News Digest — 11/7/23

U.S. Jewish Groups Organizing Largest Support Rally For Israel In Decades

A broad coalition of American communities will gather for the “March for Israel” rally next week at 1 pm on Tuesday, November 14, at the National Mall in Washington DC.  The event is expected to be a display of unanimous support for Israel, as well as flagging the surge in anti-Semitic events in the U.S. since the Hamas massacre on October 7.

The organizers haven’t said so directly, but they are attempting for this to be the largest display of unity and support for Israel in decades, hoping for hundreds of thousands of Israeli supporters.

“Organized in the wake of the deadliest attack on Israel since the Holocaust, this march aims to unify American voices in support of Israel and to take a firm stand against terror,” according to a statement on behalf of the two umbrella organizations who are organizing the event.

Eric D. Fingerhut, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), spoke passionately about the gravity of the situation.  “On October 7, merciless Hamas terrorists launched the deadliest attack on Israel in its 75-year history, brutally murdering the most Jewish people in a single day since the Holocaust.”

Fingerhut emphasized the shared values and battles between the United States and Israel, saying, “Americans understand that Israel’s fight against Hamas is no different than America’s fight against al-Qaeda and ISIS.  As patriotic Americans, we will gather on the National Mall to ensure that the entire world knows that America supports the people of Israel in its time of need.”

Continuing this sentiment, William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CoP), reinforced the need for a clear and strong message of support.  “Hamas’ brutal and ongoing acts of terror have no place in a civilized world and directly undermine global efforts to seek just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

The slogan for this historic event is “Americans March for Israel, March to Free Hostages, March Against Anti-Semitism.”



Jewish Man Dies After Being Assaulted During Pro-Palestinian Protest In Los Angeles

Paul Kessler, a 65-year-old Jewish man, has died in Los Angeles after being assaulted by a pro-Palestinian protester with a megaphone during demonstrations in the northern part of the city, Ynet reported on Monday (6th).

According to the report, Los Angeles law enforcement confirmed on Monday (6th) that the Jewish man died as a result of a head injury after the pro-Palestinian protester attacked him with a megaphone.

Witnesses at the scene said a verbal altercation broke out between Kessler and a young protester, when the protester struck the older man in the head with a megaphone he was holding.

Kessler fell to the ground, bleeding, and was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, likely due to a brain hemorrhage.

Israelis who were present at the scene told Ynet it was “a terrifying sight” and expressed shock that such an incident took place in their neighborhood.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles issued a statement on the incident on Monday (6th), saying, “Our hearts are with the family of the victim.  While we wait for more information from our law enforcement partners, we remind you that this is the fourth major anti-Semitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone.”

“Violence against our people has no place in civilized society,” it added.  “We demand safety.  We will not tolerate violence against our community.  We will do everything in our power to prevent it.”

The incident was filmed on the attacker’s mobile device and has been seized by local police as evidence in their investigation into the incident.  Police have not provided further details on the investigation and would not specify whether the suspect was arrested.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, responded to the reports of the murder and said, “Enough is enough.  The U.S. administration must unequivocally condemn the violent anti-Semitism that is sweeping across the country – the entire administration at all levels have proven incapable of simply condemning anti-Semitism without including other -isms and -phobias and downplaying the real threat to Jewish people from Hamas and its supporters all over the world.  The full force of the law and the administration has to be brought to bear against anti-Semitic violence.”

The incident comes amid a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S., in the wake of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Two weeks ago, a man yelled “Free Palestine” as he was being taken into custody after trying to break into the home of a Jewish family in the Studio City area of Los Angeles.



Over 200 Indian Bnei Menashe Jews Join IDF’s Fight Against Hamas

More than 200 Indian Jews, members of the Bnei Menashe community, made Aliyah since the Oct. 7 massacre and were called up for either reserve or active combat duty, the Shavei Israel nonprofit announced Monday (6th).

75 of the recent immigrants from India have enlisted in combat units, while 140 were called up for reserve service across Israel.

Jerusalem-based non-profit Shavei Israel, founded by Michael Freund, aims to strengthen ties between diaspora communities across the globe and the State of Israel.  As per the non-profit, they have been lobbying for the mass immigration of the Bnei Menashe community,  which claims it is descended  from one of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel, for over two decades in various capacities.

Freund told The Jerusalem Post in May that “there are a total of about 5,000 Menashe people left in India who have been requesting immigration to Israel for many years.”

According to Shavei Israel, 99% of all men of military age who immigrated from India joined Israel’s fight against the Hamas terrorist group, while 90% of the women enrolled in National Service.

Bnei Menashe Jews want to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with other Jews.

One Bnei Menashe community member, 26-year-old Natanel Touthang, who serves in the Givati Brigade was wounded by shrapnel from a Hezbollah rocket fired at Israel’s north.

“Since the war broke out, Shavei Israel has received hundreds of requests from young community members in northeastern India asking to make Aliyah immediately,” Freund said.  “Not only that – they are asking to join the IDF immediately to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with their brothers and sisters.”



Killing Sinwar Is A Priority: IDF Knows That Elimination Of Senior Officials Impacts Hamas’ Morale

The IDF achieved several successes on Sunday (5th) in its ground operation in the Gaza Strip thanks to the precision bombing of the city of Gaza, significant aerial strikes both above and below ground, and also thanks to its chipping away at Hamas-held territory from north to south.

Members of the Hamas leadership, including commanders, were also targeted.  The IDF knows that such hits create significant pressure on the terrorist organization, which may ultimately lead to its collapse.

On Sunday (5th), for example, a Golani Brigade managed to eliminate 30 terrorists – and the enemy saw that, simultaneously, soldiers of the Southern Command managed to take control of outposts and even found tunnel openings.

The IDF knows that it is necessary to eliminate the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar – and prioritize both his elimination and the elimination of various terrorist organizations.

Hamas is also concerned over Al-Jazeera broadcasting the IDF spokesperson’s daily briefings, which include the urging of Gazans to leave Gaza City and head south.  Hamas is worried that increasing numbers of Gazans are heeding those Israeli warnings.

The IDF is pushing people to go south and plans to continue delivering humanitarian aid where necessary, whether in the form of water from Israel or bringing in needed goods.

In the north of the country, the army continues to strike any terrorist cell found in the area, aiming to prevent Hezbollah from reaching the border area.  The terrorist organization has paid a heavy price for its actions, even if the exact numbers are not disclosed by the IDF.  In the West Bank, security forces continue to thwart terrorist activities.

A ceasefire is not on the table for the IDF, which continues to advance its operations throughout the country.  Knowing that the war will continue for a long time, the IDF understands that despite having legitimacy for its actions, the clock is ticking: 240 people are defined as captives, and 25 others are missing.



IDF Troops In Gaza Focused On Mission – Yoav Limor

On Friday (3rd), I joined the IDF soldiers operating in northern Gaza, accompanied by brigade commander Col. Yisrael Friedler.  The main threats against the troops here are anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, drones, and snipers.  “All of the ‘heroes’ of October7 are now hiding in their tunnels,” said Col. Friedler.

For all the soldiers, this is their first war.  For a large portion, this is their first experience of conflict.  “During the first encounters there’s a bit of a shock, but afterward they got it together,” Friedler said.  “They were able to train intensively before entering Gaza.”

He added that if the IDF is given the time it needs, it will supply the goods.  “This is the most justifiable war in the world, and we mustn’t stop until we win.”

I asked the soldiers if they missed home.  They all answered that they were focused on the mission.  At one of the IDF positions were two soldiers who asked not to be filmed.  “My mother doesn’t know I’m here,” one of them explained.

Lt.-Col. Ran Canaan said the soldiers’ motivation is at its peak.  Everyone wants to fight.  The shock left by the Oct. 7 attack clarified for everyone that they must fight and win.

From the inside, it seems that the IDF knows what it’s doing, or what it wants to do.  The soldiers are facing a real enemy and real threats.  But neither they nor we have a choice: Whoever doesn’t defeat Hamas today will receive them on steroids tomorrow.



Israel U.S. Differ Over Palestinian Authority’s Future Role In Gaza – Lahav Harkov

Discussing the Palestinian Authority’s role in a post-Hamas Gaza, a senior Israeli official cautioned that “No one has any illusions about the Palestinians.  The Palestinian Authority wants to destroy the Jewish state in stages and politically, and Hamas wants to do it violently and abruptly.”  Once Hamas is removed from Gaza, Israel must have “ultimate security control” over the Strip, a diplomatic source said Sunday (5th).

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken visited Ramallah on Sunday (5th) and said, “Palestinian voices have to be at the center” of shaping the future of Gaza.  “The Palestinian Authority is the representative of those voices so it’s important that it plays a leading role.”

The senior Israeli official referred to incitement against Jews and Israel in PA-sponsored media and textbooks, as well as the PA’s payments to terrorists and their families.  A new study from the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) showed that at least 14 teachers and staff at schools run by UNRWA – the UN agency for Palestinian refugees – celebrated the Oct. 7 massacre on social media.

According to Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, director of the Initiative for Palestinian Authority Accountability and Reform at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “the 100 terrorists who took part in the massacre and were captured by Israel, received their first installment of a monthly Palestinian Authority payment of $365 at the end of October, an amount that will increase the longer they are in prison.”  

Hirsch said, “PA involvement, direct and indirect, in the Oct. 7 massacre was extensive.  The constant indoctrination and brainwashing of the Palestinians to hate Israel and Israelis, the constant demonization of Israel and Israelis, and the outright incitement of violence and terror are all integral parts of PA policy… topped off with the huge terror reward payments, and finally the absence of any PA condemnation of the Hamas massacre of Oct 7.”  (Jewish Insider)