News Digest — 9/16/22

Lapid, Emirati Foreign Minister: ‘We Are Changing The Middle East’

Prime Minister Yair Lapid met Wednesday (14th) with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who had arrived in Israel the day before to mark the two-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords.

The two leaders had a private discussion before holding an expanded meeting that was expected to focus on enhancing bilateral ties as well as on Iran’s nuclear program.

“This is an historic visit of a regional leader that will advance the regional architecture we have been building this past year in the Middle East.  This is a visit of a strategic partner that will strengthen economic and security ties between our countries.  This is a visit of a close and dear friend, with whom I can talk about everything,” Lapid said during a joint press conference with Al Nahyan.

“My friend, together we are changing the face of the Middle East.  We are changing it from war to peace, from terrorism to economic cooperation, from a discourse of violence and extremism to a dialogue of tolerance and cultural curiosity,” he said.  “You may know that the Hebrew word ‘shalom’ has two meanings – both ‘hello’ and ‘peace.’  So, I greet you with shalom, and I wish us all shalom: A blessing of peace.”

Al Nahyan attended a reception in the evening hosted by Abu Dhabi’s ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khajah, which President Isaac Herzog attended.

Earlier Thursday (15th), Al Nahyan toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance in honor of the six million Jews killed in the Nazi genocide.

“My presence here today reminds us of the lessons that history teaches us and the great responsibility we have to practice tolerance for the sake of building our communities and societies,” he wrote in the museum’s guestbook.  “We must take brave steps to build a bridge of real peace for future generations.”

Prior to that Herzog held an official luncheon for the UAE foreign minister at the President’s Residence.

The two also met privately with Al Nahyan, who presented Herzog with a letter from UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.  

“The world looks at the Abraham Accords with awe and respect, and says there’s a new Middle East in many ways, being created and moving forward,” Herzog said during the meeting, according to a statement from his office.

Al Nahyan added, “This is historic, but I think in many ways this is a relationship which very few thought that in two years would be as successful as it is.”

The Emirati foreign minister also met with Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu during his trip,

Meanwhile, this week,  a coalition of young Israelis, Emiratis, Bahrainis, and Moroccans gathered in Washington, DC to celebrate the second anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords of normalizing ties with Israel.

The group met with officials from the White House and State Department, and a bipartisan roundtable discussion was held in Congress, hosted by the Abraham Accords Caucus.  The initiative, called ‘Leaders of Tomorrow,’ was jointly led by the Tel-Aviv-based ISRAEL-is organization and Mimouna Association of Morocco, together with a coalition of young leaders from all the Abraham Accord countries.

The aim of the visit was to “showcase how the agreements have changed their lives for the better,” a statement from the group said.

The delegation was supported by Voices of Israel and hosted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).



Mt. Hebron: 18-Year-Old Shot As Terrorist Fires Into Yeshiva

An 18-year-old man was moderately injured in a shooting attack that took place Thursday evening (15th) in the Carmel settlement in southern Mt. Hebron.

The terrorist infiltrated the settlement and shot into the window of a yeshiva before escaping.  IDF forces and members of the settlement’s standby squad searched for him, but he is still on the run.  The Home Front Command called on residents to shut themselves inside their homes and lock their doors.

Magen David Adom (MDA) medics and paramedics provided medical treatment to the wounded and evacuated him to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva while he was fully conscious from gunshot wounds to the body.

“MDA Paramedic Elad Pass said: “The victim, about 18-years-old, was fully conscious, with bullet wounds to his upper body.  He was talking and communicating with us.  We took him into the MICU while treating him and conveyed him to the hospital in moderate but stable condition.

The shooting is the latest of a spate of attacks in recent weeks.

IDF Maj. Bar Falah was killed a day earlier by two Palestinian terrorists in a gunfight near the Jalamah Crossing.

Last week, a Palestinian carrying a “Carlo” submachine gun and two bombs was caught in Jaffa en route to carry out a massive terror attack in Tel Aviv.



Is Moscow’s Invitation To Hamas A Warning To Israel?

Hamas politburo Chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Moscow on September 10 as the head of a senior delegation from the terror group for talks with Russian officials.  Analysts speculate that Moscow’s invitation to Hamas, like an earlier one in May, is meant to send a message of dissatisfaction to Israel.

“The Russians typically use meetings with Hamas to signal displeasure with Israel, perhaps in relation to Ukraine,” Hillel Frisch, senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) told JNS.

A noteworthy aspect of the May meeting is that it came a month after Prime Minister Yair Lapid, then foreign minister, accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, specifically in relation to alleged atrocities committed outside Kyiv.  Of the current meeting, Frisch said it was unclear what specifically Russia may have found objectionable about Israeli statements or actions.

Anna Geifman, senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University’s department of political science, told JNS that it might be a general warning, a way for Russia to tell Israel that if it takes a “wrong step” it will strengthen relations with the region’s hostile actors.  “The message may be: ‘If you become our enemy, we’re going to deal with your enemies,’” she said.

Another reason for the Russian embrace of Hamas is that its options in terms of international diplomacy have shrunk, as Russia has become a “pariah” on the world stage with its invasion of Ukraine.  “Russian President Vladimir Putin has no one who wants to play with him.  So he’s happy to invite anyone.  And not surprisingly, it’s going to be someone with whom no one wants to play with either,” Geifman said.   

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), said, “It appears that Putin is building an axis of like-minded governments and entities – it really looks like he is working a new revisionist axis that already includes the Iranians, China potentially, and includes North Korea.  The question is whether this is an effort to legitimize and recruit Hamas to be part of that broader coalition.  Or is this for show, or something else entirely?  The bottom line is there is no clear, mutual interest between these two actors.  Russia doesn’t have very clear interests as it relates to the Gaza Strip.”

Geifman said: “Israel will have to be careful primarily because of the Russians in Syria.  Israel must have a free hand there as much as possible because of Iran and Hezbollah.  And I don’t think Russia is going to invest in Hamas.  And even if Russia gives them weapons, they won’t be good weapons.”



Time To Rethink The Question Of ‘Palestine’ – Alex Ryvchin

The UN is poised to revisit the question of Palestine with renewed vigor.  This invariably means flushing more money into UNRWA, a special agency devoted to keeping Palestinians in refugee camps in preparation for their conquest of Israel, and by upgrading the Palestinian status, recognizing them as a state despite virtual consensus that they in no way meet the legal definition.

In the 74 years since Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, Israel has continued to build, absorb millions of refugees from Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, and has forged peace with old belligerents like Egypt and Jordan and more recently, Morocco, the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.  The Palestinian Arabs have, for the most part, remained unchanged, still viewing their struggles as one against European colonizers and not the ancient custodians of the land, and believing that if they resist long enough, the Jews will eventually go someplace else.

It is time to deliver the hard truth that those who reject internationally brokered plans of partition, reject every offer of statehood put to them, and consistently use violence as a political device, do not get to set the terms.  As long as the Palestinian leadership receives cost-free solidarity, currency and diplomatic recognition, a negotiated outcome is an impossibility.

The writer is the Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.



Two Jewish Men Attacked In Berlin

A Jewish man was brutally assaulted on the Berlin subway in the second anti-Semitic assault to occur this week, German media reported.

The victim, 33, took a train at Berlin’s Jungfernheide Station on Tuesday afternoon (13th).  A passenger approached him and hurled an antisemitic insult at him, according to reports.  The assailant proceeded to grab the victim’s arm who pushed him away.  Another passenger then appeared and both he and the assailant began repeatedly punching the victim in the head and upper torso.

A third passenger came to the aid of the victim, stopping the attack.  The Jewish man got off the subway at Wedding Station.  The two attackers reportedly stayed on the train.

The man suffered injuries to his face in the assault.  The attack is being investigated by police.  

Also earlier on Tuesday (13th), the state Rabbi of Potsdam, Germany was attacked in Berlin during which he was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse in front of his son, German media outlets reported.

Rabbi Ariel Kirzon, 43, had traveled to the Mariendorf district of Berlin with his 13-year-old son for a doctor’s appointment.  They were waiting on the sidewalk in front of a train station when the incident occurred.  Rabbi Kirzon was speaking in Hebrew on the phone when an assailant approached him, bumped into his shoulder and then subjected him to antisemitic abuse, according to Berlin police.