China, Russia, Iran Naval Drills
CHINA, RUSSIA, AND IRAN HOLD JOINT NAVAL DRILL ON FRIDAY: China, Russia, and Iran held a maritime joint exercise on Friday, January 21, a public relations official from Iran’s armed forces told the semi-official ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency) last week.
The wargame took place in the northern Indian Ocean, Mostafa Tajoldin said, and is the third joint naval drill between the three countries, with the previous one taking place last February. Preparations for the latest maneuvers came as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, met in Moscow Wednesday, as pressure mounts for a decision on the Iran nuclear deal. Raisi said he had presented Moscow with draft documents on strategic ties that would cement joint collaboration for the next two decades. Putin praised the countries’ “close cooperation” on the international stage and said: “It is very important for me to know your opinion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” The 2015 accord between Iran and world powers — the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany — offered Tehran relief from crippling international sanctions in return for deep curbs on its nuclear program. But the unilateral US withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 under former president Donald Trump prompted Tehran to walk back on its commitments. (TOI / VFI News)
IRAN ACCUSES ISRAEL OF EXPLOITING JEWISH SUFFERING IN UN HOLOCAUST DENIAL RESOLUTION: An Iranian diplomat accused Israel of exploiting the suffering of Jews through a United Nations resolution condemning Holocaust denialism.
The diplomat, whom Iran’s office did not identify, said Israel was exploiting “the sufferings of the Jewish people in the past as a cover for the crimes it has perpetrated” and alleged that the resolution adopted “an awkward approach toward historical studies.” Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan made veiled references to Iran, which has supported Holocaust denialism for several years while promoting the resolution. “Nations with seats in this hall openly deny the Holocaust, casting doubt on its occurrence and praising its perpetrators,” he said. “In fact, those that most blatantly deny that Jews suffered a genocide are the ones now threatening Jews with another genocide.” The resolution defines distortion or denial of the Holocaust as “intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of The Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany,” a “gross minimization of the number of the victims of The Holocaust in contradiction to reliable sources,” any “attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide,” and statements that cast the Holocaust as a good thing. The resolution was adopted on the 80th anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee Conference, where Nazi leaders devised their plans for exterminating the Jews. (WE/VFI News)
ISRAEL LEADS WORLD IN INFECTIONS AS COVID SURGES OUT OF CONTROL; QUARANTINE FOR SCHOOLKIDS TO END: Israel is leading the world in COVID cases by capita, as an Israeli professor told the media on Thursday, January 20, that according to global statistics, some 0.6 percent of people in the Jewish State are testing positive for the virus on a daily basis.
In the last week, some 276,000 Israelis tested positive for the virus, pushing Israel’s total COVID cases over the two million mark. Less than 9,000 Israelis have died with COVID since March 2020. The record spike in cases comes despite Israel being one of the first countries in the world to implement a digital COVID passport system barring entry to restaurants, hotels, and other leisure venues to unvaccinated people, widespread vaccine mandates for employees in most industries, and a mandatory third booster shot which was criticized as unnecessary by doctors and immunologists. “We are very close to the height, or even at the height of the Omicron wave,” Prof. Eran Segal of The Weizmann Institute told Channel 12 News. He said he expects that one out of ten Israelis will test positive during this wave, and then “there will be a relatively fast decline” in infections. Israel has signaled that it’s abandoning previous strict policies aimed at eliminating the virus, as the Jewish State finally reopened its borders to tourists after nearly two years of a total blanket ban on entry for non-citizens and residents. The government announced Thursday that it was suspending quarantine for children whose classmates test positive for the virus, as some 300,000 students were in isolation as of Thursday. Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton said the move to end quarantine was “a brave decision,” and that “it would have been easier to close the education system, but our duty is to save every boy and girl” from the social and educational disruption of isolation. Regardless of vaccination status, students will perform biweekly antigen tests to enter educational institutions. If they test positive, they will isolate. But if a classmate tests positive and they test negative, they can continue as normal, rather than entering quarantine. (WIN / VFI News)
ISRAELI FIGHTER JETS, REFUELING PLANES HOLD MASSIVE DRILL AIMED AT TEHRAN: Israeli fighter jets carried out a large drill over the Mediterranean that included practicing mid-air refueling, according to a report in a Saudi-run news outlet Thursday, January 20.
The unverified report in London-based Elaph described air maneuvers on Thursday by “an unusually large” contingent of F-15, F-16, and F-35 fighter craft, as well as Boeing mid-air refueling tankers, in what would likely be seen as a warning beacon to Iran amid Israeli threats to take military action in order to stop Tehran’s nuclear program. Citing an unnamed Arab source, Elaph reported that the “wide” maneuver took place over the Mediterranean. Israeli defense officials, who rarely comment on foreign reports, could not be immediately reached. The use of Israel’s aging mid-air refueling fleet would be the strongest indication that Israel is planning for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, or would like to project to Tehran and the rest of the world that it is preparing. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAELI STARTUPS HEAD TO DUBAI TO TOUT MEDICAL, HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES: Representatives of 11 Israeli companies are headed to Dubai this week as part of a delegation organized by the Economy and Industry Ministry to take part in a leading medical technologies exhibition showcasing innovations in healthcare.
The annual event, Arab Health, brings together thousands of entrepreneurs, business people, healthcare professionals, and government officials from across the Mideast region and the world. It will run from Monday to Thursday this week at the Dubai World Trade Center. According to the event’s organizers, over 50,000 people are expected to attend. This will be Israel’s second time participating in the yearly conference since the US-brokered Abraham Accords were reached in August 2020. The historic agreement normalized ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, quickly followed by Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. While Israelis have long maintained quiet commercial and security ties with the UAE, the normalization agreement was seen as a potential economic boon, with increased access to the global business and shipping hub of Dubai, on top of tourism and energy. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL BECOMES WORLD LEADER IN LIVE DONOR KIDNEY DONATIONS: In 2020, Israel was the country with the most living kidney donors worldwide, according to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report.
Published by the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation in December, the report listed Israel’s average annual number of living kidney donors as just over 30 people per one million inhabitants. The United States boasted the greatest average number of kidney donations from deceased donors at more than 55 per million. However, the number of living donors was less than half of Israel’s average – about 15 per million. Matnat Chaim, an Israeli non-profit that recruits and supports healthy volunteers to donate kidneys to patients waiting for a transplant, accounted for two-thirds of all live kidney donations in Israel in 2020 and 2021. The Jewish state ranked 28th on the worldwide list before Matnat Chaim’s founding in 2009. So far, the organization has assisted in the donation of 1,170 healthy kidneys in Israel. (JPost / VFI News)
100 SECONDS TO MIDNIGHT: MAN-MADE APOCALYPSE CLOSER THAN EVER: Earth is closer to a catastrophic global demise than ever before, with the famous Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists being at 100 seconds to midnight.
The Doomsday Clock was first created in 1947 as a metaphorical countdown to the end of the world as we know it. Specifically, it refers to the impending global disaster that is solely caused by human hands, and it is adjusted every January upon review by scientists from the Bulletin. Originally, the biggest factor at play in evaluating how close humanity is to its end was a nuclear apocalypse. This makes sense, considering it was formed right after nuclear bombs ended World War II and right before the arms race of the Cold War started. In fact, the record for the closest the Doomsday Clock had been to disaster used to be in 1953, set two minutes to midnight, when the US and Soviet Union both started to test hydrogen bombs. Nowadays, it isn’t just nuclear weapons that the Bulletin is concerned with. While the case in 2018 shows that nuclear weapons are far from irrelevant in the chance that humanity can thrust itself into a global armageddon, it is likely the fastest way humans can do so. Several other issues are also factored into these estimates. Specifically, the factors nowadays that are being factored in are, aside from nuclear weapons, COVID-19, climate change, and disruptive technologies. “The dangerous rivalry and hostility among the superpowers increase the likelihood of nuclear blunder,” Bulletin executive chairman Jerry Brown said. “Climate change just compounds the crisis. If there’s ever a time to wake up, it’s now.” (JPost / VFI News)
27% OF RELIGIOUS HATE CRIMES IN SWEDEN TARGET ITS TINY JEWISH COMMUNITY: Antisemitic incidents accounted for 27% of all religious hate crimes in 2020 in Sweden, where Jews make up 0.1% of the population.
Hate crimes against Muslims, who make up at least 8% of the population, accounted for 51% of the hate crimes against religious groups documented by police in 2020, according to a Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention report published last month. Anti-Christian hate crimes accounted for 11% of hate crimes targeting religious groups. In absolute numbers, 170 antisemitic hate crimes and 328 anti-Muslim crimes were documented in 2020. The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention publishes a hate crime report every other year. Although antisemitism figures in the 2020 report are significantly lower than the 280 incidents reported in 2018, the Council cautioned about structural changes in the latest report and warned that there may not be any decrease in the actual prevalence of antisemitic crimes. Crimes related to religion accounted for 638, or 18%, of the total amount of incidents deemed hate crimes in Sweden in 2020. Racist incidents against Black people accounted for 15%. Attacks on the LGBT population were 8% of the total. Incidents included in the 2020 report included a gathering of far-right activists outside a synagogue in Norrköping on Yom Kippur. Men waved Nordic Resistance Movement flags outside the synagogue, which was empty at the time. In recent years, Jewish leaders in Sweden have warned that their community is under threat both from the far-right and from Muslim extremists. Sweden, a nation of some 10 million people, has about 14,900 people who self-identify as Jews, according to a 2020 demographic study of European Jewry. (INN / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff