World

Islamists’ success in Tunisian elections fuels mix of optimism, anxiety

Secular protesters march against Islamism in Tunis ahead of the Oct. 24 elections in Tunisia, Oct. 14, 2011. The placard reads "Free to speak to say nothing." (Houda Trablesi for Maghrebia, via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — It was an orderly, peaceful election — a rarity in the Arab world. And it was won by Islamists. How observers view the Tunisian elections and what they mean for the West, Israel and the North African country’s tiny Jewish community depends in part on which… Read more »

Wine, broken promises and ‘Isratine’: Gadhafi’s strange courtship of the Jews

In this undated photo David Gerbi poses in front of Sla dar Bishi, the synagogue in Tripoli that he hopes to renovate. Gerbi, an Italian Jew born in Libya, played a central role in 2002 in the rapprochement between Moammar Gadhafi and Libyan Jews. (Courtesy David Gerbi)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Now it can be told: For the last decade or so, the Jews had secret back channels to Moammar Gadhafi. What led the pro-Israel community into a careful relationship with Gadhafi 10 years ago were considerations of U.S. national interests, Israel’s security needs and the claims… Read more »

Ethiopian aliyah hindered by overload of Israeli absorption centers

Newly arrived Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia attending a rehearsal for a Passover Seder at the absorption center in Mevasseret Zion, April 14, 2011. (Kobl Gideon/Flash 90)

MEVASSERET ZION, Israel (JTA) — It’s a typical Friday morning in Israel’s largest absorption center: A handful of local residents, all immigrants from Ethiopia, mill about examining wares for sale at a small, unofficial souk. Located in Mevasseret Zion, a town just outside Jerusalem, the center has become more… Read more »

Retracing Herzl’s footsteps in Europe, Israelis find Diaspora life has much to offer

The Klezmer fusion band Butterfly Effect entertaining Israelis on Herzl tour at Fogashaz, one of the "ruin pubs" of Budapest's Jewish quarter. (Alex Weisler)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — Sometimes it takes a Zionist organization to show Israeli Jews that Israel isn’t the only place where Jews have a future. At least that’s what the World Zionist Organization and Habonim Dror, the labor Zionist youth organization, managed to do with a whirlwind trip this… Read more »

Lithuanian Jewish community teams up with other minority groups

VILNIUS, Lithuania (JTA) — Faina Kukliansky entered the theater alone, waved at a few friends and sat down to watch “I Shot My Love,” the Israeli documentary film that kicked off Lithuania’s first gay film festival. Some other Lithuanian Jews, she said, have told her to avoid such events… Read more »

Is Jewish life in Hungary and Poland sustainable?

BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — It’s not easy to decipher the complicated trajectory of Jewish life in post-communist Europe. “There are claims and counterclaims about contemporary European Jewish life,” Jonathan Boyd, the executive director of London’s Institute for Jewish Policy Research, said. “At one end of the spectrum there are reports… Read more »

China’s obsession with Hitler

The cast of "Hitler's Belly" (Tablet Magazine)

(Tablet Magazine) — A Chinese Hitler, dressed like a mall cop, mopes in an underground bunker in 1945 as his empire is collapsing around him. But it’s not all bad news. “My stomach hurts, and it’s bigger. I’m pregnant!” Hitler exclaims, stroking himself mindlessly. “Hitler’s Belly,” a hit play… Read more »

Palestinian who once stabbed Israeli soldiers uses football to push for peace

Twenty-four Israelis and Palestinians came together as a “Peace Team” to play Australian-rules football. (Jonathan Davis/JTA)

      SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Sulaiman Khatib is an ordinary Palestinian with an extraordinary past. Born in the West Bank near Jerusalem, he grew up as a “freedom fighter,” as he describes it, fighting against the Israeli occupation by throwing stones and preparing Molotov cocktails. But in 1986,… Read more »

For French Jewry, ‘community’ uncomfortable concept

It’s hard to think of a more innocuous word for most American Jews than “community.” But in France, things aren’t so simple. France’s national ethos frowns upon displays of ethnic difference. So for many French Jews, the word “community” conveys a sense of separatism and insularity that clashes with… Read more »

Local’s Maccabi experience: tennis and history in Vienna

Tucsonan Bobby Present, right, defeated Barry Danser of London, left. (Courtesy Bobby Present)

Tucsonan Bobby Present competed in the Maccabi Games in Vienna, Austria, this summer, playing in the masters tennis men’s 55+ category — and doing well until an injury forced him to default for the first time in his tennis career. “It was unfortunate timing,” he told the AJP, because… Read more »

Maccabi Games in Vienna reflect pain and hope for one local survivor

Alfred Schreier returned to Vienna in 2009 for the 100th anniversary of the Hakoah Sport Club (above), and again this summer for the first European Maccabi Games to be held in a German-speaking country since 1945.

Alfred Schreier was proud to be among the 2,000 athletes representing 37 nations at this year’s European Maccabi Games held July 5 to 13 in Vienna, Austria. A Sahuarita resident, Schreier, 82, was born in Vienna, where he returned after the Holocaust to become a successful teen athlete in… Read more »

As London burns, riots spread to Jewish communities

Passers-by glancing at looted stores in a London neighborhood, Aug. 9, 2011. (Creative Commons)

(JTA) – While some Jews in London marked Tisha b’Av on Tuesday by lamenting the burning of the Holy Temples on that day some two millennia ago, other London Jews watched as their city burned amid widespread rioting. “Everyone is shocked,” Joel Braunold, a lifelong Londoner, told JTA in… Read more »

With $52M investment, German city banks future on unearthing Jewish past

Onlookers peer at the archeological dig and planned museum site on the Rathaus square in downtown Colgone. (Alex Weisler)

COLOGNE, Germany (JTA) — This city in western Germany is banking its future on its Jewish past. But at present, the investment is exacting a heavy price: $52 million, to be exact. Following a divisive decades-long battle, Cologne’s municipal government voted recently to allocate that sum toward the construction… Read more »

At Maccabi Games in Vienna, symbolism — and girls

VIENNA, Austria (JTA) — The symbolism was unmistakable. Four thousand Jews stood just a few hundred yards away from the spot where a quarter-million Austrians cheered Adolf Hitler in March 1938 as he announced Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria. This time, however, the Jews had come to celebrate, as… Read more »

In Dutch shechitah ban, Jews see sign they’re unwanted

Luuk Koole, the manager of Holland’s only kosher butcher, says a proposed shechitah ban would make doing business more expensive. (Alex Weisler/JTA)

(Amsterdam) – A few streets over from the bookstore where Anne Frank bought her famous diary, the only kosher butcher shop in Holland is bustling. Two employees man the long counter at Slagerij Marcus, pausing from chopping meat to sell customers a bit of this or that for Shabbat… Read more »

Israeli ex-pats flocking to Berlin for the culture and the passport

BERLIN (JTA) — Aviv Russ stands behind a console with his headphones on and speaks into a large microphone. “We’re here: ‘Kol Berlin,’ the German-Israeli radio program. Shabbat shalom!” says Russ, 34, an Israeli expatriate. Russ has been on the radio in Berlin nearly every Friday for about three… Read more »

Norway killer espoused right-wing philosophy

Flowers and candles outside the Domkirke Cathedral in Oslo serve as a memorial to bombing and shooting victims, July 25, 2011 (Alex Weisler).

BERLIN (JTA) — The confessed perpetrator in the attack in Norway that killed at least 76 people espoused a right-wing philosophy against Islam that also purports to be pro-Zionist. Anders Behring Breivik is charged with detonating a car bomb outside Oslo’s government headquarters, which houses the office of Norwegian… Read more »

Jewish leaders condemn, Argentine officials welcome Iranian offer

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, left, was among those at a Buenos Aires ceremony commemorating the 17th anniversary of the attack on the city's AMIA Jewish center, July 18, 2011. (Leonardo G. Kremenchuzky)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Jewish leaders are doubting the sincerity of an Iranian offer to help solve the Buenos Aires Jewish center bombing, while the Argentine government has welcomed the proposal. Following a ceremony Monday marking the 17th anniversary of the attack on the AMIA Jewish center, which… Read more »