News Digest — 1/29/21

CENTCOM Commander In Israel For Short Visit

The Commander of CENTCOM, General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr, began a two-day visit to Israel Thursday (28th).  At the center of the visit will be a strategic situational assessment with Israel’s Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, along with the promotion of regional partnerships against emerging threats.

The visit began Thursday night (28th) with a personal meeting between General McKenzie and Lt. Gen. Kochavi.  The two planted an olive tree together in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shvat.

On Friday (29th). General McKenzie will be participating in a panel led by IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi, which will also be attended by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir; the head of the Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Tal Kelman, and the Israeli Defense Attache in Washington, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox.

The IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi stated: “Military and strategic relations between the United States and Israel have, for many years, been a critical component in establishing Israel’s national security and its advantage over its enemies, wherever they are.  This partnership has a key role to play in dealing with our common threats, especially the Iranian threat.”



Fatah Lauds Munich Olympics Massacre As ‘Quality Operation’

Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction posted a video last week praising Black September commander Ali Hassan Salameh, one of the architects of the 1972 Munich Massacre.

In the video, posted to the Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture on January 22, the anniversary of Salameh’s death, the narrator tells viewers: “Ali Hassan Salameh was characterized by his long arm, which reached across all of Europe, and by high intelligence, it enabled him to hunt Mossad agents.”

The narrator goes on to state that “after he was appointed to command the special operations [terrorist attacks] against the Israeli intelligence service throughout the world, his name was connected to many quality operations, such as sending explosive packages to many Mossad agents in Europe.”

Eight Palestinians belonging to the terror organization Black September, a secret branch of Fatah, broke into the athletes’ village at the Munich Olympics on September 5, 1972.  The terrorists took Israeli athletes and coaches hostage in their rooms, murdering two immediately, and ultimately killing 11 when the German police tried but failed to rescue the hostages and subdue the terrorists at an airport near Munich.

The video encourages other Palestinians to follow Salameh”s example, saying, “Salameh left a life story that turned him into a symbol of extraordinary security activity.  This was continued and is still being continued by his students and those who loved him, who viewed him as a beacon guiding them on the path to liberation and return.”

Nan Jacques Zilberdik, senior analyst at Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) the research institute that uncovered the video, said, “The PA/Fatah glorify the attack and honor the planners as heroes and role models – for them it remains a ‘quality operation.’  This is just one of the numerous indicators that the PA and Fatah still adhere to the path of terror.”

Nor is the veneration of the Black September terrorists restricted to Fatah; as PMW reported earlier this year, the Student Union Council at Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron gifted the institution with a gate named after Salah Khalaf “Abu Iyad” – the head of Black September, who was also involved in planning the Munich Massacre.



Israel Sees Blood Libel In False Palestinian COVID-19 Vaccine Charges – Tovah Lavaroff

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan told the Security Council this week: “I would like to shatter the latest blood libel being spread by the Palestinians – false and grotesque accusations about Israel’s campaign to vaccinate its people….According to the international agreements, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the healthcare for its own population, just as it is responsible for its education system.”  The PA “informed Israel they intend to purchase vaccines from the Russian government and Israel has announced it will facilitate their transfer  These are the facts!” 

In addition, “since the outset of the pandemic, Israel has worked closely with UN bodies to assist the Palestinians, training medical staff and supplying them with essential equipment….There is a much too long history of using every crisis to spread anti-Semitism and blame the Jews and Israel.”



Olive Tree Won Israel’s Heart As National Tree

Dozens of trees competed for the title of Israel’s National Tree, in a contest hosted by the Jewish National Fund and Israel Hayom to mark 120 years since the nongovernmental organization’s founding.

Among the trees to make it to the final round of voting were the date palm, the Mt. Tabor oak, the Mediterranean cypress, the eucalyptus, the fig and the terebinth tree.  Despite the heavy competition, the one to win Israelis’ hearts and be crowned the winner of the online poll was the olive tree.

Of the 147,729 votes on the day of the competition, 32.94% were given to the olive tree.  Second place went to the Mt. Tabor oak, and the date palm tree rounded out the top three.

The olive branch is a recurring theme that appears in many of the State of Israel’s official symbols, including the official emblem of a menorah with two olive branches.  The Book of Genesis describes a white dove carrying an olive branch to Noah’s Ark as a symbol of the end of the Great Flood.  This image has gone on to become a symbol of peace.

JNF’s National Forestry Officer and Director of Orchards, Natural Woodlands and Grazing, Suhail Zeidan noted, “The olive tree is very impressive, and the general public has a spiritual connection to this tree.”

Some of the largest olive trees in the Mediterranean basin can be found in Israel.  The oldest olive tree in Israel is believed to be around 1,000 years old and is located in Shfaram in the lower Galilee.

The olive tree is one of the most important symbols of ancient settlement and agriculture in the Land of Israel.  The cultivation of olives in the land of Israel has been proven in ancient history from the days of the First Temple, when its fruits were used to produce oil, to the present day, including a wealth of evidence discovered in archeological excavations in many places such as Masada, Tel Gezer, and others.

JNF Chairman Avraham Duvdevani said, “I’m glad the olive tree was selected as the national tree.  It is mentioned numerous times in the Bible.  It is one of the seven species [listed in the Bible as being special products of the Land of Israel] and was praised in Israel and beyond.”

Duvdevani thanked the hundreds of thousands of voters who took part in the selection and wished all of Israel a Happy Tu B’Shvat.

The agricultural holiday, the Jewish version of Arbor Day, often referred to as the “New Year of Trees,” has its roots in the Mishna.  After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the holiday became popular, with many institutions and schools marking the day with tree-planting ceremonies and other events that celebrate nature.

This year Tu B’Shvat was celebrated beginning Wednesday evening, January 27 and ending Thursday, January 28th at sundown.   



Educational Ethnic Cleansing – Col. (Ret.) Richard Kemp

According to a report published by David Collier, a British researcher, some UK universities are now virtually Judenfrei: free of Jews.  This is a chilling indictment not just of British academia but of a liberal democratic society that has tolerated a wave of discrimination against Jews that has swept through the universities over recent decades.  This Jew-hate is cloaked in anti-Zionism, a doctrine that claims the Jewish State, alone among the nations, has no right to exist.

The reality in Britain today is that many Jewish students choose their university by the extent of anti-Semitism they will find there.  You can meet many Jewish students in Britain who attest to this.  

I speak frequently at universities on a range of subjects.  Only when speaking at the invitation of Jewish or pro-Israel groups have I experienced any hostile protests and opposition to open debate.  In virtually every case, protesters don’t only disagree with me, they want to silence me.

The writer, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK’s national crisis management committee, COBRA.