Antisemitism surges across the world: The outbreak of fighting between terror group Hamas and Israel sparked a dramatic increase in global antisemitism, including violent antisemitic attacks in cities attacks across the world. After five Jewish groups penned a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday expressing concern about the recent surge of antisemitic hate crimes in the U.S., President Joe Biden released a statement yesterday which read: “The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop. I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad—it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.” His statement was followed shortly thereafter by a similar one from Vice President Kamala Harris. Others, like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, called the spike in antisemitism “horrific” and “heartbreaking,” and said the attacks necessitated “action.” Foreign leaders, like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said that Jews should not ever have to face “shameful racism,” after a video online showed a car caravan shouting antisemitic abuse in London. This comes as antisemitic incidents are skyrocketing in the U.K.: at least 116 antisemitic incidents were reported since May 9, the day Hamas started launching rockets into Israeli cities, compared to only 11 cases in the previous two weeks. In one incident on May 16, a rabbi was beaten by two young men, and sustained moderate injuries that required hospitalization.
Far-left Dems don’t singularly condemn antisemitism: Though Biden’s statement came over a week into the surge of antisemitism sweeping the world, many Jewish groups applauded the President’s direct condemnation. The same could not be said for the statements released by some companies, world leaders, and far-left Democrats, such as Bernie Sanders, Jamaal Bowman, and Ayanna Pressley, who did not singularly condemn antisemitism, and instead linked the rise in antisemitism to a nonexistent surge of Islamophobia or watered it down with language condemning “all forms of racism.” Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said: “That’s the equivalent of [Black Lives Matter] telling you ‘ALL LIVES MATTER.’.. If after a 2 weeks of violent global pogroms, especially in NYC, the same people who condemned anti-Asian and anti-Islamic hate crimes with singular focus cannot condemn anti-Jewish violence without invoking “All forms of racism,” they may be in denial of their own antisemitism!”
Throughout the defensive Israeli military campaign, some far-left Democrats, including, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, and Rashida Tlaib amplified misinformation and one sided divisive narratives about Israel, with Ocasio-Cortez calling Israel an “apartheid” state and Omar accusing Israel of “terrorism.” Both Senator Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez introduced resolutions to halt the $735 million in military equipment that the U.S. is set to provide Israel. Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee Gregory Meeks had initially considered the proposal before backing down after conversation with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a pro-Israel champion.
Ireland seeks to expel Israeli diplomats: The Irish parliament is set to vote this week on expelling the country’s Israeli ambassador. The motion states that in light of the war between Israel and Hamas “the Israeli ambassador’s presence in Ireland is untenable.” Should it pass, the motion would not be binding. The Irish government has been highly critical of Israel and previously taken up anti-Israel legislation.
Israel recuperates: Although quiet has returned to much of Israel after its 11-day war with the terrorist group Hamas, signs and repercussions of the violence still linger. Israel reopened the Gaza crossing for humanitarian aid after it tried to do so repeatedly during the war but aborted when Hamas fired on the aid workers. Additionally, 2.4 million children across Israel’s south and center regions returned to school, but the Education Ministry directed schools to spend time on the emotional and social tolls of the war. Among those killed in Israel during the war were a five-year-old and 16-year-old. The Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, also reopened – to Jews. Although the sacred site had been open to Muslims for the past three weeks, for 20 days Israel barred Jews from entering the compound. Upon a Jewish group’s entering of the Temple Mount, Qatari-owned Al Jazeera media falsely claimed Jews were “storming” the site. The location also saw clashes between Muslim supporters of Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinian Authority party in the West Bank. And the terrorism has yet to fully subside. Hamas announced that it was ready to resume its missile strikes at any time and yesterday, a terrorist stabbed two people in Jerusalem. The Palestinian attacker was shot dead by security forces and the Israelis, a 21-year-old and 23-year-old, remain in moderate condition.
Blinken heads to Israel: At the direction of President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan to discuss Israeli security needs and facilitate the cease-fire. Biden said that Blinken is to reaffirm the U.S.’s “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security” while in Jerusalem and also “to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect.”
New Mossad chief tapped: Israel has announced it’s new Mossad chief will be David Barnea. Barnea will replace Yossi Cohen who has led the agency for five and a half years. Cohen has had an eye for media attention, but Barnea is likely to maintain the spy agency under-the-radar, as it typically is. Barnea’s first task will be to choose a deputy who will be identified only as E. The announcement of Barnea’s appointment had been a state secret until a Haaretz reporter filed suit on the publication ban.
Israel emerges from COVID: Israel will return to basically pre-COVID times in two weeks with the lifting of its indoor mask mandate and the scrapping of the green passport which was required to prove vaccination status. The country will remain wary and vigilant for outside strains, though, said an official from the Health Ministry. All incoming travelers must still quarantine and test negative for COVID-19 before entering Israel.
Fifth elections grow likely: The anti-Netanyahu coalition between Opposition Leader Yair Lapid and Yamina’s Naftali Bennett hit a major roadblock due to the Gaza defensive military campaign. The new government, which would dethrone Netanyahu after 12 years in power, was set to take shape two weeks ago, but the outbreak of war prevented the coalition from forming. Both Arab Islamist Mansour Abbas of the Ra’am party and Yamina’s chief Naftali Bennett, who was set to become prime minister, initially backed out of the talks. Despite seeming closer to Netanyahu during the war, Bennett excoriated Netanyahu on Facebook on Sunday, saying that Netanyahu’s direction on the war was “twisted and dictated by personal considerations and personality cult.” Yamina might still form a rotation government with the opposition party Yesh Atid under Yair Lapid, and right-wing Gideon Sa’ar and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said they would not serve in a government under Netanyahu, likely dooming Netanyahu’s path. In the event they fail to form a government, the anti-Netanyahu bloc is going to put forward a measure to dissolve the Knesset and head to elections once again. Lapid’s bills targeting Netanyahu which would mandate term limits on a prime minister and disallow one under indictment from running for reelection initially passed out of committee but were blocked by the Speaker of the Knesset, Netanyahu ally.
Herzog and Peretz face off in Presidential race: The candidates for President of Israel have been announced ahead of next month’s elections. The two candidates are Isaac Herzog, now Chairman of the Jewish Agency and previously leader of the Labor Party, and Miriam Peretz, an activist who lost two of her sons in the Israel Defense Forces. Herzog’s father Chaim was President of Israel for 10 years and his grandfather was Chief Ashkeanzi Rabbi of Israel. Peretz won the Israel Prize in 2018, Israel’s highest honor, bestowed on her due to her activism. She would be Israel’s first female president. The election will be conducted by parliamentarians by secret ballot before President Reuven Rivlin is set to step down in July.
AROUND THE WORLD
Israeli boy orphaned by Italian cable car tragedy
Eitan Biran, 5, was the sole survivor of the crash that killed his mother, father, younger brother and great grandparents (source: Facebook)
Italian tragedy includes Jewish family: Five of those killed in the cable car tragedy in Italy were an Israeli family. The sole survivor of the crash, a five-year-old Israeli boy named Eitan Biran, remains in critical condition after his father embraced him while the car plunged, likely saving his life. All the dead aside from the Israeli family are Italian nationals. Italy launched a manslaughter investigation into the disaster, which killed a total of 14 people.
Bangladesh revokes Israeli travel ban: Bangladesh has, for all intents and purposes, revoked its ban on travel to Israel. The country announced it will remove the text “valid for all countries of the world except Israel” from its passports which kept its nationals from visiting Israel. Bangladesh, though, still does not recognize Israel and does not formally allow its citizens to travel to the Jewish state. The Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific said: “This is a welcome step and I call on the Bangladeshi government to move forward and establish diplomatic ties with Israel so both our peoples could benefit & prosper.”
Today we celebrate the return of Birthright! Birthright returned to Israel yesterday after a year’s pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the only canceled program Birthright has experienced in its two-decade run, despite significant challenges of wars and terrorism. The CEO of Birthright said: “I am extremely excited that we are renewing the connection between the Young Diaspora and the State of Israel. Following the rise of antisemitism over the past weeks, this is now more important than ever before.” In total, Birthright has brought approximately 750,000 young Jews from 68 countries to Israel.
On this day in 2000, Israel withdrew the last of its forces from Lebanon, marking the end of the South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000). In the preceding year’s national election, Ehud Barak, then candidate for prime minister, promised to withdraw Israeli troops from southern Lebanon. As prime minister, Barak made good on his promise, removing all troops. Lebanon, though, remained occupied by Syria until 2005. After Israel’s withdrawal, the Lebanese Christian army which was in control of the south collapsed and was replaced by the terrorist group Hezbollah. A total number of 256 Israeli soldiers died during the conflict.