News Digest — 2/17/21

Jerusalemites: Prepare For Medium To Heavy Snow

Israeli weather forecaster Uri Betz announced with Arutz Sheva that a significant amount of snow is expected in Jerusalem over the next few days.

“The snow that will begin in the Mount Hermon area will reach the northern mountains Wednesday night, (17th) and Thursday morning (18th) the snow will intensify in the north.  It will snow in the central mountains where there will be two or three strong blasts of snow in the morning.  But this is just the introduction.  We’ll wake up on Thursday (18th) and see everything white in Jerusalem,” explained Betz.

“This is a strong, fast, and elegant system with heavy snow in the north, heavy to medium snow in the central mountains, including Jerusalem, and heavy rains accompanied by thunderstorms in other places.”

How long will the winter system last?  “The rain will probably stop on Thursday afternoon (18th), and on Friday (19th) there could be local rain here and there.  Shabbat will be cold and clear.”

Betz was asked if the weather could be predicted for Purim (Feb. 25-26) and answered: “I estimate that on Purim it will rain but it is still difficult to estimate how rainy it will be.”

He also referred to the unique winter the State of Israel is going through.  “This year is special.  The meteorological events are very extreme.  Suddenly there is a large amount of rain, and then a 20-day break in the rain and then again a lot of heavy rain and snow.  It happens not only in Israel or in our region but all over the world.  What’s happening in Moscow, the United States, or what’s happened in recent days in Athens or the heavy snow in Istanbul today and what will happen tonight in Cyprus – these are strong winter events in our area and in other areas.  Extremism in the weather is what characterizes the current year,” Betz concluded.



IAF Wraps Up Three-Day Exercise Simulating War With Hezbollah

The Israel Air Force announced Wednesday (17th) that it had wrapped up a surprise three-day military exercise simulating a war with the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

The exercise was launched Sunday (14th) using the scenario that an Israeli plane was hit by a Hezbollah missile, a plausible cause given that two weeks ago Hezbollah fired an anti-aircraft missile at an IAF drone over Lebanon.  The projectile missed its target, but the fact that Hezbollah dared to fire was significant.

In the three-day exercise dubbed “Galilee Rose,” the Israeli military hit 3,000 simulated Hezbollah targets a day, a senior IAF source told Channel 12, adding that during the month-long 2006 war with Lebanon, 4,000-5,000 targets in Lebanon were attacked in the area during the entire conflict.

The exercise began on Sunday (14th) with the participation of all Air Force units, including a surprise call-up of reservists designed to test Air Force operations to see what works and what needs improvement.

The Air Force source said units carried out most of the missions in the face of the threat of Russian and Iranian surface-to-air missiles that could reach the Lebanese theater of operations from within Syria.  The simulated attack focused mainly on southern Lebanon.

At the same time, a major air defense exercise took place against a possible attack by Hezbollah cruise missiles as well as by conventional rockets and missiles fired at IDF bases and Israeli civilian population centers, based on Hezbollah’s known policy of specifically targeting civilians.

Hundreds of reservists were called up without advanced warning, and 85% showed up despite the pandemic.  It was expected that a certain percentage of reservists would not show due to illness, being abroad at the time or other reasons.

One of the tests involved, examined how to implement and operate a bank of targets in the Lebanese space “in the most professional and efficient manner, while avoiding harm to innocent people, which becomes complex because in the Lebanese space, the enemy is entrenched in civilian urban spaces,” the IAF source said, referring to the Hezbollah tactic of placing its rocket launchers in neighborhood houses in Lebanon.

The IDF scenario included an expected response from Hezbollah and the possibility of a deterioration into a full war that would see Israel hit by Hezbollah fire.

“Any possibility of damage to the Israeli home front and the Air Force during the campaign was an issue that was being watched and taken into account in this current exercise,” the source said.



Report: Iran Behind Plot To Target UAE Embassies In Africa

Iran was behind a recently foiled plot to target embassies of the United Arab Emirates in Ethiopia and Sudan via sleeper cells, the New York Times reported Monday (15th).

The paper quoted Israeli and Western intelligence sources, who said the plot was thwarted by the intelligence agencies of Ethiopia and Sweden.  At least three Iranian nationals were among the 15 suspects already arrested by Ethiopian and Sudanese security services.

According to a report from early February, an Iranian terror attack targeting an Israeli embassy in one of Africa’s eastern countries was thwarted in January.  Citing Western intelligence sources, the report said Tehran sent agents to the then-unnamed country for the purpose of gathering information about the Israeli, American, and Emirati embassies in order to carry out an attack against one of them.  Several agents were of European nationality, besides their Iranian citizenship, the report noted.

The Times report on Monday (15th) said Iran wants to harm the UAE after placing it “atop its list of enemies,” both due to its rapprochement with Israel and its efforts to hinder Tehran’s nuclear program.

According to the report, Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, was chosen as a target because of the government’s preoccupation with internal crises, such as the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region, and because it is relatively easy to run agents in the country.  It’s safe to assume that targeting the UAE’s embassy in Sudan was at least partly meant as a message to the Sudanese government to halt normal relations with Israel.

“Africa is a relatively easy place to operate, and Ethiopia is preoccupied with other issues,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer now with the Brookings Institution, told the New York Times.



‘Zionism Is The Enemy’ Says Bristol University Professor

Bristol University Professor David Miller slammed Israel, Zionism, and Jewish student groups during a Campaign For Free Speech Zoom lecture last Saturday (13th), The Jewish Chronicle reports.

“Israel is imposing its will all over the world,” he said during his speech.  “The enemy we face here is Zionism and the imperial policies of the Israeli state.”

“It’s not enough to say Zionism is racism, Israel is a settler colonial society.  The aim of this is not only to say things but to end settler colonialism in Palestine, to end Zionism as a functioning ideology of the world.”

Miller, who teaches sociology, has a long history of making anti-Israel comments,  He was suspended from the UK Labour Party last year after blasting Sir Keir Starmer for “taking Zionist money.”

The suspension, Miller said, confirmed “the degree of influence that Zionist advocates and lobbyists for Israel have over disciplinary processes and Party policy.” He did not apologize for his remarks.

A number of his past statements led to formal complaints from Jewish student groups at Bristol University.  During Saturday’s (13th) speech, Miller suggested that such complaints were an impingement on his academic freedom.

“These kinds of complaints are being made over the country – one against me in Bristol and there’s been one made in Warwick….we will continue to see this drive to stop anyone speaking out for Palestine or having any critical account of Zionism as racism, as settler colonialism,” he said.

“Free speech is not the main problem here, it is a problem but not the main problem…It’s an all-out onslaught by the Israeli government….it’s a question of how we defeat the ideology of Zionism in practice.  How do we make sure Zionism is ended essentially.  There’s no other way of saying that.”

Last week, a report in Vice Magazine revealed that Jewish students feel their concerns about Miller are being ignored by the university’s administration.

“It’s been a year and a half since the first day we made a complaint, and we still are in the dark.  Even with the emotional toll of 18 months, the university has offered no emotional support to us,” a student named Sabrina told the magazine.

“The only support we ever get is from specifically Jewish charities and organizations.  It’s been made the responsibility of Jewish charities to look after Jewish students.  If charities weren’t funding this, then there would be no emotional support for students experiencing anti-Semitism.  The university isn’t interested in knowing what Jewish students need – they don’t try to know – so we are just left in the dark.”



‘The Jew Is Guilty,’ 300 Neo-Nazis Attend Rare Gathering In Spain

Jewish leaders in Spain are calling for an investigation after a far-right event in Madrid featured anti-Semitic speeches and a Nazi salute.

About 300 people attended the event held near a cemetery in the Spanish capital where veterans who fought alongside Hitler’s troops are buried.  In one speech, a young woman was filmed saying: “Our duty is to fight for Spain and Europe now weakened by the enemy, which remains the same but wears many masks: the Jew.”

Public expressions of admiration for Nazi Germany, anti-Semitic rhetoric and large far-right gatherings are relatively uncommon in Spain, where many people have bitter memories of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, who sided with the Nazis during World War II and then ruled Spain until 1975.

But as in many European countries, right-wing populism has seen a massive and sudden rise in popularity in Spain in recent years.  In 2019, the Vox populist right-wing party entered parliament for the first time as the country’s third-largest party, with 52 out of 350 seats.

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain in a statement Monday (15th) called on prosecutors to launch an investigation into incitement to violence and discrimination against some of the people who attended the event, including the young woman, who had not been identified in the media.

She also said: “The Jew is guilty and the Blue Division will fight it,” Ultima Hora reported.

The Blue Division, a small neo-Nazi network, derives its name from the units of Spanish volunteers who fought in Russia during World War II alongside the troops of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  Veterans from that detachment are buried at the cemetery where the event took place.