News Digest — 9/8/21

Israeli President Herzog Sends Jewish New Year Greetings To Diaspora: “Israel Is Your Home Away From Home”

President Isaac Herzog issued a special greeting to Diaspora Jewry ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year – with subtitles in six languages.

“Dear friends, as we approach the New Year, 5782, I would like to extend my warmest wishes on behalf of the State of Israel and its people for a Shanah Tovah, Happy New Year, to you and your loved ones,” the President said in the video in English.

It was also available with French, Spanish, Russian, German, and Portuguese subtitles.

“On this Rosh Hashanah, and as we are heading into Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, I will be praying for the well-being of my immediate family as well as my extended family: the people of Israel and the Jewish People at large,” added Herzog.  In concluding his comments, the President told Diaspora Jews around the world that “Israel is your home away from home – and we are all looking forward to seeing you in our beloved country.”

Also last Thursday (2nd), Herzog hosted a Rosh Hashanah toast for the foreign diplomatic corps, with approximately 100 ambassadors at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.  

Addressing them, he said: “A core theme of the Jewish New Year is the ability afforded to each of us to choose between good and evil, between a sweet new year and a bitter one.”

“In the coming year, the Middle East will face these two alternatives, of good and evil.  The first choice, represented by the courageous leaders of the countries of the Abraham Accords, is the path to peace, of people-to-people ties, and of cooperation.”

The State of Israel will always be a willing partner for all countries in the region that choose the path of peace.”

Rosh Hashanah began at sundown on Monday (6th) and will end Wednesday evening (8th).



Manhunt For Fugitives Continues Into Third Day With Troops Searching Around Jenin

Israeli forces operated around the northern West Bank city of Jenin overnight Tuesday (7th) and into Wednesday (8th) as searches continued for six fugitive Palestinian security prisoners who remained on the run over two days after escaping prison.

Israel has launched a massive manhunt to capture the six, who are considered highly dangerous, after they broke out of the high-security Gilboa prison early Monday (6th) in what is considered to be among the most serious jailbreaks in the country’s history.

The military also deployed additional troops to the border with Jordan and along the seam line separating  Israel and the West Bank, according to Walla News, which said it was believed the six were still in Israeli territory.

As part of the search efforts, 89 police checkpoints were operating across Israel on Wednesday (8th) and a police source told the media that the force was also considering the possibility the fugitives could try to flee to Gaza.

Since the escape, police and military officials have beefed up security nationwide, fearing that the escapees could carry out attacks against Israeli soldiers or civilians, or inspire copycat attacks, with some Palestinians celebrating the jailbreak.

The escape is considered a highly symbolic success for the terror groups, security officials told TV networks, and is being celebrated with “euphoria” among Palestinians, especially in the refugee camp of Jenin – the area from which all six come.



The Taliban’s Palestinian Partners: Implications For The Middle East Peace Process – Dan Diker And Khaled Abu Toameh

→ The Taliban’s reconquering of Afghanistan has reenergized the global jihad’s war against the West, inspiring other regional Islamist and extremist movements, including those of the Palestinians.

→ Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad see the US pullout from Afghanistan as vindicating their longstanding ideological claims that patience pays off and that “resistance” can defeat the American-led Western alliance and dismantle the State of Israel.

→ Congratulating the Taliban on August 17, 2021, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said, “The demise of the US occupation of Afghanistan is a prelude to the demise of the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine.”

→ Palestinian statements of support for the Taliban should be understood in the context of the fundamentalist groups’ ideological rejection of America and Israel as infidels seeking to control the lands of Islam. 

→ Dr. Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian scholar and cleric, is widely considered the “father of the global jihad” and served as a mentor to Osama bin Laden.  Azzam laid the groundwork for the establishment of al-Qaeda and the Pakistani jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the deadly Mumbai, India, attack in 2008, killing 175 people.

→ Palestinian “human rights” organizations sought to undermine the American mission in Afghanistan, submitting complaints to the International Criminal Court (ICC) charging US military forces in Afghanistan and the CIA with “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”

→ The Taliban victory in Afghanistan makes it impossible for Palestinian Islamists to agree to any US peace proposal that would require any Palestinian concessions.  The Taliban’s takeover and the US withdrawal have legitimized and empowered Hamas as the new standard for “resistance” against Israel.

Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh are both fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.   



Police Investigate Swastika Painted On Jewish Man’s Home

Police in Santa Fe, New Mexico are trying to determine who spray-painted a swastika on a wall outside a home where a Jewish man lives, according to multiple sources.

Jeff Hornstein, 58, said he and his wife noticed the swastika outside their home as they returned from dinner.

He commented, saying, “I came forward because I felt that I had to stand up to hate, ignorance, and cowardice.”

“It’s not something I would really expect in Santa Fe,” said a neighbor who lives down the street…”and it’s a little too close for my comfort…it’s frightening.”

Hornstein, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher who works with the immigrant community, filed a report with the police and the Anti-Defamation League.

“At this point, we don’t have any suspects,” Santa Fe Police Lt. Sean Strahan said.  “We have nothing else to go on.”

As of now, they’re calling the painted swastika an act of vandalism and not a hate crime.

“I can’t convince myself that this is a coincidence.” Hornstein said.

“It’s important that it does not get painted over – out of sight, out of mind,” he said.  “It’s important people understand these things happen.”

The ADL has reported 50 hate crimes in New Mexico in 2020.

In May, a University of New Mexico student was targeted due to his Jewish identity and assaulted by a group of individuals at a party.



Ancient Quarry Discovered In Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) found an ancient quarry last week on Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim, or Stonecutter’s Mountain, that may date as far back as two thousand years, to the time of the Second Temple.

As mandated by law the dig was carried out prior to work in the area by the Moriah Company – the Jerusalem Development Company.  Just under 2,000 feet of the quarry was uncovered, but it is likely two to three times larger than the area that has been exposed. 

The location of the quarry made good business sense, considering the eagerness of various kings of Israel to construct important buildings nearby.

“The large building projects of antiquity in Jerusalem, such as the Temple Mount, required a large amount of building materials organized and coordinated for the quarrying and transport of thousands of building blocks to the Old City,” said IAA archaeologist Moran Hajabi, who conducted the excavation.  “Thus large, square blocks of stone were exposed just before they were cut off from the bedrock, prior to loading and transporting them to the Old City,” he said. 

Some of the blocks that were found in the quarry are particularly large, 6.5 ft. by 5.9ft.  This reminds even the most amateur archaeologist of the huge stones that can be found in the Second-Temple-era Western Wall.

“For us archaeologists, this quarry is a golden opportunity; the fact that some of the stones were left on site allows us to learn the ancient process of quarrying the building blocks,” Hajabi added.

According to the IAA, all the stages of quarrying and stone processing can be seen in this particular site.  They also have hewing tools from other similarly aged sites.  Several archaeologists and conservationists therefore intend to use the knowledge they have gained to do some stone cutting the old-fashioned way.

The experiment will allow the modern builders to test the effectiveness of methods described in Scriptures.

“This northern region of the capital had many such quarries,” according to IAA head Eli Escosido, “and revealing them is very apropo, especially now.”

“In a symbolic way, the development drive in Jerusalem today is that which enables us to expose and examine the huge construction projects of ancient Jerusalem,” something that Escosido believes is very important “for future generations” to know.

It is also important that the high-tech center of Jerusalem, which brings a hefty amount of business to the city and the country as a whole, is located in what was probably one of the biggest centers of business in its earliest iteration as a city and capital of the Jewish state.