News Digest — 10/8/20

Israel Hit With Rare October Heatwave As Summer Swelter Stretches Into Fall

A rare October heatwave sizzled over Israel on Thursday (8th), bringing blazing temperatures to many parts of the country as an alarmingly hot summer and fall continued to grip the region.

Jerusalem and Haifa expected a searing 94 degree Fahrenheit weather on Thursday afternoon (8th), while Tel Aviv was set for a high of 91 F.

The northern cities of Tiberias and Beit Shean and the southern resort town of Eilat were expected to see temperatures as high as 105 F.

The heat will linger through the weekend, before dipping slightly early next week, though it will remain unseasonably warm.

Average temperatures in October usually hover around 79-82 F.

Experts say the number of hot days in the region is increasing, as well as the length of the hot season.

According to the Israel Meteorological Service, September was the hottest on record across most of the country.

The heatwave in Israel catches the country as it is under nationwide lockdown to stem the coronavirus pandemic.  It also comes as the country marks the final days of the Sukkot holiday.

Sukkot began on Friday the 2nd and will end at sundown on Friday the 9th.



Jewish Leaders Welcome Continued Detainment Of Daniel Pearl’s Killer

Jewish leaders have welcomed a recent decision by the Supreme Court in Pakistan to keep one of Daniel Pearl’s killers in jail despite his acquittal by a lower court in April.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh has been on death row since 2002, sentenced to death for masterminding the beheading of Pearl that same year.  Pearl, a Jewish-American, was the South Asia Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal, based in Mumbai, India, where he was investigating links between Pakistani militants and “Shoe Bomber” Richard C. Field when he was kidnapped and later beheaded by terrorists.

In April, a Pakistani court commuted Sheikh’s death sentence and acquitted three others co-accused of Pearl’s murder.  Now British-born Sheikh will remain in jail for a further three months, following a ruling by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on an appeal by Pearl’s family.  The decision was made at a brief hearing by the court, during which government prosecutor Fiaz Shah told judges he needed more time for paperwork.  The judges adjourned the hearing until October 21.

Faisal Siddiqi, the lawyer representing Pearl’s family, said that he hopes the court will rule to keep Sheikh on death row, after the new 90-day detention.

In a statement, Arthur Stark, Chairman, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said that they “Welcome the announcement by prosecutors at the Supreme Court of Pakistan that Sheikh…will stay in jail while his case continues.”

“This killer should be behind bars for the rest of his days; anything less would be a painful insult to the Pearl family.  They have suffered enough in the years since the atrocity occurred.”    

“Those responsible for his death were motivated by their hatred of who he was and must be held accountable,” they said, adding: “We call on the US government to do all it can to ensure that justice is served in this case.”

Retweeting the statement on Twitter, Daroff added: “The last words of Daniel Pearl, an American citizen, were ‘My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, and I’m Jewish.’  Those responsible for his death were motivated by their hatred of who he was and must be held accountable.”



Israel, UAE Ambassadors Shake Hands At Diplomatic Hotspot – The UN In Geneva

In the latest advancement of Israel-UAE normalization, the countries’ ambassadors to the United Nations on Wednesday (7th) met in Geneva, one of the more diplomatically contentious sites for Israel, because it is the seat of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

That meeting came a day after Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi held a high-profile meeting with his UAE counterpart in Berlin.

The conversation in Geneva was “very friendly,” Israel’s Ambassador, Meirav Eilon Shahar told The Jerusalem Post.  The meeting took place at the UAE mission offices and Shahar said that she had invited her counterpart, Obaid Salam Al Zaabi to visit Israel.

“The meeting was well publicized, with the UAE providing a photographer to capture the historic moment.  The overall atmosphere was very refreshing,” Shahar added.

As a sign of the friendly diplomatic atmosphere, the UAE mission then published the photograph of the two ambassadors on Twitter. 

“We discussed changes in the Middle East and potential collaborations in the United Nations and specialized agencies in Geneva,” she wrote, as she similarly tweeted the photograph.

Al Zaabi was “very optimistic about the changes” that will “mutually benefit both countries,” she said.

The Ministers also discussed promoting Dubai’s Expo 2021 at which Israel will also be an exhibitor.



Islamic Jihad: We’re Interested In Joining The PLO

Ziad al-Nakhala, leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, called on the PLO to revoke its recognition of the “Zionist entity” and to rebuild the PLO in such a way that it becomes a framework that represents all Palestinian organizations.

Speaking on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Jihad, Nakhala advocated the declaration of a “stage of national liberation” in which priority will be given to the resistance against Israel in all its characteristics and the realization of national unity.

Nakhala noted that the peace process under the auspices of the Oslo Accords had failed, and that the “enemy” was trying to turn the “West Bank” into a “state for the settlers.”

He confirmed that Islamic Jihad would run in the elections for the Palestinian National Council (the PLO parliament), but demanded that they be separate from the parliamentary elections.

Islamic Jihad seeks to be part of a PLO that does not recognize the “Zionist entity,” which cancels the agreements signed with it, and is loyal to the Palestinian National Convention which calls for an uncompromising armed struggle until the liberation of all “Palestinian territory.”

In response to the US “Deal of the Century” and the establishment of relations between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Israel, the Palestinian Authority is leading a process of national reconciliation, centered on integrating Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the PLO and holding elections for Palestinian institutions.



EU Won’t Give PA More Aid As They Refuse Israel-Collected Tax Funds

The EU turned down requests from Ramallah for additional aid as long as the Palestinians refuse to accept their own money – because it is collected by Israel.

“No stopgap extra funding should be expected…if they do not accept their own money,” an EU diplomat said on Wednesday (7th).

The PA will, however, continue to get the aid it usually receives from the EU, but no more.

All imports to the PA go through Israeli checkpoints, and Israel collects VAT and tariffs for the Palestinian Authority.  Those funds are the largest source of income for the PA.  Israel also collects income tax and health insurance funds for Palestinians who work for Israelis.

In May, Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas announced that he was stopping cooperation with Israel, in anticipation of Israel applying sovereignty to parts of the West Bank in accordance with the Trump peace plan.

Those plans were officially suspended in August, when Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced normalization, but the PA has still not accepted its own tax money from Israel.  Israel has since amassed over NIS 2.5b. that the PA refuses to take.

EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell called Abbas last Wednesday (9/30) to tell him that he will not be getting any more aid money in light of the situation, Walla News reported.

The PA is currently in a deep economic crisis, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, and has had difficulty paying its employees.

The EU, the UK and Norway told the Palestinians to take the tax money Israel collected, in light of the fact that Israel stopped its plan to apply its laws in the West Bank.



Stickers With ‘Malicious Blood Libel’ Posted In Downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia

Stickers that seemed to blame Jews for the spread of the coronavirus were found posted throughout Halifax, the capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

The stickers read “The Bug That Backfired COVID-19,” flanked by Stars of David.

The stickers were found throughout downtown Halifax and on some university campuses, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported on Sunday (4th).

The Atlantic Jewish Council, which represents the Jewish communities of eastern Canada, called the stickers a “malicious blood libel” in a tweet.

“The implication is that the Jewish community was the cause of COVID-19, which obviously is completely false and very anti-Semitic,” Naomi Rosenfeld, the council’s executive director, told the CBC.

Independent Jewish Voices, a grassroots anti-racism organization, said the stickers are part of a trend of right-wing and white-supremacist hatred toward vulnerable minority groups.

“Fighting and educating against anti-Semitism must therefore be part of a larger struggle against all group hatred and discrimination,” IJV said in a statement.