News Digest — 9/17/21

Trucks Carrying Iranian Diesel Arrive In Lebanon

Dozens of trucks carrying Iranian diesel arrived in Lebanon on Thursday (16th), the first in a series of deliveries organized by the Hezbollah terrorist organization, The Associated Press reported.

The overland delivery through neighboring Syria violates US sanctions imposed on Tehran after former President Donald Trump pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The shipment is being portrayed as a victory by Hezbollah, which stepped in to supply the fuel from its patron, Iran, while the cash-strapped Lebanese government grappled with months-long fuel shortages that have paralyzed the country.

There was no immediate comment from Lebanese or US officials on the Iranian fuel delivery.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah last month announced that a fuel tanker would leave Iran for Lebanon in a direct challenge to Israel and the United States.

“The vessel, from the moment it sails in the coming hours until it enters Mediterranean waters, will be considered Lebanese territory,” he said at the time.

A new Lebanese government was formed just last week after a 13-month impasse as the country struggles with one of the worst crises in its history.

Majib Mikati was nominated to serve as Lebanon’s prime minister, the third time he has held the role.  Mikati made a statement from the presidency in which he vowed to leave no stone unturned in efforts to rescue the country.

Mikati took on the task of forming a new government in late July, days after fellow veteran politician Saad Hariri threw in the towel.

Hariri gave up his post when he failed to reach an agreement with President Michel Aoun on forming a cabinet.

Lebanon has not had a government since the previous cabinet resigned following the deadly port explosion that rocked the capital of Beirut in August 2020.  Over 200 people were killed in the blast, which also left thousands injured and devastated much of the city.

Mikati has not commented on Hezbollah’s deal to import fuel from Iran, AP noted.



Bennett To Address UN General Assembly On September 27

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will fly to New York City to speak at the 76th United Nations General Assembly on September 27.

Bennett will speak about Israel’s national security and regional issues, according to his office.  His remarks will likely focus on Iran’s nuclear program and its support for armed proxy groups.

The trip will be Bennett’s second official visit to the United States as prime minister.  On August 27, Bennett met with US President Joe Biden at the White House, during which both sides sought to exude an atmosphere of warmth and cooperation.

Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, was known for making headlines with his speeches on the Iranian nuclear threat at the UN General Assembly, often using graphics and other props to get his point across.

The two-week-long event kicks off on Tuesday (21st), and will be markedly different from last year’s event, which was conducted mostly online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bennett will be one of 83 world leaders who plan on attending in person, according to Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir, president of last year’s gathering.

Twenty-six leaders applied to speak remotely, said Bozkir last week.

The General Debate, at which world leaders and other top officials will speak, begins on September 21.

According to a provisional list of speakers, Biden will speak on the morning of September 21, in America’s traditional slot as the second speaker in the General Debate.

Israel’s regional partners will also be represented, according to the provisional list.  Egypt and Jordan will send their heads of state, while the foreign ministers of Israel’s new Gulf allies, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, will speak.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will also address the assembly, as will Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi sent a prerecorded address to be broadcast at the event.



Merkel Said To Reschedule Farewell Visit To Israel For October

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel is slated to arrive in Israel next month for a farewell visit before departing office, after canceling a trip scheduled for August, Hebrew media reported on Tuesday (14th).

Merkel is expected to arrive in Israel October 11, two weeks after the federal elections in Germany are expected to name her successor.

The chancellor was originally scheduled to visit Israel in late August, but canceled amid the upheaval surrounding the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Kabul airport attack.

The visit was called off in consultation with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett “because of current developments in Afghanistan,” Merkel’s office said in a statement at the time.

Germany was among the countries scrambling to evacuate their own nationals, including Afghans from Kabul who helped their forces during a nearly two-decade deployment in the country.

Merkel, in her visit, had been slated to receive an honorary doctorate from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, as well as meet with Bennett for the first time.

Throughout her 16 years in power, Merkel, who most recently visited the Jewish state in 2018, has described Israel’s national security as a crucial priority of German foreign policy due to the country’s historical responsibility for the Holocaust.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Israel at the end of June, stressing support for the country and pledging to continue to fight against anti-Semitism in Germany.

Germany and Israel forged strong diplomatic ties in the decades after World War II, with Berlin committed to the preservation of the Jewish state in penance for the Holocaust.



DM Benny Gantz: ‘Israel Won’t Evacuate The Settlements’

In an interview with the US-based Foreign Policy magazine in which he focused on the Iran nuclear threat and a likely return to negotiations, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz also referred to the prospects of a peace deal with the PA.

Gantz said Israel would not evacuate Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria but later on conceded that, “We will need two political entities.”

The Minister of Defense stated that while security cooperation with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was of “utter importance, Abbas still believes in a return to the “pre-67 armistice borders.”

Gantz said, “Abbas needs to realize we’re here to stay,” adding: “It won’t happen.  We won’t evacuate any settlements.”  



September 17, 1394: The Final Expulsion Of Jews From France During Medieval Period

On September 17, 1394, King Charles VI of France ordered that all Jewish people be expelled from the kingdom.

Leading up to the expulsion, French Jews had dealt with the burning of sacred religious texts, discriminatory taxes, as well as other fiscal policies aimed at targeting Jews.

They were also being blamed for the Black Plague which had ravaged Europe in the mid-1300s.

Individual cities throughout France had expelled Jewish people off and on throughout the 13th and 14th centuries, but Jews were again expelled from France in 1306, their land taken by the government.  They were expelled as King Philip was short of money after a war with the Flemish.  The expulsion allowed him to confiscate and sell Jewish property.

French Jews were given a short time to sell their possessions, then were escorted off French land.

The 1394 expulsion is accepted as the date of the last expulsion from France in the medieval period.  Unlike previous expulsions, this one wasn’t temporary.  

Jewish people didn’t begin to return to France until the early 17th century.  Today roughly one percent of the French population is Jewish.



Yom Kippur Attack On German Synagogue Averted By Police

Police averted an Islamist attack on a synagogue in western Germany and arrested four people including a 16-year-old Syrian youth in connection with the threat, the regional interior minister said on Thursday (16th).

Authorities had received “a very serious and concrete tip” that an attack on the synagogue in the town of Hagen could take place during the Jewish Festival of Yom Kippur, regional Interior Minister Herbert Reul, said.

“Officers tightened security around the synagogue on Wednesday evening (15th) and searched it for bombs but found nothing dangerous,” Reul, told a news conference.

He said “the synagogue called off its celebration of Yom Kippur, as observant Jews hold overnight vigils.  The tip-off included details of the timing of the attack,” he added.

Earlier on Thursday (16th), police in Hagen said they had arrested four people as a result of their investigation into the threat and had searched various buildings.

Reul said one of those detained was a 16-year-old youth from Hagen with Syrian roots.

Germany, still scarred by the Holocaust, has seen a rise in anti-Semitic violence in recent years, mostly carried out by the far-right.

In 2019, a right-wing extremist launched an armed attack on a synagogue in the eastern town of Halle, shooting dead two passers-by.

At the time, police faced criticism for being slow to arrive at the scene, though they eventually arrested the attacker, who is now serving a life sentence for the murders.