Daily Briefing: Wednesdays News of the Week in Review (October 16, 2019)

Birkat Kohanim at the Western Wall during Passover 2004. (Source: Wikipedia)


WATCH: Ambassador Friedman joins Birkat Kohanim at the Western Wall:  Arutz ShevaYouTube, Oct. 16, 2019 — US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman joined tens of thousands of worshippers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Wednesday morning for the mass priestly blessing ceremony, known in Hebrew as ‘Birkat Kohanim’, during the Sukkot festival.






“Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.” – Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu stated as regards Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria following President Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from the area. (Algemeiner, Oct. 13, 2019)

“It’s very bad for the countries that have good relations with the US, including Israel. Not because we can’t defend ourselves, but because we understand that the Middle East from now on will [have to manage] without influence, or with less influence, from the Americans. … The job of fighting the Iranians and their influence was always done by us. … We dealt with the Iranian aggression until now without the Americans, when they still were in the Middle East. We were alone in this ‘war between wars,’ as we call it. The fact that they are pulling out, does not mean any significant change. It’s more about psychology.” — Former Israeli national security adviser Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror responding to Pres. Trump’s Syria pull-out.  (Times of Israel, Oct. 11, 2019)

“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at U.S. forces.” — said Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, per a NYT report. As President Donald Trump potentially enacts a maximum economic pressure campaign on Turkey’s Syria aggressions, the roughly 50 U.S. nuclear warheads in Turkey are now potentially to be held “hostage” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. State and Energy Department officials are weighing how to extract the weapons long stored under U.S. control at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, 250 miles from the Syria border. “To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago,” the Times reported.  (Newsmax, Oct. 15, 2019)

“The IDF is prepared to preempt any threat, defensively and offensively, with crushing strength, in weaponry and in spirit. This is the tremendous spirit that was instilled in us by the generation of the Yom Kippur War.” – Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu speaking at the Hall of Remembrance on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem at a memorial ceremony in honour of the fallen soldiers of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  (Jewish Press, Oct. 10, 2019)

“Everyone is quiet, turned into themselves. You can tell everyone is in deep mourning. We were shocked. We didn’t understand at first. That only came later, when we weren’t allowed to leave our buildings.” – Nicole Wiedemann, a Halle resident responding to the Yom Kippur synagogue attack by Stephen Balliet, 27.  Unable to shoot his way into the synagogue, Balliet shot a non-Jewish female passer-by, as well as a non-Jewish customer at a nearby Turkish kebab shop while making his escape. (JTA, Oct. 11, 2019)

“Perhaps the most worrisome development is that the polarization that has afflicted American domestic policy is now seeping into foreign policy. Disputes over policy are no longer political but war by other means. When trust becomes a dead letter between the White House, Congress, media and national security apparatus, America’s foreign policymaking becomes crippled. Meanwhile, the changing fortunes of the participants in these domestic battles will prompt our friends and foes abroad to regard American foreign policy as the metaphorical equivalent of New England weather: when they don’t like it, they just have to wait a minute; when they do like it, they cannot be sure it will not shift in the blink of an eye. The result is likely to accelerate a process already underway in which American power and preeminence are slipping away. Major powers abroad, observing Washington’s fit of national solipsism, will seek to constrain the United States rather than work with it.” – Editorial.  (The National Interest, Oct. 11, 2019)

                                           SHORT TAKES

TIME RUNNING OUT FOR NETANYAHU TO FORM GOVERNMENT (Jerusalem) — Under Israeli law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has until October 28 to form a government. If he is unable to do so, then Rivlin has the option to either extend Netanyahu’s mandate for two weeks or choose to nominate Blue and White leader Benny Gantz with the task. If Gantz is unable to so within six weeks than Rivlin would have to decide to either tap any Knesset member to try and form a government or call for a third round of elections. Channel 12 News reported on Friday that Rivlin is not expected to grant Netanyahu an extension. (JOL, Oct. 15, 2019)

SENATORS ACROSS THE AISLE DRAFT ANTI-TURKEY SANCTIONS (Washington) — Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) released a draft of sanctions against Turkey, in response to the Turkish military assault on Kurdish forces as well as civilians in northern Syria. The senators say their sanctions will go into effect unless the Trump administration announces that “Turkey is not operating unilaterally” in Syria, and that Turkish military forces have withdrawn from occupied northern Syria. (Jewish Press, Oct. 10, 2019)

ILHAN OMAR, OCASIO-CORTEZ, RASHIDA TLAIB ENDORSE BERNIE SANDERS (Washington) — Three of the four members of “The Squad,” the grouping of far-left Democratic freshmen who have stirred excitement and controversy among Democrats and derision among Republicans, are set to endorse Bernie Sanders for president. The Vermont senator, the first Jewish candidate to win presidential nominating contests when he ran in 2016, hinted at the announcement in the debate Tuesday night in this suburb of Columbus. (Arutz Sheva, Oct. 16, 2019)

DEMOCRATIC LEADERS TO SPEAK AT J STREET CONFERENCE HIGHLY CRITICAL OF ISRAEL ALONGSIDE PLO MEMBERS (Washington) — U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic members of Congress and elected officials plan to address the annual J Street National Conference later this month.  The conference will also feature speakers from anti-Israel organizations including IfNotNow, the New Israel Fund, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) national and central councils. Schumer and Pelosi are frequent speakers at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, one of J Street’s main rivals. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) will speak, as well, at the conference, which will be held Oct. 26-29 in Washington, D.C. (WIN, Oct. 5, 2019)

IRANIAN OIL TANKER HIT BY ROCKETS OFF SAUDI SHORE (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) — Two explosions “likely by missiles” hit the Iranian oil tanker Sabity, which is operated by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), near the Saudi port city of Jeddah, Mehr News reported. NIOC said the explosion hit the vessel’s hull, causing heavy damages to its main reservoirs, resulting in an oil spill in the Red Sea. It added that the crew is safe, and the ship is in stable condition.  (Jewish Press, Oct. 11, 2019)

ROUHANI SAYS IRAN HAS EVIDENCE TANKER WAS HIT BY ROCKETS (Tehran) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran had evidence that the Iranian tanker damaged in the Red Sea was attacked with rockets fired from boats, warning that those responsible would face consequences but stopping short of blaming anyone. Mr. Rouhani said Iran had video footage from the ship’s camera that shows clearly that the attack was carried out with rockets, including from which direction they were fired. He said the initial evidence indicated a government was involved, and not some individual or group, but said Iran would disclose more details after the investigation. (WSJ, Oct. 15, 2019)

IRGC CHIEF SAYS IRAN HAS BECOME INVINCIBLE (Tehran) — Hossein Salami, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said that the Islamic Republic has become “invincible” by promoting its deterrence power. The top general made the remarks on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the memory of 6200 martyrs of the central province of Markazi. He added: “It is evident that the enemy no longer has the capability; once it wanted to act and force us to react, but today, the enemy is not even capable of reacting to our capabilities and this reality is seen today on the battlefields.” (Tehran Times, Oct. 4, 2019)

IRAN: WE WILL PUT TRUMP ON TRIAL (Tehran) — Mohsen Rezaei, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said that Iran will catch U.S. President Donald Trump and put him on trial. Rezaei said that the lack of U.S. military response after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone in June is proof of its inability to protect Saudi Arabia. Khamenei’s adviser also warned that the additional U.S. military troops deployed to the Gulf region will not be safe until they leave. (JOL, Oct. 10, 2019)

FREED RUSSIAN JOURNALIST RECOUNTS HARROWING ORDEAL IN IRANIAN JAIL (Tehran) — Russian journalist and author Yulia Yuzik, who was detained in Tehran for more than a week, says Iranian interrogators accused her of working for Israel secret services and “destroyed me psychologically” before her surprise release. Yuzik, who had previously lived and worked as a journalist in Iran, was stopped on September 29 when she arrived in Tehran for a private visit. Apparently, officials believed that Yuzik was a Jewish surname and that the journalist was Jewish. (Radio Free Europe, Oct. 15, 2019)

PA FOLDS, WILL ACCEPT TAX REVENUE MINUS TERRORIST PAY (Ramallah) — The PA will receive tax revenue monies despite Israel continuing to offset the funds the PA uses to pay the salaries of terrorists in Israeli prisons and the families of dead terrorists, according to Reuters.  At the UN General Assembly, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that his government would continue to pay salaries to terrorists. (Jewish Press, Oct. 5, 2019)

TOP FATAH OFFICIAL CALLS FOR ‘ESCALATION’ SO ISRAELIS WILL ‘PAY A HEAVY PRICE EVERY DAY’ (Ramallah) — Responding to US Envoy Jason Greenblatt’s statements at a UN Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East on July 23, 2019, that the West Bank is “disputed” and not “occupied” territory, Abbas Zaki, one of Fatah’s top officials called for Fatah-Hamas to unite, as well as for escalation “on the ground.”  He implicitly called for violence against Israelis – to “not allow the occupiers to live routine lives” but make them pay “a heavy price every day” (United With Israel, Oct. 15, 2019)

ISRAEL THREATENS SANCTIONS ON PA OVER ITS BOYCOTT OF ISRAELI GOODS (Jerusalem) — The IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) informed the PA that unless it ceases its economic boycott of the purchase of calves and sheep from Israel, the majority of the agricultural produce coming from the PA into Israel will be blocked in the near future. COGAT is the unit responsible for implementing the civilian policy within Judea and Samaria and towards the Gaza Strip.  (United With Israel, Oct. 15, 2019)

NETANYAHU REQUESTS PARDON FOR NAAMA ISSACHAR FROM RUSSIA’S PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN (Jerusalem) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent an official request, on his behalf and that of President Reuven Rivlin, to Russian President Vladimir Putin, for a pardon for Naama Issachar and her return to Israel. Issachar is a dual Israeli-US citizen. Issachar, 25, was arrested on April 9 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport while in the airport transit zone before boarding a connecting flight to Tel Aviv after her arrival from New Delhi. A sniffing dog tracked her luggage and directed the airport security personnel to find 9.6 grams of cannabis. She was convicted on October 11 in the Khimki City Court in Moscow on charges of drug possession and smuggling, despite denying the smuggling charge. Issachar was then immediately sentenced to 7.5 years in a “standard regime penal colony. (Jewish Press, Oct. 15, 2019)

JEWISH SCHOOL FORCES OFSTED TO APOLOGIZE (Manchester) –Ofsted, the educational inspectorate that has been downgrading Jewish schools, has admitted to making a mistake after being threatened with legal action. In June, Manchester’s King David High School was downgraded from “outstanding” to “inadequate” on the grounds of “unlawful segregation” in its Yavneh Girls and Yavneh Boys divisions. This segregation was in breach of the Equality Act, Ofsted acknowledged. (Jewish Press, Oct. 11, 2019)

PORTRAIT OF ADOLF HITLER PAINTED ON WALL NEAR GRAVE OF NAHMAN OF BRESLOV IN UKRAINE (Uman) — A massive portrait of Adolf Hitler, along with writing that praised the Nazi leader, was found painted on a wall near the grave of famed Rabbi Nahman of Breslov in Ukraine. The graffiti was found shortly after thousands of Breslov Chasidim made a pilgrimage to Rabbi Nahman’s grave on the holiday of Rosh Hashana. Ukrainian authorities quickly responded to the incident, including swiftly removing the graffiti. (Algemeiner, Oct. 13, 2019)

VENEZUELA, IRAQ AMONG HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS SLATED TO JOIN UN RIGHTS BODY, ADVOCATES WARN (Geneva) — A joint report by UN Watch, the Human Rights Foundation and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights — all leading human rights NGOs — called on UN member states to oppose the election of Indonesia, Iraq, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan and Venezuela to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) when voting takes place on Oct. 17. (Algemeiner, Oct. 11, 2019)

ARAB SHOUTS “F—K ISRAEL” AS HE WAVES KNIFE IN BERLIN SYNAGOGUE (Berlin) According to the German Bild website, a 23-year-old Muslim, born in Damascus and who held a German residency permit that expires in December 2020, entered the Neue Synagogue shortly before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, and brandished his knife while yelling “Allahu Akbar” (‘God is Great’) and “F—k Israel.” German police arrived at the scene after being notified by two synagogue security personnel who were unable to disarm the man by themselves. The police reportedly subdued the Muslim man by spraying pepper spray into his eyes and tackling him to the ground. (JOL, Oct. 7, 2019)

TOP JEWISH GROUP BLASTS NBA TEAM FOR ‘BOWING TO BDS PRESSURE’ (Portland) — The National Basketball Association’s Portland Trail Blazers announced that they were severing ties with advertising partner Leupold & Stevens — a rifle-scope manufacturer that sells its products to the U.S. and Israeli armies. The company had partnered with the Trail Blazers in its “Hometown Hero” segment, which showcases first-responders and members of the military. In a statement, B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin accused the team of having surrendered to a “group of radical activists, including the Portland Democratic Socialists of America and Jewish Voice for Peace, that protested the Blazers for its ties to Leupold & Stevens because the company provided equipment to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 2017.” (WIN, Oct. 13, 2019)

BREAKTHROUGH: LEUKEMIA IMMUNOTHERAPY TREATMENT EXTENDS TO OTHER CANCERS, ISRAELI RESEARCH FINDS (Jerusalem) — A new study led by Dr. Yaron Carmi of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine finds that a form of immunotherapy — chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) T-cell therapy, used to treat the blood cancer leukemia– may work against other kinds of cancer as well. The study was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. (United With Israel, Oct. 15, 2019)

                                  FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, United States Dept. of Justice, October 11, 2019 — Thank you, Tom, for your kind introduction. Bill and Roger, it’s great to be with you.


Watch: Mass Birkat Kohanim Event at the Western Wall Arutz ShevaYouTube, Oct. 16, 2019 — Roughly 40,000 people are estimated to have joined the morning mass prayer service at the Western Wall, which included appearances by the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, along with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall Plaza.