News Digest — 11/7/19

Yair Netanyahu: ‘Until My Father, Israel Exported Only Oranges’

Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke on Wednesday (6th) at a World Values Heritage event in NY, where he was interviewed by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

There he spoke about the criticisms of his father in the Israeli press, saying, “The problem is not with political criticism, it’s the personal vicious attacks and scrutiny, lies and slander that happened every day for thirty years.  It’s not from the left side of Israel, its from a small group of radical fringe who took control of Israeli media. The mainstream Israeli media doesn’t represent the Israeli public or even the Israeli left. They represent a small, extreme, insignificant, fringe part of Israeli society but they have all the power.”

Yair explained why he became active on social media: “Israelis have a voice for the first time in history.  Since I was 3-years-old I’ve been watching TV and getting angry at the injustice. Suddenly with social media, with Twitter especially, it’s so direct.  I can write directly to the journalist himself and say, ‘what you wrote is an utter lie and here are the facts.’”

When asked if his father always agrees with what he writes, he said, “I’m 28-years-old, sometimes he is not happy.  If I was 16 maybe he could stop me, I’m my own man, not my father’s proxy.”

Speaking about his father’s legacy, he said, “When my father came in to office, back in the 90s, Israel was in a horrible socialist, primitive economy – no exports for example except maybe oranges.  Israel was isolated because it was weak – everyone wants to be friends with you when you are strong.”

Regarding the pullout from Gaza and other settlements, Yair said, “I think that causes an existential threat to Israel, a small country that is only 10-miles wide.”  

“For my personal sake and my family’s sake I wish he would never have gone into politics.  Except for the 5 hours he sleeps, I barely get to see him. I wish I had more quality time with him.  But for the sake of my country and people, I think I am blessed like every other Israel citizen, that he leads the country.  He took us away from Oslo and disengagement, made us proud and rooted us in our land. Closing the border with Egypt prevented being washed away by illegal immigration.  He is making our economy stronger and our international status is the best it’s probably been since King Solomon,” he added.



Israel Aiding Syrian Kurds, Advocating For Them With U.S.

Israel is assisting Syrian Kurds battered by a month-old Turkish incursion, seeing them as a counterweight to Iranian influence and advocating for them in talks with the United States, the deputy Israeli foreign minister said on Wednesday (6th).

Ankara launched its assault targeting the Kurdish YPG militia after the abrupt withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria in early October. 

Since then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered humanitarian aid to the “gallant Kurdish people” on Oct. 10, saying they faced possible “ethnic cleansing” by Turkey and its Syrian allies.

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, told parliament on Wednesday (6th) that the offer had been taken up.  “Israel has received many requests for assistance, mainly in the diplomatic and humanitarian realm,” she said. “We identify with the deep distress of the Kurds and, we are assisting them through a range of channels.” 

Syrian Kurdish officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hotovely did not elaborate on the Israeli assistance, other than to say that during “dialogue with the Americans…we stated the truth regarding the Kurds…and we are proud of our taking a stand alongside the Kurdish people.”

Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds since the 1960s, regarding the minority ethnic group whose indigenous population is split between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

“Israel indeed has a salient interest in preserving the strength of the Kurds and the additional minorities in the north Syria area, as moderate and pro-Western elements,” Hotovely said.



Hamas Rejects Abbas’ Preconditions For Palestinian Elections

Major Palestinian factions have rejected a new memorandum sent out by Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas outlining preconditions for a general election for the Palestinian parliament.

As yet, the sides have yet to sit down and agree to hold a free and fair election and abide by its results.

A copy of the memo was obtained by the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is identified with Hezbollah.  According to the paper, neither Hamas nor the Islamic Jihad wants to see an election under conditions spelled out in a 2007 Palestinian law – the most important one is that any candidate must recognize the PLO as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and honor all agreements the organization signed (including the Oslo Accords with Israel).

Hamas and Islamic Jihad say the move is designed  to exclude a number of factions, mainly themselves, that have adopted a stringent stance against the PLO and the Fatah movement’s dominance in the organization.

Hamas pointed out that there were seven Palestinian movements other than the PLO, which are not obligated to any agreements reached by the PLO.

Hamas has sent Abbas a positive response about its desire to hold elections that include the entire Palestinian people, sources said.

In a speech in September at the annual UN General Assembly, Abbas said he would call for “general elections” in the West Bank, Gaza and Eastern Jerusalem.

Abbas is currently in his 14th year of a four-year term.



Israeli Shekel: Strongest Currency In The World

The Israeli shekel is soaring in foreign currency trading, reports Calcalist.

The euro is trading for only 3.887 shekels, a drop of more than one percent and the U.S. dollar has lost six-tenths of a percent against the Israeli currency, the Israeli financial news outlet reported on Tuesday afternoon (5th), with the dollar set at 3.499 shekels.

The outlet stresses that the decline in the levels of the euro and dollar, is due to the strength of the Israeli currency.  In world markets overall, says Calcalist,  the dollar and the euro are stable.

The strength of the shekel has lasted over the course of time, says Alex Zabezhinsky, chief economist at the Meitav Dash investment firm.

“The shekel has strengthened against the dollar by 6.6 percent since the beginning of the year,” he told Calcalist.

“There was a brief period of devaluation,” Zabezhinsky acknowledged, now, however, “the currency has strengthened again,” he added.

“If you look at all the currencies over the past year, the shekel is the strongest currency in the world,” asserts the chief economist.

He said that actually the shekel is over-performing beyond its actual value.  One of the reasons, the chief economist told the business news outlet, was an “excessive” amount of investment.

Nonetheless, says Zabezhinsky, “this situation has existed for some years in which the shekel is the currency which has gained the most in the world or the currency which has gained almost the most.”

He added that “as long as there are no changes in the circumstances, it is hard to see that it would change on its own.’

Economic growth, he says, has been at about three percent and if it stays in that range, “it’s hard envisioning how the shekel would change direction,” according to the chief economist.



Jewish Agency Reports Huge Spike In Requests For Help To Upgrade Security At Jewish Centers – Jeremy Sharon

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) has begun upgrading security at 50 Jewish institutions in 24 countries, following a spike in requests for assistance in the wake of increased anti-Semitic attacks around the world.

The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Security Assistance for Jewish Communities was established in 2012 following an attack against a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse in which an Islamist gunman murdered a rabbi and three children.  Since then, the fund has provided assistance at 600 Jewish institutions in 260 communities in 60 countries at a cost of $13 million, using money from donors in the Jewish diaspora.

The funds were used to install security cameras, bulletproof glass, shatter-proof glass, security fences and walls, anti-ramming barriers, guard posts and alarm systems.  50% of the funds have gone to communities in Europe, 12% to countries of the former Soviet Union, 19% to Latin America, and the remainder to the rest of the world.