More than 290,000 people attended the “March for Israel” rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by Shay Shohat/Flash90.
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At 290,000-strong, ‘March for Israel’ is ‘largest pro-Israel gathering in history’
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Another 250,000 watched via lifestream, according to organizers.
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“We have indeed made history today with over 290,000 of us gathered here on the National Mall. This is the largest pro-Israel gathering in history," William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told attendees of the Nov. 14 “March for Israel” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Daroff, whose organization represents 50 member groups, added that another 250,000 watched the march on livestream and on C-SPAN.

He added that bus drivers refused to transport 900 participants from the Detroit Federation who arrived at Dulles International Airport when the drivers learned they were going to a pro-Israel event.

Daroff Fingerhut
William Daroff (left), CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, address an estimated 290,000 at the “March for Israel” rally in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, 2023. Source: Screenshot.

“Look what we can do in just over a week. Imagine what we can do," said Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, which represents 146 Federations.

“Today's crowd brings together every sector of American life. People of all faiths and creeds, of all races and backgrounds, to say together with unity and strength, 'We support Israel's fight to rid itself of the terror threat and restore safety and security to its people,'” he said.

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    July 18, 2024

Two Israelis were wounded overnight Thursday when an "aerial target" struck a residential building in central Tel Aviv.

Magen David Adom emergency medics treated a 25-year-old woman and 37-year-old man for shrapnel wounds before evacuating them to Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center’s Ichilov Hospital.

The explosion occurred just after 3 a.m. local time in the area of Ben Yehuda St., a few blocks away from the U.S. diplomatic mission in the heart of the coastal city.

Footage from the scene appeared to show an armed drone crashing into a building on the corner of Shalom Aleichem St.

"An initial inquiry indicates that the explosion in Tel Aviv was caused by the falling of an aerial target," according to an Israel Defense Forces statement. "The incident is under thorough review. Israeli security forces are currently operating at the scene."

No sirens were activated in Tel Aviv ahead of the attack.

"The [Israel Air Force] increased its air patrols in order to protect Israeli airspace," added the military.

https://twitter.com/israelnewspulse/status/1814096890876571931
https://twitter.com/HenMazzig/status/1814118688687099994
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition appear to maintain a lead in the polls, with a new survey suggesting that the prime minister's Likud Party would garner 28 Knesset seats in early elections.

The Channel 14 survey, conducted by Direct Polls and released on Thursday, indicates that Netanyahu's right-wing coalition would win 58 out of 120 seats, one more than the prior Channel 14 poll suggested on July 11.

The anti-Netanyahu bloc, led by National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz, is poised to get 52 mandates, down one from last week's poll, and Arab parties would win a combined 10 seats, per Direct Polls.

According to the survey, the breakdown of mandates would be as follows:

Right-wing bloc:

Likud – 28 (+4)
Shas – 10
Otzma Yehudit – 8 (-1)
United Torah Judaism – 8
Religious Zionism – 4 (-2)

Total: 58 mandates

Left-wing bloc:

National Unity Party – 16
Israel Beiteinu – 13 (-1)
Yesh Atid – 12 (-1)
The Democrats (formerly Labor and Meretz) – 11 (+1)

Total: 52 mandates

Arab parties:

Ra'am (United Arab List) – 6
Hadash-Ta'al – 4

Total: 10 mandates

Asked who is best suited to serve as the Jewish state's prime minister, 48% told Direct Polls it felt Netanyahu was the right man for the job, while 28% cited Gantz and 24% said neither is suitable.

When choosing between Netanyahu and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, 49% said Netanyahu was best suited to lead, and 30% said Lapid and 21% said both were unsuitable.

The survey was conducted on July 18 among a representative sample of 779 adults in Israel, with a 4.0% margin of error and a plus-or-minus 95% probability. Direct Polls predicted the results of the most recent election.

The next Israeli national vote is scheduled for 2026, unless the Likud-led government falls and early elections are called.

While 60% of Israelis is dissatisfied with the government's handling of the ongoing conflicts on the country's southern and northern borders, the majority believes that early elections would hurt the war effort, according to a poll conducted by Direct Polls for JNS earlier this month.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that a national vote before the end of the wars with Hamas and Hezbollah would "hurt" (9%) or be "very harmful" (45%) to Israel’s deterrence in the face of ongoing threats.

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Entering the ninth month of this terrible war has been especially harrowing. As our hostages continue to be held in unfathomable terror, my mind is consumed with the women, because we all know what can happen in nine months. I shudder to think of it.

Tragically, we Jews are no strangers to this level of terror. Historically, Jewish women have been targeted with horrific sexual violence: From the ancient Greek warlords who would force themselves on every new Jewish bride to the suicides of Ukrainian Jewish women during the Chmielnicki Pogroms. Those women jumped to their deaths, desperate to avoid a fate of sexual violence they saw as worse than death. Then there were the Nazi officers who disregarded their laws against having sex with a Jew if it meant raping their women.

But in 2023? In a world where women are seemingly safe and sexual violence is universally condemned? Who could have imagined this could happen?

In the days and months after Oct. 7, aside from the agony of seeing the faces of fallen soldiers and watching the world regress into grotesque, irrational, libelous Jew-hate, I couldn’t work at all. My work with Kosher Sex used to thrill and uplift me, but I was now haunted. I was tormented by the accounts of survivors and emergency responders who had witnessed the carnage and evidence of truly evil sexual assault of both women and men; as well as the images I had seen of women lying in fields, clothing ripped off, their bodies stripped and contorted, violated in their last moments of life and even after in death.

But the nightmare continued with an endless stream of testimony from former hostages who recounted their assaults, the footage of terrorists mocking and threatening our terrified young female soldier hostages with impregnation and the silent world of moral frauds who deny that these atrocities even occurred.

Now here we are, at nine months, knowing that these monsters continue to perpetrate everything they threaten while our hostages wait every day for us to save them and we can’t stop it. Suddenly, my work that was centered around uplifting the concept of sex had descended into hell.

The messages flooded my inbox and Kosher Sex DMs. Women in particular wrote to me seeking advice on how to navigate sex with their spouse when they couldn’t bear to touch or be touched. The trauma was widespread and deep and an act focused on creating closeness was now pushing couples apart.

Sex is not just an act of the body but a fusion of the body, mind and soul. Though our bodies were still intact, our minds and souls were shattered. But then there were also the couples in which one partner felt that they needed sex more than ever to connect in any way they could with their spouse because the sense of isolation, loneliness and despair was overwhelming.

I never imagined I would ever encounter a situation in which I would have to address this. Of course, in my line of work, I’d spoken to many people who were dealing with sexual trauma, but this was something else: A whole nation trying to make sense of what had just happened and how to process these feelings.

On top of the macro-trauma, fear and pain that the Jewish people were experiencing, there was the micro of the Jewish home: How does a couple connect when they are affected in such different ways by this anguish? All I could do was encourage couples to communicate and be open with their spouses about their feelings and decide for themselves what felt right.

I closed the Kosher Sex shop in Jerusalem for almost two months. The work didn’t feel holy to me anymore; it felt desecrated. But I did make a video on my social media. In it, I explained that there are laws for intimacy during these times that Judaism outlines, because tragically for Jews, loss, suffering and war have become all too casual.

I spoke about the Shulchan Aruch and how it stipulates that during an “Eit Tzara,” a “period of suffering” such as a famine, couples who refrain from intercourse are considered “righteous.” It seemed logical: How can couples truly enjoy the throes of passion when there is such widespread suffering? In Judaism, sex between a couple is holy and God revels and takes part in their closeness. Now it seemed God wanted there to be distance. We all felt that distance: from ourselves, our partners, a hateful, ignorant world and God Himself.

Then came the month of Nisan, six months into the war. My head was still spinning from this new reality for Israel and the Jews but I stumbled upon something: I knew that Nisan is the month of miracles, the month in which God finally has mercy on His people, leading them from slavery into freedom and destroying their enemies. I looked deeper into the story of the Exodus for something to hold on to.

Amid all of God’s Passover miracles, we are told that “in the merit of Jewish women, our people were redeemed from Egypt.” This merit wasn’t women's more natural inclination towards spirituality, their modest dress or prayers. It was their power of seduction.

The male Jewish slaves of Egypt were broken. Literally, their bodies were forced into “back-breaking labor,” but the real collapse was of their libidos. In the most famous instance, Moses’ father Amram separated from his wife Yocheved and took sex off the table. Though the purpose of sex in Judaism is intimacy, not just procreation, the slaves' drive had been beaten into nonexistence. They saw no reason to reproduce and thus continue the Jewish people. It seemed like God had abandoned them. Pharaoh was drowning all of their newborn sons in the Nile, a real genocide; so what was the point? As a result, they distanced themselves from their wives.

But the Jewish women’s spirit endured. They went to their battered husbands and soothed them with promises that soon they would be free men. They pulled them under the shade of apple trees and teased and flirted with their husbands, “and then they would take the mirrors, and each gazed at herself together with her husband, saying endearingly to him, 'See, I am more beautiful than you!’”

The men, if only momentarily, would forget the bitterness of their lives and allow intimacy to reconvene, giving them the strength to go on and also continue our great nation.

These mirrors were later used to create the Kiyor, the wash basin used to purify the priests before their service in the Temple. Moses initially rejected these mirrors, thinking they were tools of vanity and arousal. It was God who told Moses, “Accept them, for these are dearer to me than everything else.”

After learning this, I began to see a shift. One that not only brought me back to my work and gave me a new sense of purpose in helping couples connect and create, but one I saw in my customers too. I get all kinds of people in the shop: soldiers, Haredim, Arabs, non-Jews, younger and older couples. But what has surprised me most is who is buying for whom.

It used to be a lot of husbands coming in, buying presents for their wives. But lately, it’s flipped. It’s the women coming in to buy gifts for their husbands, especially their soldier husbands serving in the war. It’s like what I read about in Egypt but 3,300 years later: Women taking the lead and using sex as a means to comfort their husbands and bring them closer and back to life.

Our collective trauma when it comes to sex hasn’t gone away and will remain for who knows how long, but it is being transformed. Just like in Egypt, the despair is forging a new will; one that pushes us to return to ourselves and our partners and fight like hell. Fight not just on the battlefield and the media but for our homes and relationships, because this is the Jewish way and how we’ve gotten through all along.

This is what Hamas and all of our enemies have tried to destroy. Because in essence, sex is life. It is connection, creation and continuance. Jews have always celebrated it. The laws about sex in Judaism are there not to suppress sex but to optimize it. To make sure that it is always the force of joy, of life.

The sexual violence perpetrated against our holy Jewish brothers and sisters had nothing to do with sex. Rape is not about sex but about power. Taking something so holy to us and degrading it in the most evil, demonic way was about obliterating our very Jewish foundation of always, always, always choosing life.

On Oct. 7, they succeeded: They stole irreplaceable, incalculable life from us. But we will fight against the death they try to choose for us and we won’t stop until our enemies are destroyed, our hostages are home and the light is back in our homes.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appointed Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, of the Manhattan Orthodox synagogue Congregation Shearith Israel, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom earlier this month.

The rabbi, who holds a doctorate in religion from Princeton University, directs Yeshiva University’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought. 

He “brings a wealth of knowledge on religious freedom issues that will benefit the commission greatly,” stated Eric Ueland, vice chair of the commission, an independent federal entity that advises the president, secretary of state and Congress on issues related to religious persecution and freedom.

Soloveichik was a guest on JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin’s podcast last August.

https://twitter.com/BECKETlaw/status/1813630640627343857
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    July 18, 2024

Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), the co-chairs of the Latino-Jewish Caucus, called for accountability three decades after the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

"It has been 30 years since the AMIA bombing, which was the deadliest terror attack in Argentina's history and the deadliest antisemitic attack outside Israel since the Holocaust," the four members of Congress stated. "However, justice for the victims has not yet been achieved."

"Evidence uncovered by Argentina's judicial system demonstrates the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah," the four said, noting that they introduced a resolution stating U.S. solidarity for the Argentinian Jewish community. The resolution also underscored "our commitment to honor the AMIA victims and pursue justice on their behalf," they said.

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The Israel Defense Forces' ongoing operations against the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip will help advance a hostages-for-ceasefire deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Thursday.

"The military pressure they are exerting right here, at Hamas's throat, along with standing firm on our just demands, helps us advance the hostage deal," Netanyahu said during a visit to Rafah in Gaza.

https://twitter.com/netanyahu/status/1813968843053863025

The continuing military campaign in the coastal enclave will help realize "our demand to release a maximum number of hostages already during the first stage," Netanyahu said in remarks following the visit, adding, "This double pressure does not delay the deal—it advances it."

The premier toured parts of Gaza's southernmost city together with his chief of staff Tzachi Braverman, military secretary Maj. Gen. Roman Gofman and Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Rafah in the Gaza Strip, July 18, 2024. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

Netanyahu said that seeing the troop's achievements in Rafah reinforced his "understanding that their massive action, above and below ground, is essential for Israel's security."

He also said the visit helped strengthen his position that Jerusalem should retain control of the Rafah Border Crossing and the Philadelphi Corridor, using the IDF's name for Gaza's 8.5-mile border with Egypt.

"Next week, I am going to the United States to address both chambers of Congress. I am going to present Israel's righteousness, but I am also going to show the Israeli heroism that I see here," said Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to IDF troops in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, July 18, 2024. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

Netanyahu's visit to the former Hamas stronghold came as an Israeli delegation traveled to Egypt this week for more indirect talks with the terrorist group.

Earlier this week, Israeli diplomatic sources told reporters that despite the Gaza strike targeting Hamas terror commander Mohammed Deif, negotiations for a truce and the release of captives would continue. (While his deputy was killed in the attack, Deif's fate remains unclear.)

According to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily, which is close to Hezbollah, Israel informed Cairo that it would not halt IDF military operations until there was a deal and that "the targeting of Hamas leaders inside Gaza will continue even while negotiations continue."

The New York Times said on Monday that several points of contention remained, including Hamas's demands that Israel permanently end the war and withdraw from strategic areas, including the border with Egypt.

However, in private discussions with Cairo, Israel has indicated that Jerusalem might be willing to withdraw if Egypt agreed to measures that would prevent arms smuggling along the frontier, the report cited two Israeli officials and a senior Western diplomat as saying.

Netanyahu has publicly stressed that "in every scenario," Israel will continue to control the Rafah Crossing and Philadelphi Corridor.

The premier's stated red lines include the ability to resume fighting in Gaza until all war goals have been met; an end to arms smuggling from Egypt; no return of "thousands" of Hamas terrorists to the enclave's north; and maximizing the number of living hostages released.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu told opposition lawmakers at the Knesset, "We are determined to win the war. We are determined to return all our hostages. The key is pressure, pressure and more pressure."

Of the 120 hostages remaining in the Strip, 116 were abducted during the Oct. 7 Hamas-led massacre (the other four were captured earlier). The figure includes both living and deceased men, women and children.

At least dozens of the remaining hostages are believed to be alive, a senior Israeli official involved in the negotiations told AFP last month.

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  • Words count:
    204 words
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  • Publication Date:
    July 18, 2024

The United States was one of 32 countries to sign onto a non-legally binding Global Guidelines for Countering Antisemitism plan in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, the day before the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Argentina.

Israel was also a signatory. China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Turkey did not endorse the plan, nor did any Arab country. The Council of Europe, European Commission, Organization of American States and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe also signed.

Among the plan’s 15 principles are avoiding politicization, appointing and empowering Jew-hatred envoys, opposing Jew-hatred on social media and adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism.

“Since the Oct. 7 attacks, we have seen a dramatic increase in violent incidents and hateful discourse against Jews and Jewish communal institutions and businesses in many countries, including in the United States, just as we have seen a dramatic increase in Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday, marking the anniversary of the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center.

“We condemn all manifestations of antisemitism and other forms of hatred and urge all governments to unequivocally do so as well,” he said.

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  • Words count:
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    July 18, 2024

The 2024 presidential campaign has been a series of unprecedented events that have shown just how much one individual, who inspires devoted support and disproportionate criticism, can influence history.

According to JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin, former President Donald Trump’s narrow escape from an assassin’s bullet and President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance have set the stage for a remarkable fall election campaign.

Moreover, Trump’s transformation of the Republicans to a party that is more interested in the concerns of working-class Americans is matched only by the Democrats’ embrace of those of the credentialed elites.

He’s joined by presidential historian Tevi Troy, author of the forthcoming new book, The Power and the Money, the Epic Clashes Between Commanders-in-Chief and Titans of Industry, who discussed the various precedents in American history for recent events.

Troy also noted the emphasis among Democrats on the unhappiness of voters who hate Israel about Biden’s insufficient hostility to the Jewish state’s war on Hamas. According to Troy, “We forget that in the midst of the tumultuous pro-Hamas riots that we're seeing on college campuses, the average American is pro-Israel because they're pro-civilization against barbarism. And I think we really shouldn't lose sight of that.” 

In spite of the shock, liberal Jews are feeling about the surge in left-wing antisemitism, Troy also thinks the Jewish vote will still go heavily for Biden this fall. But he predicted that the growth of the Orthodox community may change that in future elections.

Listen/Subscribe to weekly episodes on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx3dNZs85iU
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx3dNZs85iU
  • Words count:
    520 words
  • Type of content:
    News
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 18, 2024
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    1 file

An anti-Israel protester protested a podcast hosted by the Jewish president of Shopify, to accuse a Jewish guest, who wasn’t talking about Israel, of supporting genocide.

Harley Finkelstein—of the $81.86 billion Ottawa-based e-commerce company Shopify—and his Big Shot co-host David Segal, a Jewish entrepreneur, were conducting a live taping of the podcast on July 12 in Montreal at Startupfest, a gathering of hundreds of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Their guest was Heather Reisman, founder and CEO of Indigo Books and Music, who told the story of her nearly 30-year-old book chain to about 400 people at the conference.

Some 20 minutes into the taping, a man screamed at her, accused her of “funding a genocide” against Palestinians and tried to rush the stage. A security officer tackled the man, who claimed that he was being assaulted.

As some audience members appeared uncomfortable, Reisman held her composure and invited dialogue with him. “Do you want to know the truth?” she asked. The man screamed back that he did, as he was escorted out of the room. 

“The truth is we fund education for kids without parents,” she told the audience to applause.

“Can we do more live tapings?” Finkelstein quipped, after the dust had settled. The audience laughed.

After the show concluded, Reisman spoke with JNS as she left the convention center. She said that invited the protester to engage, because he was “spouting something that wasn’t true.”

“I’d rather engage with people,” she said. “Maybe you bring a few people around.”

Celebrating Jewish entrepreneurs

The Big Shot podcast, per its website, is “an archive and celebration of Jewish entrepreneurs who took risks, overcame the odds and created legendary businesses that changed the game.”

“If the walls of kosher delis could speak, they would (schm)ooze invaluable wisdom and endless laughs,” the podcast site adds.

The podcast’s about page makes no mention of Israel.

“We’re proud Jews, who want to celebrate our culture and show the world how much they can gain from our experiences,” Segal told JNS. “That’s what Big Shot is all about.”

Finkelstein told JNS that the episode that was live-taped at the conference “was a celebration of someone that started from humble beginnings in Montreal and created one of the most iconic companies in Canada.” 

That setting “wasn’t the right venue” for a protest, he told JNS.

“It also had nothing to do with Israel,” Segal said.

After Oct. 7, the podcast has felt “more important than ever,” according to Finkelstein.

“A lot of proud Jews have gone into their shells a little bit and are not necessarily as proud and as vocal. That’s not who we are,” Finkelstein told JNS. “We are proud of who we are. We are proud of what we built. And I think Big Shot is a celebration of these stories now more than ever before.”

“Big shot is about reminding people of all that they can learn from Jewish culture, just like we can learn from all cultures,” Segal added. “This happens to be our culture, and we want to share it with everyone.”

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