News from August 3 to August 9

Israel's budget, Beirut blast, and honorable mentions

Hey everyone! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com. If you need good Jewish/Israeli shows or movies, make sure to check out this newsletter. I have been extremely busy this week, so I’m going to have to do this week’s news in a shorter format.

Netanyahu said to back budget delay, in move that would avert election:

Why is this important? As you may recall, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz are in the midst of a contentious governing dispute over whether to sign a one-year or two-year budget. The stakes are high; according to their coalition deal, if they can’t agree on a budget by August 25, the Knesset will disperse, and Israel will go to another election later this year. Various reports have speculated that Netanyahu wants an election because it would potentially allow him to regain control over the Justice Ministry (which he ceded to Gantz’s Blue and White party in their coalition deal) before his trial is set to begin in earnest in the spring. Others have suggested Netanyahu wants a new election to prevent Gantz from becoming Prime Minister next year. Either way, he could essentially call new elections by failing to come to an agreement with Gantz by August 25. If it is true that Netanyahu is willing to push back the budget deadline, Israel may be able to avoid its fourth election in three years.

Israel offers aid to Lebanon after Beirut’s massive explosion:

What happened? After a fire in a warehouse in Beirut set off an enormous explosion that made nearly 300,000 people homeless, Israel was among the countries that offered to send humanitarian assistance. Israel’s offer is consistent with its long-held policy of providing humanitarian aid to countries around the world after catastrophes. Still, this overture is significant because Israel and Lebanon are technically at war, and tensions with Lebanon are high after Hezbollah militants attempted to infiltrate Israel last week. Tel Aviv’s city hall also displayed the Lebanese flag with its lights, though some Israelis criticized the move as treasonous. Regardless, it’s refreshing to see people valuing shared humanity over political conflict.

Tel Aviv City Hall. Source: Miriam Alster/Flash90 via TOI

Updates on last week’s news:

Seth Rogen: As if the situation was not already complicated enough, Rogen said in an interview last week that Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog had misrepresented his words, and he had not apologized for what he had said. However, he also acknowledged that he should have been more sensitive in the way he talked about Israel on the podcast. Read more about his latest interview here

Attack on Israel’s border with Syria: The most recent reports indicate that the militants were members of a Syrian pro-Iran militia, but they were not members of Hezbollah. 

Honorable Mentions:

A Jewish Guide to Joe Biden’s VP Short List by Gabe Friedman and Ron Kampeas (JTA) (This is a good read because Joe Biden is likely to announce his running mate this week)

Trump antagonizes GOP megadonor Adelson in heated phone call by Alex Isenstadt (Politico)

Jewish educator’s ‘Yo Semite’ T-shirt back in spotlight following Trump gaffe by Esther Kustanowitz (JTA)

Trump’s Germany ambassador pick under fire from Jewish groups for statements on immigrants and Nazi history by Ron Kampeas (JTA)

What Seth Rogen’s new movie gets right and wrong about the history of pickling by Chana Pollack and PJ Grisar (Forward)

A USC student leader resigns amid accusations that her Zionism ‘made her complicit in racism’ by Michael Janofsky (Forward)

Stop calling anti-Zionism anti-Semitic. It’s morally repugnant in its own way By Shany Mor (Forward) 

News from July 27 to August 2

Sen. David Purdue, attacks on three of Israel's borders, and Seth Rogen

Hey everyone! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com. If you need good Jewish/Israeli shows or movies, make sure to check out this newsletter

Senator David Purdue criticized for antisemitic campaign advertisement:

What happened? Forward published a story calling out Georgia Senator David Purdue’s (R) campaign for posting a campaign advertisement on Facebook that showed his Jewish democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, with an enlarged nose. The ad, which Purdue’s staff later deleted, was captioned, “Democrats are trying to buy Georgia!” and also featured Jewish Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. According to three graphic design experts interviewed by Forward, Ossoff’s nose was lengthened and widened from its source photograph. As Forward noted, the enlargement of Jewish noses in images is a long-established antisemitic tactic. 

The image of Ossoff on the right was in Senator Purdue’s advertisement. Source: Forward

How have people reacted? Senator Purdue’s campaign spokesperson said in a statement, “In the graphic design process handled by an outside vendor, the photo was resized and a filter was applied, which appears to have caused an unintentional error that distorted the image. Obviously, this was accidental, but to ensure there is absolutely no confusion, we have immediately removed the image from Facebook. Anybody who implies that this was anything other than an inadvertent error is intentionally misrepresenting Senator Perdue’s strong and consistent record of standing firmly against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.”

Purdue’s campaign manager said, “Senator Perdue did not know about nor see the ad before it ran, and he is committed to ensuring future mistakes of this kind do not occur.” He also said the campaign would switch digital marketing firms. 

Ossoff tweeted, “Sitting U.S. Senator David Perdue's digital attack ad distorted my face to enlarge and extend my nose. I'm Jewish. This is the oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic trope in history. Senator, literally no one believes your excuses.”

A spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said, “Senator Perdue’s first offense was running this disgusting ad, and his second was refusing to take any responsibility for it and letting others shoulder the blame for his campaign.” 

Republican Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) said, “Some things are insidious. Whoever in U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s (R, GA) campaign digitally enlarged the nose of his Jewish opponent in campaign ads SHOULD BE OUTED, FIRED & NEVER REHIRED BY ANY CAMPAIGN, ANYWHERE.”

Quick note (personal opinion): The advertisement Senator Purdue’s campaign posted was deplorable. It was heartening to see that at least one Republican Congressman spoke out against the ad. Still, as a whole, Republicans and Democrats alike have been relatively quiet about the Purdue campaign’s antisemitism. We must get better about speaking up against antisemitism, even when it’s politically inconvenient. If Ilhan Omar’s campaign had published such an ad, Congress would probably have, at the bare minimum, passed a resolution against her. Even though Purdue likely never saw the ad, he is ultimately responsible for his campaign. He should be held accountable, just as any politician should be for their actions and office. 

Further reading:https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/28/jon-ossoff-david-perdue-anti-semitic-ad-384386 (Politico)

Flare-ups on Israel’s Gazan, Lebanese, and Syrian borders:

What happened? Over the last week, Israel has faced a rocket attack and two attempted incursions on its borders. The first incident occurred last Monday when Hezbollah operatives crossed the border into Israel near Mt. Dov. The attempted infiltration, which was thwarted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) firing near the militants’ position and forcing them back across the border, was seen as a possible response to a recent Israeli airstrike in Syria that killed a member of Hezbollah. The second and third incidents happened Sunday night. In the second incident, militants in Gaza launched a rocket into Israel that was intercepted by the Iron Dome in midair. The IDF struck targets throughout Gaza in response. Then, later on Sunday night, the IDF reported that militants in Syria had attempted and failed to place explosives on the Israeli-Syrian border. 

Update: The IDF published a video early Monday morning of the militants attempting to place explosives at the border.

What’s going on here? Three attacks on different borders in one week? (My take) Well, the various incidents are not necessarily related. While the Lebanese and Syrian attempted infiltrations may (emphasis on may) be connected, the Gazan rocket attack is probably not. The attack happened hours after Israel’s new Gaza Division commander, Brig. Gen. Nimrod Aloni, took over command from his predecessor, Brig. Gen. Eliezer Toledano. Given that the rocket attack only consisted of one rocket, I would guess it’s more likely that the launch was designed to test Israel’s new commander or was related to internal matters within Gaza. 

In the north, however, it’s more likely that the two incidents might be related. Note that we don’t yet know if the militants belonged to any particular group, so it’s hard to ascribe a motive to the attempted bombing. Still, almost all anti-Israel militant activity in Syria and Lebanon can be tied back to Iran in some way. Accordingly, Israel has carried out operations to prevent Iran from establishing a foothold in Syria over the past few years. For example, Israel has launched airstrikes on various sites (including the strike which motivated Hezbollah’s Monday border infiltration attempt) in response to Iranian or Lebanese Hezbollah militants developing infrastructure and trafficking advanced weaponry through Syria. The attacks rarely target any operatives because Hezbollah tends to retaliate if its members are killed. As you may recall, Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli armored ambulance last year in response to an Israeli airstrike on a Hezbollah operative who attempted to launch a drone into Israel from Syria. So, while we don’t have confirmation that Monday and Sunday’s attempted infiltrations are linked–again, we don’t know who was responsible for placing the explosives at the border yet–it would not be unrealistic. Last night’s events just happened, so we should know more next week.

Further reading: https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/understanding-hezbollahs-complex-planning-behind-the-events-on-har-dov-636950, https://www.jpost.com/opinion/what-is-the-story-with-lebanon-and-why-are-they-attacking-us-opinion-637056 (Both articles are really helpful to understand the broader context behind what’s happening with Hezbollah)

Seth Rogen stirs controversy with Israel comments: 

What happened? In an interview with Marc Maron, Jewish actor Seth Rogen made comments that sparked debate over Jewish education and Israel. In the conversation with Maron, who is also Jewish, Rogen spoke about his Jewish upbringing, antisemitism, marriage, shivas, and Israel, among other topics. Rogen attended Jewish schools and camps growing up and is starring in a movie, “American Pickle,” about a Jewish immigrant in the 1920s. 

What did he say that was so controversial? Regarding Israel, Rogen said, “To me, it just seems an antiquated thought process. If it is for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it, because I think religion is silly. If it is for truly the preservation of Jewish people, it makes no sense, because again, you don’t keep something you’re trying to preserve all in one place — especially when that place is proven to be pretty volatile, you know? ‘I’m trying to keep all these things safe, I’m gonna put them in my blender and hope that that’s the best place… that’ll do it.’ It doesn’t make sense to me. And I also think that as a Jewish person I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life! They never tell you that — oh, by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the f***ing door’s open!… They forget to include the fact to every young Jewish person.”

How have people reacted? Here’s a sampling of takes on Rogen’s interview from across Jewish media:

Dear American Jewish boys: Please find another outlet for your Oedipal rage. Signed, Israeli Jews by Shony Mor (Forward)

A Zionist answer to Seth Rogen's Zionist blind spot by David Suissa (Israel Hayom)

Seth Rogen – crossing the line between comedy and tragedy by Richard Trank (Jerusalem Post)

The real lesson of Seth Rogen? If you want your kids to love Israel, tell the truth by Natasha Skoryk (Forward)

I’m a young American Jew and proud Zionist. Seth Rogen doesn’t speak for me by Blake Flayton (Forward)

Rogen later clarified his views and apologized over a Zoom call with Isaac Herzog, the Charman of the Jewish Agency. Herzog then made a post on Facebook saying, “Over the weekend I was glad to hold a frank and open conversation with actor and comedian Seth Rogen about his comments in a podcast with Mark Maron which were interpreted as challenging Israel’s legitimacy. At the start, Seth was kind enough to make clear to me that what was missing in the published interview was what he did not say: How important Israel is to him. And that, of course, Israel must exist.” Read the rest of his statement here.

Quick note: Rogen’s comments are exactly why I started News of the Jews. I’ve long felt that Hebrew school and early Jewish education are insufficient because they often lack the nuance necessary to really understand Judaism, antisemitism, and Israel. I’m hopeful that this newsletter will fill in some of the knowledge gaps that you might have! 

Bonus: Watch Shira Haas and Amit Rahav, the starts of Netflix’s Unorthodox, celebrate after learning Unorthodox was nominated for 8 Emmy awards. Haas scored a nomination for best actress in a limited series.

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News from July 20 to July 26

Madonna/Wiley/Jay Electronica, Netanyahu protests, and honorable mentions

Hey everyone! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com. If you need good Jewish/Israeli shows or movies, make sure to check out this newsletter.

More celebrities make antisemitic social media posts:

Madonna: On July 4, famous singer Madonna shared the trailer of a speech notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan was set to deliver later that day. Although the trailer itself does not contain any overtly antisemitic language, the post was recognized by some, including actor Josh Malina, as amplifying an antisemitic voice. Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, has a long history of antisemitic statements. In his July 4 speech, Farrakhan referred to ADL CEO Jason Greenblatt as “satan.” Madonna’s post has over 700,000 views.

Wiley: On Friday and Saturday, British rapper Wiley went on an antisemitic Twitter rant which led to his suspension from Twitter for a week. Among other comments, Wiley said Jews were “cowards” and “snakes.” Wiley’s manager, who is Jewish, said that his management group was cutting its ties with the rapper. In response to the incident, some Jewish groups began circulating the hashtag “#NoSafeSpaceForJewHate” because they felt Twitter was slow to respond to a very public episode of antisemitism. Various celebrities and high-profile Twitter users have organized a digital protest related to the hashtag where they will not use Twitter for 48 hours starting on Monday.

Jay Electronica: On Saturday, rapper and producer Jay Electronica accused Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who recently recorded a long video with Nick Cannon discussing Judaism and antisemitism, of lying. He also said the Talmud consists of “vile teachings.” This is not the first time Electronica has been accused of antisemitism; earlier this year, he released an album that had lyrical references to the Rothschilds and Farrakhan’s notorious “Synagogue of Satan” descriptor of Judaism. 

Further reading: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/19/892855781/revisiting-louis-farrakhans-influence-amid-celebrities-anti-semitic-comments

Large protests against Netanyahu continue around Israel:

What happened? Thousands gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Saturday to protest his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and corruption scandals. The protests, which began about two weeks ago, have spread widely around Israel. On Saturday, demonstrators gathered around nearly 250 overpasses around Israel during the day. 

Is that all? Not quite. While the protests themselves are a big story, the Israeli police’s reaction to the demonstrations has also been controversial. On Thursday, Israeli police deployed water cannons to disperse protestors near the Prime Minister’s residence after demonstrators remained after the government-imposed curfew. Israeli riot police have been making frequent arrests of protestors and using forceful methods to scatter the crowds. One man was hit directly in the face with a water cannon, despite rules against aiming for the head. At the same time, some counterprotests have turned violent, as some protestors have reported being pepper-sprayed or even stabbed by supporters of the Prime Minister. 

Though the protests have grown, the government does not seem to be backing down. Just last week, Israeli public security minister Amir Ohana suggested that the police should crack down harder on the demonstrations. For context, he thought the initial police response was weak, and he wants the protests to be treated the same as if they were in Haredi or Ethiopian communities.

Further reading: https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/1595793446-report-minister-ohana-berates-israel-police-for-not-banning-jerusalem-protests (i24)

Honorable Mentions:

On Mick Jagger’s 77th birthday, the secret Jewish history of the Rolling Stones by Seth Rogovoy (Forward)

Orthodox man attacked by three strangers on Brooklyn street corner by Aiden Pink (Forward)

Former Concentration Camp Guard, 93, Gets Suspended Sentence as Accessory to Murder of 5,230 by Toby Axelrod (JTA)

‘Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters’ by Mica Streiffer (Tablet)

What Will Tisha B’Av Look Like During a Pandemic? By Kylie Ora Lobell (Jewish Journal)

Twitter says it accidentally closed the accounts of some users for posting Star of David by Marcy Oster (JTA)

Disinfectant tunnels and 3 other Israeli ideas that may help tackle COVID-19 by TOI Staff (Times of Israel)

Jewish Federation Of Greater Philadelphia Calls For Philly NAACP President To Resign After Anti-Semitic Facebook Post by CBS3 Staff (CBS 3)

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News from July 13 to July 19

Nick Cannon, Netanyahu's trial resumes, and honorable mentions

Hey everyone! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com. If you need good Jewish/Israeli shows or movies, make sure to check out this newsletter.

Nick Cannon fired from CBS Viacom for antisemitic podcast:

What happened? Nick Cannon was fired from CBS Viacom after videos re-emerged of him promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories on his podcast. In the videos, Cannon claimed that Jews are not the “true Hebrews” and that Jews stole the term Semitic from black people. He also referenced the Rothschilds and said that Jews use allegations of antisemitism to divide the black community. In an official statement, CBS Viacom said that “we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism.”

Did he end up apologizing? Yes! In a lengthy Twitter thread, he wrote, “First and foremost I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth during my interview with Richard Griffin. They reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from. The video of this interview has since been removed. While the Jewish experience encompasses more than 5,000 years and there is so much I have yet to learn, I have had at least a minor history lesson over the past few days and to say that it is eye-opening would be a vast understatement. I want to express my gratitude to the Rabbis, community leaders and institutions who reached out to me to help enlighten me, instead of chastising me. I want to assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education—I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward.”

Cannon also met with Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Rabbi Cooper and Cannon. Source: Cannon’s Instagram

How have people reacted? NBA legend Charles Barkley called out Nick Cannon, DeSean Jackson, Stephen Jackson, and Ice Cube for spreading bigotry, saying, “Man, what the hell are y’all doing? Y’all want racial equality, I don’t understand how insulting another group helps our cause. We can’t allow black people to be prejudiced also, especially if we’re asking for white folks to respect us…I’m so disappointed in these men but I don’t understand how you beat hatred with more hatred.”

Another NBA legend, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, wrote a piece for the Hollywood Reporter calling out antisemitism in sports and Hollywood. I highly recommend checking out his outstanding article.

Writer Soraya McDonald detailed her perspective as a Jew of color for The Undefeated. It’s important to remember that many people are members of the black and Jewish communities. Their voices are not only relevant but critical for this conversation. 

Rapper Ice Cube, who recently posted antisemitic content on his Twitter feed, accused Abdul-Jabbar of being a traitor for condemning Nick Cannon. 

Yet another NBA legend, Dwayne Wade, posted in support of Cannon but quickly deleted it and apologized for the post, saying, “I was too quick to respond without being fully informed about his hurtful anti-Semitic remarks. As you all know I have ZERO tolerance for any hate speech!”

I also want to add sports journalist Jemele Hill’s take on the DeSean Jackson incident. Although it’s not about Nick Cannon, I wanted to include it because it’s a great article. She was once suspended from ESPN for writing a joke about Hitler, but she is now using her platform to stand up for the Jewish community. You can find it here.

Further reading: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/19/nick-cannon-controversy-anti-semitism/ (WaPo)

Unrest in Israel amid the resumption of Netanyahu’s trial:

What happened? Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s criminal trial resumed on Sunday. The most significant development was that the court announced that it would begin hearing witnesses in January. The timeline was a compromise between the prosecution, who wanted to start calling witnesses this year and the defense, which wanted to delay the witness testimonies until mid to late 2021. Netanyahu’s lawyers claimed that they needed more time to develop their defense and that Coronavirus restrictions–specifically rules regarding masks–would interfere with the trial. Yossi Segev, Netanyahu’s lawyer, asked the judges, “How can we carry out a cross-examination when I am in a mask, the witness is in a mask and I don’t know if your honour is angry or happy?” The judges denied Segev’s request for an extended delay to the trial. Once the hearings begin, witnesses will be heard three times per week. 

What else is happening in Israel? Hundreds protested in Jerusalem outside the Prime Minister’s residence on Saturday night. Israeli police used water cannons to disperse the protestors, who were demonstrating against Netanyahu because of his corruption charges. After the protests concluded, Netanyahu tweeted out a picture of one of the protestors holding a Palestinian flag and alleged that the demonstrators were organized by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who “[partnered] with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.” Though Barak has been mentioned in the Epstein investigation, he has denied wrongdoing. In other news, despite Israel’s early success at containing Coronavirus, it has seen a surge of cases lately, which data suggests is related to Israel’s school openings (specifically, middle schools). In response, Israeli leaders have had to reimpose some shutdown orders, and Netanyahu has proposed a controversial stimulus program. Still, protests have broken out across Israel because many citizens have not been satisfied with the government’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Further reading:https://www.ynetnews.com/article/S1G5nCelv (Ynet)

Honorable Mentions:

What Hank Greenberg’s friendship with Jackie Robinson can teach us today by Rabbi Elliott Cosgrove (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Auschwitz survivor to meet family of American GI whose kind gesture gave her hope by Aleesha Khaliq (CNN)

Vandal defaces two Sarasota Jewish temples by Earle Kimel and Carlos R. Munoz (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

How a Holocaust survivor’s book helped this Rohingyan refugee survive brutal detention by Amanda Levinson (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Congressman John Lewis: “Getting Into Good Trouble” to Make a Better America by Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper (Jewish Journal)

For those of you who may never have heard of the AMIA bombing, an Iranian-backed Hezbollah unit led by Imad Mugniyah (who was later killed in a car-bombing attributed to Israel and the United States) carried out a suicide bombing mission in 1994 on an Argentinian Jewish community center building, killing eighty-five. The (ongoing) court case to hold the perpetrators responsible has featured some bizarre twists. In 2015, the chief prosecutor in the case, Alberto Nisman, died just hours before he was set to present evidence that then-President Christina Kirchner was covering up Iran’s involvement in the bombing. His death was later ruled a homicide. Kirchner currently serves as the Vice President of Argentina. I recommend reading these pieces because the AMIA bombing case is incredibly important to the Argentinian Jewish community:

Remembering the AMIA Bombing: Why It Matters 26 Years Later by JTA Staff (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) 

In significant meetings with Jewish leaders, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez condemns the AMIA bombing by JTA Staff (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

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News from July 6 to July 12

DeSean Jackson, Israel's budget dilemma, and Peter Beinart

Hey everyone! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com. If you need good Jewish/Israeli shows or movies, make sure to check out this newsletter. Also, make sure to check out the trailer for the upcoming movie “An American Pickle,” which features Seth Rogen playing a 1920s Jewish immigrant and his grandson.

DeSean Jackson’s Instagram posts headline a week with several internet-related antisemitic incidents:

What happened with Desean Jackson? Last week, Desean Jackson shared an image on his Instagram that featured an antisemitic passage (falsely) attributed to Hitler. Though Jackson later said that he posted the image because he believed it was an example of black oppression, it references antisemitic theories similar to those propagated by the perpetrators in the Jersey City shooting in December. At the end of the passage in the post, the author says, “Hitler was right.”

How have people reacted? Some responses to Jackson’s post were discouraging, but many were encouraging.

Regarding the discouraging part of the response, some statements made by notable figures arguably worsened the situation. Stephen Jackson, a former NBA player, said Jackson “speaking the truth” and later brought up the Rothschilds during an exchange on Twitter (He later spoke with Rabbi David Wolpe on Instagram Live where he disavowed antisemitism and walked back the comments). Malcolm Jenkins, an NFL player and Jackson’s teammate on the Eagles, was criticized for only calling Jackson out for distracting from other social justice causes, not making antisemitic posts. 

However, some of Jackson’s critics sought to make the situation into a positive by using it as an opportunity to educate people about antisemitism. Julian Edelman, a Jewish NFL player, invited Jackson to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and offered to accompany Jackson to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (they have since spoken and are making plans). After 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg wrote an open letter to Jackson, they spoke over Zoom (while Mosberg wore the uniform he was forced to wear at the Mauthausen concentration camp). Jackson has reportedly accepted Mosberg’s invitation to tour Auschwitz with him when public health conditions allow for it.  Zach Banner, a non-Jewish NFL player, was one of the few professional athletes to condemn Jackson, posting a two-minute video preaching a message of unity and respect that was widely praised.

Jackson and Mosberg. Source: Jackson’s Instagram

My take (personal opinion): Geoff Schwartz, a Jewish former NFL player, said that he was not surprised that so few NFL players spoke up because a lot of them probably don’t know anything about Judaism or antisemitism. That’s really the source of the problem; bigotry often comes from a place of ignorance. Luckily, ignorance is a disease that can be treated. In Jackson’s case, he will be exposed to Jewish history and culture over the next couple of months that will likely change his perspective. When you encounter antisemitism in the future, educate, don’t ostracize. It might be harder, but it is braver and ultimately more productive than canceling someone. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally, people want to do better and will try to do better if you help them. If Mosberg, who nearly became one of Hitler’s victims, can find it within him to help Jackson learn, you can too. 

Anything else? Jackson’s post got the most attention this week, but there were a few other high-profile antisemitic incidents this week. Shein, a popular fast-fashion site, was widely criticized for selling a swastika necklace. Though the necklace is oriented like the Buddhist symbol that the Nazis repurposed, the symbol is widely considered offensive in America and Europe, even if it has different connotations in other parts of the world. Shein has since apologized. In other news, videos of rapper and television personality Nick Cannon hosting rapper Richard Griffin–who was removed from the hip hog group Public Enemy over antisemitic remarks–on his podcast re-emerged this weekend. The videos, allegedly filmed last year, are filled with the duo promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories. 

Further reading:https://yair.substack.com/p/the-right-way-to-respond-to-racism (Yair Rosenberg on how we should reciprocate support from those who stand up for us)

Netanyahu and Gantz spar over Israel’s budget:

What happened? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz are at a stand-still over whether the Israeli government should pass a one or two year budget. According to Likud and Blue and White’s coalition deal, the government must sign a two-year budget by August 15, at which point the government may be dissolved if no budget is signed. The budget was supposed to be presented to Knesset lawmakers this week, but it was delayed multiple times for political reasons.

What is the disagreement? For an in-depth explanation of the situation, I highly recommend checking out Haviv Rettig Gur’s piece in the Times of Israel. Proponents of the one-year budget–including many Israeli economists, budget officials, and Likud–say that passing a two-year budget would be inappropriate since they don’t have enough information to predict what Israel’s economy will look like in two years. Led by Blue and White and many self-employed workers, supporters of the two-year budget say that it would give citizens stability and financial certainty.

In addition to the economic dimension of the debate, there’s also a political element to the disagreement. Sensing that Netanyahu would try to call early elections instead of being replaced by Gantz in October 2021, Blue and White pushed to include a provision in its coalition deal with Likud that would make Gantz Prime Minister if Israel went to elections early. However, according to the agreement, if the coalition collapses due to Gantz refusing to sign the budget, Netanyahu would remain Prime Minister until the election. Netanyahu skeptics believe that he is angling for a one-year budget so that he could make unrealistic budget demands next year, forcing Gantz to veto the budget and head to another election. If that’s the case, he will remain Prime Minister until the election, which current polling suggests that Netanyahu win. Though a two-year budget may be economically perilous, it would prevent Netanyahu from pulling a fast one on Gantz a year from now. 

What to watch for: Although it may seem like a minor squabble, Israel’s budget situation is extremely significant for political and economic reasons. Accordingly, several compromises have been suggested, ranging from amending the coalition deal to allow Gantz to become Prime Minister regardless of the reason for the government’s collapse to passing a two-year budget but immediately begin amending the budget for the second year. As they argue over budget details, nearly a million Israelis are unemployed (~20%), and there are large protests in Tel Aviv over the government’s economic policies. Keep an eye on this dynamic, important situation. 

Further reading: https://uk.reuters.com/article/israel-budget/netanyahus-push-for-one-year-budget-could-strain-israeli-government-idUKL8N2DV48W

Jewish intellectual Peter Beinart’s one-state solution essay generates debate:

What happened? On July 7, Peter Beinart published an ~6,700-word article in the Jewish Current explaining that he is now in favor of a one-state solution, rather than the popular two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Beinart’s essay made waves because he had previously been an outspoken supporter of the two-state solution, and his writings on the proposal were widely read. Given his historical support for two states, Beinart’s about-face sparked notable debate (and a lot of criticism) within the Jewish community. If you have the time, I recommend reading Beinart’s piece and some of the reactions to it below:

The Jews of Privilege” by Benjamin Kerstein (Tablet)

Memory Malpractice” by Yehuda Kurtzer (Tablet)

Peter Beinart’s Great Change” by Gideon Levy (Haaretz)

Q & A with Peter Beinart” by David Klion (Jewish Currents)

Peter Beinart's One-State Solution Sounds So Perfect It's Practically Utopian” by Anshel Pfeffer (Haaretz)

Peter Beinhart's betrayal of Liberal Zionism and Israel” by David M. Weinberg (Jerusalem Post)

Peter Beinart was an outspoken advocate of the two-state solution. Now he’s abandoning it.” by Ben Sales (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

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