Israel News

News Digest — 9/20/21

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israel Commemorates 48th Anniversary Of Yom Kippur War

A special ceremony was held Sunday (19th) to commemorate the 48th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.  Officials and bereaved families gathered at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl to remember the victims of one of the nation’s deadliest wars.

“Something within us changed 48 years ago,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in his address.  “The Yom Kippur War proved how dangerous complacency and arrogance can be.  It taught us a lesson in humility, but also the importance of being prepared and organized.”

“The heavy toll of the war was unbearable… but what many perceived as a failure, I see as a victory.  For in the difficult challenge of losing one’s lofty status, we gained victory nevertheless, both on the Syrian and Egyptian fronts.  That is remarkable.”

President Isaac Herzog also gave an address at the ceremony.

“The Yom Kippur War was a national event that taught us about inflexibility and arrogance.  We must do our utmost so that a surprise like that doesn’t happen again – we must always be prepared for war as well as never miss an opportunity for peace.”

“Besides being vigilant, politically and security-wise, we must also learn the lessons on an internal level, within Israel, of unity and national resilience.  We must stand up to polarization and rifts in Israel society.  To unite, come together, make connections and prevent division – that is the best and only way to deal with internal and external threats,” Herzog added.

Addressing the bereaved families, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: “Every day you remember your loved one’s last sentences etched in your heart, the hug, the last meeting.  We must remember the fallen, and remind ourselves that the responsibility to make sure their deaths were not in vain, rests on us.”

“We owe the fallen our existence today, in a prosperous and strong country.  It has been 48 years, but the pain continues and we miss them no less.  These were Israelis from across the country who came together on the holy day of Yom Kippur to stand up to the enemy.  The victory came about, first and foremost, thanks to the commanders and the soldiers on the battlefield,” he stated.

The Yom Kippur War began on October 6, 1973 and ended on October 25th.  2,656 Israeli soldiers were killed.



Palestinian Authority Breathes Sigh Of Relief After Capture Of Last Two Fugitive Terrorists

Following the capture by the Shin Bet of the final two security terrorist prisoners Sunday night (19th), who escaped with four others from the Israeli Gilboa Prison on the 6th of September, a Palestinian security officer spoke to TPS stressing:

“The Shin Bet operation Sunday night (19th) in Jenin was received with great satisfaction by the Palestinian Authority and removed from the PA the need to deal with extensive demonstrations, which would have taken place if any of the prisoners had been killed.  The great failure of the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) was corrected by the Israeli Shin Bet, whose success in capturing the prisoners alive prevented a headache for the Palestinian Authority.  Sunday’s (19th) IDF operation effectively neutralized the threat posed to the Palestinian Authority by the armed terrorists in Jenin.”

PA sources made it clear that the postponement of the prisoners’ hunger-strike, which was scheduled to begin last Friday (17th), also led to a decrease in security tensions in the PA territories.  1,380 prisoners were about to begin the first phase of a hunger-strike Friday (17th) and had a 6-person team set up to manage it.   

Referring to the possibility that Islamic Jihad would respond to the capture of the six prisoners, Palestinian sources said that Hamas had arrested a number of Islamic Jihad members in recent days to prevent further rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

Meanwhile, all six of the security terrorist prisoners who escaped on September 6 from the Israeli Gilboa Prison, are back in Israeli custody.



In Major Win For Israel, 31 Countries To Boycott Anti-Semitic UN Conference

Thirty-one nations have so far decided to boycott a UN Conference on Racism beginning this week on Wednesday (22nd) due to the event’s anti-Semitic nature in the past, marking a major diplomatic win for Israel.  The first conference was held in Durban, South Africa from August 31 through September 8, 2001, and covered several controversial issues, including redress of transatlantic slavery and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The United States and Israeli delegations withdrew from the event over objections to a draft document equating Zionism with racism.

The conference’s goal was to tackle the issue of racism, but it quickly evolved into an openly anti-Israel event, led by Palestinian and boycott groups.

Since then a follow-up conference has been held under the auspices of the UN every five years.  Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak as a guest of honor in the 2009 edition and called for the destruction of Israel.

Earlier this year, the United States and Israel voted against the approval of the UN budget for 2021 in protest of the organization’s decision to hold the rally at this year’s General Assembly.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yari Lapid led the efforts to boycott the commemorative event, having spoken to dozens of his counterparts around the world.  Other Israeli diplomats also took part in the boycott campaign, spearheaded by Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Gilad Erdan.

“Reaching a situation where 31 countries boycott the Durban Conference is proof of a political power that has not been around for a long time – we were able to prove that the world is not as against us as we thought,”  Lapid said.

As of Sunday (19th), 20 countries had already announced their intentions to boycott the conference, including the US, Canada, Australia, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, New Zealand, Slovenia, and Slovakia.

Eleven other nations have also decided to pull out from the event but have yet to issue an official statement.

Belgium, one of the nations taking part in the conference, was convinced to downgrade its delegates participating in the event.



Lost Tribe, Bnei Menashe, Celebrating Sukkot In Northeast India

Like many Jews around the world, the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India are gathering to celebrate Sukkot this week which begins Monday evening (20th) at sundown and ends Monday evening (27th).  In their festival prayers, the Bnei Menashe will offer a special plea to fulfill their age-old dream of making Aliyah to Israel during the coming year.

“Even in the farthest reaches of northeastern India, the Bnei Menashe have continued to uphold the ancient tradition of building Sukkot in honor of the festival,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman, Michael Freund.  “We fervently hope that next year, they will be able to do so in Israel.”

The Bnei Menashe, or Sons of Manasseh, claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago.  Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the Borders of Burma and Bangladesh.  Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity.  They continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors – the Land of Israel.

Thus far, Shavei Israel has made the dream of Aliyah (immigration to Israel) possible for over 4,500 Bnei Menashe, and plan to help bring more members of the community to Israel.

Currently, there are 6,000 Bnei Menashe awaiting to return to the Jewish homeland.



The Netherlands Unveils Its First National Holocaust Memorial

A monument listing 102,163 Dutch victims of the Holocaust was unveiled by King Willem-Alexander in Amsterdam on Sunday (19th), the first national memorial to be built in the Netherlands.

The monument, designed by Daniel Libeskind, 75, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, lies in the center of the Dutch capital and is a labyrinth of brick walls that, when seen from above, form Hebrew letters reading “in remembrance.”

Each stone carries the name of a Jew, Roma or Sinti who was deported from the Netherlands and who died in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.  It is the first memorial to commemorate all the victims from across the Netherlands in one place.

“It gives the feeling that they really existed,” said Hetty De Roode, a Jew whose parents, brother and sister all died in the camps.  De Roode, who attended the unveiling, survived by hiding with a family living in the north of the Netherlands.

Most of the Jewish population in the Netherlands was deported during the German occupation.

“It was a black page in the history of our country,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.  “It forces us to question whether more should have been done to prevent it and to realize that even these days anti-Semitism is never far away.”

Libeskind, who also oversaw the master plan for the Ground Zero Memorial in New York, said it was overwhelming to see his design unveiled in the Dutch capital and added: “It’s a warning to us all what can happen in so-called civilized societies.”

Construction of the memorial faced years of delays, amid disputes about where it should be built, the cost and the design.  The $17.5 million monument was funded by private donations, including from Amsterdam and other municipalities.