News Digest — 4/10/19

Netanyahu Celebrates Victory ‘Tremendous, Tremendous Victory’ – Terri Nir

It was a tense national election day on Tuesday (9th), with the 10: p.m. exit polls showing the new Blue and White party standing neck and neck with Likud.

Just after 3: a.m. Wednesday morning (10th), however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the clear winner, with Likud leading over Blue and White.  This was followed by religious and right-wing parties – natural partners for Likud – putting Netanyahu in a strong position to form the next government.

“The right-wing bloc led by Likud clearly won,” Netanyahu told thousands of jubilant supporters at Likud headquarters.  “I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners already tonight…. This is a night of tremendous, tremendous victory.”

“Already tonight, almost all of them declared publicly that they will recommend me to form the next government,” he said.  “I intend to finish the job quickly in order to establish a nationalist stable government.”

“It will be a right-wing government, but I intend to be the prime minister of all the citizens of Israel – right and left, Jews and non-Jews alike – all the citizens of Israel,” he declared.

Acknowledging the major hurdles facing Israel regarding security, economy, society and foreign relations, Netanyahu expressed confidence that “we will be able to meet all these challenges.”

Concerning the “path to peace with Arab nations,” for example, “even as we speak, it’s happening,” he said.

The Israeli leader tearfully thanked his wife and children for their support, noting “how much suffering my family has endured” during a particularly vicious election campaign fraught with mudslinging and defamation.



Thousands of Israelis Used Sunny Election Day To Flood National Parks And Beaches

Thousands of Israelis visited national parks and beaches, or were abroad on Election Day Tuesday (9th).  

Election Day in Israel is a national holiday, and a rare Sunday-like day for Israelis.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced later on Tuesday afternoon (9th), that more than 150,000 people were visiting the country’s extensive network of national parks.

The most-visited sites were parks at Caesarea, Masada and Tel Aviv, and nature reserves at Banias in the Golan Heights, Ein Gedi in southern Israel, Ayoun in the Galilee and Tel Dan in northern Israel.

Israelis also visited beaches in large numbers on the exceptionally warm day.

Meanwhile, some 60,000 Israelis were out of the country on Election Day.  Ynet reported from Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday (9th) that some of the Israelis leaving the country had scheduled their trips before new elections were called at the end of last year.  Others said they used the opportunity of a free day off to plan a vacation. Still others said they had business meetings they could not reschedule.

Israel does not have the option of absentee voting except for diplomats and emissaries serving abroad.



Syria Denounces US Labeling Iran Guards A Terror Group As ‘Blatant Attack’

DAMASCUS – The Syrian government condemned as irresponsible a US decision on Monday (8th) to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist group,” calling it a “badge of honor” for the Islamic Republic.

A foreign ministry source told state news agency SANA the US move against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was a “blatant attack” on the sovereignty of Iran, a strong ally of Syria.

But the source said the “irresponsible step” was also recognition of the Guards important role in defending the country’s sovereignty, its independence and its resistance against the US and Israel, SANA said.

“The US move is a badge of honor,” according to SANA, citing the foreign ministry source.

Iran had been a steadfast supporter of the Syrian government during the country’s civil war and a key player along with Russia and Turkey in efforts to bring the devastating conflict to an end.

US President Donald Trump said the “unprecedented” move “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”

“The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign,” Trump said in a statement.



Airbnb Retreats From Ban On Jewish-Owned Listings In Judea And Samaria

Airbnb announced Tuesday (9th) that it was reversing its decision to prohibit listing Jewish-owned homes in Judea and Samaria on its website, thereby handing a defeat to the Boycott Divest and Sanctions (BDS) Movement in what had previously been thought a major BDS victory.

The rental giant’s move ensured that it would not have to go to court to defend itself against charges that it was discriminating against clients based on their religion.  Airbnb had singled out Jewish homes in the disputed territories, while continuing to allow Christian and Muslim-owned homes to be listed.

Lawsuits were filed against Airbnb in Israel, California, New York and Delaware.

Shurat Hadin, the Israel Law Center, which brought the case in Delaware, also argued that Airbnb discriminated by singling out only one disputed territory in the world, while ignoring other conflict zones, such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Shurat Hadin expressed satisfaction with the outcome of its negotiations with the company, and issued a warning to others who might consider bowing to demands from anti-Israel activists.

“The rescinding of Airbnb’s discriminatory policy…a powerful defeat for the anti-Israel boycott movement,” Shurat Hadin said in a statement.  “Other international companies need to learn the lesson from Airbnb’s mistake and understand that boycotting Israel and discriminating against Jews are unlawful acts which will ultimately result in dire legal consequences, public condemnations and embarrassment.”



Lithuania To Ban Infamous British Holocaust Denier From Entry

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linus Kinkevicius reacted Tuesday (9th) to reports that British Holocaust denier David Irving was planning to visit the region in several months by declaring that he would ask for Irving’s placement on the country’s blacklist.

Lithuania’s top diplomat said that since Irving had announced that he would visit neighboring Poland and Latvia in September, he might want to enter Lithuania as well.

“I will turn to the Migration Department shortly with a proposal to put Irving on the list of unwelcome persons,” Linkevicius told BNS Lithuania.

“Denying the Holocaust and glorifying Adolf Hitler is a crime in Lithuania,” Linkevicius said, adding that “such persons are unwelcome in Lithuania and the spreading of such views is unacceptable.”

Someone who publicly condones or grossly trivializes the Nazis’ or Soviet Union’s crimes can face up to two years in prison according to Lithuanian law.

Poland’s foreign minister said on Friday (5th) that Irving would not be allowed into his country, as “negation of the Holocaust is not allowed by Polish law.”

His decision was made in response to Israeli government officials’ requests following the publication in a British Jewish paper last week of Irving’s publicized plan to tour Nazi sites in September.  Irving’s reputation as a Holocaust denier was sealed in 1997 when he lost a libel suit he’d filed against historian Deborah Lipstadt for calling him out in her book “Denying the Holocaust.” He was ordered to pay all trial costs, estimated at some $3.2 million, and was forced to declare bankruptcy.

The trial was made famous in the 2016 film called “Denial.”