Virginia governor urges people to avoid far-right rally

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s governor on Friday urged people to stay away from a planned weekend rally of far right and white supremacist groups in the university town of Charlottesville.

The National Guard has been put on alert because of the risk of violence during Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally. Counter demonstrators are also expected.

“I want to urge my fellow Virginians who may consider joining either in support or opposition to the planned rally to make alternative plans,” Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.

Thousands of white nationalists, including supporters of the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group, and anti-fascist activists are expected to turn out in Charlottesville, a sleepy town planning to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, who led Confederate forces in the US Civil War.

“The Charlottesville event could be a potentially historic showcase of hate, bringing together more extremists in one place than we have seen in at least a decade,” said Oren Segal, director of the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, a group that monitors and combats anti-Semitism.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, said many of the people at the rally will “express viewpoints many people, including me, find abhorrent. As long as that expression is peaceful, that is their right.”

He said he had given security forces instructions to act quickly and decisively if violence breaks out.

Officers clash with counter protesters after the Ku Klux Klan staged a protest on July 8, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chet Strange/Getty Images/AFP)

Units of the Virginia National Guard will be placed on stand-by, he added.

On July 8 a few dozen Ku Klux Klan marchers gathered in Charlottesville to protest plans to remove the statue of Lee. But they were outnumbered by hundreds of jeering counter protestors.

This time the extreme right hopes to have a stronger showing thanks to the presence of various leaders of the “alt-right” movement that has been emboldened by Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House.


US urges world pressure to halt Hezbollah arms buildup

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday accused Lebanon’s Hezbollah of amassing weapons and said the world must turn its attention to the actions of the powerful terror group.

Haley met with UN envoy for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag ahead of a Security Council meeting Thursday focusing on the UN peacekeeping force deployed in southern Lebanon.

“Ambassador Haley expressed alarm over the build-up of weapons by Hezbollah, a situation that demands the international community’s attention to prevent the further escalation of regional tensions,” said a statement by the US mission.

She stressed that the international community must “apply more pressure on Hezbollah to disarm and cease its destabilizing behavior, especially toward Israel.”

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing: 'Advancing US Interests at the United Nations'. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Haley has been a strong supporter of Israel, which fought a month-long war against Hezbollah in 2006.

According to Israeli assessments, Hezbollah has significantly built up its weapons stockpile since the 2006 war and has upgraded its arsenal to more than 100,000 missiles.

Arabic media has reported that Iran constructed at least two missile factories within Lebanon, capable of producing medium-range rockets and other weaponry. Israel also fears that some advanced surface-to-sea and anti-aircraft weapons systems have reached Hezbollah from Iran.

Last month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against attacking Lebanon or Syria, saying “hundreds of thousands” of Arab and Muslim fighters would be ready to strike back.

There have been periodic skirmishes along the UN-monitored demarcation line between Israel and Lebanon, longtime adversaries which are technically still at war with each other.

A Hezbollah observation post on the Israeli-Lebanese border, according to the IDF. Photo released on June 22, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

On Tuesday, the Israeli army released two videos which it said showed Hezbollah fighters operating in south Lebanon, which it is banned from doing under the UN resolution that ended the 2006 war.

In recent months, Israel has stepped up criticism of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, accusing it of turning a blind eye to the efforts of Hezbollah to stock up on missiles and set up in the area between the Litani river and the Israeli border.

Haley said the UNIFIL mission must be “fully engaged in addressing the threat posed by Hezbollah.”

ACLU urges senators to oppose bill targeting Israel boycotts

NEW YORK (JTA) — The American Civil Liberties Union called on U.S. senators to oppose a measure targeting boycotts of Israel and its settlements.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced in March by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would expand 1970s-era laws that make illegal compliance with boycotts of Israel sponsored by governments — laws inspired at the time by the Arab League boycott of Israel — to include boycotts backed by international organizations. Those adhering to boycotts would be the subject of fines.

While the measure is aimed at the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, it also targets efforts by the United Nations and the European Union to distinguish products manufactured in Israel from those manufactured in West Bank settlements.

In a letter Monday, the ACLU urged senators not to co-sponsor the measure and to oppose its passage.

“We take no position for or against the effort to boycott Israel or any foreign country, for that matter,” wrote Faiz Shakir, ACLU’s national political director. “However, we do assert that the government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, punish U.S. persons based solely on their expressed political beliefs.”

Shakir added that “the bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

The measure was drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and has the support of Christians United for Israel. It has 42 co-sponsors from both parties. A similar bill has gained 230 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

Liberal pro-Israel groups have objected in recent years to similar legislation, arguing that boycotting settlements — an action that some liberal Zionists support — should not be wrapped into broader boycotts of Israel, which most of the Jewish community rejects.




The Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid launched dual criticisms on Wednesday of Spanish government funds for anti-Israel NGOs in the country’s parliament in Madrid.

“I am here to deepen the understanding of the Spanish leadership – that the anti-Israel BDS movement supports terror and pushes peace between Israelis and Palestinians further away,” Lapid said, using the abbreviation for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

“We will work with our friends in the government and opposition to end continued funding – which originates with Spanish taxpayers who oppose terror with all their hearts – for pro-BDS groups, Olga Deutsch, director of NGO Monitor’s Europe desk, said. “For years, NGO Monitor has warned of the European funding processes that enable NGO antisemitism, incitement and BDS. MK Lapid understands the seriousness of our findings, and we thank him for contributing to this important dialogue with his fellow parliamentarians in Spain.”

According to a joint report titled “Spanish Funding to NGOs Active in the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” by NGO Monitor and the pro-Israel NGO ACOM, Spanish “funding designated for NGO activities in the Arab-Israeli conflict amounted to over €5.1 million in 2015 alone, with the largest centralized donor being the Agency for International Development Cooperation.”

The report noted, “Several Palestinian beneficiaries of direct funding from the Spanish government have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. The PFLP has been involved in suicide bombings, hijackings, assassinations and other violence targeting civilians.”

In May, the city of Barcelona paid money to a left-wing NGO to host the convicted PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled at a literary festival.

Ambassador to Spain Daniel Kutner told The Jerusalem Post at the time: “I hope [Khaled] will not be allowed to set foot in Europe in general, and in Spain in particular. I raised the subject of her scheduled participation in an event in a city-managed venue with the higher authorities at Barcelona, conveying our position on the subject.”

The Jordan-based Khaled is a member of the PFLP, which has been designated by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization. She hijacked TWA Flight 840 in 1969 and a year later participated in the attempted hijacking of EL AL Flight 219.

The joint NGO Monitor-ACOM report said “a number of Spanish NGOs receiving government funding support BDS campaigns that target Israel economically, culturally and academically, and collaborate with Palestinian NGOs associated with the PFLP terrorist organization. Beyond waging delegitimization campaigns against Israel, these NGOs often promote libelous claims that echo antisemitic themes or endorse violence against civilians.”

Deutsch said, “Our event in Spain follows important debates and policy changes in Switzerland, Denmark and Norway. Our local partners, including ACOM in Spain, have been instrumental in these successes.”

The NGO Monitor-ACOM report is available in Spanish and English on the NGO Monitor website.

Press queries by the Post to Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its embassy in Tel Aviv were not immediately returned.

ADL urges hate crime probe in Virginia killing of Muslim girl

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League called on authorities to probe the slaying of a Muslim girl in suburban Virginia as a hate crime.

“We urge the Fairfax County Police Department to investigate the murder as a possible bias crime,” Doron Ezickson, the ADL’s Washington, D.C., director, said in a statement Monday. “ADL has communicated that to law enforcement and we have reached out to ADAMS to offer any assistance.”

ADAMS is the acronym for the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, the mosque that Nabra Hassanen had worshipped at in Washington’s northern Virginia suburbs in the pre-dawn hours Sunday before heading to a restaurant with friends for breakfast. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan.

A motorist confronted the friends and assaulted the victim as they were walking back to the mosque, according to reports. All but Hassanen fled to the mosque, where worshippers alerted authorities. Hassanen’s body was found later in a pond.

Police arrested Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, and he was charged with murder, but told the Washington Post they were not investigating the killing as a hate crime. They did not explain why.

Trump urges Gulf unity ‘but not at expense of stopping terror funding’

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump called Wednesday for unity between Persian Gulf nations, “but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism.”

Trump offered to personally broker a resolution to the Gulf’s escalating diplomatic crisis, as both he and Qatar looked past his pointed suggestion only a day earlier that the tiny gas-rich nation enables terrorism.

In a phone call with Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, Trump said he wanted to help Qatar and its Arab neighbors resolve the row that has upended any sense of Gulf unity, suggesting a possible White House summit among leaders. Though Trump again said countries must eliminate funding streams for terror groups, the White House said he focused on the need for the region’s various US allies to stick together.

Blockaded by its neighbors by land and sea, Qatar is eager for Trump’s help. Qatar’s US ambassador, Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, told The Associated Press his country is counting on Washington to persuade Saudi Arabia and others to back down.

“We have great confidence in the president’s ability to calm this crisis and to resolve it,” Al Thani said in an interview.

Trump’s bid to fashion himself as a neutral arbiter among Arab governments departed from his stance only a day earlier, when he left little doubt about where he felt the fault rested. In a tweetstorm, Trump said Mideast leaders he’d met with last month had all “pointed to Qatar” as the source of terrorist financing, waxing optimistically that the isolation of the kingdom might be “the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.”

Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates joined the Saudis earlier this week in cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar, accusing it of backing groups from al-Qaeda and Hamas to the Muslim Brotherhood that threaten the region’s other governments. Qatar vehemently denies such support. Al Thani, the ambassador, insisted his country had no idea why Qatar’s neighbors were picking a fight.

Qatar received no notice from the other Arab countries before ties were cut, he said, calling it “a surprise and a shock to us, this act of aggression.” He said normal life in Qatar is “not affected” by the blockage, insisting the tiny country maintains sufficient access to other air and sea routes to secure food for its people.

A general view  shows boats sitting in the port along the corniche in Qatar's capital Doha on June 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/STR)

Trump also called Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE., Wednesday. On the call, he reiterated “the importance of maintaining a united Gulf Cooperation Council to promote regional stability, but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism,” the White House said in a statement.

Trump’s broadside Tuesday against Qatar, which plays a major role in US military efforts in the Mideast, arrived as an early-morning shock to US officials. They then sought to clean up the president’s comments by stressing US-Qatari cooperation remained intact and crediting the country with working hard to stem funding and support for extremists.

That was enough, it seemed, to persuade Qatar the US wasn’t abandoning its strategic partner.

“We don’t see that he’s pointing fingers at Qatar,” Al Thani said. “Our relationship with the US speaks for itself.”

Countries across the globe are increasingly faced with the same conundrum: How much credence to give to the president’s Twitter musings when they deviate sharply from US policy?

Emirati officials said they perceived Trump’s tweets as a sign Qatar shouldn’t count on America taking its side despite the US having some 10,000 troops based in the country’s al-Udeid Air Base.

But in Germany, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer pointed out that Trump’s words differed substantially from those of State Department and Pentagon officials.

“I can indeed see differences in some 140 character comments by the American president,” Schaefer said. “But what the position of the United States of America… is something I can’t really say.”

This file photo taken on December 6, 2016, shows Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Bahraini capital Manama. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

Both Qatar and the US sought to show the rift wasn’t affecting military cooperation. They cited no change to the status of al-Udeid Air Base. And a State Department official said an approved but pending sale of F-15 fighter planes to Qatar hasn’t been affected.

The call with Qatar’s emir showed Trump trying to personally involve himself in resolving the conflict. A day earlier, Trump discussed the crisis with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, which is leading the anti-Qatar campaign.

Other countries also are offering to intervene, and it’s not clear if Trump will end up as the primary mediator. Kuwait’s emir flew to the UAE on Wednesday to discuss the crisis, while Qatari ally Turkey voiced willingness to play a role.

A White House summit seemed an unlikely possibility. The potential for a coup makes it unlikely the Qatari emir would travel so far from home, especially as its adversaries hint that regime change would be welcome.

In the interview, Al Thani confirmed the FBI is helping Qatar investigate a hack of its state-run news agency last month that may have been a catalyst for the crisis. The Saudis and others have cited an article in which a top Qatari official seemed to pay tribute to Iran as a major regional power; the Qataris say the comments were fabricated as part of the hack.

Al Thani also denied any Qatari involvement in a separate hack of emails belonging to the UAE’s Washington ambassador, which have surfaced at various news agencies this week.

Portland Republican Urges Party to Contract Militia Groups for Defense After White Supremacist Murders Two

As tensions continue in Portland following the racially charged murder of two men on Friday, the top Republican in the city said he is considering using militia groups as security for public events.

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, were stabbed to death and 21-year-old student Micah David-Cole Fletcher was injured when they came to the aid of two women being subjected to hate speech on public transport. The suspect, Jeremy Christian, 35, was found to hold white supremacist views and to have attended an “alt-right” rally in the city.

On Monday, Donald Trump issued a belated message of condolence. Asked about the president’s tweet, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler told the Guardian: “Our current political climate allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry. Violent words can lead to violent acts.

“All elected leaders in America, all people of good conscience, must work deliberately change our political dialogue.”

Multnomah County GOP chair James Buchal, however, told the Guardian that recent street protests had prompted Portland Republicans to consider alternatives to “abandoning the public square”.

“I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,” he said. “And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too.”

Asked if this meant Republicans making their own security arrangements rather than relying on city or state police, Buchal said: “Yeah. And there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.”

Asked if he was considering such groups as security providers, Buchal said: “Yeah. We’re thinking about that. Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”

Buchal ran for Oregon attorney general in 2012 and has stood for election to Congress and the state legislature. The Oath Keepers are described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the US”, recruiting current and former military and law enforcement personnel. They have recently appeared at rallies from Berkeley to Boston, standing with activists from the far right, activists holding what were once fringe positions who have recently risen to national prominence.

The Three Percenters are described by Political Research Associates as “a paramilitary group that pledges armed resistance against attempts to restrict private gun ownership”. They were a highly visible presence in Burns, Oregon, before and during the occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge by rightwing militia early in 2016.

Buchal told the Guardian it was important not to become involved with extremists, and said that on the Three Percenters website, “right there on the front page there is what looks like a solid commitment to this not being about race at all”.

The main reason Buchal gave for his attraction to the militia groups was the cancellation of the Avenue of the Roses Parade, an annual Portland community event scheduled for 29 April, after organisers received an anonymously emailed threat of disruption.

The anonymous message claimed “Trump supporters and 3% militia” were encouraging people to “bring hateful rhetoric” to East Portland. “Two hundred or more people”, the email said, would “rush into the middle and drag and push those people out”.

When the parade was called off, Buchal issued a statement in which he bemoaned a “criminal conspiracy to commit crimes of riot” and a letter to Mayor Wheeler in which he lamented “rising lawlessness” in Portland.

In response to the cancellation a local far right organizer, Joey Gibson, organized a “free speech rally” – the event at which Christian, the suspect in Friday’s double murder, was filmed throwing fascist salutes and yelling racial epithets, and where he approached antifascist counter-protesters armed with a baseball bat.

Asked about Gibson’s organizing efforts for the far right, including a planned rally this Sunday which leftwing counter-protesters have vowed to oppose, Buchal said such actions were understandable.

“I think that for a long time there has been a closing of the mind and a censoring to a point where now people feel justified in using force to prevent the expression of opinions with which they disagree,” he said. “I believe that the left – the ‘antifa’ [antifascist] crowd – fired the first shot in that regard.

“There is definitely something wrong if criminal gangs are essentially allowed to shut down normal and traditional activities of Republicans. With that climate arising, the question becomes: ‘What do you do?’ A lot of the rank and file party members are old and frail people. They are intimidated by what’s going on.”

Buchal appears to have made radical statements in the past. Portland reporter Corey Pein surfaced a video of Buchal addressing a Multnomah County Republican Central Committee meeting.

The video depicts Buchal making a fiery pro-Trump speech. He says of the President, “His enemies are my enemies and his enemies are all our enemies.”

“Our enemies are more dangerous than ever” he continues. “We are really in a life and death battle for the future of our society. And these globalist people are not going to give up.”

“If we don’t tell out fellow citizens that there are these dark forces in the government, like the CIA and the shadow government, who are trying to take Trump down with lies, who is going to tell them?”

Spencer Sunshine, an associate researcher at Political Research Associates who last year co-authored a major report on the growth of the far-right Patriot Movement in Oregon, said: “The Oath Keepers have been acting as a de facto security team for white supremacists and neo-Nazis for the last month or two.

“The Three Percenters have no accountability and are implicitly a deeply racist group, and sometimes have explicitly racist members. They have no interest in screening those explicit racists out.

“Consideration of the use of unaccountable, private paramilitary groups by one of the main political parties is a dangerous lurch to the far right.”

In a statement, Rose City Antifa, a Portland antifascist group, said: “That the GOP need[s] to bring in private armed security rather than rely on Portland Police speaks volumes on their stance against ‘violence’. “These private security elements of the extreme right claim to be supporting ‘free speech’ when in reality their main goal is directing violence and hate speech towards antifascist protesters and activists while protecting white supremacists.”

The group pointed to what it said was evidence of Oregon Three Percenters attending “alt right” rallies.

Mayor Wheeler said in a statement on Monday that he had denied a permit for the planned “free speech” rally on Sunday and a possible follow-up.

“I have confirmed that the City of Portland has NOT and will not issue any permits for the alt-right events scheduled on 4 June or 10 June,” Wheeler said.

The mayor added that “the federal government controls permitting for Shrunk Plaza, and it is my understanding that they have issued a permit for the event on 4 June. I am calling on the federal government to IMMEDIATELY REVOKE the permit(s) they have issued for the 4 June event and to not issue a permit for 10 June.

“I am appealing to the organizers of the alt-right demonstrations to CANCEL the events they have scheduled on 4 June and 10 June.”

Gibson told The Guardian that he would press on with the “free speech” rally.

“There will be hundreds of people down there regardless of what I do. I will be down there with a permit in a controlled safe environment”, Gibson said.

“Without a permit it could get ugly because we have no right to kick people out.”

Portland police bureau spokesman, sergeant Peter Simpson, told The Guardian that using private security was ambiguous under state law.

“It’s a complex issue. Private security in Oregon needs to be certified by the state. That said, people showing up to assist do not. We don’t advocate bringing in outsiders to police an event.”

He also said that police were monitoring the build-up to the planned rally on Sunday.

“We are aware of the heated rhetoric regarding the planned events next Sunday and are working to determine what our role may be in protecting public safety.”


Jason Wilson is an Australian-born writer living in Portland, Oregon. He’s on Twitter at @jason_a_w.





US Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to speak about the importance of commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem on the 50th anniversary of the day Israel liberated the city’s east during the Six Day War.

Cruz’s address came a day after US President Donald Trump departed from Israel, where he spent two days of his maiden foreign tour and visited the Western Wall.


“I rise to mark a truly significant and momentous day. Starting this evening, millions around the world will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, also known as Jerusalem Day,” Cruz said.

“I am proud to join our close ally Israel and the Jewish people in celebrating this historic, 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem,” he continued.


Cruz then referred to Trump, calling on him to make two significant moves Israel has been vying for in talks with the current administration and its predecessors: to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“It is long past time that America does something it should have done two decades ago: move the American embassy to Jerusalem and formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undivided capital,” he said.

Trump first made the pledge to move the embassy during his election campaign, and has since appeared to be wavering on the decision.

A US official told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the president’s visit to the region that Trump would hold off on making the decision and was not going to announce the embassy move during his stay.

Indeed, during his time in the country, Trump refrained from making a direct reference to settlement construction or to the embassy move, which are two of the major issues of contention between Israel and the United States.

“There is no reason Israel should be treated any worse when they are such a reliable and unshakable ally,” Cruz added, before stressing the significance of the embassy move once more.

“We should honor the promise that Democratic presidents and Republican presidents have made for decades and move our embassy to Jerusalem.”

Cruz then went on to note the importance of Jerusalem Day. He spoke about Israel’s battle to reunite the capital during the Six Day War, which was determined on this day 50 year ago.

“Today is a day where we must also reassert historical truth: The historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel did not begin in 1967,” he said. “These profound ties to Jerusalem have existed for thousands of years. They can be traced back and have been reaffirmed through numerous archeological excavations such as those in the City of David.

“And so I stand today to express my solidarity with Israel and with the Jewish people during this major celebration. Now, more than ever, America stands strong with our unshakable friend and ally, the nation of Israel.”



The Golan Heights are an indivisible part of Israel and the Trump administration should recognize that in light of the civil war in Syria, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Sunday.

Katz made the remarks at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York.


Katz proposed that the governments in Jerusalem and Washington reach a five-pointed understanding on the issue of the Syrian civil war and the implications it has on Israel’s security.

Besides recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, Katz called for joint opposition to a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and Lebanon, further sanctions against Iran until it stops supporting regional terror organizations, and enhancing paralyzing sanctions on Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

“There will not be stability in the region until Iran is pushed back, and weapons transfers are stopped,” he added.

Katz also condemned the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its recent anti-Israel resolutions and called for strengthening Jerusalem and expanding its borders in response.

“We must strengthen our hold in Jerusalem and ensure the Jewish majority there, in the face of all those, including UNESCO, who are trying again and again to question the undeniable historical and religious connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem,” said the minister.

He added that in part this can be facilitated by including Jewish towns such as Gush Etzion, Givat Zeev, Ma’aleh Adumim and Beitar Elit to be part of “greater Jerusalem.”

“A united Jerusalem is and will be the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” he underlined.

On the Palestinian issue, Katz suggested focusing on civilian economic initiatives. For instance, he said he was using the Transportation Ministry he heads to advance a railroad initiative that would benefit Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and countries that want to trade with them.

“Economic development and trade are the strongest path to peace,” he said.

ADL head urges creation of hate crime task force in testimony to Senate committee

Never is Now conference

(JTA) — The national director of the Anti-Defamation League urged the establishing of a federal task force to coordinate hate crimes responses across the executive branch in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Jonathan Greenblatt set forth a series of policy recommendations during a Tuesday hearing on an increase in religious hate crimes, according to an ADL statement.

“All of us are deeply concerned about the ongoing harassment of Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others who are being targeted because of their religion,” Greenblatt told committee members. “The federal government has an essential leadership role to play in confronting hate crimes and in alleviating intolerance. And we need to make sure that we call out bigotry whenever it happens.”

Greenblatt recommended creating a task force that would help law enforcement agencies improve hate crimes data collection and training, enacting laws to combat hate crimes, exploring approaches to cyberhate and calling out bigotry.

On Monday, the American Jewish Committee praised members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for sending a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging him “to undertake effective action to address the increasing number of religious hate crimes in the U.S.”

“Effectively combating hate crimes demands a concerted federal government response,” said Richard Foltin, the AJC’s director of national and legislative affairs. “It is imperative that federal authorities help state and local authorities in carrying out their responsibility to monitor and prosecute hate crimes, and bring cases under federal hate crimes laws, where necessary.”

Nearly 150 JCCs and other Jewish institutions have received bomb threats and three Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized this year. In March, an Israeli-American teen was arrested in Israel on suspicion of calling in more than 100 bomb threats. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department charged the teen, Michael Kadar, with making threatening calls to JCCs in Florida, conveying false information to the police and cyberstalking.