News Digest — 12/1/21

Hanukkah Menorah Made Of Rocket Fragments Lit In Gaza Area Yeshiva

On the roof of the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot, a Hanukkah menorah built out of rocket fragments is lit up.

Sderot, located on the Israel-Gaza border, has suffered thousands of rocket attacks since 2005, when Israel pulled its citizens and soldiers out of Gaza, handing it over to terrorists.

The Hanukkah menorah lighting was an initiative of the yeshiva, and was attended by many of the city’s residents, as well as MK Bazalel Smotrich and Nava, the mother of fallen soldier Amit Ben Yigal.

Ben Yigal’s mother moved the audience as she spoke about the direct connection between Amit’s bravery and the Hanukkah story.  According to her, “Bravery cost him his life, but turned him into a symbol of light in the world.”

MK Smotrich spoke about the yeshiva’s graduates, who become soldiers and commanders in the IDF, and whose Torah learning leads them to find the bravery needed in the battlefield.

Rabbi Dror Aryeh, who works at the yeshiva said, “This Hanukkah menorah is ‘made in Gaza.’  We took the destruction and the darkness that they wished for us, and using it, we lit lights, the light of the city of Sderot, the light of Amit Ben Yigal, which burns within each of us, and the light of Israeli bravery.”



‘Israel’s Position On Iran Is Firm,’ FM Yair Lapid Tells French President Macron

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday evening (11/30) concluded a long and warm meeting during which they extensively discussed the renewed talks with Iran on the issue of that country’s nuclear program.

Lapid reiterated and emphasized Israel’s position that Iran is trying to buy time in order to allow it to advance its nuclear program, and stressed the urgent need to reinstate sanctions on Iran, as well as the need for a “Plan B.”

“I am now at the end of three days of talks in London and Paris,” Lapid said, noting his talks with British officials and with Macron occurred alongside the Vienna negotiations.  “After many years, Israel’s position is being heard, and Israel’s position is firm.”

“We must not remove sanctions from Iran.  We must tighten the sanctions.  We must place a real threat on Iran, because only that will prevent it from continuing its race to nuclear abilities.  The race did not stop, and the race will not stop in the Vienna talks.”

He added: “Together with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is traveling to Washington next week, we will continue to work so that the world will understand the Iranian threat in its entirety.”

Later in their discussion, Lapid and Macron spoke about the bilateral relationship between their countries, and about the possibility of expanding and deepening cooperation on issues of security, economy and more.



Iranian Protesters In Vienna Blast Tehran Regime’s Crimes

Iranian expatriate Atousa Safar is leading the protests against the Vienna nuclear talks, holding up a sign calling leaders of the Iranian regime “terrorists.”   

Speaking to Israel Hayom, Safar explained that the protesters managed to upset, if only momentarily, the head of the Iranian delegation to the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bakri Kani.

“He turned in our direction and pointed at us,” she said with satisfaction as she discussed the incident, which was caught on camera.  Bakri appeared surprised that the Austrians had allowed protesters to approach the corner near the Palais Coburg.

“In Austria,” a logistics official explained, “security arrangements are low-key, so aside from police personnel and occasional security checks, there are no barricades set up when events like these talks are underway.”

“Bakri was able to hear every word the demonstrators yelled at him,” said Safar.

“He was very worried by us,” said fellow activist Abbas, who added, “Bakri is like Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi – he’s a terrorist, too.”

Safar knows from personal experience how brutal the Iranian regime can be.  She fled Iran five years ago after she was arrested and faced a lengthy prison sentence.  She said she made her escape via Turkey and is in direct contact with hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter, who tell her about the recent government quashing of protests in Isfahan.

“The regime is drying up the Isfahan area, turning it into desert.  I’ve seen their crimes.  The Iranian people are suffering from the crimes of this inhumane regime,” she said.

“Everyday, I’m in contact with hundreds of thousands of people who support us, not the ones who support the Iranian terrorist regime,” she added.

When asked how people could trust the son of the former shah of Iran, who wants to return to power and says he will not be corrupt like his late father, Safar and Abbas reject the working assumption about the former shah that is prevalent in the West.

“Do you really believe the shah was corrupt?  There weren’t more than 300,000 people who took to the streets in 1979,” they said.

Q: But he wasn’t particularly popular, right?

“That’s wrong.  We don’t believe that.  In Isfahan, people are shouting, ‘Death to the dictator!  Bring back the Shah of Iran!  God bless Reza Shah, and long live the king!’”

Q: Do you have anything to say to the people of Israel?

“We, the Iranians, always loved the Jewish people, for thousands of years.  We were always friends and fought terrorism together.”



Yavne Finds Tell Story Of Sanhedrin After Jews Fled Jerusalem In 70 CE

Archaeological finds in Israel have shed light on life in ancient Yavne, a town in central modern-day Israel that served as the retreat for Jewish authorities after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The excavation has unearthed ruins of a building with cups made of chalkstone, a material deemed appropriate for Jewish religious rites, pointing to the presence of the exiled Sanhedrin legislative assembly, the Israeli Antiquities Authorities said.

Cited by the Roman historian, Josephus Flavius, Yavne served as the focal point of Jewish activity.  According to Jewish writings, the Sanhedrin was reconstructed there with Roman consent.

“This is a direct voice from the past, from the period when the Jewish leadership salvaged the remaining fragments from the fall of the Jerusalem Temple,” the IAA said in a statement.

Also discovered near the site was a cemetery with dozens of graves, including sarcophagi, and more than 150 glass phials placed on top of the tombs, which the IAA said were probably used to store fragrant oils.



Tel Aviv Now World’s Most Expensive City

Tel Aviv has been officially crowned as the most expensive city in the world, knocking last year’s winners, Paris, Hong Kong, and Zurich off their pedestal.

According to the Economic Intelligence Unit, Tel Aviv ranks first overall out of 173 cities.  Last year, Tel Aviv ranked sixth overall.

In second place this year are Paris and Singapore, followed by Zurich in third place and then Hong Kong.  New York is in sixth place, Geneva in seventh, followed by Copenhagen, Los Angeles, and Osaka.

The biggest drop in rank was that of Rome, which fell 16 places to become the 48th most expensive city in the world, largely due to a drop in the prices of groceries and clothing.  By contrast, Tehran, Iran’s capital, rose 50 places to become the 29th most expensive city, due to shortage of goods and rising import prices following the reimposition of sanctions by the United States.

Damascus, the Syrian capital, was at the bottom of the list as the world’s cheapest city, beating out Tripoli in Libya and Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

The Economist Intelligence Unit uses data compiled from 50,000 goods and services including rental prices, in 173 cities.  On average it found that prices have risen by 3.5% in local currency terms, which is the fastest inflation-rate recorded in the last five years.



Austin Chabad Lights Menorah At Overpass Where Neo-Nazis Hung Anti-Semitic Banners

A Chabad house in Austin organized a Hanukkah menorah lighting in an unusual place on Monday night (11/29) – on a highway overpass looking out over the busy MoPac Expressway.

They didn’t just pick the location so drivers would see the menorah on their evening commute.  Instead, they wanted to transform the spot, which had been the site of an anti-Semitic demonstration into something brighter.

On October 24, members of the neo-Nazi group the Goyim Defense League hung anti-Semitic banners from the spot reading “Vax the Jews.”  The overpass is just a few blocks away from the Shalom Austin Jewish Community Center and several synagogues, and the incident happened just a few days after racist and anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered at Anderson High School, about a mile and a half away from the community center.

The incident was soon followed by another one of anti-Semitism, when a fire was set in front of Congregation Beth Israel in another part of Austin.  While no one was hurt, the fire damaged the synagogue’s carved wooden doors and caused smoke damage throughout the sanctuary.

Rabbi Yosef Levertov, director of Chabad Lubavitch Austin, told that the menorah lighting in that spot was a deliberate symbol of Jewish pride in the face of anti-Semitism.