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Dean Phillips drops DEI label from his presidential campaign website after Bill Ackman contributed $1m

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The change on Dean Phillips’ presidential campaign website was seemingly minor, but the story behind it involved two Jewish public figures and the debate on diversity, equity and inclusion that is roiling the culture wars over Israel, race and other hot-button topics.

In a story posted Tuesday, Politico reported that Phillips, the Jewish Minnesota congressman running a longshot campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, had changed a heading on his campaign website from “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” to “Equity and Restorative Justice.”

The text remained the same. The change came after Bill Ackman, the Jewish billionaire investor, had endorsed Phillips, maxing out his contribution to his campaign at $3,300 and giving a super PAC backing Phillips an additional $1 million. Super PACs are political action committees that may accept unlimited donations but are prohibited from working directly with campaigns.

Ackman gained an elevated public profile in recent weeks as he led the successful effort to force out Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard University, his alma mater. Gay, along with the presidents of two other elite universities, declined to unequivocally say in congressional testimony that calls for genocide against Jews violate school policy.

Ackman has also weighed in on the debate, particularly pronounced among Jewish thought leaders, over diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI. Harvard, like most universities and many corporations, has a DEI office which seeks to redress longstanding racial, gender and other inequities. Ackman opposes DEI and says it has an underlying bias that foments antisemitism.

In a statement to the New York Times, Phillips said any focus on the change was a diversion. “I support diversity. Period. I support equity. Period. I support inclusion. Period,” he said. “It is incredible how the media gets all interested in litigating slogans, but has no interest in proposals to solve the problems.”

Phillips and Ackman both denied that the change had anything to do with Ackman’s endorsement or contributions. “I am not paying him money to change his website,” Ackman told the Times.

Ackman had posted his endorsement of Phillips on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, prompting some of his ideological allies to note that Phillips used the phrase on his campaign website.

“I am confident he will get to the right place once he does his homework,” Ackman told one follower. “He is pretty busy right now.”

A number of Jewish figures have said DEI excludes Jews. Some, like Ackman, believe the movement is irredeemably bigoted; others say that the movement has worthy goals but needs to be more sensitive to antisemitism. Still other Jewish leaders say that DEI as it is constituted is the best means of redressing inequity.

The shift is not the first for Phillips as he seeks to unseat President Joe Biden. Once an outspoken defender of Israel who sparred with its most prominent critics in his party, he was among the first to call for a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas.

The post Dean Phillips drops DEI label from his presidential campaign website after Bill Ackman contributed $1m appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Russia Extends Invitation to Palestinian Factions for Talks in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

i24 NewsRussia has extended invitations to various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, for discussions on the Israel-Hamas conflict and broader issues in the Middle East.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov announced the initiative on Friday, highlighting Moscow’s desire to engage with all major players in the region amid heightened tensions.

The invitation included a dozen Palestinian groups and is slated for “inter-Palestinian” talks scheduled to commence on February 29.

Bogdanov, serving as President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East, emphasized the inclusivity of the invitation, stating, “We invited all Palestinian representatives — all political forces that have their positions in different countries, including Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.”

Among the invitees are Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, alongside representatives of Fatah and the broader Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The invitation comes at a critical juncture as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to escalate, drawing international attention and concern. Russia’s proactive stance in convening discussions reflects its growing criticism of Israel and its Western allies, underscoring Moscow’s efforts to assert its influence in the region.

The post Russia Extends Invitation to Palestinian Factions for Talks in Moscow first appeared on

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Netanyahu: Those Who Want us to Desist from Rafah Op Are Telling Us to Lose

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 28, 2023. Photo: ABIR SULTAN POOL/Pool via REUTERS

i24 NewsHamas drops its “delusional” demands, productive hostage talks could begin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, stressing Israel would not agree to the terror group’s current demands.

WATCH: PM Netanyahu delivers a statement after Hamas suspended negotiations

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 17, 2024

“I insist that Hamas should abandon its delusional demands – and when it does, we will be able to move forward,” Netanyahu said in a statement live on TV.

“Those who want us to desist from the Rafah operation,” the leader said in an apparent reference to the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden, “are telling us we should lose. We won’t be dictated to.”

The post Netanyahu: Those Who Want us to Desist from Rafah Op Are Telling Us to Lose first appeared on

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Iran Unveils New Air Defense Weaponry

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani speaks at a press conference during the unveiling of a new surface-to-surface 4th generation Khorramshahr ballistic missile. Photo: Reuters/West Asia News Agency

i24 NewsIran demonstrated new weaponry on Saturday, including what it said was the locally made Arman anti-ballistic missile system and the Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system, said the official IRNA news agency. Saturday’s unveiling ceremony of the two vehicle-mounted systems was held in the presence of Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani.

“With the entry of new systems into the country’s defense network, the air defense capability of the Islamic Republic of Iran will increase significantly,” said IRNA.

Video of the new Azarakhsh SHORAD engaging a target drone

It’s radar has a detection range of 50km, with 25km for it’s EO/IR suite

— Iran Defense|نیروهای مسلح جمهوری اسلامی ایران (@IranDefense) February 17, 2024

The Arman missile system is said to be able to “simultaneously confront six targets at a distance of 120 to 180 km,” while the Azarakhsh missile system “can identify and destroy targets up to a range of 50 km with four ready-to-fire missiles.”

The announcement comes amid tensions across the Middle East, with Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis attacking vessels linked to the United States, UK and Israel in the Red Sea in a show of solidarity with the Gaza Strip.

Iran unveils domestically-manufactured Arman anti-ballistic missile and Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system

— Press TV (@PressTV) February 17, 2024

The U.S. and its allies in the Middle East are concerned with Iran’s growing role at the international global arms market, The Wall Street Journal said on Friday. The transformation of the industry, boosted by Russia’s “purchase of thousands of drones that altered the battlefield in Ukraine, has helped Tehran scale up its support of militia allies in Middle East conflicts,” read the report.

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