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Anti-Semitic crimes peaked in 2019 • Iran warns U.S. not to attack • Yair Netanyahu offends again
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Anti-Semitic crimes peaked in 2019 • Iran warns U.S. not to attack • Yair Netanyahu offends again

HONORING A RESCUER: Jozef Walaszczyk, right, receives a cake on his 101st birthday in Warsaw, Poland on Nov. 12, 2020. Dozens of people from 49 countries delivered filmed birthday greetings for Walaszczyk, who rescued his Jewish girlfriend and 50 others during the Holocaust. He also fought the Germans as part of the underground, smuggling allied troops across borders. (From the Depths)
HONORING A RESCUER: Jozef Walaszczyk, right, receives a cake on his 101st birthday in Warsaw, Poland on Nov. 12, 2020. Dozens of people from 49 countries delivered filmed birthday greetings for Walaszczyk, who rescued his Jewish girlfriend and 50 others during the Holocaust. He also fought the Germans as part of the underground, smuggling allied troops across borders. (From the Depths)

New York’s Jewish day schools are facing ongoing challenges — and surprising silver linings — since schools reopened in September amidst the pandemic.

Added costs, administrative fatigue and constant uncertainty are the hallmarks of the pandemic era, administrators said in a round table hosted by UJA-Federation. “Faculty and staff have to relearn everything we thought we knew,” said Dr. Michael A. Kay, head of school at The Leffell School in Westchester County. The Jewish Week reports.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes in the United States increased significantly in 2019, according to the FBI.

The FBI recorded 953 hate crimes against Jews in 2019, a 14% increase from the 835 recorded in 2018 and similar to the 938 in 2017. In 2019, hate crimes against Jews comprised 62% of all hate crimes based on religion, up from 58% in both of the previous two years.

Last year saw three lethal anti-Semitic attack: the synagogue shooting in Poway, California, the shooting in Jersey City and a deadly stabbing at a Chanukah party in Monsey. The New York-area attacks came amid a spate of anti-Semitic harassment and assaults in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

Reaction: “The surge of hate in the last few years is unmistakable,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Monday. The ADL said the FBI numbers are almost certainly a significant undercount because many municipalities do not submit hate crime data to the FBI.

The head scientist at Pfizer, which last week announced a Covid-19 vaccine that is 90% effective, is a Jewish immigrant from Sweden.

Mikael Dolsten, who moved to the New York area from Sweden in 2004, said he and his colleagues at a corporate office in Connecticut literally leapt with joy when they saw the vaccine results.

“A lot of the great breakthroughs in America have come from people that immigrated,” he told JTA. “There has been a strong Jewish tradition around contributing to humanity and a strong tradition within medicine.”

Related: The chief medical officer at Moderna, the American drug company that announced Monday that it had developed a Covid-19 vaccine that is 94.5% effective, is Tal Zaks, an Israeli who earned a doctorate at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.

An Iranian government spokesman warned the United States against attacking its nuclear sites.

“Any action against the Iranian nation would certainly face a crushing response,” spokesman Ali Rabiei said, according to Reuters.

He was responding to a New York Times report on Monday that said President Trump convened top advisers last week to ask if he had options to strike Iranian nuclear sites during his last weeks in office, but was dissuaded with warnings that it could lead to a wider conflict.

The vast majority of Jewish voters supported Democrat Joe Biden for president, but by how much is an open question. 

The National Election Pool, which includes The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, among other outlets, did not post Jewish results this year, leaving the field to partisan groups who posted conflicting numbers, JTA reports.

The Republican Jewish Coalition found that 30.5% of Jews voted for Donald Trump compared to 60.6% for Biden. The liberal group J Street found that 77% of Jewish Americans voted for Biden and only 21% for Trump.

Why it matters: Data on the Jewish vote help the community understand itself, and help campaigns tailor their message to Jewish votes. “Jews, in short, punch above their weight in American politics. Small as the number of Jewish voters may be, savvy politicians woo them intensely, as they have done since the days of Abraham Lincoln,” writes historian Jonathan Sarna.

Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, compared Israel’s kibbutz movement to Nazi Germany and other totalitarian regimes.

It’s the latest in a string of inflammatory statements made by the younger Netanyahu, who has emerged as a right-wing provocateur on social media and elsewhere.

“Kibbutzim are something that doesn’t exist outside of North Korea,” Yair Netanyahu said during a recent radio interview. “We always know how ideas for utopian societies end. In the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, there was a desire to create exemplary societies and utopian societies. It never ends well, the desire to engineer human society.”

Related: CNN anchorwoman Christiane Amanpour apologized during her show on Monday following outrage from Israel after she compared Donald Trump’s presidency to the Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom.

Top Israeli basketball prospect Deni Avdija is a potential top-five pick in the 2020 NBA draft, scheduled for Wednesday night.

Avdija, 19, is a 6’9″ forward for Maccabi Tel Aviv and also plays on the Israeli national team. Avdija had a strong performance during FIBA U20 European Championship last year, in which he was named the most valuable player of the tournament and led the Israeli youth team to gold, Times of Israel reports.

J. Kyle Mann of “The Ringer” analyzes Avdija’s “exceptional playmaking ability, his wealth of basketball experience, and his inconsistent shooting.”

Opinion

Raphael Warnock, who is seeking one of two open Senate seats in Georgia, has been on the hot seat for statements he has made critical of Israel. But as Jewish Week editor in chief Andrew Silow-Carroll writes, his support for a two-state solution puts Warnock firmly in the camp of liberal Zionists, who seek a just solution for both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Related:  The accusation of anti-Semitism as a means to discredit Warnock, writes Yehuda Kurtzer of the Shalom Hartman Institute, “has the potential not just to be politically opportunistic but dangerous. It turns the complicated commitments that Jews have toward Israel into something that can be reduced and claimed by opportunistic politicians.”

Around the Agencies

Tel Aviv University‘s course on Arab-Islamic History has been ranked as one of the 50 best online courses in the world by the website “Class Central.” To date, over 20,000 students have registered for “Arab-Islamic History: From Tribes to Empires,” including hundreds from Muslim countries. The course was developed in collaboration with The Council for Higher Education and Digital Israel.

Streaming Today

World Jewish Congress will hold a high-level online event, as a side event to the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, featuring a panel of distinguished speakers on the role of the United Nations in combating anti-Semitism. Speakers include Michaela Küchler, President of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations at Geneva; Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO; Miguel Moratinos, High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. Streaming here. 10:00 am.

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs presents analysis of the 2020 elections and its implications for Jews and Israel, featuring Dore Gold, president of the JCPA; Steven Windmueller; Jerusalem Center Fellow and Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Studies at the HUC-JIR, Los Angeles; Irwin Mansdorf, Jerusalem Center Fellow specializing in political psychology; William Daroff, CEO, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Michal Cotler-Wunsh, member of Knesset (Blue and White party), and Liel Leibovitz, senior writer, Tablet Magazine. Moderated by Howard Weisband, Jerusalem Center Fellow and Board Member, former Secretary General of the Jewish Agency for Israel. 10:00 am.

Israel Policy Forum presents a video briefing with Dr. Moran Zaga, policy fellow at the Mitvim Institute, to learn about Israel-Arab state relations after the Trump era. In its final months in office, the Trump administration backed a series of agreements establishing official relations between Israel and regional Arab states. With a new administration coming to Washington, what will happen to the normalization process? Register here. 2:00 pm.

American Friends of Rabin Medical Center presents Global Connections, a monthly leaders forum moderated by Robert Siegel, former host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. November’s forum marks the 25th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s death with a focus on America and the Middle East after the election. Siegel interviews New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman; former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross, and Ghaith al-Omari of The Washington Institute). Register here. 4:00 pm.

Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust presents Tablet Magazine Deputy Editor Stephanie Butnick, co-host of the leading Jewish podcast “Unorthodox,” for an MJH Live series exploring what it means to be a third- or fourth-generation Holocaust survivor. She will be joined by Beth Kean, CEO of Holocaust Museum Los Angeles. Suggested donation: $10. Register here. 7:00 pm.

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