News Digest — 9/5/19

Netanyahu On Way To London: ‘Now Is Not The Time To Talk To Iran’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a warning to Iran, as he boarded a flight to London Thursday morning (5th) to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

“Today we were told about another violation carried out by Iran, this time in relation to nuclear proliferation.  It’s part of the aggressive actions of Iran in the international sphere and part of their attempts to carry out attacks against Israel, attempts which have not halted,” he said.

“This is not the time to carry out talks with Iran, this is the time to pressure Iran.”

“I’m going for a lightning visit to London to meet with the prime minister Boris Johnson and the US defense secretary Mark Esper to discuss things which are important to Israel at every opportunity.”

Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin and the IDF Head of Operations Directorate Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva are joining Prime Minister Netanyahu on his trip to London.

Mike Pence will also be in London.  Netanyahu aides said they did not know whether he would meet with him. 

Meanwhile, as Netanyahu makes his way to Britain, BBC Two has come under fire for featuring in a new documentary an activist who defended the anti-Semitic spray-painting of a Warsaw Ghetto wall.  Novara Media senior editor Ash Sarkar is included in the three-part program “Rise of the Nazis,” which premiered on Monday (2nd).

In September 2018, the self-proclaimed Communist and BDS supporter expressed “solidarity” with those who spray-painted “free Gaza and Palestine, liberate all Ghettos” on one of the last remaining parts of the Warsaw Ghetto wall.

British Jewish historian and professor Sir Simon Schama called Sarkar’s inclusion in the documentary “really appalling.”



Netanyahu: ‘We Will Remain In Hebron Forever’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday (4th) during a memorial service to the 1929 Arab riots in Hebron that “We are not strangers in Hebron and will remain in the city forever.”

“We are not here to disinherit anyone, but no one will disinherit us from here,” he said.

“We have come here to unite in memory, to express victory over bloodthirsty rioters who committed this horrific massacre 90 years ago,” the prime minister said.

“They were sure they uprooted us for good, but they made a huge mistake,” he added.

Earlier in the ceremony, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that “it is time to impose sovereignty” on the city.

“We did not return in all our might to this place, a place where our legacy lies and where Jews have dreamed about for generations,” he said.  “It’s time that the Jewish settlement in Hebron grows by the thousands.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev also called on Netanyahu to annex the city of Hebron, saying that “it’s time that we uphold the pledge we have with our patriarchs and be sovereigns over the West Bank and Hebron.  Tel Aviv and Hebron are no different.”

“We have no right to settle in Tel Aviv, Dimona or Kiryat Shmona if we don’t understand the meaning of Hebron,” she added.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin attended another memorial service in the city earlier Wednesday (4th) and said that “Hebron is not a barrier for peace.”

“It’s all up to us and our will.  Hope is where we stand. Jews have returned to the home of their fathers,” he said.

“Israel must work to improve the quality of life in the area for all its inhabitants,” the president added, referring to both the Arab and Jewish population of the city.



Hezbollah’s Demographic Problem Could Explain Its Restraint – Hillel Frisch

→ Israel’s alleged attack in Dahiye, the Beirut Shiite neighborhood where Hezbollah is headquartered, was met with a very limited response, sending a signal, acknowledged by the Israeli side, that Hezbollah wanted to avoid escalation that would lead to all-out war.

→ There are several reasons why Hezbollah is restrained, but probably the most important has to do with its demographic predicament.  Hezbollah’s recruitment pool is strictly limited to the Shiite community in Lebanon which numbers 1-1.5 million people.

→ The community is suffering from a rapidly declining birth rate similar to the declining rate in Iran – less than is needed to maintain the existing population.  Moreover, small families are reluctant to sacrifice what is all too often their only son in a society where the two-child family becomes the norm.

→ Hezbollah has been sacrificing Shiite blood for the last 37 years.  The ardor to sacrifice is hard to maintain.

→ It’s also a problem Hezbollah hardly can encounter.  Declining birth rates are the result of urbanization.  Most Lebanese Shiites live in the multi-storied apartment buildings of Dahiye as opposed to the small villages and towns in the past.

→ In the city, children can no longer help on the farm, becoming consumers rather than producers.  The parents want them educated, and many want to see them in Canada and Australia rather than fighting Iran’s wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

→ The balance between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon has grown in favor of the former as hundreds of thousands of Syrian Sunnis found refuge there.  Shiite Hezbollah, then, faces a more uncertain future in Lebanon itself, as a result.

The writer is a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at its Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.



Israel Sends Firefighters To Help Brazil Battle Amazon Fires

Israel, Tuesday night (3rd) dispatched a team of firefighters to assist Brazil with combating current fires that are consuming large swaths of the country’s Amazon rainforest.

The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday (3rd) that after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the matter with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, an 11-member team left right away to assist Brazilian authorities with search-and-rescue and wildfire operations. 

Israel and Brazil have strengthened bilateral ties since Bolsonaro took office earlier this year.  Netanyahu made the first state visit by an Israeli leader in December 2018, days before Bolsonaro’s inauguration, then rolled out the red carpet for the Brazilian leader in April.

August saw the highest number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon since 2010 and a sharp increase compared to the year before.

Israeli firefighters have significant experience battling major blazes.

Since March 2018, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have launched near-daily arson attacks on southern Israel using airborne incendiary devices launched with balloons, kites, and even a live falcon.

Palestinian arson terror has caused millions of dollars of damage in Israel, destroying thousands of acres of Israeli farmland and nature preserves.



Kentucky Governor Signs Anti-BDS Legislation

Kentucky Governor Matthew Bevin was joined by Congressman Andy Barr, Rabbi Shlomo Litvin of Chabad of the Bluegrass, and Kentucky State Senate President Robert Stivers as he signed Senate Bill 143, which codified into law the governor’s executive order from November of 2018.  The executive order was aimed at companies engaged in the anti-Semitic Boycott-Divest-Sanctions movement against the Jewish State of Israel.

Members of the Jewish communities across the state gathered to participate in the celebration.

“My colleagues and I condemn the BDS movement,” said Barr, “and we have sent a letter to the Office of Foreign Asset Control requesting an update on the federal government’s oversight of non-governmental organizations engaged in anti-Semitic hate against our allies in Israel and the Jewish people worldwide.”

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin thanked all those who stood up for what is right, “friends and allies like our governor,” he said, “who are willing to stand in the gap, facing-off against anti-Semitism.”

Kentucky became the 26th state to pass legislation against the anti-Semitic BDS movement.  The law passed on August 27th by a large majority.