News Roundup for October 31, 2018

October 31, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Thousands of U.S. Jews Deliver Defiant Message at Pittsburgh Protest, Haaretz

Amir Tibon reports, “On Tuesday evening in Pittsburgh, only a single block separated two parts of the American-Jewish community that seem to have less in common with every passing day. At the Tree of Life synagogue – the site of Saturday’s anti-Semitic terror attack, where 11 congregants were killed by an anti-immigrant shooter – a small group of Jewish advisers and supporters surrounded President Donald Trump. Among those accompanying the president on his condolence visit were his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism in 2009; and Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who grew up in an American-Jewish family and still has a distinct American identity.A block north of the synagogue, thousands of Pittsburgh residents – many of them Jewish – demonstrated against Trump’s visit, which was initiated by a group of local Jewish activists. The demonstrators sang Jewish prayers as they marched through the streets of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, separated from Trump by a heavy police presence.”

Trump’s Pittsburgh trip doesn’t calm the anger — and fear, CNN

Julian Zelizer writes, “President Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh in the wake of the synagogue shooting — during which he placed stones on the 11 Star of David markers outside the synagogue, lit candles, and spent time in the hospital with patients who were injured in the attack — won’t do anything to allay the outrage of those who believe that the President has helped to aggravate our toxic national atmosphere, where white nationalists, anti-Semites, racists, nativists, and Islamophobes have come to believe that their ideas have somehow gained presidential legitimacy. It is not a total surprise that some Jewish activists in Pittsburgh stated that they didn’t want the President to visit the city until he fully denounced white nationalism while several government officials, including the Mayor of Pittsburgh, announced that they would not appear with the President in the grieving city. The reason for this reaction is not just political, as his supporters keep arguing. It is a response to the much deeper questions about the administration’s relationship to the forces of right-wing extremism. There is now an ample body of evidence, from campaign ads to tweets, showing how then-candidate and now-President Trump has repeatedly used keywords and images that carry immense symbolic weight among white nationalist organizations and individuals.”


Israel defends Trump amid synagogue shooting criticism, Associated Press

Israel’s envoy to the memorial ceremonies for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims says it’s “unfair and wrong” to link the tragedy to President Donald Trump. Naftali Bennett, the Israeli minister for diaspora affairs, lauded Trump’s support for Israel and his denunciation of anti-Semitism, saying: “With President Trump, we never have to worry if he has our backs.”

Mike Pence sparks outrage after appearing with “Christian rabbi” in Michigan, Vox

In the wake of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue over the weekend that left 11 people dead, Vice President Mike Pence appeared with a rabbi at a campaign rally in Michigan — but the rabbi was a “Messianic rabbi” who’s part of the Jews for Jesus movement.

U.S. Agency Investigates ‘Taxpayer-Funded Anti-Semitism’ Against George Soros, National Public Radio
The U.S. Agency for Global Media has launched an investigation into an anti-Semitic television segment attacking George Soros that aired on a federally funded Spanish-language broadcaster.

New Mayors Tapped: Preliminary Results of Israeli Local Elections In, Haaretz

The results of Israel’s municipal elections Tuesday are in with Tel Aviv’s long-standing mayor Ron Huldai re-elected for another term, Haifa experiencing a historical upturn electing its first female mayor, and Jerusalem’s race heading into a second round with neither candidate reaching the requisite 40 percent.

Battling Iran in Syria, Israel moves closer to Gulf, i24NEWS

As Israel and Iran clash in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is courting Gulf Arab states at a time when broader policies align against their common rival Tehran. Netanyahu on Thursday held surprise talks with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos in Muscat — accompanied by the head of Mossad, according to Netanyahu’s office — raising Palestinian fears of a normalization of ties.

Israel-Qatar Deal to Transfer Funds to Hamas Officials Underway, Gaza Reports Say, Haaretz

Israel has agreed to allow Qatar to transfer funds to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip to pay the salaries of its civil servants, media outlets in Gaza reported Wednesday.

Opinion and Analysis

I’m Israeli And I’m Ashamed My Government Sent Naftali Bennett To Comfort Pittsburgh Jews, Forward

Eetta Prince-Gibson writes, “In the wake of the massacre that led 11 dead in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Trump is making his way there despite 26,000 Jews who signed a petition that he stay away. He’s not the only unwelcome politician to use the tragedy for a photo-op. The State of Israel sent Education and Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett as the representative of the Israeli government to console the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. Bennett, a divisive politician representing the extremist settler movement, was sent in the name of all Israelis. And so I, as an Israeli Jew, cannot be silent, even as I mourn and rage….The murderer was motivated by his hatred of Jews and refugees, and he singled out HIAS, the venerable Jewish refugee organization, as the symbol of both. He attacked Jews as Jews, but also as the defenders of the weak, the stranger, the poor, the orphan, and the immigrant. And whatever their actual beliefs, the Jews in Pittsburg were murdered as representatives of those values, handed down to us at Sinai. But Bennett is no believer in these values. He supports the deportation of African asylum-seekers in Israel and openly pressured Netanyahu to cancel a deal that would have allowed thousands of them to stay in the country. On Sunday, the government [decided] that Congolese citizens in Israel have until January 5, 2019, to leave Israel, or face ‘enforcement measures.’”

Donald Trump borrows from the old tricks of fascism, Guardian

Timothy Snyder writes, “Trump and some of his supporters mount a strategy of deterrence by narcissism: if you note our debts to fascism, we will up the pitch of the whining. Thus Trump can base his rhetoric on the fascist idea of us and them, lead fascist chants at rallies, encourage his supporters to use violence, praise a politician who attacked a journalist, muse that Hillary Clinton should be assassinated, denigrate the intelligence of African Americans, associate migrants with criminality, run an antisemitic advertisement, spread the Nazi trope of Jews as ‘globalists’, and endorse the anti-Semitic idea that the Jewish financier George Soros is responsible for political opposition – but he and his followers will puff chests and swell sinuses if anyone points this out.”