Globe Briefs August 6

Globe Briefs August 6

Neo-Nazis attack Orthodox Jew on Zurich street


A group of neo-Nazis harassed, threatened and, finally, assaulted an Orthodox Jew in Zurich, Switzerland’s Jewish community reported.

The incident happened earlier this month but was only recently reported in national media in Switzerland, following the completion of an initial investigation into the case, the Tele Zurich reported this past Sunday.

A group of about 20 far-right thugs made a Hitler salute and shouted anti-Semitic slogans at the victim on a central street in Zurich’s Wiedikon district at around 6 p.m. on July 4, according to the Sonntags Zeitung daily.

They made the Nazi salute as two leaders of the group spat at the man in the face and pushed him. At this point, police, alerted by passers-by, intervened. However, they did not arrest the perpetrators, opting instead to merely ask them to leave the victim alone, according to the Zeitung.

The victim, a man in his 40s who was not named, was on his way home from a local synagogue when the attack happened, according to the daily. Police would offer no further information, citing an ongoing investigation.

Switzerland’s Federation of Jewish Communities said in a statement that the incident was “highly unusual and frightening.”

The alleged leader of the neo-Nazi gang has been referred to in the Swiss press as Kevin G., 27, from Hombrechtikon, a village in the Zurich Oberland area. He is a singer with the far-right rock band Amok.

Herbert Winter, president of the Jewish federation, said the incident was disconcerting because it risks worsening already prevalent fears. “There are parents who instruct their children not to wear a kippah or hide it under a baseball cap on their way to school,” Winter told the Blick daily.

Orthodox Union steps up campaign against Iran nuclear deal

Washington Jewish Week

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America has intensified its campaign to pressure members of Congress to oppose the Iran nuclear deal.

Since the deal was announced, the OU has sent out a slew of national action alerts. But in recent days, it has called on its member rabbis to fly to Washington Sept. 9, just days before Rosh Hashanah, to lobby against the deal, and released a series of new videos via its email list and social media targeting Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The Democratic senators remain publicly undecided on how they will vote and serve communities with significant Orthodox populations.

The Cardin clip, taken from video shot at the OU’s annual leadership mission to Washington, shows the senator declaring, “The agreement must provide an ample enough time before Iran could break out to a nuclear weapon with robust enough inspections that we can find out if they’re cheating.”

“Call or email Sen. Cardin and ask him to vote against the Iran deal because its inspections are not ‘robust enough,’” reads the final image of the 30-second clip.

Cardin, who was instrumental in securing the legislation allowing for the 60-day review period and vote by Congress, will be the focus of an additional digital campaign.

A save-the-date notice for the September lobbying blitz read in part, “We are confident that hundreds of rabbis traveling to Washington on the eve of this vote and just days before Rosh Hashanah will have a highly visible and real impact upon this fateful vote in Congress. We will only have this impact with your participation.”

According to Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy at the OU, while the OU shares the “long list of concerns and criticisms” voiced by other organizations, its campaign focuses on the proposed inspections regime and the billions of dollars Iran is due to receive once sanctions are lifted.

Added Diament, “We share [Israeli] Ambassador [Ron] Dermer’s concerns that even if Iran abides by the deal to every paragraph and subparagraph, in 10 to 15 years, whenever they get to the end of the deal, they’ll be a full blown nuclear state with the blessing of the international community.”

The OU plans to keep the pressure on Congress through the August recess and “right up to the vote,” said Diament.

Pollard granted parole, lawyers ask Obama to waive travel restrictions


Jonathan Pollard, who has been imprisoned for 30 years for spying for Israel, has been granted parole following a unanimous vote by a federal parole panel.

The release date is scheduled for Nov. 21, Pollard’s pro bono attorneys announced in a news release on July 28. Had he not been granted parole, he would have been required to serve an additional 15 years in prison, the release said.

According to Pollard’s attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, the parole commission’s decision was made “independently of any other U.S. government agency” and “is not connected to recent developments in the Middle East,” presumably a reference to the Iran nuclear deal.

The Notice of Action granting Pollard parole requires him to stay in the United States for five years, a requirement that Lauer and Semmelman are asking President Barack Obama to waive using his clemency power.

Israel’s Channel 2 reported on July 28 that Pollard will be released one day early, on Nov. 20, because the 21st is a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Pollard, who in 1987 was given a life sentence, has been serving his term in a federal prison in North Carolina.

The U.S. government does not oppose the release, Pollard’s attorneys said. His only application for parole, filed last year, failed.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 while working as a civilian Navy analyst.

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on July 28 in Washington, D.C., as he left a House of Representatives hearing on the Iran nuclear deal that the granting of parole is not related to the agreement.

Pollard issued a statement through his attorneys.

“I am looking forward to being reunited with my beloved wife Esther,” he said. “I would like to thank the many thousands of well-wishers in the United States, in Israel and throughout the world who provided grass roots support by attending rallies, sending letters, making phone calls to elected officials and saying prayers for my welfare. I am deeply appreciative of every gesture, large or small.”

Pollard singled out for special thanks the National Council of Young Israel and its leaders as well as David Nyer, Kenneth Lasson, George Leighton, Larry Dub, Nitsana Dirshan-Leitner, Effi Lahav, Asher Mivtari and Adi Ginsburg.

“It’s a miracle,” Pollard’s former wife, Anne Pollard, told Channel 2 shortly after news broke of his parole. “I just heard officially that this was true.”

She said she knew nothing about the terms of his release.