News Digest — 4/11/24

Report: Indonesia On Path To Normalize Relations With Israel

Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, is on the way to diplomatic relations with Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday morning (11th).

According to the report, after three months of secret talks between Israel, Indonesia and the OECD – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an agreement was reached according to which Indonesia would undertake to normalize its relations with Jerusalem, which in return will remove its opposition to Indonesia’s joining the OECD.

It was also reported that in a letter sent about two weeks ago by OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann to Foreign Minister Israel Katz, the wording of which was approved by Indonesia, it was written: “I am happy to announce that the council has officially agreed to the early, clear and explicit condition that Indonesia should maintain diplomatic relations with all countries of the organization before any decision to accept it into the OECD.  Moreover, any future decision to accept Indonesia as a member of the organization will require unanimous agreement among all the members, including Israel.  I am convinced that this provides you with security on this important point.” 

Minister Katz wrote in response, “I share your expectation that this process will be a change for Indonesia, as I expect a positive change in its policy towards Israel, and especially an end to its discriminatory policy towards Israel, towards the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the parties.”

In order for Indonesia to join the OECD, the consent of all 38 current member nations is required, with one of the conditions being the existence of diplomatic relations between all countries.

The OECD asked Israel not to oppose the move, but Indonesia’s conduct during the war and its support for South Africa’s genocide accusations against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) resulted in strong opposition from the Jewish State.



Three Sons Of Hamas Leader Haniyeh Killed In Israeli Airstrike

Three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Wednesday (10th), a senior Israeli diplomatic official confirmed.

The official said that all three sons were part of Hamas’ military wing and that Israel is ready to go after any member of Hamas involved in violence.

Initially the attack was reported by the Hamas-affiliated news agency Shehab, with The Jerusalem Post receiving indirect confirmation, before the senior diplomatic official confirmed it.

Haniyeh himself later confirmed that three of his sons and three of his grandchildren had been killed in the strike.  He said, “I thank God for this honor that he bestowed upon us with the martyrdom of my three sons, Hazem, Ameer and Mohammad, and some of my grandchildren.  All of Gaza’s citizens paid a price with their blood, including me.”

Haniyeh, said to be worth $4 billion, is the chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau and lives in Qatar alongside other members of Hamas’ political leadership.

The group’s leader inside Gaza is Yahya Sinwar, who is believed to be hiding in southern Gaza, surrounded by Israeli hostages.

An airstrike in October reportedly killed 14 other members of Haniyeh’s family, including his brother and nephew.  Another of his sons was killed in February.  Ismael Haniyeh had 13 children.     



FM Katz: ‘Attacks From Iran Will Be Met With Attacks On Iranian Soil’

Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Wednesday (10th) warned that Israel will strike inside Iran for every attack against Israel originating from Iranian territory, as tensions between the two arch foes near a boiling point.

Katz made the comment in response to threats against Israel by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, posting to his X account Wednesday (10th), and writing in Persian, “Should Iran attack from its territory, Israel will respond and attack inside Iran.”

Iran has vowed to retaliate for the attack on one of its buildings near the Iranian consulate in Damascus that killed several senior Revolutionary Guard officers.  Tehran blames Israel for the attack.  Jerusalem has not commented on the matter.  Israeli officials messaged to their American counterparts that an Iranian attack launched from its territory would require Israel’s direct response.

Earlier Wednesday (10th), Khamenei again vowed vengeance for the attack on the building in Damascus.  “Israel attacked an Iranian building in Damascus, which is an attack against our own country.  Israel will pay for the mistake it made,” he said in an Eid al-Fitr address on Iranian state media.

Meanwhile, some Iranians question the mullah regime’s resolve to retaliate for the assassination, with graffiti sprayed in Tehran reading, “Israel will attack.  They [mullahs] don’t have the guts to take revenge.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant conducted an operational assessment at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv earlier this week.  Following the meeting, Gallant said that the defense establishment had completed preparations to respond to any scenario that might unfold with Iran, amid Israel’s heightened readiness to retaliate for the assassination of the senior Iranian official in Damascus. 

During a visit to the Tel Nof  Air Force base, the defense minister added, “The enemy has been severely damaged everywhere and is therefore looking for ways to respond.  We are prepared with a multi-layered defense.”



Israel Bolsters Defense Of Electricity Grid Amid Iran Threats, Ministry Says

Energy Minister Eli Cohen said on Wednesday (10th) that Israel was preparing for the possibility of a disruption in its electricity supply by bolstering its defense of the electricity grid as threats of an attack from Iran and proxies may impact its strategic infrastructure.

“However, the rumors of scenarios of power outages for weeks or months are baseless and the likelihood of this is nonexistent,” Cohen said in a video he released.

“Even in an extreme scenario of an attack on an energy facility, we have established an unprecedented backup system that allows us to redirect electricity within a short time to any affected area.  It is important to note that Israel currently has the ability to generate electricity from a wide variety of sources spread throughout the country, above ground, deep underground,  and in the sea.  We have gas reserves, vast resources of solar power, extensive coal reserves, and we generate electricity on a large scale from renewable energy sources at numerous sites,” he said.

The minister said that billions of shekels were spent to ensure regular energy supply to all Israeli citizens, in routine and in times of emergency.  “No one will be cut off from electricity for an extended period of time,” he said in an effort to calm public concerns.

“It is important to act responsibly and to heed the instructions of the Home Front Command, which I emphasize, have not changed,” Cohen said after some in the public purchased generators, satellite phones and batteries to prepare for a possible strike in retaliation for the killing of a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander last week.

To prepare for all possible outcomes of a massive strike by Iran or Hezbollah, on Tuesday (9th), Transportation Ministry head Miri Regev conducted an exercise to ensure there is continued freedom of travel by land, air and sea, and that roads were clear to allow supply chains to continue.

“From a long-term perspective, I instructed the ministry’s director-general to continue to formulate a multi-year strategic plan and establish dedicated task forces to bolster readiness for not only near-term scenarios but also for the future,” Regev said.  “We have accumulated knowledge, experience and understanding.  I wish all of this remains in the realm of ‘scenario’ and for better days,” she said.



Israelis Commemorate Bible’s Jordan River Crossing 3,300 Years Ago

On Tuesday (9th), the Jordan River crossings (Kassar Al-Yahud) hosted an event commemorating the historic crossing of the Jordan River by the Israelites approximately 3,300 years ago.

Led by the  Jordan Valley Trustees Association, the ceremony not only honored a significant moment in Israel’s history but also underscored the association’s call to recognize the Jordan River crossings as a national heritage site and reaffirm Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley.

Brig. Gen. (Ret,) Uzi Dayan , chairman of the Jordan Valley Trustees Association, emphasized the importance of preserving historical sites such as the Jordan River crossing and highlighted their profound significance in connecting the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.

“The site symbolizes the deep and historical connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel,” Dayan stated, advocating for an annual state ceremony to commemorate the Israelites’ crossing.

The event drew participation from hundreds of individuals across the country who engaged in various activities, including a musical prayer service, guided tours in the Jericho area, and a symposium discussing the historical and cultural significance of the Jordan River crossings.

Collaborating with regional councils in the Jordan Valley and receiving support from organizations such as Magen David Adom, the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, the World Zionist Organization and the Jordan Valley Trustees Association highlighted the potential for developing tourism in the region.

Dayan noted that the site attracts over 850,000 tourists annually and proposed the construction of  hotels and visitor centers to accommodate the growing interest, which could provide employment opportunities for residents and further establish Israel’s presence in the Jordan Valley.

According to biblical accounts and historical research, the crossing of the Jordan River by the Hebrews or Israelites is a pivotal event in their journey to claim the Promised Land.  As recounted in the Book of Joshua, after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the Israelites, led by Joshua, stood on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, poised to enter the Land of Canaan.

Mirroring their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea led by Moses, Joshua ordered the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to step into the waters of the Jordan.  As they did, the waters miraculously parted, allowing the Israelites to cross over on dry ground, just as the slave generation had done 40 years earlier.  This event symbolized the fulfillment of God’s promise to deliver the land to the Israelites and marked the beginning of their conquest and settlement of Canaan.

Historical research corroborates elements of this biblical account, suggesting that the crossing of the Jordan River likely occurred at a shallow ford near the modern-day site of Kasser Al-Yahud.  Archaeological evidence and geographical studies support the plausibility of such an event, with scholars proposing that the timing of the crossing coincided with the spring thaws when the river’s waters would have been at their lowest.



India To Dispatch 10,000 Workers To Israel

As Israel grapples with a shortage of workers in agriculture and construction, India promised on Tuesday (9th) to send 10,000 laborers by June.

Israeli Minister of Labor Yoav Ben Zur met with India’s Ambassador Sanjiv Singla, where the two discussed the scarcity of laborers since October 7.

Israeli agriculture in particular is facing staggering losses in production and manpower.

Before October 7, Israel had 29,000 foreigners, mostly Thais, working in farms, orchards, greenhouses and packing plants.  Nearly all have returned to Thailand.

Israeli workers who might have filled the gaps have been called up for military reserve duty while Palestinian laborers are currently banned as security risks.

At the meeting, the Ministry of Labor’s Commissioner for Foreign Workers’ Rights, Shiri Lev Ran, reviewed the protections the state provides for the social rights of foreign workers in Israel and the ministry’s enforcement activities.

The first group of Indian workers already departed for Israel, Indian officials announced on Thursday (4th).

India issued an advisory in March for its nationals living in the border areas of Israel to relocate to safer areas after Patnibin Maxwell, an Indian agricultural worker, was killed in a Hezbollah rocket barrage while working in an orchard near Moshav Margaliot in the Upper Galilee.

Ben Zur and Singla also discussed desires to expand bilateral ties in the fields of innovation, economy and agriculture.

“The Israeli government has set itself the goal of expanding cooperation with the Indian government and promoting the bringing in of tens of thousands of foreign workers who will also respond to the needs and challenges of the economy,” Ben Zur said.



Why Israelis Are So Happy – Gil Roy

America has fallen out of the top 20 countries on the 2024 World Happiness Index.  Israel finished fifth.  Amid unspeakable suffering, Israelis have found comfort in one another and a higher calling.  Israelis pursue happiness through family and community, by feeling rooted and having a sense of purpose.  Belonging to communities teaches citizens to care about and cooperate with others.

Despite disagreeing passionately, Israelis live in an intimate society that runs on trust and generates hope.  Israelis feel they’re never alone, and that their relatives and friends will never abandon them.  Israelis don’t count in days and decades but in millennia and eternity.  They feel part of a bigger story, Jews’ historical saga reaching back 3,500 years.

Compare anti-Israel progressive students with their Israeli soldier peers. The pinched ideology of many protesters deems the U.S. systemically racist and is intent on sorting everyone by “gender identity” and skin color.  They pessimistically compete for reparations and indulgences and trash traditional families, religion and America’s noble story.

Israelis didn’t seek this war – but when attacked, they unleashed patriotism, idealism, self-sacrifice and grit.  Israelis resilience, duty and love of life explain how this often polarized and besieged society remains such a happy place.  Rather than demonize these heroes, protesters could learn from Israelis about the art of living.

The writer is an American presidential historian and senior fellow in Zionist thought at the Jewish People Policy Institute.  (Wall Street Journal)