GERMANY'S JEWS URGED NOT TO WEAR
KIPPAHS AFTER ATTACKS
A "Berlin Wears Kippah" rally held recently in the German capital, BBCi
The leader of Germany's Jewish community has advised Jews to avoid wearing traditional skullcaps (kippahs) following anti-Semitic attacks.
Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told Berlin public radio that Jews should exercise caution in big cities. His comments come ahead of a "Berlin Wears Kippah" solidarity march in the German capital on Wednesday.
Last week, two young men wearing kippahs were assaulted in the city. The attacker was filmed shouting anti-Semitic abuse.
Jewish organizations in Germany have expressed alarm over a number of recent anti-Semitic insults and threats in schools. At the weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned what she described as "another form of anti-Semitism".
She told Israel's Channel 10 TV network that aside from anti-Semitism by right-wing groups, similar threats were coming from some Muslim refugees in the country.
Conductor protests in anti-Semitism row.
What did Josef Schuster say?
"Defiantly showing your colours would in principle be the right way to go [to tackle anti-Semitism]," he said.
"Nevertheless, I would advise individual people against openly wearing a kippah in big German cities," Mr Schuster added.
But he also stressed that if Germans refused to stand up to anti-Semitism "our democracy would be at risk".
"This is not only about anti-Semitism - it goes along with racism, it goes along with xenophobia. You need a clear stop sign here."
THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE JEWS FOR JESUS CAMPAIGN EVER TAKES PLACE IN JERUSALEM
Jews for Jesus said, “Behold Your G''[-]'d Jerusalem,” took place in Jerusalem in an unprecedented way this past month. With over 200 staff and volunteers participating, the group engaged in over 5,000 conversations with Israelis about Jesus one on one and had over 200,000 check out their social media posts. In addition, they got the names and contact information of 1,747 Israeli seekers who want to know more about Jesus. During the four-week outreach, 58 Israelis responded to the message by embracing Jesus as their personal Messiah. And Jews for Jesus expects to see this number increase as their regular presence here continues. Jerusalem is home to 750,00 Jewish people and the focal point of world attention, especially in light of the recent opening of the U.S. Embassy there and the activities surrounding the 70th anniversary of the modern state of Israel.
“Behold Your G'[-]'d” is an eighteen-year effort by the organization to conduct in-depth evangelistic campaigns in every world city with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more. Of the 77 such campaigns that have taken place, this one, centered in Jerusalem, is the “grand finale.” However, Jews for Jesus Executive Director David Brickner says “This is just the beginning of a new era of outreach for our 45-year-old organization. We are reaching out to all kinds of people in the city: university and yeshiva students, artists, millennials, boomers, sports enthusiasts, Russian speakers, those trapped in addiction, the poor and the Haredim (Orthodox Jews). We have experienced relatively little opposition and lots of enthusiastic engagement.” He went on to say, “When Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem, he also had a diverse audience, from tax collectors to beggars to teachers of the law and wealthy business folk. We think he set the precedent for us in 2018 and beyond.”
Unlike previous efforts, Jews for Jesus significantly stepped up the diversity of their approaches to this complex city. Most people recognize that Jerusalem is beset with conflict between religious and secular Jews, between Jews and Palestinians and between followers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. However, some don’t realize that of all the cities in Israel, Jerusalem has the highest poverty level and is fraught with a multitude of social ills. Part of the Jews for Jesus approach is to serve the city and encourage others to do the same. “As believers in Jesus, we see how our Messiah lived for others and we want to follow in his footsteps. We are feeding the poor, cleaning up parks and renovating houses and, in the process, demonstrating that the One we believe in wants to heal that which is broken or in need,” says Dan Sered, Israel director of the organization.
Jews for Jesus has offices in Tel Aviv as well as in 27 cities around the world. The next center going forward will be in Jerusalem.
ABRAMOVICH 'ELIGIBLE TO BECOMEISRAELI CITIZEN'
The Russian-Jewish billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich, has flown to Tel Aviv after being found eligible for Israeli citizenship. Immigration officials told the BBC that he was interviewed last week at the Israeli embassy in Moscow. He has faced delays in renewing his UK visa. His spokesman would not comment on reports citizenship had been granted.
Mr Abramovich, 51, would be the richest person in Israel . His UK investor visa reportedly expired some weeks ago but the British government has refused to comment on his individual case.
The delay in issuing him a new one comes amid increased diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in southern England.
Mr Abramovich did not attend the FA cup final at Wembley earlier this month when Chelsea beat Manchester United.
Israeli media reports say he has been given an identity card in Israel under the Law of Return, which allows Jews to become citizens of Israel.
The Times of Israel said the interior ministry had confirmed Mr Abramovich arrived in Israel on Monday and that he had immigrated to the country. He is a frequent visitor to Israel and bought a hotel in Tel Aviv in 2015 that reports say he has turned into a residence.
Israel passport holders are allowed to enter Britain without a visa for short stays.
Mr Abramovich is worth $11.5bn (£8.6bn), according to Forbes magazine. The move could pay off financially as new Israeli citizens are exempt from paying tax on foreign income for 10 years.--BBCi
TEN HURT IN JEWISH FESTIVAL EXPLOSION
Ten people suffered minor injuries when a fire exploded at a Jewish festival in London, police have said.
Hatzola, a volunteer emergency medical service, said it provided a "mega response team" at the event in Stamford Hill.
Jewish news website The Yeshiva World said a bonfire exploded when it was lit. .--BBCi
Earlier this month the long-running battle between Israel and Iran in Syria reached a dramatic crescendo. What is believed to have been Iranian rocket-fire against Israeli army positions on the occupied Golan Heights (itself a response to earlier Israeli air attacks against an Iranian base in the country) prompted a major Israeli offensive.
Israeli warplanes struck some 50 Iranian targets in Syria, virtually every known Iranian base or installation, according to analysts, setting back Iran's military build-up for months if not years. Now though it is becoming clearer that the attack could change the regional dynamics even further. And developments on the southern Golan Heights could provide additional impetus.
This south-west Syrian area - which includes the Quneitra governorate that borders Israeli positions - looks set to become the focus of a new government assault.
The Assad regime is eager to oust a variety of militia forces, at least some of whom pledge allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.The potential battle here could be a new crucible, raising tensions between the three outside actors with the most significant strategic interests in the country - namely Iran, Israel, and Russia.
The relationship between these three countries is unusual to say the least. Iran and Israel are sworn enemies. And Syria is fast becoming the most dangerous front in their bitter rivalry.
Russia and Iran have been the key military backers of the Assad regime in Syria. Without them he might well have been swept from office.But Moscow has close ties with Israel too. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was recently a guest of honour at a major military parade in Moscow marking victory in World War Two.
So how does Russia balance its ties with both Iran and Israel? Are their strategic interests in Syria diverging? The surprising factor in the long-standing Israeli air campaign to limit and, if possible, reverse the entrenchment of pro-Iranian forces in Syria is the passivity of Moscow.
Russia - nominally an ally of Iran - has its own air base in Syria with powerful radars and surface-to-air missiles that could significantly hamper Israeli air operations if they wanted to. But so far they have done nothing.
They have, in effect, left the skies over Syria and Lebanon open for Israeli air operations to unfold. Indeed there is a permanently manned hot-line between Israeli and the Russian headquarters in Syria to ensure that Israeli strike missions do not conflict with Russian air movements.
So what conclusion is to be drawn from Russia's behaviour? Is there a sense in which Moscow and Tehran no longer see eye-to-eye? And what could this mean for the undeclared war between Israel and Iran?
At the outset it was all much simpler. When the Assad regime looked like it was crumbling in August 2016, his allies felt compelled to come to his aid.
Russia provided the air power and it was Iran and its various allied militias, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, who bolstered President Assad's forces on the ground. In this sense Russian and Iranian aims were in alignment - both to stabilise the military situation, and if possible to enable the regime to go on the offensive to seize back some of the territory it had lost.
For Russia this was all about providing support for a long-standing ally; a relationship going way back into the Cold War years.
Moscow was alarmed at the growing instability in the region, fearing that the march of IS would eventually inflame passions closer to Russia's own borders.
There were geo-strategic considerations as well. Syria with its small Russian naval base (now being expanded) represented a small toe-hold for Moscow in the Middle East, a region where it was eager to renew its influence as it saw Washington's standing on the decline.
Iran, too, was coming to the aid of a long-standing ally but there were geo-strategic calculations in its policy as well.
A weak and fragmented Syria would do little to constrain Israel. While the latter sees Iran and its potential quest for an atomic bomb as an existential threat, Iran itself sees Israel's long-range military power as a considerable threat and an obstacle to its regional ambitions.
Thus if the Assad regime could be stabilised and Iranian or proxy forces established in Syria, Israel could be confronted nearer to its own borders.
Indeed with Iran's growing influence in Iraq, President Assad's continued presence could offer the prospect of a land corridor extending through Syria and into Lebanon, which might one day allow weaponry and military supplies to reach Hezbollah.
For now much of this rocketry and equipment goes by air. But such supply routes might one day be interrupted. Iran remains a revolutionary regime eager to export its message into the Arab world.
The Assad regime's growing victories saw a variety of pro-Iranian forces establishing themselves in Syria, from units of the Revolutionary Guard Corps to a variety of militias - a kind of Shia foreign legion, recruited in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Israel has been waging a major propaganda battle to convince the world that Iran is seeking a permanent military presence in Syria and asserting that this is something it will not allow.
Keeping militias at bay
The rising tensions have prompted significant diplomatic activity between Israel and Russia. Only this week Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman is in Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu. All the indications are that Russia was alarmed by the ferocity of Israel's strikes on Iranian installations, fearing that if this continues then a conflagration could erupt that would threaten President Assad's hold on power.
Russia appears willing to back a plan under which pro-Iranian forces will not be allowed to come any closer to Israel's borders. In the short-term this would mean pro-Iranian militias sitting out any new government offensive on the southern Golan. But this is only likely to be a temporary expedient. Israel opposes an Iranian military presence in Syria per se and most of its air strikes have been a long way away from the Golan. And Iran with its own interests in mind is unlikely to meekly withdraw.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for all foreign forces to be withdrawn from Syria; a demand echoed just a few days ago by his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said that only Syrian forces should be deployed in the south of the country. But just how much leverage do the Russian have over Tehran and its allies?
Moscow clearly wants to stabilise the situation in Syria enabling the Assad regime to "declare victory". Iran is an essential ally on the ground in achieving this goal. But the regional struggle between Israel and Iran looms large. Having decided that it will apparently give Israel a free hand in the skies, Russia may well find a less-than-receptive audience back on terra firma in Tehran. --BBCi
ARMY VETERAN JAILED OVER 'SINISTER' ANTI-JEWISH SPEECH
A far-right activist has been jailed for stirring up racial hatred after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initially declined to prosecute him. Jeremy Bedford-Turner, 48, of Lincoln, called for his "soldiers" to liberate England from "Jewish control" in a speech at London's Cenotaph in 2015.
The Army veteran was handed a year-long jail term at Southwark Crown Court. The CPS reconsidered its decision after a legal challenge brought by Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA).
Sentencing Bedford-Turner, of Rudgard Lane, Judge David Tomlinson described his 15-minute speech as "poisonous" and "sinister". In the speech, which was made at a rally against a Jewish neighbourhood watch group on 4 July, Bedford-Turner said "let's free England from Jewish control. Let's liberate this land". He added: "Listen, soldiers, listen to me. It's time to liberate our country."
During his two-day trial, Bedford-Turner, who served in the Army for 12 years, admitted wanting all Jewish people to leave the UK. Prosecutor Louis Mably QC said the defendant "despised" Jews and he was "absolutely obsessed".
Bedford-Turner, who speaks Pashtu and Arabic, bowed and saluted about 35 supporters who gave him a standing ovation as he was led to the cells. A jury convicted him of one count of stirring up racial hatred following two hours of deliberation.The CAA said the verdict was a "damning indictment" of the CPS and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders.A CPS spokesman said the review followed its code for prosecutors. --BBCi
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