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June 13, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 13, 2014 PAGE 13A Complaints about Hitler video led to firing, Jewish banker claims (JTA)--A former executive at BNP Paribas North America Inc. filed a federal lawsuit al- leging that he was fired by the bank after complaining about a training video that featured Nazi imagery. Jean-Marc Orlando said in the suit filed Friday in Man- hattan U.S. District Court that he was terminated as managing director in the bank's fixed-income division in New York after complaining about the video portraying the head of a competing bank as Hitler, Reuters reported. Or- lando, who was fired in 2012, had worked for the bank for 18 years, including in France. He is seeking $40 million in monetary and punitive dam- ages, according to Reuters. Orlando, who is Orthodox Jewish, in the suit said the video was his "worst night- mare," Reuters reported. He and other managers watched the video at atraining meeting in Amsterdam in 2011. According to the lawsuit, the video createdby BNP em- ployees parodied the 2004 film "Downfall," which depicted the final days of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. Following his complaints about the video, the bank gave him an "unusually and sus- piciously poor performance evaluation," the suit alleged. A BNP spokeswoman in New York told Reuters that she had not seen a copy of the complaint and that the bank does not comment on pending litigation~ i ..... ; ~ ....... Maccabi Tel Aviv's David Blatt on NBA radar for coaching slots (JTA)--David Blatt, who guided Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague bas- ketball championship, is rumored to be in the mix for several coaching jobs in the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly have contacted Blatt for their vacant head coaching post, The Associated Press reported, citinga person familiar with the situation. The Cavs, who fired Mike Brown last month for a second time, have not commented on the reports. New York, Minnesota and Golden State reportedly are interested in Blatt, who holds U.S. and Israeli citizenship, to fill slots as an assistant coach. The Boston native reportedly has turned down NBA assis- tant coaching jobs in the past. Alongwith leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague title last month, Blatt coached Russia to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Biatt played for Princeton University from 1977 to 1981 and was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. men's basketball team at the 1981 Maccabiah Games. Following the games, Blatt played for several Israeli teams until he was injured in 1993 and took up coaching. Jean-Marie Le Pen slammed for pun with Holocaust overtones (JTA)---An apparent anti- Semitic pun by former far- right French leader Jean- Marie Le Pen has spurred calls for his prosecution. Le Pen, the founder of the National Front party and currently a legislator, said in a video posted on the party website that "next time we will put him in an oven" when asked about French singer Patrick Bruel's criticisms of the party. Bruel is Jewish. On Sunday, Le Pen denied any racist overtones in the remarks, which were removed from the website over the weekend, though he report- edly has used similarwordplay in the past. SOS Racisme said it Would file a complaint "in the com- ing days" against Le Pen, according to the French news agency AFP. The Move- ment Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples reportedly also said it will lodge a complaint and called Le Pen "an authentic anti- Semite," according to AFP. Le Pen, whose daughter Marine now heads the party, has a history of convictions for "inciting racial hatred" and Holocaust denial. He once described the gas chambers in Nazi death camps as a histori- cal "detail." On Sunday, European Jew- ish Congress President Moshe Kantor called on the Euro- pean Union to strip Le Pen of his parliamentary immunity and for French authorities to charge him with incitement. "Le Pen has unmasked the true face of the far-Right of Europe days after their elec- toral successes in the Euro- pean Parliament," Kantor said in a statement. "While some have tried to whitewash and mainstream these parties, Le Pen's comments demonstrate that they still stand on founda- tions of hatred, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. "It is time for the European Union and European nations to raise the bar to what con- stitutes acceptable speech by anyone, Member of Parlia- ment or not," he said. Jewish teens say they es- caped axe attack near Paris (JTA)--Two Jewish teenag- ers told police they narrowly escaped an attack near Paris by a hatchet-wielding man and three others. The attack occurred late at night on June 4 in Romain- ville, a northeastern suburb of the French capital, according to a report by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA. The teens, aged 14 and 15, said they were walking to the Lilac Synagogue with their grandfather to attend Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a custom in which Jews study scripture all night. While crossing the town's Market Square, the two boys and their grandfather, all wearing kippahs, said they were followed by a tall man in his 20s wearing a long beard. They described the man as having an athletic figure and an Arab appearance. Producing a hatchet, the man began to chase the two boys, according to the BNVCA report, then whistled to three other men who joined the chase. The boys and their grandfather filed complaints with police, BNVCA President Sammy Ghozlan wrote. Last month, BNVCA and SPCJ, the watchdog of France's Jewish communities, documented two suspected anti-Semitic beatings of Jews in the Paris suburb of Cre- teil. Also last month, police received a report about three men who were filming the entrance to the local Jew- ish school of Creteil, Otzar Hatora. In March 2012, France saw a sharp increase in anti-Semitic acts following the murder by an Islamist radical of four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse. On May 24, four people were killed in an armed attack at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in central Brussels. French and Belgium po- lice believe they were shot dead by Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old Frenchman whom French authorities said fought in Syria with jihadists last year. Body of missing Holocaust scholar Robert Kuwalek is found (JTA)--The body of Robert Kuwalek, one of Poland's foremost Holocaust schol- ars, was found days after he had been reported missing in Ukraine. Kuwalek, 47, had been re- ported missing June 5 while on a visit to Lviv. His body was found over the weekend. The Polish consulate in Lviv confirmed his death, but no details about the cause of death were released. Kuwalek, who was not Jewish, was an expert on the Holocaust in southeastern Poland and what is now west- ern Ukraine. Based in Lublin, Kuwalek was a curator and educator at the State Museum at the former Majdanek con- centration and death camp and also had served as director of the museum at the former Belzec death camp. He published widely on top- ics. relat~g to the Holocaust and also on Jewish heritage and history. German parliament extends pensions for Jews who worked in Nazi ghettos BERLIN (JTA)--The Ger- man Bundestag unanimously passed legislation approving back payments of so-called ghetto pensions for Jewish survivors. The law, reflecting years of negotiations, was approved by the Federal Cabinet in April and sent to the Bundestag. It requires retroactive payments of a few hundred euros per month going as far back as July 1,1997. Reportedly, about 50,000 people are eligible for the pensions, including about 13,000 in Israel. Survivors forced to work in Nazi ghettos had to wait until 2002 for any kind of pension. Once they were granted, ap- plicants could claim only a maximum of four years in back payments from the time of filing. The aim of the new legisla- tion was to find a more just compensation for both slave laborers and those who were paid at the time. In a statement issued in April, Federal Minister of Social Affairs Andrea Nahles said Germany wanted to act quickly out of "a sense of historical responsibility for Holocaust survivors, who experienced untold suffering under National Socialism." Applicants will receive retroactive payments back to 1997: "And quickly, with no red tape," Nahles said at the time. German pension funds must now contact all known eligible survivors about the change in the law, if possible in their native language. MLA members do not pass resolution critical of Israel (JTA)--Members of the Modern Language Associa- tion did not pass a resolution criticizing Israel for denying academics entry to the West Bank. The numbers of those who voted in favor of the measure fell short of the minimum 10 percent of the full MLA membership of 23,900 whose support was needed in order for it to pass. There were 1,560 votes in favor of ratification of the resolution and 1,063 votes against ratification, mean- ing that the vote fell short of ratification by 830 votes, the MLA announced last week. The six-week-long voting cycle ended June 1. The full membership was voting on a resolution passed in January by the MLA's dele- gate assembly. The 60-53 vote approved a measure calling on the U.S. State Department to "contest Israel's denials of entry to the West Bank by U. S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities." The Israel Action Network applauded the MLA's member- ship for refusing to ratify the resolution, which it called "baseless and discriminatory." Geri Palast, the Israel Ac- tion Network's managing director, praised "the aca- demic community for coming together to uphold principles of academic freedom and fair- ness, and for setting the record straight on this complex i~sue. Israel does not violate academic freedom, but rather, implements reasonable secu- rity measures expected of any country." "Reason and truth have triumphed over the hatred and hypocrisy at the core of the BDS (boycott, divest- ment, sanctions) movement against Israel," the American Jewish Committee's executive director, David Harris, said in a statement. "The MLA's repudiation of the BDS effort is yet another failure of those who have maliciously tried to use the American campus to delegitimize the State of Israel." In December, the member- ship of the American Studies Association endorsed its national council's call for a boycott of Israeli universities. Spanish Cabinet approves draft bill for Sephardic return (JTA)--The Spanish gov- ernment approved a draft bill that proposes to grant citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were forced into exile 500 years ago. Spain's Council of Minis- ters, the country's Cabinet, last Friday approved the draft law, which proposes to dispense with the require- ment to relinquish foreign nationalities and which sets several criteria determining ways descendants Sephardic Jews can qualify for Spanish nationality, the Spanish daily El Pais reported. The criteria include recog- nition of Sephardic ancestry by a competent rabbinical authority in the applicant's country of residence, accord- ing to E1 Pals, but applicants may also present other cre- dentials such as family an- cestry records and knowledge of Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish language. The bill still has to pass the parliament before it is implemented, according to the daily E1 Correo. Spanish media did not say when the bill would come up for a vote. The draft bill was intro- duced in February by Justice MinisterAlberto Ruiz-Gallar- don, who told JTA itwas meant to "repair a historical error," a reference to the Spanish Inquisition which began in 1492. The Inquisition forced hundreds of thousands of Jews to flee the Iberian Peninsula or convert to Christianity in an attempt to escape religious persecution led by the Catho- lic Church and the Spanish royal house. The draft bill states that applications will be accepted for two years only from the moment the bill is passed and goes into effect, and up to three years in special cases. Under current Spanish leg- islation dating back to 1924, Jews may apply for citizenship if they reside in Spain for more than two years and can prove family ties to expelled Spaniards. Each request is evaluated individually and ap - proved or rejected by a senior Interior Ministry official. The new draft bill proposes to do away with the demand for residence and to make the application process automatic and not subject to the minis- try's discretion for candidates who meet all the criteria. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, or FCJE, expressed "enormous satisfaction" at the cabinet's approval of the draft bill in a statement Friday, in which it called on lawmakers to pass the bill. Portugal's parliament passed similar legislation in July, but the law, which retains discretionary powers for offi- cials, is yet to be implemented. Brussels Jewish museum suspect denies murder , charges (JTA)--The lawyer repre- senting Mehdi Nemmouche, the Frenchman suspected of killing four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels, denied that his client commit- ted the murders. Nemmouche, 29, said he stole the assault rifle and handgun that customs of- ricers found in his posses- sion on May 30 in Marseille, Nemmouche's lawyer, Apolin Pepiezep, said June 4 in an interview with the French broadcaster i>TELE. The lawyer said Nem- mouche stole the weapons from a parked car in Brussels and planned to sell them in Marseille. He added that his client should not be ex- tradited to Belgium to face murder charges because "nothing connects him to the murders." On May 24, a man entered the museum with an assault rifle that appeared to be an AK-47 and a handgun. He killed four people, two Is- raeli tourists and two museum staffers. French police said on June 1 that they believed Nem- mouche committed the mur- ders at the Jewish Museum of Belgium and then travelled to Marseille in southern France aboard a bus. He was arrested at a routine customs inspec- ffon of the passengers on the bus, which left from Amster- dam via Brussels to France. Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said that a video found after Nem- mouche's arrest contains his voice claiming responsibility for the attack and murders. Nemmouche had tried to film the attack, according to Van Leeuw, but the camera failed. Nemmouche, who lived in the French city of Roubaix on the border with Belgium, had spent several years in a French jail for armed robbery. French authorities believe he left for Syria via Belgium to fight with jihadists in 2012, before returning to Europe. Citing Brussels attack, Amsterdam ups security for Jewish centers THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA)--The City of Amster- dam said it will increase se- curity around Jewish centers indefinitely in the aftermath of the deadly shootingsat the Brussels Jewish museum. The decision was based on the recommendation of the Dutch National Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism and Security, or NCTV, the ANP news agency reported June 5. The coordinator said in an advisory notice that there was no concrete intelligence on planned attacks, The As- sociated Press reported, but added that the'May 24 murder of four people in Brussels shows "that such an attack is perceivable," according to the NOS broadcaster. Amsterdam Mayor Eber- hard Edzard van der Laan said the extra security measures, which were not specified in Dutch media, will come in addition to existing security arrangements made by the Jewish community of Am- sterdam, where most of the Netherlands' 45,000 Jews live. "It will increase the com- munity's security and abil- ity to resist [attacks]," ANP quoted van der Laan as saying. Dutch politicians and Jew- ish community representa- tives have lobbied for years for their government to in- crease security arrangements around Jewish institutions. The Jewish community of Amsterdam estimates its an- nual expenditure on security at just over $1 million. Meanwhile, in the Belgian city of Antwerp, a spokesman for the local police told the ATV channel that police will soon reduce security around Jewish institutions, which since the attack have been guarded by a special force of approximately 200 officers armed with machine guns. "We can continue patrol- ling for a while longer, but not forever," the spokesman said Monday. French police on May 30 arrested Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French national, whom Belgian and French au- thorities believe killed the four victims of the Jewish Museum of Belgium shooting in central Brussels, though he denies the allegations. French police said Nemmouche fought in Syria with jihdaists in 2013. On June 3, the museum reopened to the public for the first time since the attack, under heavy police surveil- lance, the news site reported. The following day, Bel- JTA on page 14A