VFI News August 4, 2020

Israel's Economy Could Take up to 5 Years to Recover

It may take four to five years for Israel’s economy to recover from the coronavirus crisis, according to a new report by the Finance Ministry.

The report forecasts two possible scenarios: One in which the country manages to dance with the virus and one in which there are extreme spikes in morbidity.

Assuming that Israel’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis is somewhere in between the dot-com crisis of the early 2000s and the 2009 economic downturn, the ministry predicts that Israel’s GDP will shrink by 5.9% by the end of 2020 and grow by 5.7% in 2021.

However, if there is a more extreme crisis than expected, the impact on financial growth will be more and the rate of recovery will be slower, with GDP shrinking by 7.2% in 2020 and growing by only 2.2% in 2021.

More than a million Israelis have been out of work or put on furloughs since the start of the crisis. In the best-case scenario, the report predicts, 10% of Israelis will be out of work at the end of the year. In the worst-case scenario, 15%. (JPost / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you give Israel a swift economic recovery, so that those who are suffering can find healing and peace.”

Holocaust Survivors to Zuckerberg: Remove Posts Denying Nazi Genocide

Holocaust survivors across the globe have joined a campaign urging Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to remove posts on the platform that falsely deny the Nazi genocide of Jewish people occurred.

The New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany launched the campaign Wednesday, and has used the hashtag #NoDenyingIt to amplify survivors’ calls to remove groups and posts belonging to Holocaust-denying groups. #NoDenyingIt has appeared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The calls to remove Holocaust-denying content stands in contrast with past comments made by Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, after he said in 2018 that deniers were not “intentionally” getting it wrong and that content that did not explicitly call for violence should be protected, even if it is deeply offensive.

“In Germany or Austria people go to prison if they deny the Holocaust because they know it’s a lie, it’s libel,” said Auschwitz survivor Eva Schloss. Schloss also recorded a video message for Zuckerberg that was posted to Facebook. (DC / VFI News)

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” —Matthew 5:11

“God, we ask that you ensure the world never forgets the incalculable horror of the Holocaust so that nothing like it will ever occur again.”

Twitter Rules Khamenei Speech Does Not Violate Policy

In a Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday, Twitter was accused of having a “double standard”—for censoring comments by politicians that it has deemed hate speech, while allowing Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to tweet calls to “eliminate” Israel.

During the meeting, Israel Jewish Congress executive director Arsen Ostrovsky pointed out that Twitter has been appending notices pointing out violations of their hate speech policies to tweets by US President Donald Trump, such as one where he wrote: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

“Why have you not flagged tweets of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei who’s literally called for genocide of the Jewish people?” Ostrovsky asked.

Earlier this year, Khamenei tweeted calling for “the elimination of the Zionist regime” through “firm, armed resistance.”

Head of Twitter Policy for the Nordics and Israel Ylwa Pettersson, categorized Khamenei’s tweets as permissible political speech.

“We have an approach to world leaders that presently says direct interactions with public figures, comments on political issues of the day or foreign policy saber-rattling on military and economic issues are generally not in violation of Twitter rules,” Pettersson said. (JPost / VFI News)

Near-Record Anti-Semitism in UK for 1st Half of 2020

Anti-Semitic incidents in the UK have dropped by 13 percent in 2020 compared to the year before, likely due to COVID-19 lockdown regulations, but the 789 events reported between January and June still represent the third-highest number on record for that period, according to a study by a British watchdog group.

The Thursday report was released by the Community Security Trust (CST), which has been keeping tabs on anti-Semitism in the UK since 1984.

According to the CST, the pandemic also influenced the nature of anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2020. There were 10 reports of religious or educational online events being hijacked with anti-Semitic content or behavior.

There were a further 26 episodes of pandemic-related anti-Semitism, including the propagation of conspiracy theories accusing Jews of inventing a coronavirus “hoax” or of creating and spreading the disease itself, or people simply expressing the hope that Jews catch the coronavirus and die. (TOI / VFI News)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 5:10

“God, we ask that you stamp out all antisemitism—that you expose it for the foolish evil that it is, and that you sow healing among those who have been affected by it.”

Iran / Iraq Debate: 'Israel Will Liberate Tehran Before Iran Liberates Jerusalem'

Zagros TV (Iraqi Kurdistan) aired a heated debate about Iranian involvement in Iraq. Iraqi journalist and researcher Ghaleb Shabandar said that Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey all consider parts of Iraq to be their lebensraum, and he said that Iran’s arrogance and sense of superiority have prevented it from turning Iraq into paradise on Earth, reported the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Iraqi Sunni opposition activist Mustafa Al-Dulaimi said that “from 1979 and to this day, Iran has been giving us a headache” with its statements and slogans about Israel and the liberation of Palestine, adding that these are all “empty words” meant to “recruit poor youngsters.”

Al-Dulaimi also said: “Israel is going to liberate Tehran before you liberate [Palestine].” He compared its methods of recruiting young people to the methods used by ISIS, and he added: “Leave us alone… Go liberate [Palestine].” (INN / VFI News)

Experts: Hezbollah Not Looking for a War with Israel Right Now

Harsh rhetoric from Israel and Lebanon's Shi'ite terrorist organization Hezbollah appeared to threaten further conflict after border unrest this week, but experts predict both sides will try to avoid escalation. As the coronavirus pandemic has deepened Lebanon's economic turmoil and also rocked Israeli politics, the last thing either of the arch-foes wants now is a new military conflict, they argue.

Tensions spiked last Monday along the UN-demarcated Blue Line after months of relative calm when Israel said it thwarted an infiltration attempt by up to five Hezbollah terrorists, a claim denied by the Iran-backed terror group.

Israel reported an exchange of fire that forced the terrorists back into Lebanon and said it fired artillery across the heavily guarded border for "defensive" purposes. Hezbollah said at the time a response to the deadly Syria strike was "inevitable", heightening tensions.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Monday that Hezbollah was "playing with fire" and that Israel's response to the border incursion would "be very strong". (INN / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you bring wisdom to our geopolitical landscape—that aggressors would cease rattling their sabers, and look instead to the welfare of their people.”

Nearly 1,000 Jews visit Temple Mount for Tisha B’Av

Nearly 1,000 Jews visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Thursday morning, July 30, to mark the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which mourns the destruction of the two Jewish Temples that stood at the holy site. The contested compound today houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Jews are forbidden from praying there and face a host of other restrictions within the compound.

About 10 were detained by police and taken out of the compound after praying in defiance of the rules at the site.

Located in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City, the compound is revered by both Jews and Muslims, who call it Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary. Large numbers of Palestinians often gather at the site, especially for Friday prayers, and it has long been a flashpoint between Israelis and Palestinians.

Some 800 Jews entered the Temple Mount Thursday morning, with police breaking them up into groups of 20, which were admitted every several minutes. (TOI / VFI News)

“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.” —Exodus 15:13

6th Century Church Uncovered Near Transfiguration Site

Remains of a 6th-century church compound — possibly a monastery — were uncovered during an Israel Antiquities Authority salvage excavation in the Galilee town of Kfar Kama. The location, adjacent to Mount Tabor, is sacred to Christians, who since the early Byzantine era have identified the area as the site of the New Testament account of the transfiguration of Jesus.

Mount Tabor is noted in the books of Mark, Matthew, and Luke as the site where Jesus took his disciples Peter, James, and John when they witnessed the face and clothing of their teacher glow with dazzlingly bright light.

Based on the excavation’s findings, the IAA researchers and Prof. Moti Aviam of the Kinneret Academic College believe the church compound was likely a monastery that was built on the outskirts of the ancient village. (TOI / VFI News)

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" —Matthew 17:5