News Digest — 5/14/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Iran Blames Israel, U.S. Blames Iran For Saudi Ship Sabotage

The tanker attackers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were the result of “Israeli mischief,” an Iranian parliamentary spokesman said on Tuesday (14th) according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

“The events that took place in the Emirates were Israeli mischief,” Behrouz Namati said, without providing any details on what role Israel may have played in the attacks.

An anonymous U.S. official said on Monday (13th) that an initial assessment showed that “Iran or Iranian-backed proxies” had blown holes in four ships in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The four ships were the subject of “sabotage,” Saudi Arabia said on Monday (13th).

The incident began early Sunday morning (12th) and now may become a major crisis, increasing the already fraught tensions between the U.S. and Iran.  The U.S. has warned Iran of repercussions if it or its allies attack the U.S.

The AP  reported on Monday night (13th) that “an American military team’s initial assessment is that Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies used explosives Sunday (12th) to blow large holes in four ships.”  The holes were about five to ten feet wide.

The attack took place near the entrance to the Straits of Hormuz, a major shipping lane which Iran has threatened to close in the past.



U.S. Warns Of Possible Terror Attacks In Israel Amid One Year Anniversary Of U.S. Embassy, Eurovision, And Nakba

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a security alert late Monday evening (13th), urging all American citizens in Israel to exercise caution and avoid traveling to areas affected by rocket fire in the latest deadly flare-up between Hamas and Israel.  The warning came ahead of the one-year anniversary Tuesday (14th) of the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem – which coincides with the week-long Eurovision festivities.

“Terror groups may choose the anniversary, which coincides with the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv and Nakba day, to conduct violent protests or an attack,” said the statement posted on the U.S. Embassy”s official site.

On Sunday (12th), Israel officially kicked off the Eurovision week in Tel Aviv, with thousands of police, Magen David Adom medics and stewards being deployed to the Eurovision village as some 300,000 tourists expected to visit the city during the week-long event.

“Security incidents can occur well beyond Gaza … and at any time, as demonstrated by the May 3-5 rocket attacks in southern Israel, including the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba, and the March 14 and March 25 rocket attacks in central Israel,”  said the U.S. statement.

“As security incidents, including rocket fire, often take place without warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the statement added.  “In the event of mortar or rocket fire, a Red Alert Siren may be activated. Treat all such alerts as real; follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately,” it concluded.



America’s Jerusalem Embassy: On The Right Side Of History – David M. Friedman

→On May 14, 2018, the United States finally opened its embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.  This historic step fulfilled a 23-year-old mandate from the U.S. Congress and recognized a 3,000-year-old truth that Israel’s enemies sought to erase.

→America has long been fascinated by Jerusalem.  In 1844, Warder Cresson, the first consul general, announced that the U.S. was extending its protection to the Jews of Jerusalem.  The first permanent consular presence opened just inside the Jaffa Gate in 1857, and diplomatic presence has remained constant in and around the Old City ever since.

→President Abraham Lincoln told his wife how he longed to visit Jerusalem.  And President Ulysses Grant and Mark Twain both visited Jerusalem in the mid-19th century and wrote extensively about their experiences.

→The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has now been open a full year.  More than 100 American diplomats come to work every day, working hand-in-hand with Israelis and Palestinians.  The Jerusalem embassy has been advancing peaceful coexistence, bilateral cooperation, and cultural exchange between and among Israelis, Palestinians and Americans.

→Most of all, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem stands for the truth – the bedrock of all successful policies.  Moving our embassy places the United States firmly on the right side of history.



For The First Time In Years, The Temple Mount Will Be Closed To Jews On Jerusalem Day

For the first time in 30 years, the Temple Mount holy site will be closed to Jewish visitors on Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of Israel taking control over the compound and the eastern part of the city during the 1967 Six Day War.

The Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City – the holiest to Jews and third-holiest to Muslims – is always closed to non-Muslims on the last few days of Ramadan, when large numbers of worshipers are at the site.

This year, those final days coincide with Jerusalem Day, which will be marked on June 1.

The last time the Temple Mount was closed to Jews on Jerusalem Day was in 1988, when it also coincided with the end of Ramadan.

Under an arrangement in place since Israel’s victory in the 1967 war, non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Temple Mount, but not pray there.

Jews are allowed to enter during limited hours, but are closely watched and prohibited from any religious displays.

Last year, more than 2,000 Jews visited the site on Jerusalem Day, under close police supervision.  But with hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshipers expected at the Temple Mount during the weekend of June 1, police on Monday (13th) said the decision was made to maintain public order in the Old City.

A statement from Jerusalem district police said the site would be closed to Jews and tourists “for reasons of public safety and public order.”



Kuwait Airways Slapped With Second Case Against Anti-Semitism In Germany – Yonah Jeremy Bob

The Lawfare Project announced Monday (13th) that it has filed a second case against Kuwait Airways in Germany alleging anti-Semitic discrimination on its flights.

The case is being brought in the Landshut District Court on behalf of a Frankfurt-based Israeli businessman, Shmuel M., who booked a flight from Munich to Sri Lanka in November, but was then blocked by Kuwait Airways from using the ticket.

In 2016, the Lawfare Project led an effort to file its first lawsuit against Kuwait Airways in a German court for the airline’s discriminatory policy of banning Israelis as passengers.

In September 2018, a German appeals court slammed Kuwait Airways for its ban on Israeli passengers, but said practical issues left it unable to force the airline to treat Israelis equally.

The Lawfare Project has filed an appeal to an even higher court, but in the meantime it has noted that the German public, media and government offices have overwhelmingly supported its position.

In the new case, Shmuel M. booked business-class tickets from Munich to Colombo, which was the quickest flight to Sri Lanka available from that airport.

When he asked about obtaining kosher food on the flight, the airline asked whether he held an Israeli passport.

After confirming that he did, the airline told him it would not honor his ticket and that he would need to speak to its lawyers for additional information.

Kuwait Airways has not yet replied, but a hearing will likely be scheduled for later this year.

The airline has previously justified it discrimination by citing a decades-old Kuwaiti law that bans all Kuwaiti citizens and companies from doing any business with citizens of the Jewish state.

In the past, legal pressure by the Lawfare Project against Kuwait Airways in the U.S. and Switzerland led to the airline canceling its NYC-London flights and all of its inter-European flights, rather than compromise its discriminatory practices.

Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein said that, “Time and again, Kuwait Airways has shown itself to be a bigoted airline with a bigoted policy that should have no place in a modern liberal democracy.  An airline that kicks Israelis off planes should be kicked out of Germany.”

German local counsel Nathan Gelbart added: “There can be no discrimination against Jews on German soil.  As long as we permit an airline to advertise flights for everyone except Israelis, it is a stain on the moral fabric of our country.”