Weekly roundup of world briefs
November 13, 2020
Book calling Holocausts a hoax to hit book stores in Iceland in time for Christmas
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA) — An Icelandic company has plunged the country’s publishing industry into a debate about censorship with its plan to publish a 1976 book that argues the Holocaust is a hoax.
The book, an Icelandic-language translation of “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry” by Arthur Butz, is being advertised online ahead of its launch in the coming weeks, in time for the Christmas shopping period, the news site Visir reported Wednesday.
Separately, the city of Malmo in Sweden last week suspended its ties to an association called the Arab Book Fair, which puts on events across Europe. The suspension follows the flagging of anti-Semitic literature at previous fairs and on the fair’s website, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote in a statement.
Denying the Holocaust is not illegal in Iceland, but the Association of Icelandic Book Publishers has the means to intervene to stop the book’s sales, Visir reported. However, the head of that organization told the news site he is not inclined to do so.
“One of the cornerstones on which book publishing here and elsewhere is based is freedom of the press and expression,” Heiðar Ingi Svansson said. He called this “a basic premise.”
Headstones smashed at Jewish cemeteries in Moldova and Hungary
By Cnaan Liphshiz
(JTA) — Headstones were smashed and graves defaced at Jewish cemeteries in Hungary and Moldova.
At least five headstones were destroyed at a cemetery in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau on Saturday, the Jewish Community of Moldova said in a statement. Swastikas, a pentagram and the number 666 were spray painted on other headstones.
The same cemetery has been targeted for vandalism for three years straight, the statement said.
In a separate incident in Kecel, south of Budapest, three tombstones were smashed and human feces were found on a nearby headstone on Sunday, the Mazsihisz umbrella group of Hungarian Jewish communities reported on its website. Police are investigating the incident, Mazsihisz said.
Marjorie Taylor Greene becomes Congress’ first adherent of the anti-Semitic QAnon theory
By Gabe Friedman
(JTA) — Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene will become the first member of Congress who has expressed belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Greene, whose Democratic challenger dropped out of the race in September, has made headlines throughout the campaign cycle for her promotion of the theory. She signed an online posting in 2018 that accused Jewish billionaire George Soros and the Rothschild family of being involved in the conspiracy, which alleges that powerful figures run an international pedophile ring and influence world policy.
In a rare move for them, the Republican Jewish Coalition endorsed her Republican primary opponent in July, without comment. Greene’s eventual Democratic opponent, Kevin Van Ausdal, dropped out of the race in the very conservative 14th district, in part because Greene’s supporters made him too fearful to campaign.
President Trump has endorsed Greene, calling her a “future star” of the Republican Party, and the National Republican Congressional Committee gave her campaign $5,000 in September.
UN resolution again ignores Jewish ties to Temple Mount
By Cnaan Lipshiz
(JTA) — A United Nations committee resolution again ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem, mimicking a pair of UNESCO resolutions that sparked controversy in 2016.
Out of 193 countries that are members of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, 138 voted Wednesday in favor of seven resolutions involving Israel and the Palestinians. They denote Israel as an oppressive occupying power and agree to stand for greater aid for Palestinian refugees.
One of the resolutions, titled “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” mentions the Al-Haram al-Sharif holy site without ever calling it the Temple Mount, as it is also known to Jews, who revere it as the site of ancient biblical Jewish temples.
The resolution contains no reference to Jews or Judaism but mentions the “significance of the holy sites, and the importance of the City of Jerusalem for the three monotheistic religions.”
Only the United States, Canada, Australia, Israel and three Pacific Ocean island nations voted against the resolution.
All European countries supported it except for Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia and Belarus, which abstained.
Another of the seven resolutions was co-sponsored by by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say is responsible for at least 100,000 civilian deaths in his country’s nine-year civil war. The resolution, titled “The occupied Syrian Golan,” does not mention that war but says it “deplores the violations by Israel of the Geneva Convention.”
The 2016 resolutions that also left out the Temple Mount name spurred wide condemnation in Israel and from pro-Israel organizations. Israel’s foreign ministry sent a letter in July 2016 to the U.N. asking it to “oppose this effort to distort history.”
Israel demolishes West Bank village on US election day, displacing 73 people
By Gabe Friedman
(JTA) — Israel razed a Bedouin village in the West Bank on Tuesday, claiming that the villagers did not have building permits, according to reports.
Some 73 people were displaced by the demolition, which a U.N. official said was the largest action of its kind by Israeli forces in a decade.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh claimed on Twitter that Israel planned the demolition for American election day to avoid scrutiny.
“As the attention is focused on #USElection2020, Israel chose this evening to commit another crime/ cover it up: to demolish 70 Palestinian structures, incl. homes,” he wrote on Twitter.
Israel’s army liaison to the Palestinians confirmed the demolition but did not comment on the timing, Reuters reported.
Footage uploaded to YouTube by the B’Tselem Israeli human rights group shows construction vehicles filing into the area and the aftermath of the demolition. The footage showed beds, toilets and other household items out in the open.
Some of the displaced residents had moved back to the village site on Thursday, Reuters reported, and are staying in tents donated by aid groups.
“They want to expel us from the area so that settlers can live in our place, but we will not leave from here,” a resident said.
The Israeli Supreme Court last year rejected the residents’ petition to remain, saying it had been an army training area since 1972.
MK urges Netanyahu to apply sovereignty before new US president sworn in
(JNS) — Yamina Party Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria before the next U.S. president is sworn in, in case former U.S. Vice President and current Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins.
“If [U.S. President Donald] Trump indeed loses, we will have to take this measure and apply sovereignty” while he remains in office and before Biden takes over, Smotrich said in an interview with army radio on Thursday.
“I have no doubt,” he added, “that Biden will also continue the American administration’s long-standing policy of friendliness towards Israel.”
Smotrich said there could be disagreements with a Biden administration, but that “it can be managed.”
Biden’s vice-presidential running mate Kamala Harris said in an interview last week with The Arab American that they would “oppose annexation or settlement expansion.”
“And we will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem and work to reopen the PLO mission in Washington,” she said.
Jordanian officer airlifted to Israeli hospital for emergency treatment
By Daniel Siryoti and Yori Yalon
(Israel Hayom via JNS) — A Jordanian army officer was airlifted to Israel on Wednesday for urgent medical treatment at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, according to senior Jordanian sources.
The hospital confirmed that “a Jordanian army officer was admitted to the medical center for treatment,” but did not elaborate further.
The officer’s identity has remained classified, and the nature of his condition was not disclosed.
The officer is in stable condition but not yet out of danger, according to the hospital.
This is an edited version of a story that first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Prominent Jordanian cleric urges followers to read anti-Semitic texts
(MEMRI via JNS) — A prominent Jordanian cleric on Tuesday recommended that his followers read Machiavelli’s The Prince, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Hitler’s Mein Kampf if they wished to understand modern political history.
In a Telegram post, Salafi-jihadi ideologue Abu Qatada al-Filastini, who is of Palestinian descent, said the texts had been misrepresented due to a “propaganda campaign against them run by the Jews, as well as by their negative reputation among the public.”
Al-Falastini noted that he had talked about The Prince and The Protocols in the past, and promised to write a series of articles on Mein Kampf.
UN resolutions only perpetuate Israeli-Palestinian conflict
By Ariel Kahana
(Israel Hayom via JNS) — Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan criticized U.N. bodies on Wednesday for consistently supporting anti-Israel resolutions that he said perpetuated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Erdan made his remarks at the U.N. General Assembly Fourth Committee, where 139 countries adopted a resolution referring to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif.
It was one of seven pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel resolutions passed on Wednesday. Endorsing the “resolutions package” were the Palestinian Authority, Cuba, Indonesia and other countries.
“What is the point of these resolutions? Just to pave the way for future resolutions?” asked Erdan. “By supporting these resolutions you are not only wasting U.N. resources; you are also sabotaging any changes of future peace.”
“Instead of persuading the Palestinians to choose the path of negotiations and peace, these resolutions only encourage them to harden their positions. Every voice in favor of these resolutions is another step toward turning the U.N. into an irrelevant body,” said Erdan.
Erdan assailed the U.N. for supporting a resolution pertaining to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, saying that “one of the biggest reasons for the U.N.’s failure in ending the conflict is its continued support of UNRWA. Simply put, UNRWA’s very existence makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unsolvable, and I don’t intend to allow business as usual anymore.”
“Instead of functioning like the U.N.’s refugee agency to integrate refugees in their countries of residency, UNRWA exaggerates the number of ‘refugees’ and automatically recognizes every Palestinian descendant as a refugee, even those who have already become permanent residents of other countries,” added Erdan.
As for the resolution referring to the Temple Mount by its Muslim name only, Erdan denounced it as an “audacious attempt to rewrite history” and erase the centuries-old Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
“As minister of public security, I ensured that all religions had access to Jerusalem’s holy sites,” he said.
“During my term, the number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount each year more than tripled. No resolution passed here will stop that process. No resolution passed here will change the eternal connection between the Jewish people and the holiest site of our faith—the Temple Mount. They will also not change the fact that today, our connection to Jerusalem is stronger than ever. A growing number of countries are moving their embassies to Jerusalem, our united and undivided capital,” said the U.N. ambassador.
“Unlike this chamber,” he added, “which is detached from reality, a growing number of nations are acknowledging that Jerusalem is the undeniable capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Harris: Biden administration would reverse several Trump policies on Palestinians
(JNS) — Vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said a potential Biden administration would reverse several moves by the Trump administration regarding the Palestinians.
“We will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem and work to reopen the PLO mission in Washington,” she said in a recent interview with the Arab American News,
The Trump administration has virtually cut off all U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority due to Ramallah’s “pay to slay” program, rewarding terrorists and their families, in accordance with the Taylor Force Act. The PLO mission was closed in October 2018.
Biden has already pledged to keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, a move that was made from Tel Aviv in May 2018. In March 2019, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that handled Palestinian affairs was merged into the embassy, which now operates a Palestinian Affairs Unit.
Harris also reiterated her support for a two-state solution, as well as unilateral moves by Israelis or Palestinians.
“We are committed to a two-state solution, and we will oppose any unilateral steps that undermine that goal. We will also oppose annexation and settlement expansion,” she said.
As part of the normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates, Israel agreed to suspend applying sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria.