The King of Jordan has announced the end of a lease agreement that gave Israelis access to two border enclaves. Under a 1994 peace treaty, Israeli farmers could cultivate land in the Jordanian areas of Naharayim and Tzofar - known as Baqura and Ghamr in Arabic.

The lease governing them was for 25 years, but could have been extended.
However King Abdullah announced last year that he planned to end the lease - in what was seen as a sign of worsening ties between Jordan and Israel.

At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that he still hoped to negotiate an extension to the arrangement. On Sunday, as the lease expired, gates on the border were closed, and AFP reported that Israelis were prevented from entering. One farmer, Eli Arazi, told Reuters his community had been growing crops there for 70 years, and described the end of the lease as "a punch in the face".

How did the deal come about?

The two enclaves are on the Israeli-Jordanian border, and have been privately owned by Israeli groups for several decades.

Israel and Jordan were officially at war from 1948 to 1994, until the peace treaty was signed. The treaty was significant, as Jordan is only one of two Arab countries that has signed a peace deal with Israel. The agreement recognized that Jordan had sovereignty over the two areas - but Israel was permitted to lease the areas for 25 years.

Under the terms of the annex to the peace deal, the lease would be extended automatically unless one party gave notice a year before the lease ended, leading to talks on the matter.

Why won't Jordan renew the lease?

On Sunday, as he opened a parliamentary session, King Abdullah said that the lease had expired, and announced "the imposition of our full sovereignty over every inch of those lands".

The decision not to renew the lease is widely seen as a reflection of the strained relationship between Jordan and Israel in recent years, with issues including the status of Jerusalem and the lack of progress on a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians causing tensions.

 Many Jordanians are of Palestinian origin, and opinion polls suggest the peace deal is unpopular with the public. Last year, 87 Jordanian MPs signed a petition urging an end to the lease.In recent months, there have also been tensions over Israel's detention of two Jordanians, without trial, for several months. Jordan recalled its ambassador, and the two were eventually released on Wednesday. --BBCi


Last weekend marked the 81st anniversary of Pogrom Night (Kristallnacht), when Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools, and businesses, and murdered close to 100 people simply because they were Jews. Pogrom Night was a turning point, an indicator of the unconscionable horror that was to be visited upon the Jewish people by the Nazi regime.

With the recent anti-Semitic attack in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur, as well as a frightening spike in anti-Semitism in the US with the Tree of Life synagogue attack last year, we are witnessing a resurgence in Jew-hatred that must be recognized as a dire warning. It will take a coordinated effort across governments and societies, by Jews and non-Jews alike, to stem the pandemic of Jew-hatred at home and around the world.


On 18 October 2019, a sunny Roman Friday, about 250 people witnessed the proclamation of the Salesian Institute PIO XI as a new "House of Life" by the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. The distinction is granted in recognition of the role played by the educational institution during the Holocaust.

During the Nazi occupation of Rome, parents Francesco Antonioli and Armando Alessandrini lead the rescue operation of dozen of Jews persecuted by the Third Reich.

With the help of their confreres they offered hospitality and saved the lives of 70 people. In the course of the ceremony the school authorities presented the docudrama "Lo scudo dell’altro. The Memory of the dovere". The film was made by students under the supervision of professionals of the film industry.

Silvia Costantini, vice president of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, opened the ceremony informing about the mission of the NGO created by Baruch Tenembaum and chaired by Eduardo Eurnekian.  Elena Colitto Castelli, coordinator of the Italian chapter of the program, stressed the courage of the Salesians and many other religious institutions in their fight against Nazism.

For his part, Father Stefano Aspettati, Salesian Inspector for Central Italy, recalled Don Bosco's motto: It is necessary to train honest citizens and good Christians.

Reverend Giampiero Palmieri, auxiliary bishop of Rome, explained the concept of prayer for Hetty Hillesum: We need to pray to keep God's peace within us, not to ask for salvation.

Israel's ambassador to the Vatican, Oren David, sent a letter of endorsement.

       27 Cheshvan-3 Kislev, 5780                              Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2019 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  629th Web Ed.



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Billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signalled he will join the race to secure the Democratic Party's nomination for US president.  He has filed paperwork ahead of a deadline for the Democratic primary election in Alabama.

The move is a necessary step to join the race to be the party's candidate to take on President Donald Trump in next year's election.

Mr Bloomberg, 77, has not formally confirmed his candidacy.  However, spokesman Jason Schechter told US media that an announcement "could come as early as next week".

The businessman is said to be concerned the current Democratic contenders would not pose a strong enough challenge to Mr Trump in 2020.  He will be entering a crowded field as one of 17 candidates hoping to be chosen as the Democratic nominee.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is the frontrunner, followed by senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The tycoon had strongly hinted that he would run, with his adviser Howard Wolfson releasing a statement on Thursday evening saying they wanted to "ensure that Trump is defeated" in the election next year.

"But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of [Democratic] candidates is not well positioned to do that," he added.
Media captionBloomberg to BBC in 2018: 'I'd like to make a difference'

His comments came after months of debate over wealth inequality in the US, with Mr Sanders and Ms Warren announcing plans for steep tax rises for billionaires. Unveiling his tax proposals in September, Mr Sanders said: "Billionaires should not exist."

Mr Bloomberg is estimated to be worth $52bn.

On Friday, President Trump taunted Mr Bloomberg by saying there was "nobody I'd rather run against than little Michael".

Mr Bloomberg filed his papers in Alabama later the same day. Better late than never?

Mr Bloomberg is said to be fully aware such a belated entry to the race presents challenges in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where other Democratic contenders have been campaigning for months.

The Bloomberg team reportedly sees a possible pathway through the so-called Super Tuesday contests in March, when 14 states - including California, Alabama and Colorado - will vote on a single day for their preferred White House nominee.

Mr Bloomberg considered running for the White House as an independent candidate in both 2008 and 2016.

In March of this year he had said he would not join the 2020 race.

Mr Bloomberg's advisers are reportedly preparing the paperwork for other states with nearing deadlines. Both Arkansas and New Hampshire require candidates to file by next week.

State-by-state votes, known as primaries and caucuses, will be held from February next year to pick a Democratic White House nominee.

The eventual winner will be crowned at the party convention in Wisconsin in July. He or she is expected to face President Trump, a Republican, in the general election in November.
What's the other reaction?

Mr Biden told media on Friday that he had "no problem" with Mr Bloomberg joining the Democratic field.

"Michael is a solid guy," Mr Biden said. "Let's see where it goes."

Ms Warren welcomed Mr Bloomberg to the race on Twitter, linking to her own campaign website and suggesting the former mayor take a look for potential policy plans.

In tweet seemingly directed at Mr Bloomberg, Mr Sanders wrote: "The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared."

Some recent opinion polls have suggested that Ms Warren and Mr Sanders - who are more politically liberal than Mr Biden - might face an uphill battle against Mr Trump.

The Republican National Committee said in a statement that the billionaire's prospective entry "underscores the weak Democrat field".

Mr Bloomberg was a Wall Street banker before going on to create the financial publishing empire that bears his name. His net worth is $52bn (£40bn), according to Forbes. This is 17 times more than Mr Trump's (estimated at $3.1bn).

He staged a successful campaign for New York mayor in 2001, remaining in office for three consecutive terms until 2013. A philanthropist, he has donated millions of dollars to educational, medical and other causes.

Why is he running now?

Why is he contemplating a run for the highest political job in the land just a few months after announcing he would watch 2020 from the sidelines?

The top one is the obvious response. Mr Bloomberg has plenty of pollsters and political strategists at his disposal, and is reported to be a very data-driven businessman. It doesn't take an advanced degree in quantitative analysis, however, to realise that the Democratic field, even at this (relatively) late date, is still in flux.

There are four candidates at or near the top of early state and national primary polls - Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. All of them have their strengths, of course, but all of them also have obvious weaknesses.

What does Bloomberg believe in?

Originally a Democrat, Mr Bloomberg became a Republican to mount his campaign for New York mayor in 2001. Now regarded as a moderate Democrat, he rejoined the party only last year.

Mr Bloomberg has liberal views on issues such as climate change, gun control,immigration and abortion rights.  He was credited this week with helping Democrats win control of Virginia's legislature, after his gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety injected $2.5m into the state's election. But Mr Bloomberg is more conservative on topics like the economy and policing.

As mayor, he defended the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy, which critics say disproportionately targeted African Americans and Hispanics.   At city hall, Mr Bloomberg banned supersize sodas to prevent obesity, but was overruled by the state's Supreme Court. --BBCi