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Today we’re diving into:
Inside the U.S.: TX teachers told to keep books opposing the Holocaust; conspiracy theorist to run for DC Mayor; GOP candidate cancels fundraiser with swastika enthusiast; Jewish death row inmate’s conviction in limbo; U.S. returns to UNHRC; Lapid meets Pelosi, Harris; Blinken hosts trilateral summit; and Canada to have permanent antisemitism envoy
Inside Israel: Race for Jewish Agency leader thrown into chaos; hospital hit with cyberattack; Knesset OKs easing medical marijuana restrictions; Gantz orders crackdown on settler violence; and Israel to allow in vaccinated visitors
Israel’s Neighbors: Gay Israeli minister meets Sudanese official; Palestinian escapees rebuffed by PA; Irish politician spews antisemitism in parliament; and Roman candidate apologizes for antisemitic comments
Celebrate & Remember: Israel rescues Afghan refugees; and remembering Moshe Sharrett
INSIDE THE U.S.
Texas school administrator says teachers need to balance Holocaust books with ‘opposing’ views
TX teachers told to keep books opposing the Holocaust: An administrator at a Southlake, Texas school told teachers that they should balance books on the Holocaust with “opposing” views, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News. Gina Peddy, the Carroll Independent School District’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, made the comment Friday afternoon during a training session on which books teachers can have in classroom libraries. The administrator was seeking to explain a new Texas law which will go into effect in December that mandates a so-called balance of books in the classroom. Peddy did not respond to messages requesting comment. A spokesman for the teachers’ union said: “We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history That’s absurd. It’s worse than absurd. And this law does not require it.”
Conspiracy theorist to run for DC Mayor: D.C. Democratic Councilmember Trayon White, who claimed publicly at least twice that rich Jews control the weather, is planning on running to be the mayor of Washington, D.C. White previously donated hundreds of dollars from his constituent services fund to help finance a Nation of Islam event where leader Louis Farrakhan made antisemitic comments, including calling “powerful Jews” his enemy and blaming Jews in Hollywood for the existence of transgender people. White subsequently apologized for his comments that “the Rothschilds” control the weather and sat down with local Jewish leaders, who invited him to visit the D.C. Holocaust Museum. White left halfway midway the tour of the Holocaust Museum, a move that upset the council and several in the D.C. Jewish community. Mayor Muriel Bowser has not said whether she will run for reelection in 2022.
GOP candidate cancels fundraiser with swastika enthusiast: Controversial Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, a pro-Trump Republican, canceled a fundraiser with a host whose social media profile photo was of a swastika made of needles. Walker initially claimed that the image was not a swastika (it was), but rather anti-vaccine imagery. Walker is running to be the candidate to face Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in 2022. He has publicly embraced false conspiracy theories that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election.
Jewish death row inmate’s conviction in limbo: Judge Lela Mays ordered the review of a Jewish inmate’s conviction in Texas after a judge was deemed antisemitic and prejudiced against him. The defendant, Randy Halprin, was convicted of murdering a policeman in 2003 and sits on death row. Mays wrote: “The judge’s statements about saving Dallas from Jews, his statements subscribing to antisemitism stereotypes and tropes, his use of antisemitic slurs when referring to Halprin [indicate that] religious and ethnic bigotry provided more than enough temptation for him not to hold the balance nice, clear, and true between the state and Halprin.”
U.S. returns to UNHRC: The United States is returning to the United Nations Human Rights Council after three years of boycott under the Trump administration. The American ambassador to the UN said: “We will oppose the Council’s disproportionate attention on Israel, which includes the Council’s only standing agenda item targeting a single country.” Countries with questionable records on human rights were also elected to the council, including Qatar and Somalia, among others. China also sits on the council, despite its genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, and has taken the opportunity of the U.S. boycott to wield greater influence over its members. Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called the Biden administration’s decision to rejoin the Human Rights Council “dangerous” and “embarrassing.”
Lapid meets Pelosi, Harris: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with top American officials in Washington, D.C. this week, including elected representatives of both parties and members of the Biden administration, such as Vice President Kamala Harris. Lapid told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he views her as “one of the biggest supporters of the concept that says, being pro-Israel is being bipartisan,” while Harris said their meeting was to “reaffirm the strength and the endurance of the relationship between the United States and Israel.”
Blinken hosts trilateral summit: Also in the capital, Lapid met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The trilateral meeting reinforced the warm nature of the Abraham Accords which Israel and the U.A.E. signed last year normalizing relations. Blinken said: “We believe that normalization can and should be a force for progress, not only between Israel and Arab countries and other countries in the region and beyond but between Israelis and Palestinians.” When speaking about the Iran nuclear deal to reporters during the trilateral meeting, Blinken seemed pessimistic on the chances of a return to the agreement, saying: “time is running short because we are getting closer to a point at which returning to compliance with the [nuclear deal] will not in and of itself recapture its benefits.”
Canada to have permanent antisemitism envoy: The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, announced that his government will make its special envoy on antisemitism a permanent position. Trudeau made the announcement while visiting the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism. He further said: “We need to attack directly the problem of antisemitism with increased urgency and focus all together because antisemitism isn’t a problem for the Jewish community to solve alone.”
Race for Jewish Agency leader thrown into chaos: Elazar Stern, the leading and well-backed candidate to be the next Chair of the Jewish Agency, dropped out of the running after he made controversial comments concerning governmental review of claims of sexual assault. The previous chair, Isaac Herzog, was elected President of the State of Israel earlier this year. The decision of who will replace Herzog will be decided on Monday, but there is a Sunday deadline for new candidates to be submitted. A number of women are in the running for the position, which has never been filled by a woman, and some are speculating that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will put forward former Foreign Minister and Leader of the Opposition Tzipi Livni, a very well-known figure, as a candidate before Sunday’s deadline, further complicating the outcome.
Hospital hit with cyberattack: The Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, Israel was hit with a crippling cyberattack this week. Government officials warned hospitals across the country about the potential for further attack and urged them to take steps like print out patient records. Although the medical facility continued emergency operations, some patients were being turned away to other hospitals in coordination with the Magen David Adom ambulance service. It’s possible that the attack was Iranian in origin. According to reports, Israel experiences twice as many cyberattacks annually as an average country.
In 1st step, Knesset OKs easing medical marijuana restrictions: In a surprise vote, the Knesset passed a preliminary measure easing restrictions on access to medical marijuana. The bill would make it easier for licensed individuals to grow and sell marijuana due to frequent shortages of the drug. Although the Arab Ra’am party, part of the majority coalition, has voiced opposition to the bill, its members supported this vote, likely surprising even other lawmakers who thought the measure was bound to fail. Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz of the left-wing Meretz party said: “It’s time to release this matter that has been tied for years to unnecessary bureaucratic restrictions, and a real reform needs to be made here that will free up the use of cannabis.”
Gantz orders crackdown on settler violence: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered an “aggressive” crackdown on violence committed by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank after a group of settlers attacked Israeli soldiers in two separate incidents. He also ordered the military to be “uncompromising” in its actions against settler violence. The orders pertain to any kind of attacks — against Palestinians, other Jews, or security forces.
Israel to allow in vaccinated visitors: According to reports, Israel may once again allow in tourists to the country as long as they are vaccinated starting November 1st. However, the issue of whether to allow American tourists in is still a question over the rollout of the booster shots which Israel considers necessary to determine full vaccination status. This comes as the number of seriously ill patients from COVID-19 reached the lowest level in two months and experts believe that Israel is entering a prolonged period of quiet from COVID.
Sudanese and Israeli officials in UAE: Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari met with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll and Regional Affairs Minister Issawi Frej in the UAE. This comes after Sudan, an Arab-Muslim nation, and Israel agreed to normalize relations last year. Abdulbari said: “I believe in the power of education and cultural ties, so I think we must communicate at the cultural educational level before promoting economic projects.” He also said that the Abraham Accords which normalized relations with Israel were a “correct a necessary step.” Roll’s meeting with the Justice Minister is notable for the fact that he is gay; being gay is punishable by life in prison in Sudan.
Palestinian escapees rebuffed by PA: Two Palestinian prisoners who recently escaped Gilboa prison, but were later caught by Israeli police say they sought help from the Palestinian Authority, but were rejected. PA President Mohammad Shtayyeh apparently told the prisoners through an intermediary that “it’s a complex issue. We don’t want complications and deaths.” The nationwide hunt for a total of six escapees was quicker and easier than experts had believed it was going to be. However, the glaring failure of the prison will be investigated by a state commission.
Irish politician spews antisemitism in parliament: In a question to the Irish Foreign Minister this month, Catherine Connolly, the deputy chairperson of the lower house of Ireland’s parliament, accused Israel of trying to “accomplish Jewish supremacy.” Put to Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, Connolly asked if by his ministry’s “indicating support for the Jewish character of the Israeli state agrees with the treatment by Israel of Palestinian communities in its attempts to accomplish Jewish supremacy.” The term “Jewish supremacy” is rooted in centuries-old antisemitic accusations of Jews trying to take over the world. Ireland was one of only two EU countries to participate in the anti-Israel Durban Conference at the UN last month.
Roman candidate apologizes for antisemitic comments: A candidate to be the next mayor of Rome is apologizing for antisemitic comments on the Holocaust. Enrico Michetti said he was sorry for remarks that claimed other atrocities do not garner as much attention as the Holocaust because their victims “didn’t own banks” like Jews. He also said it was “perhaps because they did not belong to lobbies capable of deciding the destinies of the planet.” Naomi De Segni, head of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said: “The thought that our city institutions may be led by people whose thinking is imbued with prejudice makes us tremble.”
Today we celebrate the Israeli rescue of Afghan refugees! IsrAID, an Israeli humanitarian organization, apparently coordinated the evacuation of 167 Afghans through Albania. The chosen Afghans were high-profile figures at risk of Taliban retaliation following the U.S. withdrawal from that country in August. The refugees will be settled in the West, likely in Canada, France, or Switzerland.
On this day in 1894, Moshe Sharrett, the second prime minister of the State of Israel, was born in Ukraine. Born as Moshe Chertok in Kherson, what was then the Russian Empire, Sharrett later made Aliyah with his family in 1906 at the age of 12. In the 1930s, Sharrett became the head of the Jewish Agency’s political arm and one of David Ben-Gurion’s closest allies. Once the State of Israel became a reality, Sharrett served in stints as both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister. He died in 1965 at the age of 70.