News Digest — 5/28/21

WJC Condemns Resolutions Targeting Israel

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder on Thursday (27th) criticized the passage of two recent anti-Israel resolutions by the World Health Organization’s Assembly and United Nations Human Rights Council.

Lauder labeled the resolutions as “shameless” and declared that they sully the reputation of the UN and the bodies that operate under its auspices.

In a statement following the back-to-back votes in Geneva on Wednesday (26th) and Thursday (27th), Lauder declared, “Some UN member-states seem to believe that by exculpating Hamas and distorting the facts, they will gain cheap political points against Israel.  The real losers, of course, are the Palestinians in Gaza, cynically held hostage by a terrorist organization that purports to speak in their name.  Once again, truth has fallen victim to a shameless charade.”

He added, “For the countries advancing this agenda, lying is obviously no sin – no matter the consequences, and even if the reputation of the UN is once again sullied.  We’ve all been down this road before.”

Thursday’s (27th) vote in Geneva during a Special Session of the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) centered on a one-sided resolution calling for the creation of a never-expiring Commission of Inquiry into the Israel-Hamas conflict and failed to mention Hamas even once throughout the document.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 24 yes, 9 no, with 14 abstentions. The Special Session is the ninth session targeting Israel – a disproportionately high number considering that the UNHRC has only held 30 such sessions since it was founded in 2006.

In a statement delivered on behalf of the World Jewish Congress prior to the adoption of the resolution, Dr. Amichai Magen, Senior Lecturer at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy in Israel and a Board Member of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, urged the Council to condemn Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  “Any other position of this Council is unconscionable and will weaken the credibility of this body,” Magen stated.

Prior to the decision by the UNHRC, the World Health Assembly held a four-hour session on Wednesday (26th) to vote on a resolution centered on the health situation in the Palestinian territories.  The annual resolution, the only one focusing on a specific region in this technical body, was adopted by a vote of 83 yes, 14 no, with 39 abstentions, namely Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, UK, Uruguay and the USA.

The UNHRC, known for its anti-Israel bias, regularly passes resolutions condemning Israel.  Last year, it published a list of 112 companies which operate in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the UNHRC in 2018, citing its longstanding anti-Israel bias.  However the Biden administration returned to the organization last month, even though it acknowledged its “disproportionate focus” on Israel.



Netanyahu Says UN Inquiry Into Alleged Crimes Part Of ‘Blatant Anti-Israel Obsession’

Israel rejected and Hamas welcomed a decision on Thursday (27th) by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to launch an international investigation into crimes that may have been committed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the country would not cooperate with the probe, deeming it a bid to “whitewash crimes committed by the terror organization Hamas.”

The ministry added that “Israel will continue to defend itself against the terrorism of Hamas and against politicized international bodies that seek to delegitimize our lawful and just actions.  Israel thanked all the countries at the UNHRC who did not support this outrageous resolution.”

A spokesman for Hamas called its actions “legitimate resistance” and urged “immediate steps to punish Israel.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision, saying the UN has once again shirked its duties to serve as an impartial forum.

“Today’s shameful decision is yet another example of the blatant anti-Israel obsession by the UNHRC.  Once again, an immoral automatic majority at the council whitewashes a genocidal terrorist organization that deliberately targets Israeli civilians while turning Gaza’s civilians into human shields,” Netanyahu said.  “This while depicting as the ‘guilty party’ a democracy acting legitimately to protect its citizens from thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks.  This travesty makes a mockery of international law and encourages terrorists worldwide.”



DM Benny Gantz Extends Kochavi’s Tenure As Head Of The IDF By One Year

Defense Minister Benny Gantz decided on Thursday (27th) to extend Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi’s tenure as head of the Israel Defense Forces for an additional fourth year, pending final approval from the government.

Gantz notified Kochavi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that he will bring the move for cabinet approval in the coming weeks.

The position of IDF Chief of Staff is a three year post, though it can be extended by one or, on rare occasions, two years.  Most army chiefs serve four years.

Kochavi “is a pillar of command and operational stability.  Extending his tenure at this time of regional changes, and challenges from a variety of arenas, is critical to Israel’s security,” Gantz said in a statement.

Kochavi entered his position in January 2019, taking over from Gadi Eisenkot.

The move to extend his tenure comes just one week after fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip ended.  Gantz lauded Kochavi’s leadership during the recent combat in Gaza and other “operational activities” elsewhere of late.

Kochavi addressed the nation shortly after the ceasefire took effect last Friday (21st), asserting that the 11-day operation ended with “very different” results to previous flare-ups, and that Hamas “made a severe and grave mistake by firing at Israel.”

Gantz praised Kochavi’s work over the past two years, specifically surrounding the multi-year Momentum Plan, a general framework under which the IDF builds up its arsenals and trains its troops in order to confront the threats it expects to face in the coming years.

The guiding principle for the plan, which was developed under Kochavi, is that a future war must be won as quickly as possible, requiring the military to be able to constantly have at the ready a concrete list of targets, the weapons and equipment needed to strike them, and the ability to do so rapidly.



As Global Anti-Semitism Rises, Dubai Museum Debuts Holocaust Exhibit

As anti-Semitism rises in countries around the world, the United Arab Emirates’ Crossroads of Civilizations Museum has developed a Holocaust Memorial exhibit and invited the country’s Jewish community to its debut.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UAE Eitan Na’eh and Germany’s Ambassador to the country Peter Fischer addressed those attending the event held on Wednesday (26th).

The first Holocaust exhibit in the Arabian Gulf was designed to raise awareness of the horrors of the Holocaust among local Emiratis as well as Dubai’s residents and tourists.  The exhibit explores the chain of events leading up to the Holocaust and uses personal stories – many of which come from Jews in the Arab world.  There is a special tribute to Arab heroes – upstanders who defended and saved Jews.

“We are all concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  By teaching and informing our visitors about the Holocaust, we will create more awareness about the danger that this negative rhetoric and resulting actions can lead to,” said Crossroads of Civilizations Museum Founder Ahmed Obaid Almansoori.

“As a leading cultural institution in the UAE, it is very important to us that we focus on educating people about the tragedies of the Holocaust because education is the antidote to ignorance.”

Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, the Chief Rabbi of the United Arab Emirates, said, “We are alarmed to see this surge of anti-Semitic attacks in major cities across the United States and Europe.  We forget how quickly hate can spiral.  My wife’s family was saved from the Holocaust by an Arab doctor, Mohamed Helmy.  This exhibit reminds us we must rise to the challenge of combating extremism as neighbors and as friends.”

President of the UAE’s Jewish Community Ross Kriel said, “The new Holocaust Memorial exhibit in Dubai is unique in the region.  It reflects a new discourse that is emerging in the UAE which is rooted in mutual respect and human compassion.  The memory of the Holocaust is emotional and moving but, in this context, it provides a source of hope and reassurance.”

“Our profound thanks to the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum for its vision and courage in standing up for the idea of our common and shared humanity,” Kriel added.

The Crossroads of Civilizations Museum was founded in 2012 with a mission to reflect the culture of the UAE and its values of openness, harmony, mutual respect, and multiculturalism.



Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh’s Niece Being Treated For Cancer In Israeli Hospital   

A relative of Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh is currently being treated at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.

A report from News 12 says she has been there for two weeks.

According to the report, the hospitalized family member is a seventeen-year-old niece of Haniyeh, who has undergone a bone marrow transplant at the facility. 

The report noted that she was hospitalized during Operation Guardian of the Walls.

According to Ma’ariv, the hospital’s spokesperson said that “during the war, she was treated with dedication.”

Haniyeh’s niece “is one of more than a thousand patients from Gaza and the territories, who come for treatment every year to Ichilov Hospital.”

“Israel only knows how to give one type of humanitarian aid, and it comes at the cost of Israeli civilians’ lives.” commented Yamina MK Idit Sliman.

Sliman decried the government’s failure to return Israeli prisoners who are stuck in Gaza, adding that she will contact Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find out why humanitarian action during Operation Guardian of the Walls was one-sided.

The bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were abducted by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip in 2014, have not been returned as part of the ceasefire agreement.

Religious Zionist party MK Orit Struck echoed Sliman’s sentiments: “The Israeli government’s performance of humanitarian acts towards one of our greatest enemies, who kidnap our soldiers and our civilians, must expect a humanitarian act in return, the return of our captives held by Hamas.”

“It is a doctor’s Hippocratic oath to treat every sick and injured person that comes our way,” insisted Meretz MK Mossi Raz.  “They must do so without any regard to religion, race, nationality, identity, or family relation.”