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January 24, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 24, 2014 PAGE 13A New visa allows 'X Factor' winner to work in Israel as singer JERUSALEM (JTA)--Rose Fostanes, the Filipina care- giver who won Israel's "X Factor," will be allowed to work in Israel as a performer. On Monday, Israeli Inte- rior Minister Gideon Saar ordered the Population and Immigration Authority to issue Fostanes an artists' visa, which will allow her to be employed as a singer. The visa also requires Fostanes to stop working as a caregiver for her employer of the past five years. Saar interceded when it was revealed that Fostanes' work visa was valid only for employment as a caregiver. Fostanes, 47, chose the art- ists' visa over one that would have allowed her to continue working as a caregiver while singing on the side, Ynet reported. Her prizes on the "X Fac- tor" include professional representation and the op- portunity to record an album with an Israeli record label. The family that employs Fostanes had to agree to the change in the visa status. Fostanes has been working as a caregiver in Tel Aviv for the past six years and lives in a small apartment in Tel Aviv with seven other Filipinos. She has beenworking abroad in order to send money to her family and partner since shewas 23, and has not been home to see her family in two years. At least 20,000 Filipinos work in Israel, mostly as caregivers. Some Ashdod schools closed over rocket fears JERUSALEM (JTA)-- Classes at schools in Ashdod not fortified against rockets were canceled over fears of retaliatory attacks into the southern Israel municipality from Gaza. Some 4,000 students stayed home Monday; there are about 54,000 schoolchil- dren in Ashdod. On Sunday, the Israeli military in a targeted attack critically injured an Islamic Jihad operative who the Israel Defense Forces said was directly responsible for five rockets fired last week at Ashkelon. The rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Municipal officials feared retaliatory attacks. An Iron Dome battery was moved to Ashdod early Monday morning, according to reports. Israeli begins transferring bodies of Palestinian ter- rorists to West Bank JERUSALEM (JTA)--Is- rael began a court-ordered transfer of the remains of 36 Palestinian terrorists to the Palestinian Authority. The first body, which had been buried in a cemetery in Israel for enemy casualties, was exhumed Sunday night and handed over for reburial in the West Bank, accord- ing to reports. More will be handed over during the week. Israel's Supreme Court ruled in favor of returning the bodies to the P.A. over the course of several weeks following an appeal by the families of the dead terrorists with the assistance of Israeli rights organizations. Last year, the remains of 91 Palestinians were trans- ferred to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and to Gaza. Iran suspends high-level uranium enrichment un- der international deal (JTA)--Iran has sus- pended high-level uranium enrichment as part of an interim nuclear deal signed with the world powers. Iranian authorities halted the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, Iranian state television reported Monday. Foreign Minister Moham- mad Javad Zarif said he hoped the implementation of the first phase of the joint action plan signed with the P5+1 world powers--the United States, Germany, Russia, England, France and China--would mean "a positive outcome for the country and would bring further peace and stability to the region and the world," Is- lamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, reported Monday. The United Nations nu- clear watchdog, the Inter- national Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed that the centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment facil- ity had been taken off line, according to The Associated Press. Under the plan first agreed to in November, Iran will freeze most of its nuclear en- richment capability, includ- ing not installing or starting up additional centrifuges or using next-generation centrifuges. In return, the world pow- ers will provide Iran with some economic sanctions relief. Iran also will allow new and more frequent in- spections of its nuclear sites. Under the deal, Iran will continue to enrich uranium up to 5 percent. The interim deal will last for six months as Iran and the world powers work to negotiate a final deal. U.S. State Department spokewoman Jen Psaki said in a briefing Monday that the United States and the European Union will begin implementing the limited sanctions relief. "Iran has begun to take concrete andverifiable steps to halt its nuclear program," Psaki said. "These actions today are significant steps in our efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to pre- vent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. "The coming negotiation to reach a comprehensive agreement that addresses all of the international commu- nity's concerns will be even more complex, and we go into it clear-eyed about the dif- ficulties ahead. But today's events have made clear that we have an unprecedented opportunity to see if we can resolve this most pressing national security concern peacefully. " Knesset bill would elimi- nate one chief rabbi post JERUSALEM (JTA)--A Knesset committee ad- vanced a bill that would reduce the number of chief rabbi positions to one from two. The Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted Sunday to approve the legislation, which was proposed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of the Hatnua party, and co-sponsored by Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and law- maker Eli Ben-Dahan of the Jewish Home party. The bill was moved to the Cabinet, which would send it to the full Knesset for consid- eration. It would take effect following the expiration of the 10-year terms of the current chief rabbis--Rabbi David Lau (Ashkenazi) and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (Sep- hardi). "In a state where there is only one president, one Supreme Court president, one prime minister and one chief of general staff, there is no way to justify the doubling of the position of chief rabbi," Livni said. "We have to rid ourselves of the old-fashioned division of ancestral congre- gations and start bringing the country together." The measure also makes the rabbinical courts inde- pendent of the office of the Chief Rabbinate rather than the current situation inwhich the two chief rabbis alternate serving as the head of the Rabbinate Council and as chief religious court judge of the Higher Rabbinical Court. Netanyahu slams UNESCO for nixing Jews in Israel exhibit JERUSALEM (JTA)--Is- raeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu slammed UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, for canceling the opening of an exhibition on the Jewish presence in the land of Israel. "The explanation given was that it would harm the negotiations," Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. "It would not harm the negotia- tions. Negotiations are based on facts, on the truth, which is never harmful." UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said Jan. 15 in a letter to the Simon Wiesen- thai Center that the exhibit, titled "The People, the Book, the Land--3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel," would be postponed indefinitely. She said the decision arose out of UNESCO's support for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. "The one-sided approach toward Israel does not ad- vance peace- it pushes peace further away," Netanyahu said. "It strengthens the refusal of the P.A. to make actual progress in the nego- tiations." He added, "The one-sided and unfair attitude toward the State of Israel does not advance the diplomatic process." Complaints by Arab states led the United Nations Educa- tional, Scientific and Cultural Organization to cancel the exhibition organized by the Wiesenthal Center along with the governments of Canada and Montenegro. It was scheduled to open Jan. 20 at the Paris UNESCO headquarters. Chief Rabbinate and RCA reach agreement on 'sta- tus' letters (JTA)--The Chief Rabbin- ate of Israel has reached an agreement with the main American Orthodox rab- binical association to auto- matically accept letters from council members vouching for the Jewish status of Israeli immigrants. The agreement, described as "historic" in a news release Thursday from the Rab- binical Council of America, comes after the Chief Rabbin- ate refused to accept status letters from Rabbi Avi Weiss, an Orthodox rabbi and coun- cil member who has sparked controversy for ordaining women clergy and founding the "open Orthodox" rabbini- cal school Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. The Chief Rabbinate's refusal sparked widespread outrage, ultimately leading it to reverse course. Under the terms of the agreement, letters vouching for Jewishness will still be prepared by individual rabbis, but the RCA will issue, upon request from the rabbi, a sup- porting document directly to the Chief Rabbinate. The RCA endorsement will assure the letter is accepted immedi- ately and without question. Situations in which con- version or divorce are in- volved will be reviewed by the Beth Din of America, according to the RCA release. Rabbis who are not members of the RCA may also seek similar endorsements. "Since the earliest days of the RCA we have worked to- gether with the Chief Rabbin- ate of Israel," RCA President Rabbi Leonard Matanky said in a statement. "We are proud that we can expand that partnership to better serve our constituents and resolve issues that might appear before the Chief Rabbinate. Romanian president: Israel must be recognized as Jew- ish state BUCHAREST, Romania (JTA)--Romania supports in principle Israel's demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state but encourages compromises on this and other issues, Romanian President Traian Basescu said. Speaking to JTA at his presidential palace two days before an Israel visit that began Sunday, Basescu said that "if they [the Palestin- ians] want peace, they must follow the request of the Israeli people." Yet when asked whether Israel should condition prog- ress in peace ta~ks on Pales- tinian compliarce, he said, "Well, all of us nust be wise. Of course, comlromises are needed becaus otherwise we won't find he solution and here maybe[late Israeli prime minister #iel] Sharon is an example." Basescu, who~ second and final term in ofice will end this year, lande(in Israel on Sunday for his scond presi- dential visit thre. He said his objectives br the visit were to consoliate progress in bilateral re~tions with Israel and rel;tions with Romanian-speafing Israelis, who number aIproximately 500,000, accorting to the president. Israel under Prime Minis- ter Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as the Jewish state as a means of guaranteeing that an agreement on the partition of land would end all territorial claims. Basescu compared the situation to Romania's recog- nition of the Republic of Mol- dova as the homeland of the Moldavian people, despite the presence of a large contingent of Moldovans who consider themselves Romanians. "Even in Europe, we fully support the idea that each person must assume his national belonging," he said. "For example, in order to be more clear, we have the Re- public of Moldova, which was part of Romania before World War II. But in Moldova, there are people who [consider] themselves as being Roma- nians as well as people who [consider] themselves as be- ing Moldavian. We recognize the right of both to be what they want to be. "The same situation [ap- plies to] our relations with Israel and we'll always sup- port the idea that if the Is- raelis want to be declared as a Jewish state, they must be recognized [as such]." He noted that Romania has "excellent relations with the Arab world, credible relations. Especially with the Palestinians." He added that "a lot of Palestinians were educated here. We have a relation of trust with the Palestinians. And on my visit I will also visit the Palestinian Authority." According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Romania is the only former Soviet country to have maintained diplomatic relations with Israel after 1967. Romania also recognized the 1988 first unilateral declaration of independence by the late Pal- estinian leaderYasserArafat. But Basescu said Romania "took a step back" from this position in 2011, when itab- stained in a vote at the United Nations General Assembly on upgrading the Palestinian Authority's status. Report: Secret Vatican archives on Pius not ready to be opened ROME (JTA)--Should Pope Francis decide to open the secret Vatican archives regarding the World War II pontificate of Pope Pius XII, it could still take another year and a half before the thousands of documents in question are fully catalogued. "It is a very complex op- eration, which we have been working on for six years," Monsignor Sergio Pagano, the prefect of the Secret Vatican Archives, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Monday. Pagano said it could take "another year or year and a half" before the organization of the files and documents is completed. "After that, the pope will decide." Critics have long accused Pius of not having done enough to help Jews dur- ing the Holocaust andhave called for the archives to be opened to clarify the issue. The Vatican asserts that he worked behind the scenes to save Jews. Pius XII was declared "ven- erable" and put on the path to sainthood in 2009. In an interview in the Sun- day Times, Francis' longtime friend, the Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka, said he and the pope discussed the Pius case when they met at the Vatican last week. Skorka told the Sunday Times that Francis felt that no decision on Pius' beatifica- tion and canonization should be taken before the archives have been opened and the issue cleared up. "The question is very deli- cate and we have to continue to analyze it,'-' he told the Times. Francis had already ex- pressed his view that the World War II archives should be opened in "On Heaven and Earth," a book he co-wrote with Skorka in 2010, when he was Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio. "Opening the archives of the Shoah seems reason- able," he wrote. "Let them be opened up and let everything be cleared up. Let it be seen if they could have done some- thing [to help], and until what point they could have helped. If they made a mistake in any aspect of this, we would have to say: 'We have erred.' We don't have to be scared of this--the truth has to be the goal." U.N.'s Ban visits N.Y. syna- gogue to mark Holocaust (JTA)--United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon visited a New York City synagogue to honor the memory of Holocaustvictims in advance of the worldwide commemoration. Speaking Saturday at Park East Synagogue at its memo- rial service for Holocaust victims, Ban also paid tribute to Holocaust survivors and called for collective action to prevent future holocausts. "My hope is that our gener- ation, and those to come, will summon that same sense of collective purpose to prevent such horror from happening again anywhere, to anyone or any group," Ban said. The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holo- caust is observed annually on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation in 1945 of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. More than I million Jews and other minorities died at the camp during World War II. Ban recalled his visit to Auschwitz last November, during which he was "pro- foundly saddened" by what he saw as he walked around the death camp. "Even today, the Holocaust is hard to grasp," Ban said. "The cruelty was so profound; the scale so large; the camps spread so far and wide. The Nazi worldview was so warped and extreme, yet attracted so many followers." The featured speaker at the Jan. 27 memorial ceremony at U.N. headquarters in New York will be filmmaker Ste- yen Spielberg, whose Shoah Institute for Visual History and Education is a landmark in preserving survivor tes- timony. "Each of us has a role to play in-combating intoler- ance, incitement and the manipulation of ethnic or religious identity that we see in conflicts and political campaigns," Ban said. "All those involved in atroci- ties-whether head of state or head of militia--should be held accountable." -5