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Pompeo Urges Israel to Go Slow on West Bank Annexation

By VOA News, DEBKAfile and United with Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging Israel not to rush into plans to annex parts of the West Bank – a move that opponents say would destroy the chances for lasting peace. Pompeo was in Israel for eight hours on Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The guest and hosts chose to forego handshakes and face masks although they kept their distance while conversing. Speaking to the Israel Hayom newspaper, Pompeo said he told Israeli leaders to "consider all factors" in their annexation plans and the "many other issues related to it – how to deal with all the factors involved, and how to make sure the move is done properly to bring about an outcome in accordance with the vision of peace." Israel wants to annex about 30% of the West Bank. It regained its historical territory in the 1967 Six-Day War and has occupied it ever since. The Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state. The European Union is among those who say an Israeli annexation, which would include the Jewish settlements, would not only wreck the chances of negotiating a lasting peace, it would also light the fuse of even more violence. A U.S. embassy spokesman in Jerusalem said last week that the U.S. backs Israel's annexation plan, but only as part of the Middle East peace plan that President Donald Trump unveiled in January. That plans calls for an eventual Palestinian state in part of the West Bank. Netanyahu said the new coalition government that will take power Thursday is "an opportunity to promote peace and security, based on the understandings I reached with the president on my last visit to Washington, in January." Under the unity deal, Netanyahu will remain prime minister, and opposition leader Benny Gantz will be the "alternate prime minister" for the next 18 months before they switch roles. Pompeo and Netanyahu also discussed efforts to fight the coronavirus and what the prime minister called another "plague in our region: Iranian aggression and terrorism." Netanyahu said he wanted to thank the U.S. for pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and keeping up the sanctions. Expressing his condolences for the IDF soldier killed on Tuesday morning in a Palestinian rock attack, Pompeo said, "It reminds us of all of the importance of making sure that people all across the world know that Israel has the right to defend itself [and] that America will consistently support you in that effort." As part of their joint remarks before Netanyahu and Pompeo met, the Israeli prime minister noted that second on the meeting agenda, after the corona crisis, would be "something else plaguing our region — unremitting Iranian aggression and terror." Pompeo also noted the two-year anniversary of the move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. "Much has happened since then, and much in our relationship has continued to grow in those 24 months, as well," he said, adding, "I want to thank you [Netanyahu] for that, personally, in making that happen. It's important for America; it's important for Israel; it's important for democracies across the world." For some time, the Trump administration has frowned on deepening Chinese investment in Israeli utilities and infrastructure. Pompeo chose to emphasize this point in is talks on Wednesday. In an interview with Israel National Radio before flying out, said: "We don't want the Chinese Communist party to have access to Israeli infrastructure and its communications systems or anything that places Israelis in danger and therefore jeopardizes US ability to work with Israel on important joint projects. We consider the dangers to be very real and have shared concrete information on the subject so that you can make your own decisions." Touting "Israeli technology and Israeli medical expertise" and the possibility for cooperation between the US and Israel to save lives, Pompeo added in a dig against China: "You're a great partner, you share information, unlike other countries that obfuscate and try to hide that information."

Poll: Majority of Palestinians Support 3rd Intifada

By World Israel News
A new poll shows a majority of Palestinians support a third intifada. The poll, conducted in February by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, found 64% of 1,270 Palestinian adults living across Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip support a new intifada against Israel to stop the implementation of President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan. Support for a new intifada was highest in the Gaza Strip (81.2%) compared to Judea and Samaria (52.8%). With regard to expectations of what will actually happen as a response to the U.S. peace plan, 61% expect to see a return to an intifada, 74% expect to see peaceful demonstrations, 66% expect that the Palestinian Authority will wage a diplomatic campaign against Israel in the international community, and 51% expect the status quo to continue without any major changes. With regard to the PA resuming direct communication with the Trump administration, 76% voted against it and 11% were in favor. Official contact between the PA and the U.S. was suspended by PA President Mahmoud Abbas in December 2017 after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Sixty-percent of those polled think Trump deliberately wanted the Palestinians to reject his Mideast peace plan so that Israel can annex the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, while 34% think he expected the Palestinians to fold easily under pressure. Meanwhile, 49% of the poll participants believe the most vital Palestinian goal should be to end Israeli "occupation" in Judea and Samaria and build a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

`Virus of Hate': Anti-Semitic Rhetoric Links Israel and Jews to Corona Outbreak

By World Israel News

Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs published a new report "The Virus of Hate" detailing recent anti-Semitic rhetoric linking Israel and Jews to the coronavirus. The report highlights, through detailed examples, the common anti-Semitic coronavirus motif and libels shared by both "classic anti-Semitism" against Jews and "new anti-Semitism" against the State of Israel.

According to the report, classic anti-Semitism is "consistent with the centuries-old tradition blood libels against Jews, including for spreading viruses and plague. This anti-Semitism is perpetrated by the radical right in the North America and Europe and, to a minor extent, by the general public and the radical left." New anti-Semitism is "consistent with the campaign to delegitimize Israel. This anti-Semitism is perpetrated by governments and quasi-governmental actors, terror organizations and civil society, specifically: Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] movement." The report points out that "the leaders of the BDS movement and the delegitimization campaign against Israel have insisted that their anti-Zionist and anti-Israel rhetoric was not anti-Semitic, but rather, legitimate political criticism. Now, however, the current wave of hateful rhetoric relating to the coronavirus demonstrates simply and clearly how both classic anti-Semites on the far right and far left Israel delegitimizers, including BDS, are using a common anti-Semitic motif and libel." According to the report, this common motif is the equation of Jews and/or Israel to the coronavirus with the libel that Jews and/or Israel are using or spreading the virus for political or economic gain. The report quotes U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan Carr, who says that "anti-Semitism, in order to remain relevant, always adapts to current events." The current coronavirus outbreak has provided a perfect "test case," says the report, for observing how the new anti-Semitism of the BDS movement is really just a modern adaptation of the same old hate.

Bosnian Catholic Cardinal Plans to Honor Nazi Collaborators in Memorial Service

By JTA

Bosnia's most senior Catholic clergyman plans to host a memorial service on Saturday for Croatian civilians and soldiers of the Nazi-allied Ustasha forces, the Dnevni Avaz daily reported. Jews in Bosnia and Israel's embassy to that Balkan nation are protesting the plan, titled "Mass for Bleiburg," and to be held at Sarajevo's Heart of Jesus Cathedral. Members of the Croat pro-Nazi Ustasha militia committed some of the goriest anti-Semitic murders documented in World War II. In May 1945, partisans killed tens of thousands of Ustasha soldiers and supporters who had fled to the Bleiburg environs in Austria, as the Allies progressed on Adolf Hitler's Germany and its allies. In recent years, commemorations of Nazi collaborators, including state and church officials, have become commonplace in Eastern Europe, where many regard them as patriots who fought Russian Soviet domination. Many of the partisans, who were armed by the Soviet Union, were communists. The Ustasha also murdered thousands of Serbs. The Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a nonprofit representing local Jews, in a statement Sunday called the planned Mass a "memorial service for criminals responsible for the suffering of Sarajevans." The Israeli Embassy in Tirana, Albania, wrote in a rare rebuke: "We join the call of many leaders and of the Jewish community to the Catholic church to reconsider their initiative."

High Alert: Israel Locked and Loaded for Iranian Cyber Attacks

By United with Israel

The National Cyber Directorate (INCD) issued a warning on Wednesday for Israelis to be prepared for expected cyber-attacks by Iran and other anti-Israel activists in the coming weeks. The INCD said that as part of the annual Iranian organized "Quds Day" (Jerusalem Day) when Iranian hackers and anti-Israel activists attempt to coordinate cyber-attacks against Israel. The annual Quds Day protests call for the destruction of the State of Israel and are also held in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere, occurring on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iran has marked Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic Revolution by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, and the Iranian regime uses the day as an annual opportunity to gather crowds for mass "death to Israel" and "death to America" chants. The malicious cyber activity is expected to take place this year between May 14-22 with the goal of trying to damage Israel. From previous experience, the INCD expects hackers to focus on corrupting and overloading Israeli websites, disseminating propaganda messages on various platforms, and swamping phone centers. "In general the main purpose of these groups is to produce media echoes and create panic and fear through captivating imagery and slogans," Lavi Stockhammer, an official with the INCD, told Israel Defense magazine. "Although these are not sophisticated attacks and their success is limited each year, the increased reliance on technology due to the coronavirus crisis has created a widespread attack surface that may also be exploited by hackers, therefore, organizations must always be prepared for any scenario," he said. Officials warned the public to be extra vigilant and suspicious during this period when using digital space and avoiding clicking on links, opening suspicious attachments to e-mails and providing personal information online. Recent hacking attempts include sending SMS messages disguised as Israel Ministry of Health updates or bank messages with a link to click on. The INCD also reported a possible new computer virus called the "corona virus" with hackers taking advantage of the huge discourse surrounding the corona crisis to try to create malware using the same name. Israeli defensive measures include a national hotline to report suspected cyber-attacks.

Israeli Researchers Create First 1-Minute Coronavirus Test

By United with Israel

On Wednesday, Israeli researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced they created a new coronavirus test that generates results in one minute. The test analyzes samples taken from nasal swabs or breath to flag those infected with the coronavirus, the Times of Israel reported. As of Wednesday, the coronavirus had claimed the lives of close to 300,000 people worldwide, including 262 Israelis

The Israeli one-minute test relies on a microchip to pick up the virus' effect on biological material in the samples. "The system then analyzes the biological sample and provides an accurate positive/negative result within a minute via a cloud-connected system," the Times reported, quoting a statement from BGU. "The point-of-care device automatically backs up the results into a database that can be shared by authorities, making it easier than ever to track the course of the virus, as well as triage and treat patients," the statement added.

Central Council of Jews in Germany Launches `Meet a Jew' Project

By JTA

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has launched a "Meet a Jew" project designed to increase contact between Germans and the country's Jews, who make up 0.2% of the population. One of the project's over 300 Jewish volunteers from different denominational backgrounds are paired with Germans to talk about their lives, usually in a classroom setting. The topics can range from discussions of school life to whether or not they observe the Sabbath, and they often touch on personal experiences with anti-Semitism. "We realized a lot of people in Germany don't know Jewish people in person," project coordinator Mascha Schmerling said. "The knowledge that they have about Jews comes from history books, from school, or it's connected to the Shoah or current anti-Semitism or sometimes through the policies of Israel." The project is supported by the German Ministry of Family Affairs and Women. It's not affiliated with the "Meet a Jew, Make a Friend" project that debuted in New York earlier this year. "Our idea is really to introduce modern-day Jewish life, and to give Jewish people a face and a voice," Schmerling said. Lina Roisenwasser, 30, is a doctor in gynecology and obstetrics based in Berlin. She joined an earlier version of the project, called "Rent a Jew," while studying in Mainz. "I just think it's important that we talk to each other and that they're not just talking about us as victims in history bookings, like we're just a chapter in German history," she said. "I think it's important that we show that we belong to the country now. We are part of society. We are living."

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