New Israeli Government: First deaf Knesset Member gives maiden speech in sign language; committee advances cannabis decriminalization; Ra’am forces votes; and Biden, Abbas, Erdogan congratulate Herzog
Inside Israel: Israel’s high court overturns ban on surrogacy for same-sex couples; Netanyahus depart residency; and Israel begins booster shots
Israel Europe: Yair Lapid shores up European ties; and grave risk to N. Irish Jews
Inside the U.S.: 3,000 protest against antisemitism in DC; IDF team sent off from Surfside; more Jewish attacks in NY; AIPAC cancels policy conference for 2nd year; fashion podcaster spews antisemitism; and Trump reportedly praised Hitler
Celebrate & Remember: First Orthodox Jewish player to be drafted to MLB; and remembering the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem
NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT
First deaf Knesset Member gives maiden speech in sign language
Deaf MK gives maiden speech: Israel’s first deaf Knesset Member Shirley Pinto of the Yamina party gave her first parliamentary speech yesterday, marking the first-ever speech delivered from the Knesset podium in sign language. Pinto, 32, is an activist for disability-related issues, particularly for the hearing impaired. “Today, I am standing in front of the Knesset plenum, where generations of Israeli leaders have stood. I am excited and I am proud,” she signed. She added: “I do not stand here in just my own name. Alongside me stand 1.8 million men, women, and children with physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual disabilities, as well as those with invisible diseases, like post-trauma, who are unable to live full lives in the State of Israel as equal citizens.” Both members of the majority and opposition coalitions stood in applause at the end.
Committee advances cannabis decriminalization: On Sunday, Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted to advance a bill to decriminalize possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis or 15 cannabis seeds for individual recreational use. The legislation would also reclassify CBD as a food additive and allow for Israel’s Attorney General to retroactively void any criminal records people may have as a result of recreational cannabis use. The bill will now go to the Knesset with the support of the majority coalition. “The goal of the bill is to stop the police from pursuing cannabis users who do not harm anyone,” said its sponsor, New Hope faction chairwoman Sharren Haskel. “This will prevent individual users of cannabis from being prosecuted and stop the issuing of millions of shekels’ worth of fines.”
Ra’am forces votes: The Arab Ra’am party in Israel’s parliamentary majority announced over the weekend that it would boycott all parliament votes and meetings before shortly thereafter walking it back. Ra’am is apparently angry over its treatment by the other majority parties and says its priorities are not receiving enough attention. In exchange for Ra’am’s renewed cooperation, the government passed legislation moving the authority that oversees Negev Bedouin affairs, a big priority for Ra’am, from the Economic Ministry to the Welfare Ministry. With a one-seat majority, the coalition has very little room for failure, and Ra’am is threatening to hold the government hostage again to accomplish its goals.
Biden, Abbas, Erdogan congratulate Herzog: Both U.S. President Joe Biden and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have sent congratulations to Israel’s new president, Isaac Herzog. Biden sent Herzog a letter reading in part: “[Herzog] will make valuable contributions to promoting coexistence and tolerance within Israeli society and to championing a message of hope about the future.” Meanwhile, Abbas called Herzog and said that the Palestinians and Israel must reach a “comprehensive truce” to realize a “just and comprehensive peace.” Herzog also held a phone conversation with Turkish President Recip Erdogan, a very notable call given Turkey’s nearterm hostility toward Israel. The official Israeli readout said: “The presidents emphasized in their call that the ties between Israel and Turkey are of great importance to the security and the stability of the Middle East.”
Israel’s high court overturns ban on surrogacy for same-sex couples
Supreme Court legalizes surrogacy: In a tremendous victory for LGBT rights, Israel’s supreme court has overturned the ban on same-sex surrogacy. The ban had been challenged in the legal system for at least 11 years and also applied to single men. Previously, same-sex couples had to travel outside the country to use surrogacy to have children. Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who is gay and the leader of the Meretz party, said: “We will prepare immediately to receive requests from men for surrogacy.”
Netanyahus depart residency: The Netanyahu family has officially left the prime minister’s residency after 12 years. Although Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took over the post nearly a month ago, the Netanyahus had still been living in the official, taxpayer-funded residency. Netanyahu had even hosted foreign representatives after Bennett assumed his new role. There is no legislation providing a timeline for the outgoing prime minister to depart the official residency, and Netanyahu also took an extended period to move out the last time he was booted from the office in 1999.
Israel begins booster shots: Israel has begun a first-in-the-world program, launching a booster shot for the double-dose coronavirus vaccine for at-risk people with preexisting conditions. An official in the health ministry said: “There is accumulating evidence that patients with immunosuppression do not develop a satisfactory antibody response after two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and some of them may develop antibodies after a third dose.” Patients with heart transplants were some of the first to receive their third doses on Monday. The decision to give the program’s go-ahead comes after a vaccinated elderly couple in Haifa with preexisting conditions died four days apart from coronavirus. Israel also approved fines for Israelis who travel to countries on a coronavirus blacklist, including Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and India. Those who travel to banned countries will receive a fine of about $1,500.
Lapid speaks to Europe: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was in Brussels yesterday, meeting with his European and North American counterparts as they hold a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit. There, he met with Egypt’s foreign minister and emphasized Israel’s commitment to the return of captive Israelis held by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza. Lapid also told the head of NATO that Israel wants to strengthen its relationship with the organization made up of 30 member states, including the United States. Before the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union, Lapid said: “Israel has shared interests with the EU — but more than that, we have shared values: human rights, LGBTQI+ community rights, a commitment to the basic elements of democracy: a free press, an independent judiciary, a strong civil society, freedom of religion.” In contrast to the Netanyahu administration, which cultivated relationships with Central European powers like Hungary, Czechia, and Austria, Lapid seeks to establish better ties with liberal stalwarts of Western Europe.
Grave risk to N. Irish Jews: The chief British rabbi is warning that new Brexit policies could impact the Jewish community of fewer than 100 in Northern Ireland, saying that “there is a growing risk of communal life becoming unviable.” The policy at question is over a ban on chilled meats from Britain which does not include any exemptions for kosher meat. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also raised the issue, saying in parliament that the ban could cause an “exodus” of Jews from Northern Ireland. The ban was supposed to go into effect at the end of June but its implementation was postponed through September.
INSIDE THE U.S.
A Wider Frame joined 3,000 in DC protest against antisemitism
No Fear rally in DC: Approximately 3,000 people stood with A Wider Frame, among many other Jewish organizations, against antisemitism at the No Fear rally in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. The rally was held on the western front of the Capitol building and featured speakers such as Elisha Wiesel, the son of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, Rabbi Shlomo Noginski – who was stabbed in Boston earlier this month, Arizona State Representative Alma Hernandez, Meghan McCain, Noa Tishby, Blake Flayton among others. The rally was endorsed by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Orthodox Union, showing its broad support across most of the American Jewish perspective. Speakers urged political representatives on both the Right and Left to call out antisemitism among their members, like Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rashida Tlaib.
IDF team sent off from Surfside: At the departure of the elite Israel Defense Forces unit which had been assisting rescue crews at the Surfside collapse in Florida, the force was awarded with medals from the head of Miami-Dade county Daniella Levine Cava. The Israeli airplane was also sent off with a water salute. The calamity’s death toll has risen to 94 with 22 people still feared dead under the rubble. Yesterday, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer remembered one of the victims, Judy Spiegel, on CNN’s program The Situation Room. Blitzer called Spiegel “a truly wonderful woman” and shared, “Our Deepest Condolences to her loving family. May She Rest In Peace and May Her Memory Be A Blessing.”
More Jewish attacks in NY: The New York Police Department’s hate crime task force is investigating an attack in which an assailant assaulted an Orthodox Jewish man using broken furniture left by the side of the road, while yelling antisemitic slurs. The police are searching for the suspect. The victim reportedly suffered minor injuries but refused medical attention.
AIPAC cancels policy conference for 2nd year: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee announced that it will not host a policy conference in 2022 for the second consecutive year, citing COVID-19 concerns. “We hoped that by now we would have had greater certainty, more clarity, and the definitive answers needed to determine whether we can safely host a Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. in 2022,” AIPAC President Betsy Berns Korn said in an official statement. But she said there are still “too many questions that remain unanswered” for the conference to move forward responsibly. Some were critical of the decision to cancel the conference again.
Fashion podcaster spews antisemitism: Podcast host and designer Recho Omondi spewed antisemitism on her show “The Cutting Room Floor” with Jewish guest Leandra Medine Cohen. Omandi falsely implicated Jews when discussing the racist origins of the United States and mocked Jewish intergenerational trauma. At one point in the episode Omandi said, “I couldn’t stomach another white assimilated Jewish American Princess who is wildly privileged but thinks she’s oppressed. At the end of the day you guys are going to get your nose jobs and your keratin treatments and change your last name from Ralph Lifshitz to Ralph Lauren and you will be fine.”
Trump reportedly praised Hitler: According to an upcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender, while on a trip to Paris in 2018, then-President Donald Trump allegedly praised Adolf Hitler in a discussion with White House chief of staff John Kelly. Kelly reportedly told Trump he shouldn’t praise Hitler under any circumstances saying: “Even if it was true that he was solely responsible for rebuilding the economy, on balance you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.”
Today we celebrate the first known Orthodox Jewish player to be drafted into Major League Baseball! Jacob Steinmetz, a 17-year-old New York native, is believed to be the first known practicing Orthodox Jewish player to be selected by a major league team. Steinmetz was drafted in the third round—77th overall—to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Steinmetz comes from an athletic family; his father, Elliot, played basketball at Yeshiva University and is now the New York school’s basketball coach. He had coached the team to record success before the pandemic.
On this English date, we remember the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem, Solomon’s Temple, in 586 B.C.E. The Babylonian siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple is typically commemorated on the Hebrew date, the 9th of Av or Tisha b’Av. Tisha b’Av, which begins this Saturday evening, is one of only two major fast days in Judaism, the other being Yom Kippur. As with Yom Kippur, we fast for 25 hours, not 12 like the minor fasts.