Inside Europe: Neo-Nazis march in Madrid; woman assaults Holocaust survivor in London; and antisemitism surges in Germany
Israeli Elections & Coronavirus: Gantz launches civil marriage bid; Joint List leader receives funds from PLO; Israel to reopen Sunday; and Purim only with nuclear family
Inside Israel: Exiled Iranian Judo champion lands in Israel; Israel to pump gas to Gaza; Palestinians damage Jewish holy site; JNF faces controversy over West Bank expansion; and Israelis charged with assaulting Palestinians
Israel’s Neighbors: Iran to end nuclear inspections; UN criticizes Iranian treatment of LGBTs; Hamas court ruling on women guardianship; Israel launches attack in Syria; and ICC elects new chief
Inside the U.S.: Bari Weiss & Ben Shapiro defend Gina Carano’s antisemitism; athletes fight antisemitism; Court revives lawsuit against anti-BDS law; Marvel scrubs antisemitic comic; and Israeli rescue flights from U.S. expanded
Celebrate & Remember: Fauci wins Israeli prize; and France accepts responsibility in Holocaust
Neo-Nazis march in Madrid: During an annual rally in Madrid, Spain on Saturday, hundreds of neo-Nazis paid tribute to the fascist ‘Blue Division’ soldiers that died fighting alongside the Nazis in World War II. One of the speakers gave a speech in which she said, “the Jew is to blame, the enemy is always the same,” while hundreds of the participants gave the Nazi salute. The event was organized by the Patriot Youth, a Madrid neo-Nazi organization, and was supported by different neo-Nazi and fascist groups such as the España2000 party and La Falange, whose national leader, Manuel Andrino, attended the march. The neo-Nazis also made the Nazi salute while singing fascist-themed songs. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain (FCJE), the country’s European Jewish Congress affiliate, condemned the incident in the strongest terms: “We consider it unacceptable that in a solid democracy under the rule of law such as Spain, such remarks go unpunished.” The EJC said on Twitter, “We support the Jewish community in [Spain] & call on the authorities to take a stand against extremism of all kinds.”
Woman assaults Holocaust survivor in London: A woman assaulted a 80-year-old Holocaust survivor and her son, a rabbi, on a public bus in London. Witnesses say the woman shouted at the pair: “I hate you Jews. It’s not your place. You took our money.” The attacker “threw the rabbi’s hat to the floor during the assault.” The bus driver refused to transport the assailant to the police station and a watchdog group said: “Transport for London must explain why the bus driver took no action, allowing the abuse to go on despite the violence and the protests of other passengers, and the assailant must quickly be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Antisemitism surges in Germany: Antisemitic hate crimes surged in Germany in 2020 according to a national police filing. There were at least 2,275 crimes reported across the country, 55 of which were physically violent in nature. This is the highest number of antisemitic incidents recorded by the police since they started gathering such data. Most of the antisemitic incidents were perpetrated not by Islamic extremists or far-left activists as some allege, but by the far-right, . The Central Council of Jews in Germany’s president said, “the radicalization of society is progressing and respect for minorities is declining,” and blamed the coronavirus for the sharp increase in antisemitism.
ISRAELI ELECTIONS & CORONAVIRUS
Many fear another deadlock as neither bloc has clear majority
Gantz becomes desperate as polls show him cratering: With recent polls showing Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party not even making it into the next Knesset, Gantz is trying to salvage his standing with the Left by attempting to launch civil marriage in Israel. Gantz received the Attorney General’s permission to propose legislation allowing Israeli couples to register as married without going through the religious authorities as is required in Israel. In normal times, these couples — including interreligious, LGBT, areligious, and leftist couples — travel abroad to get married, but they are unable to due to the coronavirus restrictions. Gantz said: “the current situation doesn’t allow us to ignore the fact that many are having their basic right to marry taken away from them.” The ultra-Orthodox, Netanyahu’s strongest allies, vehemently oppose civil marriage which would strip them of much of their authority over the matter. One member of Yesh Atid, Gantz’s former partner, said that Gantz needs to quit the race as he is endangering their anti-Netanyahu bloc’s ability to form the next government by siphoning off votes. Recent pre-election polling showed a decrease in popularity for Netanyahu’s Likud and an increase in votes for current opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Neither the pro-Netanyahu bloc nor the anti-Netanyahu bloc is projected to receive the majority of votes, suggesting another political deadlock come election day.
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh receives funds from PLO: A recent report detailed that Knesset Member Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List alliance, reportedly received an envelope containing $20,000 from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2018. The PA and Odeh both asserted that the cash was for the Joint List and was a legitimate donation. A source privy to the meeting told Israel’s Channel 20 that “The funds were given to Odeh with the knowledge and approval of [PA leader Mahmoud Abbas]. [Mahmoud Abbas] saw Odeh as having the power to change the political map. The funds are meant to cover Odeh’s personal expenses ahead of the elections in Israel.” A Palestinian official said, “This is just like when political parties and Jewish organizations receive donations from the U.S. or other countries abroad. As long as we’re talking about a legitimate organization—and the PLO is a legitimate organization—this action is legal in Israel and the United States.” Recent polling suggests that a majority of left-wing voters want the Arab Joint List party to form part of the new government.
Israel to reopen Sunday: Israel will partially reopen this Sunday after weeks of strict coronavirus shutdown amid its lightning vaccination campaign. In a partial return to ‘normalcy,’ the Israeli cabinet approved the reopening of stores, gyms, and culture venues, as well as schools. Synagogues will reopen this Friday for Shabbat with a maximum of ten people allowed inside. However, these activities (except schools) will only be open to those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, some 45% of the country by now, or who have recovered from it. 2,000 Israelis will be allowed to return home each day from abroad, but no other travelers will be allowed into the country. Despite the easing of restrictions, a hospital head in the Galilee said it is a “big mistake” to reopen now and that the hospital will be unable to care for all the sick. The Health Ministry is also warning hospitals to prepare for an influx of children suffering from the coronavirus as schools reopen next week. Evidence has shown children to be much more susceptible to the variant of the coronavirus first found in Britain that is spreading rapidly throughout Israel at a prevalence of 80%.
Purim only with nuclear family: Defense Minister Gantz’s demand to limit the celebration of the upcoming Purim holiday, typically an exorbitant and festive event, was approved by the cabinet. The government will urge people to celebrate Purim only within their nuclear family or with individuals who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. That said, the vaccine campaign has truly proved miraculous, with zero deaths reported among 523,000 fully vaccinated Israelis. Within those half-a-million, only four people developed severe cases. Israel is also debating allowing the Palestinian Authority to transfer thousands of doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to the Gaza Strip which has so far vaccinated no residents. Right-wing lawmakers want to condition the transport of vaccines on the return of the bodies of Israeli soldiers held by the Hamas terror group which runs the Strip.
Israel to allow in Judo players: Despite a near total ban on air travel into Israel, Israel is allowing as many as 600 judo athletes to enter the country for the Tel Aviv Grand Slam. The athletes must present negative coronavirus tests before traveling to Israel, though many are unhappy with the decision to move forward with the competition. One such athlete arriving in Israel is an Iranian world judo champion. Saeid Mollaei fled Iran in 2019 after Iranian authorities ordered Mollaei to intentionally lose in the semi-final at the Tokyo 2019 World Championships to avoid a potential match in the finals against Israeli 2019 world champion Sagi Muki. Mollaei said he bowed to the pressure and deliberately lost to Belgium’s Matthias Casse to avoid facing the Israeli athlete, who ended up winning gold. Now the two may compete in the Tel Aviv contest. Muki said he would be happy to face Mollaei, who has become a personal friend.
Israel to pump gas to Gaza: The solution to Gaza’s long-running electricity crisis may be imminent. With money from foreign sources like the EU and Qatar, a pipeline will be built in Israeli territory to carry natural gas into Gaza. The gas will reduce Gaza’s annual cost of electricity from $22 million to less than $10 million, according to Qatar’s envoy to the Strip. As a byproduct, Israel’s Energy Minister also said the deal will “reduce regional air pollution.” The finalization of the agreement is expected within the next six months.
Palestinians damage Jewish holy site; apologize: After an important Jewish holy site was damaged by a Palestinian construction project, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin asked Defense Minister Benny Gantz to investigate the incident. The construction on Mount Ebal in the West Bank purports to hold the altar of Joshua mentioned in the Book of Joshua. The construction apparently damaged 114 feet of external wall surrounding the altar compound. Rivlin said: “It is inconceivable that we, who are rooted in these heritage sites all across the country, do not ensure that our heritage sites are protected against all kinds of damage and harm. Our land has a bounty of holy sites of immense religious, historic and archeological value. These sites, including the altar of Joshua at [Mount Ebal], are heritage sites of incalculable national and universal value.” The site is located in Area B of the West Bank, where the Palestinians retain civilian control and Israel maintains security control. Some right-wing Israelis believe the Palestinians purposefully damaged the site to somehow undermine Jewish connection to the Holy Land. Yamina’s Naftali Bennett compared the action to that of ISIS attacking the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty. Palestinian officials did apologize for the incident.
JNF faces controversy over West Bank expansion: As the Jewish National Fund’s leadership agreed to expand its land purchasing directive to include West Bank settlements, liberal Jewish groups, and the U.S. State Department, voiced strenuous opposition to the decision. The Union for Reform Judaism, America’s largest religious Jewish organization, said: “We love and support the Jewish and democratic State of Israel, which is why we will continue to strongly oppose policies that undermine the safety, security and moral character of our Jewish homeland.” The Zionist arm of the Conservative movement said: “[The decision] could irreversibly endanger [the JNF] and our homeland.” Defense Minister Benny Gantz also expressed hesitation over the move, saying it is “extremely sensitive.” There is even strong disagreement from within the JNF. Its Deputy Chair said: “[It is] highly unfortunate that a proposal with such enormous implications for Israel and diplomatic status has been submitted in such a hasty and inappropriate fashion.” The JNF’s board needs to approve the decision which can only take place after Israel’s March 23 election.
3 Israelis charged with assaulting Palestinians: At least three Israelis aged 18 and 19 were arrested by Israeli forces for attacking and intimidating Palestinians in the West Bank. The three, who live in Israeli settlements, are accused of throwing rocks at Palestinians, illegally possessing weapons, and membership in a terror organization. The last charge is quite serious and very rarely brought against Israeli citizens.
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
Iran will end certain inspections by month’s end if terms not met
Iran jumbles its nuclear message: Iran reiterated yesterday that pursuant to a bill passed in December, it will halt certain nuclear inspections if the U.S. and other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal “fail to meet their obligations” by February 21. This means if the U.S. does not lift unilateral sanctions, Iran will end its adherence to the “additional protocol,” which calls for intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities. The announcement came just days after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran is producing uranium metal, in a further violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, which can be used as a component in nuclear weapons. Although last week Iran’s Intelligence Minister said the country might seek nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances, the foreign ministry said the opposite: “Iran’s nuclear activities have always been peaceful and will remain peaceful.”
UN criticizes Iranian treatment of LGBTs: The UN released a report on human rights violations in Iran, saying that Iran’s abuses of LGBT children “amount to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” The report states that the Islamic regime subjects children to electric shocks, hormone treatments, and psychoactive medications to “cure” them of homosexuality.
Hamas court says women need a male’s approval to travel: A decision released Sunday by the Sharia Judicial Council, a Hamas-run court in the Gaza Strip, ruled that women need approval from a “guardian” to travel. A guardian for an unmarried woman refers to either a father or other older male relative. The ruling also implied that married women may not travel without their husband’s permission. Zainab al-Ghunaimi, a Gazan women’s rights activist, said that Hamas is “going backwards in protecting human rights.” Hassan al-Jojo, head of the Council, dismissed criticism of the decision as “artificial and unjustified noise.” The ruling further restricts residents’ movement within the Gaza Strip, which has been extremely limited by Israel and Egypt since Hamas’s rise to power in 2007.
Israel launches attack in Syria: According to the Syrian army, Israel launched a missile strike near its capital of Damascus on Sunday night. The missiles were launched from the Golan Heights and the Galilee and were intended for targets just outside of the capital city, about 40-50 miles away. The Syrians claimed to have shot down the missiles, saying: “Our air defenses are continuing to repel the Israeli missile attacks over the skies of the capital.” However, an opposition group said the missiles killed at least six Iranian-backed militants and struck Syrian army positions between Damascus and Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, about a two-hour drive. The group also said the missiles hit a position south of the capital. The Israeli military did not comment. However, the Israeli air force also said it would be conducting a “surprise exercise” this week to train against a military confrontation with Hezbollah, the terrorist group entrenched in southern Lebanon. Accordingly, the military said there will be an increase in air activity in Israel and sounds of explosions in the north.
ICC elects new chief: Just a week after declaring it has the authority to investigate potential war crime in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the International Criminal Court (ICC) elected a new chief prosecutor to lead the organization. The British lawyer Karim Khan will replace The Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda after her nine-year term ends this summer. Khan is an assistant UN secretary-general and was elected at the UN General Assembly. In his role at the UN, Khan led an ongoing investigation into the allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq. The ICC is mired in conflict over its role as the leading accountability mechanism for international war crimes. Bensouda was criticized and sanctioned by the U.S. for investigating potential American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. (America claims the ICC does not have jurisdiction since the U.S. is not a party to its charter having withdrawn in 2002.)
INSIDE THE U.S.
Bari Weiss & Ben Shapiro defend Gina Carano’s antisemitic posts
Source: @realDailyWire / Twitter, February 13, 2021
Shapiro gives Carano film deal after firing: Less than 24 hours after her explosive ouster from Star Wars series The Mandalorian for antisemitic social media posts, Gina Carano revealed a new film project she is making with Ben Shapiro’s conservative outlet, The Daily Wire. The news came on the heels of the hashtag #FireGinaCarano trending on Twitter as people screen-grabbed the star’s deleted posts, including an antisemitic Instagram story that equivocated the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust to a disagreement over political ideology in America. In another unearthed post, Carano shared an image which pictured several apparently Jewish bankers playing a game of Monopoly with their tabletop resting on the bowed naked backs of several workers, which read: “all we have to do is stand up and their little game is over.” In a move that raised many eyebrows, Jewish writer Bari Weiss applauded Ben Shapiro’s decision to reward Carano. In a self-published article, Weiss argued that antisemitism requires intent and Carano “didn’t have any such intent.” Weiss also mentioned that she understood why Carano refused to delete the antisemitic image, saying, “there’s no winning.”
Athletes to fight antisemitism: A virtual event tomorrow titled “Athletes against Anti-Semitism” will be headlined by sports players Zach Banner, Alysha Clark, and Josh Bell. The players will unite to address how sports can play a positive role in addressing antisemitism, particularly within its own ranks. Banner, a Pittsburgh-based football player, was particularly affected by the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in 2018. The event will also feature Tree of Life’s rabbi, Jeffrey Myers.
Court revives lawsuit against anti-BDS law: A federal appeals court ordered the review of the dismissal of a case brought against Arkansas for violating free speech rights due to its anti-BDS (boycott, divest, and sanction) legislation. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit said: “The Act seeks to restrict government contractors’ ability to participate in speech and other protected, boycott-associated activities recognized as entitled to protection under Supreme Court precedent.” The plaintiff is the Arkansas Times, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues it should not have to pledge not to boycott Israel in order to conduct an advertising deal with the University of Arkansas, a public institution. More than half of states in the U.S. have passed similar anti-BDS legislation which financially punishes companies that seek to boycott Israel.
Marvel scrubs antisemitic comic: Marvel Comics edited a strip from its latest comic book release which included antisemitic tropes in an illustration. The comic, “Immortal Hulk #43,” included a panel showing a character in a jewelry store called “Cronemberg Jewery” discussing diamonds. The store had a large, visible Star of David painted on its window. Shortly after the new comic was published on February 3, fans pointed out the antisemitic imagery and criticized it on social media and in forums. The artist who drew the image, Joe Bennett, apologized on Facebook: “I have no excuse for how I depicted the Star of David. I failed to understand this troubling and offensive stereotype. I am sorry to everyone who I hurt by this,” adding that he had worked with Marvel to correct the issue.
Rescue flights from U.S. expanded: While its citizens remain stranded abroad due to the coronavirus-induced border shutdown, Israel’s rescue flights from the United States back to Israel hit a snag when the U.S. vowed to block all Israeli flights until American airlines were allowed the same permissions as Israeli ones. (Prior to this, Israel had only allowed rescue operations flown by Israeli companies.) Following the demand, Israel allowed American carriers Delta and United Airlines to also fly rescue routes to Tel Aviv.
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Today we celebrate Dr. Anthony Fauci winning an Israeli prize! The National Institutes of Health’s Dr. Anthony Fauci was awarded Israel’s prestigious 2021 Dan David Prize for his work on combating the coronavirus pandemic. The prize, which is accompanied by a gift of $1 million, is awarded by Tel Aviv University to “outstanding contributions of globally inspiring individuals.” In its ‘science’ category, the awards are given to individuals contributing to scientific advancement in the past, present, and future; Fauci was commended for his present work. The committee specifically awarded Fauci for “courageously defending science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis.”
On this day in 2009, France finally acknowledged that it was “responsible” for the deportation and murder of 77,000 Jews during the Holocaust. France’s highest court, the Council of State, ruled on the matter which had been taboo in France for over 60 years. At the time of the German invasion and occupation of France in 1940, there were 350,000 Jews living in France, many of whom were refugees from other parts of Europe. Working together, the French and Germans deported tens of thousands of them to Auschwitz, including 8,000 children.