First Read For March 9


Israeli team advances in World Baseball Classic

The Cinderella run of the Israeli team in the World Baseball Classic continues, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The Israelis on Thursday remained undefeated, 3-0, in the international sports competition in Seoul by beating the Netherlands 4-2, a day after the team qualified for next week’s final round of eight following Chinese Taipei’s loss.

Fun fact, the Israeli team’s mascot, is a life-sized Mensch on a Bench.


Royal visit to mark Balfour anniversary in Israel

The first official visit of a member of the British royal to Israel is likely to take place this year, coinciding with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration that endorsed the establishment of a Jewish homeland, according to the Times of London. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin extended the invitation yesterday during a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London.

A royal visit would break decades of precedent in which repeated invitations to visit the Jewish state were quietly rejected.

Alleged spy for Israel goes on trial in Germany

A 31-year-old Pakistani man is going on trial in Berlin this week on allegations that he spied for Iran on Israeli and Jewish institutions in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, Haaretz reports. Syed Mustufa H., whose full name was not given for privacy reasons, passed information he collected to a contact person with the Iranian intelligence agency, prosecutors say.

He is alleged to have received about $2,000 for his spying activities, and faces a possible five years in prison.


Polish Jews mark anniversary of 1968 anti-Semitic campaign

Polish Jews yesterday held a ceremony commemorating the anti-Semitic campaign of March 1968 that forced several thousand Jews who survived the Holocaust to leave the country, JTA reports. Golda Tencer, director of the Jewish Theatre in Warsaw, organized the ceremony.

Nine years ago, Polish president Lech Kaczynski took part in an event and promised to restore citizenship to the expelled Polish Jews.

Movie about Warsaw Righteous Gentiles premieres

Warsaw took on the look of Hollywood glitter Tuesday night for the red gala screening of a film about a Polish couple who risked their lives to hide hundreds of Jews in a zoo during World War II, the Times of Israel reports. Based on actual events, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” tells the story of zoo director Jan Zabinski and his wife Antonina, who together saved nearly 300 people, mostly Jews smuggled out of the city’s ghetto, by providing them shelter in their villa basement.

The movie, which premieres worldwide later this months, is based on a book of the same name by U.S. author Diane Ackerman, who relied heavily on Antonina’s own memoirs from the 1960s. The movie was shot in Prague, in the Czech Republic.

Israeli junior fencer wins championship

Vera Kanevski, a 17-year-old from Maccabi Ma’a lot, won a gold medal Tuesday in the women’s epee competition at the European Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. She beat Ukraine’s Inna Brovko 15-13 in the final.

“I didn’t think this day would end like this,” Kanevski told the Jerusalem Post. “I’m happy that everything fell into place.”

Kanevski displayed her potential last year when she ended the 2016 Rio Olympics European Qualification Tournament in 10th place.