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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."

Go deeper

DOJ cites discrimination in lawsuit against Texas over voting districts

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas, alleging Republican state lawmakers discriminated against Black and Latino voters and has "again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans" when they approved new redistricting maps.

Why it matters: A DOJ assessment of the new districts found that they violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference.

3 hours ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.