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Pompeo in Israel, LA highway sign taunts Jews, Michigan judge OKs synagogue protest
Daily Update

Pompeo in Israel, LA highway sign taunts Jews, Michigan judge OKs synagogue protest

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint news conference in Jerusalem, Aug. 24, 2020. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint news conference in Jerusalem, Aug. 24, 2020. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will address the Republican National Convention Tuesday from Israel in a move that breaks decades of precedent in not using the office of the president for partisan purposes.

Pompeo is on an official trip to the Middle East to push for broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement after Israel and the United Arab Emirates struck an agreement to fully normalize relations, the Times of Israel reports.

In the past, America’s top diplomats – Republicans and Democrats – have shunned political events, such as the national conventions, for fear of using their office for partisan gain.

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called the planned remarks “unprecedented and highly unethical,” adding in a statement, “Trump is once again using Israel to score political points.”

The State Department said in a statement that Pompeo would be addressing the convention “in his personal capacity,” and that “No State Department resources will be used.”

Related: Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu Monday, Pompeo said he hopes other Arab countries will also establish diplomatic relations with Israel.  

“I am hopeful that we will see other Arab nations join in this,” Pompeo said, referring to the UAE. “The opportunity for them to work alongside, to recognize the State of Israel and to work alongside them will not only increase Middle East stability, but it will improve the lives for the people of their own countries as well.”

He also addressed concerns in Israel that the UAE could receive advanced weaponry from Washington, including the F-35 fighter jet, which could compromise Israel’s military advantage in the Middle East.

“The United States has a legal requirement with respect to [Israel’s] qualitative military edge we will continue to honor. But we have a 20-plus year security relationship with the United Arab Emirates as well,” Pompeo said.

Convention wisdom: JTA wraps up all the Jewish moments from last week’s Democratic National Convention.

A sign with the phrase “The Jews Want A Race War” was hung from the heavily trafficked Los Angeles interstate 405 highway overpass on Saturday.

In some photos of it posted on social media, the sign is accompanied by another publicizing the website The site includes more anti-Semitic messaging and a video of supporters standing on the overpass with the signs.

The Los Angeles office of the Anti-Defamation League tweeted that it is aware of the banner and is working with local police to identify the perpetrators.

The 19-year-old Jewish community college student who won a Democratic primary for a state House seat in Kansas is dropping out of the race after admitting to harassing girls online when he was in middle school.

Coleman, the great-grandson of a Holocaust survivor, admitted to The Kansas City Star that he called one girl fat and told her to kill herself. She told the newspaper that she did, indeed, attempt suicide. He blackmailed a second girl, threatening to send a nude photo of her to her family and friends unless she sent her more. When the girl did not comply, Coleman sent the photo he had. She told the newspaper that she doesn’t know how Coleman obtained the photo in the first place. A third woman told the newspaper that he harassed her “for months.”

“I made serious mistakes in middle school and I deeply regret and apologize for them. I’ve grown up a great deal since then,” Coleman told The Star editorial board last week. He announced in a series of tweets that he would resign his candidacy for the Kansas State House’s 37th district.

Coleman, of Kansas City, last week defeated 13-year incumbent Stan Frownfelter, 823 to 809. Frownfelter has said he is mulling a write-in candidacy. There is no Republican candidate for the seat.

Anti-Israel protests outside of a synagogue in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are protected by the First Amendment and may continue, a federal judge ruled.

“Peaceful protest speech such as this – on sidewalks and streets – is entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection, even if it disturbs, is offensive, and causes emotional distress,” U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts of the Eastern Michigan District Court wrote last week in dismissing a lawsuit that sought to stop the protesters, the Ann Arbor News reported.

The protests outside of Beth Israel Congregation have been held weekly at the same time as Saturday morning services for nearly two decades, since 2003. The handful of protesters who show up plant signs on the grass that read “Resist Jewish Power,” “Jewish Power Corrupts,” “No More Holocaust Movies,” “Boycott Israel,” “Stop U.S. Aid to Israel” and “End the Palestinian holocaust.”

Israel’s Interior Ministry wants the government to stop recognizing group conversions performed in so-called “emerging” Jewish communities.

Emerging Jewish communities include groups that claim descent from the so-called “lost tribes,” such as the Bnei Menashe from northeastern India, and “Bnei Anusim” – descendants of Jews forced to convert during the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions. Some of these communities already have gained official recognition from the Conservative and Reform movements.

In a brief to Israel’s Supreme Court, the Interior Ministry – led by Arye Dery, the head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party – asserted that all group conversions are unacceptable under Israel’s Law of Return, Ha’aretz reports. Such individuals would need to receive special government approval – as is the case with the Bnei Menashe and Falash Mura from Ethiopia – the ministry suggests.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Reform movement in Israel, said the ministry’s position was “an affront to the Jewish tradition governing the treatment of converts.”

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Palestinians lashed out on social media at an 11-year-old rapper from Gaza who said he “would like to spread love between us and Israel.” While a video of Abdel Rahman al-Shantti went viral, his remarks to an interviewer stirred criticism of him and his father for betraying the Palestinian cause. The New York Times reports.

Around the Agencies

Hadassah Magazine is teaming up with jGirls Magazine to sponsor a teen essay contest for girls ages 13-19. The topic: “How does my Jewishness impact my work for social and racial justice?” For details, guidelines and entry form, click here. Contest deadline: Sept. 4.

Applications are now open for the Israel Policy Forum‘s Charles Bronfman Conveners Programa high-level leadership training and cohort experience for 25 young leaders. Charles Bronfman Conveners gain the necessary background, skills, and resources to elevate and shape the discourse with their networks and home cities. Nominate a prospective young professional leader here. Apply by August 27.

The Jewish Emergent Network and Yavilah McCoy of Dimensions have launched a 30-day “challenge,” open to all, for participants to engage in anti-racism reflection, discovery, action and transformation between now and the High Holidays. This journey offers four weekly emails, 20 daily prompts, and two virtual communal conversations co-facilitated by McCoy and Jewish Emergent Network Rabbis. It will include two tracks in each weekly email, offering specific resources for both white Jews and Black, Indigenous, Sephardi/Mizrahi and broadly identified Jews of Color. Click here to subscribe, or connect to it online here.


American Jewish University presents a conversation with Alejandro Cohen, founder of dublab, for 20 years a transformative force in Los Angeles and beyond. With an international following – from musicians in Tel Aviv to affiliate stations in Barcelona, Japan, Germany and Brazil – this radio station has become a fixture of local culture, whether through online programs, or in person events, shows and immersive experiences. Cohen will discuss his journey from Argentina to the heart of L.A., and how to create and propel culture at this current moment. August 24, 1:00 pm.

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