Ex-NYPD Cop’s Anti-Semitic Graffiti Targeted ‘Cheap’ Jews

Suspect has been under observation at Bellevue Hospital since his arrest


The former NYPD cop arrested earlier this month for spray painting a string of anti-Semitic messages on cars and and buildings in Brooklyn was arraigned Friday, the New York Post reports. Michael Setiawan, who has been under observation at Bellevue Hospital since his arrest, was charged with 15 acts of vandalism, nine of which were hate crimes.

According to the Post, court papers offer a small amount of insight into Setiawan’s motives for spray painting swastikas on a Borough Park synagogue and “tagging” the Bnos Zion Bobov Elementary School. He reportedly told arresting offices he did it “Because I don’t like those people.” (more…)

The Elders of Zion: A ‘Secret Society’?

Huffington Post listicle confuses fact with fiction

(Gil C /

One of our readers drew our attention to a Huffington Post listicle published today, enticingly titled “The 7 Most Exclusive Secret Societies in History.” The blog post lists some well-known names, such as the Freemasons and Yale’s infamous Skull and Bones, with short description of each. To our reader’s—and our—surprise, comfortably nestled in this register of real and debatably still-operative secret societies, is an entry for “The Elders of Zion.”

That’s right, that so-called secret society of Jews “exposed” in 1920 by a newspaper owned by well-known anti-Semite Henry Ford, in an article which was later republished in Russian and disseminated throughout the Muslim world. That supposed Jewish cabal that secretly controls the purse-strings of the world and ensures Jewish world domination; that product of the greatest anti-Semitic canard ever written. (more…)

Poland Expands Survivor Pension Eligibility

Victims of Nazi and Soviet persecution living outside Poland today also eligible

A former concentration camp prisoner attends a ceremony at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, on Holocaust Day, January 27, 2014. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Polish government has widened the parameters for those who are eligible for monthly pensions. A new law will allow Holocaust survivors of Polish descent, as well as Polish victims of Soviet persecution, who are no longer living in Poland to be eligible for monthly stipends of roughly $135, the Times of Israel reports.

Prior to the change, people of Polish descent who were recognized as veterans or victims of oppression could receive the monthly benefits only if they had a bank account in Poland or knew a resident of Poland who was willing to transfer the money to them. Only very few people living outside Poland – reportedly less than 50 — actually applied for pensions.

As we reported in January, the number of Holocaust survivors living in poverty in the New York area alone is staggering, which makes this development of particular note. (more…)

Iranian Court Summons Mark Zuckerberg

Demands Facebook’s ‘Zionist director’ defend himself over privacy concerns

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote at the Facebook f8 conference on April 30, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An Iranian court in the southern province of Fars has opened a case against social media sites WhatsApp and Instagram, both of which are owned by Facebook, over concerns of privacy breaches, Reuters reports. The judge has also for some reason decided to summon Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to his court, for perhaps no reason other than the opportunity to refer to him as the company’s “Zionist director” to his face.

“According to the court’s ruling, the Zionist director of the company of Facebook, or his official attorney must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses,” said Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an Iranian internet official, according to state news agency ISNA, referring to Zuckerberg’s Jewish background.

Iran banned WhatsApp earlier this month, also citing prominently Zuckerberg’s Jewish roots in their decision. (more…)

Justin Timberlake Instagrams Western Wall Visit

The singer is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv Wednesday night

Singer Justin Timberlake performs at The Staples Center on November 26, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

It looks like Pope Francis isn’t the only high profile visitor to Israel this week. Justin Timberlake, who is scheduled to perform tonight in Tel Aviv, arrived in the Holy Land this morning, and reportedly stopped at the Western Wall with wife Jessica Biel and his parents on his way from the airport.

Timberlake posted a picture of his early morning visit on Instagram with the caption, “The Holy Land… What an experience. I will never forget this day. #Israel.” (more…)

Inside SodaStream’s West Bank Factory

Documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the controversial company

Palestinian workers prepare boxes to pack products at the Israeli SodaStream factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial park, next to the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim on January 30, 2014. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

What’s bubbly, stirs controversy, and is represented by one of Hollywood’s biggest megastars? SodaStream, a company that produces home soda makers and operates a factory in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, which employs 500 Palestinians from Ramallah, Jericho, and other surrounding villages.

Controversy over the company fizzed earlier this year when the twin forces of the Super Bowl and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions—or BDS—movement converged, and superstar Scarlett Johansson, SodaStream’s new celebrity spokesperson, was caught in the middle. Johansson was pressed by BDS supporters to drop SodaStream for operating in the occupied territories of the West Bank. She refused, either because she had no idea the maelstrom she had entered or because she believed, like many others, that a factory that gives jobs to Palestinians can’t be all bad. Johansson ultimately stepped down as an ambassador for Oxfam, citing the humanitarian group’s stance on BDS. The Super Bowl ad came out (it was alarmingly sexual, even though it had been edited to be suitable for children—and for a moment it seemed that the political question had been outdone by the question of taste). (more…)

Prayer, Not Politics, On The Pope’s Visit to Israel

Though Pope Francis was seen foremost as a world leader during the trip

Pope Francis places a prayer into the Western Wall on May 26, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

Pope Francis’ whirlwind 3-day tour of the Middle East came to a close yesterday evening at Ben Gurion airport, as Prime Minister Netanyahu asked that the Pope “pray for us, and we’ll pray for you.” It was a fitting close to a visit that Israeli and Palestinian officials alike attempted to milk for all its political value, but the Vatican insisted was a simple pilgrimage of prayer. In the end, the Vatican had its way: Francis, despite his reputation for jauntily revitalizing the Church with seemingly off-the-cuff statements, was the very model of wary piety.

Even the one big headline he made vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—an invitation to Presidents Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas to join him in a joint worship session for peace at the Vatican—was more about symbolic prayer than politics. Still, the heart of his trip—the visits to Gethsemane and the Cenacle, a show of Catholic-Orthodox unity at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—went almost unreported in Israel. The Pope was seen first and foremost as a world leader. (more…)

‘All-of-a-Kind Family’ Series Getting Reissued

Lizzie Skurnick Books will publish Sydney Taylor’s classic children’s books

An illustration for All-of-a-Kind Family. (Helen John, from All-of-a-Kind Family, Random House)

Devotees of Ella, Henny and the gang conjured by Sydney Taylor unable to get new copies of the sequels to All-of-a-Kind Family are in luck. The books—More All-of-a-Kind Family, All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown, All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown, and Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family—had just gone out of print from Yearling when writer and editor Lizzie Skurnick seized the opportunity to acquire rights to reissue the volumes under her eponymous imprint.

“These are not only personal favorites of mine and personal favorites of readers, they’re a piece of a very important period in New York history and in Jewish history,” said Skurnick. Taylor wrote “so deftly and so wonderfully that a reader gets much more of a complete picture of the period and the characters than you would from reading Our Crowd. I also think these are the Jewish Little House on the Prairie books and so we want to maintain them for readers who value them right now and also so young readers can have the series too.” (more…)

Video Shows Brussels Jewish Museum Shooter

Police seek public’s help identifying suspect who shot and killed four people

People pay their respects in front of a makeshift memorial at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 25, 2014, where a deadly shooting took place the day before. (GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)

A nationwide manhunt is underway in Belgium to find the shooter who opened fire at the Brussels Jewish Museum this weekend, CNN reports. The suspect shot and killed an Israeli couple visiting Brussels, a French volunteer at the museum, and a Belgian museum employee.

Brussels police released surveillance footage from the attack, which shows the suspect entering the building and opening fire with an AK-47 before quickly leaving, with the hope that the public can help identify the gunman. (more…)

The Netanyahu/Pope Francis Spat Over Jesus That Wasn’t

And why it still matters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pope Francis at the Pope's farewell ceremony in Israel (IsraeliPM/Flickr)

Yesterday, the press reported a sparring match between Pope Francis and Benjamin Netanyahu that never really transpired. To judge by media reports, the Israeli Prime Minister had a testy exchange with the Supreme Pontiff over whether or not Jesus spoke Hebrew. Reuters broke the story with the headline “Pope, Netanyahu spar over Jesus’ native language.” Using the language of verbal combat, the piece reported the Israeli leader as saying, “Jesus was here, in this land. He spoke Hebrew.” The Pope was said to have “interjected” with a correction: “Aramaic.” To this, Bibi “shot back” that Jesus “spoke Aramaic, but he knew Hebrew.” The Chicago Tribune soon dubbed the incident a “spat,” and by the time it made its way to The Age in Australia, Netanyahu was said to have “publicly bickered” with the Pope, evincing the “sour undertone” of the Catholic leader’s entire visit to Israel. The Forward tweeted “#Jesusgate spat over Hebrew ends testy #PopeFrancis visit with Benjamin Netanyahu.”

But unfortunately for headline writers hoping to gin up controversy for clicks, there is video of this supposed smackdown, and it shows nothing of the sort. As you can see below, Pope Francis is laughing throughout the entire exchange, which to a normal observer would appear to be an amiable conversation between friends (albeit one mediated by a translator), not a “spat.” As New York Times Middle East reporter Liam Stack tweeted, “not sure this counts as sparring.” (more…)

Four Killed in Brussels Jewish Museum Shooting

An Israeli couple and two members of museum staff killed; suspect at large

Flowers are pictured at a makeshift memorial at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 25, 2014, where a deadly shooting took place the day before. (GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)

A gunman entered the Brussels Jewish Museum yesterday, killing three people and critically wounding a fourth, who died from his injuries hours later.

The AP reports, “Interior Minister Joelle Milquet told reporters that the shooter apparently parked a car outside before entering the Jewish Museum. She added the gunman ‘apparently fired rather quickly, went outside and left.’ ” Police are currently looking for the suspect.

Two of the victims were Mira and Emmanuel Riva, an Israeli couple visiting Brussels. (more…)

Philip Roth Will Appear on ‘The Colbert Report’

Here’s what we imagine their on-camera conversation might look like

Philip Roth. (Photocollage, Tablet Magazine; Roth: Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; Colbert Report logo: Comedy Central)

This week, news came down the pipe that Philip Roth, the esteemed and publicly retiring novelist, will be sitting down in July for an interview with Stephen Colbert, the esteemed and publicly ascendant satirist and talk show host. The following is a reconstruction of how we might expect their conversation to go.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Mr. Roth, thank you for sitting down with me. It’s an honor.

PHILIP ROTH: The honor is all mine, Stephen.

SC: Of course it is, that’s what I meant. It’s an honor for you. Now, I don’t really read a lot of novels, I prefer non-fiction, like Anne Coulter and the Twilight series.

PR: The Twilight series? How very 2010 of you.

SC: Thank you. I’m an old-fashioned guy with old-fashioned values. Which leads directly to my next question, one the world has wanted to know since you first burst on the literary scene however many hundreds of years ago: why liver? (more…)

Anthony Bourdain Honored for Scenes in Gaza

The chef filmed an episode of his popular CNN show Parts Unknown in Israel

Chef Anthony Bourdain during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival on February 22, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival)

Anthony Bourdain, the chef and TV personality best known for his CNN show Parts Unknown, has won the “Voices of Courage and Conscience” award from the U.S. Muslim Public Affairs Council, Haaretz reports. The award was for a segment on the Season 2 premiere of the popular travel/food show—which features Bourdain traveling across the world, sampling food, and meeting locals—when Bourdain, who is visiting Israel for the first time, travels to Gaza.

The episode made headlines elsewhere not for the Gaza segment but for Bourdain’s revelation of his own Jewish ancestry. “By the end of this hour,” Bourdain’s voiceover announces at the start of the show, “I’ll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, a fascist, CIA agent, and worse.” It was the first mention of Bourdain’s Jewish heritage. (more…)

Maidan’s Mother Teresa Talks Ukraine’s Future

Olga Bogomolets pushes for economic growth and a turn toward the E.U.

Olga Bolomolets. (Wikipedia)

Ukrainian presidential candidate Olga Bogomolets is an aristocrat in every sense of that word, which is not an easy task in a post-Soviet society. A dermatologist, she is a sixth-generation M.D. and a professor who teaches at Kiev’s preeminent Bogomolets National Medical University. (The name is not a coincidence: The university was founded by her great grandfather.) She has published a lavishly illustrated two-volume history of her illustrious Russian Dvoryanin and Polish-Lithuanian gentry. Her family crest is emblazoned in gold foil on her business card.

Bogomolets became popularly known as the Mother Teresa of the Maidan for her ministrations to the wounded and the dying after the events of February 18 to 21. She is also, by any standard, a remarkable character. As a young woman she came to national prominence as a bard and singer of Ukrainian folk songs. She has also founded a collection of icons in a castle outside of Kiev.

The heroics of the Maidan failed to produce a viable new class of younger politicians. With the exception of Bogomolets, all major candidates in this Sunday’s presidential elections have either held ministerial positions, the presidency itself, or are holdovers from previous administrations. Bogomolets, on the other hand, is about to form her own political party. (more…)

Arrests Over Anti-Pope Posters in Jerusalem

Tensions high in advance of Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land this weekend

Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 21, 2014. (ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Not all Jerusalem residents are excited about Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Israel’s capital. Two residents of the holy city were arrested for posting banners decrying the Pope’s imminent arrival, the Jerusalem Post reports. The posters called on Pope Francis to leave Israel and instructed him to return relics looted by the Romans during the Second Temple period.

When apprehended, the two individuals were found to have more of the posters in their bags. (more…)

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