News Digest — 7/18/19

Netanyahu: Israel Has Become A ‘Central Power In The World’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Israel’s position in the world, the Iranian regime, and more, in an exclusive interview published on Thursday (18th) in Israel Hayom, the country’s largest daily.

“We have turned Israel into a rising world power,” Netanyahu told the paper.  “We discovered that we can leverage the basic characteristics of this people to rise to tremendous achievements.”

“This nation has made extraordinary accomplishments in the economy, security and diplomacy…We have proven that Israel can be transformed from a small country that is located in the corner of the Middle East into a central power in the world.”

Israel Hayom asked Netanyahu how he responds to attacks claiming Israel undermines stability in the Middle East.

“Once they also said that all the problems of the Middle East are a product of the Palestinian problem,” he said.

“Today, there is no one who seriously argues that.  Even our sworn enemies are embarrassed to say it, because the struggle here is between the middle ages and modernism, between the tyranny of radical Islam and the forces of freedom.  This is the struggle put simply. To stand against Islamic fundamentalism that wants to take over the Middle East first and then the entire world.”

Netanyahu finds that he has a powerful ally against Iran in President Trump, and said, “I will not mourn if the regime falls, but there can also be a change within the regime,” he told Israel Hayom.  



Israel Battles Fires As Heatwave Sparks Extreme Dry Conditions

Wildfires were raging in many places in Israel on Wednesday (17th) and intense heat, with temperatures soaring toward and beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit, in much of the country.

Hot and dry conditions are fairly common in Israel, and when the weather becomes extreme, fires break out more easily.

It is also dangerous for the elderly and sick to go outside.

“We call on the public, especially elderly people and those who suffer from chronic illnesses to avoid sun, heat exposure, and unnecessary physical exertion,” the Health Ministry said in a statement. The consolation was that the extreme conditions were forecast to last for only one more day.

Fires were reported in northern Israel, including the Haifa area, but also in the center of the country.

In the Beit Shemesh area, located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, residents in nearby communities were evacuated.  Also affected were Petah Tikva, situated just miles from Tel Aviv. Houses in the community of Shavei Shomron in Samaria were also evacuated.

In Or Yehuda, in central Israel, a number of homes went up in flames with evacuations there.

In several locations, fires were being fought from the air, including Wadi Ara in the north where a large forest fire raged.  Firefighters also battled flames in the southern port city of Ashkelon.

Jerusalem was not unscathed, with a brushfire breaking out in one of the capital’s neighborhoods.



In Humiliating Blow, Egypt Prevents Hamas Leader From Leaving Gaza 

Egypt is preventing Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh from departing for a fundraising trip to several countries, chief among them, Iran, Gaza media reported Tuesday (16th).

Hamas’ official mouthpiece in the Strip, Al-Risala, claimed that Egypt and Israel are joining forces to undermine Hamas’ ties with the Iranian regime.

Haniyeh has been trying for a while now to depart the Gaza Strip via Egypt for a number of Arab and Islamic states, with the aim of raising funds for his organization, which is in dire economic straits.

The London-based pan-Arab media outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed quoted Egyptian sources as saying Cairo has informed Haniyeh that he would not be allowed to leave the enclave through Egypt, due to his plans to visit Iran, Turkey and Qatar.  Egypt, like Israel fears Iranian support for Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, in the form of large-scale weapons smuggling through Egypt to Gaza via the northern Sinai Peninsula.

Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, Canada, the EU and Egypt.  Iran is the group’s chief backer.

According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the decision by Hamas’ official mouthpiece to publish articles openly detailing the nature and extent of ties between Iran and Hamas is proof the Palestinian terrorist organization is not worried there may be consequences for revealing and even flaunting those ties.

According to the think tank, Hamas hopes that warming ties between Hamas and Tehran will see the Gaza group receive further funding and weapons, despite the tough U.S. economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

According to Middle East expert and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs fellow Yoni Ben Menachem, “The Palestinian issue has been a top priority for the ayatollah regime in Tehran ever since the Islamic revolution in the late 1970s.  Then-Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat was even invited to visit Tehran following the overthrow of the Shah.”

Ben Menachem adds that Tehran strengthened its ties to the Palestinians when Iran began backing the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the early 1980s and established its relationship with Hamas when the movement was founded in 1987.  Tehran supported Palestinian terrorist organizations during the first and second intifada and remains the main supplier of weapons and military expertise to the military arms of both PIJ and Hamas.



Ilhan Omar To Introduce Pro-BDS Resolution In Congress

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said that she plans to introduce this week a resolution in support of the anti-Israel BDS movement, reported Al-Monitor on Tuesday (16th).

“We are introducing a resolution…to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” the Congresswoman told the outlet.  “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

Since entering Congress in January, Omar has made remarks that resulted in accusations of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias.

In February, she accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobbying organization of paying members of Congress to back Israel, noting that it was “all the Benjamins.”

The following month, she pointed fingers at her “Jewish colleagues” for attacking her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI.) for labeling their criticisms as anti-Israel because of the Muslim faith of the two Congresswomen, in addition to slamming her critics regarding “the political influence in this country that says it is ok to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

This led to the passing of a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred but did not call out Omar by name.



Will Netanyahu Bar Ilhan Omar From Entering Israel?

Israel has a law that grants the government authority to ban pro-BDS activists from entering the country.  The law has been used sporadically over the past two years.

On Wednesday (17th), Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks.

Omar will be accompanied by Rep. Rashida Tlaib.  The two congresswomen have become a focal point of the Jewish community after expressing numerous controversial comments regarding Israel and several statements deemed anti-Semitic.

The congresswoman said she would travel to Israel on the same day that she introduced a new “pro-boycott” of Israel resolution in Congress “affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

Omar’s action was in response to The House Foreign Affairs Committee moving ahead with five pro-Israel bills, three of which are resolutions with declarative purpose, and two other bills that seek to sanction supporters of Hamas and to make improvements to the defense and security assistance to Israel.

But since Israel has a law that grants the government authority to ban pro-BDS activists from entering the country, and since Omar’s legislation will call for the boycott of Israel, it will be interesting to see if she is allowed entrance to the Jewish State.  However, since she is a U.S. Congresswoman, Israel is unlikely to use the legislation which if done, could spark an international crisis.



Can Ilhan Omar Overcome Her Prejudice? – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

→Like Ilhan Omar, I was born in Somalia and exposed at an early age to Muslim anti-Semitism.  Things would break, conflicts would arise, shortages would occur – and adults would blame it all on the Jews.  When my mom lost her temper at someone, she would scream or curse under her breath “Yahud!”

→I was made to understand that Jews – Yahud – were all bad, even though there were no Jews around.  We were taught that Jews were not human, that we should aspire to kill them wherever we found them.

→We were taught that Jews occupied the Holy Land of Palestine.  We were shown pictures of mutilated bodies, dead children, wailing widows and weeping orphans, and standing over them in military uniform, were Israeli soldiers with large guns.

→Ms. Omar tweeted in February, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” implying that American politicians support Israel only because of Jewish financial contributions.  The irony is that the resources available to propogate Islamist ideologies, with their attendant anti-Semitism, vastly exceed what pro-Israel groups spend in the U.S.  The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that the Israeli government has spent $34 million on lobbying in Washington since 2017. The Saudis and Qataris spent a combined $51 million during the same period.

→I eventually unlearned my hatred of Jews, Zionists and Israel.  I am living proof that one can be born a Somali, raised as an anti-Semite, indoctrinated as an anti-Zionist – and still overcome all this to appreciate the unique culture of Judaism and the extraordinary achievement of the State of Israel.

The writer, a former member of the Dutch Parliament, is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.