News Digest — 2/27/19

Pittsburgh Mayor Visits Jerusalem Memorial To Victims Of Attack

The mayor of Pittsburgh visited the site of a memorial to the victims of the attack on the city’s Tree of Life synagogue building and planted an olive tree next to the plaque.

The memorial plaque was placed at the Keren Kayemet L’Israel-Jewish National Fund 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza in Jerusalem several weeks after the shooting.  The olive tree planted on Sunday (24th) by Mayor Bill Peduto is meant to symbolize peace and continuity.

The plaque lists the names of the 11 victims killed on October 28, 2018, when a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue building in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood during Shabbat morning services and opened fire.

“I have a long history with the Tree of Life congregation – I knew some of the victims personally,” Peduto said in front of the memorial.

“Unlike 80 years ago, when Jews were murdered, when synagogues were destroyed and businesses were shattered, when the community called this time, the police didn’t turn their back, they ran in to help.  Politicians didn’t look the other way or try to hide, they stood up and said never again. And business leaders and community leaders gathered as one and said ‘an attack against one is an attack against all,’”the mayor said.

The Pittsburgh mayor is visiting Israel as part of the 33rd International Mayoral Conference held by AJWC and American Jewish Congress.



Syrian President Visits Iran One Day Before Netanyahu Visits Russia

Syrian media outlet SANA announced that President Bashar Assad, on Monday (25th), met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani on a rare trip outside of Syria – the first time he has traveled anywhere other than Russia since the Syrian civil war erupted nearly eight years ago.

Tehran has given the Syrian government billions of dollars in aid since the conflict began and sent Iran-backed fighters to battle alongside his forces.

Iran also bankrolls several Islamic terror groups in the region, including the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Hizbullah in Lebanon.  Hamas and Hizbullah are sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state and receive hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from Iran each year.

Syrian state TV said Assad “thanked the Islamic republic’s leadership and people for what they had given Syria during the war.”

The Assad visit came a day before a trip by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Russia for talks expected to focus on Iran’s role in Syria.

Israel has long-maintained that Iranian military entrenchment in Syria is a ‘red line’ with the Israeli military carrying out hundreds of strikes on positions in Syria over the course of the past two years, many of which have targeted Iranian troops and military assets.



Islamic Jihad Shows Off New Advanced Missile With Long Reach

Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) showed off its newest missile facilities on Iranian television Sunday (24th), claiming their supply of rockets for use against Israel is more accurate and has better range than ever before.

“Our rocket force and missile units will surprise the enemy following any foolish act it may do in the future,” a masked PIJ spokesman said in the documentary.  “Stupid acts against the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants will turn into hell directed at the occupied cities and villages, Inshallah [God willing].”

This seemed to be a reference to the IDF’s defensive response to the violent mass rioting that has gone on for some 11 months at the Gaza border.  Using riot dispersal methods and live fire when their lives are in danger, Israeli troops have been dealing with rock and bomb-throwing as well as attempted infiltrations into Israel in what Hamas has labeled “peaceful demonstrations.”

The group boasted that with the aid of Iran, its engineers have managed to do better than merely replacing the missiles that Israel had destroyed in airstrikes and previous rounds of fighting.  Now the terror group has the ability to strike Tel Aviv, Netanya “and even further,” with precision missiles, it threatened.

PIJ said that “proof” of their abilities was provided “in the last round, with the rocket to Ashkelon.”  In the video, they called their projectile the “Hell of Ashkelon.”

Last November, a Palestinian man was killed and two women seriously injured when a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit an apartment building in the coastal city.  This was during a 36-hour period in which Hamas and its allies launched hundreds of missiles and rockets at Israel.



Britain To Blacklist Hizbullah In Its Entirety As A Terror Group

The United Kingdom on Monday (25th) moved to outlaw the Lebanese organization Hizbullah and recognize it in its entirety as a terror group, the British government said in a statement.

The powerful Iran-backed Shiite terror group is part of a new government announced recently in Lebanon.  While the cabinet is headed by Saad Hariri, the Western-backed Sunni politician who has held the job since 2016, Hizbullah made significant gains at the expense of the largest Sunni party and now controls three government ministries.

Hizbullah has a decades-long history of conflict with Israel, including the bloody Second Lebanon War in 2006, and its leader Hassan Nasrallah regularly threatens to target Israel with thousands of advanced missiles that can reach all major Israeli cities.

Hizbullah’s military wing had already been banned in Britain as a terror group, but its political wing was not.

“Hizbullah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party.” Home Secretary Sajid Javid said Monday (25th).  “Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.”

The move was welcomed by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, who called for the United Nations to follow suit



Israel Is Feeding The World

The Israel Export Institute last week held a conference in which the most contemporary trends in the field of food-tech and agro-tech were presented.

The conference focused on the challenges the world is expected to face in the upcoming years and the solutions Israeli startup companies have to offer.

“The State of Israel has always invested in development and innovation in light of the reality we live in,” Chairman of the Israel Export Institute Adiv Baruch said.

“In this day and age, we are witnessing a shortage of products, food and land.  By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach over 9.5 billion people, which means food consumption will increase by 70%.  The only way to provide this amount of food is by employing food technology methods and Israel has become a huge food-lab that operates for the good of the world,” Baruch said.

Representatives from all over the world attended the conference.  “Guests from Latin America, Africa and the United States took part in the conference in Israel to learn and be exposed to the new solutions we are leading,” Baruch said.  

According to the food-tech department head at the Export Institute, Sahar Yazdanpur, “Israel is a food-tech superpower, and currently has over 300 food-tech and agro-tech startups, from companies that provide food substitutions to companies that manufacture alternative proteins and sugar-reduced products.”

Over the past 20 years, the Israel Export Institute has been the home to companies manufacturing a wide range of ingredients and local Israeli food.  The institute introduced the Israeli industry to the international market by collaborating with prominent retailers, food experts and reporters from all over the world.

A Foreign Trade Administration (FTA) senior official at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, Ofer Forer, said that “The global food-tech industry – especially as far as investments and technological cooperation are concerned – is becoming increasingly important in the activity of multinational companies.”

He added that those companies – that send their representatives to Israel to scout new technologies and team up with Israeli startups – are looking for innovative solutions, which Israel, as the startup nation, can offer.

“We already have several success stories of foreign companies whose representatives came to Israel with the help of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry in cooperation with the Export Institute in order to examine possible collaboration in the field of food-tech and smart packaging solutions.  Furthermore, Australia’s Visy Industries has recently invested in an Israeli food-tech startup,” Forer said.