House of Delegates Approves $10.10

(Photo David Stuck)

(Photo David Stuck)

Maryland’s House of Delegates voted on March 7 to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017. The bill passed, 89 to 46.

The move to increase the minimum hourly salary from $7.25 to $10.10 has been a key theme in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s final year in office and has been steadily gaining popularity in the state. An October 2013 poll by Goucher College showed 74 percent of Marylanders supported raising the wage to $10 per hour, while only 24 percent opposed it.

The issue gained more momentum in January when President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address that he would sign an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10, a figure consistent with the 1960s’ minimum wage adjusted for inflation.

“Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense: When workers have more money, businesses have more customers, growing our economy in a way that works,” O’Malley said in a statement March 7. “Twenty-one other states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than Maryland. As one of the top states for upward economic mobility, it’s time to give Maryland workers a raise.”

The Baltimore Jewish Council announced its support for raising the wage for the state’s lowest-paid workers in October, when it released a policy statement advocating for a wage that would enable workers to “earn over the federal poverty line.”

“We’re pleased with [passage of the] the legislation we support,” said Arthur Abramson, the BJC’s executive director. “We applaud the legislature, and we applaud the governor.”

Next, the bill moves to the Senate, where it awaits consideration by the Finance Committee.

hnorris@jewishtimes.com

Baltimore Man Escapes Possible Carjacking

A Baltimore man in the northern Park Heights area evaded three men who may have been trying to steal his car on the night of Wednesday, March 5.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Thav said he was in his car, parked in the driveway at his home in the 3700 block of Glen Avenue, when three men — two on the driver’s side and one of the passenger’s side — surrounded his vehicle.

When the men told him to open the car and he refused, one of the men on the driver’s side began banging on the car with a metal object that Thav believes was a gun.

“I haven’t heard a bang like that to put the fear of the lord in me,” he said.

Thav drove away and called 911, and the men did not follow him. Police met him at his house to take a report shortly after.

Baltimore City Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jarron Jackson said police filed a report for an armed person so that officers responding to the scene would know that the suspects were possibly armed. Officers who canvassed the area did not find any suspects, he said. Thav was unable to confidently confirm if one of the men brandished a gun.

“You should definitely see more patrols in the area,” said Jackson. “We’ve let all the officers in the area know.”

Thav said a similar occurrence happened to his wife about a year ago when she was driving on Menlo Avenue around the corner from their home. Men banged on her car door to get in and followed her when she drove off, but they fled when she called police, said Thav.

mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

Looking for a Replacement

Richard Falk, outgoing Special  Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, has rankled many Israel supporters. (UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

Richard Falk, outgoing Special
Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, has rankled many Israel supporters. (UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

Meeting in Geneva for its annual spring session, the United Nations Human Rights Council will be deciding on a replacement for Richard Falk, the body’s Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, a process that is being closely monitored by U.N. watchdog groups, the United States and Israel.

The applicant list recently has been reduced by the vetting committee to three from 10, with the candidates perceived as being the most biased against Israel now out of the running, according to UN Watch. The council president, BaudelaireNdong Ella of the Gabonese Republic, will select one of the candidates to be put for a vote in front of the entire council later this month.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, told the Washington Jewish Week that usually the president follows the vetting committee’s recommendation and picks the leading candidate, although he has no obligation to do so. The president may even choose a candidate already eliminated in the vetting process.

Appointed by the council to a six-year nonrenewable term on March 26, 2008, Falk, a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University who endorsed boycotts against the Jewish state, has been a perennial thorn in the side of Israel supporters, former U.S. ambassador Susan Rice and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Before becoming the Special Rapporteur, Falk was a member of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories.

The three remaining candidates include Christina Cerna, adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School; John Cerone, professor at Boston’s New England Law School; and Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Of the three, both UN Watch and the Israel-based NGO Monitor regard Chinkin’s record as the most biased against Israel.

“Chinkin was in our ‘rogues’ gallery,” said Neuer, referring to a list his organization compiled to expose anti-Israel sentiments among the original group of candidates. “She co-wrote the Goldstone Report, so she has a record of being enormously biased, someone who’s so biased that she doesn’t even know when she has disqualified herself for a fact-finding mission.”

Neuer was referring to Chinkin’s participation in the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in 2009, also known as the Goldstone Report for its chairman, South African jurist Richard Goldstone. She also signed a January 2009 letter in the British Sunday Times newspaper that condemned Israel for war crimes and declared it to be the aggressor in its conflict with the Palestinians.

“It was ridiculous that she continued to serve on the Goldstone commission [without recusing herself],” argued Neuer in referencing the letter.

“Goldstone had the courage and the moral backbone to renounce his own report, and Chinkin was one of the main people who denounced Goldstone for that process,” added Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO Monitor and a political science professor at Tel Aviv’s Bar Ilan University. “Goldstone acknowledged that they didn’t have the information, the evidence they presented was not convincing regarding Israel, and Chinkin denounced him for that.”

The top two candidates currently do not rank on UN Watch’s “rogues list” or have dossiers at NGO Monitor. But David Michaels, B’nai B’rith International’s director of intercommunal affairs, argued that on a certain level, it didn’t matter who occupies Falk’s position.

“The post itself, by its nature, is explicitly discriminatory against Israel. It’s meant to focus only on alleged violations of Palestinian rights with no consideration at all of violation of Israeli rights or of Palestinian misdeeds,” explained Michaels. “Whereas all other 192 member states of the U.N., including Iran, North Korea, Syria, China [and] Russia are all addressed under one item … Israel has its own permanent agenda item.”

Michaels said that there are NGO and Human Rights Council members worried about the credibility that is lost within the organization when it appears as systemically against Israel.

“It’s an offense against the only democracy in the Middle East, the only Jewish state, but also it just shows in a very stark way that the [U.N.] bodies neglect the most severe and heinous areas of human rights violations in the world,” he said.

At his position, Falk has made public statements against Israel and the United States, positions that Steinberg feels borders on anti-Semitism.

“I’ve been in meetings with him, and he uses the ‘I’m Jewish, therefore I can’t be accused of being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic,’ ” defense, said Steinberg. “He uses that defense a lot, and my challenge to him was, ‘In what other way are you Jewish other than in this hostility toward Israel and your Jewish connections?’ ”
Without taking a position on who should succeed Falk, the U.S. State Department seemed to welcome the end of the Special Rapporteur’s tenure.

“As we have stated before, we oppose his deeply flawed and one-sided mandate, as well as Agenda Item 7 under which it was created, the only HRC agenda item to focus on one specific country,” a State Department official told WJW. “Falk has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments, including his most recent outrageous comments in an interview with Russia Today. His reports and rhetoric have done nothing to advance a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The UNHRC regular session in Geneva lasts until March 28, with most of the Israel-related issues expected to be handled March 21. Despite advocacy from organizations such as B’nai B’rith, UN Watch and NGO Mon-itor among others, few expect the UNHRC and its anti-Israel majority to take the Palestinian issue off its permanent agenda any time soon.

dshapiro@washingtonjewishweek.com
JNS.org contributed to this story.

Chag HaSemikhah

031414_new-rabbis

(Photo Yeshiva University/Susan Woog Wagner)

On March 23 Yeshiva University in New York City will ordain its largest-ever rabbinic class, conferring on 205 graduates — nine of them with ties to Maryland — from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary the title of rabbi.

According to the university’s communications department, between 75 and 80 percent of its rabbinical program graduates pursue careers in the Jewish nonprofit, educational and outreach spheres, while only about 20 to 25 percent take pulpit positions. The new crop of Maryland rabbis — who, because of the quadrennial nature of the ordainment ceremony, actually completed the rabbinical program between 2011 and 2014 — do not depart from the statistics.

Yaakov Hoffman, 26, originally from Bethesda, finished his studies in June 2013 and took an assistant rabbi position in August at Washington Heights Congregation in Manhattan; in a few weeks, he will be installed as the head rabbi there.

Hoffman’s undergraduate degree is in Jewish Studies and Semitic Languages, and he was considering further study in order to teach when he enrolled in the rabbinical program.

“I had an internship last year where I could try out what being a pulpit rabbi was like, so it made me want to do it more,” Hoffman, who is currently studying to become a rabbinical judge, said of his internship at Ahavas Achim congregation in Highland Park, N.J.

Fellow graduate Dovid Zirkind of Pikesville is also on the pulpit path.

Zirkind, 28, is currently assistant rabbi at the Jewish Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He said growing up in a yeshiva-based culture, as so many of the YU students do, it’s a natural progression to continue with rabbinical studies. Zirkind said that though many stay on for the love of studying Torah, they don’t necessarily see it as professionally significant.

“But you’ll often hear a story of someone who got his [rabbinic ordination] because he loved learning Torah, [and] one semester, someone asks him if he can teach a Talmud class. Then, before you know it, the rabbi takes a sabbatical and he steps in, and all of a sudden he’s the rabbi of the shul,” explained Zirkind. “They never thought it could be their career.”

Zirkind also emphasized that education and access to rabbinical wisdom doesn’t stop at graduation.

“We joke that we have our rabbis on speed dial,” he remarked. “The ones who taught our Talmud classes at YU are the ones we’re calling the night before a funeral, so the education continues in that sense.”

Another graduate embracing congregational work is Herschel Hartz, 28, of Rockville. Hartz currently lives in Washington Heights and for the past year has been working on a startup outreach center, Inwood Jews, located in a burgeoning Jewish neighborhood in upper Manhattan above 155th Street. He wasn’t raised Orthodox but became observant in his adult years and is now affiliated with Chabad-Lubavitch. He claimed his is not the typical YU graduate’s path.

“[Inwood Jews] is what I consider to be congregational work,” said Hartz. “The classical YU grad goes off to a shul that’s already built. I’m planning to build a synagogue from the bottom up. That’s what I’m planning on doing with the next few years of my life, God willing, with fundraising.

“We’ve had a lot of success,” he continued. “It’s a little bit out of the box.”

Hartz said his approach is different because he shies away from a “denominational or affiliate box.” He didn’t have a specific path in mind when he began his rabbinical studies four years ago, but he learned how to operate a Jewish institution and how to deal with people and relationships while immersed in the program.

“I was looking for an excuse to continue to learn Jewishly,” explained Hartz, “but now that I’ve finished it, I feel more that I’m a Jewish person who’s on a mission of some sort to serve the Jewish community.”

Mayer Kovacs, like a majority of his fellow graduates, is infusing the knowledge he obtained from his rabbinic studies into the secular professional interests he holds.

Kovacs, 29, lives in Baltimore and went to the University of Maryland School of Law. He spent time studying in Israel and also spent a year in the Israeli army. He attended YU as an undergrad and just recently completed the rabbinical program.

He explained that at YU, the traditional study of Talmud, which includes challenging rabbis’ interpretations, greatly influenced his experience studying law; both require analytical thought, he discovered.

“You can’t just accept things the way they are; it’s a constant challenge,” he said. “[It] helped develop my analytical and critical thinking. When you see something, you don’t say OK, this is what’s written in the text, this is what’s written in the law. You have to [ask], is this really consistent? What about other supreme court cases, other statutes?”

Yonah Bardos, 29, has long been interested in medicine and now sees the opportunity for a career at the intersection of his rabbinical training, bioethics and medical studies. Bardos grew up in Pikesville and attended Ner Israel Rabbinical College and the Talmudic Academy. He attended YU medical school while pursuing the rabbinate, and completed his master’s degree in bioethics. Bardos is a resident at Sinai Hospital in New York and lectures on fertility and Jewish law.

He said his field is growing because as technology advances, there are more questions in the Orthodox community of what is possible and what is allowed according to Jewish law.

“I’m fascinated by how a 3,000-year-old code of law can be applied to modern-day technology,” said Bardos.

Bardos said the opportunity to access law, medical and rabbinical schools all on one campus was a unique element of his education at YU.

“The motto at YU is Torah Umadda —secular studies enmeshed with rabbinical studies — and what I did really was that,” he observed. “Torah and science are not separate; you use them hand in hand.”

Zev Eleff, 28, grew up in Baltimore and is a doctoral candidate in American Jewish History at Brandeis University in Boston; he’s published many scholarly articles focused on the Orthodox community and teaches part time at the Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass. Eleff said he is committed to holding a leadership position in his community, but at the same time he is keeping his options open regarding congregational work.

Mendel Breitstein of Montgomery Village, meanwhile, lives in Jerusalem and is a cartoonist at Snap Magazine, a children’s publication of The Jerusalem Post, and a lecturer at Open University, teaching English literacy to haredi men; Yitzchak Brand of Baltimore teaches algebra, trigonometry and physics at the Yeshiva University High School for Boys; and Ari Poliakoff of Pikesville is finishing his master’s degree in social work at Touro College in New York. He is also working at YU’s high school as a guidance counselor and plans to integrate his rabbinical studies and social work skills to address social issues within the Jewish community.

mgerr@jewishtimes.com

Pikesville Community Troubled By Recent Crimes

(Photo by David Stuck)

(Photo by David Stuck)

For young couples looking to raise families in a Jewish neighborhood, the close-knit neighboring communities of Pikesville and Park Heights are attractive places. But for some, recent incidents of crime have tarnished that vision.

“We’re really concerned, because we moved to this part of town because it was more of a quiet, safe part of Pikesville, and honestly, until last week we still felt like that,” said Ashley Strauss, who lives on Northbrook Road.

She’s referring to an incident on Tuesday, March 4 in which a man and his teenage daughter were tied up and robbed after two men forced their way into the family’s home in the 3200 block of Hatton Road.

“Everyone kind of has anxiety now,” said Strauss.

The men stole computer tablets, jewelry, a camcorder, a wallet, cash, an iPod Touch and a cell phone, according to a statement from the Baltimore County police department. The suspects fled the scene after the man told them he had activated the home’s alarm, said police.

Nathan Willner, a Shomrim spokes-man, said the Northern Park Heights family of neighborhoods has never seen this type of crime.

“This is extremely frightening, and we’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “It’s definitely shaken the community to its core.”

ALSO READ, BALTIMORE MAN ESCAPES POSSIBLE CARJACKING.

Police believe this may be related to an incident that occurred earlier that evening in the 700 block of Leafydale Terrace in Pikesville. There, two men wearing masks and armed with handguns approached a man getting out of his car in front of a home at about 7:50 p.m., said police. They took the man’s cell phone and wallet, walked him to a nearby house and went inside. The robbers noticed many people inside the home and fled the scene toward Milford Mill Road after one of them commented that there were too many people there, according to police.

Shomrim president Ronnie Rosenbluth said that crime in the area has progressed over the past year from shed break-ins to burglaries when residents are not home to burglaries while residents sleep to the most recent home invasion.

“I haven’t heard of anything like this in the last 25 years in our neighborhood,” he said.

Strauss said about six months ago, one of her car windows was smashed in, but she hadn’t heard about anything like last week’s incident on Hatton Road. According to police, the suspects knocked on the door and one asked for some water. The man who answered the door took the cup and turned to go to the kitchen, at which point the two men entered the home. After brandishing a handgun, they tied the man and his teenage daughter up in the living room.

Rosenbluth sent Shomrim members to the home after the incident and had about a dozen volunteers canvassing the area.

The Baltimore County Police Pikesville Precinct Investigative Services Team is investigating the incidents and trying to determine if the victims were targeted, police said.

Cpl. John Wachter, spokesman for Baltimore County Police, reminded residents to not answer the door for strangers and call police if they see something suspicious. Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call Baltimore County Police at 410-887-1279.

“There are a lot of kind people out there, and they want to help people,” said Wachter. “Unfortunately, criminals know that, and they want to take advantage of that.”

As evidence of the community’s high state of alert, Talmudical Academy students — who in advance of Purim will be out in the neighborhood collecting donations on behalf of the Israeli educational organization Lev L’Achim — will not be alone when they canvass households. According to an email sent out to parents, Shomrim and the Northwest Citizens Patrol will keep a watch on the students’ routes, and students have been told to go out in groups of six and not to be out past 9 p.m.

As for Strauss and her husband, who have children ages 21/2 and 3 months, they support Shomrim but hope police will also step up their efforts.

“I’m hoping that the police become a little bit more proactive,” she said.

“What we’re presented with right now doesn’t seem like [the criminals] could be scared off by a couple of Jewish guys driving around.”

mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

Associated Launches Ukraine Assistance Fund

An American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee worker, pictured above  in a white helmet, enters the tense Independence Square area of Kiev on Feb. 22. (JDC)

An American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee worker, pictured above
in a white helmet, enters the tense Independence Square area of Kiev on Feb. 22. (JDC)

In response to the growing unrest in Ukraine, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore announced the launch of a Ukraine Assistance Fund to provide support for that country’s Jewish community.

“One hundred percent of all funds raised will support relief efforts; funds will ensure home deliveries of food, medicine, heating and cooking fuel to sustain life-saving care, as well as [ensure] more security personnel provided by our partner agencies, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Agency for Israel,” read a news release from the organization.

Ukraine is home to approximately 300,000 Jews, the release pointed out, and the region includes some impoverished Jews, including elderly individuals who need chronic care, children and families.

One of Baltimore’s sister cities, Odessa, Ukraine, has seen protests and conflict but on a smaller scale. With Ukrainian currency being devalued, buying power is lessening, and the cost of goods and services is growing. The JDC and JAFI, as well as Baltimore-Odessa Partnership coordinator Marina Moldavanskaya, are monitoring the situation, the release said.

To donate to The Associated’s Ukraine Assistance Fund, visit associated.org/helpukraine.

mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

Community Groups Dig In

JCRC Vice President Michael Freeman (right) joined Abba David Poliakoff, chairman of the Maryland/Israel Development  Center and a member of the executive committee of the  Baltimore Jewish Council, and Ellen Lightman, a chair of the Baltimore Israel Coalition, to testify on the bill. (Provided)

JCRC Vice President Michael Freeman (right) joined Abba David Poliakoff, chairman of the Maryland/Israel DevelopmentCenter and a member of the executive committee of the Baltimore Jewish Council, and Ellen Lightman, a chair of the Baltimore Israel Coalition, to testify on the bill. (Provided)

Those both for and against a bill in Annapolis that would financially penalize any college that was involved in an academic boycott of any country with which Maryland has an official relationship had some strong words for the legislature last week during lengthy committee hearings in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.

The bill, which has its roots in the American Studies Association’s boycott of the Jewish state, faces an uphill battle in Annapolis, pitting those who condemn any attempt to stifle academic freedom against those who equally condemn all attempts at delegitimizing Israel.

In its original form, the legislation would levy a 3 percent penalty against any Maryland public college that uses public money to send professors and other staff to conferences hosted by organizations that support a boycott of any country that meets the bill’s criteria, a list of nations that includes Israel.

However, Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said his organization is working with Maryland’s university system to find a resolution both can accept.

“We agreed to strip the penalties,” said Abramson, adding that the amendment makes the bill more acceptable to a wider range of people.

“We are working with the university to reach an equitable, fair, positive bill,” he said. “But we’re not there yet.”

“We believe that an agreement is in sight,” he added, but if an agreement is not reached, the BJC plans to pursue the issue next year.

Abramson, who just weeks ago was backing inclusion of the penalties, said his organization has worked hard to educate and accommodate as many people as possible to affirm Israel’s rights. His counterpart at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, executive director Ron Halber, staked out a position against the bill.

A vote on the bill has not yet been scheduled.

Supporters and detractors of the bill made for some interesting partners. The BJC joined local Methodist and Baptist churches, the Maryland Israel Development Center, Agudath Israel of Maryland and the Baltimore Israel Coalition, a 23-member consortium of local organizations working to support Israel.

Joining the JCRC in opposing the bill are the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, all 12 presidents from the University System of Maryland and pro-Palestinian groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace.

Hearings on the proposed legislation were held March 5 in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and March 6 in the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee.

Abba David Poliakoff, chairman of the Maryland Israel Development Center and a member of the executive committee of the Baltimore Jewish Council, called those who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement “abhorrent; as a Jew, it is intolerable and unacceptable.”

During his testimony before the appropriations committee, he went on to caution, “Let’s not forget the slippery slope in the Republic of Germany between 1933 and 1938. We cannot let that happen again, not here, not anywhere, never again.”

Michael Friedman, vice president of the JCRC of Greater Washington, told the legislators that while the ASA’s resolution to boycott Israel is “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic,” the proposed law “is offering a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Not a single university in the United States has agreed to participate in the boycott.”

He called the bill a hindrance to academic freedom, as “it would undermine the efforts of our allies within academia who will not be able to offer opinions contrary to those propagandizing against Israel and alienate potential allies, who will see this prohibition as challenging cherished values and limiting their professional development.”

Shelley Cohen-Fudge, coordi-nator for the D.C. metro chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, said she opposed the legislation and didn’t believe the boycott movement “against Israel’sillegal military occupation of the Palestinian territories is discriminatory or anti-Semitic.” She said the ASA’s boycott is not an attack on academic freedom and that “the bill itself, if it were passed, would actually squash debate on college campuses.”

Delegate Benjamin Kramer (D-District 19), who introduced the bill in the House of Delegates, stressed people can conduct boycotts, but that public funds should not be involved.

“This issue is not what Jews do or do not support. It’s about the appropriate use of public dollars,” he testified.

During the Senate subcommittee hearing, Sen. Roger Manno (D-District 19) pressed P.J. Hogan, the University of Maryland’s associate vice chancellor for state relations, on whether or not the Budget and Taxation Committee has the authority to dictate where state funds go.

“You have the authority to do anything you want,” said Hogan, calling lording over which conferences faculty members attend “micromanaging.” “But do you want to do that?”

spollak@washingtonjewishweek.com
hnorris@jewishtimes.com

House of Delegates Approves $10.10

030714_Minimum-Wage-Bill-Passes-CommitteeMaryland’s House of Delegates voted to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017 on March 7. The bill passed with a vote of 89 to 46.

The move to increase the minimum from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour has been a key theme in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s final year in office and has been steadily gaining popularity in the state. An October 2013 poll by Goucher College showed 74 percent of Marylanders support raising the wage to $10 per hour, while only 24 percent opposed it.

The issue gained more momentum in January when President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address that he would sign an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10, a figure consistent with the 1960s’ minimum wage adjusted for inflation.

“Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense: when workers have more money, businesses have more customers, growing our economy in a way that works,” O’Malley said in a statement March 7. “Twenty-one other states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than Maryland. As one of the top states for upward economic mobility, it’s time to give Maryland workers a raise.”

The Baltimore Jewish Council announced its support for raising the wage for the state’s lowest-paid workers in October, when it released a policy statement advocating for a wage that would enable workers to “earn over the federal poverty line.”

“We’re pleased with [passage of the] the legislation we support,” said Arthur Abramson, the BJC’s executive director. “We applaud the legislature and we applaud the governor.”

Next, the bill moves to the Senate, where it awaits consideration by the Finance Committee.

Abu Dhabi-based airline removes Israel from its flight map

An airline owned by the United Arab Emirates that is a partner of American Airlines has removed Israel from its flight map and refuses to transport Israelis.

Etihad Airways’ travel-route map shows all countries in the Middle East with the exception of Israel and its major cities, the New York Post reported Monday. The airline also refuses to allow Israeli passengers, who are not permitted into the UAE, to fly with the airline. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations.

The airline, the only one providing direct service between the United States and Abu Dhabi, receives $425,000 annually from the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Post reported on Monday. The money pays for a facility that allows Abu Dhabi citizens traveling to the United States to clear customs more quickly.

The airline also has obtained six loan guarantees worth some $1.3 billion since 2009 from the Export-Import Bank, a U.S. federal agency, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

— JTA

Egyptian court bans Hamas activities in Egypt

An Egyptian court outlawed Hamas activities in Egypt, branding it a terror organization.

The ruling, which came Tuesday as part of the Egyptian government’s crackdown on Islamist organizations in the country, bans all Hamas dealings with the government and shuts down the group’s Egyptian offices.

Hamas, the terrorist group that governs Gaza, is a daughter organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization that ruled Egypt until the military-backed ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi last year. Since the ouster, the government has curtailed Islamist activities in Egypt.

Egypt has also destroyed many of the tunnels under its border with Gaza, which are used to smuggle goods and weaponry around the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

— JTA