News Digest — 5/19/23

Celebrating Jerusalem Day At The Western Wall

Many thousands of Jews took part in the annual Jerusalem Day Flag March on Thursday evening (18th) in celebration of the 56th anniversary of the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem,

The Flag March began in front of the Great Synagogue and made its way through the Old City before ending at the Western Wall.

Between 1949 and 1967, while eastern Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule, Jews were barred from that part of the city, including Jewish holy sites, such as the Western Wall, as well as the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and other historically Jewish neighborhoods.  Jewish synagogues were destroyed and the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated, with many gravestones taken for use in construction projects.

Jerusalem Day celebrates the anniversary of the reunification of western and eastern Jerusalem, the unification of the city as Israel’s capital and the ability of Jews to return to their holy and historical sites.

About 3,200 police and security forces were deployed throughout the city to provide security  for the day-long celebrations.



Ministers, MKs Among Hundreds Of Jews Visiting Temple Mount On Jerusalem Day

Hundreds of Jews flocked to the Temple Mount Thursday morning (18th) in honor of Jerusalem Day, including a minister and several MKs.

Minister of the Development of the Periphery, the Negev and the Galilee, Yitzhak Wasserlauf went to Judaism’s holiest site early in the morning.  He was followed late-morning by three junior Likud parliamentarians, Ariel Kallner, Gan Illouz and Amit Halevy.

In a statement, Yehudit party head, Ben Gvir said he was “happy to see the many hundreds coming up to celebrate on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  The Temple Mount that was liberated 56 years ago is the holiest place for Jews – it is the right of Jews to go up to this place and celebrate its liberation.”

The minister said he had instructed that visitors enjoy smooth entry to the site, without the long waiting lines that are normal on other days.  The holy site was also reinforced with hundreds of extra police officers to ensure safety.

Palestinian terror organizations warned, as in years past, that they would aggressively counter the “storming of Al-Aqsa,” which is how they typically describe any visits of Jewish tourists to the Mount.

Israel had also reportedly warned Hamas that it would retaliate powerfully to any rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip during the festivities on Thursday (18th).

In 2021, the terror group launched several rockets at the capital on Jerusalem Day, setting off the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls.



Hamas Demands Compensation For Staying Out Of Gaza Operation

The Hamas terror group which rules Gaza, recently turned to Qatar asking that a message requesting compensation be passed to Israel, Israel Hayom reported.

The report quoted a Palestinian Arab source, who said that in the message, Hamas demanded that Israel expand its economic and civilian gestures, relieving some of the pressure on Gazans.  This, Hamas said, would be compensation for what the terror group suffered during Operation Shield and Arrow, when Israel fought Islamic Jihad.

Hamas did not intervene during the operation, and was not expected to start violence during Jerusalem Day celebrations.

Among Hamas’ demands are an increase in the number of Gazans allowed to work in Israel, additional hours of electricity for Gaza residents, and an increase in the amount of merchandise and dual-purpose materials allowed to enter Gaza.

Israel places limits on the amount of material entering Gaza, if the material in question can be used for terror.

The Palestinian Authority and Gaza owe Israel millions of shekels in unpaid electric bills.  Meanwhile, Israeli citizens have recently seen their electric bills climb.  At the same time, Gaza officials use the area’s electricity quota to provide themselves with 24/7 electricity while allowing “lay Gazans” only a few hours of electricity each day.

Sources in Gaza said, “Hamas does not want another war right now, but they do want to receive something from Israel in compensation for the price that they paid during the last battle, when they distanced themselves from the fighting and were criticized by the public for being traitors.”

The source also said that the response to the Flag March in Jerusalem on Thursday (18th) will be a parade held Friday (19th) in Gaza.  A campaign has called on residents to hold a “Flag March” of their own, waving the Palestinian Authority flag, Israel Hayom added.



Bipartisan Event Fetes United Jerusalem In US Congress

Members of the US House of Representatives marked Jerusalem Day in the US Capitol, celebrating the reunification of the Israeli capital, on Wednesday (17th).

The US officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moved its embassy the following year, but has not expressed a view on the city’s municipal borders.

The Congressional Israel Allies Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Brad Schneider, a Democrat, said that he is “proud to celebrate Jerusalem Day, marking the reunification of the city following the Six-Day War.

“Since 1948, Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel and for 3,000 years it has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people.  The unbreakable, bipartisan bond between the United States and Israel has held fast since the US was the first country to recognize the nascent state, and I pray it will never fray,” Schneider said.

The caucus’ other co-chair Rep. Doug Lamborn (R.-CO) said “the event is particularly significant this year as we celebrate Israel’s 75th birthday, it allows us to commemorate the significance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and reiterate our commitment to religious freedoms in the home of the world’s holiest sites.”

Israel’s Minister of Intelligence Gila Gamliel spoke about her recent meeting in Jerusalem with the former crown Prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi.

“I am honored to be here together with the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus to celebrate our capital, Jerusalem, on this historic occasion,” she said.  “The prophets promised that Jerusalem would become a house of prayer for all nations and in today’s times, we have seen that prophecy materialize.  Over 2,000 years ago, Cyrus, the King of Persia, or modern-day Iran, proclaimed that the Jews had the right to return to Israel and rebuild their Second Temple in Jerusalem.  Just recently, as a Minister of the State of Israel, I had the privilege to invite the son of the last Shah of Iran to visit the site of that very Temple.

The Congressional Israel Allies Caucus was founded under the auspices of the Israel Allies Foundation, which establishes caucuses for pro-Israel, faith-based diplomacy worldwide.  The event was held in cooperation with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and American Christian Leaders for Israel, and featured eight members of Congress and over 250 Jewish and Christian leaders from across America.

Israel Allies Foundation US Director Jordanna McMilan highlighted the bipartisan attendance of the event and said that “we gathered together to declare that Jerusalem is and always will be, the indivisible capital of the Jewish people and that the Judeo-Christian values that bind our nations together will not be broken.”

IAF president Josh Reinstein said “Faith-based diplomacy unites congressmen across the political divide on the basis of their shared values, which includes support for Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel.



FM Offers Bereaved Husband And Father Leo Dee Position As Special Envoy

Rabbi Leo Dee confirmed that he is in discussions regarding the position of special envoy to Jewish communities around the world.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said he was inspired by Dee’s call for unity among Israelis – made during his eulogy for his wife Lucy Dee.

Lucy, 48, and her daughters Maya and Rina – British-Israeli residents of Efrat – were driving in the Jordan Valley on a Friday afternoon when a Palestinian terrorist rammed into their car and proceeded to shoot them point blank.  The sisters, 20 and 15 years old, were pronounced dead at the scene; the mother was transferred to a Jerusalem hospital in critical condition and died several days later.

“Today the Jewish people have proven that we are one, we are united,” Rabbi Dee said at his wife’s funeral, attended by an estimated 10,000 people from across the country.

“When a simple, quiet family in Efrat is devastated, the whole country hurts.  And when a family in Tel Aviv is devastated, the whole country hurts.  There’s no greater proof of our unity.”

Although the rabbi was experiencing intense loss, his message was a comforting one, considering that hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been demonstrating regularly in recent months against the current government’s plans for judicial reform.

In turn, approximately 600,000 people attended a pro-government demonstration in Jerusalem as well, chanting that the majority demands the reforms.

Ahead of Memorial Day for Fallen IDF Soldiers and Victims of Terror, Rabbi Dee appealed to the public for quiet at the cemeteries, with no political speeches, and asked that everyone stress the unity of the Jewish nation.

Earlier this month, following the capture of the two Hamas terrorists responsible for the murder of the Dee women the rabbi praised the security forces, adding:

“If the terrorists would have been captured alive, I would have wanted to ask them why they did this.  What was their vision for a better world?  I already asked the Shin Bet if I could speak with their families to ask them that question.”



The Real Origin Of The Palestinians’ Catastrophe – Jeff Jacoby

May 15 is the anniversary of Israel’s birth in 1948.  It is also the date on which Palestinians in recent years have commemorated their nakba or “catastrophe.”  But the nakba was self-inflicted.  Contrary to the mythology promoted in many quarters today, the war that created the refugees was not launched  by the infant Jewish state in order to drive the Arabs out.  It was launched by the Arabs to smother that infant in its crib.

The contemporary nakba narrative is a masterpiece of ahistorical distortion and antisemitic propaganda.  It casts the events of 75 years ago as a monstrous crime successfully committed by Jews against Palestinians.  The opposite is closer to the truth.  In November 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition the land – which had been under British rule since 1917 – into “independent Arab and Jewish states.”  The Jews agreed to this two-state solution.  The Arabs, as they had in the past and would in the future, refused.  They immediately commenced a campaign of murderous aggression to prevent a Jewish state from becoming a reality.

After the Zionist leaders, in accordance with the UN resolution, proclaimed Israel’s independence, within hours bombs were falling on Tel Aviv.  Arab armies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, and Egypt crossed Israel’s borders.  “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre,” promised Azzam Pasha, secretary-general of the Arab League.  “We will sweep them into the sea.”

The Zionist leaders pleaded with the Palestinian Arabs to “participate in the building up of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and representation in all its institutions.”  But the Arabs spurned the Jews’ plea.  The nakba was the result.  For 75 years, Palestinians have paid a painful price for their refusal to grasp the hand of friendship that was offered to them.