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Earlier this week, Israel held its second election in five months after Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition in April. On this week’s episode of People of the Pod, Times of Israel political correspondent Raoul Wootliff joins us to recap the complicated election results and help us understand what they mean for Israel’s future. We also spoke to Sarah Hurwitz, former head speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss how she rediscovered a connection to Judaism – the focus of her new book, Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life – in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There). Also, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, Life/Features editor at the Forward, joins us to discuss the recent spate of attacks against Orthodox Jews in New York. Listen now


Gantz Says Netanyahu Should Step Aside, Make Room for Unity Government
Times of Israel / 2-minute read
Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party that edged out Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party in this week’s Israeli election, dismissed the prime minister’s offer to form a unity government that includes all the religious right-wing parties. Instead, Gantz insists that he should be prime minister of the next coalition, which also should commit to liberal policies on religious issues. Saeb Erakat, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization, tweeted: “Israeli elections were about maintaining the status quo or strengthening apartheid.” AJC replied: “Perhaps you should try your own elections sometime.” Read more
Women’s March Loses Three Leaders Over Antisemitism, Then Another
The New York Times / 3-minute read
Following calls to step down earlier this year, three controversial founders have left the board of the beleaguered Women’s March on Washington. Co-Chairs Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, and Linda Sarsour quietly left at the end of their terms in July. Seventeen new members came aboard, including three Jewish women, a transgender woman, two faith leaders, and a member of the Oglala tribe of the Lakota nation. But days later, one of the new appointments civil rights lawyer Zahra Billoo was ousted, after tweets surfaced in which she said "Israel commits war crimes and terrorism as a hobby.” This year, the Women’s March struggled to overcome tensions with the Jewish community after Mallory commended Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is known for his antisemitic remarks. AJC tweeted: "This is a welcome indication that @WomensMarch is starting to take antisemitism seriously, but the group still has work to do, including among its leaders. The time to do so is now." Read more
Trump Tweets Call for More Sanctions Against Iran After It Vows Retaliation
Reuters / 1-minute read
President Trump ordered a substantial increase in sanctions against Iran this week, following a weekend airstrike on the Saudi oil industry. Meanwhile, Iran warned the U.S. that any attack on Iranian territory would be met with “rapid and crushing” retaliation. Although a Yemeni rebel group claimed responsibility for the Saudi airstrike, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said evidence points to Iranian responsibility and called it an “act of war.” Read more
Las Vegas Neo-Nazi Plotted Synagogue Attack, Faces Weapons Charge
Washington Post / 1-minute read
A 23-year-old white supremacist and former security guard in Las Vegas who divulged to an FBI informant his intentions to attack a synagogue faces a federal firearms charge for stockpiling assault weapons and bomb making materials in his home. The suspect, who belongs to Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group dedicated to terrorist attacks against Jews and other minorities in the U.S., also planned to attack a McDonalds and a bar catering to LGBTQ customers. Read more
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Good to Know

Iran Suspended From World Judo Over Israel Boycott Policy
Israel Hayom / 1-minute read
Less than a month after world champion Saeid Mollaei left the Iranian judo team in protest of a policy to sabotage matches or bow out to avoid facing Israeli competitors, the International Judo Federation (IJF) announced that Iran is suspended from international judo competitions until it faces a formal hearing. For several decades Iranian athletes have refused to compete against Israelis or recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a nation. Read more
With Putin Cracking Down on Democracy, More Russian Jews Head for Israel
JTA / 2-minute read
Some call it the Putin Aliyah – a mass exodus of Jews from Russia to Israel spawned by an erosion of freedom, safety and antisemitism under President Vladimir Putin. Since 2015, nearly 40,000 Russian Jews have arrived in Israel, compared to only 36,784 over the entire decade prior to 2015. Human rights watchers point to two catalysts for the movement, including the 2012 arrest of three members of Pussy Riot, a feminist punk rock band after they performed a protest song in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The other catalyst took place in 2014 when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. Read more
Comedians Criticize SNL for Firing Shane Gillis Over Derogatory Slurs
Washington Post / 2-minute read
Several prominent comedians, including Saturday Night Live alumni Rob Schneider and Norm Macdonald, have lambasted the NBC late night show for retracting its decision to cast stand-up comic and podcaster Shane Gillis. Gillis was slated to debut as one of three new featured players, including SNL’s first East Asian cast member, until a podcast episode came to light in which he used racist and homophobic language. Gillis has been criticized for additional remarks he made as a guest on other podcasts, including one in which he used an antisemitic and racist slur while talking about Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Read more


German Jews Reclaim Lederhosen (Tablet)
Immigration Policy Fires Up Jewish Activists (Los Angeles Times)
Too Old for Birthright? Try This Jewish Overnight Camp (New York Times)
Disney Coronates Jewish Princess (Jerusalem Post)

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