Globe Briefs December 23
Trump nominates David Friedman as ambassador to Israel
President-elect Donald Trump is nominating a top Jewish surrogate, David Friedman, to be ambassador to Israel, with a statement saying Friedman will serve from Jerusalem and describing the city as “Israel’s eternal capital.”
Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer, for years has worked for Trump and his real estate development business. He and Jason Greenblatt, another Trump lawyer, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, have served as Trump’s key emissaries to the Jewish community. Friedman this week briefed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on what to expect from a Trump presidency.
The Trump transition team’s statement said Friedman — who like the incumbent ambassador, Dan Shapiro, speaks Hebrew — intends “to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Congress recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 1995 and mandated the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but successive presidents have exercised a waiver in the law, citing national security interests. U.S. security officials believe that moving the embassy to Jerusalem, a city holy to Christians and Muslims as well as Jews, and claimed by the Palestinians as their capital, would precipitate anti-American violence in the region and beyond.
In what has become a feature of transition statements, the release included a dig at the outgoing Obama administration.
“The bond between Israel and the United States runs deep, and I will ensure there is no daylight between us when I’m President,” Trump said in the statement. “As the United States’ Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman will maintain the special relationship between our two countries.”
President Barack Obama increased U.S.-Israel defense and intelligence sharing, but challenged the practice of his two immediate predecessors — Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — of keeping diplomatic disagreements behind closed doors. Early in his administration, Obama told Jewish leaders the policy of “no daylight” had not advanced peace in the region.
American Jewish filmmaker says he was attacked by Arabic speakers in Stockholm
American journalist Ami Horowitz said he was physically assaulted by men speaking Arabic while filming in an immigrant neighborhood of Stockholm.
Horowitz, who is Jewish, was attacked recently in Husby while filming a documentary about the effects of immigration in Sweden, the British Daily Mail newspaper reported earlier this week. Many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, as well as southern Asia, live in the neighborhood.
The incident occurred after locals saw Horowitz filming around the neighborhood, a so-called no-go zone. Several men approached the crew and said they did not want to be filmed. Swedish law allows for filming public spaces regardless of the consent of passers-by.
“My crew ran off when they approached, but since I was miked we have the first few seconds of the attack,” said Horowitz, of Los Angeles.
“They repeatedly punched, kicked and choked me, as a number of bystanders watched. Eventually they dragged me into a building, which at the time I assumed was to finish me off,” said Horowitz. But his attackers fled without causing him major physical injury after Horowitz said “someone opened an apartment door directly above us, and it luckily spooked them enough to run away.”
In the recording, Horowitz can be heard asking: “How come it’s a problem to film here?” before an unidentified man answers: “I don’t want to be filmed.”
Horowitz, who also made a documentary called “UN Me” criticizing the United Nations, said he told police about the attack but was told that nothing could be done, the Daily Mail reported.
Last year, Fox News aired footage secretly filmed by Horowitz at three Irish shops. Retailers who boycott Israeli products agreed to do business with Sudan, Iran and North Korea, which Horowitz pretended to represent.
More than 1 in 5 Israelis living below poverty line
More than 20 percent of Israelis are living below the poverty line, according to the country’s annual poverty report, showing a slight drop from the previous year.
The data for the report released Dec. 15 by the National Insurance Institute was gathered by the Central Bureau of Statistics from a survey of 9,000 Israeli households.
According to the report, in 2015 there were 1,712,900 people living below the poverty line, or 21.7 percent of the population. That was a decrease from the 22 percent in 2014.
For an individual, the poverty line is one living on less than 3,158 shekels, or $821 a month.
Some 460,800 families, or 19.1 percent, were living below the poverty line, including 764,200 children. That was a slight rise from the 18.8 percent in 2014.
According to the report, the poor in 2015 were poorer than in 2014, with the gap between income and the poverty line increasing.
The poverty rate among haredi Orthodox families decreased to 48.7 percent from 54.3 percent a year earlier. Haredi families make up 17 percent of the poor families in Israel. A rise in child benefits and more employment were seen as reasons for the decrease.
The poverty rate among Arab-Israeli families increased to 53.3 percent from 52.6 percent in 2014. The report said it was not clear why the rate increased, noting the rise in child benefits.