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Leaked audio sheds light on "election integrity" events tied to Trump, RNC – NPR

Posted By on August 6, 2022

Attorney Cleta Mitchell is a senior legal fellow with the nonprofit Conservative Partnership Institute in Washington, D.C. The group has hosted "Election Integrity" summits in key states around the country, which have featured speakers from the Republican National Committee. Matt Rourke/AP hide caption

Attorney Cleta Mitchell is a senior legal fellow with the nonprofit Conservative Partnership Institute in Washington, D.C. The group has hosted "Election Integrity" summits in key states around the country, which have featured speakers from the Republican National Committee.

A prominent conservative attorney, who worked with former President Donald Trump on efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has been leading "Election Integrity" summits in swing states across the country, raising concerns about how false claims about a "stolen" election may affect future contests.

Leaked audio from those summits, which has been shared with NPR and other news outlets, provides an inside view of those efforts, which have been backed by key figures from Trump's orbit and funding from Trump's political operation. Officials from the Republican National Committee have also attended these events.

The attorney and guiding force behind these summits is named Cleta Mitchell. She has come under intense scrutiny ever since she took part in a Jan. 2, 2021 call to Georgia election officials, in which Trump pressured those officials to reverse the outcome.

"I only need 11,000 votes fellas, I need 11,000 votes," Trump said on the call. "Give me a break. You know we have that in spades already."

During the call, Mitchell floated multiple allegations of voter fraud, which Georgia's secretary of state himself a conservative Republican said his office had investigated and debunked.

Soon after audio of the call was released, Mitchell resigned under pressure from her position as partner with the law firm Foley & Lardner, which expressed concern with her participation on the call.

The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol has subpoenaed Mitchell. In addition to her participation on the call with Georgia election officials, the committee also released an email indicating that two days after the 2020 election, Mitchell suggested that state legislators could choose which electors to send to the Electoral College. That strategy could have allowed pro-Trump electors to essentially disregard their states' election results.

The district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., also secured a subpoena for Mitchell to testify as part of a separate criminal investigation into Trump's election efforts.

As those investigations have pressed forward, Mitchell has been working for a conservative nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., called the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), where "now I get to work on election integrity every single day," she recently said. Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is a senior partner at CPI, and Trump's Save America political action committee gave $1 million to CPI last summer. Under the umbrella of CPI, Mitchell runs the "Election Integrity Network."

With the support of those connections and funding, CPI has hosted "Election Integrity Summits" in several states this year, including Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania. "We're taking back our election systems," Mitchell told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon earlier this year, with the help of "an election integrity movement that is populated and driven by people who supported President Trump and who saw their votes literally cast aside."

Documented, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group that reports on the influence of corporations and wealthy people in politics, obtained leaked recordings from multiple events. They shared hours of tape from a March 31, 2022 summit just outside of Harrisburg, Pa., with NPR and other news outlets.

On its face, neither the mobilization of poll watchers nor increased scrutiny of election officials is necessarily concerning or even unusual. Brendan Fischer, the deputy executive director of Documented, says the difference with these events is their reliance on false and debunked information about the 2020 election.

"The concern is that the conspiracy theorists who see fraud around every corner are going to disrupt voting and the administration of elections," said Fischer.

Election officials have described receiving a barrage of threats since the 2020 election. On Monday, the Department of Justice announced that election officials and workers had reported receiving about a thousand "hostile or harassing" contacts. More than 100 of those contacts, the department said, "met the threshold for a federal criminal investigation."

Mitchell, for her part, has stressed the importance of volunteers remaining polite. "Never lose your temper or raise your voice," the group's "Citizen's Guide" states.

CPI did not respond to multiple requests for comment about their events.

Here are four takeaways from the recordings:

Though Mitchell has attracted intense scrutiny for her fraud claims about the 2020 election, an RNC official praised Mitchell and expressed a degree of deference to her work.

Joshua Findlay, the RNC's national director for election integrity, opened his remarks by thanking Mitchell.

"I am very grateful, first of all, that you're putting these on," said Findlay. "And, second of all, that we're invited. I flew overnight from meetings we had in Nevada to be here just for this."

Findlay went on to suggest that the RNC would take its cues from Mitchell.

"Cleta Mitchell, she's like the best election and election law expert out here. We're not going to tell her what to do," Findlay said. "But hopefully we can provide some infrastructure and some muscle and that's what we want to do."

Andrea Raffle, the RNC's director of election integrity for the state of Pennsylvania, also spoke at the event, and discussed ways for people to get involved in election offices. One goal of that effort, Findlay and Raffle explained, was to connect both volunteer and paid election workers with the Republican party's "war room," which could help address problems at the polls and inform the party's potential legal challenges.

"The RNC works with other groups who have an interest in promoting election integrity but the party's efforts are independent from any outside organization," said Emma Vaughn, a spokesperson for the RNC. "As such, the RNC is not a part of any formal coalition with outside groups."

Vaughn said that in places where the RNC had already engaged in "election integrity" efforts, "elections have run smoothly, and turnout has increased."

Michael Roman, who served as director of election day operations for the Trump 2020 campaign, also took part in the summit.

About a month prior, Roman was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee in Congress.

"The Select Committee is in possession of communications reflecting your involvement in a coordinated strategy to contact Republican members of state legislatures in certain states that former President Trump had lost and urge them to 'reclaim' their authority by sending an alternate slate of electors that would support former President Trump," said committee chair Bennie Thompson in a letter to Roman regarding the subpoena. "It appears that you helped direct the Trump campaign staffers participating in this effort."

Roman did not respond to NPR's request for comment.

According to the Washington Post, a grand jury in Washington has also subpoenaed records of communications between Arizona officials and Findlay, as well as several other Trump campaign staffers, as part of a Department of Justice investigation.

There is no indication Findlay himself is under investigation.

Throughout the event, several presenters suggested that it was especially important to closely monitor areas with large numbers of Democrats.

Doug McLinko, a county commissioner for Bradford County, Pa., said efforts to "clean up" voter rolls should be focused on Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, "Because that's the counties that are a problem. Yeah, we can go to the rural counties and we can clean up voter rolls. We need to do that. But let's be honest where it's at let's be honest where the steal was at."

At another point, a member of the audience from Philadelphia, who did not identify himself by name, said, "in certain sections of the city which are very dangerous because Black Lives Matter is there do we have and will we find people of color who are conservative number one and willing to work?"

Organizers for the event did not directly address the question, but said they were working on finding more volunteers for election monitoring positions in Philadelphia.

The comments about more racially diverse and predominantly Democratic areas were not limited to Pennsylvania.

The RNC's Findlay described Harris County, Texas, which includes the city of Houston, in similar terms.

"That's like the Philadelphia of Texas," said Findlay. "It's the county where we know all the problems are."

"Our job is not to win," said Christine Brim, a conservative activist from left-leaning Fairfax County, Va. "Our job is to lose less badly. And when you face that reality, when you're the blue county that can ruin a statewide vote, that really focuses what you're doing."

Toni Shuppe, the founder and CEO of Audit The Vote PA, was introduced at the summit as a leader of the state's "election integrity" coalition. She told NPR she is now working with a large number of groups in the state on those efforts.

As Shuppe recounted in a video posted to Facebook, she was in Washington, D.C., and outside the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack. She said she did not witness any of the violence that day, and things were peaceful where she was.

Shuppe has written that her path to political activism began, in part, by watching a 10-part three-hour online video called "The Fall Of The Cabal." The video promotes a wide variety of conspiracy theories, including some related to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to theories known as Pizzagate and QAnon. The Anti-Defamation League has described QAnon as "a wide-reaching conspiracy theory popular among a range of right-wing extremists," with "marked undertones of antisemitism and xenophobia."

"I don't know if any of the information in the video is true," Shuppe told NPR in an email. "But what if it is? The video opened my eyes to be more analytical and to question all narratives. I feel the same way about 9/11. Question all narratives."

In one startling scene from the video, the narrator claims that "worldwide, children are stolen and sold to elite pedophile rings," which then "drink the childrens' blood and they eat their flesh."

NPR asked Shuppe if she believed that specific claim.

"I have no idea," Shuppe responded. "Wish I knew. Great question though. Why don't you do some digging to figure that out and report back?"

Another participant at the event has used incendiary rhetoric in the past.

Ned Jones, the deputy director of the Election Integrity Network at CPI, gave a presentation on ways to hold local election officials accountable, including by filing public records requests.

During the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Jones responded to a tweet about the breach of the Capitol building, "They don't say a word when BLM/Antifa burn cities. It's our turn! About time!"

He has also frequently tweeted about the possibility of a second "civil war."

Responding to a tweet about street violence during post-election protests in Washington state in December 2020, Jones wrote, "The Civil War has started in Olympia, WA! Let's roll Patriots!"

Jones did not respond to NPR's request for comment.

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Leaked audio sheds light on "election integrity" events tied to Trump, RNC - NPR

ADL: Twitter removes only 5% of reported antisemitic posts J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on August 6, 2022

Twitter has an antisemitism problem, and its not doing nearly enough to combat it, according to an investigation by the Anti-Defamation League.

Twitters Failure to Enforce its Policy Against Antisemitism, the title of a statement published by the ADL on July 14, cites 225 tweets posted during a nine-week period in early 2022 that expressed anti-Jewish sentiment and that repeated antisemitic tropes, including conspiracy theories about Jewish power and greed, Holocaust denial and accusations of pedophilia.

After ADL reported the offending tweets to San Franciscobased Twitter, only 11 of them, or 5 percent of the total, were taken down by the platform, the agency said. That ratio is not good enough for ADL, which closely monitors antisemitic hate speech and acts of violence against Jews and others.

Twitter must enact its most severe consequences, the report read, and remove destructive, hateful content when reported by experts from the communities most impacted by such content.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

The ADLs Silicon Valleybased Center for Technology and Society undertook the investigation, which retrieved 1 percent of all content on Twitter during a 24-hour window twice a week from Feb. 18 to April 21. The CTS filtered that content through its Online Hate Index, an algorithm designed to sift quickly through millions of posts and search for inarguably antisemitic hate speech. Human experts further narrowed the search down to 225 tweets that met the criteria.

One of those tweets said You are owned by jews and I cant imagine worse masters. Another said, Its not a demon who wants a pound of flesh, its a jew. Yet another said, in part, If anyone is going to hell, its the last few generations of Judeo Americans

Wrote ADL: As of May 24, 2022, 166 tweets of the 225 we initially reported to Twitter remain active on the platform. The remaining tweets have a potential reach of 254,455 users. While we know that Twitter removed 11 of the original 225 due to our directly reporting them, the reasons behind the removal of the other 48 are less clear.

Twitter told the ADL that some tweets were de-amplified (meaning they could not be shared or engaged with) and that others did not meet a particular threshold of hateful content on the platform, according to the ADL. The statement also noted Twitter claimed that tweets with one hateful comment were not subject to content moderation action but if a tweet had repeated hateful comments, it would be subject to content moderation.

Seth Brysk, the director of ADLs S.F.-based Central Pacific Region, said the ADL was very careful to include not only a cross-section of tweets, but we made sure these were the most egregious expressions of antisemitism. They were easy to spot.

Brysk said the tweets contained classic expressions of Jewish power and greed, and hate directed at other communities, and yet to this day, over three-quarters of them are still on the platform, in violation of their own policy.

Twitter policy, as stated in its Abusive Behavior section at help.twitter.com, expressly forbids threats of violence, Holocaust denial and the use of insults, profanity, or slurs with the purpose of harassing or intimidating others. Though the policy also notes that while some individuals may find certain terms to be offensive, we will not take action against every instance where insulting terms are used.

Consequences of violations include downranking and de-amplifying tweets, requiring tweet removal and banning violators from the platform.

The ADL decried Twitters response, noting that the decisions made by Twitter significantly minimize the impact of antisemitism and that hate more broadly has on individuals from targeted communities. It is neither enough to de-amplify hate nor wait for hate to rise to a certain threshold before taking action. If a swastika was painted on a public building, we would not tell a community to put up a sign in front of it telling passersby to avert their eyes or wait to take action until there were a few additional swastikas painted on the same building.

Brysk conceded that hate speech is not a precise term but added that there are policies among these companies that largely address some of these issues, but sometimes they dont get it right.

Only recently did Facebook start considering Holocaust denial as an expression of hate, he said. Social media companies need to be willing to center the experiences of communities targeted by hate. There may be expressions of hatred directed at the Jewish community that might not be fully understood by some.

Brysk echoed ADLs recommendations that social media companies boost enforcement of their anti-hate-speech terms of use, strive for greater transparency around these issues and place greater trust in input from targeted communities.

He warned of the dangers of allowing hate speech to proliferate on social media.

When denigrating and demonizing [groups and] referring to them as vermin, a cancer, and cockroaches becomes normalized, that starts to prepare [citizens] for the notion of eliminating these groups, Brysk said.

Originally posted here:
ADL: Twitter removes only 5% of reported antisemitic posts J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

Biden Said it Best: You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Be a Zionist – Jewish Journal

Posted By on August 6, 2022

On July 13, 2022, President Biden arrived in Israel for the tenth visit of his career. Addressing Israels President and Prime Minister, he gave inspiring remarks, stating passionately that you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist. Truer words have rarely been spoken. While the restoration of Jewish nationhood in the land of Israel has deep roots in the ancient faith, most Americans and freedom lovers around the world support the Jewish state, the only democracy in the Middle East. The truth is that Israel has deep roots in common with the worlds other free nations.

This is why Israel has been consistently supported by United States administrations, starting on the very day of Israels independence when Harry Truman was the first world leader to officially recognize Israel. As President Kennedy once said: The cause of Israel stands beyond Jewish life. In our pluralistic society it has not been merely a Jewish cause, any more than Irish independence was the cause merely of those of Irish descent, because wherever freedom exists, there we are all committed. And wherever it is endangered, there we are all endangered. In 1974, Richard Nixon became the first president to visit Israel; most presidents since have followed suit, deepening Americas commitment to its gallant ally.

From the very beginning, Zionism the movement for the re-establishment of a sovereign Jewish nation has counted non-Jews among its most enthusiastic supporters. In 1891, several years before the modern Zionist movement was formally organized, a petition known as the Blackstone Memorial was presented to President Benjamin Harrison calling for the return of the Jewish people to their historic homeland, signed by 431 prominent Americans, including J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, future President William McKinley, and numerous congresspeople, as well as several notable organizations, including the Washington Post and New York Times.

Its easy to understand the reason so many leaders support Zionism. As President Biden put it, the connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep We dream together. In response to this statement, historian Gil Troy noted:

While belonging to that exclusive club of democracies, Israel and America belong to an even smaller subset of dreamocracies, countries founded around defining ideas, not just shared space America is forged by a shared commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Similarly, Israel is more than a smaller, more contested, home Israelis share a desire to be a free people in our ancient homeland. Although particular to each nation, these dreams overlap in a universal vision.

Our mutual support is explained by the depth of our shared values. Many of us have heard the increasingly shrill extremist voices calling for the United States to reverse its historic friendship with our fellow democracy and instead side with the dictatorships and terrorist groups arrayed against it. While in Israel, President Biden gave the first interview of his presidency to foreign media when he sat down with Israel Channel 12s Yonit Levy. She took the opportunity to ask him directly about the voices in the Democratic Party calling for the destruction of Israel, and he admitted: There are a few of them. But, he countered: I think theyre wrong. I think theyre making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend.

The United States and Israel also took a strong step with the adoption on July 14 of the Jerusalem U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration. This document provides that [t]he United States and Israel affirm that they will continue to work together to combat all efforts to boycott or delegitimize Israel, to deny its right to self-defense, or to unfairly single it out in any forum While fully respecting the right to freedom of expression, they firmly reject the BDS campaign.

Zionism is in fact a progressive movement. It was created to progress Jews from two millennia of discrimination, pogroms and persecution to self-governance and self-determination in their indigenous land.

Due to a well-organized campaign against it, Zionism is now considered a slur in certain circles. Inspired by the Soviet Unions sponsored and later revoked UN resolution declaring Zionism racism, some in the U.S. are now invested in this false notion. But Zionism is in fact a progressive movement. It was created to progress Jews from two millennia of discrimination, pogroms and persecution to self-governance and self-determination in their indigenous land. Zionism is not in opposition to anyone elses self-governance and self-determination, Palestinians included. On the other hand, Free Palestine from the river to the sea, the chant adopted by BDS and its celebrity followers, is indeed that a call for the destruction of the single Jewish state in the world, a shamelessly antisemitic goal.

Biden, and fortunately the majority of Americans, understand this. Indeed, Biden has done more than state his support; he has come through for the region and the world by helping increase ties between Israel and its neighbors. Following his visit, Biden became the first U.S. president to fly directly to Saudi Arabia from Israel. On July 15, Saudi Arabia made the historic announcement that it would open its airspace to aircraft of all nations, including flights originating in Israel. Two days later, Israels national airline, El Al, submitted an official request to overfly Saudi airspace. These may not seem like major steps to anyone outside the region, but their meanings are significant and they are the real life manifestation and a clear indication of a transforming Middle East.

President Biden got it exactly right. The truth is that while there are only a few million Jews in the world, there are hundreds of millions of Zionists.

Lovers of democracy around the world understand that Israel like those other precariously placed democracies including Ukraine and Taiwan is fighting the battle for all free people to live in peace and dignity. President Biden got it exactly right. The truth is that while there are only a few million Jews in the world, there are hundreds of millions of Zionists.

Noa Tishby is Israels special envoy for combating antisemitism and delegitimization of Israel.

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Biden Said it Best: You Don't Have to Be Jewish to Be a Zionist - Jewish Journal

Israel – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted By on August 6, 2022

The State of Israel is a country in southwestern Asia on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel is the only Jewish country, and the spiritual home for Jews all over the world. Israel's population was 8.1 million people in 2013 and 6.04 million are Jewish. Almost all the other citizens of Israel are Arab (1.6 million) and include Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Samaritans.[21][22][23] Israel's largest city is Jerusalem. Israel's capital city is Jerusalem (limited recognition). Most countries keep embassies in Tel Aviv.

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Israel is a small country, but it has mountains, deserts, shores, valleys and plains. The climate is hot and rainless in the summers with high humidity in the coastal plain and lower elevations, and cool and rainy in the winters, rarely going below freezing temperatures.

Israel has few natural resources and imports more goods than it exports. It has a relatively high standard of living and life expectancy. Almost all of its people can read and write.

According to the Democratic Index, Israel is the only democratic republic in the Middle East. According to Freedom House, Israel is the only full democracy in the Middle East.[24] It has a long history of conflict with Palestine.

The country's history goes back thousands of years, to ancient times. Two world religions, Judaism and Christianity, began here. It is the place where the Jewish nation and religion first grew. Jews and Christians call it the Holy Land, because it is the place of many events described in the Bible, and because some commandments of Jewish law can be accomplished only on its soil.[25]

From the time of the first Jewish patriarch Abraham four thousand years ago, the land now called Israel were populated by Canaanites and other Semitic peoples. Around 1400 BCE, another Semitic people, called the Hebrews, settled in Canaan under the leadership of Moses and Joshua. They were named the Children of Israel or Israelites: which were divided into 12 tribes. A few centuries later, the Hebrews made Saul, as their leader. The next king, David, began the Kingdom of Israel in about 1000 BCE and made the city of Jerusalem his capital. His son, Solomon, built the first Temple for the worship of their God. Solomon died in about 928 BCE. His kingdom broke into two countries. The northern country kept the name Israel. The southern country, called Judah, kept Jerusalem as its capital.

The Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 732 BCE and the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE and destroyed Solomon's Temple. Many Jews returned from Babylonia and built a country again and rebuilt the Temple. First the Persians, then the Greeks and then the Romans ruled the Land of Israel.

The Jews fought against the Romans but the Romans defeated them. In 70 CE, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Jewish Temple there. Again, in 135 CE, the Romans defeated the Jews and killed or took many of them to other places. The number of Jews living in Israel became much smaller. Many were forced to live in other countries. This spreading of Jewish communities outside of Israel is called the Diaspora.

Many of the Jews who remained moved to the Galilee. Jewish teachers wrote important Jewish books, called the Mishnah and part of the Talmud there, in the 2nd to 4th centuries CE.

The Romans began to call this region by the word that became Palestine in English. The Roman and then the Byzantine empires ruled until 635 CE, when Arabs conquered the region. Different Arab rulers, and for a while Crusaders, ruled the land. In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered the land and ruled the region until the 20th century.

Since the Diaspora, there have been many attempts to make a new homeland for the Jewish people. In the 1880s, this wish for a Jewish nation in Israel became a movement called Zionism. Jews from all over the world began to come to the area and settled in desert zones, then governed by the Turkish and later by the British Governments.

On 14 May 1948, British control over Palestine ended. The Jewish inhabitants (under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion) declared independence for the new Jewish state. Immediately following Israel's declaration of independence, the armies of several nearby countries including Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq attacked the new country.[26] Since the 1980s, Israel's main military opponents have been Islamist groups, such as Hezbollah.[27]

The countries of Lebanon and Syria are to the north of Israel; Jordan is on the east; and Egypt is to the southwest. Israel also controls the West Bank of the Jordan River.

Israel has a long coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. In the south, the town of Eilat is on the Gulf of Aqaba, which is part of the Red Sea.

The Galilee is a fertile and mountainous region in the north. There is a flat plain called the Coastal Plain to the west, near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Negev Desert is a barren area of flat plains, mountains, and craters in the south. There is a range of mountains in the center that runs from the north to south.

On the eastern side, there is a low area called a depression. The Hula Valley and the Sea of Galilee are in this low area in the north. The Jordan River runs from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. The land next to the Dead Sea is the lowest in the world. It is -426meters below sea level.[28]

The weather is normally hot and dry in the summer and mild to cool in the winter. Rain falls mostly in the winter (between the months of November and April). There is more rain in the north than in the south, and hardly any rain in the desert. Snow falls in higher elevations. Israel built a very big irrigation system to bring water from the north to the dry areas in the south so that crops can grow there also.[28]

Jerusalem is the biggest city in Israel. Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba and Rishon LeZion are also large cities. Israel says that its capital city is Jerusalem. Most countries do not recognize that. They treat Tel Aviv as the capital.[28]

Israel is a parliamentary democracy. All Israeli citizens who are 18 years or older may vote. The Israeli parliament is called the Knesset. The Knesset has 120 members. Each member is elected for no more than four years at a time. The Knesset makes laws, helps decide national policy, and approves budgets and taxes.

Voters do not vote for individual candidates in Knesset elections. Instead, they vote for a party. This party makes a list with all its candidates. The list may have only one candidate or as many as 120 candidates. In an election, the percentage of the vote that each list wins decides how many representatives, or seats, the party gets in the Knesset. For example, if a party list gets 33 percent of the vote, it gets 40 Knesset seats.

Israel has no written constitution. Instead, the Knesset made "Basic Laws". The Basic Laws say how the government must work and give civil rights to the citizens.

The Prime Minister is the head of Israel's government. He or she is usually the leader of the party that has the most seats in the Knesset. The prime minister must keep the support of a majority of Knesset members to stay in office. He or she appoints ministers to the cabinet. The Knesset approves appointments to the Cabinet. The ministers are responsible for subjects such as education, defense, and social welfare. The prime minister is the head of the cabinet and decides the topics of cabinet meetings and makes the final decisions.

Yair Lapid has been the Prime Minister since July 2022.

The President is the head of state. The Knesset elects the president for seven years. Most of the president's duties are ceremonial: The president signs laws and treaties approved by the Knesset, appoints judges, and members of some public organizations. He or she also accepts the documents from ambassadors and foreign diplomats bring when they are appointed.

Isaac Herzog has been the President since July 2021.

Israel has many political parties, with a large variety of opinions. In the elections of 2020, 20 parties won seats in the Knesset.

The parties belong to three main groups. The biggest groups are the Zionist parties. These include the conservative liberals, such as HaLikud;[29] social democrats, such as HaAvoda (Labor Party); and the religious Zionists. There are also smaller religious Orthodox Jewish parties, special-interest parties, and Israeli Arab parties.

A single party usually does not win enough seats in the Knesset by itself to have a majority, so one of the bigger parties asks for support from the other parties, including the religious parties, to form a coalition government. This gives these parties a lot of power although they are small.

The Likud supports free market policies and limited government involvement in the economy. Likud believes strongly in protecting Israel's security. It wants to give less away in the peace process for a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians and the Arab states.

The Labor Party supports government control of the economy, but also believes in a limited amount of free enterprise. The party says it will give more away for an agreement with the Palestinians and the Arab states.

Current Knesset is the 24th Knesset, sworn in on April 6, 2021. Current government is the Bennett-Lapid Government, installed on June 13, 2021.

At independence, Israel was a poor country with little agricultural or industrial production. But Israel's economy has grown tremendously since 1948. The nation now enjoys a very high standard of living, despite having few natural resources and a limited water supply.

Many immigrants came to Israel in the years immediately after independence. Many of these immigrants were skilled laborers and professionals who greatly aided the nation's economic development.

Many of Israel's service industry workers are employed by the government or by businesses owned by the government. Government workers provide many of the services that are needed by Israel's large immigrant population, such as housing, education, and job training.

Tourism is one of the country's important sources of income. Tourists visit many archaeological, historical, and religious sites; museums; nature reserves; and beach resorts in Israel.[30]

Tourists support many of Israel's service industries, especially trade, restaurants, and hotels. Approximately 4 million tourists visited Israel in 2018.[31]

Israeli factories produce such goods as chemical products, electronic equipment, fertilizer, paper, plastics, processed foods, scientific and optical instruments, textiles, and clothing. The cutting of imported diamonds is a major industry. Government-owned plants manufacture equipment used by Israel's large armed forces. Israel is the world's largest exporter of drones.[32] Tel Aviv and Haifa are Israel's major manufacturing centers.

Agriculture formerly employed a much larger percentage of Israel's workforce. But much of the work once performed by people is now performed by machines. Important agricultural products include citrus and other fruits; eggs; grain; poultry; and vegetables.

The government develops, helps finance, and controls agricultural activity, including fishing and forestry. Israel produces most of the food it needs to feed its people, except for grain. Agricultural exports provide enough income to pay for any necessary food imports. Most Israeli farmers use modern agricultural methods. Water drawn from the Sea of Galilee irrigates large amounts of land in Israel.

Most Israeli farms are organized as moshavim or kibbutzim. Israel also has some private farms.

The Dead Sea, the world's saltiest body of water, is Israel's leading source of minerals. Bromine, magnesium, potash and table salt are extracted from the sea. Potash, used mainly in fertilizers, is the most important mineral.

In the Negev Desert, there are mines for phosphates, copper, clay, and gypsum.

Israel has few energy sources. It has no coal deposits or hydroelectric power resources, and only small amounts of crude oil and natural gas. As a result, Israel depends on imported crude oil for gasoline and diesel for transportation, and coal producing electricity for its energy needs.

Solar energy energy from the sun is used widely to heat water for houses. Israel is developing other ways to use solar energy to power houses and factories.

In 2008, Israel began investing in building electric cars and the stations to charge them. There may also be large natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea that Israel could develop.

For 2006, Israeli exports grew by 11% to just over $29 billion; the hi-tech sector accounted for $14 billion, a 20% increase from the previous year.

Because it has few natural resources, Israel imports more goods than it exports. The country's main imports include chemicals, computer equipment, grain, iron and steel, military equipment, petroleum products, rough diamonds, and textiles.

Israel's main exports are chemical products, citrus fruits, clothing, electronic equipment, fertilizers, polished diamonds, military equipment, and processed foods. The nation's main trading partners include the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg); Germany; Italy; Switzerland; the United Kingdom; and the United States.

Israel has a well-developed transportation system. Most middle-class Israeli families either own a car or have one provided by their employer. Paved roads reach almost all parts of the country. Public transportation both in and between cities is provided primarily by bus.

Ben-Gurion Airport is Israel's main international airport. It is near Tel Aviv. There are smaller airports are located at Atarot, near Jerusalem, and at Eilat. El Al, Israel's international airline, flies regularly to the United States, Canada, Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia. Israel has three major deepwater ports: Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat.

Israel's communication system is one of the best in the Middle East. Israel has about 30 daily newspapers, about half of which are in Hebrew. The rest are in Arabic, Russian, Yiddish, or one of several foreign languages. The Israel Broadcasting Authority, a public corporation set up by the government, runs the television and nonmilitary radio stations.

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Israel kills top Islamic Jihad terrorist in Gaza, announces formal …

Posted By on August 6, 2022

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JERUSALEM, Israel A top Islamic Jihad terrorist in the Gaza Strip was killed Friday in a coordinated, pre-emptive strike by the Israeli military, a spokesman for the Israeli army told foreign media in a briefing.

Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said that "anti-tank squads had been on the move, and we took the initiative launching a coordinated strike as a preventative action."

The strikes come after several days of tension and threats from the terrorist group following the arrest by Israel on Monday of Bassem Saadi, the senior Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank.

Tayseer Jabari speaking to supporters of Islamic Jihad, during a ceremony in Gaza City, Gaza, Nov 12, 2021. Jabari was killed in an operation by the IDF, Friday. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS)

According to reports, six sites were hit by fighter jets and armed drones on Friday afternoon, killing Tayseer Jabari, the senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad Commanding Officer of the terrorist groups Northern Gaza Division, as well as the head of the anti-tank guided missile array and several terrorist squads in the midst of preparing attacks against Israel, the IDF said.

ISRAELI NAVY SINKS PALESTINIAN VESSEL ALLEGEDLY SMUGGLING 'EQUIPMENT' TO HAMAS

In Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry reported that at least five others were killed in the strikes, including a 5-year-old girl.

A joint statement from Israels Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the goal of the operation was to eliminate the "threat against the citizens of Israel and the civilians living adjacent to the Gaza Strip, as well as the targeting of terrorists and their sponsors."

"The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to set the agenda in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel," said Lapid. "Anyone who tries to harm Israel should know: we will find you."

In a statement sent to Fox News Digital, Gilad Erdan,Israel'sambassador to the United Nations, weighed in, noting that the mission was carried out "due to an attempted attack on Israeli civilians by Palestinian Islamic Jihad."

The ambassador said that "Israel was forced to commence a military operation with surgical strikes in order to thwart their rocket attacks from Gaza."

"Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a radical terror proxy of the Ayatollah regime in Iran and its clearly stated goal is the destruction of the state of Israel," Erdan continued, adding that "terrorists deliberately fire rockets at Israeli civilians committing war crimes."

The ambassador then said that "Israel expects the international community and the United Nations to stop making false immoral comparisons between a law-abiding democracy and radical terror organizations and to support Israels right to defend its citizens."

IDF spokesman Hecht indicated that the army had not yet finished its military operation and that "we assume there will be rocket attacks toward central Israel, but we dont know yet."

AT LEAST FOUR ROCKETS FIRED FROM GAZA HOURS AFTER BIDEN LEAVES ISRAEL

He said that reserve soldiers had been mobilized from the north of the country and the Iron Dome defense system was now fully operational in the south and center of the country.

The tension comes more than a year after Israel fought a 14-day war with Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Palestinian enclave, drawing hundreds of rounds of rocket fire on towns and cities in southern Israel.

The aftermath of an attack on a building where IDF jets targeted a senior terrorist leader in Gaza, Friday. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS)

The army said that Jabari had carried out anti-tank missile attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers recently. "Jabari was a senior commander in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and held a number of positions in the terrorist organization, including as the Head of Operations," the army said in a statement. "He was entrusted in making many decisions inside the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization and was responsible for multiple attempted terror attacks against Israeli civilians."

"The anti-tank missile squads of the Islamic Jihad were trying to hit Israeli civilians for days, forcing thousands of Israelis behind shelter," Amir Avivi, CEO of the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF) told Fox News Digital.

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"Eventually, these terrorists left the IDF no choice but to launch a preemptive strike against the ground squads and the senior operators directing them," added Avivi, a former deputy commander of the Israeli armys Gaza Division.

During the May 2021 round of fighting, the army said Jabari was responsible for firing "a large number of rockets at Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip and was responsible for a Palestinian Islamic Jihad attack in which a civilian was injured."

Fox News Talia Kaplan contributed to this report.

Ruth Marks Eglash reports on Israel and the Middle East. You can follow her on Twitter @reglash

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Israel kills top Islamic Jihad terrorist in Gaza, announces formal ...

"Was She Fighting?": Family Of Gaza’s 5-Year-Old Killed In Israel Strike – NDTV

Posted By on August 6, 2022

Alaa Kaddum held by her grandfather Riad in Gaza.

A five-year-old girl was among 10 people who were tragically killed in Gaza as the region witnessed the worst escalation of violence in a year on Saturday. Israel pounded Gaza with air strikes to which Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad responded with rockets fire.

As her family prepared for the funeral, Alaa Kaddum's small body, wrapped in a white cloth, was held by her family members. A pink bow in her hair and a wound on her forehead was seen in the video shared by news organisation Middle East Eye.

Speaking to Middle East Eye, Alaa's grandfather Riad asked what crime she had committed that justified her death.

"She was dreaming of going to nursery. She wanted a bag and clothes ... This innocent girl. Was she in-charge of rockets or was she fighting? What did she do?" Riad asked, distraught.

While health authorities in Gaza controlled by Hamas said that 10 people had been killed and 79 injured in the bombardment, Israel's army estimated that its operation has killed 15 terrorists.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the Jewish state was forced to launch a "pre-emptive counter-terror operation against an immediate threat" posed by the Islamic Jihad group, following days of tensions along the Gaza border.

Islamic Jihad is a group that while aligned with Hamas also acts independently. The terror group said that the initial Israeli bombardment amounted to a "declaration of war", before it unleashed a flurry of more than 100 rockets towards Israel.

The rocket fire and Israeli strikes continued overnight, risking a repeat of an 11-day conflict in May 2021 that devastated Gaza.

Both Israel and Islamic Jihad confirmed the killing of a top leader with the terror group Taysir al-Jabari on Friday.

"Israel isn't interested in a wider conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either," Prime Minister Lapid said in in a nationally televised address.

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"Was She Fighting?": Family Of Gaza's 5-Year-Old Killed In Israel Strike - NDTV

Murphy heading to Israel this weekend for 4-day trip – NJ.com

Posted By on August 6, 2022

Gov. Phil Murphy is headed to Israel for four days beginning Sunday to attend a series of economic development meetings, his office announced late Friday afternoon.

The trip is being funded by the Center for Innovative Policy, a think tank with ties to Democratic governors. Murphy is slated to return to New Jersey on Thursday, his office said. Delaware Gov. John Carney, a fellow Democrat, is also making the trip.

In Israel, the governor will conduct a series of economic development meetings to deepen ties with businesses to benefit New Jersey, as well as visit cultural/religious sites, Murphy spokeswoman Alyana Alfaro Post said in a statement.

Murphy has made multiple trips to Israel since he took office, including early in his first term when he spent four days there for similar events. That trip was paid for by Choose New Jersey, a business-funded nonprofit formed in 2010, and included a trade mission to Germany.

Other trips to Israel while hes been governor have been shorter.

During his four days, Murphy is expected to visit Yad Vashem, return to the Western Wall, visit with Ambassador Tom Nides, meet with unidentified government officials, and meet with American-Israel Chamber of Commerce officials, his office said.

Weve got an enormous amount of history between New Jersey and the state of Israel, Murphy told the news website ROI-NJ, which first reported the trip.

The governors office didnt announce any additional details of the trip and the Center for Innovative Policy didnt immediately respond for comment.

Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.

Matt Arco may be reached at marco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MatthewArco.

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Murphy heading to Israel this weekend for 4-day trip - NJ.com

Why Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are fighting again – Washington Examiner

Posted By on August 6, 2022

Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad began a new conflict on Friday, following Israel's arrest of the group's senior West Bank commander earlier this week and killing of a senior PIJ commander, Tayseer Jabari, on Friday.

The PIJ has fired more than a hundred rockets at Israel, warning it has "no red lines." In turn, Israeli forces launched retaliatory airstrikes against PIJ facilities and personnel in Gaza. Both sides are blaming each other for the new round of violence. But the major cause of this escalation is the PIJ's plotting to conduct a new round of terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Facing a tight election on Nov. 1, Prime Minister Yair Lapid's caretaker government has evidently decided to take a robust stance against the PIJ's threat. Israel is also concerned that the PIJ may be able to conduct longer-range rocket strikes against Tel Aviv, which the group has explicitly threatened, if Israel does not aggressively target the PIJ's rocket apparatus. But if the rocket fire from Gaza is the urgent threat, the Israeli security establishment is also interested in sending a message to Tehran.

Funded, armed, and heavily influenced by Iran, the PIJ is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's primary conduit to the Palestinian cause and a key means of Iran's covert war on Israel. The PIJ has escalated its preparations for attacks in recent months, including with increased influence and activity in the West Bank. But Iran's role looms large. Evincing as much, PIJ leader Ziad Nakhaleh is currently holding multiday consultations in Tehran. On Friday, Nakhaleh described the current conflict as "a test for all parts of the resistance" and pledged that his group is "going into battle. There are no ceasefires after an attack." Considering the escalating concerns in Israel over a possible Iranian breakout toward developing a nuclear weapon, it is a consensus viewpoint on the part of the Israeli security establishment that Iran must be actively deterred. Also noteworthy in this regard are the growing tensions between the Lebanese Hezbollah and Israel over energy development in the Mediterranean Sea.

Top line: We should expect this new conflict to continue for at least for a few days until Israel believes it has effectively restored deterrence. That said, Iran's influence on the PIJ may mean that the group decides to continue fighting even as the costs on its capabilities and Palestinian civilian infrastructure escalate.

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Why Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are fighting again - Washington Examiner

Jaguars training camp: 1-on-1 interview with DT Israel Antwine – Black and Teal

Posted By on August 6, 2022

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Its very rare in the NFL for undrafted rookie free agents to not only make the final roster but become key play-makers. With all the information and data scouts and front-office personnel have at their disposal these days, its uncommon to see a guy slip through the cracks of the draft and become a contributor at the NFL level. Having said that, the Jacksonville Jaguarshave a history of finding diamonds in the rough when it comes to signing undrafted rookie free agents.

For proof, look no further than running back James Robinson, an excellent example of the Jaguars front offices ability to identify and develop under-the-radar rookie free agents.

Following the 2020 NFL Draft, Robinson found himself in the pool of hundreds of undrafted rookies looking for an NFL home. Thankfully, he chose to sign with Jacksonville and quickly became one of the most consistent and talented running backs in the league. His 1,414 yards from scrimmage in 2020 were the most by an undrafted rookie in league history.

Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (25) at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Players such as Allen Hurns, Jarrod Wilson, Tre Herndon, Keelan Cole, and Corey Grant were all signed as undrafted free agents and went on to not only make the final roster but become fan favorites along the way. And that was possible because the Jags were willing to take a flier on every single one of them.

These players all tend to have at least one thing in common they simply want to prove everyone wrong and get the chance to show why they shouldve been drafted, and thats precisely defensive lineman Israel Antwines goal ahead of the 2022 season.

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Jaguars training camp: 1-on-1 interview with DT Israel Antwine - Black and Teal

The power we had was astonishing: ex-soldiers on Israels government in the occupied territories – The Guardian

Posted By on August 6, 2022

When Joel Carmel went for his military service in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), he didnt expect it to mean sitting at a computer processing permits, typing in Palestinian ID numbers all day.

Before I went to the army I considered myself a centrist, politically speaking. I knew broadly about the occupation and the combat side of things. But it was so boring, so bureaucratic It wears you down, the 29-year-old said.

You dont have time or energy to think of Palestinians as people. They are just numbers on a computer, and you click yes or no on their travel permit applications.

The sprawling system of military government created by Israels occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is a world many Israelis are learning about for the first time, after the publication of testimonies from veterans exposing the permit regime that rules over Palestinian people and land.

While the 55-year-old occupation is perhaps the most well-documented conflict in modern history, less understood is the breadth and depth of the bureaucratic power wielded by Israeli military bodies.

The Israeli defence ministry unit known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat) is largely concerned with issuing and processing paperwork: approving medical and work permits to enter Israel or travel abroad, controlling the flow of imports and exports, infrastructure planning and allocation of natural resources.

Cogats activities have rarely been studied in depth, and are not subject to independent investigative mechanisms. Along with the use of direct violence, Palestinians and veterans say the military governing body is an integral part of a system of oppression.

We were told in training that everything we were doing for the Palestinians was basically generous, a favour. We didnt question the bigger picture, like why there are no decent hospitals in the territories, so people have to travel, said Carmel, who first served in the Gaza Israeli-Palestinian military coordination office, and then in the restive city of Jenin in the north of the West Bank.

The army raids your house at 2am and then at 8am you still have to get in line for hours for a permit for the most basic administrative stuff, he said. I think thats something a lot of Israelis dont realise. Its not the carrot and the stick, its the stick and the stick. Its the same thing.

Testimonies from military conscripts who served in Cogat offices during the past decade have for the first time been collected by Breaking The Silence, an NGO established by IDF veterans which for nearly 20 years has given discharged soldiers the opportunity to recount their experiences in confidence and give the Israeli public an unvarnished understanding of what enforcing the occupation entails.

The verified accounts of several dozen interviewees including Carmel, who now works for the organisation have been gathered in a new, freely available booklet titled Military Rule. It is accompanied by testimonies from residents of the blockaded Gaza Strip collected by Gisha, an NGO focusing on Palestinian freedom of movement.

While putting together the project, Breaking the Silences interviewers found that repeated themes began to emerge: the use of collective punishment, such as revoking an entire familys travel permits; the extensive network of Palestinian agents cooperating with Cogats Civil Administration, which governs parts of the West Bank; the considerable influence of Israels illegal settler movement on the Civil Administrations decision-making processes; and arbitrary or baseless blocks on goods allowed in and out of Gaza.

The level of power and control we have was astonishing, said a 25-year-old man who served in 2020-2021 at Cogats headquarters near the Beit El settlement north of Ramallah.

I found out we were responsible for approving weapons permits for the Palestinian security forces, which is one of those details you dont really think about until the stack of paperwork is front of you. Its little realisations like that, every day, that makes the scale of the occupation really dawn on you.

And we had access to so much information. I didnt know how deep and wide-ranging the data collection is. Sometimes I was bored, so Id type in random Palestinian ID numbers and see what came up. I could see everything about their lives: families, travel details, sometimes employers.

I remember once my commanding officer pulled up the screen to show me the file of one of the highest-ranking Palestinian officials, just for fun. That was mind-blowing.

In a statement, a Cogat spokesperson said: We regret all attempts to cast doubt upon the work and the integrity of the organisations staff, and we firmly reject all attempts to ascribe the organisations efforts to one or another political agenda.

Cogat always conscientiously examines and handles cases involving deviations from the procedures, the law, or orders. Such cases are exceptions and do not reflect the practices of the Civil Administration.

Another common theme across the testimonies is the psychological impact of surrendering autonomy to the armed forces, even in bureaucratic settings.

I went to the army thinking, Ill do my service and help change things for the better from the inside. But as soon as I arrived I became part of the system, said a 24-year-old woman who served at Cogats headquarters in 2017-2018.

Sometimes Id have the choice to finish early for the weekend: my superior would never mind if I did that. Or, I could stay until 5pm and actually continue helping the Palestinians waiting to give me their papers. My wants conflicted with their needs. I cant put my finger on when or why, but my behaviour started changing.

I thought Breaking the Silence was just for combatants, but I went to an exhibit and saw that there was testimony from a girl who also served in my unit.

You just do what youre told to do in the army, but you only see small fragments of the whole. It has been a long journey to understand what I did during my military service and what it meant.

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The power we had was astonishing: ex-soldiers on Israels government in the occupied territories - The Guardian


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