Today we’re diving into: the Serbia-Kosovo normalization and resulting Israeli deals; Malawai establishing Jerusalem office; U.A.E.’s delegation to Israel; Israel’s grim death milestone; fights over coronavirus restrictions; conflict of interest in Netanyahu case; remains of 3000-year-old ancient palace; new settler homes; arson attacks on Arab-Jewish school; Iran’s nuclear deal violations; Hamas & Hezbollah meeting; Sudan’s secular declaration; Spanish University’s antisemitic course; Boogaloo Bois’ arrests over Hamas attempts; attack on Jewish preschoolers; Jewish professor’s racial deception; Surgeon General’s advice for High Holy Days; and ancient Judean dates.
As part of U.S. mediation between Serbia and Kosovo, Kosovo will recognize Israel, and both countries will open Jerusalem embassy
Serbia-Kosovo agreement comes with Israel diplomatic breakthrough: In another diplomatic feat, the White House announced that Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to normalize economic ties, in a step toward resolution of their historic conflict. (Kosovo’s parliament declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and most Western countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia, Russia and China have not.) Unexpectedly, Israel was also a part of the deal between Serbia and Kosovo. According to President Donald Trump, Israel and Kosovo will establish mutual recognition and Kosovo and Serbia will both set up their Israeli embassies in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the news saying, “I welcome the agreement with Kosovo, which will be the first Muslim country to open an embassy in Jerusalem. Serbia will be the first European country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.”
Kosovo had long been courting Israel: Kosovo, which has long courted Israel, hasn’t recognized Israel before this because Israel did not recognize Kosovo, a breakaway state. Israel feared it might set a precedent to be followed by the Palestinians. This position is not unique to Israel—five European states have also refused to recognize it out of similar concerns: Spain (fearing Catalan and Basque separatism), Romania and Slovakia (which have Hungarian minorities and worry about irredentism), and Greece and Cyprus (mainly out of Christian-Orthodox solidarity with Serbia).
Though Israel has historically avoided recognizing Kosovo, Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci said in 2007, “I love Israel. What a great country. Kosovo is a friend of Israel,” and in September 2018 he promised, “If Kosovo were recognized by Israel, I would place the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem.” Both Kosovo and Serbia are candidates for membership in the European Union; the EU said that moving their embassies to Jerusalem may jeopardize their membership bids. The Palestinian Authority responded to the announcement by announcing that they will sever ties with any country that opens an embassy in Jerusalem.
Malawi’s president vows to establish office in Jerusalem: One other country announced that it will establish a diplomatic office in Jerusalem: Malawi, which will be the first African country to establish an embassy in Jerusalem. Malawi has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1964 and was one of three sub-Saharan African nations that resisted pressure from Arab states to cut off diplomatic relations with Israel following the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
U.A.E. deal elevated to peace treaty status: The U.A.E.-Israel agreement is being designated as an official peace treaty on par with Israel’s treaties with Egypt and Jordan. With such a high and binding status, the agreement will need approval by the legislatures in both Israel and the U.A.E., although the Emirati royals have the final say in that country. The most significant difference between this peace agreement and those with Egypt and Jordan is that this treaty does not conclude a state of war since Israel and the U.A.E. were never at war.
The signing of the agreement is expected to take place in Washington, D.C. prior to the presidential election in November. Numerous Arab countries without formal ties with Israel have indicated they will potentially attend the event, a sign of approval for the deal. Additionally, an Emirati delegation is reportedly planning to make a trip to Israel on September 22. This will be the first ever official delegation from the U.A.E. to arrive in Israel. It comes after last week’s equally groundbreaking arrival of Israeli diplomats and officials in the U.A.E. for talks.
Israel surpasses 1,000 coronavirus deaths; fights over renewed restrictions
Israel surpasses 1,000 coronavirus deaths: Israel has hit a grim milestone: over 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus. The country continues to have the highest number of cases per capita in the world and recorded another few days of over 3,000 new virus cases. Hours before planned curfews were to go into effect in about 40 hotspots around the country, the Health Ministry delayed the new restrictions amid disagreements with mayors of the various municipalities. They will now start Tuesday night. Prime Minister Netanyahu reduced stricter lockdowns to nightly curfews after pressure from the mayors of four ultra-Orthodox towns.
Netanyahu rips into opposition after encouragement to break virus laws: As the numbers spike in the country, Prime Minister Netanyahu accused opposition Knesset members of “harming Israel and encouraging anarchy.” Netanyahu’s accusation was in response to Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman’s encouragement of Israeli citizens to break the virus laws. Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, reprimanded Liberman for calling on the public to “act in accordance with common sense and not in accordance with government guidelines.”
Reported conflict of interest cover up in Netanyahu case: As thousands of protesters calling for the prime minister to resign continue to gather for the 11th consecutive week, senior law enforcement personnel in Israel filed a complaint alleging widespread cover up of a conflict of interest by an investigator who worked on the case against the Prime Minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu called the report an “atom bomb” which prove the charges against him are false. Many Likud party lawmakers are calling for an investigation into the claim.
The complaint details that the chief investigator was in an extramarital relationship with the sister of a man, Arnon Mozes, who was also charged with Netanyahu. Mozes was the publisher of Israel’s largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and was indicted for bribery for promising to cover stories of Netanyahu more favorably in exchange for Netanyahu agreeing to limit the publication of another newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson.
Three column heads found from First Temple era palace: Three decorated column heads preserved with near perfection from what is thought to be a ‘magnificent palace’ were found in ancient Jerusalem’s City of David. The working theory is that the stones were intentionally hidden for safekeeping which is what kept them in such a pristine state. Archeologists dated the stone column heads to the seventh century B.C.E., older than the Babylonian destruction of the First Temple. Officials were so excited that they eagerly presented the artifacts to the public before the typical research process concluded. The enormous discovery is “the inheritance of the entire public,” they said. The carvings on the column heads were known as a visual symbol of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel and appear as one of the motifs on the five-shekel coin in Israel today.
Arson attacks on Arab-Jewish school: An Arab-Jewish school in Israel has been set on fire twice this week in suspected hate crimes. The police said: “After a difficult night in the village it is now clear to us that the fire a week ago in the Peace School building was apparently a hate crime.” The school is located near Jerusalem. Arab and Jewish lawmakers called on the school to reopen as a symbol of peace and cooperation between the Arab and Jewish communities and for the police to find the culprits of the crimes.
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS, NEAR & NOT SO FAR
UN’s nuclear watchdog announces that Iran’s uranium stockpile is 10 times more than the nuclear deal’s limit
Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile 10 times over limit: The UN’s nuclear watchdog—the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—announced that Iran’s stockpile of uranium currently exceeds the limit put forth in the Iran nuclear deal by 10 times. The announcement was made in a classified document distributed to signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal, which no longer includes the United States. It comes after Iran gave IAEA access to one of two suspected nuclear sites. Since President Trump pulled out of the deal, Iran has consistently violated the restrictions in an attempt to pressure the remaining signatories to increase the incentives.
Hamas chief visits Hezbollah and claims Hamas can ‘bomb Tel Aviv’: Leaders of the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah met in Lebanon to discuss resistance against normalization between Israel and Arab countries. It was Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s first visit to Lebanon in 30 years. According to Arab media reports, while there Haniyeh said Gaza has rockets able “to bomb Tel Aviv and beyond Tel Aviv.”
Sudan agrees to separate religion from state: A week after Sudan’s government agreed to a peace deal with rebel forces ending decades of conflict and bloodshed, Sudanese Prime Minister Adballa Hamdok signed a declaration separating religion from the government. This move ends 30 years of Islamic law ruling the nation. After the U.A.E.—Israel peace deal was announced, a spokesman for the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs celebrated the normalization agreement and confirmed contacts between Sudan and Israel, which caused him to be fired from his position. Hamdok told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo he was not mandated to normalize ties with Israel, but did not rule it out in the future.
Simon Wiesenthal Center urges Spanish PM to cancel antisemitic course: The Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, pleading for the Spanish government to cancel an antisemitic course at the Spanish Public University of Navarre. The course is titled “Apartheid in Palestine and the Criminalization of Solidarity” and is planned to be offered online to students. The letter reads in part, “Mr. Prime Minister, our Centre joins ACOM in calling on you to take measures to cancel this course- on grounds of antisemitism, invoking the IHRA Definition- that can incite lone wolves to attack Jewish institutions, schools, synagogues and cemeteries in Spain.”
INSIDE THE U.S.
Two members of “Boogaloo Bois” charged in terror case attempting to become Hamas assets
2 Boogaloo Bois arrested for attempt to support Hamas: Two self-proclaimed members of the “Boogaloo Bois” group have been arrested for attempting to cooperate with the terrorist group Hamas. The Boogaloo Bois is a loose network of far-right extremists seeking to attack the police and public institutions. Informants recorded the pair transferring weapons to FBI employees posing as Hamas members. The pair also attempted to work as mercenaries for Hamas to attack police and government institutions. Hamas denied any connection with the group.
Man with knife attempts to enter Jewish preschool bus: A perpetrator armed with a knife violently attempted to board a school bus used by a Jewish preschool in the neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn on Friday. A teacher who was accompanying the children said, “When I saw the knife, I began shouting to the bus driver to keep moving. The man began hamming the knife at the door of the bus, banging on the doors and trying to open them. Thank God the doors were closed.” The man fled the scene. He was long gone by the time the police arrived 30 minutes later.
Jewish professor lied about being Black: An associate professor at George Washington University who grew up Jewish in Kansas City admitted to lying about being a Black woman. In a blog post, Jessica Krug blamed assuming many different Black identities on “unaddressed mental health demons.” Her colleagues called for her resignation and GWU confirmed that she will not be teaching classes this semester.
U.S. Surgeon General briefs Jewish leaders about High Holy Days: Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, spoke with leaders of the Orthodox Union on how to safely go about the rituals and services of the upcoming High Holy Days. He said that the best option, should virtual services be too great a challenge (the use of electronics during the Holy Days is prohibited by Jewish law), is to conduct services outdoors. If synagogues are to conduct indoor services, congregants should wear masks and remain at least six feet apart, he said.
CELEBRATE & REMEMBER
Today we celebrate ancient Judean dates! In what is hailed as a modern miracle of science, a date tree sprouted from 2,000-year-old seeds retrieved from archeological sites throughout Israel. After many years of efforts, this tree came from one of the oldest known seeds to have ever been germinated and the dates are just now ready to pick. Dr. Sarah Sallon, a researcher of natural medicine, teamed up with Dr. Elaine Solowey, an expert on arid agriculture, to find and germinate the ancient seeds. Dr. Sallon said, “In these troubled times of climate change, pollution and species dying out at alarming rates, to bring something back to life from dormancy is so symbolic…To pollinate and produce these incredible dates is like a beam of light in a dark time.”
Today in 1956, Sam Ash, a Jewish immigrant to the United States from a small town in Austria-Hungary, passed away at age 59. Ash, a violinist, teacher, and entrepreneur, founded “Sam Ash Music” the largest family owned chain of musical instrument stores in the United States. Ash was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006.