News Digest — 2/20/20

Syrian Journalist: ‘Jews Make Miracles Out Of The Impossible’

The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network recently hosted a debate about Israel and the Arab countries.

Syrian journalist Thaer Al-Nashef who took part in the debate, said the claim that Israel is thwarting democracy in Arab countries is completely unfounded, arguing that all the dictatorial and authoritarian Arab rulers had been a product of their own Arab societies.

Al-Nashef mocked the conspiracy theories that Israel grooms Arab citizens to become leaders of their countries, and said that Israel is not responsible for the progress of backwardness of Arab societies.  Rather, he said that Arabs are responsible for their own development and that they might learn something from the Jews and their ability to “make miracles out of the impossible.”

Furthermore, Al-Nashef said that the often-repeated claim that Israel’s goal is to expand from the Nile River to the Euphrates is false, and that the two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represents the Jewish prayer shawl, and not these two rivers.

Another participant in the discussion, Safi Muhammad Al-Hajj, the Political Secretary of the Nasserist Unionist Party of Sudan, rebutted that Israel’s goal to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates is not a myth because it is clearly mentioned in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The debate aired on February 11, 2020 and was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Last year, MEMRI posted a video showing Syrian opposition activist and writer Issam Zeitoun who also spoke on Al-Jazeera.

In the debate, Zeitoun criticized the Arabs for not accepting the 1947 Partition Plan and said that the notion that Israel is a tyrannical, arrogant, expansionist, and racist state is a lie.

Zeitoun said that Iran is much more dangerous than Israel, and that an alliance with Israel is absolutely better than the current situation.

Last week, Al-Jazeera analyst Faisal al-Qassem raised a storm after he wrote on Twitter that the “Zionist enterprise has succeeded, unlike the failed Arab enterprises.”

Al-Qassem, a Syrian Druze is not a supporter of Israel, but has criticized Arab governments on his talk show, “The Opposite Direction.”  It is said that he attempts to rile up participants until they begin shouting at each other, promoting heated discussions.



IDF Records Hit On Jihadist Sniper Squad Targeting Troops On Gaza Border

The IDF returned fire at a squad of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) snipers on Wednesday (19th) after the terrorists shot at IDF soldiers on the Israeli side of the Gaza fence.

“A short while ago, IDF troops identified a sniper squad of the Islamic Jihad terror organization that fired from the area of Khan Yunis in Gaza at IDF troops inside Israeli territory.  No injuries were reported,” the IDF said in a statement, Wednesday.

“IDF troops and the Israeli Police Counter Terrorism Unit (Yamam) identified the squad through observations and fired at it.  A hit was identified,” a later statement said.

The Army said it will continue operating to thwart any terror activity emanating from the Gaza Strip into  Israeli territory.

It doesn’t appear that the sniper attack will influence Israel’s earlier announced decision on Tuesday (18th) to relax a number of restrictions on Gaza, including granting permits to 7,000 day workers to enter Israel instead of the previous 5,000, a result of relative quiet from the Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised a “big surprise” if the terror groups didn’t stop attacking Israel.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett also warned Hamas Tuesday (18th) that if they “behave nicely it will be good for Gaza residents,” if not, “It will be bad for them.”

Bennett said, “Three days of quiet don’t interest us.  The test is long-term, and I am very skeptical about all their promises.”



The UN Should Be Ashamed Of Its Anti-Israel Boycott List – Stephen Daisley

→ The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has produced a handy catalogue of companies that supporters of Israel can give their business to.  Of course, this was not its intention. The roster was compiled at the request of the UN Human Rights Council. This is a body in which countries whose idea of human rights is gender-neutral torture and equal-opportunity ballot-rigging, who get together and pass reams of vexatious resolutions against Israel.

→ The BDS movement’s economic warfare against the Jewish state has had little success but that’s not the point: a UN body is tacitly legitimizing its agenda and even doing the research for it.  What OHCHR’s list is about is the UN’s institutional hostility toward Israel and support for “de-Judaizing” Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

→ Jerusalem is Israel’s capital; before that it was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Judah.  However hard the UN strives to erase the Jewish character of the city, its historical record isn’t going anywhere.  When Israel captured Judea and Samaria in 1967, they did so not from any state called Palestine (no such state has ever existed), but from Jordan, whose annexation was almost universally unrecognized – it was an illegal occupation – and prior to this, these lands had been part of Mandatory Palestine.

→ Mandatory Palestine was created by the League of Nations to “secure the establishment of the Jewish national home.”  The Israelis have many innovations to their name, but perhaps their greatest feat is being the first nation-state in history to “illegally occupy” their own territory.

→ The people the UN harms when it works to isolate and delegitimize Israel are the Palestinians.  It tells them that their long, painful campaign of national self-harm is just and holds out false hope that it will one day triumph.  It won’t.

→ The priority of anyone who professes to be pro-Palestinian should be that of convincing the Palestinians to recognize that Israel is here to stay and, on that basis, finally accept offers of peace and statehood.



Jordan Condemns Israel’s Plan To Bring High-Speed Train To Western Wall

Jordan on Tuesday (18th) condemned an Israeli minister’s plan to extend the high-speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem rail line to the Western Wall holy site in the capital’s Old City.

Calling the plan a “flagrant violation of international law,” Amman’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Daifallah al-Fayez called on the international community to “assume its responsibilities to resist the illegitimate and illegal Israeli steps,” according to comments by BBC.

The Jordanian anger was sparked by the announcement a day earlier by Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich that officials had approved moving forward with a controversial plan to place a train station at the heart of the Old City that could whisk tourists from Ben-Gurion Airport to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews are allowed to pray.

In a statement Smotrich’s office said Monday (17th) the plan, initiated by his predecessor Israel Katz, had been delayed over the past year, without elaborating.

However, following a directive from Smotrich, the National Planning and Building Council approved a new route for the train, the Transportation Ministry said.  It did not specify the details of the altered route.

Jordan opposes Israeli development in Jerusalem’s Old City.  The Jordanian monarchy is seen by both Israelis and Palestinians as the “custodian” of the city’s Muslim holy sites and has long opposed what it sees as Israeli encroachment through construction and infrastructure projects in and around the Temple Mount, the most sacred site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam.

However, Smotrich on Monday (17th) praised  the approval as “historic,” adding in a statement that the new train line “is huge news for Israeli residents and the millions of tourists who come to Jerusalem.” 



Sudanese Welcome Normalization With Israel Online

Over the past two weeks, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has been swamped by Arabic-language comments on its social media pages that appear to originate in Sudan.

The phenomenon looks to be the aftermath of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Uganda two weeks ago.  More and more new followers from the Muslim country have begun using the Foreign Ministry’s social media pages and are writing largely positive comments about Israel and the warming relations between the two countries.

According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Sudanese are welcoming normalization with Israel and even saying that in this day and age, every country should think  of its own national interests, adding that “hate-filled slogans against Israel have not benefited the Sudanese people.”

One user, Yusef, wrote that “reconciliation and cooperation are the solution to the situation between our two nations, and will lead to progress and prosperity for both.”

Another user named Mohammed, posted pictures of the Israeli and Sudanese flags with a heart drawn between them.  

Another wrote, “We in Sudan, are wishing for the day the flags of both nations will fly in Jerusalem and Khartoum, and hope it is very soon. Shalom to Israel.”

The Arabic branch of the Department of Digital Diplomacy in the Foreign Ministry said that posts are published on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts, and “are mostly very positive.”