News Digest — 6/23/21

Students At East Jerusalem School Vow To Redeem Al-Aqsa

Calls to “redeem” the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem led a graduation ceremony at an east Jerusalem school on Tuesday (22nd), as parents and students hoisted Palestinian flags and vowed to fight Israel.

The incident took place in a school in Beit Safafa, a Palestinian neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem.  The school is governed by the Israeli Education Ministry.

During the ceremony, some nationalistic slogans were chanted by the students and the parents alike, including “In spirit and blood we will redeem Al-Aqsa” – the call to arms associated with the Muslim pledge to guard the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.  

The Temple Mount is considered the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Median in Saudi Arabia.  However, it is Judaism’s holiest site.  This sensitive place is a known flashpoint that often sparks tensions and Palestinian violence.

Relations between the Palestinian residents of Beit Safafa and their Jewish neighbors are considered good.  Tuesday’s (22nd) incident raised concerns of a precursor to a wave of new nationalistic protests in the city, the likes of which were seen in the capital prior to May’s hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Maor Zemach, head of the right-wing Lach Yerushalayim (“For You Jerusalem”) advocacy group that seeks to safeguard Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem told Israel Hayom that the incidents constitutes “grave public incitement that has no place in an Israeli school.”  Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton said there must be “disciplinary action against the school’s management.”



Thousands March Across Judea And Samaria Against PA Takeover Of Land

Some 2,000 people protested in over a dozen marches across Judea and Samaria Monday (21st) against the government’s quiet acquiescence to the illegal Palestinian takeover of state lands in the region, Hebrew-language media reported.

The most national-religious participants walked with Israeli flags in 14 locations, including the Hebron Hills, Gush Etzion near Jerusalem, and the Shiloh bloc in western Binyamin.

“The future of our state and its borders are resting on our shoulders, and we won’t abandon this front under any circumstances.” said Binyamin Regional Council head Yisrael Ganz at one of the marches.

“This is a war we are losing on a daily basis,” he said.  “The Palestinian Authority is conquering state lands within our heartland in an organized fashion.  They are creating buffer zones and taking over strategic areas unhindered.”

Ganz’s charges are backed up by a report published some two weeks ago by the previous government detailing massive PA land grabs both in areas under their control and in the parts of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley that are known collectively as Area C, which is ostensibly under full Israeli civilian and military control. 

About 100 people marched toward the fledgling Evyatar community in Samaria, which the IDF is determined to tear down by the end of the month.  The army said it was built illegally and “undermines security stability in the area.”

The residents, who will appeal to the Supreme Court against eviction, have maps they say which prove the land is state-owned.  Furthermore, the law against illegal building is being selectively enforced against them, they argue.  

According to the lawyers, there are over 10 times more illegal Palestinian outposts than Israeli ones in Area C (800 versus 74), and while 15 demarcation orders have been issued against Jewish communities to date, only two – which were then canceled – have been brought against Palestinian communities.

Palestinians protested against the walks in several places in Samaria, causing the IDF and police to separate the two groups before blows could be exchanged.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has long called for Israeli sovereignty to be applied to Area C.  It contains the vast majority of the Jewish settlements over the so-called Green Line, and only four percent of the Palestinian population, whom Bennett envisioned as becoming full Israeli citizens if they so desire.



PA Head Mahmoud Abbas Lauds Attacks On Settlers, IDF

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas lauded Arab terrorists and rioters involved in attacks on Israeli security personnel and Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

Speaking at a meeting of the Fatah faction’s Revolutionary Council, this week, Abbas praised “the martyrs, the prisoners, and those wounded in the conflict with Israel.”

Abbas went on to single out those responsible for attacks on Jews in Judea and Samaria for praise.  

“The Palestinian people are standing and fighting against the occupation and the swarms of settlers,” he said.

The PA chief also expressed thanks to anti-Israel protesters around the world, saying, “I want to give my warm blessing to the many heroic people from our nation around the world, and to free people from around the world, who held protests against the Israeli occupation authorities who use aggression, apartheid, settlement, and land and resource theft.”

“I say to the protesters: the occupation and the racism will end and Palestine and the heroic people who stand with it will soon be settled in their land.”



First Israeli Druze Woman MK To Be Jewish Agency Emissary

Former Blue and White and Yesh Atid MK, Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh, the first female Druze Knesset member, will become the Jewish Agency’s first Druze emissary in Washington, where she will serve as a senior “shlucha” (woman emissary).

Kamal-Mreeh will represent the Jewish Agency in its efforts to connect with North American college students.  The Jewish Agency for Israel, which was created in 1929, has been instrumental in connecting Jews abroad with the State of Israel as well as facilitating aliyah.

In Washington Kamal-Mreeh will work collaboratively with Hillel International and the Jewish Agency’s Israel Campus Fellows.  Her work will involve prioritizing  community building among young Jews, aged 18-35, across local Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish Federations and the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA).

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington said it was looking forward to welcoming Kamal-Mreeh to its group of 10 shluchim in the area.

“We are proud to support the continued innovation of the mission program by bringing new voices like Kamal-Mreeh’s to our community and to further strengthen our long-standing partnership with the Jewish Agency through launching this initiative,” it said.

Kamal-Mreeh earned her degree from Bar-Ilan University in medical imaging and social sciences, as well as an MA from the University of Haifa in international relations.  She served as an MK from 2019-2021 and chaired the Israel-Switzerland parliamentary friendship group, co-chaired the Israel-Germany friendship group and was a member of the Interior and Environment Committee and the Advancement of Women’s Status and Gender Equality Committee.

“I am proud and excited to be a partner in bringing about this precedent-setting step, which will enable another Israeli voice to be heard, conveying the multifaceted reality of Israel to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences throughout North America,” Kamal-Mreeh said.

“I believe the time has come for all segments of Israeli society to be active partners in shaping global consciousness and that my unique identity as a woman from the Druze community will greatly contribute to my service, resulting in meaningful and innovative activities that will challenge and change perceptions,” she said.

“In the name of pluralism and diversity, we will work to connect, bridge and emphasize what we have in common, for our country and for our future.


Police Investigating Anti-Semitic Graffiti Found On Chairs In Toronto Park

Toronto police have launched an investigation into anti-Semitic graffiti found on chairs in a popular park.

On Thursday (17th), Toronto Liberal MP Ya’ara Saks tweeted photos of deck chairs in Downsview Park spray-painted with swastikas. 

“I’m extremely disheartened and angry to see these symbols of hate and anti-semitism in my own neighborhood, right in the center of our community.  Hate has no place here or anywhere else in Canada.  I’ve reached out to @downsviewpark management for more information.  This must stop,” she tweeted.

Saks, who is Jewish, represents an area with a large Jewish population.

The MP’s post was brought to the attention of Toronto Police, reported

On Friday (18th), Constable Caroline de Kloet said that an officer visited the park to investigate.

“We became aware of offensive symbols spray-painted on chairs.  Our Hate Crime Unit has been made aware and is supporting the investigation,” de Kloet told the news outlet.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday (17th) shared the tweet by Saks, addressing the Jewish community.

“I am appalled and disgusted by this anti-Semitic vandalism.  To the Jewish community in York Centre and across Canada, know that we will continue to stand with you against this hate.  We will not tolerate it, and we will work with you to end it,” he tweeted.

During his Friday (18th) speech, Trudeau mentioned that “vandalism and anti-Semitism has no place in our communities, and hatred and discrimination of any kind has no place in our country.”

The anti-Semitic graffiti at Downsview Park is the latest in a sharp uptick in anti-Semitic incidents in Toronto and in Canada in the last few months.