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Daily Briefing: WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW” (January 19, 2022)

MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK

Biden Fully Enters the Battle to Save Democracy … When It’s Nearly Over:  Charles M. Blow, NY Times, Jan. 12, 2022“… For a year, activists have been screaming and pleading and begging and getting arrested, trying to get the White House to put the full weight of the presidency behind protecting voting rights, only to be met by silence or soft-pedaling. But finally, on Tuesday, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Atlanta to deliver forceful speeches calling on Congress to reform the filibuster and protect voting rights, all the things activists had been asking them to do for months. Some activists were so exasperated that they refused to go to the speech. Members of Martin Luther King Jr.’s family did attend, but even they said that it was a “difficult decision” because of their frustrations with the White House’s past inaction. When Biden fully entered the battle, the other warriors were already bloody, bruised and exhausted. Biden said during the speech: “I’ve been having these quiet conversations with the members of Congress for the last two months. I’m tired of being quiet!” Mr. President, so are we. Your prison of quietness was one of your own construction. You were free to leave it at any time. You didn’t until this week. … The real villains here are the Republicans restricting ballot access and reducing the voting power of people, mostly people of color, at the state level, and the Republicans in Congress refusing to stop them. McConnell is an accomplice to the crime of voter suppression, but Biden’s foot-dragging gave McConnell ammunition to use against reform. I hope that this is a better-late-than-never situation, that Biden’s engagement will help move some senators from “no” to “yes” on reforming the filibuster. But hope is a feature of faith, not a pillar of politics. …Well, if voting protections fail, many in the Black community will feel like they have been stabbed in the back.”

                             !SPECIAL WEEKLY QUOTES !
“In our lives. . .and the life of our nation, there are moments so stark that they divide all that came before them from everything that followed. They stop time. . .[I stand against] the forces in America that value power over principle. . . Republicans in Georgia [c]hoose the wrong way, the undemocratic way. To them, too many people voting in a democracy is a problem. . .[they want to] suppress the right to vote, [to] subvert the election. . .[This is] Jim Crow 2.0. . .insidious. . .the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not democracies. . .The filibuster has been weaponized and abused. . . Will you stand against election subversion or no?. . .Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” — President Joe Biden, speaking in Atlanta, GA, Jan. 12, 2022 on voting rights. (WSJ, Jan. 13, 2022)

 

[Mr. Biden’s speech was] profoundly unpresidential. . .deliberately divisive . . .and designed to pull our country further apart. . . I have known, liked and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I do not recognize the man at the podium yesterday. . . he called millions of Americans his domestic enemies. . .he invoked the bloody dissension of the Civil War to demonize Americans who disagree with him. . . He compared a bipartisan majority of senators to literal traitors. . . The sitting president of the United States of America compared American states to ‘totalitarian states’… [The world has now seen an American president] propagandize against his own country to a degree that would have made Pravda blush. . . A president shouting that 52 senators and millions of Americans are racist unless he gets whatever he wants is proving exactly why the Framers built the Senate to check his power. [What he is really doing is attempting to] delegitimate the next election in case they lose it. [Now] the Senate’s responsibility [is] to protect the country.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, replying to the President’s Atlanta Speech. (WSJ, Jan. 13, 2022)
 
“It is startling when two speeches within 24 hours, neither much heralded in advance … leave you knowing you have witnessed a seminal moment in the history of an administration, but it happened this week. The president’s Tuesday speech in Atlanta, on voting rights, was a disaster for him. By the end of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s answering speech … you knew some new break point had occurred, that President Biden might have thought he was just crooning to part of his base but the repercussions were greater than that; he was breaking in some new way with others—and didn’t know it.” – Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan.  (WSJ, Jan. 13, 2022)
 
“It was not a partisan speech.  It was intended to lay out for the public exactly what’s at stake and lay out for elected officials what’s at stake and he stands by everything he said in that speech. I think everybody listening to that speech who’s speaking on the level … would note that he was not comparing them as humans; he was comparing the choice to those figures in history and where they’re going to position themselves as they determine whether they’re going to support the fundamental right to vote or not.” — White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisting that President Biden stands by his Atlanta speech that compared opponents of Democrats’ voting bills to racists and segregationists and called for nuking the filibuster. (National Review, Jan. 18, 2022)
 
“…The president forcefully declared that the time has come for the Senate to heed the call of John Lewis and do its part to protect the vote and end the Republican nullification of elections. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake.” – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Reuters, Jan. 11, 2022)
 
“(Biden) basically was suggesting that even Democratic senators that don’t support changing the filibuster rule are on the side of Jefferson Davis, on the side of Bull Conner, on the side of George Wallace. I don’t know that that language is going to work on Joe Manchin.” – CNN‘s Jake Tapper interviewing Delaware Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. (Poynter., Jan. 12, 2022)
 
“I don’t think the president’s rhetoric in Atlanta was particularly useful. There are real issues here and they shouldn’t be obscured by hyperbolic rhetoric.” — David Axelrod, a CNN senior legal adviser, and former Obama senior adviser when Biden was Obama’s vice president. (Fox News, Jan. 15, 2022)
 
“Why did he do that? What was his point? … He was virtue-signaling to activists who think it took him too long to get there. … he may have overshot the mark … if he was trying to get votes, it was not the vote-getting speech … I’m a minister. Either you get up, and you try to persuade people of their sins and appeal to their better angels. But when they come to church, and they still have the jug of whiskey up under the pew, you say, you’re going to hell. I think he gave a ‘you’re going to hell’ speech.” – Liberal activist Al Sharpton on MSNBC.  (Fox News, Jan. 13, 2022)
 
“Nobody—including Joe Biden—has been able to point to a single example of a law that comes within miles of Jim Crow restrictions. If they had such an example, you can be sure they wouldn’t be keeping it secret.” – Conservative Columnist Jonah Goldberg.  (The Dispatch, Jan. 12, 2022)
 
“All of us at the FBI … never lose sight of the threat extremists pose to the Jewish community and to other religious, racial, and ethnic groups. We have had a close and enduring relationship with the Jewish community for many years. This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.” — statement released by Acting Section Chief Susan McKee after a backlash from the Jewish community when an FBI representative told reporters that the hostage-taker “was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community.”  (Just the News, Jan. 17, 2022)
 

  SHORT TAKES
U.A.E. JUST INVESTED $100 MILLION IN ISRAEL’S TECH SECTOR AS BOTH COUNTRIES GET CLOSER (Abu Dhabi) — A major United Arab Emirates sovereign-wealth fund has invested roughly $100 million in venture-capital firms in Israel’s technology sector. A year and a half since the signing of the Abraham Accords, business is growing, with trade between the two counties forecast to reach $2 billion this year, up from roughly $250 million annually before the signing of the Accords. (WSJ, Jan. 14, 2022)
 
IDF DRAFT LAW FAILS IN FIRST READING — DM GANTZ VOWS TO RE-INTRODUCE MEASURE (Jerusalem) — Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz expressed his disappointment with the Knesset’s failure to pass the “ IDF Draft Bill”— a measure to rework the country’s military draft policy. The bill will be re-introduced within three weeks. The bill mandates recruitment of Haredim into the IDF and lowered the exemption age for those who wished to stay in yeshiva. The exemption age would have been 21. (Jewish Press, Jan. 17, 2022)
 
GOVERNMENT REPORT EXPOSES: EU INVESTED $500 MILLION IN ILLEGAL PA TAKEOVER OF AREA C (Brussels) — The European Union (EU) has invested half a billion dollars in support of the Palestinian Authority’s illegal takeover of Area C in Judea and Samaria, according to a comprehensive report by the Ministry of Intelligence on the PA’s plan to take over Area C. Israel exposed this information ahead of a special discussion on the subject held by the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, a move initiated by the Land of Israel Lobby, which warns that “the battle for Judea and Samaria” is at “a critical stage.” (Jewish Press, Jan. 18, 2022)
 
ISRAEL, US SUCCESSFULLY TEST ARROW 3 ANTI-BALLISTIC-MISSILE SYSTEM (Jerusalem) — Israel successfully tested its Arrow 3 anti-ballistic-missile system, together with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Israeli Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) Director Moshe Patel said Tuesday’s flight test was “complicated,” noting that since the successful series of tests of the AWS in Alaska in 2019, the system’s capabilities had “significantly expanded.” (JNS, Jan. 18, 2022)
 
FACEBOOK THREATENS TO DELETE PAGE OF PRO-ISRAEL UN WATCHDOG CHIEF (California) — Facebook has threatened to delete the personal account of the director of UNWatch, saying he violates community rules. UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer was also told that his page had already been under sanctions to reduce its visibility for months.  Sign the petition against the Facebook move here.  (Times of Israel, Jan. 18, 2022)
 
RABBI NAILED TERRORIST WITH CHAIR IN ESCAPE FROM TEXAS SYNAGOGUE (Texas) — Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three others were held at gunpoint for hours on Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel by Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old foreign national. At around 9:15 p.m., with the synagogue surrounded by heavily armed police and FBI agents, Cytron-Walker saw an opportunity to escape. When the rabbi saw Akram “wasn’t in a good position,” he told his fellow hostages to rush for the exit, while he nailed the gunman with a chair. After the hostages ran out of the synagogue, police swept the building, and Akram was shot dead. (Washington Free Beacon, Jan. 17, 2022)
 
TEXAS SYNAGOGUE TERRORIST CAME OUT, OF UK ISLAMIST NO-GO ZONE (Texas) — As far back as 2013, Pakistani Muslim terrorists plotted to take “foreign Jews” hostage to trade for “Lady Al-Qaeda.” In 2022, a Pakistani Muslim terrorist went out and did it. The hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform Temple in Texas, ended with Faisal Akram of Blackburn dead and his Jewish hostages freed. Back in the UK, the Blackburn Muslim Community page announced that “Faisal Akram has sadly departed from this temporary world” and prayed that Allah “bless him with the highest ranks of Paradise.” (JNS, Jan. 17, 2022)
 
JOE BIDEN’S JIM CROW 2.0 TOUR COLLIDES WITH REALITY: BLACKS STRONGLY SUPPORT VOTER ID (Michigan) —  According to a Michigan poll, three-quarters of the battleground state voters supported ballot ID requirements, with black voters expressing the highest support at 79%. National polls also confirmed those findings, exposing a dilemma for Democrats in Washington who are making a last-ditch effort to pass legislation gutting many state and local elections controls in favor of federal standards. Those standards — banning voter IDs, imposing no-excuse absentee voting, and making it harder to clean outdated voter rolls — are not what the majority of Americans seek. (Just the News, Jan. 17, 2022)
 
U.S. EMBASSY, CIVILIAN TARGETS ATTACKED IN IRAQ (Baghdad) — Rockets targeted the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and men on motorcycles hurled grenades at the offices of political rivals of Iran-backed militias. These actions threaten a new spiral of violence as Iraq moves to form a new government following last year’s parliamentary election. A week after Iraqi militias hit bases hosting U.S. forces, the attacks on Thursday and Friday marked a shift in focus, with civilian targets coming under heavy fire. (WSJ, Jan. 14, 2022)
 
AFGHANISTAN’S TALIBAN BATTLE REBELLION BY ETHNIC MINORITY FIGHTERS (Kabul) — Afghanistan’s Taliban are battling a rebellion by ethnic minority fighters in their ranks, a sign that ties are fraying within the alliance built by the Islamist group that seized control of the country in August. Some Uzbeks who joined the Taliban, which is dominated by Pashtuns from the country’s south and east, along with other Uzbeks, fought Taliban forces in Faryab province this week. They killed at least four people and wounded others. Inamullah Samangani, a spokesman for the Taliban, blamed supporters of democracy that exploit ethnic divisions. (WSJ, Jan.  14, 2022)
 
STRIKE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, LABOUR UNIONS, PARALYZES LEBANON AS ECONOMY WORSENS (Beirut) — Schools, universities, and many shops were closed in Lebanon as a general strike by public transportation and labour unions paralyzed the crisis-hit Mideast country. Lebanon’s economy continues to crash:  80% of people remain in poverty while its pound has lost over 90% of value, indicating the total ineptness of political “leadership”. (Globe and Mail, Jan. 14, 2022)
 
EX-OFFICER JAILED FOR SYRIAN WAR CRIMES AFTER LANDMARK GERMAN TRIAL (Berlin) – Anwar Raslan was found guilty by a German court on 27 of out 58 counts of murder, rape, and sexual assault carried out at a Damascus prison run by a unit of President Bashar al-Assad’s security services that he headed. He was jailed for life. His was the first-ever conviction for state-backed torture committed during Syria’s civil war after a landmark trial. The 58-year-old, a colonel when he defected to the Syrian opposition in 2012 and who prosecutors said was granted asylum in Germany two years later, had denied all charges. (Reuters, Jan. 13, 2022)

 FOR FURTHER REFERENCE
Investigating Who Betrayed Anne Frank and Her Family To The Nazis Jon Wertheim, CBS News, Jan. 18, 2022 — Seventy-five years after its publication, “The Diary of Anne Frank” remains among the most widely-read books in the world.
 
McGill Tribune Column Rehashes Anti-Israel Propaganda:  Robert Walker, Honest Reporting Canada, Jan. 13, 2022 — In a recent January 11 column in the McGill Tribune, “How McGill fails Palestinian students,” (pages 8 and 9Managing Editor Maya Abuali describes her upbringing as a Palestinian growing up in Canada and her desire to educate peers about her background.
 
Rabbinical Statement on the UCC’s Proposed Resolutions on Antisemitism & Israel: Toronto Board of Rabbis, Jan. 11, 2022 — As Canadian Rabbis from across the country who span the denominational spectrum, we strongly condemn resolutions on Israel and antisemitism currently under consideration by the United Church of Canada preparatory to the 2022 General Council.
 
Some Blue States Have Voting Laws Just As Restrictive As Their Red Counterparts:  Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner, Jan. 13, 2022 — President Joe Biden framed his passionate plea for voting reform this week around the idea that Republicans alone stood between Democrats and greater ballot access, requiring legislation that would largely strip states of their election authority.
 

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