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Israel’s first flight to UAE, Biden rejects boycott, protests swell in Jerusalem
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Daily Update

Israel’s first flight to UAE, Biden rejects boycott, protests swell in Jerusalem

The first flight of an Israeli airline flying directly from Israel to the Unite Arab Emirates arrived with Israeli and U.S. officials aboard, Aug. 31, 2020. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The first flight of an Israeli airline flying directly from Israel to the Unite Arab Emirates arrived with Israeli and U.S. officials aboard, Aug. 31, 2020. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Rep. Eliot L. Engel announced contempt proceedings against Mike Pompeo, citing in part the Secretary of State’s Republican National Convention speech from Jerusalem.

Engel, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, charged Pompeo with an “unprecedented” record of obstruction and defiance of the House’s oversight authority.

Pompeo addressed the Republican National Convention last Tuesday in a speech recorded from Jerusalem, where he was on official duty. Watchdog groups and Democratic leaders said the speech violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits administration officials from using their office for partisan political purposes.

Joe Biden’s campaign condemns boycotts against Israel in its new platform geared toward the Arab American community.

“Joe Biden and the Arab American Community: A Plan for Partnership,” released Saturday, reiterates Biden’s “unequivocal” opposition to BDS — but also opposes efforts by states and others to limit the free speech rights of those who support the boycott.

The plan pledges to include Arab Americans “across his administration,” combat anti-Arab bigotry in the United States and reverse President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting refugees and barring entry to people from multiple predominantly Muslim countries. Biden’s plan says the candidate “opposes annexation and settlement expansion and will continue to oppose both as president.”

Related: A rabbi who delivered an invocation at the start of a Biden campaign webinar for Jewish voters Friday included opposition to the boycott movement in his prayer, saying, “Strengthen us, oh God, to combat BDS, the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic virus which infects too many of our erstwhile allies in our battle for the soul of America.”

The star of the event was vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ Jewish husband, Douglas Emhoff.

The draft of a new platform for the Black Lives Matter movement contains no mention of Israel, Zionism, Palestinian rights or the movement to boycott Israel. 

On Friday, the Movement for Black Lives is convening a Black National Convention, where it’s going to unveil the policy platform — which would represent a marked change from a 2016 platform that accused Israel of “genocide” against Palestinians.

Related: More than 600 national and local Jewish groups and synagogues reiterated their support of Black Lives Matter in a full-page New York Times ad.

“We speak with one voice when we say, unequivocally: Black Lives Matter,” said the statement, which was first published in June and was signed by a major umbrella body and three of the four major Jewish religious movements. “The Black Lives Matter movement is the current day Civil Rights movement in this country, and it is our best chance at equity and justice.”

The signers include several organizations that publicly criticized the 2016 platform, including the Reform and Conservative movements, the Anti-Defamation League and others. JTA reports.

The United Arab Emirates’ law boycotting Israel has been abolished.

As the first delegation of Israeli and U.S. officials prepared to visit the country since the historic normalization deal announced earlier this month, UAE’s president issued a decree Saturday canceling the 48-year-old law, paving the way for trade and business deals between companies in the two countries.

Jared Kushner and Middle East peace negotiator Avi Berkowitz arrived in Abu Dhabi aboard Monday’s El Al flight, billed as the “first-ever commercial flight between Israel and the UAE.” Kushner, the Jewish son-in-law of President Donald Trump, met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Some 20,000 people called for Netanyahu’s resignation on Saturday night in Jerusalem, the largest such gathering in 10 weeks of protests.

The protesters were joined this week by members of the Bratslav chasidic movement, who were protesting Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent thousands of followers from flying to Uman, Ukraine, for their annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. The government says the event will spread Covid-19.

Netanyahu faces protests over his handling of the coronavirus crisis, the resultant economic crisis and his pending corruption trial. Expat Israelis in 18 cities around the world, including New York, demonstrated at 9 p.m. Israel time, in a coordinated effort that was broadcast live on Facebook.

Related: A Republican congressman from South Carolina is asking his colleagues to sign a letter that calls on the Trump administration to pressure Ukraine to allow Jewish pilgrims to enter Uman for Rosh Hashanah. Exactly why Rep. Jeff Duncan, whose congressional district includes few religious Jews likely to make the pilgrimage, is taking up the issue is unclear.

A Jewish woman in South Africa celebrated her 111th birthday under lockdown.

Born in 1909, Rosalie Wolpe used to operate a grocery store in Cape Town. Her husband died in 1969.

Deaths

Phil Blazer, a Jewish activist and broadcasting executive who founded the Jewish Life Television network, died Aug. 25 in Burbank, California, at the age of 76. Blazer Communications also produced the International Jewish Film Festival.

Gabor Hirsch, a Holocaust survivor who became a prominent activist for Holocaust commemoration in Switzerland, has died at 90.

Streaming

Zionist Organization of America presents a “Sovereignty Now” webinar featuring Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, co-chairs of the Sovereignty Movement. Moderated by ZOA National Chairman Mark Levenson, August 31, 12:00 pm.

Jewish Theological Seminary presents Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages, JTS, in an exploration of attitudes toward prayer among thinkers including Rambam and Heschel. He’ll contrast assumptions about what makes for a genuine and meaningful prayer in Jewish tradition and in American culture. The Zoom link for this session will be in the confirmation email that you will receive after you register. August 31, 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm.

American Jewish University, in preparation for the High Holidays, welcomes Rabbis Nolan Lebovitz and Patricia Fenton as they discuss the influence of the Crusades on Jewish liturgy, and consider ways that today’s situation may impact future liturgy. AJU’s Special Collections Librarian, Jackie Ben-Efraim, will share images from rare mahzorim, High Holiday prayer books, held at AJU’s Lowy-Winkler Family Rare Book Center. August 31, 5:00 pm.

Hadar presents a live taping of Responsa Radio, when Rabbis Ethan Tucker, Avi Killip and Aviva Richman will probe the halakhic tradition for guidance and ease some of the collective fears pertaining to the upcoming High Holidays. What can “going to shul” look like this year?  How will one make it through the Mahzor alone? What does teshuvah look like in an era of pandemic and racial injustice? Can one do tashlich under quarantine? August 31, 8:00 pm.

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