News Digest — 9/3/20

No Jerusalem For UAE: Embassy In Tel Aviv, With Haifa Or Nazareth Eyed For Consulate

While the establishment of their embassy in Tel Aviv is a given, the UAE is also considering opening a consulate in the northern part of Israel to be closer to the center of Israeli Arab life in the country, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday (2nd).

Nazareth is the Emirates’ first choice, with Haifa being another possibility due to its more strategic location, the paper said.

“Although we are signing a peace agreement with the Jewish State, the actual peace is being made with all Israelis,” said a senior Emirati official in the Foreign Ministry to the daily.  “It’s very important for us to be accessible to the Israeli Arab population in Israel, whom we see as an important and central partner in a warm peace accord.”

“The consulate would act as an education center to teach Israel’s Arab cousins all about the UAE,” he added.

“Based on various studies conducted through questionnaires and the data we have collected, it became clear to us that there are information gaps among Palestinian Arabs in Israel regarding the history of the United Arab Emirates and its role in the pan-Arab fabric,” he said.  A consulate would “engage in activities in the fields of Emirati culture, regional history, language, linguistics and more.”

While Egypt has a consulate in Eilat as the closest city to its border with Israel, this would be the first Arab diplomatic branch in the north dedicated to developing ties with its fellow co-religionists in the Jewish State.

The UAE says the establishment of its physical presence in Israel is something that can be done quickly.  The official gave a timeline of three-to-five months before Israelis will be able to get their visas to the Gulf state at the embassy.

Tourism was one of the major topics discussed on Tuesday (1st) in Abu Dhabi between Israeli and Emirati officials, after the historical first flight from Tel Aviv landed in the Arab capital.

Other talks centered on finance, health, space, science and commerce.



Amnesty Details Brutal Iranian Torture Policy

Amnesty International released a brutal new report Wednesday (2nd) that details how the Iranian government viciously tortured, abused and even executed Iranian citizens who took part in nationwide protests against government policies.

Violent protest erupted throughout Iran last November in response to the regime’s decision to double the price of gasoline.  Hundreds of Iranians were shot and killed during the protests and hundreds more were arrested and jailed for expressing their opposition to the government.

“In the days following the mass protests, videos showing Iran’s security forces deliberately killing and injuring unarmed protesters and bystanders sent shockwaves around the world,” the Amnesty report said.  “Much less visible has been the catalogue of cruelty meted out to detainees and their families by Iranian officials away from the public eye.”

The Amnesty report describes with gruesome details what it called a “torture epidemic” conducted by Iran’s police, intelligence forces, security forces and prison officials.

Hundreds of Iranians were tortured including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemical substances, and deprivation of medical care.

Amnesty said the “catalogue of shocking human rights violations” was carried out with the complicity of judges and prosecutors in a government-administered “campaign of mass repression” in which 7,000 men, women and children as young as 10 were arrested by the Iranian authorities.

Since the 1979 revolution that established the regime of the ayatollahs, Iran has been ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for human rights abuses.  The organization Reporters Without Borders has examined Iran’s record closely and calls it “one of the world’s most repressive countries.”

Iran is known as an exporter of terrorism, sponsoring and supporting terrorist groups around the Middle East including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, both of which echo the Iranian doctrine calling for the destruction of Israel.

The Amnesty report comes after the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran issued a report last year describing human rights abuses ranging from religious persecution and suppression of women’s rights to the execution of children.  Following that report the United Nations approved a resolution condemning Iran for its systematic policies of “discrimination and other human rights violations.”



IDF Nabs Palestinian Who Entered Israel From Gaza with Explosive Device Nearby

Israeli troops arrested a Palestinian man who crossed the border from the southern Gaza Strip late Wednesday night (2nd), the military said.  A bomb was found nearby, along with an eight-inch knife.

The military said the arrest of the suspect “foiled an attempted terror attack.”

The suspect infiltrated into Israel near the community of Ein Hashlosha.  He was arrested near the security fence, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF said the suspect was being interrogated by troops, and that sappers were brought in to inspect and defuse the explosive device.

The incident came two days after Israel and terror groups in the Strip agreed to a ceasefire, following weeks of violence along the border and retaliatory strikes by the IDF.

For nearly all of August, Gaza-based terror groups launched hundreds of explosive and incendiary balloons, as well as rockets, across the border fence with Israel, which responded by conducting nightly airstrikes against Hamas targets and closing the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with Gaza, to fuel and construction materials.



Excavators Find ‘Magnificent’ Palace In Jerusalem

In what has been described as an “exciting discovery,” the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed on Thursday (3rd) remains from a palace overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City dating back to the First Temple Period.

“A rare impressive, and very special collection of several dozen adorned architectural stone artifacts, which together were part of a magnificent structure, was discovered,” the agency said in a statement.  “These stone artifacts are made of soft limestone with decorative carvings, and among them are capitals of various sizes in the architectural style known as ‘Proto-Aeolian’ – one of the most significant royal building features of the First Temple Period.”

According to the IAA, the findings carry significant meaning due to the state in which they were found and their prominent location within the palace.

“This is a very exciting discovery.  This is a first-time discovery of scaled-down models of the giant Proto-Aeolian capitals, of the kind found thus far in the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, where they were incorporated above the royal palace gates.  The level of workmanship of these capitals is the best seen to date, and the degree of preservation of the items is rare,” the director of the excavation, Yaakov Billig, said.

“This discovery, along with the palace previously uncovered in Ramat Rachel and the administrative center recently uncovered by the Israeli Antiquities Authority on the slopes of Arnona [another neighborhood in Jerusalem], attests to a new revival in the city and a somewhat ‘exit from the walls’ of the First Temple Period, after the Assyrian siege.  We reveal villas, mansions and government buildings in the area outside the walls of the city.  This testifies to the relief felt by the city’s residents and the recovery of Jerusalem’s developments after the Assyrian threat was over,” Billig continued.

It is unclear who lived in the palace, according to the IAA, but there is speculation that it could have served royalty or prominent families.

“Who was privileged to live in the monumental structure possessing a breathtaking view of the City of David and the Temple?  Was it one of the kings of Judah, or was it perhaps a Jerusalemite family of nobility and wealth during the First Temple Period?” the agency asked in its statement.



Target Removes Costume Resembling Clothes Worn By Jewish Diarist Anne Frank

A costume that appears to look like an outfit worn by the young Jewish diarist Anne Frank during World War II and the Holocaust, has been removed from Target’s website, a spokesperson for the retailer told JNS on Tuesday (1st).

“I can confirm that as of this afternoon, that costume has been pulled and is no longer on,” said the spokesperson.

The item description read, “Is your child studying World War II or the Holocaust?  Now you can help her transport back in time to the 1940s.  They say that dressing up can be an important learning technique and this WW2 girl costume for kids will be the perfect learning tool.”

Retailers have previously been censured for selling World War II and Holocaust-inspired clothing, and other merchandise.  The clothing in this particular case had no yellow star that was worn to designate Jews throughout Europe.

On August 4, 1944, after 25 months in hiding in Amsterdam, Anne Frank and her older sister, Margot, were rounded up and sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.  In February 1945, they died of typhus.

Only the girls’ father Otto Frank, survived after being liberated from Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945.