News Digest — 9/13/19

In Russia, Netanyahu Laments ‘Sharp Increase’ In Iranian Attacks On Israel

Iran has in recent weeks dramatically upped its aggression against Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday (12th) in Sochi.

Netanyahu traveled to the Black Sea resort town mainly to discuss military coordination between Moscow and Jerusalem and Israel’s efforts to prevent Tehran from entrenching itself in Syria.  Russia is one of Damascus’ key allies.

“Security coordination between us is always important, but it is particularly important at this time because last month there was a sharp increase in the number of Iranian attempts to attack Israel from Syria, and also to place accurate missiles against us,” Netanyahu said.

“This is an intolerable threat, from our perspective, and we are acting against it – therefore we are obligated to ensure that our coordination prevents friction.”

Netanyahu was referring to the so-called deconfliction mechanism between the Russian and Israeli armies that was initiated shortly after Putin decided to establish a military presence in Syria.

In his comments, the Israeli leader, who traveled to Russia, less than a week before the September 17 Knesset elections, hailed bilateral relations between the two countries, saying they have never been better.  He cited two reasons: more than one million Russian speaking people live in Israel, building a “human bridge” between the countries, and the “direct relationship” between himself and Putin.

Putin, in his remarks to Netanyahu, stressed his commitment to Israel’s security.  He did not address the warmth of his personal relationship to Netanyahu, but made a comment many observers interpreted as a hint toward who he would like to win the Israeli elections

“Russia cares a lot about who will be elected to the Knesset, and I hope that whoever enters the Knesset will continue bilateral ties between the countries and will push our relationship forward” he said.

Furthermore, Putin announced that he plans to visit Israel in January 2020 to participate in a memorial commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, and also to attend the unveiling of a monument honoring Soviet soldiers who fought and fell in the Siege of Leningrad.



Rivlin Warns Lebanon To Rein-In Hezbollah Or Face A War Neither Side Wants

President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday (12th) cautioned the Lebanese government that if it doesn’t stop Hezbollah’s aggression against Israel, the terror group will drag both countries into war.

Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, is also a major political actor in Lebanon and a key government backer in war-torn Syria.

“Lebanon bears sovereign responsibility for all Hezbollah action,” Rivlin told the incoming French ambassador to Israel, Eric Danon, during a ceremony upon receiving diplomatic credentials from several new ambassadors, his office said in a statement.

“We say clearly to the Lebanese government and its allies around the world: Hezbollah’s aggression must be stopped before we find ourselves dragged into a conflict that neither Lebanon nor Israel want,” Rivlin said.

France which formerly mandated Lebanon’s territory as a colony, maintains strong ties with the country and the French language is still widely spoken there.

Tensions with Hezbollah and its patron Iran have soared in recent weeks, after the Israel Defense Forces late last month thwarted an attempt by Iranian operatives in Syria – including two former Hezbollah members – to carry out an attack on northern Israel with armed drones and attacked their base.  It also followed a drone attack in Beirut attributed to Israel, that reportedly destroyed key components of a joint Hezbollah-Iran project to manufacture precision-guided missiles in Lebanon.

Rivlin thanked Danon for France’s efforts towards regional security – which have included attempts to defuse tensions between the US and Iran – but warned him that “in recent weeks we have seen evidence of growing Iranian activity in Syria and Lebanon.”

“Israel will not tolerate threats to the safety of its citizens,” Rivlin said.  “With the Iranians, Hezbollah is building factories to produce missiles to fire on Israel and that is something that Israel cannot afford.  The government of Lebanon can not make excuses that it is not its responsibility. Hezbollah is part of Lebanon, part of the government of Lebanon, part of the people of Lebanon.”

During the ceremony, held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, Rivlin welcomed new ambassadors from  France, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Georgia and Slovenia as they began their terms in Israel.



Palestinians Are Tired Of Being The Only Refugees Denied The Right To Resettlement – Evelyn Gordon

Hundreds of Palestinian refugees demonstrated outside the Canadian Embassy in Beirut on September 5 to request asylum in Canada or the EU, the second such protest in the last month.  After more than 70 years, Palestinians are publicly protesting the fact that they alone, of all the world’s refugees, are denied the right to seek resettlement in a safe third country.

All other refugees worldwide are handled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in third countries every year.  But Palestinian refugees are handled by UNRWA, an agency created exclusively for them, which hasn’t settled a single refugee in 70 years.  The only option it offers the refugees and their descendants is eternal limbo: awaiting a “return” to Israel that will never happen.

The West has deprived Palestinian refugees of their basic right to resettlement in order to hold a gun to Israel’s head.  It’s long past time to stop treating millions of Palestinians as nothing but political pawns in a war to destroy Israel.



Jewish Fears Rise As Palestinians Attempt To Take Over Altar Of Joshua

The municipality of Asira ash-Shamaliya, north of Shechem (Nablus), is probing the possibility of declaring the altar of Joshua Ben-Nun, on Mount Ebal, a Palestinian heritage site.

Engineers from the municipality and Shechem district have recently toured the site, equipped with plans and maps.

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Governor of Shechem, Ibrahim Ramadan, accompanied by a delegation from the PA’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, took part in a tour of the site in July, claiming it is “threatened by the occupation and settlers.”

The mayor of Asira ash-Shamaliya, Hazzem Yassin stated in an interview with TPS that he is “under no obligation to comment on city plans and certainly not on the site, which the Jews took ownership of, although they have no proof of it being a Jewish site.”

The Book of Joshua describes how Joshua Ben-Nun, the Israelite leader, built an altar on Mount Ebal, acting on instructions from Moses, after the Israelites had crossed into the Land of Israel.

Haifa University archeologist Adam Zertal has identified the remains of an altar found at the site as the one described in the Bible, where Joshua allotted the new land among the 12 Tribes.

“For us, the area of the altar, like the rest of the town, is within Area B, under Palestinian civil responsibility.  Therefore I will not deny nor confirm the allegations of turning the site into a developed site,” Yassin added.

While Yassin has denied taking any action, it seems that preparations for work on the site are in full swing.  In July, the municipality called on the public to join and assist in the activities of the “Committee of the Preservation of Heritage Sites” in the village.

Meanwhile, Boaz Haetzni, a member of the Samaria Regional Council, told TPS that the PA plans are a provocation against Israel, Jews and Christians around the world, as Joshua’s Altar is a Jewish and Biblical heritage site.  He cautioned that it appears the PA, which recently announced it does not recognize the division of the land into areas A B and C, has begun to act accordingly.



Swastikas Painted On San Francisco-Area High School

Graffiti, including swastikas were painted on the walls of a San Francisco-area high school recently.

Days after the incident, hundreds of students came to Burlingame High School wearing red T-shirts or hoodies in red, a school color, to display “unity against hate.”  They placed their painted handprints on banners reading “We are stronger than hate” and “Panther Strong.’

The principal, Paul Belzer, described the graffiti painted in 10 different places as “anti-Semitic, homophobic and racial.”  He said an investigation by the Burlingame Police Department and the San Mateo Union High School District is underway. No suspects have been identified.

“I am outraged,” Belzer wrote in an email to parents, Jewish News of Northern California wrote.  “I feel our students and school, and our school’s values of integrity and community have been attacked.”

There have been similar incidents at other schools in the area, including in April, at a middle and elementary school in Burlingame.