Globe Briefs March 3

Globe Briefs March 3

ADL to provide Trump, presidential candidates info on extremists

The Anti-Defamation League said it will provide all presidential candidates with information on extremists and hate groups following Donald Trump’s admission that he didn’t know anything about former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

In a statement last Sunday afternoon, the ADL said its Center on Extremism, which monitors and exposes extremists and hate groups, is providing information about extremists, including to the Trump campaign, “so that all candidates can be fully aware of these individuals and have a more complete picture when determining whose endorsements they should accept or reject.”

In an interview that morning on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Trump told host Jake Tapper: “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” Trump told Tapper.

Several days earlier, Duke had told his radio listeners they should vote and volunteer for Trump. The Republican presidential front-runner disavowed the endorsement hours after the “State of the Union” interview, for the second time in three days, after refusing to do so on the program.

Duke is a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and white supremacist who has publicly asserted that Jews control the Federal Reserve Bank, the U.S. government and the media.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement issued by the ADL on Sunday afternoon that Duke is “clearly exploiting Mr. Trump’s candidacy to get publicity for himself and his hateful ideas.”

“The last thing we want is for white supremacists to use this campaign to mainstream their bigotry,” Greenblatt said. “It is imperative for elected leaders and political candidates like Mr. Trump and others in the public eye to disavow haters such as Duke and the other white supremacists who have endorsed his candidacy.

“By not disavowing their racism and hatred, Trump gives them and their views a degree of legitimacy. Even if it is unintentional on his part, he allows them to feel that they are reaching mainstream America with their message of intolerance.”

Haifa Rabbinate accused of rejecting couples associated with Tzohar rabbis

A rabbinical organization in Israel called for a police investigation of the Chief Rabbinate of Haifa following a report that the rabbinate denied couples’ requests to marry due to their affiliation with the group.

Tzohar, which is comprised of religious Zionist rabbis who aim to bridge the religious-secular divide of Jews in Israel, launched its call for a probe after Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the Haifa Rabbinate denied licenses to couples who registered to marry using Tzohar rabbis to perform the ceremonies.

According to the report, more than 100 couples from the Haifa area were sent notices by the rabbinate that their requests were being denied for a variety of reasons that were proven to be false. The reasons ranged from claiming that either the husband or wife was not Jewish, that they previously had been married or that they were conceived out of wedlock.

In the Channel 2 report, senior officials from the Haifa Rabbinate admitted the denials were not substantiated.

Israel’s Religious Services Ministry told Channel 2 it would investigate the accusations and take disciplinary action if required.

Under current procedures, while the Tzohar rabbis perform the actual marriage ceremony, including pre-wedding counseling, the couples still require official registration through the local rabbinate. Thousands of couples, many secular, choose to marry with Tzohar, citing a more compassionate and understanding approach to the marriage process over the more bureaucratic operation associated with the central rabbinical offices.

Rabbi David Stav, the founder and president of Tzohar, called on the Israel Police commissioner, the state attorney general and the state prosecutor to open a criminal investigation against the Haifa Rabbinate.

“The actions by officials in the Rabbinate constitute serious transgressions of falsifying documents, misuse of a position of influence, fraud and breach of trust,” Stav said in a letter released by Tzohar.

In rare rebuke, Netanyahu schools Cameron on eastern Jerusalem

In an unusual rebuke, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his British counterpart forgot basic facts when he criticized Israel’s construction in eastern Jerusalem.

“My friend David Cameron, who is without a doubt a friend of Israel, apparently forgot a few basic facts about Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a speech in Ofakim on Feb. 25 following statements by Cameron the previous day in which he condemned Israeli construction in the eastern part of Israel’s capital city.

“Only Israeli sovereignty,” Netanyahu said, prevents the Islamic State terrorist group and Hamas “from burning the holy sites.”

Netanyahu’s didactic approach, which is a departure from the measured tone he usually uses when speaking about relations with an important EU ally of Israel, followed Cameron’s own unusual statement on Feb. 24 in the House of Commons.

“I am well known for being a strong friend of Israel, but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what had happened with the effective encirclement of east Jerusalem, occupied east Jerusalem, it is genuinely shocking,” Cameron said during a weekly question-and-answer session.

Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem, which it took over from Jordan in 1967, and considers its territory part of Israel proper, though this position is not internationally accepted.

The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas aims to establish the capital of a future Palestinian state in east Jerusalem. The issue remains one of the main obstacles to reaching a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.