Jared Kushner during a Cabinet meeting in the White House in Washington, D.C., May 9, 2018. (Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)
(JTA) — Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser, lacks the highest level of security clearance.
Kushner received a permanent “top secret” security clearance in late May, which does not allow him to review some of the government’s most sensitive secrets, the Washington Post reported Friday, citing two people familiar with his access.
Kushner has not been approved to review “sensitive compartmented information,” known as SCI, which primarily involves U.S. intelligence sources and surveillance methods, according to the newspaper.
Because of this, Kushner has been prevented from seeing some parts of the President’s Daily Brief, a highly classified summary of world events that sometimes describes intelligence programs and operatives, the Post reported.
Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell would not confirm Kushner’s current clearance level to the Washington Post. He said that the White House handled Kushner’s security clearance according to the standard process and that Kushner has sufficient access to do his job.
“After a review done in the normal course by career officials, Mr. Kushner was given his permanent White House clearances in May, and has access to all the materials and information he needs to do the domestic and international work the president has asked him to do,” Lowell said.
In February, Kushner’s clearance was downgraded from top secret to secret following a temporary clearance. The reason for the downgrade was not clear but reports at the time mentioned the fact that his family real estate business is in debt and his widespread global investments would make a businessman like him vulnerable to foreign influence.
Kushner, who is an Orthodox Jew and is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, advises the president on issues including the Middle East.
Middle East peace negotiators have traditionally had top-secret clearance, considered critical in understanding the myriad pressures facing the parties as they consider talks.
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he discussed security and diplomatic issues by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting that he had spoken with Trump and thanked him for his commitment to the security of Israel.
“Yesterday I spoke with US President Donald Trump. We discussed security and diplomatic issues in light of developments in the region, with Syria and Iran first and foremost, of course,” Netanyahu told the Cabinet.
Netanyahu said he had spoken about the same issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week in a meeting at the Kremlin. He added that he expected the issues to come up at the summit to be held Monday in Helsinki between Trump and Putin.
He reportedly briefed Trump on his meeting with Putin.
“I thanked President Trump for his strong policy against Iran because since this policy has been taken, we have seen a great effect on – and inside – Iran. President Trump clearly reiterated his commitment to the security of Israel and his willingness to help the State of Israel in various fields and, of course, I thanked him for that,” Netanyahu also said.
JERUSALEM (JTA) — The legal counsel for the observer organization group the Temporary International Presence in Hebron was ordered to leave Israel after slapping a 10-year-old boy in Hebron.
The incident occurred on Wednesday when the Swiss observer joined a tour of the area of Hebron inhabited by Jewish settlers led by the left-wing Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence. The slap across the child’s face was captured on video. It is not known what precipitated the man’s attack on the young boy.
The TIPH observer was recalled by the Swiss government, Switzerland’s ambassador to Israel, Jean-Daniel Ruch, said in a letter of apology to the leaders of the Jewish community of Hebron.
“Though this was no doubt preceded by some provocation on the side of the settlers — the action of this TIPH member is totally unacceptable. It is expected from our TIPH members that they keep their nerves in any circumstances,” Ruch wrote in the letter that was posted on Twitter by Uri Karzen, the director of Hebron’s Jewish community.
The assailant was part of the Swiss delegation and has been recalled, according to the apology letter recieved from the Ambassador of Switzerland. pic.twitter.com/jKipMZmbhq
The Jewish community of Hebron has called for the ouster of both TIPH, an international civilian observer group with observers from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey, and Breaking the Silence from Hebron.
About 500 Jews live in Hebron, which has 40,000 Palestinian residents.
A week ago, Israeli Border Police Officers manning a military position near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron ran to a Palestinian home after they heard shouts for help. When the officers arrived they discovered a nine-month-old baby had stopped breathing. They administered first aid until the medic of their unit arrived and provided life-saving treatment that allowed the Palestinian baby to breathe again and regain consciousness.
לוחמי מג"ב המוצבים במערת המכפלה הצילו הלילה את חייו של תינוק פלסטיני בן 9 חודשים: לאחר ששמעו צעקות מכיוון אחד הבתים הסמוכים לעמדת הבידוק, ניגשו למקום והבחינו בפעוט כשהוא מחוסר הכרה. הם החלו לבצע לו החייאה ראשונית עד להגעת החובש הגדודי שהמשיך בפעולות הרפואיות שהחזירו התינוק להכרה pic.twitter.com/piMyFdKixw
The Iron Dome missile battery is seen near Tel Aviv, on the first day of Operation Protective Edge, July 8, 2014. (Flash 90)
JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli military deployed an Iron Dome anti-missile defense battery in the Tel Aviv area following a “situation assessment,” the Israel Defense Forces said.
Reserve soldiers were called up on Sunday to man the batteries, according to the IDF.
The moves came a day after more than 170 rockets and mortars were fired on Israel from Gaza. At least four Israelis were injured, including two teenage girls, when a rocket struck the roof of their home in Sderot; another rocket struck a synagogue in Sderot, which was empty at the time. Israel responded by striking 40 Hamas terror targets in Gaza.
Also on Sunday, the Israeli Air Force twice launched air strikes against terror squads launching incendiary balloons at southern Israel. Fires from such balloons and kites have burned thousands of acres of farmland and woodland in southern Israel in recent weeks.
“The IDF views the launching of arson balloons and kites with great severity and will continue to operate with increasing force against those who carry out this type of terror activity,” the IDF spokesman said in a statement.
Hamas announced late on Saturday night that it would observe a ceasefire with Israel following negotiations with Egypt and with international organizations. But several mortars struck Israel following the declaration, to which Israel responded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting that although rumors were circulating that the cease fire did not include a halt to the arson balloons and kites, “this is incorrect. We are not prepared to accept any attacks against us and we will respond appropriately.”
JERUSALEM (JTA) — A group of American Jews visiting Israel on a free Birthright trip walked off the tour during a visit to the City of David in Jerusalem to visit a Palestinian family who is facing eviction from their eastern Jerusalem home.
Six of the young people came from one Birthright tour and two joined them from a second group in the Sunday walk off.
One of the members of the group who walked off the tour live streamed the event on Facebook, including interviewing each of the members about their reasons for leaving Birthright.
The group, guided by Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, visited the Sumreen family whose home in eastern Jerusalem is managed by Elad, which also runs the City of David national park. Elad is expected to settle a Jewish family in the home if the Palestinian family is evicted. After Israel declared the family home absentee property upon the death of the family patriarch, the house was to be sold to the Jewish National Fund on behalf of Elad, which is seeking the family’s eviction, according to Haaretz. The Sumreen family was unable to prove to an Israeli court that it owned the property.
The tour guide with six of the young Jews who left their Birthright group explained to them that they were free to go but that they could lose their deposit for the free trip, that Birthright could decide to charge them for the entire trip, and that they may have to pay to change their return flight.
Those who leave a Birthright tour cannot rejoin it. The eight who left their groups on Sunday planned to visit other places in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, including the Khal al-Amar Bedouin village that is planned to be demolished and a tour of Hebron with Breaking the Silence, Haaertz reported.
It is the second group of young Jews to walk off a Birthright trip in the last two weeks. On June 28, five women affiliated with the IfNotNow, a left-wing millennial Jewish group, walked off the last day of their Birthright trip to join a tour of the West Bank city of Hebron with Breaking the Silence.
Birthright has refused to show us the truth about the occupation’s impact on Palestinians, instead asking us to visit a site operated by a far-right settlement organization. We’ve decided instead to go meet with the Sumarin family, a family that has lived in East Jerusalem under threat of eviction for years to learn from them and hear their story.
SYDNEY (JTA) — International mega sports media company ESPN has removed a participant in its Australian Football League footy tips competition who had registered his screen name “Burnthejews” and has banned the person from reregistering.
The sport is known in Australia as AFL but to its myriad of supporters across the country it is affectionately called footy.
It is to many Australians what baseball and football is to Americans, and soccer and cricket are to other sporting nations.
ESPN runs an online competition in which participants forecast results weekly.
The company acted swiftly when this user name was brought to its attention.
A spokesperson for ESPN told J-Wire: “A footytips user created an account name that violated our rules. The language used is offensive and unacceptable, does not reflect our values and has no place on our site.”
“While we do have significant systems in place to prevent the use of profane, bigoted and offensive language, in this case they did not catch it early enough and we are sorry. As soon as we became aware, the accounts were immediately removed from our site and the users have been blocked from re-registering,” the spokesperson said.
Peter Wertheim, the co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told J-Wire: “As a leading global sports media company, ESPN reaches audiences in virtually every country in the world.
It is therefore especially important that it sets an appropriate standard of zero tolerance for racism in sports. Of the many thousands of people who have joined ESPN as a tipster, one of them sank to the lowest moral level by adopting an anti-Semitic online pseudonym.”
“ESPN is to be commended for taking prompt action to bar that person permanently from its platform,” Wertheim said.
SYDNEY (JTA) — Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took his 4-year-old grandson to a community kitchen housed in the Sydney Yeshiva’s complex on Grandparents Day and helped him prepare challah.
Turnbull’s grandson Jack, rose to the occasion and went home on Friday with the fruits of his labor.
During the visit, the prime minister presented a $48,000 grant to improve security arrangements for the Harry Triguboff Centre in Flood Street which currently is under renovation. The center is home to the Sydney Yeshiva, the Yeshiva school and Our Big Kitchen, a large commercial kitchen which prepares food for needy members of the Jewish community and in which 150 people were busy preparing food on Friday to be distributed to the needy.
Joined by local state lawmaker Gabrielle Upton, Jack and his grandfather quickly learned the rudiments of challah-making from Rebbetzin Laya Slavin.
Rabbi Dovid Slavin said that the prime minister, in whose electorate The Harry Triguboff Centre is located, had been a visitor many times, but now for the first time as prime minister.
He presented Turnbull with a book on the Lubavitcher Rebbe saying: “The Rebbe is the inspiration for all we do in Our Big Kitchen and the Yeshiva.”
Turnbull said that the generosity with which Harry Triguboff has given not to just the Centre but the whole community is “extraordinary.”
He said: “This is phenomenal. This is what it is all about. When we are loving and generous, this is when we are closest to God. The love you share here is very important.”
“Our Big Kitchen is an exercise in practical love,” he also said.
JERUSALEM (JTA) –Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv to protest the discriminatory aspects of the nation-state bill, which would legislate Israel as a state of the Jewish people.
The Saturday night protest, organized by several civil society and human rights organizations in conjunction with religious groups and political parties, decried a clause that would allow segregated communities, as well as the entire bill, which would become part of Israel’s Basic Law, which functions as its de-facto constitution.
The legislation, proposed by the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Likud Party, could be voted on as early as Monday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would like to see the legislation passed before the end of the Knesset’s current session next week.
In addition to the segregated communities, the bill would demote Arabic from an official language to a “special status,” would identify Jerusalem as the capital, make the Jewish calendar the state’s official calendar, and recognize Israeli days of remembrance as official holidays.
Several opposition lawmakers spoke against the legislation. “This government is destroying peace and destroying democracy and equality for a little more political capital for the tyranny of Netanyahu,” Arab Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh said at the demonstration. “The racist laws of a government that fears the power of a majority and tramples the minority will not remove us.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin last week also criticized the bill, saying it “could harm the Jewish people, Jews throughout the world, and the State of Israel, and could even be wielded as a weapon by our enemies.”
The groups participating in Saturday night’s protest said in a statement: “The nation-state law would turn racism, discrimination and segregation into an inescapable part of our lives. More than that – racism and discrimination are becoming desired and central in the State of Israel. The nation-state law will bring exclusion and damage to minorities to terrifying levels we have never seen before.” The statement also said: “Our stance is clear: all citizens – all – are equal. “we are all equal citizens – Arabs and Jews, women and men, Mizrahim, Ethiopians, those of us from the former USSR, and members of the LGBTQ community.”
(JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is under fire from some parts of the Palestinian world for his decision to attend the World Cup final in Moscow amid increased tension between Israel and Gaza.
Abbas, who will attend the final on Sunday, met on Saturday at the Kremlin with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I’m glad of the opportunity to tell you about the contact we have had with your neighbors, and leaders of various countries,” Putin told Abbas, according to Russian news sources.
“I know that the situation in the region is difficult and we are grateful that you have used the World Cup as a reason to come to Moscow,” he also said.
WAFA, the official news agency of the Palestinian Authority, reported that Putin and Abbas “discussed the latest developments in Palestine, particularly Israel’s plan to demolish Khan al-Ahmar community near Jerusalem.” The report also stated that Abbas “also discussed issues of mutual concern for Russia and Palestine and praised the historical relations between the two countries.”
Abbas was accompanied by Jibril Rjoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association and the Palestinian Olympic Committee.
The meeting came as Palestinians in Gaza shot more than 170 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel, which was met by Israeli airstrikes on at least 40 Hamas targets.
Putin met on Wednesday at the Kremlin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before the prime minister and his wife attended a FIFA World Cup semi-final match. While Netanyahu had billed the visit as a summit about regional issues, Putin had welcomed Netanyahu “during your private visit to the FIFA World Cup.”
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Over 100 high school students who have lost at least one parent were awarded scholarships from the Colel Chabad organization.
The scholarships were awarded last week at an end of the year ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.
The scholarship program by Colel Chabad, a social services organization in Israel, is in cooperation with the Barad family of New York and the Meromim Foundation.
The academic scholarships are allocated based on the student’s success throughout the year, measured by test results.
The organization provides the orphan students with support and enrichment throughout the school year, allowing those who struggle academically to get the help they need, and others to reach higher levels.
The organization though another program also helps orphan students with tuition payments.