News Digest — 10/6/20

Lost Tribe Of Bnei Menashe Celebrates Sukkot In Northeast India

Like Jews elsewhere around the world, the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India gathered this week to celebrate Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.  In their festival prayers, the Bnei Menashe offered a special plea to fulfill their age-old dream to make Aliyah to Israel.

The Bnei Menashe, or sons of Manasseh, claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes, who were taken into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago.

Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the borders of Burma and Bangladesh.

Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity – and they continued to yearn to return to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.

“Even in the farthest reaches of northeastern India, the Bnei Menashe have continued to uphold that ancient tradition of building Sukkot in honor of the festival,” said Shavei Israel founder and chairman, Michael Freund.  “We fervently hope that next year, they will be able to do so in Israel.”

Thanks largely to Shavei Israel, more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe have already made Aliyah, while another 6,500 remain in India awaiting their return to the Jewish homeland.  Of these, 722 Bnei Menashe will be immigrating to Israel over the coming 12 months.



Rocket Fired From Gaza At Southern Israel; IDF Retaliates With Strike

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at Israel late Monday (5th), the army said.  There were no reported casualties or damages.

Sirens sounded in areas of southern Israel neighboring Gaza to warn of the incoming fire.  There was no claim of responsibility.

The army said the projectile likely fell in an open area.

Hours later, the army said an Israel Defense Forces aircraft struck a Hamas military installation in the southern Gaza Strip in retaliation for the rocket fire.  

The last cross-border rocket attack, followed by Israeli retaliation with air raids, came on September 15 and coincided with the signing in Washington of normalization deals between the Jewish State and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.  

A truce mediated by Qatar has since held.

During the previous barrage last month, 15 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, with one striking the city of Ashdod, injuring two people.  Most of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, the IDF said.  

 September’s barrage represented the first attacks since an unofficial ceasefire agreement was reached between Israel and terror groups in the Strip in late August.



Hamas Brainstorms With Bahraini Figures Opposed To Israel Peace Deal

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met earlier this month in Beirut with opposition figures from Bahrain for a first-of-its-kind meeting to coordinate activities against the peace agreement between Israel and Bahrain.

Representatives of Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror groups and the PLO were also present at a meeting with members of the pro-Iranian, Al Wafaq Association, whose activities are banned in Bahrain.

Haniyeh’s meeting was also preceded by a meeting with Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad Nahala and elements from Bahrain.

Haniyeh called during the meeting to bring about a uniform Islamic position against the normalization measures while Nahala emphasized the importance of “unity” between Shiites and Sunnis in protecting the Muslim nation and its sanctuaries.  A source in Bahrain told TPS that this is the first time Hamas has openly intervened in Bahrain’s internal affairs and that this step is a Hamas provocation that is inspired by Shiite Iran and backed by Hezbollah.

The source said Hamas’ actions were a provocation and that the US should now focus its efforts on Hamas and on the Iranian involvement in Bahrain, both of which are working to thwart the US-led peacekeeping trend in the region.

The meeting follows a long series of protests in Bahrain by Islamic associations, intellectuals and clerics against the peace agreement with Israel.



A Brave New Dawn In Arab-Israeli Relations – Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor

Some of my fellow Arabs, who have no solution how to better the lives of Palestinians, prefer to hang on to the same old rhetoric and unrealistic scenarios that belong to the mid-20th century.  I have been a supporter of the Palestinians all my life, but I am a realist. I cannot remain stuck in some fantasyland and neither do I wait indefinitely for miracles.

Like it or not, Israel exists as an economic powerhouse under the unwavering protective umbrella of the US.  To imagine that boycotting Israeli goods will force the collapse of the state is infantile.  The Palestinians, who still insist on the right of return for refugees who are in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere, know full well that is never going to happen.

There are 2 million Palestinians who have Israeli nationality.  Most take pride in their Arab heritage, yet are content to call themselves Arab Israelis.  It is beyond time for the Palestinians to quit blaming everyone else for the situation they find themselves in today.

I would urge all Arab leadership to bury old hatreds that have consumed their foreign policies for 72 years without bearing fruit.  Join us in forging a peaceful Middle East, with new and exciting possibilities for all.

The writer is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure.



Merkel Denounces Attack On Jewish Student In Hamburg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday (5th) denounced the attack on a Jewish student outside a synagogue in Hamburg as a “disgrace.”

“Such an attack is repulsive, no matter what investigations about the motivation and the condition of the perpetrator might show,” said Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert, according to AFP.

“And it must be clearly stated by everyone in this society: in Germany, every such act is a disgrace,” he added.

German investigators said earlier on Monday (5th) they were probing the attack as attempted murder with anti-Semitic intent.

The suspect, a 29-year-old man who had been arrested, was dressed in combat fatigues and had a piece of paper with a hand-drawn swastika in his pocket, said police and prosecutors in a statement.

“The current assessment of the situation suggests that this is an anti-Semitic motivated attack,” they said, adding that investigators are treating it as “attempted murder with grievous bodily harm.”

The victim, a 26-year-old Jewish student entering a synagogue on Sunday (4th), during Sukkot, suffered serious injuries when the suspect beat him in the head with a shovel.  Security guards working at the synagogue intervened, detaining the suspect until police arrived.

The victim was hospitalized in the ICU Unit in serious condition.

The attack in Hamburg occurred almost exactly a year after a neo-Nazi attacked a synagogue in Halle, Germany.

The October 9, 2019 attack on a synagogue during Yom Kippur prayers was foiled when the gunman, Stephan Ballet, was unable to breach the synagogue’s door.

Unable to carry out the planned massacre in the synagogue, Ballet shot and killed two passersby, including a 40-year-old woman walking down the street and a man working at a nearby kebab shop.

Several weeks ago, Germany announced it was providing $26 million to improve security in synagogues and other Jewish sites in the country following last year’s attack in Halle.

According to data released in May, Germany recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic crimes nationwide since 2001, last year, with the vast majority of the anti-Jewish crimes ascribed to far-right wing perpetrators.

Following the Halle attack, the German government promised to introduce a law making it possible to increase penalties when a crime involved an anti-Semitic motive.