Wiesenthal Center urges Trump to create FBI task force after NY attack
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Trump breaks silence on Monsey attack, calling it ‘horrific’

Some 18 hours after stabbing rampage at rabbi’s home that left 5 injured, US president urges action to ‘eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism’

US President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, December 17, 2019. (Evan Vucci/AP)
US President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, December 17, 2019. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.

5 people said injured, to varying degrees, in Monsey stabbing

Five people have been injured in the stabbing attack outside of a synagogue in Monsey, according to latest reports from the scene.

They are said to range from critical condition to some already having been discharged from the hospital.

2 critical, one severe after Monsey stabbing

Authorities say two of the stabbing victims in the Monsey attack are in critical condition, with another victim’s injuries described as “severe.”

New York officials condemn Monsey attack

New York officials are condemning the stabbing at a Monsey synagogue and call for additional efforts to combat rising anti-Semitism.

One of the stabbing victims said to be rabbi’s son

Yossi Gestetner, a co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC) for the Hudson Valley region, tells the New York Times one of the Monsey stabbing victims is a son of the rabbi.

“The house had many dozens of people in there,” Gestetner says. “It was a Hanukkah celebration.”

Two people were reportedly in critical condition, OJPAC adds.

AFP

‘Possible suspect’ located in Monsey stabbing, officials say

A local law enforcement official says a “possible suspect” has been located who may be linked to the Monsey attack.

The vehicle used in the rampage has been found.

NYC mayor: We won’t let attacks on Jews become ‘the new normal’

New York City Mayor Bill De Balsio says he won’t let attacks on Jews become the “new normal.”

“We will NOT allow this to become the new normal. We’ll use every tool we have to stop these attacks once and for all. The NYPD has deployed a visible and growing presence around Jewish houses of worship on the streets in communities like Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Boro Park,” he tweets.

“I’ve spoken to longtime friends who, for the first time in their lives, are fearful to show outward signs of their Jewish faith,” he also writes.

NY governor condemns ‘despicable and cowardly’ Monsey attack

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s directed the police’s hate crimes division “to immediately investigate and to use every tool available to hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

He condemns the Monsey stabbing as a “despicable and cowardly act.”

ADL: Jewish community needs greater protection

The Anti-Defamation League calls for greater security protection for American Jewish communities.

President Rivlin ‘shocked and devastated’ by Monsey stabbing

President Reuven Rivlin condemns the Monsey stabbing, saying in a tweet he’s “shocked and devastated by the terrible terror attack in New York.”

“The resurgent anti-Semitism is not only a problem for the Jewish people, and certainly not for Israel alone. We must work together to confront this evil which is again and again raising its head and represents a real danger to the entire world,” he writes.

Liberman: The solution to anti-Semitism is immigration to Israel

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman also sends well-wishes to the victims of the Monsey stabbing.

In a Hebrew-language tweet, he writes: “Again and again, we are witnesses to the dire consequences of anti-Semitism, this time in Monsey, New York. Alongside the deep sadness and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured, it’s important to know that the main solution to these trends is immigration to Israel.”

He is also joined by Blue and White’s Yair Lapid, who also sends wishes for a fast recovery to the New York stabbing victims.

“Anti-Semitism won’t defeat us, won’t destroy our spirit,” writes Lapid in Hebrew. “The community in Monsey today, too, will light the last candle of Hanukkah and pray for good news.”

Foreign minister says deeply shocked by Monsey attack

Condemning the Monsey attack on a Hasidic community, Foreign Minister Israel Katz says Israelis must refrain from derogatory comments against the ultra-Orthodox in Israel.

“This hate crime requires us to learn to avoid, in the Israeli discourse, derogatory comments about the Haredi community in Israel,” the foreign minister tells Kan radio.

He expresses “heavy shock” over the attack.

Ramapo police confirm Monsey suspect in custody

The Ramapo Police Department, in a statement on Facebook, confirm a suspect in the Monsey stabbing has been apprehended.

“The suspect fled the scene, but he is in custody at this time. This investigation is still ongoing,” it says.

Blue and White’s Gantz laments ‘horrific’ Monsey attack

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz describes the Monsey attack as “horrific” and expresses confidence New York law enforcement will “do everything to stop this alarming trend.”

‘We are all terrified’: Monsey residents shaken by stabbing

Shaken residents of Monsey are taking to social media to express their fears about anti-Semitic attacks in their town.

Stabbing at my family's synagogue an hour ago in Monsey. It's truly a miracle that no one in my family was there…

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Aly Frank‎‏ ב- יום שבת, 28 בדצמבר 2019

Litzman urges US authorities to fight ‘terrible’ anti-Semitism

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, joins Israeli politicians in expressing dismay over the Monsey stabbing.

“It is shocking to see time and again innocent people being harmed and persecuted simply for being Jewish,” says Litzman. “This is a terrible situation and US leaders and authorities, as in the entire world, must put an end to it and uproot this affliction.”

PM condemns ‘cruel’ Monsey attack, offers US help in fighting anti-Semitism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounces the stabbing in Monsey, New York.

“Israel strongly condemns the latest expressions of anti-Semitism and the cruel attack in the middle of Hanukkah at the home of the rabbi in Monsey,” Netanyahu says at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“We send wishes for recovery to those injured. We will cooperate in any way with local authorities to help wipe out this phenomenon. We offer this help to all countries.”

Wiesenthal Center urges Trump to create FBI task force after NY attack

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in a statement, calls on US President Donald Trump to instruct the FBI to form a special task force following the Monsey stabbing “in wake of unending attacks against Jews and their religious institutions.”

“Enough is enough! Jews should not have to fear for their lives in America to go to their houses of worship,” the center says. “The FBI must step up and take the lead in all recent violent hate crimes targeting religious Jews.”

It also urges African American leaders to “speak out against the spate of recent hate crimes in New York and New Jersey carried out by African Americans.”

Litzman confirmed as new health minister

United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman is appointed as health minister, the ministry says, a bump up from his previous position of “deputy minister with the status of minister.”

The move, which was expected, comes after it became clear that Litzman could not continue to serve in his role as deputy with the power of a full minister if the formal health minister is not the prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu held that position thus far, but must step down from the other ministerial positions he holds due to the corruption charges announced against him in three corruption cases.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attends a United Torah Judaism faction meeting in the Knesset on November 20, 2019. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Netanyahu’s role as health minister was nominal only, as the ministry is actually run by Litzman, who has been deputy minister for several years.

Litzman recently won approval from the spiritual leaders who guide his ultra-Orthodox party to take on the full minister role, a position normally shunned by his ultra-Orthodox community. Like other UTJ leaders before him, Litzman had refused to take a full ministerial position due to the community’s reluctance to grant full legitimacy to a secular Jewish state.

The expected appointment was denounced yesterday by some Australian Jews over suspicions Litzman has sought to prevent the extradition of an accused serial sex offender, Malka Leifer, to Australia.

Leifer, a former school principal wanted for alleged sex crimes in Australia, is known to have links to the Gur Hasidic sect, of which Litzman is a member.

Anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled throughout neighborhoods in London

Anti-Semitic graffiti linking Jews to the September 11, 2001, attacks is daubed on many cafes and shops in the London neighborhoods of Hampstead and Belsize Park.

James Sorene of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre tweets a photo of one of the scenes, where the Hampstead Cafe once stood, and writes: “This is horrifying, graffiti on a former Israeli style restaurant in Hampstead this morning.

“Just to add to this: the 9/11 refers to an antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people were somehow responsible for the twin towers attacks in New York.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews says: “This is a reminder that antisemitism is still with us. Thanks @CST_UK for reporting to @MPSCamden. We hope action is taken to find & punish the perpetrators. Let’s all work to defeat antisemitism in 2020!”

Zionist Federation of Australia slams Litzman’s appointment as ‘slap in the face’

In the first time an Australian Jewish leader has sent an open letter to an Israeli prime minister, Zionist Federation of Australia Chairman Jeremy Leibler calls Yaakov Litzman’s appointment as health minister a “slap in the face” to Australian Jewry.

In an open letter to Netanyahu, Leibler adds that Australian-Israel friendship must “go both ways.”

Israeli far-left lawmaker blames Monsey attack on Trump ‘incitement’

Ofer Cassif, the only Jewish lawmaker representing the predominantly Arab Joint List in the Knesset, reacts to the Monsey stabbing by blaming it on US President Donald Trump.

“Hatred of human beings is infectious: Where Trump incites against Muslims and immigrants, anti-Semitic movements will thrive and Jews will be attacked,” he tweets.

“My condolences to the community and wishing recovery to the wounded, and hoping that the world manages to overcome a tsunami of racist hatred.”

Woman charged with stealing $180,000 from blind Holocaust survivor

Anat Dayan, a 47-year-old resident of the coastal city of Ashkelon, is charged with stealing more than NIS 620,000 ($180,000) from a blind Holocaust survivor, Hebrew-language media reports.

The woman has been working for the 83-year-old man for three years, helping him with financial and bureaucratic issues. She had full access to his credit card details.

The Holocaust survivor’s son discovered the theft last month, when her employment was terminated.

Prosecutors file a request to keep the defendant in custody until the end of court proceedings.

Ousted UK Labour MKs blame response to anti-Semitism, urge ‘fundamental change’

A group of politicians from Britain’s opposition Labour Party have called for “fundamental change” within their party’s leadership.

The comments follow a parliamentary election earlier this month that gave Labour its worst election defeat since 1935 and made pro-Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson the most electorally successful leader of the Conservative Party since Margaret Thatcher.

In a letter published in The Observer newspaper, the 11-strong group of former Labour legislators and candidates call for an “unflinching” review of the party’s failed campaign.

The group blames Labour’s lack of popularity with voters on “nationalization and uncontrolled spending commitments,” as well as “cronyism at the top of our party” and a “repeated unwillingness to stand up to the stain of anti-Semitism.”

The letter highlights the party’s loss of seats “in every region… with the biggest swing against us from the poorest people.”

In order to regain Labour’s popularity, the group says “fundamental change at the top of our party is required. Only this will help us recover from the catastrophic loss of 12 December.”

After Labour’s poor showing in the December 12 general election, left-wing party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he intended to step down.

Politicians vying to replace Corbyn as party leader are expected to announce their candidacies in the new year. He has agreed to step down when a new leader is chosen.

— AP

First footage published of Monsey attack suspect

US television publishes a video of the suspect in the stabbing rampage in Monsey, New York.

CBS2 publishes the footage of the unnamed African American man, saying he was arrested in Harlem after a two-hour chase.

Construction worker killed after being hit by concrete pump in Kiryat Gat

A 48-year-old construction worker dies after being hit in the head by a concrete pump at a construction site in the city of Kiryat Gat, the Magen David Adom ambulance service says.

Paramedics pronounce him dead at the scene.

New York governor Cuomo visits home of rabbi in Monsey after stabbing attack

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg in Monsey, where a stabbing rampage took place last night, injuring five people.

Cuomo calls Monsey stabbing ‘an act of domestic terrorism’

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls the Monsey stabbing rampage “an act of domestic terrorism,” adding that the state stands “in solidarity with all members of the Jewish community.”

“This is an act of terrorism. I think these are domestic terrorists. They are trying to inflict fear,” he tells reporters.

Visiting the site of the attack, Cuomo adds: “We are going to enforce the laws and make sure acts like this do not happen — and if they happen, they are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Government okays $57m investment in developing Druze, Circassian communities

The government approves a plan to invest more than NIS 200 million ($57.8 million) in the development of Druze and Circassian communities during the year 2020.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi meet leaders of both communities to update them on the decision and provide details of the plan, according to a spokesperson for Netanyahu.

Gaza ministry says it will make ‘important statement’ on terror chief’s killing

The Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza will issue an “important statement” regarding the elimination of Baha Abu al-Ata, who was a senior commander in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, spokesman Iyad al-Bozm tweets.

Israel’s killing of the terror chief in a strike last month led to days of rocket attacks from Gaza toward Israeli civilian targets and retaliatory IDF strikes on Islamic Jihad targets.

— with Adam Rasgon

Local police chief: Hannukah stabbing suspect faces 5 attempted murder charges

Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel says the suspect in the Hannukah stabbings north of New York City is in custody and faces five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary.

— AP

Suspect in Monsey attack named as Thomas Grafton

The suspect arrested over the stabbing spree in Monsey is named by US media reports as Thomas Grafton, 37, from Greenwood Lake, New York.

Ivanka Trump denounces Monsey attack as ‘act of pure evil,’ blames NY government

While US President Donald Trump has yet to comment on the stabbing rampage at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, his daughter Ivanka has called it “an act of pure evil.”

She criticizes US media for not focusing enough attention on the recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents in New York, and the local Democrat-led government for not adequately fighting the phenomenon.

Hamas claims rival Palestinian Authority helped Israel kill PIJ terror chief

The Hamas terror group claims in a statement that its security forces in Gaza have arrested a cell that collected info on Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror chief Baha Abu al-Ata, who was killed in an Israeli strike, and monitored his movements.

The statement alleges that the cell was made up of officers in Palestinian Authority intelligence.

Likud minister likens High Court to Iranian ‘fanatics’ ahead of discussion on PM

Likud minister Yariv Levin likens the High Court of Justice to Iranian religious fundamentalists, two days before Israel’s top court is set to rule on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a government while he faces criminal charges.

“What is supposed to be democratic elections has become a council like the Islamic fanatics in Iran,” Levin tells Army Radio. “The very fact this High Court discussion is being held is absolutely outrageous, no matter its outcome.”

Cabinet approves cutting payment to PA by $43 million over terror stipends

The security cabinet approves Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s proposal to deduct NIS 150 million ($43 million) from the money Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority.

The amount matches the sum the PA is expected to pay terror convicts in Israeli jails and families of Palestinian terrorists in monthly salaries — an issue over which Israel has made similar deductions in the past.

Hamas publishes video allegedly showing Israeli strike that killed PIJ terror chief

Hamas publishes what it describes as footage of the Israeli airstrike in Gaza last month that killed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror chief Baha Abu al-Ata, an operation that kicked off two days of intense fighting.

Netanyahu, Gantz attend separate candle-lighting events on last Hanukkah evening

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz attend separate candle-lighting events on the last evening of Hanukkah.

Gantz participates at a ceremony at the Western Wall along with the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef — ignoring criticism from liberal organizations who urged him to boycott the event since it excludes women.

He reacts to the Monsey, New York, stabbing at a rabbi’s home, vowing to “strengthen communities abroad after the latest incident we went through tonight.” He also calls IDF soldiers guarding Israel’s borders “today’s Maccabees.”

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz (C) at a Hanukkah candle-lighting event on December 29, 2019. (Elad Malka)

Netanyahu, meanwhile, speaks at a candle-lighting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem with employees and their kids.

“If the Maccabees who fought for our existence 2,200 years ago could look into the future and see their descendants founded the country which is now ranked the eighth-strongest country in the world — then we are the Maccabees,” he says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) attends a Hanukkah candle-lighting event at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, December 29, 2019. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Report: US strikes HQ of Iran-backed Hezbollah militia on Iraq-Syria border

The United States has bombed the headquarters of the Iran-backed Iraqi Hezbollah militia on the Iraq-Syria border, Sky News Arabia reports.

The unconfirmed report says multiple drones struck the building.

After defeat, Sa’ar arrives at Netanyahu-led Likud Hanukkah candlelighting event

After his defeat by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Thursday’s primary vote for the Likud party leadership, MK Gideon Sa’ar arrives at a Likud Hanukkah candlelighting event, which will be led by Netanyahu — the rivals’ first event together since the vote.

Sa’ar had said he would accept the results, but many were still waiting to see if he would attend the event.

Canadian PM Trudeau is first world leader to react to Monsey attack

While US President Donald Trump is still mum on the Monsey, New York stabbing rampage at a rabbi’s home that left five injured, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a tweet urges action against anti-Semitism.

Pentagon confirms US-led coalition hit Iraqi Hezbollah bases

The United States has bombed the headquarters of the Iran-backed Iraqi Hezbollah militia in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon says, following a rocket attack in Iraq that killed a US civilian contractor.

“In response to repeated Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, US forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria that will degrade KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces,” a Pentagon spokesman says in a statement.

On Friday a barrage of 30 rockets was fired at the K1 Iraqi military base in Kirkuk, an oil-rich region north of Baghdad, a US official told AFP, killing a US civilian contractor.

— AFP

Defense Minister Bennett attends Hanukkah candlelighting in Hebron

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett attends a Hanukkah candlelighting event with IDF soldiers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron.

In his speech, Bennett touts his decision to establish a new Jewish neighborhood in the flashpoint city, where some 1,000 Jews live among more than 200,000 Palestinians.

“I cannot think of a better place to light the last candle of Hanukkah,” he says. “Anyone who chooses to live here is a hero to me. Hebron is like the heart — and without the heart, the whole body won’t survive.”

Bahrain condemns ‘terrorist knife attack’ in New York — without mentioning Jews

The Arab kingdom of Bahrain, which has warmed up to Israel and the West in recent months, is one of the first countries to send condolences over the stabbing spree in the United States at a Monsey rabbi’s home, although it does not mention Jews in the statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain condemns the terrorist knife attack that took place near New York City in the United States of America, which resulted in the injury of a number of people, wishing them a speedy recovery,” the country’s Foreign Ministry says.

“The ministry stresses the solidarity of the kingdom with the United States of America in the face against terrorism, reiterating the unwavering position of the Kingdom of Bahrain in rejecting violence, extremism and terrorism regardless of its forms and motives.”

Poll shows religious alliance with far-right Otzma Yehudit entering Knesset

A Channel 12 poll predicts yet another deadlock if Knesset elections were held today, but with a slight gain for the right-wing religious bloc supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since for the first time, an alliance of the national religious Jewish Home party with the far-right Otzma Yehudit — which still has to be finalized — is predicted to pass the electoral threshold and get four seats in parliament.

Also according to the survey, released about two months before the third election within a year, the public does not support the idea of granting Netanyahu immunity from prosecution in three corruption cases, with just 33 percent supporting the move and 51% opposing it — indicating that there is significant objection even within the right wing.

The poll predicted 34 seats for Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, 32 for Netanyahu’s Likud, 13 for the predominantly Arab Joint List, eight for kingmaker Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, eight for Shas, seven for United Torah Judaism, five for Yamina, five for Labor-Gesher, four for the Democratic Camp and four for Jewish Home-Otzma Yehudit.

Netanyahu’s bloc of supporters gets 56 seats in the 120-member Knesset according to the poll. The center-left-Arab bloc also gets 56, with Liberman holding the balance of power.

Asked who is most suited to be prime minister, 40% prefer Netanyahu and 38% pick Gantz.

Meanwhile, a separate poll on the rival Channel 13 asks Netanyahu supporters who they will support as party leader after the Netanyahu era. A whopping 45% choose former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, well ahead of Foreign Minister Israel Katz with 10% and Gideon Sa’ar, who lost Thursday to Netanyahu in a primary vote, with 5.5%. Culture Minister Miri Regev gets just 3.2%. 29% chose other people or refused to answer.

Among all Likud backers, Barkat still leads with 34%, but Sa’ar is close on his heels with 26%. Israel Katz has 8%, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has 3.3%, and 22% picked other candidates or gave another answer.

Israel praises US strike on Iran-backed militia, calling it a ‘turning point’

Foreign Minister Israel Katz praises the United States for its strikes on bases belonging to the Iran-backed Iraqi Hezbollah militia in Iraq and Syria, calling it “a turning point in the regional reality in light of the conduct of Iran and its metastases.”

“If the Iranians make a mistake in understanding the essence and power of the US, they will suffer blows they have never suffered before,” Katz says in a tweet.

Two dead, two in critical condition in shooting at Texas church

Two men have been killed and two other are in critical condition in a shooting at a church near Dallas, Texas, according to US media.

The reports say the incident happened around 10 a.m., during communion at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth.

Reports say the shooter was taken down, without specifying if he is among the dead.

Trump reacts to Monsey rampage after 18 hours, calling attack ‘horrific’

After almost an entire day of silence, US President Donald Trump comments on the stabbing spree at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York that left five injured, calling it “horrific” and wishing the victims a full recovery.

UK synagogue responds to anti-Semitic graffiti by urging unity between communities

The London synagogue that was targeted earlier today with anti-Semitic graffiti, along with other businesses in the north of the British capital, responds to the vandalism by urging unity between different communities to stand up to hatred.

Anti-Semitic graffiti in the Hampstead neighborhood of northwest London, photographed on December 29, 2019. (Twitter screen capture)

“We are working closely with the Police and Camden Council,” South Hampstead Synagogue says in a message sent to its members. “In addition, the CST have been informed and we are working on removing this as quickly as possible.

“As a community, we regret the rise of hate speech in society. Social media is polluted with xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism. Sadly, these things are connected.

“This is a time for people of all backgrounds — of all faiths and of none — to stand united and show our determination that we do not tolerate prejudice, hate and division — on our streets or online.”

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Wiesenthal Center urges Trump to create FBI task force after NY attack

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in a statement, calls on US President Donald Trump to instruct the FBI to form a special task force following the Monsey stabbing “in wake of unending attacks against Jews and their religious institutions.”

“Enough is enough! Jews should not have to fear for their lives in America to go to their houses of worship,” the center says. “The FBI must step up and take the lead in all recent violent hate crimes targeting religious Jews.”

It also urges African American leaders to “speak out against the spate of recent hate crimes in New York and New Jersey carried out by African Americans.”