News Digest — 5/23/19

Netanyahu To Modi On Apparent Election Victory: ‘Well Done, My Friend’

With preliminary results indicating that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is headed for another five-year term, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasted no time in congratulating the leader who has brought Indo-Israeli ties to new heights.

“Heartfelt congratulations, my friend @ Narendramodi, on your impressive victory in the elections,” Netanyahu wrote in a Hebrew tweet.  “The election results are more validation of your leadership and the way in which you lead the largest democracy in the world. Together we will continue to strengthen the great friendship between us and between India and Israel and bring it to new peaks.”

Israeli-Indian ties, which in any event were getting stronger, soared following Modi’s victory in 2014.  In a testament to the strength of the relationship, Modi became the first Indian prime minister ever to visit Israel, when he did so in 2017.  Netanyahu reciprocated with a visit to India in January 2018.

Netanyahu’s congratulatory tweet was posted above a picture of him strolling barefoot with Modi on the Olga Beach near Haifa to see a demonstration of a mobile desalination unit.



Gazan Arson Balloons Blamed For At Least 11 Fires In South

At least 11 fires were sparked in southern Israel by balloon-borne incendiary devices sent over the security fence from the southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday (22nd) according to Israeli officials.

“All the fires were caused by incendiary balloons,” a spokesman for the local fire department said.

The fires started in grasslands and agricultural fields.  In one case 12 acres of wheat fields in Kibbutz Alumim were burned, a Sdot Negev spokesperson said.

The incendiary attacks would appear to violate the reported terms of an unofficial ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, as they were some of the worst arson attacks in recent months.

Teams from the fire department, the Parks Authority and the Jewish National Fund, as well as security officers from nearby communities were working to extinguish the flames.

Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services issued a fire warning for Wednesday (22nd) throughout the country as a heat wave struck and is expected to continue through the upcoming weekend.  Sadly the last few days has seen an uptick in the amount of balloon-borne incendiary devices launched into Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military on Wednesday night (22nd) announced it was cutting back the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza from 15 nautical miles back to 10 following the spate of fires in the south.



IDF Furious After UN Rep Meets With Deputy Hezbollah Chief

The IDF is furious over United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis meeting with Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s deputy, Gen. Naim Qassem, on Tuesday (21st).

After the meeting, Kubis tweeted that he was “grateful for an open and substantive discussion on a broad range of topics with Deputy [Hezbollah] Secretary General Naim Qassem.”

Kubis added that Qassem had presented him with a copy of his book, which Kubis called “necessary reading.”

After news of the meeting became public, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit tweeted a response: “You know what else is necessary reading?  UN Resolution 1701.” This was in reference to the attack tunnels Hezbollah dug beneath the Israeli-Lebanese border in blatant violation of the resolution and which Israel exposed and destroyed in Operation Northern Shield at the start of this year.

Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan responded to Kubis’ message with a tweet of his own, in which he asked Kubis if he had discussed “how Hezbollah can continue to laugh at UNSC 1701 and expand its arsenal of missiles?  Or how the UN can help Hezbollah rebuild its terror tunnels?” “Or did he want your diplomatic advice as to where Hezbollah should murder Jews next?” Erdan’s tweet concluded.



‘UNRWA Has Only Succeeded In Inciting Violence Against Israel’

On Wednesday (22nd), the United Nations Security Council held a special discussion on UNRWA, the United Nations agency that oversees the Palestinian refugees.

At the beginning of the discussion, Pierre Krahenbuhl, the UNRWA representative, said: “We need an additional $1.2 billion for our activities in 2019.  We don’t believe the future of Palestinian refugees should be framed in decades of UNRWA. They deserve a better political future. Until then, we will continue to operate.”

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, responded by saying that “UNRWA has been empowering the refugee problem for years, instead of trying to solve it while adopting a unilateral political position.  The organization’s schools have been transformed into terror and incitement infrastructures, with textbooks distributed on the ground denying both Israel’s existence, and underground tunnels dug by Hamas.”

“UNRWA failed to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip and succeeded only in inciting violence against the State of Israel.  UNRWA’s mandate must come to an end,” added Danon.

Danon then turned to the UNRWA representative and challenged him.  “UNRWA, like any organization, must have clear goals. What are those goals?  How long will it take to reach them? And how much will it cost?” Ambassador Danon demanded that the Council members receive the representative’s answers within six months.

Jason Greenblatt, the US envoy to the Middle East stated: “It’s time to face the reality that the UNRWA model has failed.  Year after year, budget shortfalls threatened essential services to Palestinian mothers and children. And year after year, Palestinians in refugee camps were not given the opportunity to build any future; they were misled and used as political pawns.  We need to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments and international or local non-government organizations.”



‘P Is For Palestine’ Children’s Book Has New Jersey Town Up In Arms

A children’s book about the alphabet is sparking controversy in Highland Park, New Jersey, reports a local ABC station.  Critics say that it promotes anti-semitism.

The book’s author, Golbarg Bashi, who is Iranian-American, maintains that the book, “P is for Palestine,” is meant to teach people about Palestinian culture.

The book includes illustrations of Palestinian activities, including protests, says ABC7NY.

Members of the Jewish community in Highland Park are campaigning to keep it out of the local library, according to the report.

“It’s a symbol, it says that it’s OK to have books that teach little children to hate,” Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg said.

It isn’t even “P for Palestine” that is drawing criticism compared to the author’s choice of “I for Intifada.”

Intifada is widely used to mean uprising and is a term used for multiple waves of Palestinian terror in Israel, including the 2000-2006 Second Intifada in which more than 1,000 people were killed.

Bashi’s works have raised eyebrows in the past said the ABC station.

“It’s anti-semitic and I’m telling you the Jewish community here is up in arms,” Rosenberg said.

The book has been pulled from the library but is awaiting a final decision from the board of trustees, according to the report.

“It’s been used to teach little children about how great the Palestinians are and we should murder the Jews, that’s the bottom line,” Rosenberg said.

“The debate over the book is bringing the long-standing feelings in the Middle East to central Jersey,” said the ABC station.