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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 19, 2014 PAGE 13A Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA Changes rapped to Span- ish bill naturalizing Sephardic Jews (JTA)--Revisions to leg- islation in Spain that would naturalize Sephardic Jews make the measure nothing more than symbolic, the head of an organization for Spanish-speaking Israelis charged. The changes were intro- duced last month during deliberations at a congressio- nal committee, Leon Amiras, chairman of the Association of Olim from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, told JTA on Sunday, two days before a vote by the Spanish Con- gress. Olim are immigrants to Israel under its law of naturalization for Jews and their relatives. Under the revisions, appli- cants must be tested in Spain by a government-approved notary on their knowledge of Spanish and Sephardic culture. If they pass, appli- cants would need to return to Spain at a later date for another procedure. Amiras said the changes "render the bill declarative but ultimately meaningless." He added that "the law would be an empty gesture. Ordinary would-be appli- cants are not going to jump through these hoops." Amiras said he has written to Spanish government offi- cials to ask that they address the issue but said he has not received a reply. The current draft bill stipu- lates that applicants must have cultural and linguistic ties to Spain, and lineages ac- cepted by recognized rabbini- cal authorities as Sephardic and thus traceable to Jews who resided in Spain before the mass expulsions of the Inquisition starting in 1492. Speaking in the Spanish Congress on Dec. 2, Spain's newly appointed justice min- ister, Rafael Catala, said the law on the Sephardim would "correct a historical error." Rabbi David Saperstein wins Senate nod for re- ligious freedom post WASHINGTON (JTA)-- The U.S. Senate confirmed Rabbi David Saperstein, a Reform movement leader, for a State Department post. Last Friday, Saperstein in a 61-35 vote won confirma- tion as ambassador at large for international religious freedom. He will be the fourth person and the first non- Christian to serve in the post. The ambassador travels the world making the case for minorities facing persecution or discrimination. In recent years, ambassadors have taken up the causes of Mus- lims in Burma and Christians in China and Sudan, among other cases. Saperstein, a veteran civil rights activist, had served as director and counsel of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism since 1974. "David's clear and powerful voice has been the voice of our movement for 40 years," Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement released Friday. "More than that, it has been the voice of the all-too-many among us who are often voiceless." National communal um- brellas, including the Jewish Federations of NorthAmerica and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, welcomed Saperstein's confirmation. They were joined by the In- terfaith Alliance, a religious freedom lobbying group that has 75 affiliates including all four major Jewish streams, and the Conservative move- ment's Rabbinical Assembly. Saperstein was a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships from 2010 to 2011. He also was a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001. Also last Friday, the Senate confirmed two new members to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the body that supervises U.S. government underwritten nedia, includ- ing the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. They are Leon Aron, a Russian affairs scholar at the American Enterprise In- stitute, and Michael Kempner, a New Jersey-based public relations executive and phi- lanthropist. Slain K.C. teen's scout troop completes his vol- unteer project (JTA)--The Eagle Scout troop of the teen shot to death last year at a suburban Kansas City JCC completed his project to collect food for needy mothers and children. On Saturday, the scouts in Troop 92 canvassed the neighborhood as part of Reat Underwood's projectto collect food and other staples for Op- eration Breakthrough, alocal early childhood education center, the Kansas City Star reported Sunday. Underwood, 14, and his mother volun- teered at the center. Underwood had aimed to bring in enough goods to fill 30-some cardboard boxes, according to the newspaper. The troop's drive, which ends Monday, has amassed several truckloads of food and sup- plies, as well as approximately $6,000 in donations. The teen and his grand- father, William Corporon, were killed on April 13 in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan., where Underwood was part of a singing competition. White supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Cross, was chargedwith capital mur- der and first-degree premedi- tated murder in their deaths, as well as the fatal shooting of Terri LaManno in the parking lot at Village Shalom, a nearby Jewish assisted-living facility where she was visiting her mother. LaManno was the mother of two. None of the victims was Jewish. Congressional spending bill OKs Israel defense aid, Iran and P.A. over- sight WASHINGTON (JTA)--The massive spending bill passed by Congress includes defense assistance for Israel along with tightened oversight of Palestinian funding and Iran nuclear talks. Included in the $1.1 tril- lion omnibus bill passed in the Senate by a 56-40 vote on Saturday night was the $3.1 billion in annual defense spending for Israel under a 2007 memorandum of understanding between At the justice conference, the United States and Israel. alongside one victim and An additional $620 million her parents were NSW Jew- in joint U.S.-Israel missile ish Board of Deputies chief defense programs also was executive officerVicAlhadeff, part of the measure, who was representing the Passedinthewaningdaysof other victims, a police of- the congressionalsession, the ficer, a social worker and the bill also includes provisions offender's parents. requiring the White House Alhadeff said the confer- to report to Congress every ence offered closure to the 30 days on Iran's compliance 12-year-old victim who was with the terms governing present. nuclear talks between Iran "It gave her an opportunity and major powers, to question the offender, to In a statement praising hear from him and to hear passage of the measure, the him express remorse for his American Israel PublicAffairs actions," he said. Committee noted that it-also Some Jewish leaders had reiterates that it is the policy linked the incident to Israel's of the United States to seek war in Gaza. to prevent Iran from achiev- Weapons from Israeli ing the capability to produce Embassy shooting were or otherwise manufacture used in '13 Athens at- nuclear weapons." tack Keeping Iran from obtain- (JTA)--The two rifles used ing "nuclear weapons capa- in a shooting spree on the bility" has been a key point Israeli Embassy in Athens of contention between the wereusedin a similar attack Israeli and U.S. governments, last year on the German Israel and some lawmakers in ambassador's home in the Congress want any deal to end Greek capital. Iranianuraniumenrichment; Dozens of shots from the the Obama administration Kalashnikovs were fired has said that a final deal on the embassy, which was likelywillallowforaminimal closed at the time, in the enrichment capability, attack early Friday morning. Newstricturesinthespend- There was no claim of ing bill would reduce or responsibility, though Greek eliminate funding for the police believe a group from Palestinian Authority should the far left was responsible. it not combat incitement to Greek anarchist groups have violence; should Hamas have attacked several foreign em- "undue influence" over its bassies in Athens in recent workings; and should Pales- years. tinian representatives gain Ballistic tests run by the statehood recognition in in- Greek Police counterterror- ternational forums outside of ism unit showed that the thecontextoftalkswithIsrael, rifles in Friday's attack were The omnibus bill was the the ones used in the Decem- result of contentious nego- ber2013attackontheenvoy's tiations between the White home, accordingtothe Greek House and both houses of Reporter. Congress on the eve of the The United Nations Se- Senate's transfer of leader- curity Council "condemned ship from Democrats to in the strongest terms" the Republicans. Israeli Embassy attack. The U.S. House of Repre- "Any acts of terrorism sentatives passed its version are criminal and unjustifi- of the bill last week. able, regardless of their Youth who terrorized motivations,wheneverandby Jewish schoolkids on bus whomsoever committed," the to visit Jewish museum 15-member council said in a SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) statement on Saturday that - One of the five drunken also"reaffirmed that terror- youths arrested for terrorizing ism, in all its forms and mani- Jewish children on a school festations, constitutes one of bus will visit the Sydney the most serious threats to Jewish Museum as part of his peace and security." punishment. Meanwhile, the Security The offender, who cannot be Council in a statement Friday named because he is a minor, night called on Israel and also will participate in a toler- the Palestinians to "exercise ance program run by the New maximum restraint andavoid South Wales Jewish Board of further escalation" following Deputies, attend a Shabbat the death two days earlier of dinner, and read Primo Levi's Palestinian official Ziad Abu "If This Is A Man" and Elie Einduringacashwithlsraeli Wiesel's "Night." troops during a West Bank The punishment, which demonstration. was agreed upon by both The council called for a sides, was levied at a youth "swift and transparent in- justice conference on Dec. vestigation" and praised the 9 in Sydney at which the of- government of Israel for its fender expressed remorse for offer to conduct a joint probe. his actions. Portugal's parliament The conference was held passes symbolic Pales- solelyfortheoneyouth,whose tine resolution offenses were too serious for a (JTA)--Portugal's parlia- caution.Allfiveoffenderswere ment passed a nonbinding minors: Two others received resolution calling on the warnings; the other two were government to recognize let off. an independent Palestinian On Aug. 6, the five youths state. terrorizedabusinSydneycar- Only nine members of the rying Jewish students, some 230-memberAssemblyofthe as young as 6, with threats Republic opposed the resolu- of slitting their throats and tion in Friday's vote. chants of "Kill the Jews" and The resolution calls on the "Hell Hitler." government to "recognize, Police, however, said they in coordination with the did not believe the children European Union, the State of were targeted because they Palestine as an independent were Jews. and sovereign state, in actor- dance with the principles of international law," the Pales- tine News Network reported. Rui Machete, Portugal's foreign minister, said her government will choose "the moment best suited" to recog- nize a Palestinian state. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive com- mittee, in a statement Sun- day thanked the parliament for recognizing the state of Palestine. "This significant vote con- stitutes a step in the right direction for peace," Ashrawi said, according to the Pales- tine News Network. France's Senate and Ire- land's lower house of Parlia- ment lastweek approved simi- lar nonbinding resolutions. Spain and Britain recently passed similar symbolic mo- tions. Sweden officially recog- nized Palestine in October. Hanukkah-decorated Florida home vandalized with swastika (JTA)--In an apparent anti- Semitic incident, a Jewish man found a swastika drawn on his Florida property. David Cohen of North Fort Myers, Fla., told police that he found the swastika drawn onto his gate on Dec. 8, according to news-press.com, a local news site. Cohen, 72, had put up handmade Hanukkah deco- rations outside his home the day before and believes it was targeted as a result. "I can't even say how mad it makes me feel," Cohen told news-press.com. "If it was a kid, I'd say they were very stupid. If it was an adult, they are very ignorant." Cohen reported the inci- dent to the sheriff's office and painted over the symbol. Met Council official steps down NEW YORK (JTA)--The chief financial officer of the Metropolitan Council on Jew- ish Poverty resigned after two years with the organization. Melvin Zachter, who had been the socia ! service agen- cy's CFO since 2012, stepped down in late November, the Forward reported. He is a for- mer partner at the accounting firm Loeb & Tropper. The Met Council is still recovering from a major embezzlement scandal that led to the arrest of its former executive director, William Rapfogel, in September 2013. Rapfogel, another former executive director, David Cohen, and former CFO Herb Friedman all pleaded guilty to stealing more than $9 million from the charity. In July, Rapfogel was sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison. Zachter's resignation comes less than four months after the announcement that current Met Council CEO David Frankel will resign as soon as the organization finds a replacement. Frankel's replacement has not been named. Dutch Jewish mayor quits over secretly filmed date with younger man (JTA)--The Dutch Jewish politician Onno Hoes stepped down as the mayor of Maas- tricht after media published secretly filmed footage of him on a date with a 20-year-old man. The publication this month of the footage of Hoes, who is openly gay, followed a paparazzi report from last year in which he was photographed kissing a 24-year-old man in a hotel lobby. Hoes, 53, was married in 2001 to Albert Verlinde, a well-known television per- sonality in the Netherlands. Verlinde told the media he knew of Hoes' extramarital affairs. The couple an- nounced their breakup in October. "The city is really strug- gling to deal with the conse- quences of a very controver- sial publication in the media, and I can no longer subject the city, its administration and myself to this struggle," Hoes said in a statement Wednesday. On Dec. 11, Hoes' attorney told the Dutch media that Hoes is taking legal action, charging the news and blog- ging site PowNed.tv that published the footage with slander and libel. The paparazzi publication, dubbed by Dutch media as "Onnogate," triggered de- liberations in the Maastricht City Council on whether Hoes should stay on as mayor. The mayor apolo- gized for what he said was inappropriate behavior, and the council gave him a vote of confidence. Earlier this year, Hoes had stepped down also as chairman of the Center for Information and Documen- tation on Israel, or CIDI, the Dutch Jewish community's foremost watchdog on anti-" Semitism and a pro-Israel lobby group. Hoes, a member of the VVD ruling party, said he was leaving CIDI because his schedule and other obligations prevented him from properly fulfilling his duties there. Orthodox groups file with Supreme Court in support of Muslim headscarves WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Seven national Orthodox Jewish groups filed a Su- preme Court brief in favor of a Muslim woman's right to wear a headscarf at work. The brief was filed last week by Washington attor- ney Nathan Lewin in a case that is expected to be heard in February or March. It deals with whether an applicant's failure to provide explicit notice that she is a practic- ing Muslim who wears a headscarf at work allowed the clothing retailer Aber- crombie & Fitch to reject her application, saying it was in violation of the company dress code. In the brief, Lewin re- counted that all his applica- tions to New York City law firms were turned down because the firms did not want to be inconvenienced by making accommodations for his religious observance. The National Jewish Com- mission on Law and Public Affairs, Agudas Harabbanim, Agudath Israel of America, National Council of Young Israel, Rabbinical Alliance of America, Rabbinical Council of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congrega- tions of America joined the friend-of-the-court brief.