Israel News for January 30, 2017

Inexcusable Omission
On Friday the White House released a statement in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day that blatantly omitted any mention of reference to Jewish victims.

The statement read:

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

“Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

“In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”

There is no doubt that millions of innocent civilians were killed during WWII. But the Holocaust was specifically a war against the Jewish People in which millions of Jewish men, women and children were systematically starved, tortured, gunned down and gassed for no other reason than their DNA.

The Holocaust represents a tragedy in which a million and a half Jewish children were torn from their parents, rounded up and marched into gas chambers. No Mr. Trump, this did not happen to any other “innocents”, just to our Jewish innocents.

To separate the Holocaust from the Jewish People is tantamount to Holocaust denial.

We’d like to believe that it was just a careless mistake, despite you Chief of Staff’s attempts to say it wasn’t. We know that you, Mr. President, have Jewish grandchildren that would have been marched into those gas chambers too and so, there’s no possibility that you could knowingly make the sort of statement that you released. But we aren’t so sure that some of the people who now work for your administration, as well as some of those who supported your election, feel the same way and know the truth about the Holocaust.

There can be no diplomatic or policy related reasons for denying the connection between the Holocaust and the Jewish People.

So Mr. Trump, we need you to come out and clearly state that your White House statement was a mistake and that the Holocaust was specifically a war against the Jews. If you can’t do that then we can only assume that you either don’t believe it to be true or you are unable to admit when you’ve made a mistake. In either case, it would be very hard to trust you going forward.

Please do the right thing.

Normalization Bill
PM Netanyahu announced yesterday at the weekly security cabinet meeting that the Normalization Bill, which will legalize Jewish settlements built on land claimed to be owned by Palestinians. Netanyahu said, “Tomorrow we will submit to the Knesset what is being called ‘the normalization law.’ The law is designed to normalize the status of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria once and for all and prevent recurrent attempts to harm the settlement enterprise.”

The bill would legalize about 4,000 housing units in 55 outposts in the West Bank on land that is claimed as privately owned by Palestinians. It would allow the Israeli government to recognize construction built with government assistance and in good faith — meaning the builders did not know it was private land. The bill does not include the Amona outpost.

The bill provides a mechanism for compensating Palestinians whose lands will be seized. A landowner can receive an annual usage payment of 125 percent of the land’s value as determined by an assessment committee for renewable periods of 20 years, or an alternate plot of land if this is possible, whichever he chooses.

Consideration of the bill by the Knesset had been suspended after it passed an initial reading in early December until the start of the Trump administration. Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said the bill violates local and international law and would likely be overturned by the Supreme Court.

The vote is scheduled to be held on Tuesday. The bill is expected to pass.

For further reading click here.

Mexico Tweet
On Saturday night PM Netanyahu decided to show his support of President Trumps wall building plans by tweeting, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.” That did not go over well in Mexico, whose Foreign Ministry stated, “The Foreign Ministry expressed to the government of Israel, via its ambassador in Mexico, its profound astonishment, rejection and disappointment over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s message on Twitter about the construction of a border wall. Mexico is a friend of Israel and should be treated as such by its Prime Minister.”

The Mexican FM summoned Israeli ambassador to Mexico Jonathan Peled for a formal reprimand. The organization representing the Mexican Jewish community issued a statement saying it “forcefully rejected” Netanyahu’s comment, while several prominent Mexicans of Jewish origin sharply criticized the Israeli leader on Twitter.

A spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Emmanuel Nahshon, tweeted shortly after the PM’s tweet that the PM “referred to our specific security experience which we are willing to share. We do not express a position on US- Mexico relations.”

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) criticized Netanyahu for meddling in the affairs of Mexico and negatively effecting the Jewish community there. He asked the PM to tweet an apology, which Netanyahu refused to do, claiming that he wasn’t addressing Mexico at all, but just the wall.

So Deri tweeted his own attempt at diplomacy saying, “I just now spoke with PM Netanyahu on the need to continue warm relations between Israel and Mexico. The PM told me that Israel will not interfere in the dispute between eh US and Mexico on funding the fence. We will continue to strengthen the relations with Mexico in which much of the Jewish people live in dignity.”

By the way, Israeli company Magal Security Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: MAGS) is one of the firms seeking contracts to help build the US-Mexico border wall.

For further reading click here.

UN Chief Attacked
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres came under fire from Palestinian officials for saying the unthinkable: that the Temple on the Temple Mount destroyed by the Romans was Jewish. The nerve!

The Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Affairs minister said that Guterres, “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs and overstepped his role as secretary general…and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”

Guterres also said, according to Israel Radio, that he had no intention of pushing for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, though he believes in the two-state solution and would assist in that goal if asked.

Ahmad Majdalani, a Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member, said that the statements “undermine the trustworthiness of the UN as a body that should support occupied peoples.”

For further reading click here.

Rabbi Shteinmann
Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, the 104 year old leader of the Haredi community, was hospitalized over the weekend in critical condition. Doctors this morning said that his condition has improved slightly, as prayers continue to be recited throughout the worldwide Jewish community.

PM Netanyahu opened the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday saying, “We are changing today’s schedule a bit on account of Rabbi Shteinman’s illness. I would like to wish him a fast and full recovery. He is a very important man not only in the Haredi world, but also in the Jewish community as a whole, and I join the vast public wishing for his wellbeing and recovery.”

President Reuven Rivlin spoke with Mayanei HaYeshua Medical Center CEO, Rabbi Shlomo Roshiled, and with MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and said, “My prayers go out to this outstanding rabbi of the generation, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman.” He added that “he is in the best hands. Thank you for your kind and devoted care; we will keep him in our prayers.”

May he experience a full and speedy recovery.

For further reading click here.

Kushner Shabbat
Ivanka and Jared Kushner reportedly hosted their first official Shabbat dinner at their new Washington DC home with several very important guests in attendance. The guests included the Department of Commerce cabinet secretary appointee Wilbur Ross and his wife, the PResident’s Strategic Communications Director Hope Hicks, Former president of Goldman Sachs and top economic policy adviser Gary Cohn, Department of the Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin and his partner Louise Linton and Ivanka’s unofficial adviser Dina Habib Powell. Chabad Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the rabbi of their local Orthodox shul, was also seen outside of their home.

To see photos and videos click here.

Holocaust Book
In the spirit of Intenational Holocaust Remembrance Day, here’s a book called Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Polandby Jan Grabowski, which documents the systematic hunt for Jews hiding in with Polish farmers or in the countryside in an area of southern Poland near Tarnow. Most of the hunting was done by the Poles, who then either handed the Jews over to the Germans or simply murdered them themselves. The book is based on actual local government documents and eyewitness testimony. If you want to begin to understand why so few Jews survived in Poland, you must read this. To read more reviews and get the book, click here

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