Israeli police question second American businessman in Netanyahu corruption probe

(JTA) – Israeli police reportedly questioned Jewish-American businessman Spencer Patrich as part of a corruption investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Haaretz reported Friday that the police have interviewed Patrich, a real estate investor who lives in Michigan. Police also have reportedly questioned Arnon Milchan, a Los Angeles filmmaker, as part of their probe. [Read more…]


Marine Le Pen’s party boots leader over Holocaust denial quote

Jean-François Jalkh, left, has been replaced at the top of France’s far-right National Front party by Steeve Briois, Henin-Beaumont’s mayor and a European Parliament member. (Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)
Jean-François Jalkh, left, has been replaced at the top of France’s far-right National Front party by Steeve Briois, Henin-Beaumont’s mayor and a European Parliament member. (Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

Jean-François Jalkh, left, has been replaced at the top of France’s far-right National Front party by Steeve Briois, Henin-Beaumont’s mayor and a European Parliament member. (Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) – The leadership of the far-right National Front party in France replaced its pick for interim president following reports he had denied aspects of the Holocaust.

Jean-François Jalkh, who took Marine Le Pen’s place at the helm this week temporarily in connection with her campaign ahead of the May 7 runoff in the presidential elections, was replaced on Friday, two days after his appointment, by Steeve Briois, the mayor of Henin Beaumont and a member of the European Parliament, the Le Point magazine reported.

On Thursday, the Le Monde daily reported that Jalkh is disputing the veracity of quotes attributed to him in an interview from 2000 in which he was quoted as questioning the use of the Zyklon B poison by Nazis during the Holocaust to kill Jews.

“Personally, I think that it is impossible from a technical point of view to use for mass extermination,” he said of the use of Zyklon B in gas chambers. “Why? Because it takes several days for a place where Zyklon B was used to be decontaminated.”

Louis Aliot, the life-partner of Marine Le Pen and a senior National Front member, did not offer an explanation for the decision to replace Jalkh, whom Aliot said “did not make the statements” attributed to him.

“We condemn these sort of views,” Aliot added.

Claims based on bogus science and chemistry especially is a tactic of Holocaust deniers, notably David Irving of the United Kingdom.

According to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, “Zyklon B was delivered to the camps in crystal pellet form. As soon as the pellets were exposed to air they turned into poisonous gas. A Nazi equipped with a gas mask would empty the crystals into the packed gas chamber through a small opening. Within minutes, the victims were dead.”

National Front’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has several convictions for denying aspects of the Holocaust, as well as for inciting racial hatred against Jews.

His daughter, who succeeded him in 2011 as party leader, has attempted to rehabilitate the party’s image, condemning the Holocaust and distancing herself from her father’s anti-Semitic rhetoric. But last month she said that “France is not responsible” for its authorities’ actions during the Nazi occupation, when French police officers helped Nazis round up Jews and send them to be murdered.

Under Marine Le Pen, the National Front has seen a purge in which dozens of members were kicked out of the party for making anti-Semitic statements or expressing revisionist views about the Holocaust. She kicked her father out of the party in 2015 for making anti-Semitic statements about a Jewish singer, whom Jean-Marie Le Pen said should “go into the oven.”

National Front won just over 21 per cent of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections on April 23, trailing the centrist, independent candidate Emmanuel Macron by two points. It was the best result in the history of National Front, which made it to the second round for the first time in 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen won 18 per cent of the vote in the first round.

In a poll from earlier this week conducted by Paris Match, CNews and Sud Radio, 60.5 per cent of respondents said they would vote for Macron on May 7, compared to 39.5 per cent who said they would vote for Le Pen.


U.S. senators to UN: Treatment of Israel ‘must change’

(JTA) – All 100 members of the U.S. Senate signed a letter to the leader of the United Nations (UN) urging a comprehensive effort to remedy the organization’s “anti-Israel agenda.”

The letter, sent Thursday to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, praised Guterres’ recent decision to disavow an anti-Israel report from the U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and identified four specific areas where further action could be taken rectify the “unacceptable” treatment of Israel at the world body. [Read more…]


University of Wisconsin student resolution blames Israel for police violence against African-Americans

(JTA) – The student government of the University of Wisconsin-Madison included an amendment specifically targeting Israel in a resolution calling for divestment from companies operating in many countries.

The resolution was passed Wednesday by the Associated Students of Madison by a 24-0 vote, with two abstentions. It calls on the university and its foundation to divest from companies involved in private prisons, arms manufacture, fossil fuels and border walls, and banks that “oppress marginalized communities.” [Read more…]


Israel’s population is 8.68 million on eve of 69th birthday

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s population stands at 8.68 million on the eve of Israel Independence Day.

The figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Thursday ahead of the nation’s 69th birthday on Monday show that the country’s population is growing by nearly two per cent a year and that there are 10 times as many Israelis today as there were when the state was founded in 1948. [Read more…]


Palestinian Authority to stop paying Israel for electricity used in Hamas-run Gaza

(JTA) – The Palestinian Authority (PA) will stop paying Israel for the electricity it provides to the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Hamas terror organization.

In a move seen as a way for the Palestinian Authority to pressure Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza, the PA informed the co-ordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, on Thursday that it would stop the payments effective immediately. Hamas seized power in Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. [Read more…]