Secret tunnel in NYC synagogue leads to brawl between police and worshippers

Secret tunnel in NYC synagogue leads to brawl between police and worshippers
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New York Police officers arrest a Hasidic Jewish student after he was removed from a breach in the wall of the synagogue that led to a tunnel dug by students in New York on Jan. 8, 2024. (Bruce Schaff via AP)
Secret tunnel in NYC synagogue leads to brawl between police and worshippers
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Hasidic Jewish students observe as law enforcers set up a perimeter around a breached wall in the synagogue that led to a tunnel dug by students in New York on Jan. 8, 2024. (Bruce Schaff via AP)
Secret tunnel in NYC synagogue leads to brawl between police and worshippers
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New York Police officers conceal the breach in the wall of the synagogue that led to a tunnel dug by Hasidic Jewish students in New York on Jan. 8, 2024. (Bruce Schaff via AP)
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Updated 11 January 2024
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Secret tunnel in NYC synagogue leads to brawl between police and worshippers

Secret tunnel in NYC synagogue leads to brawl between police and worshippers
  • City authorities discovered the secret tunnel while inspecting structural damage to the global headquarters of the Hasidic Jewish' Chabad-Lubavitch movement
  • Chabad-Lubavitch leaders blamed the tunnel on a group of misguided young “extremists" suffering from messianic belief that the movement's long dead founder is still alive

NEW YORK: A historic Brooklyn synagogue that serves as the center of an influential Hasidic Jewish movement was trashed this week during an unusual community dispute that began with the discovery of a secret underground tunnel and ended in brawl between worshippers and police.

The conflict erupted in the global headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Crown Heights, a deeply revered Jewish site that each year receives thousands of visitors, including international students and religious leaders. Its Gothic Revival facade, immediately recognizable to adherents of the Chabad movement, has inspired dozens of replicas across the world.
But on Tuesday, the synagogue remained closed off by police barricades as New York City building safety agents inspected whether a tunnel dug without official permission may have caused structural damage to the famed property.
Officials and locals said young men in the community recently built the passage to the sanctuary in secret. When the group’s leaders tried to seal it off Monday, they staged a protest that turned violent as police moved in to make arrests.
The exact purpose and provenance of the tunnel that incited the altercation remained the subject of some debate.
The passageway is believed to have started in the basement of an empty apartment building behind the headquarters, snaking under a series of offices and lecture halls before eventually connecting to the synagogue, according to Motti Seligson, a spokesperson for Chabad.
He characterized its construction as a rogue act of vandalism committed by a group of misguided young men, condemning the “extremists who broke through the wall to the synagogue, vandalizing the sanctuary, in an effort to preserve their unauthorized access.”
Those who supported the tunnel, meanwhile, said they were carrying out an “expansion” plan long envisioned by the former head of the Chabad movement, Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Schneerson led the Chabad-Lubavitch for more than four decades before his death in 1994, reinvigorating a Hasidic religious community that had been devastated by the Holocaust.
Supporters of the expansion said the basement synagogue had long been overcrowded, prompting a push to annex additional space that some in the community felt was taking too long. Many of those supporters subscribe to the messianic belief that Schneerson is still alive.
“That’s what the rabbi wants, that’s what everybody wants,” said Zalmy Grossman, a 21-year-old Brooklyn resident. He said the tunnel project began late last year as a way to connect the synagogue with “the whole empty space” behind it.
Chabad leaders declined to say when they discovered the underground connection. But several worshippers said word of the tunnel’s existence had spread through the community in recent weeks.
The situation came to a head Monday, when a cement truck arrived to seal the opening. Proponents of the tunnel then staged a protest and ripped off the wooden siding of the synagogue.
A police department spokesperson said officers were called to the building in the afternoon to respond to a disorderly group that was trespassing and damaging a wall.
For several hours, police pleaded with the young men to leave the entrance to the tunnel, according to witnesses. After they refused, the officers covered the area with a white curtain and entered the dusty crevasse with zip ties to detain the protesters.
“When they took the first person out with zip ties, that’s when the outburst happened,” said Baruch Dahan, a 21-year-old studying at the synagogue who videotaped the congregants fighting. “Almost everyone was against what they did, but as soon as people saw the handcuffs there was confusion and pushing.”
Footage posted to social media shows scores of onlookers, mostly young men, jeering at the NYPD’s community affairs officers. Some lifted wooden desks into the air, sending prayer books scattering. In response, an officer appeared to deploy an irritating spray to disperse the group.
Nine people — between the ages of 19 and 22 — were ultimately arrested on charges that included criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and obstructing governmental administration, according to police. Another three received summonses for disorderly conduct.
A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings said the inspection results were pending on Tuesday evening.
While the building remained closed, some worshippers completed their prayers outside in the drizzling rain.
“The community feels terrible,” Dahan said. “It’s a disgrace, instead of expanding, they destroyed.”


Indonesia and China make joint call for permanent Gaza ceasefire

Indonesia and China make joint call for permanent Gaza ceasefire
Updated 19 sec ago
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Indonesia and China make joint call for permanent Gaza ceasefire

Indonesia and China make joint call for permanent Gaza ceasefire
  • Countries’ foreign ministers also support Palestine’s bid for full UN membership
  • Both officials urge restraint following Israeli, Iranian strikes this month

JAKARTA: Indonesia and China made a joint call on Thursday for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and the implementation of the two-state solution in Palestine.

The move came after a meeting between Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Jakarta. The two ministers exchanged views on international security and stability amid fears of a regional conflict in the Middle East.

“The visit of the Chinese foreign minister comes at a time when we all have concerns about the evolving situation in the Middle East. We share the same view on the importance of all parties exercising restraint and the necessity of deescalation,” Marsudi told reporters during a joint press briefing.

“I am sure that China will use its influence to prevent escalation. We also shared the same views on the importance of a ceasefire in Gaza and the fair resolution on the issue of Palestine through a two-state solution,” she said.

“Indonesia will support full Palestinian membership at the UN. Stability in the Middle East cannot be achieved without a resolution of the Palestinian issue.”

Wang’s visit to Jakarta is part of a six-day tour that also involves trips to Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.

His meeting with Marsudi followed Iran’s attack on Israel last weekend. The attack was a response to an Israeli airstrike earlier this month that destroyed an Iranian consulate building in Damascus, Syria, killing 13 people, including two top military commanders.

“We urge all parties involved to maintain calm and restraint in order to avoid escalation of the situation, and prevent conflicts from spilling over. China supports the UN Security Council in promptly accepting Palestine as a full member of the UN,” Wang said.

The council is due to vote on Friday on a Palestinian request for full UN membership.

Beijing is also advocating “a larger, more authoritative and more effective international peace conference” that will formulate a timetable and road map to implement the two-state solution.

“Unconditional and lasting ceasefires need to be immediately implemented, and substantive action should be taken to protect civilians. Urgent humanitarian assistance should be sent to Gaza to ensure that supplies can be delivered quickly, safely and sustainably,” Wang added.

Six months on, Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 33,800 Palestinians as the UN warns of impending famine in the besieged enclave.

Although the UN Security Council in March adopted a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, there was no stop in the deadly Israeli attacks.


UK’s Rwanda plan rejected by Lords after vote to exempt Afghan soldiers

UK’s Rwanda plan rejected by Lords after vote to exempt Afghan soldiers
Updated 18 April 2024
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UK’s Rwanda plan rejected by Lords after vote to exempt Afghan soldiers

UK’s Rwanda plan rejected by Lords after vote to exempt Afghan soldiers
  • Peers approve amendment to bill to protect ex-servicemen, families from being deported
  • Bill to return to Commons after Lords also vote to set up committee to monitor safety in Rwanda

LONDON: The UK’s House of Lords rejected the government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda for asylum processing in a vote on Wednesday after it approved two amendments to the legislation.

The upper chamber of Parliament voted in favor of a proposal to exempt Afghans who worked with UK military personnel from being deported to the East African country, and of another that would see a committee established to monitor safety in Rwanda.

The bill will return to the House of Commons early next week, where MPs have previously refused to back amendments made to it by the Lords. 

The government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has made the Rwanda scheme a core part of his pledge to lower illegal migration across the English Channel before the next general election, says the bill in its current form is “the right way forward.”

However, a previous version of the scheme was rejected by the UK Supreme Court in 2023 as unlawful. 

The plan has also drawn cross-party criticism for its expense, worries about its effectiveness, the government’s inability to implement it and for the way it treats people in need of asylum, including former Afghan soldiers, translators and their families, many of whom risked their lives to assist the UK during operations in Afghanistan.

Numerous Afghans have been identified as having been threatened with deportation to Rwanda for entering the UK illegally, with many claiming safe legal routes either don’t work in practice or don’t exist.

The Independent highlighted the cases of a former Afghan Air Force pilot hailed as a “patriot” by former colleagues, who crossed the Channel in a small boat, and of two former Afghan special forces soldiers belonging to units known as “Triples” run by the British Army, who were wrongly denied assistance by the UK Ministry of Defence.

Along with reporting by Lighthouse Reports and Sky News, hundreds of other former Triples soldiers have also been identified hiding in Pakistan, awaiting an MoD review after many were refused entry to the UK.

The Lords amendment on protections from deportation for former Afghan military personnel was proposed by a former UK defense secretary, Lord Browne of Ladyton, and supported by two former chiefs of the UK’s defense staff.

Earlier on Wednesday Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson said peers should reject the amendments to “send a clear signal that if you come to the UK illegally, you will not be able to stay.”

But Lord Browne told the Lords: “Now is the time to give these people the sanctuary their bravery has earned.”

He added the government needed to be reminded of “the political consequences of their failure not to give either an assurance that is bankable or to accept this amendment. Because there is little, if any, support in your lordships’ House for their failure to do this and there (is) certainly no majority support in the country to treat these brave people this way.”

Lord Coaker, shadow home affairs spokesperson in the Lords, added: “Why on earth would the government oppose that particular amendment? It’s one of those things that is completely unbelievable.”

On Wednesday, Conservative MP Sir Robert Buckland told the Commons: “There is still a class of people who have served this country, who have been brave and have exposed themselves to danger, who have not yet been dealt with.

“Many of them are in Pakistan, and I think that it would have been helpful to have perhaps seen an amendment in lieu to deal with that point.”


Once a fringe ideology, Hindu nationalism is now mainstream in India

Once a fringe ideology, Hindu nationalism is now mainstream in India
Updated 18 April 2024
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Once a fringe ideology, Hindu nationalism is now mainstream in India

Once a fringe ideology, Hindu nationalism is now mainstream in India
  • Modi’s spiritual and political upbringing from the RSS group is the driving force, experts say
  • At the same time, his rule has seen brazen attacks against minorities, particularly Muslims

AHMEDABAD: Hindu nationalism, once a fringe ideology in India, is now mainstream. Nobody has done more to advance this cause than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of India’s most beloved and polarizing political leaders.

And no entity has had more influence on his political philosophy and ambitions than a paramilitary, right-wing group founded nearly a century ago and known as the RSS.

“We never imagined that we would get power in such a way,” said Ambalal Koshti, 76, who says he first brought Modi into the political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the late 1960s in their home state, Gujarat.

Modi was a teenager. Like other young men — and even boys — who joined, he would learn to march in formation, fight, meditate and protect their Hindu homeland.

A few decades earlier, while Mahatma Gandhi preached Hindu-Muslim unity, the RSS advocated for transforming India — by force, if necessary — into a Hindu nation. (A former RSS worker would fire three bullets into Gandhi’s chest in 1948, killing him months after India gained independence.)

Modi’s spiritual and political upbringing from the RSS is the driving force, experts say, in everything he’s done as prime minister over the past 10 years, a period that has seen India become a global power and the world’s fifth-largest economy.

At the same time, his rule has seen brazen attacks against minorities — particularly Muslims — from hate speech to lynchings. India’s democracy, critics say, is faltering as the press, political opponents and courts face growing threats. And Modi has increasingly blurred the line between religion and state.

At 73, Modi is campaigning for a third term in a general election, which starts Friday. He and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party are expected to win. He’s challenged by a broad but divided alliance of regional parties.

Supporters and critics agree on one thing: Modi has achieved staying power by making Hindu nationalism acceptable — desirable, even — to a nation of 1.4 billion that for decades prided itself on pluralism and secularism. With that comes an immense vote bank: 80 percent of Indians are Hindu.

“He is 100 percent an ideological product of the RSS,“in said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, who wrote a Modi biography. “He has delivered their goals.”

Mohanlal Gupta, a scrap trader, worships a statue of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a temple he has built on the third floor of his residential building at Gadkhol village near Ankleshwar in Baruch district of Gujarat state, India, on February 5, 2024. (AP)

UNITING HINDUS

Between deep breaths under the night sky in western India a few weeks ago, a group of boys recited an RSS prayer in Sanskrit: “All Hindus are the children of Mother India ... we have taken a vow to be equals and a promise to save our religion.”

More than 65 years ago, Modi was one of them. Born in 1950 to a lower-caste family, his first exposure to the RSS was through shakhas — local units — that induct boys by combining religious education with self-defense skills and games.

By the 1970s, Modi was a full-time campaigner, canvassing neighborhoods on bicycle to raise RSS support.

“At that time, Hindus were scared to come together,” Koshti said. “We were trying to unite them.”

Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wear Indian prime Minister Narendra Modi masks during an election campaign in Ghaziabad, India, on April 6, 2024. (AP)

The RSS — formed in 1925, with the stated intent to strengthen the Hindu community — was hardly mainstream. It was tainted by links to Gandhi’s assassination and accused of stoking hatred against Muslims as periodic riots roiled India.

For the group, Indian civilization is inseparable from Hinduism, while critics say its philosophy is rooted in Hindu supremacy.

Today, the RSS has spawned a network of affiliated groups, from student and farmer unions to nonprofits and vigilante organizations often accused of violence. Their power — and legitimacy — ultimately comes from the BJP, which emerged from the RSS.

“Until Modi, the BJP had never won a majority on their own in India’s Parliament,” said Christophe Jaffrelot, an expert on Modi and the Hindu right. “For the RSS, it is unprecedented.”

SCALING HIS POLITICS

Modi got his first big political break in 2001, becoming chief minister of home state Gujarat. A few months in, anti-Muslim riots ripped through the region, killing at least 1,000 people.

There were suspicions that Modi quietly supported the riots, but he denied the allegations and India’s top court absolved him over lack of evidence.

Instead of crushing his political career, the riots boosted it.

Modi doubled down on Hindu nationalism, Jaffrelot said, capitalizing on religious tensions for political gain. Gujarat’s reputation suffered from the riots, so he turned to big businesses to build factories, create jobs and spur development.

“This created a political economy — he built close relations with capitalists who in turn backed him,” Jaffrelot said.

Modi became increasingly authoritarian, Jaffrelot described, consolidating power over police and courts and bypassing the media to connect directly with voters.

The “Gujarat Model,” as Modi coined it, portended what he would do as a prime minister.

“He gave Hindu nationalism a populist flavor,” Jaffrelot said. “Modi invented it in Gujarat, and today he has scaled it across the country.”

BIG PLANS

In June, Modi aims not just to win a third time — he’s set a target of receiving two-thirds of the vote. And he’s touted big plans.

“I’m working every moment to make India a developed nation by 2047,” Modi said at a rally. He also wants to abolish poverty and make the economy the world’s third-largest.

If Modi wins, he’ll be the second Indian leader, after Jawaharlal Nehru, to retain power for a third term.

With approval ratings over 70 percent, Modi’s popularity has eclipsed that of his party. Supporters see him as a strongman leader, unafraid to take on India’s enemies, from Pakistan to the liberal elite. He’s backed by the rich, whose wealth has surged under him. For the poor, a slew of free programs, from food to housing, deflect the pain of high unemployment and inflation. Western leaders and companies line up to court him, turning to India as a counterweight against China.

He’s meticulously built his reputation. In a nod to his Hinduism, he practices yoga in front of TV crews and the UN, extols the virtues of a vegetarian diet, and preaches about reclaiming India’s glory. He refers to himself in the third person.

P.K. Laheri, a former senior bureaucrat in Gujarat, said Modi “does not risk anything” when it comes to winning — he goes into the election thinking the party won’t miss a single seat.

The common thread of Modi’s rise, analysts say, is that his most consequential policies are ambitions of the RSS.

In 2019, his government revoked the special status of disputed Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority region. His government passed a citizenship law excluding Muslim migrants. In January, Modi delivered on a longstanding demand from the RSS — and millions of Hindus — when he opened a temple on the site of a razed mosque.

The BJP has denied enacting discriminatory policies and says its work benefits all Indians.

Last week, the BJP said it would pass a common legal code for all Indians — another RSS desire — to replace religious personal laws. Muslim leaders and others oppose it.

But Modi’s politics are appealing to those well beyond right-wing nationalists — the issues have resonated deeply with regular Hindus. Unlike those before him, Modi paints a picture of a rising India as a Hindu one.

Satish Ahlani, a school principal, said he’ll vote for Modi. Today, Ahlani said, Gujarat is thriving — as is India.

“Wherever our name hadn’t reached, it is now there,” he said. “Being Hindu is our identity; that is why we want a Hindu country. ... For the progress of the country, Muslims will have to be with us. They should accept this and come along.”


EU, US reindustrialization accelerates: study

EU, US reindustrialization accelerates: study
Updated 18 April 2024
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EU, US reindustrialization accelerates: study

EU, US reindustrialization accelerates: study
  • Report: ‘The rapidity with which reindustrialization has taken hold is remarkable’
  • COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's brought to the fore the national security aspect of having control over essential supplies and the necessary manufacturing capacity

PARIS: Companies in Europe and the United States are set to plow more money into bringing manufacturing home after the Covid-19 pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global economy, a study published Thursday found.
The report by consulting firm Capgemini found that companies in 13 industrial sectors in 11 countries in Europe and the United States plan to invest $3.4 trillion over the next three years on bringing manufacturing home or to a nearby country.
That is up from $2.4 trillion in the past three years.
“The rapidity with which reindustrialization has taken hold is remarkable,” said the report.
“Driving this is the imperative to promote supply chain resilience and flexibility; increase both the availability and appeal of skilled manufacturing jobs; meet climate targets; re-establish national security in strategic sectors, and regain the manufacturing might that the industrial powerhouses of Europe and North America once enjoyed,” it added.
The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted global supply chains, making many companies want to regain greater control over raw materials and components.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought to the fore the national security aspect of having control over essential supplies and the necessary manufacturing capacity.
“We were surprised by the magnitude of the phenomenon” of relocalization of manufacturing, one of the report’s authors, Etienne Grass, said.
He noted that the investment represents an average allocation of around 8.7 percent of revenue of the companies it surveyed.
“That’s really a considerable” amount, Grass said.
Some 1,300 senior executives of industrial firms with more than a $1 billion in annual revenue were interviewed for the survey in February.
The companies were located in Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States.
The top reason cited by companies for reindustrialization was to strengthen their supply chains, followed by the importance of establishing a domestic manufacturing infrastructure to ensure national security.
In third place was reducing greenhouse gas emissions, followed by taking advantage of financial incentives to reindustrialize offered by their governments.
While US companies have the largest reinvestment plans in absolute terms at $1.4 trillion, it trails companies in other nations in terms of percentage of gross domestic product, said Grass.
The German reindustrialization effort is equivalent to 20 percent of GDP and the French effort is 13 percent, compared to five percent for the United States despite the generous subsidies offered under the Inflation Reduction Act.
In addition to bringing production back or near home, companies are also reducing their dependence on China by investing in other emerging market nations, the report found.
“To this end, businesses are distributing their critical assets (such as production facilities, warehouses, and logistics centers) across geographies such as India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Mexico,” it said.


Ukraine, Israel aid package gains Biden’s support as US House Speaker Johnson fights to keep his job

Ukraine, Israel aid package gains Biden’s support as US House Speaker Johnson fights to keep his job
Updated 18 April 2024
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Ukraine, Israel aid package gains Biden’s support as US House Speaker Johnson fights to keep his job

Ukraine, Israel aid package gains Biden’s support as US House Speaker Johnson fights to keep his job
  • Aid package to provide $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and $8 billion to allies in the Indo-Pacific
  • Republican hardliners have moved to oust Johnson, but are expected to fail without support from Democrats

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden said Wednesday he strongly supports a proposal from Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending crucial bipartisan support to the precarious effort to approve $95 billion in funding for the US allies this week.

Before potential weekend voting, Johnson was facing a choice between potentially losing his job and aiding Ukraine. He notified lawmakers earlier Wednesday that he would forge ahead despite growing anger from his right flank. Shortly after Johnson released the aid proposals, the Democratic president offered his emphatic support for the package.
“The House must pass the package this week, and the Senate should quickly follow,” Biden said. “I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed.”
After agonizing for days over how to proceed on the package, Johnson pushed ahead on a plan to hold votes on three funding packages — to provide about $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and $8 billion to allies in the Indo-Pacific — as well as several other foreign policy proposals in a fourth bill. The plan roughly matches the amounts that the Senate has already approved.
The bulk of the money for Ukraine would go to purchasing weapons and ammunitions from US defense manufacturers. Johnson is also proposing that $9 billion of economic assistance for Kyiv be structured as forgivable loans, along with greater oversight on military aid, but the decision to support Ukraine at all has angered populist conservatives in the House and given new energy to a threat to remove him from the speaker’s office.
Casting himself as a “Reagan Republican,” Johnson told reporters, “Look, history judges us for what we do. This is a critical time right now.”
The votes on the package are expected Saturday evening, Johnson said. But he faces a treacherous path to get there.
The speaker needs Democratic support on the procedural maneuvers to advance his complex plan of holding separate votes on each part of the aid package. Johnson is trying to squeeze the aid through the House’s political divisions on foreign policy by forming unique voting blocs for each issue, then sewing the package back together.
Under the plan, the House would also vote on bill that is a raft of foreign policy proposals. It includes legislation to allow the US to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine; to place sanctions on Iran, Russia, China and criminal organizations that traffic fentanyl; and to potentially ban the video app TikTok if its China-based owner doesn’t sell its stake within a year.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he planned to gather Democrats for a meeting Thursday morning to discuss the package “as a caucus, as a family, as a team.”
“Our topline commitment is iron-clad,” he told reporters. “We are going to make sure we stand by our democratic allies in Ukraine, in Israel, in the Indo-Pacific and make sure we secure the humanitarian assistance necessary to surge into Gaza and other theaters of war throughout the world.”
The House proposal keeps intact roughly $9 billion in humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza and other conflict zones. However, progressive Democrats are opposed to providing Israel with money that could be used for its campaign into Gaza that has killed thousands of civilians.
“If they condition the offensive portion of the aid, that would be a conversation, but I can’t vote for more aid to go into Gaza and continue to kill people,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Meanwhile, the threat to oust Johnson from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican of Georgia, gained steam this week. One other Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, said he was joining Greene and called for Johnson to resign. Other GOP lawmakers have openly defied Johnson’s leadership.
“I want someone that will actually pursue a Republican agenda and knows how to walk in the room and negotiate and not get tossed around the room like some kind of party toy,” Greene said. But she added that she would not move on the motion to vacate Johnson as speaker before the vote on foreign aid.
In an effort to satisfy conservatives, Johnson offered to hold a separate vote on a border security bill, but conservatives rejected that as insufficient. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas called the strategy a “complete failure.”
“We’re going to borrow money that we don’t have — not to defend America, but to defend other nations. We’re going to do nothing to secure our border,” said Rep. Bob Good, the chair of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus.
With the speaker fighting for his job, his office went into overdrive trumpeting the support rolling in from Republican governors and conservative and religious leaders for keeping Johnson in office.
“Enough is enough,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on social media. He said “instead of bickering among themselves” the House Republicans should do their “job and vote on the important issues facing our nation.”
At the same time, the speaker’s office was tidying up after Johnson said on Fox News that he and Trump were “100 percent united” on the big agenda items, when in fact the Republican presidential nominee, who had just hosted the House leader in a show of support, opposes much overseas aid as well as a separate national security surveillance bill.
Johnson told CNN on Wednesday that he thought Trump, if elected president, would be “strong enough that he could enter the world stage to broker a peace deal” between Ukraine and Russia.
Yet Johnson’s push to pass the foreign aid comes as alarm grows in Washington at the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. Johnson, delaying an excruciating process, had waited for over two months to bring up the measure since the Senate passed it in February.
“Ukraine is on the verge of collapsing,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In a hearing on Wednesday, Pentagon leaders testified that Ukraine and Israel both desperately need military weapons.
“We’re already seeing things on the battlefield begin to shift a bit in Russia’s favor,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The House’s version of the aid bill pushes the Biden administration to provide long-range ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) to Ukraine, which could be used to target Russian supply lines.
The US has resisted sending those weapons out of concerns Moscow would consider them escalatory, since they could reach deeper into Russia and Russian-held territory. The House legislation would also allow the president to decline to send the ATACMS if it is against national security interests, but Congress would have to be notified.
Still, there was acknowledgement in Washington that Johnson could soon be out as speaker — a job he has held less than five months since Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the office.
Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican, said this week that if Johnson is ousted, he would “be known in history as the man who did the right thing even though it cost him a job.”

The children in Israel’s prisons
Ongoing hostage-for-prisoners exchange opens the world’s eyes to arrests, interrogations, and even abuse of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities
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