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As the World Gets Hotter, Can Cattle Survive? a Rancher’s Quest for Drought-proof Cows

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WINKELMAN, Ariz. — 

He calls them his “little project.”

Compared with humans, they’re not little at all. Some weigh 600 pounds. But for cattle, they’re tiny and immature — less than half the size of those usually slaughtered for beef.

Langdon Hill bought them at auction and gated them in his backyard, an acre covered in sudangrass hay and mesquite, jojoba and palo verde trees in the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness 70 miles northeast of Tucson.

Langdon Hill’s cattle on his 18,000-acre ranch.

(Cassidy Araiza / For The Times)

Calves, bulls and heifers, they come from breeds that naturally developed long ago in Brazil, England and India. Hill believes they could be key to transforming an industry that helps to feed the nation, yet one that is a driver of greenhouse gases and a culprit behind deforestation from the Amazon to Australia, where forests are routinely cleared for grazing.

Across Arizona and much of the U.S Southwest and northern Mexico, droughts and historic heat waves have left cattle with jutted ribs, gasping for life and threatening a food source that was never meant to survive in the desert but has become a key part of its economy.

As representatives of the world’s most powerful countries meet in Scotland for the United Nations conference on climate change, questions around cattle — their intense use of land and water and their release of gases that contribute to global warming — have been on many minds. The U.S. and dozens of countries have pledged to reduce methane emissions. Others such as Australia have refused, citing the beef industry as a reason.

Hill has more than 200 cows on his ranch, which he is crossbreeding in order to find a “drought-resistant” cow.

(Cassidy Araiza / For The Times)

Some believe weaning America — the fifth-largest producer of beef in the world — off cattle would make a significant contribution.

Then there’s a growing group of ranchers, like Hill, who think beef simply needs to be reimagined to survive.

“Our food industry is upside-down,” said Hill, 59, an environmentalist, onetime vegetarian and former industrial engineer-turned-cowboy. “We eat cheap, mass-produced, water-intensive meat fed on corn and we have too much of it.

“We can do beef better,” he insisted. “And do less of it.”

Hall is experimenting on his 18,000-acre ranch in the dusty mountains of rural Arizona: crossbreeding in hopes of developing smaller, lankier cows that retain less heat, aren’t as thirsty and live off the native grasses and bushes without the massive grain feedlots synonymous with the American cattle industry. Perhaps, he theorizes, they might also let out less methane.

(Cassidy Araiza / For The Times)

The average cow emits more than 200 pounds of methane in one year. That’s a tiny slice of U.S. emissions, far surpassed by the burning of fossil fuels. But methane is dozens of times better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, even though it dissipates after a decade compared to the hundreds of years carbon dioxide sticks around.

Even as meat substitutes flood the market, studies have shown that when eaten in moderation, beef and its nutrients can be part of a healthy diet. Cows also provide milk and fertilizer — and if managed well can help maintain rangeland soil and deter wildfires by eating plants that might otherwise catch aflame.

Some ranchers here, where cows mostly are raised on grass for just a few months before being shipped to packed feedlots where they grow faster on corn and hormones, are tinkering with diets to produce less methane.

They’re also moving toward breeds more accustomed to hotter, dryer climates while turning away from Angus cattle, which have come to dominate restaurant menus and grocery store freezers. The grass-fed, organic movement — in which cows are raised without feedlots, though they often need hay if there’s not enough rain or grass — is also on the rise.

One of Langdon Hill’s cattle.

(Cassidy Araiza / For The Times)

On one side of the debate are the likes of Impossible Meat and Beyond Meat, companies that use food science to make burgers mimic the fatty marbling and juicy taste of ground beef.

Then there are those like Hill. He says his beef — not yet available on the market — will be more expensive but raised entirely on his farm before being sent for slaughtering and packaging. He dreams of exporting it to China and Japan, as well as selling it throughout the U.S.

Yet he wonders whether his model is sustainable in a world that wants cheap, plentiful food at the click of a button.

“We’re too late to do so much on this Earth,” he said recently while riding a black Mustang named Rosie into one of his corrals. “Running cattle, I think, still has time.”

Painted Cave Ranch sits on land next to the Aravaipa Creek, one of the few year-round natural streams in this part of the desert. Hill owns part of the property and leases the rest from the Bureau of Land Management.

The Painted Cave Ranch in Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness.

(Cassidy Araiza / For The Times)

A bumpy dirt road traces its way around the hilly ranch, with Hill’s house set in a canyon. A few hundred cattle roam freely alongside native desert bighorn sheep, mule deer and coatimundi among saguaro and cholla cactus. The cows — many Brahmans with origins in the subtropics and other hardy breeds — feed on leaves and beans from mesquite and palo verde trees and on grasses that grow after the rains and by the creek. They drink from narrow, long pools that pump water from huge feeding tanks as well as the stream.

Brahmans can better withstand the sun and are less susceptible to parasites than Angus, originally from Scotland and built with sturdy, low set black bodies made to survive harsh winters.

Hill also has Herefords, an English breed known for its fertility, as well as Beefmasters, a composite breed of Herefords, Brahmans and Shorthorn cattle that are more tolerant of drought. There are Charlois — a muscly French breed whose light butterscotch tone is desirable in a place where summer temperatures regularly hit three-digits — and Criollo, a breed brought to the Americas by Spanish colonizers and now raised in parts of Mexico. Smaller and able to survive without much help from humans, they’re known to travel farther for water and food, making them more adaptable for the desert.

Langdon Hill has Hereford, Brahman, Beefmaster, Criollo, Charlois and other breeds on his ranch.

(Cassidy Araiza / For The Times)

In his backyard, Hill has several of these different cattle corralled together. He waits for them to mate.

“Hopefully by May, I’ll have some good genetics,” said Hill, who dons a cowboy hat, leather chaps and sports a graying beard.

The practice of crossbreeding cattle for physique and temperament is not new. Australia, among the world’s largest beef producers, has experimented widely with crosses since the mid-20th century.

What’s different now is the climate crisis.

“As the temperatures get hotter and hotter, more people are trying to adapt and think about how their cows can adapt,” said Rachel Cutrer, who co-runs B.R. Cutrer, a cattle breeding business in Wharton, Texas. She and her husband ship cattle and sperm around the world to ranchers who want to create crossbreeds.

“The average animal gets heat stress when the temperature goes above 80 degrees,” Cutrer said. “For a large portion of the world, it’s that temperature nearly all the time. Heat-stressed animals will pant and they will ultimately not want to eat.” Her animals come from a breed that has more sweat glands than others.

Joe Paschal, a rancher and animal science professor at Texas A&M University who researches breeding trends, described crossbreeding as an old habit that is making a comeback.

“From the 1980s on, everyone wanted to raise and eat Angus. But they’re being forced to change. Crossbreeding brings something we call hybrid vigor. You find two breeds that are very different, combine them and you’ll have the best selection of genes that nature takes out of it.”

In contrast to the corporations that control much of the seed, grain, chicken and pork production in the U.S., most ranches are still run by families. The setup is a result of biology. Each cow can have only one calf a year, compared with hens and sows that can birth and raise offspring to maturity in just a few months.

Corporations play a much bigger role in slaughterhouses and feedlots, where most farmers sell their cattle after they live a few months on the range. Across the country, 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America chapters are training grounds for new generations in beef-sellers.

Hill’s path was different, as are his aspirations.

Born in Tucson to a university administrator and a mother who later became a Sedona restaurateur, he grew up riding horses on the family’s 20-acre property. They were well-known in town because of his grandmother, a philanthropist who gifted the land that became the cactus-laden Tucson Botanical Gardens. He’s named after a grandfather from several generations back who represented Maine in Congress.

As an architecture student at the University of Arizona in the mid-1980s, Hill patented a cheap metal door plate to fend off carjackers after his Volkswagen Golf was broken into six times. A pair cost $6 to make. He sold them for $59.

Langdon Hill, 59, spent most of his career working as an industrial engineer in Europe.

(Cassidy Araiza / For The Times)

Hill spent the next two decades living in Luxembourg, where he designed and sold aftermarket accessories for Audis and Volkswagens. With his profits, he purchased nearly a whole block of houses near downtown Tucson, as well as an office building that the city’s hockey team now rents for its headquarters.

“I was getting bored. I didn’t want to live a high-stress life. I didn’t want to keep chasing business deals,” Hill said. “The car industry was wasting precious resources and clearly not as green as it could be.”

In 2005, he moved permanently to Arizona and bought the ranch. At first, the goal was to live a quieter life, to partially retire in his 40s.

Then he signed up for classes on beef at the University of Arizona. He met ranchers and let them keep cattle on his land in exchange for mentorship. He bought cows. It was a new hobby for a self-proclaimed “spiritual wanderer” who once spent a year studying Buddhism at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido.

For a few years, Hill sold meat from his cattle at farmers markets. He still keeps a few frozen packages in the freezer for guests.

But Arizona’s worsening drought made him rethink things as his herd’s habitat dried up. He saw the emergence of popular meat alternatives that were made in factories with a fraction of his carbon footprint.

An inventor all his life, Hill believed he could find a way to do things better. He scoured Arizona’s cattle auctions, snapping up animals that no one else wanted and plopping them in his yard to breed. He stopped killing the cows — for now — and instead toyed with their genetics, a process that can take years and several generations.

He’s not sure what his crossbreeds will bring, or even when the calves will come. He’s already broken some of the rules by naming a few of his favorites — Fernando and Bronco. Hill doesn’t know if he will find success, or if his business will even be up and running during his lifetime.

His wife, Tori, works late nights in a rehab facility in Tucson and rarely visits the ranch. His dad, retired, finds his son’s life unusual but tolerates it. Hill has three dogs but no kids to support. He considers himself lucky that money and profit aren’t problems.

“That’s also why it’s my responsibility to try to figure this out and do my small part,” he said. “I have the time to experiment.”

Each Wednesday, he drives an hour-and-a-half to Marana, Ariz., where he attends a cattle auction. Sometimes he sells animals that don’t fill the bill of the cows he wants to create. Mostly, he watches for breeds to add to his herd.

The other week, he thought he had purchased eight Hereford cattle but had misidentified them. They were Beefmasters. Still learning, he repeated a mantra to himself to avoid getting angry. It’s the same one he thinks of when looking at the world of cattle and climate, and how things could change for the better.

“All things are gradual. It’s just the satisfaction of making a little progress.”

Hill borrows Rosie, a friend’s Mustang, to herd cattle on his property.

(Cassidy Araiza / For The Times)

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Original Post: latimes.com

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Looking for a Boost, Taiwan’s Oldest Political Party Turns to the Great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — 

Between internal strife, muddled campaign messages and a stance on China that has become a political liability, Taiwan’s oldest political party is deep in existential crisis.

The Chinese Nationalist Party, better known as the KMT, or Kuomintang, was founded in mainland China but went into exile in Taiwan in 1949. It ruled the island for 50 years before losing its grip on power.

The party has long pushed for closer ties with China, a position that has increasingly put it out of touch with a younger generation that identifies as Taiwanese and has grown wary of the Chinese Communist Party’s designs on the island.

Now the 110-year-old KMT is looking to a rising star to refurbish its image: Chiang Wan-an, who is favored to become the next mayor of Taipei — among thousands of local offices up for grabs in nationwide elections Saturday.

The charismatic 43-year-old former legislator and lawyer has billed himself as a thoroughly modern figure who can lead the party into the future. He supports same-sex marriage and lowering the voting age from 20 to 18. His handsome looks and young children haven’t hurt his appeal either.

At the same time, he claims deep roots in the party’s past as a great-grandson of the revolutionary Chiang Kai-shek.

It was under Chiang Kai-shek that the party fled to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong’s Communist Party. Waiting to someday take the mainland back, the KMT often using brutal means to suppress any political threats, finally lifting martial law in 1987as Taiwan began to democratize.

Ham radio, a niche hobby among older Taiwanese, has reemerged as a potential wartime tool as China’s military aggression grows.

Now, it’s the Communist Party that wants to retake Taiwan. In the face of growing aggression under President Xi Jinping, who considers the democracy of 23 million a part of China, much of the national political discourse has centered on the best way to defend the island.

President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, was reelected by a landslide in 2020, thanks to growing Taiwanese nationalism and anti-China sentiment. But this year, the KMT has enjoyed a boost of support that could help it clean up in local races.

The mayorship of Taipei is often a stepping stone to the presidency. According to recent polls, Chiang is leading independent candidate Huang Shan-shan, the former deputy mayor of Taipei, and the DPP’s Chen Shih-chung, who as minister of health and welfare oversaw Taiwan’s pandemic response.

“He is the young, fresher and slightly updated face that the KMT needs,” said Lev Nachman, a political science professor at National Chengchi University. “But one candidate does not a successful political strategy make.”

In local elections, cross-strait tensions take a backseat to more immediate concerns. The mayoral candidates have talked a lot about urban renewal, the rising cost of housing, subsidies for young parents and ways to make the city friendlier for pets. Chiang wants to improve health insurance for animals and expand programs to let them ride on public transportation.

He has also sought to capitalize on voters’ dissatisfaction with the Tsai administration, in particular pointing to a lack of transparency in its vaccine rollout early in the pandemic.

“This is a contest of values: democracy against the black box,” he declared at an election rally Saturday night. “Hard work against laziness, integrity against lies, light against darkness.”

In the crowd that night was Mark Chu, a 30-year-old IT worker who found the event to be a moving morale boost for KMT supporters. However, he couldn’t help but notice a distinct lack of people his own age.

“There’s a sense of distance between the KMT and young people,” Chu said. “They’re getting further and further away from mainstream ideas.”

But Chiang has managed to convince Bernie Hou, a 33-year-old public relations worker who has supported politicians from various parties over the years.

His decision to back Chiang is in large part a vote against the DPP for its handling of the pandemic. He also was impressed by Chiang’s performance during the mayoral debate.

“He has all the makings of a capital mayor,” Hou said. “And he looks very good.”

Still, even in local races, the strained relations between Beijing and Taipei are an unavoidable factor.

The ruling DPP leans toward independence for Taiwan and has taken a confrontational stance toward China, an approach that appeals to those who came of age under Taiwan’s democracy and rebuke Beijing’s calls for unification. Those voters are leery of giving too much leeway to an authoritarian regime that has threatened to fulfill its territorial claims by force.

The president, whose term ends in 2024, has recently stepped up efforts to capitalize on those fears. But her calls to resist China have failed to translate into broader support for the DPP this election.

“It’s a tough balancing act,” said Sung Wen-ti, a political scientist with Australia National University’s Taiwan Studies Program. “DPP has been riding on the wave of its Taiwanese nationalism card since 2014 and is inevitably facing a degree of voter fatigue.”

The KMT wants to maintain the status quo of Taiwan’s democratic governance, but favors a friendlier relationship with Beijing. Its support comes largely from older generations, who associate the party with their Chinese identities and mainland roots. A minority within the party still hope to see reunification with China.

As the KMT grapples with how to appease both its traditional base and reach a new one, Chiang could help bridge that gap.

His father Hsiao-yan, a former vice premier and foreign minister, was born with the surname Chang, but he changed it after gathering evidence that he was the illegitimate grandson of Chiang Kai-shek. Though some still doubt that claim, his son changed his last name too.

Older KMT members revere the former generalissimo for his contributions to Taiwan’s industrial development and his experiences fighting Japanese and Communist forces. Younger Taiwanese see him as an emblem of the island’s authoritarian past.

The Chiang Kai-shek legacy has come under greater scrutiny in recent years amid initiatives to compensate the families of victims that suffered under his reign and remove statues glorifying him.

Chiang Wan-an has at times found himself caught in the middle. Earlier this year he advocated for removing Chiang Kai-shek’s name from a famous memorial hall in Taipei. But he dropped the proposal after KMT supporters criticized him for diminishing his own history and Chinese identity.

“Leaning too far into his family background is a risk,” said Brian Hioe, a founding editor of the Taiwan-based media outlet New Bloom. “Now there is much more backlash against these second generations and political dynasties.”

The bigger challenge for the KMT looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election may be persuading voters that it can adeptly navigate cross-strait relations without acceding to pressure from Beijing.

Watching Chiang greet voters in Taipei on Monday, Wendy Chang, a 25-year-old visiting home from studying business in the Netherlands, said he seems more modern than the traditional KMT candidates. Nonetheless, she has a hard time swallowing the party’s friendlier attitude toward China.

“I feel like Taiwan’s elections ultimately are all about cross-strait relations,” she said.

Yang is a Times staff writer and Shen a special correspondent.

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Original Post: latimes.com

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The Times Podcast: Mexico’s Unique, Binational Soccer Fans

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Right now, the eyes of much of the world is on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar as 32 teams fight for national pride. One team is Mexico, whose unique fanbase sets it apart from the world. With loyalties to both Mexico and the United States, it’s a representation of resilience, controversy and so much more.

Today, we examine the phenomenon. Read the full transcript here.

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Original Source: latimes.com

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A New Foreign Policy Headache for Biden As Israel Forms Its Most Right-wing Government Ever

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WASHINGTON — 

The Biden administration is grappling with how to deal with a new Israeli government that will be the most right-wing in that country’s history and may stand in the way of core U.S. goals for the Middle East.

The new government will be led by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister, who was ousted from the job just a year ago and is on trial for corruption. To regain the position, Netanyahu formed an alliance with controversial political figures known for their extreme anti-Arab views, likely dooming any peace deal with Palestinians.

Dealing with the Netanyahu-led government will pose major challenges for the Biden administration, which desires a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and broader acceptance of Israel in the Arab world.

Republicans in the U.S. who are eager to cast themselves as true friends of Israel are sure to question any Biden administration criticism of the new government.

Netanyahu and the GOP have grown closer over the past decade, undermining decades of bipartisan support for Israel.

In 2015, Netanyahu, whom congressional Republicans had invited to address a joint session of Congress, used the speech to criticize President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Former President Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, delighting Netanyahu. Just this week, Netanyahu delivered a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, a partisan group.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has a long record of extreme anti-Arab rhetoric, is promised the post of national security minister in Israel’s new government.

Netanyahu and President Biden have both said that U.S. support for Israel should remain bipartisan.

Netanyahu’s new allies may make that difficult, however. Some U.S. officials have already privately indicated they will not meet with Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezazel Smotrich, two likelymembers of Netanyahu’s government.

Ben-Gvir and Smotrich advocate recognizing illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where most Palestinians live, and eventually annexing most or all of that territory. They oppose a separate Palestinian state. Netanyahu needs their support to cement a majority in the Israeli Knesset, or parliament. Their support could also help him pass a law that would allow him to dodge his corruption trial.

The two men have also called for a far harsher crackdown on Palestinian militants and their supporters, including strict curfews in Palestinian villages, mass deportations and targeted killings of terrorism suspects. They have advocated making it easier for Israeli security forces to use live ammunition against Palestinian protesters who throw stones.

Ben-Gvir has also expressed affinity for the late ultra-nationalist rabbi Meir Kahane, whose ideology the Anti-Defamation League has described as reflecting “racism, violence and political extremism” and whose organization until recently was listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

For years, Ben-Gvir had a poster of Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli American terrorist and Kahane disciple who murdered 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron in 1994, hanging in his home, according to Israeli media. In 2007, an Israeli court convicted Ben-Gvir of incitement to racist violence and support for a terrorist organization.

Israel has sworn in its most religious and right-wing parliament after nearly four years of political deadlock and five elections.

Ben-Gvir and Smotrich want to head the ministries of public security and defense, respectively, portfolios that have the closest contact with U.S. officials. On Friday, Netanyahu’s Likud party and Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party announced an agreement for Ben-Gvir to become security minister.

“This country is a democracy that elected a leadership and I intend to work with them,” the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Thomas Nides, said in an interview with Israeli media, adding quickly: “That said, we have to stand up for the things that we believe in, that’s what American values are about. We have a very strong ally in the state of Israel, but there will be times when we will articulate where we believe our differences are.”

Nides and other U.S. officials have stated that the two countries’ points of disagreement include expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and the possible annexation of the territory.

“The administration will have to decide what the real red lines are,” said Michael Koplow, a senior analyst with the Israel Policy Forum, a U.S.-based pro-Israel organization that advocates the two-state solution. “This will test U.S. boundaries on all fronts.”

Negotiations to form the government are underway and could take days or even weeks. A fair amount of horse-trading is part of the process, so it remains unclear which politicians will assume which posts. Netanyahu offered Smotrich the Finance Ministry instead of Defense, according to Israeli media, but Smotrich has so far given no indication he will budge from his initial demand.

“We provide nearly $4 billion a year to the Defense Ministry … and do we want to put our money in the hands of these guys?” said Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel who now teaches at Princeton University. “I’d say no.”

Netanyahu is reported to be considering Ron Dermer as his foreign minister. Dermer served as Israel’s ambassador to the United States starting in 2013 and through the Trump administration, with which he was especially friendly. He arranged Netanyahu’s 2015 speech to Congress. Dermer’s appointment would be a “poke in the eye” for Biden, Kurtzer said.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defamed his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, and must pay damages to Netanyahu and his family, a court rules.

Republicans remain eager to criticize anything short of unquestioning support for Israel from the Biden administration. After the Israeli government revealed that the U.S. Justice Department had launched an inquiry into the May killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh near the West Bank city of Jenin, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) demanded Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland and “everyone involved in this debacle” be “fired or impeached.”

Multiple investigations by independent human rights and journalism organizations have concluded that an Israeli soldier probably fired the shot that killed the veteran journalist. Israel eventually acknowledged one of its soldiers was likely responsible. No one has been disciplined.

If the new Israeli government decides to try to annex the West Bank, it would jeopardize the Abraham Accords, a deal brokered under the Trump administration that opened business and some diplomatic ties between Israel and several Persian Gulf states, such as the United Arab Emirates, that had previously refused to recognize Israel’s existence.

The UAE’s entry into the agreement was predicated on Netanyahu, in his previous stint as prime minister, backing away from plans to annex West Bank territory.

“If they push too far, it will foreclose any movement forward” in regional relations, said Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. envoy for the Middle East now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Miller thinks Biden and Netanyahu will attempt to avoid overt conflict to safeguard their own domestic and global positions: “Biden wants to avoid a public wrestling match with Netanyahu,” Miller said, while Netanyahu “craves the international stage and is intending to strut on it.”

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Publicly, U.S. officials remain cautious, saying they want to see what kind of government Netanyahu ultimately forms, reiterating their “ironclad” commitment to Israel while emphasizing American “values” that include freedom and prosperity “in equal measure” for Israelis and Palestinians.

“The administration is right to be concerned … and to telegraph those concerns,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview. He is one of several Democratic lawmakers who are firm supporters of Israel but have raised alarms over potential members of the new government. These include Sen. Bob Melendez of New Jersey, who chairs the committee, and California Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Northridge).

But Ben-Gvir further alienated Biden administration officials by taking an electoral victory lap at a memorial service for Kahane, who was assassinated more than 30 years ago.

“Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent — there is no other word for it,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in unusually strongly worded comments. “We remain concerned by the legacy of Kahane and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists,” he said.

Ben-Gvir has reached an agreement with Netanyahu that would allow him to vastly expand police powers and remove officers from oversight by other legal authorities.

Naming a person who has been convicted of terrorism-related charges to head Israel’s national police force has alarmed numerous Israelis.

“It means that the police will become politicized to favor the extreme right,” the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz said in an editorial this week. “Those who are supposed to be safeguarding democracy have turned into soldiers at the service of politicians. That’s what happens when those accused and convicted of crimes take control of the institutions charged with maintaining law and order.”

The prospect of a Ben-Gvir-run police force has also alarmed American supporters of Israel. Ben-Gvir “has promised a no-holds-barred crackdown on terrorism and increased police and border security presence,” Yulia Shalomov, a fellow at the U.S.-based Atlantic Council think tank, said in a recent web appearance. His party “has consistently stoked domestic ethnic and societal tensions,” she said.

Netanyahu’s right-wing partners will also push for other legislation that would not only have an impact on Palestinians and Arabs. They have threatened to criminalize homosexuality and to ban non-Orthodox Jews from Israeli citizenship. Many U.S.-born Jews are members of more progressive branches of the faith, such as Reform or Conservative Judaism, and might not be able to obtain Israeli citizenship under the proposed laws.

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