News from June 22 to June 28

Annexation updates, Mel Gibson antisemitism, and honorable mentions

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Annexation update: 

What’s happening? Nobody seems to be able to agree on whether Israel should annex parts of the West Bank, and if so, how they should do it. Earlier in the week, senior Trump administration officials met to discuss what annexation steps, if any, they would support. According to various reports, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman supports Israel annexing the full 30% of the West Bank laid out in President Trump’s peace plan. He reportedly believes that annexation now would make a peace plan easier because it would “blunt [unrealistic Palestinian demands] for a future state.” However, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, believes that Israel should not annex the full 30% unless it is part of executing the administration’s plan. If Israel were to annex the 30% now, America would no longer be able to use the threat of annexation to coax the Palestinians to the negotiating table, a key aspect of the plan. Deliberations among American leaders are set to continue this week. 

At the same time, Israeli leaders are also divided over how to proceed with annexation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports annexing territory starting on July 1 (when he is eligible to begin the process under the terms of his coalition agreement with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz), but Gantz wants to postpone or limit the measures. Israel’s Speaker of the Knesset, Yariv Levin, supports Netanyahu’s position, and Israel’s Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi, supports Gantz’s views. 

Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that the public disagreements between American officials and Israeli officials are tactics meant to “legalize” annexation. Moreover, Palestinian leaders have stated that they will consider partial and full annexation to be the same. They have also said that If Israel goes through with annexation, they will dissolve the Palestinian Administration and Israel would have to administer the entire West Bank. As an occupying power, Israel would become responsible for providing services to roughly 2.75 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

Is the rest of the world okay with annexation? Definitely not. In fact, many leaders in the United States are opposed to the move. Almost 200 Democratic members of Congress signed onto a letter warning Netanyahu and Gantz not to follow through with annexation. In the letter, they said that annexation would damage America’s relationship with Israel and imperil Israel’s standing with European and Arab partners. Pro-Palestinian groups in the United States and Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza have called for a “day of rage” on Wednesday (July 1). Jordan has also warned of harsh consequences if Israel proceeds with annexation. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have similarly objected. European countries are a mixed bag; Recently, Luxembourg, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Malta, and Finland have been more critical of Israel while Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, Latvia, Cyprus, and Poland have been more supportive of Israel. France, Spain, and Germany are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Their stances on annexation will likely continue the trend. For more on Europe, I highly recommend this week’s further reading!

What to watch for: July 1, the first day that Netanyahu can begin the process of annexing parts of the West Bank, is Wednesday. We’re likely to hear about a major annexation decision before then. Keep an eye out for that. I plan to break down whatever happens next week, so make sure to read next week’s edition!

Further reading:

Winona Ryder says Mel Gibson used antisemitic slurs:

What happened? As part of an interview discussing her career in Hollywood on Monday, actress Winona Ryder said that Mel Gibson had once asked her if she was an “oven dodger,” a slur that refers to equipment used in Nazi concentration camps to kill Jews. Joe Esterhauz, a prominent screenwriter, corroborated Ryder’s account in a podcast last year. Though Ryder says he later apologized for the remark, Gibson’s representatives denied Ryder’s claims and accused her of lying. 

Gibson has long been accused of antisemitism. In 2004, he wrote, produced, and directed a movie called “The Passion of Christ” that, after a protest by New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, 20th Century Fox refused to distribute due to claims that it blamed Jews for the death of Jesus Christ. In the film, Caiphas, a Jewish priest, says, “His blood [is] on us and our children.” The next year, Gibson said he was trying to repair his relationship with the Jewish community and planned to create a Holocaust miniseries for ABC, but it was never made. In 2006, he went on an antisemitic tirade when he was arrested for drunk driving. During his arrest, he said, “F*****g Jews...The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” and asked the police officer if he was a Jew. In 2011, Gibson began developing a movie about the Maccabees, which was ultimately canceled by Warner Bros. Esterhauz, who was writing the script for the film, said that Gibson’s main intention for the movie was to convert Jews to Christianity. Esterhauz also noted that Gibson frequently called Jews “Hebes” and oven dodgers.

Did Ryder say anything else? She mentioned that Gibson’s remarks were not the only time she has experienced antisemitism in Hollywood. According to Ryder, she was once denied a role because she looked “too Jewish.” Ryder has family that was killed during the Holocaust. 

Further reading: (Algemeiner)

Honorable mentions: 

YouTube series addressing 3,000 of Jewish history premiers June 29 by Zachary Keyser (JPost)

The fallout from Eliot Engel’s likely defeat and a look at other primaries by Ron Kampeas (Forward)

Sacha Baron Cohen pranks far-right rally into singing about Soros, Obama and Fauci by Marcy Oster (JTA)

Federal judge blocks New York’s coronavirus attendance limits for religious services by Marcy Oster (JTA)

Brazil’s first Jewish Supreme Court justice is now the high court’s first president by Marcus M. Gilban (JTA)

Charlotte synagogues call for removal of memorial for Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy’s most prominent Jew by Gabe Friedman (JTA)

As historic Jewish neighborhoods were looted, this group sprang into action by Aaron Bandler (Jewish Journal)

The sacking of Long-Bailey shows that, at last, Labour is serious about antisemitism by Jonathan Freedman (The Guardian)

Palestinian Driver Shot Dead After Alleged Car-Ramming on Israeli Police by Reuters (NYT)

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