Inside the U.S.: PM Bennett hails Biden meeting; Rep. Tlaib praises terrorist; Jews are most targeted ‘religious’ group; board recommends parole for Robert Kennedy killer; Dan Shapiro added to Iran team; and Ed Asner dies
Inside Israel: Thousands mourn slain Border Police officer; Sa’ar initiates term limit bill; Netanyahu accused of withholding gifts; Bennett reportedly weighs Afghan refugee airlift; and Israel expands booster to 12 and up
Israel’s Neighbors: Israeli Defense Minister meets Palestinian president; Gazans riot on border; American Jew rescues Afghans; and Amsterdam to return painting to Jewish family
Celebrate & Remember: Jewish athletes sweep the Paralympics; and happy birthday Yitzhak Perlman!
Bennett returns triumphantly: After visiting with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett returned to Israel, saying his first visit as prime minister to the U.S. “surpassed” all his expectations. Bennett’s return to Israel was delayed due to the terror attack on U.S. forces at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan which prevented Biden from meeting with Bennett on Thursday. And, since Bennett does not travel on Shabbat, he and the Israeli delegation had to extend their trip in Washington, D.C. until Saturday evening. For Shabbat, the Israeli team arranged prayer services in their quarantine bubble at which the prime minister delivered a dvar Torah (sermon). The topic of greatest concern to Bennett— Iran— was a major focus of his discussion with Biden. Biden told Bennett that Iran will “never” get nuclear weapons. After their meeting, Bennett remarked that Biden “loves” Israel and said that he invited Biden to visit once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.
Tlaib praises terrorist: Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) publicly tweeted in support of a terrorist, Mai Afana, who attempted to stab Israeli soldiers. Tlaib called for the body of Afana, who was killed by Israeli police while attempting to carry out a terror attack, to be returned to her family. Tlaib called the terrorist “a mother, loving daughter & successful PhD student.” Without explaining that Afana was killed while attempting to murder Israeli troops, Tlaib said: “She was killed by the Israeli government last June. Israel won’t release her body to her family.” Tlaib has publicly supported at least four other terrorists in the past.
Jews are most targeted ‘religious’ group: According to the new 2020 FBI hate crimes report released on Monday, crimes against Jewish people (who account for two percent of the U.S. population) make up 57.5% of all religious based hate crimes. In 2020, hate crimes against Jewish people were also the third most common reported type of hate crime in the United States. The number of reported hate crimes committed against Jews (and many other groups) decreased from 2019, presumably due to COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions. It is also widely believed that hate crimes against Jews are massively underreported. One group which did not see a decrease in overall hate crimes in 2020 was the Asian community. Hate crimes targeting people of Asian descent rose by 70% last year compared with the number of such incidents in 2019, the FBI said. Racists have unjustly blamed Asian Americans for the COVID-19 pandemic because of the virus’ origin in China. There was also a nearly 40% spike from the year before in incidents targeting Black people in the United States.
Board recommends parole for Robert Kennedy killer: The parole board of California has recommended the release of Robert Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, after two of Kennedy’s sons supported such a recommendation. Sirhan assassinated Kennedy, widely believed to have been on his way to the presidency in 1968, over his support for Israel in the Six-Day War. At least six of Kennedy’s other children, of which he had a total of 11, publicly opposed the release of Sirhan which is now an issue before the governor of California.
Dan Shapiro added to Iran team: Dan Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, is being added to the State Department’s cohort on Iran. Shapiro is a friend to Israel and has longstanding relationships with most senior Israeli officials. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said that Israel and the U.S. are preparing for a “Plan B” should the talks on restarting the Iran nuclear deal fail.
Ed Asner dies: Ed Asner, who played Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore show, died at age 91 this week. Asner was born in Kansas City, Missouri to an Orthodox Jewish family. In his career, Asner received more Emmy Awards than any other male actor.
Thousands mourn slain Border Police officer
Source: @emilykschrader / Twitter, August 30, 2021
Border Police officer dies: Barel Hadaria Shmueli, the 21-year-old Israeli Border Police officer who was shot in the head over a week ago by a Gazan rioter, has died of his injuries. The terrorist who killed Shmueli rushed the border fence during a Hamas-orchestrated riot and fired three shots through a hole in the wall at point-blank range. Initial findings from the military’s investigation into the violence along the Gaza border indicated that the troops were unprepared for the sudden rush of rioters toward the security fence. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called Shmueli “a fighter in his life and a fighter in his death.” The medical team at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, Israel said they “fought for his life and he underwent multiple surgeries during his hospitalization.” They continued in a statement that, “Despite the intense efforts, due to his serious injury the medical staff was forced to determine his death. We share in the heavy grief of his family.” Thousands of mourners turned out yesterday evening for Shmueli’s funeral, where his mother accused the Israel Defense Forces and Prime Minister Bennett of negligence and demanded a military commission of inquiry into his death. May his memory be a blessing.
Sa’ar initiates term limit bill: Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, leader of the A New Hope party, has initiated the drafting process of legislation that would implement a term limit for the office of prime minister, which currently does not have one. Sa’ar left former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party after Netanyahu became the longest-serving prime minister in history and was indicted in multiple criminal cases. Sa’ar’s bill would limit the prime minister to eight years in office, however Sa’ar said the bill would not be retroactive (and thereby would not apply to Netanyahu).
Netanyahu accused of withholding gifts: The office of the Prime Minister has asked former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to return gifts he received from foreign heads of state while in office. They include 42 gifts, some of which were given by notable figures such as former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The gifts are lavish and expensive, like a gold leaf decorated box and a bible with original commentary from Rashi – even an original presidentially-signed copy of the U.S. order of transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem. An Israeli official who faulted Netanyahu said: “With the end of term as prime minister you were supposed to return all of the gifts you received during your term… in the condition they were given, with the exception of reasonable wear and tear due to the passage of time.”
Bennett reportedly weighs Afghan refugee airlift: Prime Minister Bennett is reportedly considering a plan to help resettle Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban takeover of that country. The proposal would see Israel potentially airlift the refugees from U.S. bases in Qatar and Kuwait, two countries which do not have any formal diplomatic relations with Israel, to a third country of resettlement. The sources clarified that Israel was not offering to resettle any of the Afghan refugees in the Jewish state at this time, but rather assist in the airlift efforts. Israel, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, previously offered assistance to Vietnamese refugees fleeing communism, over 300 of whom were granted Israeli citizenship.
Israel expands booster to 12 and up: All vaccinated individuals in Israel are now eligible for a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine after the age restriction was eliminated altogether. Public health officials in Israel have decided that only three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine will qualify as fully vaccinated. The Green Pass, which proves vaccination status in Israel, will reflect that change starting October 1st. As cases start to slowly decrease due to the rapid third-shot campaign, Prime Minister Bennett said that schools will reopen on September 1st as had been the original plan. With over two million third doses having been given out, public health experts expect the upsurge of cases to rapidly diminish once a certain threshold (possible five million third doses) have been administered.
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
Israeli Defense Minister meets Palestinian President, first talks since 2010
Gantz meets Abbas: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend, the first such contact between senior Israeli and Palestinian leadership since 2010. The conversation concerned Israeli aid to the Palestinian Authority and Gantz told Abbas that “Israel seeks to take measures that will strengthen the P.A.’s economy.” Additionally, the meeting concerned other priorities related to “security policy, civilian and economic issues.” Following the meeting, Israel released 500 million shekels to the Palestinian Authority which Israel previously withheld due to the Palestinians’ payments to the families of terrorists. The terrorist organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad called the meeting “reprehensible,” while right-wing parties in Israel were also taken aback by it.
Gazans riot on border: Riots along the Israel-Gaza border have once again erupted, with Gazans burning tires and launching explosives for consecutive nights this week. The Israel Defense Force launched an attack on terrorist targets in Gaza in response to the riots and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza, which caused more fires this week. Israeli officials said: “The IDF will continue to respond forcefully against Hamas’s terror attempts.” IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said on Monday that the IDF will “not hesitate” to enter another round of fighting in Gaza if violence along the border continues.
American Jew rescues Afghans: Moshe Margaretten, an American ultra-Orthodox Jew, arranged to rescue 46 Afghans, mainly women from the Afghan women’s soccer team. He had originally raised funds to extricate the last Jew in Afghanistan, Zebulon Simantov, but Simantov refused to leave the country. So, instead, Margaretten raised $80,000 to rescue the women in peril. Margaretten, who joined forces with Moti Kahana, an Israel-American businessman, said he plans to raise an additional $2 million to help get other refugees out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Amsterdam to return painting to Jewish family: The City of Amsterdam will return an extremely valuable Kandinsky painting to a Jewish family. The piece, called “Painting with Houses,” is worth perhaps as much as $22 million. The return of the painting has been controversial since its owner, Irma Klein, sold her property during the Holocaust for a measly amount of money in order to survive. Previously, the Dutch government said that the “public interest” in the painting outweighed the need to return it to the Klein family. However, The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany organization classifies the painting as stolen.
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Source: @ianseidenfeld / Instagram, August 30, 2021
Today we celebrate Jewish athletes sweeping the Paralympics! Jewish and Israeli athletes have achieved great successes at the Paralympic games in Tokyo in the past week. Two Israeli swimmers, Ami Dadaon and Mark Malyar, won a gold and bronze medal at the games respectively, while 20-year-old American Ian Seidenfeld upset the world’s best Paralympic table tennis player, winning gold. Seidenfeld said: “I couldn’t have dreamt for anything better.”
On this day in 1945, world-renowned Israeli-American violinist Yitzhak Perlman was born in Tel Aviv. At four, Perlman was infected with polio, which crippled his legs permanently. Perlman, now 76, has won countless prizes and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to him by former president Barack Obama. He currently lives in New York City with his wife, Toby.