News Digest — 11/9/22

President Herzog To Hear Recommendations For Prime Minister Today

President Isaac Herzog will begin consultations Wednesday (9th) with all parliamentary groups elected to the Twenty-Fifth Knesset.

As per tradition, the President will meet representatives of all the factions and hear their recommendations, after which he will announce the MK to whom he will assign the task of forming a government.

Once the president assigns the task of forming a government, the member of Knesset he chooses will have 28 days to form a new government, in accordance with “Basic Law: The Government.”  If an extension is required, the President will by law have the authority to grant an extension of up to 14 days.



Palestinian Gunmen Fire In Direction Of MKs Visiting Joseph’s Tomb In Nablus

Palestinian gunmen fired in the direction of a convoy of MKs visiting Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus overnight on Tuesday (8th).

The eight incoming MKs were visiting Joseph’s Tomb ahead of their entry into the new government coalition which is expected to be formed in the coming weeks.

The convoy included Likud MKs Idit Silman, Amichai Chikli, Boaz Bismuth, and Nissim Vatori.  With them was Shas MK Yoni Meshariki, Religious Zionist MK Ohad Tal, and Otzma Yehudit MKs Almog Cohen and Limor Sohn Har-Meleh.

Prior to the visit to the tomb, a Palestinian group calling itself the “Balata Brigade” warned against their arrival, stating, “We are ready, and you will see the unthinkable.”

As the MKs were preparing to leave the tomb, gunmen began shooting in the direction of the security forces protecting the area.  No casualties were reported either to the MKs or to the Israeli security forces.

Prior to the incident, unrest and violence had already broken out in the area, with rocks and explosive devices being thrown and the path to the tomb being obstructed.

According to Palestinian reports, one person was shot dead.

During Operation Break the Wave, the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Border Police arrested 12 wanted individuals on suspicion of involvement in terror activities in the West Bank Tuesday night (8th).



Zoning Published For New US Embassy In Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Municipality on Tuesday (8th) published the zoning description for a new US Embassy complex in the capital city.

The embassy will be on Derech Hebron St., between Hanoch Albeck St. and Daniel Yanovsky St., an area known by its Mandate-era name, “Camp Allenby.” 

The complex will include an embassy, offices, residences, parking and security structures.  The buildings can be no more than10 stories high, and the wall surrounding the area will be over eleven feet high.

Members of the public will have 60 days to submit any opposition of the plan to the municipality.

The US Embassy has been operating thus far out of the former US Consulate in Arnona, which was expanded to include more offices, and has a much larger “branch office” in the former site of the embassy in Tel Aviv.

The US also sold the palatial beachfront residence in Herzliya in which past ambassadors lived.  The embassy found a residence for current Ambassador Thomas Nides on Jerusalem’s Emek Refaim Street.  

“After almost four years of hard work with the American Embassy in Jerusalem, we are pleased that the zoning plans were published this morning for the new Allenby complex,” Jerusalem deputy mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said Tuesday (8th).

“The US Embassy in such a central part of the city will upgrade the urban landscape of the neighborhood and connect it to all areas of the capital through the Jerusalem Light Rail network that will stop almost at its doors.” she said.  “We hope that more countries will follow and move their embassies to our capital, Jerusalem.”

The US Embassy moved to Jerusalem in 2018, a few months after President Donald Trump’s recognition of  Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.



Emergency Surgery In Israel Saves Life Of Premature Syrian Baby

A logistically and diplomatically complex medical operation in Israel ended up saving the life of a premature baby from Syria, it was revealed Tuesday (8th).

Two-week old Johnny Yusuf is one of triplets born to a Syrian refugee family living in Cyprus.  Weighing a mere 3.3 lbs. at birth, he was diagnosed with a life threatening congestive heart defect and required an emergency operation to save his life, one unavailable at Cyprus hospitals.

As his situation worsened, the Cypriot Health Ministry contacted Professor Einat Birk, the director of The Institute of Cardiology at Schneider Children’s Medical Center Petah Tikva, who recommended he be flown for treatment to Israel immediately.

Since the baby was a Syrian national, his flight to Israel required the intervention of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Embassy in Cyprus in order to obtain the necessary permits.

Professor Gil Klinger, the director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital, flew to Cyprus along with his team and the medical equipment necessary to transfer the baby safely.  The baby’s 21-year-old brother, Aref, traveled with him.

“For over a decade, we’ve brought over babies from Cyprus who needed this sort of operation,” Prof. Birk said.  “With a population of only 800,000 people, there’s no way Cyprus could have the required residency for congenital heart defects in babies.  We’ve operated on dozens of babies, the latest one just last week.  Johnny’s story is unique because he is both very small and needed the operation right away.

After the surgery, Johnny was transferred to the intensive care unit of the cardiology unit and from there to the neonatal intensive care unit, where he received supportive care until he could be weaned off the ventilator, gain some weight and make a full recovery.

A month later, he was strong enough to be flown back to Cyprus.  He has since been discharged from the hospital and is making a full recovery at home with his family.

“We feel privileged to take care of children wherever they are,” said Prof. Birk.



84th Anniversary Of Kristallnacht: Survivors Warn About Antisemitism, Hate Speech

Holocaust survivors from around the world are warning about the reemergence of antisemitism as they mark the 84th anniversary on Wednesday (9th) of Kristallnacht – “The Night of Broken Glass” – when Nazis terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria.

In the campaign #itStartedWithWords, by the organization that handles claims on behalf of Jews who suffered under the Nazis, several Holocaust survivors have recounted on video how antisemitic speech led to actions that saw the mass extermination of Jews in Europe in the last century.

Among them is 90-year-old Eva Szepesi, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp.

“It started with me when I was eight years old, and I could not understand why my best friends were shouting bad names at me,” she said.

Szepesi was shocked at how her best friends could treat her like this, but soon the Jewish girl found herself fleeing from the Nazis before she was captured and deported to Auschwitz at age 12.  Her parents and brother were murdered in Auschwitz.

On November 9, 1938, the Nazis, among them many ordinary Germans, killed at least 91 Jews and vandalized 7,500 Jewish businesses during Kristallnacht pogroms across Germany and Austria.  They also burned more than 1,400 synagogues, according to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.  Up to 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, many taken to Nazi death camps such as Dauchau or Buchenwald.  Hundreds more committed suicide or died as a result of the mistreatment in the camps years before the official mass deportations began.

By the end of World War II in 1945, the Nazis and their henchmen had murdered six million European Jews.

The #itStartedWithWords campaign, a relaunch by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also referred to as the Claims Conference, is a digital education project in which survivors are reflecting on the moments that led up to the Holocaust.  That was a period when they could not have predicted the ease with which their neighbors, teachers, classmates, and colleagues would turn on them, transitioning from words of hate to acts of violence.

“Relaunching this campaign goes beyond commemorating Kristallnacht,” said Greg Schneider, the Claims Conference’s executive vice president.  “With the growing prevalence of Holocaust denial, distortion and hate speech on social platforms, the core message behind the #ItStartedWithWords campaign becomes even more important: the Holocaust did not start with camps, ghettos and deportations; it started with words of hate.”

In Germany, a group tracking antisemitism said it documented more than 2,700 incidents in the country last year, including 63 attacks and six cases of extreme violence.

In a report in June, the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, or RIAS, said the coronavirus pandemic, with its anti-Jewish conspiracy narratives, and the Middle East conflict with antisemitic criticism of Israel were the main drivers of the 2,738 incidents it documented.

Incidents of antisemitism and hate speech have also been rising in the UK and the US.



Boston Area Jewish Couple’s Home And Car Targeted With Arson, Vandalism

A suburban Boston Jewish couple were the victims of antisemitic vandalism over the weekend, during which their cars were vandalized and an attempt was made to set their house on fire.

The incident occurred in Stow, Massachusetts, located about 20 miles west of Boston between Friday night (4th) and Saturday morning (5th).  According to local police officers, they responded Saturday morning (5th) to a report that the couple’s cars had been damaged overnight.

When they arrived they discovered that the tires on both cars had been slashed and antisemitic slurs had been carved into the sides of the cars.

Police also found burn marks on several parts of the couple’s house.

Stow Police Chief Michael Sallese said that officers continue to investigate the incident.

“These abhorrent actions have no place in Stow.  We encourage anyone with information about this incident to contact us,” Sallese said.  “We take all reports of hateful behavior extremely seriously, and will investigate and prosecute this crime to the fullest extent possible.”

The attack was also denounced by Stow Select-Board Chair, Megan Birch-McMichael.

“Sadly we live in a time when such disgusting attacks are on the rise across the country.  As a Select-Board and as a town we unequivocally renounce intolerance in any form,” Birch-McMichael said.  “Stow is a welcoming and affirming community, and every resident deserves to live life free of harassment and hatred.”