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Cuomo eases ‘red zone’ restrictions, U.S. may tag rights groups as anti-Semitic, Israel eyes ties with Sudan

Cuomo eases ‘red zone’ restrictions, U.S. may tag rights groups as anti-Semitic, Israel eyes ties with Sudan

Gov. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update during a press conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol, Oct. 21, 2020. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Gov. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update during a press conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol, Oct. 21, 2020. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Some Orthodox neighborhoods classified as Covid-19 “red zones” by the state will soon be allowed to reopen schools and nonessential businesses.

But the areas of Brooklyn where Orthodox Jews have staged protests against the restrictions imposed by Gov. Cuomo still have so many new cases that that will remain red, Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Positivity rates has decreased in the red zones in Brooklyn and Orthodox areas just north of New York City, but not by enough to meet Cuomo’s standards for relaxing restrictions.

Though schools in the red zones must remain closed, some yeshivas in Brooklyn have reopened in spite of the rules prohibiting schools from operating just as they did in the spring.

Israel and Sudan will announce the establishment of diplomatic ties over the weekend or early next week in a U.S.-brokered deal, Hebrew media reported Thursday.

The breakthrough comes after a high-level Israeli-US delegation reportedly traveled to Sudan on Wednesday for covert negotiations on the normalization of ties between Khartoum and Jerusalem, Times of Israel reports.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants the State Department to declare several major international human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, “anti-Semitic.”

The declaration would cite the human rights groups’ alleged or perceived support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, the Politico news site reported Wednesday.

Israel has long accused human rights groups of bias, unfairly targeting Israel and holding the Jewish state to a higher standard than other countries over its treatment of the Palestinians.

The declaration is expected to come from the office of Elan Carr, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, saying it is U.S. policy not to support such groups, including financially. Career State Department employees and lawyers warn that the move is on shaky grounds due to free speech concerns.

Response: T’ruah, the rabbinic human rights organization, said in a statement: “Any U.S. government declaration that these groups are antisemitic for criticizing the Israeli government is ridiculous, and contributes to the silencing of Israel’s human rights defenders.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Senate Democrats plan to boycott Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s Judiciary Committee vote Thursday in an act of protest.

“Republicans have moved at breakneck speed to jam through this nominee, ignoring her troubling record and unprecedented evasions, and breaking longstanding committee rules to set tomorrow’s vote,” Schumer said in a statement Wednesday. “We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just 12 days before the culmination of an election that is already underway.”

Without the votes to block Barrett, the Democrats’ action is purely symbolic.

Perspectives: Jewish lawyer Nathan Lewin remembers when he worked with Barrett on cases defending public displays of Chanukah menorahs.

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the Berkeley law school, says Barrett’s “originalist” legal philosophy is “a serious threat to constitutional rights.”

The Jewish president of Northwestern University accused racial justice protesters of coming “dangerously close” to anti-Semitism during protests outside of his residence.

The activist group, called NU Community Not Cops, chanted “piggy Morty” and “f— you Morty” because the president, Morton Schapiro, doesn’t support their calls to disband the campus police.

In an open letter Monday, Shapiro wrote that “piggy Morty “comes dangerously close to a longstanding trope against observant Jews like myself. Whether it was done out of ignorance or out of anti-Semitism, it is completely unacceptable.”

The activist group wrote in a statement that it was using the term “piggy” as a common euphemism for police, but apologized nonetheless. Yet their statement also emphasized the group’s opposition to Zionism and Israel.

The debate has roiled the Chicago-area campus, where many students have convened even though most classes are taking place only online because of the pandemic.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand requested support of provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that will maintain the close cooperation between the United States and Israel.

The New York Democrat, a member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), led colleagues in a letter calling for expanding military and civilian cooperation between the United States and Israel. Read the letter here.

A Jewish aide to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is taking a leave of absence amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Over the summer, a police officer who served as Garcetti’s body guard said he was harassed by Rick Jacobs and that Garcetti witnessed but did not stop the behavior. On Monday, journalist Yashar Ali also accused Jacobs of forcibly kissing him repeatedly. The L.A. Times also said that two other men said they had been touched or harassed by Jacobs.

Israel’s coronavirus lockdown is paying off.

The number of active cases hit 19,344 on Thursday morning, after slipping below the 20,000 mark late Wednesday for the first time since July, The Times of Israel reports. The number of serious cases dropped to 581, after peaking at 900 on Oct. 4. The last time the number of seriously ill patients was below 600 was on Sept. 18, the first day of the lockdown.

The so-called coronavirus cabinet met Wednesday to discuss allowing shops and more schools to reopen, but pushed off a decision until next week.

Masbia Soup Kitchen is operating 24 hours a day to meet increased demand.

The Jewish-run agency, with locations in Midwood, Forest Hills and and Borough Park, says it helps around 400 to 1,000 families a day, News 12 reports.


A New York Times op-ed this week about the 25th anniversary of the Million Man March failed to mention — or even scratch the surface of — the serial bigotry of the march’s main organizer: Louis Farrakhan, the longtime leader of the Nation of Islam. “It is irresponsible and inexcusable to ignore hatred hiding in plain sight, particularly considering the context,” writes Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Streaming Today

Biden for President will host a virtual cooking class with Chef Michael Solomonov and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Solomonov has won several James Beard awards, including cookbook of the year and outstanding chef. He also hosted “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” a documentary about Israeli cuisine and traditions. Go here to register and find the recipes. 6 pm.

The Tenement Museum presents a virtual tour exploring the Rogarshevsky family, a Jewish American family from Lithuania who lived in 97 Orchard Street in the 1910s. A Tenement Museum educator will virtually guide viewers through their home, and discuss how the family balanced their traditions with working outside the home at garment factories across the city. Cost: $10/device. Register here. 7:00 pm.

Commonpoint Queens presents award-winning author and LGBTQ & civil rights advocate Jo Ivester on what it is like to have a transgender son in a world not quite ready for people like him. She is the author of “Once a Girl, Always a Boy” and “The Outskirts of Hope” and serves on the boards of Equality Texas, the Anti-Defamation League of Central Texas, and the Texas chapter of GLSEN. This virtual event is part of CQ’s Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Speaker Series. $8 member/$10 non-member. Visit to register. 7:30 pm.

The Center for Catholic Studies and the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies presents Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, PhD, delivering the 14th Annual Lecture in Jewish/Christian Engagement, “Loving the Jews: Philosemitism and Judaizing in Contemporary Christianity.” Rabbi Sandmel is the director of Interreligious Engagement at the Anti-Defamation League. Register to attend. 7:30 pm.

Center for Jewish History presents a lecture by Sara Halpern on how, from 1941-1951, the Shanghai office of the JDC, the American and international Jewish relief organization, supported over 16,000 Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland desperate for food and housing. Registration required at to receive a link to the Zoom webinar. 7:30 pm.

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