News Digest — 10/9/20

Israel And Jordan Sign Historic Airspace Agreement

Israel and Jordan reached an agreement allowing flights to cross over both countries’ airspace, the Transportation Ministry announced on Thursday (8th).

The deal allows flights crossing over one country to also fly over the other.

The agreement will significantly shorten the length of flights from Israel to the Gulf and East Asia, cutting the time it takes to travel between countries and cutting gas costs and pollution.

It will also allow the UAE and Bahrain, which recently made peace with Israel, along with other countries in the region, to fly over Israeli airspace.

Jerusalem and Amman reached the deal after several years, but peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia allowing Israeli flights to the UAE over its airspace hastened the process.

The European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, known as EUROCONTROL, played a major part in negotiating the agreement.

Transportation Minister Miri Regev said, “We are once again breaking new boundaries, and this time it is in the air.”

“Thanks to this agreement, Israel is better integrated into the region,” she added.  “We are opening new routes for cooperation in transportation, economics and diplomacy with the states sharing borders and shared interests with us, and a partnership in the vision for regional peace.”



Chief PA Negotiator Diagnosed With COVID-19

Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, has been infected with COVID-19, according to an announcement on his official Twitter account on Thursday (8th).

In 2016, Erekat was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a respiratory disease caused by the formation of scar tissue inside the lungs.  At the time, Erekat received medical treatment inside Israel.  It was later reported that he was awaiting a lung transplant, which he received in a hospital in Virginia, in 2017.

On Wednesday (7th), the Palestinian Authority “health ministry” reported six more deaths from coronavirus in 24 hours, bringing the death toll from the virus to 418.

After easing a previous coronavirus lockdown recently, PA Health Minister, Mai al-Kaila said the PA has now entered a second wave of infections “more dangerous than the first.”



The End Of The Age Of Islamic Insurgency? – Jonathan Spyer

20 years ago, the Second Intifada witnessed bus and cafe bombings perpetrated by organizations wrapped in the banners of insurgent political Islam, most importantly Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).  It was the first eruption of political Islam in its insurgent form against a Western democracy.  One year later, as Israel was still in the middle of its assault of suicide bombings, al-Qaeda destroyed the twin towers in New York.  That attack – together with subsequent ones in Madrid, London and Paris – ushered in a global focus on insurgent political Islam.

For a distinct period, insurgent political Islam was the most vital political ideology in the Middle East, capturing the energy that was once invested in pan-Arab nationalism.  The high-point of Islamist popular mobilization and insurgency was evident from 2010-2014 with the takeover of the Syrian rebellion by Sunni Islamist militias, the Muslim Brotherhood’s brief triumph in Egypt and the Islamic State’s caliphate.  Today, where does one find an insurgency led from below – a jihad, a popular revolt?

There is certainly disorder.  The end result of ten years of political chaos triggered by Islamist insurgencies is that large swaths of the Arabic-speaking world are smoking ruins, with semi-functioning governments in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The writer is a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.



Opinion: Palestinians’ Most Dangerous Enemy Is Archaeology – Stephen M. Flatow

Pundits will tell you that the most dangerous enemies of the Palestinian Arab cause are the Gulf kingdoms that have decided to recognize Israel, or the European countries that are moving their embassies to Jerusalem, or the American politicians who refuse to keep underwriting the Palestinian Authority’s debts.

I disagree.  I say that the Palestinians’ most formidable foe is — archaeology.

A 2,000 year old mikvah (ritual bath) was recently uncovered in the Lower Galilee.  Most people probably would never have heard about the discovery if not for the dramatic photos of the entire structure being carried by truck to a nearby kibbutz for preservation.

The remarkable sight of a truck-borne mikvah, however, also makes one pause and reflect on the remarkable implications of the archaeological find.

It means that 2,000 years ago, the residents of the Lower Galilee were practicing the exact same religious rituals that Orthodox Jews throughout the world practice today.  Those Galileans, in other words, were Jews.

They weren’t “Palestinians.”  The word “Palestine” had not yet been invented.  They weren’t Arabs or Muslims – the invasion of the Land of Israel by Muslim fundamentalists from the Arabian Peninsula was still 600 years in the future.

The news of the ancient mikvah must have been quite a disappointment to Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas.  On September, 25th, he told the UN General Assembly: “The Palestinian people have been present in their homeland, Palestine, the land of their ancestors, for over 6,000 years.”

Those meddling archaeologists and their discoveries keep getting in the way of Palestinian propaganda!

To make matters worse for Abbas, the directors of the excavation were Walid Atrash and Abd Elghani Ibrahim.  You can tell by their names that they are not exactly Orthodox Jews.  The PA will have a hard time getting anybody to believe that Atrash and Ibrahim are agents of a Zionist conspiracy.

The mikvah discovery was just the latest in a series of archaeological finds in Israel during the past year, each of which contradicted the Palestinian Arab propaganda narrative.

In the Givati Parking Lot excavation in Jerusalem, archaeologists discovered Hebrew-language inscriptions dating back 2,600 years.  One was a stone seal with the words “belonging to Ikkar son of Matanyahu.”  The other was a clay seal impression that read “belonging to Nathan-Melech, servant of the king.”  They weren’t in Arabic.  And the names weren’t Yasser or Mahmoud.

Elsewhere in Jerusalem, archaeologists uncovered a 2,000-year-old paved road that was used by Jews who made the annual pilgrimage to the capital at the time of the festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.  It wasn’t used by Arabs, or Muslims or “Palestinians” – because there weren’t any of them around in those days.

Meanwhile, excavators from the University of North Carolina discovered two stunning mosaics at the site of a 1,600-year-old synagogue near Huqoq in northern Israel.  One depicts a scene from the exodus of the Jews from ancient Egypt.  The other shows images based on verses in the Book of Daniel.

Note that the mosaics do not show scenes from the Koran.  There is nothing Arabic or Islamic or “Palestinian” about them.  They are Jewish, they are situated in Israel, and they are 1,600 years old.

Every new archaeological discovery about the ancient Jews constitutes another stick in the spokes of the wheels of the Palestinian Arab propaganda machine.  Every physical fact in the soil of the country shatters the PA’s lies.  Every stone or seal or shard of pottery reminds us who are the real indigenous people of the Land of Israel.

Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.  His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” is now available on Kindle.



Florida School Board Votes To Rehire Principal Who Refused To Say The Holocaust Happened

A Florida principal who told a parent he “can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event” will be rehired after a vote Wednesday night (7th) by the school board that fired him.

William Latson made the comments to a parent in 2018 and was later removed from the Boca Raton High School where he had been principal.  Last October, the school board voted 5-2 to fire him, citing not just the comments but Latson’s refusal to answer questions about them.

Latson sued, saying he had been wrongfully terminated, and in August, a judge concluded that he should have been reprimanded but not fired.  The board voted Wednesday night (7th) to rehire him rather than face a protracted and costly legal battle.  He’ll be given an administrative job, rather than one with students, and will receive $152,000 in back pay, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The board was divided 4-3, with the only Jewish board member arguing strenuously against Latson’s rehiring.

Palm Beach County is heavily Jewish, and the school that Latson led had many Jewish students.  In an email, at the time, Latson told a parent who asked about the school’s Holocaust education curriculum: “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in the position to do so as a school district employee.  You have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”