News Digest — 9/18/20

Emirati, Bahraini FMs Send Israel New Year Greetings

“May it be a blessed year for realizing peace and stability in the region,” wrote Bahraini Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif al-Zayani in response to his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, who had sent a Rosh Hashanah blessing on the Jewish New Year.

In personal Rosh Hashanah messages to both al-Zayani and to Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan respectively, Ashkenazi said: “My dear friend, on the eve of the new year on the Jewish calendar, I would like to wish you and your people a year full of peace, prosperity, stability and health!  Happy New Year!”

Al-Zayani responded, saying, “Thank you my dear friend Gabi Ashkenazi, the foreign minister of the State of Israel, for the [Rosh Hashanah] blessing… May it be a blessed year of realizing peace and stability in the region.”

On social media, too, Emirati citizens wished Israelis a happy new year.  One Twitter account managed in Hebrew said: “Happy New Year to the Jews.  May this year be the beginning of the new relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.”



Final Group-Aliyah-Flight Of Jewish Year 5780 Arrives In Israel

28 Olim will celebrate their very first Rosh Hashanah in Israel as new citizens after landing at Ben Gurion Airport over the last 24 hours.  The Olim were part of a Nefesh B’Nefesh Group Aliyah flight which arrived from New York as well as a number of Olim who touched down from Toronto, coordinated in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration. These new Olim – the last group to be welcomed in this Jewish New Year – are closing a notable year for Aliyah.  This summer alone, the organization fielded record-breaking interest in moving to Israel with 150% increase in Aliyah applications.

The new Olim, among them four families, hail from a wide variety of backgrounds and each will embark on a unique journey in Israel.  Varying in age from 7 to 94, they will live in the bustling cities of Tel Aviv and Herzliya to the quieter kibbutz of Nir Eliyahu.  Coming from New York, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Washington, DC, these immigrants are eager to begin a new chapter of their lives in Israel. 

“In these times of gloom and uncertainty, we never cease to be amazed and stand in awe of the resilience of the Olim who are continuing to make Aliyah despite all the challenges of COVID-19,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.  “Their yearning to return home and fulfill their dreams, underscores the visceral connection between the Jewish people and our eternal homeland.  We pray for all of them a healthy and meaningful year ahead.”

Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Penina Tamano-Shata said the 28 Olim will be joining the over 13,500 other immigrants who arrived in Israel in 2020, in order to celebrate the beginning of the Jewish New Year in the land of their forefathers.

Starting from the time of arrival, all Olim must adhere to the strict 14-day quarantine requirement imposed by the Israeli government for all arriving from the US.  

Several of the new Olim said that even though they will spend the New Year Holiday in isolation, there is nothing better than beginning their new life in Israel at the beginning of the New Year.



Air Force Commandos Get First Druze Commander

Lt. Col. “A” made history on Tuesday (15th) by being appointed the first Druze commander of the Israel Air Force’s commando unit.

The appointment will also make him the first Druze commander of any of the IDF’s four elite units: Sayeret Matkal, its top special forces unit; Shaldag; the Shayetet 13 naval commandos; and Unit 669, which carries out heliborne search, rescue and extraction missions.

Hailing from the town of Isfiya in northern Israel, Lt. Col. A began his career in the army in Shaldag, where he was also the first Druze soldier to complete the unit’s arduous training course.

“I accept this appointment with tremendous excitement, understanding the size of the responsibility, I’m ready for the challenges that lie ahead, and am prepared to continue leading the unit in its special operations and in war,” said A.

A, is currently the commander of the Golani infantry brigades special reconnaissance unit, Sayeret Golani, and commanded the successful manhunt for the killer of Staff Sgt Amit Ben Yigal, who was a member of the unit.

Staff Sgt. Yigal was taking part in an arrest raid with his unit in the northern West Bank, May 12, 2020, when a Palestinian on a roof above him threw a cement block that hit him in the head.  Even though Yigal was wearing a helmet, the block dealt a fatal blow and killed him.



Israel Has Become Too Valuable To The Arab World To Be Treated Like A Pariah – Walter Russell Mead

A tipping point seems to have been reached in the Middle East.  Resentment of Zionism and sympathy for the Palestinians will no longer be allowed to interfere with what embattled Arab rulers see as a vital relationship.  Geopolitically, conservative Arab states have long understood that their interests and Israel’s are connected.

The more the US withdraws from the region, the greater the value of Israel to the Sunni Arab world.  Growing numbers of Arab leaders believe that Israel is the only country with both the will and the means to help the Arab world defend itself from regional threats.  Beyond that, Israel is by any measure the most successful state in the Middle East with the most technologically advanced economy in the region.

The Arab rapprochement with Israel reflects a sober and serious response to realities that no Arab state can ignore.  As a military and intelligence partner, as a diplomatic force multiplier, as a trading partner, as a source of investment and of development expertise, Israel is too valuable to the Arab world to be relegated to the status of a regional pariah.  Israel has earned its place in the Middle East.

(The writer is professor of foreign affairs and the humanities at Bard College)



Jews Caused The Holocaust? Study Finds ‘Shocking’ Ignorance Among US Millennials, Gen Z

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany also known as the Claims Conference, revealed a shocking study on Wednesday (16th) that highlights the lack of knowledge American millennials and Gen Zers have about the Holocaust.

The Claims Conference’s newest study states “that nearly 20 percent of millennials and Gen Z in New York feel the Jews caused the Holocaust.”

New York is one of 15 states to require Holocaust education in schools, but the guidelines for such curricula is vague.  Louisiana, Tennessee, Montana, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Nevada and New Mexico also have 15-16 percent of millennials and Gen Zers believing Jews caused the Holocaust.

“The results are both shocking and saddening and they underscore why we must act now while Holocaust survivors are still with us to voice their stories,” Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference said.

“We need to understand why we aren’t doing better in educating our younger generation about the Holocaust and the lessons of the past.  This needs to serve as a wake-up call to us, and as a road map of where government officials need to act.”

The survey found that 63 percent of the aforementioned age groups don’t know that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.  Thirty-six percent of millennials and Jen Zers actually believe two million or fewer Jews were killed between 1938 and 1945.

The study is the first conducted by the Claims Conference in all 50 states.

“Not only was their overall lack of Holocaust knowledge troubling, but combined with the number of millennials and Gen Z who have seen Holocaust denial on social media, it is clear that we must fight this distortion of history and do all we can to ensure that the social media giants stop allowing this harmful content on their platforms,” Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider said.

“Survivors lost their families, friends, homes and communities; we cannot deny their history,” he said.

Forty-eight percent of people surveyed could not name one of the concentration or death camps that the Nazis instituted during the Holocaust.

The Claims Conference found states that require Holocaust education such as New York, California and Indiana, have higher percentages of younger people believing the Holocaust never happened.

Meanwhile, states without a Holocaust education requirement have the best knowledge, among them, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

For the study, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany partnered with Schoen Cooperman Research to interview 1,000 people nationwide and 200 interviews per state with people between 18-39 years old.