News Digest — 1/6/21

Attempted Terror Attack At Gush Etzion Junction Thwarted, Hamas Laments Death Of Terrorist

The IDF thwarted a terror attack at the West Bank’s Gush Etzion junction, with a security guard killing a Palestinian man who had thrown an axe at him near the bus stop across from the entrance to the shopping mall on Tuesday (5th).

According to an IDF Spokesperson unit statement, a security guard that was present at the scene spotted the suspect and together with an IDF soldier began shooting warning shots in the air.

The suspect then threw an axe at the security guard who then shot him, the IDF said.  No other injuries were reported.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health reported that Ahed Abdel Rahman Ekhleel, 25, from the village of Bet Ummar had been killed in the afternoon during an incident with the IDF.

Gush Etzion Regional head Shlomo Neeman came to the scene after the incident stating that, “Any attempt at carrying out a terror attack in the State of Israel, should end without casualties and with the terrorist dead.”

He added, “To our enemies we say that you don’t scare us, and certainly will not weaken the mission of the residents of Judea and Samaria.”

“The opposite is true: we are here forever,” Neeman said, as he pledged that Israel would continue to expand and develop the area, which will soon “be a sovereign part of the state.”

Meanwhile, Hamas on Tuesday (5th) issued a statement lamenting the death of the terrorist, saying he was killed by “the fire of the occupation army during his attempt to carry out an heroic act.”  The statement also sent “greetings” to the “martyr’s family.” 

In 2018, Israeli-American Ari Fuld, 45, was stabbed to death in the parking lot of the shopping mall, located a short distance away from the scene of Tuesday’s (5th) attack.

The incident comes amid heightened West Bank violence in the last few weeks.

On Sunday, (3rd) Palestinians, in the Binyamin Region of the West Bank, threw rocks at an Israeli vehicle, injuring Rivka Teitel, 30, seriously.  She was transported to the hospital in Tel Hashomer where she underwent surgery.

On December 20, Esther Horgan, 53, a mother of six, was killed while jogging in a forest near her home in Tel Menashe, in Samaria. 

According to the IDF, there were nine stabbing incidents in the West Bank in 2020.



Gantz Pushes To Buy Third F-35 Squadron

On Monday (4th), Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel should purchase another batch of F-35 fighter jets, which would be the nation’s third squadron of the stealth warplanes.

Israel purchased the aircraft from the United States, and Gantz expressed hope that an agreement for the planes could be concluded while President Donald Trump remains in office.  He is set to step down on January 20.

With the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the verge of acquiring its own fleet of F-35s, Israel is pursuing strategies to maintain its qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East.

While Israel and its new Arab allies have touted benefits related to trade, technology, and tourism, the Abraham Accords also appear designed to forge a unified front against Iran, which operates terror proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and the Gaza Strip.

Iran is also believed to be behind attacks in Saudi Arabia and recently captured a South Korean tanker in the Persian Gulf.

In addition to sponsoring and training terror groups, developing ballistic missiles, and perpetuating civil war in Yemen and Syria, Iran is suspected of developing nuclear weapons.

The Arab nations of Bahrain, UAE, Sudan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and more may at some point fight with Israel against Iran, as allies.  This is the main reason the United Arab Emirates wants to buy F-35s from the US.



Israel Inks $1.7 Billion Deal To Run Flight School For Greek Air Force

The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday (5th) that Israel and Greece will sign an agreement worth $1.7 billion under which Israel will provide equipment and infrastructure to the Hellenic Air Force to train its future pilots.

The agreement, which will be signed by both defense ministries, includes the establishment and operation of a flight school for the Hellenic Air Force, 10 M-346 Lavi training jets, the maintenance for T-6 propeller aircraft, as well as the provision of simulators, and training/logistic support.

The government to government deal will span over 20 years and use the services of the major Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems.

“This agreement reflects the excellent and developing relations we have with Greece,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz.  “It is a long-term relationship that will serve the interests of both Israel and Greece, create hundreds of jobs in both countries, and promote stability in the Mediterranean.”

The Greek flight school will be modeled after the Israel Air Force (IAF) flight academy, and will be equipped with 10 of the Israeli version of the Italian-made M-346 training jets, which the IAF uses to train Israeli fighter pilots.

As part of the agreement, Elbit will upgrade and operate the Hellenic Air Force’s existing T-6 aircraft as well as provide training, simulators and logistical support.

Last year the two countries signed a deal for Israel to produce a corvette for the Hellenic Navy, and the two sides together with Cyprus are building a massive underwater gas pipeline to Europe from Israel’s offshore gas fields.



Anti-Semitic Sticker Campaign Shocks Kentucky Jewish Community

The Mayor of Lexington, Kentucky declared that there was no place in her city for “racism and religious persecution” in the wake of the third anti-Semitic incident to occur there in recent weeks.

Local broadcaster WKYT reported that stickers carrying a link to anti-Semitic content were plastered on several businesses in downtown Lexington over the weekend.

The stickers were “red and white with a QR code printed in the center,” the station reported.  Scanning the code took the user to an archive of 290 recorded speeches by William Luther Pierce – a fanatical American neo-Nazi and White Supremacist who died in 2002.

“Racism and religious persecution are intolerable and have no place in Lexington,” said city Mayor Linda Gorton following the incident.  The mayor urged everyone with information about the stickers to contact Lexington police.

Lexington Rabbi Shlomo Litvin noted in a separate statement that “dozens of stickers were illegally plastered around downtown Lexington, with links to incoherent racist and anti-Semitic drivel.”  Rabbi Litvin urged the city’s residents to “speak out and reject this affront.”

This latest incident comes on the heels of two disturbing incidents at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

In November, the University’s Jewish Student Center was vandalized, while on December 14, one person was injured during an anti-Semitic attack on a menorah lighting ceremony for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.



British Author Refuses To Include ‘Anti-Semitic’ ‘Merchant Of Venice’ In Children’s Retelling Of Shakespeare’s Plays

A prominent British children’s author and playwright has decided to omit The Merchant of Venice from a young adult book he is working on, based on Shakespeare’s plays, because of its “anti-Semitic” nature.

Sir Michael Morpurgo, 77, is writing a book titled Tales From Shakespeare, a retelling of Shakespeare’s most popular plays that will cater to a young clientele.  The book which is set to be published next year, will include Hamlet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and King Lear.

After rereading The Merchant of Venice, Morpurgo felt that he could not “honestly” retell it and thought it was “too raw to write about for children,” he told The Times in an interview published Sunday (3rd).

“I did not tackle Shylock.  I avoided [the play] because it worried me too much,” Morpurgo said.  “There are assumptions all the way through about what it is to be a Jew and how Jews are thought of.”

“I did feel this was Shakespeare’s play and I could not tell it honestly,” he continued.  “It would be offensive.”

The Merchant of Venice was a popular production in Nazi Germany, according to scholars, because Shylock’s characterization as a greedy Jew was in line with the anti-Semitic propaganda of the Third Reich.  The play was performed in the theaters of the Third Reich “repeatedly” according to British novelist Howard Jacobson, who added that “in Shylock, the Nazis saw the Jew they wanted to see.”

“Hitler’s willing directors rarely failed to exploit the anti-Semitic possibilities of the play,” wrote Kevin Madigan, Professor of Christian History at Harvard Divinity School.

Literary critic Harold Bloom wrote in his 1998 book Shakespeare and the Invention of the Human that “One would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to recognize that Shakespeare’s grand, equivocal comedy, The Merchant of Venice, is nevertheless a profoundly anti-Semitic work.”