News Digest — 11/18/21

Herzog To Meet Boris Johnson, Jewish Leaders In UK Visit Next Week

President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal will visit the United Kingdom next week, his office announced Thursday morning (18th).

Herzog will take off Sunday morning (21st) for the three-day trip, during which he will meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, parliamentarians, and leaders of the UK Jewish community.

Herzog will also be the guest of honor at a Genesis Prize Foundation event honoring the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who passed away in November 2020.

“As Britain carves out a new, independent role for itself in the world, the State of Israel is one of its most dependable allies on the front lines of Innovation and progress,” said Herzog.

“I look forward to meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Members of Parliament to discuss the many ways our dynamic pioneering nations can take the lead against climate change, Iran’s nuclear program, as well as national security, cybersecurity, the fight against anti-Semitism, and trade.”

In a statement, he called Sacks “a giant of the British and Jewish spirit, a man who loved Israel and whose moral leadership is sorely missed by the Jewish people and humanity at large.”

Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom whose extensive writings and frequent media appearances commanded a global following among Jews and non-Jews alike, died during his third bout with cancer.  Within his 22 years as chief rabbi, he emerged as the most visible Jewish leader in the United Kingdom and one of the European Continent’s leading Jewish voices, regularly appearing on BBC televisionHe had a close relationship with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who called Sacks “an intellectual giant” and presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2018.  

On Sunday afternoon (21st), the Herzogs will attend an exhibition on anti-Semitism hosted at the Stamford Bridge Stadium in memory of the 49 Jewish Olympians killed in the Holocaust.

On Monday (22nd), Herzog will be at Westminster Palace to meet British lawmakers and will be joined by his wife in the evening for the Genesis Prize Foundation tribute event to Rabbi Lord Sacks.

On Tuesday morning (23rd), the Israeli president will meet with British Jewish community leaders, to discuss anti-Semitism, COVID-19, and relations with Israel.

Herzog’s meeting with Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street will take place later in the day, before the president and first lady return to Israel.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow early this month.  The two spoke at length about Iran’s nuclear program, according to an Israeli official.



2 Border Guards Stabbed In Jerusalem’s Old City, Attacker Shot Dead

A Palestinian teenager stabbed two border guards in an alleyway in Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday (17th), police said.

The assailant, identified by Palestinian media as Amr Abu-Assab, was shot by an armed civilian who was passing by and then again by the Border Police officers he attacked.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  According to police, Abu-Assab was 16 years old from eastern Jerusalem.

In graphic video footage from the scene that was released by the police, the border guards can be seen walking past Abu-Assab near the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva in the Old City.  Once their backs were turned, the teenager took out a knife and stabbed the male Border Guard in the head.  The female Border Police officer then pushed Abu-Assab away from her partner, pinning him to the wall and struggling with him.  The teenager then stabbed her, including in the head, before the passerby shot him.

The female officer, 19, sustained light-to-moderate injuries in the attack and the male officer, 20, received head injuries, including a leg wound from a fragment of a bullet fired.  The female police officer was taken to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus for treatment, and the male officer was taken to Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem.

Following the attack, police conducted raids in the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where Abu Assab lived, making a number of arrests.

The Hamas terror group praised the attack as a “heroic commando operation,” and claimed Abu-Assab a member of the organization.

“This is the latest confirmation that our people’s revolution against the occupation will continue until the occupiers are swept away,” said Hamas spokesperson Hazim Qasim.



US Lawmakers: Israel Alone Regarding Iran, Don’t Rely On America

Several members of Congress told an Israeli general earlier this month that the United States will not take serious action against Iran on the nuclear issue, and Israel will have to deal with the danger by itself, Channel 12 reported.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Yoni Kupperwasser, a former head of research in the IDF’s Intelligence Division, is now the project manager for monitoring regional developments and their consequences for the Jerusalem Center for Public and State Affairs (JCPA)  The non-profit institute engages in strategic, political and legal research to formulate position papers for leaders in Israel and elsewhere on issues that include global terrorism, the Iranian nuclear program, and Israel’s rights under International Law.

Kupperwasser wrote on the news site that two weeks ago he received “a clear message from members of Congress” regarding what Israel might expect from its strongest ally if Iran keeps developing its weapons program.  “Do not rely on American backing, certainly not on direct American action or American aid,” he said they told him.  “You are alone and do what you think you need to do.”

“Despite its oft-stated commitment to Israel that it will not let the Islamic Republic become a nuclear threshold state, the Biden administration is merely issuing verbal warnings and refraining from any move that could lead to a harsh Iranian response,” Kupperwasser wrote, concerning the downbeat assessment of the unnamed legislators. 

The Americans are now focused solely on a return to the original nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump walked away from in 2018, with barely a mention anymore of changing it first to make it more “robust,” as was first promised by the administration.

For years, Israeli governments have been saying that they would act alone if the danger from Iran became acute, although they would prefer that the world unite against the mullahs’ hegemonial ambitions in the Middle East, which includes the development of nuclear bombs.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday (16th) after visiting an IDF exercise in the north of Israel that “We are dealing with Iran and its proxies, in Lebanon and Syria.”  No matter what happens between Iran and the world powers–Israel will protect itself with its own forces.”

In September Bennett said, “We presented to our friends in the US a plan of action, as well as to countries in the region, because we’d be happy if, along with our independent actions, our partners will act.  Either way the responsibility is here, and we will stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon at any price.”  



Turkish Paper Aligned With Erdogan Issues Anti-Israel Travel Guide

The Conservative Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, known for its pro-Palestinian views and hardline support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published a Jerusalem travel guide Wednesday (17th) that carried strong anti-Israel sentiment.

The paper – considered a mouthpiece for the Erdogan government – called for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to “not only perform the commandment but to support the Muslim residents there whose lives are becoming more difficult each day under the occupation.”

The paper called for a complete boycott of Jewish-owned businesses in the capital, encouraging travelers to only “stay at Muslim-owned hotels and shop at Muslim-owned businesses.”  

In what might sound like incitement to terror, it also encouraged future pilgrims to “provide assistance to the relatives of martyrs and prisoners,” claiming “all this is far more important than any slogan and speech.”  It further said that “this should be done quietly, thoroughly, without anyone knowing.  These are the types of activities that anyone can take part in, far from the politics of countries and the international system.”

Yeni Sakaf has long denied Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and even described the capital as belonging “to only the Muslims.”  It has also referred to Turkish anti-Israel organizations operating from Jerusalem, such as Mirasimiz.

Last February, Erdogan changed the name of his country’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, a government organ, to the “Directorate of Jerusalem and Umrah Affairs” in a bid to strengthen Turkey’s ties to Jerusalem.

The directorate is of considerable importance to Muslims in Turkey.  Any Turk interested in observing the Haj, the Muslim  pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, must register a request  through this authority.

Yeni Safak reports that the tourist guidebook also elaborates about the history of Jerusalem and its tourist sites.  It suggests visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount, followed by Hebron and Jaffa – without any mention of Tel Aviv. 

In terms of other recommended sites in Jerusalem, the guidebook notes the Church of the Sepulchre and King David’s Tomb.  It also recommends visiting Nebi Musa in Judea and Samaria (which Muslims believe to be Moses’ Tomb) and the clock tower in Jaffa, which was built by Sultan Abdul Hamid II.

Meanwhile, the Turkish guidebook failed to note that any of these sites were affiliated with Israel.



Watchdog Group Opens Voting For 3rd Annual ‘Anti-Semite Of The Year’ Contest is inviting the public to vote in its third annual competition for the world’s “Anti-Semite of the Year,” the title given to the person who has cultivated and propagandized the most hatred against Jews in 2021.

Ten individuals named by the watchdog group as semi-finalists, are competing for the title.  Three finalists will be announced on December 6 with the winner revealed on December 27.

“This award is important because it exposes many anti-Semites who  think they can get away with their hate,” StopAntisemitism CEO and founder Liora Rez said.  “Sadly we’ve witnessed a spike in anti-Semitism this year, but we continue to work relentlessly to call out anti-Semites and hold them accountable.  Our contest is one of the ways to do so.”

Previous winners of the award include State University of NY (SUNY) law student Nerdeen Kiswani in 2020, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) in 2019.