January 3, 2018

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Iran protests and death Toll Grows – Erin Cunningham

Clashes in Iran between security forces and demonstrators left nine people dead, state television reported Tuesday (2nd), which brings the death toll to at least 21 in the unrest that has raged for six days.  The protests have spread to far-flung towns and cities that are strongholds of the middle and working classes.  In addition, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported Tuesday (2nd) that 450 people have been arrested in Tehran since Saturday (12/30).



Iran’s Theocracy is on the brink – Mark Dubowitz and Ray Takeyh

After the nuclear agreement lifted debilitating sanctions, Iran received tens of billions of dollars in financial dividends.  Instead of channeling that wealth into productive uses, Ayatollah Khamenei and the clerical establishment consumed much of it on foreign adventurism and corruption.

Ideological authoritarian states need a vision of the future by which their enforcers can condone their own violence, but the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals.  The theocracy’s vast patronage system will not cure this crisis of legitimacy.

The White House should continue issuing condemnations daily, including through Persian-language media outlets, and follow up with sanctions targeting corruption and human-rights abuses.  Congress should rediscover its once bipartisan determination to hold the regime accountable for its crimes and push America’s European allies to overcome their mercantile greed and support Iranians striving to be free from theocracy.



Assad has retaken the Syrian Golan, but Iran is pulling the strings – Avi Issacharoff

With the evacuation of several hundred Syrian rebels from the Beit Jinn area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights over the weekend, Assad’s army has almost completely retaken control of the border with Israel.  Hizbullah or Iranian Revolutionary Guard fighters may very well be present in Syrian positions on Mount Hermon right now.

In 2018, Assad will need more help than ever from Iran and Hizbullah.  The Sunni enemies of his regime, who make up the majority in the country, are still hostile.  Syria is bankrupt as a country, with hundreds of thousands dead, millions injured, and a destroyed infrastructure.



Knesset passes bill making it nearly impossible to ever divide Jerusalem

In the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning (2nd) following a succession of impassioned speeches both for and against, Israel’s Knesset finally voted on and passed the “United Jerusalem Bill.”

The bill is an amendment to the Jerusalem Law passed in 1980, when Israel officially declared the entirety of Jerusalem to be its undivided capital.

This new legislation requires a two-thirds majority of 80 members of the Knesset to ever alter the status of Jerusalem or surrender portions of the Holy City as part of a future peace agreement.

Corralling a two-thirds majority for anything in the Israel Knesset is next to impossible, as evidenced by the vote on this very bill.

Sixty-four MKs voted in favor of the bill, 51 voted against and one abstained.



India shoots down $500m missile deal With Israel ahead of Netanyahu visit

A $500 million anti-tank missiles deal between India and Israel’s Rafael weapons manufacturer, has been officially canceled, ahead of an official visit to New Delhi by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  At the same time, New Delhi said it would buy over 100 surface-to-air missiles.

On Tuesday (2nd) a spokesperson for Rafael Advanced Defense Systems confirmed an Israel Radio report that the company had received official notice from the Indian government that the deal for Spike missiles was nixed last week.



Seal from First Temple Period found at Western Wall in Jerusalem – Daniel K. Eisenbud

A well-preserved piece of fired clay dating to the First Temple Period, with the Hebrew inscription “belonging to the governor of the city,” was recently discovered during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem.  The relic, dating from the 6th to 7th centuries BCE, “depicts two figures facing each other, and the lower part holds an inscription in ancient Hebrew script,” said Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, excavator of the site.  “The finding of the seal with this high-rank title…supports the assumption that this area…was inhabited by highly ranked officials during the First Temple period.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the find “shows that already 2,700 years ago, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was a strong and central city.”  

Jerusalem is one of the most ancient capitals of the world.



Boycott against Israel declared illegal in Canary Islands

On Dec. 26, Court Number 4 of Gran Canaria ruled that a boycott of Israel approved by the Council of Gran Canaria is illegal.  The Court underlined that the boycott is discriminatory and exceeds the powers given to local councils.  Gran Canaria, the second-most populous island of the Canary Islands, which is part of Spain, has a population of 850,000.



Letting Saudi Arabia Host a Chess Tournament was a Big Mistake – Editorial

When a chess tournament sponsored by the World Chess Federation opened in Saudi Arabia last week, the Saudis refused to give visas to seven Israelis to participate.  A Saudi spokeswoman said the reason for excluding them is that the kingdom and Israel do not have diplomatic relations.  Rubbing salt into the wound, the federation and the kingdom issued a news release pledging to admit players from Qatar and Iran, both increasingly at odds with Saudi Arabia.

For seven decades, the Arab world has wished Israel would fall into the sea or be driven there.  The Jewish state has not and will not.  If Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is truly committed to rejuvenation of the kingdom, as he claims to be, then he might discard some of the calcified thinking of his forebears.  If a nation cannot welcome everyone, it should not be given the honor of hosting a world tournament.



Israel to build wave energy power station in Ghana – Andrea Ayemoba

Israel’s Yam Pro Energy last week signed a $180 million MOU to build a wave energy power station in Ghana.  According to Yam Pro Energy, 3 billion people – half the world’s population – live within 124 miles of a coastline and can benefit from clean, renewable, ocean wave energy produced by its Sea Wave power plants.



School kids in Berlin tell German Jew ‘Hitler was Good’

A Jewish German student was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse in December by Arab fellow students in Berlin who screamed at him that “Hitler was a good man because he murdered Jews.”

The verbal abuse was dished out in the Ernst-Reuter high school by the students after the teen expressed his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Speaking to a Jewish newspaper in the community, the student said the flurry of insults included an array of accusations and calls for violence against Jews, accusing them of murdering children, and saying, “Their heads need to be cut off.”

According to the Jewish teen, anti-Semitic abuse had been a common feature of his school life since his first day at the school.  “I tried to stay calm, to smile and to present facts, but I decided to break my silence on the comment about Hitler,” he said.