Today we’re diving into: the arson attack at University of Delaware’s Chabad; NAACP’s replacement of antisemitic chapter leader; Pompeo’s return to U.S. after Mid East trip; Pompeo’s convention speech under investigation; Republican convention speaker pulled over antisemitism; Kamala Harris’ promise to Jewish voters; first Israel—U.A.E. flight; terror stabbing outside Tel Aviv; balloon and rocket terror from Hamas; Hasidic pilgrimage curbed over virus; Hezbollah sniper attack; Turkey’s Hamas meeting; Dutch man’s sentence over fake explosive; Lithuania’s appointment of Holocaust denier; violent French antisemitic attacks; Israeli coronavirus 30 second test; and Mark Spitz’s Olympic golds.
INSIDE THE U.S.
Officials condemn Chabad arson attack as “a sickening act of hostility,” as Jewish students start GoFundMe to rebuild
Fire at Chabad Center, University of Delaware, Aug. 25, 2020 (Dave Wilson/ Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company)
Arson attack burns down University of Delaware Chabad: A fire at the University of Delaware’s Chabad house has been ruled an arson attack. Estimated damage from Tuesday’s fire is currently about $200,000. A group of students have launched a GoFundMe campaign to rebuild the Chabad. This comes after the Chabad house in Portland, Oregon caught fire twice last week—those incidents are also under investigation. Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton said, “This is a sickening act of hostility… My thoughts are with the Jewish community and those affected by this tragedy.”
NAACP replacing Philadelphia leader after antisemitic post: The national NAACP is taking control of its Philadelphia chapter and replacing the local leader after its president shared blatantly antisemitic imagery on Facebook. On August 20, the Philadelphia chapter voted to dissolve itself; the NAACP will appoint an interim administrator next month. The president, who was in charge of the chapter since 2014, said: “I apologize for my previous post and the hurt this has caused, and I regret the insult, pain, and offense it brought to all, especially those of the Jewish community.”
Pompeo heads home with no luck on further peace deals: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed back to the U.S. after a week of visits to Bahrain, Sudan, and Oman in an attempt to secure more normalization agreements between those Arab states and Israel. None of the Arab leaders Pompeo met with agreed to normalization. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok asked that normalization with Israel not be tied to discussions with the U.S. about removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan has made social and political reforms and hopes the U.S. will soon remove it from the blacklist. Bahrain’s king told Pompeo that Bahrain remains committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for Israel to retreat to the pre-1967 lines in exchange for peace.
Pompeo’s message to Israel on China: While Pompeo was in Israel at the beginning of his Middle East trip, he warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to limit Chinese investments in Israel, particularly considering China’s support of the regime in Iran. One of Netanyahu’s main foreign policy objectives over the last decade has been to enhance trade and investments with China. U.S. envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, told Axios, China “can’t strengthen Iran, which chants ‘Death to Israel,’ and have a business-as-usual relationship with Israel.” The White House is also currently deciding whether to label China’s repression of Uighur Muslims as a “genocide.”
Pompeo’s convention speech under investigation: Pompeo addressed the Republican National Convention on Tuesday in a pre-recorded speech filmed on the rooftop of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The speech drew backlash from many in government including former Vice President Joe Biden, who called the speech an “abuse of taxpayer dollars.” Pompeo’s speech is under investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee for potentially violating the Hatch Act, which restricts federal employees from engaging in certain partisan political activities, and the State Department’s own binding policies.
Republican convention speaker removed after antisemitic tweet: One of the speakers at the Republican National Convention was removed from the schedule shortly before delivering her remarks after directing her Twitter followers to a series of antisemitic conspiracy theories. Only hours prior to the convention, Mary Ann Mendoza shared posts falsely claiming the Rothschilds control the U.S. banking system and that Jews are intent on destroying Gentile civilization. Her posts also praised the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous 20th century antisemitic text. Another speaker at the RNC, anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, was noted for her previous antisemitic remark: “I have a hard time understanding how people can’t see the connection between abortion and the Jewish holocaust.”
Kamala Harris vows no limitations on American aid to Israel: Vice Presidential Nominee Senator Kamala Harris said that a future Biden administration will not move to put conditions on American aid to Israel, something for which the far-left has called. In speaking with Jewish supporters, Harris said, “the Biden-Harris administration will sustain our unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security, including the unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation pioneered during the Obama-Biden administration and the guarantee that Israel will always maintain its qualitative military edge.” Harris’ Jewish husband, Doug Emhoff, participated on the call as well. The senator also praised the Iran nuclear deal and said that America will never let Iran have access to a nuclear weapon.
First commercial Israel—U.A.E. flight will take off Monday on El Al, Israel’s flagship airline
Cooperation following Israel—U.A.E. normalization agreement: Following the peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the first commercial flight between the two countries is scheduled for next week on El Al, Israel’s flag carrier, which will fly American and Israeli delegations. Among those on the flight will be Senior Advisor to President Trump Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz had his first phone call with Mohammed al-Bawardi, Gantz’s U.A.E. counterpart, to discuss further defense cooperation. Days earlier, a similar conversation was held between the health ministers of each country.
F-35 disagreement continues: Despite these strides toward normalization, there is still a disagreement over the U.A.E.’s efforts to purchase F-35 fighter jets from the United States. Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to deny signing off on the deal. His denials have reportedly angered the U.A.E., which canceled a trilateral meeting with Israel and the U.S. last week. On Tuesday, Israeli Likud party Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said Israel opposed the sale of “even one screw” of an F-35 to any other country in the Middle East.
Terror stabbing in Tel Aviv suburb: A rabbi and father of four, Shay Ohayon, 39, was killed in a Palestinian terror attack on Wednesday in Petah Tikva, Israel. The victim, who sustained multiple stab wounds to his upper body, has already been laid to rest. The suspected killer, who was found with a blood-stained knife, had no history of terrorist activities. The terrorist was in Israel with a legal work permit. Netanyahu said, “We will demolish the terrorist’s house and work for carrying out the most severe punishment possible.” Earlier on Wednesday, Netanyahu posted on Facebook that no Israeli civilian had been killed in a terror attack for a full year for the first time in 56 years.
Hamas launches more rockets and incendiary balloons at Israel: Several rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Friday morning shortly after the Israel Defense Forces struck Hamas targets in response to the incendiary terror balloons launched at Israel. On Thursday, 26 fires sparked throughout southern Israel from incendiary balloons. Terrorists in the Gaza Strip have launched explosive balloons toward Israel on a daily basis in recent weeks. Qatari envoy to Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi entered Gaza this week to attempt to de-escalate the situation. Israel offered to provide humanitarian aid and relax some of the economic restrictions on Gaza if the balloons stop.
Hasidic pilgrimage to Uman banned: Ukraine announced it would close its borders to foreigners through September to curb rising coronavirus cases, which will prevent a traditional ultra-Orthodox pilgrimage to its city of Uman during the High Holidays. Typically, 30,000 Israelis visit Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav’s grave in Uman every Rosh Hashanah, who was the founder of the Bratslav Hasidic movement. Israel’s coronavirus czar demanded the Ukrainian government restrict the influx of Israelis to the country over his fears that they could bring the coronavirus back with them upon return to Israel. Ukraine’s president said the imposition of limits on travel was done “At the request of the Prime Minister of Israel,” which Netanyahu denied. The Bratslav Hasidic sect was outraged by the decision and promised it would never again support Netanyahu.
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
Hezbollah’s sniper attack on the border results in first Israeli airstrike on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon since 2006
Hezbollah fires at Israeli troops from Lebanon: Amid rising tensions, Hezbollah snipers fired at Israeli soldiers on the border of Lebanon and Israel on Tuesday night. Israel responded by bombing several of the terror group’s observation posts along the border early on Wednesday, which appears to be the first Israeli airstrike on Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. No casualties were reported on either side and there has been no reaction from Hezbollah. Tensions have been high along the Lebanese border after Hezbollah vowed to avenge the death of one of its fighters who was killed in an airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel.
Peacekeeping vote at UN: The border clash comes ahead of a vote at the UN to renew the mandate for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), established in 1978 and strengthened in 2006 to maintain a ceasefire on the border between Israel and Lebanon. The mandate expires on August 31st. Israel says the UNIFIL force, which now comprises more than 9,400 ground troops and over 850 naval personnel, does not do enough to curb Hezbollah’s terror activity. The U.S. and Israel have demanded that the UN Security Council reform the peacekeeping force and allow it to access areas that harbor terror activity. Hezbollah’s recent shots were fired near a UNIFIL position.
U.S. condemns Turkey over Hamas meeting: The United States condemned its ally, Turkey, for hosting senior officials of the Hamas terrorist organization in Ankara. Two Hamas leaders were granted a meeting with Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, after which Hamas members were given Turkish citizenship. The State Department said: “President Erdogan’s continued outreach to this terrorist organization only served to isolate Turkey from the international community, harms the interests of the Palestinian people and undercuts global efforts to prevent terrorist attacks launched from Gaza.”
Dutch man sentenced to 8 months for phony explosive: A Moroccan-born Dutch man was sentenced to eight months in prison for planting a phony explosive at a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam. The individual was previously charged with verbally assaulting a railway worker, calling him a “cancer Jew.” Through their lawyer, the owners of the restaurant said that the sentence was “very light” and would not act as an effective deterrent against future attacks. The restaurant was also victim of another antisemitic attack in 2017, when a Syrian-born man smashed its windows and stole an Israeli flag.
Genocide Museum in Lithuania appoints Holocaust denier as advisor: The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania has appointed a Holocaust denier as a top advisor. Vidmantas Valušaitis reportedly openly defends “anti-Semites who directly or indirectly took part in the extermination of the Jews in Lithuania.” The Jewish Community of Lithuania blasted the move and called for his removal.
Violent French antisemitic attacks: In Strasbourg, France, an artist wearing a T-shirt with the word “Israel” on it was attacked by a group of individuals. The artist had his paint stolen by the thugs, who wrote “forbidden to Jews and bitches.” The police have verified the facts and have launched an investigation. In following up on an August 6 attack, French police have arrested two suspects who allegedly assaulted a Jewish man in an elevator in Paris. The Jewish man, David, was unconscious by the time he was found by his family. His attackers had called him a “dirty Jew.” The National Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism praised the police’s “swift identification and arrest.”
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Mark Spitz, Summer Olympics 1972
Today we celebrate Israel’s COVID-19 testing advancements! Prof. Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology created a breath test which gives results in 30 seconds and eliminates the need for anyone to come into contact with the patient. The test has correctly identified all positive patients in a clinical trial, according to a new peer-reviewed study. Haick predicted the tests will cost around $2 to $3 per person and explained, “You just blow into the device, which is the size of a smartphone, for 2 to 3 seconds, from a distance of 2 centimeters away… it requires no lab processing, and it gives results within 30 seconds of blowing.” Haick said he hopes it will be available within the next 6 months.
Today in 1972, Jewish American swimmer Mark Spitz won the first of his seven gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Munich, by setting a new world record for the 200-meter butterfly. He was the most successful athlete at the 1972 Summer Olympics. One week later, eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September kidnapped and killed eleven Israeli Olympic team members, in what was known as the Munich massacre. American security guards formed a shield of protection around Spitz, fearing he would likely become a target for the Palestinians because he is Jewish. After he completed his events, he was asked to leave Munich for his own safety.