WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Biden administration condemned calls by two Israeli government ministers for Palestinians to be removed from the Gaza Strip.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, also condemned the call. The criticism comes as gaps remain between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over who will govern Gaza on the day after Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas, the terror group that controlled the territory prior to its Oct. 7 invasion of Israel.
While Biden has pushed for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza, Netanyahu has said that Israeli forces will remain there following the fighting.
Netanyahu’s far-right allies, meanwhile, have pushed for the rebuilding of Israeli settlements there. Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister who also has authority over West Bank settlements, and Itamar Ben Gvir, the national security minister, have separately in recent days called for removing much of the Palestinian population from Gaza after the war.
On Monday, Ben Gvir said the war presented an “opportunity to orchestrate an immigration project, a project to encourage the immigration of residents from Gaza to the countries of the world.”
Smotrich told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday that he hoped Gaza’s Palestinian population would drop by at least 90 percent, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“If in Gaza there will be 100,000 or 200,000 Arabs and not 2 million the entire conversation on ‘the day after’ will look different,” he said. Smotrich heads the Religious Zionist Party, which ran on a joint slate with Ben Gvir’s party in the 2022 elections.
Neither Ben Gvir nor Smotrich is part of the three-member war cabinet led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that did not absolve the government from responsibility, said the Biden administration’s State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller.
“This rhetoric is inflammatory and irresponsible,” he said in a statement. “We have been told repeatedly and consistently by the Government of Israel, including by the Prime Minister, that such statements do not reflect the policy of the Israeli government. They should stop immediately.”
Jacobs, who leads the Reform movement, the largest U.S. Jewish denomination, also condemned the statements, noting that his movement’s opposition to Smotrich predates the war.
The Reform movement took a leading role in the United States in speaking out against planned far-reaching reforms to the judiciary championed by Smotrich and others in Netanyahu’s government. Israel’s Supreme Court this week scuttled those plans for the time being.
“We condemn Israeli Minister Smotrich’s call for ethnic cleansing,” Jacobs wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Along with most major American Jewish leaders, we have refused to meet with him to sanction his politics and beliefs.”
Ben Gvir in a post published after Miller’s statement said Israel “was not yet a star on the American flag,” and suggested that settlers evacuated in 2005, when Israel withdrew, would move in to replace the Palestinians. “We will do what is right for the state of Israel: the emigration of hundreds of thousands from Gaza will allow residents of the border area to return home and live in security, and will protect Israeli soldiers.”
Newly released documents from the Deschênes Commission show Canada’s reluctance to prosecute Nazi war criminals
The release of formerly classified documents from the 1986 Deschênes Commission—which investigated how Nazi war criminals entered Canada after the Second World War—reveals greater details about why the government was reluctant to prosecute them once they were in the country, says David Matas, the lawyer who represented B’nai Brith Canada at the inquiry. Canada released […]
South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government
Dozens of South African immigrants to Israel protested against their former country’s government on Friday, standing with their new home against political and legal attacks from South Africa’s ruling ANC party, highlighted by accusing Israel of “genocide,” last Thursday in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
“The demonstration is not against South Africa or its people, but against its disgraceful government. I am proud to stand here as an Israeli, but I am ashamed of the government of my homeland, for stooping so low. It is a danger to Judaism,” said David Kaplan, an attendant of the event.
Former Knesset member Ruth Wasserman Lande, who was raised in Cape Town, South Africa before moving to Israel for military service, living in Israel since, added “Justice is with us, the ruling party of South Africa has sold its soul to Iran.”
The protest in Ra’anana in central Israel comes a few weeks after Israel was forced to stand trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against charges of “genocide” in its current defensive war against Hamas in Gaza. The charges were filed by South Africa’s government, a noted friend of Hamas leadership and outspoken critic of Israel and the Israeli government.
In South Africa’s case against Israel, the country alleges that the IDF is acting “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”
The suit came as both countries are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, passed after the Holocaust and with the goal of creating proceedings to ensure no genocide like what happened to the Jews of Europe occurs in the future.
Israel said South Africa was acting as “the legal arm of Hamas,” and called the charges “baseless,” especially as the country has been noted to take unprecedented steps to protect civilians in the war. Furthermore, the war began after Israel was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, when they invaded southern Israel, murdering more than 1,200 and taking hostage over 240.
The ICJ refused to grant South Africa’s wish of calling for an immediate ceasefire, but nevertheless ruled to investigate the genocide charges and called on Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of [genocide].”
Even this past week South Africa continued its attacks, calling for the defunding of Israel, with Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor saying “This necessarily imposes an obligation on all states to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions.”
The post South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Robert Kraft Antisemitism Nonprofit to Air Super Bowl Ad Featuring Associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), a group created by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, will air its first Super Bowl commercial when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 11.
An estimated 100 million television viewers will see the commercial, which features Dr. Clarence B. Jones, a former legal adviser of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jones, according to FCAS, helped King draft the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on Aug. 28, 1963.
“I know I can speak for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when I say without a doubt that the Civil Rights movement (including the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Acts) would not have occurred without the unwavering and largely unsung efforts of the Jewish people,” Jones said in a press release issued by FCAS. “With hate on the rise, it is as important as ever that all of us stand together and speak out. Silence is not an option. I’m glad that I’ve lived long enough to partner with Robert Kraft and FCAS to continue to spread the message to the widest possible audience — the Super Bowl.”
This year’s Super Bowl commercial mark’s FCAS’ biggest push to promote awareness of antisemitism since its founding in 2019. Last year, the nonprofit launched a $25 million multimedia campaign, which asked supporters to use the “Blue Square” emoji available on iOS devices in their social media posts.
FCAS has undertaken numerous other initiatives to address rising antisemitism.
In March 2023, it announced a partnership with Brandeis University, which will include a student fellowship program for undergraduates, conferences featuring leading experts on antisemitism, and collaborations with K-12 administrators. Additionally, Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Jewish Leadership Program will expand to include “Kraft Scholars,” who will participate in new online degree and certificate programs that will train them to respond to crises caused by antisemitic incidents.
Kraft, who led the remarkable transformation of the New England Patriots from a second tier club to an annual Super Bowl contender and winner of six such titles in under twenty years, founded FCAS after being awarded $1 million through Genesis Prize, an honor given to successful members of the Jewish community. FCAS focuses most of its resources on social media, aiming, it says, “to stand up against racist and violent rhetoric aimed at the Jewish people through the most accessible and most powerful avenue of information in the world.”
In a statement, Kraft, expressed hope for this latest campaign and praised Dr. Clarence Jones as an emblem of his FCAS’ highest aspirations.
“The work Dr. Jones has done over the course of his entire life and career is the embodiment of FCAS’ mission to build bridges and stand up to Jewish hate and all forms of hate. In the time we have spent together and through his work, I have become a huge fan of Dr. Jones, and I am proud to spotlight all that he has done for our nation,” he said. “With this ad, we hope to continue to spread Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and equality at a time in which the country needs it mist most, and our goal is to reach a wide audience of people and inspire all Americans to stand up together, arm in arm, and fight this horrific rising hate.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.