Auschwitz Cemetery Vandalized, Autism Therapy Breakthrough, & Israel Vaccinates Teachers, 55+

January 12, 2021

Auschwitz Cemetery Vandalized, Autism Therapy Breakthrough, & Israel Vaccinates Teachers, 55+

January 12, 2021
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Happy Tuesday!

Today we’re diving into:

  • Inside the U.S.: Jewish Democrats lead impeachment charge; Jewish organizations call for Trump’s resignation; Schwarzenegger links Capitol attack to Nazi Germany; and conservatives compare social media crackdown to Kristallnacht
  • Antisemitism: Jewish cemetery near Auschwitz and Portland restaurants vandalized; Johns Hopkins teaching assistant debated flunking ‘Zionists’; Staten Island borough president candidate yells ‘Heil Hitler’ at protest; and food deliveryman in France refuses to serve Jews
  • Inside Israel: Likud lacks clear majority in recent polls; excitement fading over Tel Aviv Mayor Huldai’s new party; ultra-Orthodox leader charged with fraud; Israel announces new West Bank construction; anti-Netanyahu protesters gather for 29th week; and Jewish Agency expels Christian group over proselytizing scandal
  • Coronavirus: Israel enters new lockdown; Israel to vaccinate 55+, teachers; and PA now demanding Israeli vaccines
  • Israel’s Neighbors: IAEA warns time running out to save the nuclear deal; Egypt, Germany, France, & Jordan discuss two-state solution; and settlers begin exporting to UAE
  • Celebrate & Remember:  Autism therapy breakthrough; and remembering one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors in Romania


House Democrats introduce Article of Impeachment against Trump

Source: @erinschaff / Twitter, January 6, 2021  
3 Jewish Democrats are leading the House impeachment charge: The House of Representatives proceeded with impeachment measures against President Donald Trump on Monday, introducing an article of impeachment charging President Trump with “high crimes and misdemeanors” for inciting the mob that assaulted the Capitol last Wednesday. Three of the four Democrats leading the proceedings are Jewish. All 25 Jewish Democrats in Congress have affirmed their support for impeachment. The two Jewish Republicans in the House, Lee Zeldin (NY) and David Kustoff (TN), will likely oppose impeachment, as they voted to overturn Biden’s election certification the day of the riots. The FBI has warned that the mobs will continue the week of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, saying “armed protests” are likely in all 50 states and the capital.
Jewish organizations call for Trump’s departure: Over the past week, many non-partisan organizations have called on President Trump to resign or be impeached for his incitement of the coup attempt against Congress. One of these groups was the Anti-Defamation League, the premiere organization fighting antisemitism in the United States. In doing so, the CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said: “We must not allow the historic and horrific events of the past 48 hours to simply fade without significant consequences.” Continuing, he wrote: “But what occurred on Wednesday was inexcusable.” “President Trump is unfit for office and needs to be removed,” Greenblatt said. Greenblatt laid the blame of the insurrection squarely on Trump’s shoulders, saying he “incited it…for all the world to see.” Other Jewish organizations, like Bend the Arc, joined the call for Trump’s removal. 
Schwarzenegger compares American, Austrian Nazis: Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger released a seven-minute video condemning the Capitol insurrection and pledging to work together with President-elect Biden. Schwarzenegger, who grew up in Austria, compared the riots that took place in D.C. to Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, during which Nazi thugs—what Schwarzenegger deemed the “Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys”—terrorized Jewish storeowners across Germany in 1938. Schwarzenegger spoke about the internalized hatred his father and his father’s contemporaries had as soldiers in the Nazi army. Of the President, the former governor said: “[Trump] sought a coup by misleading people with lies and I know where such lies lead.”
Conservatives compare social media crackdown to Kristallnacht: After Schwarzenegger released his video, a few conservatives likened the deplatforming of the right-wing social media app Parler and reported purge of conspiracy theorists on Twitter to Kristallnacht. Fox commentator Jeanine Pirro likened technology companies’ severance of ties with Parler “akin to a Kristallnacht.” Steve King, an antisemitic former Iowa congressman who reportedly lost Twitter followers due to what he called the “cancelling of conservatives,” echoed the Kristallnacht sentiment. The Anti-Defamation League denounced the comparison and maintained that “removing those preaching hate and inciting violence” is not equivalent to a riot that left 90 dead and 30,000 deported to Nazi camps. Pirro later attempted to clarify her comparison: “Although book burning started earlier, Kristallnacht included the destruction of Jewish stores, homes & synagogues containing rare Jewish books & Torahs. My reference was in context of books. The Holocaust was the greatest hate crime the world ever tolerated. I abhor all violence.


Swastika graffiti painted on wall of Jewish cemetery near Auschwitz

Source: @AuschwitzMuseum / Twitter, January 10, 2021  
Antisemitic vandalism hits Jewish cemetery near Auschwitz & Portland restaurants: The exterior wall of the Jewish cemetery near the Auschwitz Memorial was found spray-painted with a swastika and the SS symbol on Sunday. The official account of the Auschwitz Memorial tweeted, “We hope the Police will identify people responsible.” In the U.S., three restaurants in Portland that serve Israeli food were vandalized with graffiti reading “Free Palestine” and other slogans over the weekend. All of the restaurants had recently removed the word “Israeli” from their signage, according to The Oregonian. One of the restaurants attacked was targeted with an antisemitic attack in 2019 as well, when hackers infiltrated its voicemail twice and changed its voice message to a stream of antisemitic and homophobic slurs.
Johns Hopkins teaching assistant debated flunking ‘Zionists’: A teaching assistant at Johns Hopkins University in November posted a poll to Twitter asking her followers if she should lower Zionist students’ grades on tests. 77% of those who responded to her poll replied “Free Palestine! Fail them.” On Wednesday, the university’s Hillel chapter asked students to step forward if they believed their grades had been lowered because of their beliefs. Howard Libit, the executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said he is unaware of any students who have come forward. The TA, Rasha Anayah, defended her teaching record, saying she is “a dedicated teacher and scholar with a commitment to social justice and to [her] role.” The university is apparently looking into the case.
Candidate for Staten Island borough president yells ‘Heil Hitler’ at protest: Leticia Remauro, a Staten Island candidate for borough president who served as a campaign aide to Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, yelled ‘Heil Hitler’ at a rally protesting COVID-19 lockdowns on small businesses. She later attempted to clarify that it was an attempt to say officials are “acting as a fascist, in the same way Hitler took away people’s businesses.” In a Facebook live video taken during the event, Remauro yells, “We’re here to stand up for our right — the right to pay taxes so we can pay the salaries of these good men and women. Sometimes you gotta say ‘Heil Hitler — not a good idea to send me here!” Remauro said in an interview she “actually meant to say ‘mein Führer, it’s not a good idea to send me here,’” a dig at the state leaders as “fascist.” She later posted on Facebook, “This is a VERY BAD ANALOGY and I am apologizing heartily for my choice of words in this video.”
Food deliveryman in France refuses to serve Jews: Two kosher restaurants in the French city of Strasbourg said they were declined service by a deliveryman who allegedly said he does not want to serve Jews. The deliveryman who refused the kosher eateries service was working for Deliveroo. The news site DNA reported Sunday that it was not immediately clear whether both incidents involved the same employee. Prosecutors in Strasbourg confirmed that “an investigation is underway to identify the suspects” after the restaurant owners filed complaints, according to a police source.


Polls show Netanyahu’s Likud rising, but lacks clear majority; Huldai fading

Source: @netanyahu / Twitter, January 1, 2021  
Likud lacks clear majority in recent polls: Recent polls have had mixed results projecting the upcoming Israeli elections, but the consensus among them is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party will have fewer seats than it currently holds, and his loyal right-wing, religious bloc would not be able to form a government alone. Benny Gantz’s Blue and White is projected to barely cross the threshold for representation in the Knesset. Gantz has come out saying his partnership with Netanyahu was a mistake, and called for anti-Netanyahu parties to unite. New parties in the race include Bezalel Smotrich’s independent Religious Zionist faction, which has broken off from Yamina, and Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem, splitting from Yesh Atid.
Excitement fading over Tel Aviv Mayor Huldai’s new party: Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai’s new Israelis party has continued to lose support after a strong start. Huldai unveiled a list of new members last week, fulfilling a promise to gender-balance the party. Women joining the ranks include seasoned public servants as well as professors and educators. However, Huldai has seen much criticism in recent weeks, both in his position as mayor and premiership candidate. He has been called out for holding campaign meetings in his municipal office, as well as refusing to resign from the mayorship until he is sworn into the Knesset. He was also admonished by the Supreme Court on Sunday for overstepping in his executive power towards the removal of a billboard campaign in several locations in Tel Aviv last year, which he accused of “inciting violence.”
Ultra-Orthodox leader charged with fraud: Israel’s Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, will be charged with breaking tax law. Deri is the leader of the ultra-Orthodox party Shas and was previously convicted of tax offenses and bribery decades ago. Deri served 22 months in prison between 2000 and 2002 related to crimes he committed while serving as Interior Minister in the 1990s. The charges include failing to report income and offenses while selling Jerusalem apartments to his brother. Of the accusation, Deri’s lawyer said: “[the government] is clearing Aryeh Deri of suspected government corruption.” This relates to other, more serious offenses for which Deri had been under investigation of having committed. 
Israel announces new West Bank construction: Israel announced it would construct new homes for Jewish residents in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, days before President-elect Biden will be sworn into office. The 850 houses are expected to be approved by the Supreme Planning Council. One hundred of the homes are in Tal Menashe, where the Israeli woman Esther Horgan lived until she was murdered last month by a Palestinian terrorist. One representative of the PLO said: “[Israel’s announcement] is an attempt to race against time and benefit from the last days of the current U.S. administration.” Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted, “We are happy to announce today that 800 new apartments have been built in Judea and Samaria, including the landscapes of Nehemiah and Batal Menashe, the settlement of the late Esther Horgan. We are here to stay. We continue to build the Land of Israel!🇮🇱”
Thousands of anti-Netanyahu protesters gather for 29th week: Anti-Netanyahu protests have been held outside the Prime Minister’s residence for 29 consecutive weeks calling for his removal from office amid corruption charges. During a protest on January 2nd, protesters reportedly arrived earlier than usual and spooked police, which led Netanyahu, his wife, and other staff members being whisked to a secure room in the residence and waiting there for 40 minutes until Netanyahu’s security team signaled his safety. Netanyahu himself said he did not think the move was necessary. Several thousand demonstrators have participated in the protests in recent weeks, and anti-protester violence has risen, with arrests made after several violent incidents Saturday night. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust will resume February 8 after being postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown. 
Jewish Agency expels Christian group over proselytizing scandal: The Jewish Agency has expelled a Canadian Christian Zionist group from its education facility in northern Israel, after various social media posts by the group insinuated they were trying to convert participants. Return Ministries, the volunteer group, has made “flagrantly false representations” of their work with new immigrants, appearing to expose immigrants to Christian ideas and attempting to proselytize them, according to the Agency. The investigation into Return Ministries began last month, after a claim that the volunteers’ building was being used for missionary purposes. In the Jewish Agency’s statement, it clarified that ties with the Return Ministries were severed not because the group was engaging in missionary conduct, but because it was representing itself as doing so under the Agency’s auspices.


Israel’s 3.5 lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases

Source: @netanyahu / Twitter, January 9, 2021  
Israel enters lockdown 3.5: Israel entered its newest implementation of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, which some people are calling lockdown 3.5. For the last weeks, Israel had been under a lockdown, yet it was universally ignored, and schools remained open. For this installation, the restrictions have been significantly tightened and streets are ‘largely empty’ as the police force enforces the restrictions. The largest driving factor is the number of seriously ill coronavirus patients, which has crossed over 1,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Yesterday, Israel had its biggest daily spike in new cases since late September. With the number of cases also rising exponentially, at least 10% to 20% of new coronavirus cases are being attributed to the more transmissible British variant of the virus, and the South African strain has also been found within Israel. 
Israel to vaccinate 55+, teachers: At the same time as the country shuts down, vaccination numbers continue at an unparalleled pace. Teachers and individuals over the age of 55 will begin to receive the vaccine this week, with over 70% of Israelis over 60 having received the first dose. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli to get the second dose of the vaccine Saturday, just as he inaugurated the first dose. Despite running through the vaccines at lightning pace, Israel’s store is being replenished mightily by drug companies, particularly Pfizer. Pfizer says it will send between 400,000 and 700,000 doses to Israel each week, with Netanyahu welcoming the first shipment this past weekend. Israel’s success is so impressive that other countries, such as Austria and Cyprus, have asked Israel for help in developing their vaccination deployment plans.
PA now demanding Israeli vaccines: The Palestinian Authority is now saying that Israel is responsible for vaccinating Palestinians “under military occupation.” This comes after weeks and months of the Palestinians saying that they would handle their own vaccination efforts in partnership with the World Health Organization. The PA is set to receive Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine within a month. The PA also demanded that Israel vaccinate Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Threatening Israel of negligence, the Palestinians said should they be denied Israeli vaccines it would be “racial discrimination…and a denial of their right to healthcare.” On Monday Defense Minister Benny Gantz called on Public Security Minister Amir Ohana to reverse his order not to vaccinate prisoners over the age of 60, saying the ban was illegal. Ohana instructed prison officials last month to refrain from vaccinating inmates after a Palestinian official said that security prisoners were expected to soon begin getting shots. The ban included all inmates, not just security prisoners.


Iran moving rapidly to enrich uranium; IAEA warns time running out to save the nuclear deal

Source: @khamenei_ir / Twitter, December 16, 2020  
IAEA warning: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is warning that time is running out to revive the Iran nuclear deal. With Iran enriching uranium at 20%, IAEA’s head, Rafael Grossi, said: “It’s clear that we don’t have many months ahead of us, but rather weeks.” Iran also said it would expel the UN’s nuclear observers from its country if the U.S. did not lift sanctions by February 21, a mere one month and one day from Biden’s swearing-in as president. Iranian lawmaker Ahmad Amirabadi Farahan said: “We do not see any reason to fulfill our obligations until the sanctions are lifted.” In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from the U.S.-brokered Iran nuclear deal. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Monday at a Jewish People Policy Institute online conference that the new U.S. administration should not return to the spirit of the Iran deal, which could spark an arms race in the Middle East. He said, “I don’t believe that the spirit [of the Iran deal], with a time limit and so many escape clauses, will do anything other than bring nuclear weapons all over the Middle East and therefore create a situation of latent tension that sooner or later will break out.”
Egypt, Germany, France, Jordan discuss two-state solution: On Monday, Egypt hosted the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Jordan to discuss ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The conversation is notable for the countries it did not include. Putting aside Israel and the Palestinians, the most obviously missing pieces, Britain, Russia, and the United States were all absent from the discussion. PA President Mahmoud Abbas supports negotiations under the auspices of the Middle East Quartet: the U.S., UN, EU and Russia. In a statement put out after the meeting, the group “emphasized their commitment to a negotiated two-state solution, ensuring an independent and viable Palestinian state based on June 4, 1967, lines and UN Security Council resolutions, living side by side a secure and recognized Israel.”
Settlers begin exporting to UAE: West Bank settlers have begun exporting products to the United Arab Emirates that are labeled ‘made in Israel.’ Such products include olive oil and honey. The recognition of the products as ‘made in Israel’ is seen as a tacit endorsement of Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank. Members of the European Union, however, do not label the products similarly. Instead, they do not consider the settlements as part of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also reportedly planning to visit the UAE and Bahrain in late January or early February, after the current coronavirus lockdown ends. 


Funeral of Iancu Tucarman, Source: @USAmbRO / Twitter, January 11, 2021
Today we celebrate Jerusalem scientists, who have reduced autism-like symptoms in mice by giving them human drugs and other chemicals. They hope their research will pave the way for autism therapeutics. Hebrew University geneticists are studying one of many human genes—POGZ—that, if mutated, is thought to cause autism. They have produced mice with this mutation, which they say mirror behavioral traits of autistic people who have the mutation. Associate professor in the Department of Genetics at HU Sagiv Shifman told the Times of Israel, “In the lab we are already treating mice with chemicals that change the brain activity to compensate for the mutation and restore normal activity.” Shifman said a reduction in autism-like symptoms has been observed in mice given the treatments. The mice study is expected to continue for years before researchers begin looking into possible applications for therapeutics that could be given to humans.
Today we remember one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors in Romania, who died of COVID-19 last week at the age of 98. Iancu Tucarman was 18 years old in June 1941 when German and pro-Nazi Romanian troops rounded up thousands of Jews in the northwest city of Iasi during the events that became known as the “Iasi Pogrom.” It was during this pogrom that thousands of Jews were shot, beaten to death, and crammed into trains and driven around Romania until most of them suffocated inside or died of dehydration. Tucarman later spent months at forced labor camps. U.S. Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman said, “The American flag at our embassy has been flying at half-mast in honor of Iancu, a true Romanian hero.” Tucarman was also known for supporting young musical talents in Romania. He is survived by his partner.

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