Happy Pride! Our limited-edition pride sweatshirt is now on sale. 100% of proceeds go to The Aguda, Israel’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. Today we’re diving into:
Inside Israel: Clashes in Sheikh Jarrah; reunification bill hits snags; Netanyahu paper shredding scandal; Meron investigation approved; and Women of the Wall gets defender
Israel’s Neighbors: Palestinians seek to revive vaccine exchange after cancelling agreement; extremist to take Iran’s presidency; Lapid to visit UAE; and Palestinians support Hamas, oppose negotiations
North America: Philadelphia festival canceled after uninviting Israeli vendor; Seattle teachers union endorses BDS; Chicago Dyke March antisemitism; Canadian party leader nearly ousted; NJ antisemitic banner removed; and Biden picks ambassador to Israel
Inside Europe: UK passport deletes Jerusalem birthplace; female rabbi fired from Orthodox school; and mass grave uncovered near Auschwitz
Celebrate & Remember: Israel raises the Pride flag; and remembering the French complicity in the Holocaust
Violence flares up in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood
Clashes in Sheikh Jarrah: Palestinian protestors clashed with Jewish residents of Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood last night, amid an ongoing series of confrontations. Tensions have been high since May, when the Jerusalem District Court denied an appeal of a lower court’s decision to evict several Palestinian residents. The court ruled that Jewish Israelis owned the land and the Palestinian residents failed to pay the required rent for years. Israel’s High Court of Justice will hold a hearing regarding the pending eviction on August 2. The Hamas terror group used the pending eviction and resulting confrontations as a pretext to fire indiscriminate rockets at Jerusalem in May, sparking the 11-day conflict with Israel. On Monday night, protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Jewish homes, lightly wounding a pregnant woman who was hit in the back with a stone. After the attack of the Jewish homes, residents responded with rocks and pepper spray and a brawl broke out. Police dispersed the fighting, and the Palestinian Red Crescent said 20 Palestinians were treated for injuries.
Reunification bill hits snags: The fragile new Israeli government, which just defeated the first no confidence vote of its tenure, is confronting an early test in the extension of a law that would bar Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens from gaining automatic Israeli citizenship. The law has been in effect since 2003, when it was passed out of security concerns that Arab Israelis were conducting sham marriages with Palestinians who intended to carry out terror attacks within Israel. However, opponents of the law, including members of Jewish and Arab parties, call the law racist for targeting Palestinians. Therefore, without left-wing members of the new government voting for the measure, the government would need members of the opposition who, despite supporting the measure in theory, will not vote for it in order to embarrass the new government. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is meeting with Arab leader Mansour Abbas to see if they can come to an agreement, but the bill has already been pulled from the relevant Knesset committee because it did not have enough votes to pass.
Final Netanyahu scandal: The new Israeli government is confronting one more scandal to come out of the Netanyahu-era: paper shredding. The prime minister’s office apparently shredded significant amounts of paper, in clear violation of the law, before vacating the office for the new government. According to reports, staff close to the prime minister shredded materials just hours before the new government was set to be sworn in. One lawmaker wrote to the Attorney General, saying: “This matter demands a swift and fundamental investigation as it touches on the heart of democratic life… and also matters of national security.” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office is expected to begin an informal investigation into the shredding claims. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said plainly: Netanyahu left “unbelievable” destruction and neglect in his wake.
Meron investigation approved: Without ultra-Orthodox sway over the new government, its first cabinet meeting approved an investigation into the Mount Meron Lag b’Omer tragedy which left 45 people dead earlier this year. The investigation will probe politicians, including ultra-Orthodox leaders, for their role in the negligence. Amir Ohana, the former Security Minister and a prominent Netanyahu ally, will also be probed for allegedly putting politics over public safety, as will leaders of both ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism. Defense Minister Benny Gantz also ordered a new investigation into the so-called submarine affair in which former Prime Minister Netanyahu allegedly looked the other way while officials were bribed to award a defense contract to a German firm. The inquiry would need government approval, though, which even in the new government is unclear if it will happen. Additionally, the government approved 36 diplomats, something which Netanyahu had been blocking for over six months, and Labor head and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli planned to expand access to public transportation on Shabbat, a move strongly opposed by the ultra-Orthodox.
Women of the Wall gets defender: Israel’s new public securities minister, Omer Bar Lev of the Labor party, is pledging to end decades of abuse toward the Women of the Wall organization. Women of the Wall meets on every first of the Hebrew month to pray at the Western Wall, where women are typically discouraged, if not outright prohibited, from engaging in public prayer. The group has faced arrests and harassment from ultra-Orthodox onlookers, as well as security staff. When asked directly how he would respond to such behavior, Bar Lev said: “From now on, I’ll deal with it.”
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
Palestinians seek to revive vaccine exchange after cancelling agreement
3 countries ask Israel for vaccines PA rejected: On the same day that Israel agreed to transfer 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the Palestinian Authority—and after Israel had already transferred nearly 100,000 vaccines—the PA canceled the agreement. Pursuant to the exchange deal, Israel would ship vaccines to the PA in exchange for a similar number of doses to be delivered back to Israel later this year. The PA abruptly called it off, saying the doses were too close to their expiration date. Israel says the vaccines were of the exact same quality it is using to vaccinate Israelis and that Israel uses the ones closest to expiration first in order to avoid wasting them. At least three unnamed countries have asked Israel for the 1.2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine that the Palestinian Authority is refusing. On Sunday, PA Health Minister Mai Alkaila said her office would discuss reviving the agreement with Pfizer and the Israeli Health Ministry and will request vaccines with later expiration dates.
Extremist to take Iran’s presidency: Hard-liner judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s presidential vote, which was widely considered to be a fraudulent election. Raisi has a record of grave human rights abuses and was reportedly part of a four-person “death panel” that oversaw the mass execution of up to 5,000 political prisoners in 1988. President-elect Raisi will officially take office on August 3rd. He has long opposed engagement with the West and is a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Most recently, the two years he spent as Iran’s chief justice were marked by intensified repression of dissent and human rights abuses. During the first cabinet meeting of his new government, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Iran’s choice for president was a sign for world powers to “wake up” before returning to a nuclear agreement with Tehran. Bennett said: “A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction that will enable it to not kill thousands, but millions.”
During IDF chief Aviv Kohavi’strip to Washington yesterday, he warned American officials against their plan to reenter the nuclear deal. The IDF said in a statement: “The chief of staff presented the failures of the current nuclear deal, which allow Iran to make significant advances in the coming years in the quantity and quality of centrifuges and in the amount and quality of enriched uranium, and he stressed the lack of oversight in the area of developing a nuclear weapon.”
Lapid to visit UAE: Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime MInister Yair Lapid will be the first known Israeli diplomat to visit the United Arab Emirates when he travels to the Gulf country next week on June 29. Israeli journalist Eylon Levy said: “ After Netanyahu’s planned trips to the U.A.E. were scuttled, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will be the first Israeli minister to visit the UAE after the signing of the Abraham Accords.” Lapid is set to inaugurate an Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai. The Israeli Ambassador to the U.A.E. Eitan Na’eh said: “I’m honoured and excited that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has chosen to come to the UAE as his first trip abroad.”
Palestinians support Hamas, oppose negotiations: A poll released last week shows a dramatic increase in Palestinian support for Hamas following the latest conflict with Israel. Three-quarters view the terror group as the victors in last month’s war. Palestinian groups have also warned the Palestinian Authority against restarting peace negotiations with Israel which comes after reports that the PA had begun the process of doing so.
Philadelphia festival canceled after uninviting Israeli vendor
Source: @moshava.philly / Instagram, June 21, 2021
Philly food festival antisemitism: Philadelphia food festival “Taste of Home,” coordinated by the organizations “Eat Up the Borders” and “Sunflower Philly,” was canceled after Eat Up The Borders uninvited an Israeli vendor from participating. The disinvitation came in the wake of antisemitic social media attacks against the organization. Amid the backlash, Eat Up The Borders deleted its Facebook and Instagram accounts. Prior to deleting its account, Eat Up The Borders said: “In order to best serve our guests, we decided to remove one of our food vendors for Sunday’s event so that we could deliver an optimal experience to all…Our intent is never to cause harm. We’re sorry, and we realize being educated is the first step to preventing that from happening again.” Sunflower Philly wrote on Instagram: “Due to the ongoing situation with one of our event partners… we have decided to cancel the ‘Taste of Home’ event today. We will continue to host events with people of all races, nationalities and sexual orientations who are aligned with our mission.” Neither organization publicly apologized to Israeli vendor Moshava after discriminating against it.
Seattle teachers union endorses BDS: Seattle’s teachers’ union approved a resolution to endorse the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions campaign against Israel and said that it wants the Seattle police department to cut all ties with the Israel Defense Forces. A Jewish member of the union who is supportive of BDS said the move was “a bold, vocal stand against injustice.” There exists a widespread, false conspiracy theory that the IDF somehow trains U.S. police departments in ways to target minority communities.
Chicago Dyke March antisemitism: The Chicago Dyke March has promoted its upcoming annual parade with antisemitic imagery. One event flyer depicts a woman standing on top of a burning car holding the Israeli flag and American flag, both in flames. Another promotional photo depicts a white arm holding a machine gun on cards that say “queers for Palestine, Zionism is queerphobic.” The flag burning promotional post was removed by Instagram for “hate speech or symbols,” to which the antisemitic group responded by urging followers to capture a screenshot of the post, “and share to prevent any attempts by Z1ON1ST and Instagram to censor our account.” Jewish LGBTQ+ non-profit organization A Wider Bridge said in a statement Monday it was “outraged” by the image bearing the burning flags, which it said sent a message that “dykes who wish to attend the Dyke March must choose between their identities. We Refuse to Choose.”
Canadian party leader nearly ousted: Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, who is Black and Jewish, is facing a possible no-confidence vote from her party. It is debating ousting her less than a year after she took the helm. Paul is still in her position after the party decided not to move forward with a no-confidence motion last week in an emergency meeting, but the vote could still take place. Paul’s possible ousting from her party is due in part to another party member’s defection, who reportedly left because the party wasn’t anti-Israel enough. Defector Jenica Atwin called Israel an apartheid state in May and suggested Paul’s position on Israel was too soft. After the emergency meeting, sources say the federal council adopted a separate motion asking Paul to publicly repudiate one of Paul’s former senior advisers, Noah Zatzman, who accused many politicians — including unspecified Green Party members — of antisemitism in a social media post last month. If Paul does not formally disavow his comments, she will again face a potential no-confidence vote.
NJ antisemitic banner removed: An openly antisemitic banner, which hung outside a New Jersey tobacco shop for over 3 months, has finally been taken down. The shop owner said the banner, which called Israelis as the “new Nazis,” was meant to “spark controversy.” Layla Samara, whose family owns the tobacco shop in Paterson, NJ, told local news outlet NorthJersey that “It was supposed to make people uncomfortable.”
Biden picks ambassador to Israel: President Biden selected Tom Nides to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel. Nides is a Vice Chairman at Morgan Stanley who was a Deputy Secretary of State under President Obama. He also was a large financial bundler for Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign. Nides, who is Jewish, is known to be pro-Israel but evenhanded. As Deputy Secretary, he wrote a letter to then-Senator Mark Kirk expressing the need for the U.S. to continue to financially support the UN’s Palestinian refugee support agency. Without that support, Nides argued the U.S. would not be a fair broker between Israel and the Palestinians.
UK lists ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ instead of ‘Jerusalem’ as passport birthplace
Source: Kan public broadcaster
UK passport deletes Jerusalem birthplace: A Jerusalem-born Israeli-British woman was surprised to receive her new U.K. passport which listed her birthplace as the “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” despite having been born in Israel. She applied for her new passport online and sent the old one by mail to the passport offices on May 23, two days after the end of the latest 11-day conflict between terror group Hamas and Israel. A British Home Office spokesperson indicated the action was taken by a rogue passport control agent and not due to any change in policy, saying: “We apologize for this error and are urgently investigating how this has occurred. We will contact Ms. Balaban about the issuing of a new passport showing the correct place of birth.” Ayelet Balaban was born at Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital in Jerusalem, which was never part of Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem.
Female rabbi fired from Orthodox school: A teacher was fired from an Orthodox school in the U.K. after she became an ordained rabbi. Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, said that Rabbi Dr. Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz had “stepped beyond the boundaries of mainstream Orthodoxy” in pursuing her goal to become a rabbi. 30 rabbis and cantors wrote to the London School of Jewish Studies from which she was fired to protest the decision. Taylor-Guthartz said she intended to become a rabbi not to serve as a communal figure but “to enhance my Torah knowledge and develop my learning further, so that I would develop higher skills and knowledge to teach at a higher level and provide needed leadership within the Orthodox Torah world in London, and the Jewish community in general.”
Mass grave uncovered near Auschwitz: After the discovery of a mass grave near Auschwitz, experts say the remains likely belong to German prisoners of war who were subject to Soviet brutality following the fall of the Nazi occupation of Poland. The bones were spotted by a passerby after similar findings was discovered last year. Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance said the remains have been buried.
Today we celebrate Israel’s Foreign Ministry raising the Pride flag! Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid instructed his ministry to raise the pride flag outside of its Jerusalem headquarters for the first time yesterday. Although Jerusalem has already celebrated Pride, Tel Aviv is set to host its celebration on June 25th. Lapid said on Twitter, “The [Foreign Ministry] & its employees bring a message of tolerance, unity & freedom.” Knesset Member Idan Roll said, “Waving the Pride flag proudly alongside the Israeli flag at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is an important line inside and out. I remember myself as a 16-year-old boy, with worries about the future, and hope that this moment instills confidence in boys and girls throughout Israel and the world, and sends a message of tolerance and acceptance to Israeli society as a whole.”
On this day in 1940, France surrendered to the Nazi invasion of World War II. Thus began the Holocaust in France, in which about 72,500 Jews from France were murdered. The French government has apologized for its complicity under the Vichy regime and for the atrocities, with current President Macron stating: “It was indeed France that organized the roundup, the deportation, and thus, for almost all, death.”