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Jewish White House staffers get emotional during briefing on response to Israel’s war

WASHINGTON (JTA) — On paper, the agenda must have seemed dry, an accounting of flights out of Israel, of military equipment going into Israel and of call centers.

But amid the niceties that routinely mark the opening of such meetings, Shelley Greenspan, the White House liaison to the Jewish community, couldn’t hold back on Tuesday. She looked at each of the officials flanking her on the desk in the White House’s West Wing: Jon Finer, the deputy national security advisor, on her left and Liz Sherwood-Randall, President Joe Biden’s homeland security advisor, on her right.

“I give a shoutout to my colleagues here at the White House who are doing everything imaginable to protect Americans at the direction of the president and to make sure that conflict really just subsides,” Greenspan said, choking back tears. “And truly, thank you, guys, for checking in on me the other day. Thank you for not getting any sleep and doing everything you can, Jon.”

Finer cast his eyes down. Sherwood-Randall rubbed Greenspan’s back.

It was a snapshot of how Jewish White House staffers are grappling with how the worst attack on civilians in Israel’s history is both a political crisis and, for them and all Jews, a personal tragedy. On Saturday morning, Hamas terrorists crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, se and air, killing over 1,200 people.

“We see you and stand with you,” Finer said to Greenspan. “Many of us — look at the three of us up here — are of this community. And. and it meant a lot to us to be here and to be able to speak with you today.”

The briefing took place just after Biden delivered one of the most impassioned speeches of his career, describing the attacks as a “pure, unadulterated evil.” Biden was flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is Jewish, and Vice President Kamala Harris, whose husband, Doug Emhoff, is Jewish.

The White House is staging an all-out engagement with the Jewish community. The online briefing Tuesday afternoon was to be followed by an in-person roundtable with Jewish leaders on Wednesday evening, which Biden will address. On Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray will address an online briefing by the Secure Community Network, the consultancy for the national Jewish community.

Finer went over the details of an emergency lift of military equipment to Israel. “The first shipment of military aid including munitions began moving yesterday,” he said. “We believe it is arriving today. And there will be more to come.”

In fact, the shipment arrived while the call was still on. “We are grateful for the U.S. backing and assistance to the IDF, and to the State of Israel in general, during this challenging period,” the Israeli army said just a few minutes after Finer spoke. “Our common enemies know that the cooperation between our militaries is stronger than ever, and is a key part in ensuring regional security and stability.”

Sherwood-Randall said there was no immediate domestic threat. “At this time none of our intelligence agencies have any specific intelligence indicating that there is a threat to the United States stemming from the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel,” she said. “But we remain vigilant because we know that foreign terrorist organizations and their supporters are committed to attacking the United States.”

She said Jewish communities would get up-to-date information on what should be done in case of an emergency. “We will provide you with resource guides that contains specific information on trainings, websites and phone numbers that are available to you from the federal government,” she said.

She also went over plans to add flights out of Israel for Americans who want to leave.

“We know that there are a lot of Americans who’ve traveled to Israel around the High Holy Days and may have stayed through into the Sukkot period, and by themselves not able to go home on the flights that they had previously scheduled because most American carriers have stopped flying in and out of Israel,” Sherwood Randall said.

“The leadership of the State Department and the Department of Transportation has been working with American airline carriers and asked them to increase the number of flights available leaving from Israel,” she said.

A Jewish rescue group, Tzedek Association, is facilitating the effort by setting up an online form for Americans wanting to leave Israel.

The post Jewish White House staffers get emotional during briefing on response to Israel’s war appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

The post Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis first appeared on

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.


Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

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