Note: the next newsletter will be on September 21. Today we’re diving into:
Inside Israel: Bennett and Egyptian leader Sisi meet publicly; Israel hunts for 2 remaining escapees; terror stabbing in Jerusalem; apartment collapses, no one hurt; Israel to deport so-called Hebrew Israelites; and Israelis test electric plane
Inside Europe: Slovakia apologizes for antisemitic laws; Pope warns against antisemitism; neo-Nazi sentenced to book-reading; and Jewish man attacked in Italy
Inside the U.S.: Suspect in murder of Texas woman reveals antisemitic motive; antisemitic incidents on campuses; Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s headstone unveiled; Burlington pulls BDS resolution; CA advances ethnic studies legislation; Arizona divests from Ben & Jerry’s; and report alleges antisemitism at Brandy Melville
Celebrate & Remember: Tel Aviv ranked as the world’s most fun city; and remembering the Abraham Accords
Israeli PM meets Egyptian head in Egypt in first since 2011
Source: @naftalibennett / Twitter, September 13, 2021
Bennett and Egyptian leader Sisi meet publicly: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met publicly with Egyptian leader Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt yesterday, the first public meeting in Egypt between the countries’ leaders since 2011. The meeting was remarkably warm between former archrivals, with the Egyptians hoisting the Israeli flag, something that was not done between meetings of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sisi. Bennett’s office said the meeting “laid the foundation for deep ties moving forward.” The pair discussed regional challenges, including the Hamas terror threat and Iran, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. EgyptAir announced that it would commence direct flights between Tel Aviv and Cairo in marked planes, a break from past precedent in which a subsidiary, Air Sinai, flew unmarked aircraft. The flights will take place four times a week.
Israel hunts for 2 remaining escapees: Israel is racing to recapture two of six prison fugitives who have been on the loose since they dug out from below their bathroom last week. Four of the prisoners, all of whom are convicted Palestinian terrorists, have already been recaptured by Israeli authorities—some with the help of local Arab Israelis. The jailbreak and subsequent recapture of the four terrorists has spurred the outbreak of large and violent protests within the West Bank. Not to miss the attention, Hamas launched indiscriminate rockets into Israel, prompting the Israelis to return selective fire into the Gaza Strip. Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai said the still-at-large terrorists are “desperate individuals, and we must be aware of any [suspicious] movements in the area.” Defense officials speculated on Saturday that it was increasingly likely that the two remaining escapees had split up and one of the two may still be in Israel, while the other could have crossed into the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.
Terror stabbing in Jerusalem: Amid the increase in tensions, a terror stabbing took place in Jerusalem on Monday by Palestinian attackers, where two visibly Jewish Israeli teens were moderately injured. A 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist stabbed the two teens outside the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. The Magen David Adom ambulance service said they treated the two teenage victims, who were unconscious with stab wounds to their upper bodies, but are now hospitalized in stable condition. A Border Police officer shot and “neutralized” the subject, who is being treated in serious condition. Police detained two others near the bus station on suspicion of assisting the attacker and were searching for others. The Hamas terrorist organization called the terror stabbing “heroic.”
Apartment collapses; no one hurt: In Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, an apartment building entirely collapsed a day after it was evacuated due to fears of its imminent demise. The structure came down without prompting, meaning it had been just a day away from a Surfside-like implosion, in which 98 people were killed outside Miami earlier this year. The evacuation was called “a miracle;” the signs of impending destruction which prompted the evacuation had been cracks in its walls and booming sounds. The city is now warning residents that more buildings may be at risk of collapse and is urging dwellers to report any noticeable faults.
Israel to deport so-called Hebrew Israelites: Israel has ordered the deportation of 51 so-called “Hebrew Israelites” to depart no later than September 23. The faith of the Hebrew Israelites teaches that the community is descendant from a lost tribe of Israel, and members have lived in Israel since 1969. These particular 51 individuals apparently overstayed their visas illegally. Israel does not recognize the community as a Jewish entity; its members engage in polygamy and do not consider themselves to be a part of the Jewish religion either.
Israelis test electric plane: Eviation Aircraft, an Israeli-American company, is planning to test fly a new all-electric plane by the end of 2021. The plane is being assembled in Washington State outside of Seattle. The company hopes that the plane will be ready for commercial use by 2024. The plane is small, carrying about nine-or-so passengers, and would be used for short flights giving it the company’s name “Uber in the sky.” The company also says the plane is a “competitive, sustainable answer to on-demand mobility” and that it only needs 30 minutes to charge per hour of flying.
Pope in Slovakia as it apologizes to Jews
Source: @ZuzanaCaputova / Twitter, September 12, 2021
Slovakia apologizes for antisemitic laws: 80 years later, Slovakia has apologized for anti-Jewish laws it imposed during the Holocaust. The official government statement read in part: “[the country] feels a moral obligation today to publicly express sorrow over the crimes committed by the past regime.” Once enacted, the so-called “Jewish code” entirely revoked all civil and human rights to any Jewish Slovakian. From 1941 to 1945, the nation, a puppet-state of Nazi Germany, deported approximately 75,000 Jews to concentration camps, almost all of whom were killed.
Pope warns against antisemitism: Separately from the Slovak apology, the Pope visited Slovakia, where he met with Holocaust survivors. When he arrived in the country, all 2,627 Catholic churches tolled their bells simultaneously to mark the moment his plane touched down. Speaking with Slovakian Jews, of which only about 2,500 remain, the Pope said: “Here, the Name of God was dishonored. Let us unite in condemning all violence and every form of antisemitism.” The Pope’s visit follows a stop in Hungary, where he warned against “the threat of antisemitism still lurking in Europe and elsewhere.”
Neo-Nazi sentenced to book-reading: As punishment for downloading almost 70,000 neo-Nazi documents and bomb-making instructions, a judge in the U.K. sentenced a 21-year-old man to read classical literature by Charles Dickens, Williams Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. Several anti-racism groups in the country petitioned the attorney general to re-sentence the 21-year-old. Judge Timothy Spencer said the man avoided prison “by the skin of his teeth,” and that his crime was likely to be an isolated “act of teenage folly.” The UK Campaign Against Antisemitism said in a statement that it was “inexplicable that a man who collected nearly 70,000 neo-Nazi and terror-related documents could avoid a maximum jail term of fifteen years and leave court with no custodial sentence whatsoever.” The group said the judge had instead let him off “with a mere suspended sentence and some English homework.”
Jewish man attacked in Italy: An Israeli man was attacked in Italy after telling a merchant his nationality. The victim was attempting to buy a statue of the Pisa Tower and after answering he was from Israel, the seller beat him with it, while yelling that Israelis and Jews are murderers. The attacker was reportedly Bangladeshi. He fled the scene and police are reportedly investigating.
INSIDE THE U.S.
Suspect in murder of El Paso woman reveals antisemitic motive
2020 Texas shooting was antisemitic: A shooting that took place in November of 2020 which killed a Texas lawyer and severely wounded her husband has been revealed to be an antisemitic hate crime. El Paso police announced last week that they had found and arrested a 38-year-old man in connection with the shooting. The killer said he was “executing and exterminating the pro-choice Jewish Satan worshippers.” Prior to the attack, he reportedly wrote an email to the U.S. Army’s 902D Military Intelligence about his extremist religious and political beliefs, including identifying pro-choice people as the “Jewish Satanist Party” and calling abortions “Jewish child sacrifice.” The killer also reportedly wrote that he specifically targeted the couple because they voted for Biden and had a Biden flag in front of their house, as well as “a doll of Trump hanging” and LGBTQ flags displayed. Law enforcement found the man by obtaining a search warrant allowing them to track cell phone activity in the area on the night of the shooting, through which they identified the suspect. They then found a Facebook post saying that the man had been fired from a job for stalking a female co-worker and an email outlining his plans to kill people near the park where he believed satanic rituals were taking place, leading to his arrest. He is charged with murder and aggravated assault and currently jailed, with bail set at $2.5 million. The investigation into the crime is ongoing.
Antisemitic incidents on campuses: In two unrelated incidents this week only a few days into the academic year, antisemitic graffiti was found in a bathroom at American University and a mezuzah was ripped off a Jewish student’s dorm room door at Tufts University. At AU, the graffiti consisted of two swastikas, Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel) bolts, and a Star of David. Regarding the incident at Tufts, the student wrote to the group Jewish on Campus: “In the middle of the night on my first Shabbat of the year, a group of students walked by my room making a lot of noise; it sounded like they were banging on the wall or my door. Eventually, I heard one of them rip the mezuzah off the doorpost, and the rest of the group laughed. I was too afraid to leave my room until well into the morning.” Tufts President Tony Monaco said: “Regardless of intent, the removal of this important symbol of Jewish faith is antisemitic and has caused harm.” According to the AMCHA Initiative, a watchdog group that records incidents of antisemitism and anti-Israel activism on campus, from 2015 until late May 2021, there were 65 recorded incidents of anti-Semitic activity at Tufts University, many of which were categorized as “antisemitic expression.”
RBG unveiled: The unveiling of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s headstone took place nearly a year after her death, as is Jewish custom. Her engraving sits below that of her husband, Martin Ginsburg, who predeceased her. Although her readings are all in English below an austere seal of the U.S. Supreme Court, her husband’s full Hebrew name is included, as well as a Star of David.
Burlington pulls BDS resolution: The sponsor of a bill to make Burlington, Vermont the first city in the United States to enact Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation against Israel withdrew his resolution. Sponsoring City Councilman Ali Dieng told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that conversations he had with community members in recent days changed his mind and led him to believe that BDS is “one-sided” and that it contributes to antisemitism. “A lot of community members who are Jewish have been experiencing antisemitism for a very long time and I didn’t know about it,” he said in an interview. “We are a small community and I want to make sure everyone feels safe. Many people [who supported the resolution] are not happy with me, but I think it is the right thing.”
CA advances ethnic studies legislation: Following the California state board of education’s approval of a suggested curriculum earlier this year, the CA State Legislature approved bill A.B. 101, which mandates the teaching of ethnic studies for high schoolers. The first draft of the ethnic studies curriculum, which the Board of Education ordered to be redesigned, singled out Israel for condemnation, promoted the boycott campaign against Israel and otherwise effectively erased the American Jewish experience. A revised version of the curriculum, which no longer promotes the boycott campaign and includes two lesson plans on antisemitism, was unanimously approved in March despite mixed reactions from the Jewish community. AMCHA, an NGO that monitors antisemitism on college campuses, strongly opposed the bill and called on Governor Gavin Newsom not to sign it into law. AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin argued in a statement: “the bill that passed does not, and by law cannot, prohibit schools from teaching the overtly antisemitic and roundly rejected first draft of the [curriculum], or an even more extreme [curriculum] being vigorously promoted throughout the state.” She continued that her experience monitoring colleges taught her that the guardrails provided in the bill were not enough, and that any school district could teach the more extreme curriculum, which she deemed antisemitic.
Arizona divests from Ben & Jerry’s: The state of Arizona is divesting entirely from Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. In doing so, Arizona becomes the first state in the nation to divest from a company under an anti-Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions against Israel law which many conservative states have adopted. According to the state treasurer, the action will divert $143 million in investment funds away from the company. State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a Republican running for governor, said: “Israel is and will continue to be a major trade partner of AZ.”
Report alleges antisemitism at Brandy Melville: A bombshell report from Insider revealed that top executives at the teen retailer Brandy Melville promote sexual exploitation and racism, with screenshots of countless racist messages including multiple references to Hitler in group chats. Hitler was mentioned 24 times in the more than 150 screenshots Insider viewed of a group chat with CEO Stephan Marsan and other top executives. The report claims CEO Stephen Marsan created a toxic workplace where only “white, thin, pretty” girls were allowed to work in his stores. Marsan would ask for full-body pictures of girls — some as young as 14 — before he would green light store managers to hire them. Multiple women were fired for their physical appearance and race. According to Insider, top executives led the charge when it came to sharing antisemitic content in the group chat. At least one employee reported being a victim of sexual assault by a top executive. Insider said it’s unclear what the company’s revenue is, but former executives say it’s north of $250 million a year.
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Source: @AustraliaUN / Twitter, September 13, 2021
Today we celebrate Tel Aviv ranked as the world’s most fun city! For the second year in a row, Time Out has ranked Tel Aviv the world’s most fun city, second for “food and drink,” and the eighth-best city overall. Time Out is a London-magazine. The rankings were based on a poll of 27,000 city-dwellers across the globe.
One year ago tomorrow, Israel and two Gulf nations, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, signed the Abraham Accords in Washington, D.C., normalizing relations. The accords were a breakthrough diplomatic success; Israel had not achieved normalization with an Arab state since 1994 with Jordan, which was only its second-ever Arab normalization after Egypt in 1979. Following the signing of the agreement, two other nations, Morocco and Sudan, also agreed to normalize relations with Israel. Yesterday, officials, including the U.S. ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, celebrated the accords’ one-year anniversary at an event in New York. Also in attendance was the Omani ambassador to the UN, a significant development since Oman does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.