News Digest — 2/15/23

Israeli Ambassador Demands UN Security Council Condemn Spate Of Deadly Terror Attacks

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan sent an urgent letter Tuesday (14th) to the members of the UN Security Council ahead of the meeting that the Council will hold on Monday (20th) on the Middle East.  In the letter, Ambassador Erdan called on the international community to condemn the recent Palestinian terror attacks that left 11 Israelis murdered, including children.  The Ambassador also rebuked the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for his refusal to condemn the attacks and for the incitement that led to them.

In his letter, Erdan wrote: “I write to you with immense sorrow and distress to report on the latest wave of terrorist attacks that Israel has been facing over the past 19 days.  These include: the shooting attack at the entrance to a synagogue in Jerusalem on January 27th, in which seven civilians were murdered including a 14-year-old, and three injured; the shooting attack in Jerusalem on January 28th, in which two civilians were injured by a 13-year-old terrorist; the ramming attack in Jerusalem on February 10th, in which three civilians were murdered, among them two children aged six and eight; the stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Monday (13th), in which a civilian was injured; and the latest stabbing attack in Shuafat, also on Monday (13th), in which a soldier was murdered.”

“Overall, 11 Israelis were murdered in these bloody and brutal attacks and dozens were injured, some in critical condition.  In addition, during this period, rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel, intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.  These terror attacks are a direct consequence of the ongoing poisonous incitement spewed by the Palestinian Authority and other terrorist organizations that are driven by hatred,” he continued.

“I call on the international community to condemn the latest terror attacks against Israeli civilians in the strongest unequivocal terms.  Those abhorrent crimes are being encouraged and applauded by the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and PFLP among others.  The Palestinian Authority’s support for terror and violence is not only evident through official statements, parades and celebrations, but also with its material support – the ‘Pay for Slay’ payments – provided by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and families.”

“The leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, blatantly refuses to condemn the barbaric Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians.  This serves as the clearest example of who is behind this wave of escalation and violence.  As long as the international community does not demand accountability from the PA and its leadership, as well as a complete halt to incitement and indoctrination for violence – the prime motivators of future attacks – Palestinian attempts to maim and murder Israeli civilians will continue.  Regardless, Israel, on its part, will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect its civilians.”

“Moreover, the PA, Hamas, PIJ and others are shockingly encouraging and inciting children to carry out terrorist attacks against innocent civilians.  Terrorist organizations continue using fake news and non-stop online incitement calling for the murder of innocent Israelis, while encouraging the use of children as perpetrators of terrorism.  The international community and the Security Council must insist on an end to Palestinian terror and to incitement and hate speech.”

“I would be grateful if you would have this letter distributed as an official document of the Security Council.  I wish to inform you that an identical letter has been sent to H.E. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations,” Ambassador Erdan concluded.



Thousands Attend Funeral Of Border Police Officer Stabbed In Jerusalem Terror Attack

A Border Police officer killed during a terror attack in Jerusalem Monday (13th) was laid to rest in his village in the Galilee on Tuesday (14th).

Thousands followed the funeral procession of Staff. Sgt. Asil Sawaed, 22,  who followed his brother into the service.  The funeral was held in the soldier’s native Bedouin village of Hussniyya.

Sawaed was stabbed by a 13-year-old assailant near Shuafat, and was taken to the hospital suffering critical wounds to the head, where he later died.  He is survived by his parents and six siblings.

“He was a good boy and a fine man,” his father, a school teacher, eulogized.  “Terrorists deserve to get their due.  We, the Bedouins living in northern Israel are disenfranchised.  We have suffered in the past and still suffer today, but we are loyal to the state of Israel.”

Yarin Levinsky, a senior Border Police officer said Sawaed was all heart.  “He had more joy in life than anyone I have ever known,” he said.  “He always wanted to help anyone around him and never put himself first.  He wanted to be cognizant of how he was helping his country and saw it as a calling.  There are not many like him.”

Amiram Avtalon who was Sawaed’s commander said “his laugh was how best he could be characterized.  We are pained by his passing.  He was an incredible person and will remain in our hearts.”

Another commanding officer said that before the fatal attack, the force decided to promote Sawaed and honor him on Independence Day next May.



Prime Minister Netanyahu Pays Condolence Visit To Paley Family After Ramming Attack

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, Tuesday evening (14th), paid a condolence call to the Paley family at their home in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot.  Two of the family’s children – Yaakov Israel, 6, and Asher Menachem, 8, were murdered in a terrorist ramming attack this past Friday (10th).  Another civilian, newly married 20 year old Alter Shlomo Lederman was also killed in the attack.  The father of the two murdered children, Avraham Noah Paley, remains hospitalized in serious condition and on a respirator at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

The mother of the family, Hannah Davorah Paley, described how her two young children were buried, one after the other, to the Prime Minister and his wife, and said that the family feels they are supported by the people of Israel, and that their faith is what is sustaining them.  The Netanyahus replied that faith helps one overcome tragedy and added that the entire people of Israel embrace them in their sorrow. 

When Hannah Davorah showed a picture of the boys, Prime Minister Netanyahu told her: “I would like your permission to put the picture in my office.  This tragic story will help me explain to world leaders the difference between the people of Israel and our enemies.  While our enemies murdered these two souls, our forces were in Turkey saving lives.”

Family members told the Prime Minister and his wife about the condition of the father of the family, who is still sedated and on a respirator in the hospital.  The family members asked for prayers for Avraham Noah.  The prime minister and his wife wished him a swift and complete recovery.



To Prevent Escalation During Ramadan, Israel Needs To Be Proactive – Nadav Shragai

While the Israeli public is divided over the judicial overhaul, more and more signs point to the fact that the next five weeks leading up to Ramadan – and perhaps the holy month itself – will be marked by an increase in terror attacks.

Just like every previous year, the Palestinians will connect it to the well-known and false Al Aqsa narrative, claiming Israel seeks to destroy the holy Islam site.

Jerusalem was hit by as many as five attacks in the past week – with all perpetrators, residents of east Jerusalem, which has become the focal point of incitement regarding the Temple Mount.

In all cases, pictures of the terrorists taken outside the Dome of the Rock were published almost immediately.

In recent weeks, Israel has once again been portrayed – mainly on social media – as seeking to destroy the compound, with false claims of artificial earthquakes, bulldozers, explosions, archeological digs, or fire-breathing dragons.  The Al-Aqsa narrative once again is focused on Israel “capturing” the holy Muslim site and settlers “invading” it.

The narrative is mostly being pushed by Hamas and the Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party), which enjoys a lot of support in east Jerusalem, and whose ideology – at least partially – makes it a sister organization to ISIS.

Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks to return Islam to the days of the Prophet Muhammad and establish a global Islamic caliphate.  And although it consistently incites violence against Jews and Christians – including calls for genocide – and has even been blacklisted by Jordan, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, it has not been outlawed in Israel.

Terror attacks by minors, in particular, is worrisome, and took security officials back to 2015 when a relatively high number of terror attacks in Jerusalem were perpetrated by teenagers.  Al Aqsa was the focus of such terrorism at the time as well.

“Al Aqsa is a religion and not politics.  Maybe it‘s hard for Jews to understand,” a Muslim education official from east Jerusalem said at the time.  “But we believe that if you are killed while defending your mosque, you are a martyr.  You are chosen.  For children, it can be very attractive. The Al Aqsa mosque, it is not a red line.  It’s red blood.”

I was referred to this quote by a security official, who expressed concern that Israel might be at the beginning of another wave of violence.  He noted that some of the terrorists who carried out attacks during Ramadan last year too were motivated by the Al Aqsa narrative.

He explained that the IDF would need to be proactive and arrest inciters who claim Israel poses a danger to the Temple Mount, including those with high-profile social media following and low-level operatives.



New Survey: 4 In 10 American Jews Felt Less Secure Last Year, Higher Than In 2021

Four in 10 American Jews felt less secure in 2022 than they did in 2021, according to an American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey, a 10-percentage point rise from when the same question was asked a year earlier.

In addition, the survey found that more than a quarter of respondents had personally been targeted by an antisemitic remark or attack over the past year.  Nearly a quarter avoided wearing or carrying things that would identify them publicly as Jewish.  Both numbers were similar to the previous year’s survey.

A separate AJC survey found that the percentage of Americans generally who say antisemitism is a problem is also increasing.  And nearly half of Americans overall (47%) said that antisemitism had increased over the past five years.

The survey, released Monday (13th) and conducted from Sept, 23 to Nov. 8, 2022, asked 1,507 respondents who identified as Jewish whether they feel more or less secure than a year ago, or the same.  The portion of respondents who replied “less secure” was 41%; those feeling that their status was “about as secure” were 55% and those feeling “more secure” were 4%.

Those who felt less secure attributed the feeling to a perceived rise in antisemitic attacks and violence (27%), the sense that antisemitism and racism are more overt and accepted (27%) and the perceived rise of white supremacist groups (17%), among other factors.  The percentage of those feeling less secure in the same survey in 2021 was 31%.  The percentage in 2020 was 43%.

The survey was already underway when, in Mid-October, the rapper Kanye West launched into a weeklong series of antisemitic comments, starting on social media and continuing offline.

The survey also found that over the past year, one out of five respondents had been targeted by an anti-Semitic remark in person, and 13% had been targeted by antisemitism online.  In addition, 48 respondents, or 3% of the total, had been victims of physical attack.  Last year’s survey reported similar findings.

In addition, this year, two-thirds of respondents, and a higher percentage of respondents aged 18-29, said they had seen antisemitic content online over the past year.

The separate survey of Americans overall found that 68% of respondents saw antisemitism in 2022 as a serious problem, up from 60% in 2021.  In the survey of Jews, 89% said antisemitism was a serious problem in 2022, virtually the same as the 90% who responded that way in 2021.