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Steve Sheffey's Pro-Israel Political Update

Calling balls and strikes for the pro-Israel community since 2006

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May 26, 2024

Key Takeaways:

  • It's been 233 days since October 7, 2023, when, on Simchat Torah, Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel and murdered 1,200 people (including 44 Americans). More Jews were murdered on that day than on any day since the Holocaust. Hamas wounded 3,300 and took 240 hostage during a day of brutal savagery and unspeakable, undeniable sexual violence; 125 hostages, some dead, some raped and possibly pregnant, remain captive in Gaza today.

  • These remaining hostages comprise five religions and 25 nationalities, including eight Americans, five probably alive: Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Keith Siegal, Omer Neutra, Edan Alexander, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Itay Chen, Judi Weinstein Haggai, and Gad Haggai.

  • President Biden emphasized his commitment to bringing home the hostages, reiterated his rejection of charges of genocide against Israel, and reaffirmed his commitment to helping Israel defeat Hamas in his Jewish American Heritage Month Rose Garden speech.

  • Trump continues to use Nazi rhetoric. Last week, he posted about a "unified Reich." Electing Trump would spell disaster for Israel, the United States, and Jewish Americans.

  • Speaker Johnson's invitation to Netanyahu is not pro-Israel. It's pro-Netanyahu, it's a political stunt, and it's a shanda.

Read to the end for corrections, what you may have missed last week, fun stuff, and upcoming events.

You're welcome to read for free, but if you get something out of this newsletter, you can give something back by credit card or PayPal. Or you can Venmo @Steven-Sheffey (last four phone digits are 9479). Or you can send a check.

Hi Steve,

The parents of five female hostages requested the release of this video. It's a hard three minutes to watch but watch it. Then read this commentary.

President Biden's diplomatic efforts secured the release of more than 100 hostages in November. Biden marked Jewish American Heritage Month by telling Jewish leaders assembled in the Rose Garden on May 20 that "my administration is working around the clock to free the remaining hostages, just as we have freed hostages already." With Hersh Goldberg-Polin's parents standing about ten yards away, Biden said, "I pledge to both of you — and I mean it — and I know you know, Mom, that I mean it — that I will not rest until we bring your loved one home. We got to bring him home."

Biden added, "we stand with Israel to take out Sinwar and the rest of the butchers of Hamas. We want Hamas defeated. We’ll work with Israel to make that happen ... we’re also committed to bring the region together to work toward a two-state solution that provides security, prosperity, and enduring peace for Israel and Palestinians." 

Bide said, "we reject the ICC’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders. Whatever these warrants may imply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas" and that "contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what’s happening is not genocide. We reject that."

Despite the sweltering sun, we hung on President Biden's every word, interrupting him only for applause. Biden's warmth, humanity, and commitment to Israel and the Jewish people are in stark contrast to Donald Trump's commitment to nothing but himself.

Trump would be a disaster for Israel. The choice is not Joe Biden or the Almighty. The choice is Joe Biden or the alternative. I think Biden has been great for Israel (based on his actual record, not the fantasy that our Republican friends sell us), but even to the extent you fault Biden for this or that, Trump would be worse by every standard.

Trump attacked Israel and its leaders days after October 7. He's shown no sympathy--only callousness--for the hostages. If you think that Trump could have put together the coalition that saved Israel from Iran's missile attacks in April, read what two hawkish Republican national security experts say about Trump's fitness for office.

If you don't like Biden, it's frustrating to be told Biden is your only choice. But if you care about the future of America and Israel, you have no choice but to vote for Biden. You can then spend the next four years finding a Democrat or a Republican you like better to run in 2028. Israel and America will be here in four years if Biden wins, no matter how much you might disagree with him. We cannot say the same if Trump wins.

We are told to believe Hamas's leaders when they say they will repeat October 7 over and over. We are told to believe Iran's leaders when they say they want to wipe Israel off the map. I agree. We should believe them. Yet Trump supporters tell us not to believe Trump when he says "what's next for America" includes a "unified Reich." This is far from the first time that Trump has used Nazi rhetoric. Who talks like that?

Trump attempted to pass the buck to his staff despite previously saying that only he and one other person have access to his social media account (watch him say it here). But even if you believe that poor Trump was the victim of a rogue staffer, who hires staff like that? Hint: Donald Trump--he appointed neo-Nazi sympathizers Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon to key positions in his administration.

Dana Milbank, documenting and explaining the dangers of Trump's fascist rhetoric, notes that "Trump has once again raised a fuhrer." Louis Keene compiled a timeline of known instances in which Trump has invoked Hitler and the Nazis, vaguely or explicitly, since the start of his political career. People who use Nazi rhetoric are not our friends and should not set foot in the Oval Office. If this is not disqualifying for you, ask yourself what "Never Again" means to you.

Biden never uses antisemitic rhetoric. Trump has a long history of antisemitic rhetoric. It's no coincidence that the GOP has mainstreamed antisemitic rhetoric. Democrats marginalize and condemn antisemitism within their ranks. Republicans elevate antisemites to the highest echelons of leadership.

Watch Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff respond to Trump in this 25-second video.

It took Harry Truman 11 minutes to recognize the State of Israel. Joe Biden requested the largest emergency aid package for Israel in history less than two weeks after October 7. Thanks to Republican obstruction, it took the GOP-controlled House six months to approve the emergency aid package.

Republicans waste their time and ours calling one resolution and bill after another to the floor for meaningless votes designed to create the illusion that they care. Meanwhile, Johnson refuses to bring the Countering Antisemitism Act to the floor for a vote despite urging from 61 major Jewish organizations from across the spectrum.

When Trump says "jump," the GOP asks "how high." Imagine how quickly Republicans would have brought the aid package to the floor if Trump had demanded that they do it. But he didn't. Not a word at Israel's greatest time of need. During the six months that Republicans refused to bring the aid to an up or down vote, Biden approved over 100 arms sales to Israel. And the Republican position? They claim to be livid about one paused non-critical arms transfer. Gimme a break.

President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately condemned the International Criminal Court's applications for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders. If Trump has said anything at all, I haven't seen it. Then again, to be fair, maybe Trump is too busy with his own arrest warrants.

How can anyone who knows the truth vote for Donald Trump? The answer is they can't, and Republicans know it. Watch House Republicans try to prevent Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) from telling the truth. Republicans wasted 30 minutes striking his words from the record.

Charles Sykes wrote last week that "Trump has been found liable for sexual abuse and defaming his victim. He incited a violent attack on the Capitol, called for terminating rules in the Constitution, dined with a neo-Nazi, and floated the idea of executing the nation’s most senior general. He has been fined for fraud on a massive scale, faces more than 80 felony charges, and is accused of withholding and sharing top-secret national-security documents. Faced with all of this, the Republican Party says, Yeah, we want four more years of that."

Not me. Not you, if you care about the U.S. and Israel and if you have a shred of decency. Not you, unless you're okay with a national ban on abortions. That means voting for Biden-Harris, urging your friends to vote for Biden-Harris, and reminding people that protesting by not voting is almost as irresponsible as voting for Trump.

As Dana Milbank wrote, three Reichs and you're out.

Corrections. I'm entitled to my own opinions but not to my own facts, so I appreciate it when readers bring errors to my attention. No one brought any mistakes to my attention last week, so it looks like last week's newsletter was perfect.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) invited Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress. At the Israeli Embassy's 76th year celebration of Israel's independence on Thursday evening, Johnson said this--he was reading from prepared remarks and could not have been clearer that he is inviting Netanyahu to support "Israel's government." No, Mr. Speaker. We can support America and not support Trump. So too we can and must support Israel but not Netanyahu, who is deeply unpopular among Israelis. Pro-Israel is not the same as pro-Netanyahu. For Johnson to invite a foreign leader who he knows will attempt to undermine the President of the United States in an election year is not pro-Israel. It is pro-Netanyahu, it is a political stunt, and it is a shanda.

  • Rob Eshman argues that it's time to recognize a Palestinian state, and he addresses most of the arguments against it. Alon Pinkus covers the rest. The silliest argument against moving forward toward a two-state solution is that it would reward Hamas for terrorism. It's the opposite: Hamas wants one state from the river to the sea (so do some members of Netanyahu's coalition but they envision a different kind of state that begins with the letter "A."). A two-state solution would be a permanent rejection of Hamas's agenda and the extreme right-wing Jewish agenda (no, the two are not morally equivalent but they are both wrong) and the only solution that ensures Israel's future as a Jewish, democratic state. Daniel Bral explains why the divide is not unbridgeable.

  • Andy Schatz suggests that it's a strategic mistake to shut down debate about Zionism by declaring anti-Zionism antisemitic.

  • Michael Ian Black with a dissenting view on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's flags.

  • Many Americans are misinformed on objective facts about the economy and blame Biden.

Tweet of the Week. Michael Ian Black.

Twitter Thread of the Week. Jeremy Newberger.

Video Clip of the Week. Bob Dylan on how to deal with hecklers.

For those new to this newsletter. This is the newsletter even Republicans have to read and the original home of the viral and beloved 2022 and 2023 Top Ten Signs You're At a Republican Seder. If someone forwarded this to you, why not subscribe and get it in your inbox every Sunday? Just click here--it's free.

I periodically update my posts on why Democrats are better than Republicans on Israel and antisemitism and on the IHRA definition of antisemitism. My definition of "pro-Israel" is here (it's a work in progress, as am I).

I hope you enjoyed today's newsletter. It takes time to write and costs money to send. If you'd like to chip in, click here and fill in the amount of your choice. You don't need a PayPal account. If you see something that says "Save your info and create a PayPal account," click the button to the right and it will go away. Or you can Venmo @Steven-Sheffey (last four phone digits are 9479). Or you can send a check.

The Fine Print: This newsletter usually drops on Sunday mornings. Unless stated otherwise, the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of any candidates or organizations I support or am associated with. I value intellectual honesty over intellectual consistency, and every sentence should be read as if it began with the words "This is what I think today is most likely to be correct and I'm willing to be proven wrong, but..." Read views opposed to mine and make up your own mind. A link to an article doesn't mean I agree with everything its author has ever said or even that I agree with everything in the article; it means that the article supports or elaborates on the point I was making. Don't send me videos or podcasts--send me a transcript if it's that important (it's not only you--it's the dozens of other people who want me to watch or listen to "just this one"). Don't expect a reply if your message is uncivil or if it's clear from your message that you only read the bullet points or failed to click on the relevant links. I write about what's on my mind, not necessarily your mind; if you want to read about something else, read something else. If you can't open a link or if you can't find the newsletter in your email, figure it out--I'm not your IT department. If you share an excerpt from this newsletter please share the link to the newsletter (near the top of the newsletter). My newsletter, my rules.

Dedicated to my daughters: Ariel Sheffey, Ayelet Sheffey, and Orli Sheffey z''l. Copyright 2024 Steve Sheffey. All rights reserved.

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