First Read For Jan. 24
News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are waking up to today.

First Read For Jan. 24

Not so fast on embassy move; is Messiah imminent? Anti-Semitism in Russia’s Parliament.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv (pictured) will be moved to Jerusalem. (Flash90)
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv (pictured) will be moved to Jerusalem. (Flash90)

Some words of caution for those who thought the Trump administration was planning to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem immediately — not so fast!

The administration is now “expressing caution,” the Jerusalem Post reports. Officials will “review the matter extensively” in consultation with “stakeholders” in Middle East peace negotiations, according to the paper.

“If it were already a decision, then we wouldn’t be going through a process,” Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, said in his first press briefing on Monday. He declined to commit the administration to moving the embassy by the end of Trump’s term, four years from now.

“Trump’s campaign promise was unflinching,” the Post reported: “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” Trump told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March. He repeated that commitment at several subsequent campaign events.

Trump’s deliberative process tracks closely with the policy evolutions of two prior presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who also campaigned on a pledge to move the embassy. Both ultimately reversed course while in their first terms office.



The Obama administration reportedly sent $221 million to the Palestinian Authority on the morning of Donald Trump’s inauguration last week, JTA reports. According to anonymous sources, JTA reported, the administration told Congress it would send the funds hours before Trump was sworn in

In total, the Obama administration sent over $227 million of foreign funding on Friday, including $4 million to climate change programs and $1.25 million to United Nations organizations.

In 2016, the United States gave $557 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority, according to USAID. Israel was the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid last year, receiving $3.1 billion.


The deputy speaker of Russia’s parliament is under fire for anti-Semitic remarks accusing Russian Jews of attempting to destroy the country’s Orthodox Church, according to the Moscow Times.

The paper reports that United Russia politician Pyotr Tolstoy, the great-great-grandson of Russian author Lev Tolstoy, told the TASS news agency that the “grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who pulled down our temples in 1917 were continuing their ancestors’ work.” He described the revolutionaries as people with roots in the “Pale of Settlement,” the area of western Imperial Russia where Ashkenazi Jews were permitted to settle.

His words echo a popular anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people masterminded the Communist revolution to destroy Russia.

Tolstoy’s reference to the Jewish community were removed from the TASS website.

The politician’s words have since been condemned as “absolutely unacceptable” by Jewish leaders. “I personally believe Tolstoy’s statement to be open anti-Semitism,” said Borukh Gorin, spokesperson for the Federation of Jewish Organizations in Russia.


Is the Messiah imminent?

Yes, says an Israeli rabbi, according to the Daily Beast.

Rabbi Yosef Berger, a rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, has proposed that a that is supposed to appear in 2022 star is a fulfillment of a biblical prophecy in which a star precedes the arrival of an important military leader: “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the borderlands of Moab, and the territory of all the Sethites.” [Numbers 24:17]

The predicted star is a nova, the product of the collision of two other astral bodies. And for six months this new star will — to the naked eye — be the brightest in the heavens, the website quoted scientists as saying.



Croatian Jews said on Monday they will boycott the country’s main Holocaust remembrance event this week, accusing the authorities of playing down crimes perpetrated under the Nazi-backed Ustasa regime during World War II, Haaretz reports.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is held on Jan. 27 each year, the date in 1945 when the biggest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz in occupied Poland, was liberated by Soviet troops.

Three months ago, rightist veterans of Croatia’s 1991-95 independence war raised a commemorative plaque in the town of Jasenovac to comrades killed there at the beginning of the conflict Zagreb fought to secede from Serbian-led Yugoslavia. Included in the veterans’ plaque are words from a salute used by the Ustasha regime that killed tens of thousands of prisoners including Jews, Serbs, Roma gypsies and anti-fascist Croats, in the 1941-1945 Jasenovac concentration camp.

That prompted the association representing Croatia’s remnant population of Jews, numbering somewhat over 1,500, to pull out of its primary Holocaust remembrance event, which is normally conducted in the Zagreb parliament.


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