Israeli flag burned in front of Budapest synagogue


An Israeli flag was burned in front of a Budapest synagogue reportedly by members of Jobbik, an ultrarightist Hungarian political party.

Tuesday's incident took place at the Dohany Street Synagogue, in the downtown central part of the Hungarian capital. Jobbik members reportedly were taking part in the day's events recalling the Hungarian anti-communist revolution in 1956.

Israel's ambassador to Hungary, Ilan Mor, appearing Tuesday on the liberal opposition’s Hungarian television program on the ATV channel, demanded that “Hungarian democratic forces should refuse this unacceptable anti-Israeli act and criticism.”

Jobbik leader Gabor Vona as part of the revolt's commemoration criticized any cooperation between Hungary and Israel, saying the “agreement between Hungary and Israel should be canceled.”

Haredi Orthodox burn Israeli flag in Antwerp


Dozens of haredi Orthodox schoolchildren participated in a Lag b’Omer bonfire in Antwerp that featured the burning of an Israeli flag.

An eyewitness who photographed the event on May 10 said the boys attended a cheder of the Satmar community—an anti-Zionist Chasidic stream of approximately 150,000 adherents worldwide.

The picture, taken in an interior courtyard, shows a middle-aged man burning a handmade Israeli flag as some 30 boys watch.

“This is one of the first times we have seen this sort of thing in recent years,” Michael Freilich, editor in chief of Belgium’s leading Jewish publication, Joods Actueel, told JTA.

According to Freilich, the flag-burning ceremony provoked “a lot of anger” within Antwerp’s haredi Orthodox community. Followers of the Chasidic schools of Lubavitch and Belz spoke out against the burning, Freilich said, but the Satmar leadership in Antwerp remains unrepentant.

The last organized instance of flag burning by Belgian Jews was in the 1980s during a few demonstrations outside the Israeli Embassy.

The Satmar movement opposes Zionism because it believes the establishment of a Jewish state should only come after the arrival of the Jewish Messiah.

“Regardless of the complexities of attitudes to Israel in the ultra-Orthodox world,” Freilich said, “many feel that the political act of burning a flag is wholly inappropriate during a Jewish holiday like Lag b’Omer, which is meant to unite, not divide.”

Vandalism on Safed synagogues being probed as retaliation for mosque arson


Police are investigating vandalism on four synagogues in Safed as possible retaliation for a mosque arson in northern Israel.

The words “Death to Jews” were spray-painted on the synagogues and a car Tuesday night in the northern Israeli city.

The mosque arson took place on Oct. 2 in the Bedouin Arab town of Tuba Zanghariya. Two Arab cemeteries in Jaffa also were vandalized last week.

“This is an unusual phenomenon, which does not characterize the nature of the relationship between Jews and Arabs in Safed,” the city’s mayor, Ilan Shohat, told Haaretz. “Just as we condemn the desecration of Islamic holy sites, so we condemn despicable acts like this.”

Two suspects, men with ties to the West Bank, have been arrested in the mosque arson. The attack is being called a “price tag” attack, in which extremist settlers exact a price in attacks on Palestinians in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or for Palestinian attacks on Jews.

The mosque attack referenced the death of a West Bank resident who was killed in a rock attack on his car.

Second suspect arrested in mosque arson


A second suspect was arrested in connection with the burning of a mosque in a Bedouin-Arab town in northern Israel.

Few details have been released about the second suspect, who reportedly is a resident of the West Bank. He was scheduled to appear Monday in a Tel Aviv court for a hearing on extending his remand.

An 18-year old Jewish man from northern Israel was arrested hours after the Oct. 2 torching of the main mosque of the Upper Galilee town of Tuba Zanghariya. He reportedly studied at a West Bank yeshiva.

Both suspects are suspected of “direct involvement” in the arson attack, Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told news agencies.

State Department condemns West Bank mosque torching


The United States condemned the torching of a West Bank mosque.

“This attack is the latest of several such acts of violence against West Bank mosques. These incidents have served to undermine efforts to promote a comprehensive peace in the region. We call on the Israeli government to investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice, and for calm from all parties,” said Mark Toner, deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.

Burning tires were rolled into the mosque in the Maghayer village near Ramallah on Tuesday, setting rugs in the building on fire, according to reports. The building sustained fire damage; no deaths or injuries were reported. Village officials blamed Jewish settlers for the attack, though no suspects have been named.

The mosque’s walls also were sprayed with graffiti that reportedly read “Alei Ayin”—the name of a nearby settlement outpost that was demolished last week by Israeli police. Other slogans spray-painted on the wall reportedly read “Price Tag” and “This is only the beginning.”

“Price tag” refers to the strategy extremist settlers have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians in retribution for settlement freezes or their attacks on Jews.

A joint Israeli police-military investigation has been launched into the incident.

The American Jewish Committee also condemned the attack.

“No house of worship, whatever the faith, should be so targeted and willfully damaged,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “We categorically condemn this attack on a mosque and hope the perpetrators will soon be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There can be no excuse, no explanation, and no justification for such a brazen assault and desecration.”

Several West Bank mosques have been torched in the last year; most of the incidents were blamed on Jewish settlers.

12 killed in attack on U.N. compound in northern Afghanistan [VIDEO]


Afghan protesters angered by the burning of a Koran by a U.S. pastor killed at least 12 U.N. workers in Mazar-e Sharif, washingtonpost.com reports.

At least 12 people were killed in Afghanistan Friday, most of them foreigners, when a United Nations compound was stormed by Afghans enraged by a Florida pastor’s burning of a Koran, according to Afghan officials.

Thousands of protesters mobilized after a midday sermon, then surged toward the offices of the United Nations in Mazar-e Sharif, northern Afghanistan’s largest city and normally a bastion of calm.

Some in the crowd broke into the U.N. office and attacked the staff, killing security guards and members of the U.N. mission, officials said.

The attack drew worldwide attention, which had been diverted in recent weeks from the Afghan war by upheaval in the Middle East, and threatened to undermine administration efforts to portray Afghanistan as moving steadily toward stability.

Video courtesy of AP.