News Digest — 4/26/22

World Jewish Population Nears Pre-Holocaust Numbers At 15.2 Million

The world Jewish population reached 15.2 million by the end of 2020 – approximately 1.4 million less than on the eve of the Holocaust in 1939, when the number was 16.6 million, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

The countries with the most Jews are Israel with 6.9 million, and the United States with six million.

The number of Jews has increased 10-fold since the establishment of the state in 1948 when there were 650,000 Jews in the country.

France has 445,000 Jews, a number that might have dwindled significantly if Marine Le Pen had won the presidential election, as many Jews said they would leave France if she won.

The next six countries with the most Jews are Canada, the United Kingdom, Argentina and Russia, with Germany  and Australia, tied with 118,000 each. 

Of the Jews living in Israel, 5.4 million were born there, and 1.5 million immigrated.  Two-thirds of the Jews who made aliyah came from the U.S. or Europe, and most of the rest came from Africa or Asia.



IDF General Staff Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day At Yad Vashem

The IDF General Staff Forum on Monday (25th) held a seminar to mark the Holocaust Remembrance Day at the “Yad Vashem” Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem.

The seminar, led by the Chief of the General Staff, LTG Aviv Kochavi, dealt with the subject of “predicaments and aspects of the Jewish Family during the Holocaust,”

The seminar opened with a speech by the Chairman of “Yad Vashem,” Dani Dayan, and the IDF Chief Education Officer, BG Ofir Levios.

“This day is another reminder of the significance of service in the IDF and the value of being an IDF commander – the IDF is a clear expression of the principle of self-defense and self-determination.  Above all, this day emphasizes to all of us the meaning of our lives,” said Kochavi.

Chairman of the “Yad Vashem” Holocaust Remembrance Center, Dani Dayan, said, “I find great symbolic value and educational importance in the fact that the IDF’s General Staff Forum devotes a seminar on the subject of the Holocaust every year.  The remembrance of the Holocaust is significant for every Israeli civilian and the story of the Holocaust is relevant to every soldier and officer serving in the IDF.”



Arab-Israeli Delegation To Tour Auschwitz, Meet With Polish Jews

A delegation of Arab-Israelis is set to hold a memorial service at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland later this week on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah).

Led by pro-Israel Zionist advocate Yoseph Haddad, a Christian-Arab citizen of Israel, the group will travel to eastern Europe to tour the death camp and hear from Holocaust survivors.

According to a statement from Haddad, this will mark the first time ever that a Holocaust memorial event will be held in the Arabic language at Auschwitz.

“It is important to us to make the memory of the Holocaust accessible to Arab-Israeli society and to the Arab world, because every person must be familiar with the most horrific event in human history and learn about it and from it, and thus fight this despicable phenomena, from Holocaust denial to all expressions of racism,” Haddad said.

The group made up of Christians, Druze and Muslims, are all members of the NGO founded by Haddad, “Together – Vouch for Each Other,” which encourages greater integration and participation of Arabs into Israeli society.

On Monday morning, (25th) the group boarded an El Al flight bound for Poland.  Upon arrival, they will meet with members of Krakow’s Jewish community.

Haddad said the delegation brought along bags of food to distribute to Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

In preparation for the trip, the delegates toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and met with Holocaust survivor Aryeh Shilansky whose grandson, Gili, speaks Arabic and translated his testimony in real-time.



Police Thwart Smuggling Of 100 Grenades From Lebanon, Hezbollah Suspected

The IDF and Israel Police were successful in thwarting a massive arms smuggling operation from Lebanon into Israel of 100 grenades, and the Hezbollah terror organization is believed to be behind the operation.

Police stated that the IDF identified on Monday night (25th) movement near the Lebanese border fence.  A special police unit dispatched to the area thwarted the operation and seized a bag containing 100 grenades of various types, and assault rifles.

The police pointed out that in some of the recent smuggling incidents that have been thwarted, evidence has been found of the involvement of Hezbollah, which works through Israeli criminals to bring weapons into the territory of the State of Israel.

Hezbollah provides the weapons while ensuring that some of them are designated for terrorist activity and the buildup of terrorist networks in Israel.

“The fact that spray grenades have been seized at the border, raises the suspicion that they were intended for attacks against crowded civilian places,” the police said.

Since the beginning of the year, the police have thwarted the smuggling of 148 handguns, 23 rifles of various types, and drugs with a cumulative value of millions of shekels.

The Hezbollah terror organization has been exposed previously as behind the smuggling of weapons and drugs into Israel.  This successful operation came just hours after the IDF exposed Hezbollah’s ties to a well-known drug trafficker in southern Lebanon and the way he helps the terror group smuggle drugs and weapons into Israel, while exposing the identity of one of its commanders, Hasan Sareini, nicknamed Abu Muhammed, who is considered an assistant to notorious Hezbollah commander Hajj Khalil Yusif Harb, who manages the smuggling operations on the Lebanese border. 



French Jewish Leaders Relieved After Macron Defeats Le Pen

French-Jewish leaders expressed relief after incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election on Sunday (24th).

“It’s a relief to see that Marine Le Pen was blocked from reaching power – but this time we were seriously worried,” said Francis Kalifat, head of the French Jewish body CRIF, Haaretz reported.

“We were concerned because some people…had made ambiguous statements, refusing to call on their supporters to vote for Macron,” Kalifat added.

National Rally leader Le Pen’s 41.5% was the highest ever reached by a far-right party in France.

Samuel Lejoyeux, head of the Union of Jewish Students of France, said that while he was happy with the results, it was no victory.

“The main thing is that Le Pen and her racist and antisemitic project have been kept out of the Elysee Palace, but the progress she has made is frightening,” Lejoyeux warned.

Many Jewish voters were wary of Le Pen despite her efforts to change her image – which were referred to by some as “demonic,” according to Haaretz.

Jewish leaders further argued that the only way to stop the rise of the far-right was to address the problems that drove so many to vote for Le Pen.

“Le Pen’s share of the vote was very high – and this means there is a lot of work to do,” said Kalifat.

Macron’s Forward Party will head to the polls again in June for parliamentary elections, for which far-right figures like Le Pen vowed to build up their groups to win, Haaretz reported.

“A new battle begins now,” Kalifat said.



Another New York Times Journalistic Malpractice Case. Again, Libeling Israel – Lenny Ben-David

On April 15, 2022, The New York Times decried the Israeli “killings” of 14 Palestinians “in response” to attacks that killed 14 Israelis.

Seemingly, a case of tit-for-tat.  However, the vast majority of the 14 Palestinians were armed terrorists.  Raja Abdulrahim’s April 16 article, entitled “Palestinians Decry Israeli Raids as Collective Punishment,” dripped with empathy and photographs of Palestinian civilians, particularly mothers and children, who fear Israeli counterterrorist raids.

She reported that Mohammad Zakarneh, 17, was killed “heading home to break his Ramadan fast,” while omitting that Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) tweeted a picture of him wearing a PIJ headband and holding a photo of him with an assault rifle. 

How can The Times ignore the many armed terrorists, and members of Palestinian terrorist organizations, when their local obituaries include the fighters’ pictures in uniform and with weapons?

Abdulrahim’s article includes a photo of a martyrs’ wall in Jenin, taken by a Times photographer.  The caption of the photo claims that “some are civilians.”  But upon enlarging the picture, not one civilian can be found.  All 14 poster obituaries showed the dead men holding weapons or belonging to various terrorist organizations or standing in Jerusalem to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The writer served 25 years in senior posts in AIPAC in Washington and Jerusalem, and as Israel’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington.