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Bnei Menashe community disputes Israeli reports of 7 killed in India violence

(JTA) — Members of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community are rejecting an Israeli parliamentary report that a missile strike in Northeast India killed seven community members this week.

The news spread rapidly on Tuesday after Israel’s Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Aliyah put out a press release announcing the deaths, following a meeting about potentially jumpstarting efforts by the Bnei Menashe to move to Israel amid ethnic tensions in the Manipur region of India.

It cited Tzvi Khaute, director of the Bnei Menashe in Israel for the nonprofit Shavei Israel, as saying that the community urgently needed permission to immigrate, or make aliyah, and that it had “buried seven people who were killed as a result of a bomb falling next to the synagogue.”

But Khaute did not make that comment in a video of the hearing reviewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. A Bnei Menashe member in India offered a different account about violence near a local synagogue. And the information about the deaths was false, the Bnei Menashe Council in India said in a press release Wednesday.

Responding to the Knesset press release, the group speculated that Shavei Israel, one of two feuding nonprofits seeking to help the Bnei Menashe move to Israel, had misrepresented the facts on the ground when testifying during the committee meeting.

“The situation of Manipur’s B’nei Menashe after months of ethnic violence that has left many of them homeless and with no means of livelihood is indeed extremely difficult and their resettlement in Israel is urgent,” the council said in its statement. “Spreading lies as a way of arousing sympathy for their plight is despicable and can only work to their detriment.”

But the video from the hearing, coupled with reports from India, suggests that the Knesset committee’s press release might well have stemmed from more straightforward confusion.

The video shows Khaute saying that a bomb fell at a synagogue and that six people died in India, but he did not say when the incident occurred or whether the victims were Bnei Menashe. When asked by the chairman if it was Bnei Menashe who were killed, Khaute did not offer confirmation, instead segueing to talking about a seven-month-long delay in burying Bnei Menashe community members who were killed last year. It is unclear which deaths Khaute was referring to as only one community member is known to have died in the conflict.

At multiple points later in the hearing, lawmakers asserted that seven people were killed, though Khaute himself never said so.

A spokesperson for Shavei Israel said the organization was not involved with the Knesset press release and added that no Bnei Menashe member was known to have been killed in Manipur recently.

“He wanted to express how Bnei Menashe are in danger and how they should be brought to Israel as soon as possible,” a spokesperson told JTA said about Khaute. “There was a misunderstanding and no one from the committee verified with him that seven Bnei Menashe were killed yesterday. Nobody checked back with us or with him.”

Reports from Manipur suggest another possible source of confusion. In their regular updates on social media, the Manipur Police have not mentioned an attack on or near a synagogue. But they wrote on Tuesday that “armed groups” launched an attack on security forces in Moreh, a town on Manipur’s border with Myanmar, “employing gunfire and explosives.” Six security personnel were injured in the crossfire.

Kaikholal Haokip, a member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community in Moreh who is also a spokesperson for the Kuki Inpee organization, representing one of the warring ethnic groups, told JTA that no one was killed in the incident. But he said neighbors and the caretaker of the local synagogue told him that a bomb was detonated by police on a highway close to the synagogue.

The bomb caused no damage to the synagogue or anyone inside, Haokip told JTA, adding that some Jewish community members, including the synagogue’s caretaker, have fled to other areas amid the violence and all remain safe.

JTA reached out to Oded Forer, the Knesset member who heads the committee, as well as to spokespeople for the Knesset and to the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Integration for clarification about the inaccurate press release but did not receive a response before publication.

The Bnei Menashe are believed to be descendants of the “lost tribe” of Manasseh, a claim that researchers dispute. Shavei Israel, a nonprofit organization that aims to bring “lost tribe” Jewish communities to Israel, has been responsible for the Bnei Menashe aliyah for more than two decades and has helped about 5,000 Jews immigrate so far. Another 5,000 still live in India.

Some Bnei Menashe Jews have protested the organization and say it abuses its power over their aliyah. Another Israeli nonprofit that formed in 2017, Degel Menashe, has been advocating for this group and says it wants the Jewish Agency to have more control over the immigration process.

“We recommend their immigration to Israel, but in a low-profile manner to avoid criticism of interfering in India’s internal affairs,” Michal Vilertal, head of the Asia division at the foreign affairs ministry, said, according to the press release. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will assist in every way with the community’s immigration to Israel.”

Bnei Menashe Jews in India belong to the Kuki-Zo ethnic minority in Manipur, which clashed with the majority Meiteis in May when the Meiteis demanded “scheduled tribe” status, which offers benefits traditionally reserved for minority tribes. Tensions between the Meiteis and the smaller tribes in Manipur had been building for decades, and now Kukis say they are being targeted by Meitei groups and military and police collaborators.

The conflict has so far claimed 200 lives and 70,000 people have fled, according to Indian news reports. There has only been one known Bnei Menashe casualty; some are fighting on the frontlines, sources on the ground say. Hundreds of Bnei Menashe Jews have been forced to flee their homes with no hopes of returning as new informal borders form between the Meitei and Kuki areas.

The latest incident took place with tensions rising across Manipur this week as the conflict approaches its ninth month. In Thoubal, near the capital of Imphal, four Meitei Muslims were shot dead on Tuesday by “armed Meitei miscreants,” local media reported, leading to the imposition of a curfew. Meanwhile, minority tribes called a 24-hour total shutdown until Wednesday in protest of alleged mistreatment by state police.

While Shavei Israel emphasizes that the Israeli government press release misunderstood Khaute on the specifics of recent incidents, the group said the release had gotten right the urgency he expressed about the safety of the Bnei Menashe in Manipur.

“I am begging that this community be allowed to immigrate to Israel,” the release quoted Khaute as saying. “Every day that they stay in India and do not immigrate to Israel, they risk their lives.”

The post Bnei Menashe community disputes Israeli reports of 7 killed in India violence appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Trump Assassination Attempt Ignites Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories; Jews, Israel Blamed for Shooting

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump is assisted by the Secret Service after an assassination attempt on his life during a campaign rally at the Butler Farm Show in Butler, Pennsylvania, US, July 13, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The assassination attempt on former US President Donald Trump’s life has sparked a wave of conspiracy theories online blaming Israel or Jews for the shooting.

Trump survived an assassination attempt during a campaign rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles (50 km) north of Pittsburgh, on Saturday, days before he is due to accept the formal 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Trump has said he is in good health after being shot in the right ear — he narrowly avoiding a direct shot to the head by turning his head just as the bullet was approaching.

The FBI identified 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, as the suspect in what it called an attempted assassination. Authorities also identified a rally attendee who was shot and killed as Corey Comperatore, 50, of Sarver, Pennsylvania. The state’s governor, Josh Shapiro, told reporters that he was killed when he dove on top of his family to protect them from the barrage of bullets.

Following the shooting, prominent antisemitic internet personalities quickly claimed that the Jews and Israel were involved.

Jon Minadeo, the founder and leader of the Goyim Defense League (GDL) — a a neo-Nazi and white supremacist group — hosted a live audio “Spaces” conversation on X/Twitter titled “”The Jews Try to Assassinate Trump!” in which he blamed the Jews for the assassination attempt, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Conspiracy theorists continued to push the narrative throughout the weekend that the Jews and Israel were responsible for the attempted assassination.

Stew Peters, an alt-right internet personality, responded to a post on X/Twitter questioning why police who were notified of a suspicious character on a roof adjacent to Trump failed to react. “The Israeli-based, American War Machine is responsible for the attempted coup on Saturday,” he wrote. “This was NOT a ‘lone wolf’ scenario as the Israeli-funded ‘media’ would LOVE for you to believe.”

Conspiracy theorists also claimed that the assassination attempt was a plot to remove Trump as the de facto Republican presidential nominee and instead replace him with someone more pro-Israel.

In another X/Twitter Spaces meet-up following the shooting, notable internet provocateurs including Nick Fuentes, Andrew Tate, and Mario Nawful, accused Israel of targeting Trump.

“The [Israelis] tried to discard Trump … it was an attempt to throw him out of there,” said Fuentes, a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.

Nick Fuentes addresses supporters in Detroit: “Donald Trump is taking a hundred million dollars from Miriam Adelson … she only cares about the Jewish state of Israel.” Photo: Screenshot

The conspiracy, according to the Spaces conversation, is that the Israelis want Trump replaced with “someone like Nikki Haley,” who they view as a strong supporter of Israel.

Anti-Zionist activist Sulaiman Ahmed similar wrote on X/Twitter: Opinion: Israel shot Trump to install Nikki Haley.”

During his first term as president, Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; cut aid to UNRWA, the controversial United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees; and helped facilitate the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized Israel’s relations with several Arab countries. He also recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic region on Israel’s northern border previously controlled by Syria.

Other conspiracy theorists claimed that Trump’s shooter was Jewish or had a Jewish connection. 

A widely circulated social media post from an account called Shadow of Ezra showed someone who looks similar to Crooks — who authorities identified as the shooter —  wearing a kippah. In the now-deleted post, the account asked, “What do you notice about Thomas Matthew Crooks, the 20-year-old who attempted to assassinate President Donald Trump?” The post seemed to imply that Crooks’s alleged Jewish background motivated the shooting. 

Authorities have not confirmed Crooks’s religion or motive. According to some social media users, the claim that Crooks was Jewish originated from the Southern Gospel Times, a Nepalese content mill. The Algemeiner was unable to confirm that information.

Some online conspiracy theorists also accused the counter-sniper response team that shot and killed Crooks of involvement in a Jewish conspiracy. Some online posts used grainy, zoomed photos to try to show that one of the snipers was wearing a red “Kabbalah Bracelet” in order to promote a broader Jewish conspiracy.

Since the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas’ brutal terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, antisemitism – including antisemitic conspiracy theories online – have skyrocketed globally to record levels amid the ensuing war in Gaza. The ADL released a report in April showing antisemitic incidents in the US rose 140 percent last year, reaching a record high. Most of the outrages occurred after Hamas’ atrocities across southern Israel last October.

Days after the Oct. 7 onslaught, the ADL and the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats published a survey showed antisemitic Americans are more likely to to support violence to achieve their political goals as well as antidemocratic and conspiratorial beliefs compared to the general population. The data found a strong correlation between antisemitism, support for political violence, and antidemocratic conspiracy theories on both ends of the political spectrum.

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Trump Picks JD Vance for Running Mate, Formally Wins Republican Presidential Nomination

US Senate Republican candidate JD Vance speaks as former US President Donald Trump smiles at a rally to support Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections, in Dayton, Ohio, US Nov. 7, 2022. Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Donald Trump chose Ohio US Senator J.D. Vance to be his vice presidential running mate, as the Republican Party officially nominated the former president to run again for the White House on Monday at the start of the party’s national convention in Milwaukee.

“As Vice President, JD will continue to fight for our Constitution, stand with our Troops, and will do everything he can to help me MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

The four-day convention opened in downtown Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum two days after Trump narrowly survived an assassination attempt in Pennsylvania, and hours after he secured a major legal victory when a federal judge dismissed one of Trump‘s criminal prosecutions.

Trump is due to formally accept the party’s nomination in a prime-time speech on Thursday and will challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

Vance, 39, was a fierce Trump critic in 2016 but has since become one of the former president’s staunchest defenders, embracing his false claims that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud.

Soon after Trump‘s announcement, Vance emerged on the convention floor with his wife Usha, shaking hands with and hugging delegates who swarmed the couple. He smiled widely as he was formally nominated to be vice president and is scheduled to address the convention on Wednesday.

Vance is deeply popular with Trump‘s core supporters, but it remains to be seen whether he can broaden the ticket’s appeal. He shares Trump‘s aggressive approach to politics, and his conservative statements on issues such as abortion could turn off moderate voters.

Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland that Vance is “a clone of Trump on the issues.”

Opinion polls show a close race between Trump, 78, and Biden, 81, though Trump leads in several swing states that are likely to decide the election. Trump has not committed to accepting the results of the election if he loses.

The head of the main fundraising super PAC supporting Trump‘s campaign, Taylor Budowich, said on X that MAGA Inc had raised more than $50 million on Monday.

After the assassination attempt, Trump said he was revising his acceptance speech to emphasize national unity, rather than highlight his differences with Biden.

“This is a chance to bring the whole country, even the whole world, together. The speech will be a lot different, a lot different than it would’ve been two days ago,” Trump told the Washington Examiner.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision on Monday to throw out federal charges against Trump for retaining classified documents after leaving the White House was the latest in a string of legal wins for the former president, who is due to be sentenced in New York in September for trying to cover up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the weeks before his 2016 election victory.

His other two indictments on federal charges in Washington and state charges in Georgia — both related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat — are mired in delays and could be significantly limited after the US Supreme Court ruled in July that he had immunity for many of his official acts as president.

“This dismissal of the Lawless Indictment in Florida should be just the first step, followed quickly by the dismissal of ALL the Witch Hunts,” Trump said on Truth Social on Monday, also referencing the prosecutions of hundreds of his supporters who stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.


The shooting attempt on Trump‘s life immediately altered the dynamics of the presidential campaign, which had been focused on whether Biden should drop out due to concerns about his age and acuity following a halting June 27 debate performance.

Nearly two dozen of Biden’s fellow Democrats in Congress have called on him to end his reelection bid and allow the party to pick another standard bearer.

The focus this week will be squarely on Trump.

Having consolidated party control, Trump could seize on the opportunity to deliver a unifying message or paint a dark portrait of a nation under siege by a corrupt leftist elite, as he has done at times on the campaign trail.

Trump has frequently turned to violent rhetoric in campaign speeches, labeling his perceived enemies as “vermin” and “fascists.”

Biden has cast Trump as a threat to US democracy, comments that some Republicans say helped foster an atmosphere that prompted the shooting even though authorities have yet to determine the motive for the assassination attempt. The gunman himself was shot dead.

Following Saturday’s shooting, Biden sought to lower the temperature after months of heated political rhetoric.

“There is no place in America for this kind of violence,” Biden said in an address from the White House on Sunday.

In an excerpt of an interview with NBC News set to air later on Monday, Biden said it was a “mistake” to tell donors last week it was “time to put Trump in a bull’s eye” but noted that Trump has often used incendiary words.

Biden ordered an independent review of how the gunman, who killed a spectator, could have come so close to killing Trump. Congressional investigators also sought to question the head of the US Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting the former president.

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Anti-Israel Protesters Target Queens Synagogue Over Israel Real-Estate Sale Despite Venue Change

Anti-Israel protesters target a synagogue in Queens, New York on July 14, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

Anti-Israel protesters descended on Congregation Charm Circle in Queens, New York on Sunday to protest a sale of Israeli real estate, despite the synagogue changing the location of the sale.

The protest, reminiscent of last month’s widely condemned violent demonstration outside of a synagogue in Los Angeles, was the latest example of demonstrators purportedly opposing Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza targeting Jewish sites in Western countries.

Last week, the Palestinian Assembly for Liberation and Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition announced that they were planning to protest a sale of Israeli real estate in Kew Garden Hills, a densely Jewish neighborhood of Queens. They did not name a specific synagogue to protest outside of, but there are over a dozen, mainly Orthodox, synagogues in the immediate vicinity of the location they provided.

Instagram post by the Palestinian Assembly for Liberation and Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition for an anti-Israel protest. Photo: Screenshot

“Every time these illegal sales take place, we will give them no peace and a protest will follow each time, until liberation and return,” read the caption of the social media post announcing the demonstration. “Across the US and Canada realtors continue to sell stolen PALESTINIAN [sic] property on settlements that are illegal under International law.”

The post then included an inverted red triangle followed by the message: “As the genocide on Palestinians continues, we call for a complete end to the settler-colonial project of Israel and its goal of expansion.”

The inverted red triangle has become a common symbol at pro-Hamas rallies and anti-Israel protests that ravaged Western university campuses in recent months. Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules Gaza, has used inverted red triangles in its propaganda videos to indicate Israeli targets about to be attacked. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “the red triangle is now used to represent Hamas itself and glorify its use of violence.”

In the days leading up to the event, Queens Shmira – a Jewish neighborhood safety group – announced that the real-estate sale had been moved to a different venue. According to a statement from Queens Shmira, the venue “has since changed to accommodate a larger audience and will NOT be taking place at Congregation Charm Circle.”

“The protesters’ intention is to intimidate and we will not be intimidated,” the statement added.

Although the event had been moved to a different location, on Sunday anti-Israel protesters nonetheless descended on Congregation Charm Circle, where they were videoed calling for an intifada against Jews and waving Hezbollah flags. Hezbollah, an Iran-backed terrorist organization based in Lebanon, has been launching rockets, drones, and missiles at northern Israel daily as Israeli forces simultaneously battle the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas to the south in Gaza.

In response, counter-protesters waved Israeli flags and called for the release of the roughly 120 hostages still being held by terrorists in Gaza since Oct. 7.

The protest spilled over to a nearby basketball court, where pro-Palestinian demonstrators could be seen shoving the counter-protesters. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) attempted to de-escalate the situation, but there were no reports of arrests being made.

Local politicians took to X/Twitter to express outrage over the anti-Israel protests targeting a synagogue.

“The event changed venues but the protesters didn’t care, harassing Jews for the crime of going to pray,” New York State Assemblymember Sam Berger, who represents Kew Garden Hills, wrote on X/Twitter.

US Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), who also represents Kew Garden Hills, condemned the demonstration on social media.

“The events that took place outside of Congregation Charm Circle in Kew Gardens Hills are deeply concerning,” she posted. “Harassing people outside of their house of worship is unacceptable. While everyone in the US has the right to protest, there is no place for hate, violence, & antisemitism.”

The protest at Congregation Charm Circle come only four weeks after the violent anti-Israel demonstration outside of Adas Torah synagogue in the heavily-Jewish Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles.

Anti-Israel demonstrators outside the Adas Torah synagogue in the heavily-Jewish Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles, June 23, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

Demonstrators swarmed the synagogue to protest the sale of Israeli real estate taking place inside the building, blocking people from entering and leaving. The protests quickly descended into violence as anti-Israel protesters were caught on video shoving, punching, and screaming at those attempting to defend the synagogue.

The skirmishes spilled out into the greater community as anti-Israel protesters targeted and in some cases vandalized Jewish-owned businesses.

The violence received widespread condemnation.

“I’m appalled by the scenes outside of Adas Torah synagogue in Los Angeles. Intimidating Jewish congregants is dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic, and un-American,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement on the chaos. “Americans have a right to peaceful protest. But blocking access to a house of worship — and engaging in violence — is never acceptable.”

Since Hamas’ brutal terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, antisemitism has skyrocketed globally to record levels amid the ensuing war in Gaza. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report in April showing antisemitic incidents in the US rose 140 percent last year, reaching a record high. Most of the outrages occurred after Hamas’ atrocities across southern Israel last October.

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