News Digest — 8/16/19

Netanyahu: “Harming Israel And Increasing Incitement” Was “Sole Purpose” of Omar – Tlaib Trip

Following news that Israel’s Ministry of the Interior decided to bar entry to U.S. lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib over their support for anti-Israel activities, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement explaining the reasoning behind the move.

“As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for, and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm their country,” explained Netanyahu.

“In fact, in the past, the U.S. did this to an Israeli member of the Knesset, as well as to other public figures from around the world,” he continued.  

Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar have made criticism of Israel a centerpiece of their political careers even prior to entering Congress.  Omar has been accused of anti-Semitism for tweeting that “evil Israel” had “hypnotized” the world and for claiming that pro-Israel lobbyists bribe elected officials in the U.S. to support the Jewish state.

Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, has vowed to slash aid to Israel.

In his statement on Thursday (15th) Netanyahu referred to Omar and Tlaib as “leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress whose itinerary reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”

According to Netanyahu, “the plans of the two Congresswomen in Israel demonstrated that their visit’s sole objective was to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy.”  He noted that they “listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.”

Netanyahu commented that “the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.”

“The Ministry of Interior has decided not to allow their visit, and I, as Prime Minister, support his decision,” Netanyahu concluded, adding that “if Congresswoman Tlaib submits a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the Minister of Interior has announced that he will consider her request on the condition that she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.”

UPDATE: After Israel announced on Thursday (15th) the barring of two U.S. pro-BDS Congresswomen, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), from entering the Jewish state, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri approved the latter’s request to pay a visit on humanitarian grounds to see her grandmother.



Friedman: ‘Israel Has Every Right To Protect Its Borders’

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman issued a statement on Thursday (15th) following the Israeli government’s announcement that it would bar entry to U.S. lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib over their support for boycotts of the Jewish state.

“Israel has every right to protect its borders against promoters of anti-Israel boycotts in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons,” said Friedman in the statement.

Friedman called the movement promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS) “no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish state.”

During her campaign for a seat in Congress to represent the state of Minnesota, Omar called the BDS movement “unhelpful” at an event hosted by a Minneapolis-area synagogue.  A week after winning the election, Omar admitted to a Muslim website that she had always supported boycotts of Israel.

Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, has openly supported boycotts of the Jewish state.



Policeman Injured In Stabbing Attack In Jerusalem’s Old City; 2 Assailants Shot

Two teenage assailants stabbed a police officer, moderately injuring him, in a terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday evening (15th).

The assailants were shot by security forces at the scene.  One of them was pronounced dead, the second was critically wounded and taken to the hospital, a police spokesperson said.

Graphic video footage from the scene showed the two youths walk up from behind a group of police officers stationed in the Old City.  As they approached, they suddenly pulled out knives and began repeatedly stabbing one of the cops. Other officers at the scene opened fire at the pair as they were stabbing the victim.

The injured police officer, approximately 40-years-old, sustained multiple wounds to his upper body, medics said.

“We gave him medical care, including stopping the bleeding and bandaging him, and we took him to the hospital,” according to one medic.

The officer was taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where he was cared for in the trauma unit.

The stabbing occurred outside the Old City’s Chain Gate.

The attack came amid heightened tensions surrounding the Old City’s Temple Mount, following clashes at the holy site last week.



IRGC Commander: Hezbollah Can Destroy Israel Alone

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Hossein Salami declared on Wednesday (14th) that the Hezbollah terrorist organization “has acquired capabilities in Syria that allow it to destroy Israel alone,” i24News reports.

Salami also addressed the escalating tensions with the United States following the back-and-forth seizures of tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, and Iran’s breaches of the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.  “The Iranian people forgot about talking to the U.S. and removed it from their thoughts,” he was quoted as saying in reference to suggestions in recent weeks of possible talks between the nations following international calls to reduce tensions. 

Salami went so far as to say that “negotiating with the not the way to resolve matters,” arguing that simply having talks will only increase the pressure and demands on the Ayatollah regime “to make us surrender.”

The comments follow a warning earlier this week by a Lebanese parliamentarian from Hezbollah who claimed that Israel is preparing for war against Lebanon.

Salami’s declaration seems to affirm Israel’s concerns over Iranian-backed activity in Syria, where Iran provides the regime of Bashar Al-Assad with both financial aid and military advisers against a range of opposing forces.

In recent years there have been numerous air strikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria, which have been blamed on Israel.

Israeli Minister Tzachi Hanegbi of the Likud party said recently that Israel is the only country that “has been killing Iranians,” a reference to Israeli strikes in Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. 



Anti-Semitism In Berlin: Rabbi Attacked In Street By Arabic-Speaking Men

Berlin police are investigating an attack on a rabbi, the second in as many weeks in the German capital.

Police said Thursday (15th) the victim, identifiable as Jewish by his attire, was pushed to the ground by two unidentified suspects while walking in the Charlottenburg neighborhood Tuesday afternoon (13th).  They said he was treated in a hospital for leg and head wounds.

According to the daily Bild, the victim was identified as Aaron Hammel.  Rabbi Hammel told Bild that the men insulted him in Arabic before assaulting him.

Two weeks ago, Chabad Rabbi Yehuda Teichtel was spat on and cursed in Arabic by two men in a building in the same general neighborhood.  He was with one of his young children when it happened.

“Unfortunately, we have to understand that aggression against Jews, both in schools and on the streets of Berlin, has taken on its own life.  But I still think most Berliners condemn it,” Hammel said.

Both attacks are being investigated as hate crimes.

A week before Teichtel was attacked, another rabbi and his two sons were attacked and spat upon in the southern German city of Munich as they left their synagogue.