Weekly roundup of world briefs
June 7, 2019
Boy learns to shoot at Jews in PA TV Ramadan special
By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
(PMW via JNS)—During the month of Ramadan, official Palestinian Authority TV is broadcasting a series called “Children of the Village Chief. The series portrays Arab life around the time of the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and afterwards in a village in what was until the 1967 Six-Day War the “West Bank” of the Kingdom of Jordan.
The first episode starts with the so-called Palestinian nakba—the “catastrophe” of the establishment of modern-day Israel—and the series takes the audience up to the 1980s.
In one episode, a boy around the age of 10 asks his uncle to teach him how to use a rifle because he wants to shoot at “the Jews.” The uncle obligingly explains to his young nephew that he must only aim at “the enemy,” who the boy then again identifies as “the Jews.”
In another episode, a woman wonders how the Arab forces were defeated by the Jews since “the Jews are cowards.” The man replies that “the British are a snake in the grass... they gave [the Jews] everything.” (Britain did not arm Jewish forces during Israel’s War of Independence.)
In a later episode, Jews are portrayed as potential rapists and “impure schemers.” Set during the Six-Day War, the villagers discuss running away before “the Jews” arrive because the villagers “have wives and honor is precious,” and they fear the Jewish soldiers will rape the village women.
Israel prepares to break ground on ‘Trump city’
Community to be named in honor of U.S. President Donald Trump for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
By Adi Hashmonai
(Israel Hayom via JNS)—U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights sparked considerable excitement in Israel, leading to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for the founding of a Golan Heights community named after Trump.
The community, which is still in its early stages, will house 97 families. These past few weeks its popularity has grown, and due to a large number of inquiries, the settlement has even created a hotline.
“We have received close to 100 inquiries, mostly from families in the United States and Canada who say that they want to make aliyah and live in ‘Trump city,’ ” said Golan Regional Council head Haim Rokach.
The new community will be built on what is now part of Bruchim, which was founded in 1991 and whose population has steadily aged.
The official celebration honoring the decision by the Trump administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan will take place on June 12. Officials from the U.S. administration will be in attendance, together with Netanyahu and other officials.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Former Israeli MK jailed for smuggling cell phones to terrorists out of prison
(JNS)—Former Israeli Knesset member Basel Ghattas, who was arrested in 2016 for smuggling cellular phones to convicted terrorist Walid Daka in Israel’s Ktzi’ot Prison and transferring encrypted messages between terrorist convicts, was released from jail on Monday after serving his two-year sentence.
Daka was convicted by a military tribunal of membership in the terrorist group that kidnapped and executed Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam in 1986.
Ghattas was convicted in March 2017 on several counts, including breach of trust and providing the means to carry out terrorist acts, and received a two-year sentence from the Beersheva Magistrate Court in April 2017 as part of a plea bargain.
Ghattas entered Gilboa Prison in July 2017, telling a throng of journalists that he was “entering prison with my head held high.”
“I will continue to protect the rights of prisoners and bring their cases to the public agenda,” he said.
Ghattas justified the smuggling of cell phones to prisoners as “humanitarian,” though didn’t elaborate on how the illegal phones would serve such purposes.
He was also fined NIS 120,000 and given 18 months of probation.
According to reports, a party will be held for Ghattas, who is a Christian, in a Greek Orthodox church in Ramallah.
Russia slams upcoming US-sponsored Mideast economic summit in Bahrain
(JNS)—The Russian embassy in Israel strongly criticized the upcoming U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace and economic summit in Bahrain.
Criticizing the “failed” previous U.S. summit in Warsaw on Iran, the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv said that the latest summit in Bahrain represents the “persistent desire to replace a comprehensive political solution with economic ‘bonuses.’ ”
The embassy added: “At this difficult stage, collective efforts to launch Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are needed, rather than unilateral ‘deals’ of opportunistic nature.”
After the failed conference in #Warsaw, there is another #US attempt named “Peace to prosperity” aimed at shifting the priorities of the regional agenda and imposing an “alternative vision” for the Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
The “Peace to Prosperity” economic summit is to be held in Manama, Bahrain on June 25-26. At the summit, the Trump administration said that it is planning to release the economic component of its upcoming Middle East peace plan.
In addition to Russia, China has also reportedly said it will boycott the summit, according to senior PLO official Saeb Erekat.
The Palestinians have said that they would boycott the summit and have urged other nations to do the same. While China and Russia plan to skip the conference, key regional players such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said last week that they will attend.
European rabbis call on world regulator of emojis to add images showing Judaism
(JNS)—The Conference of European Rabbis has called on the nonprofit global body that regulates emojis, Unicode Consortium, “to create a new emoji [to] symbolize the Jewish religion and its symbols.”
“There are emojis of women in the hijab and Arab clerics, and the Jews have been forgotten,” said chief of staff Gadi Gronich of the Conference of European Rabbis in a statement.
“If it is legitimate to present a family consisting of two men or two women, and to present the traditional attire of the Islamic religion, we believe that there is room for presenting the Jewish symbol as well,” stated the letter, which comes as there has been increasing anti-Semitism in Europe over the past several years.
Germany’s anti-Semitism czar cautioned Jews on Saturday against wearing a kipah in public due to the rise in anti-Semitic incidents.
Emojis are small digital images used to express emotions, ideas and other messages.
Jewish-related emojis currently available are a synagogue, the Star of David and the Israeli flag.
Trump climate adviser: ‘Demonization’ of carbon dioxide akin to ‘demonization of Jews under Hitler’
(JNS)—U.S. President Donald Trump climate adviser William Happer once compared the “demonization of carbon dioxide” to how Jews were treated under Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.
An American physicist who has specialized in the study of atomic physics, optics and spectroscopy, he is a physics professor emeritus at Princeton University.
Happer, who sits on the National Security Council as Trump’s deputy assistant for emerging technologies, said in 2014, “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”
Absolutely insane: “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” said William Happer.
Happer is a member of Trump’s National Security Council, advising on climate change and emerging technologies.
The remark resurfaced in a New York Times article on Monday about the Trump administration’s approach to the issue of climate change.
HP using Israeli cybersecurity technology on its new computers
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—HP has started installing malware protection software on its new computers using an Israeli company’s technology.
Technology from Tel Aviv-based Deep Instinct Inc. is used to create HP Sure Sense that comes on the latest EliteBook and ZBook lines, HP announced.
The deal is valued at $150 million over four years, the Israeli business news website Calcalist reported, citing an unnamed source.
Sure Sense “enable(s) zero-time threat prevention against the most advanced cyber threats,” HP said in a statement. “By leveraging Deep Instinct’s deep learning-based threat prevention engine, HP Sure Sense provides real-time detection and prevention—coupled with anti-ransomware, behavioral protection.”
Pitzer College president visits Haifa U to reiterate his opposition to Israel boycott
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—First the president of Pitzer College showed his distaste for an academic boycott of Israel with a historic vote. Then he showed up in person to reiterate how he felt.
Melvin Oliver came to a meeting Tuesday of the University of Haifa board of governors two months after he vetoed a nonbinding recommendation passed by the Pitzer College Council to suspend the study abroad program at the university in northern Israel.
Oliver’s veto was the first in the Southern California school’s 56-year history, the Claremont Independent student newspaper reported.
“Academic boycotts of any nation set us on a path of breaking the free exchange of ideas,” Oliver said in Haifa. “To boycott a country on the basis of their policies is by definition a blanket indictment of the nation itself, and by extension its citizens.
He added: “It is a credit to your institution that in this debate, no one can point to any policies or actions by the University of Haifa that would even be remotely linked to a rationale of suspending our program. With your diverse student body, you are really a model institution for us to partner with and I hope we can continue for years to come.”
The Pitzer council, which is made up of students and faculty, passed the recommendation in mid-March in a 68-25 vote with eight abstentions. Proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel spearheaded the measure.
Muslims and Jews break Ramadan fast at SodaStream’s factory in southern Israel
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—SodaStream hosted a Ramadan break fast meal at its factory in the southern Israeli town of Rahat.
The iftar meal on Monday was attended by Bedouins and Jewish Israelis as well as the company’s Palestinian employees and other Palestinian guests, the Associated Press reported.
The meal was attended by the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.
“Tonight I had the pure joy to attend the Ramadan Peace Festival at SodaStream’s factory in the Negev. Muslims, Druze, Christians and Jews working together, each making the other better, happier and more prosperous. This is peace!” Friedman tweeted.
Daniel Birenbaum, CEO of SodaStream told his guests that the employees and managers of the factory “need to ensure coexistence and peace between us, not just during iftar, but every day. The thousands of people who are eating here tonight are the light that wins out over the darkness, both under missiles and intense periods,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
In October 2014, SodaStream announced it would close its factory in Maale Adumim and move to southern Israel in the face of pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS. The company now has more than 1,400 employees in the Idan Hanegev industrial park near Rahat, one-third of them Bedouin Arabs from the surrounding area. Some 74 Palestinian employees received permits to move to the Rahat factory, after more than a year of pressure by the company.
Jared Kushner in Middle East to garner support for peace plan
By Marcy Oster
(JTA)—White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is in the Middle East to garner support for his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and will visit Israel.
Kushner, White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and special Iran envoy Brian Hook were in Morocco on Tuesday and scheduled to visit Jordan and Israel during the week.
Several news outlets reported the visit, citing unnamed White House officials.
The visits come ahead of the Trump administration’s economic summit scheduled for next month in Bahrain. The meeting is being called an “economic workshop” to encourage capital investment in the West Bank, Gaza and countries in the region, and reportedly is the first step in the administration’s peace plan which is scheduled to be rolled out in the coming months.
The Palestinians have announced that they will not attend the meeting.
Kushner will meet with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday, CNN reported, the day after the deadline for forming a new government. He is not scheduled to meet with any Palestinian officials, according to the report.
Israeli army says it found ‘most significant’ Hezbollah attack tunnel
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Israeli military said it uncovered the “longest” and “most significant” Hezbollah attack tunnel on the border with Lebanon.
The discovery of the nearly mile-long tunnel was made in the winter during Operation Northern Shield, which aimed to expose and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels, but was announced Wednesday.
The tunnel is 22 stories deep, or 260 feet, and stretches more than 250 feet into Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said, calling it Hezbollah’s “flagship” tunnel. Inside was infrastructure for lights, a public address system and stairs made of concrete.
The IDF said the tunnel took years to build and would be destroyed in the coming days.
The Israeli army has found and destroyed six Hezbollah cross-border tunnels.
Sara Netanyahu signs plea deal in restaurant meals fraud case
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his signed a plea deal in a fraud case in which she was accused of ordering $96,000 worth of meals from high-end restaurants rather than using the cook at the prime minister’s residence to prepare her food.
She allegedly violated the regulations that prevent those living in the residence from ordering meals from the outside when there is a cook on staff. The violations supposedly occurred in 2010 and 2013.
The investigation began in 2015 after the State Comptroller’s Office issued a report on the Netanyahu family household expenses.
Under the deal, Sara Netanyahu will not admit to fraud but will plead guilty to an amended charge of intentionally making use of another’s error. She will pay a $15,000 fine to the state, the Kan national broadcaster reported.
The court must approve the plea deal.
Ezra Saidoff, a former caretaker at the prime minister’s residence who also faced charges in the case, under a separate plea deal will pay a $2,700 fine and perform community service.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sued over state Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem
By Marcy Oster
JERUSALEM (JTA)—An open-government watchdog group and several news outlets have filed a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and members of his Cabinet over a meeting being held at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
The lawsuit says the meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon violates the state constitution and state open government laws that require Cabinet meetings be open and accessible to the public.
The meeting is to be livestreamed on The Florida Channel.
A state court in Tallahassee denied an emergency motion to stop the meeting, since DeSantis and the Cabinet members could not be served with a summons, according to Florida news reports.
DeSantis and a 90-person state trade delegation arrived in Israel on Sunday. At a reception the following day at the Herzliya residence of U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, the governor said holding a state Cabinet meeting in the Jerusalem embassy “is going to be a real neat thing.”
Also on Monday he visited Ariel University, becoming the first sitting state governor to visit the West Bank. During the visit DeSantis signed a memorandum of understanding between Ariel and Florida State University. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, major donors to the university, were present during DeSantis’ visit.
DeSantis has signed agreements on working with Israel and Israeli companies in space technology, agriculture, protecting water and cybersecurity.