News Digest — 1/17/20

Arab Riots Break Out On Temple Mount

As roughly 8,000 Muslim worshipers ended their prayers on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday (17th), several hundred Arabs began to riot and violate public order, Israeli police said.

In response, the district commander of the Israeli police sent forces to restore order and eject rioters from the holy site.

“The Israeli police will not allow violations of public order in the Temple Mount area, and will work to prevent any riots or calls of a nationalistic background,” a spokesperson said.

In August, Arab riots erupted on the Mount when Tisha b’Av, the Jewish memorial day for the destruction of the First and Second Jewish Temples, fell on the same day as the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (“Feast of the Sacrifice”).

In June Arabs rioted on the Temple Mount when authorities granted permission to Jewish visitors to enter on Jerusalem Day, which happens to fall during the Muslim month of Ramadan.

In another instance, in July 2017, two Druze Israeli policemen were shot and critically wounded when Arab terrorists opened fire.  They succumbed to their wounds.

“For Muslims, the Temple Mount is in third place after Mecca and Medina.  No one really makes pilgrimages to the Temple Mount. There is no Haj here.  For them, the fact that Israel captured the Temple Mount is outstanding leverage, but their real goal is elsewhere – it’s conflict.” Likud MK Avi Dichter, former Israeli security chief, told Israel Hayom in October.

Despite capturing the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, when the Jewish State was under attack by the surrounding Arab countries, Israel gave the Jordanina Waqf, or Islamic Trust, administrative control of the site.  As part of the Israeli-Jordan peace treaty signed in 1994, Jordan was given official status of custodian of Muslim holy sites.

In the years since, the number of Jews ascending the Mount has grown significantly despite the Waqf’s prohibition of non-Muslim prayer on the site.



ADL: Stop ‘Politicizing’ Anti-Semitism

The Anti-Defamation League is calling on politicians of all shades to “stop politicizing anti-Semitism and weaponizing it for partisan gain.”

In testimony before the US House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism on Wednesday (15th), ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt urged Congress to put more pressure on social media companies to “shut down the neo-Nazis and anti-Semites on their platforms,” according to an ADL statement.

Greenblatt reiterated the need to pass a number of bills that have already been drafted and introduced in Congress, including the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, the Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act, and the Never Again Holocaust Education Act.

“It is fair to say the past few years have been the most challenging that we have faced in recent memory,” Greenblatt said in his prepared testimony.  “From Pittsburgh to Poway, Jersey City to Monsey, Orlando to El Paso, Charleston, Christchurch, New Zealand, the list goes on and on.”

However, he argued that away from the spotlight, there are also many other types of incidents that require attention.

“It’s also the kids that snap a Heil Hitler salute for a gag, the swastikas scrawled on a garage door, and the college campuses where Jewish students are ostracized for supporting Israel,” said the CEO.

“This moment is about women wearing wigs harassed as they ride the subway or men wearing black hats assaulted as they cross the street.  It’s the idea that a person isn’t safe in their supermarket, in their synagogue, or in their home just because they are Jewish.” Greenblatt added.

The organization says that at another hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday (15th), George Selim, its senior vice president for programs, presented ADL’s latest findings on the financing of domestic terrorism and extremism.



Dozens of World Leaders In Jerusalem For Holocaust Forum Pose Complex Security Challenge

The City of Jerusalem and Israel Police are in the last stages of preparing for a complex security challenge with the arrival of dozens of leaders for the fifth annual World Holocaust Forum next week.

This year’s forum, which will take place on Thursday, January 23 at Yad Vashem, will mark 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

At least 47 world leaders will be visiting Israel to attend the forum.  It will also be the first official visit of Prince Charles of Britain and only the second official visit to Israel by a British royal family member, since the founding of the Israeli state in 1948.  In Israeli history the only two events which drew a larger gathering of international leaders were the funerals of Shimon Peres in 2016 and Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

President Reuven Rivlin is hosting about 40 of the leaders at an official dinner and discussion at the President’s Residence the day before the forum, at which King Felipe VI of Spain will deliver a speech.

Holocaust scholar, Prof. Yehuda Bauer, will deliver an address at the forum and the song “The Last Survivor” will be sung by Israeli singers.

The forum and the gathering at the President’s Residence will be broadcast live.

Many of the leaders will be staying at the King David Hotel in downtown Jerusalem and the necessary security arrangements will cause many of the surrounding streets to be closed.



There Are 192,000 Holocaust Survivors Living In Israel

Israel lost 14,800 Holocaust survivors last year, bringing the total number living in the Jewish homeland to approximately 192,000, recently released statistics have revealed.  

Of the remaining survivors living in Israel, 64% were born in Europe, including 36% who came from the former Soviet Union, 18% from Romania, and 6% from Poland, according to figures released by the Survivors’ Rights Authority at the Ministry of Finance, and reported by Channel 13.  The figures were released ahead of International Holocaust Day, which is marked annually on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.

Many of the non-European survivors had their roots in the Middle East where persecutions were also rife.  18% were born in Morocco and Algeria, where Jews suffered under the French Vichy regime overseen by Nazi rule.

A further 11% escaped Iraq after a two-day anti-Semitic pogrom in 1941 known as the Farhud, in which 180 Jews were killed and 1,000 injured in scenes reminiscent of Kristallnacht.  Some sources put the number of dead much higher – the Israel-based Babylonian Heritage Museum says a further 600 unidentified victims were buried in a mass grave, according to the BBC.

The Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority spends in excess of NIS 4 billion in benefits and grants each year on monthly benefits to around 59,000 Israelis who survived the Holocaust, each of whom can claim up to NIS 6,000 a month.

In addition to the direct payments, the Authority also handed out NIS 415 million in medicines, NIS 493 million on nursing services, and funded medical treatments and medical equipment at a cost of NIS 132 million.

In recent years, the Ministry has worked hard to ensure survivors know their rights and entitlements.  The ministry has made more than 51,000 visits to survivors and sent them more than 40,000 letters keeping them informed, leading to claims totaling NIS 318 million.



PA, Hamas Fight In Oman Over Who Really Represents Palestinians

The feud between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas reached new levels at the beginning of the week, when PA head Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh both arrived in Oman to pay their condolences for the death of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and fought over who really represented the Palestinians.

Haniyeh, who has been staying in Qatar for the past month, made a point of arriving in Oman, even though he knew Abbas would be there in an official capacity.

The Ramallah-based authority perceives this move as Haniyeh’s attempt to replace Abbas with a blatant intervention on the PA’s official authority.  Therefore the PA has reached out to Arab countries in recent days to clarify that Haniyeh does not represent the Palestinians and should not receive cooperation in this capacity. 

Israel had signed understandings with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993 which led to the establishment of the PA, a self-rule authority that would rule in parts of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

In June, 2007 Hamas overthrew the PA in Gaza, and since then Israeli and PA officials have repeatedly accused Hamas of trying to take control of Judea and Samaria as well. 

“We do not remember such a humiliating step, and Haniyeh seems to have declared an open war on the official representation of the Palestinian people and is openly disrespecting the PLO’s powers,” a PA official told TSP in the aftermath of the confrontation in Oman.

Members of the Hamas leadership attended the funeral of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by the US on January 3.

PA officials have warned Hamas of the “damage to the Palestinian image” that attending the funeral could cause in potentially identifying the Palestinians with the Iranian Axis if Hamas continues to announce itself as the representative of the Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, Haniyeh continues to stay in Qatar and has no plans to return to the Gaza Strip.  He fears he will be punished by Egypt who allowed him to leave the Strip through Egyptian territory on condition that he not travel to Iran, a pledge he breached by attending Soleimani’s funeral.