News Digest — 6/17/20

90,000 Immigrants Expected In Israel In Next 18 Months, Says Minister

Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata said on Wednesday (17th) that the latest forecasts estimate that 90,000 new immigrants will arrive in Israel from around the world in the next 18 months.

The Jewish Agency, Nefesh B’Nefesh, Qalita, and other organizations dealing with Aliyah have all stated recently that the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a large spike in the number of Jews around the world expressing heightened interest in emigrating to Israel.

Earlier this month, The Jewish Agency said it expected 50,000 immigrants in 2021 alone, although it also noted that there was a decrease in the number of immigrants in 2020 over 2019, figures related to air travel restrictions and other complications due to the global health crisis.

Speaking to the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee on Wednesday morning (17th), Tamano-Shata said in addition that she has instructed the ministry to draw up a five-year plan for immigration and absorption and said that she has made it a primary goal to encourage Aliyah from around the world.

During the hearing, the minister said she also intends to bring all remaining members of the Falash Mura community in Ethiopia to Israel, stating that it was an “injustice that screams to the heavens.”

Addressing the ongoing delay in bringing the approximately 7,500 members of the Falash Mura community still waiting in Ethiopia, to Israel, Shata said the saga needed to be brought to a close.

“We will end the camps in Ethiopia – we will bring those waiting, to Israel,” she said during the committee hearing.  “This needs to be a first-level national priority,” she added.

The Falash Mura, descendants of Jews who converted, under duress, from Judaism to Christianity in the late 19th century, have since 1993 been allowed to enter Israel through the Law of Entry, since the Law of Return excludes those who converted away from Judaism from automatic immigration rights.

While many of the first immigrants from the community were of maternal Jewish descent, almost all of those remaining are of paternal Jewish descent.

During the course of the immigration process, many families were split apart, and many of those still waiting in Ethiopia have parents, children and siblings in Israel.

In 2015, a government resolution was passed to bring all remaining members of the community to Israel by 2020, but only 2,200 of the thousands left have been brought so far.  The delays have been attributed to budgetary and bureaucratic problems.



Hamas Founder: ‘Arab Nation Will Not Forgive Those Who Seek Ties With Israel’

One of the founding members of the Hamas terror group called Tuesday (16th) for Palestinians to “blow up” Israel’s planned annexation of settlements and launch a new armed uprising, Channel 13 reported.

“The annexation project must be blown up and an intifada launched to displace settlements from anywhere in Palestine by any means possible,” Hamas political leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said at a conference in Gaza.

“The Arab nation will not forgive anyone who normalizes relations with Israel.  We warn the Zionist entity of the dangerous consequences of the annexation and the deal of the century,” al-Zahar said, referring to the Trump peace deal.

Iran-backed Hamas rejects any peace plan and is committed to destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state.

An unnamed member of Jordan’s parliament who attended the meeting said he had demanded several times the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Jordan and the return of the kingdom’s envoy from Tel Aviv, as well as canceling Jordan’s peace agreement with Israel.

In the second armed uprising by Palestinians in 2000-2005, Hamas and other terror groups carried out waves of suicide bombings and shooting attacks that killed over 1,000 israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday (15th) that the Trump administration wants the annexation process to take place internally within the Israeli government, so there could be a situation where the annexation process “will not happen in one go” but will be carried out in stages.  Netanyahu made the comments at a meeting with a group of senior reserve IDF officers, according to officials who were present.



Iran Warns IAEA Not To Take Action Based On ‘Zionist Regime’

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Monday (15th) warned the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) against making decisions based on information from the “Zionist regime.”

Speaking at a weekly conference, Mousavi criticized the nuclear agency for what he said were “anti-Iranian claims” founded upon documents provided to it by Israel.

Israel covertly obtained some 55,000 pages of documents and 55,000 files on CD relating to Iran’s nuclear program in 2018.  The IAEA is reportedly seeking access to at least one site mentioned in the intelligence trove.

“We urge the agency (IAEA) to be a little realistic about it, to pose its question [to Iran] on a legal basis, and not to get entangled in marginal issues,” the spokesman said, according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.

“We do not deem such an approach of the agency constructive.  Our cooperation with the agency continued even when it [the IAEA] reduced commitments.  If such a process goes on, the interaction with the IAEA will become difficult,” he added.

Earlier this month, the IAEA called on Iran to immediately provide access to several locations that it believes may be related to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

“Naturally, if they make an unconstructive decision, Iran will show a proportionate reaction, and they probably know what the decision would be,” said Mousavi.

“We hope the results of the IAEA Board of Governors meeting will be constructive for regional peace and stability,” he added.



Israel And The Precision-Guided Missile Threat – Uzi Rubin

Iran is currently converting all its older missiles into precision weapons, and is supplying its allies in the region with expertise and materials with which to build their own precision missile capabilities.  Israel is anxious to frustrate Iran-backed Hezbollah’s precision project because once it is achieved, Hezbollah’s missiles will be able to paralyze any vital installation or terrorize any civilian population center in Israel.

One of the biggest advantages of ground-launched missiles is their small footprint: their launchers are small, stealthy, and hard to find and destroy.  Air power, by contrast, relies on huge air bases with long runways.  The vulnerability of giant air bases to precision missile strikes was demonstrated during the January 2020 Iranian missile strike on the US-operated En Assad air base, in Iraq.

Once Hezbollah is equipped with precision missiles, it could fire slavos to paralyze Israel’s air bases.  Israel’s defense systems will probably be able to destroy most incoming missiles, but not all of them.  Israel should do everything in its power not only to prevent defeat by precision guided missiles but to use them itself to defeat its enemies.

The writer is founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization and managed the Arrow program.  He is a senior research associate at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.



Jewish Cemetery In Poland Vandalized With Spray-Paint

A wall of the Jewish cemetery in Tarnow, a city in southern Poland, was spray-painted with the letters “AJ”, meaning “anti-Jude” or “anti-Jewish.”

The wall’s  Star of David was painted over as well.  Police are investigating – there are no suspects.

According to the cemetery keeper, Adam Bartosz, “because the wall is brick, removing the spray-paint will not be easy, and scraping the paint will leave traces. Maybe we’ll leave it as a testimony of stupidity,” said Bartosz, who was quoted by Krakow Radio.

Tarnow Mayor Roman Ciepiela condemned the act and posted on Facebook that town residents should “do everything to make the language of violence and contempt for others disappear once and for all from Tarnow’s public space.”

Tarnow, which is about 45 miles from Krakow, has a population of over 100,000.

Last July, the cemetery was vandalized just after an $800,000 renovation.

Established in 1581, the cemetery was added to the registry of protected monuments in 1976.

Before World War II, about 25,000 Jews lived in Tarnow.  Most were murdered in the Belzec and Auschwitz concentration camps.