News Digest — 4/24/19

Netanyahu: ‘I Will Name A Golan Town After Trump’

If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has his way, alongside Katzrin, Ramot and Ramat Magshimim on the Golan Heights, there may someday soon be a community named Kiryat Trump.

Netanyahu, who on Tuesday (23rd) toured the Golan with his wife and sons, said a community or neighborhood on the Golan Heights should be named after U.S. President Donald Trump in appreciation for his decision last month to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau.

“I am here with my family and many citizens of Israel at the foot of the Golan Heights, happy with the joy of the holiday and our beautiful country,” Netanyahu said in a video post.  “And there is more joy – a few weeks ago I brought President Trump’s official recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights forever.”

Netanyahu said there “is a need to express our appreciation by calling a community or neighborhood on the Golan Heights after Donald Trump.  I will bring that to the government for approval soon.”

Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights came in late March, some two weeks before the April 9 elections, 52 years after Israel captured the region during the 1967 Six Day War, and 38 years after Israel annexed the region.



Hamas Arrests Gazan Who Protested Economic Hardship – Khaled Abu Toameh

Hamas security forces have arrested Palestinian comedian Hussam Khalaf who is known for his criticism of Hamas and Qatar, sources in the Gaza Strip confirmed on Wednesday (24th).

The sources said that Khalaf, a resident of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was arrested on Tuesday (23rd) as he walked on the streets of Rafah with a friend.

The comedian’s brother, Hassan, said that Hamas security officers walked up to Hussam and told him that their commander wanted to talk to him.  “They took him in their car and since then we haven’t heard from him,” the brother said.

Nicknamed “The Brain,” Khalaf is known for his songs criticizing the political and economic conditions in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.  He has been critical, among other things, of new taxes imposed by Hamas on residents in the Strip and the high rate of unemployment there.

The sources said that the comedian is suspected of “misusing technology,” a reference to his posts on social media: including collaborating with West Bank security forces to instigate unrest and chaos in the Gaza Strip – spreading rumors and fake news about life under Hamas – and encouraging Palestinians to demonstrate against Hamas and chant slogans against them.

According to the sources, Khalaf is also suspected of taking part in last month’s anti-Hamas protests throughout Gaza.  The protests were launched by various youth groups demanding an end to the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas claims that the protests were part of a Fatah-led “conspiracy” to undermine its rule and spark chaos and instability in the Strip.

Khalaf”s friends denied the charges and said he was not affiliated with any Palestinian faction.



Care About Gaza? Blame Hamas – Jason Greenblatt

→Hamas has left Gaza in shambles.  Life there is difficult, sad and abnormal.  The shoreline is covered in raw sewage and debris from successive wars.  If you ask why such hardships exist in Gaza, the answer will almost always be the same: the Israelis.

→Really?  The Arabs in Israel generally live normal lives and, in many cases, thrive.  The Palestinians in the West Bank are largely progressing in stable cities and communities, where electricity is available 24 hours a day.

→Others are moving forward while Gaza sinks further into despair and disrepair because Hamas has made choices.  Hamas professes violence and the destruction of Israel as a method of gaining a better life for Palestinians. This has led to a decimated economy, hundreds killed in violence each year, and one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.  Hamas is to blame for Gaza’s situation.

→Hamas has instigated three wars with Israel since 2007, each time leaving its infrastructure in greater disarray.  In these wars, Hamas and other terrorist groups launched thousands of rockets on Israeli communities.

→The world is waiting to help again in Gaza but has been prevented from doing so by the choices made by Hamas.

→Whether or not we achieve a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, the future of Gaza cannot be addressed and the people of Gaza cannot be helped in any meaningful way until Hamas is no longer in the picture or makes the necessary choices for stability and, eventually, peace.

The writer is an assistant to the U.S. president and special representative for international negotiations.



Israel To Honor Pittsburgh Jewish Leader At Independence Day Ceremony

Israel has announced that the torch on behalf of Diaspora Jewry at the Jerusalem ceremony marking Independence Day next month will be led by Jeff Finkelstein, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

The honor has been bestowed upon the Pittsburgh community leader in solidarity with the Jews in that city following the terror attack at the Tree of Life Congregation in October, in which 11 members of the community were murdered by a white supremacist.

Israel’s Culture Ministry said Monday (22nd) that it selected Finkelstein in recognition of his contribution toward leading “the Jewish community’s efforts to cope and rebuild” in the aftermath of the massacre.

Culture Minister Miri Regev said Finkelstein symbolized the “spirit of greatness and social cohesion among our people.”

Two years ago, Regev, whose ministerial position puts her in charge of state ceremonies, decided to include a Diaspora lighting for one of the torches.

The prestigious torch ceremony, according to the Jewish calendar, is scheduled for May 8, on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.  It marks the conclusion of Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims and the beginning of Independence Day in an emotionally-charged atmosphere as the two occasions are marked on consecutive days.



Israeli Migration Hotspot Berlin Sees Spike In Anti-Semitic Attacks

There has been a significant rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Germany’s capital, which over the past decade became a migration hotspot for young Israelis, a research conducted by an anti-Semitism group finds.

It’s estimated some 10,000-25,000 Israelis have relocated to Berlin since 2009, a migration-wave that’s driven largely by young artists trying to integrate into the local art scene.

According to Berlin’s Anti-Semitism Research and Information Centre (RIAS), in 2018 there were 1,083 anti-Semitic incidents in the city, which represents a 14% increase from the previous year that saw some 951 incidents.

The number of physical assaults on Jewish residents spiked dramatically from 18 attacks in 2017 to 48 in 2018.  The number of threats against the Jewish community also saw an unprecedented rise, jumping from 26 incidents in 2017 to 46 in 2018 (with 15% of the issued threats coming from individuals of Muslim background).

In addition, at least 117 letters with anti-Semitic contents were received and some 43 cases of damage to Jewish-owned property had been recorded.

Overall in 2018, at least 368 Berliners were directly affected by incidents with anti-Semitic undertones – compared to 213 people in 2017 – which represents a 73% increase.  The number of Jewish women who were personally affected by anti-Semitism rose by 80% from the previous year.

In the meantime, an alarming trend has taken over Germany’s social media over the past month, which sees young Germans declare their lack of remorse for the Holocaust while visiting former death camps, according to research conducted by an Israeli-owned media company Vocativ.

The disturbing trend was started a month ago by a German neo-Nazi activist and Holocaust denier Nikolay Girling, who posted a video of himself in the Dachau concentration camp as an act of opposition to holding German people accountable for the Holocaust.  He called on young people to follow in his footsteps and upload their own versions to social networks.

Girling’s videos have been viewed over 12.8 million times and his YouTube channel has grown from 2,000 to 66,000 subscribers over the past year.