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What the Israel-UAE treaty means, outrage at Democratic Socialists, YIVO launches online museum
Daily Update

What the Israel-UAE treaty means, outrage at Democratic Socialists, YIVO launches online museum

President Donald J. Trump, joined by White House senior staff members, announces the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to seek diplomatic ties, Aug. 13, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)
President Donald J. Trump, joined by White House senior staff members, announces the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to seek diplomatic ties, Aug. 13, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

The Democratic Socialists of America say they won’t support New York City Council candidates unless they agree not to visit Israel if elected.

In a questionnaire reported in a tweet by NY1’s Zack Fink, the DSA declares that shunning Israel trips would “send a powerful message.” The questionnaire also asks candidates about their support for the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement against Israel.

Michael S. Miller, executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, called the DSA request “despicable.”

Elected officials should not be denied an immersive opportunity to deepen their understanding of Israel,” wrote Miller, whose organization is the primary organizer of NYC Council missions to Israel.”  Including this demand – on the same day that a historic peace agreement was announced between Israel and the United Arab Emirates – reveals a policy undeniably singed by anti-Semitism.”

“This is anti-semitism. Plain and simple,” Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) tweeted on Thursday.

Jewish Insider notes the DSA’s growing clout among New York progressives: “This year, seven out of the eight DSA-backed candidates running for U.S. Congress or for New York’s state legislature won their races.”  In 2021, 16 of the 51 members of the City Council  are up for re-election.

Councilmember Ritchie Torres, the recent winner in New York’s 15th congressional district against a DSA-backed candidate, vouched for the Israel trips sponsored by JCRC-NY.

“When JCRC brought me to Israel for the first time back in 2015, I spoke to both Israelis and Palestinians, and among Israelis, spoke to both Arabs and Jews,” he told Jewish Insider. “I heard various perspectives, asked hard questions, and came to more fully understand a conflict that is infinitely more complicated than media narratives make it out to be. Denying yourself an opportunity to ‎listen intently to voices on the ground and see the situation with your own eyes will make you no wiser as a person or public servant.”

The treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was greeted as a huge breakthrough for the region. 

Israel and the White House jointly announced Thursday that Israel and the United Arab Emirates are embarking on talks to normalize relations contingent on Israel suspending any annexation of the West Bank.

“Together we can bring a wonderful future. It is an incomparably exciting moment,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “I have the great privilege to make the third peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country, the UAE.”

In a Jewish Week essay, Michale Koplow of the Israeli Policy Forum notes that Israel supporters on all sides declared victory, calling it a blow against demonization and delegitimization of Israel, a move to further isolate the Palestinians and, on the left, a welcome removal of annexation from the equation, at least temporarily.

Koplow warned, however, that there are no clear winners, and right and left should consider that the deal challenges core assumptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict held by each side.

Read a roundup of organizational reactions here.

Other views: Netanyahu’s “right-wing base is unmoved by the prospect of diplomatic normalization, and is downright crestfallen at the price Netanyahu has paid by putting annexation into deep freeze,” writes Haviv Rettig Gur of the Times of Israel.

The Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov writes that the deal is a victory for Netanyahu’s security priorities, which can be summed up in five words: “Iran, Iran and more Iran.”

Tamar Coffman Wittes of the Brookings Institution writes that “[t]he big losers in today’s announcement, of course, are the Palestinians….Abu Dhabi, like Anwar Sadat’s Egypt in 1978, is putting its national interests above Arab solidarity with the Palestinian cause.”

The Reform movement received a $600,000 multi-year grant to support racial equity, inclusion and diversity work.

The Union for Reform Judaism said Wednesday that it had received funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to fight racism and back inclusion across its institutions. Reform is the largest Jewish denomination in the United States.

The movement will work to recruit a more diverse staff and board with a focus on racial justice, a statement said, while also addressing discrimination against LGBTQ, disabled and lower-income people as well as other marginalized groups.

Background reading: Jews of color have been organizing for decades around issues of race in the community.

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research launched a landmark online museum.

The YIVO Bruce and Francesca Cernia Slovin Online Museum was established with a $3 million gift from Bruce Slovin in memory of his late wife Francesca Cernia Slovin. It will tell the story of Jewish life in Eastern Europe and Russia through YIVO’s extensive archival and library collections.

The inaugural exhibition is “Beba Epstein: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Girl,” which explores East European Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries through the true story of one teenage girl. Innovative technology showcases rare materials from YIVO’s archive of more than 23 million documents and artifacts. It is free of charge.

The launch “initiates an exciting new chapter in YIVO’s history by dramatically expanding our ability to fulfill YIVO’s historic mission through digital means,” said Jonathan Brent, executive director and CEO.

Shabbat Shalom

Pigs aren’t the only animal declared unkosher in this week’s Torah portion — so why did they become the ultimate Jewish taboo? Rabbi Yael Buechler explains in a Jewish Week essay.


The BACH Jewish Center in Long Beach, N.Y. welcomes everyone to join its weekly virtual Havdallah service, featuring Rabbi Benny and Sara Berlin. This week’s virtual service can be viewed on the BACH Facebook page.

Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center hosts Rachel Brosnahan, the star of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” for an intimate conversation about the critically acclaimed Amazon series about a prim Jewish mother by day, a crass comedian on the stages of Greenwich Village clubs by night. Moderated by SiriusXM’s Jessica Shaw. August 17, 6:30 p.m.

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and women across North America will welcome the new month with JOFA’s sixth online Rosh Chodesh celebration, featuring Shacharit led by Helene Raush, a Torah reading led by Livia Noorollah, and Mussaf led by Jennifer Horowitz. August 20, 9:30 a.m.

The Center for Jewish History presents the founder of #resistancegenealogy, Jennifer Mendelsohn, in a talk about her path to becoming an “accidental activist” and how her genealogical adventures have helped reunite long lost family members, debunked decades-old family fairy tales (Did you know no names were changed at Ellis Island?) and led to shocking, poignant and sometimes hilarious revelations. August 20, 6:00 p.m.

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