Globe Briefs February 10
Israeli security officials met secretly with Trump security advisers
Israeli security officials reportedly met in secret with senior security advisers to President Donald Trump to coordinate policy between Israel and the new U.S. administration.
The meeting took place two weeks ago, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed to Haaretz that the meeting took place but did not divulge what was discussed.
Yossi Cohen, who heads the Mossad security agency, and acting National Security Adviser Jacob Nagel met with Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, and other officials two days before the Jan. 20 inauguration, according to the report. Cohen and Nagel also met in early December with Trump officials, the report said. Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, reportedly was present at both meetings.
The talks focused on Iran, the situation in Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the report.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House on Feb. 15, their first meeting since Trump assumed office.
Since Trump took office, Israel has announced the approval of more than 6,000 new housing units in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Last week, the Trump administration said the new construction “may not be helpful” in making peace between Israel and the Palestinians, though the statement refrained from some of the thickets of disagreement that frustrated relations between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor, including neither calling for a stop on building in existing settlements nor calling settlements an impediment to peace.
Marine Le Pen: French Jews should sacrifice yarmulke
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen said French Jews should give up the wearing of yarmulkes as part of the country’s struggle to defeat radical Islam.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that aired Friday, Le Pen expressed support for banning the wearing of yarmulkes as part of her broader effort to outlaw religious symbols in public, Britain’s Jewish Chronicle reported Sunday.
“Honestly, the dangerous situation in which Jews in France live is such that those who walk with a kippah are in any case a minority because they are afraid,” Le Pen said, using the Hebrew word for yarmulke. “But I mainly think the struggle against radical Islam should be a joint struggle and everyone should say, ‘There, we are sacrificing something.’”
Referring to French Jews, Le Pen added: “Maybe they will do with just wearing a hat, but it would be a step in the effort to stamp out radical Islam in France.”
Le Pen is a leading contender in the upcoming French presidential contest, with a recent poll showing her advancing to the second round of balloting in May but still losing handily to front-runner Emmanuel Marcon. Her political party, the National Front, was founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who routinely minimized the Holocaust.
The younger Le Pen has sought to move the party past her father’s controversies, but French Jewish leaders still consider the National Front anti-Semitic.
UC Riverside student gov’t votes to remove Sabra hummus
The student government at the University of California, Riverside, unanimously voted to approve a resolution calling for the removal of Sabra brand hummus from campus dining services.
The resolution passed last week in a
13-0 vote with one abstention. The resolution is not enforceable, and the UC Riverside administration says it has no plans to remove the hummus.
The removal was requested because the Sabra company’s joint owner is the Israel-based Strauss Group, which allegedly supports the Israeli military. The campus organization Students for Justice in Palestine backed the resolution.
“Sabra Dipping Company is owned by two independent global food companies — PepsiCo, based in the U.S., and Strauss Group, which is headquartered in Israel,” Sabra spokeswoman Ilya Welfeld said in a statement issued to the local NBC affiliate.
“Each company is a separate entity and independent company,” she said, adding that Sabra has “no political positions or affiliations.”
In 2015, the campus dining service removed Sabra hummus after being approached by the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on campus. Tapaz2Go hummus, from Mediterranean Snacks, briefly replaced Sabra, but Sabra hummus was restored after the university realized that a political position was an underlying political position for its removal.
In March 2014, the school’s student government passed a resolution urging administrators to divest from Israel, but rescinded it the following month.
DePaul University briefly stopped offering Sabra hummus in 2011 before reinstating it, and a year earlier, students at Princeton University voted on the issue. In neither case was Sabra hummus permanently removed from the campus dining facilities.
Leading U.K. Jewish lawmaker: Trump should not be invited to address Parliament
The Jewish speaker of Britain’s House of Commons said President Donald Trump should not be welcomed to address the British Parliament.
“Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall,” John Bercow told his colleagues on Monday, referring to Trump’s temporary order barring entry to refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations. “After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump, I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.”
Bercow’s comments were greeted with enthusiastic applause.
Trump was invited to visit Britain by Prime Minister Theresa May, who met with the president at the White House last month. Trump announced he would be visiting the United Kingdom later this year.
Bercow, whose paternal grandparents were Romanian Jewish immigrants to England, attended the Finchley Reform Synagogue and had a bar mitzvah, though he now considers himself secular.
As one of the three so-called key holders at Westminster Hall, Bercow said he would use his position to prevent Trump from addressing Parliament. Saying the decision whether to invite him to England at all is “way beyond and above the pay grade of the speaker,” Bercow said that opposition to racism and sexism and support for an independent judiciary are “hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”
Addressing Parliament, Bercow said, is an “earned honor,” not an “automatic right.”