Today we’re diving into: Netanyahu’s approval over F-35 sale; Saudi Arabia & Bahrain’s announcement allowing Israel to use airspace; Jewish Agency & Keren Hayesod operations in UAE; Israel’s coronavirus numbers and lockdown; marijuana drone over Tel Aviv; Muslim authority’s decision on Temple Mount; Lebanon military’s chemical stockpile discovery; Palestinian faction meeting; airstrikes in Syria; BBC journalist’s attack on colleague; Austrian citizenship for Jews; antisemitic Swedish protest; U.S. sanctions on International Criminal Court; San Francisco State University hosts Palestinian terrorist; Target’s Holocaust costumes; Doja Cat’s award; Israel’s tiny space laboratory; and honoring a hero.
UAE PEACE DEAL
Despite denial after public outcry, sources familiar with the negotiations say Netanyahu condoned sale of F-35s to UAE
Report claims Netanyahu secretly okayed F-35 sale to UAE: According to officials who spoke to the New York Times on the condition of anonymity, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu privately accepted U.S. sales of F-35 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates in exchange for normalization. Netanyahu’s administration has strenuously denied this charge to the New York Times. By law, any sale that could harm Israel’s military edge in the region must go through Congress and though Israel cannot stop the sale, if Israel expressed opposition, the U.S. would likely not go against its wishes. Netanyahu stopped publicly complaining about the sale after he met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week. The Times says Pompeo “brought the Israeli prime minister back in line.”
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain allowing flights from Israel over its airspace: After allowing an Israeli flight to the UAE to cross into its airspace for the first time this week, Saudi Arabia now says that any plane headed for the UAE may cross into Saudi airspace. Without mentioning Israel by name, the Saudis said their decision came at the request of Emiratis. Following Saudi Arabia’s lead, Bahrain announced Thursday it would also open its airspace to Israeli planes flying to UAE, which will shorten flights by several minutes. According to Israeli officials, Bahrain will likely follow the UAE in signing a peace agreement with Israel, though both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia said they will not normalize relations until an independent Palestinian state is established.
Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod starting operations in UAE: The Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod said they plan to begin providing services to Jews in the UAE The community is the first new Jewish community being built in an Arab country in centuries and is comprised of Jews from Europe, North America, South America, and within the Arab world. The Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog said, “We’ve established a dedicated team, along with Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Federations of North America, to plan and implement our support for Jewish communal life in the UAE—including Jewish education and identity, as well as summer camps. There is also the possibility of sending a permanent Jewish Agency emissary (shaliach) to the UAE Jewish community.”
Israel now has the highest rate of new coronavirus infections per capita; Cabinet decides to lockdown hotspots
Highest rate of new coronavirus cases per capita: With nearly 3,000 coronavirus cases recorded in a 24-hour period this week, Israel reportedly now has the world’s highest rate of new coronavirus infections per capita. Israel’s coronavirus cabinet decided to lock down 30 “red cities”—areas with high infection rates—beginning on Monday. Israel’s coronavirus czar said that a nationwide lockdown is also a possibility. Business owners, as well as Arab and ultra-Orthodox lawmakers, blasted the decision, as the high infection rates are predominantly in ultra-Orthodox and Arab localities which are consequently targets of the lockdowns. Israel currently has 24,281 active cases, 426 of which are in serious condition; 985 Israelis have died from the coronavirus.
Drone drops marijuana over Tel Aviv: In Tel Aviv, a high-flying drone dropped bags of marijuana from the sky. The drone seemed to be fulfilling the promise of marijuana legalization activists. Police arrested two men who were operating the drone over Rabin Square. The police also scoured the area to confiscate the bags of the drug.
Muslim authority fills Temple Mount hole with concrete: The Islamic religious authority which rules the Temple Mount, the Waqf, sealed a newly opened cavity on the Mount, which is considered the most holy site for the Jewish people. The hole, which held possible archeological treasures, appeared in the Temple Mount’s southwestern corner. Jewish groups interested in historical preservation had demanded that proper archaeological restoration be allowed to seal the hole. Instead, the Waqf filled it with concrete. One Jewish activist said: “The Temple Mount is the microcosm of the ancient world. Every meter on the Temple Mount has first-rate national importance.”
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
Lebanon’s military finds 4 more tons of ammonium nitrate near Beirut port explosion scene, as French President demands reforms
Lebanon finds 4 more tons of chemical that caused explosion: The Lebanese army found four additional tons of ammonium nitrate, the chemical that caused the massive and devastating explosions in the port of Beirut last month. The stores of the chemical were found near the same port. The military said that officials were “dealing with the material.” As Lebanon deals with the explosions’ fallout, President Emmanuel Macron of France is leaning hard on its former colony to institute immediate political reforms or face sanctions, which would be catastrophic for the already collapsing state. Macron was in Lebanon for the second time in the past month, and he secretly met with members of the terrorist group Hezbollah. Following the publishing of a report detailing those secret meetings, Macron publicly berated the journalist responsible.
Palestinian Authority President hosts Hamas and Islamic Jihad: For the first time in nearly a decade, senior members from all 14 main major Palestinian factions were in attendance at a meeting in Ramallah on Thursday, hosted by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting was called to focus on reconciliation efforts among the Palestinian factions and on the recent UAE—Israel peace agreement. Abbas said of the agreement: “Normalization schemes with the occupation are used as a poisonous dagger to stab our people…We are meeting today to confront all these conspiracies.”
Divisions still apparent between Palestinian factions: Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah, who are in Beirut, Lebanon, joined by video conference as part of these joint discussions to develop a strategy against “normalization schemes.” Despite talk of unity, the Hamas leader’s speech made it clear that deep divisions remain between the terror groups and the Palestinian Authority, as the PA seeks coexistence with Israel while Hamas and Islamic Jihad seek Israel’s destruction. “We as Hamas will not recognize Israel, and will not renounce on inch of Palestinian land, and Israel will remain our enemy. Our choice is one of total resistance to it,” Haniyeh said.
Strikes in Syria kill 16 Iranian fighters and hit strategic airbase: Airstrikes in Syria early Thursday near the Iraqi border killed 16 Iranian backed fighters. The strikes are believed to have been carried out by Israeli warplanes. Israel has been accused of conducting at least nine air raids in Syria since June in furtherance of its goal to push Iran and its military buildup out of Syria, including by curbing Iran’s support of the militant terror group Hezbollah in the area. The Syrian government also announced that it faced strikes on the Homs airbase Wednesday, the largest in the country. Iran has used the base in the past to store and move military equipment. According to a private Israeli intelligence firm and satellite images of the aftermath, the strikes have significantly set back the ability of Iran to transport and store weapons in Syria.
BBC journalist used anonymous social media account to attack Jewish colleague who spoke out about antisemitism
BBC investigating reporter attacking colleague: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is investigating an anonymous Twitter account operated by one of its reporters for attacking another BBC colleague who spoke out against antisemitism in Britain. The account, which has been revealed to be run by reporter Nimesh Thaker, called Israel “racist” and a “white supremacist state.” Thaker also wrote in response to BBC reporter Emma Barnett’s on-air remarks about her family’s persecution during the Holocaust that she used “the same old ‘antisemitism’ excuse whenever people criticize Israel.” The BBC said: “The BBC takes allegations of this nature extremely seriously, and while we cannot comment on individual staff issues, we have robust processes in place to investigate any such matters with urgency.”
Thousands of Jews seek Austrian citizenship: Under a new law adopted by the Austrian National Council, thousands of Jews who are descended from those persecuted by the Nazis are expected to apply for Austrian citizenship. Unlike typical Austrian law, these applicants will not have to give up other citizenship in order to gain Austrian citizenship. Austria’s American embassy said: The law is “in line with Austria’s ongoing endeavor for reconciliation with all those who suffered under the totalitarian Nazi regime in Austria.” Austrian citizenship also guarantees an EU passport.
Swedish Muslims chant about killing Jews: In Sweden, a Muslim protest turned strikingly antisemitic. Although the protest was organized to object to a right-wing lawmaker’s burning of the Q’uran, participants began chanting “Khaybar Khaybar oh, Jews, Muhammad’s army will return.” This was a reference to the massacre and expulsion of Jews in Khaybar, Arabia in 628 C.E. The Council of Swedish Jewish Communities said: “We take this incident extremely seriously and call on the police and other responsible authorities to prosecute those individuals who, through this act, have committed incitement to hatred against ethnic groups.” A leading Muslim group thanked the Jewish community for its support and said: we “condemn the anti-Semitic words of hatred that some chanted during the riot.”
INSIDE THE U.S.
The U.S. imposed sanctions on International Criminal Court senior officials over “illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction”
U.S. sanctions ICC officials: The U.S. has sanctioned senior officials in the International Criminal Court, the international body responsible for prosecuting war crimes, over its investigations into U.S. Army actions in Afghanistan. The ICC is also currently investigating Israel, which investigation the U.S. vehemently opposes. The sanctions specifically target chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, freezing her assets in U.S. control and banning her from traveling to the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the body a “thoroughly broken and corrupt institution” and said: “The United States has never ratified the Rome Statute that created the court and we will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.” The sanctions were denounced by the court, the United Nations, and human rights advocates.
SF State University hosts Palestinian terrorist: San Francisco State University’s Department of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies will hold a conversation with a Palestinian terrorist later this month. A leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Leila Khaled helped plan and carry out the hijacking of two airplanes. The Executive Director of the Lawfare Project, Brooke Goldstein, said: “Celebrating this notorious terrorist will only serve to create an even more hostile learning environment for Jewish students at SFSU.” The college said: “an invitation to a public figure to speak to a class should not be construed as an endorsement of point of view.”
Target pulls Holocaust costume from shelves: The retail store Target is no longer selling a Halloween costume that resembles clothing worn by Holocaust victim Anne Frank. The description of the costume read: “Is your child studying World War II or the Holocaust? Now you can help her transport back in time to the 1940s. They say that dressing up can be an important learning technique and this WW2 Girl costume for kids will be the perfect learning tool.” As of September 1, Target had taken down the costume from its website.
Jewish challenger critical of Israel loses to incumbent: Representative Richard Neal, the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, who was endorsed by pro-Israel groups, won reelection to his Massachusetts congressional seat against a Jewish challenger, Alex Morse. Morse said he supported conditioning aid to Israel and accepted help from the organization IfNotNow, a group which the head of the Democratic Majority for Israel called “an organization that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, in any borders.” Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, is gay and was falsely smeared by the University of Massachusetts’ College Democrats which said he had engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct. Those allegations were deemed to have been a setup and are currently under investigation by the University administration.
Doja Cat wins award for best new artist: Doja Cat, a Jewish singer and rapper, won MTV’s best new artist award. Cat’s mother is a Jewish American and her father is South African. In her acceptance speech, the singer thanked her mother and urged fans to “stay safe.”
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Nicholas Winton with one of the hundreds of Jewish children whose lives he saved during World War II
Today we celebrate Israel’s tiny space laboratory! Israel, together with Italy’s space agency, launched a nano-satellite into orbit. The satellite will conduct medical research on microgravity, which might reduce antibiotic resistance acquisition. This will potentially mitigate the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria here on Earth. The entire space laboratory is only the size of a shoebox. The Israeli SpacePharma company said: “SpacePharma is currently the only commercial company, except for NASA, with a space research laboratory.”
Today in 2009, two dozen survivors and their families were reunited with the man who saved their lives from the Nazis—Nicholas Winton. This meeting marked the 70th anniversary of their rescue and Winton, who has since passed away, was 100 when the meeting took place. In late 1938, Winton, a 29-year-old British stockbroker, had traveled to Czechoslovakia at the invitation of a friend. Fearing, correctly, that Czechoslovakia would soon be invaded by the Nazis, he immediately began organizing a way to get Jewish children out of the country. Winton persuaded British officials to accept the children and arranged for eight trains carrying 669 mostly Jewish children through Germany to Britain in the months before the outbreak of World War II.