News Digest — 11/3/20

World Officials, Jewish Leaders In Shock Following Vienna Terror Attack

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined world leaders on Tuesday (3rd) in condemning the terrorist attack in which four people were killed in Vienna on Monday evening (2nd).

Condolences poured in from around the world, with top officials from Israel, the European Union, France, Norway, Greece, the United States and others, expressing their shock at the attack.  All strongly condemned the shooting.

Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin condemned the attack on Twitter on Tuesday morning (3rd).

“Israel condemns the brutal attack in Vienna and stands in total solidarity with Austria,” tweeted the Prime Minister’s Office.  “Civilized people everywhere must unite to defeat the savagery of resurgent Islamist terrorism.”   

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Austria as we follow last night’s despicable terrorist attack in Vienna with concern,” tweeted Rivlin on Tuesday morning.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, which has seen two deadly knife attacks in Paris and Nice in recent weeks, issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow.

“This is our Europe,” he said.  “Our enemies must know with whom they are dealing.  We will not retreat.”

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet that “our prayers are with the people of Vienna after yet another vile act of terrorism in Europe.”

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, said Americans were praying for the people of Vienna.

“There is no justification for hatred and violence like this.  We stand with Austria, France, and all of Europe in the fight against terrorism,” O’Brien said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed that “the thoughts of Great Britain are with the people of Austria – we stand united with you against terror.” 

Along with innumerable texts of sympathy from Canada, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the EU Vice-President, Josep Borrell Fontelles, came words of condolence for the people of Austria, and condemnation of the Monday night (2nd) attack from Yaakov Hagoel, Chairman of the World Zionist Organization and Dr. Shimon Samuels, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

A Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ statement read: “We stand in solidarity with the Austrian people as this tragedy unfolds.  The purveyors of terrorism are despicable and cowardly; their murderous attacks against unarmed civilians will never succeed in crushing the freedom and liberty that they abhor.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this act of terror.  The perpetrators must be brought to justice.”



Al-Qaeda Urges Muslims To Kill ‘Anyone Who Insults The Prophet’

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb urged its followers Monday (2nd) to kill anyone insulting the Prophet Mohammed and threatened French President Macron over his remarks on Islam.

Last month Macron defended the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed on the grounds of freedom of speech, launching a campaign against Islamic radicalism and sparking fury across the Muslim world.

“Killing anyone who insults the Prophet is the right of each and every Muslim,” the jihadist group, known by its French acronym AQMI, said in a statement.

Macron’s remarks came after the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty near Paris by a suspected jihadist, after Paty showed his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson on freedom of expression.

That followed the re-publication of the controversial cartoons in September by a French satirical weekly magazine.

Macron has vowed to defend freedom of speech and expression, but anger has spread among Muslims worldwide, with many vowing to boycott French products. 

“The boycott is a duty, but it is not enough,” AQMI said in a statement.

It threatened to avenge Macron’s comments, describing the French president as “young and inexperienced, with a little brain” and saying he had “insisted on offending the Prophet.”



Report: Egypt Tells Hamas To Keep Ceasefire Until After US Elections

During a visit by a Hamas delegation to Cairo last week, Egypt called on the terrorist group to maintain the ceasefire reached with Israel in August until after the US elections on Tuesday (3rd), according to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

The Hamas delegation left the Gaza Strip for Cairo last week to discuss bilateral relations, mutual interests, regional politics, the humanitarian situation in Gaza and developments between Gaza and Israel, among other topics.

The delegation was headed by Saleh Al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, who was joined by bureau members Izzat Al-Risha, Khalil Al-Hayya and Rouhi Mushtaha.

While the Hamas delegation wanted Egypt to pressure Israel into implementing the understandings of the ceasefire, sources from Hamas told Al-Akhbar that Egypt’s responses to the terrorist group’s demands were “lackluster.” 

The Hamas delegation was informed that Israel had told Egypt that some of the requests, such as supplying natural gas to the Strip would take years.

The Al-Akhbar report added that the Egyptians stressed to Hamas that an escalation should not be pursued currently, insinuating to Hamas that Israel may consider returning to targeted assassinations against terrorist leaders if an escalation occurs.

Explosive balloons were reported in southern Israel last week, as tensions rose between terrorist groups in the Strip and Israel, with the groups threatening action if the health condition of Maher al-Akhras, a Palestinian who has been on a hunger strike in Israel for almost 100 days – becomes too dire, or he dies.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist movement announced a general call-up of its forces on Saturday night (10/31), citing the deterioration in al-Akhras’ condition as the reason.

Akhras has been in administrative detention for months, and has been arrested multiple times in the past according to WAFA.

Israel has said that Akhras is a member of Islamic Jihad who poses a danger to the state.

Except for sporadic balloon launches in September, they had largely stopped since a ceasefire was reached between Hamas and Israel at the end of August, after weeks of daily explosive and incendiary balloon launches and rocket fire.



PMW Reports Palestinian Radio Silent In Condemning French Terror Attacks

As condemnations for the recent terror attacks in France flooded in, Palestinian media outlets have generated a resounding “silence” on the matter Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported Sunday (1st).

They have, however, been quite vocal in condemning France for its Islamophobia.

“We warn against continuing these affronts” Wafiq Alawi, The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Minister of Religious Affairs Director-General in the Ramallah District, told the PA news agency WAFA on Wednesday (10/27).  “This fans the spirit of hatred and hostility, and contributes to burying the culture of tolerance and peace among people,” he added.

PMW, an Israeli nonprofit, relies on its extensive team of researchers and translators to keep track of the news and tone which Palestinian media outlets are circulating, particularly their “promotion and glorification of terror,” according to their website.

In the wake of the recent terror attacks in France, various nationalities and political figures, from Malaysia to Turkey, Iran, and Hamas, have condemned France’s alleged insults to Islam.

French President Emmanuel Macron refused to condemn the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, insisting on the rights of a free press.  In a speech on October 2, he highlighted how “Islam is a religion that is experiencing a crisis across the world,” referring to various strains of extremist Islamist movements, The Guardian reported,

A satirical French weekly originally published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad a few years ago and Samuel Paty, a French teacher who was teaching a class on “Free Speech and Expression” showed them to his students, on October 16, for which he was beheaded.

In contrast, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein told WAFA on October 26 that the Prophet Muhammad, “peace be upon him, is too lofty to be harmed by hate-filled people, whose true racist nature is being exposed.” 



US Jewish Umbrella Organization Urges Caution On And After Election Day

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations released a special security bulletin urging caution among US Jews on and after Election Day.

While the bulletin says that “there are no known credible threats directed at Jewish institutions or organizations” related to the elections, it warns that the tide could quickly turn, depending on the results, driving “an elevated threat environment at least through early 2021.”

“It remains likely that violent extremists will target individuals or institutions that represent symbols of their grievances, as well as grievances based on political affiliation or perceived policy position, which increases the potential of politically or ideologically motivated threats against the Jewish community,” it says.

“As houses of worship, Jewish community centers, schools, senior centers, and other facilities are often used as voting locations, or located in close proximity to voting locations, leadership and security personnel are encouraged to remain situationally aware of the threats mentioned within this document. It is also encouraged that leaders proactively implement facility and security best practices that effectively address different areas of vulnerability and methods of attacks,” the bulletin adds.



Israel’s Aleph Farms Launches Program To Grow Steaks In Space

Even before commercializing its technology to “grow” beefsteak from isolated live animal cells, Israeli cultivated meat startup Aleph Farms is setting its sights on outer space.

The company’s Aleph Zero program aims to advance food security through the ability to produce fresh quality meat independent of local climate and natural resources – even in harsh and remote extraterrestrial environments.

To ensure the integration of its cultivated meat tech into leading space programs, Aleph Farms is pursuing strategic partnerships with technology companies and space agencies for long-term collaborative research and development contracts.

These programs will leverage the company’s knowhow in cell biology, tissue engineering and food science to establish outer space BioFarms from which lessons learned could be applied to earthbound sites.

Aleph Zero represents the mathematical symbol of the smallest infinite number, and how Aleph Farms brings space infinity closer by supporting deep-space exploration and colonization of new planets.  The term also represents the company’s vision for producing meat with near-zero natural resources,” explains Didier Toubia, cofounder and CEO of Aleph Farms.

This program follows the success of the company’s first experiment of producing meat on the International Space Station a year ago, in collaboration with 3D Bioprinting Solutions.

“Aleph Zero reflects our mission of producing quality, delicious meat locally where people live and consume it, even in the most remote places on Earth like the Sahara Desert or Antarctica, providing unconditional access to high-quality nutrition to anyone, anytime, anywhere,” added Toubia.  “When people will live on the Moon or Mars, Aleph Farms will be there as well.”

Aleph Farms was co-founded with The Kitchen Hub of the Strauss Group and with Professor Shulamit Levenberg of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

The company, backed by food producers such as Cargill, Migros and the Strauss Group, plans a pilot commercial launch (on our own planet) by the end of 2021.