News Digest — 4/30/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israel Accuses Islamic Jihad Of Sabotaging Ceasefire With Rocket Fire

Israel is accusing the Islamic Jihad terror group, backed by Iran, of firing a rocket from Gaza toward Israel on Monday night (29th) in an attempt to sabotage a fragile cessation of violence between the Jewish state and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The IDF reported that the rocket missed its intended target and landed in the Mediterranean Sea.  Residents in a number of Israeli localities in the south reported hearing an explosion.

In response to the attack, Israel’s coordinator of government activities in the territories announced that the fishing zone for Gazans was being reduced from 15 to 6 nautical miles.

Israel has, over the course of time, cut or expanded the zone granted for fishing based on the security situation along the Israeli-Gaza border.  It had been increased as part of the latest ceasefire understanding, reportedly mediated by Egypt, after a rocket fired from Gaza in March hit a house in a community north of Tel Aviv.

The IDF tweeted a photo and an accompanying post on Tuesday morning (30th) which read: “This is Bahaa Abu-Ala’ta, the Gaza commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  Last night, his operatives fired a rocket at Israel to bring about an escalation. Thankfully the rocket landed in the sea.

The Israeli military added that it “remains ready and committed to defend Israel against such terror.”

Earlier on Monday (29th), smoke from exploded incendiary balloons could be seen along the border.  Residents who live in the area reported that even during times of calm, they continue to experience smaller-scale violence.

Explosive kites and balloons have set large fires in the fields of Israeli farmers, causing economic hardship and threatening lives.



Israeli UN Envoy Urges NYT To Punish Those Behind Anti-Semitic Cartoon

Israel’s UN ambassador on Monday (29th) demanded that the New York Times hold accountable those responsibile for publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon, despite an apology issued by the newspaper.

The cartoon which appeared in the international edition on Thursday (25th), depicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind Donald Trump – who was wearing a kippah, or a Jewish skullcap.

Israeli ambassador Danon Danon said the cartoon “could have been taken from the pages of Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda paper, and yet these actions have gone unpunished.”

The newspaper released a statement on Saturday (27th) saying that “the image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it.”  The message did not include an explicit apology.

On Sunday (28th) the New York Times issued an additional statement saying it was “deeply sorry” and committed to “making sure nothing like this happens again.”

“I am not in a position of accepting or not accepting the apology, but if somebody makes a mistake, I think somebody should be accountable,” said Danon, who added that such images can incite violence against Jews.

On Sunday (28th), Israeli minister Gilad Erdan called the drawing a “Nazi-style cartoon.”

The Times said the matter was under internal review and that it will “anticipate significant change.’

Those who engage in anti-Semitism must be punished, whether it’s here at the UN, political leaders, editors, policy pundits or college professors,” said Danon.

Meanwhile, despite apologizing on Sunday (28th) for running an anti-Semitic cartoon on Thursday (25th), the NYT published another anti-Semitic cartoon in the same edition over the weekend.

The cartoon features Netanyahu carrying a tablet resembling the ten Commandments, while walking through the desert, followed by what appears to be a sinister-looking US President Donald Trump, both walking parallel to a directional sign marked “Golan Heights.”

The Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



Palestinian To Be Deported From US Over Terror Attack In Israel

A Palestinian Arab man who spent time in an Israeli prison for attempting to bomb a bus and later moved to the United States has been stripped of his citizenship and ordered deported to Jordan.

Vallmoe Shqaire, 51, of southern California, was granted US citizenship in 2008, 20 years after he participated in the 1988 roadside bombing of a bus in Israel in which no one was hurt.  Shqaire had ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, at the time of the bombing. He spent four years in an Israeli prison for the attack.

Shqaire, who was known as Mahmad hadr Mahmad Shakir, at the time of the attack, was charged in September with lying about his criminal past when applying for citizenship.  He pleaded guilty in January to hiding the bombing conviction and his ties to the PLO on his citizenship application.

He was sentenced on Friday (26th) in federal court in Los Angeles to nine months in federal prison, after which he will be deported to Jordan, CNN reported.  He has until May 28 to surrender to authorities and be jailed.



German Christians To Present 265-Pound Golden Menorah To Jerusalem – Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman

A group of 11 pro-Israel Christians left on a boat for Israel Monday (29th), bringing with them a 5-ft, 265-pound gilded menorah.

A life-size replica of the Temple lamp, the menorah is traveling from Germany via Rome to the port of Haifa.  It will arrive on May 5 and be presented to the public on May 9 at a special ceremony in Jerusalem.

The group of independent Germans, who call themselves simply “The Menorah Project,” said they have been working on the piece for a year and a half.  They raised 120,000 euros (about half a million shekels) in private donations to fund the initiative.

“The seven-branched menorah is a symbol of the State of Israel,” said Luca-Elias Hezel, who initiated the project.  “For us, it is a symbol that speaks louder and more meaningful than all words.”

He said the menorah, modeled after the one at the Titus Gate in Rome, is being given to the Jewish people with “a broad heart and in solidarity” and as a gift on Israel’s 71st Independence Day.

On its website, The Menorah Project explains its vision: “As the Jewish people need to publicly deal with injustice and robbery, we want to publicly bring back the menorah from Rome to Jerusalem.”

Today, in Rome, one can still see a replica of the menorah at the Arch of Titus, which serves as a reminder of the Roman Empire’s triumph over the Jews of Judea and their conquest of Jerusalem.  The Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 C.E.

The robbery, according to the website, symbolically stands for the distance between the early church and its Jewish roots, which ultimately led to what is known as Replacement Theology: the idea that God replaced Israel with the Church.  Replacement Theology is often blamed as the root cause of anti-Semitism, including the Holocaust.

“The church never returned the holy instruments back to the Jewish people,” the Menorah Project explained.  “Instead the church saw itself as the new spiritual Israel… We want to set a statement. We want to accept our failures as a church and set a sign of return.”

“It is a public statement towards the Jewish people and an act of asking for forgiveness as well,” the project continued in a statement.  “The replica of the menorah is not meant to be a cult-object but shall find its place as a memorial in Jerusalem.”



Holocaust Day: The War Within The War

The official Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day will take place on Wednesday evening May 1, 2019, in Warsaw Ghetto Square, Yad Vashem, Mount of Remembrance, Jerusalem.

The central theme this year will be: ‘The War Within The War: The Struggles Of The Jews To Survive During The Holocaust’

President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu will both deliver remarks at the Opening Ceremony

During the service, Holocaust survivors will light six torches followed by videos of each of them.

The IDF Paratrooper Honor Guard will participate in the ceremony as will Israeli singers.

The program will feature a traditional  memorial service, including the recitation of a chapter from Psalms by Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau.  The Kaddish, the mourner;s prayer and El Maleh Rahamim, the Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs will both be recited.

The ceremony will broadcast live throughout Israel.

Yad Vashem continues to call on the public to fill out Pages of Testimony to commemorate the names of Jews murdered during the Holocaust.  It is also continuing the “Gathering of Fragments” campaign in an effort to rescue more Holocaust-related documents, artifacts, photographs and artworks, and is continuing to interview, document and record video testimonies of survivors.