Here are the results in Tuesday’s races that matter most to Jews
Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections held Tuesday, with Jewish Congress members poised to take key leadership roles. Republicans looked to increase their majority in the Senate.
Five Jewish Democrats are set to chair key House committees, including three representatives from New York: Jerrold Nadler, the Judiciary Committee; Eliot Engel, Foreign Affairs; and Nita Lowey, Appropriations. Adam Schiff of California will head the Intelligence Committee and John Yarmuth of Kentucky will lead the Budget Committee.
Democrat Jared Polis will be the first Jewish and first gay governor of Colorado, and J.B. Pritzker, a Jewish Democrat, will be the next governor of Illinois. And two Jewish military veterans won upset Democratic victories in House races: Max Rose in New York and Elaine Luria in Virginia.
In the Senate, U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat and a former synagogue president, defeated the incumbent Republican, Dean Heller.
Here are more results in races of significance to Jewish voters:
House of Representatives
In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, handily won her race in District 13. Tlaib favors a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has opposed U.S. aid to Israel. She will also be one of the first Muslim women in Congress, along with Ilhan Omar, who won in Minnesota.
The Republican Jewish Coalition praised the Republicans for expanding their majority in the Senate, while the Jewish Democratic Council of America congratulated their party on regaining control of the House of Representatives.
The RJC’s executive director Matt Brooks regarded the Republican victories in Tuesday’s midterm elections as a sign of “the strong approval of the American people for the Republican policies that have substantially improved our economy, our national security, and our standing abroad.”
While Democratic control of the House will pump the brakes on President Donald Trump’s agenda and will shift the terrain in Washington, Republicans were relieved that a so-called “blue wave” of Democratic victories appeared to fall short, especially in at least three key Senate races — in Indiana, North Dakota and Texas.
“Historically, the party holding the White House loses seats in Congress during the midterm election,” said Brooks. “This year Republicans did well in a tough environment and increased their share in the Senate. And while we lost seats in the House, it should be noted that Democrats gained far fewer seats in the House this year compared to Republicans in recent history. Republicans gained 63 House seats in the 2010 midterms during President Obama’s first term and 52 in the 1994 midterms during President Clinton’s first term.”
Tablet: Voter Education: Eight candidates who have expressed blatantly anti-Semitic views, or who openly associate with anti-Semites
Results for the eight candidates:
John Fitzgerald R Cal 11th LOST
Arthur Jones R Illinois 3rd LOST
Danny K. Davis D Illinois 7th WON
Andre Carson D Indiana 7th WON
Steve King R Iowa’s 4th WON
Lena Epstein R Michigan 11th LOST
Ilhan Omar D Minnesota 5th WON
Leslie Cockburn D Virginia 5th LOST
Others of interest:
Rashida Tlaib D Michigan 13th WON
Ammar Campa-Najjar D California 50th LOST
Stacey Abrams D Georgia Gov LOST
Dana Rohrabacher R California 48th LOST
Kyrsten Sinema D Arizona Senate D UNDECIDED
Andrew Gillum D Florida Gov LOST
Keith Ellison D Michigan AG WON
Scott Wallace D Pennsylvania 1st LOST
Tuning into the news at dawn on Wednesday, the extended family of Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress, celebrated her victory in their home in the West Bank.
Tlaib, a Democrat, ran virtually unopposed in Michigan’s 13th congressional district, which encompasses southwest Detroit and its suburbs west to the city of Dearborn. She previously served in Michigan’s state legislature.
She has become “a source of pride for Palestine and the entire Arab and Muslim world,” her uncle, Bassam Tlaib, said in the small village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa.
With her win, Tlaib, 44, will become the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. Alongside incoming Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, she will also be one of the first Muslim women to join the congressional ranks.
“I’m going to speak truth to power,” Tlaib told the Detroit Free Press on election night on Tuesday. “I obviously have a set agenda that’s not going to be a priority for the current president but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to push back.”
Tlaib’s district is home to one of the largest Arab-American populations in the United States. Her win highlights a wave of Palestinian diaspora candidates and activists who have embraced the Democratic Party’s progressive wing at a low point in U.S.-Palestinian relations under Republican President Donald Trump.
That’s right, elected to the US Congress but waving the Palestinian flag. Says a lot about agenda and priority. Hamas is celebrating tonight. pic.twitter.com/kU5qARmlA6
— Imam of Peace (@Imamofpeace) November 7, 2018
U.S. Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican, won re-election late Tuesday despite publicly losing a corporate supporter shortly before Election Day and being criticized by some within his own party for inflammatory remarks on immigration and race.
Just days before the Nov. 6 elections, agricultural dairy cooperative Land O’Lakes pulled its support for King, saying it sought to “ensure that recipients of our contributions uphold our company’s values.”
Though heavily criticized, King, 69, held off a challenge by Democrat J.D. Scholten, who raised more money than King had. He beat Scholten by 3 percentage points and was elected to a ninth term for Iowa’s large and mostly rural 4th district.
King has been criticized by members of his own party for comments and support for candidates with white supremacist affiliations.
Last month, King tweeted a photo of multiple breeds of dogs, noting “all the diversity” at his annual pheasant hunt.
King has a long track record of remarks decried as racist, but the comments came under renewed scrutiny after a massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue in late October.
An avowed Nazi running as a Republican lost a House race in suburban Chicago on Tuesday.
Arthur Jones, who called the Holocaust “the biggest, blackest lie in history” and described himself as a former leader of the American Nazi Party, lost by a 50-point margin to incumbent Democrat Dan Lipinski.
Jones still managed to get more than 40,000 votes, according to official figures.
The 70-year-old secured the Republican nomination in March, when the party did not bother to put up any other candidate in the heavily-Democratic congressional district.
Jones’s primary win was a major embarrassment for party leaders.
They disavowed the retired insurance agent who told CNN earlier this year that the Holocaust was “nothing but an international extortion racket by the Jews.”
It’s that time of the year again… when Palestinian Authority officials lash out at former British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour and curse him and Britain on the anniversary of Balfour’s declaration from 1917 that Britain favored “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Wanting to educate Palestinians on how and why “the ominous Balfour Promise” came into being, PA Minister of Education Sabri Saidam posted a video produced by official PA TV, with a “simple” – and antisemitic – explanation:
“The old continent was sick of the behavior of the Jews at the time, and therefore it planned to get rid of them.”
[Facebook page of PA Minister of Education Sabri Saidam, Nov. 2, 2018]
Saidam’s posted text: “101 years since the ominous promise… Here is a simple explanation of the Balfour Promise for its anniversary…”
Narrator: “The nightmare was created by Britain and was realized on the land of Palestine. Britain gave a right which it did not have to one not entitled to it: [A right] to our land in the form of a state, which is now known as ‘Israel’ …
It was said that the old continent [Europe] was sick of the behavior of the Jews at the time, and therefore it planned to get rid of them… British Foreign Secretary at the time Arthur James Balfour stabbed a dagger into the soft belly of Palestine. He took upon himself a promise from one without ownership to one not entitled, as if he was the owner of the land and not a colonialist.”
[Facebook page of PA Minister of Education Sabri Saidam, Nov. 2, 2018]
PA Minister of Education posted a video produced by official PA TV, with a “simple” explanation for the Balfour Declaration: “[Europe] was sick of the behavior of the Jews… and therefore it planned to get rid of them.”
Read more here: https://t.co/vv9HcTCU83 pic.twitter.com/7pjstQ0PdN
— Pal Media Watch (@palwatch) November 7, 2018
When Mahmoud Abbas addressed the recent UN General Assembly he declared in Arabic “I pay tribute to our pure Martyrs and our heroic prisoners.” Alongside his standard glorification of terrorist murderers, Abbas was specifically defending the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) law and policy – known collectively as the PA’s ‘Play to Slay’ policy – whereby the PA uses more than 7% of its entire annual budget, over 1.2 billion shekels, to financially reward terrorists. Abbas’s message was clear – the PA, under his leadership, will continue squandering its limited resources to finance its putrid policy.
Abbas’ message was suspiciously lost on the UN translator. Instead of translating what Abbas actually said, Palestinian Media Watch has exposed that the translator misled the listeners by saying that Abbas said, “I pay tribute to all freedom loving countries and peoples and our martyrs”.
Now the UN Secretary General’s Special representative to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, is apparently joining the UN translators. A report in an Israeli daily claims that Mladenov has warned Israel’s government that implementing a law passed by Israel’s parliament in July 2018 will cause the “collapse of the PA.”
Every month, Israel collects hundreds of thousands of shekels and transfers them to the PA. These funds account for approximately 50% of the PA’s budget. The PA then uses these funds to finance its ‘Pay for Slay’ policy. In practice, Israel is itself providing the funds to the PA to reward the Palestinian terrorists who murder Israelis.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Threats to Arab Normalization with Israel
When it comes to Israel, one would be hard-pressed to distinguish between Fatah and Hamas. The daily statements condemning Israel that are issued separately by Hamas and Fatah sound almost identical. These daily attacks have radicalized Palestinians to a point where many of them would not consider any form of compromise with Israel.
In the past few days, the rival Palestinian parties have again found themselves in agreement over what they perceive as efforts to normalize relations between Israel and some Arab countries. They are opposed to normalization between Israel and the Arab counties because they are afraid that their Arab brothers will forget about the Palestinians and focus on bringing prosperity and stability to the Arab countries.
The Palestinians seek to continue holding the Arab world hostage to their own unrealistic demands. They do not want to see the Arab countries move forward and build a better future for their people. In the world of the Palestinians, peace between Israel and the Arab countries is tantamount to treason, a conspiracy concocted by Israel and the U.S.
Oman has broken ranks with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) by endorsing President Trump’s efforts to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict.
The PLO has made it crystal-clear on many occasions that it wanted nothing to do with Trump’s upcoming proposals.
The PLO Central Council also threatened on 30 October to suspend its recognition of the State of Israel and halt security coordination with Israel.
Addressing the 14th Middle East Security Summit in Manama, Bahrein, Yousef Bin Alawi – Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs – declared:
“I would like to tell you very clearly that we call, we request and we affirm and confirm that the main role is mainly relying on the role of the US and what the US president will be doing regarding the deal of the century, because we want this effort to be very successful and to lead to getting rid of all the problems that we have faced recently or during the last 40/50 years.”
Oman had in the previous week hosted separate visits within days of each other by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Alawi still continued to utter the following Arab mantra to the Summit – which would not have impressed Trump:
“We consider that the Palestinian issue is the core of all the problems that we have seen during the second half of the last century and the 18 years of the 21st Century. We have to see how we can solve this problem and find a future for a new generation of young persons in this area who can really live with the other generations of this world into the future.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit Austria at the end of the month for a summit on antisemitism and anti-Zionism, as well as bilateral talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Kurz announced the summit and Netanyahu’s participation on Wednesday morning, with the event scheduled for November 20-21.
Kurz tied the summit to the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, in a video message posted on Twitter, which he said should remind Austria of its responsibility to fight antisemitism of all forms, whether “of the old kind or newly imported.”
Said Kurz. “As Federal Government of Austria and in the context of the current EU-Presidency we will be hosting a high level conference with the goal of jointly fighting against antisemitism and anti-Zionism in Europe on the 20th and 21st of November in Vienna.”
The Austrian chancellor said that he was “delighted” that Netanyahu would be attending and participating in the conference.
The new administration in Brazil has reiterated its position that despite mounting pressure from the Arab world, it will remain true to its word and relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“We’re going to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem,” Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro, wrote on Tuesday to Jane Silva, president of a leading pro-Israel organization in Brazil.
Silva had approached Eduardo Bolsonaro in the wake of reports in the Brazilian press indicating that Egypt had called off the Brazilian foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Cairo in protest of the planned embassy transfer.
In her letter to Bolsonaro, Silva wrote: “Jerusalem was always the capital of Israel. … There was a partition plan; the Arabs rejected it and launched wars against Israel and persecuted Israel. Israel has suffered, but it held its head high. Israel has seized every opportunity and established a nice home for the sole and legitimate owners of the land of Israel – the Jewish people.”
“It’s funny that there are over 50 Arab countries, none of which are willing to give a sliver of land to the Palestinians, while Israel is the only Jewish country in the world, smaller than [the state of] Sergipe in Brazil, and despite this they still want to divide Israel?” she wondered.
Meanwhile, Israeli and Brazilian officials have begun initial discussions to coordinate President Bolsonaro’s visit to Israel soon after he is sworn into office.
Iranian forces in Syria may present a threat to the US and in Iraq the Iranian threat is increasing, according to a new report from the US Department of Defense. The Lead Inspector General report on Operation Inherent Resolve was released on Tuesday and reviews the US role fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
However the quarterly report, which covers operations from July to September of this year, notes that Iran is increasingly a threat to the US and examines how Washington is now changing its posture in Syria as the mission changes.
In the last several months US officials have said that American troops would remain in Syria as long as Iranian troops were also present in the country. The US is now seeking to “leverage” its influence in Syria to remove Iran.
This is a major mission change from a conflict that began in 2014 to confront ISIS. The US base at Tanf, located in southern Syria near where the Jordanian and Iraqi borders meet, is also the subject of the report’s review. It notes that “while Iranian-backed miliitas may present a threat to the US and Coalition forces in Syria, neither Iran nor Iranian-backed militias had hindered counter-ISIS operations.” The garrison at Tanf restricts the movement of the Iranians.
Rouhani says Iran will break US sanctions, November 5, 2018 (Reuters)
The Defense Department appears concerned that the mission in Syria is now becoming open-ended. “These policy goals include removing Iran and Iranian proxies from the country, influencing the outcome of the Syrian civil war now in its 8th year and stabilizing areas of northeast Syria liberated from ISIS.”
Clashes broke out in the northern West Bank city of Nablus overnight Tuesday after Israeli security forces entered the city to escort Jewish worshipers to the Joseph’s Tomb holy site, the army said.
According to an Israel Defense Forces statement, Palestinians hurled firebombs at security forces and shot at their armored cars, before troops drove them back with tear gas and live fire.
Inside the tomb, soldiers discovered two makeshift explosive devices, the army said. Both were defused by sappers.
No injuries were reported, and the army said one Palestinian involved in targeting troops was arrested and taken in for questioning.
The IDF said the thousand or so Jewish worshipers prayed at Joseph’s Tomb without incident.
Joseph’s Tomb is located inside Area A of the West Bank, which is officially under complete Palestinian Authority control, though the Israeli military conducts activities there on its own volition. The IDF bars Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization.
The site is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims, and has often been a flashpoint for sectarian violence. Jewish pilgrims are usually only allowed to visit the tomb once a month under heavy-armed guard. During these visits, Palestinians routinely throw rocks at the troops, and sometimes attack them with Molotov cocktails and gunfire.
Separately, the army said that it arrested eight Palestinians suspected of “involvement in terror activity” in raids throughout the West Bank overnight Tuesday.
The Medal of Valor is the highest decoration the Public Security Minister is entitled to grant for an act of supreme heroism with the utmost trepidation.
Tuesday night’s ceremony, held by the Public Security Minister and the Commissioner, recognized Fuld posthumously for his courage and heroism when he saved the lives of civilians while fighting a terrorist who had already mortally wounded him in a terror stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction on September 16.
The ceremony was also held to acknowledge the courage and heroism of police officers and civilians in their struggle against terrorism over the past three years.
Residents of the Gaza-vicinity communities expressed anger Tuesday over what they called environmental groups’ inaction in the face of Palestinian arson terrorism.
The terrorist arson campaign, launched in late April, has so far decimated nearly 10,000 acres of forest and farmlands on the Israeli side of the border.
Incendiary kites and balloons have caused millions of dollars in damage to the area over the past seven months and environmental experts say it will take at least 15 years to rehabilitate the vegetation and wildlife that have been destroyed.
Still, despite the extensive environmental damage, Israel’s green and animal rights groups have remained silent on the issue.
The residents said their criticism was not aimed at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority or Jewish National Fund – the former a government organization and the latter a quasi-governmental agency – which have been working closely with the authorities to extinguish these fires and minimize the damage, but rather at the dozens of private NGOs that claim to champion environmental and animal-welfare causes.
Bar-Ilan University prohibited a student group on campus from distributing pro-Israel advocacy material about the Nakba and the Palestinian refugees.
The ban occurred earlier this week ahead of the university’s “student group fair,” an event in which student groups on campus were invited to present their groups to the students.
One of the student groups, Im Tirtzu, was denied permission by the university from distributing its “Nakba Nonsense” and “The Palestinian Refugee Lie” booklets, which according to Im Tirtzu are its most popular booklets and have been distributed for years in every Israeli university without issue.
Im Tirtzu’s Bar-Ilan University branch was notified of the university’s decision via email on the evening prior to the fair, despite having submitted its material for review two weeks prior as is required by the university. The university’s email did not provide explanation as to why it barred Im Tirtzu from distributing its booklets.
The group was also initially denied permission to distribute complimentary bags to IDF reservists, but received permission hours before the fair after petitioning the university.
The IDF arrested three Palestinian suspects near the West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan Bet on Tuesday evening.
According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, one of the men was caught with a hunting rifle. All three were transferred for questioning to Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency.
IDF soldiers continued to comb the area following the arrests in order to ascertain if any had managed to flee from security forces.
While there have been significantly less vehicular attacks as well as stabbings and shooting attacks towards IDF forces and Israeli civilians in the West Bank they remain a significant threat.
Earlier on Tuesday a 37 year-old Palestinian woman from the West Bank village of Yatta tried to stab a Border Policeman at a gas station near the settlement of Kfar Adumim. According to police, security officials were alerted to her after she walked into a food stand in the station and refused to leave.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Failed Stabbing Of Soldier Botches Chance For Dramatic Marriage Proposal (satire)
A Palestinian whose attempt to kill an IDF trooper, and to use the excitement of the moment to ask his girlfriend to marry him, fell short of its objective when the soldier avoided the attack and disarmed him, depriving the man of the opportunity to see his plan through.
Watda Farouq, 22, sought to stab an Israeli soldier manning a crossing point of the Green Line, with the intention of creating a dramatic, emotional scene that he could parlay into a marriage proposal. He had arranged for his romantic partner Reem Jabb. 19, to arrive at the checkpoint moments before the attack, while a friend filmed the episode from a distance. However, Farouq failed to account for the precautions the IDF has implemented since the “stabbing Intifada” began several years ago, and found himself lying on the ground without his knife, and without his would-be-fiancée.
“I had it all planned out,” lamented the day laborer. “I was going to kill a Jewish pig soldier, and propose over the body. I even got permission from Reem’s family to do this. Now I don’t know what’s going to happen – I know I might get some money from the Palestinian Authority for my actions, though it won’t be so much because I didn’t even draw blood, but I don’t know if Reem’s family will still be okay with marrying me. Even if they are, I’ll still have to find work, because the monthly payments for those who don’t manage to kill Jews are much lower than for those who do.”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Authority slams Qatari role in Gaza
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to a truce agreement between Hamas and Israel under the sponsorship of Qatar and the United Nations.
“Hamas is seeking a written agreement with Israel, through the UN and Qatar, because such an accord with have a political implications,” said Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior official with the PA’s ruling Fatah faction. “The Palestinian leadership, represented through President Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO Executive Committee and all the PLO factions, have said no to such an agreement.”
Ahmed said that any agreement signed with Israel will be considered a “form of negotiations” – and this, he explained, is a “national, and not factional, issue.”
Ahmed told the PA’s Palestine TV station that the PA leadership, with the help of Egypt, recently succeeded in foiling an Israeli proposal to establish a seaport in Cyprus that was supposed to be used to ship goods to the Gaza Strip. He claimed that any political agreement with Israel will be part of the US administration’s attempt to impose its yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East which, he said, was aimed at establishing a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
“It’s painful that Hamas would embark on such a step,” the senior Fatah official said. Some Palestinian factions and Arab countries, he added, were “colluding” with the Americans and Israelis to pass the US administration’s unseen plan. Although he did not name the Arab countries, it’s believed that Ahmed was referring specifically to Qatar.
A senior United Arab Emirates government official appeared to lash out at Hamas over a statement it issued earlier this week, in which it expressed sympathy with the Iranian government in the wake of new American punitive measures against Tehran.
“Hamas’s solidarity with the Iranian government does not take into consideration the Gulf and Arab anxiety over Tehran’s regional interference,” Anwar Gargash, UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted Tuesday evening. “It is unnecessary. It pushes the Palestinian issue into a maze and confirms the opinion that the movement, in its orientation, is nothing more than an Iranian regional tool.”
In a statement on Monday, Hamas condemned Washngton’s reimposition of sanctions against Iran, which it said seek “to destabilize security and stability in the region…and strengthen the Zionist project,” and affirmed its “solidarity with Iran’s government and people.”
The sanctions reimposed by US President Donald Trump’s administration had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, and came back into effect on Monday after he pulled out of the international agreement — signed by Iran, the US and five other powers — in May.
Senior Arab government officials seldom issue public criticism of Hamas.
Iran’s true believers are sticking with the mullahs’ Pavlovian response to President Trump’s newly reimposed sanctions. Increasingly, however, many Iranians no longer are.
On Sunday, Tehran flew in Louis Farrakhan to help spread its go-to “It’s all America’s fault” message. And the Nation of Islam leader played his role like a violin — even flaunting foreign-language skills.
“Death to … ” Farrakhan intoned in Farsi, addressing a Tehran University audience. “America,” answered the obedient crowd.
That chant has been an Iranian staple since the seizure of the US Embassy 39 years ago, so to celebrate the anniversary of the American hostage taking, while also marking the re-imposition of US sanctions, the regime asked Farrakhan to join in. And the man who recently professed to be “anti-termite,” referring to Jews, also led cheers of “Death to Israel,” the country the regime wants off the map.
In an article titled “Iraq’s Jewish Community – A Distinguished History,” published August 5, 2018 on the liberal Arab website Elaph.com, Iraqi writer Haidar Muften Jarallah praised the Iraqi Jewish community and its history, and described its members as an authentic, ancient, and vital element of Iraqi society. He stated that the Jews of Iraq had been fully integrated into Iraqi society, and that many of them had been talented and respectable and had contributed greatly to society, but that the community had been forced to emigrate in the 1940s, after the 1941 Farhud pogrom against them and the events that followed. He called on the Iraqi government and the country’s elite to act to change the predominant stereotype of the Jews as the source of all problems in Iraq and the entire world, and to apologize to the Iraqi Jewish community, restore its good name, compensate it materially and spiritually, and make its leaders the bridge to peace and normalization.
It should be noted that in a previous article on Elaph.com, published in March 2018, Jarallah discussed the importance of a strategic Iraq-Israel relationship.
The following are translated excerpts from his August 5, 2018 article:
“The discourse about the Iraqi Jewish community is deep and wide-ranging, and tells the story of Iraq’s past, in all its aspects – because they [the Jews were] an authentic element deeply rooted in [Iraq’s] history and as ancient as the days of the Mesopotamian kingdom. Many researchers agree that the beginning of the real [Jewish] presence in Mesopotamia dates back to 597 or 586 BCE, when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed their kingdom in Jerusalem and brought them to Babylon in the Babylonian Exile, and therefore they are thought to be among the most ancient and deeply rooted elements in Iraq. Furthermore, they are the most ancient [element] of the numerous religious groups and communities present today in this land [Iraq].
“I did not live in the era of this [Jewish] community, and I had no contact with its members, because they left the country before I was born, emigrating due to their fear of the Farhud– the [June 1941 Baghdad] looting and robbery and murder against many of them, which were similar to the attack [that resulted in] the Babylonian Exile and to the infamous Spanish Inquisition that harmed Jews and Muslims…
Rene Trabelsi, co-organizer of an annual pilgrimage to the oldest synagogue in Africa, was named Tunisia’s first Jewish minister in decades this week.
Trabelsi was appointed tourism minister on Monday evening. He splits his time between France and Tunisia.
He is the country’s third-ever Jewish minister. The previous two were Albert Bessis who served in the 1955 government that led Tunisia to independence, and Andre Barouch, who worked in president Habib Bourguiba’s administration in 1956.
Trabelsi grew up on the island of Djerba, the heartland of Tunisia’s Jewish community and the site of the pilgrimage which attracts thousands of people each year.
His father, Perez, has been the leader of the Jewish community there since 1985 and is president of the island’s famous Ghriba synagogue.
For two days, pilgrims pray and sing in Hebrew as they light candles and place votive eggs in a cave below the house of worship on the island just off southern Tunisia.
About 3,000 people took part in the first day of this year’s festivities in May, authorities said.
Trabelsi’s role co-organizing the pilgrimage, along with his enthusiastic banter and passion for Jewish-Muslim coexistence, have made him a prominent figure in the media. (h/t Zvi)
1/2 Egyptian President Al-Sisi: We Enabled Building of Churches, Synagogues in Egypt; All People Have the Right to Worship or Not Worship pic.twitter.com/S409emQwct
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) November 7, 2018
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