News Digest — 10/13/21

WJC President Lauder: Israel In A More Dangerous Place Today Than Ever Before

In a pre-recorded video address broadcast to attendees at the 10th Annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said Israel finds itself in a more dangerous position than at any time in its history.

“For decades,” said Lauder, “Israel’s enemies have been trying to defeat it politically.  And today they are succeeding.”

Lauder noted that many people around the world now believe the lies and distortions spread by Israel’s enemies: that Israel is an apartheid state, is involved in ethnic cleansing, and is guilty of crimes against humanity.  Referring to the condemnation of Israel in its response to Hamas rockets, Lauder said, “Only Israel is criticized for doing what any other country on earth would do – protecting its own people.”

Even in the United States, Lauder noted, some members of Congress sided with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement (BDS), and attempted to stop funding the Iron Dome missile-defense system.

“Nancy Pelosi, one of the most powerful politicians in America, cannot control the anti-Israel wing of her party,” he said.  Lauder added that anti-Semitism, in the form of anti-Israel remarks, is rapidly spreading in colleges, universities and the media.

Lauder suggested that the State of Israel needs to create a well-funded ministry of public diplomacy (hasbara) to counter the political threats facing the country.  He urged Israel to work more closely with the Jews of the Diaspora and reduce political discord within the country itself.

“Now is the time,” said Lauder, “to defend our people around the world – to fight the lies and redefine the issues and reach our hands out to our neighbors.”



Herzog: Inaction Against Iran A ‘Clear Threat To International Peace And Security’

Iran is exploiting the world’s inaction and the lack of coordination between countries, “a clear threat to international peace and security,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned.

Herzog addressed the Jerusalem Post 10th Annual Conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on Tuesday (12th) and condemned Iran’s regional aggression as a result of a breakdown of international dialogue.

“Here, we see the world’s failure to act in concert, to settle on a strategy to sever Iran’s tentacles in the Middle East, to restrain its ballistic missile program, and to shut down its nuclear program.  Iran is exploiting this inaction, this lack of coordination: a clear threat to international peace and security,” said Herzog.

Meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem on Sunday (10th), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that Iran’s nuclear program has “reached a stage that requires leadership.  Acceptance of the transformation of Iran into a nuclear-threshold-country will be a moral stain on the free world, and even more so – will threaten world peace.”

“We see how the Iranians are behaving right now, even without a nuclear umbrella, in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza and the Gulf.  One can only imagine the extent of the damage they would cause if the world knew that behind this bullying was also a nuclear bomb.” he noted.

“There is no point in trying to appease the Iranians, they interpret conciliation as weakness.  They continue to thrive in the international community, buying time and constantly advancing uranium enrichment, and destabilizing the region.  This is a critical point, and Germany’s position is particularly important,” he said.  

Germany, one of the signatories on the 2015 agreement with Iran, has sought a path of discourse with Tehran, while Israel has warned that such an approach will enable the Islamic Republic to develop nuclear weapons.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid departed for a diplomatic visit to Washington on Monday night (11th) where he is meeting with US leaders and members of both parties in Congress as the US seeks to re-engage Iran in talks on its nuclear program.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also meet with Lapid and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Mahyan, the UAE Foreign Minister, to discuss “accomplishments since the signing of the Abraham Accords and other important issues.”



Massive Arab Construction Project Launched In Eastern Jerusalem

Bashar Masri, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of the Palestinian Authority city of Rawabi near Ramallah, unveiled on Monday (11th) the “Lana” (for us), a $300 million project of 400 housing units to be built in the northern areas of Jerusalem. 

Masri convened a press conference which was attended by the Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Patriarch Theophilos III, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, senior members of the waqf and church leaders.

“Jerusalem is our top priority and investing in it is an important means of economic empowerment for the residents of the city.  As long as I am able to do so, I will not hesitate,” declared Masri.

“We started excavation operations and will provide a modern and integrated lifestyle for the residents,” he added.

The huge residential project will be located near the Beit Hanina neighborhood, on the road to Ramallah.

This residential project is considered the largest in eastern Jerusalem and is valued at more than NIS 1 billion, as a joint venture between Massar International, The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and other companies.

According to Masri, he waited 10 years to receive the permits and approvals from all the authorities in Israel, including the Jerusalem Municipality. 

The large project has nine buildings, of which one is a commercial complex and eight are buildings with 400 residential apartments.

The land, estimated at 30,000 square meters, is owned by the Greek Orthodox Church. 

The first 94 apartments will be ready within two and a half years.



Israel Honors Immigrants For Exceptional Contributions To Society

President Isaac Herzog and Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata presented awards on Sunday (10th) to new immigrants who have made “exceptional contributions” to Israeli society.

The awards, now in their second year, were presented at a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, ahead of “Aliyah Day.” a national holiday in Israel celebrated on the 10th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, which began this year on the evening of October 12 and ends October 13 at sundown.

Five prizes were awarded in the field of society and community, medicine, care and welfare, art, science, engineering and sports, a government statement said.

“This year’s prize winners, each in his or her own field, are inspiring and serve as proof of the important contribution of aliyah to the flourishing and success of our country in all walks of life,” said Tamano-Shata.

“Each layer of immigration is built on top of another; each adds height and richness to the one before it,” said Herzog.  “The most recent layer is the impressive – some might say extraordinary – wave of thousands of immigrants at the height of the coronavirus epidemic.”

Also participating in the event were World Zionist Organization Chairman and acting Jewish Agency Executive-Chairman Yaakov Hagoel, former Mossad chief and chairman of the judges’ panel Efraim Halevy and Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder and Executive Director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass.



Crown Heights Yeshiva Student Shot In Suspected Hate Crime

A Yeshiva student was the victim of a hate-crime attack in Crown Heights Monday (11th) when he was shot from a passing vehicle with a BB gun.  The victim was taken to the hospital in stable condition, with injuries to his face.

According to Yeshiva World News, the victim was shot around 11 p.m.  Although New York police and Crown Heights Shomrim were on the scene almost immediately the suspect had already fled in his vehicle.

The community leapt into action to prosecute the hate-crime, gathering security camera footage of the vicinity, while the NYPD worked to ensure that the investigation progressed swiftly.

The attack comes just four days after the FBI launched a nationwide anti-hate crime initiative in the wake of rising hate-crime statistics.

In a press release, the FBI commented: “Victims and witnesses of any hate-related incidents are encouraged to report the information to law enforcement.”

2020 saw the highest number of hate-crime reports in twelve years.  Figures showed that in total there were 7,759 incidents in 2020, up from 7,314 in 2019.  The figure is the highest since 2008, when 7,783 hate- crimes went on record.

Hate-crimes targeting Jews made up 60% of all religiously motivated ones, with some 676 Jewish victims in 2020, making Jews the  most targeted community in America, per head of population.

Following the release of the statistics, ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt commented: “As ADL has said time and time again, when just one individual is targeted by a hate-crime, it negatively impacts the entire community, resulting in marginalized groups rightfully feeling vulnerable and under siege.”