Peace Deal Signing, Iran’s Plot To Kill Ambassador, & UK Antisemitic Candidate Dropped

September 15, 2020

Peace Deal Signing, Iran’s Plot To Kill Ambassador, & UK Antisemitic Candidate Dropped

September 15, 2020
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Happy Tuesday!

Today we’re diving into:

  • Peace Deals: Today’s peace deal signings at the White House; Saudi’s influence over Bahrain; rumors of additional countries following suit; and setback for sovereignty
  • Inside Israel: Israel’s national lockdown; outrage in ultra-Orthodox communities; Minister’s resignation; and sentencing in Jewish terrorist’s murder case and Bar Refaeli’s tax evasion case
  • Israel’s neighbors: Iran’s execution of protestor and plot to kill American Ambassador; UN battle over Iran sanctions; and airstrikes in Syria
  • Inside Europe: UK Mayoral candidate’s antisemitism; Danish circumcision decision; and Jewish help for Muslim storeowner
  • Inside the U.S.: Legal battle over antisemitic physician resident; FIDF’s virtual fundraiser; Congressional QAnon supporter; and Woodward’s startling book claim
  • Celebrate & Remember: Discovered evidence of Iraqi Jews; and Nuremberg race laws


Two historic peace agreements with two Arab countries within one month:  Israel-U.A.E.-Bahrain peace signing ceremony is today

700 expected at Israel-U.A.E.-Bahrain signing ceremony today: Some 700 people are due to attend the White House ceremony this morning where Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain will sign peace accords. The last-minute Bahraini addition, while not a complete surprise, marks just the second time in over 25 years that an Arab country has normalized relations with Israel, the first being just last month with the Emirates. Although many nations, including OmanEgypt and many Western countries have praised the peace agreements, Hungary will be the only member of the European Union to send a delegation to the signing ceremony.
Saudi’s influence over Bahrain: One of the most notable aspects of the Bahraini announcement has nothing to do with Bahrain and all to do with the Gulf’s largest power, Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have near complete say over Bahrain’s foreign relationships, so it is highly unlikely that the Bahrain-Israel deal would have been without Saudi blessing. In fact, most experts had always thought that Bahrain would only ever normalize relations with Israel after Saudi Arabia had done so. Although Saudi Arabia says it will not normalize relations with Israel until an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is finalized, this is a significant step towards realizing normal relations.
Rumors that more countries following suit: In a video statement ahead of the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “This will have a huge impact and I assure you that more countries are on their way to join us.” There are rumors that other countries, such as Sudan, Oman, and Morocco, could follow suit. The U.S. is also seeking to establish direct Israel-Morocco commercial flights while the iron is hot. Morocco, which has one of the largest Jewish communities in the Arab world, has long maintained informal relations with Israel and has even hosted Israeli leaders. Although Israelis are allowed to travel to Morocco, direct flights have been elusive. 
U.S. not backing annexation for another 4 years: The White House reportedly assured the U.A.E. that it will not recognize any Israeli plans to annex portions of the West Bank until 2024, which is a timetable consistent with the Trump peace plan. The Trump Administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan gives the Palestinians a four-year window to engage with the plan. Netanyahu has insisted that his plan to extend sovereignty over areas of the West Bank (otherwise known as Judea and Samaria) remains “on the table,” but has also said that Israel will not move forward without American support.


Police setting up hundreds of checkpoints to enforce Israel’s second national lockdown, set to begin Friday

Israel’s second national shutdown begins Friday: Israel’s coronavirus disaster has come full circle. It’s official: another nationwide shutdown will commence Friday, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, though the restrictions will be less severe than the first lockdown. The shutdown will last three weeks, with many afraid that it will impose a devastating toll on Israel’s small businesses and economy. Police will be at hundreds of checkpoints throughout the country to enforce the lockdown. The Health Ministry registered 4,764 new coronavirus cases on Monday and the death toll is currently 1,136. The first Israeli hospital has been ordered to stop accepting any more coronavirus patients because of overcrowding.
Outrage in ultra-Orthodox communities as Minister quits: The coinciding of the shutdown and the High Holy Days has caused outrage among the ultra-Orthodox communities. Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman resigned from the cabinet in protest of the decision. In defiance of the official government regulations, many ultra-Orthodox communities are planning on proceeding with mass gatherings over the holidays. One source said, “This lockdown will be more for the non-religious. For the Haredim life will continue on as usual.” With the nearly all ultra-Orthodox city of Bnai Brak at 126% hospital capacity, the Orthodox community’s disregard of the coronavirus regulations could have a disastrous effect on the country’s hospital systems. 
Jewish terrorist gets three life sentences for murder: Amiram Ben-Uliel was sentenced to three life terms plus 20 additional years in prison for the firebomb attack that killed a Palestinian couple and their young son in 2015. The gruesome attack in the northern West Bank village of Duma drew outrage from Palestinians and Jews alike, with Netanyahu calling it “an act of terrorism.” Ben-Uliel, 26, was charged Monday after Judge Ruth Lorch acknowledged that his actions “were meticulously planned and stemmed from racism and an extremist ideology.” Another suspect who was a minor at the time of the killings avoided murder charges by pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit racially motivated arson.
Bar Refaeli sentenced over tax evasion case: Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli and her mother have been sentenced by an Israeli court after they were found guilty of tax evasion. While Refaeli was served nine months of community service, her mother was given a 16-month jail sentence for the scheme. The pair were found guilty in July of evading taxes on $10 million worth of income. In addition, they were ordered to pay $1.5 million on top of the money they owe. 


Despite worldwide outrage, Iran executes wrestling star who protested regime, after torturing him into a forced confession

Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari

Iran executes wrestler despite pleas from world: Iran has executed one of its champion wrestlers, Navid Afkari, after an international outcry against going through with it. Afkari took part in anti-government protests in 2018, where he was detained by security forces. After being tortured for months and forced into making a false confession of murdering a security guard in 2018, Afkari was sentenced to death. A recently released Amnesty International report describes how Iran has killed hundreds of protestors against the regime, including children. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the execution “an outrageous assault on human dignity, even by the despicable standards of this regime.
Iran’s plot to kill American ambassador: U.S. intelligence believes that Iran is seeking to assassinate the American ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, in retaliation for the U.S.’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in January. Marks, who is Jewish, is close to Trump and is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. Marks has few, if any, links to Iran and was possibly chosen as a target due to her personal closeness to the president. 
U.S. and Iran battle at the UN over reimposition of sanctions: In the Hague, the U.S. and Iran are clashing before the UN’s top court over the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran. The legal fight at the International Court of Justice will first have to contend over whether that court has jurisdiction over the disagreement. It was in February of last year that the court announced that the case could move forward. The ultimate decisions will not be made for months, if not years. 
Airstrikes in Syria hit missile production facility: A reported Israeli airstrike against a missile production facility outside Aleppo, Syria destroyed and damaged several buildings. It is unusual for Israel to strike targets near Aleppo, which is far north in Syria and near its border with Turkey. A private Israeli intelligence firm said: “The attack intended to weaken missile production in Syria, probably for Hezbollah, by harming its crucial elements.”


UK Liberal Democrat party suspends mayoral candidate caught using antisemitic language in past campaign

UK Liberal Democrats drop mayoral candidate over antisemitism: The United Kingdom’s Liberal Democrat party dropped a candidate for mayor who was filmed in 1997 urging voters not to support a Jew. A video over the weekend emerged of Geeta Sidhu-Robb saying, “Don’t vote for a Jew, Jack Straw is a Jew. If you vote for him, you’re voting for a Jew. Jews are the enemies of Muslims,” during her 1997 general election campaign for the constituency of Blackburn in northern England. This weekend she wrote on Twitter, “I am deeply ashamed of the ignorant and abusive language.”
Netanyahu thanks Danish PM for opposing circumcision ban: Prime Minister Netanyahu called his Danish counterpart to thank her for announcing her opposition to a proposed ban of non-medical circumcision in her county. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced her opposition to the measure despite its broad backing in her country. Netanyahu said the issue is “a matter of maintaining Jewish identity through the generations,” something with which Frederiksen agreed. She said: “Danish Jews must continue to be part of Denmark.” 
German Jewish students help Muslim kebab shop owner: In Halle, Germany, Jewish students are banding together to support a kebab shop owner who was assaulted by a neo-Nazi after he was unable to enter and commit any killings in the town’s synagogue on Yom Kippur last year. The Jewish Student Union of Germany started a GoFundMe page to support Ismet Tekin, the owner of the shop, who did not qualify for government assistance. So far, the students have raised over $6,000 for the shop owner. 


Brooklyn hospital appeals court ruling ordering them to readmit a physician resident who published antisemitic and anti-gay posts

Brooklyn hospital attempting to fire antisemitic resident in legal battle: A Hospital in Brooklyn attempted to fire a newly hired Pediatric Resident when his anti-Jewish, anti-gay, and pro-violence social media posts were discovered from 2019. Walid Khass, who published things like “Go beat up a Zionist” and “I hope only Israelis get Ebola” on his social media, sued the hospital to be readmitted to the residency program and won. New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital is appealing the ruling in the coming week at the Brooklyn Supreme Court. A filing on behalf of the hospital stated, “These posts would cause serious and extreme hardship on the Program because it would interfere with the Program’s ability to serve a patient population consisting of a large number of Orthodox Jews.”
FIDF first virtual gala raises over $15 million: The first ever Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) virtual gala “A Night of Heroes” on Sunday raised over $15 million to support the well-being and educational programs for Israeli soldiers. The gala featured a live performance from Israeli pop star Noa Kirel, as well as guest speakers such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
Republican QAnon supporter certain to win in Georgia: The Republican QAnon conspiracy theorist Margorie Greene lost her Democratic challenger after he decided to withdraw from the race this past week. Greene’s former opponent, Kevin Van Ausdal, cited vague “personal and family reasons” for his withdrawal and said he was leaving the state. Greene is now certain to win the deep-red Georgia seat. In the past, Greene has shared Islamophobic and antisemitic content online, including saying that George Soros, the Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire, collaborated with the Nazis. 
Woodward book claims Netanyahu showed Trump doctored video: American Journalist Bob Woodward’s new book about the Trump presidency includes a startling claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu purposefully showed President Trump a doctored video of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The video purported to show Abbas calling for the killing of children. Not only does Woodward write that Trump believed the video was real against the advice of then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but that he altered U.S. foreign policy as a result. Woodward even seems to indicate that Trump closed the Palestinian office in D.C. and cut off aid to the Palestinians because of it.


This Monument, ‘Prayer,’ in Ramat Gan, Israel, is in memory of the Jews who were killed in Iraq during the Farhud pogrom (1941) and in the 1960s. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Today we celebrate the miracle discovery of Iraqi Jewish archives! A new documentary highlights the treasure trove of documents related to the Iraqi Jewish community discovered by happenstance at the start of the American invasion of Iraq. In 2003, American troops stormed the Iraqi secret police headquarters in Baghdad, entering its flooded, damaged basement. Stored away were about 20,000 personal and religious artifacts confiscated from the Iraqi Jewish community in the 1950s. The Iraqi government began to dismantle the millennia-old Jewish community with violent pogroms beginning in the 1940’s. Among the discovered artifacts were handwritten documents of a famed Sephardic rabbi, as well as records from the country’s last Jewish school. Having been restored for the last two decades in the United States, the items are set to be returned to Iraq, despite the instability there and the Jewish community’s relocation, almost entirely to Israel. The documentary showing the journey of these artifacts is called Saving the Iraqi Jewish Archives: A Journey of Identity and premiered on September 13th in New York. There is little doubt as to the filmmakers’ agenda: if the documents are returned to Iraq, “there will be little hard evidence for the community to prove they ever existed in Iraq and certainly nothing to cling to for future generations,” they said. 
Today in 1935, the antisemitic Nuremberg race laws, which defined Reich citizenship and legalized the division between “Aryans” and “non-Aryans,” were imposed, and German Jews were stripped of their citizenship. Jews were reduced to “subjects” of the state. Citizens of Germany had to be of kindred blood and Jews (anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent) were defined as not being of German blood as a matter of law.  Jews were forbidden to marry “Aryans,” were excluded from a host of high-profile vocations and were discriminated against and banned from entering many businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

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