World Briefs: Dozens of Jewish graves damaged in 600-year-old Turkish cemetery and more

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Dozens of Jewish graves damaged in 600-year-old Turkish cemetery
Dozens of Jewish graves were damaged or destroyed in the 600-year old cemetery of Istanbul’s Hasköy neighborhood last week, the Turkish Jewish community announced via Twitter, JTA reported.

Destroyed graves
The 600-year-old cemetery is located in Istanbul’s Hasköy neighborhood. (Türk Yahudi Toplumu via JTA.org)

“Our Hasköy Cemetery was entered at midnight, and 36 of our tombstones were destroyed,” the community’s official Twitter account said on July 14. The Turkish Jewish weekly Şalom Gazetesi later put the number at 81. “The matter has been conveyed to the relevant authorities with all the pictures and night recordings, and we expect the perpetrators of this vandalism to be caught as soon as possible.”


The incident garnered a quick response at the highest level. Ibraham Kalin, the spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, strongly condemned the vandalism in a tweet, calling it a “heinous attack.”

Shortly after, Turkey’s interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, tweeted that two suspects had been caught and detained by Istanbul’s police department. Turkish media reported that they were children.

Israeli reporter sneaks into Mecca, triggering outcry, apologies
It was billed as a historic news scoop: the first Jewish Israeli reporter to document the annual Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj on an unprecedented visit to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, JTA reported.

But when the footage of Channel 13 correspondent Gil Tamary in Mecca aired on July 18, the public’s reception in Israel and in the Muslim world was sharply critical.

As Tamary states on air, entry to Islam’s holiest site is forbidden to members of other religions and illegal under Saudi law. Tamary, who was in the country on a special invitation by the Saudi government on the occasion of President Joe Biden’s diplomatic visit to the region, entered Mecca without permission in search of an exclusive story for his news outlet.

By the next morning, social media was ablaze with outrage over Tamary’s act and the outlet’s decision to air the footage. Both the reporter and Channel 13 issued apologies, saying they didn’t mean to offend, but defending the segment as “an important journalistic accomplishment,” and “great journalism.”

Israel says US sex offender won’t get citizenship
Israel’s top immigration official says the country will not award citizenship to Baruch Lanner, a rabbi and convicted sex offender from the United States, JTA reported.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s July 19 announcement came a day after nearly 200 American rabbis and Jewish scholars sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid urging him to reject Lanner’s citizenship application.

Lanner, an American rabbi and former official of the Orthodox Union’s NCSY youth group, served a three-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting students at a Jewish high school in New Jersey in the 1990s. He is staying in Israel on a temporary residency visa pending a decision on his citizenship application by Israel’s Interior Ministry. He is seeking to take advantage of Israel’s Law of Return, under which Jews from anywhere in the world can be granted Israeli citizenship.

News of Lanner’s status in Israel broke earlier in July and triggered an outcry among advocates of victims of sexual abuse in Israel and the United States. Online petitions calling on the government to reject Lanner’s application have cropped up.

Surf lifesaving competitions debut at Maccabiah Games
Surf lifesaving competitions are being held for the first time at the Maccabiah Games in Israel this summer, jns.org reported.

Surf lifesaving combines swimming, lifesaving techniques and general fitness. The competitions involve running and then swimming or board-paddling to rescue someone at sea in the shortest amount of time. There are both individual and team events.

The exhibition events, held July 20 and 21 on the Netanya beach, are an initiative of the Israel Life Saving Federation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to prevent drownings through education and practical courses.

Paul Hakim, an Australian native, and his brother, Danny, started the ILSF in 2020. Their organization runs the Nippers program for children and teens, as well as year-round water safety and surf-rescue courses training children and adults to be volunteer first responders in the water.

Since the program began, ILSF course graduates have reportedly performed more than 70 rescues.

Israel records first fiscal surplus since 2007
Israel reported a fiscal surplus of 0.4% for the year ending in June, according to the Ministry of Finance Accountant General, Globes reported.

That’s the first time since 2007 that the country concluded 12 months with a cumulative fiscal surplus.

In the first half of 2022, there was a cumulative fiscal surplus of $9.25 billion versus a cumulative fiscal deficit of $12.67 billion in the first six months of 2021. In 2021, the government was burdened with unpaid leave payments and compensation to businesses because of the pandemic. Those payments ended in June 2021.

Israel did report its first deficit ($434.8 million) in June, ending a five-month streak of declines in the cumulative deficit.

— Compiled by Andy Gotlieb

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