News Digest — 7/12/22

More Than 16,000 Police Officers To Secure Biden’s Israel Visit

The Israeli police announced on Sunday (10th) the completion of its preparations ahead of Wednesday’s (13th) visit to Israel by U.S. President Joe Biden.

As part of its preparation for securing the visit, an operation dubbed “Blue Defender 3,” the police held a special drill simulating an accompaniment and securing of the presidential vehicle convoy.

During the days of the visit, more than 16,000 police officers, Border Police officers and volunteers will be deployed…both for security and to safeguard public order, as well as directing traffic during the state visit,” police said in a statement.

Biden is due to fly on to Saudi Arabia from Israel on Friday (15th).

Police described the security operation as complex and involving multiple security organizations.  It will focus on Ben-Gurion International Airport, Jerusalem and the main highways leading to the capital, according to the statement.

Specialized command posts will be in operation to allow effective command and control of the security operations, police added.

Disruption to traffic is expected between Wednesday and Friday (13th-15th) in central Israel, on roads leading to Jerusalem and throughout Jerusalem itself.  Changes in traffic routes will occur in the capital for limited periods, according to police.



Jerusalem Bridge Displays Japanese Flag In Solidarity After Assassination Of Ex-PM

Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge was lit up to show the Japanese flag alongside the Israeli flag on Sunday evening (10th) as a sign of solidarity with the Japanese people following last week’s assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

“The city of Jerusalem sends its condolences to the Japanese people and mourns the death of a friend of Israel, a great leader of his people and the entire world,” Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said in a statement. 

Abe was shot from behind minutes after he started a speech Friday (8th) in Nara in western Japan.  He was airlifted to a hospital for emergency treatment but was not breathing and his heart had stopped.  He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.

The 67-year-old Abe was Japan’s longest serving leader before stepping down for health reasons two years ago.  He served in 2006-2007 and again from 2012 to 2020.

Israeli leaders were quick to express their shock and condolences on Friday (8th) following Abe’s death.

“On behalf of the government and people of Israel, I send my condolences to the Japanese people and their government on the tragic death of former prime minister Shinzo Abe,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement,  “Abe was one of the most important leaders of modern Japan, and a true friend of Israel who brought about flourishing and prosperous relations between Israel and Japan.”

President Isaac Herzog said he was “horrified by the despicable murder” of Abe, whom he called “one of Japan’s most preeminent leaders in modern ties.”

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met several times with Abe while both were in office, expressed condolences on behalf of “all citizens of Israel.”

Netanyahu called Abe a “great leader of Japan and a huge friend of Israel,” adding that he “will always remember him with great appreciation and recognition of the brave friendship between us.” 

In recent years, more Israeli landmarks have adopted the custom of “lighting up” to show solidarity with other countries or mark major world events.

In 2020, Tel Aviv’s city hall lit up in the colors of the Lebanese flag as an expression of solidarity with the Lebanese people after a massive explosion in Beirut’s port. 



Palestinians organizing Protest Against Biden During Visit

Palestinians are calling for a protest in Ramallah on Thursday (14th) to express “rejection of U.S. humiliating policies towards the Palestinian issue” and Washington’s “blatant bias” in favor of Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported on Monday (11th).

According to the Post, the protest will be held in Ramallah’s Manara Square the same day that Biden arrives in the Palestinian city.

Fatah officials told the paper that Palestinians have no expectations of any significant developments stemming from Biden’s visits to Ramallah and Bethlehem.  Washington’s efforts to establish an alliance against Tehran are expected to dominate the U.S. agenda.

“The Palestinian issue is not at the top of Biden’s agenda,” the officials told the Post.

“Ignoring the Palestinian issue will only increase tensions and undermine security and stability in the region.”

The Palestinians say Biden has not delivered on promises to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, and have not taken what they consider firm action against Israeli settlement construction.

“We are fed up with empty promises,” the officials told the Post.  “If the Americans continue to ignore our demands, the situation will further deteriorate.  We want the Palestinian cause to return to the center of the world’s attention,” they added.

A poster published by various Palestinian activists on social media slammed the U.S. as the “head of the snake” and said that “America does not liberate people, but only enslaves them,” the Post added.

Israel is concerned about terror disrupting the presidential visit.  Biden arrives on Wednesday (13th).



Why Does The Palestinian Cause Get So Much Attention? – Alan M. Dershowitz

Why does the Palestinian cause get so much attention, when there are much more compelling causes around the world such as those of the Kurds, Uyghurs, and other stateless and oppressed people?  There are more demonstrations on university campuses against Israel than against Russia, China, Belarus and Iran.  Why?

The answer has little to do with the Palestinians and everything to do with Israel, as the nation state of the Jewish people.  It is a political manifestation of international anti-Semitism.  It is only because the nation accused of oppressing Palestinians is Israel.  The Palestinians have been offered statehood in 1948, 1967, 2000-2001, 2005 and 2008, and have rejected it.  As the former leader of the Palestinian people, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, put it: “We want there not to be a Jewish state more than we want there to be a Palestinian state.”

What they call the “Nakba” was a self-induced catastrophe.  Many current Palestinian leaders and followers fault their predecessors for not accepting the two-state solution offered by the UN 75 years ago, as several have told me.

The writer is a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.



Millionth Tourist Of 2022 Arrived In Israel, Just 4 Months After COVID Restrictions Lifted

Israel on Sunday (10th) welcomed its millionth tourist of 2022, just over four months since pandemic-related travel restrictions were lifted on March 1, according to a statement released by the Israeli Tourism Ministry.

The millionth tourist, Belinda Desoyo Lee Marcelo, 53, a resident of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was greeted by Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov and ministry reps, according to a statement.

While severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s incoming tourism figures are now exceeding forecasts, the ministry said.  Incoming tourism reached 244,500 entries in June 2022, only 33% less than the record set in June 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic, the statement continued.

“Last year, our skies were closed, there were corona restrictions in place with new variants emerging, and serious concerns about incoming tourism,” said Razvozov.  “Despite the situation, we did not give up, at any stage.  We worked hard to open up the industry and we brought the tourism industry back to life in spite of the challenges,” he added.

“To my joy, in contrast to all the pessimistic forecasts, we can see today that tourism has returned to Israel.  A million tourists have injected money into the Israeli economy, created job opportunities throughout the country and provided a livelihood for whole families.  Now we look forward to the objective I have set for the industry: 10 million tourists in 2030.”

Based on the figures, the ministry expects as many as 2 million tourists to visit Israel by the end of 2022.   



Greek Jews Call For Creation Of Thessaloniki Holocaust Monument

The Greek Jewish community called for Thessaloniki Liberty Square, where on “Black Saturday” in 1942 Jewish men were deported for forced labor by the German army, to be made into a place of remembrance. 

The event occurred on July 11 of that year at the square in central Thessaloniki when “Jewish men were gathered at Liberty Square (Plateia Eleftheria) and were subjected to humiliation and abuse,” the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece said.

Around 2,000 of them were deported at that time for forced labor by the Nazis.

“Eleftherias Square marks the place where the Nazis began to strip the humanity of people born Jewish.  It is the beginning of the ‘ultimate evil’ that led to the Holocaust of 6,000,000 Jews, including 60,000 Greek Jews, many of whom defended their homeland and fought against the Italian and German occupiers and breathed their last breath in the concentration camps with Greece deeply rooted in their souls,” the Board said.

“Exactly 80 years later, we hope that the commitment of the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Konstantinos Zervas, will be realized and that Eleftherias Square will finally acquire its historical character as a place of remembrance of the thousands of Jews who were tortured by the Nazis before being taken to forced labor and then to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.” 

The Central Board called for the memorial as “it is the responsibility of all of us to make Freedom Square a place of remembrance again.”

The monument would enable “the citizens and visitors of the city to see the place of martyrdom – and to remember and learn how easily a society can be led down the path of barbarism if oblivion prevails.”