News Digest — 12/11/20

Morocco To Establish Full Diplomatic Relations With Israel

In an historic breakthrough, Morocco has agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.  As part of the deal, the United States will recognize the Western Sahara as part of Morocco.

President Trump announced the development in a tweet on Thursday (10th).

“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today!  Our two GREAT friends, Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco, have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!”

Under the normalization agreement, Morocco will open a diplomatic office in Israel and Israel will open one in Morocco.  In addition, direct flights will take place between the two countries.

Morocco is the fourth Muslim majority state to agree to normalize ties with Israel in 2020.  Israel signed the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September.  In October, Sudan agreed to normalize ties with the Jewish State.

I’ve always believed that this historic day would come, I’ve always worked for it,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

“I want to thank President Trump for his extraordinary efforts to expand peace, to bring peace to Israel and the people of the Middle East.  President Trump, the people of Israel and the State of Israel will be forever indebted to you for your magnificent efforts on their behalf.”

“I also want to thank the King of Morocco, King Mohammed VI, for taking this historic decision to bring a historic peace between us.” 

“This will be a warm peace.  Peace has never – the light of peace on this Hanukkah day has never –  shone brighter than today in the Middle East,” he said.



This Is A Day Of Light Befitting Hanukkah

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashekenazi praised the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco.

Defense Minister Gantz stated: “I applaud the anticipated establishment of official ties with Morocco, which presents an opportunity to anchor the long-standing relationship between our peoples, and formalize a rich and deep-shared history that goes back centuries.  This is a significant step, which will further the defense and economic interests of both countries.  I thank the American government for its unwavering efforts to keep Israel strong and our region stable.”

Foreign Minister Ashkenazi added: “I welcome the important news from Washington today on the renewal of relations between Israel and Morocco.  The State of Israel thanks US President Donald Trump and his team for advancing peace and stability in the Middle East and for their support of Israel.”

“This is another great day for Israeli diplomacy, a day of light befitting Hanukkah.  The renewal of relations between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco is an important and necessary step in the framework of the Abraham Accords and reflects the deep and long-standing friendship and relations between our peoples.  I call on more countries to join the circle of the Abraham Accords.  I also extend my warm congratulations to the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, on this brave and right decision.”

“I look forward to lighting the candles at the Israeli diplomatic mission in Rabat next year.”

“Happy Hanukkah to all the people of Israel,” Ashkenazi concluded. 



Pakistani Christians Call On Their Government To Recognize Israel

Will the next normalization agreement be with a non-Arab Muslim country?

In September, British-Pakistani analyst Noor Dahri told Israel Hayom that “Pakistan has never considered the Jewish State as its enemy and may establish conditional relations with it in the future, after the Arab agreements.”  Shortly after, one of the few remaining Jews in Pakistan, Fishel Khalid, from Karachi, told the news media in a rare interview, “I’m a Pakistani Zionist.”

And on Thursday (10th), a small group of Karachi residents held a rare demonstration calling for the Pakistani government to recognize Israel.

At the demonstration, which coincided with International Human Rights Day, a small group of Christian Pakistanis also asked that their government allow them to pilgrimage to Jerusalem, “as other Muslim countries have already done.”

They expressed their anger that as citizens of Pakistan they are prohibited from visiting Israel.

“Ever since the establishment of Pakistan, no one has addressed the longstanding aspirations of the local Christians to pilgrimage to the great city Jerusalem,” God’s Peoples Fellowship of Pakistan, a Karachi-based Christian organization that seeks diplomatic ties with Israel, said in a statement.  According to the group, “If the Pakistani government abolished the ban on YouTube, there’s no reason not to abolish the prohibition on visiting Israel.”

At the group’s demonstration on Thursday (10th), protesters held signs calling Israel a “Light to the Nations” and asking to “Recognize the State of Israel,” among other things.



Tension Between Hebron Clans And Palestinian Authority Threatens To Boil Over

Leaders of Arab clans in Hebron have expressed strong opposition to the Palestinian Authority (PA) decision to impose a lockdown on the city due to the spread of the coronavirus and are threatening to confront its security forces.

In recent days, the heads of the large families in Hebron have been protesting against the PA’s decision, claiming that alongside the discrimination against the big city where 40% of the PA’s residents live, and the corruption in the PA’s financial conduct, the government decided on the closure without consulting with the clans’ leadership.

“If the Palestinian Authority continues to operate in this way, we do not want it, and we call on it to reverse the closure decision and announce that we will not hesitate to confront its security personnel,” said one of the heads of families in Hebron.

The Hebron leaders pointed to the fact that Ramallah is not being placed under lockdown as an example of the PA’s discrimination.

They are further threatening to cut off Hebron from PA institutions since the city does not receive budgets and assistance from the central government.

Public figures in the city say they will protect the public’s health on their own.

“Only one hospital was built in Hebron, funded by charities and donations,” said one of the clan leaders in a demonstration on Wednesday (9th) attended by tribal representatives, merchants and citizens, in front of the PA’s Chamber of Commerce.

The protesters stated that they would not accept the closure instructions and called on the government to withdraw from the arbitrary decision and not to impose a new economic burden on the citizens.

There is constant tension between the PA and clans in Hebron, as many of their leaders do not accept the PA’s authority and demand to be part of the decision-making process.

Three years ago, heads of families signed an agreement with their “brothers” in Jordan and established the Tribal Council in a move that was perceived as defiance against the PA, and now heads of families in southern Hebron are threatening to settle accounts with the PA in the upcoming elections.



Hanukkah: Siberian Synagogue Has 10-Ft Menorah Made Of Ice

A synagogue in Tomsk, a Siberian city in Russia, has unveiled a giant Hanukkah menorah made of ice.

The 10-foot menorah was erected Tuesday (8th) inside the synagogue yard. Tomsk, a city of roughly 500,000. Is located about 2,000 miles east of Moscow.

The menorah was made by Seva Mayorov, a local non-Jewish artist whose work also features regularly at the annual Tomsk Ice Park exhibition, which attracts thousands of tourists to the city annually.

Tomsk carries symbolism for Russian Jewry.  In 1876, it saw the erection of a different synagogue, built by Jews who were conscripted as child soldiers, often against their will, to serve in the czar’s army.

This year is the second time that Tomsk has boasted an ice menorah, but it features some upgrades to last year’s version, including colorful LED lights that run through it and elaborate crown-shaped tips, according to the local rabbi, Levi Kaminetsky, a Chabad emissary who moved with his wife, Gitty, to Tomsk in 2004.

The tips are removable and can be fitted with candles, making them menorah kosher.

Temperatures in Tomsk dip below the freezing point in September and do not rise again until the end of March.  A temperature of 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit is normal for Tomsk in the winter.



The Arab Caretaker Of The Largest Jewish Cemetery – Anjana Sankar

Ibrahim Sayyed, 59, is the Muslim caretaker of the world’s largest Jewish cemetery located atop the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.  He is the third-generation of caretakers for the cemetery, where Jews have been burying their dead for 3,000 years.  “I have been taking care of the graveyard for more than 40 years now.  I took over the mantle from my father and grandfather.”

There are between 60,000 and 150,000 tombs from various periods in history.  Sayyed says, “I know each and every one of these tombs by name.  Families from different parts of the world come here often to look for a family member who passed away years ago.  And if they tell me the name, I know where they are resting in peace.”  But Sayyad says none of his children is interested in continuing the family tradition.