News Digest — 5/20/19

Conference Of Presidents Welcomes German Anti-BDS Resolution

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations over the weekend welcomed the approval of the groundbreaking German resolution that describes the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as an expression of anti-Semitism reminiscent of the boycotts against Jews in the Nazi Period.

“We welcome this very significant action by the Bundestag and hope that the other European countries will adopt similar measures.  It is an important recognition of the true nature of the BDS movement and its supporters, which is to deny Jews the right of self-determination and Israel the right of existence,” said Arthur Stark. Chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents.

“It is especially timely given the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe and the United States, that the resolution pledges that Germany will ‘strongly oppose’ the demonization and denigration of Jews, and support Israel’s right to be a state like others and to defend its citizens.  We are grateful to Chancellor Merkel and her colleagues in her party and the others that joined them in securing passage of this landmark resolution,” they added.

The resolution passed by the Bundestag calls on the government to refrain from any support to organizations that are involved in boycott activities against Israel.

“All-encompassing calls for boycotts in their radical nature lead to the stigmatization of Israeli citizens and citizens of Jewish faith as a whole,” the resolution reads.  “This is unacceptable and worthy of the sharpest condemnation.”

According to the resolution, “The arguments and methods of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier on Friday (17th) welcomed the German move as well.

“I congratulate the German Bundestag on the important decision that recognizes the BDS as an anti-Semitic movement and declares that it is forbidden to fund it.  I particularly appreciate the Bundestag’s call on Germany to stop funding organizations working against Israel’s existence. I hope that the decision will lead to concrete steps and call on other countries to adopt similar legislation,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, also welcomed the decision of the German Parliament to define the boycott movement against Israel as anti-Semitic.

“This is a crushing victory for the truth and a great achievement in the struggle against Israel’s detractors.  Germany proved to BDS supporters that its lies do not go unnoticed, but will pay a price. I congratulate the German parliamentarians who took part in passing this historic decision and call on the rest of the world leaders to join Germany, and work towards shaping a future without hatred against Jews and against Israel,” said Danon.



Syria Says Air Defense Intercepted Israeli Missiles, In 2nd Incident Within 24 Hours

Syria claimed its air defense on Saturday night (18th) shot down a number of missiles fired from Israel, for the second time within 24 hours.

The official SANA news agency said the military intercepted “hostile targets coming from the direction of occupied territories.”  Syrian state TV said the missiles were shot down over Quneitra and near Damascus.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Israel fired at least three missiles.  “Two of the strikes targeted a Syrian army brigade which supervises the country’s Quneitra province,” he told AFP, “while the third missile was destroyed by Syrian defenses.”

On Friday night (17th), Syrian state TV reported sounds of explosions near the capital, and aired footage of what it claimed were air defenses intercepting missiles fired from Israeli jets seen over Quneitra in the Syrian Golan heights.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported several explosions in the Al-Kiswah area outside the city in the vicinity of Iranian and Hezbollah storage facilities and air defense batteries.  The group added that it was not immediately clear if the explosions were caused by Israeli airstrikes or surface-to-surface missiles.

There was no response from the Israeli Defense Forces, which rarely comment on reported strikes.

However, the Israeli military has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years on targets linked to Iran, which is backing President Bashar Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war.



Christian Persecution In Palestinian Authority Rampant, Population Plummets

The Anglican Church in the Palestinian Authority (PA) village of Aboud, near Ramallah, was broken into Thursday (16th) and valuable property, including religious artifacts were stolen.

Residents of Aboud said elements within the PA are generating strife between Christians and Muslims, and many feel the attack was a religious-based hate crime.

This is the third incident in the past month in which Christians living in the PA were targeted.

The St. Charbel Monastery in Bethlehem was broken into last week, the sixth time it was targeted in recent years.  Father Yacoub Eid, the monastery head has repeatedly asked the PA for protection of the holy site.

Last month, Christian residents of the town of Jifnah in the PA were attacked by Fatah activists and were forced to pay the Muslim Jizyah ransom tax after a local woman complained to the police about the son of a Fatah official.

The violent incident, which included shooting, occurred in an exclusively Christian area, north of Jerusalem, near Ramallah.

Another member of one of the families in Jifnah said that family members were ordered to pay the Jizyah tax “so that they could enjoy the PA’s protection.”

The Jizyah is an annual per capita tax levied by Islamic law on non-Muslim subjects residing in Muslim lands.  It is a fee for protection provided by the Muslim ruler to non-Muslims, for the permission to practice a non-Muslim religion, and as proof of the non-Muslim’s submission to the Muslim state and its laws.

Jizyah has also been understood as a ritual humiliation of non-Muslims in a Muslim state for not converting to Islam.

The Muslim-Christian Council in Jerusalem recently published a survey that shows the Christian population in the PA consists of only one percent of the general population.  Tens of thousands of Christians have left the PA for other parts of the world following religious persecution they have encountered at home, including the confiscation of Christian land and the assault on young Christian women.

Once a sizable community, the survey shows that today the community numbers only 45,000 in the PA, with 4,000 living in Jerusalem and only 1,000 living in Gaza.



35,000 Arabs Departed Gaza Strip In 2018

It is estimated that 35,000 people left the Gaza Strip last year.

According to data from UN-affiliated organizations, 60,907 Arabs departed the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing into Egypt, of which 37,075 came back.  But looking at other sources, Israel estimates the number of departees last year was 35,000. That means that one of every two people who leave Gaza don’t return.

This is in keeping with the statistics from the first four months that the Rafah crossing was reopened (May-Sept. 2018) in which 36,000 people left, while only 17,000 came back.

Those leaving are reportedly young and better educated.  There were 150 doctors among them. Hamas has since banned doctors from leaving the Strip.

The Hamas rulers first saw the opening of the southern border crossing as a way to earn revenue through charging for passports and other fees, according to media reports.  But it now wants to curb the emigration as it sees its more educated people taking the opportunity to flee the impoverished, war-torn terror stronghold.

According to reports, most of those leaving Gaza, head to Turkey, where they take boats to Greece in an effort to get to European countries.  Germany and Sweden are the preferred ones.

The trip is expensive for the typical Gazan, costing $4,000.  The average wage in Gaza is $17.60 a day, and economic problems in the Strip has led to a rise in social ills,. including hard drug use, and begging, according to media reports.



Chicago Synagogues Targeted In Rash Of Suspected Hate Crimes

Police in Chicago have beefed-up security for the local Jewish community following separate incidents of vandalism and attempted arson at local synagogues over the weekend.

Worshipers who arrived at Congregation Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel synagogue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood Sunday morning (19th) discovered broken glass and charred black rags outside their building.

Police later confirmed that an unknown assailant twice attempted to set the building on fire around midnight on Saturday (18th).

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police were also investigating vandalism outside several synagogues in the city’s West Rogers Park neighborhood where the windows of cars parked outside the buildings were smashed early Sunday morning (19th).

Guglielmi said Jewish schools, businesses and synagogues in the city would receive “special attention” while detectives probed the suspected hate crimes.

He said police investigators were in possession of “good video evidence’ of the arson attempt, and that two suspects in the case had been identified.

Anshe Sholom’s rabbi, David Wolkenfeld, told local media outlets it was “shocking” to see the anti-Semitic displays in Chicago.

“This synagogue is so central to so many people in this neighborhood, and this is such a wonderful city to be Jewish, so it’s shocking to realize there can be someone so filled with hate, to engage in an action like this,” Wolkenfeld said.