News Digest — 9/29/22

Survey: Absolute Majority Favors Jewish State, Not A ‘State Of All Its Citizens’

A survey conducted by the Smith Institute revealed that 67% of the adult Jewish population in Israel prefer that the State of Israel be run as a Jewish state, compared to only 27% who believe that the state should be run as a ‘state for all citizens’ an expression meaning there should be no national aspirations for the Jews as a people in the country.

The survey was commissioned by ‘Chotam,’ an organization that promotes maintenance of the collective Jewish identity of the Israeli population.  In the survey, the respondents were classified according to their votes in the last elections in March 2021.

Among National Unity voters, 90% of the respondents believe that the state should be a Jewish state.  The National Unity list is made up of the Blue and White party and New Hope.

Among Blue and White voters, a majority  of 51% want Israel as a Jewish state compared to 39% who want Israel as a state for all its citizens.  Among New Hope voters, 79% want a Jewish state compared to only 21% who want a state for all its citizens.  Among right-wing voters in general, over 75% answered that they want a Jewish state.

Segmented by age, the survey shows that of a large majority of young people in Israel between the ages of 18-34, 71% believe that the country should be a Jewish state.

Chotam CEO Amital Bareli said in response to the survey findings: “The survey clearly proves that an absolute majority of the public in Israel wants a Jewish state, supports a Jewish identity, and cannot accept the concept of a state of all its citizens, promoted by the extreme left, with their attempts to hurt the  Jewish character of the country.  Dealing with the issue today is much more complex than in the past.  It comprises a cultural struggle concerning our self-definition.  This is what the public in Israel is going to vote on in the upcoming elections.”

“Unfortunately, foreign money has flooded Israel via many organizations which try to create the impression that the public in Israel does not want a Jewish state, organizations that operate in a variety of arenas to obscure and harm the State of Israel and its Jewish identity.  They take issue after issue intending to cause everything to disintegrate the state and change Israel.  The public must stand up to this and give a clear win at the ballot box.  The survey proves that the public is not confused, and this year, with the help of God, the people of Israel will win,” added Bareli.



Firefighters Battle Several Major Brush Fires Raging Across Israel

Dozens of firefighters were called up to battle several major brush fires raging in different locations across Israel on Wednesday (28th).

Around 25 firefighting teams and eight aircraft arrived on the scene and worked to extinguish a blaze that broke out at Nir’s Cliff in northern Israel.

Hikers were evacuated from the area and fire services were working to protect the nearby Kibbutz Manara as strong winds hindered extensive firefighting efforts.  There was no immediate danger to nearby homes.

“For a while, firefighters worked in two very extensive sectors in the Upper Galilee where one fire threatened a Kibbutz and another threatened Kiryat Shmona,” a Fire and Rescue services official said, noting that extensive fires were typical for this time of year.

Another wild fire broke out in a field in Wadi Ara near the central city of Umm al-Fahm. The fire brigade and volunteers were working on four different scenes to get the fires under control.

Meanwhile, close to 30 firefighting teams were called to fight a conflagration that raged between Latrun and Sha’ar HaGai in the Jerusalem area.

On Tuesday (27th), five firefighting teams and four aircraft extinguished a wildfire near the Sea of  Galilee after a three-hour battle.  Due to the heavy smoke and the fear of the fire spreading, at least 70 hikers that were staying near the coast were evacuated.



Chief Of Staff Approves Targeted Eliminations In Judea And Samaria

IDF Chief of Staff Major General Aviv Kochavi on Wednesday (28th) held a situation assessment at the Central Command amid the recent security events in Judea and Samaria.

The head of the Central Command, Major General Yehuda Fuchs, and the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Major General Avi Bluth, presented the main points of the situation, and the activities of the forces as part of Operation Break the Wave.

 Channel 13 News reported that the Chief of Staff approved the use of targeted killings of terrorists from the air “in certain cases, if there is no other way to deal with them.”

Kochavi said, “Every day and night, our forces arrest wanted persons, operate under fire and thwart terrorist activities.  Even this morning (Wednesday 28th) we carried out a complex operation in the Jenin refugee camp, which was carried out with determination and professionalism and whose purpose was to thwart a concrete threat.”

“We will continue to prepare for the full spectrum of scenarios, and we will act as necessary at any time and in any place in order to ensure the safety of the residents of the State of Israel,” added Chief of Staff Kochavi.

On Wednesday morning (28th), two terrorists were shot and killed during a gun battle with IDF forces and Border Police in Jenin.

One of the terrorists was the brother of Raad Khazem, who opened fire in a crowded club in Tel Aviv this past April, killing two people and wounding eight.

The IDF later released a video recording from a drone that shows footage from the Jenin gun battle showing explosives set by the terrorists going off.  Israeli forces anticipated such a scenario and were able to avoid harm to themselves.



Arafat’s Nephew Retired To Gaza To Challenge ‘Totalitarian Abbas’

A former Palestinian foreign minister and nephew of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has returned to Gaza a year after fleeing in order to challenge the ‘totalitarian’ leadership of Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas “does whatever he wants, without any consideration to anything,” Nasser al-Kidwa said, according to AFP.  “Neither the law, nor institutions, nor traditions, even family traditions, matter to him.”

Kidwa said he returned to Gaza because going into Judea and Samaria would pose a threat to his life by his enemies in the ruling Ramallah government.

Last year, he was ousted from Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction, (which Yasser Arafat co-founded in 1959), after attempting to build a candidates-list to replace PA Leader Abbas’ own list in legislative polls that were later nixed.

According to Kidwa, Palestinian institutions have been intentionally destroyed by the PA.

“He (Abbas) is ruling by decree, and decrees that are ridiculous,” he said, AFP reported.  “During (Yasser) Arafat’s time there was political disagreement…but not fear.”

Kidwa warned that the lack of a successor to Abbas made him the likelihood of violence erupting, following the death of the 86-year-old leader, very high.

According to IDF Col. (res.) David Hacham, a senior research associate at the MirYam Institute, the power struggle raging over who will succeed Abbas has turned Judea and Samaria into a powder keg waiting to explode.

Some of the candidates to succeed Abbas are backed by armed militias that carry out their orders.  As a result, political strife may flare up and turn into violent eruptions, though the possible successors may also be able to settle their differences without a civil war.  The most likely scenario is a limited internal clash,” Hacham told JNS earlier this month.

“Individual behavior [in these areas] is governed more by traditional tribal/clan rules than by the judicial system or the PA’s security forces,” he said.  “Tensions in the Palestinian arena are connected to the PA’s weakness, with PA security personnel fearful of dealing with terrorist gunmen and avoiding decisive action against them on the ground.”

In June, Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheik was appointed secretary-general of the PLO and head of the PLO negotiating team, with some claiming the appointments marked him as a de facto successor to Abbas.

However, al-Sheik is vastly unpopular with both Fatah and the Palestinians in general, and is labeled a collaborator with Israel.



South Korea Ratifies Free Trade Deal With Israel

A free trade deal between Israel and South Korea is poised to go into effect later this year, after it cleared its final hurdle, the Israeli Economy Ministry announced Wednesday (28th).

In May 2021, Israel and South Korean officials inked the free trade agreement, the first of its kind signed between the Jewish state and a country in East Asia.

The agreement slashes tariffs on the vast majority of imported goods traded between the countries, and also lifts tariffs on investments.  Once the deal goes into effect, more than 95% of Israeli goods sold to South Korea will be duty free.

The South Korean parliament ratified the deal on Tuesday (27th), and on Wednesday (28th), Israel announced that the agreement would go into effect on December 1st.  

Israel’s Economy Minister expressed optimism that the deal would make Israeli exporters more competitive, putting them on equal footing with exporters from the other 18 nations with similar free trade agreements with Seoul. 

The ministry said the deal would boost Israel’s economy by about $141 million per year.

Furthermore, the lifting of tariffs on investments could encourage South Korean businesses to invest in Israel’s tech sector.

The tariff reductions will also lower prices of consumer goods exported from South Korea to Israel, including toys, cars, video games, and more.



Most Popular Travel Destinations During Jewish High-Holidays

The Jewish New Year has just begun and the vast majority (75.3%) of Israelis will take advantage of the holidays to travel around the country, a survey conducted by the Geocartography Research Institute and commissioned by Israel Hayom shows.

Eilat, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee region are the most popular destinations (18.1% each), followed by the Golan Heights (12.6%), the Galilee (11.2%), the Dead Sea (8.4%) and Jerusalem (7.9%).  Some will also vacation in Tel Aviv (4.2%), the Negev and the Haifa region (2.3% each).

But although most Israelis (41.6%) have decided to stay in the country, some (33.7%) will fly abroad for a seven-day vacation on average, and only 35% plan to skip out on travel entirely this holiday season.

Popular destinations abroad include Italy (9.8%), the Greek Islands (9.2%), mainland Greece (5.7%), the United Arab Emirates and Britain (5.2% each), Spain (4.6%), and Austria and China (4% each).

The Jewish High-Holidays began on Sunday evening (25th) and will end in mid-October.