Al-Qaeda leader: Capture more Jewish hostages
(JNS.org) Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a video posted on jihadist websites, urged Muslims to take more hostages in the mold of 71-year-old Jewish American aid worker Warren Weinstein. “God the great and almighty granted us success to capture the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,” al-Zawahiri said, Israel National News reported. Weinstein has been held captive by al-Qaeda since August 2011 after being abducted from his home in Lahore, Pakistan. At the time of his capture, he had been working in Pakistan for several years as a director of J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based development contractor that advises different Pakistani business and government sectors.
Ethiopian aliyah enters final stages
(JNS.org) Approximately 240 new immigrants were set to arrive at Israel’s David Ben-Gurion airport on Monday, Oct. 29 as part of a final effort to bring the remainder of Ethiopia’s Jewish community to Israel. Dubbed “Operation Dove’s Wings,” Monday’s arrival is the first in a series of monthly flights carrying Ethiopia’s Falash Mura—some of the last remaining Jews in the country—that is expected to last until October 2013. The Falash Mura Jews descend from Ethiopian Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries. Their status as Jews under Israel’s Law of Return was a matter of controversy until a 2003 Israeli government ruling that accepted their eligibility.
Negev named among top travel destinations
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel’s Negev Desert has been chosen by the Lonely Planet travel guide as one of the top 10 best regions in the world to visit in 2013. In fact, the majestic southern desert ranked second on the popular guide’s top-10 list of travel destinations, under the title “Desert in throes of transformation.” The guide warns that the region is undergoing rapid development and urges travelers to hurry as “time is running out to experience the desert as nature intended.” “For decades the Negev was regarded as nothing but a desolate desert,” the guide’s editors wrote. “But today, this region is a giant greenhouse of development. Think eco-villages, spa resorts and even wineries. In the next few years a new international airport at Timna is scheduled to open, followed by a high-speed railway to Eilat and more hotels.” According to the Lonely Planet guide, “this region, comprising 62 percent of Israel’s land mass, may seem sparse but it offers a world of adventure, including mountain hikes, camel treks, 4WD desert drives and Red Sea diving. Yet perhaps the biggest secret of the Negev is Makhtesh Ramon, a crater-like wilderness, which feels like another planet.”
Iran installs 3,000 centrifuges, works to trade oil with Asia
(JNS.org) International intelligence officials say that Iran has installed nearly 3,000 centrifuges at a nuclear site called Fordo, located under a mountain and inside a military base near the holy city of Qum, the Washington Post reported.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government is seeking to overcome the sanctions placed on the country by the West by growing closer to uninvolved Asian markets, and by investing in renewable energy in order to reduce its reliance on oil. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been working to grow trade ties with countries such as Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. However, Turkmenistan recently canceled an oil contract with Iran and other central Asian countries are reevaluating their trade relationship with the country in the wake of the widening gulf between Iran and the West.
UN Human Rights Council to call for Israel boycott
(JNS.org) The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) called for a boycott of companies doing business with Israel, the Washington Free Beacon reported. An HRC report (http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/UN-Report-Sept-2012.pdf) to the UN General Assembly targeted Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, Veolia Environnement, Group 4 Security, the Dexia Group, and the Volvo Group. According to the report, “all companies that operate in or otherwise have dealings with Israeli settlements should be boycotted.” The report was issued by the HRC’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” Richard Falk. Last year, Falk posted an antisemitic cartoon on his blog.
The Obama administration decided to join the HRC in 2009 after the U.S. did not participate in that body’s activities during George W. Bush years. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Falk’s recommendations “do nothing to further a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and indeed poison the environment for peace.”
The Israeli UN Mission said the report was “grossly biased.”
“While he spends pages and pages attacking Israel, Falk fails to mention even once the horrific human rights violations and ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas,” said Karaen Peretz, spokeswoman for the Israeli Mission.
South African leaders endorse boycott of Israel
(JNS.org) Senior South African leaders have endorsed a boycott of Israel, the Times of Israel reported. South African delegates at the International Solidarity Conference, hosted by the South African government, endorsed the anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement. South Africa’s deputy president Baleka Mbete also said that Israel was “far worse than Apartheid South Africa,” in response to a German delegate who objected to Israel being compared to apartheid South Africa.
While the South African government is officially against boycotts of Israel, the recent statements by senior leaders are creating mixed signals at a time when relations are already strained between the two countries. “The government of South Africa has stated time and again that it is against boycotts,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “We’re waiting for South African officials to respond and clarify the official position.”
Last spring, South Africa’s trade and industry minister began encouraging South African traders to label products from Israel as originating from “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Then in August, South Africa’s deputy foreign minister called on citizens to avoid visiting Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians.