Trump reiterates neutrality on two-state solution, but says he ‘likes’ it

(JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he “likes” the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict while reiterating his noncommittal approach.

Asked during an interview with Reuters Thursday whether he had backed away from the two-state concept during his Feb. 15 joint White House appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said, “No, I like the two-state solution.” [Read more…]

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Reform movement, ADL slam Trump rollback of protections for transgender students

(JTA) – The Reform movement, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other Jewish groups denounced the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to rescind regulations allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

Trump on Wednesday rejected the Obama administration’s order that public schools allow transgender students to choose which bathrooms to use.

Leaders of the movement’s congregational arm, the Union for Reform Judaism, along with its rabbinical group, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and policy arm, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, joined in a statement Thursday against the action.

“Far from protecting girls and women from men in women’s bathrooms, decisions such as this imperil transgender youth,” the statement reads. “Transgender men and boys may appear threatening and come under attack if forced to use women’s restrooms. Transgender women and girls risk becoming victims of violence if forced to use men’s restrooms.

“The administration has overturned a rule that was sound public policy and endeavored to uphold ‘pikuach nefesh,’ saving life, the very highest of religious injunctions.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the ADL, called the decision “cruel, tinged with prejudice and unnecessary” in a Thursday statement.

“This action sends a deeply disturbing message that the federal government is abdicating its responsibility for a student’s health and well-being and deferring to states and local school districts in establishing educational policy. It also suggests the administration will not support or defend LGBT-inclusive policies,” Greenblatt said.

The National Council of Jewish Women noted that Trump made the decision just weeks after the White House said the president was “determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community.”

In a statement Thursday, CEO Nancy Kaufrman wrote that her group was “disgusted by this betrayal, which puts transgender students at risk for bullying, harassment, and violence.”

The social justice group Bend the Arc Jewish Action also denounced the decision, calling it an “assault on freedom and human dignity.”

“Jewish and American values demand that we defend and support the marginalized and oppressed and that we treat everyone equally,” CEO Stosh Cotler said in a statement. “By withdrawing these protections for transgender youth, the Trump administration is turning its back on these fundamental principles.”

Trump’s order will not have an immediate effect because a federal judge in August blocked Obama’s order, which said transgender students’ rights were protected under nondiscrimination laws. Individual schools can allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

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Pence visits vandalized cemetery, condemns threats to JCCs

(JTA) – U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence visited a vandalized Jewish cemetery near St. Louis after giving a speech in Missouri touching on a spate of recent anti-Semitic attacks.

Pence in his address Wednesday at the Fabick CAT headquarters talked about the vandalism and a series of bomb threats leveled at Jewish community centers across the country in recent weeks. The day before, U.S. President Donald Trump condemned anti-Semitism in remarks at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. [Read more…]

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Simon Wiesenthal Center calls for task force to catch callers making JCC bomb threats

(JTA) – The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to set up a task force to catch the callers who have made false bomb threats to Jewish community centres across the United States.

In its statement issued Tuesday, the Jewish human rights NGO said it also called on U.S. President Donald Trump to outline his administration’s plan to combat what the center called “surging anti-Semitism.” [Read more…]

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N.J. yeshiva alumni, former staff implore graduate Jared Kushner to help halt refugee ban

(JTA) – Some 180 alumni and former staff of a New Jersey yeshiva high school implored graduate Jared Kushner to use his influence with U.S. President Donald Trump, his father-in-law, to ease the path for refugees coming to the United States.

In the open letter from “members of the Frisch School Community,” the signatories expressed “alarm” at Trump’s executive order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations. Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to the president, is a 1999 graduate of Frisch, a co-educational Orthodox school in Paramus. [Read more…]

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After much prodding, Trump condemns anti-Semitism

(JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump denounced anti-Semitism a day after bomb threats were made to 11 Jewish community centres across the United States and a large-scale cemetery was vandalized in the St. Louis area.

Under pressure to condemn anti-Semitism in the wake of what has been called an uptick in incidents since he was elected, Trump told MSNBC on Tuesday morning, “Anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop, and it has to stop.” [Read more…]

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