Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Ben Sales


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  • 10 IDF soldiers killed fighting Hamas in Gaza

    Ben Sales|Jun 21, 2024

    By (JTA) — Ten Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days for the Israeli military since the beginning of its war with Hamas. An additional soldier died of wounds sustained in battle earlier in the week. The casualties came as Israel is negotiating with Hamas over a potential ceasefire that would see the release of hostages held by the terror group. Israel reportedly expects Hamas to reject the ceasefire offer, made with U.S. support. The incidents also came on the first day of a pause Israel announced that w...

  • AIPAC taps its No. 2, Elliot Brandt, to be its next CEO

    Ben Sales|Jun 14, 2024

    (JTA) — The next leader of AIPAC will be Elliot Brandt, who has served as a senior official of the pro-Israel lobby for decades and will take the helm shortly after the November elections — a move toward continuity as Israel faces volatile conflicts on multiple fronts. Brandt, currently the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s vice CEO, will succeed longtime CEO Howard Kohr, who is stepping down at year’s end after nearly 20 years leading the group. Under his leadership, the organization burgeoned and, in recent years, shifted to launchi...

  • Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on July 24

    Ben Sales|Jun 14, 2024

    (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on July 24, his fourth time appearing before the legislative body. The Netanyahu speech, coming against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, is meant to demonstrate American support for Israel at a time when Israel has come under widespread criticism for its military campaign and Netanyahu faces a possible arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court. “We look forward to hearing the Israeli government’s vision for defending democ...

  • Series finale of HBO's 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' reunites Larry David-Jerry Seinfeld Jewish comedy duo

    Ben Sales|Apr 19, 2024

    (JTA) — Those who might have described “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as a kind of “Seinfeld” on steroids got a fitting conclusion on Sunday, as the last episode of Larry David’s landmark 12-season sitcom was essentially a reprise of the much-maligned “Seinfeld” finale 26 years ago. Except one thing. (Spoilers follow.) In the finale, which aired on HBO and Max, Larry stands trial on the charge he was arrested for in the season premiere — handing a bottle of water to a friend waiting to vote, in violation of Georgia law. In the fashion of the “S...

  • Leading Democratic congressman wants 'assurances'

    Ben Sales|Apr 19, 2024

    (JTA) — Rep. Gregory Meeks, the leading Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has said he would not approve a U.S. sale of F-15 fighter jets to Israel without “assurances” on what the jets would be used for. “I’m waiting for assurances,” Meeks, who represents a district in New York City, told CNN on Tuesday. “It is enough of the indiscriminate bombing. I don’t want the kinds of weapons that Israel has to be utilized to have more death.” Meeks is one of four lawmakers on Capitol Hill with the power to hold up weapons sales. He has pre...

  • Protests against Netanyahu escalate in Israel as thousands mass in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

    Ben Sales|Apr 5, 2024

    (JTA) — In the largest antigovernment demonstration since Oct. 7, thousands of protesters gathered in Jerusalem to call on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to step down and for Israel to reach a deal to free the hostages held in Gaza. And in a dramatic turn in Tel Aviv, the main organization lobbying on behalf of the families of Israeli hostages in Gaza said it would cease its Saturday night rallies in what has come to be known as Hostages Square and instead join in anti-government protests that have taken place in a dif...

  • WH confirms death in Gaza of Hamas No. 3 Marwan Issa

    Ben Sales|Mar 29, 2024

    (JTA) — Israel has killed Hamas’ third-in-command in the Gaza Strip, the United States confirmed on Monday. The killing earlier this month of Marwan Issa, alleged to be a mastermind of Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, is a significant achievement for Israel in its war on the terror group in Gaza, which is approaching the six-month mark. Issa served under Hamas militant leader Mohammed Deif and Yahya Sinwar, the terror group’s chief in Gaza. Israeli officials had said for more than a week that they were working to confirm that Issa had been ki...

  • IDF rescues 2 hostages from Gaza

    Ben Sales and Eliyahu Freedman|Feb 16, 2024

    (JTA) - The Israeli military has rescued two hostages in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, the second such rescue since Hamas took hundreds of Israelis captive on Oct. 7. The overnight rescue operation, which was announced in the early hours of Monday morning, Israel time, comes as the Israel Defense Forces are shifting their focus to Rafah, a city on the border with Egypt where there are currently more than a million Palestinians. The rescue operation also comes as negotiations toward a...

  • 1 dead, 17 injured in attack in Raanana, Tel Aviv suburb with large Anglo community

    Ben Sales|Jan 19, 2024

    (JTA) — One woman was killed and 17 injured in a terror attack in the Tel Aviv suburb of Raanana on Monday, a rare fatal incident in central Israel amid the country’s war in Gaza. Two Palestinian men carried out the attack on Monday afternoon, stabbing people and ramming others with cars in Raanana, a suburb of about 75,000 north of Tel Aviv with a large population of English-speaking immigrants. The woman who was killed was identified as Edna Bluestein, 79, and two additional victims were seriously injured, including a 16-year-old boy. The...

  • A weekend of hostage releases from Gaza

    Gabe Friedman Ron Kampeas and Ben Sales|Dec 1, 2023

    This is a developing story. Friday - First 13 Israeli and 10 foreign hostages released (JTA) - Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages into Egypt on Friday, Nov. 24, a sign that the four-day ceasefire brokered between Israel and the terror group that runs Gaza was holding. Ten Thai nationals and one Filipino national were also released in a surprise additional deal that Egyptian officials said they had brokered. Thirty-nine Palestinian prisoners were released from Israel as part of the agreement,...

  • Three-quarters of American Jews fear Israel-Hamas war is making their communities less safe, poll finds

    Ben Sales|Dec 1, 2023

    (JTA) — Large majorities of American Jews are worried for their safety amid Israel’s war with Hamas and believe antisemitism is on the rise, according to a new poll. And the vast majority of American Jews support military aid for Israel. Most Americans overall also support military aid for Israel, the poll found. The Jewish Federations of North America, which commissioned the poll, had initially included data about whether respondents approved of President Joe Biden’s Israel policy, but later said that data was inaccurate. According to the p...

  • Hundreds arrested at NYC's Grand Central as rallies take place across the globe

    Ben Sales|Nov 3, 2023

    (New York Jewish Week) — Hundreds of protesters were arrested as they crowded Grand Central Station in New York City on Friday afternoon for a rally sponsored by a Jewish group calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The rally came a day ahead of a series of other pro-Palestinian rallies worldwide. It was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist group that has accused Israel of genocide and blamed its policies for Hamas’ massacre of Israel on Oct. 7, which killed and wounded thousands. While the protest on Friday inconvenienced rus...

  • Blinken lands in Israel to pledge support after leaders vow to 'wipe out' Hamas in escalating war

    Ben Sales|Oct 20, 2023

    (JTA) — On a visit to Israel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged American support for the country as it ramps up its war on Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza. Israel is reportedly preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza, its first in nearly a decade, five days after hundreds of Hamas terrorists stormed Israeli towns and killed more than 1,300 people, wounding thousands and taking more than 100 captive. Israel has formed an emergency unity government to carry out the war, which will be led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin N...

  • What you need to know as Israel's Supreme Court begins debating law limiting its power

    Ben Sales|Sep 22, 2023

    (JTA) — For almost nine months, Israelis have been fighting over the future of their Supreme Court. Today, that battle has moved into the Supreme Court itself. In July, Israel’s hardline right-wing governing coalition passed a law to weaken the court. Opponents of the law then filed legal challenges against it. That put the court in the uncomfortable, and unprecedented, position of ruling on itself: It can decide to uphold the law, strike it down, or send it back to parliament to be amended. When Israelis on both sides of the debate warned tha...

  • Libyan foreign minister is fired and flees to Turkey after meeting her Israeli counterpart

    Ben Sales|Sep 15, 2023

    (JTA) — Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush has been fired and has fled to Turkey following a meeting last week with Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen. Libya and Israel do not have diplomatic relations, and when he first announced the meeting on Sunday, Cohen hailed it as another breakthrough in Israel’s growing ties with its neighbors. Israel normalized relations with several Arab countries in 2020 under the framework of the Abraham Accords, and is now publicly exploring an agreement with Saudi Arabia. The Israel-Libya meeting, which...

  • ADL CEO: Elon Musk is a 'great innovator' who engages with 'users who are espousing antisemitism and hate'

    Ben Sales|Sep 15, 2023

    (JTA) — Days after Elon Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League for billions of dollars and amplified a hashtag spread by white supremacists, the ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, praised Musk’s business acumen but called his behavior “frustrating” and said he was spreading “age-old tropes” around blaming Jews for antisemitism. “I’ve always tried to treat Elon and everyone at the company with respect and forthright manner and a constructive approach. I would do that again,” Greenblatt told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The truth is th...

  • Jews joined the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington

    Ben Sales|Sep 1, 2023

    (JTA) — Six decades ago, shortly before Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Rabbi Joachim Prinz called for racial equality in an address that began with the words, “I speak to you as an American Jew.” Last Saturday, about a dozen Jews were in the lineup of more than 100 speakers who returned to the memorial’s marble steps for what was billed as a continuation of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on its 60th anniversary. Alongside the anniversary march, whic...

  • Visiting Israel, Eric Adams meets with antigovernment protesters

    Ben Sales|Sep 1, 2023

    (New York Jewish Week) — On his first trip to Israel as mayor, Eric Adams made all of the expected stops — meeting with the prime minister and president, visiting the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, sampling from the offerings of the country’s tech scene. But he added another, less traditional agenda item: a meeting with two organizers of the ongoing mass protest movement against the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul. The 40-minute meeting, which took place Tuesday at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, made Adams o...

  • Israel passes first law weakening Supreme Court following months of civil strife

    Ben Sales and Andrew Lapin|Aug 4, 2023

    JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s government has passed a law restricting the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down laws, the first piece of a proposed overhaul of the country’s judiciary that has led to massive street protests and a growing movement of civil disobedience. The vote, which was boycotted by the opposition in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed 64-0 and is a landmark moment in a conflict that has consumed Israel since the beginning of the year and drawn the attention and criticism of world leaders and a range of Diaspora Jewish or...

  • What you need to know about Israel's court system

    Ben Sales|Aug 4, 2023

    TEL AVIV (JTA) —Israel’s parliament voted on a measure that, advocates on both sides say, will determine the country’s fate — or whether it can even survive. It isn’t a peace deal or an attempt to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What it will do, if passed, is bar the Supreme Court from striking down government decisions it deems “unreasonable.” Behind that somewhat technical language is a struggle over Israel’s soul. It’s an escalating fight that has seen the largest, most sustained protest movement in Israel’s history....

  • Joe Biden invites Benjamin Netanyahu to meet in US, after months of tension

    Ben Sales|Jul 28, 2023

    TEL AVIV (JTA) — President Joe Biden has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet in the United States soon, after months of holding off on inviting him to the White House. The invitation was extended and accepted during a phone call between the two leaders on July 17. Israeli prime ministers typically receive an invitation to Washington shortly after taking office, but Biden, who has known Netanyahu for decades, has so far held off on inviting him to the capital. This invitation may not exactly end the wait: According to r...

  • BBC apologizes for anchor saying 'Israeli forces are happy to kill children'

    Ben Sales|Jul 14, 2023

    (JTA) — The BBC has apologized for an on-air interview in which one of its anchors told former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that “Israeli forces are happy to kill children.” The journalist, Anjana Gadgil, was interviewing Bennett on Tuesday about the Israel Defense Forces’ incursion this week into the Palestinian city of Jenin. Twelve Palestinians, including a number of children, and one Israeli were killed in the operation, which lasted two days. Israel conducted the operation to root out terror cells in the city and maintai...

  • More than a third of people in Hungary and Poland have 'extensive' antisemitic beliefs, ADL survey says

    Ben Sales|Jun 16, 2023

    (JTA) — A survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that significant portions of people in 10 European countries believe a range of antisemitic stereotypes, including more than one in three people in Poland and Hungary. The ADL measures antisemitic attitudes across a range of countries by asking respondents if they believe a set of 11 stereotypes about Jews, ranging from “Jews have too much power in the business world” to “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” This survey, taken from November to January, polled more than 6,500...

  • Fragile ceasefire ends Israel-Gaza conflict after five days of fighting

    Ben Sales|May 19, 2023

    As of Monday, May 15, this was the status of the onslaught by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza against Israel. Let's hope it holds as Heritage goes to press. (JTA) - Fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza ended after five days, as a ceasefire took effect and appeared to hold late Saturday night. Over the course of the fighting, 33 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, including civilians and combatants. Two civilians were killed in Israel - a woman in the central Israeli...

  • Netanyahu urges unity

    Ben Sales|May 5, 2023

    TEL AVIV (JTA) - In an unusual politicization of Israel's Memorial Day on Tuesday, several senior Israeli government officials faced protests at ceremonies commemorating fallen soldiers. The tensions unfolded as an Israeli was wounded in a shooting in the West Bank, and after five people were wounded in a car ramming Monday at Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market. The observances of the day, which is treated with solemnity and reverence in Israel, came days before the government intends to resume...

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