German Jewish Leaders:
We Are No Longer Safe Here
(Benjamin Weinthal/Jpost) The spokesman for Hamburg’s Jewish community, Daniel Killy, said deteriorating security in Germany has led to a highly dangerous situation for Jews. “No, we are no longer safe here,” Killy told the news outlet tagesschau.de on Tuesday. He said the disintegration of state power, excesses of the extreme right-wing, the loss of political credibility, and “the terrible fear of naming Islamism as such” have contributed to an insecure environment for Jews. Hamburg’s Jewish community has nearly 2,500 members.
Germany has absorbed over one million refugees from mainly Muslim-majority countries. German Jewish leaders have warned about rising anti-Semitism because the refugees are socialized in countries that are steeped in hatred of Jews and Israel.
The detailed taggeschau.de report, which was authored by Patrick Gensing, an expert in extremist ideologies, wrote that anti-Semitic sentiments have diverse manifestations in Germany. He cited studies that point to “historical defensive guilt [about the Holocaust], obsessive criticism of Israel, National Socialist racism, Muslim anti-Semitism [and] Christian anti-Semitism.”
Gensing wrote about a “wave of hatred” at the “hate-filled demonstrations against the Gaza War” in 2014. An Israeli couple were attacked during that period. Also, three Palestinians attempted to torch a Wuppertal city synagogue – one that had previously been burned by Germans in 1938. A local court sentenced the Palestinians to probation and stated that the act of arson was not anti-Semitic because the men sought to draw attention to the Gaza war.
The regional court on Monday imposed a more severe sentence on the men – Ismael A., 29, Muhammad E., 25 and Jamil A., 19. German media protects perpetrators’ and victims’ privacy by not citing their full last names. Two of the men are from the West Bank and the other is from the Gaza Strip. It is unclear what the increased punishment is.
According to a Monday Spiegel article, the approximately 2,000 Jews in Wuppertal no longer feel safe. The head of the Wuppertal Jewish community, Leonie Goldberg, said, “I thought the time of the packed suitcases was for always over. Now I am considering when we need to again pack these suitcases.”
In 2015, approximately 200 German Jews made aliya. The number is considered high given that Germany’s Jewish population falls into an older age demographic.
U.S. Backs Ambassador Daniel Shapiro in Spat With Israel
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A U.S. State Department spokesman defended U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro on Tuesday, a day after Shapiro sparked outrage in Israel with criticism of Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria.
When asked on Tuesday about Shapiro’s comments, which were made in an address on Monday at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, State Department spokesman John Kirby said, “There’s really nothing new here in what he [Shapiro] said. We’ve consistently made clear our concerns about violence on both sides, and we obviously have strongly condemned terrorist attacks perpetrated by Palestinians, including the attacks over the weekend. We also remain concerned...deeply concerned, and we’ve not been bashful about saying this and neither was he, about Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank.”
Kirby added, “And as for the relationship, it’s because we value the relationship with Israel so much that we feel it’s important to continue to have an honest, open, candid, forthright discussion about our concerns. And that he said these things in his speech shouldn’t be misconstrued as not–as us not saying them in private to Israeli leaders as well–and have over many, many, many months. So this wasn’t a new–this wasn’t a new set of remarks.”
Kirby’s comments came a few hours after Shapiro met in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The meeting, which lasted 20 minutes, took place before Netanyahu met with a bipartisan delegation of U.S. Congress members.
In his speech on Monday, Shapiro said, “Too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities; too much vigilantism goes unchecked; and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.”
Later on Monday, Netanyahu issued a sharp response, calling Shapiro’s remarks “unacceptable and untrue.”
Israel Busts Terror Cell Led by Hezbollah Chief’s Son
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Cooperation between the Israeli Shin Bet security agency, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Israel Police thwarted a shooting attack that was planned by a terrorist cell in the Tulkarem area headed by Mahmoud Zaalul, who was taking orders from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. Five of the cell members suspected of involvement in terrorist activity were arrested.
When the suspects were interrogated, the Shin Bet discovered that Jouad Nasrallah, son of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, had used the Internet to enlist Zaalul, a Palestinian from Tulkarem.
Zaalul reported directly to a Hezbollah operative named “Fadi,” who instructed him to open an email account. After doing so, Zaalul received instructions to enlist other cell members and work on collecting information to be used to plan terrorist attacks.
The cell was instructed, among other things, to set up a secret network according to certain parameters, via which they eventually received instructions to execute attacks using explosive belts, train suicide bombers, collect information about training camps, and more.
The suspects were also instructed to keep tabs on and collect information about security forces operating in the area. Cell members requested assistance from Hezbollah in acquiring weapons and money to carry out the attack.
To that end, Hezbollah transferred $5,000 to the cell in the form of foreign currency transfers. Two of the suspects–Muhammad Massawareh and Ahmed Abu al-Az–bought weapons from Zaalul with the intention of attacking Israeli security forces, but were arrested in possession of the weapons before they could act on their plan. The weapons were surrendered during their interrogation.
The five suspects have been indicted in a Samaria military court on counts including membership in an illegal organization; contact with the enemy; funneling enemy funds into the region; intent and involvement in manslaughter; weapons dealing; intent to shoot at people; and interfering with legal proceedings.
Netanyahu Visits Hometown of Terror Victim Dafna Meir
(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday visited Otniel, the hometown of victim of Palestinian terror Dafna Meir, a mother of six who was stabbed to death in her home on Sunday.
“I just met with a marvelous family with great strength of spirit,” Netanyahu said. “They are Zionists, patriots, humane, who lost a wonderful wife and mother. I think that everyone who sees Dafna’s picture is immediately impressed by the light emanating from it. Whoever hears about her and her contributions understands that she was a special person. The public gets a healthy feeling from the picture, from her story; they immediately understand the uniqueness of this soul that was taken from us. I found the same spirit in the family, in Natan (Dafna’s husband) and the children. They asked me only one thing–that we continue to lift up the Jewish people.”
Netanyahu also described how “boundless hatred” leads to incitement by the Palestinian Authority, the Islamic Movement in Israel, and Hamas.
“Whoever wants to see the truth about the roots of the conflict between us and the Palestinians should come to Otniel and see here a wonderful family that only wants coexistence and peace. They should see the young people, inflamed by incitement, who come to murder women here, a mother of six, and in Tekoa, a pregnant woman; they come to murder them and say, ‘We will destroy you all, in Tel Aviv and Jaffa as well.’ This is the truth,” said Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday reacted to the murder in Otniel by stating that his government is “concerned over every drop of blood from any person,” and that “the [Palestinian] resistance will continue through peaceful means, and we will not call for anything else.”
Putin Says Fearful European Jews Should Return to Russia
(JNS.org) Russian President Vladimir Putin called on European Jews facing rising anti-Semitism to return to Russia.
“They can come to us,” Putin told a delegation from the European Jewish Congress (EJC) during a meeting in Moscow. “They left from the Soviet Union. Let them return.”
“I’ve seen reports that [Jewish] people [in Europe] are afraid of wearing a yarmulke in public. They’re trying to hide their ethnicity,” Putin said.
During the meeting, EJC President Moshe Kantor described the “very real exodus of Jews from certain parts” of Western Europe.
“While Jews were once again a prominent target for global terror during 2015, the attacks in Paris, the U.S., and elsewhere, and the mass murder of Russians on an airline in the Sinai, show that the terrorists target us all,” Kantor said in the meeting.
Rising anti-Semitism in Europe has been tied to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorist organizations, in addition to homegrown extremists inspired by groups like Islamic State. French Jews have been hit particularly hard by Islamic extremism, with a French Jewish leader in Marseille recently suggesting that Jews should no longer wear yarmulkes in public.
At the same time, the EJC commended Russia on the country’s statistical decrease in anti-Semitism in recent years.
White House Believes Missing Ex-FBI Agent Levinson May No Longer Be in Iran
(JNS.org) The White House said on Tuesday that Robert Levinson, a Jewish former FBI agent who went missing on Iran’s Kish Island in 2007, may no longer be inside of Iran.
Levinson was not among the five Americans included as part of prisoner swap with Iran last weekend. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Obama administration has pressed Iran to obtain “as much information as they have” on where Levinson may be, but that the U.S. believes he may no longer be in Iran.
Earnest added that President Barack Obama has personally been in touch with the Levinson family and will continue to look for information on him.
“We’re obviously very sensitive to the concerns and rather raw feelings of the Levinson family,” Earnest said.
Levinson’s son, Dan, told CNN on Tuesday that the family “can only hope that they (U.S. officials) are really doing everything they can.”
U.S. officials believe that Levinson may have died in captivity after meeting with an American-born Islamic militant on Kish Island, Reuters reported. Iranian officials have repeatedly denied knowledge of Levinson’s whereabouts.