U.S. decries ‘loss of innocent life, Israeli or Palestinian’


The State Department expressed its concerns about escalating violence in Israel on the day of deadly terror attacks against Israelis.

Three Israelis were killed and more than 20 injured in a rash of attacks on Tuesday. Two of the assailants were killed during the attacks, and a Palestinian man in his 20s was killed that afternoon amid clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank, according to reports.

“We mourn any loss of innocent life, Israeli or Palestinian,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “We continue to stress the importance of condemning violence and combating incitement. We are in regular contact with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. We remain deeply concerned about escalating tensions and urge all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and prevent actions that would further escalate tensions.”

Presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ted Cruz condemned the attacks on Israelis.

Clinton, the front-runner among Democrats, called for an end to the wave of attacks in a statement released Monday.

“Men and women living in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere cannot carry groceries or travel to prayer without looking over their shoulder,” said Clinton, who served as secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term in office. “It is wrong, and it must stop. There’s no place for violence — only dialogue can produce a lasting peace.”

Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas vying for the Republican nomination, read his Oct. 8 statement into the Congressional Record.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Israeli people who are enduring a new escalation of Palestinian terrorism,” he said. “These attacks have been incubated by the continued incitement and glorification of violence by the Palestinian leadership, most recently by President Mahmoud Abbas during his address at the United Nations General Assembly. He still has yet to categorically condemn these attacks.

“It is long past time for the United States and the international community to hold the Palestinians accountable for their incitement and support for terrorism, including through the financial payment to Palestinian terrorists who are jailed in Israel for committing acts of terrorism.”

In the statement, Cruz pointed out that one victim of the recent attacks, Eitam Henkin, was a dual American-Israeli citizen.

The deadliest day in recent wave of violence across Israel


This article originally appeared on The Media Line.

Four separate attacks in one morning have marked Tuesday as the bloodiest day in the recent wave of violence plaguing Israel. Three Israelis were killed and more than twenty others injured in attacks in Jerusalem and the central city of Ra'anana.

It was the most violent day in Jerusalem since last November, when two attackers using knives and a pistol killed four Jewish worshippers and an off-duty policeman who tried to stop them.

The most serious incident Tuesday took place on a bus in Armon Hanatziv, a Jewish neighborhood in southern Jerusalem, when two Palestinian assailants, one armed with a pistol and the other with a knife, attacked passengers. The assault occurred in close proximity to the adjacent Arab neighborhood of Jabal Mukkabir, killing two and injuring 17 others.

“A report came in of a shooting incident. When we arrived on scene we found multiple gunshot wound victims inside the bus…. with severe injuries,” Ahron Adler, a paramedic with Magen David Adom, told The Media Line, with traces of blood still on his hands. Both perpetrators were shot by police during the assault, with one killed at the scene and the second arrested and taken to the hospital.

Minutes later, a Palestinian man drove a vehicle into a number of pedestrians waiting at a bus stop in Geula. The assailant exited the vehicle and began stabbing pedestrians before being shot and killed by a security guard. One of the victims of that attack was killed and two others injured.

The timing of both incidents so close together raised the possibility that the three assailants had coordinated the violence. “We’re obviously looking into seeing if there was any connection whatsoever between both attacks,” Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli Police spokesperson, told The Media Line. A later police statement revealed that all three men were residents of Jabal Mukkabir and that it appeared likely the attacks were planned.

Outside of Jerusalem, two separate stabbings took place in Ra'anana, an upscale suburb of Tel Aviv home to many English-speaking immigrants to Israel. In the first incident an Israeli was injured and the assailant arrested. A second stabbing resulted in four people being injured and the perpetrator being apprehended after a passing driver prevented his escape from the scene by driving into him.

The continuation and apparent escalation of the violence has led to calls for the police and the Israeli government to act more decisively to stem attacks. Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat called for gun owners to bear arms as a response to the wave of unrest.

“I don’t have good news for people that are carrying knives. If you carry a knife and you want to kill… you won’t go back home,” Barkat said to journalists at the scene of the bus attack.

The mayor stressed the differences in how guns are perceived in Israel compared to other countries around the world and suggested weapons could make the streets safer, not the reverse.

“In Israel it’s a big advantage, if you look back at a number of cases, soldiers, ex-soldiers with rifles or pistols were actually the one who neutralized the terrorist,” Barkat argued.

Some Jerusalemites have argued that curfews should be placed on Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem as the majority of assailants have originated from there. This is something that the municipality is considering, Ofer Berkovitch, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, told The Media Line. “The security of the residents of Jerusalem is more important than freedom of movement for anyone and we need more drastic measures,” he said.

“The call to carry guns must be taken carefully – only those with experience, who have a license should carry. We are not talking about taking the law into your own hands,” The Deputy Mayor explained, adding that he considered the deaths of Palestinian attackers as a deterrent to those who would copy them.

Motivations for Palestinians to carry out attacks are complicated and stem from nationalism, religious conviction and the false belief that Israel is trying to change the status quo regarding the Al-Aqsa Moqsue, Berkovitch explained. But poverty in Arab neighborhoods did play a role, the deputy mayor acknowledge, saying, “There is no doubt that the fact that east Jerusalem does not look like west Jerusalem is significant.” This however was something the municipality was working to address and in no way justified killing people, Berkovitch concluded.

Today’s events brings the number of Israeli fatalities from attacks in the last month to seven. In the same time period at least 27 Palestinians have died violently. At least eleven were killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis according to security forces, while the others were killed during clashes between Palestinian protestors and security forces including at least nine killed on the border with the Gaza Strip during violent clashes.

Israeli police arrest Palestinian with knife one day after bus stabbing


Israel Police arrested a Palestinian man wielding a knife in an Israeli city, one day after another Palestinian man who had crossed illegally into Israel stabbed passengers on a Tel Aviv bus.

The 22-year-old man was arrested in the central Israeli city of Raanana Thursday. He attempted to stab the police officers arresting him and was carrying a second knife, according to the Times of Israel.

The incident comes one day after at least 12 people were stabbed by Palestinian Hamza Muhammed Hasan Matrouk, 23, from the West Bank city of Tulkarem, on a Tel Aviv bus.

Four of the victims were wounded critically, including the bus driver, whose condition improved Thursday.

On Thursday, Israeli security forces raided three houses in Tulkarem in an investigation of Wednesday’s attack, arresting two Palestinians — a friend and a relative of Matrouk.

Rising aspirations at Ran Zimon’s Bread Lounge


Baker Ran Zimon leads a visitor through the doorway separating the cafe area from the kitchen of Bread Lounge, his neighborhood bakery in the Arts District downtown. The temperature suddenly jumps at least 10 degrees. “It reminds me of Israel,” Zimon says with a sly smile. 

This aspect of the bakery’s arrangement wasn’t intentional. Nor was the genesis of Zimon’s professional path. The Ra’anana native describes his career as having happened “by mistake.” But better to describe it as a happy accident, as Zimon’s unplanned success thus far and his dedication to his trade can’t be described as anything other than great news, both for him and for the bread lovers of Los Angeles. 

Zimon’s story doesn’t involve early-identified destiny. As a child, he wasn’t interested in food, short of eating it, nor would he trail his parents around the kitchen. “I was an ordinary guy,” he says with a shrug. Instead, for “weird” reasons Zimon still doesn’t quite understand, he bought a book about baking one afternoon when he was in his 20s. An odd move, as this son of a librarian never needed to buy books. (His father is a retired employee of an electrical company.) He then found a job as a baker in a cafe after responding to a classified newspaper ad that was two months out of date. 

“It wasn’t [as if] I wanted to pursue my dream to be a baker. It just happened,” he explains. “Once I started working in the bakery, I fell in love with it, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” So the trim, clean-headed, quick-talking Zimon will don flour-dusted baker’s garb for the foreseeable future. 

Zimon didn’t plan to live in the United States, either. He wanted to open a bakery in Tel Aviv but accepted an offer to visit relatives in West Los Angeles before settling down into what he knew would be a grueling work routine. Upon arrival, the natural entrepreneur wanted to tour local bakeries and instantly saw an opportunity. “When I asked what’s the best bread I can get here, everybody said La Brea Bakery in the supermarket,” he remembers. “If that’s the best bread you can get in L.A., then we have to do something about it.” 

Zimon got to work. He got his affairs in order in Israel so he could move, returned to Los Angeles in 2007, found a shared kitchen on the Westside and started making a small repertoire of baguettes and a few loaves based on his natural sourdough starter, which he brought home each day rather than tempt fate by leaving it in the commercial kitchen where it might accidentally get tossed away. Zimon’s first wholesale clients were Wally’s Wine & Spirits, Monsieur Marcel and Church & State. He also took a side job baking breads for Suzanne Goin’s beloved Lucques and A.O.C. restaurants. 

Given all this, he began to search for suitable commercial kitchen and retail space on the Westside, and at a point of frustration at the costs and real estate hurdles there, he reached out to Yuval Bar-Zemer, a developer with Linear City, who was also a family friend. It was Bar-Zemer who eventually brought Zimon to the now-burgeoning Arts District. (Linear City is the company behind some of the larger-scale developments in the area, such as the Toy Factory and Biscuit Company lofts.) “We came here, put in my little mixer and my little oven, and we started,” Zimon modestly recalls of his downtown bakery’s origins in 2010. What came out of that oven generated big demand and a cult following among the city’s leading chefs, including Walter Manzke (then at Church & State), Craig Thornton of Wolvesmouth underground supper club, and Jessica Koslow of Sqirl. 

Bread Lounge’s nondescript concrete block building sits on Sante Fe Avenue at the very eastern edge of downtown, adjacent to where the Seventh Street bridge arcs over the Los Angeles River. The absence of a sign or a Web site isn’t a deliberate move to cultivate mystique. Zimon is just “too busy” focusing on his products. His cafe component is now just over a year old, almost the same age as his son. 

Baker Ran Zimon

Zimon says he tried to keep his business quiet at first, but, “Once we opened, they all came here. It’s a really great community. I’m so happy I’m here.” Bread Lounge’s minimalist style fits into the aesthetics of the area, which has all the hallmarks of a commercial and industrial urban neighborhood in the throes of intense growing pains and identity shifts: destination-worthy restaurants tucked into former warehouses, top-quality coffee, new residential buildings, along with practically deserted streets at night and some crime. 

Folks come out of the woodwork and congregate at daytime hubs around the Arts District — at Bread Lounge as well as at nearby simpatico businesses: Urth Caffé, The Daily Dose, Wurstküche, Pizzanista! and Handsome Coffee Roasters. Zimon says he has noticed an increase in Israeli clientele, as well, thanks to word of mouth. While we are talking, chef Ori Menashe of Bestia drops in with a fellow Hebrew-speaking chef from his kitchen for a Mediterranean breakfast. They all catch up on neighborhood news and food industry shoptalk. 

As for what Zimon and crew like to bake: “We try to combine the classic — French, European baking — and then bring some Mediterranean flavors we relate to and things that will work with the American palate. Sometimes it works, sometimes not,” Zimon notes. Customers stock up on the gorgeous baguettes, olive loaves, ciabatta, plus house-made jams, cookies and granola packed to go, as well as sandwiches, soups and daily specials. Don’t, however, come to Bread Lounge looking for typical American treats because Zimon isn’t interested in cashing in on the cupcake craze or making bagels. If the latter happens, it’s in the form of a taut sesame-crusted Jerusalem bagel, which Zimon had only started making a couple of days before we met. Bread Lounge’s staff currently numbers somewhere between 20 and 25.

It’s an example of the fluid business-in-progress model that suits him best. “We don’t really plan anything, we just go with the flow,” Zimon says. That doesn’t mean he’s without a guiding philosophy or a perfectionist’s streak. “When you do something you love, it usually turns out better.”

RAN ZIMON’S ROSH HASHANAHHONEY CAKE 

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 cup very hot coffee

Preheat oven to 325 F.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugar, honey and spices.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring only until no lumps. Do not overmix.

Add hot coffee in two to three increments, and quickly mix in.

Turn into two parchment-lined 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, filling pans only 2/3 full, to prevent overflowing while baking.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until cakes test done. 

Makes 2 loaves.

After career in Congress, Peter Deutsch finds new life in Israel


When U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch lost his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2004, forcing him out of Congress for the first time in 12 years, he didn’t quite know what to do with himself.

So he did something not entirely uncommon among American Jews who haven’t quite figured out their next step: He went to Israel.

More than eight years later, Deutsch is still here, living with his family in Raanana, a Tel Aviv suburb. His 22-year-old son recently completed a stint as a combat soldier in the Israeli army, and his 21-year-old daughter is studying at an Orthodox women’s seminary.

Deutsch’s move is more than just atypical; it’s unprecedented. He is the only member of Congress ever to have moved to Israel, and he may be the only living ex-congressman who is an expatriate.

He’s also unusual in one other respect: Deutsch is an Orthodox Jew, which helps explain his unorthodox choices.

“I’m heavily invested in being in Israel in a real way,” Deutsch told JTA during a recent interview at his home in a luxury high-rise with sweeping views of the Mediterranean coastline and the Judean hills. “My son was in a combat unit in the Israeli army. I have skin in the game in terms of Israeli society.”

Puttering around his apartment in jeans, gray T-shirt and black suede yarmulke, Deutsch, 56, hasn’t quite left America behind. He has declined to take Israeli citizenship and doesn’t speak Hebrew. He frequently travels back to Florida, where he spent 22 years in public service — first as a state legislator, then as a Democrat in Congress.

Though no longer a politician, Deutsch still practices a form of public service as legal counsel to Ben Gamla, an 1,800-student Hebrew-language charter school network in South Florida that he founded. The work, for which he is not paid and which takes up nearly all his professional time, has him working American hours in Israel. His income comes from investments, Deutsch says. He also sits on the board of the Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation, a publicly traded firm.

“I still clearly live in two worlds,” Deutsch says. “I feel very much at home in both places.”

Deutsch’s move to Israel began as a sabbatical after having spent five successive Augusts in Israel while in Congress. The first year stretched into a second, and then another. Soon Deutsch’s kids were starting high school in Israel. Before long he had bought two apartments in Raanana.

What propelled him to Israel, Deutsch says, was the opportunity to be part of the historic return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land. Deutsch notes that Israel recently surpassed the United States as the largest Jewish community in the world, the first time Israel has held that distinction in two millennia.

“When something happens for the first time in 2,000 years, I think you ought to at least think about it a little bit,” Deutsch said.

Deutsch sees a bright future for Judaism in Israel but a dark one for American Jewry, something he bases in part on his own experience growing up as a secular Jew in the Bronx.

Schooled at the elite Horace Mann School in the New York borough, Swarthmore College and Yale Law School, Deutsch moved to South Florida in 1982 because he wanted to get involved in politics and believed he could do best in a place with a rapidly growing population. It didn’t hurt that his parents owned a condo in Broward County, where Deutsch could live rent free. Almost immediately, Deutsch was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He was just 25.

His Jewish awakening came later, and by the time he was elected to Congress at age 35, he was fully Orthodox. Though he belonged to a synagogue and sent his children to Jewish day school, Deutsch kept his observance quiet, in stark contrast to the other Orthodox member of Congress at the time, Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Deutsch believes that most American Jews today view their Jewish background much as he did when he was younger, and with the same dispassion as Americans of Greek or Polish or Italian extraction might view their ancestral origins: as little more than a footnote to their identity.

“Do they feel bad about marrying a gentile? It’s irrelevant,” Deutsch said. “They’re not in their minds going away from Judaism, rejecting their parents, struggling to become part of the mainstream society — they’re not thinking about that. It’s a non-event. In a sense, that is the American Jewish story today.”

The Ben Gamla charter schools are Deutsch’s effort to change that. He wants to give Jewish kids who otherwise would attend public school an opportunity to be in a Jewish environment and develop a Jewish identity — at taxpayer expense.

As public schools, the Ben Gamlas cannot teach religion, but the schools have a Jewish flavor. The Hebrew curriculum includes Israel education and Jewish history, and most of the schools are located on Jewish community campuses. Some 85 percent of the students are Jewish. Supplementary after-school religious programs take place onsite or nearby.

Deutsch is unabashed about using public money to support what he describes as Jewish identity-building. Out of Ben Gamla’s collective budget of $10 million a year, Deutsch says 80 percent serves Jewish communal purposes.

“To me, it is literally the best leverage that I’m aware of in Jewish communal stuff in the history of the Jewish people,” Deutsch says. “Jews need to be supportive of this endeavor.”

Though he has been in Israel for nearly a decade, Deutsch says he has no interest in becoming involved in the country’s politics. Nor does he miss U.S. politics or regret foregoing easy reelection to the House of Representatives so he could run for Senate. (Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz now represents Deutsch’s district.)

“Your success or your failure is not your success or your failure because God rules the world,” Deutsch said. “All you can do is make the effort.”

Report: Talks between Waze and Facebook break down


Talks between an Israeli technology firm and Facebook reportedly broke down over the Israeli company’s insistence on staying in the country.

The navigation company Waze had been in talks to be acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. But the negotiations reportedly broke down over Waze officials’ stipulation that the company’s managers and employees remain in their Raanana, Israel headquarters instead of relocating to Menlo Park, Calif.

The report of the breakdown in talks was reported Wednesday by the website AllThingsD, citing sources close to the deal.

Neither Waze, a free downloadable navigation app with more than 34 million subscribers, nor Facebook has publicly addressed reports of a breakdown in negotiations.

Waze reportedly is also in talks with Google and Apple.

Apple to open third research center in Israel


Apple will open its third research and development center in Israel.

The tech giant's new center will open later this year in Raanana's industrial zone, the Israeli business daily Globes reported, but no official date has been set.

Apple will bring aboard some 150 employees from Texas Instruments, whose Israel branch suffered major layoffs several weeks ago.

The website Next Web had reported that Intel was offering “healthy compensation packages” to lure engineers and nearly spoiled Apple's plan to open the Raanana site.

Apple opened an R&D center last year in Haifa and also acquired the Herzliya-based flash memory developer Anobit.

Qualcomm acquires Israeli start-up for $150 million


San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. acquired the Israeli chip manufacturer start-up DesignArt Networks for more than $150 million.

The Israeli company, located in Raanana, is considered a leader in the design of modems and small communication cells for cellular base stations and high-speed wireless backhaul infrastructure.

“DesignArt and its products will both enhance and accelerate our initiatives to drive increased capacity and coverage in mobile networks,” Qualcomm President Craig Barratt said in a statement. “Operators can significantly improve user experience across residential, enterprise and outdoor networks given the greater network efficiencies derived by implementing small cells and heterogeneous networks.”

The sale, which was completed last week, is Qualcomm’s second acquisition in Israel following the buyout of the mobile web company iSkoot in 2010, Yahoo Finance reported.

DesignArt specializes in developing data-centric mobile radio access networks coupled with highly integrated system-on-chip technology.

The deal will allow Qualcomm to offer new system-on-chip and mobile offerings, according to PT-News.org. It comes two months after another Israeli start-up, Face.com, was acquired by Facebook for more than $100 million.

Beit Issie Shapiro named Israel’s most efficient non-profit


Beit Issie Shapiro, a special needs organization in Raanana, was recognized as Israel’s Most Efficient Non-Profit Organization.

The efficiency monitor Midot cited Beit Issie Shapiro after it was chosen by a public committee. The award was judged according to impact on society, leadership, management practices, financial planning, ethics, transparency and collaboration with others to increase its circle of influence.

Midot presented the awards earlier this month at its annual conference at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv.

Supreme Court President Emeritus Meir Shagmar headed the committee, which was formed in cooperation with Maala-Business for Social Responsibility, Sheatufim-the Center for Civil Society and GuideStar Israel, an online resource about nonprofits in Israel.

Beit Issie Shapiro in the past 30 years has grown from serving 16 children with disabilities to helping 30,000 people annually. The organization also helps train thousands of therapists in Israel in its new therapies, and conducts research and shares best practices internationally.

Israel has 30,000 registered non-profit and voluntary organizations, 4,000 of which provide a variety of welfare, educational and support services.

Ra’anana rabbis condemn attack on Reform synagogue


Some 14 Orthodox rabbis and public figures from Ra’anana signed a letter condemning an attack on a Reform synagogue in the central Israel city.

Ra’anana Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz was among those who signed the letter, which was released Sunday.

The World Union for Progressive Judaism also condemned the April 14 attack, the third time the Raanan Synagogue has been vandalized in the past year.

Six of the synagogue’s windows were smashed in by large rocks and a black Star of David was spray-painted on the wall above the words “It has begun.”

City officials and the Reform umbrella group both indicated that the vandalism pointed to Jewish religious extremists, though police said they had no suspects.

In a statement released April 15, the World Union said that it “condemns all violence that is motivated by hatred and religious extremism. As we approach the season of Jewish freedom, we call on all government and NGO agencies to show their abhorrence of these wanton senseless acts, we are confident that government leaders will take the lead in this condemnation and we call on Orthodox leaders throughout Israel to also show their disgust at this destructive inter-Jewish hatred.”

Ra’anana Mayor Nahum Hofree condemned what he called the “bullying,” saying the attack “does not characterize Ra’anana’s people. This is a city of tolerance and exemplary coexistence.”

In another incident of violence against a non-Orthodox synagogue, youths threw rocks at worshipers leaving a Masorti synagogue in Netanya on the Sabbath eve of April 15. The youths appeared to be Orthodox, eyewitnesses said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The youths reportedly tried to enter the building but stopped when they saw security cameras. The building has been attacked twice in the past.

No worshipers were injured in the attack. A complaint was filed with police. 

“As the non-Orthodox communities continue to grow, the ugly face of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel is revealed,” Yizhar Hess, executive director and CEO of the Masorti movement in Israel, told the Post. “Some people just can’t deal with the fact that there is a different Judaism. These people are hateful Jews who know nothing about Rabbi Akiva’s principle of loving your neighbor as you love yourself.”