Connect with us

World

Column One: How Does COVID-19 Change the Brain? This Scientist Is Finding Out

Avatar

Published

on

NEW YORK — 

In a room as cold as a refrigerator, Dr. Maura Boldrini bends over a plastic box filled with pale slices of human brain, each piece nestled in its own tiny, fluid-filled compartment.

She gestures with purple-gloved fingers: Here are the folds of the cortex, where higher cognition takes place. There is the putamen, which helps our limbs move. Here is the emotion-processing amygdala, with its telltale bumps.

Each piece in this box came from a single brain — one whose owner died of COVID-19.

There are dozens more containers just like it stacked in freezers in Boldrini’s lab at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

“Each of these boxes is one person,” she says in a lilting Italian accent. Each will play a crucial role in helping to unravel COVID-19’s impacts on the brain.

Newsletter

Get our free Coronavirus Today newsletter

Sign up for the latest news, best stories and what they mean for you, plus answers to your questions.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

The disease may be best known for its ability to rob people of their breath, but as the pandemic spread, patients began reporting a disconcerting array of cognitive and psychiatric issues — memory lapses, fatigue and a mental fuzziness that became known as brain fog. There were also more acute problems, including paranoia, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide and psychosis.

This strange constellation of symptoms has led researchers to suspect that the disease is mounting a direct attack on the brain. Researchers want to figure out how — and what the assault’s long-term effects may be.

Boldrini, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, studies the biology of suicide and the physiological markers of resilience in brain tissue. She is also a practicing psychiatrist.

That combination makes her uniquely suited to investigate the underpinnings of “long COVID.” She has gathered more than 40 brains from COVID-19 victims to guide her in her quest.

Dr. Maura Boldrini catalogs brain tissue from COVID-19 victims. “We have a lot of work to do,” she says.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

What Boldrini and her colleagues learn could have implications far beyond COVID-19, shedding light on mental illness, the origins of dementia and on the myriad ways viral infections affect the brain.

To unlock the disease’s secrets, they’ll have to carefully take each brain apart, count its cells, track its gene expression and document its proteins.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Boldrini says.

::

New York City was one of the coronavirus’ early targets, and it didn’t take long for Boldrini to notice surprising issues among COVID-19 patients, including serious mood and psychiatric symptoms.

“Very strange symptoms,” she recalls — made even stranger because they were cropping up in people with no personal or family history of such problems. Adding to the mystery was the appearance of these conditions relatively late in a patient’s life rather than in adolescence and early adulthood.

I feel like this dread that I’m feeling is something organic in my brain, one patient told her. Psychologically, I’m not anxious about anything.

“It’s a very different kind of symptomatology compared to people that have normal anxiety,” Boldrini says.

Boldrini explains her research on the psychiatric symptoms seen in COVID-19 patients. The disease may be best known for its ability to rob people of their breath, but many patients report an array of cognitive and psychiatric issues — memory lapses, fatigue and a mental fuzziness that became known as brain fog.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Then there were the rarer, but more disturbing, cases of suicidal ideation.

Boldrini has not encountered a COVID-19 patient who died of suicide. But one case did hit her university close to home: Dr. Lorna Breen, an emergency department physician at Columbia who worked on the front lines before becoming ill herself during the pandemic’s brutal first wave.

Breen was a talented and dedicated doctor who took up snowboarding and salsa dancing in her spare time. Shortly after returning to work, her mental health deteriorated and she died by suicide within weeks.

“She had COVID, and I believe that it altered her brain,” her sister Jennifer Feist said on NBC’s “Today” last year.

If so, how?

Researchers have found signs that the virus can establish a foothold of sorts on the periphery of the brain, where the protective blood-brain barrier opens up to allow key molecules to slip through. One of those places is the olfactory bulb, which can be reached through the nose — a fact that could explain why so many COVID-19 patients lose their sense of smell.

Yet scientists have so far found little evidence that the virus penetrates any deeper than that. Instead, they’ve seen the type of damage caused by strokes, as well as the blood clots that may have precipitated them.

That’s part of why Boldrini and many others suspect that inflammation — the immune system’s all-hands-on-deck response to an invader — may play an essential role in the brain damage experienced by COVID-19 patients.

Inflammation can trigger blood clots, and once a clot forms, inflammation increases around it. It’s similar to what’s seen in people who experience traumatic brain injury, including football players, military veterans and victims of car accidents.

“People that have this kind of trauma in the brain have presented with sudden changes in behavior and personality and suicide and other brain symptoms,” Boldrini says. It’s eerily similar to what many COVID-19 patients face — and she doesn’t think that’s a coincidence.

::

To gain a deeper understanding of what’s happening on a cellular and molecular level, scientists need to study the brains of people who died of COVID-19. But Boldrini prefers not to work with brains collected by others — she has to know everything about how the tissue was collected and preserved so she can understand the results of her experiments.

“Depending how you freeze, store and fix the brain, you can get very different results,” she says.

At Columbia, she and her colleagues examine tissue from autopsies, so they have complete control over how the precious tissue is handled.

Boldrini wants to know which genes were being expressed; to track molecular markers of inflammation; to see how microglia — the brain’s immune cells — were behaving; and to document the state of the neurons and their connections with one another.

Suzuka Nitta prepares brain tissue from a COVID-19 victim to be thinly sliced for examination.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Mapping the multifaceted effects of one disease is an ambitious endeavor, and it requires painstaking work. One of the students working in the lab starts by taking a scallop-edged sample of the amygdala and mounting it on a bed of dry ice. Drop by drop, she coats the tissue in sugar water, which eventually freezes and holds the sample in place.

Next, she slices off pieces that are a mere 50 microns thick — just wide enough to contain a single layer of brain cells. Each fragile cut is then submerged in water and centered on a glass slide with fine-tipped paint brushes.

A sample of brain tissue is mounted on a glass slide.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

The slides are stained with dyes that allow the researchers to see different types of cells in the tissue. Those cells are counted under a microscope, partly by human eye and partly with the help of a computer algorithm.

Boldrini looks over the student’s shoulder at one of the slides magnified on a computer screen. This slice of brain tissue resembles a galactic crush of stars stretched across a darkened sky: The scattered blue stars are glia, the brain’s protective cells. The green ones are neurons, densely packed together. The red stars are young, immature neurons.

“It’s beautiful,” Boldrini says. “Anatomy is very beautiful.”

Boldrini examines an image of brain cells.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

The red stars are the rarest of the three, and they’re even more sparse in many patients who had COVID-19 — about 10 times less abundant. That’s a problem because these young neurons are necessary for learning and memory, for coping with stress, and for integrating memories with emotions.

Boldrini suspects these immature cells are done in by stress hormones and inflammation.

“This would explain the brain fog,” she says.

A few days earlier, the researchers went through the same steps with the hippocampus, a tiny, delicate brain structure involved in mood and memory.

Other scientists have found that COVID-19 damages the hippocampus. That could help explain why some patients have lingering issues with depression and anxiety.

If this damage is caused by inflammation, it probably wreaks havoc in several ways. Scientists suspect it disrupts the flow of serotonin, a hormone that’s implicated in depression, and prompts the body to make kynurenine instead, even though it’s toxic to neurons.

Inflammation also triggers coagulation, creating clots that can block blood flow to cells and kill them. And it activates the microglia, which may attempt to remove more neurons than they normally would.

Boldrini’s work will help scientists disentangle the factors driving that damage.

“She’s an expert at that,” says Dr. James Goldman, a neuropathologist at Columbia University. “We’re looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.”

::

In a nearby room, research assistant Cheick Sissoko checks to see whether the DNA fragments obtained from the tissue are too big or too small for proper analysis. If they’re the right size, Sissoko will use them to better understand the gene expression in these brain cells — particularly in the young neurons that seem to be taking a hit in COVID-19 patients.

“Ideally, we can look at every single gene expressed by a single cell,” he says.

Boldrini and research assistant Cheick Sissoko confer on the progress of their work.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

On other days, Sissoko focuses on RNA, the molecule that helps turn DNA’s instructions into actual proteins. The RNA contained in brain tissue may provide clues about the alarms that were set off in the body in response to the coronavirus, and how the body reacted to a perceived threat.

Sissoko uses a sophisticated new technique to sequence the RNA on a slide-by-slide basis. That allows him to see how RNA expression changes in different parts of the brain.

Ultimately, the researchers aim to combine the data on RNA, the microglia, the new and mature neurons, and the connections they make to create a portrait of a brain ravaged by COVID-19.

By comparing the brains of COVID-19 patients with and without neurological symptoms, Boldrini hopes to shed light on the role of inflammation in a wide swath of neurodegenerative diseases, from depression to dementia.

“This pandemic is almost like a natural experiment where you have a lot of inflammation like in a very unusual way,” she says. “We hope that this is going to clarify some mechanisms of brain damage independently of COVID itself.”

That, in turn, may help people understand that mental health is a crucial part of physical health.

“I think this could be very useful to fight the stigma against psychiatric illness,” Boldrini says. “The brain is an organ, like any other one.”

Dr. Christian Hicks Puig, a psychiatrist at Columbia Medical Center who works at the long COVID clinic, agreed. Many mental health issues are rooted in biological processes. “It’s all extremely interconnected,” he says.

As researchers like Boldrini map COVID-19’s assault on the brain, they may help doctors more deeply understand the relationship between mental health, cognitive health and disease. They may also gain insight into the long-term needs of COVID-19 survivors.

That progress would not be possible without the contributions of those who didn’t make it, Goldman says.

“We are very, very grateful to families who have allowed us to do these autopsies,” he says.

Boldrini agrees, adding that she and others feel immense pressure to handle these organs with care.

“These are people,” she says. What they reveal about COVID-19 is crucial. What they represent is irreplaceable.

Read More

Article: latimes.com

World

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

Avatar

Published

on

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.

Read More

Original Post: latimes.com

Continue Reading

World

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

Avatar

Published

on

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.

Read More

Original Source: latimes.com

Continue Reading

World

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

Avatar

Published

on

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.”

Newsletter

Breaking News

Get breaking news, investigations, analysis and more signature journalism from the Los Angeles Times in your inbox.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

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.

Read More

Original Article: latimes.com

Continue Reading

Trending

FreshHypeMedia.com