Holding fast, driving too fast: 6 things to know for October 10
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Holding fast, driving too fast: 6 things to know for October 10

A synagogue attack is stopped short but is no less horrifying for German Jews and a pair of deadly crashes spark questions about the biking holiday of Yom Kippur

The leader of the Jewish community Max Privorozki (R) is pictured on October 10, 2019 in Halle, Germany, a day after the Yom Kippur attack outside a synagogue there in which two people were shot dead. (AXEL SCHMIDT / AFP)
The leader of the Jewish community Max Privorozki (R) is pictured on October 10, 2019 in Halle, Germany, a day after the Yom Kippur attack outside a synagogue there in which two people were shot dead. (AXEL SCHMIDT / AFP)

1. Barbarian at the door: A deadly anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, over the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur is near the top of the news landscape in Israel on Thursday morning.

  • The killer never managed to make it inside the house of worship that he initially targeted, but still killed a passerby and a customer at a nearby kebab shop.
  • “The attacker shot from his rifle, threw hand grenades — but the door held,” Halle’s Jewish community head Max Privorozki is quoted saying in Yedioth Ahronoth. “God watched over us.”
  • “It’s terrifying to think what would have happened had the killer managed to open the synagogue doors,” Israel Hayom writes.
  • Privorozki tells Israel’s Army Radio that because it was Yom KIppur, most worshipers had left their phones at home. “But I had one and managed to call the police,” he says.
  • In a widely shared and quoted Facebook post, Rebecca Blady, one of a group of Americans visiting the synagogue as part of an outreach effort, recalls the terrifying moments.
  • “We hardly had any information about what was going on, but we shuttled ourselves upstairs and into safe rooms. Eventually we learned that a man with a rifle had tried to get into the synagogue. He struggled with a passerby. The passerby was killed. For whatever reason, the man with the gun was stalled or prohibited from entering the synagogue. Gd counted us all there today, one by one, as deserving of life,” she writes.

2. German anti-Semitism alive and well: Haaretz’s Ofir Aderet writes that for Jews in Germany the attack was a shock but also not surprising, with anti-Semitism on the rise there, according to official figures.

  • “In recent years reports of assaults on Jews throughout Germany have increased, and every year hundreds of anti-Semitic attacks are documented. But these are usually ‘minor’ incidents such as verbal assaults and street fights that end without physical injury,” he writes.
  • “As proved by the attack in Halle, the far right has never relinquished its loathing of the ‘Jewish enemy,’ even if the number of Jews in Germany is minuscule compared with the population as a whole – about 100,000 out of about 82 million,” he adds.
  • Israel Hayom’s Eldad Beck writes that “this is no longer a phenomenon that can be diminished or treated as a passing wave. This is an epidemic.”
  • “Germany is once again a dangerous place for Jews. All efforts to deny this reality, whether from the authorities, local Jewish leadership, or recent Israeli immigrants, crumble in the face of the terrible day-to-day reality, which is the product of an industry of repudiation and denial. Barely a week passes without violent assaults on Jews in the country,” he pens.
  • American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris tells the AP that the attack, together with other assaults on Jewish worshipers “should all be triggering alarm bells. The question is whether they are.”

3. Where’s the protection? A number of news sites quote Central Council of Jews in Germany head Josef Schuster slamming the police for not paying attention and not providing enough security.

  • “It’s scandalous that the synagogue in Halle was not protected by the police on a holiday like Yom Kippur,” he’s quoted saying in JTA.
  • Privorozki as well is critical of the cops, saying that they took 10 minutes to get to the synagogue “and wasted time asking me what my name is and who I am. Stupid questions.”
  • While the reaction of some Israelis was to advise Jews in Europe to immigrate to Israel, Makor Rishon’s Europe correspondent Zvika Klein says that that type of reasoning should also lead Jews to flee Israel, where they are also unsafe.
  • “Politicians [making these statements] got their headlines, but are causing damage to Germany’s 200,000 Jews. If they should move to Israel because of an anti-Semitic attack at a synagogue, perhaps that justifies Israelis moving to Berlin because of the security situation in Israel,” he asks.

4. The roads are no longer safe: Just as high on the news agenda, if not higher, is a pair of deadly road incidents on Yom KIppur as children were run over and hit by drivers.

  • The day has become an unofficial no cars / biking holiday, with kids and others taking over highways and other major thoroughfares, which remain clear of cars and other vehicles out of deference for the day.
  • Any vehicles are seen as an annoyance breaking the day’s special nature — in 2008, riots broke out in Acre after an Arab man drove through a Jewish part of town as the holiday was beginning — and the deadly outcome only adds the outrage.
  • “Zooming in vehicles, in the middle of Yom Kippur” reads a top headline in Yedioth Ahronoth.
  • The paper reports that moments before a driver hit and killed 8-year-old Itai Margi as he crossed an intersection in the center of Tel Aviv, residents had reported to police about a car “ driving in the city in an out of the ordinary way, blasting loud music.”
  • “He was driving wildly,” a family friend tells Walla news. “He was driving wildly with music and he entered the intersection at a high speed as Itai was crossing.”
  • About an hour later another kid, 13-year-old Riad Abu Shikri, was run over by a motorcycle driver on Route 443 near Lod, though that crash gets less coverage.

5. Car-free zone: Channel 12 reports that the suspect in the Tel Aviv crash is not cooperating fully and is suspected of drug offenses, including throwing cocaine out the window to avoid being caught.

  • However, Channel 13 reports that the driver says he was driving according to the law, which may be technically correct, since there is no written law against driving on Yom Kippur.
  • On Twitter, MK Gideon Sa’ar writes that he passed the scene of the accident shortly after and will propose turning the tradition of not driving into an actual law banning driving on Yom Kippur aside from emergencies.
  • “More and more drivers are taking advantage of the fact that there is no law against driving on Yom Kippur, and are driving around the city, endangering our kids,” he tweets.
  • He adds that the law is not meant to impose religiosity on people, but aimed at keeping kids safe.
  • Speaking to Army Radio, a relative of Abu Shikri, who is not Jewish, says he backs such a measure.
  • “We need to keep vehicles from traveling in certain areas because kids are under the impression that they are safe,” he says.

6. Finally a Kurd to him? Sa’ar is also the only Likud lawmaker to speak out in support of the Kurds in the wake of the US allowing a Turkish offensive against them, though more and more Israeli officials and others are speaking out, just not ones whose names rhyme with Shmetanyahu.

  • In a sign that the government may be readying to come out and say something, Israel Hayom, seen as a Netanyahu mouthpiece, moves the story from page 23 to page 7, ahead of even the car crashes.
  • That includes a column by Meir Indor saying that even though US President Donald Trump is a great friend, the move “should spark worry among us.”
  • The lesson he draws, though, isn’t not to trust America, but rather not to trust anyone.
  • “When you are not strong enough and rely on other countries, you can find yourself alone, and end up paying a price for it,” he writes.
  • That message is echoed by Netanyahu at a Yom Kippur war memorial, albeit without directly mentioning the Syria situation, leading many to ask what happened to the defense pact with the US he was so excited about before elections.
  • In Haaretz, Syria expert and journalist Elizabeth Tsurkov also moves away from totally blaming Trump for the situation.
  • “The seeds for Trump’s decision to allow for the Turkish invasion were sown under the Obama administration, when the Democratic president and his team decided to limit their involvement in the civil war. Only after ISIS invaded Iraq in mid-2014, carried out a genocide against the Yazidi community and beheaded foreign hostages did the Americans decide to directly intervene in the war in Syria by backing the YPG, starting in September 2014,” she writes.
  • “Trump initially pursued Obama’s policies, despite coming into office promising to end costly entanglements abroad. The only change was to double down on sanctions against the Syrian regime. Rhetorically, the Trump administration adopted a bellicose position toward Iran, unlike Obama, but U.S. policies on the ground in this regard remained largely identical to Obama’s, leaving it to Israel to deal with the Iranian buildup in Syria,” she adds.
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