion has a monopoly on extremist violence,” Moline said. “The White House must make sure not to unfairly single out American Muslims as it seeks to confront violent extremism perpetrated in the name of any faith or ideology.”