News Digest — 8/15/19

Will Israel Prevent Entry Of Tlaib And Omar After All?

Israel is considering reversing its decision to allow U.S. Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar into the country after all, News 12 reported Thursday (15th).

Two weeks ago, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer announced that Israel would allow the two to enter, in light of the strong messages he received on the subject from senior officials in the Democratic Party, of which the two Congresswomen are members.

However, according to the report, the possibility of changing the decision is now being considered, given the picture of the provocations the two plan to carry out during the visit.

Tlaib and Omar are scheduled to visit the separation fence, ascend the Temple Mount accompanied by senior Palestinian officials, and arrive in Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah.  The concern in Israel is that an attempt to curb their entry to the Temple Mount accompanied by PA officials could create an incident and be problematic for Israel.

According to the report in News 12, both the Interior Minister’s office, in whose jurisdiction a decision on the matter lies, and the Prime Minister’s Office, where the decision will be made in practice, refuse to comment on the matter.

Later on Thursday (15th), Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reported that Netanyahu is considering a plan allowing Omar and Tlaib to enter Israel, but limiting their movement to areas under Palestinian Authority control.  Deliberations are being held at this time, but a final decision has reportedly still not been made.

It should be noted that Tlaib and Omar have not arranged any meetings with Israeli officials or even Arab members of the Knesset, and their visit is entirely aimed at the Palestinian Authority.  According to their messages, they are on their way to “visit the occupied Palestinian territories.”

A law passed in 2017 allows Israel’s Interior Ministry to bar any foreign-national entry into the country if they have supported boycotting the Jewish State.

On Wednesday (14th), Israel Hayom reported that Tlaib and Omar would be arriving in Israel on Friday afternoon (16th) and would most likely be accompanied by at least one other US Lawmaker with hostile views toward Israel, whose identity is still unknown. Tlaib and Omar had initially planned to land in Israel on Sunday (18th), but in an effort to mislead Israeli authorities, apparently decided to hasten their arrival.

The two are expected to exploit their visit by launching an anti-Israel public relations campaign.



PM Praises Guatemalan President-Elect As ‘Friend Of Israel’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday (13th) congratulated Alejandro Giammattei on winning Monday’s (12th) election in Guatemala, calling him a ‘friend of Israel.’

“I congratulate Alejandro Giammattei on his election as President of Guatemala.  He is a friend of Israel, and I am convinced that together we will strengthen the excellent cooperation between the countries,” he said in a statement.

Outgoing Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales moved the country’s embassy to Israel last May, following the U.S. move, and there was some concern in Jerusalem that elections in that Central American country could lead to a reversal of that decision.  Paraguay also moved its embassy to Jerusalem last May, but moved it back out of the capital in September following the election of a new president.

Netanyahu also thanked Morales, saying that “during his tenure, relations between Israel and Guatemala reached new heights.”  He thanked him for “his correct and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the Guatemalan Embassy there.”

Last month, Giammattei said in an interview published by the Israel Allies Foundation that “He who is Israel’s enemy, is Guatemala’s enemy.”

During that interview, he said that he would keep his country’s embassy in Jerusalem and also take action to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

Israel’s ambassador to Guatemala, Matanya Cohen, tweeted a congratulatory message to Giammattei on Monday (12th), to which the president-elect replied in a tweet: “Thank you @MatanyaCohen I am sure that the relations of cooperation and friendship between #Israel and #Guatemala will be stronger.”



Will Palestinians In Gaza Revolt Against Hamas? – Khaled Abu Toameh

The leaders of Hamas recently ordered their security forces to detain several Palestinian activists for allegedly planning another wave of protests similar to those that swept Gaza in March.  Those demonstrations were organized to protest the longstanding economic crisis.

Abu Safiyeh, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza, wrote on Facebook: “Fifteen years ago, Hamas raised the slogan of ‘Islam is the solution’ – the solution to liberate all Palestine and not give up an inch; the solution to eliminate cronyism and corruption; the solution to bring economic and social security; the solution to a happy and enjoyable life…. Now, there is rampant corruption.  The corruption is in all institutions, including the judiciary and the police. Today, the corruption is organized and managed by Hamas.”

“There are no businessmen left; they have either been arrested for unpaid debts or have fled Gaza or are standing in line to receive relief aid.  As for Hamas officials and their affiliates, they have become owners of real estate, agencies and companies.”

Unless Hamas’ violent repression of its own people sparks some concern among the international community, the prospects of Palestinians revolting against their Hamas leaders are slim.  But this would require a shift in perspective: from obsession with the faults of Israel – real or imagined – to an interest in the real and deadly world of Hamas.



Canadian Paper Blasted Over ‘Anti-Semitic’ Cartoon  

The Edmonton Journal faced harsh criticism for its decision to publish a cartoon related to a recent data breach at financial giant Capital One, which critics claim evokes classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.

The cartoon was the work of Malcolm Mayes and portrayed an older man with a black beard and a huge nose, sitting in the money-fold of a wallet, which Honest Reporting Canada saw as reminiscent of the “happy merchant” caricature.

The “happy merchant” is an image anti-Semites use on the Internet in memes to disparage Jews, Israel, and Zionists.  It consists of a grotesque hunched-over figure with a hooked nose and Jewish skull cap who appears to be rubbing his hands together ominously.

In addition to Honest Reporting, the Edmonton Journal was rebuked by the Edmonton Jewish Federation, anti-Semitism expert Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt of Emory University, and political analyst Arsen Ostrovsky.

Lipstadt tweeted, “Blatant anti-Semitism.  Doesn’t get much clearer than this. Not in Poland or France or Canada.”

Ostrovosky posted, “No, not Der Sturmer, but Canadian publication @edmontonjournal! A sickening piece of #AntiSemitism by the cartoonist Malcolm Mayes.”

In the wake of the cartoon’s publication, Mike Fegelman, executive director of Honest Reporting Canada, told Canada Jewish News (CJN), “Mayes has a track record of illustrating odious cartoons that have offended the Jewish community and supporters of Israel, and that many felt crossed the line.”

The newspaper responded this way:

“The Edmonton Journal ran an editorial cartoon depicting a shadowy figure in a wallet next to the words ‘data hacker’ in relation to the breach of customer information at Capital One.  It has since been pointed out that the image of the person bears resemblance to anti-Semitic tropes prevalant in some anti-Jewish propaganda. This resemblance was entirely unintentional, but given that association, the Edmonton Journal apologizes for the publication of the cartoon.  We are re-examining the procedures we have in place to vet editorial content to avoid such occurrences in the future.”



Israel’s Flytrex Gets Nod For Drone Food Deliveries In North Carolina Town

Israeli tech firm Flytrex, which is using drones to deliver sushi, burgers and drinks to hungry Icelanders, will start providing on-demand, unmanned food delivery services via commercial drones for some residents in Holly Springs, North Carolina.

The firm, together with drone services company Causey Aviation Unmanned, Inc., got the nod from the US Federal Aviation Administration to begin food deliveries in a geographically limited pilot project.

The approval came after Flytrex’s tech was found to meet standards set by the FAA.  This allows Flytrex and Causey to join the few companies that are authorized to operate in a suburban area, Flytrex said in a statement.

“We continually strive to reach new heights when it comes to advancing commercial drone use around the world,” said Yariv Bash, CEO and co-founder of Flytrex.  “That’s why we are thrilled to have been chosen to work so closely with the FAA to help the pilots take off. This is just the beginning as we expand the possibilities of sky-bound delivery.”

Flytrex, founded in 2013 by Bash and Amit Regev, provides autonomous drone delivery systems that allow businesses both small and large to offer drone deliveries to customers.

Bash is also one of the founders of Spacell, an Israeli nonprofit that sent an unmanned, privately built spaceship to the moon earlier this year.  The craft called Beresheet, crashed on the moon surface in April, during its landing attempt.