News Digest — 10/11/21

Merkel: ‘Israel’s Security Will Always Be Of Central Importance To Every German Government’

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood on Sunday (10th) in Jerusalem with her head bowed over the buried ashes of Jews killed in Nazi death camps, and pledged Germany would preserve a post-Holocaust commitment to Israel’s security.

Merkel, on her eighth and final visit to Israel as she concludes her 16-year term, earlier held talks with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Commenting on what Israel sees as an issue crucial to its security, Merkel said the coming weeks would be decisive for the future of a nuclear deal with Iran.

Germany has been a leading postwar European ally of Israel and Merkel has sought to cultivate security and economic ties, though she has differed with Israel on policies concerning the Palestinians and Iran.

“I want to use this opportunity to emphasize that the topic of Israel’s security will always be of central importance and a central topic of every German government,” she told Bennett at a private meeting, according to a transcript issued by his office.

Attending a later session of Bennett’s cabinet, Merkel said “the history of the Shoah (Holocaust) is a singular event for which we continue to bear responsibility in every phase of history, including in the future,”

At Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Israel’s memorial to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, Merkel rekindled an eternal flame in its hall of remembrance.

She then placed a wreath on a slab under which ashes from extermination camps, death camps, and other killing fields are buried, and stood in silence, her head bowed.

Speaking outside the chamber, Merkel pointed to a resurgence of Jewish life in Germany, calling it,  “an expression of trust that compels us to stand up with determination against anti-Semitism, hatred, and violence every day anew.”

Bennett said Merkel has served as a “moral compass” for Europeans at times divided over Middle East conflicts.

“We sometimes disagree on questions such as whether there should be a two-state solution with the Palestinians,” Merkel told Bennett’s cabinet.  “But we agree, I think, that there must always be a vision of a lasting democratic Jewish State of Israel.”

Following an inconclusive Sept, 26 election, Germany’s Social Democrats are courting smaller parties to form a coalition that would replace a conservative grouping led by Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Merkel, 67, plans to step down once a new government is formed.



Israel Is Not An Apartheid Country, Pompeo Says During Visit To Judea And Samaria

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toured various areas in Judea and Samaria on Sunday (10th), in a special visit accompanied by Opposition Leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“This is the rightful homeland for the people of Israel, Judea and Samaria,” Pompeo said during a visit to the Psagot Winery, located just north of Jerusalem – the same place where last November he announced the dramatic shift in US policy that saw Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria labeled as “Made in Israel” rather then “Made in the West Bank.”

“During my first trip here, there were protesters not too far from where we were standing.  What they were protesting was a falsehood.  What they were protesting is a fantasy because we know the reality of this place.  We know it is Israel,” he said, noting throughout his speech the efforts it took to tell the world the truth.”

“We recognized that this is not an occupied nation, this is not an apartheid country,” he said.  “It is a democracy where faiths can be practiced from all of the Abrahamic traditions.”

Pompeo described his time working under the Trump administration and alongside former US Ambassador  to Israel David Friedman, who he described as a “bulldozer for the truth.”

“I will never forget the meetings,” he said, discussing the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  “The meetings that said there will be war…and yet President Trump was bold – he was prepared – and we did the work.”

Pompeo became the first US Secretary of State to visit Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Speaking after Pompeo, Netanyahu discussed what he described as the “basic connection, unequalled anywhere in the history of other nations,” between the Jewish people and Judea and Samaria.  He  decried the “false narrative” of a Palestinian claim to the land of Israel, lamenting a shift during the 20th century in how world leaders perceived the Jewish connection to the historic Jewish homeland. He said the shift is filled with “lies” supported by “Arab propaganda.”

Asked to describe his feelings on welcoming Pompeo “back” to Israel, Netanyahu expressed his satisfaction with the visit, calling it a “correct policy decision” to support Samarian communities. 



Iran Insinuates Israeli Intelligence Agents Operating In Azerbaijan, Turkey

Iranian Border Guards’ Commander Ahmed Ali Goudarzi criticized the Azeri government in an interview with a local media outlet, Thursday (7th).

“Our country’s borders are particularly secure in the north and northwest, and there is no cause for concern,” Goudarzi said.  “We have warned our neighbors in the north against the presence of hostile entities on our northern borders.”

“Israel is active in countries on our northwestern borders but, unfortunately, it is now more active in Azerbaijan.”

The commander said the Israeli intelligence agents “are completely under observation.  They are completely under the intelligence bombardment of the Islamic Republic.”  “Iran has full control over their activities,” Goudarzi said.

The reference to “countries on our northern borders” could point not only to Israeli intelligence ties to Azerbaijan but Turkey as well.

In December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying: “Our intelligence ties with Israel are ongoing.  We have difficulties in managing ties with people in senior leadership roles.  The ties would be very different were it not for trouble with those at the top,” he said.

Growing tensions in the South Caucasus in recent weeks have had an impact on Iran-Turkey ties.  Among other things, a border crossing was closed to Iranian trucks as Tehran accused Ankara of stationing troops in the Azeri city of Horadiz, near the countries’ shared border.



BBC Describes Alfred Dreyfus As ‘Notorious Jewish Spy’   

The BBC described Alfred Dreyfus – a French Jewish officer accused of treason in the Dreyfus Affair – as a “notorious Jewish spy” in its summary  for the first episode of a period police drama released on October 9.

“Paris, 1899, the French Republic is in turmoil as rumors spread about the release from Devil’s Island of Dreyfus, the notorious Jewish spy,” read the summary for episode 1 of BBC’s Paris Police 1900.

According to the BBC, the summary was later changed to avoid misunderstanding.  The line from the program page was rewritten to describe Dreyfus instead as having been “previously arrested for spying.”

“The sentence was not intended as an [sic] historical statement, but to reflect the rumors towards the Dreyfus case that we see in the drama – which also depicts the rise of anti-Semitism,” the BBC spokesperson said in response to a Jerusalem Post inquiry.

“For the BBC to produce a series featuring Alfred Dreyfus, who was basically accused of treason, and then describe him as a ‘notorious Jewish spy’ is an insult to his memory and the Jewish community in general,” Emanuel Miller, a media analyst at the media watchdog organization HonestReporting told The Jerusalem Post.  “The Dreyfus case represented a key moment in Zionism’s history and in the eyes of many is a byword for the miscarriages of justice suffered by Jews throughout the ages.  How many times must a Jew’s name be smeared?”

“While the website text was quietly changed, the BBC evidently feels it doesn’t owe Jews an apology, much less take serious steps to familiarize its staff with the basics of anti-Semitism in order to prevent such easily avoidable mishaps,” Miller said to the Post.  “Unfortunately, judging by past experience, the BBC is unlikely to apologize for the insulting mischaracterization.”

Alfred Dreyfus was a French Jewish Military officer who was falsely accused of treason in 1894 in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War.  Dreyfus’ officer sword was publicly broken, he was stripped of his rank, and imprisoned on Devil’s Island.  Evidently, reports of an army cover-up of Dreyfus’ innocence and the scapegoating of him, were leaked to the press, later leading to his exoneration in 1906.

The anti-Semitism surrounding the scandal convinced Theodor Herzl, then a journalist and later one of the founding fathers of Zionism, of the necessity of establishing a Jewish state.



Spain Seeks Descendants Of Hungarian Jews Saved From Nazis By Diplomat

The Spanish government released the names of Hungarian Jews who evaded Nazi persecution with the help of a Spanish diplomat in an effort to find their descendants and share their stories with the world.

Yad Vashem recognized Angel Sanz-Briz as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1966 for saving approximately 5,200 Jews from the Nazis.

As a diplomat stationed in Hungary in 1944, he created Spanish passports for Jews of Spanish origin and granted Spanish citizenship to Hungarian Jews.  He also rented apartment buildings in Budapest to hide Jews and placed the Spanish flag outside the building to label them official properties of the Spanish Legation.

Additionally, he urged the International Red Cross representative to put Spanish signs on hospital buildings, orphanages and maternity clinics in Budapest to help protect the Jews inside.

With support from the Spanish government, the Centro Sefarad-Israel – a Sephardic cultural institution that is part of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs – published the names of the people Sanz-Briz saved and details about them in the hopes of locating their relatives.  The Centro Sefarad-Israel set up an email address so people who had any information at all could contact them.

Sanz-Briz continued his diplomatic career well after World War II.  He was appointed Ambassador to Guatemala and later became consul general in New York in 1962.  He died on June 11, 1980 while  serving as Ambassador to the Holy See, in Rome.

The Spanish diplomat was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary in 1994, and a street in Budapest was named after him in 2015.