Inside Israel: Herzog takes over Israeli presidency; U.S. airs disagreement with Israel; High Court rejects challenge to Nation-State law; Finance minister cancels ultra-Orthodox benefits; government steadies course on COVID; and doses rejected by PA head to South Korea
Israel’s Neighbors: Israel’s PM and Jordan’s king meet in secret; Israel offers aid to Lebanon; and PA orders Palestinian businesses to remove Hebrew signage
Inside the U.S.: NO FEAR rally in Washington DC; Surfside mission shifts from rescue to recovery effort; graves vandalized at Baltimore Jewish cemetery; U of Wisconsin ignores Jewish pleas; Biden to nominate Jewish ambassador to Germany; and Arizona OKs Holocaust education legislation
Celebrate & Remember: Lavish Second Temple period building found; and remembering Raoul Wallenberg
Israeli Presidency Changes Hands; Herzog era begins
Herzog takes over Israeli presidency: Now former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has passed the baton to Isaac Herzog, who follows in the footsteps of his father, Chaim Herzog, who was also the President of Israel. Herzog’s grandfather, also named Isaac Herzog, was the first chief rabbi of Ireland and also the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel. Leaders around the world called Rivlin to offer their praise before he stepped down, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, who wrote to Rivlin: “Your leadership on behalf of unity and democracy within Israel and partnership abroad set a positive example for those who will follow in your footsteps.” Prince Charles called Rivlin as well, as did even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who called Rivlin his “neighbor and partner.”
U.S. airs disagreement with Israel: For the first time in the Bennett administration, the U.S. is publicly disagreeing with an action by the Israeli government. Yesterday, Israel demolished the family home of a terrorist in the West Bank who murdered an American and injured two others in May. The terrorist’s wife claims to have been estranged from her husband, who moved to Santa Fe and had other wives. The demolition came after the U.S. warned Israel (and the Palestinians) from taking unilateral actions that do not promote peace. State Department Spokesman Ned Price said: “The home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual.” Meanwhile, representatives of the Israeli government tried to downplay the disagreement, saying: “The prime minister appreciates and respects the American administration. At the same time, he acts solely in accordance with the security considerations of the State of Israel and the protection of Israeli citizens’ lives.”
High Court rejects challenge to Nation-State law: Yesterday, Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected 15 petitions challenging the 2018 Nation-State law, which claimed that the law was discriminatory against non-Jews. Esther Hayut, the court’s president, wrote in the conclusion of the court’s ruling: “[the law] does not negate Israel’s character as a democratic state.” The Nation-State law anchors Israel’s status as the national home of the Jewish people.
Finance minister cancels ultra-Orthodox benefits: New Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a sharp critic of ultra-Orthodoxy and leader of the Yisrael Beiteynu party, canceled daycare subsidies for the children of non-working ultra-Orthodox parents, particularly fathers who are full-time Yeshiva students. Previously, only one parent (namely mothers) had to work part-time in order to earn the monthly subsidy of about $300. The cancelation will affect 18,000 households in which fathers study Torah full-time. Lieberman said: “I will continue to lead moves that will eliminate disincentives to join the labor market and to look out for the public that works, pays taxes, serves in the army and does reserve duty.” Ultra-Orthodox leaders reacted with bombastic outrage, calling Lieberman “evil,” “destructive and wicked,” “simply insane,” and “mad with hatred.”
Government steadies course on COVID: Serious COVID-19 cases doubled in one week’s time in Israel as the Delta variant spreads, with Israel also having its first deaths due to the virus in over two weeks. Israel’s Health Ministry released data showing that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is significantly less effective against preventing the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, though it appears to largely prevent hospitalization and serious cases. In the past month, the vaccine has proven to be 64% effective against infection with symptoms, though it is still 93% effective in its ability to prevent serious morbidity. The Health Ministry also gave the green light on a booster shot for immunocompromised patients. The Delta variant is believed to be twice as contagious as the original strain of COVID-19, and is thought to be responsible for 90% of the news cases in Israel over the past two weeks.
Doses rejected by PA head to South Korea: Israel signed a deal with South Korea for the immediate transfer of 700,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that the Palestinian Authority refused to take from Israel. The agreement is the same as was offered to the Palestinian Authority— in exchange for the vaccines, South Korea will return the same number of vaccines to Israel from a future order. The unused doses are set to expire at the end of the month.
Bennett and Abdullah meet: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly secretly met with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman, Jordan’s capital. The meeting comes after years of disintegration of the bilateral relationship. The two reportedly agreed to reset the Israeli-Jordanian relationship, and Israel agreed to “dramatically increase” its supply of water to the kingdom which is suffering from drought. However, the leak of the meeting apparently angered Jordanian officials who agreed to meet only on the condition of the meeting’s secrecy.
Israel offers aid to Lebanon: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz offered assistance to Lebanon, a country which is considered an “enemy state” in Israel, as it suffers a catastrophic economic crisis. Gantz, who has repeated offers for assistance several times over the past few weeks, sent a proposal for humanitarian aid through the United Nations force in Lebanon. The country is on the “brink of collapse,” politically and economically, and the French, American, and Saudi ambassadors to Lebanon have all met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to discuss the country’s breakdown. According to an assessment released by UNICEF on Monday, 77% of Lebanese households don’t have enough money to buy food. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the country is a few days away from a “social explosion” and called on the international community to assist.
PA orders Palestinian businesses to remove Hebrew signage: Abdullah Kmeil, a senior Palestinian Authority official, issued a “strict decision” yesterday obligating all commercial businesses and shops in the Salfit district to remove any Hebrew signage, so as not to attract any Jewish clients. He warned that anyone who violates his decision will be subjected to strict legal action. Kmeil said businesses have one week to comply with the decision and called on local authorities to make sure the decision is complied with by all businesses.
INSIDE THE U.S.
Join us for the NO FEAR rally against antisemitism on Sunday
Source: NO FEAR: Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People / Facebook, June 25, 2021
NO FEAR: Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People: Please join us, among many other Jewish organizations, at a rally, NO FEAR: A Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People, in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, July 11 at 1 p.m. Buses will be provided from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Elisha Wiesel, son of the late Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, is a co-host and said: “Jews are fed up with feeling like nobody is showing up to stand with them.” The rally is sponsored by both the Orthodox Union and the Union for Reform Judaism, as well as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Jewish Committee (AJC), and B’nai B’rith International.
Surfside mission shifts from rescue to recovery effort: The mission to recover survivors in the Surfside building collapse has ended due to the lack of possibility that any survivors exist, according to police. Instead, the mission has shifted to a recovery effort, to find the bodies of those 70-plus people still missing. The death toll has reached 64, with Jews from old to young found among the dead. Fourth of July fireworks in Miami were canceled (for the second year in a row) out of respect for the mourning.
Graves vandalized at Baltimore Jewish cemetery: More than a dozen headstones were discovered vandalized with swastikas last weekend at a Jewish cemetery in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to swastikas, vandals also referenced a 1930s famine in Soviet Ukraine (“Holdomor”), which many on the far-right falsely blame Jews for causing. (Holodomor was caused by the policies of the government of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.) “It’s something I’ve never seen in all my years of cemetery-going,” said Deborah R. Weiner, a Baltimore Jewish historian who discovered the vandalism at German Hill Road Jewish Cemeteries on July 4. A police report has been filed, but currently there are no suspects.
U of Wisconsin ignores Jewish pleas: Despite pleas from Jewish students and faculty, the University of Wisconsin is sticking with its plan to start its fall semester on Rosh Hashanah. The university has one of the country’s largest undergraduate Jewish populations at 13%. Professor of Jewish Studies Chad Goldberg strongly criticized the university, saying: “There is no question that it sets an exclusionary and unwelcoming tone for Jewish students, staff, and faculty.” The CEO of the university Hillel Greg Steinberger told the Wisconsin State Journal that he asked university officials to at least tell Jewish students about the scheduling conflict during orientation but they were “reluctant to do so.”
Biden to nominate Jewish ambassador to Germany: President Biden will nominate Amy Gutmann, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, to be the U.S. ambassador to Germany. Gutmann’s father was a Holocaust refugee, having fled Germany in 1934. Gutmann said: “I would not even exist if it weren’t for his combination of courage and farsightedness. He saw what was coming with Hitler, and he took all of his family and left for India. That took a lot of courage. That is always something in the back of my mind.” Gutmann will also be the first female ambassador to Germany.
Arizona OKs Holocaust education legislation: Arizona has passed legislation requiring Holocaust education in schools to be taught at least twice between seventh and 12th grades. State Representative Alma Hernandez, a Democrat and a Jew, said the passage was a “big win for our community. Knowing that all Arizona students will learn about the Holocaust gives me hope and restores my faith in humanity because we must teach the past to ensure it never happens again.” The bill had been years in the making and one of the lead organizers said: “People told me this would never happen. They were like, ‘Not now, not ever. It will never happen in Arizona.’ And that was inside the Jewish community and out.”
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Today we celebrate archaeologists in Israel uncovering “one of the most magnificent public buildings from the Second Temple period that has ever been uncovered outside the Temple Mount walls in Jerusalem,” according to the excavation director of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The building, located on the main road that led to the Temple Mount, was probably used to welcome important dignitaries on their way to visit the Temple Mount, and will soon be open to the public. The rooms reportedly offered wooden sofas all along the walls for guests to rest, drink and eat. “The furniture did not survive but we can still spot their imprint on the walls,” said Dr. Shlomit Wekslwr-Bdolach, the IAA’s excavation director.
On this day in 1944, Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, arrived in Budapest, Hungary to begin saving tens of thousands of Jews from death. Wallenberg, later honored as Righteous Among the Nations, used his neutral diplomatic cover to issue protective passports and grant refuge to Jews facing certain deportation. It is possible that he personally saved as many as 100,000 Jews.