November 6, 2018

Jews And Supporters Fill Synagogues In Pittsburgh And Throughout The Country

The three congregations targeted in last weeks deadly attack on their shared synagogue building met separately and behind closed doors on Friday night (2nd), while around the Jewish world thousands of Jews and people of all faiths attended synagogues on Shabbat in solidarity with the Pittsburgh Jewish community.

Tree of Life, Dor Hadash and New Light congregations held private Friday night services in host congregations since their building remains a crime scene after the shooting on October 27th, leaving 11 worshipers from all three congregations dead.

On Shabbat morning, an overflow crowd described as larger than a Yom Kippur service, crowded into the Beth Shalom sanctuary in suburban  Pittsburgh. Rabbi Jeff Myers of Tree of Life congregation, who survived the murderous attack, spoke at the service.

The survivors of the attack stood on the bima and recited the Gomel blessing, for those who have lived through a dangerous experience.

At 9:52 the crowd observed a silence of one minute and 11 seconds marking the time that Rabbi Myers made the first call to 911.

Hundreds of people also gathered outside the Tree of Life building on Saturday morning (3rd) for an impromptu prayer service and vigil.

A day earlier, Rabbi Myers welcomed to Pittsburgh the pastor of the African American church in Charleston, SC, where nine parishioners were shot to death in a racist attack in 2015.  The Rev. Eric S.C. Manning of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church also read from Psalm 23 at the funeral for 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, the oldest of the victims.



Netanyahu Praises ‘Historic’ Move To Reinstate US Sanctions On Iran

Just before restoring US sanctions on Iran, which had been lifted in 2015 under an international nuclear deal, the Trump administration carved out exemptions on Friday (2nd) for eight countries that can still import oil from the Islamic republic without penalty.

The US sanctions took effect Monday (5th) and cover Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors.  They comprise the second round of sanctions that the administration has reimposed since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord in May.

The 2015 deal gave Iran billions of dollars in sanction relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, which many believed was geared toward developing atomic weapons.  Trump repeatedly denounced the agreement as the “worst ever” negotiated by the United States and said it gave Iran too much in return for too little.

On Saturday (3rd), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch opponent of the nuclear agreement, praised the restoration of US sanctions on Iran, saying that Trump had made an “historic” decision by restoring sanctions against “the murderous terror regime in Iran that is endangering the entire world.”

In a statement issued by his office, Netanyahu said “The effect of the initial sanctions is already felt,” referring to a financial crisis in Iran that has triggered sporadic protests.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer echoed Netanyahu’s statements, tweeting Friday (2nd): “Thank you, Mr. President, for restoring sanctions against an Iranian regime that vows and works to destroy the Jewish state.”



Hamas Scales Back Gaza Violence Amid Ceasefire Efforts

Gaza’s Hamas rulers toned down violent riots on the territory’s border fence with Israel as Egypt stepped up efforts to restore calm, making Friday (2nd) the quietest day of months of violent Hamas-orchestrated confrontations.

Only a few thousand Palestinians rallied at the frontier, in one of the lowest turnouts since the weekly riots began in March.  No attempts to breach the border fence were reported.

While Hamas wants relief from a crippling 11-year-old blockade on Gaza, it threatened Israel even as it attempted to appease Egyptian negotiators leading diplomatic efforts.

“We are following the efforts and Israel is being tested,” said Khalil al-Hayya, a senior official from the terror group.

“If lifting the siege is late, you will experience in the winter what you did not see in the summer,” he said, threatening Israel.

Egypt and Israel largely sealed their borders with Gaza after Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007 in a bloody coup in which it overthrew the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority.

Hamas’ riots have involved widespread use of civilian human shields, with protesters burning large piles of tires and using the smoke as a screen to fire on Israeli troops and hurl rocks, fire bombs and grenades at IDF soldiers.   



Israel’s PM In Bulgaria: ‘Militant Islam Attacks Arabs, Europeans and Israelis’

During a visit to Bulgaria last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov: “This friendship goes back centuries.  During your most recent visit to Israel, we unveiled a monument in Tel Aviv honoring the heroic rescue of Bulgarian Jews during the Holocaust. We’ll never forget it.  The people of Israel remember and appreciate the Bulgarian citizens who laid themselves down on the train tracks to prevent the deportation of Bulgarian Jews from Sofia.”

“We are part of the same civilization, a civilization that values liberty, peace and progress, and today this civilization is under attack, most notably by the forces of militant Islam.  Militant Islam attacks all of us. It attacks Arabs. It attacks Europeans. It attacks Israelis. It attacks everyone. The most potent force of militant Islam is the Iranian regime. It’s devouring one nation after the other – in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq and elsewhere.  And it’s killing civilians around the world. We even uncovered recently several Iranian attempts to launch terrorist attacks on the soils of Europe.”



ISIS Gunmen KIll 7 Coptic Christians On Bus Carrying Pilgrims

CAIRO – ISIS terrorists on Friday (2nd) ambushed a bus carrying Coptic Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert monastery south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, killing at least seven and wounding twelve, the Interior Ministry said.

Church spokesman Bouls Halim said the death toll in Friday’s attack was likely to rise.  Local church officials in Minya province where the attack took place, put the death toll at 10.

The local Islamic State group affiliate (ISIS), which spearheads the militant fighting security forces in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack.  It said the attack was revenge for the imprisonment by Egyptian authorities of “our chaste sisters” but did not elaborate.

Friday’s (2nd) attack is the second to target pilgrims heading to St Samuel the Confessor monastery in as many years.  The previous attack in May 2017 left nearly 30 people dead.

The attack last year was the latest in a deadly series that targeted Coptic churches in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta north of the capital.  Those attacks, all claimed by the Islamic State group, left at least 100 people dead and led to tighter security around Christian places of worship and other church-linked facilities.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who account for 10 percent of the country’s 100 million people, have complained of discrimination in the Muslim majority country for many years.