Bill de Blasio’s Rocky Relationship with His Jewish Voters

While campaigning for mayor of New York City in 2013, Bill de Blasio developed important relationships with influential ḥaredi leaders, which would serve him well politically. In turn he, delivered on two key promises: easing restrictions on a controversial circumcision practice, known as m’tsitsah b’peh—considered essential by some Orthodox rabbinic authorities—and curbing government interference in religious schools. But de Blasio leaves office unpopular with Jewish constituents across the spectrum. Jacob Kornbluh writes:

Liberal supporters chafed at what they saw as de Blasio’s overly solicitous attitude toward the Orthodox. “All the Reform leaders wanted to talk about with him was his stance on m’tsitsah b’peh and that he was too supportive of Israel,” said one former senior aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share what had been the private conversations.

But de Blasio and Orthodox Jews — both leadership and their followers — had a serious falling out when the pandemic hit. . . . The mayor managed to enrage much of the Jewish community with a single tweet in April 2020. After witnessing a large Orthodox funeral in Williamsburg, de Blasio warned “the Jewish community, and all communities” that police would vigorously enforce social distancing rules that prohibited such public gatherings. Many Orthodox leaders took offense to the singling out of their people and this particular funeral, and asked why de Blasio didn’t crack down on crowds in public parks. Others were infuriated by what they saw as “scapegoating” of all Jews based on the behavior of one sect.

De Blasio . . . has been an ardent supporter and is also an outspoken critic of the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment movement. Barely a month in office, de Blasio delivered a fervent pro-Israel speech at a closed AIPAC meeting, and faced fierce liberal backlash.

A former senior aide said, “He believes the creation of Israel as a Jewish state is a correct and necessary outcome of the Holocaust. That’s all. . . . That doesn’t mean its government can do no wrong or that its treatment of Palestinians doesn’t need drastic improvement.”

Of course, to Israelis and committed Zionists, the idea that the Holocaust somehow justifies Israel’s existence—and that Jews would otherwise not have a right to self-national determination—is anathema.

Read more at Forward

More about: Bill de Blasio, Coronavirus, Hasidim, New York City, U.S. Politics

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security