News Digest — 2/25/19

Danon: Another Provocation By Iran

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, on Wednesday (20th) wrote a letter to the Security Council calling on it to act against the threat posed by Iran’s ballistic missile program.

In the letter, Danon noted that at the beginning of the  month Iran tried to launch a satellite into space using a missile  capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

He noted that by taking this step, Iran was blatantly ignoring the call by the international community to desist from this type of activity that violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which accompanies the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“The International community should view this as another provocative act that is part of Iran’s hostile ballistic missile program,” Danon wrote.  “Iran’s efforts to promote this plan not only threatens its neighbors and the entire Middle East, but also a large part of Europe.”

“Iran has become the main supplier of ballistic missile technologies to Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, while providing these capabilities to non-state actors and terrorist operatives.  I call on the Security Council to join the countries that have already taken steps to curb the threat of Iranian missiles,” the ambassador concluded.

UN Security Council resolution 2231, which the US says Iran violates with its ballistic missile tests, enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US.

The resolution says Iran is “called upon to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Earlier this month, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards unveiled a new ballistic missile with a range of 621 miles.



Anti-Semitism Worst Since WWII, Macron Tells French Jewish Group

PARIS–Anti-Semitism appears to have reached its worst levels since World War II, French President Emmanuel Macron told Jewish community leaders on Wednesday (20th), a day after thousands of people took to the streets to denounce hate crimes.

“The scourge has grown in recent years, and the situation has gotten worse in recent weeks,” Macron told the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF).

“Our country, and for that matter, all of Europe and most Western democracies, seem to be facing a resurgence of anti-Semitism unseen since World War II,” he added.

Europe’s biggest Jewish community is reeling after a string of attacks that have made global headlines.

Macron announced measures including legislation to fight hate speech on the Internet, to be introduced by May.

He said he had asked his interior minister to take steps to ban racist or anti-Semitic groups such as Bastion Social, Blood and Honor Hexagone and Combat 18, who he said “fuel hatred, promote discrimination and call for violence.”

He also vowed that France would recognize anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism.



Boycotting Israel Doesn’t Help Bring Peace – Yossi Klein Halevi

The movement to boycott, divest and sanction fundamentally misreads the Israeli temperament.  When Israelis feel unfairly judged, they push back. Israelis don’t believe their country deserves unique opprobrium.  The UN denounces Israel more often with violations than all other countries combined.

Yet rather than eliciting contrition, the resolutions convince Israelis that the international community isn’t motivated by genuine concern for the Palestinians but by hatred for the world’s only Jewish state.  Israelis shrug: ‘The Jews have been here before, and we’ll survive this too. Is our flawed democracy more morally offensive than the world’s many dictatorships?’

Israelis vehemently reject the notion that their country is primarily responsible for the impasse with the Palestinians.  In 2000, when President Clinton proposed a two-state solution, the Israeli government said yes and Palestinian leaders rejected the offer, opting for four years of suicide bombings known as the second intifada.  Then in 2005, when Israel unilaterally uprooted its settlements and army bases in Gaza and withdrew to the international border, that withdrawal was met by years of rocket attacks launched from Gaza on Israeli communities.

Israelis believe the conflict is ultimately about the right of a Jewish-majority state to exist in any borders.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem



Muslim Woman Fights For Israel Despite Death Threats

An Israeli-Arab woman spoke out about her love for the Jewish people and Israel on Saturday (16th).

“You are one of the bravest Muslim women that I know,” Hananya Naftali, a minor Israeli YouTube celebrity, said in an interview with Sara Zoabi.  “You are not ashamed of your love towards Israel and the Jewish people.”

“I am very proud, first of all, that I am an Israeli Zionist Arab, and I have tied my destiny with Israel and the Jewish people, a peaceful nation,” Zoabi said.  “The Jewish nation is an example of peace, and an example of love.”

When asked why she felt so close to Israelis as opposed to Palestinians, Zoabi answered that she is Israeli.

“I am an Israeli, I was born here, I live here.  Period,” Zoabi said. “I don’t feel any harassment and no discrimination because I am Arab.  The opposite is true. As an Arab Muslim, I get all my rights.”

Zoabi also said she enjoys living under Israeli rule and has no desire to live in a Hamas or Arab state.



Hungary To Open Trade Office In Jerusalem

Hungary will open a trade office in Jerusalem that has “diplomatic status,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on Tuesday (19th) in Israel’s capital city, according to JTA.

Orban met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of a series of bilateral meetings that Netanyahu held with the prime ministers of Central European countries in lieu of an official summit of the Visegrad Group, which also includes Poland.

Following the meeting between Orban and Netanyahu, Orban told reporters that “I just informed the prime minister that the Hungarian government decided to open a trade representation here with diplomatic status.  So we will have an official presence in Jerusalem as well.”

Netanyahu thanked Orban “for deciding to extend the embassy of Hungary in Israel to Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu in a later statement said that Slovakia will open an innovation and cultural center in Jerusalem, and that it follows up on the Czech Republic’s announcement that it is opening the Czech House, an honorary consulate, in the capital.  Netanyahu met with the prime ministers of those countries as well on Tuesday (19th).

The US relocated its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv last May.  Two days later, Guatemala also moved its embassy to Jerusalem.

New Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced after his election that he intended to uphold his campaign promise and move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem as well.