January 9, 2023

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Man Held in Germany over Chemical Attack Plot - Antoinette Radford (BBC News)
    A 32-year-old Iranian man has been arrested in Germany for plotting to use cyanide and ricin to commit a "serious act of violence," North Rhine-Westphalia police said.
    They raided the man's Castrop-Rauxel residence, in the Ruhr region, where they found the "toxic substances." 
    See also Israel's Mossad behind Arrest of Iranian Planning Attack in Germany - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Israel's Mossad provided intelligence leading to Germany's arrest on Sunday of an Iranian man planning a mass casualty attack.

Iran Executes Karate Champion for Protesting - Farnaz Fassihi (New York Times)
    Iran on Saturday hanged two men, national karate champion Mohammad Mehdi Karami, 22, and poultry factory worker Sayed Mohammad Hosseini, 39, who participated in antigovernment demonstrations.
    Robert Malley, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, said, "Appalled by the regime's execution of two more young Iranians after sham trials. These executions must stop. We and others across the globe will continue to hold Iran's leadership accountable."
    On Saturday night, videos posted on social media showed crowds in several neighborhoods in Tehran chanting, "For every person killed, there are a thousand others behind him." 

U.S. Hands Over Ancient Artifact to Palestinians (JNS)
     American and Palestinian officials gathered on Thursday at the PA Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Bethlehem for what was described as "the historic repatriation of a rare Palestinian cultural object" - a 2,700-year-old cosmetic spoon carved from ivory and dating to the Assyrian civilization in 700-800 BCE.
    A distinctive Palestinian national identity only began to emerge in the mid-20th century. There is no indication as to what makes this object culturally Palestinian.
    Yet the head of the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs, George Noll, stated that his office "is proud to facilitate the return of this rare antiquity, an example of Palestinian cultural patrimony."

84 Percent of Arabs Oppose Diplomatic Recognition of Israel - Sam Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
    An average of 84% of Arabs in over a dozen countries oppose diplomatic recognition of Israel, according to the 2022 Arab Opinion Index (AOI) conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS).
    The most Israel-friendly country was Morocco, where 67% opposed and 20% supported recognition. In Sudan, 18% supported recognition.
    In Algeria, 99% opposed recognition.

Police Arrest Two Teens for Vandalizing Christian Cemetery in Jerusalem (Reuters-Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel)
    Israeli police said Friday that they had arrested two teens, aged 14 and 18, from central Israel for vandalism at the Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery in Jerusalem.
    The Israel Foreign Ministry denounced the attack as an "immoral act" and "an affront to religion."
    Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman met with church leaders and offered to help repair the damage.
    He said, "Any damage to religious institutions and sites is serious and damages the unique and sensitive quality of life that exists in the city, inclusive to all religions and traditions."

Hamas Terrorist Boasts of Suicide Bombings He Engineered in Book He Wrote in Jail - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas on Thursday published a book, The Buses are Burning, written by one of its commanders, Hassan Salameh, who is serving 46 consecutive life sentences for directing three suicide bombing attacks against Israel.

Polish Builders Uncover Jewish WWII Trove (AP-Times of Israel)
    Hanukkah menorahs were among 400 items hidden in the ground by their Jewish owners during World War II that were discovered in December during home renovation work in Lodz, Poland.
    Some of the items were found wrapped in Polish, Yiddish, and German newspapers from October 1939.
    Gazecie Wyborczej, an archaeologist in Lodz, said the site used to be a synagogue.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel's UN Ambassador Slams Emergency Security Council Meeting on Temple Mount Visit - Andrew Bernard
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan on Thursday slammed the emergency UN Security Council meeting on an Israeli minister's visit to the Temple Mount. "Why are we holding an emergency session for something as simple as a Jew walking to the holiest site in Judaism?"
        "There is absolutely no reason that this emergency session should be held. To hold a Security Council session on a non-event is truly absurd. Israel's Minister of National Security's visit to the Temple Mount lasted 13 minutes in a peaceful and orderly fashion, without causing any destruction. This visit was not an incursion into Al-Aqsa or any other fabrication that the Palestinians branded his visit. Minister Ben-Gvir's visit was in line with the status quo, and whoever claims otherwise is only inflaming the situation."
        "There are some countries that believe in religious tolerance and they are building, right now, interfaith complexes where Jews, Christians, and Muslims can pray side by side. Tragically, the Palestinian terror authority prefers violence over tolerance."
        Erdan argued that it was the Palestinians, not Israel, who threatened the status quo on the Temple Mount. "The Palestinian Authority is making it clear that not only is Jewish prayer intolerable on the Temple Mount, but so is any Jewish presence. This is what changing the status quo looks like and this is pure antisemitism. This institution and the Security Council in particular must stop legitimizing the Palestinians' lies and promoting their false and dangerous narrative."  (Algemeiner-i24News)
  • U.S. Imposes - then Waves - Travel Bans on PA Leaders - Matthew Lee
    On Dec. 22, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman notified Congress that she had imposed travel bans on senior leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization because they "are not in compliance" with requirements to tamp down and publicly condemn terrorist attacks against Israelis. But, in the same notification, the State Department said Sherman had waived the travel bans "based on her determination that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States."
        "An enduring and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians remains a longstanding goal of U.S. foreign policy. A blanket denial of visas to PLO members and PA officials, to include those whose travel to the United States is to advance U.S. goals and objectives, is not consistent with the U.S. government's expressed willingness to partner with the PLO and PA leadership."  (AP)
  • A University Lecturer Showed a Painting of the Prophet Muhammad. She Lost Her Job. - Vimal Patel
    Last semester in her global art history class, Erika Lopez Prater, an adjunct professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., showed a 14th-century painting of Islam's founder. She knew many Muslims have deeply held religious beliefs that prohibit depictions of the Prophet Muhammad so she warned students in class ahead of time, in case anyone wanted to leave. Then she showed the image - and lost her teaching job.
        The painting, shown regularly in art history classes, is in one of the earliest Islamic illustrated histories of the world, A Compendium of Chronicles, written during the 14th century by Rashid-al-Din (1247-1318). The image is "a masterpiece of Persian manuscript painting," said Christiane Gruber, a professor of Islamic art at the University of Michigan.
        Omid Safi, a professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University, said he regularly shows images of the Prophet Muhammad in class and without opt-out mechanisms. He explains to his students that these images were works of devotion created by pious artists at the behest of devout rulers. "How does something that comes from the very middle of the tradition end up being received later on as something marginal or forbidden?"  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Approves Response to Palestinian Authority's Political and Legal Warfare
    Israel's Security Cabinet on Thursday approved a number of steps to be taken in response to the Palestinian Authority's decision to wage political and legal war against the State of Israel through its UN-approved appeal to the International Court of Justice. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Israeli Sanctions Against the PA Are Necessary - Editorial
    On Friday, the Prime Minister's Office announced a series of sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in response to its push to get Israel reviewed before the International Court of Justice. The Israeli Cabinet decided to withhold tax fees it collects on behalf of the PA, freeze Palestinian building plans in Area C, penalize Palestinian officials, and take steps against non-government groups it believes are involved in diplomatic warfare against the Jewish state. Israel will transfer NIS139 million ($39 million) from tax fees it collects on behalf of the PA to compensate the families of Palestinian terror victims.
        The PA's legal battle against Israel with its push to the ICJ, as well as its application to The Hague a number of years ago, violates the Oslo Accords. The Palestinians have consistently resisted attempts at dialogue and negotiations with Israel and instead believe that legal warfare against the Jewish state can win. It is important to teach the PA a lesson. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Palestinians, Israeli Arab Teen Arrested over Bombing Plot - Emanuel Fabian
    The Israel Security Agency on Friday said it recently foiled an attempt by two Palestinians from the West Bank and an Arab Israeli minor to carry out a bombing attack. Police found "diagrams and chemical materials for making explosive devices" at a home in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel to Build Wall along Gaza Border Highway to Foil Anti-Tank Missile Attacks - Emanuel Fabian
    Israel will construct a wall along a main highway and another route near the border with Gaza to protect Israelis from anti-tank missiles fired by terror groups. The work is to be completed in the summer. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Attacks on Israeli Minister's Temple Mount Visit Defy Reason - Melanie Phillips
    A Jew walked for 15 minutes on Jerusalem's Temple Mount last week, on the site that is most sacred to Judaism. He did it without fanfare or media attention, early in the morning when the compound was almost empty, and didn't pray there or say anything to stir up trouble. Yet his visit provoked claims that it was an extremist act. In any sane universe, this is simply unhinged. Ben-Gvir was fully entitled to be there. He did nothing out of the ordinary. Other Israeli Jews, including government ministers, regularly visit the site.
        The people actually responsible for inciting violence over the Temple Mount are the Palestinian Arabs. Since the 1920s, they have been provoking fanatical religious hysteria and the murder of Israelis with the wickedly false claim that the Jews were either storming or planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
        The Temple Mount stands at the very center of the Jews' unique entitlement to Jerusalem and the land. That's why the Palestinians have tried to destroy the archeological evidence that has been dug up over the years. They attempt to wipe the Jews out of their own history in the land - centuries before the first Arabs or Muslims invaded it - in order to support the laughably bogus claim that the Palestinian Arabs were its indigenous people.
        The Biden administration condemned the Ben-Gvir visit as an "unacceptable" and "unilateral" action that "undercut the historic status quo." Not only was this untrue, but the status quo, which Israel has upheld, is itself unacceptable. The status quo prevents Jews and Christians from praying at their own holy site; it restricts non-Muslims to entry through only one of 12 gates; it forbids Jews from drinking from the water fountain in the compound because of the claim that Jews are "unclean."
        Just imagine if America said that the Palestinian lies and incitement have to stop, that Israel has law and history on its side and that the only aggressors in this war are the Palestinian Arabs who want to destroy the Jews' right to their country and historic identity. The main reason this war never ends is the West's support for the Palestinian cause.
        The writer is a columnist for The Times-UK. (JNS-Israel Hayom)
  • What Is the Temple Mount? - Claire Parker
    The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. The First Temple was built on the hill during the reign of King Solomon in the 10th century BCE. The temple, around which the ancient Jewish faith was centered, and the Second Temple that followed it, were destroyed when invading empires sacked Jerusalem. "For Jews, it is the most sacred place in Jewish history and actually symbolizes the clearest contact between modern Israel and ancient Israel," said Amichai Cohen, senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. (Washington Post)
  • Cheers and Cash for Terrorists Killed the Two-State Solution - Jonathan S. Tobin
    In his initial phone conversation with new Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he wanted to "emphasize the continued U.S. commitment to a two-state solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability." This is a policy mindset that further empowers forces like Hamas and the supposedly "moderate" Palestinian Authority, groups whose ultimate aim is the destruction of, not coexistence with, Israel.
        Some still cling to the illusion that the phrase "two-state solution" is a magic formula that must be propped up despite the evidence of the last three decades that the Palestinians have no real interest in it. This is in stark contrast to public opinion in Israel.
        The problem is not just that the PA engages in a pay-for-slay scheme that rewards those who murder Israelis with salaries and pensions. It's that such an incentive is so popular that neither PA leader Mahmoud Abbas nor any of his potential successors would dare end it. The valorization of terror is an integral element of Palestinians' culture. The coveted two-state solution wasn't slain by so-called Israeli hard-liners. It was murdered by Palestinian cheer and cash for terrorists.
        Palestinian protests are not motivated by grievances about Israeli policies or aspirations for statehood. Rather, they are about rejecting the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its boundaries might be drawn. That's why Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, refused numerous compromises and peace offers, dating back to the Bill Clinton administration, which would have resulted in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
        This leaves Israel with an anomalous situation in which it must not relinquish security control over Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), even as the Palestinian population is governed in most of the area by Fatah and by Hamas in Gaza. (JNS-Israel Hayom)

  • While Israel has recognized the Palestinian national movement, the Palestinians never recognized Zionism as a legitimate Jewish national movement with rights over at least part of the land. Article 20 of the Palestinian National Charter states: "Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history....Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own."
  • The "two-state solution" seeks "two states for two peoples." The idea is that each group should recognize the other as a nation and the legitimacy of each other's claims. The Palestinians never accepted this. Given the choice of territorial compromise or continuation of the conflict, they prefer the latter, because compromise necessitates recognition that the Jews have some rights in their historic motherland.
  • Israel does not need the recognition of the Palestinians. There is a certain irony that a group that has not been here for long denies the identity of one of the most ancient peoples in the world.
  • More than 50 countries in the world have a Muslim identity and over 100 have a Christian majority and Christian characteristics, but only the Jews don't deserve a state of their own.
  • It is the Judaism of the State of Israel that will ensure the country remains democratic. That is the default mode of our people. Even in biblical times, the kings of Israel were civilian leaders and not absolute monarchs, as was the case in Europe. Even the problematic kings in the Bible had to bow before the ancient biblical laws and stand before the council of elders.

    The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to Italy.

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