U.S. Briefs

Federations seek donations to help Louisiana flood victims

The Jewish Federations of North America are seeking donations to assist the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge in providing relief to victims of flooding that has devastated southern Louisiana.

As of Aug. 23, relentless rains and high waters had claimed 13 lives, and at least 40,000 homes were damaged and 20 parishes declared federal disaster areas, according to Nola.com.

Staff members from the Baton Rouge federation and many from the local Jewish community were among those forced to flee, according to JFNA, which established the Baton Rouge Flood Relief Fund.

Baton Rouge’s newly opened Chabad House also launched an emergency fundraising campaign for those affected by the massive floods. — jta


U.C. Irvine sanctions campus group for disrupting Israel event in May

U.C. Irvine sanctioned the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine for disrupting a May program hosted by a Jewish campus group and intimidating Jewish students.

The SJP chapter was issued a written warning that will be in effect until March 2017, the Campus Reform website reported last week, citing an email from Vice Chancellor Thomas Parham.

“After a thorough review, the student conduct investigation is now complete,” the email said. “The investigators found that Students for Justice in Palestine, the group that organized and led the protest, violated student conduct policies regarding disruption: ‘Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures or other university activities.’ ”

In May, Jewish students attending the screening of the Israeli documentary “Beneath the Helmet” under the auspices of the campus Hillel were escorted from the scene by campus police after about 50 protesters gathered outside the film’s venue in a university classroom and made threatening chants.

The email said that SJP had a right to protest, and cited its hostile actions and intimidation as reasons for the warning.

“We support and defend groups exercising free speech and assembly, yet we must protect everyone’s right to express themselves without disruption,” the email said. — jta


Twitter: 300,000 pro-terrorism accounts axed

The Anti-Defamation League praised Twitter after the social media platform announced that it suspended more than 300,000 accounts that have violated policies related to the promotion of terrorism.

Earlier this year, Twitter said it had suspended more than 125,000 accounts since mid-2015 for violating its prohibition on violent threats and the promotion of terrorism. On Aug. 18, Twitter announced that it has suspended an additional 235,000 accounts.

“Daily suspensions are up over 80 percent since last year, with spikes in suspensions immediately following terrorist attacks,” Twitter, headquartered in San Francisco, said in a blog post.

“With this latest critical move,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, “Twitter has really set the right tone in the fight against nefarious content on its platform … [and has] taken an important step forward in combating cyberhate.”

Seeking to strike a balance between free speech and security, Twitter has been under pressure to match the zero-tolerance policies of rivals such as Facebook. Wired magazine recently reported that Twitter often serves as the “main engine” for the Islamic State to find new recruits. — jta