Washington — October 23, 2020 … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed today that Israel was moving quickly to normalize relations with Sudan. Netanyahu called it the start of “a new era” in the region.
“Today we announce another dramatic breakthrough towards peace,” he said. “Today Khartoum says yes to peace with Israel, yes to acknowledging Israel and yes to normalization with Israel. This is a new era, an era of true peace.”
Netanyahu said that Israeli and Sudanese delegations would soon get together to discuss commercial, agricultural, aviation, migration issues and other areas for the benefit of the two peoples.
“The skies of Sudan are now open to Israel, which allows direct and short flights between Israel, Africa and South America,” Netanyahu said.
The White House informed the US Congress of its intent to formally rescind Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
“This follows on Sudan’s recent agreement to resolve certain claims of United States victims of terror and their families,” a statement by Judd Deere, the White House Deputy Press Secretary read. It also noted that yesterday, the transitional government of Sudan transferred $335 million into an escrow account for these victims and their families.
“By finally serving justice for the American people, the White House was able to achieve what previous administrations could not – the resolution of longstanding claims of victims of the East Africa embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the murder of USAID employee John Granville,” the White House said in a statement. “This is a significant achievement for the President and his Administration and brings a measure of closure to many to whom it has long been out of reach.”
The agreement was negotiated on the US side by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security aide Miguel Correa. Kushner called the normalization deals the start of a “paradigm shift” in the Middle East. He said Sudan’s decision was symbolically significant because it was in Khartoum in 1967 that the Arab League decided not to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Stuart Newberger, an attorney at Crowell & Moring who represents US victims of the 1998 terror embassy bombings and their families, said Congress must pass legislation because the agreement between Washington and Khartoum “requires that Sudan be basically relieved of being sued in US federal court as a sponsor of terror under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. So that’s why Congress has to get involved to provide Sudan what’s called ‘legal peace.’ The President can’t do that on his own; that’s something only Congress can do,” he said. Such legislation must be passed before the $335 million can be paid out.”
Sudan has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the US government since 1993, and it is one of only four nations total designated as such. Iran, North Korea and Syria are also listed. As a result, Sudan faces a series of restrictions including a ban on defense exports and sales and restrictions on US foreign assistance.
Israel, which recently signed peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain, is expected to sign further peace agreements with Oman, Morocco and Saudi Arabia in the near future.
New York — October 17, 2020 … Before you click “unfriend” on Facebook as a result of one’s position on Donald Trump, take a deep breath and smile.
Unless it was truly a highly personal attack on you, do not unfriend any members of the Jewish tribe as to supporting or not supporting the next US president.
As an Israeli-American who serves as a senior cross-cultural and media adviser to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as one who has worked on both the Trump and Biden campaigns, it really depresses me to witness the wide cultural divide between Jews in the United States and Israel. If we understood where those divisions come from – we will not unfriend but simply agree to disagree.
If Israelis could vote in the next few weeks in US elections, 63% of them – according to an i24 News poll this week would apparently vote for Donald Trump, compared to only 19% for Democratic challenger Joe Biden. By contrast, according to a Pew poll also released this week, 70% of American Jews plan to vote for Biden, and only 27% for Trump.
Full disclosure: I assisted in opening Donald Trump’s first campaign office in New Hampshire. Like many, I was attracted to Trump’s confidence and mastery of marketing. I worked with Trump for 5 months. I watched him meticulously choregraph each and every move he made. He had campaign advisors but only listened to two – PR adviser Hope Hicks and Internet guru Dan Scavino. Hope recently left the campaign due to getting infected with Coronavirus and Dan is still there. When you see a Tweet coming from the White House – it is Dan who taught Trump how to do it. I left the campaign when Trump started to advocate a full ban on all Muslims coming to the United States. Although Trump soon amended the ban to include a few Muslim nations, as one who has served at IDF checkpoints and know Muslims a bit better than him, I could not be associated with this move that many view as racist. I asked the campaign director at the time – Corey Lewandowski to walk back the ban. He refused. Or should I say – Trump refused.
Returning to the great divide between Jews in New York and Jerusalem and why one half supports Trump and other half really hates the guy comes down to cultural perceptions. Jews in Israel see only one thing – their own security.
There was no action that an American leader could have taken that had more importance to the Israeli soul and sense of security than to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Although US Congress voted on making this move real in 1995 – known as the The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city, no American president had the guts to enact it. Rather, despite passage in Congress, the law allowed the President to invoke a six-month waiver of the application of the law, and reissue the waiver every six months on “national security” grounds. And the passage and enactment of this law transcended Zionist symbolism. It sent a message to every Jihadist that the US was with Israel in Jerusalem and they could not point to the US as a further excuse to blow up restaurants, buses, car ram Jews at bus stops and stab Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Whether you were a Reform, Conservative or Orthodox Jew, you had to agree that this was the right move. That Jerusalem has always been our cultural, biblical, historical and legal capital. To go even further, Trump recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel through a presidential proclamation signed by him on March 25, 2019. So one could now ask: what is there not to like?
As for the recent peace agreements signed between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, Israeli Jews delight in this – and we all should. Peace is a wonderful thing and the entire Middle East is beginning to understand that only real threat in the Middle East is Iran. Although Trump takes credit for having achieved this peace and in reality used his office to cement it, it was Netanyahu and the Mossad who made this peace happen after several years of negotiating with these and other Arab states.
Unknown to the Israeli living in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ra’anana or Beer Sheva, American Jews were and are now looking at their healthcare -Affordable Care Act (ACA) and social security being taken away by Trump. They also see their rights as women and or as members of the LGBT community being taken away. Could the Israeli Jew ever conceive of their Bituach Leumi or national insurance being removed?
And the Jewish people, immigrants to many nations who have suffered greatly over centuries and are subject to an abundance of anti-semitism, did not care for and were disgusted by Trump’s immigration policies including separating families and children on the US southern border.
Israelis do not witness the constant, daily bashing by Trump of a free press, attacks on the FBI, CIA, NSA, NATO, the CDC and FDA.
Israelis belong to a culture which is known as polychronic where relationships have the highest priorities. Americans come from a monochronic culture which is based on rules. If you plan to meet someone at 1 P.M., the Israeli may arrive at 1:20 and be warmly received with a cup of coffee, while in the States, if you arrive at 1:20 you could be criticized for not respecting the time of the person you are supposed to meet.
Israelis are drawn to Trump’s personality, not policies. And when they are questioned about Trump – they point to the American embassy. They simply overlook Trump allowing Turkey and Syria murdering Israel’s close allies the Kurds, they do not care about Trump withdrawing US troops from Syria and Iraq – an invite for Iran and ISIS to fill the void, they are not even aware that as you read this story, Trump is trying to sell the most advanced combat jet, the F-35, to Israel’s enemies.
Lastly, Israelis who are doing the right thing with a harsh but realistic lockdown to kill the Coronavirus, are not aware that Trump has called the virus a hoax, refuses to wear a face mask and even censors the CDC and FDA to get life saving information out to the American public. American Jews like all who live in the United States are frightened for their and their children’s lives. Trump has offered no national plan to fight the virus and even states that Covid-19 is “turning the corner” as it is actually surging in every state. He wants to ignore it as he knows he was negligent in not placing a total ban on China and Europe in the first quarter of 2020 and allowed the virus to kill over 217,000 and infect over 8 million.
What many Israeli Jews also do not understand is that most American Jews support Israel and do not support the extreme Left. They do not support Congresswoman Ilhan Omar or Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Americans see Israelis as being arrogant, when we are actually being confident and Israelis see Americans as being phoney, when they are actually being polite.
Trump comes off as arrogant. Israelis love it and see him as family. Americans see a totally different picture – of a man who is mentally disabled. In fact, it is not only American Jewish Democrats that believe Trump is mentally unfit – but recently a group of 73 former U.S. National Security officials who served under GOP administrations, including former CIA and FBI chiefs, have endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly has told friends that President Donald Trump “is the most flawed person” he’s ever known. “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life,” the retired Marine general has told friends.
As Herb Keinon writes in the Jerusalem Post: “Israeli and American Jews are forming judgments regarding the US presidential race from their own particular perspective and vantage points. And while that may seem obvious, it is something each side needs to bear in mind before slamming the other for the ‘short-sightedness’ of their particular choice.”
Stop unfriending your Jewish friends on Facebook and Twitter. Agree to disagree. Please know that dividing ourselves is something that the Russians, Iranians, Neo-Nazis and every anti-semite takes great pleasure in witnessing.
Jerusalem, Israel — October 13, 2020 … At the Corona Cabinet meeting today the experts and national coronavirus project manager Prof. Ronni Gamzu presented morbidity data which stands at 3,000 verified cases a day. The morbidity situation and morbidity trends were also presented.
There was also a discussion of the exit plan. Israel National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat presented the main goals and principles for planning the stages of the exit from the lockdown. Health Ministry Public Health Services Dr, Sharon Elroi then presented the Health Ministry outline for a gradual exit from the lockdown. The experts said that the decision to ease the lockdown and enable a gradual opening requires a clear-cut, definite and continual decline in morbidity, and that additional days were needed to achieve this.
Therefore, the government and the Corona Cabinet have decided as follows:
1. The current Coronavirus regulations will be extended until Sunday, 18 October 2020, at midnight.
2. Restrictions on air travel and departures for overseas shall be extended until Thursday, 15 October 2020. A discussion on the issue will be held tomorrow.
3. On Thursday a discussion will be held to evaluate a preliminary move for the Covid19 exit plan, according to the morbidity data, including the opening next week of small businesses that do not receive the public, kindergartens and take-out.
4. After the exit plan is approved, the various goals, indicators and stages of the plan will be issued including details regarding the areas to be opened during each stage.
5. It shall be permitted to leave one’s home for weddings of close family members (or of the bride and groom themselves).
6. Professional athletes in the premier leagues shall be permitted to train.
On Tuesday, the infection rate continued to decline. The Israel Health Ministry reported 3,112 new cases on Monday, 5% of those screened. 802 patients were in serious condition on Tuesday evening and the Health Ministry reported a total of 2,040 dead.
A report by Israel’s Military Intelligence’s Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center showed that the average daily infection rate remained higher than what could allow Israel to effectively cut the infection chains.
Israel currently has 50,778 active cases; 2,040 people have died. In Judea and Samaria (West Bank), there are 5,093 active cases and 421 deaths, and in Gaza 1,610 active cases and 24 deaths.
Jerusalem, Israel — October 12, 2020 …The Israeli Cabinet, today unanimously approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to submit the “Abraham Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel” for Knesset approval prior to its submission to the Cabinet for ratification.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at the start of a special Cabinet meeting said:
“Today, I am submitting the historic peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates to the Cabinet. This is the first peace agreement that Israel has signed in over 25 years. We are also completing the agreements with Bahrain, meaning that we will be making peace with two Arab states at the same time.
This agreement is different from its predecessors in that Israel is not conceding any territory whatsoever. Second, the economic component in it is very dominant, and the economic aspects will be very good for all citizens of Israel. Third, this agreement is accompanied by the opening of the skies, the opening of Saudi skies to Israeli planes, to planes from Israel and to planes to Israel. This means that Israel is no longer a cul-de-sac but is becoming a main hub. It is also important to say that this is changing not only in geographic terms but in geopolitical and economic terms as well.
I have no doubt that one of the by-products of this historic move is an additional historic change: Chevron, one of the largest energy companies in the world, has decided to enter Israel and invest in extracting gas from the sea which will also add billions to state coffers, and they have always been sensitive to what is happening vis-a-vis the Gulf states’ relations with Israel. In addition to the efforts that we are investing, and which you are investing Yuval, there is no doubt that this agreement is already causing a very major geopolitical turning point.
This agreement is an agreement that is based on peace from strength, not peace from concessions that will weaken Israel and endanger it, but peace from Israel’s strength. This concept has been with me for many years. I wrote about it 25 years ago. I wrote that the widespread concept that we would achieve peace with the Arab states only if we appease the Arabs with far-reaching concessions that would weaken us was mistaken. On the contrary, we need to achieve peace and we can achieve peace by convincing the Arabs that our being here is an existing fact, based on our strength which is undisputed.
Six years ago at the UN, I said that the notion that Israeli-Palestinian peace would assist a breakthrough to the expanse between Israel and the Arab world should also be reconsidered. I said there that I thought it works in reverse – that broad reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world would lead to the advancement of a realistic peace between us and the Palestinians. I said that we must turn our eyes to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, and I think that all of you understand that this peace is being accompanied by very many actions. Most of the actions are below the surface – many meetings, many contacts, very many ties that have been in the making for years.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Yitzhak Molcho and Tony Blair, who very much assisted in establishing these links approximately five years ago, their deepening and their advancement after years of interruption. I would like to thank the Mossad, which has been of constant assistance, and President Trump and his team, the contribution of which was central. Usually, it is possible to say that without exception all of the peace agreements between Israel and the Arab states have been accompanied by US assistance, and here, not only was this not an exception, but there was the direct and very important involvement of President Trump and his team.
Over the weekend, I spoke with my friend, UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. I invited him to visit Israel. He invited me to visit Abu Dhabi. However, even before then we will see here a delegation from the UAE and an additional delegation of ours will go there. I assure you that we will welcome the delegation from the UAE with the same warmth and the same great excitement as the Israeli delegation was welcomed with in Abu Dhabi.
We discussed the cooperation that we are advancing – in investments, in tourism, in energy, in technology and in other areas. We will also cooperate, and we are already cooperating, in the fight against the coronavirus. This is already happening. It will happen to a much greater degree. This will greatly assist us in defeating the pandemic.
I told Crown Prince bin Zayed that this week we will approve the historic peace agreement, in the Cabinet and afterward in the Knesset. These agreements express the dramatic change that we have made in Israel’s status in the region. The Arab states want to make peace with us because they see how we have turned Israel into a major power. They also see how we are standing against Iran, sometimes alone, against the entire world. They understand that we can assist them in very many areas. They see that Israel is neither a burden nor an enemy – but a vital ally all the time, but especially now.
I have no doubt that we will soon see agreements with additional Arab and Muslim countries.”
Tel Aviv, Israel — October 12, 2020 … Cyber Week is a highly respected, well attended annual international cybersecurity event held at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
Over the past nine years, Cyber Week has become internationally acclaimed as one of the top cybersecurity events in the world.
Cyber Week offers a unique gathering of cybersecurity experts, industry leaders, startups, investors, academics, diplomats, and government officials. With over 9,000 attendees from more than 80 countries, this conference offers an exciting exchange of knowledge, methods, and ideas.
Cyber Week is held jointly by the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC), The Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, Tel Aviv University, the Israeli National Cyber Directorate under the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As a result of Covid-19, the organizers have chosen to operate their 2020 event on a virtual platform.
Jerusalem, Israel — October 11, 2020 … Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, made the following remarks before the start of a ministerial meeting ahead of Tuesday’s Corona Cabinet meeting:
“I am now due to begin a discussion with the ministerial team ahead of the very important decision in the Corona Cabinet on Tuesday. I know that the lockdown is very difficult for all of us but I am certain that most of the public understands today that the decision I led regarding the lockdown was necessary. It saved us from a geometric increase in morbidity, mortality and severe cases and it is still too early to get ahead of ourselves.
There are preliminary signs of success. However, we need another few days to evaluate this. The exit will also be gradual, responsible and cautious.
We will open businesses of up to ten people that do not receive the public and we will also open for toddlers but we will do this and other stages gradually and cautiously, with clear indicators for the transition from stage to stage.
I request your continued cooperation because we will succeed only if we act together. At a time when morbidity in Europe is jumping, with us it is declining. At a time when Europe, with entire cities the size of the State of Israel, is entering lockdown, we are exiting from the lockdown. If we act correctly, we will defeat the disease. I request the cooperation of each and every one of you. Thank you.”