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‘Finish them’: GOP presidential candidates unite over what they’d advise Netanyahu about Hamas

(JTA) — It was one of the few questions that united all five candidates at what was a no-holds-barred Republican primary debate: What would they advise Israel’s prime minister as he wages war against Hamas?

The uniform answer: Finish them.

Israel and antisemitism featured large in the latest GOP primary debate in Miami on Wednesday, in part because a cosponsor of the debate was the Republican Jewish Coalition, which got to ask two questions, a first for a Jewish group. But they would have been asked even without the RJC’s influence, because Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the resulting war in Gaza has roiled the world and American politics.

NBC moderator Lester Holt made his second question what the candidates would advise Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. First to answer was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“I will be telling Bibi finish the job once and for all with these butchers,” said DeSantis, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “They’re terrorists. They’re massacring innocent people. They would wipe every Jew off the globe, if they could.”

The unalloyed backing for Netanyahu comes as President Joe Biden, who also at first unquestioningly backed Netanyahu, has in recent days faced Israeli resistance to his pressure for humanitarian pauses in the fighting.

All four candidates echoed DeSantis’s reply. Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, suggested she had spoken with Netanyahu since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, launching  the war. “The first thing I said to him when it happened was, I said ‘Finish them. Finish them.’”

Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur who often bucks the Republican establishment on foreign policy, hewing to isolationism, was as bellicose, but also pivoted to a favored topic, the Mexican border, and suggested that he would seek to kill people there.

“I would tell him to smoke those terrorists on his southern border,” he said. “And then I’ll tell him as president of the United States, I’ll be smoking the terrorists on our southern border.”

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said he would tell Netanyahu, “Not only do you have the responsibility and the right to wipe Hamas off of the map, we will support you, we will be there with you.” He took it a step further, saying he would also strike Iran, which is an ally of Hamas.

“You actually have to cut off the head of the snake and the head of the snake is Iran and not simply the proxies,” he said.

Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, said Israel should have free rein, but also, unusually for a foreign politician, criticized Netanyahu for not being prepared.

“You must go in and make sure that Hamas can never do this again,” he said. “And the fact is that Israel and their intelligence community failed. They failed here and they failed the people of the State of Israel. And so we need to work closely and better together to make sure that they’re degraded.”

Absent was Donald Trump, the frontrunner who is so far ahead in the polls he does not feel the need to join the debates. The first question posed by NBC moderator Lester Holt was how each of the five candidates would defeat Trump. That out of the way, Trump, who attended a rally elsewhere in Florida while the debate was underway, was barely mentioned again.

RJC’s CEO Matt Brooks posed two questions and earned a shoutout from DeSantis for enduring a tough month. “I know it’s been very difficult for the [Jewish] community and appreciate you guys rallying together in difficult times,” DeSantis said.

Brooks’ first question was whether the United States should use military force against Iran given strikes by its proxies on U.S. forces. DeSantis and Haley, who answered the question, avoided saying explicitly they would hit Iranian territory but said that they would retaliate more robustly than Biden has against the strikes by the proxies.

Brooks’ second question was about the spike in antisemitism at U.S. universities. “Jewish students across the country are threatened and under attack,” he said. “What do you say to Jewish students on college campuses who feel unsafe given the dramatic rise in antisemitism?”

DeSantis noted that he recently barred some pro-Palestinian groups from operating on Florida campuses, and Scott similarly backed pulling federal funds from universities that do not adequately deal with antisemitism, something the Biden Administration this week said would be its policy. Christie spoke about his experience dealing with antisemitic and anti-Muslim attacks as a U.S. attorney immediately after 9/11.

Haley gave one of the most impassioned responses, saying that rising antisemitism revealed a country with a troubled soul.

“We don’t need to celebrate terrorists,” she said, referring to protesters who have at times characterized Hamas’s actions as “resistance.” “We don’t need to celebrate genocide. We don’t need to celebrate violence towards anybody. We need to go back and soul-search in our country and remember what we are about and we are about taking care of people not going and making them live in fear.”

Ramaswamy said he preferred to counter speech with more speech. “We don’t quash this with censorship because that creates a worse underbelly,” he said. “We quell it through leadership by calling it out.”

Ramaswamy, who has flirted with the far right, at times seemed to speak in their direction. He chided the RNC for airing the debate on NBC, saying it should have chosen moderators such as Tucker Carlson, who was fired this year from Fox News, and Elon Musk, who has engaged with antisemites on X, the platform that he owns and renamed from Twitter. He called Volodymyr Zelensky, the Jewish president of Ukraine, a “Nazi” and accused him of persecuting Christians. Another of the cosponsors of the debate was Rumble, the video platform that gives free rein to the racist and antisemitic right.

Antisemitism also came up in a portion of the debate dealing with whether to shut down the social media video platform TikTok because its Chinese ownership poses a security risk. Politicians from both parties have alleged that TikTok’s algorithms favor antisemitic and pro-Palestinian content, especially since the Oct. 7 attacks.

“TikTok is not only spyware, it is polluting the minds of American young people all throughout this country,” Christie said. “And they’re doing it intentionally and when you saw what happened in the last few weeks, with all of this antisemitic, horrible stuff that their algorithms were pushing out at a gargantuan rate.”

Relatedly, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Jewish New Jersey Democrat, on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require TikTok to register as a foreign agent and to report on the promotion of hatred and terrorism on its platform or face stiff penalties. A press conference with Gottheimer; Republican Don Bacon of Nebraska, who is cosponsoring the bill; and the Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said TikTok postings promoting false narratives about the Oct. 7 attacks, including describing them as flag operation, had wide reach on the platform.

The TikTok debate produced the evening’s most stunning exchange in a raucous debate, when Ramaswamy hit back at Haley who had previously derided him for embracing the app, saying that her daughter was a frequent user. “Leave my daughter out of your voice,” Haley said, leaning toward Ramaswamy. When he pressed on, she grimaced. “You’re just scum,” she said.


The post ‘Finish them’: GOP presidential candidates unite over what they’d advise Netanyahu about Hamas appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Poland Bans Israeli Soccer Teams From Major City Due to ‘Safety’ Concerns

Stadion Widzewa is a multi-use stadium in Łódź, Poland. It is currently used mostly for football matches and serves as the home stadium of Widzew Łódź. Photo: maps.pomocnik.com.

Two Israeli soccer teams — Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Beer Sheva — that were set to play their European Championship matches in the Polish city of Łódź have been banned by the hosting country, after widespread outrage from Poles.

The Union of European Football Associations previously announced that Israel will not be allowed to host UEFA-sanctioned matches due to the ongoing war against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

As a result, the Israeli clubs announced on Sunday that their new “home stadiums” would be the Władysław Król Municipal Stadium and the Stadion Widzewa in Łódź. Soon afterward, two Polish clubs that play at the stadiums released statements distancing themselves from the decision, with many fans expressing antisemitic outrage on social media against Israel and support for the Palestinians.

The Polish city’s Cultural and Sport authority then released a statement saying that no Israeli teams would play at any facilities in Łódz because “the safety of Łódź residents and visitors is the highest priority for the city.”

Yacov Livne, the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, slammed the decision and lodged a complaint with the Polish city.

“One should not give in to such threats. Lodz needs to remain a place of tolerance, not fear,” Livne said in a statement on X/Twitter.

Maccabi Haifa took second place in the Israeli top league, giving it the opportunity to play in the qualifying rounds for the European Conference League, while Hapoen Beer Sheva came third in the Israeli premier league.

One of the Polish clubs based in Łódz has a history of antisemitism.

In 2016, a group of ŁKS Łódz hooligans set fire to “Jewish” effigies and paraded a banner calling for the burning of Jews. Years earlier in 2013, fans of the same team invited visitors to an indoor tournament to play a game in which they could throw objects at “Jews,” models dressed in uniforms of the club’s rival, Widzew Łódź. A sign next to the game informed players that for a meager price they would be given “three throws at the Jews.”

Antisemitism is increasingly creeping into Polish politics as well.

Last week a virulently antisemitic member of the Polish parliament who extinguished the candles of a lit Hanukkah menorah with a fire extinguisher won a seat in the European Parliament elections, riding a wave of far-right success across the continent.

The post Poland Bans Israeli Soccer Teams From Major City Due to ‘Safety’ Concerns first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino Harassed in NYC by Anti-Israel Media Personality For Being a ‘Zionist’

Quentin Tarantino being harassed by anti-Israel media personality “Crackhead Barney.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

A notorious anti-Israel social media personality accosted filmmaker Quentin Tarantino at a New York City restaurant and called him a “Zionist piece of s–t.”

A woman known online as “Crackhead Barney” shared a video on Saturday of her confrontation with the “Django Unchained” director, 61, as he was eating alone inside a restaurant on St. Marks Place. She approached his table and shouted, “Quentin Tarantino, say ‘Free Palestine!’ Why are you a Zionist piece of s__t?!” Tarantino remained silent as Barney repeated herself and then asked him, “Going to Israel?” as workers from the establishment tried to make her leave the restaurant.

When Tarantino left the eatery, a rowdy crowd awaited him outside including Barney, who confronted him again. She repeatedly shouted “Free Palestine” and asked the director to “say ni–er” multiple times while also exposing herself to the “Pulp Fiction” director. The crowd of people outside the restaurant also chanted “Toes! Toes!” which is seemingly a nod to the director’s fixation with showcasing feet in his movies.

Tarantino is married to Israeli singer Daniella Pick, who is the daughter of legendary Israeli pop musician Svika Pick. The couple live in Tel Aviv with their two children and Tarantino spoke in 2021 about learning Hebrew. In 2022, he received an honorary degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, Tarantino visited an army base in southern Israel and met with Israel Defense Force (IDF) troops.

Earlier this year, Barney harassed actor Alec Baldwin inside a coffee shop in New York City and recorded their confrontation on her cellphone. She told the actor, “Free Palestine … F–k Israel, F–k Zionism.” She repeatedly asked Baldwin to also say “Free Palestine” and when she would not back down, Baldwin eventually knocked Barney’s phone from her hands.

The post Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino Harassed in NYC by Anti-Israel Media Personality For Being a ‘Zionist’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks

A protester wrapped in an Israeli flag at a rally against antisemitism at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

A live web service provided by Aish.com that allows users to speak directly with one of the Jewish organization’s leading rabbis has seen a 300 percent increase in usage since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.

More than 5,000 chat responses (over 225 per day) are received each month, according to Aish, which added in a press release that many of the chats turn into extended conversations, sometimes on WhatsApp, in which rabbis help unaffiliated or disconnected Jewish users reconnect with their Jewish identities and form bonds with other Jews.

The Jewish organization said it believes the increase in usage of its live web chat service is due to the global rise in antisemitism and a newfound curiosity about Israel following Oct. 7, as well as a “yearning for meaning and community in the face of life’s uncertainties, and a desire for deeper meaning and spirituality in the face of a fast-paced modern culture where spiritual needs have been put on a backburner for too long.”

“We’re hearing from so many Jews who feel profoundly disconnected, whether due to living in areas with little Jewish community or lack of affiliation growing up,” said Rabbi Tzvi Broker, who oversees Aish.com‘s Live Chat. “The personal nature of these interactions, coupled with their anonymity, creates a safe space to ask questions and begin exploring. Having a live rabbi to connect and share with, has been a draw for many, and we’re seeing lives transformed as a result.”

Among their efforts, Broker and his team have helped people on the chat slowly incorporate Jewish rituals and traditions into their lives, and have connected them with peers through the organization’s new online community Aish+ so they can continue learning and engaging with other Jews.

“It’s amazing to witness lives being transformed in such profound ways,” said Broker. “Jews around the world are finding threads of connection to their heritage, and tapping into the depth and wisdom of our tradition to find meaning, community, and resilience in these challenging times.”

Bob Diener, the founder of hotels.com and the seed funder of Aish.com’s live chat, added in a statement: “The chat has been a powerful way for people to connect one-on-one with a spiritual leader and have their unique questions answered in a non-threatening and non-intimidating way. The chat’s rabbis are connecting so many people to their roots who otherwise don’t know where to go for guidance.”

“The chats have had a deep impact on many disconnected from the Jewish community,” said Aish CEO Rabbi Steven Burg. “Each of the people we connect with demonstrates a broad yearning to explore Jewish spirituality, peoplehood, and identity and that is why they have been turning to Aish for connection and guidance. We are happy to provide both while connecting them with local Jewish communities in their area, if there is one, to continue their journey.”

The post Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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