"I would like to commend the Israel Navy for their efficient action in detaining the ship that tried to reach the Gaza coast in contravention of the law." Use of force was unnecessary, and the vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod Port.
IDF Spokesperson: After exhausting all diplomatic channels, the Israeli government ordered the Israeli Navy to redirect a vessel in order to prevent a breach of the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
"In accordance with international law, the Israeli Navy advised the vessel several times to change course. Following their refusal, forces visited and searched the vessel in international waters in order to prevent the intended breach of the maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. The forces have reported that use of force was unnecessary, and that the process was uneventful. The vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod Port and is expected to arrive within 12-24 hours."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Monday, 29 June 2015), issued the following statement:
"I would like to commend the sailors and commanders of the Israel Navy for their determined and efficient action in detaining the passengers on the ship that tried to reach the Gaza coast in contravention of the law. This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region. Preventing entry by sea was done in accordance with international law and even received backing from a committee of the UN Secretary General.
Israel is a democracy that defends itself in accordance with international law. We are not prepared to accept the entry of war materiel to the terrorist organizations in Gaza as has been done by sea in the past. Just last year we foiled an attempt to smuggle by sea hundreds of weapons that were destined for use in attacks against Israel's citizens.
There is no siege on Gaza. Israel assists in transferring goods and humanitarian equipment to Gaza - approximately 800 trucks a day that have recently brought into Gaza more than 1.6 million tons of goods. Moreover, Israel assists in hundreds of humanitarian projects, through international organizations, including the building of clinics and hospitals.
Israel is a state that seeks peace and acts in accordance with international law so that its people can live in safety and its children grow up in peace and quiet."
Excerpt from PM Netanyahu's remarks at the start of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting:
"I would like to express my appreciation to the sailors of the Israel Navy for their perfect and precise operation in stopping the ship off the coast of Gaza. This entire flotilla is hypocritical. There is no need for these small boats to deliver consumer goods or humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Since Operation Protective Edge, Israel has delivered 1.6 million tons of materials to Gaza, more than any other country, in a clear manner, as our unequivocal policy. This means almost a ton of equipment for every resident, 800 trucks a day.
I would compare this to the cargo of this boat. Approximately 500,000 such boats laden with goods - this is what compares to what Israel has transferred. Thus, there is no need for this. Neither is there any problem, if they want to deliver humanitarian goods to Gaza, it is possible to do so via the land crossings, with Israel filtering out - of course - the possibility of transferring weapons through these crossings.
Instead, they chose to be defiant here. They could have sailed to Syria, where over 300,000 people have been slaughtered, millions have lost their homes and millions have been exiled from their country, but they chose to demonstratively provoke the State of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East, which is fighting terrorists that deliberately fire at its citizens and who intentionally hide behind Palestinian civilians.
Therefore, this flotilla is rife with hypocrisy and I am pleased to say that its public and propaganda effect is less because people around the world are beginning to understand the lie involved here."
Following is a copy of the letter that was issued last night:
"Welcome to Israel,
You seem to have gotten lost. Perhaps you meant to sail to a place not far from here - Syria, where Assad’s army is slaughtering its people every day, and is supported by the murderous Iranian regime.
Here in Israel we face a reality in which terrorist organizations like Hamas try to kill innocent civilians. We defend our citizens against these attempts in accordance with international law.
Despite this, Israel transports goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip - up to 800 trucks a day. In the past year we enabled the entry of over 1.6 million tons of products, an average of one ton per person in the Gaza Strip. By the way, these supplies are equivalent to 500,000 boats like the one you came in on today.
Israel provides assistance to hundreds of humanitarian projects through international organizations, including the building of clinics and hospitals.
However, we will not allow the terrorist organizations to transfer weapons into the Gaza Strip by sea. Only one year ago, we thwarted an attempt to smuggle hundreds of weapons into the Gaza Strip by ship. These weapons were meant to target innocent Israeli civilians.
There is no siege on the Gaza Strip, and you are welcome to transfer any humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip through Israel.
Barring the entrance of boats and ships into the Gaza Strip is in accordance with international law, and was even backed by a committee commissioned by the United Nations Secretary General.
If you were truly concerned about human rights, you would not be sailing in support of a terrorist regime which summarily executes citizens in the Gaza Strip, and uses children as human shields.
If you were to travel around in Israel, you would see for yourself that the only stable democracy in the Middle East guarantees equality for all its citizens and freedom of worship for members of all religions; it is a country that upholds international law so that its people can live in safety and its children grow up in peace and quiet."
Following is an additional excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks today, (Monday, 29 June 2015), at the start of a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee:
"I am not impressed by the potholes in the nuclear talks. To my regret, what we are seeing are Iran's increasing demands, and the major powers' concessions which are also increasing, in keeping with the Iranian pressure. This agreement is going from a bad agreement to a worse agreement, and is becoming worse by the day. In effect, it is paving Iran's way to being not only a major power with one or two nuclear bombs, but with an unlimited arsenal within a decade with the possibility of achieving several atomic bombs beforehand, by violating the monitoring which, in any case, is full of holes. Above all, in addition to this, the agreement also gives Iran many billions of dollars, apparently hundreds of billions of dollars, within a short time, which will allow it to finance its increasing aggression, first of all the murderous stranglehold it is using around the State of Israel, but also in other parts of the Middle East that are subject to its aggression, such as Yemen, Iraq and many other places.
Therefore, there is both a conventional threat and a non-conventional threat, which in my view will heighten the nuclear arms race in the Middle East. For all of these reasons, this is a bad agreement. I appreciate the fact that there is a broad consensus within the State of Israel against this agreement. There are also increasing voices in the West against this agreement; they understand the significance its implementation would have on global security, theirs as well. But, as has been said, this debate is still taking place. I think it is important that Israel's voice be heard, along with that of many others."
The Gaza Strip is not under siege
On June 22, the Institute of International Education presented Yehuda Stolov and Salah Aladdin, two leaders of The Interfaith Encounter Association, with the 2015 IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East for leading grass roots interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural study groups that bring Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze together on a very personal level to share their cultures, beliefs, and traditions across religious and cultural divides.
The award, which includes a $10,000 prize, was presented at a ceremony in Jerusalem by Victor J. Goldberg, a retired IBM executive who is a longtime Trustee of the New York-based organization, and who established and endowed the prize in 2005. Thomas Genton, Counselor for Press and Cultural Affairs at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv and Richard Buangan, Consul for Press and Cultural Affairs at the American Consulate General in Jerusalem spoke at the Prize ceremony.
Mr. Stolov and Mr. Aladdin believe that the different communities have to learn to interact positively as a pre-condition for sustainable political agreement, and the process towards it has to include all parts of the respective societies, regardless of their political aspirations. Their work facilitates interaction among individuals who might not otherwise ever have a chance to meet one another, and encourages individuals to confront their own prejudices and fears of “the other.” Their goal is to replace mistrust and fear with mutual understanding, respect and trust, making it possible to explore the differences between the traditions respectfully and constructively and to develop friendships among people who may disagree.
In its thirteen years of existence, the IEA has held more than 1,900 programs. Since its first group in 2001, the IEA has expanded to include 71 ongoing interfaith community groups from the Upper Galilee to Eilat. Currently, there are 15 groups that bring Israelis and West Bank Palestinians together on a regular basis. In 2014, more than 4,000 men and women of all ages took part in IEA projects such as Women’s Interfaith Encounters, Youth Interfaith Encounters, The Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue, and The Middle East Abrahamic Forum. Some IEA groups are open to everyone, while others are specifically for young adults or women, for educators, religious leaders, midwives, or college students.
These individual groups and participants make great stories – and since there are so many different groups, Yehuda and Salah can help connect you with people from almost any age group, profession, or geographic location, based on your particular interest and audience.
Here is the write-up of the award ceremony and biographical information on Yehuda and Salah.
This article in Israel21c provides further details on the impact of the encounter groups.
Video: TedXJaffa: Dr. Yehuda Stolov “The Easy Way to Peace in the Holy Land”
Video: Israel 21C
Audio: Voice of Israel -- Radio interview: Forget All the Formal Peace Talks
For more information please visit www.iie.org/GoldbergPrize
· About Victor J. Goldberg and the IIE Goldberg Prize
· Previous Winners (2005-2014)
· Interfaith Encounter Association website
· Institute of International Education website
See IEA’s latest news and activities on Facebook and Twitter
We have been successful in keeping Israel out of the anarchy that is happening around us. We did so because we always knew measure things and act prudently. This is, and will remain, our policy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 24 June 2015), met with Druze community leaders and told them at the start of the meeting:
"Your sons, all of our sons, serve and fight in the IDF and defend our state. We all uphold the law and we are all loyal citizens. And if there is someone who deviates from these rules and takes the law into his hands, it is our duty, of course, to condemn this and see to it that these offenders do not become the norm. This is something that we must prevent – the recurrence of such events.
I think that it is also especially important to prevent attacks on IDF soldiers or hindering them as they carry out their missions. We have been successful in keeping Israel out of the anarchy that is happening around us. We did so because we always knew measure things and act prudently. This is, and will remain, our policy.
However, I would also like to say a personal word to the community. I appreciate the community, its actions, its contribution to the state in general and to the security of the state in particular. I gave expression to this only recently in the five-year plan that allocates NIS 2 billion. This is a practical expression of this appreciation and of the understanding that we have a commitment to our Druze brothers as citizens of the State of Israel in the fullest sense of the word – not just equal rights but also full involvement in the life of the state. Out of this respect, partnership and brotherhood, I ask that we work together, as we have up until today, to ensure the security of the state and orderly operation of the IDF and our security arms – in every respect and in every place. I thank you for coming."
The spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheik Muafaq Tarif, said, "We have the honor, Mr. Prime Minister, of coming to you. We know what you are doing. We know about the understanding and wisdom with which you leading on this issue. I am very familiar with everything that you are doing on behalf of the state and the community. We thank you also for the five-year plan. After what happened, we convened at the tomb of Jethro, Nebi Shueib, all of the community's religious leaders, local council heads and MKs and condemned what happened. We are all together and we have the honor that our sons serve in the IDF, and we are part of the IDF, and we will not lend a hand to those who would harm the IDF, whoever they may be. Of course, we condemned what happened. Our faith, traditions and values are against attacking an ambulance or the injured. This is not our way. We did not educate for this. We strongly condemn what happened and of course we hope that you will continue to wisely and prudently lead on this issue. We are at your service."
Among those also attending the meeting were Druze Local Councils Forum head Jabar Hamed, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara and former MK Salah Tarif.
Photo Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
The 2014 Gaza Conflict: Factual and Legal Aspects - The Full Report
The 2014 Gaza Conflict was a peak in the ongoing armed conflict waged against Israel for over a decade by terrorist organisations operating from the Gaza Strip. This Report provides information so that others may reach an informed understanding of the reasons for the Conflict and the actions of the parties thereto.
On July 7, 2014, the Government of Israel ordered the Israel Defense Forces to launch an aerial operation against Hamas and other terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip. This operation, termed “Operation Protective Edge”, was launched in response to increasing rocket and mortar fire on Israel from the Gaza Strip during June and early July 2014, and despite Israel's continued efforts at de-escalation.
On July 17, 2014, as a result of Hamas's continued rejection of ceasefire initiatives, ongoing rocket and mortar fire and the execution of attacks in Israeli territory by sea and through cross-border assault tunnels, the Government of Israel authorized the entry of ground forces into a limited area of the Gaza Strip. These ground forces were tasked with identifying and neutralizing the cross-border assault tunnels, which originated from the outskirts of the urban areas of the Gaza Strip. The ground forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip on August 5, after locating and neutralising 32 cross-border assault tunnels, and despite ongoing rocket and mortar attacks against Israel. The 2014 Gaza Conflict concluded on August 26, with an unconditional ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The Full Report comprises official documents concerning factual and legal aspects of the 2014 Gaza Conflict. These documents provide information on the following topics:
background to the armed conflict that Hamas has waged against Israel for over a decade; the circumstances that led Israel to launch Operation Protective Edge;
Executive Summary - Introduction
The following Report - The 2014 Gaza Conflict (7 July - 26 August 2014): Factual and Legal Aspects - presents detailed factual and legal information regarding the intensive hostilities that took place from July 7 to August 26, 2014 between the State of Israel and Hamas and other terrorist organisations operating in the Gaza Strip ("the 2014 Gaza Conflict", also known as Operation "Protective Edge").
This Report is intended to provide information so that others may reach an informed understanding of the reasons for the 2014 Gaza Conflict and the actions of the parties thereto. Although the Report does not purport to provide complete coverage of the 2014 Gaza Conflict, it constitutes an unprecedented effort to present factual and legal aspects concerning the Conflict.
The Report includes an assessment of the events leading up to the 2014 Gaza Conflict, describing the overall objectives for Israel and the rationale behind Israel’s strategic decisions. The Report presents Israel’s legal positions concerning the conduct of hostilities, examples of military targets and individuals targeted by the Israel Defense Forces ("IDF") during the Conflict, statistics concerning the amount of humanitarian aid that entered the Gaza Strip with Israel’s facilitation, details regarding the costs borne by Israel’s civilian population as a result of the 2014 Gaza Conflict, and information revealing the unlawful activities of Hamas and other terrorist organisations. The Report also discusses Israel’s justice system, and its procedures for examining and investigating possible violations of the Law of Armed Conflict.
The 2014 Gaza Conflict was another peak of hostilities in the ongoing armed conflict that has been waged against Israel for well over a decade by terrorist organisations operating from the Gaza Strip. The nature of the hostilities between the IDF and these terrorist organisations in the summer of 2014 was characterised by the following two interrelated elements.
First, the conflict occurred primarily in an urban environment. Hamas combat manuals and training materials recovered by IDF forces in the Gaza Strip demonstrate that Hamas’s strategy was to deliberately draw the hostilities into the urban terrain, and to use built-up areas and the presence of the civilian population for tactical advantage and political gain. This strategy was obvious during the 2014 Gaza Conflict in view of the sheer scope of military activity that Hamas and other terrorist organisations embedded within the urban environment.
Second, the conflict involved non-state actors who defy international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict applicable to the hostilities within the Gaza Strip. More than just drawing the fighting into the urban terrain, these organisations often unlawfully intertwined their military operations with the civilian environment. IDF airborne and ground forces faced militants disguised as civilians and as IDF soldiers, residential homes converted to military command centres, multistory buildings used as pre-prepared surveillance positions, mosque minarets employed as sniping posts, schools utilized as weapons caches, civilian structures extensively booby-trapped, and tunnel openings and infrastructure hidden in and under civilian areas.
This exploitation of civilian surroundings - which often constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity - posed significant operational, legal and ethical challenges for the IDF. The IDF is committed to conducting all its operations in accordance with international law and makes efforts, including beyond its legal obligations, to mitigate the risk of harm to civilians when doing so. Despite the IDF’s commitment to the rule of law and efforts to protect civilians, an unfortunate result of the complex realities described above is that during the 2014 Gaza Conflict numerous civilians were caught in the hostilities.
It is against this background that the harm to civilians and civilian objects in the Gaza Strip that resulted from the 2014 Gaza Conflict should be assessed. In all armed conflicts, the application of military force almost inevitably causes residual and incidental harm; this is even more so when the hostilities occur in the urban environment. The 2014 Gaza Conflict in particular involved highintensity, protracted hostilities, including close-quarter combat and intensive urban warfare, exacerbating the risk of harm to civilians within the combat arena. Such harm was also the direct result of rockets and mortars that were launched towards Israel from within the Gaza Strip but that fell short. Furthermore, much of what may have appeared to external parties to be indiscriminate harm to civilians or purely civilian objects was in fact legitimate attacks against military targets that merely appear civilian but were actually part of the military opera tions of these terrorist organisations. Many allegedly "civilian" casualties were in fact militants. Harm to the civilian population also occurred as the result of unfortunate - yet lawful - incidental effects of legitimate military action in the vicinity of civilians and their surroundings, and as a result of the inescapable constraint of commanders not being infallible, intelligence not being perfect and technological systems sometimes failing.
As stated repeatedly by the IDF and the Government of Israel’s highest representatives, Israel did not intend, and deeply regrets, the harm caused to the Palestinian civilian population and surroundings during the 2014 Gaza Conflict.
Deputy FM Tzipi Hotovely's Press briefing on Israeli Report on the 2014 Gaza Conflict
MFA Director General Dore Gold Presents Israeli Report on the 2014 Gaza Conflict
Taglit Takes Tel Aviv
Taglit-Birthright Israel celebrates 15 years and 500,000 participants with a unique Tel Aviv Urban Experience
Thousands of Taglit-Birthright Israel participants took part in the Tel Aviv Urban Experience, exploring contemporary Tel Aviv up-close and personal as part of the celebrations surrounding the 15th anniversary of the organization and reaching the milestone of 500,000 participants.
The three-day experience came to an enthusiastic conclusion at the Wohl Amphitheater in the presence of honored guests including Co-Founders Mr. Charles Bronfman and Mr. Michael Steinhardt. Bronfman and Steinhardt met on stage with Taglit-Birthright Israel's 500,000th participant, 24 year old Molly Dodd from New Jersey. Molly surprised the honorable guests by presenting them a framed letter dating back to 1998 written by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who welcomed the launch of Taglit-Birthright Israel. In the letter, Netanyahu described his strong belief that Taglit-Birthright Israel would play a central role in strengthening the connection between young Jews in the Diaspora with their Jewish heritage and the State of Israel.
"I am thrilled to discover Israel for the first time through Taglit-Birthright Israel, and excited to continue exploring my Jewish roots" said Dodd. "I am deeply moved to be the 500,000th participant of the most successful organization in the Jewish world. I feel honored to meet its founders and be able to show my gratitude and respect for the incredible impact they have had over the years."
Photo credit: Erez Uzir
President Rivlin meets with Israel Gay Youth organization as part of Pride celebrations
President Rivlin this morning (Wednesday), welcomed to the President’s Residence members of IGY the Israeli Gay Youth (IGY) organization as part of celebrations around Pride Month. At the beginning of the meeting the Director of the IGY, Mandy Michaeli, about the organization, which operates more than 60 groups for LGBT youth, with the participation of over 7,000 members. She said, “I want to thank you for this historic meeting, the first of its kind between representatives of the gay community and the President’s office. Sitting on the margins, we have had the opportunity to view society from a different perspective, and a critical eye, and enable all groups, equally, all colors of the Israeli rainbow, to learn about what we have in common and what makes us different.”
Yaniv Weitzman, one of the movement’s founders and chairman of the leadership committee, said that the previous evening, the organization had celebrated 40 years of activity for the sake of the rights of the individual, and that there was a sense within the organization that the time had come to expand its operations and to be more active in the periphery.
Itai Tzemach, aged 18 from Tel Aviv, spoke to the President about the long process he had been through, and his decision to work as a counselor as part of a year of service with the organization. He said, “It took me many years to come out as gay, despite that I knew I was gay for many years and had told my parents. The process I will in fact only finish this evening when I tell those of my friends who still don’t know. IGY helped me with this process, and I wanted to give a year of service, in order to give back to the youth who need the same help, especially in the periphery, where there are those who need support which is still lacking. For example, in schools, the word ‘homo’ is used as a painful and hurtful curse - as I well remember. I saw this as an attack on me, and a disregarding of my identity, even when it was not directed at me. The teachers ignored it, and did not deal with the problem.”
The President welcomed, and congratulated the group, in the first visit of its kind to the President’s Office. He said, “Twenty-two years ago I had the honor of welcoming the first delegation of the gay community to the Knesset. Today I have the honor of receiving you for the first time at the President’s Residence.”
The President went on to ask if there was tension within the community of those who had chosen not to be openly gay.
Gal Ohovsky, one of the participating members from the IGY organization said, “Individuals are not obligated to come out, and this should be their free choice. There is a lack of patience for those who would have the ability to represent the gay community proudly, people of influence, who rely on the services and institutions of the community, but choose not to make public their sexuality, and give back to the community.”
Noga, the group’s spokesperson added, “In the organization, there is no obligation to come out. The discussions around coming out are designed to provide support for the youth members, and not to apply pressure. We clarify the importance of doing this at the right time.”
President Reuven Rivlin meets with gay youths at his residence in Jerusalem.
credit: Mark NEYMAN / GPO
“Unilateral steps, boycotts, and attempts to exert pressure though international bodies, will not bring an end to the conflict – the only solution is direct negotiations.”
President Reuven Rivlin this afternoon (Monday), at the President’s Residence, held a working meeting with former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy who was visiting Israel.
President Rivlin welcomed the former French premier and said, “As a dear friend of the people and State of Israel, I am pleased to welcome you back to Israel. You know better than many that in order to establish good relations between people, we have to first build confidence. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is not a conflict but a tragedy, and unilateral steps, boycotts, and attempts to exert pressure though international bodies, will not bring an end to this tragedy. Unilateral actions will not lead to talks. The only solution to the situation is direct negotiations.”
Former President Sarkozy thanked President Rivlin for his welcome, and expressed his pleasure at being back in Israel. He said, “I want to state how much we condemn unequivocally any idea of a boycott against Israeli democracy.”
At least two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel on Wednesday evening. No casualties or injuries were reported. In response, Israel Air Force jets struck terror infrastructure targets in the Gaza Strip.
At least two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel on Wednesday evening. Alarms sounded just before 11 p.m. in the Sdot Negev and Hof Ashkelon regions bordering the northern Gaza Strip, as well as in Netivot and Ashkelon. No casualties or injuries were reported.
In response, Israel Air Force jets struck terror infrastructure targets in the Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that Israel will not allow sporadic rocket fire from Gaza to resume, noting that even if the rocket fire was carried out by members of rogue groups from the global jihad, Israel holds Hamas responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip.
IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said, "When the sirens sounded in Israel, more than 140,000 Israeli lives were put in jeopardy. Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live normal lives, but instead Hamas chooses to use the Gaza Strip as a launching pad for rocket attacks. The IDF will act against the aggression, will act against those who wish to terrorize Israel and will act to protect Israelis in the line of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza."
Last week, on the night of May 26, 2015, a Grad rocket was fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. The remains of the rocket were located near Gan Yavne. It was the third rocket fired from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2015 and the first long-range rocket fired since Operation Protective Edge during the summer of 2014.
Photo Police bomb disposal experts find remains of Grad rocket fired from Gaza on May 26, 2015
President Rivlin’s remarks on the recent developments regarding boycotts and the rocket fire yesterday from the Gaza Strip
President Reuven Rivlin this evening (Thursday), addressed the memorial ceremony for the victims on the Altalena which was on its way to Israel in June 1948.
At the beginning of his address, the President referred to the issue of boycotting Israel, and in particular to the remarks made by the CEO of Orange (France Telecom) yesterday. The President said, “Just yesterday Israel faced attacks from anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bodies, who have chosen to delegitimize the State of Israel, and to launch rockets at us from the Gaza Strip. We must face these challenges together, Right and Left. The State of Israel was established while struggling against the Arab boycott. That delegitimization peaked just before the War of Independence - but due to a joint national effort, this boycott ceded and faded away. The declarations of boycotts today are no different in their motivation than they were then. Worryingly, I have yet to hear from the French leadership, as we had similarly heard from Britain, condemnation of the remarks by the CEO of the France Telecom company, and I expect their voices to be heard in Israel and in Cairo.”
The President went on to speak about the rocket fire from Gaza, he said, “Alongside this, we all saw how terror from Gaza continues to strike and threaten the lives of our citizens. We won’t let anyone in Gaza, hide behind the claim that ‘there is no sovereign’”
Top Israeli Leaders to Speak at 15th Annual Herzliya Conference
The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering will run June 7th-9th at the IDC Herzliya Campus
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has confirmed his participation in the 15th annual Herzliya Conference which will take place at the IDC Herzliya campus June 7th-9th, 2015. The Prime Minister will deliver the Herzliya address which closes the conference.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will be the first among the many Israeli leaders who will be speaking at the event, including (in alphabetical order): MK Naftali Bennett – Minister of Education/Minister of Diaspora Affairs (Jewish Home), MK Arye Deri – Minister of Economy/Minister of the Negev and Galilee (Shas), MK Moshe Gafni – Chairman of Knesset Finance Committee (United Torah Judaism), MK Zehava Galon – Chairman of the Meretz Party, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad – Director of the Political-Military and Policy Bureau -Ministry of Defense, MK Tzachi Hanegbi – Chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee (Likud), MK Isaac Herzog – Chairman of the Opposition, Labor Party and Zionist Union, MK Tzipi Hotovely – Deputy Foreign Minister (Likud), MK Tzipi Livni – Fmr. Minister of Foreign Affairs & Fmr. Minister of Justice (Zionist Union), MK Ayman Odeh – Head of the Joint Arab List, MK Amb. Michael Oren – Fmr. Israeli Amb. to the U.S.(Kulanu), MK Amir Peretz – Former Minister of Defense (Zionist Union), MK Ayelet Shaked – Minister of Justice (Jewish Home), MK Silvan Shalom – Vice Premier and Minister of the Interior (Likud), MK Ofer Shelach – Member Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (Yesh Atid), Maj. Gen. Nimrod Shefer – IDF Head of Planning Directorate, Yehuda Weinstein – Israel’s Attorney General, Lt. Gen. (res.) MK Moshe Ya’alon – Minister of Defense (Likud).
Israeli President H.E. Reuven Rivlin will also be addressing the delegates on opening night.
The Conference will also host many global leaders, from the political, military, economic, academic and media arenas. Keynote speakers this year include: former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, renowned economist Nouriel Roubini and U.S. political activist Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
The proceedings will be in English or with simultaneous translation.
For more information and a complete schedule (subject to change) log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng
Follow the Conference on:
The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.
The most dangerous place in the world for journalists is the Middle East. The iron-fisted rule Hamas has on the Gaza Strip provides a powerful example of what happens when the press is not free to report what they see and hear. Israel is the only country in the region with a free press.
The United Nations Security Council (May 27, 2015) unanimously adopted a resolution condemning all violations and abuses committed against journalists and strongly deploring impunity for such acts.
Israel Ambassador David Roet addressed the high-level meeting:
Thank you very much Madame President, and congratulations to Lithuania for a successful presidency of the Security Council. I would like to thank Minister Linkevičius, for personally chairing this meeting.
I would like to take a moment to recognize that we have Marianne Pearl in the Security Council with us today. The brutal murder of Marianne's husband Daniel in Pakistan in 2002 shocked the world, but Marianne’s tireless work ensures that his legacy lives on. Daniel is remembered very fondly in Israel. יהי זכרו ברוך - May his memory be blessed.
This discussion could not come at a more critical time for journalists in conflict situations. These brave men and women serve as the eyes, ears, and mouth of the entire world, in the very places that many would prefer us blind, deaf, and mute. Justice Louis Brandeis famously said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Today, unfortunately, there are many places under a total eclipse. Without the work of courageous reporters, repressive regimes go unchecked, atrocities go unrecorded, and the public remains unaware of the reality on the ground.
Those who work in places of conflict and strife ensure the free flow of information- from distant battlefields around the globe to our Ipads in the comfort of our homes.
There are places in the world where a camera is considered a deadly weapon, where a tweet is an act of treason, and a microphone is grounds for arrest. Extremists groups target journalists not only to silence them but to declare war on the most fundamental values of the free world - the freedom of opinion and expression, the freedom to speak our mind, and the freedom to receive and impart information. They seek to force their barbaric ideology on us by dictating at the point of a gun what we can and cannot say. Make no mistake, these groups recognize no borders and their violence and intimidation is not restricted to any specific region of the world.
The shots at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris were meant to silence the community of journalists world-wide. However, as the hundreds of thousands of citizens of France proclaimed in the streets - we will not allow the enemies of free press to silence our freedoms.
In these times of instability, journalists are compelled to report from nations ruled by fear and repression, and from lawless lands ruled by warlords. Those whose duty it is to report on the horrific events in these areas face unprecedented dangers of being abducted, tortured, and brutally murdered.
The most dangerous place in the world for journalists is the Middle East. From Saudi Arabia to Iraq, and from Gaza to Iran, freedom of the press is under siege. The hope for new freedoms shriveled under the harsh reality of Middle Eastern autocrats and theocrats. They are determined to use any means at their disposal to silence those who would question their legitimacy.
Ten months ago in Iran, a Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian, was arrested along with his wife. He has been detained without bail, denied access to an attorney, accused of espionage and quote, "propaganda against the establishment." Just yesterday his shadowy trial opened. Not surprisingly, the hearing to decide his fate will be conducted behind closed doors.
In other parts of the Middle East, terrorists have seized control, and journalists face an even more barbaric fate. These fanatical zealots mock the very idea of human rights, and prefer rule by the sword over rule by law. Their idea of due process is a masked man beheading a helpless human being on his knees, and posting the execution on youtube.
The iron-fisted rule Hamas has on the Gaza Strip provides a powerful example of what happens when the press is not free to report what they see and hear. Israeli families spent last summer racing to bomb shelters, knowing they had only seconds to take cover from Hamas rockets.
Ask yourselves, why did so few pictures of these rockets, or the Hamas terrorists who launched them, ever see the light of day?
The answer to this question comes from the stories of the journalists themselves: Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati dared not report that Hamas-launched rockets killed Palestinian children in a refugee camp, until he was, in his own words "out of Gaza far from Hamas retaliation". An Indian film crew videotaped a Hamas missile launch just meters from their hotel room, but waited until they were beyond the reach of Hamas to air the damning footage.
Under such conditions, missiles launches go unseen, the use of human shields goes unreported, and falsehoods are accepted as truths.
While Hamas routinely harasses and intimidates journalists, the Palestinian Authority is no better. According to a U.S. State Department Human Rights report, PA security forces harass, detain, and prosecute journalists for trying to do their jobs. Furthermore, the PA abuses the idea of a free press by using state controlled media outlets to broadcast hateful rhetoric and dangerous incitement.
There is only one exception to the rule in the Middle East. According to Freedom House, an organization which monitors suppression of freedom around the world, Israel is the only country in the region with a free press. We in Israel understand that a free press is the cornerstone of democracy.
Those of us fortunate enough to live in an open society know that with a free press comes bad press. In Israel, we know this all too well. The press is free to challenge the strategic assessment of the head of the army, to debate the reasoning of the chief justice, and to give political advice to the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Israel is a model for how a democratic nation, even while facing immense challenges, can maintain a free and thriving press.
Threats to journalists and the free press are threats to our way of life. When a journalist cannot report the truth, and the public is left in the dark, tyranny, dictatorship, and abuse of human rights will follow.
It is the responsibility of the international community to work together to protect journalists across the globe. The United Nations was founded on the basis of allowing free and open debate to ensure a peaceful world. Only a determined commitment by this Council to safeguard the free press can ensure the promise of this vision for ourselves and for future generations.
I thank you Madam President.
Photo: Israel Ambassador David Roet addressing the UN Security Council (archive)
Copyright: UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Greece and Israel, as modern democratic states, represent the proud independence of two ancient nations. Both contributed greatly to Western civilization and have fiercely maintained their unique identities throughout the millennia.
On 21 May, we mark the 25th anniversary of upgraded diplomatic relations between the Hellenic Republic and the State of Israel. Although bilateral relations have existed since 1952, full diplomatic ties were established in 1990. In recent years, common democratic values and interests have led Greece and Israel to forge an important strategic partnership in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Today, the relations are characterized by wide-ranging cooperation in politics, defense, energy, finance, tourism, culture and academia.
High-level political contacts have become commonplace. In October 2013, the first Greece-Israel High Level Government-to-Government Council (G2G) was held in Jerusalem, headed by the Prime Ministers of the two countries. Both States look forward to holding the second High Level Government-to-Government Council as soon as possible. The bilateral political dialogue has been accompanied by economic cooperation, important deliberations on energy issues, enhanced military and defense cooperation, flourishing cultural exchanges, interesting academic and scientific contacts, an inter-religious discourse, and large waves of tourism.
Greece and Israel, as modern democratic states, represent the proud independence of two ancient nations. Their long histories are intertwined and their common traits are numerous. Both are peoples of books and letters who contributed greatly to Western civilization and have lived together in this part of the world for generations. They are both nations of a homeland and a diaspora. And they have fiercely maintained their unique identities throughout the millennia.
The Greek Jewish community and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem are bridges of friendship between the two countries.
The bilateral cooperation promotes mutual interests, progress, and stability in the wider region. Both States aspire to further promote and enhance relations of peace and good neighborliness with the nations in the area.
Following a quarter century of upgraded diplomatic relations, the Governments of Greece and Israel express satisfaction with their close and friendly relationship. Both States look forward to further enhancing their bilateral cooperation in the next 25 years, especially regarding people-to-people contacts, as well as cooperation in the fields of high tech and entrepreneurship, for the benefit of both peoples. The two nations are joined together in friendship as they face common challenges and strive to build a better future.
For decades, Israeli innovators have developed technologies to directly harness the power of the sun, Israel's most abundant resource. It's on our shoulders to light a new path for people around the world toward a more sustainable future.
Ambassador Ron Prosor addressed the Second Annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum at the UN in New York.
First, allow me to congratulate you, the Secretary-General and the leadership of Sustainable Energy for All, for convening this forum.
The world faces serious energy challenges which demand immediate attention. The International Energy Agency estimates that one in five people do not have electricity. Another 2.6 billion use unsafe fuel to cook, inhaling toxic smoke. In order to realize our vision of a world in which everyone enjoys clean and safe energy, we must act now to spearhead this transformation.
With few natural resources and mostly arid land, Israel has always had to do more with less. For decades, Israeli innovators have developed technologies to directly harness the power of the sun, Israel's most abundant resource. Solar water heaters, developed in the 1950s, have been installed in 90% of Israeli homes, and are required by law.
Israel is committed to pursue renewable energy sources. And we have set a national goal to raise total renewable energy generation by 400% by the year 2020.
In the Negev desert, engineers at the Arava Power Company built the country's largest solar installation, covering an area equal to twenty football fields. The energy it generates will offset over one hundred thousand tons of carbon emissions - the equivalent of planting almost a quarter million trees.
The Knesset - Israel's Parliament - is a model of energy efficiency. This year, the roof of the Knesset building was covered with enough solar panels to lower energy consumption by one-third and save half a million dollars annually.
In addition to solar power, Israel's first hydro-electric plant will be completed by 2018 and will increase power generation capacity and energy security.
Israel is a hub for renewable energy research and development, and is committed to sharing innovation and expertise with developing countries abroad. In Ghana, for example, an Israeli company gives meaning to the phrase, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." It takes useless organic waste and turns it into useful energy. In rural Africa, another Israeli company keeps the lights on even after the sun goes down. Innovative tulip-shaped towers absorb solar energy by day and produce electricity by night.
In September, leaders from all over the world will gather in this very hall to adopt a transformative agenda that will guide the future of sustainable development. It is on our shoulders to light a new path for people around the world toward a more sustainable future.
As one of Israel's sustainable energy pioneers once said, and I quote, "To realize that the same sun shines equally on all of us, is owned by none of us, and can supply energy in abundance, inherently promotes peace. The sun doesn't recognize borders." May our desire to build a world where sustainable energy is available to all, be a reason for unity and solidarity.
Photo Ambassador Ron Prosor
Copyright: UN Webcast
President Rivlin addresses Jerusalem Day commemorations
President Reuven Rivlin, spoke this evening (Sunday) at the state ceremony commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem, held on Ammunition Hill, the site of a crucial battle in the Six Day War of 1967, in which Israel reunified Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also spoke at the ceremony which was also attended by Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Nachman Shai and Vice President of the Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein. During the ceremony Rochelle Sivan Hadari, the widow of the late Private Neta Hadari, lit the memorial torch. Five torches were carried by Central Command Commander Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, representatives of the Jerusalem Brigade, Harel Brigade Commander Col. Haggai Amar, Paratrooper Brigade Commander Col. Guy Levy, 102 Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Ido.
The President stated, "We are now fortunate to see the growth and prosperity of Jerusalem – a state capital with bustling streets filled with young men and women, boys and girls. A capital with a vibrant and developed civil society, seminaries that cater to the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi), the secular and the traditional, and arts and culture that is unique, and has all sprung up from the unique human fabric."
The President added, "As a Jerusalemite and a lover of the city, I ask today about peace in my united Jerusalem, which stands above all bargaining. My Jerusalem is Zion and Zionism, and yet it does not belong only to its history it belongs first and foremost to its people, and to all its residents: secular, religious and Haredi, Arabs and Jews. And in my united Jerusalem there is west and there is an east and there are no secondary sons, there are no secondary Jerusalemites."
The President stressed the responsibility arising from the consolidation of the city in light of the differences between eastern and western Jerusalem and said, "We are confronting rightly, justly, and without hesitation, criticism over our right to be sovereign in a united Jerusalem. I fear that we ourselves have not yet looked frankly at the meaning of our sovereignty in the city. When we look today at the huge disparities between the eastern part of the city and the western part, we have to tell ourselves honestly - we completed the physical unification of the city, but the task of unifying the city's social and economic aspects have barely begun. While western Jerusalem is enjoying the momentum of development and impressive growth, the eastern part of the city is in disrepair and neglect. It needs to be said that today, after years of viewing eastern Jerusalem and its people as transparent, groundbreaking steps are currently being taken in the fields of education, housing and infrastructure, and for that we need to congratulate the Mayor. However, there is much more to be done. This is a national mission which needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the incoming government. The events of the past few months including the phenomenon of stone-throwing by roaming children only reinforced the understanding that security involves welfare. In recent months Jerusalem has witnessed bloody, brutal murderous terrorist attacks. We will continue to fight against terrorism without hesitation and without fear. With that in mind, the ticking bomb that is the welfare of the residents of eastern Jerusalem will not be able to be dismantled by police and security forces alone. It would be foolish and wrong to think so. And above all it would be negligent not address the issues in time."
The President added that, "Sovereignty entails responsibility. Sovereignty involves policy. Sovereignty involves determination. The reunification of Jerusalem in practice, in terms of narrowing the pressing gap between its eastern and western parts is a task that all lovers of Jerusalem, from the Right and Left alike, have to agree upon and strive to achieve. Only thus, can we ask for peace in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is given to us in trust. We must bear the heavy responsibility for the peace of the city's inhabitants here, and for the peace of those who believe in the city from around the world. May we know to ask for city's well-being as a united Jerusalem, for the sake the city's lovers, its people and all it's believers."
Jerusalem, capital of Israel, divided during the 1948 War of Independence, was reunited in June 1967. On May 17, 2015 (28 Iyyar) Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day, marking the reunification of the nation's capital.
Since the time of King David, except for the 19 years between 1948 and 1967, there has always been a Jewish presence in the ancient city of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. From 1948 until 1967, the western part of the city was in Israeli hands, while the ancient, eastern part - apart from a small Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus - was under Jordanian control.
Jerusalem, divided during the 1948 War of Independence, was reunited in June 1967.
"Peace has now returned with our forces in control of all the city and its environs. You may rest assured that no harm whatsoever shall come to the places sacred to all religions. I have requested the Minister of Religious Affairs to get in touch with the religious leaders in the Old City in order to ensure regular contact between them and our forces, so as to make certain that the former may continue their spiritual activities unhindered."
- Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, June 7, 1967
Brief history of Jerusalem
Exiled by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE, who conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, the Jews were allowed to return and rebuild the city and the Temple some 50 years later by the Persian King Cyrus.
Alexander the Great conquered Jerusalem in 332 BCE. The later desecration of the Temple and attempts to suppress Jewish religious identity under the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV resulted in a revolt led by Judah Maccabbee, who rededicated the Temple (164 BCE) and re-established Jewish independence under the Hasmonean dynasty.
A century later, Pompey imposed Roman rule on Jerusalem. King Herod, installed as ruler of Judah by the Romans (37 - 4 BCE), established cultural institutions in Jerusalem, erected magnificent public buildings and refashioned the Temple into an edifice of splendor.
Jewish revolt against Rome broke out in 66 CE, as Roman rule after Herod's death became increasingly oppressive. In 70 CE, Roman legions under Titus conquered the city and destroyed the Temple. Jewish independence was briefly restored during the Bar Kochba revolt (132-135), but again the Romans prevailed. Jews were forbidden to enter the city, renamed Aelia Capitolina.
After Byzantine conquest of the city (313), Jerusalem was transformed into a Christian center under Emperor Constantine, with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher the first of many grandiose structures built in the city.
Muslim armies invaded the country in 634, and four years later Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem. Only during the reign of Abdul Malik, who built the Dome of the Rock (691), did Jerusalem briefly become the seat of a caliph.
The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, massacred its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants, and established the city as the capital of the Crusader Kingdom. Synagogues were destroyed, old churches were rebuilt and many mosques were turned into Christian shrines. Crusader rule over Jerusalem ended in 1187, when the city fell to Saladin.
In 1247 Jerusalem fell once more to Egypt, now ruled by the Mamluks, until the conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the city walls (1537). After his death, the central authorities in Constantinople took little interest in Jerusalem and the city declined.
Jerusalem began to thrive once more in the latter half of the 19th century. Growing numbers of Jews returning to their land, waning Ottoman power and revitalized European interest in the Holy Land led to renewed development of Jerusalem.
The British army led by General Allenby conquered Jerusalem in 1917. From 1922 to 1948, Jerusalem was the administrative seat of the British authorities in the Land of Israel (Palestine), which had been entrusted to Great Britain by the League of Nations.
Division and reunification
Upon termination of the British Mandate on May 14, 1948, and in accordance with the UN resolution of November 29, 1947, Israel proclaimed its independence, with Jerusalem as its capital. Opposing its establishment, the Arab countries launched an all-out assault on the new state, resulting in the 1948-49 War of Independence. The armistice lines drawn at the end of the war divided Jerusalem into two, with Jordan occupying the Old City and areas to the north and south, and Israel retaining the western and southern parts of the city.
When the Six-Day War broke out in June 1967, Israel contacted Jordan through the U.N. as well as the American Embassy, and made it clear that if Jordan refrained from attacking Israel, Israel would not attack Jordan. Nevertheless, the Jordanians attacked west Jerusalem and occupied the former High Commissioner's building. Following heavy fighting, the IDF recovered the compound and removed the Jordanian army from east Jerusalem, resulting in the reunification of the city.
From the IDF website:
After the liberation of the city by the IDF, the walls dividing the city were torn down. Three weeks later, the Knesset enacted legislation unifying the city and extending Israeli sovereignty over the eastern part of the city.
The reunification of the city was also a fundamental moment in the history of religious tolerance, opening the city of Jerusalem to worshippers of all faiths, permitting Jews to return to the Western Wall and other holy sites, and allowing Israeli Muslims and Christians to visit those sacred places in eastern Jerusalem from which they too had been barred since 1948.
One year later, in 1968, it was decided that the day marking the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem - 28 Iyar according to the Jewish lunar calendar - would be national holiday in Israel. On Jerusalem Day we celebrate the reunification of the city and the Jewish people's connection with Jerusalem throughout the ages.
Photo captions (June 7, 1967):
1. Aerial view of Mosque of Omar and Western Wall, Old City of Jerusalem (GPO/Ilan Bruner)
A delegation of 23 professionals from 10 Latin American countries arrived in Israel to get acquainted with Israel’s intensive agricultural development and practical experience on the planning and management of fertigation.
The professional program, organized by MASHAV-CINADCO's Training Center in Kibbutz Shefayim (28 April-20 May), counts with the participation of 23 professionals representing national and local public institutions, universities and private companies from Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru.
Irrigated agriculture utilizes nowadays approximately 70% of the total global water consumption. In view of the recurrence of more negative water balance periods (mostly due to the misuse of water resources, the influence of climate change and to the steady consumption increase of the urban and the industrial sectors) it is expected that in order to ensure the sustainable development of agriculture and to improve the living conditions of the rural population, most countries will need to implement systems which promote the efficient use of water and nutrients.
Photo : Participants in MASHAV-CINADCO’s course on Implementation of Fertigation in Intensive Agriculture
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this afternoon (Tuesday, 12 May 2015), met with German Defense Minister Dr. Ursula von der Leyen. Following is an excerpt from his remarks at the start of their meeting:
"The challenges to us keep changing. We've made peace with two of our Arab neighbors, but there are new forces in the region. They are threatening not only us but also threatening of course our Arab neighbors with whom we've made peace.
This creates the opportunity to make other alliances with other Arab states, but at the same time, we have a great threat emanating from militant Islam, both from militant Sunnis in the form of ISIS and al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, but the greatest threat that we see and I think that our neighbors see as well is the threat that emanates from the imperial and theological ambitions of the Ayatollah regime in Iran. They are seeking, as you know, to develop a capability to develop nuclear weapons. They are engaged in a campaign of conquest and subversion throughout the Middle East, now in Yemen, around Israel's borders in Lebanon, not very far from our border in the Golan, in Gaza.
We view the greatest challenge to the security of the Middle East, of Israel and of the world Iran's quest for empire coupled with its quest for nuclear weapons. We hope that this can be prevented, preferably by diplomatic means. We think a better deal is required than the one that is proposed in Lausanne, and I believe that this is important for our common future and our common security."
The course took place in Israel (26 April-8 May) with the participation of 25 medical professionals from developing countries. Among them, were 3 Nepalese doctors who were in Israel at the time of the devastating earthquake which hit their country at the end of April.
Photo :Director of MASHAV’s Training Division, Ambassador Mattanya Cohen (second from left) and Nepal’s Ambassador to Israel Prahlad Kumar Prasai, with the Nepalese doctors at the course’s closing ceremony
Seventy years after the victory over Nazi Germany, we are unfortunately witnessing the renewed growth of antisemitism and of voices denying the Holocaust. Against this background, the Global Forum takes on special importance.
Seventy years after the victory over Nazi Germany, we are unfortunately witnessing the renewed growth of antisemitism and of voices denying the Holocaust and distorting its memory. When we examine the figures, we find that the past year marked an apogee in manifestations of antisemitism, most notably in West European and on the Internet.
Thus, 70 years after the Holocaust, many Jews in Europe again feel insecure in the face of growing attacks against them and antisemitic terror attacks by radical Islam which claimed the lives of nine victims in one year.
Against this background, the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, which will convene from May 12-14, 2015 in Jerusalem, takes on special importance in formulating action plans to combat antisemitism and to shape international policy to cope with the growing problem.
Some 1,000 experts from around the world will take part in the conference - the largest of its kind in the world - including the Justice Ministers of Germany and Romania, the Education Minister of Bulgaria, the Mayor of Paris, and the Minister of State for Multiculturalism from Canada. Israeli participants will include the Prime Minister, the President of the Supreme Court, the Speaker of the Knesset, the Foreign Minister, and the Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs. Other participants from around the world include members of parliament, government officials, representatives of civil society, jurists and academics, as well as the Hollywood producer and actor, Edward James Olmos.
Special emphasis will be placed on coping effectively with the rise of antisemitism in Europe, the Internet and the social media. An important panel will features Muslim leaders from Europe in order to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding. There will also be in-depth discussions in 12 working groups to address the challenges of Holocaust denial and distortion, the use of legal tools to combat antisemitism, the advancement of legislation against antisemitism, and more.
The conference is being organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs.
Additional information can be found on the MFA website, which will also broadcast live from the conference.
I am very concerned that the Lausanne framework is repeating the mistakes made with North Korea. Under the Lausanne framework, Iran is left with the ability to develop with R&D advanced centrifuges that actually advance its nuclear program; I think the repetition of these mistakes is a great historic blunder.
Prime Minister Benjamin, this afternoon (Wednesday, 29 April 2015), met with South Korean Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Hwang Woo-yea and told him at the start of their meeting:
"We have an excellent relationship between the Republic of Korea and Israel. We're two amazing success stories, two democracies facing adversity, hostility from our neighbors, but spectacular economic success, not because of raw materials, but because of the raw material of the brains and hearts of our people. We embrace the future. We are proud of our heritage, our history, and we both, unfortunately, face a threat of rogue states and hostility from our neighbors.
We have a great deal to learn from each other and be inspired by each other, but we also heed the example of the negotiations with North Korea, the nuclear negotiations. It was said then that the inspections would prevent proliferation. It was said then that they would moderate North Korea’s aggressive behavior. It was said that it would integrate North Korea into the family of nations and unfortunately that didn't happen.
And I am very concerned that the Lausanne framework would repeat and is repeating these mistakes. I think that freeze and inspect is not an adequate substitute for dismantle and remove. And in fact, there's not even a real freeze, because under the Lausanne framework, Iran is left with the ability to develop with R&D advanced centrifuges that actually advance its nuclear program. And needless to say, I don't think there's any effective inspection. So I think the repetition of these mistakes is a great historic blunder. And I think we can learn all the good things that have happened on the Korean peninsula, but also the bad things that have happened in the nuclear negotiations.
Getting back to the good things, I have to tell you that we are immensely appreciative of what you have performed. We have all these abilities to cooperate together. I think we are, in many ways, a perfect match. And I hope that your visit here, and I believe your visit here, could help us further the tremendous potential for additional cooperation between our countries in every field, in every field.
So I thank you for your friendship. I welcome you to Jerusalem and I wish to send special greetings to President Park and also to invite her to come to Israel."
Photo PM Netanyahu with South Korean Deputy PM and Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea in Jerusalem
The delegation members of MDA immediately made contact with Beit Chabad and the Israeli embassy upon their arrival in Kathmandu. They gave medical treatment to the Israeli babies and to many victims. The delegation continues to work in the area in full cooperation with the Red Cross organization, and the relevant authorities in Israel.
The delegation, which includes doctors, senior paramedics and members of the operations division in MDA landed last night in Katmandu with medical equipment, medicines, and baby food. The delegation connected with Beit Chabad and the Israeli embassy as soon as they arrived. Alongside this MDA's delegation is working in full cooperation with the Red Cross forces, the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, the IDF, and other relevant government officials, as they started to treat the victims of the earthquake.
As soon as the MDA team arrived they started transporting the Israeli babies to the delegation plane, back to Israel.
While they took care of the Israelis and tried to locate missing Israelis whom contact was lost with, MDA team members joined the local teams and treated dozens of the earthquake victims. Even during these hours and throughout the whole day, among the other things, the delegation members connected with 2 of the local hospitals there (Center of Trauma of Nepal in Kathmandu and The Military Hospital) in order to provide medical support to the local teams, MDA teams joined the local ambulances to help provide medical care in the streets and disaster stricken areas.
Senior paramedic Ilan Klein commented from Kathmandu : "It's hard to describe the dimensions and magnitude of this disaster which struck Nepal, the amount of injuries and fatalities is unimaginable, as part of the humanitarian activity of MDA as a member society of the Red Cross we try our best to help and contribute our knowledge and longtime experience gained in MDA from past missions in order to help save as many lives".
Last night, in addition to the activity on the ground in Nepal, MDA teams in Israel helped in transporting 3 Israeli babies which arrived in an air force plane from Nepal at the airport in Nevatim to Soroka hospital in Be'er Sheva.
MDA Director General Eli Bin: "Upon arrival to Kathmandu, we immediately started taking care of the Israeli people there and helped the local forces in the medical treatment of the many wounded victims from the severe earthquake that struck the entire region, we are working in full cooperation with the Red Cross, The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IDF in order to provide treatment to all the Israelis in the area, and we'll keep helping the local forces as long as it is necessary."
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.