News from October 5-October 11

Borough Park protests, Israel-Hamas ceasefire, 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.

Jewish journalist assaulted in Borough Park riot:

What happened? Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new set of Coronavirus-related restrictions on New York City neighborhoods, including areas with high ultra-Orthodox Jewish populations. In response to the new rules, hundreds of protestors gathered in Borough Park on Tuesday for a chaotic protest that included a crowd burning masks and a mob beating a Hasidic counter-protestor with rocks (although he was in critical condition, he is recovering). The violent protest was organized by radio host Heshy Tischler, who told a crowd of protestors, “You are my soldiers. We are at war.”

Earlier that day, Tischler published a video on his Twitter accusing Jewish Insider reporter Jacob Kornbluh of being a snitch and calling him a rat. When the protesters returned on Wednesday, Kornbluh, who was reporting on the protests, said that Tischler instructed a crowd to surround him. A group of protesters proceeded to pin Kornbluh against a wall and hit him while yelling insults. Kornbluh managed to escape with the help of the NYPD and community members. 

Kornbluh said that he is okay and that he would press charges against Tischler. The NYPD arrested Tischler last night on charges of inciting a riot and unlawful imprisonment.

How have people reacted? Here are some reactions from high-profile individuals:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: “I saw the video of the attack on Jacob Kornbluh, it’s absolutely unacceptable. Disgusting, really. I mean, here’s a journalist who really cares about doing the work of informing people what’s going on and here’s a mob of people attacking him. It’s just unacceptable. There need to be consequences for that.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the protests “irrational, illogical, [and] ugly.” He also described the violence as “disgusting behavior.”

Representative Jerry Nadler (NY-10): “While this may be a small minority within a small community, it is disgusting and those responsible must be held to account for such violence.”

CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt: “Violence and incitement are inexcusable. Our hearts go out to [Jacob Kornbluh], a mensch and member of the free press. Differences should be settled by exchanges of ideas. The Jewish community must strive for civility and dialogue.”

Representative Max Rose (NY-11): [Jacob Kornbluh] showed tremendous bravery in a dangerous & terrifying situation. We cannot allow violence against journalists or anyone to be tolerated, encouraged, or go unpunished.

Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY-12): “Glad to hear that [Jacob Kornbluh] is okay after being attacked. This violent behavior has no place in our city and I’m deeply disturbed that a journalist was targeted.”

Personal note: Jacob Kornbluh is a terrific reporter who does incredible work for his readers and his local community. As you may know, I frequently cite his articles in News of the Jews (including in the honorable mentions today). I 100% support him, and I encourage you to call out violence against journalists when you see it. On a separate note, please know that these violent protestors, as Representative Nadler said, represent only a small minority of a small community. Avoid painting all ultra-Orthodox Jews with a broad brush; many have gone out of their way to help people during the pandemic. Lastly, be sure to follow CDC recommendations so we can end the pandemic and avoid dangerous situations like this past week’s unrest.

Further reading: https://www.timesofisrael.com/prominent-jewish-journalist-assaulted-at-ultra-orthodox-brooklyn-virus-protest/ (Times of Israel)

Israel and Hamas reportedly reach 6-month ceasefire agreement:

What happened? Last week, Israeli media reported that Israel had agreed to terms for a Qatari-mediated ceasefire with Hamas. According to the reports, Hamas has agreed to stop violently attacking Israel for six months in exchange for 100 million dollars delivered by Qatar. Hamas said Israel would also reportedly “implement projects,” though they did not provide details. This is not the first time Qatar will pay Hamas in exchange for a temporary cease-fire; Qatari officials regularly deliver suitcases full of cash to Hamas to dissuade violence at Israel’s request.

What’s going on here? Hamas is a difficult strategic challenge for Israel. The terror group has large caches of rockets, anti-tank missiles, and mortars, and has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to fire them at civilian population centers within Israel. Accordingly, there is broad consensus in Israel that its Gaza strategy should focus on preventing flare-ups that cost lives and necessitate the use of Israel’s Iron Dome, an expensive missile defense system. Yet, while most agree on the overall goals, many disagree on the tactics. Some argue for a comprehensive campaign in Gaza to find and destroy the weapons systems and terror cells. Others, like those in the current Israeli government, believe that the best way to handle Hamas is to manage the situation rather than attempt to solve the situation. With regard to the ceasefire, Israeli leaders have evidently determined that the national security risk of a Hamas cash windfall is less than the potential damage of a large-scale conflict. There is a certain logic to that approach; by repeatedly signing interim agreements, Israel and Hamas may create behavioral norms that could lead to a long-term truce, all while avoiding violence. 

Further reading: https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/1602423972-report-israel-hamas-on-verge-of-signing-six-month-ceasefire (i24)

Honorable Mentions:

This 102-Year-Old Jewish Grandma Is Going Viral for Voting and It’s Amazing” by Maddy Albert (Kveller)

American Jewish poet Louise Glück wins Nobel Prize in Literature” (JNS) (One of the winners of the Nobel prize in medicine, Harvey J. Alter, is also Jewish)

Israel will oppose any US F-35 sale to Qatar, intelligence minister says” by Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post) (Qatar formally requested to buy the F-35 last week)

North Korea’s massive new missile could help Iran threaten Israel” by Seth Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)

Joaquin Castro pledges to bring Palestinian voices to the Foreign Affairs Committee” by Marc Rod and Jacob Kornbluh (Jewish Insider)

Unholy heat: Data shows Jerusalem’s endless summer may be the fiery new normal” by Joshua Davidovich and Sue Surkes (Times of Israel)

That Jewish fisherman running for U.S. Senate in Alaska is tightening the race” by David Ian Klein (Forward)

Tobia Zevi is a rising star in Rome’s Jewish community. Can he become the city’s next mayor?” by Simone Somekh (JTA)

Samuel L. Jackson joins Israeli filmmaker in docuseries on global slave trade” by Jordan Hoffman (Times of Israel)

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