Inside Europe: Antisemitic attack in Hamburg; Paris kosher restaurant vandalized; Macron targets Islamic extremism; and neo-Nazis in Scandinavia
Israeli Unrest: Massive Israeli protests; lockdown violators; and clashes between police and ultra-Orthodox
Inside Israel: Armenian-Azerbajiani conflict; El Al’s new owner; Israel’s ban on fur; rejection of study over Israeli origin; and government coalition troubles
North America: QAnon bipartisan measure; YouTube’s removal of Farrakhan; UAE F-35 bill; NYC ultra-Orthodox shutdown; and first Black & Jewish Canadian party leader
Celebrate & Remember: Nobel Prize in Medicine; and the Yom Kippur War
Antisemitic Sukkot attack leaves Jewish man with severe head injury in Hamburg
Antisemitic attack in Hamburg: As the Jewish world celebrates Sukkot, a 26-year-old student was attacked in an antisemitic murder attempt outside a synagogue in Hamburg, Germany. The victim was about to enter a synagogue when he was attacked by a man in camouflage gear. The victim was hit over the head with a shovel and required hospitalization with severe injuries to his head. The attack comes little over a year from the shooting outside a synagogue in Halle, Germany that took place on Yom Kippur. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, wrote: “This is not an isolated incident, this is disgusting antisemitism and we must all oppose it.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the attack as “a disgrace” and “repulsive.” Germany has seen the number of antisemitic hate crimes nearly double in the past three years.
Paris Kosher restaurant vandalized with swastikas: Last week a kosher restaurant in Paris was vandalized with spray-painted swastikas and Nazi slogans, including, “Hitler was right” and “Jews get out.” In addition to the Nazi slogans, the vandals also added “Free Palestine.” The Jewish community implored law enforcement to increase security measures in the area—the 19th arrondissement. Noemie Madar, a Jewish student leader told the Jewish Chronicle that “the insecurity French Jews are facing is at its highest. We urge authorities to take strong and clear action at a time of absolute emergency regarding antisemitism.” Earlier this year, French officials said antisemitic acts increased in the last year by 27%.
Macron targets Islamic extremism in France: French President Emmanuel Macron announced a new initiative of his government to target Islamic extremism which has sparked dozens of terror attacks in the country in recent years. The plan includes stricter government control over schooling—which Macron called the “the heart of secularism (where) children become citizens”—and foreign funding of Muslim religious institutions like mosques. Macron said Islam is “in crisis” and that France must work to help lift immigrant communities out of poverty which has been capitalized upon by extremists. The program will ban the practice of importing imams from other Muslim countries like Turkey and Algeria, instead training French Muslims to fill those roles.
Neo-Nazi Yom Kippur campaign in Scandinavia: After neo-Nazis launched a hate campaign against Jews across Scandinavia on Yom Kippur, Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johannsen said the country may consider banning racist groups and making active membership in one a criminal offense. The Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group, targeted Jews in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland with antisemitic harassment during the week leading up to Yom Kippur. The neo-Nazis confronted Jewish worshippers, stood in front of synagogues holding antisemitic posters, and distributed antisemitic flyers in public areas.
Curbs on protests backfire as tens of thousands demonstrate across Israel
“A kilometer it is” protests see tens of thousands: Since the law to curb the virus’ spread went into effect limiting protests and prohibiting people from traveling more than a kilometer from their homes, tens of thousands of people joined over a thousand separate demonstrations across the country on Saturday. Clashes between police and protesters broke out in Tel Aviv; 38 protesters were arrested, though all but one were later released under restrictions. Police were documented punching protesters as they attempted to break through crowds. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was photographed at one of the protests with what appeared to be a minor injury on his arm. Huldai claimed that police forces are being deployed by the government “not to enforce the coronavirus [lockdown rules], but to break the demonstrations.”
Lockdown rules flouted by politicians without punishment: Though health officials have expressed “cautious optimism” that the infection curve has begun to flatten after a few days of declining case numbers, another 116 Israelis have died from the coronavirus since Friday morning, raising the death toll to 1,757. Many Israelis have complained that the lockdown rules are being flouted by politicians and the ultra-Orthodox populations, as both groups have a much higher ratio of positive coronavirus cases to the rest of society. Two high profile lawmakers in Israel tested positive this week: Ayman Odeh, leader of the majority Arab Joint List, and Likud party’s Gila Gamliel. Gamliel, the Minister of Environmental Protection, secretly violated the lockdown restrictions and traveled to family nearly 100 miles from her home prior to Yom Kippur. Although Netanyahu refused to say whether Gamliel should resign, Coronavirus Czar Ronni Gamzu said: her action “hurts the public trust, warrants an investigation and appropriate steps to be taken in response.”
Violent clashes break out between police and ultra-Orthodox: It was revealed last week that, while only accounting for 12% of the total population, the ultra-Orthodox make up 40%-60% of the coronavirus infection rate in Israel. Even so, many ultra-Orthodox have been flouting the rules during the High Holy Days and there has been pressure on police to step up enforcement. On Sunday, violent clashes broke out in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, as well as Jerusalem. Police attempted to enforce lockdown measures while hundreds were out praying in violation of the rules. Law enforcement arrested 13 people in Bnei Brak and 18 people in Jerusalem. Video footage showed some violent arrests, which sparked accusations of police’s disproportionate use of force. Police said they closed at least 22 synagogues operating illegally. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made an “emergency” visit to a top ultra-Orthodox rabbi to urge compliance among the community with the coronavirus restrictions.
Ultra-Orthodox funeral gets exception to lockdown rules: On Monday, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis participated in the funeral of the rebbe of the Pittsburgh Hasidic dynasty, Mordechai Leifer, who died of COVID-19. Under the most recent lockdown restrictions, participation in funerals is limited to close family members and all gatherings are limited to 20 participants outdoors. Police said that the funeral had been approved in smaller numbers and had expected 300-400 to take part in the event—not the 5,000 that turned up. The mourners briefly clashed with police, but the event resulted in no arrests. Later in the evening however, another ultra-Orthodox funeral which was attended by hundreds of mourners was broken up by the police and resulted in 11 people being arrested.
Israel tries to untangle itself from Armenian-Azerbajiani conflict
A still image from a video released by the Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry shows members of Azeri armed forces firing artillery during clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in an unidentified location, September 28, 2020
Armenian envoy expects Israel to halt arms sales to Azerbaijan: Israel’s involvement in the widening conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region may soon come to a halt. Armen Smbatyan, Armenia’s ambassador to Israel who was recalled from the country as a response to Israel’s weapon sales to Azerbaijan, notified the media that he had received a “verbal promise” that Israel would stop its supply of weapons to Azerbaijan within two or three days. The decades-old conflict, relit by Turkey’s increasing interference in the region, is now in its tenth day, and has killed hundreds, both soldiers and civilians. Fuad Akhundov, an official at the office of the President of Azerbaijan, responded to reports of Israel halting its arms deal by claiming that they were “fake news”, and instead spotlighting Israel’s strong connections with Azerbaijan, particularly in arms and natural gas. President Rivlin said of these developments, “We welcome the opening of the Armenian embassy in Israel and hope that the Armenian ambassador will return soon.”
26-year-old yeshiva student as El Al’s new owner: The State of Israel on Friday announced it will grant control of El Al Israel Airlines to a 26-year-old Israeli-American yeshiva student Eli Rozenberg, albeit with several strings attached to the decision. In granting the control, the government rejected claims by the airline’s lawyer who argued that Eli was serving as a cover for his father, Kenny Rozenberg, and that Eli has neither the financial resources nor business experience to take on such a role. A requirement for the sale was that the buyer must be an Israeli citizen—which Rozenberg is, and his father is not. The younger Rozenberg now owns 42.9% of El Al, which he acquired for 360 million Israeli shekels ($105 million) through a public offering.
Israel to ban fur trade: Israel is set to ban fur trading, becoming the first country to ever do so. Aside from her recent coronavirus-related controversy, the plan was announced by Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, who said fur trading is “immoral.” She elaborated: “The fur industry causes the killing of hundreds of millions of animals around the world and involves indescribable cruelty and suffering.” The ban is likely to have a religious exemption for the ultra-Orthodox who wear fur shtreimels (religious hats). People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) praised the decision, thanking Israel “for recognizing that the trade in coats, pom-poms, and other frivolous fashion items made from wild animals’ fur offends the values held by all decent citizens.”
Study rejected over refusal to remove ‘written in Israel’: The international open-access science journal Molecules has canceled the publication of a study by Dr. Mindy Levin from Ariel University because she refused to erase “Israel” in the address of the university. International scientists complained that Ariel University is located in the occupied West Bank and therefore the journal should not include its address as “Israel.” Instead, they demanded that Molecules publish the address as “illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Some in the scientific community have worked for years to prevent cooperation with Ariel University.
Coalition troubles for Israel’s government: The fraught coalition government between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party took another hit this week. Blue and White Knesset member Miki Haimovich suggested her party is considering dissolving its partnership with the Likud party and calling for new elections. The party distanced itself from Haimovich’s claims, asserting instead that those were her own opinions, and that Blue and White could not realistically form any other coalition. The latest resignation by Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir as a result of his frustration with Netanyahu’s handling of the pandemic has further increased tensions between the two parties. Netanyahu’s Likud party fired back, accusing Blue and White of “fighting the government” instead of fighting the coronavirus.
U.S. House overwhelmingly passes bipartisan resolution condemning QAnon
U.S. House condemns QAnon with bipartisan measure: With a vote of 371-18, the House of Representatives voted to condemn the Qanon conspiracy theory, with all of the no votes coming from Republican or Independent members of Congress. The text includes language reading: “many QAnon followers express antisemitic views, and the Anti-Defamation League has said that the movement’s central conspiracy theory includes antisemitic element.” Several Republican candidates for Congress, most notably Marjorie Greene who is guaranteed election in her district, have expressed support for the fanatical conspiracies espoused by QAnon.
YouTube removes Louis Farrakhan’s channel: YouTube has removed Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam channel from its platform for violating its hate speech policies. A YouTube spokesperson told the Jewish Journal, “We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies.” The Anti-Defamation League has called Louis Farrakhan the “most popular anti-Semite in America.” Farrakhan often refers to Jews as “Satan” and the “enemy of God.”
Bipartisan bill to give Israel a say on F-35 sale: The controversy surrounding the sale of American F-35 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates in the wake of its peace deal with Israel has led to the introduction of a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives that would give Israel final say in the arms sale. The bill’s lead sponsor, Democratic Representative Brad Schneider, said that the legislation “would require the President to consult with the Israeli government to ensure [qualitative military edge] concerns are settled.” As opposed to existing law that mandates Congress abide by Israel’s qualitative military edge, this law would put that decision squarely under the discretion of Israel’s government. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee announced its support of the bill.
NYC shuts some ultra-Orthodox schools: New York City is closing schools in nine neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn that have had a disturbing rise in coronavirus cases recently. The neighborhoods have large populations of ultra-Orthodox Jews, and cases have risen since the High Holy Days. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo displayed images of large ultra-Orthodox gatherings and warned he might close some religious institutions if their leaders did not abide by the restrictions. The Jewish community reportedly feels singled out and unfairly targeted. Cuomo announced that the state would not force closures of small businesses in the areas.
First Black, Jewish person leads Canadian party: Annamie Paul, a Toronto attorney, was elected the first Black and second Jewish person to ever lead a Canadian political party. On Saturday, Paul was chosen to become the new head of the Canadian Green Party, which currently holds three seats in Canada’s House of Commons. Paul is the daughter of immigrants and she converted to Judaism in 2000.
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Tank In The Desert: A scene from the 1973 Yom Kippur War as photographed by Nathan Fendrich. Credit: Israel National Library
Today we celebrate the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Medicine award! The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded on Monday to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for discovering the hepatitis C virus. Their work began in the 1970s. The Nobel committee said: “Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health.” One of the doctors, Harvey J. Alter, is Jewish. In 2013, Alter wrote: “Being the only son of Jewish parents in New York City, it was preordained that I would become a doctor. One of my friends, of similar background, chose not to be a doctor and has never been heard from again.”
Today in 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, in what is now known as the Yom Kippur War. The two Arab states attacked with hundreds of planes and more than a thousand tanks. Many of Israel’s soldiers were away from their posts observing Yom Kippur, and the Arab armies made impressive advances with their up-to-date Soviet weaponry. Iraqi forces soon joined the war, and Syria received support from Jordan. After several days, Israel was fully mobilized, and the Israel Defense Forces began beating back the Arab gains at a heavy cost to soldiers and equipment. A U.S. airlift of arms aided Israel’s cause, but President Richard Nixon delayed the emergency military aid for a week as a tacit signal of U.S. sympathy for Egypt. On October 25th, an Egyptian-Israeli cease-fire was secured by the United Nations. Israel’s victory came at the cost of heavy casualties (between 2,521—2,800 Israelis were killed in action, 7,250—8,800 were injured and 293 were captured), and Israelis criticized the government’s lack of preparedness. In April 1974, Israel’s prime minister, Golda Meir stepped down.