The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the far-right political party Otzma Yehudit, which has roots in the racist anti-Arab views of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, after Netanyahu invited the party into a marriage of convenience ahead of the April elections. Numerous other American Jewish organizations have also condemned Netanyahu's embrace of the party. Otzma Yehudit calls for "war against the enemies of Israel" and “a Jewish democracy, which protects the values of the nation-state of the Jews as a value that supersedes all universal values.” Our local JCRC issued a condemnation as well.
Netanyahu will be charged with criminal wrongdoing in three separate cases against him, including bribery in the far-reaching Bezeq corruption probe, pending a hearing. The decision marks the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister has been told he faces criminal charges. The prime minister is currently seeking reelection in the April 9 and his legal situation will now be front and center in the campaign.
Israel rejected a UN report that accused its forces of possible war crimes during Gaza border protests last year, calling the report a "politically biased", one-sided resolution. Since March 30, 2018, Israel has been facing violent riots and attacks on the Gaza border, organized and led by Hamas. In May 2018, a "special session" of the UN Human Rights Council set up a commission of inquiry to investigate "alleged violations and abuses of international and human rights law" on the Israel-Gaza border. The report is the result of that commission of inquiry, which Israel has characterized as a "theater of the absurd", and "born in sin". Meanwhile, an IDF probe of the Gaza riots revealed nearly 1,500 rockets have been fired since the protest begun.
Freshman US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar accused Israel hawks of "allegiance to a foreign country," invoking an antisemitic stereotype of dual loyalty, during a town hall meeting Wednesday night. Last month, Omar tweeted that American elected officials’ support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins,” referring to American one-hundred dollar bills. In a follow-up tweet, she said she thought the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC was paying elected officials to back Israel. Her repeated tweets have drawn outrage and condemnation from both sides of the American political aisle and Jewish groups.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Netanyahu for the first time since Syria accidentally shot down a Russian reconnaissance plane in September 2018 while defending against Israeli strikes. The issue of Iran has dominated all of the 11 times the two leaders met, as well as countless military and intelligence contacts between Russia and Israel. This visit was no different. Netanyahu stressed important elements of joint history and praised the contribution of Russian-speaking Jews to what he called “wonderful bilateral relations” between Russia and Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected the first 2019 monthly tax transfer from Israel because Israel slashed the portion designated for financial support to families of militants who are jailed in Israel, a PA minister said. The decision came despite increasing cash flow troubles. Some analysts see potential danger if PA financial troubles mount in the West Bank, where the Authority maintains security cooperation with Israel even as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled for years.
Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC
Shep Englander, CEO, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
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