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Top Democrats Make Unprecedented Statements Against Israel, Signaling Party Shift

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) chats with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the House of Representatives ahead of US President Joe Biden’s third State of the Union address in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, March 7, 2024. Photo: Shawn Thew/Pool via REUTERS

A growing number of prominent, mainstream US Democrats have made recent statements calling to condition Washington’s military aid to Israel and even suggesting the Jewish state is committing genocide, indicating a potentially larger shift within the party against one of America’s closest allies.

Prior to the Hamas terrorist group’s massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7 and the ensuing war in Gaza, members of a small group of vocal, young, far-left progressives were the only members of Congress consistently calling for conditions on aid to Israel and accusing it of egregious crimes.

Over the past few weeks, however, many more mainstream figures have joined the choir as Israel’s war on Hamas reached its six-month mark.

Last week, while speaking at the Islamic Center of Boston, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was asked if she believed Israel was committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, the neighboring enclave ruled by Hamas. She responded, “If you want to do it as an application of law, I believe that they’ll [the International Court of Justice will] find that it is genocide, and they have ample evidence to do so.”

The senator added, “For me, it is far more important to say what Israel is doing is wrong.”

Warren appeared to somewhat walk back her response after it went viral. Her office said in a statement that she was commenting “on the ongoing legal process at the International Court of Justice, not sharing her views on whether genocide is occurring in Gaza.”

The statement referred to ongoing efforts to argue before the International Court of Justice at The Hague that Israel’s defensive war against Hamas in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” South Africa failed in its bid earlier this year to make such a case.

Israel launched its military campaign following Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion, saying its objectives were to free the hostages seized by the terrorists and to incapacitate Hamas, which murdered over 1,200 people and committed mass atrocities during the onslaught, to the point that it could no longer pose a serious threat to the Israeli people.

Nonetheless, US President Joe Biden last week called for an “immediate ceasefire” and threatened to pull back support for Israel due to the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Biden’s warning came after his administration abstained from a UN Security Council resolution that de-linked a ceasefire from the release of hostages — Israel has said any truce must include the freeing of those still held captive.

This week, Biden suggested in an interview that he supports a unilateral Israeli 6-8-week ceasefire, seemingly implying it should be done even if it would leave all the hostages in Gaza. The White House had to clarify that was not what he actually meant, and that he was reiterating support for both the hostages and ceasefire negotiations.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) said in an interview with The Algemeiner that he felt “the president has been fundamentally supportive of Israel,” but also noted he worried that “a number of the statements that have been made have gone too far and undermine Israel” in its war.

Biden expressed strong support for Israel in the weeks following the Oct. 7 massacre and his administration has sent significant amounts of munitions to the Israeli military since the start of the war. According to Torres, however, the messaging from Biden and many other Democrats in recent weeks could benefit Hamas.

“Hamas knows that it cannot defeat Israel militarily. It can only defeat Israel diplomatically and geopolitically,” he explained. “And when you have members of Congress falsely accuse Israel of genocide, or targeting civilians, or assassinating aid workers, or using starvation as a weapon of war, or indiscriminate bombing … you are playing into the hands of Hamas.”

Last week, more than 30 House Democrats, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), sent a letter to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken reading, “We strongly urge you to reconsider your recent decision to authorize the transfer of a new arms package to Israel, and to withhold this and any future offensive arms transfers until a full investigation into the airstrike [which accidentally killed World Central Kitchen aid workers] is completed.”

The letter continued: “We also urge you to withhold these transfers if Israel fails to sufficiently mitigate harm to innocent civilians in Gaza, including aid workers, and if it fails to facilitate — or arbitrarily denies or restricts — the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

Since Biden’s warning last week, Israel increased what were already significant amounts of aid entering Gaza.

Following the letter, Pelosi tried to clarify her stance in an interview on MSNBC, saying she was “not a fan of having conditions on aid to Israel.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Tuesday that he would not approve a large arms transfer to Israel until he has more information about how the Jewish state would use the weapons.

“I’m waiting for assurances,” Meeks told CNN. “I want to make sure that I know the types of weapons and what the weapons would be utilized for.”

In a separate interview on CNN, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) — a top Biden ally and longtime supporter of Israel — said “I think we’re at that point” when asked about conditioning aid to Israel.

“If Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister, were to order the [Israel Defense Force] into Rafah at scale, if they were to drop 1,000-pound bombs and send in a battalion to go after Hamas and make no provision for civilians or for humanitarian aid, then I would vote to condition aid to Israel,” he said.

Rafah is Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza. The United States has been pressuring Israel not to move forward with a full-scale military operation in the southern Gazan city, where Israel says the Palestinian terrorist group still has four battalions. Israeli officials have said they must operate in Rafah but are discussing with US counterparts how best to target Hamas there.

The recent flurry of criticisms of Israel came after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is Jewish, told the Senate last month that Netanyahu’s government “no longer fits the needs of Israel” — a striking comment against a democratic ally at a time of war.

Amid heightened criticism from key Democrats and rising tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, some observers are warning that support for the Jewish state must remain bipartisan.

“Keeping support for Israel bipartisan is critical,” the group Democratic Majority for Israel told The Algemeiner. “History tells us there will be times when both of the two parties are in charge, and we need two pro-Israel parties. Right now, most Democratic leaders are pro-Israel, and we need to work very hard to ensure it remains that way.”

Torres concurred, noting that “there is no US-Israel relationship without bipartisanship.”

When asked about what appears to be an increasingly mainstream shift among Democrats against Israel, Torres argued that conditioning aid among Democrats is still a “minority position.”

However, he added that the increasingly frequent statements pressuring Israel to implement a ceasefire — when it has previously agreed to parameters for one and Hamas has rejected every deal over the past few months — could have the effect of helping the terrorist group in its war effort.

“International pressure is the only hope that Hamas has for achieving victory in the war,” Torres said.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

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‘Israel Is Not Jewish People,’ New York Times ‘Daily’ Guest Really Wants You to Know

Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, April 22, 2024. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

When producers from the New York Times podcast “The Daily” posted on social media looking for “Jewish students who represent a range of feelings and experiences, from being enthusiastically pro Palestinian to enthusiastically pro Israel, and everything in between,” I replied, “This is a trap! They’ll use the ‘pro-Palestinian’ (the polite term they use for the ones who want to wipe Israel off the map) ones to make it sound like the Jewish community is divided and give listeners the illusion that the anti-Israel protests aren’t antisemitic.”

Sure enough, the Times podcast episode that finally aired, headlined, “The Campus Protesters Explain Themselves,” included three students.

Mustafa Yowell, of Irving, Texas, said his mother was from “Nablus, Palestine” and described himself as a Palestinian Arab. He’s a student at the University of Texas, Austin who complained to the Times that “two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers had infiltrated the campus.” By “IDF soldiers” he meant Israeli students at the university who had, like many Israelis, served in the army before college.

The second student interviewed, Elisha Baker, a student at Columbia University, described himself as a proud Zionist and a graduate of Jewish day school.

And the third student, Jasmine Jolly, a student at Cal Poly Humboldt, described herself as the daughter of a Catholic father and “of Ashkenazi descent on my mom’s side.” Jolly showed up at protests with a sign that said “in honor of my Jewish ancestors, I stand with Palestine.” Jolly also chanted “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

“There’s nothing that has come across to me as antisemitic if you are able to pause and remember that Israel is not Jewish people and Zionism is not Jewish people,” Jolly explained to the Times audience.

Jolly read an email from her Jewish grandfather claiming, “Israel is an increasingly apartheid state.”

This is just such a misleading view of reality on campus and in American Jewish life. Even polls like Pew that use an expansive definition of who is Jewish find overwhelming Jewish support for Israel and negligible support for Hamas, including among younger Jews 18 to 34.

In reality, a lot of the anti-Israel protesters aren’t even Palestinians; they are European or Asian students or white or black Americans who either have been brainwashed by their professors or who have underlying, pre-existing antisemitic attitudes. Few of them have been to the Middle East and many of them are ignorant about basic facts about it — remember the Wall Street Journal piece, “From Which River to Which Sea?

“The Daily” episode made it crisply concrete, with the Times representing Jews as being split 50-50, with one normative Jew and one Jew chanting “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.” That’s ridiculous, yet a similar approach contaminates other Times coverage of the Jewish community, misleadlingly portraying American Jewry as deeply divided rather than unified around the goals of getting the hostages back, eliminating the threat of Hamas, and making American college campuses safe for Jewish students.

The Times was at this game well before Oct. 7, 2023, proclaiming “the unraveling of American Zionism” and trotting out old chestnuts such as the Reform movement’s Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 and the New York Times‘ favorite Jew, Peter Beinart.

I find myself rolling my eyes at such depictions, but there is clearly some audience for them among the Times readership and top editorial ranks. The Times executive editor, Joe Kahn, told Semafor’s Ben Smith in a May interview, “I’m not an active Jew.” Maybe the New York Times can sell sweatshirts: “Inactive Jew.” Who, exactly, is supposed to find that distinction between “active” and “inactive” Jews reassuring? Maybe they can put it on top of the front page in place of “All the News That’s Fit to Print”: “Edited by someone who wants the public to know he’s not an active Jew.”

Of all the moments to choose to distance oneself publicly from the Jewish people, this is sure quite one to choose.

This “Daily” episode seems calculated to appeal to the inactive Jews, and to others who want justification to believe it’s not antisemitic to set up on Passover and falsely accuse Israel of genocide. It’s nice for the Times to include a Zionist voice on the program, but he wound up sandwiched in between a Palestinian and an “only one solution, intifada revolution” person. It’s fairly typical for the New York Times these days, but it isn’t pretty.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. He also writes at

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases Second Video of Israeli Hostage Sasha Troufanov

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in an undated propaganda video released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on May 30, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Thursday released a second propaganda video this week featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

In the video, Trufanov says he is doing well and criticizes Israel’s prime minister and government in remarks that were likely scripted by his captors.

There was no information about when the video was filmed. However, Trufanov refers to Israel’s decision on May 5 to order the local offices of Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite news network to close, indicating he may have been filmed in the last few weeks.

The latest video came just two days after Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist group in Gaza, released its first video featuring Trufanov.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare meant to torture the Israeli public, especially the families of the hostages being held in Gaza.

Trufanov’s mother said after the first video was released that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but it was “heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

“Seeing my Sasha on my TV was very cheering, but it also breaks my heart that he’s still been in captivity for so long,” she said in a video released by the family. “I ask everyone, all the decision-makers: Please do everything, absolutely everything, to bring my son and all the hostages home now.”

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Sasha was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend. All three women were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

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