Israel’s New Government: Israel’s new prime minister sworn in; a government of firsts; and world leaders welcome new government
Inside Israel: IDF preparing for another Gaza conflict over Jerusalem flag march; Israel bans fur sales; AP Gaza building housed anti-Iron Dome tech; Ex-Mossad leader gives revealing interview; and Israel lifts indoor mask mandate
North America: ADL report finds majority of Jews concerned about antisemitism; U.S. journalists want more anti-Israel coverage; and Canada to host emergency antisemitism summit
Inside Europe: Frankfurt dissolves elite police unit over antisemitism; and Left, Right antisemitism in France
Israel’s Neighbors: Iran’s presidential frontrunner accused of crimes against humanity; Hamas appoints new PM; Omar shunned by Hamas, fellow reps; and Hamas awards Al Jazeera for anti-Israel coverage
Celebrate & Remember: Israel’s revolutionary transmitter technology; and Vatican establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel
ISRAEL’S NEW GOVERNMENT
Israel’s new prime minister is sworn in; ends 12 years of Bibi
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett: For the first time in 12 years, Benjamin Netanyahu is no longer the Prime Minister of Israel. In a vote of 60-59, the narrowest possible margin, a new government made up of the most unlikely partners was voted into the Knesset, ousting Netanyahu after his decade-plus rule. The new government is headed by two men, first Naftali Bennett, who will serve as prime minister until 2023, and then Yair Lapid. Bennett is a right-wing, religious figure who rose in politics as a top aide to Netanyahu. Lapid is a center-left leader who has worked tirelessly to oust Netanyahu, even at his own political expense.
A government of firsts: The new government is historic for a number of reasons, including the fact that an Arab party, Ra’am led by Mansour Abbas, was instrumental in bringing it into power. Although Bennett had previously labeled Abbas a “supporter of terrorism,” he later apologized and called Abbas “a brave leader.” The government includes nine women as heads of ministry, one of whom is Ethiopian-Israeli and another who is wheelchair-bound. The government also includes an Arab minister, a Druze minister, and an openly gay minister. However, one sector of Israeli society not represented in the coalition is the ultra-Orthodox. As a result, ultra-Orthodox leaders have protested and criticized other right-wing leaders like Bennett, engaging in stunts like tearing their clothes in the Knesset as a sign of mourning and warning about the demise of Israel. Netanyahu and some extremist allies, including members of the Religious Zionism party, have conducted themselves in a similar manner, drowning out Bennett’s speech before the Knesset in boos and protests and calling Bennett “wicked,” a “traitor,” and a “liar” for forming a government with the Left. Netanyahu, who will now almost certainly take over from Lapid as Leader of the Opposition, vowed to collapse the government from the outside-in.
World leaders welcome new government: It took President Biden only two hours to call Prime Minister Bennett and congratulate him, while Biden took nearly two months in office to first call Netanyahu. Leaders across the world and the American political spectrum welcomed and congratulated the new government, including the Vice President and the Secretary of State. Tel Aviv erupted in joy over the new government, while ultra-Orthodox in conservative cities like Jerusalem prayed for the government’s downfall. The government will now set to work taking action on the legislation and other matters that have stalled over the past two years of gridlock under Netanyahu. That includes, most especially, passing a budget urgently needed for the state. Other matters like the commission into the Mount Meron disaster, the egalitarian space at the Western Wall, and overturning the ban on blood donations from gay men are all immediate considerations as well.
IDF preparing for another Gaza conflict over Jerusalem flag march today
Flag march to be held today: The rescheduled Jerusalem Day flag march planned by nationalists is set to take place today in the Old City. In a controversial decision, the government is allowing the march to go on, despite the likelihood that it will inflame the still-simmering tensions with the Palestinians. In presenting its decision, government officials argued that in any democracy it is the right of its citizens to engage in the freedom to assemble, no matter the political consequences. The Hamas terrorist organization called for a “Day of Rage” to oppose the flag march, and Israel deployed Iron Dome batteries in anticipation of potential rocket fire from Gaza.
Israel bans fur sales: Israel became the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur in the fashion industry. Former Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said: “The fur industry causes the deaths of hundreds of millions of animals worldwide, and inflicts indescribably cruelty and suffering.” The ban has a number of exceptions, though, including fur used in religious clothing like shtreimels (fur hats).
AP Gaza building housed anti-Iron Dome tech: Israeli officials told the Associated Press that the building in Gaza which Israel bombed (after warning occupants repeatedly) that housed the AP’s Gaza bureau also housed Hamas research, development and intelligence facilities. The equipment developed by Hamas in the building was designed to disrupt Israel’s lifesaving Iron Dome missile defense system. Anti-Israel activists deemed the strike a “war crime.” No one was killed in the attack.
Ex-Mossad leader gives revealing interview: Ex-Mossad leader Yossi Cohen, who is running in first-place standing in polls of Likud officials to replace Netanyahu, gave an extraordinary television exit interview. (Cohen is ineligible to run for the party leadership for a number of years due to his recent tenure in the Mossad.) Cohen revealed much about the Mossad’s operations against Iran and its nuclear facilities, prompting Iran to denounce Cohen for “threatening our nuclear scientists.”
Israel lifts indoor mask mandate: Israel has officially lifted its indoor mask mandate, one of the vestiges of its pandemic experience. With cases of the coronavirus extremely rare due to vaccine-induced herd immunity, Israel is set to allow individual tourists to travel into the country starting on July 1. Israel will also reopen its southern border with Jordan on July 4.
ADL report finds majority of Jews concerned about antisemitism
ADL report reflects grim reality: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released the results of a survey, which found that three fourths of American Jews are more worried about antisemitism now than before the 11-day conflict between Hamas and Israel last month. Over 60% of American Jews claimed they witnessed antisemitic attacks and incidents following the conflict, and 40% are more concerned for their personal safety now than they were before the conflict. ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “Around the recent conflict in Israel and Gaza, there was a significant surge of antisemitic incidents in the US and abroad. American Jews are understandably now more concerned about the potential for violence overseas spilling over into antisemitic threats close to home.” In response to the recent spike of antisemitism, a bipartisan resolution passed the U.S. Senate by voice vote yesterday, “condemning the recent rise in antisemitic violence and harassment targeting Jewish Americans, and standing in solidarity with those affected by antisemitism”
U.S. journalists want more anti-Israel coverage: Over 500 journalists, including writers from CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Politico, the Associated Press, and Huffington Post, signed a letter demanding that the U.S. news media lean more anti-Israel in their coverage. The letter openly advocating for the U.S. news media to spread anti-Israel propaganda instead of objective reporting contained many blatant mistruths and distortions.
Canada will host emergency antisemitism summit: The Canadian government will host an emergency summit on antisemitism. The summit will be led by Irwin Cotler, Canada’s antisemitism envoy. The president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said: “We have witnessed antisemitism targeting Jewish owned businesses, in schools, in workplaces, in unions, and on our streets. Moreover, we have seen an unprecedented spike in antisemitic vitriol expressed online.” The summit comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party embraced an anti-Israel lawmaker before rejecting her antisemitic comments in which she said there are not “two-sides” to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but only “human rights abuses” committed by Israel. Additionally, Quebec formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism which defines some types of anti-Zionism as antisemitic.
Frankfurt dissolves elite police unit over antisemitism
Frankfurt combats antisemitism: The state of Hesse in Germany took the step of dissolving an entire elite police force in Frankfurt after several officers were accused of participating in far-right online chats, in which they glorified the Nazis and swapped neo-Nazi symbols. German police and security agencies have been accused of not doing enough to weed out antisemites and potentially violent nationalists in their ranks. An expert committee will reportedly oversee a complete restructuring of the unit. The Frankfurt Jewish community was dealt another blow this week when it was revealed that a swastika was discovered on a Torah ark in the prayer room in Frankfurt Airport, the fourth busiest airport in Europe. The Orthodox Rabbinical Conference said: “The ugly grimace of antisemitism does not stop even in a highly secured area, at a place of encounter, silence and stopping, where people from all over the world meet briefly while traveling and are in transit.”
Left, Right antisemitism in France: Jean-Luc Melenchon, a far-left candidate who ran for France’s presidency and won 19% of the vote, said that the 2012 murder of four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse was a political conspiracy. The murder was committed by an extremist Muslim, but Melenchon said: “[the shooting] allows people to point fingers at Muslims and to invent a civil war.” The president of the umbrella of French Jewish organizations said the remarks were “an obscene attack on the memory of the victims.” Melenchon has previously been accused of antisemitism. Meanwhile, another French candidate, this one far-right, running in this week’s upcoming regional elections was suspended for posting explicitly antisemitic remarks. The woman, who belonged to Marine Le Pen’s right-wing party, wrote that “you must eradicate Jewish impudence.” Antisemitism has run in the vein of the party since its founding by Le Pen’s father. Le Pen won nearly 11 million votes for president in France’s 2017 presidential election.
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
Iran’s presidential frontrunner accused of crimes against humanity
Iran’s upcoming presidential election: Ebrahim Raisi, who is virtually running uncontested in Iran’s presidential election, has a brutal record on human rights. Raisi, set to replace outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, was part of a four-man “death committee” that oversaw the execution of up to 5,000 political prisoners in 1988. According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, Raisi spent the past two years intensifying repression of dissent and committing further human rights abuses as Iran’s chief justice. Many citizens have spoken out about the torture and abuse they endured at the hands of Raisi in disturbing detail. Raisi is closely aligned with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and many fear Raisi’s presidential win will mean more clampdown on dissent, and a return to a more closed off Iran globally, at a pivotal moment. The election will take place on June 18th.
Hamas appoints new PM: The Hamas terror organization announced that it has appointed a new prime minister—Issam al-Da’alis, who previously served as head of Hamas’ “Information Department” and as an advisor to Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh, who is currently based in Qatar. The terror group’s previous prime minister, Mohammed Awad, resigned after two years in the job with no reason given. The announcement was made shortly after Egypt decided to call off a meeting of Palestinian factions in Cairo to discuss a Palestinian unity government. According to journalist
Omar shunned by Hamas, fellow reps: The Hamas terrorist organization issued a press release denouncing U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for equating its “Palestinian resistance” with the “crimes” of Israel and the United States. Omar’s comments about crimes committed by the U.S. and Israel received backlash from Jewish members of her party in Congress, prompting her to issue a clarification in which she stated, “I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.” Before issuing the clarification, Omar criticized her colleagues and claimed their statement included “Islamophobic tropes.” After complaining about Omar’s “unfair comparison,” Basem Naim of Hamas’ International Relations Office also praised Omar, saying that “Hamas highly appreciates” her “support of … the just rights of the Palestinian people.”
Hamas awards Al Jazeera for anti-Israel coverage: A delegation of Hamas officials visited the temporary offices of Al Jazeera in Gaza to award the Qatari bankrolled organization an award for its sided coverage on the latest conflict between Israel and the terrorist group. Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya told Al Jazeera reporters that they “demonstrated their belonging to the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people,” according to a statement from the group.
Today we celebrate Israel’s revolutionary transmitter technology! Israeli scientists have been able to send light waves through materials 1,000 times smaller than fiber optics, in a potentially revolutionary discovery. One scientist involved said: “One thing that is limiting optical technology in general is the size of the light waves that need transmitting. They are too big to interact with microchips, which means our devices are slower than we would like.” The material designed by the Israeli scientists is labeled “2D,” so-called because it is so thin that the material is only one atom’s size thick. The findings were observed with a novel quantum microscope. A separate researcher said: “This presents a real breakthrough in ultrafast nano-optics, and represents state of the art and the leading edge of the scientific frontier.”
On this day in 1994, the Vatican established full diplomatic relations with Israel. Although the Vatican is the smallest state in the world, its endorsement of Israel nevertheless was a crucial sign of openness for the Jewish state in the Catholic world, including Latin America. The Vatican had originally been unwelcome to the idea of the Jewish state, particularly its control over Christian institutions and holy sites. Only one pope in the history of the papacy had ever traveled to Israel (or the Holy Land) prior to 1994, but all popes since have been.