November 26, 2018

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israel Lashes Out At Airbnb After Company Pulls Listings Of West Bank Home Rentals – Glenn Fleishman

Airbnb (home-renting company based in San Francisco), announced on Monday (19th) it will remove all listings by Jews in the West Bank, a disputed territory.  In response, Israel said it would act to restrict Airbnb in the country, and encouraged affected Airbnb hosts to files lawsuits under Israel’s anti-boycott law.  Airbnb’s action affects about 200 hosts.

Israelis noted that Airbnb continues to offer listings in a number of other locales that remain in dispute or are controlled by dictators.  Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren pointed out Turkish-occupied Cyprus, Moroccan-occupied Sahara, Tibet, and the Crimea as examples.  Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said he will work with U.S. officials to determine if Airbnb has violated laws in the U.S. states that prohibit boycotts targeting Israel.  About 25 states have enacted anti-boycott laws.

Erdan said Airbnb “will have to explain why it is taking this discriminatory and racist line here in particular and not in other conflict zones in the world.”

Palestinians welcomed the San-Francisco-based firm’s move, which will take effect in the coming days, while Israel called it a “wretched capitulation” to boycotters.



Beirut Asks For Russia’s Air Defense Net To Cover Lebanon As Well As Syria

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has asked Moscow to bring Lebanese air space under the protection of the Russian air defense system being developed in Syria DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources reveal.  President Vladimir Putin has not yet replied to the request which Aoun posted through back channels.  But neither has he so far turned him down. For now, it is under discussion at the highest levels of the Russian defense ministry, which tend to recommend approval.

According to media sources, the framing of Beirut’s request went through several drafts with the help of Aoun’s friend and ally, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, until Tehran approved it.  If Putin decides to grant the Lebanese request for Russian air defense cover, Israel would face a further Russian restraint on its air force operations in the eastern Mediterranean, over and above the powerful Russian air defense system which is in the last stages of deployment in Syria.  This system is composed of S-300, S-400 and Pantsir-SIE air defense missiles, boosted by layers of medium-and short anti-air batteries and an advanced electronic warfare network. This sophisticated edifice was designed by Moscow to provide the ultimate answer to any aerial threats the U.S. and Israeli warplanes are capable of posing from Syria’s skies.

Putin’s accession to the Lebanese request would provide Hizbullah, Iran’s proxy, for the first time with an umbrella by a world power against a potential Israeli air attack.



Israel’s Iron Dome Is Not A Full Solution To Hamas Rocket Fire – Moshe Arens

→The development of the Iron Dome system for the interception of short-range rockets and some mortar rounds is a great technological achievement that was for many years considered to be beyond engineering capability.  But it is not a cure-all for an attack of thousands of such rockets against civilian populations.

→The Iron Dome system can be saturated by the launching of a number of rockets at the same target, some of which get through.  It is not an impenetrable umbrella under which life can proceed as usual,

→The tremendous different in the cost of the simple rocket and the expensive system operated to intercept it also makes it financially unsustainable in the long run.

→There is no getting away from it: The only way to stop the launching of rockets against Israel’s civil population is by physical eliminating that capability.  That can be achieved only by troops on the ground – through the entry of the Israel Defense Forces into the launching areas and the destruction of the manufacturing and storage facilities.

→The belief that terrorist organizations pledged to destroy the State of Israel can be inveigled to abstain from attacking Israel has proven to be false and is not likely to be borne out in the long run.

(The writer served as Israel’s Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs)    



World Jewish Congress CEO: 46% Of The World Hasn’t Heard Of The Holocaust

The UN culture and education agency has teamed up with the World Jewish Congress to launch a website to counter Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

UNESCO Secretary General Audrey Azoulay and WJC President Ronald Lauder unveiled the interactive “Facts about the Holocaust” website at the cultural agency’s Paris headquarters on Monday (19th).

It features a trove of historical information about the Holocaust, including testimonies, and it is linked to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Online Holocaust Encyclopedia.

The new site has been conceived to combat what UNESCO calls “increased hate and disinformation online” on Jewish issues.  It comes five months after the organization launched the UN’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism.

World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer said that “this is an initiative of the utmost importance, because today, 75 years after the Holocaust, more than 46% of the population of the world never even heard of the worst atrocity in history.”

“The World Jewish Congress commends the UNESCO Secretary General for this vital cooperation,” he added.  “Together we believe that by remembering the past, we can defend our future.”

UNESCO’s pro-Jewish initiatives come as Israel prepares its withdrawal from the agency amid accusations that it fosters anti-Jewish bias.



Sky Angels: Israel Leads One Of Biggest Search And Rescue Drills In World

Multinational Search and Rescue units and Israel’s Air Force (IAF) Unit 669 concluded the Sky Angels 2018 exercise on Tuesday (20th), one of the biggest such exercises in the world, held for the first time in Israel.

Special Forces from six countries – the U.S., Italy, Croatia, the Netherlands, Canada and the Czech Republic – trained in a variety of scenarios and focused on cooperation between the units.

Lt. Col. A., Commander of Unit 669 said that the objective of the exercise was “to improve the unit’s operational knowledge while learning from the experience of other sources.”

The two-week long drill included a week of basic training, followed by a week of mission-related drills, including combat extraction during warfare, advanced operational medicine, pilot extraction and mass-casualty incidents.

Unit 669 last month faced a real-time mass casualty incident when it participated in the extraction of casualties from a bus swept away by floods in Jordan.

Lt. Col. A. noted that the Sky Angels’ significance lay with the exercise’s broad international participation.

“It gives me great pride to see Israel host so many countries.  Not many countries have held an extraction exercise of this sort, and the fact that we have indicates the strength of the IAF and SAR Unit 669 in particular,” the IAF commander said.

He also underscored the importance of interpersonal relationships between the various units as a critical factor for future operations.

“It was important for me that the unit would learn from international militaries – in exercises, doctrines and instruction.  Mutual discourse is significant in all of them,” he said.

“One of the exercises’ main goals was establishing a good interpersonal infrastructure so that we would be able to consult with our international counterparts when operational dilemmas arise.”