Today we’re diving into: antisemitism’s resurgence post coronavirus outbreak; virus case numbers multiplying in Israel as aid package announced for businesses; Israel’s successful satellite launch; World Zionist Org announces new LGBT division; proposed amendment to U.S. security assistance to Israel; chances for July annexation; and more mysterious explosions in Iran.
Coronavirus Sparks Huge Rise in Antisemitic Sentiment
WZO issues dire warning: The World Zionist Organization issued a special report which found a 70% rise in antisemitic incitement and discussions on social media compared to the period before the coronavirus outbreak. During this pandemic, antisemitism and delegitimization of Israel have been tied together. This is not surprising or a new phenomenon— Jews have repeatedly been the scapegoat during times of crisis throughout history. The WZO warned with this rising antisemitism, coronavirus is the “least of [the] Diapora’s worries.”
NFL Player quotes Hitler to smear Jews on social media: DeSean Jackson, a senior member of the Philadelphia Eagles, shared antisemitic content on social media that included quotes attributed to Adolf Hitler and praise for Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. The Hitler quote shared by Jackson said in part that Jews “will extort America, their plan for world domination.” In his apology, DeSean Jackson said his intention in quoting Hitler was to “uplift, unite and encourage our culture with positivity and light.”
Responses by NFL, team, and one league player: The National Football League called the post “highly inappropriate, offensive and divisive.” The Philadelphia Eagles released a statement that they are evaluating the circumstances and will take “appropriate action.” Other than one Steelers player, Zach Banner, there has been almost complete silence from the rest of the league’s players. Banner called the lack of response and lack of “empathy” from the league “bullcrap and offensive.”
Former NBA Player doubles down on antisemitism: Stephen Jackson, a basketball player, voiced his support for Jackson in an antisemitic tirade, saying that the “Rothschilds” are intent on sewing racial division in the U.S. In an interview with Don Lemon, Stephen Jackson admitted his statements were antisemitic and apologized.
Large fashion retailer selling swastika necklaces: The online fashion site Shein said they would stop selling swastika necklaces after receiving social media backlash. A representative for the company claimed the retailer was not selling a Nazi swastika pendant but rather a Buddhist swastika, and pointed out the differences between the two types of swastikas. There was little apology involved—but the representative said because they understand the symbols can be confused, they have removed the product.
Toronto restaurant owner promoting antisemitism on storefront: Kimberley Hawkins, the head of Foodbender, a restaurant in Toronto, is promulgating antisemitic conspiracy theories on her restaurant’s storefront as well as the restaurant’s social media pages. Hawkins has written posts that Israel was responsible for the conduct of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, that Zionists are Nazis and not welcome at her restaurant, that there is Zionist influence on Canadian and U.S. policy, and that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a “Zionist puppet.” The Canadian Jewish Defense League picketed Hawkins’ restaurant and other groups are pressuring two food service companies, UberEats and Doordash, to halt their partnership with the restaurant.
Argentinian professor offers bonus to “whoever finds a poor Jew”: During an online international politics class at the 21st Century Business University in Cordoba, Argentina, Professor Esteban Lizondo told his students he will “give a bonus to whoever finds a poor Jew.” One of Lizondo’s students recorded the lecture and posted it online and complained to the university. Lizondo told his class that the money Jews have “demonstrates the power that [they] have”, that the creation of Israel was a concession to the “Zionist lobby” in exchange for money, that Jews “are capable of handling business and financial enterprises to continue enriching themselves” and the reason the Nazis killed so many Jews was “because of the envy [the Nazis] had” while in an economic crisis when “the Jews.. kept getting rich.”
Rising Unemployment & Coronavirus Cases; New LGBT Division of World Zionist Organization; Successful Satellite Launch; & Amendment to Condition U.S. Aid to Israel
Aid package announced: With over 1,000 cases reported daily, the country has seen a rise in coronavirus cases at a level not ever experienced during the course of the pandemic. In addition to the health crisis, the country’s economic woes are ballooning. Israel reported its highest state deficit in history at NIS 58.2 billion and over 800,000 Israelis are still out of work, a figure which is once again on the rise. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a new financial aid package for businesses and workers who lost their livelihood after meeting with businesspeople who begged for support, saying “we’re collapsing.”
WZO creates LGBT division: The World Zionist Organization is creating a division specifically for sponsoring LGBT+ activities and communities. The “unit” is being established to connect LGBT Jewish Zionists both in Israel and the diaspora. Some of the programs include assisting LGBT Jews who want to make Aliyah to Israel, as well as supporting them with LGBT-themed programming upon arrival and settlement. Furthermore, there will be Zionist, LGBT programs for youth within Israel, like a transgender soccer team, a digital archive of LGBT Jewish stories, and a leadership program for LGBT individuals.
Israel successfully launched space satellite: Israel successfully launched a new satellite into Earth’s orbit which will significantly enhance the intelligence capabilities for the country. Israel’s Defense Minister and Alternative Prime Minister, Benny Gantz called the launch “essential to the security of the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu’s attorney quits after legal fund gift from American barred: After the State Comptroller committee blocked Netanyahu from accepting ‘gifts’ of tens of thousands of dollars from friends and allies to pay his legal fees, Netanyahu is facing a revolt of his lawyers. Micha Fettman, who had previously been the Prime Minister’s primary lawyer, resigned after Netanyahu was unable to pay him. Other lawyers working for Netanyahu have quit in recent months due to similar payment issues.
U.S. security assistance for Israel & Palestinians: The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee approved legislation to provide $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel. This amount includes an earmarked $225 million to address “needs of the Palestinian people, which may include support for UNRWA.” The law also provides security assistance to Egypt, as has been the case since the 1979 Camp David Accords.
Amendment to ban use of funds for annexation: Some Senate Democrats, led by Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, have proposed a controversial amendment to the law that would prohibit use of the funds to facilitate annexation. The amendment gained support from other leading Democrats, such as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. A number of Democrats have said they want to condition or eliminate aid to Israel if it moves forward with annexation.
AIPAC opposes amendment: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee announced its strong opposition to the Democratic amendment, saying that would hurt Israel’s ability to respond to terror threats in the West Bank and put both Israelis and Palestinians in harm’s way. Although many moderate and Biden-supporting Senate Democrats are backing the amendment, former Vice President and Democratic Nominee for President Joe Biden is not likely to come out in favor of it.
Annexation Can Still Happen In July Despite Strong Opposition, U.S. Source Tells ‘Post’
Annexation may still happen this month: Israel may continue with its plans to potentially annex parts of the West Bank later this month, according to a Jerusalem Post source. The American government, which has yet to come to an agreement on the scope of acceptable annexation, is continuing to hold meetings on the matter.
Backup a little… The coalition agreement formed between Netanyahu’s Likud Party and Gantz’s Blue and White Party specified July 1 as the date the government can begin to pursue annexation backed by the U.S. Though July 1 was the target date, Netanyahu has refrained from taking steps which have faced wide opposition from the international community.
Benny Gantz says annexation must wait: Last week, Alternative Prime Minister Benny Gantz said annexation must wait until after Israel manages the coronavirus crisis. Netnayahu dismissed the statements and said Gantz and his party are not relevant to the decisions. Experts have said the U.S. will only back the plan if Gantz publicly supports the move.
Many countries continue to voice opposition: Four powerful allies of Israel all announced their vigorous disapproval of Israeli plans to potentially annex parts of the West Bank this month. Egypt and Jordan, Israel’s only two official Arab peace partners, and Germany and France all jointly announced that they would not recognize any unilateral Israeli changes to the pre-1967 borders. The group also said that any steps toward unilateral annexation might impact their relationship to the State of Israel. Additionally, they noted that the “security and stability” of the Middle East was of great concern.
Hezbollah claims they will stop at nothing to prevent annexation: The leader of the terrorist organization headquartered in Lebanon stated that his organization, Hezbollah, would “do everything” to prevent Israel from annexing parts of the West Bank. In a televised speech, Hassan Nasrallah also called on Lebanon to become even closer allies with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a primary backer of the terrorist group.
Germany’s resolution against Israel: Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, passed a resolution targeting Israel and calling for the cessation of any annexation plans by Israel. A German official in charge of the government’s relationship with the Jewish community called the resolution’s passage “wrong” and said that it will weaken Germany’s alliance with the State of Israel. According to theJerusalem Post, the Bundestag has not passed any other resolution condemning one side of a territorial dispute elsewhere in the world.
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
Hamas & Fatah Double Down on Unity; Banks Refusing to Dispense ‘Pay For Slay’ Funds; & More Mysterious Explosions in Iran
Hamas and Fatah pledge unity again: Senior officials from Hamas and Fatah held another joint press conference pledging unity to one another in fighting annexation. Hamas deputy political bureau chief Saleh al-Arouri, who has orchestrated terror attacks against Israeli civilians and has a $5 million U.S. State Department bounty on his head said: “All the controversial issues on which we differ, we will set those aside… We and Fatah and all the Palestinian factions are facing an existential threat, and we must work together.”
Banks withholding ‘pay for slay’ funds: Four banks are refusing to dispense funds to terrorists and their families from the Palestinian Authority in accordance with the “pay for slay” scheme. “Pay for slay” is a long-running program by the PA to compensate terrorists for committing attacks against Israel. Typically, tens of millions of dollars are transferred to convicted terrorists or their families each year.
Israel set to impose sanctions on banks who pay: The four banks who are refusing to pay out the terrorist stipends fear retaliatory measures by Israel, which is set to impose harsh measures later this month. Palestinian officials accused the banks of acting in violation of their duty to the Palestinian Authority to provide the funding. The Palestinian government defiantly continues to provide these rewards in the face of Israeli sanctions, claiming them to be a form of social welfare.
More mysterious explosions in Iran: Iranian media reported another explosion in western Tehran, after a series of mysterious explosions and fires have struck sensitive Iranian sites in recent weeks in factories and power plants. There are very few details about the most recent explosion.
Speculation that Israel & U.S. behind some of the incidents: An unidentified Middle Eastern intelligence official said Israel was definitely behind the most serious of the incidents, which was an explosion at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. The official said that Israel was not behind the other earlier mysterious fires as it seems some were the result of human error rather than outside actors.
Natanz explosion serious setback for Iran’s nuclear program: Experts are saying the explosion at Natanz has delayed Iran’s nuclear expansion by at least a year’s time and that nearly three-quarters of the main centrifuge assembly hall was destroyed. Iran has not responded and it is still uncertain what set this explosion off.
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Today we celebrate Karen Berg, a Jewish physician from Louisville, Kentucky, who is set to become the state’s only Jewish state legislator. Berg won a special election as a Democrat in Kentucky’s 26th district. Berg said that her Judaism compels her to be “compassionate, respectful and help people.”
Today in 1938, national and state leaders attended the funeral of Associate Justice Benjamin Nathan Cardozo of the United States Supreme Court. In 1932, President Herbert Hoover appointed Cardozo to the Supreme Court. At the time, Cardozo was the second Jew, after Louis D. Brandeis, to serve on the nation’s highest court. Cardozo is known as one of the best legal minds in American history and his writings and opinions have contributed greatly to the evolution of American common law.