An Orthodox Jewish woman is suing her former employer the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) after it punished her for observing Passover.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty joined together with the American Jewish Committee, one of the leading US Jewish advocacy groups, to file a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday defending the right of employees to observe their religious holidays.
“It takes some chutzpah for the government to punish a Jewish woman for celebrating Passover,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at Becket. “That didn’t work out so well for Pharaoh.”
Susan Abeles worked for the MWAA for 26 years and each year was given approved time off to observe Passover in accordance with her Orthodox Jewish beliefs. In 2013, Ms. Abeles followed the same procedure, giving ample notice and several reminders about her upcoming time off. However, when she returned to work, her superiors accused her of failing to follow proper protocol for obtaining leave. Eventually they forced her into early retirement.
MWAA claims that even though it was specifically created by Congress and exercises powers Congress gave it, MWAA has nothing to do with the federal government. At the same time MWAA says it is not subject to state laws either. That would lead to the absurd and frightening result that MWAA is a law until itself.
Unsurprisingly, Becket and the American Jewish Committee argue that MWAA is not above the law.
Passover is observed for eight days, and Jewish religious law prohibits work during the first two and last two days. Millions of Orthodox Jews like Ms. Abeles have observed Passover for thousands of years, yet the MWAA’s policy is to simply ignore this important religious holiday.
“This case is just one more example of the rampant antisemitism that Orthodox Jews face every day,” said Rassbach. “In recent years there has been a concerted effort to keep the Orthodox out of certain neighborhoods, out of certain schools, and out of certain jobs. The Fourth Circuit [Court of Appeals] can send a strong message in favor of interreligious understanding by recognizing MWAA’s duty to provide reasonable accommodations to believers.”
The man accused of sending two Jewish organisations in Colorado, USA, letters containing a suspicious white powder has pleaded guilty at court.
Jeffery Thomas Klinkel, 34, pleaded guilty late last month to one count each of felony menacing and using a hoax chemical or biological weapon, the Daily Camera reported Monday. He will be sentenced on June 1 and faces up to five years in prison.
On April 6, 2015, the Boulder Jewish Community Center received a letter that read, “This Goyim is enjoying the blood of her enemies for Passover” and contained a suspicious white powder later determined to be cornstarch.
Soon after, on the same day, Congregation Har HaShem received a similar letter with the white powder. Klinkel’s fingerprints were found on both letters.
At the time, employees who came in contact with the letters were put under quarantine.
Klinkel has an extensive criminal record that includes arrests for assault, harassment, burglary, trespassing and fraud.
AntiSemitismWatch.com brings you its latest global news update:
Austria: Bosnian football fans staged a pro-Palestinian protest that quickly turned Antisemitic while in Vienna, Austria for a soccer match.
The incident was captured in a video where the fans-turned-political-activists set up a protest in Vienna’s central Stephanplatz square.
At first they stood calmly shouting pro-Palestinian slogans. Then, a single voice among the protesters shouted “Kill the Jews.” The calls to violence swelled as the other protesters joined in. In a swarm of rage, they began to jump up and down shouting “Ubij, ubij Židove,” which means “Kill, kill the Jews.”
The enraged protesters were in town for an international friendly soccer match between Austria and Bosnia at the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna.
Neither Bosnian nor Austrian officials have responded to the incident so far.
Relations between Bosnia and Israel are generally friendly and the country even has a small Jewish community. In May 2014, Israel sent millions of tons of aid to the country when the region experienced record flooding that killed thousands.
Iran: Over 300 artists from Iran and countries such as France, China sent in entries for controversial competition
Hundreds of people from Iran and around the globe submitted entries for the Islamic Republic’s Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, a competition official announced Monday.
“839 artworks have also been sent to the secretariat, 686 of them have been sent to the cartoon section and 153 more are related to caricature section,” Secretary Masud Shojaei-Tabatabaii told the semi-official Fars News Agency, marking the second time since 2006 that the country has held the controversial contest, which makes light of the killing of 6 million Jews in Europe during WWII.
Organizers launched the cartoon contest centered on the theme of Holocaust denial in late January in response to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
In February, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, demanded that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN member countries condemn Iran’s planned international cartoon contest on Holocaust denial.
“This contest legitimizes Holocaust denial and encourages Holocaust deniers to continue their incitement,” Prosor said. “It ridicules one of the darkest events in human history, and it cheapens the death of millions of Jews who were murdered. The horrors of the Holocaust are still fresh in the collective memory.”
Netherlands: A Dutch soccer club is working to identify fans who chanted Antisemitic slogans about the Holocaust during a match with a rival team from Amsterdam.
The chants were documented at Galgenwaard Stadium in Utrecht, a city situated 40 miles southeast of the Dutch capital Amsterdam, during an honor division match between Amsterdam’s Ajax team and FC Utrecht, the De Telegraaf daily reported.
Utrecht supporters chanted the slogans to insult rival fans, whom they often call “Jews” because of the historical Jewish presence in Amsterdam, which is sometimes colloquially called “Mokum” after the Yiddish word for “place.”
During the match, dozens could be seen and heard chanting: “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews cause Jews burn the best” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” The chanting went on for several minutes.
Ronny Naftaniel, a prominent Dutch Jewish anti-discrimination activist, called on Ajax to stop future matches featuring anti-Semitic chants.
“When will Ajax players walk off the field? Take action against anti-Semitism,” wrote Naftaniel, who is the executive vice chairperson of CEJI, a Brussels-based Jewish organization promoting tolerance through education.
FC Utrecht said in a statement it is investigating suspected chanters and vowed to punish those identified.
Israel: Vandalizing graves and monuments with swastikas is a popular Antisemitic attack method, particularly in Europe, but the phenomenon has found its way into Israel as well.
Over Passover weekend, vandals graffitied a swastika and hateful slurs on a monument for fallen members of southern town Omer, who died fighting for Israel. The monument is located in the Omer Industrial Park.