News Digest — 2/13/20

AIPAC Condemns UNHRC Blacklist

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Wednesday (12th) condemned the UN Human Rights Council after it released a list of over 100 companies which do business in Judea and Samaria.

“We strongly condemn the issuing of a blacklist by the United Nations Human Rights Council that could be used for discriminatory action against Israel.  This blacklist is clearly designed to target American and Israeli companies for boycotts and other punitive action,” the pro-Israel lobby said in a statement.

“We urge the administration and Congress to act immediately to protect American companies and to prevent all American companies from participating in any United Nations-directed boycott against Israel,” it added.

AIPAC said the UNHRC blacklist “is the latest in a deplorable history of attacks on Israel by the UN and its agencies.  Rather than promoting discriminatory boycotts, the United Nations must demand that the Palestinian leadership return to negotiations with Israel to seek peace and reconciliation.”

The UNHRC list includes 112 companies which operate in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The council claims the companies, including Airbnb, Expedia, and TripAdvisor, violate international law by continuing to operate in the Jewish communities in the area.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley criticized the UN Human Rights Council over the publication of the list.

“The UN hit a new low today publishing its anti-Semitic blacklist of companies it claims are involved in Israeli ‘settlement activity.’  The timing of this after the U.S. released a peace plan is conniving and manipulative at best – at worst, shameful,” she tweeted.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) also blasted the move, tweeting, “So shameful that the UN published this blacklist of companies in the West Bank.  This name-and-shame-strategy will do nothing to further peace and ignores economic benefits these businessmen bring to Israelis and Palestinians.


Fatah Posts Anti-Semitic Tweet As Abbas Claims Palestinians Aren’t Against Jews

Even as Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas denied that the Palestinians have anything against the Jewish people in his Tuesday (11th) speech before the UN Security Council in New York, his Fatah party’s Twitter feed posted an anti-Semitic cartoon.

In a classic example of modern anti-Semitism, the cartoon compares the Jews to the Nazis showing a Nazi soldier with a skeleton underfoot.  Borrowing from images of evolutionary-stages, the skeleton rises to become a Jew wearing a skullcap crushing a Palestinian underfoot. 

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs led by Likud MK Gilad Erdan blasted Abbas on Twitter for his hypocrisy.

“While Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas claimed he was interested in peace in the United Nations, look what his party did.  His hatred of Jews is a nauseating reminder of what a two-faced liar he is,” Erdan tweeted with a picture of the anti-Semitic image.

The DigiTell network, a pro-Israel worldwide network consisting of more than 15 million followers, set up by the ministry, distributed the Fatah post and as a result succeeded in having it removed from Twitter.

“Social networks have become the basis for the distribution of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content in recent years,” said Tzachi Gabrieli, the ministry’s director general, according to the website.

“We have set up the DigiTell network just for that purpose – an operative network from 20 countries that provides real-time response to false discourse, incitement and hatred against Israel.  Removing the cartoon is another success of the network and proves its importance to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”



The Promise Of The Trump Peace Plan – Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy

→ The conventional wisdom is that the Palestinian leadership didn’t show up to receive the U.S. peace plan because Palestinians didn’t get a good deal.  This assumes these leaders would be interested in making peace, if only Israel made the right concessions. While many in the West wish this to be true, what’s really missing is a Palestinian leadership interested in Israel as a peace partner.

→ In the early 1990s, Israeli leaders and their Western counterparts brought Arafat back from exile in Tunis and made him a dictator.  They viewed Arafat’s authoritarian nature as a plus – to control even more violent Palestinian enemies of peace such as Hamas.

→ But the zeal of peace at any price overlooked the basics of Dictatorship 101.  Repressive regimes maintain control over their people by mobilizing them with external foes to fight and internal dissidents to destroy.  To hold on to power, Arafat needed Israel as an enemy, not a partner.

→ During Arafat’s 10-year reign of terror he brutalized his own people from the start, crushing all opposition.  He alternated between talking peace and terrorizing Israel when each was useful to him, while twisting his education system to make sure the next generation of Palestinians would hate Israelis even more.  Meanwhile, he kept Western leaders believing that one more Israeli concession, one more agreement, would bring a peace he never intended to deliver.

→ Natan Sharansky served as Israel’s minister of industry and trade in the 1990s and was involved during the Oslo period in efforts to bolster the Palestinian economy.  This first-hand look was sobering. For Arafat and his henchmen, it was more important to keep job creation and distribution under their control than to promote prosperity for ordinary Palestinians.  International investments became opportunities for patronage and racketeering.

→ Four years aren’t enough to make a full transition from dictatorship to democracy or from decades of war to peace.  But it could be enough for the first seeds of Palestinian civil society to sprout.

Mr. Sharansky was a political prisoner in the Soviet Union and served in four Israeli cabinets.  Mr. Troy is a professor of history at McGill University.



Israel Boasts An Eight Percent Annual Increase In Tourism In January

Around 308,500 tourists visited Israel during January, an 8% increase from last January, and a 20% increase from 2018 according to the Tourism Ministry.  Israel welcomed a record 4.5 million tourists into the country in 2019.

Revenue from incoming tourists during January was about $437 million.

“Tourism records continue to shatter, and we end January 2020 with an 8% increase in incoming tourism over January 2019, and 20% more than in January 2018,” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said.

“The numbers speak for themselves.  The revolution in marketing-policy that we are leading at the ministry is making its mark, and we hope that we can maintain this positive momentum throughout 2020 despite the expected budget cuts,” he said.

“We are pleased that the year 2020 has opened with an increase in the number of tourists visiting Israel.  This is, thanks to, among other things, the scope and professionalism of the ministry’s marketing activities,” Levin said.

“The ministry continues to operate within the limits of the existing budget and the additional challenges that have arrived at our door, and will market Israel as an attractive tourism destination with several tourism brands to a varied target audience, in order to maintain the spectacular achievements of recent years,” said Tourism Ministry director-general Amir Halevi.  “These numbers have broken annual records for the third consecutive year,” he added.

The leading countries of origin for incoming tourism between January and November 2019 were the United States, (890,000 visitors), followed by France (338,200), Russia (296,000), Germany (268,900) and Britain (218,700).



Startup Harnesses The Power Of The Sun To Make Things Cool

According to data released by the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection, temperatures in Israel are expected to increase by 2050, and rainfall will decrease by 15-25% by the end of the century.  While many companies have begun using solar panels to produce energy from increased sunlight, Israel-based startup SolCold Ltd, harnesses the sun’s heat to create a cooling effect.

SolCold uses nanotechnology to create a cooling material that uses sunlight to cool down cars, buildings, planes, clothing items and even electronic devices, SolCold co-founder and CEO Yaron Shenhav said in a Sunday (9th) interview with Calcalist.

SolCold’s material absorbs the solar radiation emitted from the sun and then reflects it at higher wavelengths, thus lowering the temperature.

The company’s technology can be used in many different products, including in mobile phones and computers to prevent overheating, Shenhav said.

The company’s material comes in two forms, as fresh paint which can be applied on any surface, or as a thin layer that comes in the form of a roll, similar to aluminum foil Shenhav said.  

SolCold is currently conducting its final round of testing in its offices in the central Israeli town of Ness Ziona, Shenhav said.  The company expects its products to hit the market in early 2021, but some companies will receive their first orders in the third quarter of 2020 to begin coating their products, Shenhav said.

SolCold has raised $4.25 million to date and employs a team of 10 people, according to Shenhav.