News Digest — 12/22/21

Attacker Killed In Attempted Car-Ramming Of IDF Soldiers

An attempted car-ramming of IDF forces took place on Tuesday (21st) near the northern West Bank settlement of Einav, the IDF confirmed.

A military vehicle caught fire, presumably from shots fired towards it, as the attacker rammed into it with his car.

The IDF forces, who shot towards the attacker as he approached, were unharmed in the incident.

The attacker, whose car also caught on fire, was killed by IDF forces at the scene.

Israel Fire and Rescue Services’ firefighters were called to the scene to extinguish the two vehicles.  The attacker’s body was found inside his burning car.

The attack is the latest in a series of terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem in recent weeks.

Last week, Palestinian gunmen killed Yehuda Dimentman, 25, in the West Bank.  Since then, clashes between Palestinians and the IDF have been ongoing.  The military arrested four suspects in the attack.

On December 6, another ramming attack occurred as a security guard at the Tanim crossing was moderately injured by a vehicle coming from the Palestinian side of the junction.

On Sunday (19th), Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) reached an agreement to step up terror attacks against Israel in the area.

Earlier on Tuesday (21st), UN Special Coordinator for the Peace Process, Tor Wennesland warned that increased West Bank violence between Israelis and Palestinians could spark another Gaza war.



Lebanon Says Ready To Resume Indirect Border Talks With Israel

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Monday (20th) that Beirut is committed to continuing indirect talks with Israel over demarcating the maritime borders of its Mediterranean neighbors.

Aoun made the remarks during a joint press conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of the capital Beirut.

“When it comes to the situation with Israel, I reiterated to his excellency [Guterres] the commitment of Lebanon to continue the Resolution 1701 [UN Security Council resolution intended to resolve the 2006 Lebanon War] and all of its aspects – maintain stability on the southern border and the cooperation between the Lebanese army and UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon],” Aoun said.

“I also denounce the Israeli violations on land, air and sea and primarily the use of Lebanese air space to target Syria,” Aoun added.

Guterres also met Monday (20th) with Prime Minister Najib Mikati as he reaffirmed the world body’s support for the crisis-hit country, while urging that the parliamentary elections take place on time – legislators voted in October to bump up next year’s elections from May 8 to March 27.

At stake in the maritime talks are potentially lucrative natural gas reserves that Lebanon wants to tap as the country endures a devastating economic and fiscal crisis that the World Bank calls one of the worst in a century.  

The United States is organizing the indirect maritime border talks.

The current American mediator, Amos Hochstein, reportedly told both sides that he will give up on seeking a resolution to the dispute if a deal is not reached by the March parliamentary elections.



Iran State Media Slams Tehran Mall For Promoting A Jewish Holiday

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Mehr news agency blasted a decoration in a mall in northern Tehran because it allegedly combined symbols of the Persian Yalda celebration with Sukkot.

Writing for Mehr news, which is owned by the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, Fatima Karimi lashed out at the mall “for promoting a Jewish holiday,” according to Iran International.

The London-based Iran International wrote that Mehr news “has criticized decorations of a mall in northern Tehran which it says has combined symbols of the Persian feast of Yalda Night with those of Sukkot observed by Jews.

Yalda is an Iranian festival that takes place on the longest day of the year and celebrates the winter solstice.  The Jerusalem Post  reviewed the Persian-language article on the Mehr news website, with its blaring outraged headline about its alleged combination of Yalda with Sukkot.

The Mehr news journalist wrote that “at the bottom floor of this passage is a small decoration with which many people take souvenir photos, but how many of them know that this decor is a combination of the Yalda celebration and Jewish….celebration!”  The issues that promoted the Mehr news reporter’s outrage appeared to be her perception that “The roof and the accompaniment below it are reminiscent of Sukkot…held by the Jews.”

Karimi writes that “Although in our country, Iran,  the freedom of official religions live together – combining one Iranian celebration with another in decor can only distort it.”  Especially since various influencers also go to this place and advertise it without knowing it.”

The US government classified Iran’s regime as the leading state-sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism.  The clerical regime executed Habib Elghanian, the former leader of the Jewish community in Iran, in 1979.  The overwhelming majority of Iran’s pre-1979 revolution population of 80,000 fled the Islamic Republic due to repression.  Iranian Jews estimate there are less than 10,000 Persian Jews left in Iran.

Writing in The Forward in 2020, the Iranian-American journalist Karmel Melamed noted that “the Iranian regime since day one has effectively turned the Jews and other religious minorities in Iran into third-class citizens with radical laws that convey inferior status to Jews and other religious minorities, who are unequal before the law.”



Jews Blamed For ‘Every Single Aspect Of COVID’ In Fliers Distributed Across US

People in at least eight states found anti-Semitic fliers claiming Jews are responsible for COVID-19 in their yards over this past weekend (Dec. 18, 19),  according to the Security Community Network, the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America.

The leaflets were part of a “coordinated flier drop,” by the Anti-Semitic Goyim Defense League, according to SCN, and were found in Alabama, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and Vermont.  The leaflet, one of which was titled “Every Single Aspect of the COVID Agenda is Jewish,” including a QR code linked to an anti-Semitic website run by the Goyim Defense League.

“This is another reminder that the Jewish community is a target in the United States,” CEO of SCN Michael Masters said.  “There continues to be groups willing to do anything they can to attack Jewish people, including blaming them for a pandemic that has affected so many lives across the globe.  We must continue to fight anti-Semitism and ensure the Jewish community can flourish.”

This is not the first time the Goyim Defense League has left fliers in people’s yards, but it may be the first time they have left them in so many locales at once.  Just before Hanukkah the group left fliers at homes in Beverly Hills, California, and earlier this fall the group hung a banner from an overpass in Austin, Texas, saying “Vax the Jews.”



Report: Australia Sees 35% Jump In Anti-Semitic Incidents In Single Year

Anti-Semitic incidents rose 35% in the last year with more than 447 recorded cases, including physical assaults and graffiti, according to a report by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

“The ECAJ 2021 Anti-Semitism Report,” issued on Sunday (19th) recorded 272 attacks – physical assaults, verbal harassment, vandalism and graffiti – and 175 threats in the year ending in September, up from 331 in the previous 12 months.

The rise in acts of Jewish-hatred includes an uptick in abuse and harassment, which rose 14% from 128 to 147 incidents, while graffiti went from 42 instances to 106.  The discovery of anti-Semitic posters and stickers increased a whopping 157%, from 28 to 72.

Eleven incidents of vandalism were recorded, and the number of physical assaults remained stationary at eight incidents, while threats via email, phone and mail declined.

The increase tracks with the findings of a smaller regional study conducted earlier in 2021.

In the survey of Jews in the state of Queensland, which includes Brisbane, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, six in ten Jews reported experiencing anti-Semitism though the vast majority, 91.5% said they had not reported it.

In a press release on the ECAJ report, Julie Nathan, the group’s research director and report author, said: “Behind the statistics lie some horrific personal stories of persistent anti-Semitic bullying of Jewish students at schools, the brutal physical assault of a man on his way to synagogue,” along with the flying of a Nazi flag above a synagogue in Brisbane and the spray-painting of a synagogue in Adelaide.

“What is perhaps worse is the disgraceful discourse online and occasionally in the mainstream media of those who, for whatever reason, seek to rationalize or minimize this egregious behavior,” she said.

Like elsewhere in the world, anti-Semitism against Australia’s Jewish community was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and Israel’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, where 4,000 rockets were fired at Israeli population centers.

“A total of 85 incidents were logged for the month of May alone, when the hostilities between Israel and Hamas occurred, compared to between 22 and 46 incidents for each of the other 11 months of the year,” said Nathan.

She also reported the threat from extremist groups including Hizb ut-Tahrir, which the Anti-Defamation League says “seeks to establish a worldwide Islamic theocracy,” and the neo-Nazi group, National Socialist Network.