Jewish leaders outraged by Trump saying Jews disloyal if they vote for Democrats



Jewish leaders outraged by Trump saying Jews disloyal if they vote for Democrats

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats, saying “it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Trump was speaking to the press in the Oval Office about two Democratic congresswomen barred from entering Israel over their involvement in the movement to end international support for the country because of its policies toward Palestinians.
“Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this — even three years ago — of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people — I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation,” Trump added. “Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the State of Israel?”
He added, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
The remark led critics to argue the President was dabbling in the anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty,” which questions the loyalty of Jewish citizens.
“It’s unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be ‘disloyal’ to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we’ve said before, it’s possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims. It’s long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted later Tuesday.
Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called the comments “yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism.”
“If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being ‘loyal’ to him, then Trump needs a reality check. We live in a democracy, and Jewish support for the Republican Party has been halved in the past four years,” Soifer added.
J Street, a liberal advocacy group focused on reaching a resolution between Israel and the Palestinian territories, said in a statement, “It is dangerous and shameful for President Trump to attack the large majority of the American Jewish community as unintelligent and ‘disloyal.’ “
The President has suggested that Jewish Americans, who are traditionally staunch supporters of the Democratic Party, are leaving it. But polling suggests that Jewish Americans continue overwhelmingly to be Democrats and opposed to Trump.
Jewish Americans voted for the Democratic Party by about a 3:1 margin in the 2018 midterm elections. And Jewish Americans are far more likely to call themselves Democrats than Republicans.
Trump has previously suggested Jewish Americans have a dual loyalty to Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, including when he told the Republican Jewish Coalition in April that Netanyahu was “your prime minister.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition defended Trump’s statement on Tuesday, tweeting, “President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion.”
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

Trash For Brains Trump The Idiot-in Chief speaks again



Trump undercuts plea for unity with return to political attacks

(CNN)President Donald Trump called for unity during a prepared White House address in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend, but ahead of his trip to visit the communities impacted by gun violence, the consoler-in-chief was back to wedging a partisan divide on Twitter and in front of cameras.

On Tuesday ahead of the President’s trip to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham suggested that the President would rise above the rhetoric. She tweeted that the visit would “be about honoring victims, comforting communities, and thanking first responders & medical professionals for their heroic actions.”
“President @realDonaldTrump is a true leader doing what’s right for this nation,” she continued.
Overnight, however, Trump’s teleprompter-prepared talking points fell by the wayside, and Trump returned to targeting Democrats, and in comments to reporters Wednesday morning, he again used the El Paso attacks to call for stronger immigration laws.
Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, the President began attacking his political opponents, in a tit-for-tat response reminiscent of the language he used following deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, when he equally divvied up blame to white supremacist groups and what he called the “alt-left.”
“Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!” Trump tweeted shortly after midnight.
Trump, in prepared remarks Monday, called on the nation to condemn racism and white supremacy, but stopped short of acknowledging his own divisive rhetoric, and Democrats, including the President’s opponents in 2020, seized on the fact that the alleged shooter in El Paso, is believed to have authored a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto. They say Trump’s rhetoric was reflected in the language of the document.
By daybreak Wednesday, Trump was also tweeting about the Dayton shooter “supporting political figures like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and ANTIFA,” despite the fact authorities have not determined a political motivation for the perpetrator.
A Twitter account that appears to belong to the Dayton gunman retweeted extreme left-wing and anti-police posts, as well as tweets supporting Antifa, or anti-fascist, protesters. The account retweeted messages supporting Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as posts against ICE agents, including one that said, “these people are monsters,” and multiple posts condemning police, and supporting Antifa protesters.
But while the El Paso gunman posted a manifesto with a clear ideology that motivated his shooting that was tied to similar themes that the President has espoused, the Dayton shooter, based on what the FBI has said, has not suggested a political motivation. Investigators described it as a fixation on violence and killing.
The President, for his part, claimed Wednesday that he’s toned his rhetoric down.
He told reporters ahead of his visit Ohio and Texas, “We have toned it down. We’ve been getting hit left and right from everybody … (including) a couple of people from Texas, political people from Texas that aren’t doing very well,” he said.
“I don’t think it works because I would like to stay out of the political fray,” he continued.
Trump said “tried to stay out” of politically dividing aspects of the mass shooting which happened over the weekend, even though he went after O’Rourke, Warren and Sanders on Twitter hours beforehand.
He also dredged up the Dayton shooter’s social media history again.
“My critics are political people. They’re trying to make points. In many cases, they’re running for President and they’re very low in the polls. A couple of them in particular very low in the polls. If you look at Dayton, that was a person who supported, I guess you would say, Bernie Sanders, I understood, Antifa, I understood, Elizabeth Warren, I understood — had nothing to do with President Trump,” Trump said.
Trump also said he doesn’t believe his rhetoric causes violence.
“No, I don’t think my rhetoric has at all. My rhetoric brings people together,” he told reporters.
Asked whether he regrets using the term “invasion” to describe immigrants coming into the US illegally, Trump responded, “I think that illegal immigration is a terrible thing for this country. I think you have to come in legally. Ideally you have to come in through merit.”
“We need people coming in because we have many companies coming into our county — they’re pouring in. And I think illegal immigration is a very bad thing for our country. I think open borders are a very bad thing for our country, and we’re stopping. We’re building a wall right now. … We need strong immigration laws. But we want to allow millions of people to come in because we need them,” he continued.

Letter From Jerusalem



Letter From Jerusalem 

Confronting cover ups

By Raf Sanchez Jerusalem Correspondent


(Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP)

Israeli police are recommending criminal charges against Yaakov Litzman, an Israeli minister and a leader in one of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties which Netanyahu depends on for his majority.

For those keeping track: four Israeli ministers, including Netanyahu, are now facing potential charges for an assortment of alleged crimes.

But the allegations against Litzman’s case are particularly bleak.

He is accused of misusing his office to try to protect a former headmistress who allegedly sexually abused children at an ultra-Orthodox school in Australia.

The story begins in Melbourne in the early 2000s at a school for the deeply insular Jewish community known as Adass Israel.

The school’s headmistress, Malka Leifer, is alleged to have abused at least eight young girls. When the allegations against Leifer surfaced in 2008, senior members of the community did not turn her in to the police. Instead, they helped her flee Australia and escape to Israel.

Australia has been seeking Leifer’s extradition since 2014 on 74 counts of sexual abuse. But Israeli courts have engaged in a seemingly-endless cycle of hearings about whether to send her back.

Litzman, the deputy health minister, is accused of pressuring health officials into saying Leifer was not mentally fit to be extradited. He denies the charge.

The case casts a harsh spotlight on a sensitive issue: the cover up of child abuse within some ultra-Orthodox communities.

There is no evidence to suggest that Haredi children are abused at a higher rate than children in other religious groups. And cover ups are certainly not unique to the ultra-Orthodox: look at the decades of hidden abuse in the Catholic church.

But there are elements of Haredi culture that seem to give rise to shielding abusers. The most important is a strong cultural taboo against turning a fellow Jew over to secular authorities.

That seems to have been the instinct at work in the Leifer case and in many others both in Israel and abroad.

A recent study found that people who left the Haredi community were more likely to have been abused than the general population – suggesting that abuse may be driving people out of the faith.

The good news is that in recent years there has been a proliferation of Jewish groups trying to combat abuse in Orthodox communities.

Among them is Amudim, a New York group that recently put out an ad challenging the cover up culture. “Abuse thrives on denial and secrecy,” the ad reads.

The Litzman case will be a chance to see if that culture can be challenged when it allegedly exists at the top of the Israeli government.

I welcome your feedback at [email protected] and @rafsanchez.

Israel: liberal US Jews say Trump fueling white nationalism



After El Paso massacre, liberal US Jews say Trump fueling white nationalism

Reform leader accuses president of emboldening mass shooters by ‘demonizing asylum seekers and immigrants’

From left, Melody Stout, Hannah Payan, Aaliyah Alba, Sherie Gramlich and Laura Barrios comfort each other during a vigil for victims of the shooting August  3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

From left, Melody Stout, Hannah Payan, Aaliyah Alba, Sherie Gramlich and Laura Barrios comfort each other during a vigil for victims of the shooting August 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

WASHINGTON — Liberal American Jewish leaders, fuming at another mass shooting allegedly carried out by a white supremacist, took US President Donald Trump to task on Sunday, saying he had fueled xenophobia and division in the country for three years, while failing to press for stricter gun laws.

Their condemnations came after a 21-year-old gunman, armed with a powerful rifle, walked into a crowded Walmart on Saturday in El Paso, Texas — a majority Hispanic city on the border with Mexico — and opened fire. Authorities identified the assailant as Patrick Crusius from Dallas, who stalked shoppers in the aisles of the retail giant as he riddled them with bullets, leaving at least 20 people dead and another 26 wounded.

Crusius is suspected of being the author of a manifesto posted online before the attack, in which he said was responding to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in a statement that the shooter was reciting language frequently used by Trump — a sign that his influence was evident in the motivation for the attack.

“The El Paso killer was a white supremacist who wrote a ‘send them back’ manifesto, echoing the words of President Trump,” Soifer said. “Trump is responsible for fueling a fire of xenophobia and hatred in our country, and Republicans are responsible for allowing it to occur.”

Pallbearers carry the casket of Poway synagogue shooting victim Lori Gilbert-Kaye during a graveside service on April 29, 2019, in San Diego, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

Over the past year, two other mass shootings by white supremacists were preceded by similar manifestos — one written by John Earnest before the Poway synagogue shooting in April, and one authored by Brenton Tarrant before he opened fire on two mosques in New Zealand in March, killing 50 people.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, noted that the release of a manifesto before Saturday’s attack fit the same pattern.

“We have documented a rise in extremist activity, both online and in our communities,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “As with too many of these incidents, our experts have again been reviewing the apparent manifesto of an alleged shooter, as well as other elements of his online footprint, to evaluate potential extremist ties.”

Greenblatt went on to say that, if police confirm the manifesto’s authenticity, it will make the El Paso attack one of the deadliest acts of domestic terrorism in modern American history.

“If the suspect is the author of the manifesto, this latest act of domestic terrorism will be, according to the ADL’s Center on Extremism’s records, the third deadliest act of violence by a domestic extremist in over 50 years, and the second deadliest act of violence by a right-wing extremist in the same span, second only to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing,” he added.

US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on August 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump has been frequently criticized for his tacit welcoming of support from white nationalists. During the 2016 campaign, he refused to immediately reject the support of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

As president, he likewise refused to immediately condemn neo-Nazis and Klan members who marched in Charlottesville in August 2017, saying that “very fine people” were marching alongside them.

Most recently, he told four freshmen congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from. All four are American citizens, and three of them were born in the United States.

He has also implemented immigration policies that have been broadly condemned as inhumane — including the family separation policy of splitting up parents from their children at the border — to deter immigrants and asylum seekers from entering the country.

After the El Paso attack, Rick Jacobs, who heads the Union for Reform Judaism, lamented the inaction of politicians to effectuate stronger gun-safety measures.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, addressing delegates at its 2017 Biennial in Boston, December 7, 2017. (Courtesy of the Union for Reform Judaism/via JTA)

“It is not enough for elected officials to muster their ‘thoughts and prayers,’” he said in a statement Saturday. “Like millions of Americans I’m sick of the pathetic excuses offered by too many lawmakers for not passing strong and effective common sense gun laws.”

He then directed his indignation toward Trump. “And if we are to call on the leaders of our nation to address this epidemic of hate, a goal that, hopefully, almost all Americans cherish, we must ask: When will this president stop demonizing asylum seekers and immigrants, which serves to embolden those like today’s shooter?”


Israel: The lost moral compass of Israeli politics



The lost moral compass of Israeli politics

Back in 1984, the Knesset rejected Meir Kahane’s racist views; now, we’re at risk of a government that will welcome them, for a few thousand votes
The Jewish Home party votes on a pre-election alliance with Otzma Yehudit in Petah Tikva, February 20, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The Jewish Home party votes on a pre-election alliance with Otzma Yehudit in Petah Tikva, February 20, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Israel’s political parties submitted their lists of candidates to the Central Elections Committee in the Knesset Thursday night. Most of the negotiations and mergers leading up to the event were long-since done-deals. So it was largely a mundane affair. One unresolved drama, however, captured the attention of the news channels to the very end. Would the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) party accept the No. 8 position offered by Ayelet Shaked’s new United Right party?

Amid the endless speculation by pundits and commentators, it seems that the only really important question went unasked: How did it come to be that Israel’s prime minister and the Likud party, along with the entire religious Zionist establishment (that rarely agree about anything), were united in their commitment to see that a Kahanist, bigoted, morally repugnant Knesset party once again be integrated into Israel’s political mainstream?

It’s not like there is any real question about what Otzma Yehudit stands for. The party’s website is quite open about the programs it proposes: The party seeks to establish a new agency to expedite the removal of “Israel’s enemies from the land of Israel”;  It would reestablish full Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount (presumably removing the Muslim presence there); Jewish law would be integrated into the country’s legal system; Jewish settlement would be encouraged in all parts of the Land of Israel; it would wage war on abortion; the disturbing list goes on and on. Otzma Yehudit’s leadership remains faithful to the racist tenants of the late Meir Kahane – who called for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and was arrested over 60 times for his vulgar, provocative, confrontational actions against Arabs.

Of course in the end, the deal with the United Right didn’t happen. Sadly, it wasn’t because of principals or irresolvable policy differences: Offered the No. 8 and 13 spots on the United Right’s list, Otzma Yehudit’s leader Itamar Ben Gvir held out for the No. 5 spot, claiming his many supporters would not come out and vote for him in such a lowly position.

After the party opted to run independently, the press debated whether this gamble would go down as foolhardy greediness or political savvy. (Recent polls suggest that the party still falls just short of the electoral threshold.) No one asked why a new party, which purports to combine the high ethical standards and tolerance of iconic Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook with the civility of the liberal right-wing was even willing to talk to a party that calls for deportation of innocent people due to their ethnicity.

Jewish texts have always harbored isolated racist passages, dismissive of non-Jewish people and their rights. Luckily the more progressive voices in Jewish tradition have always been predominant. After all, the book of Leviticus commands one law for Jewish and non-Jewish citizens; innumerable biblical proscriptions enjoin the people of Israel to be particularly solicitous to the non-Jewish citizen (“ger”) – reminding us that the Israelites were also strangers in Egypt who faced oppression. Related debates in Jewish halacha have been largely resolved – such as the ruling that “Jewish doctors can violate the Sabbath” — refers to treatment of both Jewish and non-Jewish patients. This is the Judaism that is manifested in Israel’s political culture since the adoption of the country’s Declaration of Independence.

Otzma Yehudit lies far beyond this broad consensus. Its detestation of Arabs is symbolized by party head Ben Gvir’s decision to hang a portrait of Baruch Goldstein in his living room.  (On the morning of Purim 1994, Goldstein, a physician and disciple of Kahane, walked unprovoked into a mosque adjacent to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and opened fire. He killed 29 and wounded 125 unarmed Muslims before being beaten to death by the survivors.)

When asked if, in his new efforts to seek broader acceptance, he would take the photo down, Ben Gvir responded characteristically: “When Ahmed Tibi (the Arab MK) takes down his photo of Arafat, I’ll take down my photo of Dr. Goldstein.” Since when has individual or collective morality involved emulating the actions of adversaries?

In any self-respecting democracy, a party head who venerates a mass murderer unrepentantly would be unimaginable – or at the very least, such a figure would find himself to be a total outcast – even among the furthest right parties. But Likud and religious Zionists have not only come to accept Ben Gvir’s perspective as legitimate, they also embrace it as a valuable political asset.

Questioned in the press, mainstream religious representatives admit that they are not crazy about the Otzma Yehudit party, which they refer to as “errant weeds within their camp.” But they have come to believe that Ben Gvir and his party have a definite place among the religious right. They point to the large number of his supporters who voted for the United Right party, formerly the Union of Right-Wing Parties, in the last elections, when he was on its slate. That support presumably enabled the party to pass the 3.25 percent electoral threshold level.  Apparently, it is simply too attractive a political asset to forego.

Some of the religious party supporters claimed that they are not responsible for granting Ben Gvir and Jewish racism its new kosher status. Rather they blame the media for the new legitimacy the racist party enjoyed. Indeed, during the run-up to the submission of the Knesset lists this week, there wasn’t a television station or radio talk show that didn’t seek out the ever colorful comments of the amiable Ben Gvir. Ayelet Shaked, who claims to represent a secular, liberal ideology, was actually emphatic about her interest in his joining the party. She even offered Ben Gvir a position of “deputy speaker of the Knesset” if he would accept the No. 8 spot on her slate as it had become crowded due to the merger of the two parties.

There was a time when it was different. When Meir Kahane first was elected to the Knesset, the entire body politic reacted with abhorrence. When the racist rabbi would go to the parliament’s rostrum to speak, the other 119 Knesset members would simply walk out. In those days, not so long ago, there was a shared level of decency among all factions in the parliament that was non-negotiable. Back then, the prime minister did not try to rationalize support for the ugliest expressions of Israeli racism. No self-respecting political party would sell its soul for the proverbial bowl of lentils and a few thousand votes.

In the April elections, one of the bill-board campaigns run by the Blue and White party posed a question: Would the country pick “Am Yisrael Hai” (Israel lives) or “Kahane Hai”? (Kahane lives) Some people wondered if this was a false dichotomy – just the usual election bombastic populism. It wasn’t. The truth is that only six months ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a place to the religious party on his own Likud list in return for it integrating the neo-Kahanists into its national religious slate.

For context about what this means, it is well to look to the United States for a comparison.  There probably was no more defining, traumatic moment in the ever trying days of the Trump administration than the president’s elusive response to the White Supremacist, KKL demonstrators whose actions led to the murder of non-violent protester, Heather Heyer.  “There are very fine people on both sides,” he shrugged, exonerating the darkest corners of the American political spectrum. It is hard to see how Israel’s prime minister and right-wing parties are not guilty of the same sort of calculated, nihilistic, equivocation.

I remember circulating a petition in my North Carolina high school, asking that the United States quit the United Nations, after the General Assembly called “Zionism” – “Racism.” It was clear to me then, that Israel had adopted the best of Jewish tradition – which welcomed its minorities, giving them equal political, social, cultural and economic rights. Today, it seems that a significant part of the electorate believes otherwise. Or maybe their leaders simply care more about staying in power.

The elections in September will indicate just how many Israelis are willing to forego their commitment to the principles of democracy that ensure a sense of belonging for all citizens in the Jewish state. The elections this September will determine whether we offer Israel’s minorities the same respect, status and security that we would expect for Jews wherever they live around the world. It is a vote about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of racism. In short, the elections this September are about saving the soul of Israel and making it a country we can be proud of once again.

Professor Alon Tal, is the chair of the Tel Aviv University Department of Public Policy and a veteran environmental activist.

Yes, we can balance religious freedom and respect for tradition

Just because Blue and White is a centrist party does not mean it is timid, wishy-washy, or paralyzed by its moderate inclinations
Anat Hoffman, director of Women of the Wall, holds a Torah scroll at the Western Wall, November 2, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Illustrative. Anat Hoffman, director of Women of the Wall, holds a Torah scroll at the Western Wall, November 2, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

In recent years, Judaism seems to be relentlessly tearing Israeli society apart. The growing enmity between Israel’s religious and secular tribes threatens the very solidarity on which the Jewish State has always relied on to survive. Religious intolerance — and the backlash it engenders — constitute the proximate cause for the unprecedented failure to form a coalition after the April election. We desperately need to change the dynamics.

Sadly, extremists and cynical politicians have hijacked the debate, leaving many Israelis despairing. It is time that fresh, responsible, Zionist leadership offer new thinking about what the elusive balance between a Jewish and a free society should look like.

Yes, the upcoming elections are about accountability for an unapologetically corrupt prime minister; the continued independence of Israel’s courts; and preventing the annexation of 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. But they are also very much about whether Jewish citizens will enjoy a healthy, open, tolerant — Jewish society. That’s why it is time for old formulas and unsatisfactory status quos for life in a “Jewish and Democratic” state to give way to a better national strategy.

For me, the most compelling part of the Blue and White party’s vision may be its blueprint for changing the relationship between religion and state — a relationship which leaves so many Israelis dissatisfied and resentful. Rather than accepting a state that suffocates and alienates its citizens, the party insists on giving the Jewish public the freedom to celebrate its colorful cultural and religious heritage .

Blue and White — presently the largest party in the Knesset — by design brings together leaders from society’s disparate tribes and ideologies. From this religious diversity, a shared formula has emerged that points the country towards a healthier path forward. I believe the party’s platform offers Israel the best chance for a fresh start that both respects citizens’ religious freedom and their traditions.

Sadly, in recent years, election campaigns drift toward the lowest common denominator and the press almost systematically avoids reporting any substantive discourse. Indeed, most of the public has little idea what the parties actually believe. So for those who care to hear about what policies should govern Jewish life in Israel, here are five of the key changes that Blue and White would make:

    1. A more meaningful role for women in state-sponsored Jewish programs: The Blue and White platform calls for granting equal representation to women on state-sponsored Jewish institutions (e.g., local religious councils). With a few exceptions, for all of Israel’s history, women have essentially been disqualified. To the extent that the state subsidizes Torah Study – it should offer equal support for women to learn about Jewish tradition.
    2. A pluralistic approach to public observance of Sabbath: In a multi-cultural society, it makes absolutely no sense to force communities to toe a unilateral, religious line. A day of rest is one of Judaism’s greatest contributions to humanity and surely it needs to be reflected in the official machinations of a Jewish state. But in places where most residents enjoy cultural events and driving as part of their Sabbath experience, it is simply wrong to outlaw personal enrichment, entertainment and basic mobility.

For arcane historic reasons, towns like Haifa have public transport on Shabbat. Surely this hasn’t undermined the quality of religious life for its many Orthodox residents. Sabbath observance should not be imposed by a central government based on coalition deals. Rather, it should be a decision that reflects a community’s values and priorities. If the vast majority of people in Ramat Gan decides that public transportation and theater on the Sabbath improves their quality of life it, proscribing it is ill-advised. On the other hand, an Orthodox city, like neighboring Bnei Brak should be able to prohibit buses and businesses on the Sabbath, if this constitutes the predominant local sentiment.

3. Allowing civil marriages: Israelis’ disenchantment with the Rabbinate’s heavy-handed oversight of weddings has led to an increasing percentage of the population – including many Orthodox Jews – to opt out, conducting their nuptials outside the confines of the official religious establishment. With a significant non-Jewish population interacting with Jewish Israelis’ across society, the historic ban on marriage between Israelis of different persuasions is deemed by many couples as little more than racism. These policies serve to foster animosity towards the magical elegance of traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies. Blue and White calls for permitting the so-called “Brit HaZiguit” – essentially civil weddings – for heterosexual (and same sex) couples. Ironically, by granting more options and leniency, an open approach promises to actually help many Israelis find their way back to time-honored, but far more consequential and creative matrimonial rituals.

4. Granting the many streams in Judaism access to Western Wall: The cancellation of the painstakingly negotiated “Western Wall” compromise due to the opposition of a small Haredi minority, was a low point in the past government’s abysmal management of religion and state. Not only does it constitute a dismissive insult to the majority of affiliated Jews around the world, and their ability to access Judaism’s holiest site. It also taught that religious extremism and intolerance pays. It implicitly supports cynics who believe that the different factions that make up Israeli society will never be able to get to “Yes.” But the fact is, that the vast majority of Israel’s competing interests had already found common ground.

Allowing for egalitarian prayer at the Robinson’s Arch section of the Western Wall makes sense and confirms that there has never been a single way for Jews to seek spiritual inspiration and communication with the Almighty. As Benny Gantz explained at this year’s AIPAC convention: “As a proud owner of a red beret, worn by the liberators of the Kotel I can tell you with confidence that the Western Wall is long enough to accommodate everyone. Everyone.”

5. An end to religious compulsion: Yair Lapid for some time has explained why he does not support separation of church and state in Israel. When the best of Jewish tradition informs public life, it makes life more meaningful. But wishing to live in a country with a Jewish character does not mean that people should be forced to live according to the narrow confines of Halacha. Indeed, he argues that until pork was specifically prohibited – most Israelis never touched traif. As long as there was no formal ban on eating bread at Passover, most Israelis were perfectly happy eating Matzah during the festival. Ironically, once laws were passed and the long arm of government intervention reached people’s plates, it became a matter of principal and many Israelis adopted contrarian behavior.

Lapid argues that Israel’s powerful solidarity in refraining from driving on Yom Kippur is explained by the same rationale. Israel has not yet banned driving on Yom Kippur – and so secular Israelis are just fine with being respectfully asked to honor the Holiest day on the Jewish calendar. This is the spirit that the country needs to embrace. That’s why the Blue and White platform calls for a complete reform in the way the country oversees Kashrut: calling for transparency and openness for those who want supervision. The same is true for conversions which need to be welcoming and accessible, giving potential converts a rich menu of different, local programs, based on the Jewish tradition that inspires them.

Let’s face it: the status quo upon which much of Israel’s religious policies are still based was a political exigency which David Ben-Gurion was forced to accept over 72 years ago. In the lead up to the United Nations debate over establishing a Jewish state, Ben-Gurion sought to ensure that Zionists and their political allies around the world not face extremist ultra- Orthodox opposition at the UN. The compromise may have served a tactical purpose at the time, and subsequently offered a modicum of societal stability. But in recent years, the status quo mostly creates acrimony among the secular and traditional Israeli majority who resent the central government’s imposition on matters of conscience.

This can be fixed. It doesn’t mean that the Sabbath shouldn’t be venerated as a national day of rest and recreation. It doesn’t mean that Jewish heritage and the wealth of meaningful messages and traditions it contains that should be ignored in the spirit and policies of the Third Jewish Commonwealth. But it does mean that by offering Israelis more freedom on matters of conscience, they will be more able to embrace the beauty and wisdom of their heritage.

Some people assume that as a centrist party, Blue and White by definition must be a timid, wishy-washy political player, paralyzed by its moderate inclinations. That’s simply untrue. Blue and White reminds us that most of Israelis actually are able to agree about how to live together harmoniously, even in the controversial arena of religion. A party, whose leadership is made of secular, Orthodox, traditional and even Haredi leaders has both the stature and culture of tolerance to take bold steps to restore our enthusiasm for living in a Jewish homeland — along with respect and solidarity for the rich, diverse, social mosaic that makes up modern Israel.

Professor Alon Tal, is the chair of the Tel Aviv University Department of Public Policy and a veteran environmental activist.

Brazil: Dallagnol planned attack on STF president



Dallagnol planned attack on STF president

New revelations from The Intercept Brazil website published on Thursday morning show that Attorney Deltan Dallagnol sparked an attack on the Supreme Court President, Dias Toffoli, in 2016, when Toffoli was seen by Operation Lava Jato as an opponent willing to stop his advance

Deltan Dallagnol
Deltan Dallagnol (Photo: Fernando Frazão / Brazil Agency)

247 – New revelations from The Intercept Brazil website published on the morning of Thursday (1/8) show that Prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol has sparked an attack on the Supreme Court President, Dias Toffoli. 

In 2016, Dallagnol encouraged colleagues in Brasilia and Curitiba to investigate the minister; At that time – says the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo , Toffoli was seen by Operation Lava Jato as an opponent willing to curb his advance. 

Deltan, coordinator of the Lava Jato task force in Curitiba, sought information about the personal finances of Toffoli and his wife and evidence linking them to contractors involved with the corruption at Petrobras.  

On July 13, 2016, Deltan consulted with prosecutors who were negotiating with the company. “Dear OAS, do you have the question of Toffoli’s suit?” He asked the group they were using at Telegram. “Not to my knowledge,” said prosecutor Sérgio Bruno Cabral Fernandes, from Brasilia. “We have to see how to approach this issue. With caution.”  

It is yet another illegality of the prosecutor, which comes to light by Vaza Jato, as STF ministers cannot be investigated by first instance prosecutors such as Deltan and the other task force members.

UK Ambassador to the US calls Trump Inept, Insecure and Incompetent



Diplomatic cables sent from the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States back to London describe President Donald Trump as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent,” a UK government official confirmed Saturday to CNN.

The leak could cause serious diplomatic damage between the two “special relationship” allies.
While foreign envoys of all nations are often candid in classified dispatches back home, there are periodic episodes when such assessments leak, causing great political embarrassment. Months of efforts by the ambassador, Kim Darroch and his diplomats to build ties and trust with Trump and his political acolytes will be undermined.
The cables were leaked to and first published by the Daily Mail.
Darroch used secret cables and briefing notes to warn the UK government that Trump’s “career could end in disgrace,” and described conflicts within the White House as “knife fights,” according to the Daily Mail.
A UK government source told CNN the memos described in the Daily Mail story are genuine.
The Daily Mail says the memos span the period between 2017 to present day, covering everything from Trump’s foreign policy to his 2020 reelection plans.
In one memo dated June 22, according to the Daily Mail, Darroch questioned Trump’s claim that he pulled back from retaliating against Iran last month after the downing of a US drone because the President was told at the last minute that US air strikes could kill 150 Iranians.
He also said in a cable to the Foreign Commonwealth Office that while he believed Trump can’t afford to lose much support, he thinks there’s still a “credible path” for his reelection.
The White House told CNN it had no comment on the story.
The leaked cables come at a sensitive time in UK politics with Conservative Party members currently electing a new prime minister to succeed Theresa May, who was effectively toppled by her own members of Parliament for failing to deliver on her country’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union.
“The British public would expect our Ambassadors to provide Ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country. Their views are not necessarily the views of Ministers or indeed the government. But we pay them to be candid. Just as the US Ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities,” a statement from the British FCO said.
“Of course we would expect such advice to be handled by Ministers and civil servants in the right way and it’s important that our Ambassadors can offer their advice and for it remain confidential. Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt that these will withstand such mischievous behaviour,” the statement continued.
The favorite for the job, Boris Johnson, is seen as likely to seek to forge a much closer relationship to Trump than May, who made strenuous efforts to court the President and developed a respectful relationship but never really bonded with him politically. If it leaves the EU, Britain will be seeking to seal a bilateral trade deal with the US and Trump is expected to drive a hard bargain. So there will be speculation that the leak of Darroch’s memos was a politically motivated act by someone in London to clear space in Washington for an outspokenly pro-Brexit ambassador.
Darroch also used to work as national security adviser to former British Prime Minister David Cameron and as a top UK representative to the EU, so although he’s a career diplomat, he is not seen as philosophically aligned with the crowd of hardcore Brexiteers expected to take over 10 Downing Street.
Johnson is unpredictable, politically incorrect, a populist and deeply critical of the EU and is often accused of blurring facts — traits which he shares with Trump.
There is so far no reaction from the President’s Twitter feed.
But Trump has never felt constrained from criticizing the British government.
Several times, he has embarrassed May after criticizing her handling of Brexit negotiations. He plunged into Britain’s internal affairs in June by openly rooting for various Conservative candidates in the leadership elections. And he has waged a long-running feud with London’s mayor Sadiq Khan.
Trump also raised some eyebrows in the UK by repeatedly praising Nigel Farage, one of the most prominent campaigners for Brexit.
Trump has in the past suggested Farage, whom he called “a friend of mine,” should become the UK ambassador to the US. That idea was quickly ruled out by Downing Street.
Farage rushed to Trump’s defense on Sunday, tweeting: “Kim Darroch is totally unsuitable for the job and the sooner he is gone the better.”
Darroch had been riding high on the success of Trump’s trip to the UK in June which largely went off without a hitch. His position with the Trump administration however now looks difficult at best. Though his memos are deeply sensitive given the source, the unflattering depiction of the Trump White House is one that will be recognizable to readers of US media outlets.
This story has been updated with additional developments and context.

A New Cannabis Survey Reveals the No. 1 Legalization Hurdle



A New Cannabis Survey Reveals the No. 1 Legalization Hurdle

Despite budding public support for marijuana, cannabis could remain illegal in the U.S. for a long time to come.

Jul 6, 2019 at 9:06AM
As recently as a decade ago, marijuana was considered to be a taboo topic. Politicians skirted the issue if ever questioned, and Americans mostly avoided the discussion of what was largely an illicit drug throughout the United States.

But a lot has changed in a decade. Today, two-thirds of the country have given the green light to medical marijuana, and Illinois recently became the 11th state to OK adult-use marijuana. Recreational sales will commence in the Land of Lincoln on Jan. 1, 2020. We’ve also witnessed a number of politicians openly discuss, and perhaps even support, marijuana reform at the federal level.

So, if so much has changed, at least among the public and at the state level, why hasn’t the government shifted its stance on marijuana at the federal level? A recent poll from CBS News reveals the key insight that’s holding the industry back.

A black silhouette of the U.S. partially filled in with cannabis baggies, rolled joints, and a scale.


Support for legalization hits an all-time high in this annual survey

In April, just ahead of 4/20 (April 20), a celebrated day among the cannabis community, CBS News released its now-annual survey that outlines how the public perceives marijuana. When asking if respondents favored the idea of legal marijuana use, an all-time record 65% were in support, which is up 6 percentage points from April 2018, and 20 percentage points from April 2013. This result more or less jibes with national pollster Gallup’s results, which showed 66% support for legalization in its October 2018 survey.

Among the findings, CBS News found that, for the first time ever in its polling, a majority of Republicans supported legalization (56%). However, as has been the case for some time now, seniors aged 65 and up were still on the fence about legalization, with just 49% in support of such an idea. Comparatively, 72% of young adults aged 18 to 34 were in favor of legalization, along with 72% of self-identified Democrats.

One of the primary reasons marijuana has been growing in popularity is that most Americans view it as a positive for the local economy. Just over half of those people polled (52%) suggested that cannabis could be an economic positive, compared to just 15% who viewed it as a negative for the local economy. The remainder of those polled foresaw little or no economic effect.

Furthermore, exactly half of all people polled felt that legalizing marijuana use would have “not much effect” on the number of violent crimes committed. Comparatively, 20% expected a decrease, while 26% forecast an increase in violent crimes with increased cannabis use.

A row of voting booths with pamphlets attached.


Marijuana isn’t viewed as a political game changer

Each and every one of these data points would appear to be a selling point for federal reform. Americans overwhelmingly favor legalization, believe it’s helping their local economies, and don’t think cannabis use will lead to more violent crimes. And yet, it remains an illicit substance at the federal level.

The reason? According to the CBS News poll, 56% of Americans questioned said their presidential candidate’s support for legal marijuana wouldn’t make a difference in their vote. Meanwhile, 21% suggested they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who supports legalizing weed, with an equal 21% less likely to vote for a candidate who supports legalizing pot. Put in another context, a majority of the public may have an opinion on whether they believe cannabis should be legal or not, but the stance their candidate takes won’t be enough to sway their vote.

A 2018 survey from the independent Quinnipiac University yielded a very similar finding. Quinnipiac posed the following question to its respondents:

“If you agreed with a political candidate on other issues, but not on the issue of legalizing marijuana, do you think you could still vote for that candidate or not?”

A mere 13% of respondents affirmed that they wouldn’t vote for such a candidate, with a whopping 82% noting that they still would. Marijuana simply doesn’t have enough political clout on Capitol Hill to cause elected officials to lose their seats. This means there’s little rush for lawmakers to endorse the legalization movement, even if the public tide has dramatically shifted in favor of legalization in recent years.

A drug free zone sign posted in a quiet neighborhood.


Cannabis could remain illegal at the federal level for years to come

Even if voters won’t be making marijuana a single-voter issue, it doesn’t reduce the importance of the 2020 elections. On top of numerous states expected to vote on recreational cannabis, the federal government could see shake-ups at the congressional and presidential level. With Republicans having a historically more adverse view of cannabis than Democrats, hanging onto the Senate and/or Oval Office could doom pot to at least another two years without any chance of federal reform. In short, a lot is riding on next year’s elections.

Although there are plenty of ways for marijuana investors to make bank in the U.S. via the hemp and cannabidiol markets, a lack of progress on the federal cannabis front could certainly dent investors’ near-term expectations.

For example, last quarter we witnessed multistate cannabis operator Acreage Holdings(NASDAQOTH:ACRGF) fall by 20%, making it one of the 25 worst-performing cannabis stocks. Acreage, which has retail stores, grow farms, and processing sites in more states (20) than any other vertically integrated U.S.-focused pot stock, agreed to be acquired by Canopy Growth(NYSE:CGC), the largest marijuana stock in the world by market cap, in April.

The $3.4 billion cash-and-stock deal was made on a contingent-rights basis, with Canopy Growth paying $300 million in cash up front, and handing over $3.1 billion in stock later, upon the legalization of marijuana at the federal level in the United States. Although the deal has a roughly 90-month runway to occur, Republican wins in the Senate or Oval Office next year could possibly push back any chance of reform for another 24 months, at minimum. Canopy Growth might look to have an easy in to the United States’ burgeoning pot market, but there’s no guarantee that the contingent rights of the deal with Acreage will be met anytime soon, if ever.

Until marijuana becomes more of a single-voter issue, there’s little chance of real federal reform in the United States.

Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Kamala Harris proposes $100 billion plan for black homeownership

(OPED: Senator Harris wants to talk about anti-discrimination yet at the same time wants totally discrimination type laws for the purpose of helping out only one race of people. She is a total hypocrite in her propaganda. Besides she isn’t even a black person even though the keps portraying herself to be so. Her parents are from India and Jamaica, all of the folks that I have ever come across from Jamaica very much get upset if they are referred to as being Blacks. I hope and pray that this 2020 election cycle does not end up being a race issue election.)(Harris also pledged to work to expand HUD’s fair housing program, strengthen anti-discrimination laws.)(I agree with helping poor Black families out but only if all poor families are helped out, not to pick and choose by the color of skin.)(oldpoet56)(The far left Democrats like to talk about reverse discrimination and reverse racism, there is no such thing folks, all racism is racism, all discrimination is discrimination!)


Kamala Harris proposes $100 billion plan for black homeownership


Kamala Harris, calling on the nation to “deal with the racial wealth gap,” on Saturday proposed a $100 billion federal program to help black people buy homes.

The California senator said the plan, which would provide down payment and closing cost assistance of up to $25,000 to people renting or living in historically red-lined communities, would help some 4 million home-buyers.

The plan’s release comes as Harris surges in Democratic presidential primary polls following a debate last week in which she chastised former Vice President Joe Biden for his past opposition to busing and former associations with segregationist senators. The controversy has continued in recent days, with Biden defending his record.

Black voters are a critical constituency in the Democratic primary, especially in the South.

Harris, speaking at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, said her program would “put homeownership within the reach” of millions of families.

“A typical black family has just $10 of wealth for every $100 held by a white family,” she said. “So we must right that wrong and, after generations of discrimination, give black families a real shot at homeownership — historically one of the most powerful drivers of wealth in our country.”

Harris’ housing program would come in the form of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants limited to families with incomes up to $100,000, or $125,000 in high-cost areas.

Democrats concerned about income and racial inequality in the United States have long pointed to the lasting effects of red-lining — and persistent gaps in the rates of black and white homeownership, a traditional means of building wealth.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a fellow 2020 contender, previously proposed providing down payment grants to first-time homebuyers in formerly red-lined, segregated and lower-income areas.

On Saturday, Harris also pledged to work to expand HUD’s fair housing program, strengthen anti-discrimination lending laws and amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require that credit scores include rent, phone and utility payments.

Brazil: Intercept’s new bomb proves that plot against Lula was forged by Lava Jato



Intercept’s new bomb proves that plot against Lula was forged by Lava Jato

The businessman Léo Pinheiro of OAS only became credible for Lava Jato’s task force after it changed its version and went on to accuse former President Lula and say that the reforms in the Guarujá triplex were counterpart to contracts at Petrobrás . In other words, he only became an informer after he said exactly what the Lava Jet required him to say

Léo Pinheiro asks for benefit 'to a maximum degree' after incriminating Lula

247 – Former President Lula has been held as a political prisoner for more than a year because of an award forged by the Attorney General’s Office. This is proof of the new batch of messages from Vaza Jato, released on Sunday by Folha de S. Paulo, in partnership with Intercept.

“The contractor who incriminated former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT) in the case that took him to prison was treated with suspicion by Operation Lava Jato during almost the entire time he was willing to collaborate with the investigations, according to private messages exchanged between prosecutors involved in the negotiations, “the report said Sunday. “Léo Pinheiro, former president of the construction company OAS, only came to be considered creditworthy after changing several times his version on the triplex apartment of Guarujá (SP) that the company affirmed to have retired for the PT leader”.

The report recalls that Léo Pinheiro only presented the version used to convict Lula in April 2017, more than a year after the start of negotiations with Lava Jato. The dialogues examined by Folha and Intercept help to understand why the contractor’s negotiation negotiations, which have not yet been concluded, have been so haphazard – and suggest that the testimony about Lula and the triplet was decisive for the prosecutors to return to talk with Pinheiro , months after rejecting his first proposal of agreement. “That is: Léo Pinheiro was led to incriminate Lula to have his acceptance accepted.

The contractor was met with skepticism from the start. “The first news of LP version [Léo Pinheiro] on the site is already quite contrary to what we find here,” said one of the prosecutors, Paulo Roberto Galvão, in early March. “We are open to hearing about the company’s proposal but we are not committed to anything.”

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