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Marginalizing extremists is priority as religions envoy, David Saperstein says

Rabbi David Saperstein, the new U.S. envoy for religious freedoms, said one priority will be to identify moderates in religious communities who could marginalize extremists.

Speaking Friday at his swearing-in at the State Department, Saperstein said he would work with U.S. civil society groups “in shaping policies that contribute to isolating and delegitimizing extremist religious voices.”

White House Mideast adviser Phil Gordon to visit Israel

Ron Kampeas | JTA | February 5, 2015
 

The White House’s top Middle East official will speak in Israel at a conference on security and meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Phil Gordon, the special assistant to the president and White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region, will travel to Israel on Feb. 15, Alistair Baskey, a National Security Council spokesman, told JTA in an email.

Judge Hears Arguments in Texas Abortion Law Case

by Andrea Grimes, Senior Political Reporter, RH Reality Check

A federal judge once again advised counsel to keep their arguments focused on legal reasoning, rather than emotional pleas, on the last day of arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Lakey, the latest challenge to a Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law expected to shutter all but seven existing abortion providers in the state come September 1, barring judicial intervention.

Judge Lee Yeakel pushed lawyers both for the plaintiffs—a group of independent Texas abortion providers from across the state who say they have been forced to close clinic doors in the wake of HB 2‘s passage—and the State of Texas, which is defending the law, to answer the key question posed in practically every abortion case since Roe v. Wade: “Exactly what is an undue burden?”

State Department Briefing Addressing US-Israel relations during Operation Protective Edge

"[T]he United States has an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. No country has done more to support their security than the United States. Just last week, the President signed a bill providing Israel an additional $225 million in Iron Dome funding during the Gaza crisis. We will continue to provide additional security assistance to Israel going forward. And let me be clear: There has been no change in policy, period."  Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson for US State Department.

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