December 14, 2017

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

US Ambassador lights Hanukkah menorah at Western Wall

The US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, lit the second candle of Hanukkah on Wednesday night (13th) at the Western Wall.

Friedman congratulated President Donald Trump and the entire US government and said, “I wish everyone a happy Hanukkah – a holiday of light, of blessing, of joy and of peace.”

“More than two thousand years ago, the Second Temple was conquered by King Antiochus of the Greek kingdom. He forbade the service of the Temple and did much to cause the Jewish religion to disappear.  Against him rose a small group of courageous Jews from Modi’in, not far from here, and rebelled against the Greek monarchy,” the ambassador said.

He added, “They inaugurated the Temple and returned its service to Jerusalem.  In the memory of that great victory the Hasmoneans established the eight-days of Hanukkah.  If my account is correct, everything happened two thousand one hundred and eighty-four years ago, and it happened only a short distance from where I stand now.  It is a great honor for me, and I am very excited to stand here in this holy place and light the second candle of Hanukkah in Jerusalem – the capital of the State of Israel.”



PM: Time for Palestinians to accept reality

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ rejection of the US as a mediator in peace negotiations.

Speaking in Istanbul at an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday (13th), Abbas railed against President Donald Trump’s announcement last week in which he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plans to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem.

“It is better for the Palestinians to recognize reality and work for peace, not for radicalization, and to recognize another fact about Jerusalem: not only is it the capital of Israel, but we also maintain freedom of worship in Jerusalem for all religions and we are the only ones who keep this promise in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said.

He said that Israel was not impressed by the threats of Abbas and his aides.



PA’s anti-Israel spokesman seeks treatment in Israeli hospital

A senior Palestinian Authority negotiator and a perennial critic of Israel was spotted recently in an Israeli hospital.

Saeb Erekat who serves as the PLO secretary general has accused Israel of “war crimes,” “massacres,” “genocide” and a policy of apartheid in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Despite his accusations of Israeli “genocide,” he checked into Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Medical Center Hospital where he was spotted Monday night (11th).

Erekat, 62, recently underwent a lung transplant in the United States for pulmonary fibrosis.  He had been on a waiting list in Israel for a lung donation, but later found a donor in the US.



Senior Hamas leader Hassan Yousef arrested in West Bank raids

The IDF arrested 32 people suspected of involvement in terrorist activities, including senior Hamas leader Hassan Yousef in raids during the early hours Wednesday morning (13th).

Hassan Yousef is one of the co-founders of Hamas.  His son, Mosab Hassan Yousef, also known as the Green Prince, spied for Israel and speaks out against Hamas.  He lives in the United States.



Israel foils planned Hanukkah plot to kidnap Israelis in West Bank

A Hamas plan to kidnap Israelis in the West Bank during the Hanukkah holiday was thwarted by Israeli security forces, the Israel Security Agency said Wednesday (13th).  A Hamas terror cell from the village of Tell near Nablus planned to abduct a soldier or an Israeli civilian from a bus stop in the Samaria region.

Hamas member Muad Ashtiyya, 26, planned the attack, purchased weapons to carry it out, and recruited Mohammad Ramadan and Ahmad Ramadan, both 19, to join the cell.  The cell members were in contact with Omar Atzida, a member of the Hamas command in Gaza.



Muslims ignored Jerusalem for centuries – Jeff Jacoby

There isn’t a member of the Arab League or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation whose right to designate its own capital city is challenged by anyone.  In every nation governed by Arabs or Muslims – or, for that matter, by Scandinavians or Africans or Christians or Latin Americans – foreign embassies are located in the capital.  Everyone, without exception.  Only Israel has been treated differently.

Mohammed never saw Jerusalem or walked its streets; his Arab followers didn’t conquer Jerusalem until six years after his death.  During the centuries when various Islamic dynasties controlled Jerusalem, none established Jerusalem as its capital.

After 1948 when east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were under Muslim rule, they were ignored by the Arab and Muslim powers.  No foreign Arab leader ever paid a visit, not even to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque.  Palestinians placed so low a priority on Jerusalem that the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, the PLO’s founding charter, makes no reference to it.  Only when the Jews returned after the Six-Day War did the Arabs grow passionate about Jerusalem.



Berlin celebrates Hanukkah against backdrop of anti-Israel protests

Hanukkah officially opened in the German capital on Tuesday evening (12th) as a huge menorah in front of Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate was lighted.

Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal and Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller lit the first menorah candle to start the eight-day celebration.

The celebration took place against the backdrop of protests, as German police reported the burning of Israeli flags and the use of anti-semitic slogans at demonstrations in Berlin and other cities.



Hanukkah candles lit in Polish Parliament

WARSAW, Poland – Candles for the first night of Hanukkah were lit in the Polish Parliament.  The ceremony was held on Tuesday evening (12th) after the inaugural address by the new Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, who has Jewish roots.

There will be another Hanukkah-lighting ceremony Thursday (14th) in the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.



Jerusalem to distribute 150 Christmas trees to Christian residents

The Jerusalem Municipality will distribute 150 Christmas trees to the city’s Christian residents on December 21, the city said in a statement.

The distribution of trees is an annual tradition, part of the city’s marking of the Christian holiday each year.

According to the statement, the municipality’s Christmas preparations include “hanging festive lights and flags in areas of the city where the holiday is celebrated.  These neighborhoods include: the Old City’s Christian Quarter, Beit Hanina and main thoroughfares for pilgrims, such as Mar-Elias Road.”

“The Jerusalem Municipality wishes the city’s residents a joyous holiday season,” the statement read.



84% of Israelis say Israel is a good place to live

Despite the fact that 46.5% of Israelis believe life is more difficult in Israel than in other Western countries, 68% are optimistic about Israel’s future and 48% believe the general situation in Israel is good, up from 36.5% in 2016.  84% of Israelis believe Israel is a good place to live, 81% would not want to emigrate under any circumstances, and 73.5% are satisfied with their personal lives.