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Likud Attacks ‘Hypocrite’ Natalie Portman For Refusing To Appear With Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party condemned Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman on Saturday for refusing to accept the $2 million Genesis Prize because of her opposition to him and his government.

“Such hypocrisy!” the party said in a statement on Saturday, according to the Times of Israel. “Natalie Portman speaks about democracy but she supported the V15 organization that tried, through foreign government funding, to disrupt democratic elections in Israel.”

V15, an anti-Netanyahu get-out-the-vote organization that received nearly $350,000 from the U.S. State Department, reportedly recorded an ad featuring Portman in response to a Likud campaign ad featuring Chuck Norris, but never released it.

“Portman speaks about human rights but takes part in festivals in countries that censor films and whose human rights record is far beneath that of Israel,” the Likud statement continued. “No excuse can help. Portman simply refuses to accept the choice of the people of Israel.”

Last year, Portman was awarded the Genesis Prize, which calls itself the “Jewish Nobel Prize,” but [said](https://forward.com/fast-forward/399386/natalie-portman-breaks-silence-on-prize-snub-and-bds/ on Friday that she refused to travel to Israel to attend the award ceremony because she “did not want to appear as endorsing … Netanyahu,” who would also be present.

The Oscar-winning actress denied that she supported the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

“Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation,” she said in her statement.

But Likud politicians have slammed her anyway. Culture Minister Miri Regev said that Portman had “fallen like a ripe fruit into the hands of the BDS movement supporters,” while Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz argued that “Boycotting Israel has elements of anti-Semitism.”

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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Jewish Man Beaten, Choked In Crown Heights While Walking Home From Synagogue

(JTA) — An identifiably Jewish man was beaten and choked while walking home from Shabbat services in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

It is the second such attack in two weeks.

The Jewish man was walking home from prayer services at about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon. He told the CrownHights.info news website that he said “good afternoon” to a man who was smoking a cigar on a street corner.

“As soon as [I greeted] him he began yelling at me ‘you fake Jews, who are you saying hello to? Your fake Jews and you stole all my money and robbed me, and stole my mortgage and my house. I want to kill you!’” the news website quoted the man as saying.

The victim said he walked away from the man quickly but that the assailant caught up with the Jewish man and put him in a chokehold and threatened to kill him.

Two women eventually separated the victim from the assailant and told him to run. He called the Jewish ambulance service Hatzalah from his home, which notified police. The victim sustained a cracked rib along with swelling, bruising and scratches over his body.

Police have opened an investigation into the attack as an assault motivated by bias.

Last Friday night a Jewish man was assaulted in the Crown Heights near 770 Eastern Parkway, the international headquarters of the Chabad movement.

The Anti-Defamation League announced on Sunday that it is offering $5,000 rewards for information leading to the arrests and convictions of the individuals responsible for both attacks.

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2,000 Barnard Alums Sign Petition Urging Trustees To Reject Student BDS Vote

Updated 6:20 p.m.

More than 2,000 alumni of Barnard College, including members of the Board of Trustees, have signed a petition urging the school administration to reject the results of a student referendum calling on them to divest from eight companies that do business in Israel.

The elite women’s college, one of the most heavily Jewish in the country, voted 64%-36% last week to ask the student government to formally call on the school’s board of trustees to divest funds from companies like Hyundai, Boeing and the Israeli national water carrier Mekorot, which allegedly violate international law against the Palestinians.

“By presenting a nuanced and complex issue as one sided and simple, it has biased the student body and failed in its duty to act as a neutral arbiter,” the petition says. “BDS is a hateful movement that pushes peace further away and stifles discussion through a misleading and one-sided portrayal of the conflict in the Middle East.”

“At Barnard, we received an education that prioritizes intellectual honesty, social justice, and an impassioned search for truth,” it continued. “But this referendum, and the manner in which it was brought to a vote, reflects none of these ideals and instead silences and marginalizes a community on our campus by refusing to accept the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.”

The student council will vote on Monday whether to follow the referendum and formally petition the school’s Board of Trustees to divest from the companies. Two trustees, Nina Rennert Davidson and Ruth Horowitz, signed the anti-BDS petition.

No university has ever actually divested from Israel or companies that do business there as a result of BDS activism. But Barnard last year became the first school in the country to divest from companies that deny climate change science, doing so in large part due to student pressure.

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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D.C. Councilman Who Said Jews Control Weather Gave Constituent Money To Farrakhan

(JTA) — Washington, D.C., councilman Trayon White said a $500 donation to the Nation of Islam was meant to show his appreciation for local black men who have helped him to reach and help local youth.

White, already under fire for saying on Facebook that rich Jews control the weather and for leaving an organized tour of the U.S. Holocaust museum, said he donated $500 to the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day gathering in Chicago from his constituent services fund because two local members asked him to.

His treasurer told The Washington Post, which first reported the donation, that the councilman had ordered him to cut the check. The constituent services funds is made up of private money raised by lawmakers to help the residents of their districts.

At the convention, Farrakhan made anti-Semitic comments, including calling “powerful Jews” his enemy and blaming Jews in Hollywood for the existence of transgender people.

White made a Facebook Live video on Saturday to defend himself against the fallout from recent events. “I’m under constant attack,” White said at the beginning of the 35-minute video.

He addressed the Rothschilds controlling the weather incident by saying that he did not know that it was an anti-Semitic canard. “But I said my apologies and I am done with that,” he continued.

White asserted that he did not leave a tour for him and his staff of the U.S. Holocaust museum early, but rather went ahead with a staff member for part of the time because “a reporter was following me.”

White said of the Nation of Islam donation that when he is called to the scene of a homicide or a crime involving a young black man, that he often gets assistance from the Brothers Huddle, and that several of those men are adherents of the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan.

White said he has gotten support from the Jewish community and singled out the progressive organization Jews United for Justice. The group on Friday issued a statement calling on White to request a refund for the donation to the Nation of Islam.

White asserted several time that he will continue to serve his constituents. “I’m not going anywhere, I’m not resigning,” he said.

D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who is Jewish, in a statement called the revelation of White’s donation “appalling.”

“I believe the Council should censure Councilmember T. White for his misuse of funds in support of Anti-Semitism and homophobia,” she said.

News

Teens Apologize For Threatening To Bomb Swedish Jews

(JTA) —  A rabbi living in the southern Swedish city of Malmo said that two teenagers who last year came to the local synagogue to threaten Jews apologized for their actions.

Moshe David HaCohen revealed the incident to the media for the first time in an interview aired Wednesday by Sveriges Radio.

The high school students, whose identity was not disclosed in the report, waited outside the synagogue in December to confront Jews, HaCohen said. They threatened to “throw bombs” on them, then fled.

The Jewish community contacted nearby high schools, leading to the identification of the teens. The principal suggested that the teens apologize, and they came to the synagogue the following week to say they are sorry, the report said. It also said police were aware of the teens’ actions but they had not been punished.

Police have referred the case to social services, according to the report, which did not name the school.

“It’s part of a bigger picture where the Jewish minority feels threatened, it’s a product of anti-Semitic rhetoric,” HaCohen told the radio station about the incident.

Following the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6, more than a dozen men hurled firebombs at a synagogue in Gothenburg, near Malmo. In Malmo, participants of a protest rally against Israel chanted in Arabic about shooting Jews following the recognition.

“We have announced the intifada from Malmö. We want our freedom back, and we will shoot the Jews,” some in the rally of 200 demonstrators shouted, according to Sveriges Radio. Intifada is the Arabic-language word for a violent uprising.

Malmo has an outsize anti-Semitism problem relative to the rest of Sweden, which has a Jewish population of some 20,000. The city’s synagogue has come under repeated attacks.

First- and second-generation immigrants from the Middle East make up one-third of Malmo’s population of approximately 300,000.

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