'OFFENSIVE' JEWISH REMARKS AM JENNY RATHBONE RE-ADMITTED TO PARTY GROUP
A Labour AM accused of anti-Semitism has been allowed back into the party's group in the assembly while an investigation continues.
Jenny Rathbone was suspended after suggesting the security fears of Jewish people at a Cardiff synagogue could be "in their own heads".
BBC Wales understands the decision to re-admit her was taken last year despite objections from some party AMs.
Ms Rathbone had previously apologised for the comments.
UK Labour said her comments were still under investigation.
In a recording, obtained by the Jewish Chronicle, of a meeting in her constituency in 2017 the Cardiff Central AM was asked about increased security measures at the synagogue.
She had said: "The fact that the Jewish synagogue in Cyncoed is, is become one of these, you know, fortress is really uncomfortable.
"How much of it is for real and how much of it is in their own heads is really hard for an outsider to judge, but I think siege mentalities are also part of it."
Cardiff Rabbi Michael Rose said at the time the comments were "extremely offensive".
BBC Wales understands that the decision was taken by former Labour chief chip Julie James after Mark Drakeford was elected as Welsh Labour leader, but before he appointed his cabinet.
One Labour AM said there had been a "quite a long discussion about it" at a group meeting before Christmas. "It's not good," the AM said.
Ms Rathbone's suspension came after an earlier private meeting of Labour AMs in November. BBC Wales has also been told that two AMs Julie Morgan and Jane Hutt had spoken against the suspension - both have since been appointed to the Welsh Government.
An assembly Labour group spokesman said on Wednesday: "Jenny Rathbone was readmitted to the group at the start of the spring term following a seven week suspension. A complaint has been referred to the UK Labour Party."
The Welsh Conservative's Mohammad Asghar said: "This decision raises so many questions about the Labour Party's attitude towards the Jewish citizens of our country.
"This only goes to demonstrate that Labour do not care about the Jewish community, the hate aimed at them, and their security concerns."
In a statement issued last year Ms Rathbone said: "I accept that comments I made [in 2017] were insensitive and have laid me open to accusations of intolerance.
"I've always appreciated the good relationship I've had with my local Jewish community and I apologise for any upset that my remarks may have caused to individual constituents and the wider Jewish community.
"With levels of anti-Semitism on the rise in many western countries, and following the devastating attack on Pittsburgh synagogue, no one can or should downplay the fears and concerns that many Jewish people are experiencing.
"I had no intention of doing so and I am deeply sorry that I did." --BBCi / photo BBCI
PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN VISITS UNITED HATZALAH
Photo credit:Mark Neiman, GPO
JERUSALEM -- Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin visited United Hatzalah’s equipment and logistics center in the Ha Tuv Industrial Zone outside of Beit Shemesh. During the visit, President Rivlin spoke with numerous volunteers from the organization who came from all regions of the country to meet with him as well as with management of the organization.
United Hatzalah is a national emergency medical service organization made up of 5,000 volunteers from all segments of the population in Israel that works directly under the Health Ministry in Israel. In 2018, the organization responded to more than 300,000 medical emergencies and provided treatments in each of those cases completely free of charge. The organization has expanded beyond the borders of Israel in recent years and now has chapters in the United States, Ukraine, Panama, and Brazil. Head of Government relations in United Hatzalah Shabtai Rappaport
“The Talmud teaches us that saving one life is as if a person saved the entire world. You save the lives of children, men, and women, 24-hours-a-day and 365 days a year,” President Rivlin said. “You are called United Hatzalah, even before the rescue (Hatzalah) comes the unity. Only here in your organization can one see a settler from Kiryat Arba, a secular person from Tel Aviv, a Satmar Chassid, and a Muslim Arab from east-Jerusalem working hand-in-hand, together, in full partnership and equality. And all of this is being done with one goal in mind, the goal of saving lives.”
After meeting with numerous volunteers and hearing about their activities, each in their own region, the President thanked them for their efforts. “I see you and volunteers like you on the roadways on your way to respond to emergencies, just like all other citizens of Israel. You are always ready to respond to an emergency at any time. You are an integral part of the Israeli mosaic. On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, I wish to thank you for your dedication, your sacrifice, and for the dedicated and professional treatment which you provide to every patient no matter who they are.”
After meeting the volunteers the President was given a tour of the logistics center and was able to see all of the different vehicles that the organization uses to save lives.
President of United Hatzalah Eli Beer said after the event: “United Hatzalah’s network of volunteers comes from all segments of Israeli society and includes Jews, Arabs, Druze, Bedouin, Secular and Religious, Men and Women, and everyone works together to provide the fastest emergency medical care available free of charge. Thus, they are realizing the President’s Four Tribes Initiative by working together to save lives. The act of saving lives bridges the differences that we face in today’s society and brings everyone together, shoulder to shoulder with a unified purpose.”
CONNECTING WITH CLUB Z
Club Z connects teens to Israel, Jewish history, and each other. Grounded in a dynamic educational curriculum, Club Z brings high school students together around their Jewish identity, develops their leadership skills, and creates a network of proactive and effective activists—who are empowered to confront bigotry when they reach college campuses.
Thanks to support from the Milstein Family Foundation, this year Club Z expanded to Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle, reaching more teens than ever before. Adam Milstein played a key role at Club Z’s Los Angeles Kick-Off event by sharing his insights on engaging the next generation of Zionist leaders.
Club Z will hold its annual Youth Zionist Leadership Forum in San Francisco from January 18-21. High school students nationwide will learn from dynamic speakers, engage in hands-on workshops, and join a close community. Keynote speakers include Ran Bar-Yoshafat, Deputy Director at Kohelet Policy Forum; Kasim Hafeez, Founder of The Israel Campaign; Ryan Bellerose, Founder of Calgary United with Israel; and Sharona Eshet-Kohen, Founder of Doreinu.
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STEPPING UP TO PROTECT NONPUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS, GOV. MURPHY DOUBLES SECURITY FUNDING FOR CURRENT SCHOOL YEAR
(l-r) Duvy Gross, Rabbi Avrohom Glustein, NJ Gov. Phil Murphy, Rabbi Avi Schnall & Gary Schaer
It was a giant step forward for nonpublic school safety as Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill dedicating an additional $11.3 million towards school security measures. Previously, the state had allocated just $75 in security funding for every child registered in New Jersey nonpublic schools. The newly signed bill allows for a per-child allocation of $150.
(l-r) Gary Schaer, Dr. Rapolet & Rabbi Avi Schnall
Introduced in October by Assembly members Gary Schaer, Lisa Swain and Christopher Tully in the Assembly, and by Senators Joseph Lagana, Vin Gopal and Paul Sarlo, NJ S3080/A4597 was approved unanimously by the legislature in December. The measure earmarks money from the New Jersey General Fund to be distributed for immediate use to the Department of Education for nonpublic school security services, technology and equipment to create a safer environment for students and teachers.
Present for the signing at Yeshiva Bais Hillel in Passaic were school representatives and advocates and numerous elected officials including Assemblyman Schaer, who worked closely with Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey office to ensure a more secure school experience for nonpublic schools statewide.
“Every child deserves to be able to go to school without having to be afraid that they are vulnerable to security threats,” said Duvy Gross, co-chairman of the Agudah’s New Jersey office. “It is clear that our legislators and the governor recognized the importance of protecting all of our state’s schoolchildren and we applaud them for their swift action.”
Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of the Agudah’s New Jersey office, praised Governor Murphy for making the bill’s passage a high priority.
“Starting today, our schools will be safer than ever before,” said Rabbi Schnall. “We are grateful to Governor Murphy and all those who stood up for the rights of our schools, our teachers and our children.”
Agudath Israel would like to extend a tremendous thank you to its partners in this effort, Teach NJS under the leadership of Josh Caplan and Dr. George Corwell from the Catholic Conference of New Jersey.
NEW IDF ATHLETICS FACILITY INAUGURATED
CAMP ARIEL SHARON, Israel -- Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot on Monday inaugurated a new athletics stadium at the IDF City of Training Bases (Camp Ariel Sharon) in Southern Israel, a facility made possible thanks to a $1 million donation by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).
The new stadium contains 1,200 seats, running tracks and an athletic field, and will be used for sporting activities and for the well-being of soldiers stationed at the base.
Also participating in the inauguration ceremony were FIDF Executive Director in Israel Brig. Gen. (Res.) Effi Idan; Head of the IDF Technology and Logistics Branch Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Turgeman; and Commander of the IDF City of Training Bases (Camp Ariel Sharon) Col. Avi Motola.
Please find below photos of the new stadium at the IDF Camp Ariel Sharon training base in Southern Israel.
Photo Credit: IDF Camp Ariel Sharon