Iran-Backed Houthis Go Ballistic
UAE INTERCEPTS 2 BALLISTIC MISSILES OVER ABU DHABI FIRED BY IRAN-BACKED HOUTHIS: The United Arab Emirates intercepted two ballistic missiles targeting Abu Dhabi early Monday, January 24, its state-run news agency reported, the latest attack to target the Emirati capital. Defense officials said the missiles were fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The attack on Abu Dhabi, after another last week killed three people and wounded six, further escalates tensions across the Persian Gulf as Yemen’s years-long civil war grinds on. That war, pitting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against a Saudi-led coalition, has become a regional conflict as negotiations continue over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. The collapse of the accord has sparked years of attacks across the region. The state-run WAM news agency said that missile fragments fell harmlessly over the capital, Abu Dhabi. The Emirates “is ready to deal with any threats” and “takes all necessary measures to protect the state from all attacks,” WAM quoted the UAE Defense Ministry as saying. Videos posted to social media showed the sky over the capital light up before dawn Monday, with points of light looking like interceptor missiles in the sky. The videos corresponded to known features of Abu Dhabi. The missile fire disrupted traffic into Abu Dhabi International Airport, home to the long-haul carrier Etihad, for about an hour after the attack. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the attack came a week after Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed an attack on the Emirati capital that killed three people and wounded six others. (TOI / VFI News)
RUSSIA CONDUCTING JOINT PATROLS OF SYRIAN BORDER AIRSPACE: Syria and Russia held joint military jet patrols of the airspace along Syria’s borders on Monday, including in the Golan Heights area, according to a Russian Defense Ministry statement reported by Interfax.
According to the report, Russia’s Defense Ministry said such joint patrols are expected to be a regular occurrence moving forward. The news came amid tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border as Western powers scramble to counter an implied threat by Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade the neighboring country. Putin is considered one of few allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Russia is seen as using its presence in the war-torn country to gain a foothold in the Middle East. Israel’s close relations with Russia and Putin are often seen as linked to the two countries’ close military coordination in Syria, in particular when the IDF carries out purported strikes on sites within Syria. (TOI / VFI News)
IRAN SAYS WILL CONSIDER DIRECT US TALKS FOR ‘GOOD’ NUCLEAR DEAL WITH FIRM GUARANTEES: Iran will consider direct talks with the US during ongoing nuclear negotiations in Vienna, if that is required for a “good agreement,” the Iranian foreign minister said on Monday, January 24.
“Iran is not currently talking with the US directly,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in televised remarks. “But, if, during the negotiation process, we get to a point that reaching a good agreement with solid guarantees requires a level of talks with the US, we will not ignore that in our work schedule,” he added. The 2015 deal — agreed by Iran, the US, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany — offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. But the US unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump and reimposed biting economic sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin rolling back its commitments. Talks aimed at salvaging the deal started last year in Vienna between Iran and countries still part of the accord. The US has been taking part indirectly in negotiations. Iran had previously stated that the US must “change course” and return to the nuclear deal, prior to any direct talks between the two arch-foes in Vienna. “Our direct talks are with P4+1,” said Amir-Abdollahian, referring to Germany and permanent Security Council powers France, China, Britain and Russia. The negotiations, which seek to bring Washington back to the accord and ensure Iran returns to its commitments under the deal, started in April, and resumed in late November after they were suspended in June as Iran elected ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi. Last week, United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that while Washington is committed to a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran if Tehran is not serious about saving the 2015 pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the US will look at “all of the options” to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL PREPARING FOR POTENTIAL NEED TO EVACUATE UKRAINIAN JEWS IN CASE OF WAR: The Israeli government is preparing for the possibility that thousands of Ukrainian Jews will want to immigrate to Israel in the event of a Russian invasion of the country, according to a report Sunday night, January 23.
According to Haaretz, representatives of various government offices and groups met on Sunday to discuss such an eventuality, among them the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Minister, Defense Ministry, Diaspora Affairs Ministry and the Jewish Agency. The report said some 75,000 people living in eastern Ukraine are believed eligible for Israeli citizenship. It noted that Israel has long had plans for the mass evacuation of Jews from various countries should the need arise, and has updated those plans for Ukraine due to the rising tensions. A Foreign Ministry official on Monday said Israel is not currently expecting a surge in immigration from Ukraine and also noted that the Jewish Agency handles such immigration issues. However, the official said the ministry was looking into issues relating to the estimated 10,000 Israeli nationals in Ukraine. On Sunday the US State Department said Washington had ordered the families of its diplomats in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to leave the country “due to the continued threat of Russian military action.” Washington has also authorized the “voluntary” departure of its embassy employees and urged US citizens in the Eastern European country to “consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options.” The State Department announcement came amid tensions between Russia and the West over European security and concerns over a possible invasion by Moscow of Ukraine. Russia has been massing tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine, along with an arsenal of tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery and missiles. The movements have ignited stern warnings from Washington and Europe — but so far intense diplomacy has yielded little results.
HERZOG TO MAKE FIRST VISIT TO UAE BY AN ISRAELI PRESIDENT: For the first time in history, the President of the State of Israel will conduct a presidential visit to the United Arab Emirates. During the visit on January 30-31, 2022, President Isaac Herzog will meet the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; the ruler of Dubai; senior government officials; and the Jewish community. He will also open Israel’s national day at Expo 2020 Dubai.
President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog will depart on Sunday, January 30, 2022, for a presidential visit in the United Arab Emirates at the invitation of the de facto ruler of the UAE, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The President will visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai and will hold official meetings with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed; UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed; Vice President, Prime Minister, and Defense Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; and representatives of the Jewish community. During the visit, President Herzog will open Israel’s national day at Dubai Expo 2020. President Herzog said ahead of his departure: “We have the privilege of making history by making the first visit of an Israeli president to the United Arab Emirates. This important visit comes as the Israeli and Emirati nations are busy laying the foundations of a new shared future. I believe that our bold new partnership will transform the Middle East and inspire the whole region. We are a peace-loving nation, and together we will expand the historic circle of peace of the Abraham Accords and create a better, more tolerant, and safer world for our children. I thank Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for this gracious invitation to deepen our nations’ bonds of friendship.” (INN / VFI News)
2021 WAS THE WORST YEAR IN A DECADE FOR ANTISEMITISM AROUND THE WORLD: Last year was the worst year for antisemitic attacks in a decade, seeing an average of ten incidents a day with the likelihood of many more incidents not being reported, according to an annual review published Monday, January 24, by the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency.
The Antisemitism Report for 2021 was released ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which falls on Thursday, January 27. 2021 was “the most antisemitic year in the last decade,” the two organizations said in a joint statement, “but at the same time, this year no Jew in the world has been murdered on antisemitic grounds.” The average number of antisemitic incidents reported in 2021 was more than ten per day, the report found. “However, the actual number of incidents was significantly higher, since many are not reported by the victims out of fear, and due to the lack of surveillance and prosecution of local authorities and law enforcement agencies,” the statement said. Europe was the leading continent in the number of antisemitic incidents during 2021, with close to 50 percent of all incidents globally taking place there. The UK recorded a 49% increase in the first six months of 2021, with 1,308 incidents compared to 875 in the same period in 2020. Austria also recorded a doubling of the number of incidents, while in Germany the rate stayed roughly the same, with 1,850 antisemitic incidents recorded in the first 10 months of 2021 compared to 1,909 cases reported in all of 2020, according to the report. In the German capital Berlin, 522 antisemitic incidents were recorded in the first half of 2021, an increase of about 27% compared to 2020, when there were 410 recorded incidents in the first six months. The next continent with the most antisemitic incidents was North America, with 30% of antisemitic incidents in the continent taking place in the United States, the report finds. Within the US, New York recorded a 100% increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in 2021, with 503, compared to 252 in 2020. In Los Angeles, there was a 59.2% increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in the first six months of 2021 compared to the same period in the previous year, LAPD data cited in the report showed. The incidents mostly included vandalism and property destruction, graffiti and the desecration of monuments. Physical and verbal violence accounted for less than a third of all antisemitic incidents. Such episodes and attacks peaked during May when Jewish and Muslim religious festivals led to clashes in Israel and a war with Hamas, the Islamist terror group ruling Gaza, the report said. (TOI / VFI News)
‘ELDERS OF ZION’ BOOK BEING SOLD BY TOP BOOKSELLERS: The antisemitic text The Protocols Of The Meetings Of The Learned Elders Of Zion is being sold on popular book sellers’ websites, Jewish social media users were outraged to learn on Tuesday, January 25.
Top online booksellers such as Walmart, Book Depository, Thrift Books, Hudson Books, and Barnes & Noble are each selling dozens of versions of The Protocols of the Elders Of Zion. Of note, these retailers are also selling a version published by Book Tree in 1999 that is causing outrage on social media. The book cover features blurbs mocking attempts to stop the sale of the book. “Stop selling books” is attributed to a German publisher. “…Is calling on [on-line booksellers] not to sell the book…calling the disclaimers an insufficient half-measure,” is attributed to “an American Jewish organization.” Blackwell’s, a UK bookshop, is also selling several dozen versions of the book, including the Book Tree version. The European Union of Jewish Students criticized Blackwell’s for their continued sale of the book. EUJS tweeted that Blackwell’s “‘neither supports nor denies the message’ of an explicitly antisemitic document forged with the sole intent of blaming Jews, justifying pogroms and mass murders. Shameful.” (JPost / VFI News)
REPEATED QUARANTINE INCREASES VIOLENCE AMONG CHILDREN: The ‘Children in Israel’ report of the National Council for the Child published Tuesday, January 25, indicates a significant increase in physical violence against family members and friends by children who were forced into quarantine.
Parental reports indicated that among children who went into quarantine and especially when they went in more than once, tantrums or outbursts of anger were recorded that led to violence. According to the report, 31% of the children who went into isolation more than once experienced physical violence, compared with about 17% of those who went into isolation once or less. 59% of children who went into isolation more than once experienced tantrums, compared with 43% among those who were in isolation once and 36% of those who did not go into isolation at all. The data also show that during the third closure, along with the closure of the education system, there was a 43% increase in the number of treatments by psychologists for students who were at risk for suicide. (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