News Digest — 11/2/21

200 Republican Lawmakers Blast Biden For Plans To Divide Jerusalem

Two hundred lawmakers signed a letter addressed to President Joe Biden expressing “strong opposition” to his reopening the US consulate general in “Israel’s eternal capital” to provide separate diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians.

“Reopening the US consulate general in Jerusalem would be inconsistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 … by promoting division of Jerusalem,” the letter reads.  “This would be unacceptable, shameful and wrong.”

The letter was led by New York Rep. Lee Zeldin.  Others signed the letter, including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA) and many others.

Specifically, the letter states that, “House Republicans have come together to express our strong opposition to the Biden Administration’s proposal to open a consulate general to the Palestinians in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.  Having a US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem would be inconsistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 that became law, and was reaffirmed in recent years, with overwhelming bipartisan support.”

“This law stated Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel and remain undivided,” it continues.  “However, the Biden Administration’s shameful move would have the unconscionable effect of undermining the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and signal support for dividing Jerusalem.  Just recently, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority publicly stated that his reason for wanting this consulate opened is for the purpose of dividing Jerusalem.”

They said that Biden pushing to reopen the consulate moves the region further away from peace.

Biden has said that he wants to open the consulate despite Israeli opposition.  Both Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have stressed that they are against the move.  The previous prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he is also against it.

The consulate was closed down by former US President Donald Trump after he moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to be in-line with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, as mentioned above.



Bennett Asks Australia To Designate “All” Of Hezbollah As Terror Organization

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met on Monday (1st) with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, and discussed issues of mutual and pertinent interest.

Bennett requested that Australia officially define Hezbollah, in its entirety, as a terrorist organization, an issue that is currently on the agenda in Australia.

Australia’s bipartisan intelligence and security committee urged the government to declare all of Hezbollah a terrorist group in June.

In Europe, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Germany. Lithuania, Estonia, Kosovo, Serbia, and Latvia have recognized the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in its entirety.

Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Honduras, Paraguay, the US, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have all banned Hezbollah in its entirety.

Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland have commenced similar processes. 

Some other organizations, including the European Union have banned Hezbollah’s military wing, but not its political wing, which is very powerful in Lebanon.

The two leaders also discussed the Iranian nuclear threat, and Bennett asked Morrison to work toward a strong condemnation of Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting that is slated for later this month.  Australia is a member of the board, together with 34 other countries.

Bennett thanked Morrison for his country’s long-standing support of Israel in the international arena.  The two also discussed ways to enhance and upgrade bilateral relations, especially regarding climate innovation.

Similarly, Bennett met with Swiss President Guy Parmelin in Jerusalem last week and asked that Switzerland, as a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, also press for “decisive steps against Iranian progress in its nuclear project.”



Project To Safeguard Northern Residents Takes Off

The IDF’s Home Front Command and the “Northern Shield” headquarters in the Defense Ministry’s Engineering and Construction Department on Monday morning (1st) began building the first bomb shelter in a plan for protecting residents of towns on Israel’s northern border.

The northern town of Kfar Yuval was chosen to be the first to become completely protected, and in the coming weeks, 65 new bomb shelters will be built, offering protection to every home in the town.

The Northern Shield program includes 21 towns located near the northern border.  In the coming weeks, the Department is expected to complete its tenders for protecting an additional four towns: Metula, Shlomi, Shtula, and Margaliot, and expand the construction to them as well.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) said, “After years of delays, today we begin a national security project of the highest order, protecting the north from the threats that exist in the area.”

“The State of Israel needs a strong home front and strong civilians in order to meet its operational goals, and this is the need we are starting to advance today.  I would like to thank Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu), who understood the security needs in financing this plan, and the professionals in the Defense Ministry and IDF, who are moving it forward quickly and efficiently.”



Imprisoned Terror Suspect Wins Election In Palestinian Town

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) town of Turmus-Ayya in Samaria held elections for the town’s leadership on Saturday (10/30) and elected Abu Rifat Shalabi, one of 13 candidates.

Abu Rufat is currently in Israeli custody due to his suspected involvement in a recent deadly terror attack.

He is a relative of Muntassar Shalabi, also a resident of the town, who carried out the murderous attack at Tapuach Junction in May, shooting and killing yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta and wounding two others.

After the attack, Abu Rifat was arrested on suspicion of helping Muntassar escape from the Israeli security forces.  Muntassar was captured a few days later.

Abu Rifat, who has been imprisoned in Israel for several months, ran in the elections from prison and won a large majority of the votes.

During the election campaign, many of the town’s dignitaries called to vote for him, calling him a “hero who fights for his homeland,”

Another senior official in the town said that a vote for Shalabi was a “message to the occupation” that the town’s residents were behind him, and that residents view “the war on Palestine as more important than personal gains in favor of clans and tribes.”

Shalabi will serve as honorary head of the town until his release, and another candidate named Naif Shalabi will fill the position of acting mayor.

Shalabi joins other heads of PA towns and cities who have been imprisoned for acts of terrorism.  Laila Ghannam, the Governor of Ramallah and al-Bireh since 2014, has supported terrorism and called for attacks on Israel numerous times.

Hebron’s Mayor Tayseer Abu Sneineh was among the terrorists convicted in the 1980 Hebron terrorist attack in which six Jews, including three Israelis, two American Israelis, and one Canadian, were killed, and another 20 Jews were injured as they returned home from Sabbath prayer services at the Cave of the Patriarchs.  He was sentenced to life in prison but was later released in a prisoner exchange.



Torah Scroll Desecrated During Break-In At Jewish Fraternity House

A Torah scroll belonging to a majority Jewish fraternity was desecrated by vandals who broke into the organization’s house at George Washington University over the weekend, the school’s student newspaper reported.

The Hatchet said that Tau Kappa Epsilon’s Washington D.C. branch was robbed, and the criminals destroyed a number of Jewish prayer books, along with ripping up a Torah scroll and dumping laundry detergent on it.

The university’s president, Thomas LeBlanc, released a statement condemning the incident and emphasizing that the educational institute is partnering with local law enforcement to apprehend the culprits.

“I am appalled by the anti-Semitic vandalism that occurred at the TKE fraternity house, especially the desecration of the Torah scroll,” he said.

“This is a deeply disturbing incident, and our GW Police Department is working with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department to find the perpetrator.

“I want to be clear: I condemn all such acts of anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred, discrimination, and bias in our community.  Any act of anti-Semitism is an attack on the entire GW community and cannot, and will not, be tolerated.”

“The sight of the Torah scroll destroyed on the floor at George Washington University is reminiscent of harsh images from a completely different era,” said Israel’s Diaspora Minister, Nachman Shai.

“Anti-Semitism has not disappeared, it is raising its ugly head again in places we would not expect.” 

“We are horrified to hear that a predominately Jewish fraternity at George Washington University was broken into and vandalized.  Their Torah was destroyed,” wrote the Jewish on Campus NGO on Twitter.

“An attack on Jewish spaces and the destruction of a Torah is an attack on all Jews….For anyone confused about how serious this is: the Torah is the center of Jewish ritual life and Torah scrolls are invaluable.  A single Torah takes over a year to make, and even the slightest damage can render it non-kosher.”