News Digest — 7/3/19

Freidman: ‘America’s Founding Principles Come from Jerusalem’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended the U.S. Independence Day celebration at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem Tuesday evening (2nd).

“It’s the first time in the history of the State of Israel that our embassy has held its Independence Day event in the city of Jerusalem,” Ambassador Friedman said in his address.  “Welcome to History,” he began.

“It’s a day on which all Americans celebrate our many blessings as a nation and we remember those, including the men and women of our armed forces, who sacrificed everything so that we could become the greatest force for good the world has ever seen.” 

He turned to Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Last year, Mr. Prime Minister, we were about halfway there, halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  You spoke beautifully and you gave us one suggestion. You said, ‘next-year in Jerusalem,’ and here we are.”

“In two days we celebrate the 243rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a brilliant document that fundamentally changed the way we think about the relationship between a government and its citizens.  The Declaration of Independence provided that every human being was created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 

“Many believe, and certainly our Founding Fathers believed, that the word of our Creator is expressed in the Bible.  And as recognized by the Prophet Isaiah, the word of God emerged right here from the city of Jerusalem.”

“America’s physical beginnings may be traced back to Plymouth Rock, Valley Forge, the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, the Fourth of July, or other important points of historical reference,” said Friedman.

“But America’s spiritual beginning, the bedrock, foundational principles, its understanding of the God-given rights of every human being, it all occurred in the words of the prophet Isaiah, from the word of the Lord, from Jerusalem,” Friedman added.



Iran Atomic Archive Stealers, Hezbollah Tunnel-Busters Win Security Prize

President Reuven Rivlin, on Tuesday (2nd) awarded Israel’s top security prize to the Mossad agents behind the operation to steal Iran’s nuclear archive in January 2018, along with teams from the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service and defense industries, each for its own contribution in the past year to the country’s protection.

The award, which is named for the commander of Israel’s pre-state Hagana militia, Eliyahu Golomb, was presented to the IDF project that located and destroyed a number of cross-border attack tunnels dug by the Hezbollah terror group from southern Lebanon into Israel.

A Shin Bet technology unit that developed an advanced algorithm to “detect hostile activities and prevent serious damage to the security of the state,” also received the prize, along with a team from the Rafael and Elbit defense contractors, the Israeli Air Force and the Defense Ministry that developed an advanced air-to-ground missile, known in Hebrew as Barad Kal, meaning “light hail,” or more commonly SPICE 1000.

The ceremony was presided over by Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief Aviv Kohavi and Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam.

In his speech, Netanyahu called for U.S. President Donald Trump to set up sanctions and other pressures against Iran in light of its enrichment of uranium beyond the 300 kilograms permitted under the 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned in May 2018.

He reiterated Israel’s longstanding policy to prevent hostile nations from acquiring nuclear weapons.  “Those who threaten to annihilate us, are putting themselves and their leadership in danger,” he said.

The prime minister also discussed the Mossad operation to retrieve an archive of approximately 110,000 documents relating to Iran’s nuclear program from a warehouse outside Tehran, which he revealed publicly in April 2018.

The operatives reportedly broke into the building where the trove was housed in January 2018, removed the files and disks, and smuggled them back to Israel the same night.

Netanyahu confirmed a report from earlier this year that he had informed Trump of the Mossad’s plans to conduct the operation in advance, as well as the long-held assumption that his decision to reveal the theft of the archive was an effort to convince the U.S. to drop out of the 2015 nuclear deal, which it did in May 2018.

“I approved this operation out of the belief that exposing Iranian plans would assist in persuading the President of the United States to leave the dangerous nuclear agreement with Iran,” Netanyahu said.

“When I met Trump in Davos in January 2018, I told him that I plan to send our people to the heart of Tehran to bring back archive materials.”

Netanyahu said  he had “no doubt” that the operation and the contents of the archive were key factors in Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal.



Senior Muslim UK Minister Makes Western Wall Visit For First Time In 19 Years

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Monday (1st), visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem as part of his official trip to Israel.  The Conservative Party lawmaker becomes the first senior minister of the British government in 19 years to visit either the capital or the holy site.

Javid was greeted by the head of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mordechai Eliav, who told the home secretary about the history of the site and its importance to the Jewish people.

The home secretary, who comes from a Pakistani Muslim family, said his father believed there’s a deep connection between Jews and Muslims, and that his brother visited the Western Wall as a child.

The 49-year-old politician said he could sense the spiritual power of the place.

Western Wall and Holy Sites Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz greeted the lawmaker and recited with him Psalm Chapter 121, as Javid placed a slip of paper with a written message into the cracks of the Western Wall.

“Your visit here is evidence that it’s possible for Jews and Muslims to live together in this small place without harming one another,” said the rabbi during the meeting.

“We love Jewish heritage very much and appreciate it,” said the home secretary in response.



Palestinian Businessman Who Attended Bahrain Economic Workshop: “I’m Afraid For My LIfe” – Khaled Abu Toameh

Ashraf Ghanem, 45, owner of a furniture company in Hebron and one of thirteen Palestinian businessmen who attended last week’s economic conference in Bahrain, said on Monday (1st) that he’s been forced to flee his home after Palestinian Authority security officers tried to arrest him on Friday (6/28).  “I’m afraid for my life. I can’t go back to my home,” he said in an interview.

“I pay about NIS 20,000 in income taxes each month to the Palestinian Authority.  Now they want to punish me and kill me just because I went to an economic conference.  What has the Palestinian Authority done for the residents of Hebron? All the projects you see in Hebron are funded by the international community.  Where does the money go? Where are the billions of dollars that the Palestinian Authority received in order to help the Palestinians?”

“I’m not a traitor, and I’m not a collaborator with Israel.  I’m a businessman who wants to help his people and boost the Palestinian economy…and because of that I’m now being punished and forced to live in hiding.”



El Al Hires Its First Druze Flight Attendant

A woman from a small village in northern Israel is the first Druze flight attendant hired by El Al Airlines.

Merach Kara of Daliyat al-Karmel, near Haifa, had to overcome cultural traditions of her community to take the job.  She told news media that she wanted to be a flight attendant since she took her first plane ride at the age of 4.

Kara performed national service and attended university as a computer science major before deciding to pursue her dream, according to a report by Ynet.

She said her family has been fully supportive of her decision even though it is frowned upon by her community and friends.

The fact that she speaks Arabic has come in handy with Arab passengers during training, Kara said.

“I hope that becoming the first Druze flight attendant in El Al, I can open the door for many more Druze women and help them explore the world,” she said.