Afghanistan Fallout: Israeli leaders condemn Kabul terror attacks killing dozens; and Biden-Bennett meeting delayed to today
North America: Rash of antisemitic graffiti on Canadian election campaign signs; Congressman compares vaccine passports to Holocaust; UNC offers antisemitic course; NBA player accused of antisemitism opens up about changes; and Bialik & Barbra snag showbiz prizes
Inside Europe: Rabbinate accuses Pope of “teaching contempt” toward Jews; shul uncovered in Vilna; Jewish teen attacked in Germany; Spain cancels antisemitic seminar; and Polish monument defaced
Inside Israel: Bibi reportedly withheld Israeli intelligence from Biden; Israelis draw up plans to attack Iran; and Israel expands 3rd dose
Israel’s Neighbors: Gazans protest; Palestinian Authority criticized over arrests; and Palestinians oppose U.S.-sponsored peace
Celebrate & Remember: Israeli-Arab wins Paralympic gold; and remembering Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer
Israeli leaders condemn Kabul terror attacks killing dozens
13 U.S. service members, 90+ Afghans killed in Kabul: At least 13 U.S. servicemembers were killed in a terrorist attack at the Kabul international airport for which ISIS-K, an Afghan offshoot of ISIS, claimed responsibility. The attack took place as the U.S. military continued its ongoing evacuation effort to get over 100,000 individuals out of Afghanistan after the Taliban retook control of the country for the first time since the U.S. invasion of 2001. In addition to the 13 Americans killed by the suicide bombings, dozens of civilian Afghans were killed as well. Responding to the attack, President Joe Biden said to the terrorists: “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” while pledging to continue the country’s end to its longest-running war. Israeli leaders uniformly condemned the “horrific” attack.
Biden-Bennett meeting postponed: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett remains in Washington, D.C. where he had been set to meet with President Biden yesterday. Biden postponed their bilateral meeting to today, instead calling Bennett to thank him for his understanding over the delay due to the terror attack. Bennett offered his condolences to the American people, offering Israeli support to the United States. The delay will likely push Bennett’s trip in the U.S. until Saturday night, as he does not travel on Shabbat. Bennett has been in Washington, D.C. since earlier this week, meeting with officials like the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been scheduled to visit Israel next week, but canceled in light of the situation in Afghanistan, saying she would need to remain in Berlin to oversee the German evacuation.
Rash of antisemitic graffiti on Canadian election campaign signs
Swastikas on Canadian campaign signs: Election signs promoting candidates in Canada’s forthcoming general election are reportedly being vandalized with swastikas and other Nazi imagery on a daily basis. Nearly 40 posters for one Jewish Member of Parliament, Anthony Housefather, were defaced with Nazi signs just over the last week, including one with a picture of Adolf Hitler. “It’s like a punch in the gut kind of thing. It’s hurtful,” Housefather said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter: “I am disgusted and I am angry that Rachel Bendayan and Anthony Housefather had signs vandalized with antisemitic graffiti.” Another candidate whose election signs were defaced with swastikas and the word “Nazis” said: “I am sorry to members of the Jewish community who had to see these signs.” Canadian police said that they were investigating.
Congressman compares vaccine passports to Holocaust: In a now-deleted tweet, Republican Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky posted a photo comparing so-called vaccine passports to the identification numbers Nazis tattooed on Jews during the Holocaust. Over the photo of the tattooed arm read: “If you have to carry a card on you to gain access to a restaurant, venue or an event in your own country … that’s no longer a free country.” An intern who worked for Massie resigned, stating that “the antisemitic nature of the post” was “beyond apology.” The Anti-Defamation League responded on Twitter: “We should not have to keep repeating this – health safety measures are in NO WAY comparable to the atrocities of the Holocaust. Making this comparison dishonors the memories of those murdered by the Nazis. Thomas Massie should apologize immediately; deleting this isn’t enough.”
UNC offers antisemitic course: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has a fall course offering titled “The Conflict Over Israel/Palestine,” which will be taught by a graduate student with a long, public history of attacking Israel, including recently tweeting the slur “Zionist dirtbags” and promoting the idea that Israel should not exist. Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz reportedly dismissed concerns from many Jewish leaders and community members, which outraged the Jewish community. Since then, the school has held many meetings about the course, and apparently may include some or all the following: having a representative from the UNC Carolina Center for Jewish Studies monitor the class; having the lecturer engage with the Center for Jewish Studies; and/or a mid-year student survey to be seen by the lecturer and her mentor. Many Jewish leaders have called the plan “dreadfully inadequate.” Rabbi Emeritus Fred Guttman of Temple Emanuel in Greensboro told Algemeiner: “This lecturer’s prejudice against Israel will stunt nuanced discourse and ostracize Jewish students.”
NBA player accused of antisemitism opens up about changes: NBA player Meyers Leonard, who was suspended earlier this year for shouting an antisemitic slur, shared a lengthy Instagram post about his process of overcoming his ignorance, stating: “Over the last five months, I have immersed myself in the process of learning about the Jewish community. This was not something prescribed or forced upon me. It’s something that I felt and knew in my heart was right to do, which is why, I chose to do it privately.” He apologized again for his use of the slur, said he is committed to being an ally, and shared that: “Having the ability to learn about one another is not a form of punishment, it is a gift. Our differences aren’t what divide us, it’s our lack of understanding that does.” Leonard also recently spoke at an event hosted by the Anti-Defamation League.
Bialik & Barbra snag showbiz prizes: Dr. Mayim Bialik, the Orthodox Jewish actress and PhD in neuroscience, will temporarily take over hosting Jeopardy. Bialik replaces Mike Richards, who resigned after past comments, including anti-Jewish ones, resurfaced. And, with the release of her newest album, Release Me 2, Barbra Streisand has become the only female artist to have a top 20 album in every decade since the 1960s. The only other person to achieve the same record is Bob Dylan, another Jewish phenom.
Rabbinate accuses Pope of “teaching contempt” toward Jews
Rabbinate protests Pope: The representative for Israel’s Chief Rabbinate to the Vatican sent the Holy See a strenuous protest against recent remarks by Pope Francis concerning the Hebrew Bible. The objectionable statement from the Pope was: “The Law [or Hebrew Bible], however, does not give life, it does not offer the fulfillment of the promise because it is not capable of being able to fulfill it.” In response, Rabbi Ratzon Arusi sent a letter almost accusing the Pope of antisemitism, reading in part: “This is in effect part and parcel of the ‘teaching of contempt’ towards Jews and Judaism that we had thought had been fully repudiated by the Church.” The Cardinal to whom Rabbi Arusi sent the letter said he is “considering it seriously and reflecting on a response.”
Shul uncovered in Vilna: In Vilnius/Vilna, Lithuania, archaeologists, including from the Israel Antiquities Authority, uncovered the Great Synagogue destroyed by the Nazis and Soviets. The six-year investigation revealed everything from mikvahs (ritual baths) to a Torah ark. The archaeologists said: “In addition, the excavation of the bimah was completed including the entire facade of the bimah and the complete remains of one of the four huge pillars that supported the roof of the Great Synagogue.” Most recently, the researchers found a yad, the silver hand used by Torah readers to point toward the scroll.
Jewish teen attacked in Germany: In the German city of Cologne last Shabbat, a group of 10 men attacked a visibly Jewish 18-year-old, leaving him hospitalized with a broken nose and cheekbone. The attackers punched and kicked the young Jewish man in the face while hurling antisemitic slurs, and stole the victim’s kippah from his head. Police arrested an 18- and 19-year-old in connection with the attack, which was recorded by a police camera in the area. The two arrested were reportedly released from police custody despite still being suspects in the crime. The Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt Avichai Apel called the attack a wake-up sign.
Spain cancels antisemitic seminar; Polish monument defaced: The University in Spain (University of Santiago de Compostela) canceled a Holocaust distortion course that drew parallels between Auschwitz and the Gaza Strip. CAMERA said on Twitter: “[The University] is making parallels between Auschwitz, a death camp dedicated to the extermination of Jews, and Gaza, a territory controlled by a terrorist organization dedicated to the extermination of the world’s only Jewish state. Shameful.” And days after Polish officials said they are considering blocking Israeli Holocaust tours within Poland, a Polish monument for Holocaust victims whose bodies were burned was defaced with slogans praising Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The insults were etched into a grave-shaped monument for 1,500 Jews murdered there in 1941, near Krakow. According to the former President of the Union of Jewish Religious communities in Poland, the passage of the recent antisemitic law outlawing forms of restitution to Holocaust survivors and their families has exacerbated antisemitic trends and crimes which were already on the rise.
Bibi reportedly withheld Israeli intelligence from Biden
Bibi cut Biden admin out of loop: According to a New York Times report, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reduced intelligence sharing with the United States when President Biden took office in January. The limit on intelligence sharing applied specifically to data on Iran’s nuclear program, for which the U.S. is heavily reliant on Israel. In April, Israel conducted a strike on the Iran nuclear facility at Natanz, which Biden officials reportedly said “violated a longstanding, unwritten agreement to at least advise the United States of covert operations, giving Washington a chance to object.” Some experts believe the lack of open communication between administrations was a result of Netanyahu’s long-standing ire towards the Obama administration and Obama officials.
Israelis draw up plans to attack Iran: The Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, the Israeli military’s highest position, said that Israel is preparing plans to attack Iran given the Islamic nation’s continuation of its nuclear program. Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said: “The progress of the Iranian nuclear program has led the IDF to accelerate its operational plans and the recently approved defense budget is earmarked for that.” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is likely to discuss the Iran nuclear program at length when he meets with President Biden today. He is expected to offer an alternative to a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which will curb Iran’s nuclear program through other multilateral means.
Israel expands 3rd dose: Israel has expanded its third-dose eligibility of the COVID-19 vaccine to all vaccinated people over the age of 30. This makes Israel poised to become the first country to complete a nation-wide third-dose campaign. The eligibility expansion comes as Israel crosses the threshold of one million total COVID-19 cases, meaning over 1-in-10 has contracted the disease. Israel is also nearing a one-day record of COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant continues to sweep the country. The 20% of the Israeli population that is unvaccinated now accounts for half of all serious COVID-19 cases, and some hospitals, like Hadassah, have stopped accepting coronavirus patients due to financial strains. The Israeli Treasury, however, plans to send 100 million shekels to hospitals in order to resolve the strike.
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
West criticizes Palestinian Authority over arrests
Gazans protest: Gazans have protested by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, on the border of Israel and Gaza this week, with Israel using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. At least one Gazan died of wounds sustained on the border last Saturday; the terrorist organization Hamas said he was a member of their group. At least 14 other Palestinians were also wounded. Israeli soldiers were instructed to respond more forcefully to protests after one Israeli, aged 21, was shot in the head last week by a terrorist on the border. The Israeli, Bar’el Hadaria Shmueli, remains in critical condition.
PA criticized over arrests: The Palestinian Authority arrested 30 activists who were protesting the death of a critic in Palestinian custody. Palestinian Authority officials said: “There was no official permit from authorities to hold the gathering, and a group of the attendees refused to agree to the conditions for the gathering.” The United Nations and European Union sharply criticized the PA’s move, with the EU saying: “Violence against peaceful human rights defenders, activists and protesters is unacceptable.” Congressional, far-Left Democrats also condemned the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with Representative Cori Bush saying: “We stand with Palestinians against the violence of the Palestinian Authority’s authoritarianism.” and Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinain-American lawmaker, saying: “This is NOT how you protect and serve the Palestinian people.” Both Bush and Tlaib also used the opportunity to demonize Israel, with Bush saying, “Suppressing dissent and criminalizing protest only deepens the violence of Israel’s apartheid system,” and Tlaib echoing, “Shame on you for suppressing Palestinian voices who are trying to seek liberation from not only the Israeli apartheid government, but from your corrupt leadership.”
Palestinians oppose U.S.-sponsored peace: A senior Palestinian Authority official said the government is wholly opposed to returning to any peace talks under the auspices of the United States. Instead, Azzam al-Ahmed said the Palestinians would only conduct negotiations under international conditions. Al-Ahmed continued that the Palestinians would not agree to negotiations which seek to only curtail the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, rather than solve it in its entirety.
Israeli-Arab wins Paralympic gold: Paralympian Iyad Shalabi won gold in 100-meter backstroke, becoming the first Arab-Israeli champion! Iyad Shalabi won the Paralympic 100-meter backstroke in the S1 classification, clinching gold as the first Arab-Israeli to do so. S1 constitutes the athletes with the most severe disabilities: Shalabi is deaf and mute and has partial paralysis. In total, Israel has won 375 medals in Paralympic history. Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper said the medal was a “huge achievement,” continuing: “Iyad is an inspiring man whose life has been full of victories. We are proud of you!”
On this Hebrew day in 1698, Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer, also called the Baal Shem Tov or the Besht, was born in Poland/Ukraine. He became the founder of Hasidic Judaism, a spiritual sect of the ultra-Orthodox, and profoundly changed the face of the modern Jewish world.