News Digest — 3/12/21

Israel, France, Greece, Cyprus Come Together For Naval Military Exercise

In an effort to strengthen its control over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Israel Navy held joint maneuvers this week with Greece, Cyprus and France participating in anti-submarine warfare and search-and-rescue operations.

The drills were part of the annual trilateral Noble Dina exercise and included naval vessels and helicopters.  The Israeli Navy participated with Sa’ar 4.5-class missile frigates equipped with anti-submarine systems as well as Dolphin 2-class submarines.

The Greek Navy stated that the main objectives of the exercise was focused on addressing modern challenges and threats in the marine environment and promoting the level of cooperation and mutual understanding of the three navies.

The drill took place in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Cretan Sea in the southern part of the Aegean Sea.  According to the IDF, while most of the exercise dealt with underwater warfare, other scenarios such as rescue situations while at sea and air defense were also practiced.

While Israel’s Navy is relatively small compared to other IDF corps, it has a significant amount of territory to protect since the expansion of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from 40 miles to 150 miles four years ago.

Israel regularly participates in military exercises with the United States and Greece.  It was the first time that France participated in the naval drill, which comes amid increased tension in the Mediterranean over concern of possible economic terrorism following the oil spill in late February which Israeli officials have linked to Iran.

“The drills are of utmost importance to strengthen the Israeli navy’s relations with foreign navies of shared interests,” explained Rear Admiral Eyal Harel, head of Naval Operations.



Murderers Of Fogel Family To Receive Raise In ‘Pay For Slay’ From PA

The two Palestinian terrorists who killed Ruth and Udi Fogel and three of their children a decade ago will receive a 50% pay raise from the Palestinian Authority (PA) years after the 2011 attack, Palestinian Media Watch reported on Thursday (11th).

The two have received a monthly salary as part of the PA’s “pay for slay” policy since the day of their arrest, with each earning $101,847 so far.

They will now each begin earning $1,806 every month.

The PA pays arrested terrorists a salary based on their time spent in prison as well as a stipend to the families of terrorists who die.  Both terrorists in the 2011 attack received a life sentence, but will remain eligible for the salary even if they are released.

If they both live to the age of 80, they’ll each receive nearly $2 million.

“Every year donor countries give hundreds of millions of dollars of support to the PA.  Every month, as part of its commitments under the Oslo Accords, the Israeli government transfers to the PA hundreds of millions of shekels,” said Maurice Hirsch Adv, director of legal strategies at PMW.

“Instead of using that money to promote peace, the PA uses it, in complete breach of the accords, to fund its pugnacious “pay for slay” policy.

In 2020, the PA spent at least $150 million for ‘pay for slay’ payments, as well as hundreds of millions of shekels for wounded terrorists and families of dead terrorists, according to PMW.

Udi and Ruth Fogel, as well as their children Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, 3 months, were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the Jewish settlement of Itamar in 2011.



Czech Prime Minister Opens New Diplomatic Office In Jerusalem

The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, inaugurated his country’s new diplomatic office in Jerusalem Thursday (11th) in a ceremony attended by Israel Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

“We of the Czech Republic are opening, here in Jerusalem on Washington Street, our diplomatic representation,” Babis said at the ceremony.

He clarified that the Czech embassy would remain in Tel Aviv.  “We will have a full-fledged diplomatic mission here in Jerusalem.  It will deal with many things, ranging from politics, economic cooperation to consular agenda and other topics.  It will have its permanent staff and work under the leadership of our embassy in Tel Aviv.”

“It represents another milestone in our cooperation and gives evidence that we see the importance of this great city,” he said.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi thanked Babis for his friendship and for adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban are in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss Israel’s success in providing coronavirus vaccines to its population and how the lessons from that success can be applied in their home countries.

The Czech Republic is the second European nation to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, following Hungary.



Last Flight Of Ethiopian Immigrants Lands In Israel

Nearly 300 new immigrants from Ethiopia landed at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday (9th) and the final flight “Operation Zur Israel,” landed on Thursday (11th).

The program was launched last December after Israel’s government approved the Aliyah (immigration to Israel) of 2,000 members from the Ethiopian community.

The olim will join the 1700 other Ethiopians who have already arrived as part of Operation Zur Israel, which was led by Minister of Aliyah and integration MK Pnina Tamano-Shata and the Jewish Agency Israel Chairman Isaac Herzog.

“The final Operation Zur Israel flight arrived Thursday (11th) reuniting countless families after far too many years apart.  This is a moment that tugs at the heartstrings, reminding us that our mission to bring the remaining members of the community waiting to make Aliyah is far from over,” said Chairman Herzog.

“I’d like to thank my friend Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata, and her entire Ministry for working with us to bring this complex operation to fruition.  I’m also thankful to the generous donors and partners who came together to bring these 2000 new immigrants to Israel over the course of the past few months.”

Among the olim that arrived as part of Operation Zur Israel includes: 893 children, 250 young adults 18-24 who will soon enter the Israel Defense Forces, 70 infants less than a year, and 35 individuals over 70 years old.

The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and the Jewish Agency will help settle the olim in absorption centers throughout the country where they will receive support and guidance in all areas of life, from learning Hebrew to entering the workforce and the Israeli educational system.

“This is a journey that is well underway, but far from complete.  I am grateful for the honor of successfully leading Operation Zur Israel, which resulted in the Aliyah of 2000 sons and daughters to parents who have waited patiently in Israel for the reunion for many years.”

“However, Israel’s mission to ensure the Aliyah of the remaining Jews in Ethiopia is not over.  Let’s use this moving moment to remember that we have a duty to put an end to this painful saga,” said Minister Tamano-Shata.

“Once the new government is established, I will ensure that this happens.  I vow to be responsible for not abandoning those yearning for Aliyah and have demonstrated that we can and will bring them home.”

The immigrants will enter quarantine in accordance with Israeli regulations.



Jews Are Indigenous To The Land Of Israel – Noam Rotstain

Archaeological, genetic, and historical evidence backs the indigeneity of Jews to Israel.  Anthropologist Jose Martinez Cobo, who served the UN on indigenous matters, developed a checklist to clarify the meaning of indigeneity, which includes occupation of ancestral lands, common ancestry with the original occupants of the land, culture, language, and residence in parts of the country.  A study found that over 90% of Jewish people can trace their genetics to the southern Levant region which includes Israel.

Using the same UN checklist, it can be determined that genetically, linguistically, culturally and spiritually, Palestinians can trace themselves back to the Hejaz region in the Arabian peninsula, now known as Saudi Arabia.  Arabs began arriving in the Levant region in the 7th century CE. hundreds of years after the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans.



Anti-Semitic Incidents Spike In Wisconsin As Conspiracy Theories, Hate Groups Spread

Wisconsin’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) recorded a troubling uptick in anti-Semitic incidents during 2020, according to a new report published this week.

The report observed a 36% leap in anti-Semitic incidents during the 2019-2020 period, including expressions of hatred directed against Jews, the spread of conspiracy theories and a rise in hate-group activity.

There was a significant spike in expressions of anti-Semitism in comparison to years prior.  “Part of this spike may be attributed to COVID-!9 pushing hateful expressions online instead of in person, further illustrated by the spike in social media incidents,” the report commented.

Nearly 40% of the incidents recorded by the JCRC “included reference to conspiracy theories involving Jewish power; Jewish control of the banks, government, or media; Jews being behind the COVID-19 pandemic, and Jews at the helm of global control.”

Of the 12 incidents involving hate-groups, ten were affiliated with white supremacists.  The report mentioned several cases of far-right groups targeting Jews, among them a flyer from the White Aryan Resistance that was distributed on dozens of front lawns.  The flyer declared: “Jews will not replace us!”

Attacking Israel and Zionism was another feature of the rise in anti-Semitism.  “In 2020 the number of incidents making pejorative references to Israel and Zionism, rose 61% from the year before,” the report said.  It noted two separate incidents of “Free Palestine” graffiti daubed on Jewish communal buildings.

Brian Schupper, Chair of the Wisconsin JCRC, told local news outlets that the overall trend tracked in the report was “troubling but not unexpected.”

“I think the thing that just jumps right out at you is the sheer number of audited anti-Semitic incidents – 99 this year – and actually a doubling of two years ago,” he said.

“If we’re seeing it in our Jewish community you can be pretty sure others are seeing it in their communities as well,” he remarked.  “There are some pretty strong ties between an increase in anti-Semitism and increases in racism, for example, he added.”