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Bernie Sanders Goes Into Most Detail Yet About Judaism, Israel, Anti-Semitism

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders went into more detail than ever before about his ties to Judaism and Israel in an op-ed for Jewish Currents published Monday. Here are the key takeaways:

He warned of the danger of white supremacy:

Sanders described how his father’s relatives were killed in the Holocaust, and detailed the rise in anti-Semitism in the United States. He described hatred of Jews as “a threat to democratic governance itself” because white nationalists also hate the ideas of equality and multiracial democracy. Sanders pledged to combat white nationalism and “do exactly the opposite of what Trump is doing.”

He detailed how he thinks about anti-Semitism on the left:

Sanders stressed that criticizing Israeli government policies is not anti-Semitic, but added that some critiques do stray into anti-Semitism, such as conspiracy theories about Jewish power or denying the Jews’ right to self-determination. “I think it is very important for everyone, but particularly for progressives, to acknowledge the enormous achievement of establishing a democratic homeland for the Jewish people after centuries of displacement and persecution,” he explained.

But he also said that he was concerned that the Trump administration was using accusations of anti-Semitism “as a cynical political weapon against progressives.”

He called for two states and “reconciliation” between Israelis and Palestinians:

Sanders stressed the importance of Israel ending its occupation of Palestinian-claimed lands, and called on the two sides to recognize the legitimacy of each other’s historical grievances: “The forces fomenting anti-Semitism are the forces arrayed against oppressed people around the world, including Palestinians; the struggle against anti-Semitism is also the struggle for Palestinian freedom.”

Why is this coming out now?

Polls and donation data have repeatedly shown that Sanders, the leading Jewish contender in the race and the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in American history, is less popular among American Jews than he is among the general population.

Sanders has been criticized by some Jews for not talking enough about his Jewish heritage and background. Sanders has done much more of that in this cycle.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

    ‘Kill All Jews,’ And Broken Windows: Two Anti-Semitic Incidents Strike New York

    Two more instances of anti-Semitic crime shocked New York City this past weekend, the latest in a slate of incidents targeting Jews here.

    The 103rd street subway stop was vandalized with swastikas and the words “kill all Jews,” and a man used a gun to smash the windows at a girls’ yeshiva, Bais Rikvah School, in Crown Heights on Friday.

    It is unclear when perpetrators vandalized the subway stop, but a photo of the graffiti is circulating online this morning.

    In the windows incident, an off-duty police officer reportedly saw the vandal and called 911, but police were unable to find him.

    That incident was caught on camera by the Crown Heights Shomrim, the neighborhood watch group serving orthodox Jewish communities.

    Molly Boigon is the investigative reporter at the Forward. Contact her at boigon@forward.com or follow her on Twitter @MollyBoigon

      Synagogue Threatened By Bomb Plot Is Opening Its Shabbat Services To The Public

      The Colorado synagogue that was targeted by a white supremacist would-be bomber has said that the public is welcome to attend Friday evening services this Sabbath.

      Rabbi Birdie Becker, the leader of Temple Emanuel, in Pueblo, also noted that the synagogue will now install external security cameras in response to the bombing threat.

      The man arrested for the plot, Richard Holzer, 27, planned the bombing with people he thought were fellow white supremacists and anti-Semites, but were in fact FBI agents. On Friday evening last week, during the supposed final preparations for the bombing, the agents arrested Holzer. We was expected to appear in federal court Friday.

      Becker told local news station KRCC that despite the new security measures — the synagogue’s president recently told news media that he encourages the carrying of guns in synagogue — the community wanted the synagogue to remain open and hospitable.

      “We’ll still come together as a community,” she said. “Life goes on. Celebrating goes on, rituals go on, this does not change any of that. It never has. Anti-Semitism has been around for a long time.”

      Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at feldman@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman

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      Neo-Nazi Group Leader Had Parts For Untraceable ‘Ghost Guns’: FBI

      Washington state law enforcement officials say the leader of a local neo-Nazi cell — the same group that was connected to the death of the Jewish teenager Blaze Bernstein — may have planned to manufacture untraceable weapons known as “ghost guns.”

      Kaleb Cole, who according to court documents is the admitted leader of the Washington state unit of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen, has not been charged with a crime. But law enforcement agencies, which had seized a cache of firearms and weapons components in a September raid of his property, went to a county court last month asking for a protection order allowing them to hold the weapons for one year because the owner is a threat to themselves or others, , local news station KING 5 reported Thursday.

      Officials from multiple law enforcement agencies, including local police and the FBI, said in court that Cole had acquired separate parts needed to manufacture AR-15s. Because he hadn’t bought those weapons intact, he didn’t need to undergo a background check and any firearms made from combining them would have effectively been untraceable.

      They also said Cole had produced Atomwaffen propaganda videos, and that he had been detained for 42 days by Canadian immigration services before being deported and banned from that country for life.

      The county judge granted the protection order against Cole “based on his recent threats of violence, pattern of threats of violence and recent acquisitions and stockpiling of firearms.” Cole did not appear at his hearing to challenge these claims.

      Atomwaffen is an American neo-Nazi group that is considered hardcore even within the white nationalist movement. “They promote violence and the stockpiling of weapons among their members in preparation for a race war,” an FBI special agent testified. Members of Atomwaffen have been linked to five murders, including Bernstein’s death.

      Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

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      Trump Says He’ll Donate To Holocaust Museum After Court Shuts Down His Charity

      (JTA) — President Donald Trump said he would pay $1.8 million to several charities, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, after losing a civil court case over his misuse of his charity to get elected.

      Trump made a statement about the payment on Thursday, after a New York judge ordered him to pay $2 million in damages for misusing funds from a tax-exempt charity — taking the charity’s money to pay debts for his for-profit businesses, to boost his 2016 campaign and to buy himself art, according to court documents.

      That order, from state judge Saliann Scarpulla, settled a lawsuit filed against Trump last year by the New York attorney general, the Washington Post reported.

      The lawsuit alleged “persistently illegal conduct” at the Donald J. Trump Foundation headed by the president.

      As part of the settlement, Trump agreed to disburse the $1.8 million remaining in the foundation to a set of charities, and shutter it for good. In a statement signed by Trump’s attorney, the president admitted to poor oversight of the charity and to seven specific instances where its money was misspent.

      In addition the Holocaust museum, the money will go to Children’s Aid Society and the United Negro College Fund.

      Trump’s three eldest children — Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric — were also named in the original lawsuit, because they were board members at the Trump Foundation. The board did not meet for 19 years, from 1999 to 2018.

      In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James called the settlement “a major victory.”

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