Sanders: Being Jewish Taught Me ‘What Politics Is About’

061915_mishmash_israelA day after a radio host falsely said that Sen. Bernie Sanders has Israeli citizenship, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination spoke publicly about how his Jewish identity has influenced him.

In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor last week, Sanders (I-Vt.) said that he was “not
particularly religious” but that as a child being Jewish taught him “in a very deep way what politics is about.”

“A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932,” he told the Monitor. “He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.”

In an interview with Sanders on June 10, National Public Radio host Diane Rehm offended Sanders and many American Jews when she said, mistakenly, that the senator had dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. The assertion rankled many because Jewish Americans have historically faced accusations that they are disloyal to their countries of citizenship or care more about Israel than the country in which they live.

Rehm apologized later in the day, saying that she was “glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest.”

Israeli Magician Breaks Guinness Mark with Coexistence Magic Lesson

JERUSALEM — An Israeli magician and a Haifa coexistence group broke the Guinness World Record for the largest magic lesson.

The magician, Cagliostro, taught a group of 1,573 fifth- and-sixth graders from Haifa a card trick on June 1. The event, called “Haifa Magic for Peace,” was held in conjunction with Beit Hagefen, a cultural center that works to foster dialogue and coexistence between the Jewish and Arab communities in the city.

The children, who came from 25 schools throughout Haifa, represented ethnic and religious communities, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Bahais and Druze.

The trick included eight cards with words such as peace, coexistence and dialogue written on them in Hebrew and Arabic. Each child performing the trick asked a friend to pick a card and return it to the deck, after which the child used a magic wand to make it rise above the rest. In unison, the children recited the magic words — “Peace Be With You” — in Hebrew and Arabic.

“It wasn’t just about teaching a trick or breaking a record, it was about bringing people together to speak and get to know each other,” Cagliostro said. “I hope that each and every one of these children will show the trick to at least 30 of their friends and family, taking the message of peace an understanding to over 50,000 people, because at the end of the day, peace is in our hands.”

Cagliostro had set the record for the largest magic lesson in August 2012 with 644 students. He was overtaken two months later by magician Kevin McMahon with 1,063 students, the Times of Israel reported.

Google, AMIA Put History of Argentina’s Jews Online

BUENOS AIRES — Google and the AMIA Jewish Center have published online a collection of images and text about the history of the Jews of Argentina, from the first Jewish immigration to the present.

The online exhibit, “Jews in Argentina, 1860-2015,” was launched May 27 at Google headquarters in Buenos Aires, in the redeveloped area of the city’s port, called Puerto Madero. Tommy Saieg, AMIA vice president, and Ana Wainstein, director of AMIA’s Mark Turkov Centre, as well as Eleonora Rabinovich, Google’s public policy and government affairs manager to the Southern Cone, made the presentation.

According to the exhibit, about 220,000 Jews live in Argentina today, 85 percent in Buenos Aires and 15 percent in the country’s interior in 54 different communities.“Jews in Argentina, 1860-2015” is in the “Historic Moments” section of the Google Cultural Institute and is available in English and Spanish.

“Within the context of the policies to promote immigration fostered by Argentina, the first organized presence of Jewish life dates back to the 1860s, when a small group of French, German and English Jewish immigrants created, in 1862, the Congregacion Israelita. Those first Jewish immigrants were followed by others coming from Spanish Morocco, who created their community in 1891,” begins the text of the exhibition, which includes photos.

The Google Cultural Institute was launched in 2011 as a “not-for-profit initiative that partners with cultural organizations to bring the world’s cultural heritage online.”

Ancient Jerusalem Aqueduct Discovered During Sewer Work

052915_mishmash_israelJERUSALEM — A section of Jerusalem’s lower aqueduct, which brought water to the city more than 2,000 years ago, was uncovered during sewer work.

The aqueduct, which was excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority, was found in the Umm Tuba neighborhood, near Har Homa. It begins near Solomon’s Pools south of Bethlehem and continues for about 13 miles, running through several Jerusalem neighborhoods.In a statement released May 21, the antiquities authority said the aqueduct operated intermittently until 100 years ago.

The water originally traveled through an open channel. About 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period, terra cotta pipe was installed inside the channel to better protect the water, according to excavation director Yaakov Billig.

Billig said the Umm Tuba section of the aqueduct has been documented, studied and covered again to preserve it for future generations.

“Due to its historical and archaeological importance, the Israel Antiquities Authority is taking steps to prevent any damage to the aqueduct and is working to expose sections of its remains, study them and make them accessible to the general public,” the authority’s statement said.

Shabbat-Observant Student Prerecorded Saturday Commencement Speech

052215_mishmash_campusA graduating senior at Binghamton University in New York delivered the commencement speech via a prerecorded video since it fell on Shabbat.

Don Greenberg, of Teaneck, N.J., stood at the podium on stage during the Binghamton University’s Watson School of Engineering commencement on May 16, but did not speak live.

Orthodox Jews such as Greenberg do not use electricity on Shabbat, which begins at sundown on Friday night and ends after sundown on Saturday night.

Greenberg’s message was chosen several weeks ago to represent his fellow classmates at the graduation. It was recorded last Wednesday in full, along with an explanation why the audience is watching it on a jumbo screen.

“I’m reminded of when Sandy Koufax refused to pitch during the first game of the 1965 World Series, which coincided with Yom Kippur eve. His courage gave many Jews the strength to be unabashed of their Judaism,” said Rabbi Aaron Slonim, executive director of the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life at Binghamton University, a Jewish campus organization where Greenberg is an active member.

Greenberg is graduating with a triple major in computer science, math and management.

Nobel Medal of German Doc Who Shielded Jews Brings $395K

Heinrich Otto Wieland

Heinrich Otto Wieland

LOS ANGELES — A Nobel Prize medal that belonged to a German doctor who shielded Jews in pre-Holocaust Germany fetched $395,000 at an auction.

The medal, auctioned off on April 30 through Nate D. Sanders Auctions of Los Angeles, had a gold value of about $8,700 and was put on the market by the grandson of Heinrich Otto Wieland, a German doctor who won in 1927.

Wieland, a biochemistry pioneer, received the distinction for his research on the constitution of bile acids. Subsequently he determined the chemical structure of cholesterol.

After the passage of the racist Nuremberg Laws in 1935, which called for the expulsion of all Jewish, or partially Jewish, students, Wieland used his prestige and position as professor at the University of Munich to retain his Jewish students as his “personal guests.”

Bidding started at $325,000, according to Sanders spokesman Sam Heller. In line with company policy, Heller did not disclose the name of the successful bidder.

One of Wieland’s protected students was the half-Jewish Hans Conrad Leipelt, a member of the White Rose anti-Nazi resistance group. In a rare display of civic courage, Wieland testified on behalf of Leipelt, who was nevertheless condemned by a Nazi court and executed in early 1945.

Since 1901, a total of 889 Nobel Prize medals have been awarded, of which only eight have been sold or auctioned off by the recipients or their descendants.

Obama Playfully Skewers Journalists Over Netanyahu Controversy

050115_mishmash_israelPresident Barack Obama took a playful jibe at journalists over the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

“It is no wonder that people keep pointing out how the presidency has aged me. I look so old John Boehner’s already invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at my funeral,” Obama said Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, referring to the House speaker’s invitation to Netanyahu to speak to a joint session last month against the Iran nuclear agreement without the White House’s knowledge.

The president also took aim at those who claim that he is a Muslim.

“I still have to fix a broken immigration system, issue veto threats, negotiate with Iran. All while finding time to pray five times a day. Which is strenuous,” he said.

The dinner raises money for scholarships for budding journalists.

UC Santa Barbara Students Vote Down BDS

042415_mishmash_israelThe University of California, Santa Barbara student senate narrowly voted down an Israel divestment resolution.

Following an eight-hour debate, the resolution was defeated on April 16 in a vote of 13 against and 12 in favor, with one abstention. The Associated Students Senate president cast the deciding vote against the resolution.

The resolution, written by Students for Justice in Palestine, called on the university to divest from companies selling equipment to the Israeli government for use in the West Bank. The resolution singles out Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon, Motorola, Caterpillar and General Electric.

Dozens of students spoke during the student government’s public forum, according to the Daily Nexus, the student newspaper.

Santa Barbara and Merced are the only University of California undergraduate campuses whose student governments have not passed divestment resolutions.

Earlier this month, the student senate passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism by a vote of 24-0 with one abstention.

Int’l Soccer Chief Rejects Palestinian Ban Bid

041715_mishmash_israelThe president of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, expressed opposition to a Palestinian request to ban Israel from international competition.

Sepp Blatter (pictured at left) told the French news agency AFP last week that “such a situation shall not occur at the FIFA Congress because suspension of a federation for any reason is
always something that harms the whole organization.”

Blatter, who was to meet with Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub in Cairo, did not comment further.The Palestinian soccer group said that during next month’s FIFA Congress in Zurich, it will request the suspension of Israel from FIFA competition for “racist behavior against Arabs.” In past years, the Palestinian association has called for a ban on Israel several times, most recently last November after Israeli forces raided the association’s headquarters in Ramallah.

Blatter threatened to suspend Israel from international play in 2013 for excessive government interference in soccer. Israel heavily restricts travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the Palestinian association argues that it inhibits their athletes.

Israel cites safety reasons for its monitoring of West Bank travel.

Guilford College’s Hillel Declares Itself ‘Open’

041015_mishmash_israelThe Hillel chapter at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., said it will no longer abide by Hillel International’s restrictions on Israel-related issues. The announcement that the Guilford Hillel had joined the so-called Open Hillel movement, which includes Swarthmore, Vassar and
Wesleyan, came in a Facebook posting on April 1.

“At Guilford’s Hillel, we have a wide range of Jewish voices. We have Zionists, anti-Zionists and everything in between,” the announcement said. “On our campus, it is an imperative that Hillel be a place that is for all Jewish students, irrespective of their political ideology. As an open Hillel, we believe that Jewish students should be supported in expressing their Jewish identity and values in the way that is most meaningful to them. To be an open Hillel is to welcome all perspectives on Israel-Palestine.”

Hillel International’s rules prohibit college Hillel chapters from partnering with or hosting groups or speakers who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish or democratic state; delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel; or support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.