Inside Israel: Israel now offering Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot; Israeli filmmakers released from Nigeria; Israel may rejoin UNESCO; Lapid to visit Morocco; Azerbaijan opens Israeli office; and Israel evacuates West Bank outpost
Israel’s Neighbors: Deadly attack on Israeli-operated ship; Israel bolsters Palestinian economy; and 2 Emirati, 1 Israeli receive kidney transplants
Inside Europe: UK approves Holocaust memorial; Israelis urge Poland to strike Holocaust bill; Macron sues against Hitler portrayal; 1st Jewish royals marry; and Dutch erect antisemitic mural targeting soccer player
Inside the U.S.: Biden names Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy; Ben and Jerry speak out; GOP candidate engages in Holocaust distortion; and Cruz blocks bipartisan Israel bill
Celebrate & Remember: Iranian Olympian dedicates his win to Israel; and passage of the Jerusalem Law
Israel now offering Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot to the over-60s
Israel gives 3rd Pfizer shot: Israel is preempting the U.S. and beginning to vaccinate two major groups of people against the coronavirus, kids aged five to 11 with comorbidities and a third dose for those above 60. The children will be approved on a case-by-case basis when there is good reason to believe that there would be “a high likelihood of severe illness and even death” should the child contract the coronavirus. Prime Minister Bennett announced that in light of the coronavirus Delta variant’s Middle East surge, all Israelis over 60 will be eligible for a third Pfizer shot, which is now recommended for them by the Health Ministry. Israeli President Isaac Herzog became the first Israeli to receive a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The country will provide the doses at lightening pace, with the goal to vaccinate 1.5 million seniors in only 8 days. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett personally discussed the campaign with the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci. Bennet said: “We’ll be sharing data and methods on booster shot and course of action. The only way to face COVID is by working together!”
Israeli filmmakers released from Nigeria: Rudy Rochman, Andrew Leibman and Edouard David Benaym have been released from Nigeria after weeks of detention. The trio were wrongly detained in Nigeria while filming a documentary exploring African Jewish communities. While in Nigeria the men “were caged and held for 20 days in horrendous conditions, locked into a small cell, sleeping on the floor with no access to showers or clean clothes.”
Israel may rejoin UNESCO: Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid is reportedly considering reentering Israel into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from which it withdrew in 2019. Israel followed the U.S., which left the organization due to its persistent slant against Israel. The report from Axios said should Israel rejoin UNESCO it would do so in consultation with the U.S., which has also yet to rejoin.
Lapid to visit Morocco: For the first time, an Israeli foreign minister will visit Morocco. Although the ties between Israel and Morocco have only been renewed since last year’s Abraham Accords, a source said the bilateral relationship “will turn into full diplomatic relations.” At a meeting of his Yesh Atid party, Lapid said: “After my trip to Morocco, [Moroccan Foreign Minister] Minister Bourita will come visit Israel to open missions here.” This trip follows Lapid’s visit to the U.A.E., the first major Israeli official to do so, where he opened the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Azerbaijan opens Israeli office: After 30 years of diplomatic ties, Azerbaijan has opened its first official presence in Israel with a trade office in Tel Aviv. Already in 2020, $200 million was traded annually between Israel and Azerbaijan. Israel’s tourism minister said: “[The trade office] will definitely serve as an address for Israeli entrepreneurs in fields like energy, medicine, water treatment, agriculture and investments.”
Israel evacuates West Bank outpost: For the second time since Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assumed office, Israel has evacuated an outpost which was built illegally in the West Bank. The outpost had been set up in 2016 in the outskirts of Hebron and approximately 100 people lived within its boundaries. Last week, the Supreme Court rejected a petition to prevent the evacuation, clearing the way for the government to act. Before the homes, which were mobile, could be moved, the residents brought in a cement truck in an attempt to fix the mobile homes in place. But the truck, along with the homes, were taken away by Israeli authorities.
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
Alleged Iranian drone attack kills two on Israeli-operated ship
Deadly attack on Israeli-managed ship: Two crewmembers were killed in an alleged Iranian suicide drone attack on an Israeli operated oil tanker Thursday night. An anonymous Israeli security official told the Associated Press that Israel believes Iran was behind the attack on the ship, citing similar attacks in the past. The operator of the ship, Zodiac Maritime, said in a statement today, “With profound sadness we understand the incident onboard the M/T Mercer Street on 29 July, 2021 has resulted in the deaths of two crew members on board… Details of the incident are still being established and an investigation to the incident is currently underway.” Israeli journalist Anna Ahronheim said on Twitter, “Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi held a situational assessment following the attack on the ship. The drone strike against the ship is being considered by Israel as a serious terror attack.”
Israel bolsters Palestinian economy: Israel is going to give an additional 16,000 work permits to Palestinians in the West Bank to work inside Israel. Already 87,000 Palestinians work inside Israel and 35,000 in Israeli settlements. The additional permits are part of an Israeli effort to boost the economy of the Palestinian territory. Israeli Minister of Regional Affairs Issawi Frej, an Arab Israeli, is behind the plan which could be approved as soon as next week. A chief military official said: “Economic stability is the key to preserving security in the region.” 15,000 of the permits will be provided for Palestinian construction workers and the remaining 1,000 will be for Palestinian hospitality employees.
2 Emirati, 1 Israeli receive kidney transplants: In a first-of-its kind arrangement between Israel and an Arab state, three women have received kidney transplants in an Israel-UAE exchange. Dr. Rafi Bayer, chairman of the Israel Center for Organ Transplantation, told the Times of Israel: “We have a process in which three families, two in Israel and one in Abu Dhabi, are involved in what we call a cross-couple transplantation. We have done this with Cyprus in the past, but expanding this to the UAE opens new possibilities.” He said this arrangement can be used to regularly save lives. This exchange is one of several instances of health cooperation brought about by last year’s Abraham Accords normalizing relations between Israel and the UAE.
UK approves Holocaust memorial: Britain will erect a Holocaust memorial outside of Parliament in the Victoria Tower Gardens. The project will cost $140 million and is scheduled to be constructed by 2024. The President of the Board of Deputies for British Jews said: “there will be something uniquely powerful about locating a memorial to the Holocaust right next to the center of the UK’s democracy.” But there have also been many objections to the proposal, including with respect to the location.
Israelis urge Poland to strike Holocaust bill: 82 Members of Knesset wrote to the Polish legislature to ask for it to refrain from passing a controversial law which would deny restitution to Holocaust victims and their families. The letter read: “We, members of Israel’s Knesset, are contacting you with a request to vote against the law that denies Holocaust survivors and descendants of Holocaust victims [the right] to demand the return of the property stolen from them.” It continued: “The attempt by Poland to distance itself from the crimes committed in its territory by Poles is mistaken and dangerous.” The letter was co-authored by a member from Alternate Prime Minister Lapid’s Yesh Atid, a majority party, and from Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. In fact, members of every party in the Knesset signed on except the Arab-majority party Ra’am. The U.S. government is also pressuring Poland on the law, with the U.S. envoy for Holocaust issues saying the legislation “would cause irreparable harm to both Jews and non-Jews.”
Macron sues against Hitler portrayal: French President Emmanuel Macron is suing a billboard owner who depicted him as Adolf Hitler in protest of the country’s vaccine campaign and coronavirus restrictions. The billboard portraying Macron as Hitler reads: “Obey, get vaccinated.” The owner argued that the billboard was up for interpretation, saying: “You see Hitler, but you can see Stalin, or I see Charlie Chaplin in The Dictator.” Much like in the U.S., many French (and other European) protestors have compared coronavirus restrictions and vaccine campaigns to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
1st Jewish royals marry: Princess Diana’s niece, Lady Kitty Spencer, has married a Jewish man, Michael Lewis. Lewis is of South African citizenry, has a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars, and is more than twice Spencer’s age at 61 compared to her 30. Spencer converted to Judaism prior to the wedding, making her perhaps the only royal to ever do so. The pair were married in Rome.
Dutch erect antisemitic mural targeting soccer player: After a Dutch soccer player signed with a rival team, an antisemitic mural was erected with read in Dutch: “Jews always run away.” The mural featured the player, Steven Berghuis, with an enlarged nose, kippa, and Holocaust concentration camp uniform. The team for which he signed, Ajax, is often called a Jewish team for its support among the Jewish community and has previously been the target of vicious antisemitism. An antisemitism watchdog organization in the Netherlands said it filed a police report.
INSIDE THE U.S.
White House names Deborah Lipstadt as Envoy to Combat Antisemitism
Source: @deborahlipstadt/ Twitter, August 12, 2020
Biden names Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy: The White House officially announced its appointment of Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt to serve as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism with the Rank of Ambassador today, drawing praise from Jewish groups across the political spectrum. Deborah Lipstadt is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, where she was the founding director of the Institute for Jewish Studies. Pressure had mounted for the president to fill the position amid exploding antisemitism in recent months, and with added urgency after a swastika was found carved into an elevator at the State Department near the office of the antisemitism envoy. Lipstadt will be the first nominee who will need to be confirmed by the Senate, since the role was elevated last year to the ambassador level.
Ben and Jerry speak out: The creators of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times arguing in favor of their company’s new ban on selling its product in the occupied West Bank. Cohen and Greenfield, who are no longer in charge of their namesake company, wrote that they are “Jewish supporters of the State of Israel” and believe it is Jewish values which impel the company to withdraw from Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In favor of their view, the pair argued on behalf of Ben & Jerry’s distinction between its sales in Israel proper, which it will continue, and in the West Bank. They said this distinction is “not a rejection of Israel,” but “a rejection of Israeli policy.” Despite the pair’s statement making a distinction between the State of Israel and West Bank settlements, members of the company’s board of directors stated after the announcement that they had wanted to boycott Israel in its entirety, but were blocked from doing so by the ice-cream maker’s CEO and its parent company, Unilever.
GOP candidate engages in Holocaust distortion: A Republican candidate for the Virginia General Assembly compared being a politically conservative teacher in the U.S. to being a Jew in 1930s Nazi Germany. The candidate, Julie Perry, revealed her sentiments in an online rally for Republican candidate for Virginia governor, Glenn Youngkin. The Virginia state Democratic Party said in response: “Glenn Youngkin and the Virginia House Republican Caucus must condemn these remarks and end their support of Perry’s campaign. Otherwise, Virginians will have no choice but to interpret their silence as an endorsement of her antisemitism.”
Cruz blocks bipartisan Israel bill: Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is blocking a bill aimed at advancing normalization between Israel and Arab countries over concern about language in support of the two-state solution included within the legislation. A Cruz spokesman said: “it’s not the place of American diplomats to dictate to our allies what to do with their sovereign territory.” The left wing organization J Street said: “A majority of Democrats and Republicans in Congress recognize that a comprehensive two-state peace agreement is the only way to ensure that both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples can have freedom, self-determination and safety.”
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Source: @saeidmollaei_81/ Instagram, July 27, 2021
Today we celebrate an Iranian Olympian dedicating his win to Israel! Former Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who won the silver medal in the judo tournament representing Mongolia, dedicated his medal to Israel. “Thank you to Israel for all the good energy – this medal is dedicated to you as well and I hope Israelis [are] happy with this victory, todah!” Saeid Mollaei fled Iran in 2019 after the country ordered him to forfeit his match against Israeli world champion Sagi Muki. Mollaei subsequently moved to Germany and then acquired Mongolian citizenship. Iran is currently suspended by the judo world governing body until September 2023.
On this day in 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, a so-called Basic Law of Israel’s democracy. The Basic Laws make up the pillars of Israel’s legal foundation instead of a constitution. The Jerusalem Law stated that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” It also enshrined the principle of “freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them.” The law was interpreted as Israel’s official annexation of East Jerusalem, which was won in defensive measures against the Kingdom of Jordan in the Six-Day War.