September 20, 2018

Pompeo Calls Kerry’s Meetings With Iran Official ‘Unseemly and Unprecedented’

FILE PHOTO: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized former Secretary of State John Kerry for meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif multiple times during Donald Trump’s presidency as being “unseemly and unprecedented.”

Pompeo told reporters on Friday, “This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and according to him, he was talking to them, he was telling them to wait out this administration. You can’t find precedent for this in US history and the secretary ought not engage in this kind of behavior. It’s beyond inappropriate.”

Matt Summers, a spokesman for Kerry, told CNN in a statement, “Like America’s closest allies, Kerry believes it is important that the commitments Iran made under the nuclear agreement, which took the world years to negotiate, remain effective. He was advocating for what was wholly consistent with US policy at the time. There’s nothing unusual, let alone unseemly or inappropriate, about former diplomats meeting with foreign counterparts.”

Kerry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he has met with Zarif “three or four times” during the Trump presidency, although Kerry denied that he was coaching Zarif on how to preserve the Iran deal. Kerry also didn’t deny telling Zarif to simply wait until 2020, when Trump could be voted out office.

John Kerry Admits to Meeting Iran Leaders During Trump Presidency

Screenshot from Twitter.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is promoting his new memoir, admitted on Wednesday that he has met with the Iranians multiple times during Donald Trump’s presidency, although he denied that he was doing so to save the Iran nuclear deal.

In May, prior to Trump’s decision to leave the Iran deal, the Journal reported that Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other foreign leaders to salvage the deal. Kerry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he met with Zarif a few times.

“I met with him [Zarif] at a conference in Norway,” Kerry said. “I think I saw him in a conference in Munich at the World Economic Forum. So I’ve probably seen him three or four times.”

Hewitt followed up by asking Kerry if he was coaching Zarif on preserving the Iran deal, which Kerry denied.

“You know, that’s not how it works,” Kerry said. “What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”

Kerry added, “I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there. They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues. But the administration’s taken a very different tack.”

Kerry also said that he thought Trump should have stayed in the Iran deal, arguing that under the deal “you have China, Russia, these other countries with you in the effort to leverage this different behavior from Iran rather than unilaterally pulling out and isolating yourself and making it much more difficult to sit down with any Iranian.”

Later in the day, Kerry was asked by Fox News’ Dana Perino if he told the Iranians to simply hold out until 2020, when Trump could be voted out of office. Kerry replied with a chuckle, “I think everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump,” but he said that was in regard to other matters, not the Iran deal.

“When I met with the Iranians, the policies of the United States was still to be in the Iran deal because the president had not decided and not pulled out,” Kerry said. “Secondly, every former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world. We all do that, and we have conversations with people about the state of affairs in the world in order to understand them. We don’t negotiate. We are not involved in interfering with policy.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Kerry allegedly told Hussein Agha, who is described as a “close associate” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that Abbas should not make any concessions to Trump in a peace agreement until 2020, as Kerry argued that Trump would be out of office by then. Kerry also said he was “seriously considering running for president in 2020,” per the Jerusalem Post report. When CBS News asked Kerry if he was going to run for president in 2020, he didn’t rule it out.

Eric Trump Accuses Woodward of Trying to ‘Make Three Extra Shekels’

Screenshot from YouTube.

Eric Trump, President Trump’s second-oldest son, accused veteran journalist Bob Woodward of trying to “make three extra shekels” with his latest book.

In a Wednesday interview on Fox and Friends, Eric Trump was asked by co-host Steve Doocy about critics of the president who say that the Trump administration “is in chaos” based on the information presented in Woodward’s book and the anonymous New York Times op-ed.

Eric Trump dismissed the “chaos” perception presented by Woodward’s book and the op-ed.

“You can write a sensational nonsense book – CNN will definitely have you on there because they love to trash the president,” Eric Trump said. “It’ll mean you sell three extra books, make three extra shekels at the behest of the American people, at the behest of our country and a president that’s doing a phenomenal job by every quantifiable metric.”

Eric Trump’s remarks were condemned by various people on Twitter:

Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted:

The modern Israeli currency is named after currency referenced in the Bible. Shekels is also an American and Irish term slang for money, showing up in old potboilers like Mickey Spillane’s “I, The Jury”: “Generally a runner made plenty for himself, taking a chance that the dough he clipped wasn’t on the number that pulled in the shekels.”

But on some anti-Semitic corners of the web, like the anti-Semitic site The Daily Stormer, it is often used sarcastically to refer to Jewish greed or influence.

 Woodward’s book, titled “Fear: Trump in the White House,” claims that some Trump officials hide documents from Trump and that Trump frequently belittled members of his administration and vice versa. Trump and officials named in the book have pushed back on Woodward’s book as being inaccurate.

United States to Shut Down PLO’s D.C. Office

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they would be shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s office in Washington, D.C., the latest in a series of steps taken by the administration to crack down on the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said they were making this move because “ the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” Nauert said. “As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move in a statement.

“Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace,” Netanyahu said.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas is furious with the decision and will say “some very undiplomatic things” against Trump at the United Nations General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority officials told Israel’s Channel 10 that Trump is “an enemy of the Palestinian people and an enemy of peace.”

“The American president is encouraging terror and extremism with his policies that could lead to violence in the region, which will explode in the faces of Israel and the US,” the officials said.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, the PLO was initially formed in 1964 with the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and Zionism through violent means. The group has committed numerous acts of terror, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985. The terrorists murdered a Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, who was confined to a wheelchair during the hijacking.

Even though the PLO renounced terrorism in 1993, former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat incited intifadas against Israelis, as has Abbas, Arafat’s successor.

Trump Honors Flight 93: ‘A Piece of America’s Heart Is Buried on These Grounds’

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Trump honored the memory of the 40 United Airlines Flight 93 passengers and crew at the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa., on the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Trump began the speech by praising the courage of the passengers and crew in standing up to the four terrorists who hijacked their plane “and changed the course of history.”

“Today we mourn their loss, we share their story and we commemorate their incredible valor,” Trump said.

The president also told the families who lost their loved ones on Flight 93 that America is here to help comfort them in their “great, great sorrow.”

“Your tears are not shed alone, for they are shared grief with an entire nation,” Trump said. “We grieve together for every mother and father, sister and brother, son and daughter, who was stolen from us at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and here in this Pennsylvania field. We honor their sacrifice by never flinching in the face of evil and do whatever it takes to keep America safe.”

Trump then explained how the passengers decided to charge the cockpit with boiling hot water, forcing the plane to crash in Pennsylvania instead of reaching the terrorists’ intended target, which is believed to have been the White House.

“Through their sacrifice, the 40 saved the lives of countless Americans and they saved our capital from a devastating strike,” Trump said.

Trump added, “A piece of America’s heart is buried on these grounds, but in its place has grown a new resolve to live our lives with the same grace and courage as the heroes of Flight 93.”

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti 2018 Rosh Hashanah interview [full transcript]

Eric Garcetti.

Last month, I interviewed L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti in his office at L.A. City Hall. An edited version of the interview ran in this week’s Rosh Hashanah issue. This is a full version of the interview.

RYAN TOROK: This is a very cool office, by the way.

ERIC GARCETTI: This has been the mayor’s office since the building opened in the ‘20s, late ‘20s, ’28.

RT: How much of this [furniture and artwork] is reflective of your own taste, a lot of it?

EG: I lost the pictures. I had pictures before. There was the formal desk here, a bunch of nondescript furniture, and a weird mural on the wall that was like a Greetings from L.A. postcard, with the Observatory. This, obviously, I kept [he said, pointing to a sign on his office wall] but I wanted it to say “L.A.” and I wanted it to be brighter. It was really dark in here, with massive drapes. So, I lightened it up. I took some art from MOCA and LACMA, so these are both from classic California modernists, and this is Ed Moses, who just passed. All the furniture is designed by a famous California designer and architect. I got rid of my desk; just that meeting table, because that’s what you mostly need for collaboration, some formal place to sit.

RT: Where do you stay when you’re sitting at a computer?

EG: There’s a little, small office back there and a computer. I’ll be on my laptop. I don’t spend much time on the computer at all, so I do most of my email on my phone, if I do any at all. But I take meetings in here. Sometimes here, and then our press conference room if we have a crowd bigger than ten. I can do meetings of up to 40 or 50 people in there. But I’m usually out in the city. I would say I’m in the office less than half the time, for sure, maybe a third of the time, a quarter of the time.

RT: You said somewhere that you typically work an 18-hour work day, is that right?

EG: Probably all in, yeah. We subtract a couple of hours for some family time somewhere in there, hopefully, but the bookends of the day are probably 16, sometimes as long as 18 hours. I basically wake up here, check what happened last night, talk to the police chief or texting somebody back. In the night, I might be talking to a supervisor at 10 o’clock at night about homelessness or something. You’re never not on the job. I would say being mayor is pretty much—because something could happen at any time. You can be working for the city, a different city, and you spend five hours, essentially here because you’re on the phone with folks and doing stuff; what’s going on, if a power outage has happened. I was on a rare, personal family vacation, but I was texting people in long streams, trying to figure out when the power would be on for their house and getting better information for them. Don’t run for mayor if you don’t want to basically be working all the time. But I am good at trying to carve out family time.

RT: How difficult is that balance, that work/life balance?

EG: It’s tough. I mean, that’s one thing I won’t sacrifice. I’ve watched some people involved really burn themselves out, or they’re at a different point in their life where their kids are off to college or something, so they’ll go to three or four events a night. I don’t do many of those events. I might do one, maybe two, and I don’t do them every night because even though I’ll be working at home, I tuck my daughter into bed. If I’m not there for dinner or for tuck-in time, I don’t think the Chamber of Commerce will remember if I went to three or six of their galas, but Maya [his daughter] will remember if Dad was home. So, my priority is pretty straight there.

RT: Are there particular organizations that are non-profits, maybe specifically, Jewish non-profits, that you think are doing great work that you lend your name and voice to?

EG: Absolutely. And one of the things if I can’t go to a lot of their events is I’ll do a recorded video for them, same speech, essentially, that I do in person. Yeah, there’s a ton of organizations. Let’s see. JVS, obviously, which is linked to the oldest non-profit in the city, the Hebrew Benevolent Society. It does a lot of great work, whether it’s job training, community strengthening. There’s a lot of Jewish-led organizations, obviously, when you think about people like Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, who has L.A. Family Housing, which used to be—anyway, it’s L.A. Family Housing now, which I think is the premier homelessness organization, or anti-homelessness organization. On a personal level, I get from the Federation all sorts of stuff. I think the Zimmer Museum is doing great work and looking to grow. I’m a subscriber to PJ Books…

RT: Are you?

EG: … although we’ve got to get some more women-focused books there. I was very involved at the time with the Progressive Jewish Alliance, which is now Bend the Arc. They’re part of a coalition of folks, individual rabbis, that are doing great stuff as well. Temple Judea on the issue of homelessness, an advisory group of faith leaders that includes some great rabbis, like my own rabbi, Sharon Brous. L.A. is filled with organizations. Some of them are so small. There might be a school on Fairfax that happens to be doing something quietly on the side, or the folks that do emergency response folks, like backup…

RT: Hatzalah?

EG: Hatzalah. Thank you, guys. Had a brain fart there. Hatzalah. There’s people who step up and fill voids all the time from the community, and I think a lot of big organizations in town have very strong Jewish leadership, whether it’s Jerry Neuman, who’s the incoming Chair of the Chamber of Commerce, or Eli and Edie Broad. I think they follow a long tradition, which my family is part of, too.

RT: You’re Jewish on your mother’s side, and you became more serious about your Judaism in college, is that correct?

EG: Probably when I went to Oxford, actually. A little bit in college at Columbia, but it was when I was studying graduate studies at Oxford. It was interesting. I have people [I met at Oxford] that now are all over the news, from Rabbi Shmuley [Boteach], a pretty conservative voice, to Peter Beinart, he was in my Rhodes class, who got arrested—not arrested—detained at the [Israeli] airport.

RT: One was detained in Israel. The other [Boteach] was defending Roseanne.

EG: Exactly. But we are a big tent of Jews. I think we’re the original big tent, quite literally. We put the big tents in the desert, so a lot of people use that as a political term. I think we invented it. But, yeah, that’s when I got more serious about exploring—I mean, the two peaks were probably Gindling Hilltop Camp between sixth and seventh grade, and then a new chapter began where I just felt more faith and connected. But I had been pretty uneducated in terms of a Jewish religious upbringing because I come from a pretty secular tradition in my mom’s family, but always felt a strong sense of identity, but not as much religious practice. So now, that’s something that I’ve come more to.

RT: Is that largely because of [IKAR Rabbi] Sharon Brous?

EG: No, no, parallel to Sharon. There’s all sorts of things. I think Sharon and I participated in something that I can pinpoint, which is Reboot. I did that, and I think that was part of thinking about this more like how can you integrate practice into your daily life, and that was a part of it. It was a space that Jews who had not necessarily been hard-core Jews to figure out what Judaism means to them and what’s the role of Judaism in the world. But we also had some practice involved in that. And then Sharon started IKAR, and when I showed up there, it was the first feeling I had of oh, this is what a shul is supposed to be. I went to high school with that person. I recalled that person. We were in Student Council. We’d been activists together. It felt like the family writ large, which is what I think a congregation either becomes or should be. Other times, I went to my cousin’s shul growing up or went to camp, and felt like I belonged, but felt like a little bit of an outsider because it wasn’t my congregation, because I didn’t have one. And now, since that camp, because I’m a member of it at Wilshire Boulevard, those places feel like home.

RT: You must really connect to Wilshire Boulevard from the standpoint that they’re really prioritizing art and architecture and creating these kinds of spaces.

EG: It’s a gorgeous space. It connects me with the history of Judaism in Los Angeles, but it also connects me with the future, because they took a pretty bold investment. The Judaism story in L.A. is the story of westward expansion, right?

RT: Right.

EG: And eastward abandonment, in some cases. And even Wilshire Boulevard started to have as equal, if not bigger, pull on the West Side until they decided they were going to redo the campus. Erika Glazer stepped up. They built a school where they had an engagement with the Mid-Wilshire/Koreatown area…

RT: Sure.

EG: …and the human services aspect with the center they opened up.

RT: The Karsh.

EG: Yeah, the Karsh Family Center, which was built. The Karshes made a huge bet, too. So, to me, it connects with me on both sides: the beauty of Judaism in both senses; aesthetic beauty and the moral beauty of it.

RT: Do you consider yourself any particular denomination?

EG: No. I go to conservative shul at IKAR, so I guess that would make me more conservative in practice. And I love that, but there’s something about the strands of the social justice that permeates Reform Judaism that appeals to me, too. IKAR is a conservative practice that brings in the urgency of social and political reflection.

RT: There’s actually been a debate recently in the pages of The Jewish Journal about whether or not Tikkun Olam and social justice are legitimate Jewish values. As someone who’s also spent time studying Torah and Talmud with Rabbi Brous, what do you say to something like that?

EG: There is a lot of reflexive Judaism, whether that comes from Orthodoxy or from more liberal Jews, where it’s easy to simplify Judaism, and I think Judaism is just inherently complex. The complexity of it is its beauty, so if you’re a politician who only says Tikkun Olam, you’re not very deep into the practice of what Judaism is. If you think that that is the central tenet, it can be for you a guiding principle, but Judaism evokes so much richness and vice versa. For Orthodoxy to say this is only about practice, if the Orthodox become the Catholics and the Reform folks become the Protestants, and one is in a personal relationship with a sense of justice, and the others fulfill the practice and fulfill the covenant, I don’t think either one of those caricatures would capture the fullness of what Judaism is. It does demand, I think both scriptural adherence and practice, but it also has taught us to be thinkers and to evolve, and as we think, to pull from the world history of Jews, who have gone through so much. So, to me, Judaism without either, loses its soul a little bit. In other words, you can’t just cloister yourself off and wait for the Messiah to come, and you can’t just say, hey, my Judaism is just about activism. Great, and I’m glad that Judaism has that influence, but I think that there are things that you miss if you also are not reflecting on why practice has evolved and why the Book of Judaism is so tenacious.

RT: What are some of the issues that are most important to you these days?

EG: I think, for me, the biggest issue is poverty in general, poverty in this time of plenty. It’s reflected in homelessness. It’s reflected in educational gaps. It’s reflected in racial disparities. Poverty, really, to me, is the defining issue of our age. I think the second is kindness and decency. The Trump era has called everyone’s bluff about do you want to be yellers and fighter and screamers even if you think you’re more just than the other side, or do we have a space for peaceful dissent and for listening…It’s a very specific thing, but in material terms, devoting our lives to ending poverty and providing equal starting lines for people is what keeps me awake. Second, is whether or not we’ll ever get there if we don’t have some kind of kindness and decency and focus on actual work rather than fighting.

RT: When you talk about poverty, are you speaking about homelessness, or are you also speaking about people who are housed but just don’t have enough to get by?

EG: Both. I think it’s the whole thing. Homelessness is the deepest manifestation of poverty in many ways, but not the only one. I think connected to poverty is the trauma of poverty. It’s not just a material thing; it’s a psychological thing that we have no mental health system in this country. The manifestation of homelessness is poverty of a different sort. I think if you frame so much of these national debates on how can we have universal healthcare, decent education and jobs, build more housing. Those are all really reflections of the same basic powerlessness that people feel that the trauma of poverty brings to people who are directly living in poverty. Now, it has been brought to all of us if we’re lucky enough not to be living in poverty, but we still feel it, we see it walking like zombies on our streets. We can sense it in a school where children haven’t been exposed to as many words or networks of opportunities. Those things, to me, define this moment. It would be perhaps more understandable if this wasn’t, in every other way, a moment of such plenty and of such growth. So, the positive side of what I love is this is a moment of creativity, a blossoming of creativity, a concentration of innovation and investment, a building out of a new physical infrastructure. In every other way, I feel like Los Angeles is soaring. This nation should be soaring, and even this world, which is reducing a lot of material suffering and has less war, as tragic as certain wars are, this should be a great moment. Yet, I think there’s a fragility to it all that we’re recognizing and an unfair distribution of it.

RT: It sounds like a Brous High Holy Day sermon.

EG: There you go. Let’s do it. I’m ready. I’ll tell her she can take a day off.

RT: Are you going to IKAR this year for the holidays?

EG: Yeah.

RT: Where else will you be going?

EG: I don’t know yet for sure. I think it’s going to be—I was just looking. I’m going to be at Wilshire also, I think for Kol Nidre. I’m going to be, not at Judea, but I’m going to be at—what’s the other one in Northridge—Temple Aliyah, I think. And I think we’re going to try to get to an Orthodox—B’nai…

RT: B’nai David-Judea?

EG: I think it’s B’nai-David Judea, yes, yes, Pico Robertson. And maybe, if I have time, go to the Project.

RT: Pico Union [Project]?

EG: Pico Union, yeah.

RT: Do you know Craig Taubman?

EG: Yeah, very well. I haven’t gone over for High Holidays. I’ve been there for a lot of other stuff.

RT: That’s another example, I would think, of a Jewish community on the East Side trying to bring people back over in that part of town.

EG: Oh, it’s great, it’s awesome. Makes me feel at home in a Latino neighborhood with Jewish practice and the strands woven in from the surrounding areas. I was just looking through my hour-long dives every quarter into ancestry.com and was looking up a bunch of addresses. Some things came up on censuses where my grandparents and great-grandparents lived in Boyle Heights. I realized that my great-grandfather lived literally across the street from the Breed Street Shul, and it was closed. There’s three other homes in Boyle Heights that different parts of the family lived in, but it was cool to see how close they literally were.

RT: Do you know Steve Sass, the guy who’s been [leading the renovation of the Breed Street Shul]…

EG: Yeah, yeah, it’s amazing to see what’s going on.

RT: Have you been following at all what’s going on in Boyle Heights with this gentrification?

EG: Yeah, mostly in the paper. It’s a funny thing for me because both sides of my family grew up in Boyle Heights, the Jews and the Mexicans. So, they didn’t know each other. My parents met here downtown. By then, my mom’s family lived in West L.A.; my dad’s in South L.A., which is where he grew up, but their parents and grandparents were all from Boyle Heights. Gentrification is always—it’s a loaded word. Everybody wants the positives of improvements: less crime, of fewer empty storefronts, of more activity on the street, but people don’t like—and I prefer this word: displacement—and I feel strongly about that as well. There’s too much displacement. Look, there’s a natural part of that. Echo Park used to—if Jews were coming into Echo Park today, I don’t know if you can say that was gentrified. Elysian Park had the first Jewish cemetery. You see these waves of people, and sometimes it’s not just “ethnic” gentrifiers, which is what gets a lot of the attention. It’s more class. You may have middle class, professional Latinos who replace working-class Latinos, so it’s not necessarily racial, but it’s just tougher and tougher to find places near the center to live if you don’t have means, if you’re working for minimum wage or working two or three jobs. I’m very sympathetic with that. I don’t think that’s the fault of an art gallery. I think that’s the fault of a housing crisis, which is everywhere, and the price of homes in Riverside affects that as much as a gallery next door or a coffee house. In Silver Lake, when I was a Council member from 2000 to 2010, there was a lot of talk about gentrification. The censuses those two years showed per capita income had gone up, adjusting for inflation, $100. It was essentially the same level of poverty for middle class or working-class folks. The price of coffee had gone up from probably $2 to $10 if you wanted it. There’s that kind of coffee measure. I don’t know if it’s called gentrification of the coffee cup, but it was a more difficult place to come into, and it’s also more complicated if you fault the family three generations lived in Boyle Heights wanted to sell their home and have some savings to retire someplace with a decent quality of life. Even knowing that you bought for $50,000 can be sold for $850,000, what’s the impact for everybody else around there? But, to me, all this comes down to the way you fight displacement, the way you fight the negative parts of gentrification, is build more housing, preserve more affordable housing. But that can’t all be mandated. It has to partially be done by everybody stepping up and saying yes to the construction of more stuff in the neighborhood, building really densely around our heavy investments in public transportation, and recognizing that we still have a lot of land and space and we’ve got to be willing to, even as we preserve some single-family homes, build up, because most people aren’t going to be able to afford a single-family home for the next generation.

RT: Do you believe that one of the ways to solve the affordable housing crisis is to mandate that developers have to allocate some certain units to low-income families?

EG: Yeah. I’ve believed it for 15 years—not units. The flip side is if you don’t, you have to pay us so we can build those units, so that’s what we passed last year with the linkage fee. You can’t get around paying us cash if you want to build your own site, but one way or the other now, if you do market-related housing in Los Angeles, you have to. But I also believe the City should make it easier for developers to build, so we passed something called Transit-Oriented Communities, which we implemented just this past year, and over 5,000 units. This increases height and density near transit stops, and the more that you, on your own dime, build low-income units, and the more affordable those are to the very lowest-income people, the higher and denser you can go. The results have been astounding. Five thousand units, and more than 1,000 of them, on their own dime, are subsidized for lower-income and sometimes extremely low-income Angelenos, without a single tax-payer dollar. So, they get something out of it: they can build more than they would have, so they can put some of that profitability back into subsidizing units for folks that otherwise might be displaced.

RT: Do you believe that when the Metro is completed, for instance, the line that they’re building on Wilshire, particularly people from the West Side are actually going to use that?

EG: Yes, absolutely. I think the subway for sure. The Expo Line, I know a lot of people use it. It’s way over our estimates, but it’s still kind of slow going. It stops for intersections and people say it’s not that much quicker. I like it because I get to read a book or something, but it’s not faster. That subway will be faster than a car, even when there’s no traffic, so absolutely people will…and for the Olympics it’ll be amazing because Olympic Village will be in UCLA and a lot of events right here.

RT: By the time the Olympics happen, you might be President, right?

EG: Or just a happily retired Angeleno, or a house dad raising Maya before she goes off to college.

RT: If you do decide to run [for president] as a Democrat who has been pretty clear about his support for Israel, how do you feel about the wing of the Democratic party that is anti-Israel?

EG: I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive to be for human rights and to be for Israel. I think there’s this false dichotomy that’s out there. You’ve seen it with some folks who don’t really—I would encourage people to spend time in Israel to actually learn. I think on one hand there’s propaganda you get from one side that oh, my God, Israel is evil and must be defeated and it’s only an occupation, there’s no other side, and Israelis are all bad. On the flip side, sometimes we overeducate when people come to Israel. Okay, we’ll take you to the West Bank, but let me give you all the pro-Israel propaganda. I trust human beings to be smart, and I think if they see on the ground what an amazing nation Israel is and what an amazing country is, and how complicated a lot of the things are there, they’ll understand the security needs people have and also be able to engage in hopefully creating a lasting peace. My worry these days is that people are just like American politics are friends to the extremes in Israel and in Palestine, and then accordingly they’re friends one way or the other. There’s a huge middle that always defined us is quickly receding. Here in the Democratic party, I think that the overwhelming majority of Jews are Democrats. I think they’re progressive Democrats who understand that sometimes the overly conservative politics of Israel don’t represent them but is a core part of who we are that Israel should be defended and she should be uplifted and our loyalty should be about improving her, not about abandoning her.

RT: When did you go for the first time?

EG: I went to Israel the first time in, I think 1987 [he was a junior at Harvard at the time]. I was 16-years-old and I had spent time on a relief mission with the North American Conference of Ethiopian Jewry in Ethiopia. I was between the two airlifts, Solomon and David, or David and Solomon. So, the folks that had been left behind after the first airlift were the ones who couldn’t walk to the Sudan, so we were in these Jewish villages where it was like elderly mothers with their children, but not their husbands, and we brought in, under the guise of tourism, suitcases full with medical equipment, brought some doctors, [we were] just a bunch of guerilla Jews going in there to help those folks. Then we went from there to Israel to see where the Jews who had left were being resettled and integration into Israel of Ethiopian Jews.

RT: Do you see any parallels when you went back to the Jews at that time versus the asylum seekers like people from Eritrea today?

EG: Absolutely, absolutely. Here or in Israel?

RT: I was speaking specifically Israel, but if you want to talk about people seeking asylum here as well.

EG: It’s very easy in both nations to see the power of closing the gates, of walling up the nation and of pointing fingers. That’s not, to me, what Judaism has ever been about or who we are. I think we’re at our greatest when we’ve been able to integrate in Israel and here, Soviet Jewry, Ethiopian Jewry, North African Jewry. That’s when we are at our best, not just as Jews, but as human beings when we’re extending our arms to brothers and sisters and cousins and others, whether it’s in an ethnic way like Jews, or in a civic way like we have in America. There’s too few examples of that in the States these days.

RT: Where is the city today and where are you today with the fight with the Federal government over grant money versus L.A. operating as a sanctuary city?

EG: It’s more of a distraction than a reality, but an important one to fight against. I think it’s a dog whistle that President Trump and his allies blow because it mobilizes votes for them. We know more about protecting our streets than he does. I’m never going to stop listening to police over politicians when it comes to the safety of my own family, my own city. We know it works. It came from an ultra-conservative police Chief, Darryl Gates. This isn’t some weird lefty thing. This is like cops knowing how to win trust of communities, and we protect immigrants because immigrants protect us. So, Washington will play politics with our safety and our lives, but we’re just going to do what works. So, there’s been some dollars pulled back. I find it ironic that this President who has some sort of obsession with MS-13 and hasn’t even lived around them, is taking money away from a police department that’s the finest fighting force against MS-13 in the world. So, he literally took funding away from cops’ grants that we use for our anti-gang efforts, which goes to fighting, among others, MS-13. So, here’s the guy who who’s going to protect us from MS-13, taking dollars away from hardworking cops in L.A. who go after MS-13? How’s that for some irony?

RT: I wonder how he even learned about MS-13.

EG: I think, like most things, he has an idea in his head. That’s what the problem with Washington is today. There’s much of what this President says that I find so personally abhorrent and anti-American. It’s not who we are. But there are some things that he says that are correct questions. I just don’t trust that he has any answers. We want the American work force to be treated fairly. We need to renegotiate some trade rules. But then he’s so off on certain things. I think he just hasn’t spent time with immigrants in immigrant communities. Has he ever sat down and listened? I think the one time he did, with Dreamers, it actually did move his heart, because what human being couldn’t be moved. He said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of them,” and he hasn’t been able to. It’s not so much always that he’s always a bad person. No one human being is. I just think he’s also ineffective about the good things he wants to do, and I’d rather have somebody effective. I’d rather have a country that is kinder. So, the work of Washington won’t slow us down here. It would be really nice to have a partner, but they can’t stop us on our work to create 100 percent renewable energy; they can’t stop us to combat climate change; they can’t stop us to patrol our streets with the values that are America’s and Los Angeles’s; they can’t stop us from investing in infrastructure; they can’t stop us. There’s a power in this country that doesn’t come from Washington to us. It’s vice versa, always has been. If anything, they’ve unified us, not between these divisions which are between red and blue and urban and coastal heartland. There’s Washington and the rest of us, and if this week didn’t point this out, the culture of corruption, of ineffectiveness and of division, are such a contrast to the world we live in here. And we don’t sugarcoat our problems. This is the homeless capital of America. We’ve got the worst traffic in America. We’ve got too much poverty. But on the other hand, we’re in the trenches actually doing stuff, and they’re nowhere to be found.

RT: If I may, I saw a video of you singing Lean on Me at IKAR last year. Are you going to be singing something this year?

EG: I do whatever my rabbi asks of me. That was a last-minute change, and since it was the High Holidays, I couldn’t look up the lyrics, so I was there—I was supposed to sing This Land is Your Land, which I’d done the last two years for the prayer for our nation. She was like, What about Lean on Me? We had ten minutes’ notice. With a couple bad notes, I think we pulled it off.

RT: You’re an accomplished pianist, too, right?

EG: Yeah, I’ve been playing since I was a little kid. I have a piano in my office. My chops are a little rusty, but I play as often as I can.

RT: Mr. Mayor, thank you so much.

EG: Absolutely.

RT: I really appreciate your time.

EG: Happy Hoidays for the New Year to come.

RT: You, too.

Trump Touts Jerusalem Embassy, Nixing Iran Deal in Rosh Hashanah Call

REUTERS/Leah Millis

President Trump addressed American Jewish leaders in a Rosh Hashanah conference call on Thursday, where he touted his decision to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem as well as to exit from the Iran nuclear deal.

According to a transcript of the call provided by the Times of Israel, Trump said that he has a “personal” connection to the Jewish faith.

“I am the very proud father of a Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and my son-in-law, who I’m very proud of also — I will say that very loudly — Jared [Kushner], and my several Jewish grandchildren, namely three beautiful Jewish grandchildren that I love,” Trump said.

Trump then rattled off moves his administration has made as accomplishments: the Jerusalem embassy, leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and deporting a former Nazi concentration camp guard.

“We’re also deeply honored to be joined by several Holocaust survivors. It is a true privilege to be graced by your presence,” Trump said. “And it marks the 5,779th in the Jewish calendar, so we renew our pledge to confront anti-Semitism and hatred in all of its forms.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman then provided a brief update on the Jerusalem embassy, highlighting that the second phase of construction would be completed by June 2019 and that the embassy has already become “a major tourist site.”

“I’m there almost every day, and people just pull up their cars to the front of the embassy, they get out, they take pictures,” Friedman said. “I’ve seen some people praying there. I’ve actually seen many people crying there. Many Cabinet members have come to visit. Many members of Congress have come to visit. I urge all of you to please come to visit.”

Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz then asked Trump if he was “optimistic” about forging a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump said he was, pointing out that the embassy move has now been taken off the table and that zeroing out funding to Palestinian leaders has given the U.S. leverage in a deal.

“I really do believe we’re going to make a deal, Alan,” Trump said. “I hope so. It would be a great thing to do.”

Former Sen. Norm Coleman then asked the president on what the next steps are in regards to Iran after exiting the nuclear deal. Trump responded by saying that exiting the deal has “had a tremendously positive impact”:

I will tell you that if you look at Iran now, when I — if you go a day before I took over — I don’t want to say the same day — the day before I took over as President, Iran — it was not a question of how big and how strong they were; it was a question of when will they take over the entire Middle East. And that probably includes Israel, in the mind of a lot of people.

And if you look at them today, they’re not looking at the Mediterranean any longer. They’re not looking at places that they were going to routinely take over. And I think Israel feels a lot safer than they’ve felt in many, many years.

Iran is fighting for their own survival. They’ve got demonstrations in every city. This is far worse than it was years ago when President Obama could’ve maybe crushed Iran if all they needed was a positive statement — the people that were demonstrating. Well, these demonstrations are larger, but they’re more widespread. They’re all over the country.

So Iran is no longer the same country. I would imagine that they’ll be calling in the not-too-distant future to try and make a deal. If we can make a real deal, we’ll do it. If they don’t call, that’s okay too. Eventually, they’re going to have no choice. But we’ll see what happens.

Read the full transcript of the call here.

Trump Official Claims to Be ‘Resisting’ In NYT Op-Ed

REUTERS/Leah Millis

A senior official in the Trump White House wrote in an anonymous New York Times op-ed that he is part of the “resistance” to President Trump in the White House.

The unnamed official clarified that this “resistance” inside the White House isn’t “the popular ‘resistance’ of the left”; it’s a resistance against Trump’s worst impulses.

“In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the ‘enemy of the people,’ President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic,” the official wrote.

The official added that Trump frequently changes his mind and makes decisions and statements on whim, causing his aides to have to frequently contain his errant nature.

“It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the official wrote. “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”

The official noted that this is why Trump’s statements don’t necessarily translate to policy.

“In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations,” the official wrote. “Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.”

For instance, the expulsion of Russian spies and sanctions on Russia have been occurred despite Trump’s protestations.

“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” the official wrote. “But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”

Trump responded by calling the op-ed “gutless”:

The op-ed comes as the White House has been dealing with claims from veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s upcoming book that various top members of the Trump administration think that the president is an “idiot.”

U.S. to End UNRWA Funding, Reduce Refugee Status of Palestinians

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The Trump administration plans on ending all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and advocating for the number of Palestinians designated as refugees substantially, according to The Washington Post.

Within the next few weeks, the administration will officially make the aforementioned announcement and state they are ceasing funding to UNRWA until the agency is reformed. The U.S. had been providing about a third of UNRWA’s $1.1 billion budget.

United States Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley explained at an August 28 Foundation for Defense Democracies (FDD) event that the Palestinian Authority (PA) teaches “anti-Israeli and anti-American things in their textbook,” which was a factor in the Trump administration’s decision to cut UNRWA’s funding from $130 million to $65 million earlier in the year.

“UNRWA had them [the Palestinians] protest in the streets that we didn’t give more,” Haley said.

Haley added that Arab countries need to step up their funding to UNRWA instead.

The Trump administration will call for the number of Palestinians designated as refugees to decline from 5.3 million to less than 500,000, limiting the refugee status to those who were alive at the time the agency was established in 1949.

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), accused the U.S. of “violating international law” by ending funding to UNRWA.

“There is an international obligation to assist and support it until all the problems of the Palestinian refugees are solved,” Erekat said.

Germany is reportedly preparing to increase their funding to UNRWA in light of the reported U.S. decision to end such funding, according to Haaretz.

Those that support UNRWA argue that it’s necessary to provide aid to displaced Palestinians and help prevent further violence; critics argue that the agency is nothing more than a welfare program for terrorism.

State Department Announces More Than $200 Million in Cuts to Palestinians

REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

The State Department announced on August 24 that there are going to be more than $200 million in cuts from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The announcement states that the department reviewed the aid they are giving to Palestinians at the behest of President Trump and concluded that the millions of dollars will instead go to “high-priority projects elsewhere.”

“This decision takes into account the challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza, where Hamas control endangers the lives of Gaza’s citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation,” the statement reads.

The Trump administration had initially planned to provide $251 million in funding to the Palestinians in 2018. According to the Washington Free Beacon, the decision to make the cuts came from the administration’s desire to “no longer enable the Palestinian Authority and those in the Hamas terrorist government to use aid dollars in their war against Israel.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s executive committee, called the cuts “cheap political blackmail.”

“There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation,” Ashrawi said. “The U.S. administration has already demonstrated meanness of spirit in its collusion with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources; now it is exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of this occupation.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “The PLO was responsible for scores of acts of terrorism from its creation, resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians.”

Where ‘Social Justice’ and #MeToo Fall Short

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

We live in an era of “social justice.”

By “social justice,” people typically mean a panoply of left-leaning policy priorities. But the phrase itself is pernicious and anti-morality — justice requires no modifier. Justice is by nature individual — we punish those who are guilty, not those who are innocent; we don’t punish children for the sins of their parents. But social justice suggests that we should allow societal context to inform whether a result is just. Thus, a guilty man from a historically victimized group ought to be let off the hook; an innocent from a historically powerful group ought to be punished in order to provide restitution for historical injustices. 

Judaism fundamentally rejects this notion. In Leviticus, the Torah states, “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” We naturally assume that the rich are more likely to get away with perverting justice, but the Torah reminds us that our natural sympathies may be just as likely to pervert justice on behalf of someone unfortunate. As the old legal aphorism goes, hard cases make bad law — if we follow our hearts, we almost invariably pursue injustice.

All of this comes up this week thanks to the controversy surrounding Asia Argento, one of the leading #MeToo icons. Argento publicly accused megaproducer Harvey Weinstein of rape just a few months ago; now it turns out that Argento, who touted “women everywhere” having the “courage to share their most painful private traumas in public,” allegedly sexually assaulted a 17-year-old boy back in 2013. According to The New York Times, former child actor Jimmy Bennett alleges that Argento invited him to a hotel room and sexually assaulted him when he was 17 and she was 37. The age of consent in California is 18. The documents reviewed by the Times included a selfie of the two in bed together dated May 9, 2013. 

Argento’s alleged gross misconduct doesn’t undermine her claims against Weinstein, of course. As it turns out in Hollywood, more than one person can be disgusting at one time. But it’s the reaction that’s been telling. Rose McGowan, another face of the #MeToo movement, tweeted, “None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.” All of which would be fine, except that McGowan, along with many others in the #MeToo movement, have suggested that an allegation is tantamount to a conviction. Back in January, she tweeted, “Believe women,” and in November, she tweeted, “It’s quite simple, all who have worked with known predators should do 3 simple things. 1) Believe survivors 2) Apologize for putting your careers and wallets before what was right. 3) Grab a spine and denounce. If you do not do these things you are still moral cowards. #ROSEARMY.”

We all tend to lend credibility to those we like and to disparage the credibility of those we don’t. In reality, we ought to hold the same standards for everyone.

Now, this is a problem. There must be one standard by which we can adjudicate public accusations of sexual abuse. That standard should require some evidence, regardless of the alleged victim; it should at least require a careful weighing of the allegations themselves. Instead, we’ve been told for nearly a year that we must believe all allegations at face value, mainly because so many women have been wrongly ignored in the past. But past sins do not excuse current ones, nor do current virtues absolve past sins. McGowan should be holding Argento to the same standard she’d hold others, whether or not Argento is a woman or a #MeToo icon.

Unfortunately, we tend not to do this. We all tend to lend credibility to those we like and to disparage the credibility of those we don’t. If we’re Donald Trump fans, we defend him against allegations of abuse of women; if we’re Democrats, we defend Keith Ellison against the same. In reality, we ought to hold the same standards for everyone. That’s what morality demands. And it’s what justice demands, even if social justice suggests otherwise.


Ben Shapiro is editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire, host of the podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show” and author of The New York Times best-seller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear Silences Americans.”

Richard Greene: How One or Two Words Can Change Your Life

One of the world’s leading experts on public speaking, Richard Greene, explains why people fear public speaking more than death, and discusses the abuse of language in the era of Trump. Visit his website.

Follow David Suissa on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Check out this episode!

95-Year-Old Nazi Collaborator Deported to Germany

Screenshot from Twitter.

The last known living Nazi collaborator in the United States was deported on August 21 to Germany.

According to ABC News, Jakiw Palij, 95, was an armed guard at the Trawniki death camp in Poland, where he ensured that none of the 6,000 Jews that were murdered in a camp-wide slaughter in November 1943 were able to escape.

Palij gained entry into the United States in 1949 by lying to immigration officials that he didn’t collaborate at all with the Nazis and was instead working in his hometown in Germany. He became a citizen in 1957.

However, in 2004, a federal judge ordered Palij to be deported after federal investigators unearthed Palij’s Nazi background. There has been bipartisan support for years for Palij’s deportation, but the fact that he hasn’t been a German citizen since immigrating to the United States caused the deportation to be stalled until now.

ABC is reporting that President Trump made Palij’s deportation a top priority for German Ambassador Richard Grenell.

“It’s really a credit to President Trump, who was very clear about this case, made clear he wanted this individual out of the United States,” Grenell told Fox and Friends.

Grenell also praised the recently installed German leaders for their desire to get Palij back. It is not yet known what Germany will do with him.

Cohen Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Violations, Manafort Convicted of Fraud

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Two former acolytes of President Trump will likely be serving time in prison, as Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, plead guilty to violating campaign finance laws, and Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was convicted of tax fraud.

Cohen reached a plea deal with prosecutors on August 21 in which he plead guilty to the campaign finance violations as well as tax and bank fraud. Cohen admitted in his plea agreement that he arranged two unlawful payments of hush money to two women on behalf of a presidential candidate.

While the two women and the candidate are not specified in the plea deal, it is widely believed that the candidate is Trump and the two women are porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both Daniels and McDougal have alleged that Trump engaged in affairs with them, which Trump has denied.

Also on August 21, Manafort was convicted for multiple counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and concealing foreign accounts in relation to his political consulting work for the Kremlin-backed Ukraine Party of Regions. There were an additional 10 counts that the jury couldn’t reach on verdict on.

Manafort could face up to 80 years in prison – and he’s still undergoing a trial in Washington, D.C. over charges of failing to register as a foreign agent and money laundering.

Following the convictions, Trump told reporters about Manafort, “It’s a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This is a witch hunt and a disgrace.” He has yet to comment on Cohen’s guilty plea.

Trump Confidant Puts Up – Then Deletes – Swastika Post on Instagram

Screenshot from Twitter.

Roger Stone, who has been a long time confidant to President Trump and was once an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, deleted an August 13 Instagram post that featured a swastika.

The post shows Stone, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rudy Giuliani, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Fox News’ Sean Hannity donning astronaut suits that have swastikas featured on the left side of their chests. There is also a swastika on the upper-right hand corner of the picture.

“I love this – proud to be in this crew – but the only lies being told are by liberal scumbags #maga #republican #infowars,” Stone wrote.

Stone later deleted the post and then apologized in a subsequent post under an image that had “SORRY” written in all caps.

“Last night I posted an image attacking me and other supporters of the President that was sent to me by a hater,” Stone wrote. “I did so to mock them. I did not notice the image had a swastika in the corner. When it was brought to my attention I deleted – so u libtards who are frothing at the mouth can stop sending insulting comments.”

Stone is currently being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller for possible ties to the Russians.

Episode 102 – Bannon’s Canons and the Nation-State Bill

Photo by Raheem Kassam.

Behind every great man stands a great political strategist. As far as political earthquakes go, Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016 was at least an 8 on the Richter scale. Right up until the last second, no one saw it coming. But a few people were probably less surprised than most of us and one of them is surely Steve Bannon.

Considered by many to be the architect of Trump’s rise to the White House, Bannon is certainly a controversial figure. To most, he’s a either the despicable leader of the Alt-right or the savior of American pride and nationalism. And to the rest, he’s an enigma. Luckily, we’ve got Gadi Taub.

About a month ago, Dr. Taub, a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was able to sit down for about 2 hours with the man himself. You can find his in-depth analysis piece on the Haaretz website.

Although Bannon’s been dismissed from the administration, it seems that he might be the key to understanding the currents of change that took place and that are continuing to take place in America, as well as the Jews’ place in all this mess.

We’re thrilled to welcome back Gadi to the podcast to disambiguate Bannonism for us once and for all.

Trump Re-imposes Sanctions on Iran

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

President Trump announced on August 6 that he is re-imposing sanctions on Iran following the United States’ exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The sanctions, which were initially lifted under the deal, center on the auto industry and any instance of Iran buying U.S. dollars. A second round of sanctions will occur in November, focusing on Iran’s oil industry, which is the lifeblood of their economy.

“These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level,” Trump tweeted. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) praised the sanctions in a statement.

“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” the statement read. “It has propped up the Syrian regime and participated in crimes against humanity in Syria. It continues to arm Hezbollah and support Hamas. It calls for Israel’s destruction and seeks ways to achieve that goal. It undermines Yemen and threatens our Gulf Arab partners. It plots attacks in Europe. It tramples on the human rights of its own people, beginning with women, LGBTQ individuals, and religious minorities. The list goes on and on.”

The statement concluded by saying, “Iran must know that Washington is determined to send a powerful message that its aggressive, bellicose behavior must change dramatically, or else it faces serious economic consequences. Yesterday’s U.S. decision should make that abundantly clear.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to the sanctions by stating that the Iranian regime is open to dialogue with the United States, but only if it agrees to “compensation to the Iranian nation from 1953 until now,” referencing the ouster of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

However, the European Union (EU) is threatening to sanction businesses that stop conducting business in Iran due to Trump’s sanctions, as the EU is attempting to salvage the Iran deal.

The sanctions come amidst a tenuous time for the Iranian regime that is dealing economic calamity and intensifying protests against the regime.

Trump Administration Slaps Sanctions on Turkey for Imprisoning American Pastor

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Trump administration leveled sanctions against two Turkish officials on August 1 in response to Turkey’s imprisonment of an American pastor.

Fifty-year-old evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson from North Carolina is being accused by the Turkish government of espionage having ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Gulenist Movement, which the Turkish government considers to be terror organizations. Brunson is currently under house arrest and faces up to 35 years in prison.

The Trump administration is demanding that Turkey free Brunson, claiming that there is no evidence that Brunson committed any wrongdoing. They are sanctioning Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Solu in response.

“Pastor Brunson’s unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “President Trump has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded with a statement that they “vehemently protest the sanctions” and that “a reciprocal response will be given without delay to this aggressive attitude which serves no purpose.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pushed for President Trump to accept a deal in which Turkey exchanges Brunson for businessman Fethullah Gülen, who Erdogan blames for orchestrating the failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

According to professor Efraim Inbar, the president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, Erdogan has allied himself with the likes of Hamas and the Iranian regime and has provided support for ISIS despite claiming that he fights them. Erdogan’s government has also promoted an anti-Semitic TV series that portrays Jews as insidious villains.

Jewish Cafe Owner Targeted for Trump Views

Photo courtesy of J. Asher Shalom.

Several weeks ago, Ruben Duran, 51, was driving on the 101 Freeway when he noticed a restaurant in the heart of Boyle Heights that he didn’t recognize. “I remember thinking it looked nice,” he said. “I Googled it and figured I’d come in when I had a chance.”

The restaurant in question was Asher Caffe and Lounge, which officially opened its doors on July 12. Earlier this week, Duran, who is Mexican American and lives in Highland Park, finally visited the cafe for a late breakfast with his twin brother, Tony.

Less than a week before, the kosher cafe made national headlines when the owner, Asher Shalom, an Israeli immigrant who has called Los Angeles home for 30 years, became mired in controversy over his pro-Donald Trump and perceived anti-immigrant views.

During the grand opening, around 30 protesters, led by a group called Defend Boyle Heights, clashed with Los Angeles Police Department officers. Shalom also had private security on hand in anticipation of the protests.

“The words they used outside weren’t, ‘You’re pro-Trump’ or ‘You’re a Republican,’ ” Shalom said. “It was much worse than that.”

Shalom told the Journal he heard anti-Semitic slurs hurled his way, including “dirty Jew.” He found feces smeared on his establishment, received threatening phone calls at the cafe and noticed a flurry of negative Yelp reviews.

Defend Boyle Heights, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, describes itself on its blog as an “anti-gentrification coalition devoted to community and our hood.” It organized the protest after discovering posts Shalom shared from pro-Trump accounts on his Facebook page, including, “I wish Democrats would fight as hard for Americans as they do for illegals.”

Shalom defended the accusations against him and was largely apologetic about his Facebook posts, referring to them as “a mistake” in a phone interview with the Journal.

“I myself am an immigrant and most of the people working for me are immigrants,” he said. “They love me and I love them and I’ll do anything for them. I don’t have anything against immigrants. I apologize and this was all a mistake. With this business, I’m trying to do something that’s good for the community, not just for Jews.”

He added that his pro-Trump views have less to do with immigration policy and more to do with business policy and U.S.-Israeli relations.

A Westwood resident and member of Westwood Kehilla Synagogue, Shalom moved his business Asher Fabric Concepts to Boyle Heights five years ago. The cafe is across the street in a mostly industrial area with few food options.

The posts also caught the attention of the Boyle of Heights Chamber of Commerce. Just before the grand opening, Shalom’s membership was revoked.

“These statements are not in line with the Chamber’s values and objectives,” the organization wrote in a statement. “In accordance with our bylaws, Asher Caffe and Lounge’s membership was revoked, membership dues were refunded and our participation in their grand opening was cancelled.”

In an email to the Journal, Jennifer Lahoda, the chamber’s board president, denied previous reports that the chamber was involved in the protests and had called for a boycott of the cafe.

Shalom said he appealed the board’s decision and is waiting to hear back. Lahoda told the Journal the board is set to make a decision in the next 30 days.

“I’m not sure what they’ll do,” Shalom said. “Both sides have apologized to each other. [Lahoda] said I’ll get a meeting with them soon. I’m sure they’re under a lot of pressure.”

Duran said that beyond curiosity, a compulsion to defend Shalom brought him and his brother, who both identify as Trump supporters, to the cafe.

“We’re here because we thought we needed to come back this place up,” Duran said. “I heard about them throwing feces and I was so upset. I just thought, I can’t believe they’re doing this crap.”

And what about the food?

“It’s great,” Duran said, between bites of salad. “We love it.”

Trump Offers to Hold Talks With Iran

REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

President Trump signaled a willingness to hold talks with the Iranian regime without preconditions, but Iran has rebuffed the suggestion.

In a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on July 30, Trump said, “If they [Iran] want to meet, I’ll meet any time they want.”

“Good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world,” Trump said. “No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Bahram Qasemi, however, said that the regime would not meet with Trump due to the Trump administration’s use of “sanctions and pressure” against the regime. Kamal Kharrazi, who heads Iran’s Strategic Council of Foreign Relations, said that Iran “sees no value” in meeting with the Trump administration.

“Trump should first make up for his withdrawal from the nuclear deal and show that he respects his predecessors’ commitments and international law,” Kharrazi said.

An Israeli diplomatic source told the Times of Israel on July 31 that “senior American officials” told him that despite Trump’s statements, “There is no change in its tough policies toward Iran.”

Buttressing that claim is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comment on Trump’s remarks.

“If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he’s prepared to sit down and have the conversation with them,” Pompeo said in a July 30 interview on CNBC’s “Morning Bell.”

Trump and Iran Trade Barbs Over Twitter

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump and the Iranian regime have been trading barbs with each other over Twitter, with one warning the other not to a start war.

It began with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issuing a threat on July 22 to Trump to “not play with the lion’s tail” for his policies against the Iranian regime.

“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said.

This prompted Trump to respond in a July 23 tweet in all caps, “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded with a tweet that read, “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED.”

“The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago,” Zarif tweeted, referring to Trump’s “Fire and Fury” tweet toward North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. “And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”

At a July 24 speech in front of the Veterans for Foreign Wars, Trump said that he’s “ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was by the previous administration” with Iran.

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Local Kosher Café Faces Boycotts, Anti-Semitic Slurs Because Owner Is Trump Supporter

Screenshot from Facebook.

Asher Caffe and Lounge opened its doors in Boyle Heights for the first time on July 12 and was greeted with protests and chants of anti-Semitic slurs because the kosher restaurant’s owner is a supporter of President Trump.

Asher Shalom, the owner of the restaurant, shared a Facebook post from a Donald Trump fan page that stated, “I wish Democrats would fight as hard for Americans as they do for illegals.” He also shared a post from someone named Garth Limburg that read, “We bring people from sh*thole countries because sh*thole Democrats need sh*thole votes so they can turn America into a sh*hole.”

Additionally, Shalom re-tweeted a February 2017 tweet from Trump that read, “Our legal system is broken! ‘77% of our refugees allowed into the U.S. since travel reprieve hail from seven suspect countries!’ (WT) SO DANGEROUS!”

These posts led a group called Defend Boyle Heights, which hails itself as “an anti-gentrification coalition,” to advocate a boycott against the restaurant due to their “anti-immigrant” owner.

“We already know the dangers the Gentry bring to our communities with their trigger happy hands to call the cops on regular hood sh*t,” Defend Boyle Heights wrote on Facebook. “Now we have #GentryTrumpSupporters and make money off the communities they hate so much! F*CK ‘EM!”

When they learned of the exact timing of the restaurant’s opening, Defend Boyle Heights wrote in another Facebook post, “Show up tomorrow and let them know that the Gentry Trump Supporters are NOT welcomed in our hood in any creative way you please!!!” They also referred to Shalom as a “xenophobe.”

Shalom’s son, David, told The Daily Wire that they faced “anti-Semitic slurs” as well as “pro-Palestinian chants” during the protests. The protests also consisted of chants of “these racists have got to go” and “Gentry, get the f*ck out” as well as protesters harassing restaurant customers with cries of “Shame!”

Here are a couple of videos sent to the Journal from the boycotts:

Additionally, the Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce revoked Shalom’s membership to their organization and also called for a boycott.

Shalom responded to the criticism with a statement that he immigrated to America 30 years ago and that several of his employees are immigrants.

“I believe that all people should be treated with humanity, dignity and respect – there is no hate tolerated at Asher Caffè & Lounge,” Shalom said. “It has always been my vision to create a communal space for Boyle Heights where family, friends and colleagues can come together over good food and to celebrate what makes our community so great.”

Currently, the restaurant has a three-star rating on Yelp. While there were plenty of posts alleging that Shalom is a “racist” and a “xenophobe” for supporting Trump, others were complimentary of the restaurant.

“A nice grab and go place with helpful staff, and pretty décor,” Yelp user named Queen R. wrote. “Also if you can’t find parking- they bring it to your car!!! This was perhaps the most amazing thing.”

Another user named Ayton A. wrote, “Love having another great kosher option to eat near my office in DTLA. The place is conveniently located & has ample parking. The food is excellent and the service is great. My favorite is the shakshuka and the Margherita flatbread.”

Trump Walks Back Russian Meddling Remarks

REUTERS/Leah Millis

President Trump sparked controversy on July 16 by proclaiming in a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 United States election. Trump walked back those comments on July 17.

When asked during the July 16 press conference if he believed Putin or the intelligence community on Russia meddling, Trump responded, “My people came to me; [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

A day later, Trump told reporters, “I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies, always have.”

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said. “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

The president added that he meant to say, “I don’t see any reason why it WOULDN’T be Russia” in the July 16 press conference.

Trump also told reporters that he and Putin discussed North Korea and denuclearization.

Trump Downplays Russia Election Meddling in Press Conference With Putin

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Trump held a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, after the two met face-to-face. During the press conference, Trump expressed warmth toward Putin and downplayed Russia’s meddling of the 2016 election.

Trump said that relations between the United States and Russia were at an all-time low because “we’ve all been foolish,” stating that both the United States and Russia were at fault. He proceeded to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and, collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, calling the probe a “disaster.”

Trump went on to suggest that Russia did not interfere in the election at all.

“My people came to me; [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said. “I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump added that Putin made him “an incredible offer” to work with the investigators on the Mueller probe into the 12 Russian nationals that were indicted by the Department of Justice on July 13 over U.S. election hacking.

Coats issued a statement responding to Trump’s assertion that Russia didn’t interfere into the 2016 election.

“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” Coats said.

Trump has been criticized by members of both political parties over his Russian meddling comments.

“Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in a statement. “That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.”

Jewish Community Leaders Respond to Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

On July 9, President Donald Trump nominated District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Following that announcement, the Journal asked local leaders to respond.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

The vacancy left by Justice Kennedy’s retirement is a critical one for the future of civil rights, civil liberties and our democracy. At a time where hard-fought progress in LGBT rights, voting rights and women’s rights are threatened, and immigrants and vulnerable communities in our country are under attack, the role of an independent Supreme Court — and one that protects the constitutional rights of all Americans — is more important than ever.

We are concerned that Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record does not reflect the demonstrated independence and commitment to fair treatment for all that is necessary to merit a seat on our nation’s highest court. Because he has written and spoken prolifically on many issues of deep concern, we believe his positions merit close scrutiny. These include his demonstrated hostility to reproductive freedom and his past support for greatly expanded and unchecked executive power.

We cannot let Justice Kennedy’s retirement jeopardize hard-fought progress in securing our civil rights and civil liberties. Senators should probe Judge Kavanaugh carefully to ensure that he will respect basic principles of equality, independence, church-state separation and civil rights. As the [Senate Judiciary Committee] reviews the full record, unless they are completely satisfied that Judge Kavanaugh will in fact respect such basic principles as a justice on the Supreme Court, they should oppose his nomination.

Bend the Arc CEO Stosh Cotler

Brett Kavanaugh is an affront to the values and priorities of a vast majority of the American Jewish community. From workers’ rights to civil rights, from reproductive rights to LGBTQ rights and immigrants’ rights, this nominee’s track record is hostile toward the issues our community has fought for over generations, and he has no business serving on the court.

The President and Senate Majority Leader [Mitch McConnell] lack the moral authority to radically shift the balance of our nation’s highest court. But the American people have a voice in this process through our elected senators, and we demand that the Senate reject this radical, dangerous nominee.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Founder and Dean Rabbi Marvin Hier

Judge Kavanaugh is respectful to the Constitution and understands the special responsibility that a Supreme Court judge has. He seems to be a wonderful family man and committed to community services, especially for those in need. He came across as a mainstream person and he did not strike me as an ideologue. He was impressive.

Workmen’s Circle Executive Director Ann Tobeck

President Trump is doubling down on his war against the working people of this country with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. In recent months and weeks, we have witnessed monumental setbacks for women, workers, unions, immigrants and disenfranchised groups in our country. We are profoundly concerned that the Supreme Court will continue down this path and scale back — or abolish — many of the hard-fought-for civil rights, liberties and worker protections that have been part of the bedrock of the United States. While the President’s selection of a conservative candidate is not a surprise, it exemplifies the direction of this administration to further divide, rather than unite, our county.

At the Workmen’s Circle, we are committed to resisting the attacks of this administration on the freedoms that have been a foundation of what makes our country truly great. We implore our elected representatives in Washington to meticulously scrutinize Mr. Kavanaugh’s record, to ask the tough questions and to ensure that our next Supreme Court justice will protect, and not cripple, the rights and freedoms that must remain intrinsic to our country’s democracy.

American Jewish Committee General Counsel Marc Stern

While there is little doubt that Judge Kavanaugh has the technical qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court, that by no means alone qualifies [him]. No less important is the nominee’s openness to arguments that challenge his own views and previously expressed beliefs, a robust commitment to protecting the liberties the Constitution guarantees, and assuring all citizens the equal protection of the laws. Moreover, the Senate should not confirm a nominee who comes to the bench with the intention of radically and systematically rewriting American constitutional law.

It is imperative that the Supreme Court remains truly an independent branch of our government and does not become merely an extension of partisan politics. Proper Senate evaluation of Judge Kavanaugh will be critical to assuring that the court steers clear of any ideological tilting, as the justices hear arguments and deliberate on cases affecting longstanding landmark decisions, such as Roe v. Wade.

AJC recognizes that the hard cases that come before the court do not necessarily have only one self-evident, correct answer. Neither liberals or conservatives have an exclusive on constitutional interpretation.

Ohr HaTorah Rabbi Mordechai Finley

Most Americans, including me, did not want Trump to be president. Now that he is, we have basically two choices: Oppose everything he does, or oppose his proposed actions on a case-by-case basis. I am a case-by-case person. I don’t think it adds to civil discourse to oppose Kavanaugh simply because No. 45 nominated him. My question is whether there is something about Kavanaugh that makes him unfit to be a justice. So far, I have not found anything, but the day is young.

I happen to be pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay marriage, in favor of liberalizing immigration policy dramatically, in favor of reducing carbon emissions, pro justice regarding marginalized communities, etc. From what I have gathered so far, I don’t see Kavanaugh doing anything radical in those areas. I predict that he will make decisions that I oppose, but not decisions that will fundamentally threaten the Constitution.

Young Israel of Orange County Rabbi Dov Fischer

Judge Kavanaugh’s 300-plus judicial opinions are solid and smart. His opinions reflect that he supports religious rights and liberties and core constitutional values.  On abortion, he rejected the left’s race to find a new constitutional right for under-age undocumented immigrants to have an immediate abortion. He seems steadfastly pro-Second Amendment. And he rejects efforts by federal agencies to regulate as an uncontrolled fourth arm of government when they fail to conduct administrative findings that would balance the economic and social costs of new proposed regulations.

He is a man of character: feeding the homeless, tutoring kids in the inner cities, coaching kids basketball.

Not only have many of Judge Kavanaugh’s majority opinions been upheld on appeals by the Supreme Court, but the court even has adopted some of his dissents on appeal, deeming them the better law than the majority opinions he countered. His 100 most-cited legal opinions have been cited by 210 other judges in their opinions. Thirty-nine of his own 48 judicial appellate clerks have gone on to clerk for United States Supreme Court justices; that means that justices across the ideological spectrum have deemed Judge Kavanaugh’s clerks especially well trained and suited for the highest of judicial work. He will make an extraordinary Supreme Court justice.

Jewish Republican Alliance Co-Founder Bruce Karasik

The Jewish Republican Alliance praises President Trump for an outstanding selection and enthusiastically endorses the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States.  With credentials that are beyond reproach, Judge Kavanaugh has always been committed to equal justice under the law,  and to applying the Constitution as written in all of his decisions. The JRA is encouraging the Senate to now swiftly confirm Judge Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court Justice.

Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Vacancy

REUTERS/Jim Bourg

After a week of deliberation and speculation, President Trump has picked his Supreme Court nominee: Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

In front of a televised audience, Trump said that he was looking for a candidate who would faithfully follow the rule of law and called Kavanaugh a “judge’s judge.”

“The rule of law is our nation’s proud heritage. It is the cornerstone of our freedom. It is what guarantees equal justice,” Trump said. “And the Senate now has a chance to protect this glorious heritage by sending Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

Kavanaugh followed Trump by saying he was “humbled” by the nomination.

“My judicial philosophy is straightforward: a judge must be independent,” Kavanaugh said, adding that a judge must follow the law, not make the law.

“I will always strive to follow the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law,” Kavanaugh concluded.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed concern over Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“We are concerned that Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record does not reflect the demonstrated independence and commitment to fair treatment for all that is necessary to merit a seat on our nation’s highest court,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Because he has written and spoken prolifically on many issues of deep concern, we believe his positions merit close scrutiny. These include his demonstrated hostility to reproductive freedom and his past support for greatly expanded and unchecked executive power. ”

Kavanaugh, a federal judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, clerked for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. His record also consists of working on independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigations into the Clinton administration as well as on President George W. Bush’s White House counsel.

As a judge, Kavanaugh has tended to generally align with the constitutionalist line of thinking, however some conservative critics have expressed skepticism over some of Kavanaugh’s cases, most notably a 2011 case that ruled that the Obamacare individual mandate was a tax.

Report: North Korea Secretly Ramping Up Secret Nuclear Production

KCNA/via Reuters

Despite North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un pledging to denuclearize in a recent summit with President Trump, a new report states that the Kim regime is ramping up its nuclear production in hidden areas.

According to NBC News, several members of the intelligence community have concluded there are multiple undisclosed sites where the Kim regime has increased its uranium production. The U.S. has always known about North Korea’s main nuclear production facility in Yongbyon and another undisclosed site; this latest intelligence report is the first to reveal multiple undisclosed nuclear production sites.

“There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they [North Korea] are trying to deceive the U.S.,” an official told NBC.

Another official stated that it was always believed that Kim would attempt deception, but the fact that Kim has agreed to halt nuclear and missile tests is a positive development.

Kim also doesn’t appear to be ending his murderous ways anytime soon either. The Sun recently reported that a top North Korean lieutenant was executed by firing squad for providing troops with extra food and fuel rations.

Supreme Court Upholds Trump’s Travel Ban

REUTERS/Leah Millis

The Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban of people from a handful countries by a margin of 5-4.

Under the ban, immigration from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen are restricted. The Trump administration has claimed that the ban is necessary for national security purposes, and the Supreme Court agreed.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that federal law “exudes deference to the president” when it comes to setting limits on immigration, adding that the president just has to prove that doing so is in “the interests of the United States.”

“The proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices,” Roberts wrote.

In the dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor claimed that the travel ban “was motivated by anti-Muslim animus” based on Trump’s past statements on Muslims and that the ban has resulted in “pain and suffering” on “countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens.”

Trump hailed the ruling as a “profound vindication” in a White House statement.

“As long as I am President, I will defend the sovereignty, safety, and security of the American People, and fight for an immigration system that serves the national interests of the United States and its citizens,” Trump said.

Dem Senate Candidate Calls Jerusalem Move An ‘Incitement to Violence’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Texas Senate Democratic candidate Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke called the moving of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem an “incitement to violence” at a June 24 campaign event.

Video of the event shows that a woman identifying herself as a Muslim asking O’Rourke where he stood on the move; she called it “arguably one of the worst humanitarian disasters our world faces today.”

O’Rourke responded by calling the move “unnecessarily provocative.”

“Everyone who knows anything about the Middle East, who knows the status of Jerusalem and East Israel, the status of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel knew there were going to be those that would suffer as a result, as they predictably have,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke added that the move hasn’t done anything to help achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and claimed that as an ally to both, the U.S. can leverage Israel into ending West Bank settlements.

“It’s going to be up to those two powers to produce the peace, but we can do a better job and we can certainly stop providing incentives and incitement to violence, which I think that move did,” O’Rourke said.

Since the embassy move happened, there have been riots at the Israel-Gaza border that have resulted in Palestinian deaths – several of whom were terrorists – although since then the size of the riots has declined.

The latest poll shows O’Rourke trailing incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) by 10 points.

H/T: Free Beacon