News Digest — 8/31/20

1 Killed, Several Hurt In 2 UAE Restaurant Explosions

One person and several others were injured on Monday morning (31st) in two separate explosions in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi and its tourism hub Dubai, police and local media said.

A gas cylinder exploded in a Dubai restaurant early on Monday (31st) and killed one person, local media reported.

Abu Dhabi”s The National newspaper, quoting a Dubai Civil Defense spokesperson, said the blast had caused a blaze that damaged the ground floor of the building.

In Abu Dhabi, the blast hit KFC and Hardees restaurants on the city’s Rashid bin Saeed Street, local media reported, adding that other retail outlets were also damaged.

Abu Dhabi police said the explosions caused several minor and moderate injuries, and residents of the buildings and surrounding areas were evacuated.

Rashid Saeed Street is also known as Airport Road, where top aides to US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed on Monday (31st) on a historic trip from Israel to the UAE.



UAE Official: Palestinians Need To Wake Up, They’re Not Going To Stop Arab-Israeli Ties

The Palestinians should understand that the world has changed over the years and forego their rejectionism of Arab countries normalizing ties with Israel, a senior Emirati official told Israel Hayom Monday (31st).

“These are historic days, and we all feel great pride in the part each party has played in the peace agreement between us and Israel,” he said, in anticipation of the first commercial flight from Tel Aviv landing in Abu Dhabi Monday morning (31st) carrying the teams that will work on the details of the accord announced two weeks ago between the UAE and Israel.

Everyone in this country, he said, is “very excited about the possibility that we will soon visit Jerusalem and all of Israel.”

“We are very saddened by the Palestinian response to the historic agreement with Israel,” he added.  “The Palestinians must internalize that the political and geopolitical reality has changed in the Middle East over recent decades, especially after the events of the Arab Spring.  It’s not for nothing that countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia understand the magnitude of the hour and are helping to advance the process.”

The Emiratis are preparing for additional delegations from Egypt and Jordan to participate in the talks, he said, while Saudi Arabia played an important role by allowing the El Al plane to overfly the country in what was also a historic first, turning a more than seven-hour flight into one of just over three hours.

Meanwhile, the Central Committee of the Fatah Movement, the main group behind the Palestinian Authority (PA), met Sunday (30th) to repeat its opposition to the UAE move.

“We reject all plans aimed at eliminating the Palestinian issue, first and foremost, President Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century,” it said in a statement.

The US administration’s peace plan envisioned the normalization of the ties between Israel and the wider Arab world, and the American delegation that joined the Israelis for the Monday (31st) flight to the UAE, is going on to other Arab countries that the United States has been encouraging in that direction, such as Bahrain and Oman.

A pro-peace Arab-Israeli, Jalal Bana wrote an opinion piece in Israel Hayom stating he believes it is “forbidden” for his co-religionist countrymen “to fall into the trap of populism” and condemn the UAE-Israel pact as the PA has done.

“The world has changed,” he said, echoing the Emirati official.  He pointed  to the UAE breakthrough and the Saudi admission of an Israeli plane in its skies as “two founding events of the new history” of the region.  

He wrote, “The change in events won’t wait for anyone who insists on remaining behind on the wrong side of history.”



Netanyahu, After ‘Tremendous Discussions’ With Trump Team, Says Palestinians Stripped Of Veto On Peace

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the talks with senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner and others who arrived in Israel on Sunday (30th) as “tremendous,” in a press briefing following the meeting.

“Monday (31st) we will see the first ever Israeli commercial flight to the UAE together with a high-level Israeli delegation.  We’re all thrilled by the pace – the swift pace of normalization – between Israel and the UAE,” Netanyahu said.

He noted that on Saturday (29th) the UAE officially ended its boycott with the Jewish State.  “And this opens the door to what can only be called unbridled trade, tourism, investments and exchanges between the Middle East’s two most advanced economies.” the prime minister said.

“The day will come and it won’t be far away when we will ask ‘How could it have been any other way?’” he said, “because today’s breakthroughs will be tomorrow’s norms.  It will pave the way for other countries to normalize ties with Israel.”

Netanyahu also said that the Palestinians “have had for far too long a veto on peace.”  That veto wasn’t just between Israel and the Palestinians but also Israel and the Arab nations, he said.

After relating a list of unreasonable Palestinian demands, Netanyahu said, “If we have to wait for the Palestinians, we would have to wait forever.”

“The two big changes are the Trump Plan and the Arab states’ willingness to ‘advance peace’ with Israel, independent of the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister said the Trump plan is the “first realistic initiative for an Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Netanyahu also spoke about the threat of Iran.  “The tyrants of Tehran want to take us back to a dark age of theocratic medievalism and if this terrorist, murderous regime ever developed nuclear weapons or the means to develop them, they would promptly scuttle the peace and they would endanger the entire world.  We must not let that happen.”



Families Of Boys Abducted And Murdered By Hamas In 2014 File Claim Against Hamas

An Israeli civil rights organization filed a 520 million shekel ($150 million) claim against Hamas on behalf of the families of three Israeli high school boys kidnapped and murdered by the terror organization in 2014.

The lawsuit is intended to stop the Palestinian Authority from transferring funds from its budget to Hamas each year, Channel 20 reported Sunday (30th).

The Shurat HaDin organization filed the lawsuit in the Jerusalem District Court six years after Hamas planned and carried out the attack against the teens – Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel.

According to a comprehensive study conducted for Shurat HaDin by an expert in Palestinian affairs, the Palestinian Authority transfers between $50 million and $100 million monthly to the Hamas government offices in Gaza and to various bodies under Hamas control.

The suit claims that all the money that goes to any of the Hamas offices under Hamas authority can be seized.

The head of the terrorist cell in the attack, Hossam Qawasmeh, admitted in his interrogation that he was the leader of the cell behind the abduction and murder and obtained funding for the attack from Hamas.  The Hamas military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassem Brigades, also officially claimed responsibility for the abductions and killings.

“This lawsuit, of course, does not cure our pain, reduce our grief, or diminish our longing for our children.  If the prosecution has the power to deter even a little of these evil forces, then it is our reward,” the families of the three boys said in a statement.

One of the architects of an Israeli law designed to block transfers of tax money the Palestinians use to reward terrorism, said lawsuits are an effective tool to fight terrorism.  Maurice Hirsch, head of Legal Strategies at the watchdog NGO Palestinian Media Watch, has been working to undermine the financial bases the Palestinians use to support terrorism.

“In order to conduct their activities and carry out terror attacks, terrorist organizations need money.  Bankrupting the terrorists and the organizations that support, promote and reward terror will certainly save lives,” Hirsch told World Israel News.



Esther Levens, Founder Of Unity Coalition For Israel, Passed Away At 95

Esther Levens, founder of Unity Coalition for Israel passed away at 95.  The founder and former CEO of the Kansas-based UCI, passed away on August 21, according to her surviving family.

In July 1991, Esther founded the UCI, which is a pro-Israel Jewish-Christian alliance that works to support the Jewish State and educate the American public on “security issues and radical ideologies, including global Islamic terrorism, affecting not only Israel, but all of Western Civilization.

“I sought out a Christian person who I knew was interested in Israel, and we had coffee and discussed Israel.  Shortly thereafter, we held a meeting with 20 people on my back porch and they say the rest is history,” Esther noted in her bio.

From then on the meetings got larger, the venues and cities were renowned – from the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, and from Jerusalem to Nashville and Los Angeles.  The meetings had keynote speakers such as David Bar-Ilan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Today the organization hosts 200 autonomous branches that represent over 40 million American supporters, and it has built an enormous network, utilizing hundreds of organizations, to educate the American public about Israel – much larger than the humble beginnings of 20 people crowded on a back porch where it began.

“Esther Levens was an amazing human being.  Always kind, gracious and polite to a fault,” said the US Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom and former Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.  “I loved working with her in supporting the State of Israel – she was a pioneer on Jewish-Christian relations and their connection to Israel.  Indeed, she never stopped working on this topic.  She will be greatly missed but left an eternal mark,” he added.

NOTE: As far as The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry Inc., it was one of the first partner organizations to join the Unity Coalition for Israel.  Two former executive directors of FOI, Elwood McQuaid and William Sutter, were long-time friends of Esther Levens. 



Suspects Arrested In Anti-Semitic Vandalism Of Cleveland Jewish Buildings

A 20-year-old man, a 23-year-old woman and a 16-year-old from Beachwood, Ohio are facing charges for the painting of swastikas and anti-Semitic images and words on several Jewish-owned businesses in University Heights near Cleveland in July, according to local news outlet

Bo Briele Truitt, 23, was arrested about two weeks ago and charged with ethnic intimidation, inducing panic, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and criminal damaging in Shaker Heights Municipal Court, according to University Heights police.

Gabriel Truitt, 20, was arrested on Thursday (27th) and is facing similar charges.

A 16-year-old girl was also charged earlier this month in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, according to police.

“The University Heights Police Department condemns anti-Semitism and acts of ethnic intimidation, and we will remain diligent in our zero-tolerance efforts to prevent, investigate, and apprehend those who commit such cowardly and hateful acts,” said University Heights police earlier this month.

In July, swastikas and other graffiti were spray-painted on several buildings including a Jewish organization, in a shopping strip in a heavily Jewish Cleveland suburb.

The vandalized storefront buildings in University Heights includes the Waxman Torah Center, which also is home to the Jewish Learning Connection outreach organization.  Other buildings defaced with swastikas were a Jewish accounting firm, and a Jewish boutique.  Anti-Semitic graffiti was also discovered on a kosher supermarket that had been vandalized previously.