Note: the next newsletter will be on July 23. Today we’re diving into:
Inside Europe: England to atone 800 years after Jewish expulsion; neo-Nazis disrupt Polish remembrance; and Merkel angered by visit leak
North America: Auschwitz condemns GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert; string of antisemitic assaults in Toronto; U.S. court says Iran, Syria owe victims money; and lawmakers fret about Chilean presidential candidate
Africa: Israeli filmmakers arrested in Nigeria while filming documentary; Congolese leader targeted for Jewish dad; and Israel & Morocco sign cybersecurity accord
Inside Israel: Israel’s soccer club calls off match with Barcelona over refusal to play in Jerusalem; walls from Jerusalem destruction uncovered; Bennett to visit DC on weekend; and IDF taps second female Major General
Israel’s Neighbors: UAE opens Tel Aviv embassy; U.S. reps criticize Palestinian Authority in meeting with Abbas; and Iran waits to negotiate until hardliner assumes presidency
Celebrate & Remember: 2nd Orthodox player in the MLB; and remembering the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup
England to atone 800 years after Jewish expulsion
The seat of the Church of England in London. (Wikimedia Commons)
Church of England to apologize 800 years later: The Church of England is planning to apologize to the British community on the 800th anniversary of the Synod of Oxford, a set of laws which discriminated against the Jews of Britain and led to their expulsion in 1290 C.E. (After being expelled, Jews were not allowed back to Britain until the 17th century.) However, the Church was only established in 1534 under Henry VIII and was not directly responsible for the antisemitic laws of the 13th century. Dave Rich, who is the policy director for a British antisemitism watchdog organization, said the move was “better late than never.” He also said: “at a time of rising anti-Semitism, the support and empathy of the Church of England for our Jewish community is most welcome as a reminder that the Britain of today is a very different place.”
Neo-Nazis disrupt Polish remembrance: Dozens of nationalist protesters disrupted a remembrance ceremony for Jewish victims of a 1941 pogrom in Jedwabne, Poland, in which several hundred Jews were burned alive by their Polish neighbors. The protesters, much like the Polish government, deny Poland’s participation in Holocaust atrocities. Poland’s official position of Holocaust denial, including its passage of legislation punishing those who expose Poland’s complicity in the Holocaust and that denies restitution to Holocaust victims, has put the country at odds with Israel in recent years. Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “there is a much larger issue in that ultra-nationalists [and] neo-Nazis are now tolerated by too many of our people in government. Rather than clearly condemning such hate, too many government officials are looking to placate them.” Poland’s National Thought Heritage Institute, which is run by the government’s ministry of culture, has even supported the production of a film on the Jedwabne pogrom that denies Polish blame for the atrocity and aims to prove that Germans are mainly responsible for the murder of the town’s Jewish inhabitants.
Merkel angered by visit leak: German Chancellor Angela Merkel was apparently angered when news leaked about a potential upcoming visit to Israel in August. Merkel had agreed to meet with both the Israeli Prime Minister and President. Of the trip, anonymous German officials said: “There is still a long way to go until August and during the coronavirus pandemic, nothing is certain.” Merkel will be stepping down as chancellor later this year, having served in the position since 2005.
Auschwitz condemns Republican rep.: The Auschwitz Museum is condemning Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s comparison of the coronavirus vaccine measures to Nazi policy toward Jews. Boebert has compared coronavirus public health policies to Nazi “Brown Shirts” and called vaccinators “Needle Nazis.” The Auschwitz Museum said: “Instrumentalization of the tragedy of all people who between 1933-45 suffered, were humiliated, tortured, and murdered by the hateful totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany to argue against vaccination that saves human lives is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline.” Republican representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene has also been criticized by Jewish organizations for comparing coronavirus restrictions and vaccine policies to the Nazis.
String of antisemitic assaults in Toronto: Amid an explosive increase in antisemitic incidents throughout Canada, a man with a swastika tattoo on his chest twice assaulted Jews in Toronto this week, including violently attacking a Jewish man. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto issued a statement on Wednesday saying: “Like all members of society, Jews should be able to walk down the street with confidence in our safety and security.” Neither assault case filed against the perpetrator has been officially stated as a hate crime. Police said hate crime charges are added at a later time after specialized officers conduct an investigation. According to the Toronto Police Service’s annual hate-crime statistic report 2020, “the Jewish community constitutes 3.8 percent of the population in the City of Toronto, but was victimized in approximately 30 percent of the total hate crimes.” In May alone, B’nai Brith Canada recorded more than 250 incidents of anti-Jewish harassment, vandalism, and assaults.
U.S. court says Iran, Syria owe victims money: A U.S. court found that Iran and Syria were liable for the deaths of an Israeli-American couple killed in a 2015 Hamas terrorist attack. The court found that the countries were liable “for the extreme mental anguish, physical injury, pain and suffering, loss of solatium, and loss of affection.” The family of Eitam and Naama Henkin had filed a $360 million suit. The family’s lawyer said: “The Iranian banks, including Iran’s central bank, Markazi, have never before been held accountable so this is a huge step forward when it comes to holding foreign actors to account for the murder of Americans.”
Lawmakers fret about Chilean presidential candidate: A bipartisan group of congressmen are warning Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the growing hostility towards Jews in Chile. The members of Congress warn that there is a “dangerous climate” for Jews which stems from a “systematic campaign of delegitimization against Israel.” There are concerns that an antisemitic politician, Daniel Jadue, may win Chile’s upcoming presidential election. Jadue is the grandson of Arab Palestinian immigrants to Chile. The official pretext for the letter is a bill drafted recently by the lower house of the Chilean parliament that would ban imports from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The letter, which is also addressed to the current Chilean president, says that the Secretary of State should “send a clear and unequivocal message to Chilean authorities about the broad and dangerous implications that this BDS legislation poses for Chile’s relations with the United States, Israel, and the region as a whole.”
Israeli filmmakers arrested in Nigeria while filming documentary
Rudy Rochman and team arrested: The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed that Jewish activist Rudy Rochman was arrested in Nigeria last week, along with two other Israeli filmmakers, Andrew Leibman and Edouard David Benaym. The three men are in Nigeria filming a documentary exploring Jewish communities in African countries. According to unconfirmed reports, Nigerian authorities arrested the trio on suspicion that they made contact with antigovernment separatists. According to a statement released by the families of Rochman, Leibman, and Benaym: “The documentary is not intended to make any political statements about the countries in which filming will take place, nor does the filmmaking team endorse any political movements.” The families said they are “working diligently with the U.S., Israeli and French Embassies on the matter” and their “involvement has helped to improve the conditions of the filmmakers while in custody.” They said: “As a sign of appeasement, the DSS [authorities] allowed the French Embassy to host Edouard David Benaym on Tuesday night to receive some medical attention, with the intention of having him return to DSS custody the next day to continue the investigation.”
Congolese leader targeted for Jewish dad: A major political figure in the Congo is being targeted for his Jewish ancestry by the president’s political majority. Moise Katumbi, a very popular and prominent politician who is likely to seek the presidency, is of Jewish descent; his father, a Sephardic Jew, fled Greece during the Holocaust and traveled to the Congo, marrying a Congolese woman, Katumbi’s mother. Katumbi does not consider himself to be Jewish but “has a warm connection to Judaism and Israel.” Members of the legislature who are allies of the current president introduced legislation barring those who do not have two Congolese parents from becoming president of the country. The Chairman of the European Jewish Agency said: “It’s an outrage that in 2021 a person can be disqualified for having a Jewish parent.”
Israel & Morocco sign cybersecurity accord: Yesterday the Israel National Cyber Directorate signed a cybersecurity cooperation agreement with Morocco, which is the first cyber defense accord set up since the two countries normalized relations last year. The accord provides for sharing information and covers operational cooperation and research and development.
Israel’s soccer club calls off match with Barcelona over refusal to play in Jerusalem
Beitar Jerusalem scraps Barcelona preseason game: Yesterday, Moshe Hogeg, the owner of Israel’s Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, said that he called off a friendly match with international powerhouse FC Barcelona over its refusal to hold the event in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. In a Facebook post, Hogeg, who described himself as “a proud Jew and Israeli” as well as a Barcelona fan, said that he could not bring himself to “betray” the city. “If you want to play against Beitar Jerusalem you need to do it in Jerusalem,” he said. “I’m not angry with Barcelona, they are not a political club and have no interest in taking part in our conflict here, our relationship will continue to be good,” he wrote, adding that he had made his decision in consultation with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion.
Walls from Jerusalem destruction uncovered: Archeologists have uncovered more walls in Jerusalem from the era of the First Temple, the walls that were supposedly all destroyed by the Babylonians as per the biblical account of 586 B.C.E. There is now 656 feet of wall uncovered in this specific area of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The first sections of the wall were uncovered in the 1960s and 1970s. A new paper published in the latest issue of the academic journal Near Eastern Archaeology also revealed that a full skeleton of a pig dating back nearly 2,700 years ago was discovered in Jerusalem, near the Temple Mount. A senior archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority and one of the authors of the study said that despite the prohibition against consuming pork dictated by Jewish laws, it was most likely there to be eaten.
Bennett to visit DC on weekend: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is reportedly aiming to visit Washington, D.C. on a weekend to avoid missing Knesset votes. Bennett’s majority in the Knesset is only one vote, so missing weekday votes would imperil the majority’s agenda. However, Bennett keeps Shabbat, so he would not be able to fly over the course of Saturday and Biden does not take meetings on Sunday, so it is unclear how the visit could practically work.
IDF taps second female Major General: The Israel Defense Forces has tapped its second female Major General in its history of existence. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: “Tomer-Yerushalmi is, before anything else, an excellent jurist,” adding that she has extensive experience in “all aspects of the work of the Military Advocate General’s Corps.” Gantz continued: “As defense minister, I am proud to appoint her the second woman of the rank of IDF major general, and I am sure she will not be the last.”
UAE opens Tel Aviv embassy: The United Arab Emirates opened its embassy in Tel Aviv this week after normalizing relations with Israel through the Abraham Accords late last year. In doing so, the UAE became one of the only Arab countries, alongside Egypt and Jordan, to house an embassy in Israel at all. None of those three Arab nations consider Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, however Kosovo, a Muslim-majority nation, does. At the opening ceremony, the UAE ambassador to Israel said: “This is just the beginning. Both countries are innovative nations and we will harness these new approaches for the prosperity of the countries.”
U.S. reps criticize PA in meeting with Abbas: In a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, U.S. representatives denounced Palestinian policies, including payments to families of terrorists. An anonymous congressperson said the meeting last week with 10 visiting members of Congress was “tense at times, as it was clear that we didn’t see eye to eye on a number of issues.” Democratic Representative Brad Schneider called the terror payments “are completely and totally unacceptable.” Schneider also urged Abbas to welcome last year’s Abraham Accords, which he refuses to do. Schneider said: “We were clear that normalization is good for the region, including the Palestinians. We said it would continue, that the Palestinians should take the opportunity to move it forward, rather than resist and hold it back.” Additionally, the U.S. administration’s point person for the conflict reportedly warned Israeli officials during his visit to the region this week that the Palestinian Authority is undergoing one of its worst crises yet and that Jerusalem would be well advised to provide some assistance.
Iran waits to negotiate until hardliner assumes presidency: Following several rounds of fraught negotiation, it appears that Iran is unlikely to agree on a solution to the resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) accord, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, until after President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office. The U.S. withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 led to further sanctions against Iran and an increase in its uranium production. Proponents of the nuclear deal were hoping to reach an agreement prior to Raisi, a long-time advocate of Iran’s nuclear program, taking office in August. Experts say further delays will only make any final deal harder, if not impossible. The U.S. government’s publicizing of a foiled attempt to kidnap Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad by Iranian Intelligence operatives in Brooklyn has made the situation even more precarious.
2nd Orthodox player in the MLB: Elie Kligman, who will play for the Washington Nationals, became the second Orthodox person to be drafted into Major League Baseball after Jacob Steinmetz, the first Orthodox person ever drafted, was picked the previous day to play for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kligman is 18 and from Las Vegas, Nevada while Steinmetz is 17 and from Long Island, New York. They also differ on their attitude toward playing on Shabbat; Kligman will play baseball on Shabbat while Steinmetz will not. Klingman’s father, Marc Klingman, said: “[Elie] believes that the two can coexist. He’s got six days of the week to do everything he can to be a baseball player, and if colleges and Major League Baseball aren’t inclined to make any changes, then we’ll take what we can get.”
On this day in 1942, the two-day roundup of Jews in Paris, deemed the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, began. The Vichy puppet regime of Nazi Germany conducted the mass arrest of over 13,000 Jews who were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. In 1995, French President Jacques Chirac apologized for the Vichy’s regime actions, saying: “France committed on that day the irreparable. Breaking its word, it delivered those it protected to their executioners.”