News Digest — 10/27/21

President Herzog Writes To Jordanian King On Anniversary Of Peace Treaty

On Tuesday (26th), President Isaac Herzog wrote to His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan on the twenty-seventh anniversary of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty.

Full text of the letter:

Your Majesty,

I write on this historic anniversary, twenty-seven years after the signing of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty.  Anyone present at the ceremony at the southern border crossing of Arabah on October 26, 1994 will never forget the fine day on which your father, King Hussein, and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin demonstrated the true meaning of leadership by taking responsibility for their nations’ fate.

The signing of the agreement represented the triumph of vision over extremism and cynicism.  Twenty-seven years later, the supreme strategic value of peace should be clear to all.  Only by deepening and expanding our ties across all levels of government and civil society, and in all fields of cooperation, can we safeguard this indispensable asset of peace.  I look forward to seeing our bilateral cooperation grow in the fields of agriculture, water, trade, innovation, hi-tech, and more over the course of my Presidency, for the benefit of both our nations and the region as a whole.

Our important meeting several weeks ago, which you so graciously hosted, renewed my faith in the crucial partnership between our nations and filled me with optimism for the future.

I assure you, Your Majesty, of the State of Israel’s complete support for this lasting peace, and I look forward to continuing to deepen our friendship for many years to come.



First Public Israeli Flight Lands In Saudi Arabia

An Israeli private jet landed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday morning (26th), per Kan news, marking the first time a public flight from Israel has ever landed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The news came just a day after the first flight from Saudi Arabia landed in Israel, as an Emirati 737 Royal Jet landed in Ben Gurion airport Monday evening (25th).

This is the latest among improving regional ties for Israel: agreements to normalize relations with four nations – UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan – have been realized since the 2020 Abraham Accords.

While there remains no commercial flights between Saudi Arabia and Israel, as the two states have no official relations, the flights are a considerable advancement in Saudi-Israeli relations, as both nations finally opened their air spaces to each other just last year.

Surrounded by nations that have clashed with Israel in the past, free air travel is not something that is taken for granted in Israel.  Included in the 2020 normalization of ties with Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco and the UAE was the opening of air spaces to Israeli flights to Dubai, Morocco and Bahrain.

Prior to the opening of Saudi airspace, El Al’s planes had to follow a long, winding route to Mumbai in order to avoid Saudi airspace, adding roughly two hours to the trip from Tel Aviv and putting the Israeli carrier at a huge disadvantage to competitors, who were allowed to fly direct.  This caused difficulty to some flights out of Ben Gurion to certain locales, and were potentially dangerous.

Airspace has always been a point of contention with Israel and its adversaries.  The following countries continue to ban both direct flights and overflying traffic to and from Israel: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.



Macron Inaugurates Alfred Dreyfus Museum Near Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron has inaugurated near Paris what is believed to be the world’s first museum on the wrongful and anti-Semitic persecution of the late army captain Alfred Dreyfus.

The new museum inaugurated on Tuesday (26th) in the suburb of Medan, features at least 500 documents including photographs, court papers and personal objects from the 8-year ordeal that ended in 1906 with Dreyfus’ exoneration from trumped-up espionage charges and convictions.

Some of the documents are displayed on walls in the main space of the museum, hanging against giant text naming concepts such as “Justice,” “Treason,” and “Innocence.”

Also on display are copies of anti-Semitic caricatures that were published in mainstream newspapers in France in connection with the Dreyfus trials.

The Dreyfus Museum is part of the Zola House, a cultural institution devoted to preserving the memory of Emile Zola, the renowned French writer who, though not Jewish himself, played a key role in leading opposition and protests against the injustice done to Dreyfus.

Zola’s role in the Dreyfus affair was immortalized in 1898, when he penned an influential article titled “J’accuse,” or “I accuse.”

The open letter criticized the persecution of Dreyfus, ostensibly for spying on France for Germany.  “The captain,” Zola wrote, “was prosecuted and convicted on scant evidence because he was Jewish.”  (Following the article’s publication, Zola was put on trial for libel and fled the country, living out his remaining years in exile.)

The trial had even broader implications on the next century of Jewish thought: Theodore Herzl, who many view as the father of modern Zionism, covered the trial as a journalist and later described it “as a watershed moment” in his ideological development from an assimilationist Jew into a Zionist.

The Zola House and the Dreyfus Museum will open to the public on Thursday (28th).

In 1899, Dreyfus was pardoned by the French president and released from three years of jail, and in 1906 a military commission officially exonerated him.



Tehran Suffering Worst Drought In 50 Years, Says Water Supply Official

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s capital is suffering its worst drought in half a century, a water resources official said Tuesday (26th), citing a 97% drop in monthly rainfall compared with last year.

Tehran has had 0.4 millimeters of rain since September 23, compared with 14.3mm over the same period in 2020, said Mohammad Shahriari, deputy director of the company that supplies the region.

“Groundwater and surface water are at a critical state and there has not been a similar drought for the past 50 years,” he was quoted as saying by Iran’s ISNA news agency.

The five dams supplying water to the capital are at less than a third of their capacity, holding just under 17 billion cubic feet of water instead of two billion cubic meters.

In September last year, the reserves held 729 million cubic meters of water.

Water consumption in the agricultural sector has gone up by 14% compared with last year, and by eight percent for industry.

Hydroelectricity generation has dropped by 40% in the past 6 months, according to Shahriari.

Tehran is home to around nine million people.  In July, deadly protests broke out in the drought-hit southwestern province of Khuzestan after people took to the streets to vent their anger over water shortages.



‘Thank You God For Helping Me Get Out Of Hell’

Dozens of notes of Holocaust survivors living in the United States were placed this week at the Western Wall in Jerusalem through an initiative by the World Zionist Organization and Holocaust Heroes Worldwide.

A special ceremony was held at the sacred site that survivors watched from home via Zoom.  The event was attended, among others, by Tova Dorfman, vice chairman and head of the WZO’s Department for Israel and the Commemoration of the Holocaust Worldwide, and Moran Alfasi, founder and executive director of Holocaust Heroes Worldwide.

The notes were collected over the past year and a half from Holocaust survivors living in Florida.  Most of the survivors have never visited Israel and others have not traveled to the Jewish state in almost two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the survivors, leaving a note in the cracks of the Western Wall was a “dream come true.”

“I hope the memory of the Holocaust will prevail long after we are gone,” one survivor wrote in his note.  “May there be world peace and peace for the Jewish people, and may future generations keep their eyes open to what is happening to make sure that something like this never happens to any other person or people.”

Another survivor wrote, “Thank you God, for helping me get out from Hell alive to see the birth of our country Israel.”

After the ceremony, Dorfman said, “It is a privilege to help Holocaust survivors in the Diaspora place notes and wishes at the Western Wall and share this experience with them.”

“Next year will mark 80 years since the Nazis’ Final Solution to annihilate the Jewish people, and when the last-living Holocaust survivors among us get a chance to pray, from near or afar, in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish state, it is a message of victory,” Dorfman added.