PM Netanyahu Sends Letter to the Israeli Druze Community on the Occasion of the Nebi Shu'eib Holiday
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday, 26 April 2015, sent the following letter to the Israeli Druze community on the occasion of the Nebi Shu'eib holiday:
"My brothers and sisters of the Israeli Druze community,
You are now celebrating the festival of Nebi Shu'eib and I extend my greetings.
This year the date of your holiday falls close to Independence Day and Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars. As loyal citizens who love the country, I am familiar with and appreciate the contribution of the daughters and sons of the Druze community to Israeli society and to the state. A very high proportion of the community's young people are drafted into the best units in the IDF and the Israel Police and some of our best commanders come from among you. To my great sorrow, many of your sons have given their lives on behalf of the security of the state.
Israeli society views you as brothers and sisters not just because of the bond of blood between our peoples but also due to the bond of life that has been built between us over the years. The traditions of your fathers and your faith and beliefs are bound with the history of our land. Like us, you too are part of the vistas of the Land of Israel. Our obligation as a state is to continue assisting each and every member of the community to integrate into Israeli society and to enable your young people to realize their potential.
I send my greetings to the elders of your community, especially your spiritual leader, Sheikh Muwafaq Tarif, and wish you and your families a happy holiday."
Photo N Shefer
U.S. – Israel Sign Extension of Oil Supply Agreement
On April 13, the United States and Israel agreed via an exchange of diplomatic notes to extend the bilateral oil supply agreement that provides for U.S. assistance to Israel in securing oil supplies should Israel not be able to purchase oil on the international market. The agreement was extended for a period of ten years.
The agreement, which was first signed in 1979 and extended in 1994 and 2004, was concluded after consultations between U.S. Government and Israeli Government counterparts. The United States remains steadfastly committed to helping Israel preserve energy security and to continuing energy cooperation with Israel.
The Anguish of Liberation and the Return to Life: Seventy Years Since the End of WWII
Yom Hashoah is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 26th of the month of Nisan (April 15, 2015) and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom. Places of entertainment are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.
The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on the television. Marking the start of the day - in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister, dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families, gather together with the general public to take part in the memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem in which six torches, representing the six million murdered Jews, are lit.
The following morning, the ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust. Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions. Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as the Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work.
The central theme for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2015 is The Anguish of Liberation and the Return to Life: Seventy Years Since the End of WWII:
On 9 May 1945, when the defeated Germans finally capitulated to the Allied Forces, great joy spread throughout the world. Yet one nation did not take part in the general euphoria - the Jews of Europe. For them, victory had come too late.
At the war's end, in the early spring of 1945, it became apparent that some six million Jews had been murdered - about one-third of world Jewry. Those who had survived were scattered throughout Europe: tens of thousands of survivors of the camps and death marches, liberated by the Allied armies on German soil and in other countries, were in a severely deteriorated physical condition and in a state of emotional shock. Others emerged for the first time from various places of hiding and shed the false identities they had assumed, or surfaced from partisan units with whom they had cast their lot and in whose ranks they had fought for the liberation of Europe. In the wake of international agreements signed at the end of the war, some 200,000 additional Jews began to make their way back West from the Soviet Union, where they had fled and managed to survive the war years.
With the advent of liberation, piercing questions arose in the minds of the survivors: How would they be able to go back to living a normal life, to build homes and families? And having survived, what obligation did they bear towards those who had not was it their duty to preserve and commemorate their legacy? Were the survivors to avenge them, as they demanded before their death? The overwhelming majority of survivors took no revenge on the Germans, but set out on a path of rehabilitation, rebuilding and creativity, while commemorating the world that was no more.
Prof. Dina Porat - Chief Historian of Yad Vashem
"Unto Every Person There is a Name"
"Everyone has a name" - Poem by Zelda
Everyone has a name
"Unto Every Person There is a Name" is conducted around the world in hundreds of Jewish communities through the efforts of four major Jewish organizations: B'nai B'rith International, Nativ, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organization. The project is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enjoys the official auspices of the President of the State of Israel. In Israel, "Unto Every Person There is a Name" has become an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and at Yad Vashem with the participation of elected officials, as well as events throughout the country.
ABOUT 130,000 VISITORS ARE EXPECTED IN ISRAEL OVER THE PASSOVER/EASTER PERIOD
Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: "There are many sites in Israel that are holy to different religions and the Tourism Ministry invests significant resources in order to encourage incoming tourism during the time of religious holidays. In addition to the historical and religious sites, tourists will enjoy Spring weather and a wealth of cultural activities from the north to the south of the country."
Jerusalem, April 4 2015 - The Tourism Ministry is expecting about 130,000 visitors in Israel over the period of Holy Week and Passover. About 20 direct flights are expected in Ovdah airport, bringing tourists from France, Russia and the UK to celebrate the Passover holidays in Eilat.
Given the ongoing effects of Operation Protective Edge on incoming tourism, as well as the economic crisis in Russia (Israel's second largest source country for incoming tourism), the ministry views these statistics as a vote of confidence in the Israeli tourism product. According to reports received by the ministry occupancy levels in most of the popular tourism areas will reach 80-90%, with some areas completely full.
The Israel Government Tourist Offices in Jerusalem (Jaffa Gate), Nazareth, Eilat promenade and in the arrivals hall at Ben Gurion airport will be open as normal during the holiday period, offering services and information to tourists about attractions, national parks, tours, events, festivals etc. More information can be found at the tourism ministry's website:http://www.goisrael.com.
As part of its preparations for the Easter festival, the Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and the Jerusalem Municipality, will broadcast live the Holy Fire ceremony from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (April 11) on giant screens set up in shaded areas in the church courtyard and at the Jaffa Gate for the benefit of visiting pilgrims.
The land crossings (Allenby, Rabin, Jordan River and Taba) will be open as normal throughout the Passover holiday. On 9 April, the Allenby crossing will be open from 08:00-15:00 and the Jordan River crossing from 06:30 - 19:00. On April 10, all the other crossings will be operate as normal.
Wishing everyone a Happy Passover/Easter.
Exodus from Ukraine: Dozens of Jewish Refugees from War-Torn Eastern Ukraine Celebrate Passover at Jewish Agency Refugee Center Ahead of Aliyah
Exodus from Ukraine: Dozens of Jewish Refugees from War-Torn Eastern Ukraine Celebrate Passover at Jewish Agency Refugee Center Ahead of Aliyah
DNEPROPETROVSK, UKRAINE – Dozens of Jews from war-torn eastern Ukraine who will be immigrating to Israel in the coming days celebrated the upcoming holiday of Passover at a simulated seder (ritual meal) held at The Jewish Agency for Israel's refugee center outside the city of Dnepropetrovsk Sunday evening (March 29). The celebrants included seven children between the ages of two and ten, who learned about the holiday for the first time.
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky said: "The Jews who are living at The Jewish Agency's refugee center in Dnepropetrovsk left their entire lives behind in order to give their children a better future in Israel. Their decision to immigrate to Israel on the eve of Passover is deeply significant."
According to Jewish Agency data, Aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Ukraine has skyrocketed since the outbreak of hostilities in the eastern part of the country. In 2014, some 5,840 individuals immigrated to Israel from Ukraine, compared to some 2,020 the previous year. The increase in continuing in 2015, with some 1,400 arrivals during the first three months of the year compared to approximately 400 in 2014.
In light of the situation in eastern Ukraine, The Jewish Agency is providing immediate assistance to Jews who wish to immigrate to Israel while increasing its investment in Jewish institutions' security infrastructure. The Jewish Agency has established a special refugee center outside the city of Dnepropetrovsk in order to accommodate Jews fleeing the embattled region and prepare them for their immigration to Israel, providing them with food and shelter, offering them intensive Hebrew classes, and preparing them for life in Israel. Hundreds of immigrants have already passed through the center, which is supported by contributions from The Jewish Agency's longtime Christian partners.
According to Jewish Agency estimates, there are some 200,000 individuals eligible to make Aliyah in Ukraine. Jewish Agency representatives, who are spread throughout the country, focus their efforts on handling the Aliyah process while strengthening Ukrainian Jews' ties to Israel and to Jewish life by both engaging in Jewish education in Ukraine and bringing hundreds of young people to experience Israel on Jewish Agency programs each year. The Jewish Agency's activities in Ukraine take place in cooperation with the Government of Israel and with the support of Jewish communities, organizations, and donors in Israel and around the world.
Margarita and Robert Artyunyan, from the embattled city of Donetsk, are currently living in The Jewish Agency's refugee center along with their four-year-old son Vadim. Their fifteen-year-old daughter Karina began her studies in Israel several months ago and the rest of the family will be immigrating to Israel this week and will be celebrating their first Passover as Israelis. "We tried to avoid going outside unless it was absolutely necessary and we kept our son home from kindergarten," said Robert. "The city was divided between neighborhoods that were relatively quiet and others that were like hell," said Margarita. "Gunfire was fairly rare in our neighborhood, but we already knew how to tell where the shells would fall before they exploded. Thank God, we are immigrating to Israel this week. We hope life will be much better there."
Photo Jewish refugees from eastern Ukraine celebrate Passover at The Jewish Agency's refugee center outside Dnepropetrovsk ahead of their immigration to Israel, March 29, 2015. Photo by Vlad Tomilov.
Excerpt from PM Netanyahu's Speech at the Opening of the 20th Knesset
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today (Tuesday, 31 March 2015), addressed the opening of the 20th Knesset. Following is an excerpt from his remarks:
"The greatest threat to our security and to our future was and remains Iran's effort to arm itself with nuclear weapons. The agreement being formulated in Lausanne paves the way to this outcome. It seems that it will leave in Iran's possession underground installations, the nuclear reactor at Arak and advanced centrifuges, the same things that only a few months ago we were told – and rightly so – were not essential to a nuclear program designed for peaceful purposes. Iran's breakout time for achieving fissile material for nuclear bombs will not be measured in years, as was said at the outset; in our assessment the time has been reduced to less than a year, probably much less. And all of this is before taking into account the ballistic missiles that Iran is continuing to manufacture, the ongoing development of advanced centrifuges, Iran's obdurate refusal to reveal to the IAEA its activities to develop nuclear weapons and, I add, Iran's campaign of conquest and terrorism – which is open to all, everyone sees it, before our very eyes – from the Golan Heights to Yemen, from Iraq to Gaza and so many other places."
The development of trade relations, research and development, and joint bilateral investments will contribute to economic growth in both countries. Ties between Israeli and Chinese companies, encouraged and supported by both governments, is of decisive importance for Israel.
The Prime Minister's Office Israel-China task force, led by the National Economic Council and the Israel Export Institute will be launched today (Monday, 30 March 2015), at the China-Israel Cooperation Conference at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv. For the first time, there will be a dialogue on China combining the business sector, academia and government in order to discuss the challenges and successes in the expansion of bilateral commercial ties.
National Economic Council and Israel-China Task Force Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel said, "The expansion of bilateral economic ties will have far-reaching macro-economic effects on the Israeli economy. The dramatic increase in the magnitude of Chinese investments in Israel in 2014 led to – and will continue to lead to in 2015 – the establishment of new Israeli companies, the creation of new industries and sectors in the local economy, the development of products for the Chinese market and the establishing of Israel's status as an enterprising and innovative force in Asian markets. The development of trade relations, research and development, and joint bilateral investments will contribute to economic growth in both countries. Ties between Israeli and Chinese companies, encouraged and supported by both governments, is of decisive importance for Israel at a time when the global economy as a whole is moving eastward."
Israel Export Institute Director General Ramzi Gabbay said, "The Chinese market is a strategic target for Israeli exporters. China's need to continue upgrading its technology infrastructures constitutes an opportunity for Israeli companies especially in fields that the Chinese government has set as development targets such as: Water technologies, the environment, medical equipment, high-tech industrial equipment, motor vehicles, software, etc. The Israel Export Institute has set for itself the goal of assisting Israeli exporters in forging relevant business links in order to break into the Chinese market."
Bilateral relations received impetus from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to China in May 2013. At his meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, it was decided to establish a task force to advance economic ties between Israel and China. The team works in cooperation with the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission in order to make it easier for Israeli and Chinese businesspeople to do business together.
In May 2014, the ministerial committee on China affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Netanyahu, approved a comprehensive action plan to advance and expand bilateral economic ties with the goal of doubling the magnitude of Israeli exports to China within five years to approximately $5 billion per annum.
The inter-ministerial task force is advancing a three-tiered multi-year plan. The first tier deals with building a business climate that includes the development of Israeli professionals with a Chinese orientation, expanding bilateral air and tourism links, facilitating the issuing of entry visas to Israel and strengthening government representation in China. In this context, in November 2014, a fourth Israeli consulate was opened in China, in Chengdu, the capital of Szechuan province; this is the first Israeli consulate in western China.
In the first half of 2015, a Foreign Ministry-led training program focused on doing business in China will open for Israelis with bachelor's degrees in order to develop personnel to work in the Chinese market and promote bilateral economic cooperation. The second tier will deal with providing support and government sponsorship for major projects and will include advancing joint business projects, providing financing and assistance, Israeli-Chinese working groups to coordinate economic cooperation and initiating joint projects with the Chinese government.
One of the projects being carried out in this tier is the government-to-government "Water City" project to build a holistic water system based on Israeli technology in the city of Shouguang.
In the second half of 2015, the Chinese and Israeli task forces will begin operating a joint program to provide support, advice and exposure for Israeli companies that are working with Chinese businesses in order to promote wide-ranging business projects.
The third tier is focused on investments and technology development and includes activities to expand the magnitude of Chinese companies' investments in Israel in order to enhance mutual recognition and joint interests. To this end, the task force and the Economy Ministry Chief Scientist are formulating a plan to encourage Chinese investments in funds focused on Israeli technology for the Chinese market.
Israel Export Institute Data on Developments in Israel-China Trade (not including diamonds):
Israeli trade (imports and exports) with China in 2014 was approximately $8.52 billion, a 4% increase over 2013. Exports in 2014 amounted to approximately $2.57 billion, the same as in 2013. Imports amounted to $5.95 billion, a 5% increase over 2013.
China is Israel's fourth largest export target in the world and its first largest in Asia. In the past two years there has been a turning point in exports to China, with the relative weight of the previously dominant electronic component, chemical and mineral sectors declining (from 71% in 2012, to 66% in 2013, to 62% in 2014) in favor of other less centralized sectors.
One cannot understand that when forces supported by Iran continue to conquer more ground in Yemen, in Lausanne they are closing their eyes to this aggression. We are not closing our eyes and we will continue to act against every threat.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Monday, 30 March 2015) issued the following statement:
"The agreement being formulated in Lausanne sends a message that there is no price for aggression and on the contrary - that Iran's aggression is to be rewarded. The moderate and responsible countries in the region, especially Israel and also many other countries, will be the first to be hurt by this agreement.
One cannot understand that when forces supported by Iran continue to conquer more ground in Yemen, in Lausanne they are closing their eyes to this aggression. But we are not closing our eyes and we will continue to act against every threat in every generation, certainly in this generation."
ENP Country Progress Report 2014 – Israel
Updated Travel Warnings Ahead of the Spring Holidays
The National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau (Hebrew link) presents the following as a service ahead of the upcoming spring holidays (Passover, 3-10 April; Independence Day, 23 April; Lag B'Omer, 7 May; Jerusalem Day, 17 May; and Shavuot, 24 May), which are liable to constitute pretexts for terrorist attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad.
The following travel warnings are based on solid and reliable information and reflect tangible threats.
Recent terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in Belgium, Canada, Australia, France and Denmark raise concerns over additional attacks against Western targets, including Israeli and Jewish targets, by veterans of the fighting in Syria and Iraq who are affiliated with Global Jihad (including Islamic State) and by local elements inspired by the terrorist organizations.
The global terrorist campaign by Iran and Hezbollah continues to threaten Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, especially tourists and Jewish symbols (rabbis, community leaders, Chabad houses).
Please note that a severe travel warning remains in effect for the Sinai Peninsula
It is unlawful for Israelis to travel to Syria, Iraq (including Iraqi Kurdistan), Iran, Lebanon, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
There are very high concrete threats regarding travel to the aforesaid countries as well as Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Burkina-Faso, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Pakistan and Togo. It is recommended that the public avoid all visits to these countries. Any Israelis present in these countries are advised to leave immediately.
There are high concrete threats regarding travel to Algeria, Djibouti, Mauritania and Tunisia. It is recommended that the public avoid visits to these countries. Any Israelis present in these countries are advised to leave as soon as possible.
There are basic concrete threats regarding travel to Bahrain, Egypt (see below for Sinai), Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. It is recommended that the public avoid visiting these countries.
There are continuing potential threats regarding travel to Azerbaijan, Turkey, Morocco, Oman, Kenya (see below) and Nigeria (see below). It is recommended that the public avoid non-essential visits to these countries.
There are very high concrete threats regarding travel to southern Thailand (from the Krabi-Thammarat line to the Malaysian border), the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, Chechnya (in Russia), the northern India state of Jammu and Kashmir (except for the Ladakh area), the Sinai peninsula and northern Nigeria (above 10 degrees north latitude). It is recommended that the public avoid visits to these regions. Any Israelis present in these regions are advised to leave as soon as possible.
There is a high concrete threat regarding travel to eastern Senegal. It is recommended that the public avoid visiting this region. Any Israelis present in this region are advised to leave as soon as possible.
There is a basic concrete threat regarding travel to Kenya (Nairobi and the coastal strip). It is recommended that the public avoid visiting these areas.
Travelers and tourists are called upon to exercise due caution at all times.
President Reuven Rivlin this morning began consultations on the forming of a new government, with the parties elected to the 20th Knesset. He began the first consultation with representatives of the Likud party.
The President commented, “In democracy the majority rules, and the majority has expressed its will clearly in these elections. The role of the President after the elections is to serve the public faithfully, and to initiate the process of forming a coalition government in as swift and as transparent a way as possible.
“The bringing forward of these consultations is designed to realize both these goals. Against a background of security and social challenges which lie before us, and with the critical need to approve a budget – there is a need to act to swear in the new government as soon as possible. With the beginning of these consultations, I call on all the elected representatives to do all in their power to speed up the process and the coalition negotiations, in order to allow the system of governance to once again operate as necessary.
“We have been through a stormy and passionate election period – this is the time to begin a process of mending and healing in Israeli society. While the government which will be formed will have been elected by a majority of Israel’s citizens, it must provide an answer to the needs of all the citizens of Israel.
Photo Mark Neumann
Head of Public Diplomacy and Media Liran Dan Informs PM Netanyahu of his Intention to Step Down upon the Formation of the 34th Government
After 3.5 years in the Prime Minister's bureau, Public Diplomacy and Media head Liran Dan has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his intention to step down upon the formation of the 34th government.
As the head of Public Diplomacy and Media for the 32nd and 33rd governments, Liran Dan was responsible for public diplomacy, media and spokesperson's affairs during – inter alia – Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Protective Edge, four UN General Assembly sessions (2011-2014), Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress earlier this month, Pope Francis' visit to Israel in May 2014 and US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel in March 2013.
Liran Dan joined the Prime Minister's bureau in 2011 as director of public diplomacy and media. In February 2012, he was appointed head of public diplomacy and media and media adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "I thank Liran for his excellent, professional and dedicated work and for his contribution to the State of Israel and to myself. During his tenure as head of public diplomacy and media, his proven abilities were apparent in the many complex tasks and missions to which he was assigned. Under two of my governments, as we were faced with many challenges, Liran advanced public diplomacy and media affairs with great responsibility, creativity and innovation, and for this I thank him."
Head of Public Diplomacy and Media Liran Dan said: "I would like to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for the privilege of working at his side for the last three-and-a-half years, for the confidence he had in me to fill such a significant position, and for the support throughout my years working in his bureau. During these years, I learned something new and valuable from Prime Minister Netanyahu every day. I saw from up close how – in the face of the national challenges confronting him – he always put ensuring the future of the state as his goal and guiding principle. I would like to wish him that he may continue to lead the State of Israel with responsibility and trust in the face of the many challenges facing him. For me these were three-and-a-half intense and fascinating years in the service of the Prime Minister and the State of Israel. I would like to thank all of my colleagues, friends in the Prime Minister's bureau, correspondents, editors and media personnel."
Benjamin Netanyahu and former spokesperson Liran Dan. (photo credit:PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)
South Korea likes Israeli natural pest control
Minister of Agriculture visits Israel’s BioBee, to learn how to use natural predators for reduce use of chemicals on food crops.
South Korea’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Mr. Lee Dong-Phil. Toured the greenhouses and laboratories of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu's "BioBee" factory. One of the leading global companies in the field of biological pest management, natural pollination and Medfly control.
Mr. Dong-Phil received an overview of eight species of environmentally friendly biological control agents, plus pollinating bumblebees, which BioBee sells to farmers through subsidiaries in 50 nations. BioFly, a division of BioBee, pioneered an all-natural approach to vanquishing Mediterranean fruit flies by unleashing sterilized male flies among crops.
For more info www.biobee.com
This first of its kind seminar was organized within the framework of the Indo-Israel Agriculture Project, and addressed plant protection issues in citrus orchards.
For the first time under the Indo-Israel Agriculture Project (IIAP), MASHAV organized a Plant Protection Workshop for citrus experts. The 3-day seminar was led by MASHAV’s senior plant protection expert, Dr. Shmuel Gross, Director of Extension and Administration Department at Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The seminar dealt with integrated pest management; plant disease management in the nursery and in high-density orchards; data base modeling; and diagnosis techniques of fruit plant diseases.
Over 70 IIAP project officers from the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtra took part in the professional workshop.
Photo MASHAV's plant protection expert, Dr. Shmuel Gross, at work in India Copyright: MASHAV
A bill to dissolve the 19th Knesset passed in the Knesset plenum on Monday, December 8, 2014 by unanimous vote. Elections to the 20th Knesset will be held on March 17, 2015.
1. What do Israelis vote for in elections?
The upcoming national elections in Israel will be held on March 17, 2015. These elections will determine the composition of the new Knesset and of the government to be established based on these results. 26 parties have submitted lists of candidates to the Central Elections Committee.
Israel is a parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister, who heads Israel’s government, is chosen from among the members of the newly-elected Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
2. What are Israeli elections like?
Israel's elections reflect the strong democratic tradition of the State of Israel. Election campaigns are a lively affair, accompanied by vigorous debate of the issues. Israelis take great interest in political affairs, including internal policy and foreign relations, and actively participate in the electoral process.
3. What are the basic principles of Israel's election process?
The framework of the Israeli electoral system is defined in Article 4 of the "Basic Law: The Knesset," which states: "The Knesset shall be elected by general, national, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections, in accordance with the Knesset Elections Law."
General: Every Israeli citizen aged 18 or older on election day has the right to vote.
4. When are elections held?
Elections to the Knesset are held every four years, unless one of the following situations occurs:
The Knesset passes a bill to disperse the Knesset;
5. Who can vote?
Voting is a right granted to every Israeli citizen who has reached the age of 18 or older on election day.
Israelis of all ethnic groups and religious beliefs, including Arab-Israelis, actively participate in the process.
Every eligible Israeli citizen is automatically registered. A total of 5,881,696 Israelis are eligible to vote in the March 17 elections.
6. Can soldiers, the disabled, the infirmed and prison inmates vote?
Soldiers on active duty vote in polling stations in their units. Particular arrangements are made for prison inmates to vote, as well as for those confined to hospitals. Disabled persons who are ambulatory can vote in one of the special voting stations designed for accessibility.
7. Are absentee ballots permitted?
Israeli law does not provide for absentee ballots and in general, voting takes place only on Israeli soil. Exceptions are made for Israeli citizens serving abroad on official business who can vote in Israeli embassies and consulates abroad or on Israeli ships.
8. How does voting take place?
The Israeli voting method is user-friendly, even to voters who have limited knowledge of Hebrew and Arabic. Every voter is given an envelope before entering the voting booth. Inside the booth is a tray holding slips of paper. Each slip has the name of a party and the "symbol" of the party (comprised of 1-4 letters). The voter selects the slip that represents their chosen party and seals the slip in the envelope. After exiting the voting booth, the voter places the envelope in the ballot box.
Registered voters vote at one of the more than 10,000 polling stations.
9. How are voters identified?
Voters must be identified by one of the following identification cards:
An official I.D. card (teudat ze’hut) with a picture (issued free to all Israelis from the age of 16);
10. What happens on election day?
Election day is a holiday in order to enable all potential voters to participate. Free public transportation is available to voters who happen to be outside their polling districts on this day.
In the upcoming elections, most polls will open at 07:00 in the morning of election day and close at 22:00 (10pm). In smaller communities, hospitals and prisons voting takes place between 08:00 and 20:00 (8pm). If all the registered voters have voted at a particular station, that polling station may close early.
Voting may take place earlier in special cases. Polling is held twelve days before election day in Israeli diplomatic mission and ships, while the votes of soldiers may be collected up to 72 hours before election day.
11. Do Israelis vote for parties or individual candidates?
The parties competing for election to the Knesset reflect a wide range of outlooks and beliefs. Since the entire country is a single electoral constituency, the candidates run on lists representing their nation-wide party. They do not represent electoral districts or local constituencies.
Voters cast their ballot for the party of their choice and not for a particular candidate. Thus, there are no "candidates" for prime minister, but only party lists headed by the chosen leader of each.
The direct election of the Prime Minister was instituted in Israel in 1996. After two election rounds (1996 and 1999), the law was rescinded (2001).
12. Who is eligible for elected office?
Every citizen aged 21 or older is eligible for election to the Knesset, unless they are excluded by one of the exceptions under the law.
Examples of exceptions include:
An individual who holds a senior official position: the President, a Chief Rabbi, the State Comptroller, judges and senior public officials, as well as the chief-of-staff and high-ranking military officers may not stand for election to the Knesset unless they have resigned their position before the elections in the period specified by law;
Negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people;
13. What is the Central Elections Committee?
The Central Elections Committee is responsible for conducting and supervising the elections. It is headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court, currently Justice Salim Joubran, and includes representatives of the parties holding seats in the outgoing Knesset.
14. What do polling committees do?
Regional election committees oversee the functioning of local polling committees, which include representatives of at least three parties in the outgoing Knesset. Anyone aged 16 or older is eligible to serve on a polling committee.
15. What must parties do before the elections?
Prior to the elections, each party submits its list of candidates for the Knesset (in order of precedence).
The parties select their candidates for the Knesset in primaries or by other procedures.
Only registered parties or an alignment of two or more registered parties can present a list of candidates and participate in the elections.
16. How are campaigns financed?
a. The State of Israel covers most of the parties' budgets and only a small fraction of party financing originates from sources other than the state budget.
According to the Party Financing Law, a treasury allocation for election campaigns is granted to the factions. Each faction receives an allocation at the rate of one pre-defined "financing unit" per seat won in the previous Knesset elections plus retroactively one unit per mandate won in the new Knesset, divided by two, plus one additional financing unit. New factions receive a similar allocation, retroactively, based on the number of seats won in the elections.
b. The law concerning non-public financing, such as membership dues and contributions, is extremely strict and limiting
No faction may receive a contribution, directly or indirectly, from any person or his dependents in excess of the sum established by law and linked to the Consumer Price Index.
A faction or list of candidates may not receive a financial contribution from someone who is not eligible to vote in the elections, such as foreign nationals who do not also hold Israeli citizenship.
Corporations are not allowed to make donations to parties.
17. How do campaign ads meet the principle of equal opportunity?
Election broadcasts begin on television 21 days before the elections. All election advertising is broadcast free of charge on television and radio, although the parties are responsible for preparing the advertisements at their own expense. Under the principle of equal opportunity, it is prohibited to purchase broadcasting time.
The Election Law contains strict rules regarding the timing, length and content of television and radio election broadcasts. Parties participating in the elections receive broadcasting minutes according to a formula set in law. Each is given a basic and equal allocation of minutes for broadcasts on television and radio. Factions which have candidates who served in the outgoing Knesset are allocated an additional amount of time based on their number of former Members of Knesset (MKs).
For example, each party receives 7 basic minutes of advertising on television and an additional 2 minute per former MK. On radio, each party list receives 15 basic minutes and 4 additional ones per outgoing MK. Parties are also limited in the amount of inches of election advertising they can print in newspapers.
Other restrictions on advertising include:
No use of children under the age of 15;
18. How is the Knesset formed?
Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party's percentage of the total national vote.
The number and order of members entering the new Knesset for each party corresponds to its list of candidates as presented for election. However, each party must receive at least a certain percentage of the votes to enter the Knesset. Currently, the minimum qualifying threshold to be elected is 3.25% of the total votes cast.
A party's surplus votes, which are insufficient for an additional seat, can be transferred to another party according to agreements made between them prior to the election. If no agreement exists, the surplus votes are distributed according to the parties' proportional sizes in the elections.
19. How is the Prime Minister chosen?
The Prime Minister is selected from among the elected Knesset members. The President of the State assigns the task to the Knesset member considered to have the best chance of forming a viable coalition government in light of the Knesset election results.
20. How is the government formed?
a. The government (cabinet of ministers) is the executive authority of the state, charged with administering internal and foreign affairs, including security matters.
b. When a new government is to be formed, the President of the State - after consulting with representatives of the parties elected to the Knesset - assigns the task of forming the government to a Knesset member. This Knesset member is usually the leader of the party with the largest Knesset representation or the head of the party that leads a coalition of more than 60 members.
c. Since a government requires the Knesset's confidence to function, it must have a supporting coalition of at least 61 of the 120 Knesset members.
To date, no single party has received enough Knesset seats to be able to form a government by itself; thus all Israeli governments have been based on coalitions of several parties. Those remaining outside the government compose the opposition.
d. The Knesset member to whom the task is assigned has a period of 28 days to form a government. The President may extend the term by an additional period of time, not exceeding 14 days.
If this period (up to 42 days) has passed and the designated Knesset member has not succeeded in forming a government, the President may then assign the task of forming a government to another Knesset member. This Knesset member has a period of 28 days for the fulfillment of the task. There are no further extensions.
If a government still has not been formed, an absolute majority of Knesset members (61) has the option of applying in writing to the President, asking him to assign the task to a particular Knesset member. Such a precedent has yet to occur.
e. When a government has been formed, the designated Prime Minister presents it to the Knesset within 45 days of publication of election results in the official gazette. At this time, he announces its composition, the basic guidelines of its policy and the distribution of functions among its ministers.
The Prime Minister then asks the Knesset for an expression of confidence. The government is installed when the Knesset has expressed confidence in it by a majority of 61 Knesset members. Then the new ministers assume their offices.
Like the Knesset, the government is chosen for four years. Its tenure may be shortened if the Prime Minister is unable to continue in office due to death, resignation, permanent incapacitation, impeachment or if the Prime Minister ceases to function as a member of the Knesset. However, the government may appoint one of its other members who is a Knesset member as acting Prime Minister
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Wednesday, 11 March 2015), visited Border Police HQ in Jerusalem and met with the Border Police officers who were wounded in last Friday's terrorist attack and the officers and security guards were involved in neutralizing the terrorist. Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino, Jerusalem District Police Commander Moshe Edri, Jerusalem Border Police Commander Amos Yaakov and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also attended the meeting.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"I came here today to note the activity of the security forces on duty in Jerusalem, and to commend the fighters who, in recent weeks, have – time and again – foiled attempts to perpetrate terrorist attacks in our capital city.
In the end, the test is upon the person himself, the same police officers and the security guard who, at the decisive moment, simply did the work.
The eyes of the entire world are on Jerusalem, our capital city. There are those who are trying to undermine it. There are those who are trying to ignite a religious war here. The sensitivity, wisdom and responsibility of the commanders, soldiers, security personnel and citizens is critical in order to maintain security in the city and prevent the same conflagration that extremist Islam is igniting throughout the Middle East. This mission is very complex and I would like to thank those who are involved in the matter – the Police Commissioner, the Mayor, the Border Police commander, the police personnel, the volunteers and all of the fighters."
In the wake of the devastating storms and heavy rains which hit the country recently, the State of Israel through MASHAV is sending a special cargo containing concentrated food to disaster stricken Madagascar.
Madagascar, the world’s fourth biggest island is prone to cyclones and tropical storms, particularly during the rainy season between January and April. This year saw the strongest tropical cyclone so far, which hit the south-west coast of the island on February 22nd affecting over 23,000 people that are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Photo :Shipment containing over 100,000 rations ready to leave South Africa on its way to Madagascar
During his visit to Israel, Mr. Alhendawi was given the opportunity to acquaint himself with Israeli youth, with emphasis on young entrepreneurs as a catalyst for growth and development, and to relate these to issues on the U.N. agenda.
Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary-General'sEnvoy on Youth, conducted the first official visit to Israel of its kind last week (March 5, 2014). The visit was coordinated by the Foreign Ministry's Division for the UN and International Organizations headed by Deputy Director General Aharon Leshno-Yaar together with Israel's Mission to the U.N. in New York - a further example of Ministry's efforts to increase cooperation between Israel and the various UN agencies.
The purpose of the Office for Youth headed by Mr. Alhendawi is to involve youth (aged 15-25) in the U.N. dialogue and to empower young people around the world. The Secretary-General's Envoy seeks out challenges and opportunities for young people, guided by the principles of partnership, advocacy, participation and harmonization. This is a new position at the United Nations, and Ahmad Alhendawi is the first to fill it.
During his visit to Israel, Mr. Alhendawi was given the opportunity to acquaint himself with Israeli youth, with emphasis on young entrepreneurs as a catalyst for growth and development, and to relate these to issues on the U.N. agenda.
Mr. Alhendawi met with representatives of MASHAV, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, who presented to him international projects in Israel designed for youth from developing countries, including ID² - Israeli Designed International Development - a platform for innovation and entrepreneurship for development.
Mr. Alhendawi visited the StarTAU, the Tel Aviv University Entrepreneurship Center, where he held a discussion with young entrepreneurs, and was impressed by the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship among Israeli youth, noting that "Young and inspirational talent can be a key to unlock a brighter future for youth.”
He also visited Liliyot, a social project for youth at risk, run by the Dualis Social Investment Fund which provides skills, vocational training, and employment for “people on the margins” of society. He met with representatives of Krembo Wings, a youth movement for children with special needs, stressing the importance of the social involvement of all young people. He remarked that, "The passion of the young team in Krembo Wings is outstanding."
UN Envoy Alhendawi with members of Krembo Wings
History has placed us at a fateful crossroads. One path leads to a bad deal that will lead to a nuclear-armed Iran. The second path would prevent a nuclearized Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
Following is the transcript of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech today (Tuesday 3 March 2015) before a joint session of the US Congress:
"Speaker of the House John Boehner,
President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch,
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,
And House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy,
I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it's good to see you back on your feet. I guess it's true what they say, you can't keep a good man down.
My friends, I'm deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress. I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.
I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade. I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel. The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics. Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of America's people and of America's presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel. Now, some of that is widely known. Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.
Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well-known. I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid. In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment. Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists. In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.
And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister. But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.
And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome. Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.
Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you've done for Israel.
My friends, I've come here today because, as Prime Minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.
We're an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we'll read the Book of Esther. We'll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies. The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated – he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn't exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.
For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.
But Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime. The people of Iran are very talented people. They're heirs to one of the world's great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots – religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.
That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran's borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to 'export the revolution throughout the world.'
I'm standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America's founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Backed by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Backed by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply. Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That's just last week, while they're having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran's attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.
Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.
In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.
So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror.
Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation! Rouhani's government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.
Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I'd like to see someone ask him a question about that.
Iran's regime is as radical as ever, its cries of "Death to America," that same America that it calls the "Great Satan," as loud as ever. Now, this shouldn't be surprising, because the ideology of Iran's revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that's why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Don't be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn't turn Iran into a friend of America. Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone. So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember – I'll say it one more time – the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can't let that happen.
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.
Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don't need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it. Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.
The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short breakout time to the bomb. Breakout time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.
Because Iran's nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran's breakout time would be very short – about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel's.
And if Iran's work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that breakout time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.
True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.
Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn't stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.
Now, we're warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.
Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It's done that on at least three separate occasions – 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras. Now, I know this is not going to come as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.
The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught – caught twice, not once, twice – operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn't even know existed.
Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don't know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, 'If there's no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn't have one.' Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that's why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.
But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade. Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it's the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It's a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran's nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could produce many, many nuclear bombs.
Iran's Supreme Leader says that openly. He says Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount – 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.
My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.
Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.
And by the way, if Iran's intercontinental ballistic missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reaching corners of the Earth, including to every part of the United States. So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb.
So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?
Well, I disagree. I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would only whet Iran's appetite for more.
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?
Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both worlds: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?
This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel's neighbors, Iran's neighbors, know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb. And many of these neighbors say they'll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won't change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that's supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.
This deal won't be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.
If anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we'll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.
Ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to tell you we don't have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don't have to gamble with our future and with our children's future.
We can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world. Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.
If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires. If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn't change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted. If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
My friends, what about the argument that there's no alternative to this deal, that Iran's nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?
Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn't get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can't drive. A pilot without a plane can't fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can't make nuclear weapons.
Iran's nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table – and this often happens in a Persian bazaar – call their bluff. They'll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.
And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more. My friends, for over a year, we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.
Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal: a better deal that doesn't leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short breakout time; a better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends; a better deal that won't give Iran an easy path to the bomb; a better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country has a greater stake – no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.
Ladies and gentlemen,
History has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war. The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace we all desire.
My friends, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, 'Never Again.' And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.
But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over. We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.
This is why as Prime Minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel. You stand with Israel because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history's horrors.
Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land. And before the people of Israel entered the Land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, 'Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.'
My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.
May God bless the State of Israel and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you. You're wonderful. Thank you, America."
Photo GPO/Amos Ben Gershom
President Rivlin welcomes delegation of pilgrims to Israel from the Makuya organization
President Reuven Rivlin, this morning (Tuesday), welcomed at his residence, a delegation of around 70 Japanese pilgrims to Israel from the Makuya organization. The delegation, led by Mr. Minowa Takahisa, was aimed at showing support for the State of Israel.
The President was excitedly received by the group, who greeted him, by waving Israeli and Japanese flags, and singing ‘Havenu Shalom Aleichem’, with which the President happily joined in. Mr. Minowa Takahisa thanked the President for hosting the group, and explained this was the 64th delegation to Israel, and that the group brought with them the hope of thousands of Mukaya faithful in Japan, for brotherhood between nations.
The President warmly thanked the delegation for coming and said, “The history of Mukaya and of the State of Israel goes back as far as the establishment of the state. I welcome and bless you for your joyfulness and unity that you bring with you each year when you come to Israel, and for your great support for our country. The State of Israel is strong and well-established, even as it must deal with many challenges, and your support is important to us.”
Following the Summer's Hostilities: Jewish Agency Awards Scholarships to 1,300 Israeli Students from Communities Near Gaza
Scholarships made possible by special contributions totaling some NIS 8 million (~$2 million) from The Jewish Federations of North America and individual Jewish Federations
Deputy Chairman Trainin: "The scholarships will support young people who have chosen to live in communities near Gaza and will help strengthen academic institutions in Israel's South. Growing southern Israel's population is the most Zionist response to Hamas terror"
JERUSALEM – The Jewish Agency for Israel has awarded scholarships to some 1,300 Israeli students who live in Sderot and other communities near Gaza and study in academic institutions in southern Israel. The scholarships were made possible by special contributions totaling some NIS 8 million (~$2 million) from The Jewish Federations of North America and individual Jewish Federations, and each student will receive more than NIS 5,500 ($1,375).
The scholarships were presented in a special ceremony yesterday (Monday, March 2) in Sderot and was attended by Deputy Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Rany Trainin, Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council Head Alon Schuster, S'dot Negev Regional Council Head Tamir Idan, Sapir College President Omri Yadlin, and Danny Labin, Associate Vice President for Global Programs at The Jewish Federations of North America.
In the aftermath of this summer's hostilities, The Jewish Agency has worked with its partners to collect funds from world Jewry in order to strengthen the residents of communities near Gaza and encourage young people to move to the area. The aid has helped support residents directly affected by rocket fire, enable the construction of additional bomb shelters, assist business owners whose income was affected, facilitate communal activities, and provide tens of thousands of local children with respite activities.
As part of these efforts, The Jewish Agency has collected some NIS 8 million (~$2 million) from Jewish communities in North America to provide students who reside in Sderot and other communities near Gaza with financial assistance. The scholarships were made possible by special contributions from The Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish United Fund / Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, and the Jewish Federation of San Diego. Due to the high demand, the scholarship committee decided to award the first stage of the scholarships to some 1,300 students who both live near Gaza and attend academic institutions in Israel's South, thus supporting both the students themselves and the higher education community in southern Israel. Some 750 of the recipients reside in Sderot, 300 in the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council, and the remainder in the S'dot Negev, Ashkelon Beach, and Eshkol regions.
Rany Trainin, Deputy Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency, noted: "The communities of southern Israel in general and those near Gaza in particular were on the frontlines during this summer's hostilities. These scholarships will support students who have chosen to live in communities near Gaza and will strengthen the academic institutions of Israel's South. This is a significant contribution to the strength of Israeli communities in southern Israel, the growth of which is the most Zionist response to Hamas terror."
PHOTOS: Students from southern Israel receive scholarships from The Jewish Agency for Israel, made possible by contributions from The Jewish Federations of North America and individual Jewish Federations, during a ceremony in Sderot, March 2, 2015. Photo credit: David Shechter for The Jewish Agency for Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Tuesday, 3 March 2015), met with the bipartisan leadership of the US Senate, pursuant to an invitation from Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Harry Reid (D-NV). Also attending the meeting were John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John McCain (R-AZ), Al Franken (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Bob Corker (D-TN).
At the start of the meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"I do want to thank the leadership of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, both sides of the aisle, for inviting me here, giving me an opportunity to state Israel's concern about an issue that could be the most important issue of our times. I believe it is. I was very moved by the attention and the responses to the speech from both sides of the aisle, and it's very clear to me and it was clear in that hall to anyone who was there that the support for Israel is strongly bipartisan, that there is a very broad support of the American people and its representative for the Jewish state and I'm very, very grateful for that.
Thank you, thank you."
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat vigorously condemned the arson at the Greek Orthodox seminary this morning (Thursday, 26 February 2015) in Jerusalem, saying, "There is no room for such deplorable activity in Jerusalem, we must eradicate this behavior and bring those responsible to justice." The Mayor spoke with the Jerusalem Chief of Police and asked him to speed up the investigation. "We must quickly restore the peace and coexistence in Jerusalem," Barkat said.
President Rivlin: "In every civilized society, understanding is not born out of coercion, but from mutual goodwill. We are committed to arriving at an understanding which will enable us to live side by side, together."
President Reuven Rivlin this morning, Wednesday, met with a delegation of community and academic leaders from the Israeli Bedouin community, to discuss ways to strengthen the relationship between the Bedouin and Jewish communities, and best address the needs of the population with regard to social and education issues. Participating in the meeting was among others, Community Activity Coordinator Mansur Abu-Tahah; Prof. Araf Abu-Raviya from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben Gurion University; Sheikh Ibrahim Alamor; and Sheikh Iyad Abu Rashed, and former MK and minister, Haim Oron.
The President began by speaking about his visit to the Bedouin communities in Rahat and Hura last week. He said, "I went to pay condolences and to show my solidarity with Rahat as a city, and as part of Israel. I also visited and paid my condolences in Hura, to the bereaved families of that terrible road accident. I also visited an agricultural farm in Hura, which I have no doubt will be transformed into one of the global leaders in its field, and truly is in my opinion revolutionary."
The President spoke about possible solutions to the problems facing the community. He said, "We are committed to arriving at an understanding, as we have in the past, in a way which will enable us to live side by side, together. In every civilized society, understanding is not born out of coercion, but from mutual goodwill. We will take every step in order to reduce the gaps. Government officers are designed to help the citizen, not to make things difficult, and we are at your service to deal with every obstacle that stands in your way. My house is open to you, but we must understand that as a family we may not always agree on everything."
During the discussion, Head of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben Gurion University Prof. Araf Abu-Raviya addressed the President, and spoke about the problems of employment and integration into government offices, of members of the Bedouin community. He asked of the President, "Spread the cloak of your presidency, over all of us, because we are all your children."
Sheikh Ibrahim Alamor, deputy head of the Kuseife local council, added, "The Bedouin community has contributed and will continue to contribute to the state in every way possible, and we ask, as citizens of the state, for our rights from all the institutions that govern it."
Dr. Ibrahim Sayeed, a resident of Hura, and neurologist, said "In the last years, we have seen a great improvement in field of healthcare in the Bedouin community, with a significant increase in the percentage of Bedouin doctors. Healthcare is the basis for coexistence, it does not discriminate between race or blood."
Resident of Kibbutz Lahav, and former member of Knesset and minister, and a longtime activist for the sake of the Bedouin community, spoke of the need for Israel to find a solution to the problems faced by the Bedouin community. He said, "Throughout the years, we saw finding solutions to the problems of the Bedouin community as a most noble cause, and we worked together, the President and I, for the sake of the community, and its members. I have no doubt the President will be the address, and will reach out, for a solution to the problems which have been raised here today."
H.E. Lt. Gen. Augostino S. K. Njoroge (Rtd) and Mrs. Margaret Njoroge
On Thursday, February 26, 2015, a ceremony posthumously honoring Dimitâr Peshev from Bulgaria, as Righteous Among the Nations will take place at Yad Vashem. The ceremony will be attended by Israel's ambassador to Bulgaria, H.E. Mr. Dimitar Mihaylov, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Director of the Department of the Righteous Among the Nations, Irena Steinfeldt, Chairman of the Association of Immigrants from Bulgaria Joseph Kiosso, Vice Chairman of the National Authority for Ladino Culture Moshe Shaul, Holocaust survivors, family and friends and members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations.
On January 10, 1973, Peshev was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for his unwavering struggle against the plans to deport Jews to death camps. Peshev's name is engraved on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem. His rescue story can be read online on Yad Vashem's website, and his story was also featured in the just recently closed temporary exhibition, "I Am My Brother's Keeper."
Peshev passed away a few weeks after the decision granting him the title of Righteous Among the Nations and, given the political circumstances of the time, it was impossible to hold a ceremony honoring him. Therefore, an event will take place at Yad Vashem this week honoring Dimitâr Peshev. The medal and certificate of honor will be presented to Neli Pesheva, niece of Righteous Among the Nations Dimitâr Peshev, who is arriving especially from Bulgaria to attend the ceremony and accept the medal and certificate on her family's behalf. The medal and certificate will be presented by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.
A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 13:00 followed by the awarding of the medal and certificate in the Auditorium and then will continue in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. The events will take place in Hebrew and Bulgarian. The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations dept. 02 644 3410
The Rescue Story:
In February 1942, the Bulgarian government signed an agreement to deport 20,000 Jews from Thrace and Macedonian - territories that Bulgaria had received as a result of its alliance with Germany. However, since the number of Jews in these areas fell short of 20,000, it was agreed upon to make up the difference with 6,000 Jews from Bulgaria itself. The first such group of Bulgarian Jews was to come from Kyustendil. When rumors about the intended deportations reached Peshev, he acted promptly and traveled to Kyustendil. There he met with the assistant chief of police who told him about the planned roundups. He also received telegrams from both Jews and non-Jews who implored him to intervene. Peshev, who two years earlier had accepted the anti-Jewish measures as necessary, felt that he had reached a point where acquiescence was no longer an option. Rather than ignore the evidence and continue to persuade himself that the pact benefited Bulgaria, he examined the consequences of the agreement and decided that he must act. He organized a parliamentary delegation and went to see Petr Gabrovski, the Minister of Interior.
Peshev was not satisfied with the Minister's assurances, and he decided to bring the matter before the parliament. On March 17, he wrote a letter of protest and convinced 42 parliamentarians to sign it. He ignored the Prime Minister's demand not to submit the letter, and it was discussed by the majority caucus on March 23, 1943. The session turned into a confrontation between Peshev and the Prime Minister. In order to intimidate the signatories of the petition, the Prime Minister insisted on having each one of them stand up and declare their support of the letter. This caused some of them to falter. Under the Prime Minister's pressure, only 30 of the original 42 stood fast. As it turned out, the debate actually focused on the parliamentarians' loyalty, not on the deportees' fate.
In a final vote, the party declared its support of the Prime Minister and decided to censure Peshev. On March 30, Pehsev was forced to resign as the Parliament's Vice President, and his request to be allowed to speak was rejected. Peshev was politically ostracized, but other political and clerical voices echoed his protest, and the Bulgarian government was forced to abandon its plans to deport the Jews of Bulgaria. The deportations from Bulgaria were suspended, but while the political negotiations were taking place, the Jews of Thrace and Macedonia were being deported by the Bulgarian authorities. The last transport to the death camps left on March 29, 1943.
In 1944, after Bulgaria came under Soviet control, Peshev was charged with antisemitism and collaboration with the Germans. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was released after serving one year.
On January 10, 1973, Peshev was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for his unwavering struggle against the plans to deport Jews to death camps. Peshev passed away a few weeks after the decision and, given the political circumstances of the time, it was impossible to hold a ceremony.
For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations: http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/about.asp
Sharansky: "In all his years leading the army, Benny Gantz brought honor and pride to the IDF, to the State of Israel, and to all of us."
Gantz: "The Jewish Agency's role of connecting Jews and Jewish communities to one another and to the State of Israel is essential, especially now. Thank you very much for everything you do."
JERUSALEM – The Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel paid tribute to former Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. (res.) Benjamin (Benny) Gantz today (Tuesday, February 24) in one of his first public appearances since ending his tenure as Israel's military chief last week.
"In all his years leading the army, Benny Gantz brought honor and pride to the IDF, to the State of Israel, and to all of us," said Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky. "Thank you, Benny, for your service to Israel and to the Jewish people."
Gantz presented the Board of Governors with an overview of Israel's security situation and of the IDF's preparedness to address all threats facing the Jewish state.
Regarding Palestinian efforts to pursue war crimes charges against Israel at The Hague, Gantz said, "Militaries from around the world come to us to learn how to conduct urban warfare. That we are being brought before the International Criminal Court is ridiculous."
"I have confidence in the capabilities of the IDF and in the leadership of my successor, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot," said Gantz. "If you were to ask yourselves where is the best place to be an Arab in the Middle East, the answer would be Israel. Israel is an outpost of the democratic, liberal world in a region in which those values are lacking. In the midst of the regional storm around us, Israel is a stable rock."
Speaking about The Jewish Agency's work, Gantz said, "It is crucial to connect your communities and societies to Israel. Once people know the facts firsthand, they will care more, and they will raise their hand when we need them most."
"We have thousands of lone soldiers from around the world, which is an indication of young Jews' powerful connection to Israel," said Gantz. "Please help us further strengthen that bond."
"I believe the State of Israel is not only the state of its citizens, but of the entire Jewish nation," Gantz told the Jewish Agency Board of Governors. "The Jewish Agency's role of connecting Jews and Jewish communities to one another and to the State of Israel is essential, especially now. Thank you very much for everything you do."
The tribute took place on the final day of the Board of Governors' winter meetings, during which the Board discussed the most pressing issues affecting world Jewry—including rising anti-Semitism in Europe and increasing Aliyah from France and Ukraine—and heard from President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat. The Jewish Agency Board of Governors is comprised of the leaders of the world's Jewish communities and major Jewish organizations.
PHOTO: Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Benjamin (Benny) Gantz addresses the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in Jerusalem, February 24, 2015. Photo credit: David Shechter for The Jewish Agency for Israel.
INDIA AS AN EMERGING MARKET FOR INCOMING TOURISM
For the first time, 600 travel agents from India will arrive in Israel for the annual Travel Agents Federation of India conference, at the initiative and invitation of the Tourism Ministry.
About 71% of Indian tourists base their travel decisions on recommendations from local travel agents
Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau:"Outgoing tourism from India, one of the world's fastest growing countries, continues to increase. The Tourism Ministry identified the potential and has focused its efforts there in order to expose Israel to the country's leading tourism professionals. We see great potential in this conference to position Israel as an attractive tourism destination for the Indian tourist - similar to the way in which Israelis see India as an important tourism destination."
Jerusalem, February 18, 2015 - For the first time in its history, the Travel Agents Federation of India will hold its annual conference in Jerusalem next week, with the participation of about 600 Indian travel agents and tour operators and at the initiative and invitation of the Tourism Ministry. It is expected that the conference will lead to an increase in incoming tourism from India, where some 71% of people base their travel decisions on the advice of their travel agents.
The conference, which will take place at the International Convention Center Jerusalem from 22-25 February, includes the participation of 30 exhibitors from all branches of the Israeli tourism industry. Conference participants will also partake in pre and post FAM tours arranged by the Tourism Ministry.
The Tourism Ministry opened its Mumbai office over a year ago, having identified the significant potential for incoming tourism to Israel from India. The ministry will focus on India as one of its main markets for marketing investment. In India, there are approximately 300 million people who travel the world and outgoing tourism from India is the fastest growing in the world. About a third of Indians prefer to spend their disposable income on holidays and touring.
Statistics from the World Travel Organization show that outgoing tourism from India has grown by 13% from 2012 to 2013 - millions of more tourists a year. Outgoing tourism from India in 2003 stood at 5.4 million, reached 12.5 million in 2010 and is expected to reach about 50 million by 2050.
The TAFI conference in Jerusalem next week will include a gala evening with the spectacular traditional Indian inauguration ceremony in which lights are illuminated to celebrate the victory of the people of light over the people of darkness. During the festival days in India, the faithful place ceramic lamps and candles on the walls of the temples and on the windows, roofs and balconies of private houses; the streets are decorated with streamers of lights and there are firework displays.
Jewish Agency Board of Governors to Tackle Global Jewish Challenges Next Week in Jerusalem
President Rivlin, Jerusalem Mayor Barkat to Address Gathering; Topics to Include Rising Anti-Semitism in Europe, Increasing Aliyah from France, Ukraine
JERUSALEM – Jewish leaders from around the world, members of the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel, will convene in Jerusalem next week (Sunday, February 22-Tuesday, February 24) to discuss the most pressing issues affecting the Jewish world, including rising anti-Semitism in Europe and increasing Aliyah (immigration to Israel) from France and Ukraine.
President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat will address the gathering, as will Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky and Chairman of the Board of Governors Charles (Chuck) Ratner.
Participants will also hear from Damian Pachter, the Argentine journalist who reported on the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman last month in Buenos Aires, and from new Knesset candidates from across Israel's political spectrum in a special pre-election debate. The three-day event will include site visits to Jewish Agency programs and other places of interest throughout Jerusalem, in order to enable participants to better understand the city's complexities and how The Jewish Agency helps address the needs of all the city's residents.
Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do.
Last week the Ambassador of Sweden to the State of Israel, H.E. Carl Magnus Nesser, hosted an interesting and highly unusual panel at his Herzliya residence. The panel participants consisted of representatives of seven different Israeli organizations dealing with various issues of concern to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) communities here, while the invited guests were representatives of 12 different embassies, including Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Slovenia, Denmark (represented by the Ambassador himself, H.E. Jesper Vahr who honored us with his presence), Switzerland, the USA, Canada, Norway, Romania and the Netherlands. Also present was the Deputy Head of the Swedish Mission, Ms. Alexandra Rydmark, and several interns from the mission as well.
The lgbt panel included participants from the Aguda – the roof organization of the lgbt community, celebrating 40 years of service this year; Hoshen – an educational group with outreach to Israeli society in general; IGY – Israeli gay youth; Ma'avarim – focused on the transgender community; the Gila Project – somewhat similar to Ma'avarim, but with a different outreach; TEHILA – a self-help organization for parents and families of lgbt people; and HOD – a support group for observant lgbt Jews. Invited by unable to attend at the last minute was a representative from Beit Dror – a temporary retreat, supported by the municipality of Tel Aviv, for homeless lgbt youth.
Ambassador Nesser opened the meeting with a brief address, welcoming the panel and the guests. He explained Swedish human rights policy, mentioning that although homosexuality was decriminalized in Sweden way back in 1944, the lgbt community there still suffers some measures of non-official discrimination. He added that Sweden's human rights activities embrace all minorities whose rights are endangered or not yet fully secured.
Each panel participants then had an opportunity to explain the focus of their group's activities. Oded Frid, the Executive Director of the Aguda was asked to speak first and gave a brief overview of the 40 years of the roof organization. He also reminded the guests that although only 7 groups were represented, Israel has a flourishing lgbt community with outreach to a wide segment of varying sub groups. It was obvious from the rapt attention of the guests that the explanations of the speakers opened new windows of understanding – and appreciation – of what members of the lgbt community have been through, are going through, and where they want to be. The universal thread was that in Israel of 2015, partial legal acceptance of the community is not enough. Societal anti-gay discrimination is a blight on all human rights. The message was: "Society must go beyond mere acceptance; we are part of the fabric of society and we are not going away. Get used to it."
Ambassador Nesser ably facilitated the introductions and then invited questions from the audience to the panelists. Time was limited but a free exchange of ideas ensured that the messages from both sides were clear and definitive.
A substantial refreshment buffet afterwards afforded to panelists and the guests the opportunity to mingle and mix, to discuss, share views and ask more questions.
Sweden's ambassador has joined USA ambassador, H.E. Daniel B. Shapiro, in fore fronting diplomatic efforts in Israel to reduce anti-lgbt discrimination here, and worldwide. We hope that other ambassadors will take up the challenge to abolish the human rights inequalities – of all human rights – here and in their home countries.
WeWork Israel Expands to Herzliya Newest Location Joins WeWork Tel Aviv to Serve Growing Market, Opening with 100% Occupancy
Israel's co-working scene just got bigger with the opening of WeWork Herzliya, offering space as a service to 450 new members. Located in the heart of Israel’s technology scene, WeWork Herzliya features 3200m2 of uniquely designed office space to promote community and collaboration, including 10 meeting rooms, 2 kitchens, a large boardroom, enclosed offices, as well as an open desk area with 50 seats. The trendy front desk is a creation of renowned Israeli designer Lovka.
Founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, WeWork empowers independent workers, entrepreneurs and businesses by connecting them with each other in exceptional workspaces. WeWork offices are fully equipped with all the amenities, furniture and services required to provide a comfortable and productive workspace. Printing facilities, meeting rooms, event spaces, high-speed internet, lounges, private phone booths and unlimited coffee and beer are present on location to create an effective and all-encompassing workspace. In addition to memberships to the physical locations, WeWork recently introduced WeWork Commons, an extremely affordable membership to the WeWork network and community of 18,000 members, as well as access to WeWork office space and conference rooms globally, as needed.
Benjy Singer, Director of WeWork Israel: “Opening our second location in Israel with 100 percent occupancy demonstrates the demand for and value of WeWork in today’s business environment. The entrepreneurs and businesses of Herzliya have fully embraced the WeWork physical space, robust network of services, and diverse community to share in the creation of amazing work.”
Every WeWork location is staffed with Community Managers who work directly with members to understand their business needs, struggles and growth plans, and to connect them with other members who can help. Weekly events and special activities are organized to promote introductions and inspiration among members, further strengthening the community.
WeWork currently has 30 locations spanning major cities across the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom. Herzliya marks the second location to open in Israel, following Tel Aviv in December 2014. A third location is scheduled to open at Sarona in Tel Aviv later this year.
Address: Arieh Shenkar 1, Herzliya (Industrial area)
PM Netanyahu Expresses his Deep Sorrow over the Passing of Minister Uri Orbach
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Monday, 16 February 2015), expresses his deep sorrow over the passing of Minister Uri Orbach: "I mourn the passing of Minister Uri Orbach, a writer, a journalist, a spiritual man and a Jewish patriot. Uri won over all who listened to him with his charm, knowledge and deep wisdom which stemmed from the depths of his soul. He had a deep sensitivity for every human being, a sensitivity that he brought with him as Senior Citizens Minister and to all his endeavors. Despite his exceptional qualities, there was no malice in him. I never met anyone who knew him and did not love him. Last night, alongside members of his family, I said goodbye to him at the hospital with a profound sense of grief and loss. Uri will be sorely missed by his dear family, his Cabinet colleagues and the State of Israel."
Today, Monday, February 16th, 2015 Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot was sworn in as the 21st Chief of The General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.
Lt. Gen. Eisenkot will be replacing Lieutenant General Benjamin "Benny" Gantz after four years as Chief of the General Staff and 38 years of service at the Israeli Defense Forces.
Segments from Gantz's speech at the ceremony: "...Gadi, you have been and will continue to be an inseparable part of my journey in the IDF. This journey is now your journey; you can take it anywhere you choose. Change, touch and make your impression on this army with the love that characterizes you and with the responsibility required for the IDF, the people and Israel.
Segments from Eisenkot's speech at the ceremony: "... We are in the midst of a tense and challenging time. The Middle East is transforming into an unrecognizable reality characterized by instability and volatility. These challenges require the IDF, more than ever, to be determined, sophisticated and measured.
Under my command the IDF will put vigilance, operational capability and strong values as a main priority, so that we are able to ensure the safety and well-being of the state of Israel and its civilians."
The Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, delivered a speech today at the annual international INSS Conference in Tel Aviv. During his speech Lapid addressed the relations between Israel and the United States and the upcoming speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the United States Congress. The full text of the speech is attached.
"Due to Netanyahu's speech, directly because of it, Congress won't impose additional sanctions on Iran and the Iranians will take another big step towards becoming a nuclear threshold state."
"He invested years in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state and failed. You failed Mr. Netanyahu, you failed as Prime Minister and you need to take responsibility and go home to Caesarea."
During his remarks Lapid said, "At the beginning of March, an empty suit will stand up to speak before Congress. The Prime Minister of Israel won't be inside that empty suit because a real Prime Minister of Israel, who only sees the good of the state, wouldn't give that speech. He wouldn't deliver it because due to that speech, directly because of it, Congress won't impose additional sanctions on Iran and the Iranians will take another big step towards becoming a nuclear threshold state. Without the empty suit speech, Congress would have been presented with a bi-partisan bill, the Kirk-Menendez bill, which was meant to pass before March 24, and impose additional sanctions on Iran. The moment Netanyahu announced his unnecessary speech, which is a clear insult to Democrats and the White House, one of the two sponsors of the proposal, Senator Robert Menendez, former Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pulled the proposal and announced he wouldn't propose it."
Yair Lapid continued and said, "Netanyahu, him of all people, is bringing about the deal which will turn Iran into a threshold nuclear state. It's a Greek tragedy – everything that he warned against for years will happen in the end because of him; a Middle East nuclear arms race, a tense balance of threats, an American cold shoulder against an existential threat to Israel. Because a responsible Prime Minister who doesn't bet our nation's security in a casino, would have acted very differently. He wouldn't have bet on Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections because that's an act of irresponsibility. He would have conducted quiet talks with the White House until the last minute especially on the issue of supervision of the Iranian nuclear program. He would have caused the American administration to say loud and clear what their red lines are in case of a breach of the agreement so that we could focus our intelligence efforts to gather proof of those breaches. He would have stressed that Israel doesn't have a strategic relationship with half of America, but with all of America, Democrats and Republicans alike."
Addressing the disagreement with the United States, Yair Lapid said, "It is legitimate – and I want to stress this, it is certainly legitimate – for an Israeli Prime Minister to argue with the President of the United States on an issue that is critical to Israel like the Iranian nuclear program, but it has to be smart and behind closed doors. Not to become an unprecedented crisis in relations and never to allow it become, as was reported on Channel 2 last night, a situation whereby the Americans decided to take us Israel out of the internal loop and stop updating us on the status of the talks. Despite the American denial, it is clear that the Americans are reluctant to share information with Netanyahu because they don't trust him and they don't trust his motives.
Yair Lapid continued and said, "In contrast to his usual behavior, this time Netanyahu can't blame others. Not his Ministers, not his legal advisor, not the National Security Council, not the army or the Mossad. This failure is entirely his. He had a final opportunity to initiate a move with the President and Congress, and he torpedo that too because he became panic-stricken at the thought that Bennett would take a seat from him. And so, in front of our very eyes, Netanyahu the statesman disappeared and in his place stands the empty suit. For the sake of one reckless and unnecessary speech, the last reason that Netanyahu is Prime Minister of Israel disappeared. Instead of going to Congress, what Netanyahu should have done is invite the Israeli media at eight in the evening and spoken directly to the Israeli people. He needs to look us in the eye and admit that he has failed. He invested years in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state and failed. He invested billions of NIS in training and preparing for operations which won't happen, abandoned the management of the country and in the end, he failed. You failed Mr. Netanyahu, you failed as Prime Minister and you need to take responsibility and go home to Caesarea."
President Rivlin launches cooperation project between 'Collective Impact' arab employment initiative and the President's Office
Following on from his meeting last Thursday with the Arab local council heads, President Reuven Rivlin this evening (Sunday), launched a new cooperation project between the President's Office and the Collective Impact initiative, which works to further the level of employment in Israel's Arabic society.
During the meeting, held at the President's Residence with the participation of CEOs and employers involved with the initiative, the President was presented with an range of possibilities and ways to deal with the obstacles and challenges in the integration of the Arab population into the private sector.
In addition, the President was presented with a comprehensive study on the issue, which included interviews with CEOs, senior managers, and human resource professionals from around fifty of Israel's leading companies, including; The Strauss Group; Amdocs; Fattal; Check Point; Herzog Fox Neeman; Shikun & Binui; Teva; HP; Migdal; Matrix; and others.
A more inclusive summary of the results of the survey is shown below – For example: The number of Arab workers in middle management positions and/or staff positions stood at an average of 0.3% of employees in the sample companies – no company surveyed had an adequate representation of Arab employees in executive positions.
Within the framework of the cooperation project with the President's Office, the President will establish a quarterly business leadership forum of managers from companies involved in the project, which will assist the professional bodies address the issues which arise while dealing with the issue of integration, and will be on hand throughout the process of integrating the Arab population in various positions with the participating companies. Participating in the event at the President's Residence was Ofra Strauss, Chairwoman of the Strauss Group; Ilan Birnfeld, CEO of Deloitte; Shai Levy, CEO of Amdocs; Imad Telhami, CEO of Babcom; and others.
The President addressed the attendees and said, "The Arab community of the State of Israel has for a while now, not been a minority. The Arab public, with all its diversity, today makes up more than 20 percent of the general population, and more than a quarter of the children in first grade. One may like it, one may fear it, but one cannot ignore it. This is a community, part and parcel of this land, for whom this land is their homeland. It is a community with a cultural, religious, ethnic, and national identity. Sadly, too few Israeli Jews are familiar with the Arab society, beyond assumptions of stereotype. Therefore, there exists a significant gap, created over the years, between the two societies which live side by side, together - yet blind to one another. Over this divide, this gap, we must build a bridge, step by step. The mission to build a bridge, and a basis for a sense of cooperation between the Jewish and Arab communities, is for me a humanitarian, Jewish, Zionist, and national mission of the very highest priority. It is a social and economic challenge which is incumbent upon us, and which is one of the most essential keys to our lives here, for our future, and the future of our children. My friends, you and I are here today, because we are utterly convinced that we must steer the boat, and that we must do it together. The condition for which - to educate and work together - is trust.
"Without partnership, rooted in mutual respect and understanding, – there will be no trust. Without mutual commitment and a guarantee by both sides to the future and fate of Israeli society and the State of Israel – there will be no trust. Without equality, in the provision of resources and infrastructure, opportunities and possibilities – there will be no trust.
"The path upon which we are beginning today, as I believe and hope, will not only make a significant contribution to the rehabilitation and the strengthening of the vital trust between the sides, but will also give them hope. Hope for a future in which the Israeli market will know how to grant the young man from Rahat, and the young lady from Umm Al-Fahm, the 'Israeli dream'. You are here today, because you know that the integration of the Arab population in the employment market is not limited to the integration of Arab workers on factory production lines. Instead, it is true integration, whose intention is integration in appropriate employment, in academia, in the fields of leadership, development and management. Therefore, your presence here today, directors of the largest companies, is an extremely important statement. The employment market is the best measure of our ability to live together, and to be a bridge of hope for Israel, and the Middle East. At the end of the day, the private sector is the engine that leads the economy; and you lead that engine. Your recognition of the issue, will secure the future of the market, and of society.
"This gathering marks the first step in a long journey, which we must undertake together. And we believe, that we will overcome it together. We will meet again, in a smaller forum in just a few months. We will follow up on the achievements and perhaps moreover review the difficulties, and we will try to find answers for them. We will try to fulfill the potential of this special gathering, of the business leadership forum, in order to aid the integration of the Arab community, for the benefit of Israeli society as a whole. The success of our journey, may alter our long-term reality, yet its failure may lead to pain and distress. We do not have the privilege to fail, nor to give up. Good-will alone will not suffice. One thing that I can assure you – as long as you stand by your commitment to this mission, I will be here with you and for you, and my door will always be open to you. We are partners in this national mission which you have taken upon yourselves. We are partners on this journey which is our duty to our children, for us all, each and every one of us."
Chairwoman of the Strauss Group, Ofra Strauss, said, "The commercial viability of diverse employment is not an issue from which we should hide. Where commercial viability connects with national values and objectives, it is a wake-up call for us all. We must not ignore the opportunity, we must not ignore the obligation. The state, the third sector, and the employers can and must join hands in order to improve the employment situation in Arab society. We have to work for the integration of the Arab community into the employment market in accordance with the general employment rates. Especially now, it is important that the message will emanate from here, from this house, that it is proper and correct to enact a change, and we are here in order to ensure this happens. I hope we will be able to return to the President in the coming years, with statistics and figures that show we are on the road to success."
Zvika Ziv, Chairman of the Collective Impact steering committee said, "The employment of the Arab population in the private sector is a condition for economic growth of the markets, and a must for commercial companies. We are talking about a broad, three-sector partnership which will ensure all the assistance that the employers will need."
Chairman of 'Youth Team' and member of the steering committee, Dr. Samir Qasem, said, "Our meeting here today, seeks seriously to improve the situation, to realize the vision of an equal society, which grants a fitting place to each and every member of society, and I am sure we will succeed in this."
During the meeting, there was a presentation of a study carried out by a business consultancy, Shaldor, on the issue of integration of Arab employees in the commercial sector. The research included interviews with CEOs, senior managers and human resource professionals in around 50 leading companies, and collated information and statistics from a wide range of sources, including the CBS. The following is a summary of the findings.
· Arab society constitutes 20% of the citizens of the State of Israel. Arab Israelis represent 15% of the labor force and an 8% contribution to the GDP. The Arab sector is also characterized by negative indicators, such as: the rate of poverty in the population (44%) and unemployment (25%)
· Only 5% of the overall business sector employees come from within the Arab population
· Through an analysis of the level of barriers we see that there are about 70,000 candidates representing a more "accessible" target group for integration in the business sector. By 2020 the "accessible" population is expected to rise to approximately 126 000 people, with the number of educated people (academics and people with tertiary education) expected to stand even higher (about 90,000).
· The percentage of Arab workers in companies interviewed is around 7%, representing approximately 35% in the representative index (the ratio of the rate of representation of Arab employees in a company with the rate of the Arab representation in the general population).
· While deducting leading companies, with particularly high employment rates, the rate of the Arab workers was 5% (25% in the index of representation). In total there were 7 companies with over 20% of Arab workers. Most Arab workers are employed in junior positions that do not require special skills
· The number of Arab workers in middle management positions and / or administrative positions was an average of 0.3% out of employees in the sample companies (non of the companies had Arabs duly represented in executives roles).
· The most prominent "Business Case" that employers have in employing the Arab population has to do with improvements relating to human resource management – an increasing recruitment database, loyalty to the organization and reduction in turnover. The majority of employers in the study noted that hiring workers from within the Arab society is one of their business goals because of the existing need in additional human resources. In addition, the vast majority of respondents (85%) agreed that there is a social and national importance in improving the employment of Arabs in the business sector
· The main obstacle to integrating workers from within the Arab population (which was noted by 80% of employers) concerns the lack of access to suitable candidates from the population
Photo Mark Neymann GPO
February 1, 2015 BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 284
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: China's "New Silk Road" is Beijing's latest project aimed at creating a belt of railroads, highways, pipelines and broadband communications stretching through China to the West, and a "maritime Silk Road" combining sea routes with port infrastructure from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. This project comes at a point where the role of the US in the Middle East is declining, and it is likely that China will aspire to adopt a larger role in the region. Israel's geographical position and technological advances makes it possible for Israel to play a bridgehead role in the project, and the opportunity to shape Chinese thinking and strategy in the region for decades to come.
China's "New Silk Road" might become history's most ambitious investment in infrastructure. Some Chinese strategists predict an Israeli role in the project on par with, or possibly even more important, than that of Turkey. China calls the project "One Belt and One Road," referring to a belt of railroads, highways, pipelines and broadband communications stretching through China to the West, and a "maritime Silk Road" combining sea routes with port infrastructure from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean.
Israel's location makes it possible for the Jewish state to "play the role of bridgehead for 'One Belt and One Road' with the completion of the 'Red-Med' rail project," said Dr. Liu Zongyi at a November seminar at Remnin University. Dr. Liu based at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, spoke of a $2 billion, 300 km rail line linking Ashkelon with the Red Sea. The "Red-Med" project is usually presented in more modest terms, as a way of absorbing excess traffic from the Suez Canal, or an alternative route in the event of political disruption.
What China calls "One Belt and One Road" proposes that China, with the Mediterranean on the East-West axis, will have the opportunity to create high-speed rail lines in Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. China aims to double its 12,000 kilometers of railway track by 2020, with high-speed lines comprising most of the expansion. It is building a rail network south through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to Singapore, and west to Istanbul.
Some Chinese strategists see "Red-Med" as emblematic of a more ambitious design for the region. For example, Sino-Israeli collaboration aims to include counterterrorism and anti-piracy operations, as well as economic support for Arab countries. Israel can provide advanced technologies, such as in agricultural, to support the industrialization of the Middle East in the context of "One Belt and One Road." The Chinese have even pointed out to Israel that their navy is conducting anti-pirate missions in the Indian Ocean and The Gulf of Aden that Israel can participate in.
The project implies a radical shift in China's perceptions of regional security in the Middle East. China's net oil imports have nearly tripled in the past decade, from 100 million tons per month in 2005 to nearly 300 million tons today, and most of the increase has come from the Persian Gulf. China's dependence on Middle Eastern oil will continue to rise. Until recently, China was content to follow America's lead on Gulf security. After the collapse of Syria and Iraq, however, China's complacency has turned to concern, and China is seeking ways to enhance its regional security presence without, attempting to play a superpower role in the region.
There is a new consensus in China that the world's second superpower will have to play a more central role in the Middle East. But the suddenness of America's decline in the region has left China unprepared and unsure of its next steps, as Chinese analysts are quick to acknowledge in private conversations. China has joined the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and offered to become a fifth member of the Quartet (UN, US, Europe, Russia), but these are pro forma proposals to assert China's interest in the region rather than a policy per se. In the past, China has voted with the Palestinians at the United Nations, and it will not alter its diplomatic position in the foreseeable future.
There is an overarching theme to Chinese policy, though, and it stems from China's economic strengths. The transformation of the Eurasian landmass by high-speed transport and communications will lift large parts of the continent out of backwardness, China believes, and make long-term political stability possible. Building the New Silk Road, though, demands the suppression of security threats that could disrupt trade flows. In both respects Beijing is sizing up Israel as a strategic partner.
Not until 2014 did China come to the conclusion that the United States would fail to stop Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Under the assumption that it was working under an American security umbrella, Beijing attempted to maintain a delicate balance in its relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran. One Chinese analyst observes that although China's weapons deliveries to Iran are larger in absolute terms than its sales to Saudi Arabia, it has given the Saudis its best medium-range missiles, which constitute a "formidable deterrent" against Iran.
As China sees the matter, its overall dependency on imported oil is rising, and the proportion of that oil coming from Iran and its perceived allies is rising as well. Saudi Arabia may be China's biggest provider, but Iraq and Oman account for lion's share of the increase in oil imports. China doesn't want to rock the boat with either prospective adversary. That policy worked well when the US stood for surety for peace in the Persian Gulf, but it has reached its best-used-by date and Beijing is still considering what to do next.
Because China's Middle East stance is in the midst of a grand reconsideration, Israel has an important window of opportunity to influence Chinese thinking. In the absence of a dominant American presence in the Persian Gulf, the risks of regional war and an interruption of China's oil supplies will rise above the threshold of acceptability to Beijing,
How India will interact with the "New Silk Road" is not yet clear, but it seems increasingly likely that India and China will collaborate rather than quarrel. After President Xi Jinping's September 2014 state visit to India, the new government of Narendra Modi may draw on Chinese expertise and financing to alleviate critical infrastructure bottlenecks. The two countries are negotiating a $33 billion high-speed rail scheme, for example, the first major improvement in a rail system built by the British in the 19th century. Economics trumps petty concerns over borders in the mountainous wasteland that separates the world's two most populous nations.
There also is a strategic dimension to the growing sense of agreement between China and India. From India's vantage point, China's support for Pakistan's army is a concern, but it cuts both ways. Pakistan remains at perpetual risk of tipping over towards militant Islam, and the main guarantor of its stability is the army. China wants to strengthen the army as a bulwark against the Islamic radicals, who threaten China's Xinjiang province as much as they do India, and that probably serves India's interests as well as any Chinese policy might.
Meanwhile the rise of Islamist extremism worries Beijing. At least a hundred, and perhaps many more, Chinese Uyghurs are reportedly fighting with Islamic State, presumably in order to acquire terrorist skills to bring back home to China. Chinese analysts have a very low opinion of the Obama administration's approach to dealing with IS, but they do not have an alternative policy. There is an opportunity for low-profile but significant security cooperation between Israel and China.
China's role in Egypt exemplifies how Beijing may use its economic muscle to contribute to regional stability. Egyptian President Fatah al-Sisi signed a "comprehensive strategic partnership" with China during his late-December state visit to Beijing. China envisions a second Suez Canal flanked by a high-speed rail line, as well as "cooperation in infrastructure, nuclear power, new energy, aviation, finance and other sectors," Chinese President Xi Jinping said in December. Israel may have a role in Sino-Egyptian cooperation. As aforementioned, Israel can provide advanced agricultural technologies to support the industrialization of Middle Eastern countries in the context of One Belt, One Road.
China's policy-making is careful, conservative and consensus-driven. Its overriding concern is its own economy. The pace of transformation of the Middle East has surprised it, and it is trying to decide what to do next. What China will do in the future cannot be predicted. But it seems inevitable that China's basic interests will lead it to far greater involvement in the region, all the more so as the US withdraws. Israel will remain an American ally, and this alliance strictly delimits the scope of Sino-Israeli collaboration. Within these limits, though, Israel has great room to maneuver, and the opportunity to help shape Chinese thinking and strategy in the region for decades to come.
David P. Goldman is a Managing Director at Reorient Group, a Hong-Kong based investment bank, and a member of the Board of Advisors of Sino-Israel Government Network and Academic Leadership (SIGNAL). His book How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regency Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World – It's Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family
(Photo Credit: From Author)
Jewish Agency Leaders Travel to Paris to Show Solidarity, Assess Needs
PARIS, FRANCE – A group of Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors members traveled to Paris this week in order to express solidarity with the local Jewish community and assess the community's needs in the wake of the recent terror attacks there. The Jewish Agency solidarity group, chaired by former Board of Governors Chair Carole Solomon, included Deputy Chairman of the Executive Rany Trainin, representatives from Jewish Federations across North America, and senior professionals from the Jewish Federations of North America, one of The Jewish Agency's primary partners.
While in Paris, the group met with leaders from the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France (CRIF, the umbrella of French Jewish organizations), the Consistoire (the representative body of French Jewry), and other Jewish organizations, as well as with Ambassador of Israel Yossi Gal and the local Jewish Agency delegation. The group also visited Hyper Cacher, the Paris kosher supermarket targeted in the deadly terror attack on January 9, and met with Sandra Charabi, a survivor of the attack.
Speaking to the group, community leaders praised The Jewish Agency's work in France and asked that it be expanded even further. "Masa is the strongest way to keep our young people connected to Israel and being Jewish," said Keren Hayesod France President Richard Prasquier, referring to Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between The Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel that brings thousands of Jewish young people from around the world to experience life in Israel each year.
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky accompanied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his solidarity visit to Paris last month. Upon returning to Israel, he said: "The Jewish Agency is committed to helping the French Jewish community remain strong and secure. We embrace the families of the victims and the entire French Jewish community and we stand ready to serve any French Jew who wishes to make Aliyah and any who wishes to lead a robust Jewish life in the land of Israel."
More than 7,000 French Jews made Aliyah in 2014, well over double the 3,400 who immigrated to Israel in 2013 and triple the 1,900 who did so in 2012. Over the past year, The Jewish Agency has doubled the size of its delegation in France and of its French-speaking staff in Jerusalem in order to accommodate the heightened interest in Aliyah. Additionally, The Jewish Agency has expanded opportunities for young French Jews to experience Israel through programs such as Masa Israel Journey, Onward Israel, and Bac Bleu Blanc, a weeklong Israel experience program for French Jewish teenagers. The Jewish Agency's Emergency Assistance Fund, created after the terror attack at the Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, provides financial assistance to French Jewish institutions in order to enable them to put security measures in place and allow Jewish life to continue despite current threats.
PHOTO: The Jewish Agency solidarity group visits Hyper Cacher, the Paris kosher supermarket targeted in the deadly terror attack on January 9.
Photo credit: Rebecca Stern, The Jewish Agency for Israel.
King Abdullah should be praised for his prompt and forceful action this morning against this act of terror. The leaders of the world must follow King Abdullah's example in combatting terrorism in general, and ISIS in particular.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman extended his condolences to the Kingdom of Jordan and its citizens on the barbaric murder of the Jordanian pilot by ISIS. He stated that the Israeli people, who have been contending with cruel terrorism of all kinds for 66 years, emphathize with the pain of the Jordanian people and support Jordan's harsh and decisive response to the murder.
FM Liberman noted that "King Abdullah should be praised for his prompt and forceful action this morning against this act of terror, executing a female terrorist whose release ISIS demanded, as well as an al-Qaeda operative, to be followed by the execution of other terrorists incarcerated in Jordan."
According to FM Liberman, "The leaders of the world must follow King Abdullah's example in combatting terrorism in general, and ISIS in particular, because terrorism cannot be defeated by words but only by forceful action. We cannot conduct negotiations for the release of prisoners or enter into any deals with terrorists. They must be destroyed and eradicated, as King Abdullah has done. The world needs strong leadership dedicated to annihilating Islamic terrorism, including ISIS, Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaeda and their partners."
At the photo : Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman
After the resignation of the committee chairman who was biased against Israel, the report that was written at the behest of the UN Human Rights Council needs to be shelved. It is Hamas that needs to be investigated, not Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Tuesday, 3 February 2015), issued the following statement on the resignation of William Schabas:
"After the resignation of the committee chairman who was biased against Israel, the report that was written at the behest of the UN Human Rights Council - an anti-Israel body, the decisions of which prove it has nothing to do with human rights - needs to be shelved. This is the same council that in 2014 made more decisions against Israel than against Iran, Syria and North Korea combined.
It is Hamas, the other terrorist organizations and the terrorist regimes around us that need to be investigated, not Israel, which this past summer acted in accordance with international law as it defended itself against the Hamas war criminals who used residents of Gaza as human shields to fire at Israeli citizens. Israel will continue to defend itself against the terrorism that is being directed against it on all fronts."
Schabas' resignation is yet another achievement of Israeli diplomacy, and of the dedicated work of the Foreign Ministry staff.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman commented on the resignation of William Schabas from the chairmanship of the UN Commission of Inquiry regarding the fighting in Gaza. FM Liberman stated that the resignation will not affect the Commission's findings, which are as prejudiced as the body that established it, whose sole purpose is bashing and attacking Israel. The resignation serves to highlight once more the character of the Commission's members and its inherent bias.
Minister Liberman stated that Schabas' resignation is another victory for Israeli diplomacy and the hard work of Israel's Foreign Affairs representatives, and serves to show that even the biggest hypocrites in the international organs cannot ignore the fact that Schabas' appointment to investigate Israel was akin to the appointment of Cain to investigate the murder of Abel.
On January 28, 2015, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat hosted religious leaders in Jerusalem, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps, in honor of the 2015 New Year. This event has taken place annually for over 30 years, and this year, for the first time in a decade, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Aryeh Stern, participated in the event.
Speakers at the event included Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III, Australian Ambassador to Israel Mr. Dave Sharma and Chairman of the Sur Baher Community Council, Dr. Ramadan Dabash, who congratulated the Mayor on the occasion of the New Year and noted the fruitful cooperation between religious leaders and the municipality.
Barkat said at the ceremony: "This has not been an easy year- for the world, and for Jerusalem. This year fortified our understanding of the fact that the moderate forces - those who wish to build, create and advance- must stand united against extremists wherever they are. We are opposed to all manifestations of racist and nationalist violence. It is our duty to act decisively and forcefully against all violence in Jerusalem. Jerusalem has responsible leaders that understand the importance of dialogue. Your leadership benefits of all of the city's residents".
Australian Ambassador to Israel Mr. Dave Sharma said: "...as the tragic events of past weeks have shown, in Paris and even in my home town of Sydney, they are values which are - sadly - not yet universal, and which are under threat around the world. Let us commit in 2015 to work together to defend, protect and uphold such values, in Jerusalem and around the world."
Photo credits: Jackie Levy
Twenty professionals representing 10 Latin American countries expressed their commitment to join efforts to achieve a proper and efficient management of water resources to ensure a better quality of life for the people of the region.
The Latin American professionals, representing Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru, participated in MASHAV- CINADCO's International Seminar on "Combating Desertification: Water Management, Rural Development and Afforestation in Arid and Semi-arid Zones," held at Shefayim Campus, in November 2014.
Photo :Participants in the International Seminar on Combating Desertification: Water Management, Rural Development and Afforestation in Arid and Semi-arid Zones
opening event of "4 the Kids" exhibition Dizengoff Center, Sunday February 1 at 19:30
"4 the Kids" is an original exhibition of Illustrations inspired by the lyrics of the most famous Israeli children songs. The expo started as an initiative to raise awareness of child poverty in Israel, and will run through the month of February at the Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv.
The exhibition came into being after recent results of a few surveys regarding child poverty in Israel were made public; the social Security Poverty report, The Alternative Poverty report from the 'Latet' organization and the Israeli National Council for the Child (NCC) showed that there was an overall 55 percent rise in child poverty over the past 15 years. Nearly a third of the children in the country live under the poverty line.
The art works presented at the expo are for sale and all the proceeds will go to ' Hasdei Naomi', the largest charity organization fighting hunger and poverty in Israel.
The Israel Animation College (IAC) who initiated the project in cooperation with Hasdei Naomi and the Dizengoff Center, challenged the public to draw illustrations inspired by the lyrics of famous children songs. Hundreds of works were submitted, a professional Jury selected 23 of those who will be exhibited through the month of February at the Dizengoff Center.
Exhibition opening event: Sunday, February 1 at 19:30
For more info (Hebrew only): http://www.ani-mator.com/4thekids_selected/
President Reuven Rivlin's Address to the UN General Assembly at the Ceremony for International Holocaust Remembrance Day
"Your Excellency, Secretary General of the United Nations, Honorable members of the General Assembly, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
I stand before you, at a time of great tension in our region. My heart and my thoughts, are with my people in Israel. Terrorism does not distinguish between blood. In this war, all of us, all the nations united, countries of the free world, must form a united front. Today we are marking the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. It is seventy years since the Red Army threw open the gates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Now in its tenth year, this day was established in the calendar of the United Nations, at the initiative of the former Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom, and each year since then, this Assembly has marked this day, with the commitment to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
Paul Celan, the great Jewish poet of the 20th century, himself a prisoner in a Nazi work camp, once said, "Only in one's mother tongue can one speak one's own truth. In a foreign tongue, the poet lies." My friends, I am no poet, but I must agree, that there are truths, there are prayers, and there is pain, deep pain, that one can only express in one's mother tongue. Therefore, on this important day, I have chosen to stand before you, and speak in the language of my mother, my father, in the ancient language of my forefathers, the same language that my grandchildren speak today.
This is the same language in which my fellow Jews cried "Shema Yisrael" Hear O' Israel, as they were marched to the gas chambers. The language of my brothers and sisters, whose memory we honor today.
"Oh that my head was water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! . . . For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the pastures of the wilderness a lamentation." [Jeremiah, chapters 8,9]
Ladies and Gentlemen. In 1915, when the members of the Armenian nation were being massacred, Avshalom Feinberg, a leading member of Nili, the Jewish underground which cooperated with the Allies during the First World War, wrote the following and I quote, "My teeth have been ground down with worry, whose turn is next? When I walked on the blessed and holy ground on my way up to Jerusalem, I asked myself if we are living in our modern era, in 1915, or in the days of Titus or Nebuchadnezzar? Did I, a Jew, forget that I am a Jew? I also asked myself if I have the right to weep 'over the tragedy of my people' only, and whether the Prophet Jeremiah did not shed tears of blood for the Armenians as well? "
Avshalom Feinberg wrote that exactly one hundred years ago, one hundred years of hesitation and denial. But in the Land of Israel of that time, in the Jerusalem in which I was born, no one denied the massacre that had taken place. The residents of Jerusalem, my parents and the members of my family, saw the Armenian refugees arriving by the thousands – starving, piteous survivors of calamity. In Jerusalem they found shelter and their descendents continue to live there to this day.
There were two questions reverberating then, whose turn is it next? And will we Jews weep tears of blood for the tragedy of others too? The first question was answered by history, some two decades later. The Jews were next. We, the members of my people, were next. In the valley of death of Europe it was the Jewish People who were the victims of a methodical, brutal, perverted and murderous extermination. Six million people, one third of my nation, about a million and a half of them children, were killed, slaughtered, suffocated, gassed to death, buried alive, burnt, massacred, died from hunger, from thirst, from disease, and other gruesome kinds of death, in the most horrifying crime ever committed in the history of the human race. The answer to the second question asked by Feinberg. Truly, shall we weep, each one of us, only for our own nation's tragedy, or shall we be able to cry also for the tragedies of others; for the tragedy of wounded children from Syria; for the tragedy of the young men and women from Europe, from the Middle East, from Africa and from Asia. This question still awaits an answer.
Ladies and Gentlemen. There has been no atrocity in the history of the human race to compare in its viciousness, its scope and its magnitude, with the Holocaust of the Jewish People. However, the slaughter of nations and of communities was not born in Nazi Germany and did not cease with the opening of the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and Buchenwald. Now, in our own time, when the fundamentalist viper is raising its ugly head, we must remember that evil is not the property of any specific religion; just as it is not the attribute of any specific country or ethnic group. It is evil, that by its very nature, seeks to differentiate and discriminate between one life and another, between one human being and another, while the only real difference is between good and bad; between humanity and darkness. For exactly that reason, those who regard Islam, Judaism, or Christianity, as enemies of the world are wrong and they mislead others. My father, Yosef Yoel Rivlin, of blessed memory, devoted his life to translating the Quran into Hebrew, believing in the importance of dialogue and the cultural significance of the Quran for all the children of Abraham. As my father's son, I too believe implicitly that neither the West, nor the Christians nor the Jews are at war with Islam. Right now, Islam encompasses, under its enormous wings, victims of persecution and of terrorism, while at the same time it also serves as the banner of the attackers. The victims consist of hundreds of thousands of Muslim men and women, together with Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and Druze, each one of them a helpless victim of vicious barbarity, of wicked terrorism that has nothing at all to do with the religion or with the words of the Prophet. It is our duty and our responsibility to fight without mercy against the attackers; just as it is our duty and our responsibility to protect all the victims.
Ladies and Gentlemen. The United Nations Organization arose on the basis of the great visions of peace of the prophets of Israel, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares"; it was established on the foundations of human solidarity and the values of humanism. But above all, this Assembly arose on the ruins left by that war of devastation, the Second World War.
This day, the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, is not just a gesture of memorial for the members of the Jewish People, the victims, or even the survivors. This day, this International Day of Commemoration, is not merely another memorial day on the UN's annual calendar. This day – so I believe – is the most important day on that calendar. "Never again", is not just a pledge by the survivors, and also not a pledge by the world only to the members of the Jewish People. "Never again" is, first and foremost, the very essence of this United Nations Organization, it is its mission, it is the primary and principal rationale for its existence.
Since the establishment of this organization following that world war that claimed so very many casualties, the UN has expanded and branched out. Today, its enterprises include economic and environmental development, preservation of heritage and the maintenance of peace. But despite all this, on this day, we once again remember the essence of the mission of this institution: all-out war against genocide.
To our great regret, since the UN was established – this rationale for its existence, its very raison d'être, has become ever more acute. Bosnia; Rwanda; Sudan; Cambodia; Syria; Nigeria. These are just a few of the places where nations and communities have been slaughtered in a way that reminded the world that the Holocaust of the Jews was not the final chapter in the brutal scheme of man against his fellow man Each and every one of them were victims of genocide, even without wearing a yellow star. As a Jew, as a Zionist, as an Israeli, as a human being, even though my hands are tied – my heart weeps together with those anonymous people marching to a mass grave. When we stand here today and declare, "Never again", we call out, never again racism and incitement; never again anti-Semitism; never again systematic rape and humiliation; never again concentration camps and torture; never again killing pits and mass graves, gas chambers and crematoria; never again – this is the task set before the gates of this Assembly. This is the mission laid before us.
Ladies and Gentlemen. On this day we must ask ourselves honestly, is our struggle, the struggle of this Assembly, against genocide, effective enough? Was it effective enough then in Bosnia? Was it effective in preventing the killing in Khojaly? Of Afghans by the Taliban? Is it effective enough today in Syria? Or in the face of the atrocities of Boko Haram in Nigeria? Are we shedding too many tears, and taking too little action? I am afraid that the United Nations "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" that came into force as long as sixty-four years ago, has remained a merely symbolic document. It did not succeed in realizing its commitment and fulfilling the objective that underpins the establishment of the United Nations Organization. Therefore, this institution, where we are standing today, has a duty of unparalleled challenge not to make do with statements but rather to push ahead with decisive action. The international community that is joined together in this organization bears the duty to lay down the red lines that define genocide – and to agree that the crossing of those red lines makes it compulsory to intervene. On the other hand, and in the same breath, we must remember that definition of the red lines requires putting an end to the devaluation and the cynical, supposedly objective usage in rhetoric on human rights of concepts such as "genocide", for political purposes. Thus, for years, this Assembly (whose resolution validated the establishment of the State of Israel) identified Zionism – the Jewish revival movement – with its greatest enemy, racism. That shameful UN resolution, number 3379 – has since been annulled. However, unfounded comparisons of that type, to which we, as Israelis, are constantly exposed (among them the attempt to make a link between Israel and genocide, and only recently, once again, with war crimes), not only do they confuse between partner and enemy; they also sabotage the ability of this Assembly to effectively fight the phenomenon of genocide.
My friends, at the end of the day, this Assembly too, like any political institution, is motivated by many different considerations and interests. Even if we agree on clear red lines – that is not enough. We must agree that in the fight against genocide – the humanitarian and moral consideration must take precedence over economic, political and other interests. As a member of the Jewish People, I stand here before you and say, nations cannot be saved and must not be saved 'as an afterthought', or from considerations of cost benefit.
Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lesson of the Holocaust will never be learned. Communities and nations will continue to be murdered, children, women, men and the elderly will continue to march to their death to the enlightened music of the 'orchestra of death', against the background of a cynical and apathetic world, and through no fault of their own. The oath of "never again" will remain hollow and defiled, and we, all of us, will remain forever – prisoners of the camps.
Ladies and Gentlemen, to the extent that we believe that the voice of justice has not been silenced; to the extent that we believe in the dream of a different, more compassionate human race; we have the duty, here, in this Assembly, to act together as a determined and unified international community, which does not yield to narrow and inappropriate interests. In the name of the members of my People, victims of the Holocaust; in the name of the hopeless, persecuted people; in the name of our children; we must remain silent no longer we must rise up and take action.
As I conclude, I would like to return to the words of the ancient and sorrowful Jewish Yizkor memorial prayer for victims of the Holocaust: 'Judge of the earth, please remember the rivers of blood shed like water, the blood of fathers and sons, the blood of mothers and their babies . . . The cry of "Shema Yisrael" called out by those taken to their death are not silenced; and may the moans of the tortured rise up to thy heavenly throne.'
May the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and the memory of the persecuted and the tortured be engraved upon our hearts forever. May their souls be bound up in the bond of life. Amen."
There are many faces to Holocaust remembrance. On 27 January, Israeli missions around the world will mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz and ten years since the UN resolution to establish an international Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Tomorrow (27 January), 70 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, thousands of events throughout the world will mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. The initiative to establish an international Holocaust remembrance day came from the Israeli delegation to the United Nations, which adopted it in an official UN resolution in 2005. Many of the events planned in cooperation with various UN institutions this year will revolve around two significant dates: the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and a decade since the UN resolution.
The main event will be held at the United Nations in the presence of UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-Moon, President of Israel Mr. Reuven Rivlin, and Chairman of Yad Vashem Mr. Avner Shalev. There will also be an official ceremony in Prague and Terezin, attended by many world leaders; Israel will be represented by Knesset Speaker Mr. Yuli Edelstein. The ceremony will be accompanied by an important international conference on combating antisemitism.
At the central ceremony commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, thousands of people are expected to attend, among them Holocaust survivors, heads of state and European royalty. A ceremony will be held in Wroclaw to return academic degrees that the Germans took during World War II.
Around the world, thousands of events will take place in more than 100 states and international organizations, from New Zealand and Japan in the East; Myanmar, India and Vietnam in Asia; Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal in Africa; Russia; Europe; and New York, Peru and Argentina on the American continents.
Israeli missions, in the presence of leading figures in local governments, parliaments, academic institutions and cultural centers, will hold hundreds of events to mark this day of Holocaust remembrance. These include state ceremonies; meetings with Holocaust survivors; concerts in which music composed by Jews murdered in the Holocaust will be performed; exhibitions on the Holocaust in cultural, educational and governmental institutions; lectures and activities in schools and universities; screenings of films dealing with the Holocaust and with the second generation of survivors, and more.
In all of these events, emphasis is placed on transmitting Holocaust remembrance to the younger generation – school children and university students – whether by lectures or lessons to be given by the staff at the Israeli embassies or by holding round-table discussions and symposiums.
Gideon Behar, Director of the Department for Combating Antisemitism in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "The Foreign Ministry believes in the importance of perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust, in the face of a growing trend of Holocaust denial. This is a national mission of the State of Israel, and all of the embassies and consulates work towards preserving and transmitting Holocaust remembrance, with an emphasis on ongoing education activities."
On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I join people all over the world in commemorating a crime unparalleled in human history, a crime in which six million Jews as well as millions of other innocent victims, Roma, political prisoners, prisoners of war, disabled people, homosexuals, were murdered in Nazi death camps.
"Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors"
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the UN resolution which set January 27 as an international day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust, adopted on November 1, 2005, and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz.
The 2015 observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is centered on the theme "Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors". This theme marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations.
The Holocaust was a turning point in history, which prompted the world to say "never again". The significance of resolution A/RES/60/7 is that it calls for a remembrance of past crimes with an eye towards preventing them in the future.
On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, discovering the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. Auschwitz has become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of man's inhumanity to man.
In November 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution to mark January 27 as an international day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust, and urged member states to develop educational programs to impart the memory of this tragedy to future generations. More than 80 states have officially noted the date January 27 as an annual Holocaust Memorial Day, and Holocaust remembrance ceremonies will be organized on the international, national, regional and local levels, including in universities and schools.
Over 90 Israeli missions abroad are taking part in organizing ceremonies and events to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day throughout the world, from Austria to Mexico, from Myanmar to Rwanda.
Join the Yad Vashem Facebook IRemember Wall 2015
On January 22, the United Nations General Assembly will convene a special session to address the global outbreak of antisemitism at the request of 37 member states including Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, and all members of the EU.
On January 27, the UN General Assembly will hold a Holocaust Memorial Ceremony. The ceremony will include remarks from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel; H.E. Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the 69th Session of the General Assembly (invited); H. E. Ms. Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations; Holocaust survivor Mrs. Yona Laks; and Red Army Liberator. Mr. Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, will deliver the keynote address.
Events at the United Nations headquarters in New York will also feature the opening of two exhibitions:
"Shoah - How Was It Humanly Possible?" - Yad Vashem's first traveling exhibition recounting the comprehensive story of the Shoah - deals with major historical aspects of the Holocaust, beginning with Jewish life in pre-Holocaust Europe and ending with the 1945 liberation of Nazi concentration and death camps across the continent. The exhibition will open at United Nations Headquarters on 26 January, marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau and the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Partners include Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority; the American Society for Yad Vashem; and the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations.
"Forbidden Art", sponsored by the Auschwitz Birkenau State Memorial Museum and the Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations, presents the story of 20 works of arts made illegally and at great risk by prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps. The artwork depicts two themes. The first theme shows the reality of the camp: various scenes from the functioning of the camp as well as portraits of prisoners. The second part offers a look at various kinds of escape from camp reality: caricatures, albums containing greetings, and fairy tales that prisoners wrote for their children.
On Thursday 22 January 2015, the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna will host an address by Sir Andrew Burns, Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and Ambassador Roksanda Ninčić, State Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia and Head of the Serbian Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Following the meeting of the Permanent Council, at a special ceremony in the presence of diplomats representing 57 OSCE Participating States and 11 Partner States for Cooperation, Israel Ambassador Zvi Heifetz will present a plaque to the OSCE Spanish Permanent Representative honoring the bravery of the Spanish diplomat, Sebastian de Romero Radigales, who saved the lives of hundreds of Jews fleeing the Nazis in Salonika during the Holocaust. The ceremony will be followed the viewing of a Yad Vashem exhibition entitled "A Monument of Good Deeds - Dreams and Hopes of Children during the Holocaust" dedicated to the children who perished in the Holocaust.
An official ceremony will take place at UNESCO (Paris) in the presence of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO; Eric de Rothschild, President of the Shoah Memorial; and the Permanent delegate of Israel to UNESCO, H.E. Mr Carmel Shama Hacohen.
In Berlin, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp will be commemorated by the Berlin Philharmoniker, which will perform a concert in remembrance of the victims of the Shoah - "Violins of Hope". Two Israeli violinists, Guy Braunstein and Zvi Plesser, will be the soloists. Members of the orchestra will play on restored violins and celli whcih once belonged to victims and survivors of the Shoah. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is the patron of the concert, will deliver a speech.
70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau
The main commemoration of the 70th anniversary will take place in front of the Death Gate of KL Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 27, 2015, with the participation of the last living survivors.
Map of World Remembrance - Events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
Photo International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Copyright: Yad Vashem
Reuven Ruvi Rivlin , President of the State of Israel, visited West Point - The U.S. Military Academy, where he placed a wreath at the grave-site of Col. David "Mickey" Marcus, a West Point graduate and Israel's first modern General.
Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel, visited West Point, NY, Jan. 26. President Rivlin began the visit by placing a wreath at the gravesite of Col. David "Mickey" Marcus, a West Point graduate and Israel's first modern General, and then moved on to Jefferson Library, where he spoke to the cadets in attendance and finished with an answer and question session.
In Moscow, FM Liberman will meet with Deputy PM Dvorkovich, FM Lavrov and other senior officials. In Beijing, he will meet with FM Wang Yi and Deputy Premier Liu Yandong.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman will depart today (Sunday 25 January 2015) on official visits to Russia and China.
President Rivlin began his visit to the United States with as guest of honor at a special meeting with leaders and members of the African-American community
President Rivlin: "I also have a dream, I believe that Jerusalem, which is a microcosm of the whole world, will serve as an example of coexistence between different religions and communities. A person cannot fight for their own liberties, without fighting for the freedoms of others."
New York, USA - President Rivlin was this today (Sunday) welcomed as guest of honor at the Christian Cultural Center (CCC) in Brooklyn, where he was welcomed by Founder and Senior Pastor Reverend Dr. A.R. Bernard, together with leaders of the African-American community, at an event attended by thousands of people from the local community.
Rev. Bernard introduced the President as an uncompromising fighter for civil rights, a Jerusalemite, who understood that, "Only a nation that has survived the Holocaust will know the importance of friends to move forward." The Reverend thanked the President for joining them and allowing this special meeting, where thousands of members of the African-American community in Brooklyn took part in a festive and joyous reception for the President.
The President was greatly moved by the welcome he received, and said, "It is a great honor for me to be here with you today. Throughout my life, I have witnessed a number of miracles, moments when God knocked on the door of humanity, and of my people. The miracle of the rebirth of my people, Jews who immigrated to Israel from Yemen, Ethiopia, Europe, from the lands of their births, and the establishment of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; civil rights movement and revolution in the Unites States, the marches of great hope where we heard the words of Martin Luther King Jr, whose daughter is with us today; the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the opening of the gates for millions of Jews. For me, theses revolutions are connected. They all carry the banner of 'let my people go'."
The President referred to the words of Rev. Bernard, and said, "Just a week ago, we marked Martin Luther King Day. This week, we are marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is no coincidence. In your words, Rev. Bernard, ""There are those today, who say the Holocaust never happened. The day will come when some will say the forced transportation and enslavement of 10 million Africans to the Americas never happened. So we must celebrate the past. We must rehearse it in the ears of our children and the world, from generation to generation. So that history does not become myth". It is beholden upon us to remember, to educate, in order for history to have meaning for us, this is the secret to liberation. Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King marched side by side with Rabbi Heschel, in the Selma to Montgomery march for civil rights. A march of which Rabbi Heschel said, "When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying". Martin Luther King Jr. was killed before he could join in a Passover Seder with Rabbi Heschel, when we celebrate the Exodus of our people to freedom. The question must be asked, why it was so important for Martin Luther King to attend a Seder night, and the answer is that he understood that a person cannot fight for their own liberties, without fighting for the freedoms of others."
The President stressed the difficulties of the challenges the world faces today. "Today, we are faced with the need to combat terror. We must remember, that Islam is not an enemy, and we have no war with Islam. Our enemy, is hatred, the hatred inherent in fundamentalism. The victims of this hatred are the religious minorities – Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds – and lest we forget, that first and foremost, there have been hundreds of thousands of Muslims slaughtered. In Israel, we are today caring for injured children coming from Syria, regardless that their country does not recognize us. But we do this out of an understanding that what is happening in Syria is a terrible tragedy, to which we cannot remain indifferent."
The President concluded by expressing hope for the future. He said, "Friends, I also have a dream, that we will once more hear God knocking on the door. I dream, and believe, that Jerusalem, which is a microcosm of the whole world, will serve as an example of coexistence between different religions and communities. Jews and Arabs are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together. All of us, the children of Abraham, as the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of God from Jerusalem."
During his visit, President Rivlin will among other meetings, address the United Nations special assembly for the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust; hold meetings with UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-moon; visit West Point USMA; lay a wreath at the 9-11 memorial; and meet with leaders and members of the Jewish community as well as different faith and minority groups.
New Anti-Semitism report shows Muslim Extremists are Main Instigators of Global Anti-Semitism
Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett presented the annual report to Israeli Government today
This past year marked a distinct shift in the level of anti-Semitism around the world, and especially in Europe according to the annual report on Anti-Semitism presented to the Israeli cabinet today by the Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett.
The report shows that radical Islam was the driving force behind anti-Semitism throughout Europe in 2014, especially over the summer, during Operation Protective Edge, where there was a 400% rise in anti-Semitic incidents than from the same period a year before.
"We continue to see deterioration around the world. The old anti-Semitism, spouting the familiar stereotype of a global Jewish conspiracy, is being increasingly coupled with the campaign to de-legitimize Israel "said Minister Bennett of the report. "It is radical Islam which is acting as the bridge for these two racist beliefs. They'll use any perverted excuse to further their goal which is the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people".
According to the report, anti-Semitic organizations were much more openly active throughout 2014. "Today, anti-Semites don't need to hide, they can openly 'sell their wares' (in the public sphere) disguised as 'legitimate criticism' towards Israel" says the report.
France was marked as the most dangerous country for Jews today. Besides the slaughter of four Jews at the Kosher supermarket earlier this month, the number of anti-Semitic incidents doubled in 2014 as compared to 2013. Last year nearly 1000 anti-Semitic incidents were reported including assaults, many categorized as "extremely violent" as well as attacks on synagogues and other Jewish institutes.
The report also notes major increases in anti-Semitic incidents in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the former Soviet Union as well as increased anti-Israel activities on college campuses across the United States.
The annual report on anti-Semitism was presented to the Israeli government the same week the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Photo Yonatan Sindel Flash 90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Sunday, 25 January 2015), made the following remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting:
"In the coming weeks, the major powers are liable to reach a framework agreement with Iran, an agreement that is liable to leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state, which would endanger – first and foremost – the existence of the State of Israel. This is the same Iran that has taken over Lebanon and Syria and is now taking over Yemen and Iraq. This is the same Iran that is preparing an active front against us both on the Golan Heights and in southern Lebanon. This same Iran cannot advance toward nuclear weapons.
As Prime Minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort in order to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons that would be aimed at the State of Israel. This effort is worldwide and I will go anywhere I am invited in order to enunciate the State of Israel's position and in order to defend its future and its existence.
I would like to express my condolences to the Japanese Prime Minister and people following reports of the brutal murder of a Japanese citizen by Islamic State. Last week, during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Israel, I told him that the struggle against extremist Islamic terrorism is a joint struggle and only if we are united will we be able to emerge victorious. Israel stands alongside Japan and the Japanese people in this difficult hour.
This week we will mark around the world International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Struggle against Anti-Semitism Day. Last year we witnessed an increase in anti-Semitic incidents and a wave of anti-Semitism that is flooding parts of the world, especially Europe. Against these phenomena the governments of the world need to act with greater vigor. History has already shown us that violence that begins against the Jews does not stop with the Jews. It is like a brushfire that spreads very rapidly to all societies and all citizens.
At the same time, we must ease the obstacles that impede the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel. Israel is the national home of every Jew and we will act to bring immigrants to the State of Israel."
Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, announced this morning:
"Yesh Atid will work to raise the salaries for soldiers by 700 NIS a month in line with the increase in the minimum wage"
The Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, along with MK Yaakov Peri, MK Ofer Shelah and MK Elazar Stern announced this morning that Yesh Atid will demand an increase in the salaries for soldiers as part of any coalition negotiations after the elections. The time has come to raise the salaries for soldiers in mandatory service. The current rates are not sufficient and soldiers are reliant on their parents if they can be or live in poverty if not.
Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid: "It can't be that soldiers, fighters, who fought in Operation Protective Edge don't have enough money to get through the month. We will fight and raise the salary for soldiers in mandatory service in line with the minimum wage. It's possible and it will happen, exactly as we transferred a billion NIS to Holocaust survivors and organised the summer school programs."
MK Yaakov Peri "It's not acceptable that soldiers fight and then return home to a harsh economic reality. As someone who served in the defense establishment for most of his life I understand well the pressures that our soldiers operate under and we cannot add economic pressures to that as well."
MK Ofer Shelah "Over the past five years the spending on the salaries of professional soldiers increased 20% but there was no increase for those in mandatory service. Yesh Atid will put an end to that."
MK Elazar Stern "Young men and women who serve, represent 60% of the population. It's another sign of the success of the national equal burden law. This is exactly why we need a strong Yesh Atid in the Knesset."
The increase in salaries will occur in three stages in line with the increase in the minimum wage. MK Shelah and MK Stern have outlined a detailed plan for the increase including the funding sources to fund the program. During the announcement this morning, outside the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Lapid, Peri, Shelah, Stern and passers-by signed a petition calling for an increase in the salaries. In addition, tens of young Yesh Atid activists handed out future pay slips as they would look with the Yesh Atid plan in place.
Photo Credit - Elad Guttman
Former Israeli president Shimon Peres, currently in Davos for the World Economic Forum, eulogized the death of the king of Saudi Arabia, saying:
"The death of His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah is a real loss for peace in the Middle East. He was an experienced leader and a wise King and he had the courage in a very demanding period of time to stand up and to introduce a peace process for the Middle East. I'm not sure we could have accepted all the items in this peace process but the spirit, the strength and the wisdom invested in it impressed all of us and we thought it can be part of a base for making peace.
I admired his position, I think it has influenced many people all around and I hope that his legacy and his proposal will remain for a long time as an important base for bringing peace. I want to express my regret and send my sympathy to his family and to Saudi Arabia."
Israel, in cooperation with other countries, initiates the first UN General Assembly Special Meeting on Antisemitism.
Thirty-seven member states including Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, and all members of the EU, sent a letter to Mr. Sam Kutesa, President of the United Nations General Assembly, calling for a special session to address the global outbreak of antisemitism.
The American, Canadian and the EU Missions to the UN have partnered with Israel to host the event. Noted public French philosopher and author, Mr. Bernard Henri Lévy, will deliver a keynote address. Representatives from several countries will also address the General Assembly.
Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, stated, "It says a lot that so many countries have partnered with Israel to raise this issue of antisemitism to the top of the UN's agenda. We have a great deal of work to do to move this issue from the headlines to the history books."
The event will take place on January 22nd and will be broadcast live from the UN.
Photo Copyright: Israel Mission to the UN, New York
In order to understand the daily Palestinian incitement against Israel, which encourages acts of terrorism, including murder, attached are four photographs which have been recently uploaded to the Facebook page of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abu Mazen's Fatah movement. The page serves as a regular platform for the glorification of those who have perpetrated large-scale terrorist attacks against Israel as part of the PA's systematic campaign of incitement, by various means and through various bodies, against Israel.
Photograph #1 – The caption reads "We started with stones and will end with a state."
Photograph #2 – One of the terrorists who participated in the March 1975 terrorist attack on the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv in which 11 Israelis were murdered.
Photograph #3 – The burning bus from the March 1978 terrorist attack on the coastal highway which was perpetrated by a Fatah cell. The terrorists seized 90 hostages, murdering 35 of them. One member of the cell, Dalal Mughrabi, is considered by the PA to be a national hero to this day.
Photograph #4 – Ra'ed Carmi, a Fatah archmurderer from the second intifada. The photograph, which marks the day of his death, takes pride in the fact that he was directly responsible for deaths of 165 Israelis and the wounding of over 1,800 others.
A Taglit-Birthright Israel niche group comprised of Argentinian medical students participated in a medical clowning workshop about the importance of humor for hospitalized children.
The group subsequently visited the Schneider Children's Medical Center accompanied by Itzik the Clown in order to cheer up the young patients.
Picture of the touching encounter of the Taglit-Birthright participants with Itzik the clown at the Schneider Children's Medical Center.
Photo credit: Taglit-Birthright Israel
Marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2015 and the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Yad Vashem Chairman Shalev to Deliver Keynote Address at United Nations
New Art Display to Open at Yad Vashem in the Presence of Diplomatic Corps
Jerusalem, Israel .
On January 27, 2015, Chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev will deliver the keynote address at the United Nations event marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The event at the UN General Assembly will take place with the participation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, survivors and liberators.
Yad Vashem will also open two new exhibitions – one to be displayed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the other at the Yad Vashem Museum of Holocaust Art in Jerusalem.
The new traveling exhibition "Shoah: How Was It Humanly Possible?" will open on January 26, 2015, at the United Nations Visitors' Lobby in New York City. The exhibition, which uses texts, images, and video clips to recount a comprehensive history of the Holocaust from 1933-1945, will remain on display at the United Nations through February 2015.
"The Anguish of Liberation as Reflected in Art, 1945-1947" displayed in the Yad Vashem Museum of Holocaust Art, will open on January 27, as part of a special evening marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem. The evening will be held in conjunction with UNSCO, in the presence of members of the Diplomatic Corps and Thomas Geve, one of the survivor-artists. The exhibit, comprises works from the Yad Vashem Art Collection, features some 30 pieces produced at the time of liberation or in its immediate aftermath by 17 artists: 15 survivors, one liberator and one witness. These artworks depict the moment of liberation, as well as the devastation and loss the survivors found upon their return. Consequently, some works give voice to feelings of suffering and turmoil, while others relate to the artists' newly found sense of freedom.
The diplomats will tour the new display and participate in a commemoration event at the Yad Vashem Synagogue, during which a live broadcast of Chairman Avner Shalev's keynote address will be screened from the UN. The diplomats will also be addressed by Director of Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research, Dr. Iael Nidam Orvieto, and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry. Dozens of representatives from various countries will be in attendance, including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Malta, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, United States, and Uruguay.
In addition, Yad Vashem researchers, historians and educators will participate in various events and ceremonies marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day around the world. Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, and Yad Vashem Chief Historian, Professor Dina Porat, will attend events in Prague and Terezin. Other Yad Vashem staff will travel to countries throughout Africa and Europe.
A special online event, the IRemember Wall on Yad Vashem's Facebook page, will provide people across the globe with a unique opportunity to engage in online commemorative activity. Each participant will be "linked" to a name of one of the over 4.3 million men, women and children currently found in the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names, thus creating an opportunity for personal commemoration.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education.
From Paris to Buenos Aires – Updates from the Center's Offices
Buenos Aires - "I would say he was an enemy for the Tehran regime," Sergio Widder, Latin American Director told The Wall Street Journal over the death of AMIA Jewish Center Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman.
Just hours before Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was scheduled to testify before the Argentine Congress about his accusations that Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, members of the Congress and radical activists were implicated in a cover-up operation that would disengage the Iranian suspects from the AMIA terror attack, he was found dead in his apartment. Nisman traced the links from the Iranian leaders who ordered the attack, to the Hezbollah operatives who planned its execution, formally charging Iran and Hezbollah in 2006.
Police are claiming it was a suicide, but thousands of protestors are not convinced. Evidence released today casts doubt on that claim. SWC Latin American Director Sergio Widder attended the mass rally protesting Nisman's mysterious death in capital city's Plaza de Mayo Square. "I would say he was an enemy for the Tehran regime," Sergio Widder, Latin American Director told The Wall Street Journal.
At the end of 2014, the SWC warned about the increasingly alarming activities of Hezbollah in South America to Secretary-General of the Union of South American Nations. At the time, Widder also pointed to information released a year earlier by Prosecutor Nisman, warning of Iranian and Hezbollah sleeper cells in nine countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay.
Photo: Sergio Widder at a rally following the death of Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, with Sofia Guterman, mother of AMIA bombing victim Andrea, one of the 85 murdered in the 1994 AMIA bombing.
Paris – Dr. Shimon Samuels, SWC International Relations Director reports on today's climate in Paris from the Center's European headquarters:
"Following the deadly terror attacks, security has been elevated with armed soldiers all over Paris. Nine soldiers have been assigned to our building: two at the front, two at the back, and an additional five as a night surveillance squad bunked down in one of our meeting rooms. The lieutenant in charge of the operation shared with me that after forty years of action in French overseas territories, it was now important to protect the homeland.
In the same block as our offices, which serve as the neighborhood headquarters, there are also two synagogues and a kosher restaurant with army units posted at each location. Our office staff and volunteers, though relieved, wonder how long they will be with us. We have recommended to the authorities that they publicly announce that plainclothes guards will be in the area to deter prospective assailants once the impressive military defense is eventually removed. Armored command cars are stationed at junctions in the neighborhood ready to mount checkpoints against hostile vehicles.
While this may be like an image of war, many neighboring residents have protested this as 'overkill'. This past Shabbat, under army protection, the synagogues were overflowing, unlike the week prior where the synagogues were closed."
Photo: Dr. Samuels with two of the armed soldiers, photographed from behind for security reasons, in front of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Paris office.
Occurring suddenly in the midst of Oscar season, the mysterious death of Argentine special prosecutor Alberto Nisman is the kind of real-life whodunit that Hollywood producers dream of putting on the big screen. But for those who for more than two decades have sought justice for the 85 people who lost their lives, and for the 300 wounded, in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Nisman's passing makes that search even harder.
Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, addressed the EU Council's decision to appeal the judgement to remove Hamas from its list of terror organizations and said, "Terrorism is terrorism, anyone who thinks there is a difference between firing at civilians in Paris and firing rockets at civilians who live in the area around the Gaza Strip doesn't understand terror. That the European Union Council is acting to ensure Hamas remains on the list of terror organizations is a welcome decision. If they need any further evidence that Hamas is a terrorist organization they are invited to come and speak to the residents who live around Gaza."
Yair Lapid also addressed the EU Foreign Ministers' meeting today and said, "The European Union has expressed its desire to strengthen cooperation with the moderate Arab world in the fight against terrorism. This is a welcome move that Israel must be a part of. Cooperation of this nature should lead to a regional conference with the moderate Arab world and a framework through which to discuss a regional arrangement."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Monday, 19 January 2015), at his Jerusalem office, met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two made the following statements at the start of their meeting:
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"Prime Minister Abe, it's a pleasure to welcome you and your delegation to the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. It's an opportunity to reciprocate the warm hospitality you showed all of us last year when we visited Japan.
Prime Minister, your visit clearly demonstrates your own commitment to strengthening relationship between Israel and Japan. This is a commitment I fully share.
Japan and Israel are separated by the great land mass of Asia. Japan is on the eastern edge of the continent; Israel is on the western edge. Yet Japan and Israel continue to overcome great geographic distance, forging and ever warming and I would say ever more productive relationship between us.
In my visit to Japan, I was deeply impressed by the depth of your heritage, your embrace of your history and your culture, and yet at the same time, you're looking forward to the future, to new developments, to technology. This is very similar to our own experience and our own nature. We are two ancient peoples, part of our history and our heritage, and at the same time we are two modern, dynamic societies and we eagerly seek to blaze new paths to an advanced and innovative future for all of us and for all mankind.
And, Prime Minister, we have something else in common: we are two peace loving democracies that face formidable threats from nearby rogue states.
Both Iran and North Korea are governed by ruthless and extreme dictatorships, states that seek to bully and intimidate their neighbors, and in our case, to actually eradicate us from the face of the earth.
Iran and North Korea have aggressive military nuclear programs, and they are both developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, ballistic missiles.
Mr. Prime Minister, you and I are both committed to peace and security. This is characteristic of both Japan and Israel. We've been wounded by war, we know the cost of war and the pain of war. We know the blessings of peace. Israel seeks peace with all its neighbors. But we know in our region, that peace and security are intertwined. And if we cannot defend our security against those who would threaten us and seek to attack us, and do attack us, then there will be no peace. Israel is adamant that it will have the right to defend itself against all those who wish to propagate terror and other attacks against its citizens, against its territory.
We will not have our hands ties by anyone, including the ICC. We will do what is necessary to defend ourselves wherever we need to do so.
There's no greater threat to the peace and security of the world than Iran's relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. We've seen the horrors committed by Islamic extremists armed with conventional weapons. We've seen this in Iraq and in Syria, in Nigeria, in Kenya, in India and Pakistan. Ten days ago we saw it in Paris as well.
Now just imaging the horrific results if the Islamic extremists who rule Iran get their hands on nuclear weapons. We would all face a threat of unimaginable consequences.
Israel would like to see a peaceful end to Iran's military nuclear program. And I urge the international community, in seeking such and end, not to repeat the mistake of the negotiations with North Korea. That agreement with Pyongyyang in 1994, was widely celebrated as a historic breakthrough for nonproliferation, but in the end, that deal failed to prevent the dangerous proliferation that threatens all of East Asia today.
Iran cannot be allowed to travel the road taken by North Korea.
Until a deal is reached that actually dismantles Iran's military nuclear capability, I believe the international sanctions on Iran must be maintained.
Mr. Prime Minister, we have these and many other issues to discuss, and I appreciate your counsel and your friendship. I can see from everything that we have seen so far in your visit, that the room for cooperation is vast. The opportunities are immense, the enthusiasm is great, because there's genius on the Japanese side, there's genius on the Israeli side – a genius to forge a new future, to bring the heights of ingenuity to productive use or all societies, for better communications physically, literally, for the application of medicine and medical devices to better human life, for greater productivity in human effort.
I think these things are as centered in our two societies, and locking hands in friendship and cooperation will increase them both.
Japan and Israel are partners; Japan and Israel are allies in seeking a better future; and Japan and Israel are friends.
In this spirit, Prime Minister Abe, I say one again, welcome to Jerusalem."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe:
"First of all, may I start by expressing our deepest condolences to the large number of victims, including Jewish citizens in the attack on the kosher store in Paris. The International community must continue with utmost effort, in order to deal with terrorism.
The visit to Japan by his Excellency Prime Minister Netanyahu last May, triggered the momentum to enhance bilateral relationship to a comprehensive higher level. I surely feel that our relationships are deepening in all sorts of areas.
Yesterday, I had the first meeting during this visit with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and a meeting with the business delegations who have accompanied me also took place. Taking this visit as another opportunity, we look forward to advancement in bilateral economic relationships, including expansion and reactivation of mutual exchanges between businesses.
The three-year plan of Israel to strengthen our economic relationships is highly appreciated as a contribution to the development of our bilateral relations.
I have just visited Yad Vashem, the museum, this year marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I declare my determination that such tragedies should never ever be repeated.
I strongly recognize the extraordinary contribution made by Vice-Consul Chiune Sugihara, who issued visas for life and saved thousands of Jewish lives. I have also reconfirmed the bonds and ties that existed from long ago between the Jewish and the Japanese.
Based on these bonds from times past from times past and based on your friendship, Japan will continue our endeavor to reinforce our relationship as a friend of Israel.
Japan will continue up our active engagement for the purpose of regional stability in the Middle East peace process and other efforts with the understanding on the difficult environment of Israel.
Tomorrow, I shall be visiting Palestine as well, and therefore, as a genuine friend, I might offer advices that may not be easy to swallow to both of the parties.
Following yesterday's meeting with the Prime Minister, we will also engage in a summit after this meeting in all possible areas, including diplomacy, security, economics or cultural or person-to-person exchanges. We look forward to further develop and advance our bilateral relationships, and we look forward to creating a new era for our relationship.
Thank you very much."
President Reuven Rivlin today (Monday, 19 January 2015) held a working meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who is on an official visit – his first visit - to Israel.
The President began by congratulating the Prime Minister on his re-election. He continued, "Mr. Prime Minister, we know that you are making many efforts to bring peace to the whole world, and to our region. We know you have excellent relationships with all our neighbors, and it is very important for us that as friends you can help us. We are suffering a tragedy that has been going on for the last one hundred and fifty years. We have to bring this conflict to an end, but this can only be done through direct negotiations – as you know very well, and you are helping us to make this understood by the Palestinians. Going to the UN or the ICC, in order to solve a problem that we must solve together, only makes peace more distant.
Prime Minister Shinzō Abe thanked the President for his warm welcome on what is his first visit to Israel. He said, "We believe that this is a timely visit, as it coincides with seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Moreover, I am determined to never allow such tragedies to be repeated, and based on this commitment and determination, I am especially committed to making a proactive contribution to world peace, and the creation of a world free of war and discrimination."
The Prime Minister referred to the President's words on the peace process and said, "Japan has been playing a role, and based on our established position, have renewed our determination to make further contributions on this front."
The Prime Minister concluded by saying that, "Between Japan and Israel, there is a long standing bond, and I am keen to develop further our bilateral ties."
Photo by Mark Neumann GPO
SWC Mourns Death of AMIA Bombing Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman Found Dead Today
Buenos Aires, 19 January 2015
The Wiesenthal Center is deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic death of Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in his apartment this morning, with a gunshot wound to his head.
Prosecutor Nisman, who was in charge of the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center, was scheduled to testify in Congress today, to offer details about the accusations he made last week against Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, members of the Congress and radical activists who are close to the government of having organized a cover-up operation that would disengage the Iranian suspects from the AMIA terror attack.
Nisman's tragic death put us further away than ever before from truth and justice, both in the AMIA attack itself as well as in his last denunciation.
Today's deadly outcome must not hide a core question: his denunciation regarding an alleged cover up by the Argentine government must be investigated till the end.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center urges the Argentine authorities to preserve all the material gathered by Prosecutor Nisman and to guarantee the security of all the members of Nisman's staff.
We express our condolences to the family of Prosecutor Alberto Nisman.
We reaffirm our solidarity with the families of the 85 victims of the AMIA bombing.
Our mentor, the late Simon Wiesenthal, said: "Freedom is not a gift from heaven; one must fight for it every day".
We must also fight for truth and justice. And we will.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
"I call on all the Jews around the world; come to Israel, this is your land, this is your birthright and the only place you can proudly proclaim 'I am a Jew'"
Thousands of young Jewish adults from around the world attended Taglit-Birthright Israel's mega event. A minute of silence was observed in memory of the victims of the terrorist attack in France.
' I was proud to represent Israel alongside world leaders as we marched in Paris, united in the fight against terrorism. The French citizens rightfully proclaimed "Je suis Charlie" But the relevant question remains: can Jews everywhere march in the streets and proclaim "Je suis Juif"? In Israel every Jew can say 'I am a Jew', without any fear or hesitation and with great pride. I call on all the Jews around the world; come to Israel, this is your land, this is your birthright and the only place you can proudly proclaim 'I am a Jew', said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening, Wednesday 14.1.15, at the Taglit-Birthright Israel Mega event held at Binyanei Ha'uma, International Convention Center in Jerusalem. The event celebrated Taglit-Birthright Israel's 15th anniversary and took place in the presence of co-founders Michael and Judy Steinhardt, members of the Birthright Israel Foundation's Benefactors circle, Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel, friends from the Jewish Communities around the world and thousands of Taglit-Birthright Israel participants from the USA, Russia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Israel.
Photos credit: Orly Eyal-Levy
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Thursday, 15 January 2015), participated in the launch of the Jerusalem Prize for National Unity, together with Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, and the families of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar, the teenagers kidnapped and murdered by terrorists this past summer. The President, together with members of the steering committee for the prize, heard from the families of their will to continue the path of their sons, and honor the individuals, groups, organizations and initiatives, working for unity in Israel, and accepted their invitation to present the award on the anniversary of their sons' murders.
The President said, "During those difficult days, when we all feared for the fate of Natali, Gilad, Eyal, you, their parents, were for us a beacon of resilience. You emanated strength and belief, and instilled confidence in all of us, and encouraged us. We discovered within us, a tremendous power of giving. Different opinions and views, individual interests were all put aside as everyone joined in – with dedication, sensitivity, and understanding – all working together with the understanding that Natali, Gilad, Eyal, were all our sons. Just as we became one in the efforts to bring them home, so as one, we were shaken when we discovered their fate. To the outside observer, this may have seemed to be a circumstantial, one-time phenomenon. But we know that this great spirit of mutual responsibility is no passing phase."
The President spoke of the importance of the prize bearing the name Jerusalem as a symbol of unity. He said, "Specifically, in the shadow of the events of last summer, and inspired by that spirit of mutual responsibility which we witnessed, we must continue to encourage all those working to maintain and strengthen that sense, that feeling, of unity and commitment. The Jerusalem Prize for National Unity reminds us what is acceptable, what is desired, what is appropriate. In awarding this prize, we want to embolden and amplify the positive voices in our society, and focus on the good." The President concluded by accepting the families' request to award the prize at a ceremony at the President's Residence, on the anniversary of the murder of the boys.
The members of the families thanked the President for his words. Uri Yifrach, father of Eyal, told the President, "Eyal, together with Naftali and Gilad, with their murder, brought a different spirit to the people. I have no doubt that that the souls of the boys led us to a different place, and we the families, feel a special commitment to the people, to the memory of the boys, and of that very difficult period that we went through. There is no place like the President's Residence, the president of the people, who unites the whole people, to launch such a special initiative, calling for national unity. We all, from this place, call for unity, for love, because, 'we have within us love, and it will win out'."
Ofir Shaar, father of Gilad, said, "This is a living memorial. It is special and vibrant, and relates all communities, and all people to inspire a spirit of unity. We know that this spirit has been flowing throughout the public, since what we endured, but occasionally need to place it in the spotlight, and this is the essence of this award: to nurture the values we felt then; mutual respect, tolerance, a new language that allowed us to move forward. I appeal to the elected officials, and the public itself, to seize this opportunity with both hands, and join in this endeavor for the unity of Israel."
Avraham (Avi) Fraenkel, father of Naftali said, "During the days of the search, of despair, doubts and worry, days full of holiness, we saw mutual support, caring, encouragement, and good-will. We received strength from across the nation, at home and abroad, we felt we were not alone, and that all the people stood with us this through this awful time. And today we are here to maintain the same essence, to preserve the spirit of those days. The award is called the Jerusalem Prize for National Unity in Israel, and no one expresses better than you, Mr. President, the centrality of Jerusalem – throughout your life, and today your actions as President, symbolize the unity of the nation. We are honored to be here to launch the prize."
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said, "There is no one who was not moved by the exceptional unifying power of the families of the three boys. The warm connection built during the week of mourning, led us to create together the Jerusalem prize for unity in Israel, which we are launching today. I thank the President who so expresses the unity of the nation, and the connection between all its parts, and his contribution to the promotion of this important award."
The Jerusalem Prize for National Unity, in partnership with the Gesher organization, and the Jerusalem Municipality, is a new prize to be awarded annually to individuals, groups and organizations working to promote national unity. It will be awarded around the anniversary of the kidnapping and murder of the boys. The prize committee which will choose the recipients includes Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Prof. Yuli Tamir, journalist Orly Vilnai, and artist Kobi Oz.
Leaders of 25 Jewish Communities from Around the World to Arrive in Israel for World WIZO Meeting of representatives (mor)
Two hundred WIZO leaders from 25 countries – among them the USA, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Mexico, South American nations, India and others – are due to arrive in Israel for the World WIZO AGM. The participants, who are Presidents of WIZO Federations worldwide, represent the Organization's 250,000 overseas members.
One thousand people participated today (Sunday, 11 January 2015) in a rally to show solidarity with the French people and the French Jewish community organized by the Jerusalem Municipality following the terrorist attacks in Paris last week. The rally at City Hall took place under the leadership of the Mayor, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar, the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Meir Turgeman, former Chairman of the JPierre Besnainou, former Chairman of the Fonds Social Juif Unifié, and hundreds of members of the French community in Jerusalem, as well as many residents.
At the rally, Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat said, "The entire world understands today what we in Jerusalem and in Israel have been experiencing over decades – murderous terrorism motivated by a piercing hatred for our values." Barkat added that "this is an attack on all of us – the entire Jewish population, freedom of journalism and expression and on the values of freedom that the French democracy and the entire free world hold so dear – freedom, equality and brotherhood that are the basis of our values. This hatred, this call for death, will not stop the Jewish people." The Mayor called on everyone to strengthen the entire French population and especially to embrace those who have recently lost their loved ones, the Jewish community in France and those who have immigrated to Israel.
"Brothers and sisters – the gates of Jerusalem are open to you. Zion and the entire Jewish world stands beside you. Nous sommes tous Juifs de France, we are all Charlie, we are all Jews of France." During a moment of silence out of respect for those murdered during in the terror attacks, the crowd waved flags bearing these slogans.
The Jerusalem Municipality, under the directive of Mayor Barkat, will open a special situation room for new immigrants from France in order to assist them in their move to Jerusalem. At the entrance to City Hall, there is a special booth for immigrant absorption manned by French-speaking volunteers who will help the immigrants with all of their absorption needs.
Today, the Municipality placed a large sign in Paris Square in the city-center bearing the words "Jerusalem est Charlie – Jerusalem embraces the French Jewish community." A special place will be appropriated for the city's population to pay their respects, to place wreaths and light candles. In addition, the municipality will be hanging 1500 French, Israeli, and Jerusalem flags at the main junctions in the city.
Photo Copyright: Jackie Levy
Terrorism and terrorists must not be allowed to terrorize the free world, and the West must stand firmly united against this threat.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on the terror attack today (Wednesday, 7 January 2015) in Paris:
"I send my condolences to the French people and the French government. Israel shares France's pain. Terrorism and terrorists must not be allowed to terrorize the free world, and the West must stand firmly united against this threat."
FM Liberman: Je suis Charlie
Copyright: Israel Embassy, Paris
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today made the following comments on today's terrorist attack in Paris:
"The people of Israel send their condolences to the people of France over the brutal acts of savagery in the heart of Paris today. The attacks of radical Islam know no boundaries – these are international attacks and the response has to be international. The terrorists want to destroy our freedoms and our civilization. And therefore, all the free countries and all the civilized societies have to band together to fight this scourge. And if we stand together and if we are not divided, then we can defeat this tyranny that seeks to extinguish all our freedoms. I wish once again to express the sympathy that all the citizens of Israel feel for the people of France and for the grieving families. We are experiencing these attacks time and again, we know the pain but we also know the resolution with which free societies can defeat terror - however dreadful, however threatening."
President Rivlin sends condolences to French President Hollande following terror attack in Paris
The following is the text of the letter sent by Israel's President Reuven Rivlin to President Hollande of France, following the terror attack today (Wednesday) in Paris.
"I was shocked and saddened to learn of the brutal terrorist attack at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. On behalf of the people of Israel I would like to offer our sincere condolences to the people of France and to its leaders.
"We all, throughout the free world, face the threat of terrorism and must stand united in the fight against those who seek to stifle free thought and continue to destroy the lives of so many. Sadly, I am no stranger to the horror and grief that follows such murderous attacks.
"We stand with France in its determination to safeguard freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, that are central pillars of any democracy.
"Please convey my deepest sympathy to the bereaved families and our wishes for a speedy recovery to all the injured."
The two presidents are due to speak by telephone later this evening.
President Reuven Rivlin met yesterday (Monday, 5 January 2014), with 43 Israeli Ambassadors to European countries, as well as recently appointed Ambassadors due to begin their diplomatic service in the near future.
Foreign Ministry Director Nissim Ben Shitrit, began the meeting by saying, "We are in a unique situation in Europe, where our representations are trying to deal as best as possible with issues sensitive to the State of Israel and the Israeli psyche, and act against anti-Semitism as a whole. Sitting here are the best delegates of the State of Israel, stationed in difficult countries that are at times both frustrating and challenging, but we do not have the luxury to give up and throw in the towel. We are in the midst of a struggle for Israel's existence without going to war ".
The President thanked the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and said, "You, who have come home for an hour - welcome to Jerusalem. Dear Ambassadors, each and every one of you is a hero in every sense of the word. Heroes, who do not always get to stand among friends and who stand firm and tall for us all. We are well established mainly thanks to you.
"You are here during a tense time both at home and abroad. You, who stand at the frontline, are faced with many questions. When we fight against terrorist organizations it is not always easy to explain why at times innocent bystanders killed. Europe is dealing with radical Islam all which that entails, and only you can really explain where it comes from and in which direction it is going in.
"We need to sharpen our identity - not in order to distinguish ourselves, but to feel stronger and more confident to lend a hand, rooted in our uncompromising right to defend our own existence. The themes of identity, religious persecution, rights of minorities and ethnic groups to self-determination, seem more relevant than ever across the world. We have no war with Islam, but a war with terror organizations that are sometimes driven and affected by it. We have needed to define the identity of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, which is in one and equal breath both Jewish and democratic, and you have done this with dignity. We need to continue to speak out and insist that the Jewish State is the state of the Jewish people who have no other country."
The President referred to the calls for international investigations following Operation Protective Edge, and said, "The State of Israel is currently carrying out thorough investigations relating to Operation Protective Edge. IDF soldiers and officers have done, and are doing everything to protect Israeli citizens while maintaining international law under unparalleled complex conditions, including when attacks on civilians and soldiers are carried out from within the civilian population of Gaza.
"The IDF is capable of investigating itself thoroughly, reliably, with integrity and impartiality; and in cases when there has been a violation of the law, to prosecute the culprits. On the other hand, both the interrogators and those being questioned are our soldiers. There is no outside body that is examining the IDF and we should not paint a picture as if our soldiers are investigated by a hostile entity whose goal is to harm our officers, soldiers or our fighting spirit."
The President concluded by saying: "We must learn to live together. Peace will come when we build trusting relationships between ourselves and understand that we are not doomed to live together but destined to live together".
Israel expects the International Criminal Court to unequivocally reject the PA's hypocritical request because the Palestinian Authority is not a state. Furthermore, the PA is allied with Hamas, a terrorist organization that commits war crimes.
The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries. 122 countries are currently states parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In 2002, the United States and Israel, which had earlier signed the Statute, informed the UN Secretary General that they no longer intend to become states parties and, as such, have no legal obligations arising from their earlier signature.
A 2009 declaration by the Palestinian Authority accepting the jurisdiction of the Court was deemed invalid by the ICC Prosecutor in early 2012 as he did not consider Palestine a "state" for the purposes of the Rome Statute. The Prosecutor did not see any basis to reassess the application after a vote in the United Nations General Assembly later in 2012 which recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state. In December 2014, the Palestinians received official recognition as an observer at the opening session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute.
On Friday evening, January 2, 2015, the Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour submitted to the UN offices in New York the request to join a number of international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court at the Hague, signed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on December 31. The submission of the signed documents marks the final step in the process of establishing its membership in the court.
Israel expects the International Criminal Court to unequivocally reject the PA's hypocritical request because the Palestinian Authority is not a state. Furthermore, the PA is allied with Hamas, a terrorist organization that commits war crimes. This step proves clearly that the PA is inclined towards continuing the conflict and not negotiating with Israel. An agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will be achieved only through bilateral negotiations and not by unilateral dictates.
The ones who should be afraid of legal proceedings are the leaders of the PA who, in the framework of the unity government with Hamas, are collaborating with a professed terrorist organization. Hamas, like the Islamic State, commits war crimes such as shooting at civilians from within population centers.
The PA appeal to the ICC is a flagrant violation of the agreements that the PA signed with Israel with the backing of the international community.
Israel is a law-abiding state with a moral army that upholds international law and knows how to check itself in accordance with the highest standards. Israel will defend its soldiers as they defend the state. Israel will rebuff any attempt to force dictates upon it, just as the Palestinian appeal to the UN Security Council was rebuffed.
Israel and the ICC - Background
Upon its signature to the Rome Statute on December 31, 2000, Israel issued the following declaration:
"Being an active consistent supporter of the concept of an International Criminal Court, and its realization in the form of the Rome Statute, the Government of the State of Israel is proud to thus express its acknowledgment of the importance, and indeed indispensability, of an effective court for the enforcement of the rule of law and the prevention of impunity.
As one of the originators of the concept of an International Criminal Court, Israel, through its prominent lawyers and statesmen, has, since the early 1950's, actively participated in all stages of the formation of such a court. Its representatives, carrying in both heart and mind collective, and sometimes personal, memories of the holocaust - the greatest and most heinous crime to have been committed in the history of mankind - enthusiastically, with a sense of acute sincerity and seriousness, contributed to all stages of the preparation of the Statute. Responsibly, possessing the same sense of mission, they currently support the work of the ICC Preparatory Commission.
At the 1998 Rome Conference, Israel expressed its deep disappointment and regret at the insertion into the Statute of formulations tailored to meet the political agenda of certain states. Israel warned that such an unfortunate practice might reflect on the intent to abuse the Statute as a political tool. Today, in the same spirit, the Government of the State of Israel signs the Statute while rejecting any attempt to interpret provisions thereof in a politically motivated manner against Israel and its citizens. The Government of Israel hopes that Israel's expressions of concern of any such attempt would be recorded in history as a warning against the risk of politicization, that might undermine the objectives of what is intended to become a central impartial body, benefiting mankind as a whole.
Nevertheless, as a democratic society, Israel has been conducting ongoing political, pand academic debates concerning the ICC and its significance in the context of international law and the international community. The Court's essentiality - as a vital means of ensuring that criminals who commit genuinely heinous crimes will be duly brought to justice, while other potential offenders of the fundamental principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience will be properly deterred - has never seized to guide us. Israel's signature of the Rome Statute will, therefore, enable it to morally identify with this basic idea, underlying the establishment of the Court.
Today, [the Government of Israel is] honoured to express [its] sincere hopes that the Court, guided by the cardinal judicial principles of objectivity and universality, will indeed serve its noble and meritorious objectives."
On August 28, 2002, Israel informed the UN Secretary General that it no longer intends to become a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Aliyah Hits Ten-Year High: Approximately 26,500 New Immigrants Arrived in Israel in 2014
. Worldwide Aliyah up 32% compared to 2013
Sharansky: "This is a year of record-breaking Aliyah. I very much hope the next government continues to invest in Aliyah."
Landver: "We expect that some 10,000 new immigrants will come from France alone next year, and we will surpass 30,000 immigrants – and even more."
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – According to end-of-year figures released today (Wednesday, December 31) by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Aliyah (immigration to Israel) hit a ten-year high in 2014, with the arrival of some 26,500 new immigrants. This marks a significant 32% increase over last year's number of approximately 20,000 immigrants.
For the first time ever, France tops the list of countries of origin for immigrants to Israel, with nearly 7,000 new immigrants in 2014, double the 3,400 who came last year. This development has spurred The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption to encourage Aliyah from France and facilitate French immigrants' absorption into Israeli society, as well as to expose young French Jews to life in Israel via Israel experience programs run by The Jewish Agency.
Additionally, some 5,840 new immigrants have come from Ukraine over the course of the year, compared to some 2,020 in 2013. This dramatic 190% increase is due primarily to the ongoing instability in the eastern part of the country. The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption are meeting the challenge posed by the situation on the ground by expanding operations in Ukraine and offering immigrants special financial assistance.
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky said: "2014 was a year of record-breaking Aliyah. This year also saw a historic shift: for the first time in Israel's history, the number of immigrants who came to Israel from the free world is greater than that of immigrants fleeing countries in distress. This trend is evidence of Israel's attractiveness as a place where it's good to live, as well as of the success of our joint efforts to promote Aliyah and strengthen connections between Jews around the world and the State of Israel. As we forecast further increases in Aliyah from around the world, I very much hope the next government continues to join The Jewish Agency in maintaining Aliyah encouragement and immigrant absorption as top priorities."
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said: "This year we mark a ten-year record of Aliyah and a 32% increase over last year in the number of Jews who reached the conclusion that they have no other country. I am excited to see the fruits of our many efforts to encourage Aliyah, but we have not yet reached our goal. Our ministry continues to work together with all relevant parties to promote the ingathering of the exiles, a vision that has accompanied the people of Israel since the state's establishment. We expect that some 10,000 new immigrants will come from France alone next year, and we will surpass 30,000 immigrants from around the world – and even more."
Aliyah from Western Europe is up 88%, with the arrival of some 8,640 immigrants this year compared to some 4,600 last year. The most significant increase was in Aliyah from France, which doubled from some 3,400 immigrants in 2013 to nearly 7,000 this year. Additionally, some 620 immigrants came to Israel from the United Kingdom, compared to 520 last year – a 20% increase. The number of immigrants from Italy doubled to approximately 340. Aliyah from Belgium saw a modest decrease, to some 240 immigrants this year. The number of immigrants from Germany remained stable, at approximately 120.
Aliyah from the former Soviet Union is up 50%, with the arrival of some 11,430 immigrants compared to approximately 7,610 last year. The most notable increase was in Aliyah from Ukraine, which rose by 190% to some 5,840 immigrants this year. 4,830 immigrants came from Russia, Belarus, and the Baltic states, compared to 4,640 last year. Some 300 immigrants came from the Caucasus and some 390 from Central Asia.
Aliyah from Latin America remained stable, with the arrival of some 1,070 immigrants, similar to last year's numbers. Aliyah from Brazil saw a 45% increase, with 300 immigrants compared to 210 in 2013. Approximately 297 immigrants came from Argentina, 76 from Mexico, 70 from Venezuela, 62 from Colombia, 58 from Uruguay, and 52 from Chile.
Aliyah from North America increased modestly, with the arrival of some 3,870 immigrants compared to some 3,600 last year. Approximately 3,470 immigrants came from the United States, compared to some 3,200 in 2013 – an 8% increase. Some 400 immigrants came from Canada, compared to some 384 last year.
Some 232 immigrants came to Israel from Eastern Europe, compared to approximately 270 last year. Approximately 126 immigrants came from Hungary, 32 from Poland, 24 from Romania, and 24 from Bulgaria.
Some 190 immigrants came to Israel from South Africa, roughly the same as last year's numbers. Some 200 immigrants came from Australia and New Zealand, compared to some 260 in 2013.
More than half of the immigrants who came to Israel in 2014 were under the age of 35, including some 5,300 children and some 8,200 young adults between the ages of 18 and 34. The eldest immigrant this year was born in 1910 and made Aliyah from France at the age of 104. The youngest came from the United States and was only several weeks old.
Some 2,500 of the immigrants work in engineering and technological fields, and thousands hold degrees in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and exact sciences. More than 1,000 doctors and health professionals made Aliyah, as did some 600 artists and athletes. In November, the Government of Israel approved a series of recommendations aimed at breaking down barriers to employment for immigrants and ease their integration into the workforce.
Tel Aviv led the chart of cities receiving new immigrants, with approximately 3,000 new Tel Avivians. The coastal city of Netanya came second and Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, came in third.
* This data is tentative and is based on preliminary estimates by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption *
Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, this evening condemned the decision by Abu Mazen to sign the Rome Statute and said, "Abu Mazen has made a major mistake. It is the Palestinians and their terror organizations who commit war crimes when they kill innocent civilians. The IDF is a moral army and its soldiers and officers do everything to avoid harming innocent civilians."
Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, delivered a speech today to "Chazit Hakavod", an organisation dedicated to helping Holocaust survivors who came to Israel after 1953 receive the benefits they deserve
"We built a national program to help Holocaust survivors and allocated a billion shekels a year to it. But it isn't only a budget change, it's a change in approach. Less bureaucracy, less complications. Not only to give Holocaust survivors more money, but to ensure they get it more efficiently."
Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid said:
"We built a national program to help Holocaust survivors and allocated a billion shekels a year to it. But it isn't only a budget change, it's a change in approach. Less bureaucracy, less complications. Not only to give Holocaust survivors more money, but to ensure they get it more efficiently. The approach was built at the Ministry of Finance along with the Welfare Ministry with the full and incredible support of my friend, Meir Cohen, the former Welfare Minister."
At the beginning of his speech Yair Lapid presented to those in the auditorium all the benefits they are entitled to as part of the national program for Holocaust survivors which was implemented during his tenure as Finance Minister and said,
"Each and every one of you is entitled to free medication. 18,500 survivors of the camps and ghettos who made aliyah to Israel after October 1953 today receive the same rights as those who moved to Israel before that; we increased the minimum benefit to 2,200 nis a month; we almost doubled the annual grant for 80,00 Holocaust survivors; we increased the disability allowance to increase the monthly allowance by hundreds of shekels, we increased the assistance to the partners of Holocaust survivors who passed away; we cancelled the need for Holocaust survivors to present receipts to purchase a heater for the winter, we made the necessary bureaucratic changes and increased the welfare services; we changed the terms for nursing care assistance from the National Insurance so that they won't include money received from the Holocaust Survivors Rights Agency. We also created for you and those around you the rights calculator which allows Holocaust survivors to easily find out exactly what they are owed."
Chairperson Yair Lapid ended his speech and said:
"People often ask me why I took the role of Finance Minister? And the answer is simple. For this."
Jewish Agency Chairman Sharansky to Speak at Limmud, Accompanied by Palestinian and South African Human Rights Activists
JERUSALEM/LONDON – Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky will participate in this week's Limmud Conference, taking place December 28-January 1 at the University of Warwick in the UK. He will be joined by prominent Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid and veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigner Benjamin Pogrund (biographies below), who will both be participating under Jewish Agency auspices.
On December 30 at 1:30 pm, Sharansky, Eid, and Pogrund will appear on a joint panel entitled "Can Democracy and Peace Go Hand in Hand?" The panel will be moderated by Haaretz English Edition editor Charlotte Halle. Immediately afterward, at 2:50 pm, Sharansky will deliver a TED-style talk as part of JDOV: Jewish Dreams, Observations, Visions. At 6:30 pm, Sharansky will also join fellow former Prisoner of Zion Yosef Mendelevitch in a tribute to the late British Jewish activist for Soviet Jewry Michael Sherbourne. On December 31 at 10:40 am, Sharansky will deliver an address entitled "Can Israel Be Europe's Future?" Eid and Pogrund will also appear individually during Limmud. Further information on their appearances is available at https://guidebook.com/guide/21605/.
The annual Limmud Conference draws some 3,000 participants from around the world for five days of study and inspiration on topics of Jewish relevance. It is the world's largest annual pluralistic Jewish study gathering. The Jewish Agency for Israel is the largest Jewish organization in the world, tasked with strengthening Jewish identity and connections to Israel amongst Jews around the globe, as well as facilitating Aliyah (immigration to Israel). The Jewish Agency's delegation in the United Kingdom is comprised of 24 Israeli emissaries who work to enhance Israel engagement and Jewish education within the Jewish community. Each year, The Jewish Agency participates in Limmud in a range of capacities, offering speakers drawn from both the UK delegation and organization's senior leadership.
Natan Sharansky is the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel. He was a Prisoner of Zion and a leader in the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. Sharansky founded the Yisrael B'Aliyah party and served in four successive Israeli governments, as Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. He is the author of three bestselling books and is the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Bassem Eid is the Executive Director for The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. He worked as the senior fieldworker for the human rights group B'Tselem in the disputed territories and has earned international recognition for publications on human rights issues. Eid was involved in research for nearly every B'Tselem publication from 1989 to 1996. In appreciation of his work, he was awarded the 1992 Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Benjamin Pogrund was a journalist with the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg for 26 years and pioneered the reporting of black politics and existence under apartheid. He was deputy editor when the newspaper was closed because of its opposition to apartheid. He has lived in Jerusalem for more than 16 years and has worked to promote dialogue across lines of division. His book, Drawing Fire: Investigating the Apartheid Accusations in Israel, was published in July 2014.
President Rivlin joins IDF Chief-of-Staff to light Chanukah candles with soldiers of the Judean Regional Brigade
President Rivlin: "Your heroism and devotion will overcome the terror, and thanks to you, because of your strength and bravery, because of your dedication, the people of Israel sleep safe and sound in their homes."
Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gantz: "I know that the military activities are difficult and even Sisyphean, and do not always occur under the best of conditions, but nevertheless, it is a great privilege for us to carry the torch of security."
President Reuven Rivlin this evening (Tuesday, 23 December 2014), lit the candles for the final night of Chanukah together with dozens of soldiers, including members of the paratroopers, and armored corps engineers of the 7th Brigade of the Judea Regional Brigade south of Hebron.
The President reflected on the events of the last year and said, "The Judean region has dealt with a wide range, and all types of terrorism and hostile activity. Some of the events occurred specifically in the area of your responsibility, and some, like the kidnapping of the three boys, took place in the areas of other brigades, whilst the focus of the operation was here, in the area of the Judean Regional Brigade. Soldiers, you are operating in a varied and complex location, against malevolent terrorists, through long and difficult nights, thwarting immediate threats. Thanks to you, because of your strength and bravery, because of your dedication, the people of Israel sleep safe and sound in their homes. Your heroism and dedication will defeat terror. Your brave spirit, dear soldiers and officers, together with strength of character, unwavering faith, and the justness of your path, will shape our future. We have confidence and faith in you, and faith that you will complete your mission in the best possible manner."
The President continued, "This evening, we light candles for all the IDF basis, from the Hermon in the north to the Gaza divisions, and the southern border. I want to take this opportunity, to wish you, all the soldiers of the IDF, all the security forces, a happy Chanukah, a Chanukah of light, a Chanukah during which we will work with determination, to face the darkness, and thanks to you, kindle the light."
Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said, "We have told you Mr. President, of the complex challenges faced in the whole of Judea and Samaria, and specifically, of the even more complex situation in Judea. Your visit here is a visit to the whole army, wherever they may be, in air, sea or land, working Israel's security."
The Chief-of-Staff added, "There are those who see the rebirth of Israel as a miracle, and those who prefer to see it as an act of man. I believe that miracles are the result of the work of each of you here today." He concluded by saying, "I know that the military activities are difficult and even Sisyphean, and do not always occur under the best of conditions, but nevertheless, it is a great privilege for us to carry the torch of security."
Following the candle lighting with the soldiers, the President toured the base and stopped to speak with several of the soldiers on duty, and even joined them as they lit candles for the last night of the festival. He told them, "I know that at times, military service is not simple. It is very cold here, and you need to be at your most vigilant. Thank you, on behalf of myself and all the citizens of Israel. Because of you, we can sleep peacefully."
President hosts for the first time, education conference at the President's Residence, focusing on the battle against violence, as a basis for building partnerships and cooperation between different sectors in Israeli society.
President Reuven Rivlin told the participants, "Israeli society will be ready to embrace all sectors within it, only if and when we require it to do so, if we do not ignore the voices of the different groups within it, and address their concerns.
"I ask of you today, combine your ideas and powers, and ask yourselves, how we can all, together, able to best contribute to, and lead, a more significant and inclusive change. The President's office has no intention or desire to replace the Education Ministry, which is doing excellent work. Nor are we another organization in the field. However, I promise to consider seriously, how I can do my part, to aid the important mission which lies before us all."
The conference was held with the participation of teachers, head-teachers, and informal educators, youth movement leaders, along with representatives of key NGOs and foundations in both the public and private education sectors. The working meeting included discussions on a range of issues, during which the President spoke specifically on the need to tackle violence, as a basis for partnership and cooperation in Israeli society. In addition, teachers and educators shared their personal experiences and stories, building a complex and comprehensive picture of the Israeli education system.
Over 400 new immigrants from Ukraine, among them dozens of families fleeing the east of the country, will be landing in Israel as part of an air convoy beginning on December 22nd, the 7th day of Hanukkah
The arrival of the new immigrants is a result of the initiative and funding of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption in concert with the Jewish Agency, Global Ezra movement and Nativ
Rabi Yechiel Eckstein, President & Founder of IFCJ:
"The Fellowship will continue to ensure that any Jew who is in danger or who faces hardship will receive shelter and a home. The first Fellowship flight will open a new chapter in the contribution of the IFCJ to immigration and absorption in Israel."
226 new olim will arrive in Israel from the Ukraine in the first aliyah flight organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ – Keren L'Yedidut), under the "Fellowship Aliyah" program. The flight is being organized in conjunction with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Jewish Agency, the global Ezra movement and Nativ. The Founder and President of The Fellowship, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, recently announced his intention to assist in the mission of bringing more Jews home to Israel, while further strengthening other agencies active in the field. This flight is the first of many which will bring thousands of Jews to Israel in the coming years.
Since many of the new olim are refugees from the Ukraine and have suffered from the dire economic conditions in the country since the revolution, the IFCJ will give grants of $1,000 to every adult and $500 for every child in addition to funding their immigration. This support comes in addition to the absorption package and benefits which every new immigrant to Israel is eligible to receive from the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption. The Fellowship support has led to a greater than expected demand come to Israel, and therefore the Fellowship has arranged for a second flight on December 30.
The new olim will be received in a formal ceremony to be held at Terminal 1 of Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, 22nd December.
· Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
· Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver
Minister of Immigration and Absorption, MK Sofa Landver: "This year we have witnessed a significant increase in immigration to Israel from all countries and particularly from Ukraine. Throughout 2014 to this point, 5,134 new immigrants have arrived from Ukraine. This is a 174% increase compared to the same period last year. The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption welcomes this trend and has initiated a special monetary grant for immigrants fleeing emergency areas, Ukrainian Jews among them. We shall continue to work night and day in order to enable every Jew to take the step and come home."
IFCJ President, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein: "The dire straits, in which the Jews of the Ukraine have found themselves along with the increase in anti-Semitism across the world, compelled me to significantly increase the Fellowship's support for aliyah and enable all Jews who want to realize their right and immigrate to Israel to do so. The Fellowship under my leadership will now act to ensure that any Jew who is in danger or who faces hardship will receive shelter and a home. The first Fellowship flight will open a new chapter in the contribution of the IFCJ to immigration and absorption in Israel. We thank our partners in this effort and we promise to help the immigrants in their swift and successful absorption in Israel."
Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Mr. Natan Sharansky: We shall continue to help any Jew who needs our assistance. The important work of promoting aliyah is done thanks to the generosity of important donors, chief among them the IFCJ headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. The Fellowship, which has placed aliyah at the top of its priorities, is acting in cooperation with the Jewish Agency to enable us to bring the immigrants to Israel in a concentrated manner.
Director of the global Ezra movement, Danny Elinson: Throughout 2013, due to the conditions prevailing in the CIS, and due to the fact that there are still thousands of aliyah-eligible Jews throughout the CIS, the global Ezra movement has decided to significantly expand its activities in the field of promoting aliyah to Israel. We invest much effort in personal accompaniment of the refugees throughout the entire process of their immigration to Israel, and we are glad to be bringing a concentrated flight of immigrants, in cooperation with the IFCJ, the Jewish Agency, the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption and Nativ.
The IFCJ has been active since the day it was founded in helping Jews from poor countries around the world to realize their right of immigrating to Israel. The Fellowship, which is supported by Israel-loving Christians and Jews around the world, for whom the vision of "Return to Zion" is a central tenet of faith, has transferred some one billion shekels thus far for the purpose of bringing Jews to Israel from the former CIS countries, Ethiopia, India and Middle Eastern countries. In light of the crisis which has befallen Ukraine and the fighting which has followed, the Fellowship has decided to significantly increase the aliyah efforts and to that end has established a designated department in the organization for which this is the top priority. The Fellowship acts through its partners at the Jewish Agency, which is in charge of locating, registering and handling the immigrants, in cooperation with the global Ezra movement and in full coordination with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption.
We respect the General Court of the European Union's judgement delivered today annulling measures against Hamas, namely the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organisation and the freezing of Hamas' funds.
Sharansky: "This is a year of record Aliyah. Beit Brodetsky is an excellent place to learn Hebrew, to get to know Israel—and also to find a shidduch (match)."
Landver: "Today you received a first home in Israel, a warm home and a social and professional structure. You are the future of the State of Israel."
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky and Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver dedicated a new center for young immigrants from around the world this morning (Thursday, December 11) in Tel Aviv. The Beit Brodetsky Center for Young Immigrants is a joint venture between The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and will be operated in conjunction with the Ministry of Education in order to encourage young people from around the world to immigrate to Israel and ease their integration into Israeli society.
294 young immigrants between the ages of 18 and 35 from 23 countries—most of whom have arrived in Israel over the past month, and more than half of whom hold academic degrees—will be participating in the first cycle of the live-in center dedicated in a festive ceremony this morning.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky told the hundreds of young immigrants in attendance: "This is a year of record Aliyah, with some 25,000 immigrants arriving in Israel from around the world. People around the world ask how immigrants continue to come despite the images of warfare. If they look at you, they will understand how good and complete life is in Israel. Beit Brodetsky is an excellent place to learn Hebrew, to get to know Israel—and also to find a shidduch (match)."
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said: "Today you received a first home in Israel, a warm home and a social and professional structure, but at the same it is important to me that you know that even when you finish your stay at this center, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption will be another home to you for many years, and the professional staff of the ministry will accompany you on your path to successful absorption and integration into Israeli society. You are the future of the State of Israel."
Located in northern Tel Aviv, near Tel Aviv University, the center for young immigrants is a joint venture between The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and is part of the expanded cooperation between the two bodies aimed at increasing the number of young immigrants coming to Israel and helping them as they take their first steps as Israeli citizens. The new center will serve as a bridge between the young immigrants and Israeli society, providing them with the infrastructure necessary for optimal integration while realizing their individual potential.
As part of the live-in program, the young immigrants will participate in intensive Hebrew lessons (ulpan) taught by educators from the Ministry of Education's Division for Adult Education. Participants will enjoy rich and diverse social and cultural programming and will be provided with counseling and guidance on continuing their education and advancing their careers in Israel. The center will eventually be home to some 600 young immigrants who will be divided into two cycles each year.
Uriel Benita and Elodie Assayag immigrated to Israel from Peru and France (respectively) two months ago and are living in the new center. They thanked the groups and individuals behind the venture for the warm welcome they have received. "One day, I was walking in the street in France and someone stopped me and told me to take off the Star of David necklace that was hanging around my neck. That was when I knew I would be making Aliyah," said Elodie. "I have made friends from around the world and I look forward to contributing to my new country."
PHOTO: Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver join young immigrants from around the world in dedicating the Beit Brodetsky Center for Young Immigrants in Tel Aviv, December 11, 2014. Photo credit: Zed Films.
Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, addressed the Jerusalem Post Diplomats Conference this morning.
Please find below a transcript of his speech:
"I don't think anyone could outline where the Prime Minister thinks we should go from here. Not even he can describe his own plan, because what I have learned from sitting next to him in the security cabinet is that he has no plan. By contrast, I want to clearly outline my approach today and invite the Prime Minister to do likewise so that the public can look, examine and discuss our two plans in the days ahead."
"On the agenda for the Arab League is finding a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Immediately after the elections I will suggest to President Sisi that the new Prime Minister of Israel come to Sharm El Sheik to the Arab League and announce the beginning of regional dialogue to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
It is no secret that the Prime Minister and I have had some disagreements – and some of the most important ones have been on the diplomatic front. It is amazing that having sat with the Prime Minister as a member of the Security Cabinet for nearly two years, I still cannot describe his plan for our future security.
And sadly, I'm not alone.
I don't think anyone could outline where the Prime Minister thinks we should go from here. Not even he can describe his own plan, because what I have learned from sitting next to him in the security cabinet is that he has no plan.
By contrast, I want to clearly outline my approach today and invite the Prime Minister to do likewise so that the public can look, examine and discuss our two plans in the days ahead.
For too long security issues in our country have been the subject of a debate between two mistakes: The left is wrong for blaming only Israel for the failure of the negotiations, naively assuming, despite all the evidence, that peace is easy to achieve if only we say yes to the Palestinians. The right on the other hand wrongly believes that no agreement is worthwhile and we are better of doing nothing.
My approach comes from a very different set of assumptions.
I believe that peace will be very difficult to achieve – but an agreement is not a gift we give the Palestinians. Rather a separation from them is the very best way to insure our country's future security and prosperity.
The State of Israel will defeat any enemy that threatens our security, but absorbing 4 million Palestinians will make us less secure and make it more difficult for us to remain both a Jewish and democratic state, and will further ruin our relationship with the United States and the international community.
Our relationship with the United States and other Western countries is a vital strategic asset for Israel. But it is an asset that is depreciating under this Prime Minister. This is why the world isn't rushing to reject President Abbas's request for unilateral recognition at the UN Security Council.
The United States, our closest ally, is debating, for the first time, whether or not to veto such a resolution. It's just another sign, not the first, of the ongoing damage being done to our relations with the US. I warned of this more than once in the past year, inside the security cabinet and in open forums but nothing has been done to repair the damage.
Three weeks ago, during the meeting of the Israeli Security Cabinet, we were shown the shocking pictures from the massacre carried out by two Palestinian terrorists in the synagogue in Jerusalem. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I was on the verge of tears. Photographs of Jews, wrapped in prayer shawls lying in their own blood takes us back to the darkest moments in Jewish history.
Something else also caught my attention, and the attention of others: the massacre, which was carried out with axes, was an obvious copycat of ISIS. The heroes of those young Palestinians are people in black masks.
It is alarming to see the evidence that ISIS terrorists are the new idols of young Palestinians, but our concern about ISIS and Iran is shared by many Arab countries and Arab leaders. That creates new opportunities for Israeli diplomacy – opportunities which we cannot afford to ignore.
We've been searching for this change for a while now but we should remember that all the roads lead to the same solution: The Israelis and the Palestinians need to separate from one another. The two state solution is seen by many Israelis as a gift we might offer to the Palestinians. They're wrong. Separation from the Palestinians is an Israeli strategic interest.
Aside from the diplomatic significance, a separation is a critical social and economic interest for us.
Separating from the Palestinians will jumpstart the Israeli economy and allow us to quickly reach a GDP per head of almost 50,000 dollars. It will create a new economic market for us around the size of Europe, and open additional markets in Europe itself. It will allow us to bring down taxes, add to our healthcare and education systems and pave the way for the next generation of the start-up nation.
However, there is no economy without real security. We need to ensure there is a clear border between us and them, a geographic border, a demographic border, a secured border which we can defend.
We're not talking about peace – certainly not for the first few years – but a solid agreement which will lead to a clear separation between two people who can't live together in the same land. An agreement like this can only work if Israel's security interests are guaranteed in full. No less.
Of course it would be nice if the two sides trusted one another, but after a hundred years of conflict, trust is not something that's written in an agreement and then immediately comes to fruition. Give us ten years of living separately and securely and then we can talk about trust. Our agreements with Egypt and Jordan weren't based on trust, but on strict mutual guarantees. That's why those agreements are holding despite the changes in the region.
Israel won't start the long and agonizing process of removing the isolated settlements which will allow a separation, without robust and long lasting guarantees that any agreement signals the end of the conflict and the removal of threats from our borders.
Which brings us back to the question, how do we get there? Another round of bilateral talks won't be different from the previous ones. The geography is the same geography, the fears are the same fears, the history the same history.
What we need to change isn't what we talk about, but who we're talking with.
In place of the bilateral talks we must work for a regional dialogue, which will lead to a regional solution. Without the moderate Arab world engaged and taking responsibility the Palestinians will never dare reach a deal. They fear being branded traitors against Islam and the Arab ethos. When they watch TV they can see every day what happens to Muslims when more radical Muslims believe they are traitors. As long as the Arab states aren't around the table, the Palestinians will always have to take harder positions.
There won't be a long term solution for Gaza without Egypt playing a central role. There won't be a solution for the future status of the West Bank without Jordan being involved. The same is true for regional security arrangements; Egypt and Jordan, alongside the moderate Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States must take an active part in the negotiations for a regional agreement.
Though we were perfectly willing to live alongside these nations in peace, for decades we were their most important enemy. But today, they have real enemies – enemies bent on destroying their regimes. These are the same enemies we also face – Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, ISIS, Al Qaida and radical Islam more generally.
At the end of March – immediately after the Israeli elections – the Arab League will meet in Sharm El Sheik in Egypt, the Heads of State will be present. At its head will be the President of Egypt, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. It's an opportunity we must not miss. Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia, leads the 'alliance of moderate states' – an informal coalition of Arab countries which share an interest in working with the West to stop the advance of radical Islam. Israel should be an integral part of that coalition, and we have a significant amount to contribute to that fight.
On the agenda for the Arab League is finding a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Immediately after the elections I will suggest to President Sisi that the new Prime Minister of Israel come to Sharm El Sheik to the Arab League and announce the beginning of regional dialogue to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
After the Arab League we should convene a regional summit, facilitated by the international community and led by the United States, which will lead to a separation agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and discuss normalization between Israel and the Arab world.
The Israeli public has shown understandable skepticism to the idea of removing settlements since the disengagement in 2005. Who can blame us? We did what the whole world wanted us to do – we left Gaza – and instead of building schools and hospitals, the Palestinians brought Hamas to power, built terror tunnels and rocket launch sites, and attacked serene Israeli communities.
A regional agreement will not provide us with a hermetic solution against terror, and we will not leave our security in anyone else's hands. But a regional agreement might give the Egyptians who already work to keep the Sinai quiet, and the Jordanians who have also maintained their peace treaty with us, a role in helping us insure our own security.
Simultaneously, Israelis will begin to feel the economic importance of such an arrangement. The Arab world as a trading zone, includes countries which seek our technology in water, agriculture and healthcare. Our GDP, and the income of every Israeli, will rise.
It won't be easy. It won't be immediate. Israel has been damaged before by deals which have been broken. After the Oslo accords we experienced the terror of 1995. After the Barak-Arafat talks at Camp David came the Second Intifada which claimed the lives of over 1000 Israelis. After the disengagement from Gaza in 2005 were the rockets and terror tunnels.
We must not ignore all that. We must not compromise on the security of the citizens of Israel, not even an inch. That is why we won't be able to undertake a process like this without the support of our friends in the world, first and foremost the United States. Our relations with the US require rehabilitation after Netanyahu, but the United States can take a pro-active role in a regional summit by bringing the sides to the table and providing guarantees for any progress.
We will begin walking that path without knowing where it ends, but there is one truth that applies wherever people live: The cost of war is greater than the cost of hope.
We don't have, I don't have, the right to stand by while another generation of Israelis grows up in the middle of an ongoing conflict. War is not a way of life. We should turn to the Arab League and begin negotiations which will lead to a regional agreement and a separation from the Palestinians.
"Yesh Atid will lead the center bloc. We will connect with other parties to replace the current leadership and continue with full force, exactly from the place where we stopped. Everything is ready. Everything is already on the table. Everything can be restarted."
"Israel's security is dependent on our ability to take the initiative, not to wait until there is no choice. That is the legacy of Begin, of Rabin, of Sharon. We need to go to a regional process with the Arab League to reach an agreement which will lead to a separation from the Palestinians."
About two hours ago the Prime Minister stood at this podium and spoke. I heard his speech and was embarrassed. Mr. Prime Minister, at least do your homework, at the very least know what you're talking about.
The Prime Minister spoke about the zero VAT law. First of all, the VAT exemption is part of a wide housing plan which I assume he just doesn't know about. He said the law was problematic because "apartments aren't a product under supervision." Mr. Netanyahu, part of the law, a law you voted in favor of, is supervision of the prices by the Government Appraiser. His name is Yal Alderoti, he works for you, you can ask him. For months now his team and he are working on mapping all the neighborhoods and building sites in Israel for the specific purpose of supervising the prices, and to ensure that the building contractors can't raise the price after the law is passed. There is also a whole team at the Income Tax Authority, led by Meir Asulin, he also works for you and you should ask him as well. His role is to ensure that the supervision is maintained and there can't be a spike in prices.
The Prime Minister said here, "Zero VAT law will cost 3 billion shekels." Mr. Prime Minister, is it possible that you didn't read the budget you voted for? Is it possible that you voted for the zero VAT law, and then worked against it, without even reading the law? Because if you had bothered to check, you would have seen that the cost is actually 2 billion shekels, not 3. It's in the budget, in black and white. Prime Minister during the last government, the one you miss so much, the one in which you were responsible for the economy, house prices jumped 80%, an entire generation buckled under those price and you did nothing about it.
This time, the only thing that was asked of you was not to interfere, and you couldn't even do that. Instead you stood here and announced that you took away the only chance young couples, who served in the army and did national service, had to be given 200,000 shekels in support from the government to buy an apartment. And it turns out, you didn't even bother to try and understand the law.
The Prime Minister suggested instead increasing the grant given to soldiers at the end of their service. Mr. Prime Minister, I'm in favor, but I have a question: Until a week ago I was your Finance Minister. We put forward a budget together. Where was that wonderful plan then? Did you keep it hidden? Did you only think of it last night? Is it possible, is it conceivable, that the Prime Minister had the opportunity to assist citizens of Israel but didn't do anything so that he wouldn't have to share credit with the Finance Minister?
The Prime Minister suggested VAT exemptions on food under supervision, another plan no-one had heard of, another thing he never suggested putting into the budget. In fact, only a month ago he told the government that he opposes putting food under any price supervision. What happened since then? Elections were called. Mr. Netanyahu has a very clear approach to the elections. He works under the assumption that the Israeli voter is a four year old child and that there are only two ways to work with children, fear and treats. So throughout the election he offers them treats which they won't get in the end, and at the same time scares them by telling them the enemy is at the gate and only he can save them. Mr. Prime Minister, we are not four year old children. We, the Israeli voters, are grown men and women and deserve to be treated with respect and not as if we're stupid.
Last week I packed up my belongings and left the Finance Ministry. In the end everything went into two boxes: One box with things that said, "Done" and another with all the plans which were stopped with the announcement of elections and on that one a note, "stuck because of the Prime Minister."
The box labelled "done" is full of things which we led on, in conjunction with other ministers, for other parties. A quick reminder of what we promised and delivered: A government of 18 ministers instead of over 30, the cancellation of the strange title "Minister Without Portfolio", increasing the electoral threshold, the national equal burden law which has already led to an increase by tens of percentages in the number of ultra-orthodox people enlisting into the IDF and heading to academia and an increase by hundreds of percent in those looking to join the work force.
The list goes on, Core curriculum in ultra-orthodox education, Open Skies reforms which brought down the cost of flights, free medication and a dramatic increase in subsidies for Holocaust survivors, compulsory employment of people with disabilities in the public sector, the food safety program for children from the lowest end of the socio-economic spectrum, support for small businesses, reduction in waiting time for the government to pay to 22 days. That box also includes the summer programs for school children, reforms in the matriculation exams, cancellation of the TV license fee, urban police, tenders for new ports, limiting the pay for senior management, the food law, Sheshinski 2, the surrogacy law, the conversation bill and it goes on and on.
The first box fills me with satisfaction. The second box is frustrating and challenging. It is frustrating because, if not for the Prime Minister who dragged us into the most unnecessary elections in the history of this country, we could have got started on a number of programs which would have transformed Israel's economy. It's frustrating also becomes it comes a year late. We lost a whole year to saving the economy from the crisis point which the previous Netanyahu government left it in. When I arrived at the Finance Minister I found a huge budget deficit waiting for me which stemmed primarily from mismanagement. Instead of deciding, instead of dealing with challenges, their friends and supporters were given treats, they ran it as an election budget, and they hoped it would sort itself out somehow, that someone would come along who could be blamed for the catastrophe which they caused. So we came and dealt with the catastrophe, and they blamed us. On the other hand the second box is also challenging because that is now the plan. That's what we'll put in place after the elections.
That box has the budget in it. The most social budget which was presented here in years. The budget which you were denied. A budget that despite all the pressures – including by the Prime Minister – doesn't include tax increases. A budget which increases by 10 billion shekels the social services. Which increases the summer programs, brings down the number of children in each class and puts the matriculation reforms into practice. A budget which will allow a more efficient public health system, brings down health insurance costs, reduces waiting times in hospitals and increases the medication available through the 'healthcare basket.' A budget which increases elderly support benefits for 190,000 elderly people living below the poverty line.
A budget which provides resource for 1,100 police officers, firemen and prison guards which we so desperately need right now as we fight this wave of terror. A budget which includes support for single mothers and small businesses, support for "Breathing Welfare" program which provides support for needy families as they break the cycle of poverty. As well as all this the budget allocates a further 6 billion shekels to defense, for Trophy Systems for our tanks, for Iron Dome, for solutions to the terror tunnels, for procurement of advanced weapons, everything that provides security and protects the lives of our soldiers. If this sounds like slogans to anyone then they can check. Open the budget book (appropriation law), it's all in there.
In the box labelled 'stuck with the Prime Minister' is also our housing plan. The irresponsibility of the Prime Minister has caused house prices to increase already this past week. It's frustrating because we worked for two years from morning to night. Zero VAT is only one part of that housing plan, and not even the biggest one. 100,000 new apartments; 'path to an apartment' program to unblock barriers of transport, committees to grant faster planning permission, the beginning of building projects for rent, fair rental law, target price plan. It finally began to work. In 2014, after years of double digit increases, finally we slowed the price rises. Last month, for the first time since 2007, house prices went down. Now we need to start from the beginning because the Prime Minister doesn't care.
In the ' stuck because of the Prime Minister' box is also an agreement to raise the minimum wage for public sector workers, we were ready to sign. That will also need to wait. That box includes the Finance Ministry plan to bring down the cost of living. A program which will bring down bank fees, increase competition in the banking sector and bring down the cost of pensions and insurance policies. Reducing the customs duties on food which will continue the reduction in food prices which began over the past two months.
In that box is also the reform that the Likud Central Committee and outside interests did everything they could to block. The reform in the KKL which would have led to transparency and brought billions of shekels into the public budget. The reform in public health which would have transferred resource from the expensive private healthcare to the public service and reduced the cost of treatment. The reforms in government companies, which would have finally put an end to the political appointments.
That was our work plan. Because we came to work. That's what bothered them so much. Because they don't want their governmental corruption and special interests to be disturbed and they want to continue to do nothing. They couldn't understand why we insisted on working and changing. Why we refused to play the game like everyone else. So in the end the Prime Minister decided to go to expensive and unnecessary elections. Elections that are a burden on the economy and cause us to spend billions – and not on the series of programs I've talked about.
It won't help them. Because what is in this second box, including the diplomatic plan, will become our working plan immediately after the elections. In four months we will go to vote. Yesh Atid will lead the center bloc. We will connect with other parties to replace the current leadership and continue with full force, exactly from the place where we stopped. Everything is ready. Everything is already on the table. Everything can be restarted.
And there is one more thing. The Prime Minister mentioned it in passing, but this issue is the main influence on the economy, on the budget and on Israeli society – and that's security. There is one question – on the diplomatic and security agenda – which the Prime Minister refuses to answer, because he can't answer it: What is your plan? Where do we go from here? There is no plan, there is no diplomatic horizon that anyone can understand, and there isn't the courage to take decisions when the only thing that concerns him is what the Likud Central Committee will say. Netanyahu has no plan. Not one that will protect our security interests, not one that will provide us with a genuine diplomatic horizon which will change the face of Israel.
When judging on results, Netanyahu failed to bring security. Instead of personal security, citizens are scared to walk in the streets of Jerusalem. Instead of quiet on our borders this summer we had the longest military campaign for over 20 years. At the end of that operation an opportunity was missed to disarm Hamas and not diplomatic process was undertaken to demilitarize Gaza. The IDF and security forces are doing exceptional work, with dedication, but the role of the leadership is to decide where we go from me. What is the aim? The fact that we are doing nothing doesn't mean the reality isn't changing. It is changing, for the worse. And it doesn't end there.
I have sat for the past two years in the Security Cabinet. I can't be sold stories. The Prime Minister decided to do nothing. Being an intelligent man he understands that if we don't undertake a diplomatic process of separation from the Palestinians he is risking the future of the State of Israel. But he is scared of the Likud Central Committee members and from those who will leave him for Bennett. We are in an election. At times like this the Prime Minister is meant to present a plan to the public. He is meant to answer simple questions; what next? Where do we go from here? What's the plan?
Netanyahu won't do anything because that has become his default position. Israel's security is dependent on our ability to take the initiative, not to wait until there is no choice. That is the legacy of Begin, of Rabin, of Sharon. We need to go to a regional process with the Arab League to reach an agreement which will lead to a separation from the Palestinians. Our shared fight against radical Islam allows us to join the coalition of moderate Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States and to reach a comprehensive agreement. If we don't, our security will be harmed, our economy will be damaged and the entire Zionist project will be in danger.
I want to start by addressing the terror attack in the supermarket in Maale Adumim. Two weeks ago men at prayer were murdering in a synagogue in Har Nof, today it was people shopping for Shabbat. These are murderous and contemptible attacks, whether they are done by individuals or whether they are organized, it is an unacceptable situation and we cannot abide it. I know that the IDF, the police and the Shin Bet are working around the clock to prevent attacks like this in advance and in real time. I would like to wish a full and speedy recovery to those who were injured and to thank the security forces and Magen David Adom who overpowered the terrorists and prevented an even worse tragedy.
Yesterday evening, the Prime Minister called a press conference which was fearful and troubled, during which he focused on personal attacks. I'd like to respond to him.
Mr. Prime Minister,
Yesterday you stood in front of an entire nation and announced that you were dragging the country to entirely unnecessary elections which no-one, except you wants. Why? Because you are disconnected. You have no idea what it does to the citizens of Israel because you live in your aquarium, and for a long time now you don't know who the people are and what really troubles them.
You announced to the Israeli public that you prefer to paralyze the Israeli economy. To burden the economy with billions in expenses. That you are withholding the most socially aware budget for years, a budget you voted for, that you are taking away the only opportunity thousands of young couples have ever had to own an apartment. Why? Because you're disconnected.
You can't tell me stories, Mr. Prime Minister, not after two years of sitting together in government, in the cabinet and in the most sensitive forums. Again and again we were all shocked by how disconnected you really are, how focused you are on yourself.
Mr. Prime Minister,
You refused to raise the minimum wage in the public sector at the last moment, stopped the transfer of money from the KKL to the elderly living in poverty and closed the summer programs for children because of internal elections in the Likud – because you're disconnected.
You threw away a socially responsible budget yesterday, a budget with no tax increases even though you wanted to raise taxes. A budget which, for the first time, increases dramatically the budget for education, for smaller classes, for the public health system, for those with disabilities. Instead you preferred to protect a few jobs for your central committee members in the private health system and to guarantee directorships in public companies for people who bring you votes - because you are so disconnected that you don't realize everyone sees the corruption and isn't willing to accept it anymore.
You turned your back on young couples. You denied them a saving of hundreds of thousands of shekels on a new apartment, after you supported the housing plan and the VAT exemption – because you're disconnected.
You made a deal with the ultra-orthodox, you promised to cancel the equality of national burden, increase the budget for yeshivot (religious study centers), to cancel the study of core subjects in their schools. You promised them, as MK Litzman said, to 'turn back the clock' – because you're so disconnected you don't understand what it does to the Israeli public. To do all this and then to whine that people tried to organize a 'putch' against you, something which never happened, that's not even disconnected, that's to live in a fantasy world. I tried to overthrow you? Do you hear yourself? Who sold you that absurdity? And what caused you listen to it?
You caused ongoing, serious harm to the strategic relations between Israel and the United States. You critically damaged relations with the White House, senators call me and ask what the meaning is of your patronizing and insulting behavior towards our greatest friend in the world. Our relations with the US are our greatest security interest. Try and explain to them that you are so disconnected that you believe the US is still living in the eighties. You used to understand America but America changed and you're disconnected.
You went through a campaign in Gaza when even your own cabinet lost faith in your ability to manage it. And then you got scared by the polls, you ran away from a diplomatic initiative and missed the chance to demilitarize Gaza and bring quiet to southern Israel. I'd encourage you to listen to the people who live around the Gaza Strip, ask them why they feel that you didn't bring them the security you promised, but it won't happen, your office, like always, will make sure you don't meet a single person who thinks differently from you. They understand what you expect from them. They know that's how you prefer to be – disconnected.
The citizens of Israel are walking around today and don't understand why there are elections, but they feel that they have lost. They have lost out on smaller classrooms, discounted apartments, the closing of the water corporation, a better public health system, help for the weak and more police officers on the streets protecting them.
But I want to say to you, to the people of Israel, you haven't lost anything. Even if they try to take it away from you, we're now going to elections. In four months we'll continue with full force, exactly where we've been stopped and to continue to change the country. Everything is ready, everything is possible, everything can be re-started. It is in our hands.
Conference Main Topics:
Opening Plenary - What's in store for 2015?
Looking ahead - Winning in a competitive environment
Israel, Inc.: Viewing the defense budget as a case study
Waking up from the American Dream
Emerging Markets and the EBRD region
Dynamics of the energy market
The future of the banking system
Israel, Inc.: Employment and the future of the labor market
The global economy in 2015
Workshop: Management in the coming decade
Environmental markets: exploring a new asset class
Knowledge is power
The Chinese economy and its growth
California-Israel global innovation project
Economy and Security
The Middle East global crisis
A vision of the future
Israel, Inc.: Government-owned companies as a case study
Is there something to build on?
Recommended investments in 2015
China has tea and cottage cheese
Israel, Inc.: Hi Tech
Finger on the pulse
From global to local
Transparency in business
Israel through foreign eyes
Divide and conquer
The defense industry
Start-up Nation - For all Israeli citizens
Reinventing Israeli Capital Markets
Start-up Odyssey: A journey through Israeli space start-ups
Economic crime, corruption and black money
Conference Schedule :
Netanyahu is leading Israel to unnecessary elections. He chose to act without consideration for the national interest and to place the needs of the Israeli public at the bottom of his list of priorities. Netanyahu prefers a deal with the ultra-orthodox parties to bring forward the elections above the interests of the wider Israeli public. The Israeli public now understands that at the head of the government is a Prime Minister who doesn't carry out his promises. A Prime Minister who prefers his person survival to their interests.
The demands by the Prime Minister to Yesh Atid expose his political intentions and his debt to the members of the Likud central committee and external interests. The Prime Minister prefers to drag the market through elections which will bring the economy to a halt, burden the market, stop the reforms currently in the works and deny young couples in Israel the opportunity to buy an apartment of their own.
The Chairperson of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, is committed to continue fighting for the citizens of Israel and the public's right to a socially aware budget with billions of shekels towards education, health, welfare and internal security, without tax rises and with a comprehensive housing plan for young couples.
"The voice of Jews from Arab countries and Iran must be heard within the education system, in the media, in the arts, and in the country's official institutions, as it needs to be heard in the internationally arena as well, in order to mend the historical injustice, and to ensure financial reparations."
President Reuven Rivlin addressed a ceremony at his residence marking the first Day of the Expulsion and Deportation of Jews from Arab Lands and Iran (30 November 2014):
"We have come together today to make amends for an historical injustice, against a million Jews, immigrants from Arab countries and Iran, whose stories were pushed to the margins of the Zionist narrative. Indeed, this comes too late, on too small a scale, and no longer has an impact on the public consciousness. And yet still, it is important to seek the correction, which should not be underestimated.
This is the nature of healing consciousness, it has the power to dissolve the residue, change the future, and establish a new consciousness, which will illuminate the past with the light of historic justice. Throughout the years, refugees from the Arab communities felt that the establishment itself, was pushing them into a corner. The establishment itself blurred the trace of their tracks from the pages of official history. As if the immigrants from the Arab countries did not march proudly along the routes of 'the pillar of fire and smoke', of the history of our people.
Jews in Arab countries were born Zionists of Zion. There was no need to promote the idea within their communities or convince them of the importance of returning the people to its land, the establishment of the state or building the country. They did not dare to conceive the 'Uganda' plan, after all, Uganda, was for them exile, not salvation. The love of Zion was and remains in their blood. They fed on it along with their mother's milk, from the verses of prayer, and the stories of their fathers.
Even before the announcement of the establishment of the state, and especially following, Jews in Arab countries and Iran, found themselves imprisoned in their own countries, subjected to restrictions and harassment, exposed without protection, to massacres and looting - from riots in Tripoli to Eden. Many were expelled. Others couldn't face the harassment, and were forced to leave their countries, leaving behind entire lifetimes, memories, their parents' tombs, a language, culture and property.
For years, their voices weren't heard, and their loss wasn't expressed. The horrific tragedies that happened to our people caught most of the attention. Many immigrants were sent far away from the positions of power, to face the challenges of the periphery, in Dimona, Beit She'an and Hatzor Haglilit. They were required to develop cities out of nothing, to process the parched desert soil, and to deal, on a daily basis with protecting the borders of the State of Israel.
It was not malice that led to their exclusion from the front-lines of the leadership of the young state, but exclusion did cause frustration and rightful pain. Their voices were muted, but the words were in their mouths all along, even if they were said in Hebrew with a Persian or Arabic accent, which in Israel, were thought of as enemy languages and viewed as a source of shame. It took time, too long a time, until the tales of the Jewish immigrants from Arab countries and Iran made it into conciseness of the Israeli public. And today we are fortunate to hear their story in a loud, proud and eloquent voice, from the mouths of their sons and daughters.
This voice, this story, must be heard within the education system, in the media, in the arts, and in the country's official institutions, as it needs to be heard in the internationally arena as well, in order to mend the historical injustice, and to ensure financial reparations.
Even today, Tehran and Haled, Baghdad, Sana'a and Tripoli, are still places prohibited to Israeli Jews, and cultural treasures and property left there have been vandalized and looted, more than once by the hateful regimes. This day, for the expulsion and exile from the Arab countries and Iran, is an opportunity to do an historical justice. With a refreshed and considered viewpoint, which does not ignore the problems of the past. But more than that, this day asks us to remember and embrace in our hearts the cultural treasures created in these Jewish communities from the Arab countries and Iran, and get to know the important part they played, in creating the joint future woven here today, as part of the history of the State of Israel."
President Reuven Rivlin
Jewish refugees from Arab lands: The Jews of Iraq 18 Nov 2014
On June 23, 2014 the Knesset adopted a law which designates November 30th as an annual, national day of commemoration for the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were displaced from Arab countries and Iran in the 20th century.
Jews had lived in the Arab lands for thousands of years, and many of their communities preceded the advent of Islam. But in the 20th century, with the rise of Arab nationalism and the conflict in Palestine, the new Arab regimes began a campaign of massive violations of the rights of their Jewish citizens. Arab states expropriated property of their native Jews, and denaturalized, expelled, arrested, tortured and murdered many of them.
Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Today, for the first time, we are marking the exit and deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries and from Iran in the years following the establishment of the State of Israel. It is not for nothing that this day is marked on the day after the 29th of November. The Arab countries, which never accepted the UN declaration on the establishment of a Jewish state, compelled the Jews living in their territories to leave their homes while leaving their assets behind. In several instances the deportations were accompanied by pogroms and violence against Jews. We have acted - and will continue to act - so that they and their claims are not forgotten."
The narratives of the departure of the Jews from Arab lands differ in detail by country, and from one family to another, but in the substance the stories are similar.
The Jewish community of Iraq had existed for more than 2,500 years and were a cultural center of Judaism where the Babylonian Talmud was written and compiled. This ancient community came under attack from the Iraqi government in the wake of the establishment of Israel, and was expelled, after being physically attacked with many fatalities, and their property and assets confiscated. In this film, Aharon Abudi, tells the story of his upbringing in Iraq, and the story of his family, through the Farhud pogrom and expulsion, their absorption in Israel and a life rebuilt from the ruins.
The Knesset has designated November 30th by law as a day of commemoration of the expulsion of the Jews from Arab lands. The narratives of the departure of the Jews from Arab lands differ in detail by country , and from one family to another, but in the substance the stories are similar. Jews lived in the Arab lands for thousands of years, and many of their communities preceded the advent of Islam. The Jewish communities of Iraq had existed for more than 2,500 years and were a cultural center of Judaism where the Babylonian Talmud was written and compiled. This ancient community came under attack from the Iraqi government in the wake of the establishment of Israel, and was expelled, after being physically attacked with many fatalities, and their property and assets confiscated. In this film, Aharon Abudi, tells the story of his upbringing in Iraq, and the story of his family, through the Farhud pogrom and expulsion, their absorption in Israel and a life rebuilt from the ruins.
Photo :Jewish refugees from Arab lands
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Wednesday, 26 November 2014) held a working meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who was accompanied by eights of his ministerial colleagues, visiting Israel as part of the ongoing G2G consultations between the two countries.
President Rivlin commented, "There is a very special bond between our two countries, the Czech Government is an important friend of our country, and the arrival of the Prime Minister and fellow ministers greatly serves to strengthen that bond."
Responding to the President, Prime Minister Sobotka said, "The connection between the Czech Republic and Israel is of great importance to us. We are holding government-to-government consultations with only to countries, Slovakia and Israel. I view this meeting as a natural continuation of the excellent relationship between our countries."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Prime Minister Sobotka, It's a pleasure to welcome you and your delegation to our inter-governmental meeting here in Jerusalem. I've been to Prague twice. I told you that I was impressed by the natural affinity between the Czech people and the Jewish people, both in character, the championing of freedom, the great value that we place on individualism, on curiosity, on creativity, in literature and science and the arts and every field. There was an easy sympathy that we could feel in the Czech Republic and I think that you feel here in Israel.
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
The Cabinet, at its weekly meeting yesterday (Sunday, 23 November 2014), was briefed by Prime Minister's Office Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women Director Vered Swid on violence against women in Israel and on inter-ministerial treatment of the phenomenon, ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which will be marked tomorrow.
Swid told the ministers that there has been a decline in instances of violence against women including sexual offenses and added that the improvement in the data is the result of joint work by Government ministries including the Social Affairs and Social Services, Public Security, Health, Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Justice and Education ministries which, along with shelters for battered women and women's organizations, brought about a series of activities throughout the country. These include: Operating emergency switchboards in five languages; operating 14 shelters for battered women and their children; operating 90 units and centers for both individual and group treatment of incidents of violence in the family; creating additional positions for social workers who deal with violence in the family; operating local council programs to prevent violence against women; locating, diagnosing and treating victims of violence in the family; operating the "Bridges" plan to reduce violence in the family among immigrants; educational pamphlets to identify "red lights"; operating therapy groups for men; self-defense workshops, etc.
Swid added that the "Put a Stop to Violence" campaign will soon be launched. The campaign, which was initiated by the Authority, calls for men to seek counselling and treatment. Swid recently presented the campaign to the UN, where delegates from various countries expressed an interest. The campaign will be featured in cinemas and on websites, including in Arabic.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We will not countenance attacks on women, murder of women by their partners, or treating women like property. These phenomena must be fought against and we will do so."
The Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee on Advancement of the Status of Women, Minister Limor Livnat, said, "Recently, we have witnessed a serious phenomenon in which women and girls are photographed without their knowledge, and contemptible and humiliating photographs are disseminated over social networks. This can cause terrible tragedies for those who have been photographed and this phenomenon as well must be fought against."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, today (Sunday, 23 November 2014), issued a statement to members of the French Jewish community in Israel in wake of the Cabinet's decision to lift impediments to the absorption of new immigrants in the labor market.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"Israel is the Jewish home, the national state of the Jewish People. We want to see masses of Jews coming here, of course this is everyone's personal decision, but I think that anyone who looks at the world today understands that there is one national home for every Jew.
I appeal especially to the Jews of France; this is a community that I know, love and appreciate. We see you today not only as brothers and sisters but as our very flesh. And then the simple question arises: If this is true, why don't we make moving home easier? Why don't we allow Jewish professionals, and they have a splendid community in France, the talents and charms of which I have learned to recognize, who can make a tangible contribution to Israeli society, to the Israeli economy, and to Israeli security, to do so?
As a first step, we decided today that by January 1 we will demand that all Government ministries simplify, cut and shorten procedures so as to allow us a range of professions, degrees and diplomas, and to allow French Jews to immigrate to Israel and begin standing on their own feet and earn livings that befit their talents, experience and professions? I think that this is essential; it is essential to other communities too, we are doing this as well. This should have been done decades ago but we are doing it now. I think that this is very important and I reiterate and say one thing: This is your home, this is your state. This is a personal decision but I want you to know that we await you with open arms and we want to roll out the red carpet so that you can come and join in building up our country and in ensuring the future of our people here in our land."
(November 20, 2014—Jerusalem) On Sunday, November 23, 2014, a ceremony posthumously honoring Petro and Kateryna Durniak from Ukraine as Righteous among the Nations will take place at Yad Vashem. Christina-Ludmila Kril, daughter of the Righteous among the Nations Petro and Kateryna Durniak, will be in attendance from Ukraine to accept the medal and certificate of honor on her parents' behalf. Olena Ivanchuk, from the Ukrainian Embassy will be in attendance, as well as Freddy Gruber, son of Righteous Josef Gruber who was a friend of Petro Durniak. They will be joined by Holocaust survivors, family and friends. The medal and certificate will be presented by Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Department of the Righteous among the Nations of Yad Vashem. A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 11:00 a.m. followed by the presentation of the medal and certificate of honor and unveiling of the names in the Garden of the Righteous among the Nations at Yad Vashem. The event will take place in Hebrew and Polish. The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations Dept. 02 644 3410.
The Rescue Story:
In the summer of 1942, when 50,000 Jews from Lwow (today Lviv), were deported to their deaths at the Belzec Extermination Camp, David Winter and his wife decided to separate from their newborn daughter, Anna, in order to increase her chances of survival. They secretly took Anna out of the ghetto and asked David's Ukrainian friend Petro Durniak to watch over their baby daughter. Petro's wife, Kateryna was pregnant at the time and shortly after Anna's arrival the couple had a daughter of their own, Christina. The couple changed Anna's name to Barbara and presented the two girls as twins.
The Winter couple survived the Holocaust and the first news they heard of their daughter came from David's brother, Nachum Winter. Nachum was a soldier in the Red Army and after his hometown Lwow was liberated, he requested time off and travelled to search for any of his relatives who may have survived. He found his niece at the home of Kateryna Durniak (she and Petro were separated at this time) and gave her his monthly salary in gratitude for care of his niece. Before he left he took a photograph with his niece. When Nachum discovered his brother and his wife at one of the refugee camps in Central Europe, he informed them that their daughter was alive and sent them the picture he had taken with Anna-Barbara. David and his wife contacted Kateryna and organized for Anna-Barbara's transfer to them, across the border of the USSR.
The Winter family moved to Israel, but shortly afterwards they emigrated to Austria. With time, the Winters lost contact with the Durniak family. However, the Durniaks never forgot Anna-Barbara. Kateryna kept her picture in a family photo album and after her death, her daughter Christina kept the photograph.
The rescue story of baby Anna-Barbara came to light in 2013 when Freddy Gruber, whose father Josef Gruber was recognized as Righteous among the Nations in 2005, travelled from his home in Israel to Lviv to meet his father's family. Freddy also searched for any descendants of his father's friend, Petro Durniak. He arrived at Christina's home and she showed him the picture of Anna-Barbara as a small child. Upon his return to Israel, Freddy turned to Yad Vashem and told Anna-Barbara's rescue story. After further investigation, the Department of the Righteous among the Nations uncovered a testimony given by Freddy's mother, Antonia Gruber, in 2005. In a single sentence she mentioned that her future husband's friend, named Durniak, had rescued a Jewish girl. In addition, a testimony from 1961 of Nachum Winter was found in the Yad Vashem Archives where he gave a detailed explanation of how he discovered his niece. Attached to his testimony was the picture that was taken of Nachum and Anna-Barbara at Kateryna's home. These two photographs, the one saved by Nachum from the Durniak family, and the photograph that was in David Winter's testimony, clearly show the same child. Therefore, with the help of testimony which was given more than fifty years ago, Yad Vashem was able to connect the two parts of this story.
On July 10, 2014, Petro and Kateryna Durniak were recognized as Righteous among the Nations.
For more information about the Righteous among the Nations: http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteo us/index.asp
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education. www.yadvashem.org
The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemns the terrorist attack which had targeted a synagogue in Jerusalem, this early morning, November 18, 2014, which led to four people dead and eight wounded. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its deep regret for the loss of lives and shows full solidarity with the Israeli people in these tragic circumstances.
Embassy of Romania to the State of Israel
Also The Costa Rica Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemns the attack that took place in Jerusalem
El Gobierno de Costa Rica manifiesta su rechazo y condena absoluta al atentado perpetrado contra una sinagoga en el barrio ortodoxo de Har Nof, en Jerusalén Oeste, en el que murieron cuatro ciudadanos israelíes, así como dos atacantes, en un acto considerado el más mortífero de los últimos años.
In the latest in a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks, Palestinian terrorists massacred innocent Jews at prayer, motivated by intensive Palestinian incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism against Israelis.
Early Tuesday morning (7:00 Israel time), two Palestinian terrorists entered a synagogue in Har Nof (a neighborhood in north-west Jerusalem), with the intention of massacring innocent Jews at prayer. Using a gun and butcher knives, the terrorists murdered four Jewish worshippers during their morning prayers. All four men were rabbis and all held dual citizenship: three were American-Israelis and the fourth was a British-Israeli dual citizen.
A police officer who was critically injured while attempting to stop the terrorist attack succumbed to his wounds late Tuesday evening, bringing the death toll to five. Seven other Israelis were wounded (three of them seriously) in the attack.
The two terrorists from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber were killed during the exchange of fire with police. This massacre of peaceful worshippers is the latest in a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks.
These terrorist attacks as well as Palestinian violence on Jerusalem's Temple Mount are caused by intensive Palestinian incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism against Israelis. As US Secretary of State John Kerry stated today in London, this morning's attack on the synagogue was "the pure result of incitement."
This vicious incitement is conducted by the Palestinian Authority, led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and extreme Islamist elements, particularly Hamas. The incitement is based on false claims against Israel and outright lies, including about sensitive religious issues.
For example, on Sunday, a Palestinian bus driver committed suicide in Jerusalem. The official autopsy and police investigation found that he had committed suicide by hanging himself inside his bus. Despite this, official PA media and other sources enflamed the situation by spreading the lie that he was murdered by Jews. This morning, the main headline of the official PA paper, al-Hayat al-Jadida, quoted Abbas calling the suicide "an abominable crime" and the bus driver "a martyr."
Palestinian incitement is continuing despite last Thursday's talks (13 November) in Jordan with Secretary Kerry, King Abdullah of Jordan, PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The parties were supposed to act to calm the situation in Jerusalem. Israel did; Abbas most certainly did not. While Israel acted to restore calm and reaffirmed its commitment to the status quo on the Temple Mount, the Palestinians incited to terrorism and carried out murders. Israel ended the temporary security restriction on younger Muslims praying on the Temple Mount on Friday. The PA's official media called for a "Day of Rage" on Friday. Instead of calming the situation, Abbas exploited Sunday's suicide to inflame it.
Most members of the international community have turned a blind eye to Palestinian incitement to violence. This permits Abbas and other Palestinian leaders to allow the publication of the hate speech and blood libels that directly inspire terrorist attacks. World leaders and the international community at large should condemn this systematic and pervasive incitement, starting with that being carried out by President Abbas and PA officials.
While Abbas' office did issue a lukewarm condemnation of the attack this morning (which focused more on blaming Israel than denouncing or even identifying the attackers), it was clearly an attempt to deflect international pressure. Abbas' own Fatah party praised the terrorists who attacked the synagogue. Sultan Abu Al-Einein, an advisor to Abbas and a member of Fatah's Central Committee, called the synagogue attack "heroic" on Facebook. An additional statement praising the attack in the name of Fatah's Jerusalem branch was published on a main Fatah Facebook page.
Recent Palestinian terrorist attacks
16 November (Saturday night): A 35-year-old Jewish man was moderately injured after being stabbed in the back by a Palestinian in Jerusalem.
A sampling of world reactions
Canada - Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the "barbaric act of terror." Harper said Canada's "thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel."
European Union - Federica Mogherini, EU chief of foreign policy, condemned the deadly massacre as an "act of terror."
France - President François Hollande issued a statement condemning "the heinous attack ... in a synagogue in Jerusalem and those who dared to welcome the act."
Germany - Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the "deadly attacks targeting innocent believers in a place of worship" a "terrible transgression in an already extremely tense situation."
Great Britain - Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the Palestinian attack, writing "I'm appalled by today's horrific attack on worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue. My thoughts are with the victims' families."
Turkey - Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu condemned the attack.
United Nations - Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, describing the attack as a "reprehensible incident", "strongly condemns today's attack on a synagogue in West Jerusalem which claimed four lives and injured several persons." Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said: "There can be no justification whatsoever for these deliberate killings."
Bahrain - Sheikh Abu Khalifa, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, condemned the attack.
Palestinian Authority - Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, stated that "the presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshipers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it."
Hamas - Hamas praised the attack as "an appropriate and functional response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation." In the Gaza Strip people distributed sweets to celebrate, and brandished axes and posters of the killers. Palestinian television displayed photographs of celebratory scenes in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, and Palestinian radio called the killers "martyrs".
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Sunday, 16 November 2014), met with German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Stienmeier, for a working meeting at the President's Residence.
The President opened his remarks by saying, "Mr. Foreign Minister, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Jerusalem, the capital city of the State of Israel. Lately we have faced many troubles, Israel is not at war with Islam, and we have no intention to be. Unfortunately, we are fighting fundamentalists and fundamentalism, and that is the real problem."
The President concluded by thanking the Foreign Minister for Germany's support for Israel, and said, "Negotiations and dialogue are the only way forward. In the past, it has been proved that any kind of unilateral decisions are unsuccessful, and in fact make the situation worse. There is no real alternative to dialogue. As you said to Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, there is a need to support negotiations, and to avoid unilateral decisions."
The Foreign Minister thanked the President and said, "I mentioned this morning in a meeting with Foreign Minister Liberman, Israel's contribution to calm the situation. We hope we will experience a new attempt to re-enter a phase of negotiations, from my point of view this is the only way out."
In relation to the unilateral decisions, the German Foreign Minister said, "Unilateral decisions pose an obstacle to the success of negotiations."
Photo Mark Neimann GPO
President Rivlin spoke today at a State memorial service for the first President of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, marking 62 years since his death.
President Rivlin: "We must take the first President's approach; faith and hard work, and a constant strive for cooperation, in order to successfully live here together."
"I am appalled by the attempts to boycott Israeli scientific endeavors. Judgment and punishment on the basis of ethnicity, religion or political views will seriously harm science and society."
President Reuven Rivlin spoke today (Thursday) at a state memorial service for the first President of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, marking 62 years since his death.
The President said, "We stand here today at a memorial ceremony for the first President, Chaim Weizmann, but what we are really commemorating today, and dare I cautiously say – what we are celebrating today, is the varied and extensive work, the scientific-spiritual and practical-nation work of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first President. Weizmann inspired his contemporaries and many who came after him with his many dimensions, and variety that illuminated his character. He was a groundbreaking scientist, a national leader, who was determined, intelligent, and a far-sighted statesman. Weizmann's scientific achievements could have given him a crown of honor wherever he may have chosen. But as a national leader, who saw the suffering of his people, these achievements were never personal achievements. He translated every scientific victory, almost immediately into national-political achievements, which hastened the vision of the Jewish state a step closer.
"Weizmann translated his achievements in science into a platform for realizing the values of the national Zionist movement. He was not only a scientist and a Zionist. Weizmann was a statesman, and although I was born into a party that objected outright to his policies, one cannot ignore his ability to anticipate the unexpected. This ability enabled him to lay the milestones for Zionism to progress on its way to realize the vision of the Jewish state. Thus, he saw the decline of the Ottoman Empire, and the rise of the British Empire. He intelligently analyzed the relationship between the United Kingdom and France, and the alignment of interests in the Middle East. This observation led to Weizmann recognizing the need to coexistence with our Arab neighbors. He realized that the two nations were destined to live together side by side. Weizmann, who advocated and believed deeply in dialogue and not in the sword, in cooperation rather than violence, worked to build the first bridge."
The President referred to the security situation, "We are in a period in which the key elements of our existence here, as a sovereign, Jewish and democratic State, are being tested. Violence and terrorism are trying to undermine the security of our citizens and to undermine the sovereignty of Israel. We will not tolerate this. On the other hand, during this period we remember and remind ourselves that the faith of one people does not stand against the faith of another. I read with shock the foolish attempts made by various academic departments to boycott scientific endeavors in Israel. A particularly striking proposal will be brought before the MESA society in the United States, a union for academics engaged in Middle East studies, to boycott Israel and Israeli researchers. The loss of an academic agenda and the engaging in judgment and punishment on the basis of ethnicity, religion or political views will seriously harm science, humanities and social sciences.
"An academic boycott will hurt primarily science itself, that same free science of which Weizmann was a founder. Boycotts, violence, and incitement only deepen the rift and prevent the solution. During this period we must take the first President's approach; faith and hard work, and a constant strive for cooperation, in order to successfully live here together. We have no other choice. Only in this way, as Weizmann understood already in the beginning of the last century, can we build a different and shared future, for two nations."
At the end of his speech, President Rivlin quoted Weizmann, "I will end with the words of Chaim Weizmann, as he took leave from the Jewish Congress delegates in Geneva in August 1939. 'We are surrounded by the dark, and we cannot see anything through the clouds. We will continue to meet through our common work for our country and our people... will continue to work, to fight, and to live until a new dawn rises over better days to come. I wish you all this new dawn. May we meet in times of peace', said Weizmann. May we meet in times of peace, primarily within ourselves, and may he be of blessed memory."
Finance Minister Yair Lapid spoke this morning at a conference of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel and addressed the recent security situation:
"A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an ancient synagogue, a mosque in the West Bank was set on fire. This violence and these hate crimes have to stop. I'm in the right place to talk about incitement. The explosive situation in Israel requires us to pour cold water, not burning sticks, onto it. Abu Mazen's speech last night contributes to unnecessary incitement. We live in a volatile neighborhood anyway and the burden on the shoulders of leaders, the real test of leaders, both Jews and Arabs, is to act responsibly at this time."
Minister of Science, Technology and Space Yaakov Peri made the following statement this morning:
"This is a disturbing time. In the past days and weeks, we have witnessed a serious escalation in violence and terror across Israel which presents a real danger to the lives and security of all of our citizens and that could lead to a further escalation and a genuine, long lasting crisis. I firmly believe that we should take all measures and do whatever is needed in order to keep all citizens safe and secure. I also call upon all leaders to act responsibly by showing restraint and ending the incitement. We must all work, intensively and genuinely, to calm the current situation and find diplomatic solutions. This is also the time to make clear; we will not change the status quo on the Temple Mount."
Minister Peri also echoed his speech in Jordan earlier this week and said, "The time has come to face the challenge head on and adopt the framework of the Arab League's initiative for reaching a comprehensive regional solution that will include an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We must work towards establishing a comprehensive regional conference to discuss cooperation between Israel and its neighbors in a large number of fields, including finding a path to end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, based on the framework of the initiative of the Arab League with a commitment to discuss its content in depth. We must all work to arrange for such a conference in the imminent future, in a location agreed upon by all parties, and embark upon a long significant process of honest and real discourse on all issues."
Minister Lapid: foto Reuters.
A group of 200 Panamanian Christians of Hossanna Vision completed a 10-day trip to the Holy Land despite the wave of violence that has shaken the country in recent days.
The group has been one of the largest of Latin America and even worldwide, even as on these weeks there have been several terrorist attacks.
Pastor Roger Serrano of the group noticed helicopter flew over the Old City, and the presence of Zeppelin balloons in the air. Also he noticed the police presence in the streets which all together gave them a high sense of security.
The latest attacks of Islamic militants on Israeli citizens included yesterday the murder of a young soldier stabbed in Tel Aviv. At the same day a young girl was also stabbed in a different incident. A week before a car driven by Islamic extremist hit and killed a baby and an Ecuadorian young girl.
The events coincide with 10th anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Many of the Panamanian tour participants of Hossanna Vision said the next year they will attend the evangelical world meeting to be held here.