News Digest — 11/6/20

Israeli Army’s New Policy Flies In Face Of Jewish Law Former IDF Rabbi Warns

In a change of policy that could break Jewish law, the IDF decided several months ago that non-Jewish soldiers will be buried side-by-side with their fallen Jewish comrades.  The decision has been met with rabbinic disapproval, Channel 20  reported this week.

Former IDF Chief Rabbi Asher Weiss told Israel Radio, “It is forbidden for a non-Jew to be interred next to a Jew.  I don’t understand why a new solution is needed if the previous solution was accepted by bereaved parents.  I’m afraid that bereaved parents will now want to rebury their loved ones.”

Since 2017, the IDF has buried its non-Jewish soldiers in its military cemeteries in the same lots as their Jewish comrades.  To satisfy Jewish law on the issue of separation, they were put in a different row that would be six feet away from a row of Jewish graves.  A bench or tree was usually placed in the gap, which made the empty space unobtrusive.

The new procedure will instead create an unseen separation by laying the coffin eight inches lower in the ground, and erecting an underground partition around it made of cement or metal.

The Ministry of Defense released a statement defending the move.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the policy change, saying that all IDF casualties were equal in his eyes, and he was happy that a halachic decision was found for this, that on the one hand respects Jewish law and on the other hand respects the IDF fallen.

The burial issue gained steam after a huge influx of Russians immigrated to Israel in the 1990s, following the fall of the Iron Curtain, with many of them not Jewish according to Orthodox Jewish Law.

The new policy was reportedly put in place several months ago.



PMW: For Palestinian Authority Peace Means A Judenfrei State, Ethnically Cleansed Of Jews

For the Palestinian leadership, peace with Israel can only be achieved in a “judenfrei” Palestinian state – a state free of Jews, ethnically cleansed of the over 800,000 Jews who now live in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) said.

The NGO which translates Arabic-language media into English to highlight the incendiary claims made by Palestinian leaders, highlighted a recent speech by PA Deputy Prime Minister and PA Chairman Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, who said: “The Israeli settlements will disappear in the end.  There will be no peace as long as there is one settlement on Palestinian lands.  Just as the settlements were removed from Gaza, they will be removed from the West Bank.”

He continued …“either a peace that is based on an independent, fully sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and without settlers or settlements, or else there will be no security, no stability, and no peace.”

“In order to understand the PA approach, it is important to point out two critical points,” PMW said in an article on their website.

“The pillar of the PA demand is based on the Palestinian narrative which defines the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” as “Palestinian lands.”  While Abu Rudeina’s definition of “Palestinian lands” is reflective of the often-repeated PA narrative, it lacks any historical veracity.  At no period in time were the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” under Palestinian control or part of an independent Palestinian state.

Palestinian Media Watch highlights that even UN Security Council resolution 242, which the Palestinians falsely refer to as the basis for their claim that these areas are Palestinian lands, does not mention even once, the word “Palestinian.”

Historically, since the expulsion of the Jewish people by the Roman Empire, the entire area of land from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, from Lebanon in the north to the Red Sea in the south, came under the rule of interchanging conquerors, reported PMW.

Detailing the history of the region, PMW added: “The Palestinian narrative is negating historical fact and rejects any pragmatic approach that Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem are all part of the Jewish homeland.”

“Since Jews were incontrovertibly residents in the areas that Abu Rudeina now claims as exclusively Arab ‘Palestinian lands,’ it is clear that the demand that Jews be stripped of all their historical and legal rights is not a valid demand, whose sole purpose is to create a state that is ‘judenfrei,’”PMW wrote.   

“It goes without saying, that conditioning Israeli-Palestinian peace on realizing a false historical narrative that requires expelling 800,000 Jews from their homes, is not, and cannot be a position that the international community should identify with.”



The Palestinian Tail Can No Longer Wag The Arab Dog – Josef Joffe

For half a century, an entire peace industry churned out the mantra that the Palestinians were the core of the Mideast conflict, an idea that collapsed after the Israel-UAE deal.  Credit for the change should go to those pious revolutionaries in Tehran, led by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who unwittingly engineered the historic realignment.

The heirs of Darius have been on an expansionist roll ever since their war against Iraq ended in 1988.  They keep working on a nuclear armory while fielding ever longer-range missiles.

Iran has advanced all the way to the Mediterranean.  It now has a border with Israel, thanks to Hezbollah and Hamas.

The Middle East stage is home to an unending intra-Islamic battle between creeds and sects, tribes and ethnicities, potentates, oppressed states and ideologies.  It is occupied by ruthless actors like Turkey, Russia and Iran, plus ISIS and non-state killer brigades.  Internal war, not Israel, is the supreme threat.  In this theater, the misery of the Palestinians has shrunk into a side-show, if not a nuisance.

Maybe, Mahmoud Abbas’ successor will realize that the Palestinian tail can no longer wag the Arab dog and sit down in earnest with Israel

Heavenly rewards – billions in aid and investment – are guaranteed.

The writer, a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, serves on the Editorial Council of Die Zeit in Hamburg Germany. 



A New Self-Understanding Dawns In The Middle East – Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby

→ In the aftermath of the new peace treaties between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, important Arab public figures – from political officials to clerics and intellectuals – are now openly proclaiming that the Arab world has been the primary author of its own pain.  These admissions may signal the beginning of a new sensibility among Arabs and Sunni Muslims about their political and social situation.

→ Their error was the notion that Israel was the most crucial enemy of Arabs, Muslims, and their states, an enemy that had to be not only defeated but utterly eradicated because it disrupted the harmony and progress of the Arab and Muslim world.  Until recently, this view was central to Arab and Muslim sensibility.

→ As Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh has observed: “For most Arabs the term peace and normalization with Israel were associated with extremely negative connotations: humiliation, submission, defeat, and shame.”  To the question of what ailed Arab and Muslim politics and society, there was always this wide-accepted answer: the State of Israel.  If only it could be eliminated, all would be well.

→ The new deals have now shattered that discourse, declaring that Israel is not the enemy it was alleged to be, and promising a “warm peace” with broad economic and cultural exchanges.  They acknowledge that Israel is not the problem, but rather a partner on the path toward solving Middle Eastern woes.

→ Most crucially, the changes in Arab discourse regarding Israel have not unleashed the vehement and widespread explosions of opposition throughout the Sunni world which would have been expected in decades past.  Rather, they seem to reflect views that were developing over some time, waiting for the opportunity to be let out.  

Hillel Fradkin is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World. Lewis Libby is Hudson’s senior vice president.



Bacteria: The Secret Weapon In The War On Plastic Pollution

BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, has signed a research collaboration agreement with Portugal’s ECOIBERIA in the field of plastic recycling by bacteria, the University announced Wednesday (4th).

The project is based on research by professor Ariel Kushmaro and Professor Alex Sivan, both from the Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology and Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering at BGU.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most abundantly used polymer in the world, with multiple applications in the textile industry as well as in food and beverage packaging.  An estimated 56 million tons of PET are produced yearly worldwide, mostly as single-use packaging.

Kushmaro, Sivan and their team have been studying plastic biodegradation and have discovered several bacteria species that are able to biodegrade polyethylene, which was previously considered a non-biodegradable plastic.

Based on these findings, the research collaboration project will assess PET biodegradation by previously identified bacteria as well as novel ones, with the aim of developing an efficient biodegradation process of PET.  Byproducts of the process would be used to make recycled PET.

Products that contain plastic are one of the “biggest environmental challenges facing modern society,” Kushmaro said, calling bacterial degradation of PET into recyclable materials a “promising strategy that can have a global environmental and economic impact.”

ECOIBERIA CEO, Jorge Lemos said that his company’s mission was to guarantee the sustainability of the production and consumption models and “assist in the transition from the linear economy to the circular economy.”