Nazi Apologist’s Essay on Austrian School Exam

Two administrators resign after 1947 text appears on high school German test


Two weeks ago, middle school students in Rialto, California were asked to write an essay about whether or not the Holocaust actually happened. Now it appears that high school students in Austria were also presented with misleading Holocaust material, this time in the form of an essay on a standardized exam.

An unrelated investigation into Austrian high school curricula and grading revealed that a recent German exam presented students with an essay by Manfred Hausmann, a known Nazi apologist, with no background or historical context on its author, Reuters reports: “Students were asked to reflect on how “The Snail” – in which a gardener decides the pest has to die to protect his plants – dealt with questions about nature and life.” (more…)

Jewish Woman Attacked at Paris Bus Stop

Man reportedly shook her baby stroller and called her a ‘dirty Jewess’

Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, Paris. (Wikimedia)

In the latest disturbing anti-Semitic incident from France, a man assaulted a Jewish mother and her six-month-old child at a bus stop in Paris’ Montmartre district, JTA reports.

According to a report filed by France’s National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, the attacker, who the victim described as a European man in his 50s, shook the woman’s stroller and shouted, “Dirty Jewess, enough with your children already, you Jews have too many children, screw you.” (more…)

Two Palestinians Killed in Nakba Day Protests

Clashes after Israeli forces intervene in demonstrations in West Bank

Masked Palestinian protestors outside the Israeli-run Offer prison in the West Bank on May 15, 2014. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Two Palestinian teens were shot and killed by Israeli forces today during clashes as police intervened in a Nakba Day demonstration, the AP reports. Palestinian protests and demonstrations frequently mark the May anniversary of what is known as the nakba, or catastrophe: the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel. Three protestors were also reportedly wounded as Israeli police dispersed stone throwers near a West Bank checkpoint. (more…)

Lisa Kudrow’s Son Had a ‘Drive-By Bar Mitzvah’

Impromptu rite of passage performed while he was shopping at the mall

Actress Lisa Kudrow and son Julian Murray Stern on November 17, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images for P.S. Arts)

Michael Douglas isn’t the only celebrity whose child got bar mitzvahed recently. Lisa Kudrow dropped by Conan this week to talk about her new movie Neighbors, and was surprised to find that host Conan O’Brien, a longtime friend, had a bone to pick with her. He wanted to know why he wasn’t invited to her son’s bar mitzvah.

He wasn’t invited, Kudrow explains, because no one was invited. The Jewish actress wasn’t even there when it happened. It was what she calls a “drive-by bar mitzvah.” (more…)

Ancient Town Found Below Galilee Resort Site

Ruins from Second Temple period uncovered during construction of new hotel

A large elaborately-carved stone found during 2009 excavations of a newly uncovered Jewish synagogue in the town of Migdal on the north-western end of the Sea of Galilee. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

In a routine archeological sweep of a Galilee property being prepared for development, a treasure trove of first-century ruins were uncovered. The unearthed site, the New York Times reports, is thought to be Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene and an ancient Jewish town that was destroyed by the Romans around the same time as the Second Temple.

In 2004, Reverend Juan M. Solana, director of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, decided to build a gathering place for Christian pilgrims in the Galilee, the region believed to be the home of Jesus’ ministry. Building permits for more than 20 acres of Galilee land were finalized in 2009, and a salvage dig, which is required for all building projects in Israel, began.

Digging on the resort site revealed a wealth of holy ruins, including synagogue remains and ritual baths. (more…)

Israel Lowers Gender Reassignment Age to 18

But candidates approved for the state-subsidized surgery still must go abroad


The Israeli government has announced changes to their national policies regarding gender reassignment surgery, marking a victory for the Israeli transgender community. Two updates to the health ministry’s regulations, which mandate patient eligibility for the state-subsidized surgery, will make it easier for candidates to gain the necessary approval for the procedure. According to JTA, the new regulations lower the minimum age to be considered for the surgery from 21 to 18, and reduces the required time a candidate must live with the new gender identity before undergoing the surgery from two years to one year.

Changes were also made to the committee that approves gender reassignment requests, which will now include a psychologist, gynecologist, endocrinologist, urologist, as well as a representative of the transgender community. (more…)

Jill Abramson Leaving the ‘New York Times’

First female executive editor helmed the newspaper since September 2011

Jill Abramson. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times, via Redux)

After just under three years at the helm of the New York Times, Jill Abramson is stepping down, Politico reports. Dean Baquet, the newspaper’s managing editor, will take over as executive editor. The announcement was made by publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. at a staff meeting this afternoon.

In his announcement to staff, Sulzberger said Abramson’s departure was related to “an issue with management in the newsroom,” and had nothing to do with the quality of the paper’s journalism during her tenure. Abramson was not present for the newsroom announcement.


Surge in Victims Claiming Madoff Losses

More than $40 billion in claims sought as government widens investigation

Bernard L. Madoff leaves US Federal Court after a hearing regarding his bail on January 14, 2009 in New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

More than five years after Bernard Madoff admitted to running what was the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, the scope of the fraud continues to widen. Thousands of additional victims have filed claims for compensation under a new effort administered by the Justice Department, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Irving Picard, the bankruptcy trustee who initially led the recovery process, had only allowed claims from people who had directly invested with Madoff. But Richard Breeden, who is currently leading the Justice Department effort, is reviewing claims from anyone who alleged to have money invested with Madoff, even through an intermediary. (more…)

Israel Razing West Bank Settlement Buildings

Supreme Court orders structures in three settlements to be demolished

An Israeli authority bulldozer demolishes a house in the West Bank settlement of Maale Rehavam on May 14, 2014. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli forces began razing buildings in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Rehavam today after the Israeli Supreme Court lifted a last-minute injunction against demolishing the 10 structures. In total, 28 buildings in three West Bank settlements—Ma’ale Rehavam, Givat Asaf, and Ramat Gilad—will reportedly be demolished as per a November 2013 Supreme Court ruling that ordered the demolition of the structures within six months. (more…)

Rabbi Charged With Looting Special Needs Funds

Four men indicted for diverting $12.4 million from Queens children’s center

Island Child Development Center in Queens, N.Y. (Village Voice/Google Maps)

Four men, including one rabbi, were indicted in New York for stealing more than $12.4 million of city and state funding intended for students with special needs. According to a statement issued yesterday by the Queens County District Attorney, 56-year-old rabbi Samuel Hiller was indicted on grand larceny and other charges.

The story has been developing since March of last year, when news broke that the Island Child Development Center in Queens, N.Y., which provides special education services to preschoolers, was illegally diverting millions of taxpayer dollars. Hiller is the Center’s assistant director. (more…)

Survey Finds One Billion Anti-Semites

Anti-Defamation League’s new global study yields sobering conclusions


The Anti-Defamation League released the results of its new ADL Global 100 survey, and the results are informative, if bleak. The survey, which they’ve billed as a “comprehensive data-based research survey of the level and intensity of anti-Jewish sentiment across the world,” polled 53,100 adults in 102 countries.

One of the more jaw-dropping findings is that 26 percent of people surveyed internationally—a figure which represents roughly 1.09 billion adults across the world—harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. That’s an estimated one billion anti-Semites, in the world, today. According to this world population clock, there are approximately 7.2 billion people in the world, 1.09 billion of whom apparently hate Jews. (more…)

Why TV Shows and Movies Should Film in Israel

Homeland co-creator Gideon Raff on the benefits of heading to the Holy Land

'Homeland' writer Gideon Raff (L) and executive producer Ren Telem attends the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball on September 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Gideon Raff, the Jerusalem-born co-creator of Homeland, the popular Showtime series about a U.S. soldier taken hostage in Afghanistan and turned by his captors, is also the writer and producer behind the original Israeli version of the show, known as Hatufim, or Prisoners of War. While the two shows differ significantly, Raff and his team bring a realness and sense of urgency to each.

That realness, though, which in Homeland at least comes in the form of fast-paced, high-octane scenes set in foreign counties, is actually meticulously created. Most of Homeland’s Middle East scenes are shot in Israel (the U.S. scenes, which are set in Virginia, are filmed in Charlotte, N.C.), which in different episodes stands in for a host of countries. That’s on purpose, Raff, who lives part-time in California, told Reuters, explaining his preference for filming in his home country. (more…)

Dana International’s Lasting Eurovision Legacy

This year’s transgender winner cites the Israeli performer as an inspiration

2014 Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst. (Eurovision)

Austria’s Conchita Wurst, a transgender performer, won the Eurovision song contest in Copenhagen on Sunday night with a stirring rendition of “Rise Like A Phoenix,” a dramatic James Bond-esque empowerment anthem. Eurovision, for the unfamiliar, is a pan-European Idol of sorts, founded in Switzerland in 1956 with the aim of fostering good relations between countries that just a decade earlier were intent on mutual obliteration. It is so, so bad that it is actually great. To wit: Ireland’s DJ Turkey! Finland’s Hard Rock ‘arockalypse’ Hallelujah! Ukraine’s nonsensical Dancing Lusha Tumbai!

Wurst is a brilliantly talented singer and drag performer who delights in the complexity of her gender-queerness. That is to say: she has luscious hair and a neatly-trimmed beard, and she doesn’t care if you have a problem with that. For conservative pundits, Wurst—who was born Tom Neuwirth in 1988, and describes her male and female personas as a team “working in sync”—was a predictably controversial candidate; one Russian politician described her as a “pervert” (groan) and Eurovision as “Europe’s gay parade.” But she rose to her critics like, well, a phoenix, trouncing the competition in front of a global audience of 180 million. (more…)

Kerry to Meet With Abbas This Week

Will discuss ‘the U.S.-Palestinian relationship’ in London on Thursday

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S.-mediated peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians may have officially ended two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean John Kerry is done talking. The secretary of state is meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday in London, Reuters reports, and on the docket is a discussion about “the U.S.-Palestinian relationship.” Specifically, the future of that relationship after last month’s unity agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which not only helped derail the long-floundering peace talks but also creates a major hindrance for any further U.S. involvement in peace talks—or, for that matter, U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority. (more…)

Ehud Olmert Gets Six-Year Prison Sentence

Former Israeli prime minister was convicted of two counts of bribery in March

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrives at the district court of Tel Aviv on May 13, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was convicted on bribery charges in March, has been sentenced to six years in prison. The 68-year-old was also fined one million shekels, or roughly $290,000, for his role in the Holyland complex scandal, which a judge called “one of the worst corruption affairs in Israeli history” when it was brought to light in 2010. (more…)

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