VFI News September 22, 2020

Top UAE and Bahraini Officials Wish Jews Happy New Year

A senior adviser to the king of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan both tweeted out Rosh Hashanah greetings just days after their countries signed historic normalization agreements with the Jewish state.

“Wishing my Yehudi (Jewish) friends in Bahrain and around the world a prosperous Shana Tovah,” wrote Khalid al-Khalifa, a diplomatic adviser to Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Bahrain is home to a tiny Jewish community and has long been tolerant of all religions, but until recently there was no public Jewish life in the kingdom.

Jews, mostly of Iraqi origin, have been living in the kingdom since the 1880s.

The community welcomed Bahrain’s normalization with Israel, calling it “a historic moment that we have never expected to see in our lifetime.”

Al Nahyan followed up his Bahraini colleague’s post with a Hebrew tweet of his own, in which he wished his followers a “happy new year.” (TOI / VFI News)

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” —Isaiah 43:18-19

“God, we ask that you continue to foster peace and goodwill among nations.”

First Kosher Restaurant in UAE at Armani Hotel Dubai

Armani/Kaf, the first kosher certified dining destination in the United Arab Emirates, located within Burj Khalifa and Armani Hotel Dubai, officially opened its doors on Thursday.

The 40-seat pop-up dinner venue is located on the ground floor of the award-winning luxury hotel, adjacent to Armani/Hashi, and will deliver a standalone culinary experience that celebrates the very best in kosher cuisine, as well as paying homage to classic flavors from around the world.

Armani/Kaf will specialize in serving kosher cuisine that complies with Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) and will be operated under the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Levi Y Duchman, Rabbi of the UAE, who has certified the venue with Glatt Kosher and Pas Yisroel certifications from Emirates Kosher Supervising Agency, the only UAE based kosher certifier. (INN / VFI News)

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” —1 Corinthians 10:31

Another Irani Revolt May Come after Wrestler Execution

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s execution of a champion wrestler for his role in peaceful protests against regime corruption may trigger new nationwide demonstrations against the country’s rulers, according to a Thursday statement from 150 Iranian political and civil rights activists.

The US government news outlet Radio Farda first reported on Friday that the activists issued the statement to protest the regime’s execution of Navid Afkari, writing that they made "parallels between his hanging and the brutal massacre of protesters during the November 2019 uprising against Iran's clergy-dominated establishment.”

Radio Farda reported that the Iranian leaders responsible for Afkari's death are so hated that another revolt may be on the horizon.

Iranian authorities hastily executed Afkari on September 12 for allegedly killing a member of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. Afkari said he was brutally tortured to confess to a crime he did not commit. "If I am executed, people should know that in the 21st century, Iran still executes innocent people," he said. (JPost / VFI News)

“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” —Leviticus 19:15

“God, we ask that you bring justice to the people of Iran, and free them from their oppressive leadership.”

US Reimposes Sanctions on Iran

The US announced on Saturday night that UN sanctions are being reimposed on Iran. The snapback of sanctions was triggered 30 days ago, following the Security Council’s vote not to extend the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic. It was not immediately clear if other members of the Security Council would comply with the new sanctions.

Russia and China opposed the American move to extend the arms embargo, and the UK, France, and Germany raised objections as well.

The sanctions were suspended following the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

“History shows appeasement only emboldens such regimes. Thus today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and antisemitism,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday night.

Pompeo added in his statement that the US expects all UN Member States “to fully comply with their obligations to implement these measures.” (JPost / VFI News)

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” —Amos 5:24

Israeli Portable COVID-19 Test Gets FDA Approval

Medical equipment startup Visby Medical has received Emergency Use Authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration for a portable PCR COVID-19 test kit, the first company to do so, the FDA on Thursday, according to Reuters.

PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, rapidly replicates DNA or RNA and is considered an accurate diagnostic tool used in labs for infectious diseases. Traditionally, PCR testing uses a machine the size of a large microwave and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Visby founder and CEO, Israeli entrepreneur Adam de la Zerda, started working at shrinking that machine to a portable size that fits in the palm over seven years ago, initially to use on diagnosing sexually transmitted diseases. But with COVID-19 the company pivoted.

The EUA allows Visby’s kit to be used in clinical labs. A sample taken via a nasal swab is inserted into the kit and produces results in 30 minutes. The company said the goal is to eventually get the test kit sold to consumers to use at home. (INN / VFI News)

“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.” —Jeremiah 17:14

“God, we ask that you use this test to heal and protect people—and to bring us closer to relief from this terrible pandemic.”

Belgium’s First Female, First Jewish PM

Sophie Wilmes is Belgium’s first female and first Jewish prime minister. She is also the only Jewish prime minister in Europe, at a time when antisemitism is rising both in her country and on the continent itself.

She has spoken out on antisemitism and, in particular, has issued the harshest rebuke by a high-level government official against the annual carnival of Aalst.

The controversial parade in that carnival often includes antisemitic caricatures, that has featured Jews with hooked noses or SS officers.

As someone who lost family members in the Holocaust, she participated in the World Jewish Congress Twitter event to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

She wrote, ”these actions damage our values and the reputation of our country.” Israel and Jewish groups have called on Belgium to halt that parade. (JPost / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you bring attention to the real harm that antisemitism causes—and inspire the global community to do better.”

Israel's Population Reaches 9.2 Million

A statistics report published on the eve of Rosh Hashanah estimated the population of Israel to be about 9.246 million, meaning that the population grew by 150,000 people over the course of this year – a growth rate of 1.6%.

Breaking the numbers down: 170,000 new babies were born, 44,000 people passed away and 25,000 people immigrated to Israel, with 20,000 being new olim.

Israel’s population is expected to reach 10 million people by 2024, 15 million by 2048, and 20 million by 2065.

The Jewish population is estimated at 6.841 million citizens (74%).

Israel’s Arab population is 1.946 million citizens (21%) and 459,000 people (5%) were classified as belonging to other groups. (JPost / VFI News)

El Al Airline Bought by Yeshiva Student

Eli Rozenberg, a 27-year-old New York-born yeshiva student who lives in Jerusalem, became the owner of the company after he placed the only bid at the public offering at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Kanfei Nesharim, a company owned by Rozenberg, bought a controlling 42.85% of El Al's shares.

The purchase was part of a $400 million rescue package formulated by the Israeli Finance Ministry to bail out El Al, which had fallen $2 billion in debt.

"The results of the offering express investors' trust in the company's business plan and state assistance. For the money the state has invested, it will receive full capital rights to ensure a full return for the general public whose money has been invested, through the state budget, in the company's shares," the Finance Ministry said. (INN / VFI News)