News Digest — 9/19/23

Iran’s President Warns Against Normalization With Israel

NEW YORK – Iran’s President on Monday (18th) warned against normalization with Israel, denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, and decried the US for interfering in the Middle East.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned other countries in the region not to get too close with Israel as he met with media executives on the sidelines of the world’s premier global conference, the high-level leaders’ meeting at the UN General Assembly.

“The normalization of relations with the Zionist regime does not create security,” Raisi said.

The US has been looking to broker a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, a goal long-sought by Jerusalem that could have a dramatic impact in the Middle East.  Israel has already normalized relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

Raisi also denied Iranian military support for Russia, even as the United States accused Iran of not only providing the weapons, but helping Russia build a plant to manufacture them.

The Iranian leader spoke just hours after five Americans who had been held in Iranian custody arrived in Qatar, freed in a deal that saw US President Joe Biden agree to unlock nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.

Known as a hardliner, Raisi seemingly sought to strike a diplomatic tone.  He reiterated offers to mediate the Russia-Ukraine war despite being one of  the Kremlin’s strongest backers.  And he suggested that the just concluded deal with the US that led to the prisoner exchange and asset release, could “help build trust” between the longtime foes.

Despite his remarks about trust, Raisi’s tone toward the United States wasn’t all conciliatory; he had harsh words at other moments.

Raisi said his country “sought good relations with all neighboring countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“We believe that the Americans are interfering in the countries of the Persian Gulf and other regions in the world – if they mind their own business, the situation of the countries and their relations will improve,” Raisi said.

The Iranian leader was dismissive of Western criticism of his country’s treatment of women, its nuclear program, and its crackdown on dissent, including over protests that began just a year ago after the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s mandatory headscarf law.

He compared the protests in Iran to labor strikes and demonstrations by ethnic minorities in the United States and Western Europe.

Raisi has sought, without evidence, to portray Iran’s popular nationwide demonstrations as a Western plot.

“The issue of women, hijab, human rights, and the nuclear issue,” he said, “are all pretexts by the Americans and Westerners to damage the Islamic Republic as an independent country.”



‘Carry Your Weapon,’ Israeli Police Warn Synagogue-Goers

Major General Sigal Bar-Tzvi, head of the Operations Division of the Israeli Police and the highest-ranking woman in the police force, advised Israelis who have a gun license  to carry their weapons to synagogue during the High Holy Day period.

In her comments to senior police staff regarding preparations for the remainder of the High Holy Days, Bar-Tzvi noted the increased danger, referring to the Hebrew month of Tishrei, when the holidays occur.

“Like every year ahead of the Tishrei holidays, we noted a rise in the number of warnings – in light of this, Israel police, together with the other national emergency organizations, is holding joint situational assessments, during which the level of preparedness is set,” she said. 

In a separate statement, Bar-Tzvi said that the Israel Police holds joint meetings with the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) and the IDF on a daily basis.

“The rise in the number of warnings, together with the incitement to terror, which has also increased ahead of the Tishrei holidays, brought us to special preparations in which thousands of police officers, Border Police officers, and volunteers have been stationed around the country every day, in order to prevent hostile incidents and secure places of prayer, places of entertainment, and the general public throughout the entire holiday period,” she said.

Calling on the public, Bar Tzvi advised that whoever “possesses a weapon and is skilled in its use, should carry it” during the holiday period.   

Yom Kippur, the 25-hour Day of Atonement and the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, begins next Sunday evening (24th).  This year it marks 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, which shocked Israelis that morning.

The festive eight-day Sukkot/Simchat Torah holiday begins Friday night,  September 29th.



PA Doubles ‘Pay-For-Slay’ Stipend To Terror Victim Ari Fuld’s Killer

The Palestinian Authority has doubled the terror “salary” it pays every month to Khalil Jabarin, the murderer of Israeli-American father of four, according to the Fuld family’s attorney.

Jabarin is serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison for the fatal shooting of Fuld, 45, and attempting to murder three other people at the Gush Etzion shopping area on September 16, 2018.

Fuld drew his sidearm and managed to shoot his attacker, preventing him from harming other civilians in the area, before collapsing and being rushed to the hospital, where doctors declared him dead.

The Efrat resident was posthumously awarded the Medal of Distinction, the third-highest award granted by the Israel police.

Since the attack, Jabarin’s family has received a monthly stipend as part of the PA’s practice of rewarding those who kill and wound Israelis.  The amount will increase the longer Jabarin remains in jail.

“Sunday (17th), the Palestinian Authority doubled the monthly salary it pays the terrorist murderer of Ari Fuld [of blessed memory], from $522 to $1,044,” Israeli attorney Maurice Hirsch announced on Monday (18th), noting that the PA has already paid Jabarin $25,726.

“The PA’s pay for slay policy incentivizes terror & rewards terrorists,” Hirsch wrote on X (formally Twitter), asking: “Why are the US & Eu helping the PA to reward terrorists & Jew-murderers?”

Shortly after Fuld’s murder, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, named for an American Army veteran who was visiting Israel as a graduate student and was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Jaffa, barring US funding to the PA as long as it continues its “pay for slay policy.”

However, aid continues to flow despite the US State Department acknowledging that the PA has not terminated payments for acts of terrorism against Israeli and US citizens.

On Monday morning (18th), Hillel Fuld eulogized his brother as “the Lion of Zion.”

“Five years. I cannot believe it has been that long, and if i’m being totally honest and transparent, I can’t even believe this really happened.  I can’t believe he’s really gone.  Maybe one day I’ll internalize it.  For Now?  We just all miss the goofy, passionate, motivated, truthful and learned Ari,” wrote Hillel Fuld on Facebook.



Historic Find: 9mm Bullet Made In Secret Haganah Facility Unearthed

At a depth of eight meters (26.2 feet), near a quiet kibbutz, lies the secret ammunition factory that assisted the Haganah fighters during the final days of the British Mandate.

Researchers unearthed an old 9mm bullet manufactured by the Zionist paramilitary organization Haganah at a secret factory in Rehovot during the British Mandate period.

The bullet found during an educational dig at a farm near the Governor’s House (Armon Hanatziv) in Jerusalem, had the letters A and E engraved at the base, shedding light on the projectile’s origin.

The bullet was manufactured during the 1940s at the Ayalon Institute – a secret ammunition factory of the Haganah.  The bullets produced in the factory were marked with an A for Ayalon and E for Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel).

The discovery was made during a specialized operation aimed at uncovering artifacts from the War of Independence and the Six Day War using metal detectors.  The initiative was led by the Ammunition Hill Heritage site.

Between the years 1945 and 1948, approximately 2.25 million bullets were produced at the Ayalon Institute in Rehovot, playing a critical role in the battles of the War of Independence.

The underground facilities, operated around the clock, unbeknownst to members of the kibbutz above.

In 1945, following recurring attacks by local Arabs on the Jewish settlement, Haganah commander Eliyahu Golomb and Military Industries chief Yosef Avidar decided that it was necessary to begin stockpiling weapons, despite British law prohibiting Jews from manufacturing or possessing firearms.

To meet the demand for 9mm bullets required for then Sten submachine guns they were producing, Military Industries decided to establish a munitions factory.  The chosen location was a hill near the kibbutzim, strategically situated for its relative isolation yet close to Tel Aviv, where the Haganah headquarters were based.  The area’s chalky soil facilitated deep excavation for the underground facilities.

The group selected to establish and work in the factory was “The Scouts A,” led by Shlomo Hillel, which had completed its training in Pardes Hanna and dreamed of permanently settling in a kibbutz in the area to make a living from fishing and farming.  With the assistance of people from the Haganah workshop, the Palmach, and others, the factory was built eight meters underground and was the size of a tennis court.  Above it, regular kibbutz life continued.



Don’t Give More Money To The UN’s failed Palestinian Refugee Agency –  Richard Goldberg and David May 

With heavy fighting continuing inside the Ain al-HIlweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is asking for an emergency bailout to establish alternative schooling options while militants occupy the schools that American taxpayers already funded.  Instead of throwing good money after bad, US lawmakers should put an end to UNRWA’s safe havens for terrorism, whether in Lebanon, Gaza or the West Bank.

The Palestinians are the only people for whom the UN operates a separate refugee agency.  This agency has a uniquely expansive definition of who constitutes a refugee, allowing the status to be passed automatically to male descendants of actual refugees.  Patrilineal-inherited refugee status has led UNRWA’s refugee numbers to swell from 750,000 to 5.9 million.  Yet in Lebanon, the number of Palestinian refugees has plummeted from 500,000  to fewer than 250,000 in recent years.

Notably, UNRWA does not offer resettlement as an option, which aligns with the Lebanese dispossession of its Lebanese guests.  Rather, the UN body promotes a fictitious Palestinian right to live in Israel, which would force the Jewish state to cease to be Jewish.  Yet by perpetrating the Palestinian refugee debacle, UNRWA’s approach only increases Palestinian suffering.

One day, the UN will need to dissolve UNRWA, turning over its responsibilities to host governments and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  Until that day comes, Congress should prevent taxpayer dollars provided to UNRWA from facilitating terror, hatred and human rights abuses.

Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation of Defense of Democracies (FDD), where David May is a research manager.



Israel’s UN Ambassador: “We Don’t Have a Partner For Peace” – Zvilka Klein

This week, Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said in an interview, “At the UN, we can see very clearly that we don’t have a partner for peace.  The Palestinians just want to bring an end to the idea of the Jewish State through delegitimization….In a situation where there is a complete refusal to recognize us, and there is pure anti-Semitism among these leaders, decisions are promoted in UNESCO to erase the aspect of Jewish history from places like Tel Jericho [an archaeological site with Jewish roots].”

“It’s not just a security issue that Hamas controls Gaza.  It’s the fact that the PA behaves like an enemy authority.  I hope that the American administration will also internalize this and think twice about who it pressures incorrectly and who it should be pressuring.”

“Last year the Palestinians took advantage of the General Assembly to pass a decision taking the [Israel-Palestinian] conflict to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague….We asked states to urge the tribunal not to intervene.  But if they move ahead anyway, their decisions will eliminate any chance that the next Palestinian leader will be able to be more conciliatory than what the court in The Hague [has] decided.”