News Digest — 7/28/23

Netanyahu To Convene Discussion On Situation In North

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene a discussion on Sunday (30th) that will focus on the Hezbollah terror organization and on the Lebanese front Channel 12 News reported Thursday evening (27th).

The discussion is expected to be attended by senior IDF officials including the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate and the head of the Operations Directorate, alongside other senior members of the defense establishment.

According to the report, senior IDF officials will describe during the discussion the internal situation in Lebanon and review what has been described as the “open-ended cases” in the sector.  Among other things they will discuss the issue of the Hezbollah tent that is still located in Israeli territory and the reduction of Israel’s deterrence against the terrorist organization.

The report also said that the purpose of the discussion is to present the development of the threat that has been seen from the northern front in recent months, and the IDF is expected to present a timeline that will reflect how, as the days have passed, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s confidence has grown stronger, due to what he perceives as an internal Israeli weakness, and also against the background of Israeli decisions to “contain” the events on the border for the time being.

The IDF representatives are expected to tell the political echelon at the discussion that the chance of a conflict in the north is at its highest since 2006, and will present assessments that Nasrallah may act in a more offensive manner.



Israel, Ivory Coast Sign Framework Agreement

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Thursday (27th) signed a framework agreement with Ivory Coast in the fields of agriculture, water and technology, i24News reported.

He also met with the country’s Vice President Tiemoko Meyliet Kone, Prime Minister Patrick Achi and Foreign MInister Kandia Camara.

“Both of our countries face the threat of terrorism, especially the spread of Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist arm.  In my talks with senior government officials in the Ivory Coast, we agreed to share Israeli knowledge on legal, financial and intelligence issues.  We will also act in the field of international aid with Israel providing the latest of our knowledge in agriculture for the benefit of the people of the Ivory Coast,” Cohen said.

“The economic forum that I opened with the Israeli business delegation will greatly contribute to increasing trade between the two countries,” he added.

Cohen had led a business delegation of a variety of Israeli companies in the fields of cyber, agriculture and energy to the Israel-Ivory Coast Economic Forum.  

On Wednesday (26th) he visited Ghana, where he met with President Nana Akufo-Addo and opened the first Israel-Ghana business forum.   



Erdan To UN: ‘There Is No Right Of Return And Never Will Be’

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan addressed the UN Security Council Thursday (27th)  during a meeting on the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Ambassador Erdan referred to the significance of the Ninth of Av: “It is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.  It is a day of solemn mourning – a day of fasting and prayer during which we commemorate  the destruction of both our Temples… today Jews can pray at the Temple’s only remaining structure – the Wailing Wall.  But thank God, Jewish sovereignty has once again returned to the Jewish homeland and above all, to Jerusalem, our eternal capital.”

The Ambassador spoke about the most recent operation in Jenin: “Over the past years, Jenin – and its ‘refugee camp’ in particular… has become a hotbed for terrorist activity.  It is a place ruled by designated terror organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  It is where so many of the recent deadly terror attacks – over 50 – were planned and carried out from, and it is a city of refuge for terrorists on the run…So, I ask, what would you do?…Any military expert would tell you that this is a remarkable achievement that defies all odds.  Israel does everything possible in order to avoid collateral damage and civilian casualties…So, imagine my shock when, rather than commending Israel for uprooting terrorists with surgical precision, the secretary-general condemned only Israel, making claims completely detached from reality.  Rather than lambasting the terror organizations for exploiting innocent Palestinians and murdering Israelis, he panned Israel for defending itself.”

Ambassador Erdan referred to the existence of “refugee” camps in the Palestinian Authority: “…How can it be that after so many decades there are still refugee camps inside Palestinian cities?… Have you ever stopped to ask yourselves why the descendants of descendants of Palestinian refugees are still living in refugee camps?  Why have they not been integrated into Palestinian society?  What is the reason for this?  We are talking about camps in Palestinian cities!  If the PA’s main goal is truly to establish an independent state, then these second and third generation refugees would be living in regular cities and not camps.  But this is not the Palestinians’ goal.  Their goal is the annihilation of the Jewish State.  And one of the weapons to achieve that goal is brainwashing generation after generation of Palestinians that Palestinian cities are not, and will not be their homes.  After all, they are still ‘refugees.’  Their home is in Israeli cities such as Haifa, Tiberias, Safed, and many others.”

Ambassador Erdan referred to the UNRWA as the key agency in perpetuating the notion of ‘Palestinian refugees’ and the conflict.  Ambassador Erdan said, “let me be clear: there is no ‘right of return.’  You all know this.  The demand of returning millions of descendants of refugees is a demand to obliterate the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, and this will never happen.”

In his speech, the Ambassador referred to the real obstacles that must be removed for reconciliation with the Palestinians and noted that if the UN had assisted in efforts to pressure Hamas to return the bodies of Israel Defense Forces soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul and Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayyed who are held captive by the terror organization, it could have helped to improve the situation of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.



Palestinian Refugees Were Used As A Political Prop – Prof. Fred Baumann

In “Palestinians Deserve a Passport” (op-ed, July 20), Abdullah Ektileh justly focuses on the abominable treatment Palestinians have been given by Arab governments.  Where, in the great population exchanges of the 1940s, Muslims were absorbed into Pakistan, Hindus into India, Silesian Germans into West Germany and Jews from Arab lands into Israel, the Palestinians were an exception.

Rejected by their fellow Arabs, who largely kept them cooped up in camps and fed a diet of hatred and revenge from birth, Palestinians were meant to be a tool for a war of total destruction against the Jewish State.  Eventually, the plan backfired and, after the (barely) failed attempt of radicalized Palestinians to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy, they became too dangerous to absorb.  To this day, they suffer from their exclusion by their fellow Arabs, while directing their passionate hatred toward Israel.

The Oslo agreement intended for them to become citizens of a Palestinian state, one offered by Israel in 2000, 2001, and 2008.  During what was supposed to be a transition period, Oslo granted them autonomy under the Palestinian Authority.  But the PA has flatly refused all those offers of statehood and promoted terrorism, even making payments to Palestinians who kill Jews.  By their policies, the Arab states created a monster that terrifies them, and also has made the two-state solution, an impossibility.

The Palestinian leadership’s last card has been posing as victims.  While that has succeeded in whipping up a worldwide wave of Jew-hatred, it has done nothing to help the Palestinians themselves.

The writer is Professor of Political Science at Kenyon College.



Israel Is Not A “Racist State” – Ahmed Charai

Comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa ignores the reality that is visible to anyone who stands on an Israeli sidewalk.  Israel’s demography is far more complex than critics imagine.  One out of every five Israelis was either born in Morocco or the descendants of Moroccans.  Another fifth hail from elsewhere in North Africa or East Africa, such as the Ethiopian Jews.

Then there are the Israelis from the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Syria and Iran.  Then there are Jews who hail from the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and other eastern lands.  And, of course, there are the European descendants of the Nazi horror.  Israel also has many Christian and Muslim citizens who fully participate in public life.

American non-Jews support Israel in larger numbers than American Jews, according to numerous polls.  Many U.S. Christians support Israel because their Bible-focused religion makes Israel a familiar place.  They have grown up reading and hearing about ancient Israel and have no trouble translating that into an affection for modern-day Israel.

The writer, a Moroccan publisher, is on the board of the Atlantic Council, the International Crisis Group, and the Center for the National Interest.



Israel Slams Another Swedish Decision To Allow Torah Burning Outside Israeli Embassy

Israel on Thursday (27th) slammed a Swedish decision to allow another burning of a Torah as a statement of protest, and called on the government in Stockholm to prevent such events.

Stockholm police once again approved a request, this time by a woman in her 50s “to light the Torah with a lighter” outside Israel’s embassy in the Swedish capital on Friday (28th) SVT Nyheter reported.  

The burning is in protest “for the systematic violation of children’s rights,” according to the women’s application to the police.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen blasted the decision to allow the burning to go ahead.

“I’m appalled by another threat to burn a Torah in Sweden,” Cohen said.  “Threats to harm holy books, including Torahs must stop.”

“Soon I will speak with Sweden’s foreign minister and make clear to him that we expect the Swedish government to prevent these events, which could harm relations between our countries,” Cohen added.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer called the event “shameful.”

Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz said he was “deeply disturbed” by the second approval.

“The Swedish authorities’ weak response, merely uttering empty words about freedom, pales in comparison to the heinous actions – both those that have already occurred and those that may come.  This is not what freedom should look like; it represents a loss of moral direction,” he said, and called for authorities to stop the event from proceeding.   

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried Sweden’s “shameful” decision to allow another burning of a Torah scroll outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm.

Earlier this year, Muslim Leaders in Sweden, together with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, successfully stopped a planned demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm which included the public burning of a Torah scroll.