Jul 16, 2019

Israeli education minister backs off "second Holocaust" remark

Rafi Peretz. Photo: Getty

Israeli Education Minister Rafi Peretz is backing off his characterization of intermarriage by Jewish people in the U.S. as a "second Holocaust." In a letter, Peretz asked Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, to convey his regret to Jewish communities around the world.

Why it matters: Peretz's remarks came during an Israeli Cabinet meeting and sparked a wave of condemnations from Jewish organizations in the U.S. after they were reported by Axios. Peretz had claimed that due to intermarriages over the last 70 years, Judaism "lost 6 million people."

  • Peretz, an ultra-Orthodox and ultra-nationalist politician, came under more criticism this week after expressing support for "conversion therapy" for gay men.

Peretz sent the letter in response to a request from Herzog and the Jewish Agency — the umbrella organization for Jewish organizations worldwide — that he clarify his remarks. The letter was translated into English and will be circulated to the leaders of many Jewish organizations in America.

He wrote: "Out of great anxiety to the fate of the Jewish people I used the word Holocaust — a term which was meant to describe the depth of my pain and might have been inappropriate. I had no intention to offend any Jew in the diaspora. I want to stress that I respect the entire Jewish people in Israel and in the diaspora."

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Jewish groups mark remembrance day with Trump immigration policy protests

Members of the Jewish community protest to demand an end to the detention of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, Los Angeles, Aug. 11. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of demonstrators were arrested at an Amazon store in Manhattan Sunday as thousands of Jewish Americans across the United States protested President Trump's hardline immigration policies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this weekend, PIX 11 reports.

Why it matters: Rallies took place during Tisha B'Av, traditionally a Jewish day of remembrance marked by fasting, reading from the book of lamentations and going to temple, per the Washington Post. It notes there's been a rise in activism among Jewish Americans against Trump's policies, reminiscent for some of the way Jewish people were treated in the past.

Go deeperArrowAug 12, 2019

Scoop: Trump tells advisers Israel should bar entry to Reps. Omar and Tlaib

Reps. Rashida Tlaib (L) and Ilhan Omar. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

President Trump has told advisers he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use Israel's anti-boycott law to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering Israel, according to 3 sources familiar with the situation.

What he's saying: Trump's private views have reached the top level of the Israeli government. But Trump denies, through White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, ever giving any kind of directive to the Israelis. "The Israeli government can do what they want. It's fake news," Grisham said on Saturday.

Go deeperArrowAug 10, 2019

Israel to allow Reps. Omar and Tlaib to enter the country

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Photo: Getty Images

Israel will allow Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to enter the country on an upcoming trip, regardless of their support for the BDS movement, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said in a statement.

Why it matters: Omar and Tlaib were two of the targets of recent racist public attacks from President Trump. Last weekend, he called for them to "go back" to the countries they came from — despite the fact that Omar is a naturalized U.S. citizen and Tlaib was born in the U.S. Trump included in his attacks against the congresswomen accusations that they were anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

Go deeperArrowJul 19, 2019