- Netanyahu convenes summit with African leaders at UN, as Israeli ties with African nations grow stronger
The Syrian military launched a devastating aerial bombardment Friday ahead of an announced offensive against Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, signaling that the U.S.-Russia brokered ceasefire now lies in tatters. “Residents and activists say the bombing…has been unprecedented, targeting residential areas, infrastructure and civil defense centers,” the Associated Press reported. At least 27 people were killed in the strikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, although Ammar al-Selmo, the head of Syrian Civil Defense (also known as the “White Helmets”) in eastern Aleppo, said that more than 70 people had been killed. The Guardian reported that more than 91 were killed throughout Aleppo province, including 15 members of a single family. “What’s happening now is annihilation in every sense of the word,” al-Selmo told Reuters. Three of the White Helmets’ four centers in Aleppo were targeted in the airstrikes, with two being put out of commission; ambulances and a fire engine were also damaged. The organization was unable to continue its rescue operations in eastern Aleppo.
The Syrian military announced Thursday that it was launching an offensive to capture eastern Aleppo, which is held by rebels, and said the bombardment could last for hours or days, to be followed by a ground incursion. Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, a teacher in eastern Aleppo, said, “This means welcome to hell…We expect extermination.” Abu Yousef, another resident of rebel-held Aleppo, said he saw preparations for the ground invasion, and that the pro-government forces were largely made up of Shiite militias, most of whose fighters are from Iraq: “[The Shiite militias] do the fighting, the Iranians give the orders and the Syrian army follows…[T]he bombing today was crazy. Rubble is bouncing around. They are dropping every type of bomb they have. They are getting ready to invade.”
Nearly 500,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war, the majority killed by the Assad regime, which has perpetrated the indiscriminate murder of civilians through the use of barrel bombs, massacres, intentional starvation, and chemical weapon attacks. The Assad regime also has intentionally targeted schools and medical facilities. Assad has been fully backed in his onslaught against Syrian civilians by Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah.
At the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a summit with at least 15 leaders and representatives of African countries on Thursday. According to the Prime Minister’s Office readout, Netanyahu “told his interlocutors that he believes that Israel could be an amazing partner for their countries. He said that technology changes everything, including in communications, medicine, agriculture and education. He noted that Israel wants to share its technology with African countries.” Later the prime minister and his wife, Sara, attended an event with dozens of African leaders titled “Israeli Technology and Innovation for Africa” held at UN headquarters. Netanyahu, Sara, and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon were welcomed with a standing ovation and the blowing of a shofar.
Netanyahu visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia earlier this summer. Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break. Netanyahu has made it a priority to strengthen Israel’s commercial, diplomatic, and security relations with African countries. Israel has a long history of sharing its expertise with African countries. Jerusalem hopes that increased ties with African nations will lead to a shift in their voting trends at the UN and other global fora, thus improving Israel’s diplomatic standing and reversing what Netanyahu called “the automatic majority against Israel.”
Swastikas were found in two freshman residence halls at San Jose State University (SJSU) on Tuesday night. One of the swastikas was “accompanied by undeniably hateful, anti-Semitic language,” according to SJSU President Mary Papazian, who says she is saddened and outraged by the incidents, but denied their classification as hate crimes. Neither appears to be connected and two students have already issued confessions.
SJSU was the first California State University to pass a student government resolution to divest from Israeli companies as part of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. Greater BDS activity—especially involving faculty members—has been linked to greater anti-Semitic activity on college campuses.
SJSU recently wrestled with another hate crime investigation: the bullying of African-American student Donald Williams, Jr. The young freshman was harassed by his three roommates who forced his head into a U-shaped bike lock, locked him inside his room and closet, and taunted him with the Confederate flag and nicknames such as “three-fifths.” None of the students were found guilty of committing hate crimes at a trial held in February of this year.
Team Israel defeated Brazil 1-0 on Friday to advance to the final of the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Brooklyn, with first baseman Nate Freiman scoring in the fourth inning on a Cody Decker sacrifice fly. Winning pitcher Corey Baker allowed one hit in five innings pitched, and Brad Goldberg of the Charlotte Knights, the Chicago White Sox’s AAA affiliate, picked up his second save of the tournament. The team will play the winner of the Great Britain-Pakistan game in the final on Sunday. The winner of Sunday’s game will travel to South Korea to play in the 16-team classic next March.
Israel scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in a come-from-behind win over Great Britain in the first round of the qualifier on Thursday.
“You have 28 guys who are really proud to be Jewish, raising awareness for Israel baseball and Jewish people,” Israeli reliever Josh Zeid, who struck out six in 3 2/3 innings, said after the game. “You guys saw the crowd today. If we win, it will build support for baseball in Israel.”
The Israeli team is made up mostly of Jewish minor leaguers and former major leaguers. Israelis on the team include Dodger farmhand Dean Kremer, the first Israeli to be drafted by a major league team.