News Digest — 11/8/21

Germany Combines ‘Kristallnacht’ And Fall Of Berlin Wall Remembrance Days

As Germany marks the anniversary this week of ‘Kristallnacht,’ the head of the Central Council of Jews in the country said he viewed an initiative to commemorate the atrocities committed by the Nazis in 1938 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 in one event, as “problematic.”

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is holding a collective remembrance event on Tuesday (9th) titled “1918-1938-1989: Commemoration of November 9.”  In German history, November 9 stands for three incisive dates: the proclamation of the German republic in 1918, the 1938 pogroms targeting Jews, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

“I think a day of remembrance that takes into account all historical events on November 9 to be difficult because they are very ambiguous,” Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany told the German press agency.

When Schuster was asked about what November 9 meant to him, he responded: “November 9 is the day when the synagogues were devastated in 1938, when more than half the synagogues in Germany and Austria were burned and thousands of Jews were deported to concentration camps.  This is what this day stands for in memory for me above all, even if it is of course connected with the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

“But I fear that the majority of the population will not be able to do much with November 9, 1938, spontaneously,” he added.

“This day in 1938 had a very serious negative impact on at least part of the German population: there was a danger to life and limb, deportations took place, even murders.  On the other hand, there is the clearly joyful occasion of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.  I think a single National Day of Remembrance for all these different events is problematic,” Schuster remarked.

Last year, a commission examining “30 Years of German unity” had proposed the National Day of Remembrance.

Steinmeier described the historic date as a “day of contradictions, a day of light and a day of darkness” that stands for the ambivalence of memory.

At the remembrance event of November 9, the youngest member of the 20th German Bundestag, Emilia Fester will shed light on 1918, the German Jewish Holocaust survivor Margot Friedlander, who celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday (5th) will talk about the Reichspogromnacht in 1938, and the civil rights activist and former head of the Stasi files agency Roland Jahn will speak about what happened in 1989.  Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel is also expected to attend the commemoration event hosted by Steinmeier at the Bellevue Palace, the president’s official residence.



Mossad Foils Iranian Attacks On Israeli Tourists And Businessmen

Israel’s Channel 12 News reported that the Mossad intelligence services  thwarted a string of Iranian attacks on Israeli businessmen and tourists in Africa.

According to the report, the Iranians targeted Israelis in Senegal, Tanzania and Ghana.

The report added that the plot may have been Tehran’s revenge for the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the mastermind of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  Fakhrizadeh was killed in 2020 by what reports described as a remote controlled artificially intelligent sniper rifle.

In a possibly related development, police in Cyprus arrested six men in a plot to target Israeli businessmen.  The initial arrest was made in October after Israeli authorities tipped off Cypriot authorities.  Prime Minister Naftali Bennett blamed Iran.

Israel and Iran are engaged in what many are describing as a “shadow war.”  This has included Iranian drone attacks on Israeli shipping in the Gulf of Oman and cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear and energy infrastructure.

The plot may also reflect Iran’s efforts to counter Israel’s diplomatic in-roads in Africa.  The African countries of Sudan and Morocco signed the Abraham Accords, and the island nation of Comoros is reportedly moving towards normalizing ties with Israel.



PA Blasts Israel For Opposing Jerusalem Consulate

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Sunday (7th) slammed Israel for rejecting the reopening of the US consulate in Jerusalem,

“East Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the occupied Palestinian territory and is the capital of the state of Palestine.  Israel, as the occupying power, does not have the right to veto the US administration’s decision,” said a statement from the PA “foreign ministry” quoted on TRT World.

The statement came a day after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said they opposed the US opening a consulate for Palestinian Arabs.

“We oppose opening an American consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem.  We have clearly told them this,” Bennett and Lapid told reporters at a press conference.

Last week the Israel Hayom newspaper reported that several US Democratic congressmen would appeal to US President Joe Biden, asking him to refrain from opening a consulate for the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem.  The congressmen wished to avoid publishing their names so that their letter would have a better chance of changing the administration’s position.

Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) recently rallied 35 senators to submit a bill to the Senate to prevent the reopening of the US Consulate to the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem.



In First, Top Moroccan Academics Attend Conference In Israel

A year after signing a normalization agreement with Morocco, Israel hosted senior academics from the North African country Sunday (7th) for a conference on the influence of Hebrew heritage on the kingdom.

The event took place at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, in central Israel.  Spearheaded by the BIU’s Dahan Center for Culture, Society and Education in the Sephardic Heritage, it hopes to shed light on the unofficial political, cultural, and social ties that characterized the two countries long before the Abraham Accords.

Months in the making, the conference aims to reveal the uniqueness of Hebrew culture and law in Morocco and allow researchers to explore the complex pendulum of relations between Morocco and its Jewish population, ranging from difficult times to the golden age of Moroccan Jewry in the 20th century in terms of law and rabbinical works.

“In contrast to the cold peace agreements between us and Egypt and Jordan, with the average Egyptian and Jordanian being hostile to Israel, in the case of Morocco, the relations between authorities are warm, especially between citizens,” Director of the Dahan Center, Shimon Ohayon said.  “We are proud to hold a conference in which researchers from Morocco and Israel participate.  When it came to signing a peace agreement with Morocco, it was a natural step.”

Professor Hassan Oulhaj from the International University of Rabat, who arrived in Israel for the conference last week, said he was  “very happy to be here.  All these years there were unofficial ties with Israel, but now there is no reason not to move forward.  The decision about the normalization came from the king himself, and everyone is happy about it.  Only the extreme left and radical Islamists are among the opponents.”

“Judaism and Jews in Morocco have a long history.  Ties between Muslims, Berbers and the Jews are very important to the character of Morocco,” he said, expressing hope for many more such collaborations between Jerusalem and Rabat in the future.

Israel and Morocco signed a peace treaty on December 22, 2020.



From Ramallah To Tel Aviv: First-Ever High Tech Work Permits For PA Residents

As competition over high tech  workers in Israel grows tougher, several lawmakers have floated ideas about wooing highly educated and technically experienced Eastern Europeans and Indians to the Jewish State in order to fill the gap.

But on Sunday (7th), the Israeli government announced that it found a solution for the high tech labor crisis much closer to home.

The government will issue 500 work permits for Palestinian Authority residents, allowing high tech companies based in Israel to employ them as part of a pilot project that’s expected to last for three years.

“This will open the gates not only to low-wage workers, but to white collar employees in a leading industry,” Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej of the Meretz party said in a statement.

Currently, the Defense Ministry reports that some 130,000 Palestinians hold permits which allow them to work inside Israel and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.  The vast majority are construction workers and other manual laborers, so the high tech permit project marks the first time the Palestinian Authority residents can seek employment in a white collar setting.

According to an Israel Innovation Authority and Start-Up Nation Central report, some 60% of Israeli high tech companies and start-ups said they are having difficulty recruiting employees and filling positions.

Palestinian entrepreneur Mahmoud Khweis told the Times of Israel that Palestinian graduates would be eager to work in Israeli companies, where salaries are twice as much as they would earn in PA areas.

He said that senior developers based in Tel Aviv earn between $9,650 to $14,470 monthly, while salaries for Ramallah-based tech workers doing the same job would probably earn around $4,500.

“The salaries that Palestinian programmers get are quite low, and the working conditions could be better, to put it politely,” Khweis said.