Daily Briefing: Wednesday’s News of the Week in Review (August 28, 2019)

Symbol of the Israel Defense Forces (Source:Wikipedia)



“Tel Aviv’s aggression in Beirut was Netanyahu’s big miscalculation. The expected response will be shocking and crippling. No doubt, the Zionists will pay a huge price for their aggression in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The equation will change. Safeguarding sustainable security is the region’s red line.” — Iranian Parliament’s General Director for International Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted.  He was responding to Israel’s recent attacks on Lebanon and Syria during which they claimed to have blown up Iranian armed drones over northern Israel.  (Jewish Press, Aug. 27, 2019)

Israeli troops on Lebanon’s border should “stand on a leg and a half and wait for our response which may take place at any time on the borders and beyond the borders.” — Hezbollah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah said speaking from a bunker in Beirut.  Analysts who watched Nasrallah’s address and have monitored his actions over the years say he intends to act on his threats. Nasrallah was responding to the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) attack on Iranian terror targets in southern Syria that prevented a pending, large-scale attack of multiple killer drones. Analysts in Israel and in the Arab world say that Israel should also prepare for an attack from Gaza. (Jewish Press, Aug. 27, 2019)

“I don’t give Iran immunity anywhere. Iran is a country, power, who has declared her desire to annihilate Israel. She is trying to establish bases against us everywhere. In Iran itself, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen.” — Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 9. Israel recently struck a weapons depot in Iraq it believed Iran was using to move weapons to Syria, expanding its campaign to target Tehran’s military presence in the Middle East. (WSJ, Aug. 23, 2019)

“Accordingly, taking any actions by the judicial and security apparatuses against the FDD and their Iranian and non-Iranian accomplices will be considered legitimate as their actions are against Iran’s national security and the interests of the Iranian people and government.” – The Iranian semi-official state news agency Mehr said of the foreign ministry statement. The Iranian foreign ministry blamed the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and its CEO Mark Dubowitz for practicing “economic terrorism” against Iran through “spreading lies, lobbyism” and “propaganda.” the FDD defiantly tweeted that “FDD conducts independent research and analysis on national security issues. The Islamic Republic prohibits such freedoms at home and would like to do so abroad as well.” (Algemeiner, Aug. 25, 2019)

“The Palestinians need to accept [Trump’s] proposal or stop complaining.” – Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, in a meeting with leaders of Jewish communities in the US in April, said in response to Hamas’s year-long violent clashes along the Gaza-Israel border fence.  Shortly afterward, in an interview in The Atlantic, the Crown Prince said he acknowledges the right of the Jewish People to their own country and land. (BESA, Aug. 25, 2019)

 “Thus far, Israel and the Middle East have not been major issues in the 2020 Democratic Primary. That has to change. With the progressive zeitgeist in America moving so strongly and swiftly against Israel, the American people need to know where these candidates stand on the issue. It will not be enough to simply say that there are divergent opinions in the Democratic caucus; men and women who wish to be president must decisively back the right of Israel to defend itself and vociferously oppose any efforts to punish Israel economically.” – Political columnist David Markus commenting on the brouhaha over Reps. Ilhan Omar’s and Rashida Tlaib’s cancelled trip to Israel.  (NY Post, Aug. 23, 2019)

 “One thing the left gets wrong is that they think that Sweden has this sort of warm, friendly, fuzzy capitalist thing—no layoffs, no fierce competition, protecting the old companies and so on. And it’s really the total opposite. It’s more deregulated. The product markets are much fiercer competition, much more free trade. All of the companies know that they have to be world champions, or they will be destroyed.” — Swedish author and historian Johan Norberg clarifies misconceptions regarding the socialist nature of Sweden and Norway who, he says, are aren’t in line with American socialists like Ms. Nixon, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “All of their [these three Democrats who are pushing socialism] models that they could point to, given a couple of years, they end up in famine and killing. So, they always come back to Scandinavia in the end.”  Scandinavia, he says, engaging in “ruthless capitalism.”  (WSJ, Aug. 23, 2019)

“Past generations of oppressed Americans have bested their oppressors by appealing to their conscience and self-interest. But if a new origin story were to tell us that our ideals have always been a sham (as opposed to being honored too much in the breach), and that the whole story of America is one of unremitting oppression (as opposed to the far-too-gradual relief of oppression), then we would lose the mechanism of self-reproach by which past progress was made.” – Columnist Bret Stephens contributing to the NYTimes 1619 project. The project “corrects the record, reframing the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and racism,” according to the newspaper. (NYT, Aug. 23, 2019)




RASHIDA TLAIB’S VILLAGE AND FAMILY ARE THRIVING IN THE HOLY LAND (Beit-Ur al-Fauqa) – Contrary US Congresswoman Tlaib’s claims, conditions in the ‘Palestinian’ village of Beit-Ur al-Fauqa, where Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s elderly grandmother and other family members live are not bad.  The World Bank said in 2014 that the village is one of the richest in the region. The poverty rate in the village stood at 7.4 percent in 2014, compared to the overall rate of 21 percent in the Palestinian Authority.  Tlaib’s family members all drive expensive cars, live in comfortable buildings, and often visit cities within the Green Line (pre-1967 borders.) (Jewish Press, Aug. 27, 2019)


LIKUD PRESSURING OTZMA YEHUDIT AND ZEHUT PARTIES TO DROP OUT OF ELECTION (Jerusalem) — Likud negotiator Natan Eshel has reportedly pressured Otzma Yehudit Party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir to drop out of the race, while Likud officials are said to have offered Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin an economy-related ministry position, to cover all of his campaign costs to date and legalize personal use of marijuana—one of Zehut’s central campaign promises—if his party withdraws. The Otzma Yehudit and Zehut parties are unlikely to garner enough seats to enter the Knesset, according to polls published Monday by Israel’s Kan public broadcaster. (Jewish Press, Aug. 27, 2019)


AS US-IRAN TENSIONS ESCALATE, JEWS ARE WARNED THEY COULD BE TARGETED (Washington) — When Iran threatened the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a leading Washington think tank,  with sanctions and other unspecified measures, it raised red flags. With tensions between the Unites States and Iran on the rise, U.S. government officials are warning Jewish communities across the country to be on the lookout for threats that could originate with Iran or its proxies, including the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. Several weeks ago, Secure Community Network (SCN), the security arm of national Jewish organizations, had convened a call for Jewish security officials across the country with officials from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the National Counterterrorism Center to discuss the potential threat from Iran and Hezbollah. The focus of the briefing was on physical and cyber threats, areas in which Iran and its proxies have carried out successful attacks. (JTA, Aug. 27, 2019)


‘CRAPPY JEW YEAR’: NEW YORK TIMES’ EDITOR APOLOGIZES FOR ANTI-SEMITIC TWEETS IN 2010 (NYC) — “I have deleted tweets from a decade ago that are offensive. I am deeply sorry,” posted NY Timespolitics editor Tom Wright-Piersanti on his Twitter page, which is currently private.  He reportedly tweeted in 2010, “I was going to say ‘Crappy Jew Year,’ but one of my resolutions is to be less anti-Semitic. So… HAPPY Jew Year. You Jews.” The previous year, in response to a picture of a vehicle with a Chanukah menorah attached to a roof, commonly seen during holiday time, he tweeted, “Who called the Jew-police?” (WIN, Aug. 25, 2019)


ISRAELI TEENAGER KILLED IN WEST BANK BOMBING (West Bank) — Rina Shnerb, 17 years old, died after sustaining injuries, and her brother Dvir, 20, and father Eitan, 46, were seriously injured by what the Israeli military described as an explosive device. It was unclear if the device was planted or thrown at the popular hiking spot near the Israeli settlement Dolev. Israeli military officials boosted forces in the area and said a manhunt was under way for the perpetrators of what they called a terrorist attack. (WSJ, Aug. 26, 2019)


U.S. JEWS ARE MORE LIKELY THAN CHRISTIANS TO SAY TRUMP FAVORS THE ISRAELIS TOO MUCH (Washington) — While U.S. Jews have a strong attachment to Israel, they are divided in their assessment of Trump’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Roughly four-in-ten (42%) say they think Trump is favoring the Israelis too much, while a similar share (47%) say he is striking the right balance between the Israelis and Palestinians. The rest either say he is favoring the Palestinians too much (6%) or they don’t know (4%). By comparison, Christians in the United States are more likely to say Trump is striking the right balance between the Israelis and Palestinians (59%) than to say Trump favors the Israelis too much (26%). Among evangelical Protestants, 72% say they think Trump strikes the right balance between the Israelis and Palestinians, and just 15% say Trump favors the Israelis too much. (Pew Research Center, May 6, 2019)


NEW POLL: PALESTINIANS WANT ALL OF JERUSALEM, PRISONERS NOT AS HIGH A PRIORITY AS WIDELY THOUGHT(West Bank, Gaza Strip) — The poll conducted by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion and published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank found that half of respondents “strongly agree” with the statement, “We should demand Palestinian rule over all of Jerusalem, east and west, rather than agree to share or divide any part of it with Israel.” Another 25 to 30 percent agree “somewhat” with the idea. the poll also found that only a quarter of respondents wanted a new armed conflict with Israel, though two-thirds believed attacks on settlers and Israeli security forces were justified. (Algemeiner, Aug. 27, 2019)


GAZA EXPLOSIONS: ‘SUICIDE BOMBERS’ KILL THREE POLICE OFFICERS (Gaza Strip) – Three Hamas police officers were killed in the attacks, which are thought to have been carried out by extremists with links to the Islamic State (IS) group. Gaza’s interior ministry declared a state of emergency after the bombings. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya vowed to hold those responsible to account. (BBC News, Aug. 28, 2019)


64-YEAR-OLD BROOKLYN RABBI HIT IN HEAD WITH BRICK(Brooklyn) — A 64-year-old rabbi, the father-in-law of popular Hasidic singer Benny Friedman, was hit in the head by a stone brick thrown at him while walking Tuesday morning in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Rabbi Avraham Gopin was hospitalized with “a broken nose, missing teeth, stitches on his head and lacerations on his body,” Friedman posted on Twitter. Gopin is a dual Israeli-American citizen. The police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.  (JTA, Aug. 27, 2019)


ISRAEL GIVES NEW HOPE TO PATIENTS WITH MULTIPLE MYELOMA (Jerusalem) — In 2004, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, scientists at Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with American biologist Irwin Rose, for their discovery years earlier of the ubiquitin proteasome system, a pathway responsible for the degradation of proteins within the cell. This discovery was crucial to the creation of a whole class of treatments called proteasome inhibitors — drugs that slow the degradation of protein and thereby inhibit the cancer’s progress, explained Dr. Yael Cohen, head of myeloma services at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, also known as the Sourasky Medical Center. “Velcade, a drug which came out of that, was revolutionary, and it’s still used as first-line treatment for myeloma in most places around the world,” Cohen said. Multiple myeloma is a bone marrow cancer with no known cure and that rarely strikes people under the age of 65. (JTA, Aug. 26, 2019)


PHILANTHROPIST EUGEN GLUCK PASSES AWAY AT 92 (New York) — Renowned philanthropist and lay leader of American Jewry Eugen Gluck passed away at the age of 92. Gluck was a Holocaust survivor, and was later instrumental in securing the rights of the Jewish people to rebuild their lives in Judea and Samaria. Gluck was involved with multiple institutions and projects to benefit Israel and world Jewry including Shaarei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, the Magen David Adom emergency responder organization, and the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. (Arutz Sheva, Aug. 27, 2019)


LONGTIME AMERICAN JEWISH LEADER, LAWYER KENNETH BIALKIN, IS MOURNED (NYC) — Bialkin, who died last week at age 89, was warmly remembered Monday at his funeral in Manhattan for, among other things, his service as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, the America-Israel Friendship League, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the American Jewish Historical Society, the Jerusalem Foundation, and the Republican Jewish Coalition. (Algemeiner, Aug. 27, 2019)


MAJOR ROW BETWEEN FRENCH JEWS AND LEADING MASONIC ORDER AVERTED AFTER RESOLUTION BLAMING RISING ANTISEMITISM ON ISRAEL IS WITHDRAWN (France) — A major row between France’s Jewish community and the largest Freemasons organization in the country was averted after a proposed conference resolution that bitterly attacked CRIF, the French Jewish representative body, was withdrawn. The controversial resolution was due to be debated at the Grand Orient’s annual conference in the city of Rouen this weekend. The text urged the boycotting of all events sponsored by CRIF, lambasting the Jewish communal organization for supporting the State of Israel and allegedly identifying with the “politics of the extreme religious right.” It also blamed rising antisemitism in France on CRIF’s alleged acceptance of Israel’s “encroachment” upon “Palestinian territories” in the West Bank. (Algemeiner, Aug. 28, 2019)


ISRAEL LAUNCHES A TECH INTEGRATION PROGRAM FOR HAREDI STUDENTS (Jerusalem) — Israel’s Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services is setting up a new program called Heznekin (Start-up) to help ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jewish students find jobs in international tech companies. With a budget of NIS 10 million (approximately $2.8 million), the program will offer scholarships of NIS 12,000 (approximately $3,400) a year, help students scout for potential employers, and provide guidance on acquiring essential workforce skills. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, Haredim made up 11 percent of the country’s population as of 2018, but their number among employees in high-paying jobs is relatively low. According to the ministry, in 2017, Haredi women held four percent (3,800) of high paying tech jobs, while Haredi men held just one percent (800). Ultra-Orthodox Jews are rarely seen in more sought-after positions, Shira Berliner, head of the Haredi employment section in the ministry. (Algemeiner, Aug. 27, 2019)


ALABAMA REPUBLICANS URGE OMAR’S EXPULSION FROM CONGRESS (Washington) – Al.com, the Alabama news site reported on a resolution passed last weekend at the GOP summer meeting in Auburn, stating that “Rep. Omar has engaged in rhetoric that explicitly runs counter to American values and patriotism” and “has a disturbing record of using anti-Semitic language that includes alleging Jewish money is used to buy American influence regarding its policy toward Israel,” among other inappropriate statements. “The committee passed the resolution on a voice vote after it was proposed by State Rep. Tommy Hanes of Scottsboro,” AI.com reported. “The resolution calls on Alabama’s congressional delegation to ‘proceed with the expulsion process in accordance to Article 1, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution,’” said The Hill that reported on this story. The state Republicans also voiced opposition to Omar’s public support of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. (WIN, Aug. 28, 2019)


                                     FURTHER READING:


 Ignore It at Your Peril Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, Aug. 22, 2019 — Earlier this week, my colleague, the wise and empathetic Carly Pildis, wrote a thoughtful and powerful piece about the political future of American Jews.


Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’:  Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, Apr. 2, 2019 –This much, at least, can be said for Mohammed bin Salman, the putatively reformist crown prince of Saudi Arabia: He has made all the right enemies. Among those who would celebrate his end are the leaders of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas, as well as Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and the entire clerical and military leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran.