News Digest — 11/16/22

President Calls For Unity, Defends Israel’s Governance System

President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday (15th) called for unity among Israelis.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the newly elected Knesset, Herzog urged “unity, cohesion, and the enhancement of what we have in common.”

“Deepening our recognition and understanding that we disagree on many issues, and often adhere to different lifestyles, opinions and beliefs from each other, yet despite and above it all–sisters and brothers we remain, sharing not only a covenant of fate but a covenant of destiny.  To live here together.  To deal with our challenges, together.  To build ourselves here together.”

“Sisters and brothers, conscious of what this Plenum has known and reflected for decades: that arguments have value, and there is a way of managing these arguments–with listening, with respect, and with openness.  Not arguments of boycotts, not arguments of negating and erasing the other, not heavy-handed disagreements that become destructive disagreements.”

The president said Israelis were “exhausted from the infighting and its fallout.”

“Now, the responsibility lies first and foremost with you, the public’s elected representatives,” Herzog said.  

Herzog said that Israel has a democratic regime, in which all citizens have equal rights, and in which there are limitations on power, and authorities are separated and balanced.

“This is how we built a state and a society here, prosperous beyond imagination; this was how we lay the foundations of governance and law; and this, as I have said, was how we created powerful authorities that operate, as required, separately from each other.  We must strictly safeguard these important foundations.”

Herzog said that “not only is change possible; there are places where change is proper and desirable.”

“It is allowed, and sometimes even required, to reopen for debate the division of powers and authorities between the various branches of government, which balance each other.  But we must do so through listening, through open dialogue, through respectful discourse– and fairly.  This is of course a mission that confronts all three branches of government–legislature, executive, and judiciary–which must be attentive to each other, while at the same time remaining committed to our collective vision as a people and a state.”



Danny Danon: ‘No One, Including Our Friends From The US, Will Investigate Our Soldiers’

Danny Danon, who returned to the Knesset on Tuesday (15th) and was sworn in as an MK on behalf of the Likud, spoke to Israeli media and commented on the murderous terrorist attack near Ariel, in which three Jews were murdered earlier in the day.

“A terrible, terrible attack in Israel.  It’s a wave of terror, and today we want to celebrate here in the Knesset, but unfortunately we are following what happened in Ariel.  We can tell the people of Israel: We will change what’s happening now on the ground.  When we are back in power, in a few days or weeks, we will change the reality in Judea and Samaria and we will fight terrorism,” he said.

On the FBI investigation into the death of Shireen Abu Aqleh, the Al Jazeera journalist who was shot and killed while covering a firefight between IDF soldiers and terrorists in Jenin, Danon said, “This is unacceptable.  No one, no one–including our friends from the US–will investigate our soldiers, our officers.  We will support them, and it’s a dangerous precedent.  I think the new government, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, will convince the administration in Washington to pull back from this ridiculous idea.”

He was also asked about the messages coming from Washington about who should be a minister in the new government, with particular reservations about Itamar Ben Gvir possibly being appointed a minister.

“We respect ‘the democracy’ in the US, and we ask our friends to respect our democracy.  We are a parliamentary system and we will have a very good government,” replied Danon.

On his goal of being appointed Knesset Speaker, he said, “I think I bring a lot of experience to this position and hopefully I will get elected to it soon.”



3rd Victim Of Ariel Stabbing Attack: Motti Ashkenazi

The third victim of Tuesday’s (15th) deadly terrorist stabbing attack in Ariel  has been named as Motti Ashkenazi, a resident of Yavne.

Ashkenazi, 59, leaves behind a wife, three children, and two grandchildren.  He worked for the Amisragas gas company as a supplier to the Samaria region.  His family said that “Motti was a loving person full of joy for life, an exemplary husband and a family man with a huge soul who always loved to help everyone.  He loved life and used every moment to wrap his family in warmth and love.  This is a great loss for all of us and everyone who knew him.”  

The Yavne municipality said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we learned today of the death of the city’s resident, the late Motti (Mordechai) Ashkenazi, who was murdered in cold blood by a despicable terrorist in an attack in the industrial area of Ariel.  We share in the family’s grief and stand by them in whatever they may need.  On behalf of the residents of the city, we all support them in this difficult time.”

Earlier, Michael Ledigin, 36, was identified as the second victim of the attack in Ariel.

Ledigin, a resident of Bat Yam, made Aliyah to Israel with his family five years ago.  He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid eulogized him, “My heart is broken–the late Michael Ledigin who immigrated to Israel, out of love for Zionism, was murdered today in the shocking attack in Ariel.  I wish to send condolences on behalf of the government of Israel and the people of Israel to his family and friends.  May his memory be ‘for a blessing.’”

Tamir Avichai, age 50, was identified as the first victim of the terrorist attack.

Avichai, a resident of Kiryat Netafim, was the father of six children.  He was killed in the combined ramming-stabbing attack in the Ariel industrial zone in Samaria.

Kiryat Netafim chairman, Avi Baruch, said, “Tamir was an inseparable part of the Kiryat Netafim community, and the entire town is mourning and hurting.  We embrace the entire family at this difficult hour, and we are at their side for whatever is needed.”

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who knew Avichai personally, said, “This is a difficult moment for us all.  Three murdered and four injured.  We embrace the town of Kiryat Netafim at this difficult hour.”

“Tamir was a person who was always smiling, his entire being was full of good and a desire to help other people.  He was a man of kindness, a Zionist in all his limbs.  Every time I met him, he would greet me first with his broad smile.  All who knew him loved him.  The bright and happy flower has been taken from us, by the intentional hand of barbarians.”



Palestinian Factions Applaud ‘Heroic’ Attack, Vow To Pursue ‘Resistance’

Several Palestinian factions praised Tuesday’s (15th) terrorist attack in the northern West Bank in which three Israelis were killed and four wounded, saying it underscored the failure of the Israeli security forces to subdue the “resistance.”

The factions described the attack as a “heroic operation.”

The Palestinian Authority did not comment on the attack by Tuesday afternoon (15th).

In some parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians were documented celebrating the attack by handing out sweets to passersby and drivers.

“The operation demonstrates the ability of the Palestinian people to continue their revolution and defend al-Aqsa Mosque from daily incursions,” Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou said.

He was referring to routine visits by Jews to the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.

Hamas and other Palestinian groups, including the PA, regularly describe the visits as violent incursions by Jewish extremists.

“The continuous aggression against the Palestinians and the daily storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque will be met with the expansion of the resistance’s strikes,” Qanou said.

Senior Hamas official Hisham Qassem said: “The heroic stabbing operation confirms that the Palestinian resistance is continuing.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest terror group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, welcomed the “heroic operation.”

“We bless this bold operation in the Israeli settlement of Ariel, which came as a natural and legitimate response to the escalating crimes of the occupation against our people,” it said in a statement.

“The attack illustrates the Palestinians’ determination to pursue the “resistance with full force,” it added.

PIJ official Muhammad al-Harazin said the attack “proves the ability of our people to continue their revolution and defend the Islamic holy sites.”  He, too, sought to establish a link between the attack and Jewish tours of the Temple Mount.

The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) also hailed the attack, saying the Palestinians would continue their “resistance.” 



Illinois Jewish Cemetery Graves Defaced With Swastikas

Multiple headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Illinois were defaced with large swastikas and a reference to Kanye West on Monday (14th), according to NBC News.

Police said that 16 headstones at Congregation Am Echod Jewish Cemetery in Waukegan, Illinois, 45 miles north of Chicago, were spray-painted with “large red swastikas.”

Waukegan Police Chief Keith Zupec said in a statement that 23 headstones “had been defaced with non-specific red spray-painted graffiti.

At least one other headstone was vandalized with the phrase “Kanye was rite (sic),” referring to antisemitic comments made by him, West WFLD reported.

Waukegan Mayor Ann B. Taylor denounced the graffiti in a statement.

“I am deeply disturbed and angered by the hateful imagery found spray-painted on headstones this morning in Am Echod Jewish Cemetery,” Taylor said.  “Hate does not have a home in Waukegan; when such incidents occur, our marginalized neighbors are victimized, and our entire community suffers.”

“I hope our officers promptly locate the perpetrators of this despicable act and hold them accountable, and I offer my full support to those directly impacted by this vandalism.”

The incident is currently under investigation by police.