News Digest — 3/30/21

Thousands Come To Joshua’s Altar After PA Desecration

Thousands of Jews visited Mount Ebal in Samaria Monday (29th) and also visited the altar of Joshua son of Nun, part of which was destroyed last month by the Palestinian Authority (PA).  The site is believed to be the place where the Biblical Prophet Joshua built an altar after entering the Land of Israel more than 3,000 years ago.

Last month, a gravel crusher used by the PA for the paving of a new road, deliberately removed and crushed stones from the ancient wall around the altar, provoking outrage among the Jewish and archaeological communities.  The Samaria Regional Council, that promoted the restoration of the altar, on Monday (30th) for the first time held a huge event featuring thousands of people at the site.

“We invited the general public to come and enjoy the national parks, heritage sites, and nature sites, and enjoy a breathtaking view of Samaria, which is open to everyone and is only a 25 minute drive from Tel Aviv,” said Yossi Dagan, chairman of the Samaria Regional Council.

Referring to the thousands who came to the first festival on Mount Ebal and the altar of Joshua, Dagan said: “They (the PA) are destroying and we are building, they are trying to erase history and we are restoring and preserving world history and historical sites of the Jewish people – the thousands of people who came today proved that the Jewish people do not forget their roots.  A nation that remembers its past will have a glorious future on all its land.”

The festivals and celebrations at nature and heritage sites throughout Samaria will continue through Tuesday (30th).



Assessment: Iran Looking To Attack Israelis Abroad

The Counter-Terrorism Bureau at the National Security Headquarters on Monday (29th) published the main points of its assessment of risks to Israelis abroad by terrorist elements.

A significant increase is expected in the number of Israelis traveling abroad this year due to declining coronavirus morbidity statistics and the growing number of Israelis who have been fully vaccinated against the disease. 

In recent months, elements in Iran have threatened to strike Israeli targets.  An explosive device was detonated in January near the Israeli embassy in India, and officials in India determined that Iran was behind the bombing.

The Anti-Terrorism Headquarters estimates that Iran will continue to work in the near future to promote attacks against Israeli targets across the world.  Areas with a high probability of such activity are countries close to Iran – such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, the Kurdish region of Iraq, as well as countries in the Middle East visited by Israelis, such as Turkey, Jordan and Egypt.

At the same time, global jihadist organizations, particularly the Islamic State (ISIS) and its supporters, continue to recruit followers and carry out attacks in various countries around the world, including countries visited by Israelis.

Global jihadists are highly motivated to strike at western nations.  The ISIS terrorist organization has explicitly called on its followers in Syria and Sinai to attack Israeli targets.

The Counter-Terrorism Bureau called on the Israeli public planning to visit abroad, to check the status of the travel warning for their desired location before purchasing tickets.



Iran-China Deal Worries Israel’s Former Military Intelligence Chief

Israel is “worried” about the strategic partnership and investment agreement between China and Iran, former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate Amos Yadlin said Monday (29th).

Yadlin, a former general in the Israeli Air Force who is currently serving as Executive Director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) told the Ynet website the deal will include joint military maneuvers, research and development, as well as intelligence cooperation.

“On the other hand, China opposes Iran having a nuclear bomb, but on the other hand, it is not helping to stop it,” Yadlin said.  “Iran needs the political protection China can offer by leveraging its power to weaken American pressure on the Islamic Republic.”

He added that in his assessment the current US administration is more susceptible to bend under a muscular approach from Beijing than was its Republican predecessor. 

“The Chinese understand that the Biden administration is not the Trump administration and that allows them to be much more aggressive,” Yadlin said.

The US signaled on Friday (26th) that it may take the first step to reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.



Arabs Warn Biden About Iran’s Mullahs – Khaled Abu Toameh

Many Arabs remain skeptical about Washington’s policy toward the threats posed by the mullahs in Tehran.  In the Saudi daily Al Jazirah, editor-in-chief Khalid bin Hamd Al Malik wrote on March 5: “He [Biden] should not make any concessions [to Iran] that do not serve stability in the region.  Iran will continue with its tricks and deception to avoid sanctions and attempts to stop it from possessing a nuclear bomb that would pose a danger to countries in the region.”

“Iran is an evil, terrorist, and rogue state, and it does not abide by what is agreed upon with it.  Iran plants its proxies in most countries of the region to create chaos and consolidate its agenda and expansionist goals.”

Prominent Saudi writer Mohamed al-Sheikh said he was doubtful whether Iran would change its policies now that Biden is in the White House.  “Iran’s mullahs are like dangerous poisonous snakes,” he cautioned.  “The mullahs cannot be tamed unless their fangs are completely pulled out…. The mullahs of Iran are still dreaming of establishing the Great Persian Empire, and for the sake of this goal they are not averse to harnessing all efforts and funds to reach it, even if they are forced to be patient.”

Former Egyptian diplomat Amr Helmy lashed out at the Biden administration for “dropping” most of the 12 conditions announced in May 2020 by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran.  Iran “will not stop the escalation in the region now that it understands that the new US administration will not hesitate to continue weakening Washington’s allies and prioritize the most dangerous adversaries.”

Egyptian political analyst Dr. Tarek Fahmi wrote: “US begging for negotiations with Iran will lead to more Iranian intransigence and promote its extremism.”



Some Of Yemen’s Last Remaining Jews Said Expelled By Iran-Backed Houthis

Some of the very last Jews in Yemen were recently driven out of their homes by Houthi rebels and were to be taken to another country, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Thirteen members of three different families left their homes in Sana’a, a region of the country held by the Iran-backed Houthi forces, and went to a UN refugee agency, the Sunday (28th) report said.

They reportedly agreed to leave as part of a deal to gain the freedom of Levi Salem Marhabi, a Jewish man held by the Houthis for six years.

“They gave us a choice between staying in the midst of harassment and keeping Salem a prisoner or leaving and having him released,” one of the expelled family members told the newspaper.

“History will remember us as the last of the Yemeni Jews who were still clinging to their homeland until the last moment,” the person said.  “We had rejected many temptations time and time again, and refused to leave our homeland, but today we are forced.”

Reports are that now the families are safely in another country with efforts being made to bring them to the Jewish State.

It is unclear how many Jews remain in Yemen today.  In 2017, the country’s information minister said his government was unaware of the country’s few remaining Jews, most of whom resided in the Houthi-controlled capital of Sana’a.  

“The Houthis, who are aligned with Iran, view the tiny remaining Jewish population as an enemy and are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing that includes ridding Yemen of its Jewish community,” he said at the time.

According to the Asharq Al-Awsat report. There are just about four Jews left in Yemen, all of whom are senior citizens.

Some 49,000 Yemeni Jews were brought to the nascent State of Israel in Operation Magic Carpet in 1949-50.



Anti-Semitic Comments Discovered On The Auschwitz Google Maps’ Site

The Google Maps site for Auschwitz is under review after British newspaper The Guardian discovered there were more than 150 anti-Semitic reviews of the death camps, according to a report by The Algemeiner.

However, the majority of the comments remained online 24 hours after they were reported to Google by the paper.

Google Maps was then slammed by campaigners as the result of the unmoderated comments.

The anti-Semitic entries, discovered, many of which were anonymous, included phrases such as “Heil Hitler” and “Showers, were a great experience, Anne Frankly I’m glad I came.” These comments had apparently been left on the site for months and even years.

Some users even posed as historical figures such as Adolf Hitler and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi best-known for his book Survival in Auschwitz.

The chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, told the news site that the comments were “sickening” and that “Google needs to take responsibility for the hate being shared on the site and take steps to monitor and remove such abhorrent contempt, and improve and change their moderation and policies.”

“We are appalled by these reviews on our platform and are taking action to remove the content and prevent further abuse,” a Google spokesman said.  “We have clear policies that prohibit offensive and fake reviews, and we work around the clock to monitor Maps.  In this case, we know we need to do better and are working to evaluate and improve our detection systems.”

The Auschwitz Memorial Museum recently criticized The New Yorker magazine for an article on Polish Holocaust scholarship, claiming the magazine had published distortions and outright falsifications of the Eastern European country’s role during the Second World War.