Inside the U.S.: Survey says majority of Jewish college students feel unsafe; NY officer arrested for vandalizing Jewish camp; AOC seeks to pull sale of arms to Israel; Poway shooter pleads guilty; Colorado governor marries; Zuckerberg donates to Jewish groups; GOP candidate accused of antisemitism; Bennett to speak to JFNA; and Trump reportedly directed antisemitism at Kushner
Inside Europe: Yom Kippur attack foiled in Germany; Dutch open Holocaust memorial; four charged after calling for rape of Jewish women; and Siberian Jews inaugurate facility
Inside Israel: Naftali Bennett named one of Time’s most influential; Israel recaptures all prisoners; and Israel rushes toward herd immunity
Celebrate & Remember: Joint Israel-UAE mission to rescue Afghan women; and Jewish rights in Sweden
INSIDE THE U.S.
Majority of Jewish college students feel unsafe
Source: @StopAntisemites / Twitter, September 17, 2021
Disturbing results for Jewish university survey: According to a survey conducted by the Cohen Research Group in conjunction with The Louis D. Brandeis Center this past April, 65% of Jewish students stated that they had felt unsafe on campus and half of Jewish students have at one point hidden their Jewish identity. The survey was conducted among students belonging to predominantly Jewish fraternities and sororities. The survey was made available to all AEPi and AEPhi members nationally, and 1,027 chose to respond — 710 of 5,158 AEPi students and 317 of 3,310 AEPhi students. The survey also revealed that the longer Jewish students stay on campus, the more they feel they must hide their connection to Judaism rather than embrace it. “These findings ring some pretty consequential alarms, more closely resembling previous dark periods in our history, not the 21st century in the U.S.,” said Kenneth Marcus, The Brandeis Center founder and chair. Marcus told Jewish journalist Bari Weiss, “What is so alarming about these results is that the survey focused on more than a thousand AEPi brothers and AEPhi sisters. These are kids who generally enter college with strong Jewish identities and an eagerness to be active in Jewish organizations. Instead, they are learning to hide their Judaism. And the longer they are in college, we found, the more they closet themselves.”
NY officer arrested for antisemitism: A New York police officer was arrested for vandalizing Camp Young Judaea, a Jewish summer camp. The 37-year-old policeman apparently did severe damage to the property after breaking in during Rosh Hashanah. In another incident in New York, antisemitic graffiti was spray-painted along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive in Manhattan. Governor Kathy Hochul said: “I am sickened that hateful, antisemitic graffiti was spray-painted along the FDR Drive, and I am directing the NY Police Hate Crimes Task Force to offer the NYPD whatever assistance they need in the investigation of this vandalism. I want our Jewish neighbors to know that we have zero tolerance for these repugnant acts of hate that are meant to instill fear in our communities. Antisemitism in any form is not welcome in our state. We will always stand with the Jewish community.”
AOC seeks to pull sale of arms to Israel: Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez submitted an amendment to the annual United States defense spending bill to block the sale of precision-guided munitions to Israel. In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said that the amendment relating to Israel concerned “the bombing of Palestinian civilians, media centers,” apparently referring to the bombing of a building in Gaza City that housed the offices of the Associated Press which doubled as a Hamas electronic warfare site. Ocasio-Cortez has yet to mention that May’s conflict began after Hamas launched thousands of indiscriminate rockets at Israeli civilian centers. According to a statement by her office, the resolution would prevent the transfer of $735 million worth of Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits to Israel. The amendment is highly unlikely to be approved. Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan said the “amendment further legitimizes [Hamas’] heinous attacks against innocent civilians, as well as antisemitic lies.”
Poway shooter pleads guilty: The Poway synagogue terrorist pled guilty to the murder of one person and the attempted murders of 53 others in connection with the 2019 attack, effectively ending the possibility of facing the death penalty. The shooter opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle during the last day of Passover services in April 2019 at Chabad of Poway, northeast of San Diego. The attack killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and wounded three others including an eight-year-old girl and the rabbi. After the killer emptied his initial magazine, several congregants rushed at him and he fled. The shooter faced a potential death penalty in parallel state and federal prosecutions, but through his pleas, will avoid capital punishment in both cases. He’s set to be sentenced later this month in the state’s case to life in prison plus 137 years. His sentencing in the federal case has been scheduled for Dec. 28.
Colorado governor marries: Jared Polis, the Democratic governor of Colorado, married his long-time partner in a Jewish ceremony this past week. Polis, a former U.S. Congressman who is also the nation’s first openly gay governor, said that after their 18-year relationship he and his husband “couldn’t be happier to be married at last.”
Zuckerberg donates to Jewish groups: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated $1.3 million to Jewish non-profit organizations, including schools and summer camps. A spokesperson said: “Mark and Priscilla are proud to support the important work each of these organizations does in building communities, education, celebrating traditions and faith, and giving people a voice — especially in fighting antisemitism.” The funding will be doled out through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the foundation to which Zuckerberg and Chan have pledged 99% of their wealth. The executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in San Francisco said: “It’s exciting to see some of the Jewish leaders in the Silicon Valley area becoming more philanthropic. It’s important for them to step up, because there will be a domino effect.”
GOP candidate accused of antisemitism: A Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates is apologizing for an antisemitic comment he made about the Jewish Speaker of the House, Eileen Filler-Corn. The candidate, Hahns Copeland, wrote under a picture of Filler-Corn: “I was surprised to see a pair of eyes and a mouth with that NOSE.” In response, his Democratic opponent wrote: “This is wildly antisemitic and has no place in our politics especially a day after Yom Kippur.” After deleting the comment, Copeland said: “It was never intended to be antisemitic or reference her ethnicity or religion. I apologize to anyone I may have offended.” For her part, Filler-Corn took the comment in stride, saying: “These types of hateful comments are unfortunately far too common today, and they are too often invoked instead of solutions to the real issues Virginians face.”
Bennett to speak to JFNA: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will speak to the Jewish Federations of North America in October at their annual conference. The Federation said Bennett will speak about: “major challenges facing Israel, the rising tide of antisemitism and the relationship between the Jewish state and North American Jewry.” Bennett has said one of his aims as prime minister will be to repair the relationship with American Jewry that frayed under the leadership of former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Trump reportedly directed antisemitism at Kushner: The upcoming book Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa claims that former President Donald Trump “joked” that his son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, was “more loyal to Israel than to the United States.” The bombshell reporting expands upon previously known antisemitic statements by Trump, including saying that Democratic Jews do not love Israel and are “disloyal,” calling Israel “your country” in front of a Jewish crowd, and other stereotypes about Jews and money.
Thwarted attack in Germany: Two years after a gunman killed two people and injured several others in an antisemitic rampage on Yom Kippur in Halle, Germany, authorities thwarted another possible Yom Kippur attack on a synagogue in the western German city of Hagen. Police said they received “a very specific and serious tipoff” from an unnamed foreign intelligence service, which many surmise could be from Israel. According to the newspaper Die Welt, officers took a father of Syrian background and three sons into custody for questioning. All but one son — a 16-year-old with ties to Islamists abroad — were released. The 16-year-old Syrian national reportedly made comments on the platform Telegram to someone about attacking the synagogue on Yom Kippur, and the contact shared bomb making techniques with the teen. Police cordoned off the Hagen synagogue on Wednesday and the planned evening service for Yom Kippur was called off. Antisemitic crimes have been rising steadily in Germany in recent years.
Dutch open Holocaust memorial: The King of the Netherlands, as well as the Prime Minister, unveiled a new memorial to Dutch Holocaust victims numbering 102,163 in total. The structure is made up of bricks, each of which is inscribed with the name and information of each person killed during the Holocaust. The memorial was erected in Amsterdam’s Old Jewish Quarter. The Prime Minister said the country must grapple as well with “the cold reception for the small group who returned from hell after the war.”
Charges for rape threateners: Four men from northwest England have been charged after calling for the rape of Jewish women during a pro-Palestinian protest in north London earlier this year. The four men were charged with “using threatening, abusive or insulting words, or behavior, with intent, likely to stir up racial hatred.” The video taken during the protest in May shows cars with Palestinian flags driving through areas of the British capital with many Jewish residents, while protesters honk their horns and shout “Free Palestine,” while making calls to rape Jewish women. The four charged men, aged 24, 25, 26 and 27, are due to appear in court in London on Wednesday.
Siberian Jews inaugurate facility: Russian Jews in the Siberian town of Tomsk opened a new Jewish education center which now enrolls 200 children. It will be the largest such Jewish center in all of Siberia. The Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar, flew 2,000 miles from Moscow to Tomsk to inaugurate the facility. Tomsk is a historic center of Cantonist Jews, those who were forcibly conscripted to the Russian army and yet stuck with their faith.
Naftali Bennett named one of Time’s most influential
Source: @naftalibennett / Twitter, September 6, 2021
Islamist partner hails Bennett in Time: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made Time magazine’s 2021 list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Even more extraordinarily, Bennett’s Arab-Israeli coalition partner and former political foe, Mansour Abbas, wrote the accompanying blurb on Bennett’s behalf. “It all comes down to courage,” Abbas, the leader of the first Arab party to join an Israeli governing coalition, wrote. “After four elections in two years, a bold act was needed to unite a country frayed by political stalemate and brought to a desperate standstill. Something dramatic needed to change, but more importantly, someone courageous needed to make that change.” Other Jewish figures in Time’s “Leaders” category are Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who has become a public figure during the coronavirus pandemic, and Ron Klain, President Joe Biden’s chief of staff. Julie Gerberding, who served as former President George W. Bush’s CDC director, wrote the Walensky appraisal, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote the appraisal of Klain.
Israel recaptures all prisoners: Israeli security forces arrested the two remaining Palestinian inmates who escaped from Gilboa prison in northern Israel nearly two weeks ago, ending the nationwide ordeal. The two remaining escaped prisoners – Iham Kamamji and Munadil Nafiyat – were apprehended in the West Bank city of Jenin. Israeli officials said they were surprised at how “easy” the recapturing was. Palestinian media said there were exchanges of gunfire during the predawn arrest, but there were no reports of Israeli or Palestinian casualties. Both inmates are members of the Islamic Jihad terror group. Israel’s police minister had said that officials didn’t expect the prisoners to be caught in the West Bank, but he later admitted that was a lie to lure the prisoners into a false sense of security.
Israel rushes toward herd immunity: Over three million Israelis have received a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, from which Israel typically takes its cues, not having approved a booster for individuals under 65. Nevertheless, heads of hospitals in Israel are warning of shortages of ECMO life-saving machines and that the healthcare system may be “on the way to total failure” as cases continue to climb. 40% of new cases are among the Arab community and another 40% are among children under 11 as schools remain mostly open. And Israel continues to take an increasingly stronger stance against the unvaccinated, even going so far as to potentially limit unemployment benefits for people who were fired from their jobs for refusing to be vaccinated.
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Source: @AfraMalHameli / Twitter, September 5, 2021
Today we celebrate a joint Israel-UAE mission to rescue dozens of Afghan women! In the first-ever joint aid mission between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, 41 Afghan women — including human rights activists, a well-known singer, and members of girls’ cycling and robotic teams — were rescued across Afghanistan’s northern border into Tajikistan. CEO of the Israeli NGO IsraAID Yotam Polizer described rescuers’ harrowing efforts to save the women: “[The rescuers] had to do rounds around the city in alleys to pick up these people and try not to create any suspicious movement.” He said the group was temporarily delayed at the border with Tajikistan — stuck for two days in a safe house as they awaited permission from the Tajik government to enter with masses of Taliban in the area. Israeli aid workers met the escapees in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, and on September 6, they boarded a jet bound for the U.A.E. chartered by Canadian-Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams.
On this day in 1838, the Swedish government revoked rights it had granted to Jewish residents (Jews were not granted citizenship until 1870). Perhaps coincidentally, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with the foreign minister of Sweden yesterday, the first such contact between Israeli and Swedish officials in seven years. Lapid said the call “symbolizes the relaunching of relations at this level.” Lapid had previously accused the then-foreign minister of Sweden of antisemitism in 2016 over criticism aimed at Israel. Sweden became the first member of the European Union to recognize a State of Palestine in 2014.