News Digest — 7/22/22

Syria Claims Three Syrian Soldiers Killed In Israeli Airstrike In Damascus

Israel launched airstrikes targeting Syrian military positions around Damascus just after midnight Friday (22nd), killing three soldiers, wounding seven others, and causing material damage, state media reported.

Syrian state media quoted a military official as saying the missiles were fired from the Golan Heights at 00:32 a.m. Friday (22nd), adding that the Syrian army shot down some of them with their air defenses.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Syrian Opposition group said that sounds of explosions, which were heard in the capital, were from the Syrian air defenses activated during the strike.

The rights group said the targets of the attacks were military sites including the Syrian air force intelligence offices and the office of a senior officer.

In addition, the group said that a nearby military airfield and a warehouse containing Iranian weapons were also hit.

Israel has made hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria over the past decade of its civil war, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

Israel has acknowledged, however, that it targets bases of Iran-allied militias, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah that fights on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

In June, Israeli airstrikes temporarily put Damascus International Airport out of commission.



Russia Makes Official Move To Abolish Jewish Agency Preventing Jews From Moving To Israel

The Russian Justice Minister has officially requested the closing down of the Jewish Agency for Israel, RIA Novosti News Agency reported on Thursday afternoon (21st).

The order was given via letter from the Russian government to the NGO.  The Jewish Agency was reportedly weighing its options, with support from Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office.

The news comes as no surprise.  Earlier this month, the ministry ordered the agency to immediately halt all operations in the country.

Senior sources told The Jerusalem Post that the situation has not changed in the past few weeks.

The hearing on the request will take place on July 28 at the Basmanny District Court of Moscow.

A source familiar with the matter told the Post that “the issue isn’t legal but rather political, and the decision will only change if the Israeli political and diplomatic leadership get their act together.”

If the Agency, which facilitates Aliyah from around the world, is closed down in Russia, it could result in Russian Jews being unable to move to Israel for the first time in decades.

Earlier in July, a source told the Post: “Russia is saying the Jewish Agency illegally collected info about Russian citizens… We will bring up the Jewish Agency with Russian authorities and address it in an organized way.  It will be taken care of at the embassy level.  We don’t totally understand the reasoning behind the request to stop the Jewish Agency’s activities in Russia.”

The Post noted that Moscow’s crackdown on the Agency began when Yair Lapid, who has been vocal in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, became prime minister.  However, there has been no change in Israeli policy on Russia since former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stepped down.

“The immigration of Jews to Israel is a basic right that every Jew in the world has,” said Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, the Post reported.

“The Jewish Agency’s activities take place all over Europe and in the rest of the continents, as well as in Russia, in full coordination with local authorities.  Israeli diplomats have made efforts to clarify the issue and regulate the activities in coordination” she said.

“As the person responsible for the immigration of Jews and their Absorption in Israel, I recently addressed Prime Minister Yair Lapid several times to hold a discussion at the political level and I am in constant contact with Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Ushpiz,” Tamano-Shata added.

PM Yair Lapid said that “The Jewish community in Russia is deeply connected with Israel.  Its importance arises in every diplomatic discussion with the Russian leadership.  We will continue to act through diplomatic channels so that the Jewish Agency’s important activity will not cease.”

However, Russia’s Mideast policy appears to have changed in recent months, as Moscow has been warming up to Iran.  President Vladimir Putin was welcomed in Iran this week at a meeting that included Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.



Jerusalem Arab Students Incite Murder Of Jews, No Repercussions

A video that went viral this week showed students from the Anata High School for boys in eastern Jerusalem performing in a play in which they were dressed as gunmen pointing their rifles at a line of Jews.

One of the Jewish men was wearing a large, white skullcap, apparently depicting Religious Zionist MK Ben-Gvir.

The Education Ministry says the school is under “full responsibility” of the Palestinian Authority, Times of Israel reported.

In 2019, however, Israel revoked permits for UNRWA schools in Jerusalem due to incitement, saying the schools would from then on be run by the Education Ministry and Jerusalem Municipality.  Yet the problem persists.

In November, for example, the terrorist who murdered Eli Kay near the Western Wall was a teacher in the Old City.

“The Israeli government must enforce the law against school principals,” Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Arieh King told World Israel News, referring to the Law for the Prevention of Terrorism and Incitement.

The Anata school is under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, King said.  “The Ministry of Education has no authority over it.”

Asked how this could be the case in Israel’s capital city, he replied, “Good question.  It’s the government of Israel, The Oslo Accords.”

According to information presented at the Knesset’s Education, Culture, and Sports Committee during a special session on “terrorist teachers” last spring, over 22% of the Arab educators in Israel received their training outside the country, especially in the Palestinian Authority.

Committee Chair MK Sharren Haskel, who initiated the session, stated that “education is the thing that is most important to our society, and we want to make sure that educators who are involved in terrorist activity will be removed immediately from the education system.”

It appears, however, that very little has been done to fulfill that goal.



When Iran Says “Death To Israel,” It Means It – Behnam Ben Taleblu

Many people who should know better assume that political leaders obscure the goals they wish to achieve, even though the historical record suggests the wisdom of taking them at face value.  Clearly the world should have heeded Adolf Hitler’s antisemitism during his rise to power in Germany in the 1930s, and Osama bin Laden’s declaration of jihad against America in 1996.

Despite the sheer volume of anti-Israel and antisemitic statements emanating from Iran’s two supreme leaders in the 43 years since the Islamic revolution, the notion that Tehran’s rulers seek the destruction of Israel has often been belittled.  The Islamic Republic emblazons “Death to Israel” on banners in official processions, fires ballistic missiles against targets shaped like the Star of David, displays and flight-tests ballistic missiles with genocidal slogans against Israel in Hebrew, and struck a mock-up of Israel’s nuclear reactor with drones and ballistic missiles in a military drill.  

Some Iranian media outlets have even taken to calling the country’s medium-range ballistic missiles “Israel-hitting missiles.”  The name of the foreign-operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the Quds Force, with “Quds” meaning “Jerusalem” in Arabic.  In the 1980s, Ayatollah Khomeini created Quds Day, a holiday to celebrate the impending liberation of Jerusalem, filled with parades and fiery speeches against Israel.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 



Israeli Attacks Feed Distrust And Fear In Iran – Najmeh Bozorgmehr

Iran’s intelligence minister and the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence chief this month decided to curb their rivalry and posed for a joint photograph, speaking to the anxiety at the highest levels of the Iranian establishment about an uptick in attacks inside Iran attributed to Israel.

“It feels as if Israel has established a large-scale organization inside Tehran and freely runs its operations,” said a reformist politician.  “Israel is clearly targeting Iran’s ‘highly secure’ image.”  Israel’s national security adviser Eyal Hulata said last week, “We’ve acted quite a lot inside Iran over the past year.”

“Iran’s policy remains to work with its proxy forces and we will not initiate any attacks against Israel if Israel doesn’t attack Lebanon [Hezbollah is Iran’s main proxy force],” said an Iranian regime insider.  “It’s not wise for us to fight with Israel, for Zionists to show their teeth to attack us.”

Former Guards commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari last month referred to the enemy’s “psychological operations” that create the perception of Israeli involvement in attacks “that have not been carried out by them.”

“Who gives information to the Israelis, who work so freely inside Iran?  Those inside the system must be doing it,” said Ali, a bazaar merchant.  “We feel safe but then who knows, maybe the system in Iran is falling apart from the inside, similar to the USSR,” he added.    



Trees Dedicated To Holocaust Victims Chopped Down At Buchenwald Camp

BERLIN– The Buchenwald concentration camp memorial says that seven trees dedicated to the memory of victims of the Nazi camp in eastern Germany have been chopped down.

The foundation that runs the memorial tweeted on Wednesday (20th) that the trees near the site apparently were attacked the previous day.  It posted pictures showing the trees severed about halfway up the trunk, and said it was appalled at the deliberate attack on remembrance.”

The foundation said it had filed a complaint with the police.

One of the trees was dedicated to children killed at Buchenwald and the others to six prisoners at the camp.

The trees were part of a project called “1,000 beeches” and were planted on a route outside the actual camp along which prisoners were taken.

The Buchenwald concentration camp was established in 1937.  More than 56,000 of the 280,000 inmates held at Buchenwald and its satellite camps were killed by the Nazis or died as a result of hunger, illness or medical experiments before the camp’s liberation on April 11, 1945.