Saturday, June 26, 2021

From Ian:

Israel sending IDF team to Florida to assist with tower collapse rescue efforts
The Israel Defense Forces will send a search and rescue delegation to Florida to assist with rescue efforts following the Surfside residential building collapse that left at least four dead and nearly 160 still missing.

The team of Home Front Command soldiers will head to Florida following a series of talks over the weekend between Israeli defense officials and officials in Miami, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday night.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the move was approved in coordination with the Foreign Ministry.

“As with any national mission, the IDF and the defense establishment are ready to respond, act and assist. Every effort will be made to save lives, support the Jewish community and our friend the United States,” Gantz said.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the sending of the delegation demonstrated the depth of friendship between the two nations.

“The State of Israel has no better friend than the United States, and the United States has no better friend than Israel. In such difficult moments, we stand with our American friends and the Jewish community in Florida,” Lapid said, according to the statement.

Golan Vach, a senior officer in the IDF’s Homefront Command, will head the delegation, which will be comprised of around ten reservists — experts in search and rescue efforts and in engineering, as well as in social care, the military said in a statement.

The team of soldiers that is part of the “Helping Hand” operation will fly out in the early hours of Sunday, the IDF announced.

“The mission of the delegation is to assist in the life-saving efforts by mapping the challenges at the site of the destruction, assisting the Jewish community and supporting the local rescue forces,” the IDF said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis on Saturday night to express his condolences, and said Israel would assist in any way needed.

“The United States is our greatest friend, and we stand by your side during this difficult time. We all pray for the safety of the wounded. I instructed all authorities in the Israeli government to assist in any way that may be required,” Bennett told DeSantis, according to a readout from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Nearly 160 people are still unaccounted for after the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside came down on Thursday.
United Hatzalah of Israel Sends Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit to Miami, El Al Sponsors Airfare
United Hatzalah of Israel, Israel’s largest all-volunteer EMS organization, working in conjunction with El Al Airlines, sent a team from its Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit to provide psychological support and stabilization to the families and neighbors of those injured, killed, or affected by the tragedy that occurred in Surfside Florida. The team’s mission will be to assist the community in Surfside and those affected by the collapse of a residential condo that has claimed the life of at least one person and left nearly 100 missing. The team flew out from Israel on Saturday night.

The team of psychological first aid experts is composed of top members of the organization’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit (PCRU) and will assist the families of those who were killed, injured, and missing, in the collapse. They will also make themselves available to members of the Miami community by providing psychological and emotional stabilization and treatment to those who need it in the wake of the incident.
Let’s get long-buried report on BBC anti-Israel bias published
Balen amalgamated his findings into a 20,000-word document. The results were apparently so damning that the BBC fought to keep the report from seeing the light of day. But tidbits leaked out, and the claims of anti-Israel bias were apparently confirmed.

In response, BBC executives ordered Balen’s report to be locked away. The corporation subsequently spent £333,000 ($500,000) to cover up Balen’s conclusions. The battle for full disclosure continued until 2012, when the British High Court unanimously dismissed the appeal of solicitor Steven Sugar, who had challenged the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

To date, Tim Davie has taken several steps to combat bias at the BBC.

For example, BBC World Service apologized for a “lapse of standards” after the broadcast of an uncritical interview with Palestinian terrorist Ahlam al-Tamimi, the mastermind of the 2001 suicide bombing of a pizzeria in the heart of Jerusalem that killed 15 people.

However, Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered in the attack, said that the BBC’s apology for inviting Tamimi was “empty, cruel and pointless.” He said he was “stunned by the coldness of the BBC’s formalistic, paint-by-numbers reaction to the torrent of criticism they received from an enraged public.”

Roth also accused the BBC of having “misplaced its moral compass.”

Meanwhile, a record number of antisemitic incidents were recorded in the United Kingdom for the fourth year in a row. And on May 15, thousands of people in London participated in a protest, where many ‘pro-Palestinian’ demonstrators chanted about massacring Jews.

On May 16, multiple cars displaying Palestinian flags drove through Golders Green, a heavily Jewish-populated part of London. One individual shouted through a loudspeaker: “F–k the Jews, rape their daughters.”

The first step in combating overt antisemitism and anti-Israel bias is to acknowledge their existence – including at the BBC.


U.S. Policy on Golan Heights ‘Has Not Changed,’ State Dept. Says After Free Beacon Report
The State Department says that U.S. policy on Israeli control over the contested Golan Heights region "has not changed," following a Washington Free Beacon report on Thursday highlighting how the Biden administration has until this point stopped short of recognizing the Jewish state's sovereign control over the land.

"U.S. policy regarding the Golan has not changed, and reports to the contrary are false," the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs Bureau tweeted on Friday. Prior to that announcement, State Department officials were vague about whether they would continue to uphold a landmark policy by the Trump administration that officially recognized the Golan Heights territory as sovereign Israeli land.

The Free Beacon first requested clarification from the State Department's NEA office on June 8 and received a response on June 22.


When asked to clarify the Biden administration's stance on the territory, a State Department official told the Free Beacon: Secretary of State Antony Blinken "was clear that, as a practical matter, the Golan is very important to Israel's security. As long as [Bashar al-Assad] is in power in Syria, as long as Iran is present in Syria, militia groups backed by Iran, the Assad regime itself—all of these pose a significant security threat to Israel, and as a practical matter, the control of the Golan remains of real importance to Israel's security." Questions about the administration's policy first arose in February, when Blinken offered similar comments in response to questions about the issue.

Those initial statements fell far short of the State Department's Friday tweet on the matter, which marked the first time the current administration acknowledged that U.S. policy has not changed since President Trump's historic action. The clarification also came only after former U.S. diplomats and members of Congress expressed anger at what they described as a non-committal stance that leaves open the possibility the territory's status could change depending on the region's shifting power dynamics.


‘Sledgehammer’: Former US Ambassador Friedman Shares Backchannel Efforts in New Memoir
Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who served under the Trump Administration, is slated to publish a “tell-all” memoir of his experiences during that time, according to an exclusive report by Fox News.

The book, “Sledgehammer” is to be published by Broadside Books (Harper Collins) and is expected to be released Feb. 8, 2022.

The title is taken from the sledgehammer with which then-Ambassador Friedman was honored to break a wall to a new archaeological site in Jerusalem’s City of David. Because past Israeli ambassadors had avoided public appearances in the Old City area of the Israeli capital (so as to avoid the image of support for Israeli control over that area of the city), Friedman’s participation in the ceremony was considered controversial.

A bankruptcy attorney prior to serving as an ambassador, Friedman said in a statement that his memoir will provide a window into how the Trump administration brokered the Abraham Accords.

“The Abraham Accords will help the Middle East emerge from its lengthy history of conflict and lead the world in combatting extremism through opportunity, prosperity and hope,” Friedman said.

“I wrote this book to help achieve a greater public understanding of these inspiring and critical agreements,” Friedman said.


Israel should sell Iron Dome to the Gulf states
Given this new regional reality, Israel must act. The tactics of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu - lambasting the U.S. administration - will not change anything for the better, with direct and intimate talks with Washington the only way to protect Israel's vital interests.

But there is another option in play: Israel bolstering its cooperation with U.S. allies in the region. Some already have open diplomatic relations with Israel, while others maintain unofficial contacts.

This cooperation would require building on common interests, not by Israel taking a patronizing approach as some nations find themselves suddenly vulnerable. Neither side is engaging in charity by cooperating with former foes.

With U.S. air defenses off the table, Israel must offer its Iron Dome and David's Sling missile defense systems to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

Both sides stand to gain much from this. The recipient countries acquire an efficient and proven multi-level rocket and missile defense layer, while Israel - which faces ongoing threats to the north and the south - gains greater capacity to further develop these systems.

Such an arrangement is of course not merely financial, but could be the start of unique strategic and technological cooperation that could genuinely shift the balance of power in the region and open the door for overt diplomatic ties.

It is no secret that Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks on strategic issues, which have yet to lead to tangible results.

It is also no secret that Israel has offered its air defense systems to other countries.

The establishment of an aerial defense alliance between Israel and its neighbors is an act of diplomatic courage – and all those involved stand only to gain from it.
WCC Will Impose Discipline on Its Jerusalem Presence, Sauca Declares
Rev. Dr. Ioan Sauca, interim general secretary of the World Council of Churches, announced that the organization is engaging in a process of reshaping and consolidating the organization’s presence in Jerusalem. Sauca, who will be serving as interim general secretary of the organization until a permanent replacement is elected early next year, made the announcement at an online press conference that took place at the beginning of the online meeting of the WCC’s Central Committee.

The consolidation of the organization’s presence in Jerusalem will result in the creation of an office in the city which will be under the authority of a WCC staffer in Geneva who is responsible for the organization’s actions in the Middle East, Sauca declared in the press conference.

“We have a policy on advocacy which is also to be approved by our governing body,” Sauca said. “So, we have clear lines now, who is doing what and how we do it. And why we do that? To be sure that whoever speaks on behalf of these programs speaks in the line of the WCC policies, not to let to let freelancers speaking here and there how they think and how they like.”

The reorganization is being implemented after CAMERA raised questions about the actions of activists associated with the WCC’s Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel and the online postings of WCC-supported staffer Yusef Daher in Jerusalem.

Sauca also indicated that the organization will not be participating in the upcoming 20th anniversary memorial of the UN anti-racism conference that took place in Durban South Africa in 2001.
Israeli Court Asked to Help the PA Catch Arabs Who Sell Land to Jews
An Israeli-Arab lawyer named Hossam Yunis, who works for the Palestinian Authority, is expected to receive thousands of sensitive documents on various land purchase transactions in Judea and Samaria involving Arab land brokers and Jewish buyers, Makor Rishon reported Friday (כך מסייעת ישראל בעקיפין לרש”פ לצוד מוכרי קרקעות ליהודים). These documents could endanger the safety of the Arab brokers and sellers mentioned in them, and as a result of their disclosure, these brokers could end up inside the PA’s interrogation dungeons.

The Palestinian Authority respects no boundaries, ethical or legal, in its war on its residents who sell their lands to Jews in Judea and Samaria, writes Makor Rishon’s Assaf Gibor. Selling land to Jews is punishable by death in the PA, and in 2010, according to the AP, a PA court sentenced to death an Arab who sold land to Jewish buyers.

In order to thwart transactions that have already been lawfully concluded and signed, the PA’s security apparatus locates and arrests sellers in Judea and Samaria, tortures them, and forces them to declare that the transactions were forged and thus bring about their cancellation. This way they not only frustrate the purchases that have already been made but also create a real deterrent against landowners and brokers, lest they engage in similar transactions.

According to Gibor, in 2013, a resident of the village of Ein Yabrud named Abu Yaakob sold a plot of land in the area of Amona near Ofra. Shortly after the sale—to an Arab in-between buyer—Abu Yaakob was arrested and taken to a PA security facility. He was interrogated there under torture, and it was made clear to him that if he wanted to be set free he must get the sale transaction canceled and claim that it was a forgery. Abu Yaakob was then taken to a meeting with attorney Hossam Yunis where signed over a power of attorney authorizing Yunis to represent him in court. Abu Yaakob was released as promised, but a few months later he was rushed to a Ramallah hospital where he died following a failed treatment of a kidney problem.

The Jerusalem District Court accepted Abu Yaakob’s affidavit, which had been given after his torture in a PA dungeon. One year later, Yunis petitioned the court, based on Abu Yaakob’s and other testimonies and affidavits, requesting an investigation into forgeries of many transactions real estate, listing the names of landowners and straw men who were allegedly involved in them.


Palestinians clash with PA officers in 3rd day of rallies over activist’s death
Palestinians clashed with security forces in Ramallah on Saturday in the third day of protests following the death of a prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority, who died earlier this week in PA custody.

Nizar Banat, known for his biting videos on social media, died on Thursday after being arrested by officers in the Palestinian security services.

According to Banat’s family members, they witnessed him being viciously beaten for eight minutes straight before officers dragged him off.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in downtown Ramallah’s al-Manara Circle to demonstrate against Banat’s death and call for the end of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s 16-year reign.

“The people want the fall of the regime,” protesters chanted, a hallmark of the revolutionary 2011 protests that swept the Arab world. “Get out, leave us be.”

“Abbas, you [Israeli] spy, we want to stomp on your head,” others shouted.

In videos from the scene, PA security forces fired tear gas into the crowd in an apparent attempt to keep demonstrators away from the presidential offices. Others, reportedly officers in civilian clothes, can be seen dragging away a demonstrator.
PA: Hamas, Dahlan behind anti-Abbas protests
Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Saturday accused Hamas and deposed Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan of exploiting the death of political activist Nizar Banat to incite protests against the Palestinian Authority.

The allegation came as Palestinians continued for the third straight day to protest the death of Banat, 44, who was allegedly beaten to death by PA security officers who raided his home to arrest him last Thursday.

Leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian factions have called on Palestinians in the West Bank to take to the streets to protest against the death of the activist. Denouncing the PA security forces as “guards of [Israeli] settlements,” the faction leaders also called for an end to security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF.

“This dangerous development will not go unnoticed,” senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said, adding that his group welcomes all those who took to the streets to demonstrate against the PA and its security forces.

“Several parties, especially Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, are taking advantage of the incident to incite against the PA leadership,” a senior official told The Jerusalem Post. “We will now allow anyone to spread anarchy and lawlessness in the West Bank to serve the agendas of outside parties.”

Another Palestinian official told the Post that many of the those who were protesting and inciting on the streets of Palestinians cities are “affiliated with Hamas, Dahlan, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”


Iran says it won’t negotiate forever, but believes nuclear deal can be saved
Iran on Saturday said it would not negotiate forever with the United States over the return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but still believes a reinstatement of the agreement is possible.

“Out of a steadfast commitment to salvage a deal that the US tried to torpedo, Iran has been the most active party in Vienna, proposing most drafts,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted on Saturday, referring to the ongoing talks aimed at reviving the deal.

“Still believe a deal is possible, if the US decides to abandon Trump’s failed legacy,” he added, warning that “Iran will not negotiate forever.”

The 2015 deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) saw Iran accept curbs on its nuclear activities, in return for an easing of sanctions.

But in 2018, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the agreement and ramped up sanctions, prompting Iran to increasingly pull back from its own commitments.

US President Joe Biden has signaled his readiness to return to the deal, and state parties — including Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — have been negotiating its potential revival in Vienna since early April.
US said to weigh removal of sanctions on Iran’s Khamenei amid nuclear talks
The United States is considering lifting sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in an attempt to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News on Saturday.

The sources said that the move was brought up during indirect nuclear talks between the US and Iran in Vienna, as part of a series of potential compromises by Washington to get Tehran to return to the 2015 deal with full compliance.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff said the US would lift some 1,040 sanctions implemented during the Trump era on vital Iranian economy sectors such as oil and shipping, as well as remove several senior officials from its blacklists.

Officials who would have sanctions removed included several figures from Khamenei’s inner circle, he said.

There was no official announcement on either report from the US.
UN atomic agency: ‘No reply’ from Iran on expired nuclear inspections deal
The UN nuclear watchdog said Friday it had received no reply from Tehran over the possible extension of a temporary agreement covering inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities which expired on Thursday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement its director Rafael Grossi had written to Tehran about the matter on 17 June but that “Iran had not replied to his letter or indicated whether it intends to maintain the current arrangement.”

Grossi said “an immediate response from Iran is needed in this regard.”

Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, wrote on Twitter that the data recording was “a political decision” to facilitate the political talks and “shouldn’t be considered as obligation.”

Gharibabadi was also quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying “that Iran was not required to comply” with Grossi’s request, according to Reuters.

In late February, Iran limited the IAEA’s access to nuclear sites it has been monitoring as part of the 2015 deal.

A three-month agreement reached on February 21 allowing some inspections to continue was extended by another month in May.

Under that deal Iran pledged to keep recordings “of some activities and monitoring equipment” and hand them over to the IAEA as and when US sanctions are lifted.
Iran’s Absentee Voting Events at US Hotels Raise Sanctions, Ethics Questions
Iran’s apparent use of 20 U.S.-based hotel properties as polling sites for its recent presidential election has raised questions about the hotel owners’ compliance with U.S. sanctions and the appropriateness of their involvement in a vote that Washington criticized as neither free nor fair.

The U.S. was one of dozens of countries in which Iran said it had arranged for members of the Iranian diaspora to cast absentee ballots in the June 18 vote, won in a landslide by ultraconservative Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's Islamist leaders have long said they draw legitimacy for their 42-year authoritarian rule from strong participation in national elections, and a high turnout by overseas voters could have bolstered that impression. However, official final figures showed a record low turnout of 48% for an election in which Khamenei’s allies blocked any formidable competition to Raisi’s candidacy.

Ahead of the vote, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Iranians outside the country could cast ballots on election day at 133 of Iran’s diplomatic missions, plus another 234 polling stations at nondiplomatic sites. He said the only countries in which significant Iranian diaspora communities would not be able to cast absentee ballots were Canada, Yemen and Singapore. It is not clear why Yemen and Singapore did not have the absentee voting, but Iran’s state-approved Tasnim news agency said the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations contacted Canada to request absentee voting and got no response.


Incoming Cal State LA Ethnic Studies Dean Defended Farrakhan in 2018
The incoming dean of Cal State Los Angeles’ new College of Ethnic Studies defended Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan in 2018.

The Education Next journal reported that economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux will start in her new position on July 1. University President William A. Covino said in a statement, “I look forward to the work that the college will do and the collaborations that will emerge under Dr. Malveaux’s leadership. This is a significant appointment for the college, but also for the city and the nation.”

Education Next unearthed a 2018 column from Malveaux in the Birmingham Times, where she wrote that Women’s March, Inc. co-founder Theresa Shook and actress Alyssa Milano “have demanded that the women’s march leaders ‘denounce’ National of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan. Why? They object to his anti-Semitic rhetoric. They object to the fact that Tamika Mallory attended his annual Savior’s Day this year. They say that anti-Semitism is hateful and dangerous, and they are right. But it wasn’t the Nation of Islam that shot up the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh!”

She added: “White people’s hatred for Minister Farrakhan is irrational and, might I say, racist. He is the only person, the only human being that Congress has censured. No David Duke, no Charlottesville murderers, none of the hatemongers that have caused the racist tension in our nation. Just Minister Farrakhan. But then our society is consistent with its double standards and its demands that black people bend over backward to prove that we, too, sing America.”

Education Next also found a 2018 article in The Final Call—the NOI’s newspaper—that quotes Malveaux calling a congressional resolution denouncing Farrakhan “insanity.” “Farrakhan is the only person in contemporary history who has been targeted by Congress for his views. We have not seen the people in Charlottesville who killed the woman targeted. So the only person you could think of to target is a Black man who loves Black people.” She added that “tens of thousands if not millions of people, Black people” view Farrakhan as “their chosen leader.”

“They are not racist people. They are not anti-Semitic. They are Black people. So, until these Jewish people who are running around asking Black people to buck dance, until they ask White people to buck dance, I ain’t having it! I’m just not having it!” She did tell the paper that she doesn’t agree with all of Farrakhan’s statements.


Franklin and Marshall Faculty Statement Condemning ‘Jewish Supremacy’ of Israel Draws Campus Backlash
A statement by faculty members at Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) condemning Israel as a state based on “Jewish Supremacy” drew sharp responses this week from alumni and other faculty, as well as local Jewish groups.

On Tuesday, 24 professors at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania liberal arts college published a Statement in Solidarity with Palestine in the campus’ College Reporter newspaper.

“The brutal system that controls Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is ideologically founded upon Jewish supremacy, rules over the lives of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel alike, and is practically committed to territorial theft from Palestinians who continue to resist physical removal and existential erasure,” it said.

It also rejected what it termed the “‘two-sides’ and ‘evenhandedness’ narrative that ignores and conceals the meaningful differences between Israel — one of the most heavily militarized states in the world that receives $3.8 billion in military aid annually from the United States — and a Palestinian population resisting occupation and oppression.”

Responding to the statement on Twitter, Franklin & Marshall College said the opinions of the signing faculty did not represent the views of the college or F&M faculty as a whole.

By Friday, the “Solidarity” statement had prompted a series of rebuttals. Eleven faculty members — including Amy Zylberman, Acting Director of the Klehr Center for Jewish Life — called the statement “hyper-simplistic and misguided” in a response published in the College Reporter.


Dutch to probe 3,000 Nazi-looted artworks, return them to Jewish heirs, groups
The Netherlands is to verify the origin of works of art stolen by the Nazis and hand over to the Jewish community objects that cannot be traced, the government said Friday.

A total of 3,040 objects from the collection of cultural works returned to the country after the war will be examined.

No proper research into the origin of the works has been carried out since 2007.

“We have to keep up our efforts to restitute to the right people the cultural assets which were unintentionally lost or obtained illegally during World War II,” Culture Minister Inge Van Engelshoven said in a statement.

“We will succeed through systematic research and better communication,” she added.

The work will start next year seeking new information on the origins and original owners of the art.

If no new light can be shed, the authorities will decide with the Central Jewish Council what to do with the works that are likely to be handed over to Jewish communities, museums or institutions.

The move launches a “strengthened restitution policy,” costing 1.5 million euros ($1.8 million) over the next four years, the education, culture and science ministry said.


Israeli novel drug delivery system en route to FDA approval, company says
A company based on technology developed at Hebrew University has now developed a series of patents that will allow the world to use certain drugs that were either not highly effective or not safe to use by enhancing their delivery.

Prof. Nissim Garti, who founded Lyotropic Delivery Systems (LDS) back in 2013, told The Jerusalem Post that his company has recently signed several new global contracts and his delivery system is now being tested in a series of preclinical and clinical trials. He expects to have at least one bioactive approved by the American Food and Drug Administration within two or three years.

LDS developed new molecular engineered nanostructures for enhanced and controlled delivery of soluble and insoluble active molecules. The word “lyotropic” is a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others: lyo means "dissolve" and tropic means "change."

Garti, who serves as the company’s CEO, worked in the field for more than 40 years through his roles at Hebrew University. He served as the director of the school’s Casali Institute of Applied Chemistry and was a consultant for global companies in the area before opening his own. He is also a Rockefeller Foundation Award recipient and served on the search committee for the Nobel Prize of Chemistry.

He told the Post that unlike most delivery technologies that are based on solid particles or liquid formations, LDS “offers a novel approach based on molecular architectures, designed and engineered using unique computer mathematical simulation programs, taking into consideration the interfacial phenomena, optimum surface area, the release pattern of the active molecule, as well as additional parameters, in order to compose LDS’ liquid structures,” as it explains on the company website.


Interview with Shirly Pinto, first deaf member of Israeli parliament, the Knesset
Shirly Pinto: My name is Shirly Pinto. This is my sign name. I’m from here in Israel.

[Video clip of Shirly Pinto swearing in to become a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as Prime Minister Naftali Bennet looks on]

Renca Dunn: Congratulations on becoming the first deaf member of the Knesset! Wow! How do you feel?

Shirly Pinto: Wow. It feels like a dream. It doesn’t feel real. Many people and members of the Knesset have approached me to congratulate me as a deaf person. I’ve done many media interviews. It’s a lot. Many ask me questions about sign language and interpreters.

[Video clip of Shirly Pinto taking photos and doing interviews in the Knesset building]

[Video clip of Shirly Pinto giving a speech thanking people for their support]

Renca Dunn: You’re now a member of the parliament. What is your primary goal as a MK?

Shirly Pinto: I have two main areas of focus. The first is with hospitals. In the hospital system in Israel, suppose I become very sick or get into a very serious accident. At the hospital, I wouldn’t have any interpreters. I wouldn’t be able to communicate with staff or doctors. When the doctor speaks with me, there would be no interpreters. Does the government pay hospitals to cover interpreters? No. “If you want an interpreter, you’ll have to pay for it yourself.” It’s okay in other situations, but in a life-or-death situation, (interpreters) are essential. (h/t Yerushalimey)













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