HEZBOLLAH DEFIES MACRON, WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT ISRAEL: Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group on Monday rejected criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday after he panned its political machinations. And it vowed to remain committed to fighting Israel, as the country is paralyzed by its worst economic and financial crisis in decades.
Macron on Sunday accused Lebanon’s political leaders of “collective betrayal” and choosing “to favor their partisan and individual interests to the general detriment of the country,” after the resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib over the weekend. Adib’s resignation was a blow to Macron’s efforts to break a dangerous stalemate in the crisis-hit country. Macron assailed the Hezbollah group and the entire Lebanese political class Sunday and warned of a new civil war if they can’t set aside personal and religious interests to unlock international aid and save Lebanon from economic collapse. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAELI AMB ERDAN SHARPLY CRITICIZES UN: Israel’s new ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan on Tuesday claimed the international body was at risk of “losing its right to exist” over its treatment of the Jewish state, and predicted it could be defunct by the end of the century.
“The UN is risking the loss of whatever relevance and legitimacy it has left. If the organization can’t take action against the worst regimes and continues to cling to the Palestinian obsession, in 75 years there will be no UN to mark its birthday, because it will simply lose its right to exist,” Erdan wrote in a column for the Israel Hayom daily. He was referring to the UN’s 75th anniversary, which was marked earlier this month. Israeli leaders have taken a hard line against the UN in recent years, accusing it of disproportionately criticizing Israel while ignoring abuses by other countries. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL’S COVID INFECTION RATE ALMOST 3X ANY OTHER IN WORLD: Israel has the world’s worst daily coronavirus infection numbers per capita for the last week — a rate almost three times higher than the next badly-hit country, global data indicated Tuesday.
In terms of the national case count, over the last seven days, Israel has seen an average of 703 new daily diagnoses per million citizens, according to figures from Our World In Data, citing information from the European CDC. Spain had 234 confirmed cases per million citizens, with France at 185 and the US at 133. Numbers from John Hopkins University, computed by the National Bank of Canada, showed similar results. And while leaders in Jerusalem have taken solace in the country’s low mortality rates even in the face of rising case numbers, Israel has now overtaken the United States and is also leading the global table for daily deaths per capita over the last week, with some 3.5 deaths per million citizens. “I’m very worried,” said Dror Mevorach of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center. “I see the people, I see the deaths, I see the prolonged disease.” (TOI / VFI News)
NETANYAHU: “TWO PIECES OF GOOD NEWS” FOR UN: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the 75th annual United Nations General Assembly Tuesday. The address was delivered via video due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Netanyahu began by referencing the Abraham Accords, the peace agreement signed between Israel and the Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. “The Middle East is not exactly renowned for producing good news, and few expected this year to be any different. The pandemic virus is ravaging our part of the world like everywhere else. But I am pleased to report to you that this year, I can tell you about good news from the Middle East. In fact, I can report two pieces of good news,” Netanyahu said. “Earlier this month, Israel signed historic agreements with the United Arab Emirates and the kingdom of Bahrain. This was the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country in over a quarter of a century, and it was the first time peace agreements between Israel and two Arab countries were signed on the same day. These new agreements will bring our peoples the blessings of peace,” he added. (INN / VFI News)
THIRD OF ISRAEL’S COVID INFECTIONS AMONG ULTRA-ORTHODOX: Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy told reporters on Wednesday that 34 percent of those diagnosed with the virus in Israel were ultra-Orthodox, though the community constitutes only approximately 12% of the population.
“The ultra-Orthodox sector, due to overcrowding and prayers which sometimes violate the rules of conduct, has reached a high level of morbidity. It must be treated and a solution must be found, because it affects ultra-Orthodox society, the infection rate in general and hospitals,” Levy said, without giving specifics on the timeframe for the infection statistics. It was also not clarified how patients were categorized as ultra-Orthodox. According to a 2019 report by the Israel Democracy Institute, around 12% of the general population is categorized as belonging to that community. Levy said that although the death rate in the ultra-Orthodox community remained relatively low in comparison with the general population and Arab community — presumably due to the relatively young age of those infected — it was undergoing a “steep increase.” (TOI / VFI News)
POMPEO: THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT IS RE-WRITING THE BIBLE: China continues to persecute religious minorities, rewriting the Bible to make it conform to Chinese Marxist doctrine, and sending Uighurs Muslims to re-education camps, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.
Speaking during a session at the Values Voter Summit 2020, held virtually, Pompeo said: “We watch today the challenge that Christians and Catholics have to practice their faith inside of China.” “The Chinese Communist Party is trying to rewrite the Bible itself to ‘Sinicize’ the Christian doctrine,” he added. “That’s unacceptable. That will diminish the Chinese people. We want good things for them.” China officially recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. However, the US Department of State’s 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: China notes that although “the constitution, which cites the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, states that citizens have freedom of religious belief,” it “limits protections for religious practice to “normal religious activities” and does not define “normal.” (JPost / VFI News)
BAHRAIN’S LOST JEWS ANTICIPATE RETURN AFTER PEACE WITH ISRAEL: Bahrain’s dwindling community of less than 50 Jews has been offered a new lease on life in the wake of the signing of this month’s historic Abraham Accords, with many in Israel anxious to reconnect to their homeland.
Most former Bahrainis forfeited their passports when making aliyah, so current numbers are unclear. The Jewish Agency has only two formal registrations but numbers are certainly far higher than that. Munir Akirav, 35, born in Givatayim, is one of a small number of Jews of Bahraini origin living in Israel. His mother and her family left Bahrain in 1970. “My personal connection to Bahrain is based on stories, pictures, videos, from my mother’s family,” he says. “The connection is one of nostalgia and longing for a time of which you were never a part. So, for me it’s a very, very strong feeling,” explains the accountant and credit analyst. When he heard the news of the Abraham Accords, overcoming decades of political annexation of Israel, he said he “jumped for joy.” (JPost / VFI News)
FROM MIDEAST TO AL EAST: MLB’S FIRST ISRAELI BLOOMS: Dean Kremer is a budding celebrity in Israel and a developing star in the big leagues. Kremer this month became the first Israeli citizen to pitch in the majors. Not only that, the Baltimore Orioles prospect tossed six innings of one-hit ball in a starting role against the storied New York Yankees, striking out seven in a 5-1 victory.
Several reporters and friends from Israel participated in the postgame Zoom call, offering congratulations and even getting Kremer to speak a little Hebrew in a message to followers far from Baltimore. Now, four games into his big league career and done pitching in a season that ends Sunday for the Orioles, Kremer took delight in reflecting upon a whirlwind three weeks of fame and success. “It’s been a dream come true, to say the least,” he said. “It’s been really fun. The guys have welcomed me into a warm clubhouse. Anything and everything you could imagine it would be, it is — except for no fans.” (TOI / 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