News Digest — 8/20/20

Jason Greenblatt: Sovereignty Is Not A Question Of If, But When

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s former adviser, acknowledged that question of applying sovereignty over Judea and Samaria was not “off the table,” but rather postponed due to the signing of the historic agreement between Israel and the UAE.

“I think the parties had a reason to choose the word ‘suspend’” he told Israel Hayom, adding the annexation “is not a question of if, but when.”

“The approach taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, working closely with President Trump and the White House, in my opinion, the most supportive White House for Israel ever, allows Israel to progress systematically with the UAE, and hopefully other Arab neighbors without giving up on what I see as Israel’s just claims,” declared Greenblatt.

“There is hope for progress with other Arab neighbors following Netanyahu’s right move to sign a peace agreement with the UAE.”

“It is possible to act on Judea and Samaria at a later date,” added Greenblatt, calling on those who opposed the sovereignty decision – including the right-wing circles in Israel – who came out strong against the Trump plan, delaying the annexation, to “reconsider their approach.”

Greenblatt said he believes “it is difficult to determine at the moment what needs to be done to implement sovereignty,” but Netanyahu has the freedom of action he needs to do what is best for the State of Israel on a comprehensive basis.

“In my opinion,” he concluded, “the issue of sovereignty is very important, but it is not the only issue that must be taken into account.”



‘A Warm Peace:’ Jews In UAE Thrilled About Normalization

In contrast to Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, after which the Arab side remained obstinate about not building bridges between their people and the Israelis, the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations is already different.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry conducted an online poll among residents of the Gulf States, and 44% of Emiratis responded that they would like to visit Israel to see the country’s Islamic holy sites. 

Attorney Ross Kriel, 55, head of the oldest Jewish community in the UAE, is astonished at how fast ‘warm ties’ are developing between Israel and the UAE.

“Over a week ago, the things happening today were still a dream, like seeing the Israeli and Emirati flags flying side by side on the front pages of local newspapers,” Kriel said.  “It’s going to be a warm peace,” he added.

Some 3,000 Jews currently live and work in the UAE, including several dozen Israelis who hold second citizenship.  Most of them live in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Kriel’s own community was established 12 years ago.  There are two younger Jewish communities in the Emirates, including one of Chabad members only.  The community synagogue is located in the Kriel family’s villa, not far from the famous Burj al Arab Hotel.

“There are no guards at the entrance to the house.  We have community members from Antwerp, Paris and Geneva who feel safer here than in Europe,” Kriel says.

“The only anti-Semitism I’ve experienced was from Europeans.  There is a social contract of mutual respect here between all parts of the real society,” he explains.

Kriel’s son Isaac is scheduled to be the first member of the Dubai Jewish community to celebrate a bar mitzvah there, this coming November.

Kriel’s 26-year-old nephew, who is a developer in Dubai made an interesting observation about differences in mentality of Israelis.

“The locals here will have to understand that there are all kinds of Israelis – both aggressive and gentle.  The Emirates is a melting pot of different cultures.  About 100 different nationalities live here, so they will be ready for Israelis,” he said.



Report: Security Escalation May Prompt Israel To Resume Targeted Assassinations Of Hamas Officials

Israel may assume the targeted assassinations of top Hamas officials, a Palestinian official told Qatari news outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Wednesday (19th).

According to the report, Egyptian officials who visited the Gaza Strip this week in an effort to de-escalate tensions between Hamas, the terrorist group ruling the coastal enclave, and Israel, warned Hamas that the IDF could target several individuals who are seen as the instigators of the recent uptick in tensions.

Top targets for Israel would be Hamas military leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar and Marwan Issa, commander of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.

The Egyptian delegation which comprised high-ranking intelligence officials, arrived in Gaza in an effort to prevent tensions between Israel and Hamas from further escalating.

This week has seen a rapid increase in daily arson attacks emanating from Gaza, as dozens of fires have been sparked in Israeli communities near the volatile border by airborne explosives launched by Palestinian terrorists.

Hamas officials reportedly informed the Egyptian delegation that the terrorist group plans to resume the border protests held under the auspices of the “March of Return.”

The 2018-2019 Gaza border protests saw riots held each Friday near the Gaza-Israel border.  While the campaign drew tens of thousands of Palestinians to the border every week for months, it eventually fizzled in mid-2019.

Israel has stated that Hamas, as the sovereign of the coastal enclave, will be held accountable for any threat on its southern communities.

Qatari envoy to Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Doha was “making intense efforts” to contain the situation in Gaza and prevent further escalation, “so as to spare the people of Gaza more crises.”

The daily further quoted an Egyptian source as saying that Cairo’s delegation ordered Hamas to tone down its belligerent rhetoric against the United Arab Emirates over its peace deal with Israel, saying that a further affront against Abu Dhabi – a senior member of the Arab League – may undercut its financial support of the Palestinians.



Gazans Burn Israeli, US Flags In Protest Over UAE Normalization Deal

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday (19th) rallied against the US-brokered deal to normalize ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Protesters burned Israeli and American flags, trampled on posters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump, and chanted “normalization is betrayal to Jerusalem and Palestine.”

Unlike Palestinian protesters last Friday (14th) near the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City who also burned posters of the Emirati crown prince, the Gaza demonstrators stopped short of burning symbols of the UAE – apparently to avoid antagonizing the Gulf Arab country, where tens of thousands of Palestinians work and live.

The demonstrators in Gaza City also voiced support for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for his rejection of Trump’s Middle East plan, which the Palestinians say unfairly favors Israel.

The protest was organized by Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and other factions.

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, denounced the Israeli-Emirati deal.

“Normalization with the occupation harms us and doesn’t serve us,” he said, “instead, it serves and promotes the occupation in its projects that target Palestine and the region.”



New Yorker Threatens To Shoot Up Jewish Summer Camp, 14 Guns Found In His House

Police arrested a Long Island man after he called them to complain about social distancing at a Yeshiva summer camp and said he would “go out there with a machine gun and shoot all those people” if nothing was done, a local New York CBS affiliate reported on Tuesday (18th).

Nassau County police said they received a call from 58-year-old Nicola Pelle of Inwood who lives next to Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island, complaining that kids at the Yeshiva’s summer day camp were not following health guidelines.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said Pelle complained “that approximately 500 students were wearing no masks and in violation of social distancing.”

Ryder quoted Pelle as saying “If I gotta go out there with a machine gun and shoot all these people, I will.”

Police searched Pelle’s home and found 14 firearms including legally-owned rifles, shotguns, and handguns, but also two assault weapons that are illegal, the CBS affiliate reported.

Pelle, a landscaper, was charged with the felony of making a terroristic threat as well as gun crimes, which could result in a 7-11 year jail sentence if he is convicted.

Ryder said that while police take complaints of social distancing seriously, “we are more concerned about those threats that come every year against our children while they are in school.”

There were 570 threats against Nassau County schools just last year, CBS news reported.

Yeshiva Ketana executive director Rabbi Ari Ginian told reporters his camp does follow social distance guidelines, although it may not look that way for somebody looking into the grounds from the outside.

“We feel that he may have been frustrated by some of the situations that we are under.  There is duress right now on everyone’s part.  We feel for him that he brought himself to that point and we hope that he takes back what he said,” Ginian said.

The camp said it was grateful to the police for their quick response to the threat.



Jewish Owned Pub In Berlin Set On Fire

The Jewish community in Germany is outraged after a Jewish-owned pub was set on fire last weekend.

The Jewish owner of the Morgen Wird Besser Pub in Berlin’s Lichtenberg neighborhood said that for some years, he has been the target of harassment and threats by anti-Semitic neighbors and neo-Nazis.  German media reported that local police had confirmed that they were investigating the arson as a possible anti-Semitic hate crime.

On Wednesday (20th), Jews and Israelis in Berlin visited the burned-out pub in a show of support for the owner and as a protest against growing anti-Semitism in the country.

Rabbi of Dresden Akiva Weingarten discussed the incident saying, “When the news arrived about a fire in a Berlin pub that was owned by Jews – what appears to be a hate crime and an act by members of the far Right – I couldn’t connect it to our blood-soaked history here.”

“Jewish shops in Germany being burned awakens horrible memories of our past here in the heart of every Jew,” Weingarten said, adding that he believed that the German authorities would find the perpetrators and try them in court.

“Especially now, when the trial of the killer from Halle is under way, we expect the words ‘Never Again’ to not remain hollow,” Weingarten said.