News Digest — 6/10/20

Aliyah Flight Lands In Israel Following Record-Breaking Interest In May

Fifty-one Olim (new immigrants) landed at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday morning (9th) as part of a Nefesh B’Nefesh Group Aliyah Flight, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for New York, Kerem Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNF-USA.

Tuesday’s flight follows a record-breaking month in Aliyah, with May 2020 showing a 100% increase in North American interest in Aliyah in comparison to numbers from May 2019.  While April showed a 50% increase in Olim who applied for Aliyah from April 2019, May 2020 is the highest recorded month of Aliyah application that Nefesh B’Nefesh has experienced in the past 18 years since its founding.

“With the recent dramatic events across the world,  exploring the option of Aliyah has become more of a consideration,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

“For many Jews who have been contemplating Aliyah, being home with their individual families has given them an opportunity to focus on individual dreams and priorities.  People have been able to stay close to family members, while considering Aliyah with all its challenges,” he said.

“It is my privilege to welcome the new Olim who arrived in Israel this morning.  Even now during the pandemic, Israel’s gates are open to Diaspora Jews, as much as possible, while keeping everyone safe and healthy,” said Minister of Aliyah and Integration, MK Pnina Tamano-Shata.

“We anticipate an incredible and welcome increase in Olim before the end of this period, and even larger numbers in the next few years.  As such, we are preparing a comprehensive national program to encourage Aliyah and effectively integrate Olim as best as we can,” added  Tamano-Shata.

Tuesday’s (9th) flight brought new immigrants from New York, New Jersey, Texas, Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.  They will be moving to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ra’anana, Bat Yam, Petach Tikva, Beersheba, and many other cities throughout Israel.

“The past few months have been a challenge at times, with everything going on in the world,” said Esti Brookhim, one of the new Olim.  “I was so happy to finally be on the plane, and am excited to start my new life in Israel.”



Feeling The Heat, PA Offers Counter-Plan: A Demilitarized State

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh revealed Tuesday (9th) that after years of rejecting a myriad of peace proposals the Palestinian Authority had finally submitted its own concept for peace to the international community.

“We submitted a counter-proposal to the Quartet a few days ago,” Shtayyeh said at a press conference in Ramallah, referring to the foursome of the UN, EU, United States and Russia that was established in 2002 to mediate the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

Shtayyeh said the Palestinian peace proposal will see a “sovereign Palestinian state,” “independent and demilitarized” that will accept “minor modifications of borders where necessary.”

The Palestinians refused for the past several years to return to the negotiating table and the Quartet last met in 2018, after the Palestinians cut off most contact with them in 2016, over a report they published that slammed the Palestinians for inciting violence against Israel.

With the peace process dead in the water, Shtayyeh and the PA are facing an impending Israeli move in July to apply Israeli sovereignty on settlements in Judea and Samaria, which includes an implicit American approval for the annexation.

The Palestinians rejected President Trump’s peace plan that was announced in January.  That plan was accepted by Israel even though it calls for an independent Palestinian state, something that many right-wing Israelis appear to accept in return for the Trump Administration’s approval of Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley and some areas of Judea and Samaria.

Over the years the Palestinians have rejected calls for them to present an alternative peace proposal, and now with a paper finally on the table, Shtayyeh said the Palestinians are trying to ratchet up the heat on Israel.

“We want Israel to feel international pressure,” Shtayyeh said, adding the PA had been pushing European countries to put sanctions on Israel over the annexation.



Why The Six-Day War Still Matters – David Harris

→ The Six-Day War broke out 53 years ago on June 5th.  In June 1967, there was no state of Palestine.  It didn’t exist and never had.  Its creation, proposed by the UN in 1947, was rejected by the Arab world because it also meant the establishment of a Jewish state alongside.

→ The West Bank and eastern Jerusalem were in Jordanian hands.  Violating solemn agreements, Jordan denied Jews access to their holiest places in eastern Jerusalem, and desecrated and destroyed many of those sites.  Gaza was under Egyptian control, with harsh military rule imposed on local residents.

→ The Arab world could have created a Palestinian state in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and Gaza any day of the week.  They didn’t.  There wasn’t even discussion about it.

→ The boundary at the time of the 1967 War was nothing more than an armistice line dating back to 1949.  They weren’t formal borders.  They couldn’t be.  The Arab world refused to recognize Israel’s very right to exist.

→ The PLO was established in 1964, three years before the Six-Day War.  It was created with the goal of obliterating Israel, at a time when the only “settlements” were Israel itself.

→ Today, there are those who wish to rewrite history.  They want the world to believe the 1967 War was a bellicose act by Israel.  It was an act of self-defense in the face of blood-curdling threats to vanquish the Jewish state, not to mention the maritime blockade of the Straits of Tiran, the abrupt withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces, and the redeployment of Egyptian and Syrian troops.

→ The Six-Day War is proof positive that the core issue is, and always has been, whether the Palestinians and larger-Arab-world will ever accept the Jewish people’s right to a state of their own.  If so, all other contentious issues have possible solutions. 

The writer is CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC)



Iran Sentences Alleged Israeli ‘Spy’ To Death For Passing Intel On Soleimani

Iran announced Tuesday (9th) that an Iranian convicted of spying for Israeli and American intelligence agencies was sentenced to death.

“Mahmoud Mousavi Majd who was linked with the CIA and the Mossad, and has provided them with intelligence from security bodies, especially armed forces like IRGC, was sentenced to death,” the official government news agency IRNA reported.

Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaeili said that “Mousavi Majd had disclosed information on the location of martyred Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani”

Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force of the elite Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed in an American drone attack in January.  An NBC media report a week after the attack said Israeli intelligence played a role in the US strike.

Soleimani was known for building up Iran’s military influence across the region and was widely suspected of masterminding attacks by Iran-backed armed groups on US forces deployed in the region.

President Trump called Soleimani “the number one terrorist in the world.”

At the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his support for Trump’s decision.

“Qassem Soleimani brought about the death of many American citizens and many other innocents in recent decades and at present.  Soleimani initiated, planned and carried out many terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East and beyond,” Netanyahu said.

Iran’s FARS news agency reported that Mousavi Majd “will be executed soon so that his masters can see the face of a betrayer.”

Although the Iranians said Mousavi Majd had disclosed the itinerary of the routes taken by Soleimani, a judiciary statement said that the information was relayed before January and was not related to the American attack.

Esmaeili said despite the attempts by the US and Israel to spy on Iran, the Iranian security and intelligence forces “foil their plots by preventing espionage activities.”



How Qassem Soleimani’s Killing Diminished Iran’s Middle East Hegemony – Christopher Hamil-Stewart

Six months ago, a US missile brought to an end the 23-year military career of the Middle East’s most dangerous man: Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) expeditionary arm.  The Quds network of proxies has assassinated foreign politicians, laid siege to cities, and fomented chaos across the Middle East.

Dr. Nima Mina, Professor of Iranian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, noted that Soleimani’s successor, Esmail Qaani, “doesn’t have Soleimani’s ability to bring people together and to attract new recruits.”  Qaani may be experienced in managing Afghanistan and Pakistan, but “he’s not an expert in the critical areas west of Iran where the Quds Force is engaged: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.   Qaani doesn’t even speak Arabic.”  By monitoring social media, Mina said, it has become clear that “among young members of the Basij (IRGC militia) in Syria, the mood is very low – they’re pessimistic.”

In Iraq, two attempts to install an Iran-friendly prime minister ended with failure as mass protests erupted and Iranian consulates went up in flames.  Iraq now has a US-friendly prime minister – a man rumored to have provided the US with intelligence that led to the killing of Soleimani.