News Digest — 8/20/19

Israeli PM And Wife Join Ukraine President In Babi Yar Ceremony

On Monday (19th), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, together with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, at the monument at Babi Yar, attended a memorial ceremony for the Ukrainian Jews who were murdered there during World War II.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ukraine President Zelensky laid wreaths at the Menorah Monument.

Netanyahu said: “It is hard to believe that this beautiful forest saw the horror that happened here.  Here the forest was silent, but so too was the world.”

“Babi Yar is endless pain.  In this grave, the mass grave here behind me, tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews and many non-Jews were murdered.  As Prime Minister of Israel, I honor their memory and at the same time I say in a clear voice, precisely in this place, that it is our constant duty to stand against murderous ideologies in order to ensure that there will never be another Babi Yar.”

“For humanity, Babi Yar is a warning sign, for Jews, Babi Yar is an eternal imperative.  We will always defend ourselves by ourselves against any enemy. The Holocaust is the worst of humanity’s horrors.  The Holocaust is the greatest of Jewish tragedies, and there have been many tragedies. I can see our brothers and sisters 78 years ago on the edge of the killing field.  They were standing right here, a very small distance from us, naked, beaten and humiliated. At one point they understood and in their eyes was paralyzing horror. Their hearts were torn by evil cruelty.  The hand of the murderers reached for the slaughtering knife and as the poet declared, the ‘slaughterers slaughtered.’ Rows upon rows fell to the death pits, and as the Book of Lamentations 2:21 says, ‘In the streets, on the bare ground lie both young and old, my maidens and my young men have fallen by the sword.’”

“This unforgivable crime did not occur on another planet.  It took place just minutes from the bustling center of Kiev.  The massacre at Babi Yar by the Nazis and their collaborators paved the way for the murder of a million and a half Ukrainian Jews.  It also preceded the Final Solution.”

“Distinguished guests, the valley of blood, bones and ashes in Babi Yar is a low point in our people’s history.  But with great faith and spirit, we ascended from the abyss to the pinnacle of our revival. What a difference between then and now.  From a slaughtered and helpless nation – that’s what the Jewish people were. The Jewish people were slaughtered, moving from country to country.  From a helpless and slaughtered nation, we became a strong and proud country – and a great power in many fields. We have turned the State of Israel into a global power, successful and prosperous, with a strong army, security forces and a flag.  We have creative and innovative capabilities which the whole world salutes.” 

“Today we remember the tragedies of the past, and together we embrace the tidings of the future.  Above all, we will fulfill the will of those tragically murdered at Babi Yar. Never again,” the Israeli Prime Minister concluded.

In attendance were both Israeli and Ukrainian government officials and religious leaders.



Abbas Fires All His Advisers, Demands Bonuses Returned

Palestinian officials said PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas’ decisions to fire all his advisers and demand they return huge pay raises, announced recently in official statements, came as part of efforts to cut costs and recuperate funds.

Earlier in the year, the Palestinian Authority (PA) refused to accept tax revenues when Israel withheld sums equal to funds used for terror salaries, which the PA pays both to incarcerated criminals who commit murder and other violent terror crimes and to the families of those killed committing such crimes.

The Palestinian government has long-faced charges of corruption and mismanagement, and Abbas has cycled through dozens of advisers since he first took office in 2005, with many continuing to receive salaries and benefits after leaving office.

Abbas is currently in the fourteenth year of what was initially a four-year-term and has refused to hold elections since he took control of the PA leadership.

In a separate decision, Abbas ordered former Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and other cabinet ministers to return bonuses the PA leader had approved in 2017.

Documents leaked earlier this year showed that the technocratic former Cabinet gave its members lavish payouts.  The documents showed that ministers’ pay had climbed from $3,000 a month to $5,000 – a 67% raise – and that the prime minister’s salary was raised to $6,000,

Abbas had secretly approved the raises, overriding a 2004 law fixing ministerial salaries.  The raises were applied retroactively to 2014, when the cabinet took office, resulting in bonuses worth tens of thousands of dollars.

These revelations have angered many Palestinians, with the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority slashing salaries of government employees.

After years in office, Abbas has seen his popularity plummet.  Palestinians are disillusioned by his failure to deliver on many of his promises, his loss of the Gaza Strip to the rival Hamas terror group, and general economic malaise.

Unemployment among Arabs in Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria is near 20%, and a typical salary for those who do work, such as civil servants, is roughly $700 a month. 



Israeli Official: Israel Is Willing To Pay For Flights For Emigrating Gazans

Israel is actively encouraging the emigration of Palestinians from Gaza, a senior Israeli official told reporters accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his current trip to Ukraine.

According to various tweets from reporters on the trip, the official said that Jerusalem is in contact with other countries – including some in the Middle East to see if they would be willing to absorb Gazan emigrants.  The official noted that more than 35,000 Gazans left the area last year.

According to the official, Israel is willing to finance flights from an airport in the south for those who are interested in leaving.  The official said so far no country has responded positively to accepting emigrants from Gaza.

According to an NPR report last month, between 35,000 to 40,000 people have left Gaza via Egypt since the Sinai-Gaza border was opened in May 2018.  Egypt reportedly allows a few hundred Gazans to cross the frontier border each day.

According to these reports, some of those exiting Gaza via Egypt fly from Cairo to the Gulf.  Others remain in Egypt, while some fly to Turkey in the hope of smuggling their way into Greece.  From Greece they hope to enter other European Union countries.



U.S. Cutting Off Oxygen-Supply To Tehran’s Proxies – Raghida Dergham

During Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s visit to Washington last week, he heard firm declarations that the U.S. does not intend to relent on the issue of sanctions on Hezbollah and those who provide it with political, military, and intelligence cover.  U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, standing beside Hariri, declared that the Middle East is under threat from Iran and that the Lebanese people are under threat from Hezbollah. A high-level American source, summing up the U.S. message to Lebanon, said: “We stressed that he must achieve progress and take concrete steps to distance himself from Hezbollah.”

The U.S. put forth a set of parameters for clear overarching goals, the source revealed.  These goals seek to weaken Hezbollah’s hold over Lebanon and gradually dismantle Iranian influence over the country.  U.S. officials made it clear that American money being channeled to Lebanon should not be spent to help Hezbollah in any way, and that continued Hezbollah domination over Lebanon would mean that U.S. aid money would be denied.



Paraguay Recognizes Hamas, Hezbollah As Terror Groups, Drawing Israeli Praise

Paraguay on Monday (19th) said it had officially recognized the military wings of Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, drawing praise from Israel’s prime minister and foreign minister.

President Mario Abdo Benitez made the declaration in an official document, signed on August 9, saying it was aimed at supporting the fight against international terrorism.  He also recognized the Islamic State and al-Qaeda as global terror organizations.

Both Iran-affiliated movements, who have been waging decades long war against Israel, and have attacked its cities with tens of thousands of rockets, will now be blacklisted in the Latin American country.

Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor said the decision was in line with work carried out by the United Nations and international treaties protecting human rights.

Since Hezbollah runs much of its financial operations in South America, Villamayor said Paraguay would now be obliged to take action against the money-flow to terror groups through local banks, Paraguayan media reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement in a brief statement, saying Israel was making efforts to have other countries also take that step.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz also hailed the move as an “important decision” saying in a tweet that it “contributes to the global battle against these Iranian proxies.”