Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (, China Standard Time), met with the heads of China's largest corporations, each of which has a turnover of tens of billions of dollars. Among those present were the chairpersons of Wanda, Alibaba, Wahaha, Lenovo and Baidu.
The Prime Minister expressed Israel's willingness to continue opening to the Chinese market and to increase bilateral trade. He presented the attractiveness of investing in Israel as well as its unique human capital.
Accompanying Prime Minister Netanyahu are Economy Minister Eli Cohen, Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman. The Prime Minister called on them to cooperate with Israeli companies in Israel, in China and in other countries around the world.
Afterwards, Prime Minister Netanyahu attended a business / economic forum with over 600 Israeli and Chinese businesspeople. He called on the Chinese businesspeople to adopt Israeli technology in order to continue to raise the standard of living in China.
The Israeli delegation to the forum – organized under the aegis of the Export Institute – is composed of dozens of businesspeople from a variety of industries and companies (including IDE, Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, Tnuva, NaanDanJain and others) that either operate in China or are interested in penetrating the Chinese market. Delegation members are due to meet with hundreds of Chinese businesspeople.
The forum was organized by Economy and Industry Ministry commercial attaches at Israel's missions in China
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"I just met with 11 heads of the largest corporations in China. A major portion of them are investing in Israel and a major portion of them will invest in Israel. This means jobs, the development of businesses and a link to the major Chinese markets. This is good for the citizens of Israel and for the Israeli economy. I told them that in today's world there are several concentrations of technology, not many, the US, Israel, and Israel is open for business with China."
Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)
For the third year in a row (2014-2015-2016), Tel Aviv is the #1 Aliyah destination, concluding 2016 with an additional 2900 immigrants who chose to make Tel Aviv their new home in Israel. In the past year, Israel welcomed some 27,000 immigrants, according to a report by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption. 11% of the new immigrants chose to settle in Tel Aviv, the Nonstop City. The report also showed that most of the immigrants who arrived in Tel Aviv hail from Russia (715), France (526) and the United States (252).
Immigration to Tel Aviv has come to be characterized by youth; approximately 9,500 of the new immigrants are between the ages of 18 and 35, joining a third of Tel Aviv's population that is of the same age sector. Tel Aviv embodies many of the things these young professionals are looking for when they come to Israel. On top of Tel Aviv's attractive beaches, nightlife and culinary scene, the Startup City is also home to 1,450 early stage startups, the highest amount of startups per capita. That constitutes 28 startups per square kilometer and 1 startup for every 290 residents. 2,400 of the Olim have a background in high-tech and engineering, a perfect match while the Tel Aviv startup scene is looking to scale-up to international markets, providing plenty of jobs for International immigrants.
Shlomo Maslawi, Chairman of the Immigration and Absorption Committee: “I am proud to be standing at the head of a municipal system determined to integrate immigrants effectively into the Tel Aviv-Yafo society. These new immigrants contribute immensely to the diversity of the local culture and economy. I would like to thank our partners at the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption who are working with us in order to make sure these new immigrants feel at home in Tel Aviv-Yafo”.
Amir Dor, Director for the Department of Immigration Absorption:” I am happy and proud to be standing at the head of the municipal absorption department, which is devoted to providing new immigrants with the assistance they need, in a variety of languages, in order to help them build their home and future in Tel Aviv-Yafo”.
Tel Aviv Global & Tourism’s CEO, Eytan Schwartz: ”Tel Aviv offers Young Jewish professionals from around the world an innovative and creative nonstop lifestyle that is comparable to global cities such as New York, London and Berlin. Out of the 61 cities studied, Tel Aviv was ranked 8th in the Global Cities Ranking”.
Photo credit:Kfir Bolotin
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (), addressed at his residence in Jerusalem, a meeting of Israel’s ambassadors to European countries. Before the meeting, the President was updated by Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey Eitan Na’eh who was attending the meeting, regarding the Israelis caught up in the terror attack in Turkey.
“This is a complex and turbulent time for the State of Israel, but not only for the State of Israel,” began the President and went on to speak about the attack which had taken place in Turkey the night before. “Last night, Turkey endured yet another terror attack. I send from here my sympathies and wishes for better days, to the families who have lost their sons and daughters, and to the Turkish people after another disaster which has befallen them.”
He continued, “The world around us is unsettled and shifting – axes are taking shape; some on a diplomatic level are more comfortable for Israel, like the Sunni axis, and some are hostile and dangerous, like the Syrian-Hezbollah-Iran axis. In the wider sense these changes are not just regional, the shock-waves occurring in the Middle East impact more than metaphorically, but significantly on Europe: as waves of refugees, as terror attacks, and Jihadists, which rove from here to there, and from there to here. As a result of these developments, and other important other progressions of globalization, western democracy is enduring change. The term ‘defensive democracy’ seems accurate in relation to the election results in the US, Brexit, and the strengthening of the populist, national and nationalist and other movements in many countries in Europe. The political agenda for the continent in 2017 is certain to be far from boring for us – and certainly not for you. None more than you know the significance each of these elements for the State of Israel; on what occurs here, on its relations with the West, with the whole world.”
He added, “Our sovereign power preserves our independence and defends our interests, and will continue to stand forever as the highest priority for the State of Israel. Yet military strength and erecting high walls will never suffice in safeguarding our sovereignty and security. The strength of the State of Israel is drawn from its first days, and the combination of military and diplomatic strength, the integration of industry and technology, of human resources and the ability to build ties. And today – perhaps more than ever – professional diplomacy is a central and crucial component to preserving Israel’s national and international resilience. I stress these elements in Israel’s foreign policy, specifically against the background of UNSC Resolution 2334. In professional terms Resolution 2334 which was adopted against Israel is ‘soft power’; tanks, jets, and missiles were not launched against us and yet the decision harms the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Resolution 2334 and the speech by the Secretary of State place Israel in the dock. In a world where countries use ‘soft power’ such as sanctions and slurs in order to influence and shape global policy, ‘soft power’ also represents a real challenge for the State of Israel. If we will not be sure of our strength and the justness of our path, and in our ability to convince that we act justly, with respect, fairness, and with morality with all the residents of this land, we will be stuck forever in this war. The adoption of the Resolution proves that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not only a central issue in your day to day work behind the scenes, but is on the world’s stage and we cannot look the other way in the hope it disappears. At the same time, the Resolution exposes the central point of contention between Israel and the international community.”
The President went on to say, “The existence of a clear disagreement between Israel and the international community on the question of the 1967 borders, is sacred to the resolution of the conflict.The international community still sees the 1967 borders as sacred to the solution of the conflict, while within the Israeli Jewish consensus, there are perhaps none who see a return to the 1967 borders as realistic. There are those who would enlarge or narrow, but the majority of the public knows what would not be accepted. This is a genuine, deep, and even sometimes difficult disagreement between Israel and the international community, yet it needs to be clear and open, and we have the duty to address and explain it. And the job of making our views understood rests greatly on you. More than ever we need you.”
The President concluded by thanking the ambassadors for their important work for the State of Israel, “In no small way thanks to your work, there is no doubt of Israel's great achievements in the fields of science and technology, of our military and intelligence strength, and economic capability.”
Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks on the first night of Chanukah this evening (Saturday, 24 December 2016) at an event in salute of wounded IDF and security forces veterans and victims of terrorism:
"Citizens of Israel, I would like to reassure you. The resolution that was adopted yesterday at the United Nations is distorted and shameful but we will overcome it. The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter [in the Old City of Jerusalem] is 'occupied territory'. This is delusional. The resolution determines that the Western Wall is 'occupied territory'. This too is delusional. There is nothing more absurd than calling the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter occupied territory. There is also an attempt here, which will not succeed, to impose permanent settlement terms on Israel. You might recall that the last one who tried to do this was Carter, an extremely hostile president to Israel, and who just recently said that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Carter passed sweeping decisions against us at the UN of a similar kind, and this was also unsuccessful. We opposed this and nothing happened.
All American presidents since Carter upheld the American commitment not to try to dictate permanent settlement terms to Israel at the Security Council. And yesterday, in complete contradiction of this commitment, includingan explicit commitment by President Obama himself in 2011, the Obama administration carried out a shameful anti-Israel ploy at the UN. I would like to tell you that the resolution that was adopted, not only doesn't bring peace closer, it drives it further away. It hurts justice; it hurts the truth. Think about this absurdity, half a million human beings are being slaughtered in Syria. Tens of thousands are being butchered in Sudan. The entire Middle East is going up in flames and the Obama administration and the Security Council choose to gang up on the only democracy in the Middle East – the State of Israel. What a disgrace.
My friends, I would like to tell you on the first night of Chanukah that this will not avail them. We reject this resolution outright, just as we rejected the UN resolution that determined that Zionism was racism. It took time but that resolution was rescinded; it will take time but this one will also be rescinded. Now I will tell you how it will be rescinded. It will be rescinded not because of our retreats but because of our steadfastness and that of our allies. I remind you that we withdrew from Gaza, uprooted communities and took people out of their graves. Did this help us at all at the UN? Did this improve our relations at the UN? We were hit with thousands of rocketsand at the UN we were hit with the Goldstone report!
So I will tell you what is clear, I know, to the vast majority of Israeli citizens: We learned this lesson, and we will not go there. But I also want to tell you something else: We are not alone. I spoke last night with many American leaders. I was pleased to hear from members of the American Congress, from Democrats and Republicans alike, that they will fight an all-out war against this resolution with all the power at their disposal. I heard the exact same things from our friends in the incoming administration, who said that they will fight an all-out war against this resolution. And I heard this from across the spectrum of American public opinion and American politics – Republicans, Democrats, Jews and non-Jews. As I spoke yesterday with leaders in Congress and the incoming American administration, they told me unequivocally: 'We are sick of this and it will not continue. We will change this resolution. We will not allow anyone to harm the State of Israel.' They are declaring their intention to pass legislation to punish countries and bodies that try to harm Israel. They say that this will also include the UN itself. I remind you that the UN receives a quarter, 25%, of its budget from the US alone.
In my most recent speech to the UN, in September, I said that a storm was expected in the UN before it gets better there. We knew that this is possible and we expect that it will come. The resolution that was passed at the UN yesterday is part of the swan song of the old world that is biased against Israel, but, my friends, we are entering a new era. And just as President-elect Trump said yesterday, it will happen much sooner than you think. In the new era there is a much higher price for those who try to harm Israel, and that the price will be exacted not only by the US, but by Israel as well.
Two countries with which we have diplomatic relations cosponsored the resolution against us at the UN; therefore, I ordered yesterday that our ambassadors be recalled from, Senegal and from New Zealand. I have ordered that all Israeli assistance to Senegal be halted, and there's more to come. Those who work with us will benefit because Israel has much to give to the countries of the world. But those who work against us will lose – because there will be a diplomatic and economic price for their actions against Israel. Additionally, I have instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete, within a month, a reassessment of all of our contacts with the UN, including Israeli financing of UN institutions and the presence of UN representatives in the country. But I am not waiting; already now I have ordered to halt approximately NIS 30 million in financing for five UN institutions, five UN bodies that are especially hostile to Israel. I have already ordered that this be stopped, and there is more to come.
We are on a campaign of improving our relations with the nations of the world. And it will take more time, and I have said this as well, until our improved relations with countries on five continents are also reflected in their decisions in UN institutions. But I would like to tell you something else, and listen closely to what I'm saying. Contrary to what you might expect, it is very likely that last night's scandalous resolution will accelerate this process, because it is the straw that broke the camel's back. Last night's resolution is a call to arms for all of our many friends in the US and elsewhere around the world, friends who are sick of the UN's hostility toward Israel, and they intend to bring about a fundamental change in the UN. Therefore, this evening I tell you in the language of our sources, the sweet will yet come forth from the bitter and those who come to curse will yet bless.
Here, on the first night of Chanukah, I stand next to the Maccabees of our times, IDF soldiers and wounded IDF heroes. I salute you and I say to you clearly: The light will dispel the darkness. The spirit of the Maccabees will overcome. Happy Chanukah."
Photo Silvia Golan
Chemi Peres, son of the Ninth President, and Rafi Walden, Peres’ son-in-law and personal physician, addressed the terrible news regarding the death of Shimon Peres of blessed memory
Chemi: “The loss we feel today belongs to all of Israel, we all share this pain.”
Rafi: “His life ended abruptly while he was still working on his great passion – strengthening the state and striving for peace. His legacy will remain with us all.”
Chemi Peres, son of the Ninth President, and Rafi Walden, Peres’ son-in-law and personal physician, addressed the terrible news regarding the death of Shimon Peres of blessed memory. Chemi Peres began by saying: "Today, with deep sorrow, we bid farewell to our beloved father, the Ninth President of Israel, Shimon Peres.
Chemi referred to the many years of dedication by his father to the people of Israel and said: "He was one of the founding fathers of the State of Israel, and served our people before we even had a country of our own. He worked tirelessly for Israel from the very first day of the state to the last day of his life.
Throughout his 70 years of public service he was committed and devoted to Israel, serving as President, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and in many other key positions, which shaped our history.
My father used to say: "You are only as great as the cause you serve". He had no interest other than serving the people of Israel, in whom he had great faith and whom he loved dearly, until his final breath.”
He also thanked the medical staff who treated his father with great devotion, and sent a message for a speedy recovery to the patients in the ICU saying: "On behalf of our family, I would like to thank the medical staff at the Sheba Medical Center, who worked tirelessly, with boundless dedication, professionalism, and devotion to our father's life.
We would like to send our warmest wishes to the families we met daily in the corridors of the ICU. We pray for your loved ones’ full and speedy recovery.
We extend our deepest gratitude to all of you who offered support, sending words of comfort, hope and prayers from within Israel and all over the world; young and old, Heads of State and religious leaders.
You enveloped our father in love, and we know how much he loved you.
Our father’s legacy has always been the future. Look to tomorrow, he taught us, build Israel’s future with courage and with wisdom and always continue to strive for peace. We were privileged to have been part of his private family. But today, we sense that the entire nation of Israel and the global community mourn this great loss. We share this pain, together.”
Following Chemi Peres’ message, Rafi Walden, son-in-law and personal physician to Shimon Peres, said: "Shimon Peres left us without suffering. The wonderful team at the Sheba Medical Center fought for his life with all of their might, while protecting his dignity and ensuring that he did not experience pain. He was in good health up until the day of his stroke. Ten months ago he suffered a minor heart attack, and his recovery was astounding. He returned to his work as usual at the Peres Center for Peace, including trips to South Africa and Canada, meeting with the Pope, and many others."
Walden also referred to Peres’ meetings with world leaders, saying: "During his meetings around the world we were amazed, time and again, to see world leaders standing before him like students before a Rabbi, eager to hear his wisdom. Just an hour ago we had a conversation with President Obama, who talked to my wife, Tsvia, expressing his great admiration for Peres and his condolences to the family.
Three weeks ago I traveled with him to an international conference in Italy, where he held meetings with statesmen, religious leaders, and business leaders, and gave numerous interviews. The speech he delivered was brilliantly received. On the morning of his stroke he delivered an hour long speech, as usual without notes, before business and high-tech leaders, about his favorite topic: innovation.
We all believed that so much more still awaited him, and that Israel and the world would continue to benefit from his contributions. His life ended abruptly, while he was still working on his great passion – strengthening the state and striving for peace. His legacy will remain with us all.”
Statement from the Office of Ninth President Shimon Peres
The Office of the Ninth President of the State of Israel bows its head in deep sadness at the passing of Shimon Peres; Israel’s Ninth President, former Prime Minister, Minister in numerous governments, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and a man of vision and of action.
Shimon Peres was one of Israel’s founding fathers; he secured the country’s deterrent capability and its defensive strength in the early years, stood at the forefront of arming and building the IDF, established the reactor in Dimona and led the formation of Israel’s defense industries. He served the people of Israel for decades, from before the establishment of the State and until his final breath. Shimon Peres worked to establish true peace within Israel as well as between Israel and her neighbors, and stood at the head of the country’s transformation into a technological superpower – the Startup Nation.
As Prime Minister (1984-1986), Peres turned Israel’s economy around and saved it from collapse following the worst economic crisis in its history (with a peak inflation of over 400% per year) through his Economic Stabilization Program.
Shimon Peres believed that it was the right of every Jew in the world to live in Israel. As Prime Minister, he worked to open the gates of the Former Soviet Union and enable the immigration of Soviet Jewry to Israel, oversaw Operation Moses, during which 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel, and pushed for the release of the Prisoners of Zion.
As President, he worked to promote Israel’s standing in the world and established centers to encourage breakthrough Israeli science and innovation. In recent years he secured the necessary resources and opened research funds at Israeli universities, which contributed to the development of Israeli science and to breakthroughs in a variety of fields including neuroscience, robotics and nanotechnology. In July 2016, Shimon Peres laid the cornerstone for the new Israeli Innovation Center at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, together with the Israeli Prime Minister and President.
It is with great sadness that we part from one of Israel’s great leaders, a man who devoted his life to the service of his country and loved the people of Israel with all his heart.
May his memory be a blessing.
Photo Silvia Golan
The Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Zhang Ming visited the Sheba Medical Center this morning to support President Peres and his family on behalf of the Speaker of the Chinese Parliament, the Chinese Leadership, and the Chinese People
The Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs passed on a message of hope for the speedy recovery of the Ninth President and said:
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs also referred to Peres’ role in the strong ties between Israel and China, saying: "Peres is one of Israel's founding fathers. For us he is an important and admired leader who contributed greatly to the establishment and growth of the State of Israel. He is one of the main leaders for peace, who devoted his whole life and work towards creating peace and stability in the Middle East and around the world. Peres laid the groundwork for talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and above all he is the father of strategic relations with China – opening the doors for political and economic relations between China and Israel. With his work on behalf of China, he contributed to the economic advancement and scientific development of China. In every one of his visits to China he was received by the Chinese leadership and the Chinese people as a distinguished guest. With his historic visit to China in 1993, he continued a tradition of political visits and delegations in order to strength the relations between our two countries."
Chemi replied to the Deputy Minister, saying: "I wish to thank the Speaker of the Chinese Parliament, the Chinese leadership and the Chinese people, on behalf of my entire family. My father holds a special and deep respect for the culture, the Leadership and the People of China. Strengthening relations between Israel and China has always been extremely important to him, and he put a lot of effort into broadening those relations. He appreciated and supported the visits of joint delegations and worked towards strengthening our economic and scientific collaborations. My father has spoken a lot about the common values and traditions that are shared between China, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. On the same day that he was hospitalized, he even met an economic/scientific delegation comprised of Chairmen of Chinese companies, and enjoyed telling them all about the unbelievable story of the State of Israel as the Start-up Nation.
Chemi went on to tell the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs that in the past year, many governors and the Chairmen of of various companies have asked Peres to assist them in establishing innovation centers in order to contribute to the strengthening of China's position in the economic and technological fields. Chemi said: "this vision of collaboration with the help of the innovation centers made him really enthusiastic and he has worked eagerly to promote it.”
My father has always been a fighter as he is doing right at this moment– he is fighting to leave the hospital, and I know his greatest desire is to return to work in full force. He always talks about being optimistic and now we are clinging to his optimism. It takes a lot of patience, and we are thankful for the prayers and the waves of love and well wishes that we are receiving from all across the world.
Rafi Walden, Peres' son-in-law and personal doctor, briefed the Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on the medical status of the Ninth President. As someone who had accompanied Peres on his last visit to China in December in order to attend groundbreaking of the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology, he was able to recount Peres' excitement over the new frontier of the relations between Israel and China.
Photo Credit GPO provided by the Office of the former President Peres
Marking two years since Operation Protective Edge, President Rivlin tours region bordering Gaza Strip, speaks with soldiers serving in the area, and meets local authority and regional heads
Marking two years since Operation Protective Edge, President Reuven Rivlin today (), toured the region bordering the Gaza Strip. He was accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir, and Gaza Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Yehuda Fox.
The President received a situation update and heard about the IDF operations in the area on a day-to-day basis, and in particular following the recent terrorist rocket attack on Sderot. During his visit, President Rivlin was shown a terror tunnel discovered by the IDF, and discussed the initiatives the IDF was taking to tackle the problem of the tunnels.
The President then went on to the ‘Black Arrow (Chetz HaShachor)’ viewpoint where he met with dozens of soldiers of the Bedouin Tracker Unit, combat engineers, and members of the Givati Brigade who were serving in the region. He told them, “Two years after Operation Protective Edge, the south has returned to its daily routine. The IDF guards the front in the very best way, and the front in return shows its appreciation. Just as we saw yesterday, we will not tolerate any disturbance of the quiet, and in the face of any such disturbance we will respond swiftly and firmly. On both sides of the border there are civilians who want to live in quiet and we will be sure that the citizens of Israel will continue to live in harmony. We do not seek war. Yet, after having sat with our wonderful commanders I know that if war is forced upon us, we have an army as ready and professional as could be asked. The plan that was presented to me reflects operational strength.”
The President reiterated that, “Two of our sons remained behind after the war which took place two years ago. The State of Israel has a moral responsibility to return Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.”
The President thanked the soldiers and said, “On my own behalf, and on behalf of all the Israeli people I want to say thank you to the commanders, to the servicemen and women. The calm here is not taken for granted; the children and the families who are now enjoying the summer holiday do so thanks to you.”
The President then spoke with the media covering his visit. He said, “We are not interested in an escalation. Just as the other side want to live in peace and live comfortable lives so do we. At the same time, we are ready to face any hostility toward us. I am impressed by the readiness of the IDF to face any challenge in order to safeguard Israel’s security. I can say to the citizens of Israel, the IDFis prepared and ready to face any threat above or below the ground in order to prevent any trouble not just around Gaza, but across the country.”
Later, the President met with the local authority and regional heads from the Negev and the southern region.
Photo President Rivlin with the heads of regional councils in the Negev.
Photo by Mark Neumann / GPO
NInth President of Israel Shimon Peres mourns the lost of Elie Wiesel:
"Today, the Jewish people and the world lost a larger than life individual - Holocaust Survivor, Author and Noble Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel.
Wiesel, left his mark on humanity through preserving and upholding the legacy of the Holocaust and delivering a message of peace and respect between people worldwide.
He endured the most serious atrocities of mankind - survived them and dedicated his life to conveying the message of - "Never Again”.
I had the honor and privilege to personally thank him for his numerous years of work and for saving the world from apathy when I gave him the Presidential Medal on behalf of the State of Israel. May his memory be a blessing to us all. "
Photo Credit GPO (Presidential medal ceremony 2013)
Gaza Rocket Strikes Israel, Drawing IDF Response
Yesterday, July 1st, 2016, a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel. The rocket hit in the city of Sderot, causing damage to a building.
In response to the attack IAF aircraft targeted four locations that were components of Hamas' operational infrastructure in the northern and central Gaza Strip.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman: “Over the past two days Israeli civilians have witnessed and experienced the devastating effects of incitement fueled terrorism based on hatred and radical beliefs. The rocket attack today in Sderot is a horrific reminder of the intentions of terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to target communities, people, men women and children. In our efforts to ensure stability, we continue to defend against those who put innocent lives in harm’s way”
40 years ago today, June 27th 1976, an airplane was hijacked leading to Operation Entebbe
40 years later - this morning, for the first time, the Defense Minister during the operation Shimon Peres got together with the Children of Entebbe, who were rescued during this bold military operation
During this meeting the children shared their memories of the seven days that they spent in Uganda: Shay, who remembers the shouts of the German terrorists, Tzipi, who lost her father in the operation, Anat, whose mother threw a mattress over her during the rescue to protect her life, and Ada, who to this day still gets scared when she hears her children playing with guns
Peres said to the Children of Entebbe: "Everyone speaks about the operation– today we honor you - when we made the difficult decision to move forward with this operation it was you, the children, who were foremost in my mind"
"When I heard that the terrorists separated out the Jewish hostages I was furious, and I knew that we would not surrender! Operation Entebbe was the most important military operation in the history of the Israeli army and it raised our prestige around the world."
Anat Brodesky Charniak, who was 6: "I remember running and fleeing for our lives – thank you for saving our lives"
By request of the children, Sorin Hershko was granted a certificate of honor at the event, as he was paralyzed for life during the rescue operation
The Ninth President Shimon Peres, who served as Defense Minister during Operation Entebbe and headed the military operation, this morning participated in an emotional event that gathered together, for the first time, the Children of Entebbe, who were flying with their families on vacation and were kidnapped on Air France flight 139 to Paris, exactly 40 years ago today (27 June 1976). Peres asked to mark 40 years by giving the spotlight to the children, as many of them have never shared their story of captivity, and to mark their bravery during the abduction and weeklong captivity with their families in Entebbe.
During the event, Peres shared with the children the difficult political decisions he had to make as Defense Minister during Operation Entebbe and said: "From the moment I heard about the hijacking I knew that we must do everything possible to free you and bring you back home. We had very little information to go on. My blood boiled when I heard that the terrorists separated out the Jewish and German captives – at that moment I decided no more! They called the military branch that I oversaw the "fantasy branch", many doubted the ability of the IDF to carry out this mission, fearing that there was no precedent for such an operation, but I knew all along that it was possible. Operation Entebbe is one of the most calculated and important in Israeli history, and raised the prestige of the IDF throughout the world."
Tzipi, who lost her father in the operation, said that: "When you are a child your memories of the operation are memories of a child. I will never forget Jean-Jacques Maimon, who was 19, playing with us like a teacher, and distracting us with five stones made from Coca-Cola caps. I remember my mother yelling "run" during the rescue, and the soldiers giving us candy. When we arrived in Israel everyone was so happy about the rescue, and I was alone, a child without a father."
Ella Reizenkovitz, who was 5.5 and was excited to share her homecoming experiences: "I remember the moment we returned home, and how the entire staircase leading up to my room was decorated by our neighbors."
Benny Davidson, who was 13 years old, shared how he was flying to go celebrate his bar mitzvah with his family, and his grandmother gave him a notebook that became a calendar and journal during his mother's captivity. "My father did not want the terrorists to know that he was a navigator in the Air Force, so we ate his air force ID, which was made of paper."
Peres, who was Defense Minister at the time, was joined by Ms. Dalia Rabin, daughter of Yitzhak Rabin, who was then Prime Minister, and together they listened to the emotional stories and testimonies and viewed an exhibition of personal items that the Children of Entebbe brought with them. The children's families and friends were invited to the event, some of whom also heard the full story from their loved ones for the first time.
Ms. Rabin said at the event: "This is a very moving moment for me. The operation felt like science fiction, I know there were doubts, that the decision was difficult. I am sure that you knew in your hearts, along with all of the hostages, that Israel would not abandon you."
Photos by Silvia Golan
President Rivlin addresses European Parliament
President Rivlin: ““The French initiative suffers from fundamental faults. The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it.”
President Reuven Rivlin today (Wednesday, 22 June 2016) delivered a special address before the plenary of the European Parliament. He was received on his arrival by President of European Parliament Martin Schulz, and the two stood for the Israeli and European anthems:
A mere four hours, that is the flight time from Tel-Aviv to Brussels. I could say that four hours, and light years, separate Brussels and Tel-Aviv, but in truth there is not much difference between them, be it in awareness or in essence: two cosmopolitan cities, practically neighbors, not far from each other, both recently struck by a wave of terrorism.
President Rivlin addressing the European Parliament. Photo: GPO/Mark Neiman.
Chinese Delegation Visits the Young Ambassadors School
A delegation of Educational directors from China arrived in Israel on Sunday morning to gain insights into Israel's educational system in hopes of replicating the success of the “Startup Nation”. Five directors from China's Zhejiang Province, China's fourth wealthiest province, came to Petah Tikva as guests of Mrs. Rachel Amrani's “Chen” Young Ambassadors School and the Petah Tikva municipality.
The Chinese delegation had an intense schedule. They began their morning by meeting with Mr. Itzik Braverman, the mayor of Petah Tikva, and Mr. Rami Hofenberg, the Director of Education for the Petah Tikva municipality. The mayor discussed the challenges that Petah Tikva faces as the “fastest growing large city” and the ties between China and Israel, including Petah Tikva's twin city in China, while the Chinese representatives talked about their own issues in overseeing education for a province of 54 million citizens. They also mentioned that the fact that their home province dealt with water scarcity gave them a greater appreciation for Israeli innovations like drip irrigation systems.
Mr. Hofenberg provided the Chinese delegation with an overview of the Israeli educational system, and a more detailed description of Petah Tikva's educational system, which received a national award for pedagogical excellence this year. Mr. Hofenberg emphasized the principles behind the city-wide educational programming, starting with “no student left behind,” and the commitment to equal educational opportunities for all children in the municipality.
The group then visited Bar Lev Elementary School, where they heard from the principal who founded
the school, Ms. Dolly Motola, and fifth and six graders students from the Young Ambassadors leadership program.
The next and final stop in Petah Tikva was the highlight of the day—a visit to the Young Ambassadors Center. There the delegation heard about the different courses offered to students: Leadership, Journalism, Public Diplomacy, Entrepreneurship and Model United Nations, and the other components of the program, such as visits to government offices and embassies, guests from abroad and delegations to Hungary, Hong Kong and New York. They were also told about a product developed by the Entrepreneurial Club at the school, which is being produced in China. The delegation members then had the opportunity to address questions to the students, as well as to the principal, Mrs. Rachel Amrani. At the end of the program the Young Ambassadors School presented the delegation with a booklet on Israeli-Chinese cooperation.
Launch of the KKL-JNF Center for Water Sensitive Cities in Israel
KKL-JNF inaugurates The Center for Water Sensitive Cities in Kfar-Saba
Thursday, June 9th, Geler Center, Kfar-Saba, KKL-JNF officially inaugurated its Water Sensitive Cities Center and research project for the study and development of sustainable and livable urban environment through innovative water management.
The Center for Water Sensitive cities is a unique platform, cooperating with Monash University in Melbourne and headed by KKL-JNF, in collaboration with the Hebrew University, the Technion and Ben-Gurion University, including municipalities such as Ramla, Kfar-Saba and Bat-Yam.
The goal, as presented by its researchers during the ceremony, is to incorporate strategic governmental ministries, Authorities, corporations and other industries in order to study and develop sustainable and livable urban water environmentsshaped in the context of Israeli specific physical, climactic and social needs.
Australia is an innovator in the field of Bio-filtration of rain water, KKL and JNF Australia cooperate with Monash University, Melbourne, to install and develop bio-filter systems in Israel and aboard. Ms. Cheryl Batagol, Chairman of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities in Australia, which supports the center, congratulated KKL-JNF for the development of the center and acknowledged the challenges KKL-JNF and its personal encounter.
The project center is a major step forward as previously bio-filters were used just in the municipal level, the center will allow to develop more technologies and methods in order to adapt to different geographical and environmental locations across Israel, later being able to implement the technologies globally.
Dr. Haim Messing, Project Director and KKL Director of central region said: "Another important stepping stone has been passed today towards regulating a water price drop for consumers, as the international academic Center for Water Sensitive Cities was inaugurated in Israel."
The event today was concluded with a visit to the Kfar-Saba Bio-filter facility and commentary by Dr. Yaron Zinger, the Research Center Director, who stated the potential of the center to expand to the national level.
A Water Sensitive City adopts and integrates decentralized and centralized water management solutions to provide water security in both water-poor and water-abundant futures, to preserve healthy aquifers and urban streams, to improve urban climates and landscapes, and to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
Miriam Zehavi -The first Israeli ambassador on Global Wellness Day
For the first time ever, Global Wellness Day will be represented by an Israeli ambassador.
Miriam Zehavi, the president of the international cosmetics company 'Christina' was chosen as Israel's first ambassador of the Global Wellness Day- a social project of cross-border volunteering, which is an established non-profit to encourage and increase public awareness of a healthier, balanced lifestyle.
Photo Shlomi Arbib
President Rivlin addresses ceremony honoring 2016 Wolf Prize recipients
President Reuven Rivlin this evening (Thursday) at the Knesset addressed the award ceremony for the 2016 Wolf Prize. He then welcomed the recipients for a special reception in their honor, held at the President's Residence.
President Rivlin congratulated the recipients and said, "The Wolf Prize, rewards professional and academic achievements, however, it stands for much more. It celebrates humanity; it promotes solidarity, and it shows that cooperation in the fields of science can overcome barriers and borders, and bring people together."
The President stressed, "We live in a world where politics plays a major role. But we must be careful not to destroy science and art for the sake of politics. An academic boycott is not just bad for Israel, it is shameful for science. Cooperation, not boycott, is the way to go forward, to find new ways to build trust between Israelis and Palestinians."
The President turned to the prize recipients and said, "You stand at the cutting edge of science, research, and creativity. You dedicate your lives to discovery. You are working to make this world a better place. On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I thank each and every one of you."
The Wolf Prize is awarded annually to outstanding scientists and artists for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples. This year, the recipients were:
In the field of architecture, Phyllis Lambert of Canada, her role in the realization of seminal innovative buildings, exemplary urban regeneration projects and leading research institutes.
In the field of agriculture 2016, Trudy Frances Charlene Mackay from the Department of Biological Sciences, North Carolina State University, for her pioneering studies on the genetic architecture of complex traits and the discovery of fundamental principles of quantitative genetics with broad applications for agricultural improvements.
In the field of chemistry, Prof. Kyriacos.C. Nicolaou of the Department of Chemistry, at Rice University, Houston, for advancing the field of chemical synthesis to the extremes of molecular complexity, linking structure and function, and expanding our dominion over the interface of chemistry, biology and medicine. And also to Prof. Stuart L. Schreiber, of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University for pioneering chemical insights into the logic of signal transduction and gene regulation that led to important, new therapeutics, and for advancing chemical biology and medicine through the discovery of small-molecule probes.
In the field of physics, to Prof. Yoseph Imry, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, for pioneering studies of the physics of mesoscopic and random systems.
In the field of medicine, to Prof. Lewis Cantley, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York for his discovery of phosphoinositide-3 kinases and their roles in physiology and disease. And toProf. C. Ronald Kahn, Harvard Medical School for his for pioneering studies defining insulin signaling and its alterations in disease.
Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
Inauguration of the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union at Yad Vashem
On 9 May 2016, Yad Vashem inaugurated the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union, under the auspices of its world-renowned International Institute for Holocaust Research.
The Center was endowed by Michael and Laura Mirilashvili in memory of Michael's father Moshe. Alongside Michael and Laura Miriliashvili and their family, honored guests at the dedication ceremony included MK Yuli (Yoel) Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset; MK Ze'ev Elkin, Minister of Immigration and Absorption and Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage; Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate; Rabbi David Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel; Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, The Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council; H.E. Mr Alexander Shein, Ambassador of Russia to Israel; and H.E. Mr Paata Kalandadze, Ambassador of Georgia to Israel.
The event commenced with a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, followed by the unveiling of a plaque in the Square of Hope. The inauguration ceremony itself took place in the Yad Vashem Synagogue.
Recalling the terrible events at Babi Yar, Avner Shalev declared: "Research is a vital component in processing the loss. It is imperative in building a consciousness of remembrance, and afterwards, to creating an identity that can comprehend the terrible rupture in the history of the Jewish people and the whole of humanity... Michael Mirilashvili - a man of vision - understands this, and extended his help so that together we could establish this Center, which will lead global academic research in the coming years and ensure the continued development of our mission."
Following the opening of major and local archives in the Former Soviet Union in the early 1990s, multi-disciplinary research into the wartime fate of the Jews in the USSR began to flourish. With the generous support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the European Jewish Fund and other donors, for the past several years Yad Vashem has invested efforts into researching the history of the Jews living in the Soviet Union before, during and after the Holocaust. The Mirilashvili Center is set to consolidate and augment these endeavors of Yad Vashem and lead groundbreaking global academic discourse in this field, strengthening ties with relevant researchers and organizations, encouraging international scholarly cooperation and advancing pioneering research in all related areas for many years to come.
Dr. Iael Nidam Orvietto, Director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research, gave an overview of current and future projects on which the Center will focus its efforts. Headed by Dr. Arkadi Zeltser, a world-renowned scholar of the Holocaust in the FSU, the Center will launch new areas of investigation, such as inter-ethnic relations between Jews and non-Jews in the Soviet Union during the Holocaust, and continue the Research Institute's ongoing projects in the field, such as "The Untold Stories" - an online investigation of the murder sites of the Jews in the Nazi-occupied territories of the FSU and "Jews in the Red Army" - an online database of Jewish soldiers who fought in the Soviet Army during World War II. The Center will also initiate international conferences and workshops in which it will present its research findings to senior and young scholars alike; and publish academic studies, articles, testimonies and collections of relevant archival documents for the benefit of the worldwide research community.
"Thanks to the generous support of the Mirilashvili family, we are now moving into a much more meaningful and systematic phase in various research projects regarding the Holocaust of the Jews in the Soviet Union," explained Dr. Nidam Orvietto."This new Center is both innovative and vital, and without doubt will contribute significantly to Holocaust research both around the world and specifically in Israel."
Before receiving the Key to Yad Vashem from Chairman Shalev, an emotional Michael Mirilashvili recounted his beloved father, in whose name the Center is dedicated: "I know that my father is looking down from the Garden of Eden and would be proud of this new initiative," he said. "The topic of the Shoah was something that I spoke about with him often; he lost his uncle during the Holocaust and he certainly understood the importance of the work of Yad Vashem and especially research focused on the Holocaust in the areas of occupied Soviet Union."
Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research stands at the forefront of scholarly study on the Holocaust, providing comprehensive infrastructure for further investigation into this calamitous period in human history. The Research Institute is dedicated to advancing international research regarding the Shoah and fostering cooperative projects among academic institutions, as well as encouraging young scholars in their studies.
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust commemoration, documentation, research and education. www.yadvashem.org
Memorial Service in the Hall of Remembrance in the presence of Chairman Avner Shalev, Michael and Laura Mirilashvili, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Minister Zeev Elkin, Rabbi David Lau, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Directorate Arie Zukerman
Today, B’nai B’rith World Center and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael held a unique Holocaust Day ceremony marking the heroism of Jewish rescuers:
This year the Ceremony was dedicated to commemorating the rescue efforts of "The Bialystok children Angel", Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner, a Jewish teacher and educator whom assisted many children during the war
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and B’nai B’rith held today the 14th Yom Hashoah ceremony (Holocaust Remembrance Day). The ceremony is unique in the world and is dedicated to appreciate the efforts, and instilling the heritage, of Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust. The ceremony was held in the forest of the martyrs in Jerusalem, and was devoted to gratitude the work of Samuel Markowitz Pevzner RIP, a teacher and an educator who helped Jewish children during the Holocaust.
According to testimonies of survivors, Shmuel Markovitz Pevsner served as Director of the Polish camp of Soviet Scouts ("Pioneers") in the Lithuanian town of Droscaninki when Nazi Germany launched an offensive against the territories of Poland and Lithuania which were controlled by the Soviet Union.
He was responsible for the evacuation of about 300 Jewish kids, of whom approximately 140 were Jewish children from the Bielistok area ("Children of Bialystok"), to the Soviet Union during the battle between Germany and the Soviet Union thus saving their lives. Pevzner established a house for children and with the help of the authorities kept their general education and physical deficiencies despite the emergency, extreme cold in the Urals and emotional difficulties of children.
Danny Atar, Chairman of the KKL-JNF said today at the ceremony: "It is appropriate that these days where divisions among us are escalating and dialogue between various groups in society gets extreme, we remember the spirit of solidarity represented by Shmuel Markowitz Pevsner, who kept us safe even in the most difficult times, lifted us out of the crematorium and ashes and led us to fulfill the Zionist dream of a State of Israel.
It is preferable to have a dialogue even if we don't agree on everything, but it is important to remember that ultimately the common goal of all of us is the prosperity of the State of Israel. This goal could be achieved only if we keep the same spirit which our people discovered during the hardest of times ".
Dr. Haim V. Katz, B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman said that "Today we make historic justice with Samuel Markowitz Pevzner. We as representatives of the Jewish people- praise his accomplishments and commemorate his memory, through his family, by awarding him the "Jewish Rescuers Citation ".
The Kaddish at the ceremony read Ofer Cohen, father of a soldier from the Border Guard ("Mishmar Hagvul"), Hadar Cohen, who was killed in the terror attack at Damascus Gate, and said "My heart is bloody this day standing with soldiers from the Border Guard which were with my daughter when she was murdered. The statement "We will not be led like sheep to the slaughter" turned a gentle and smiley girl into a brave warrior. I ask the military commanders of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to educate new generations of fighters in Hadar's heritage ".
During the ceremony, Esther Reyes Mosel, A member in the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust (JRJ), and Alan Schneider, Director of B'nai B'rith, gave the "“Jewish Rescuers Citation” to Dr. Mark Pevzner, son of Samuel Pevzner RIP, recognizing his father's achievements. The Citation was granted to other Jewish families who helped Jews during the Holocaust: Hella Rufeisen-Schuepper, Simcha Honwald RIP, Esther Tzdikrio Maestro RIP, Wanda (Bella) Rothenberg RIP, Miriam Peleg and Mordechai Ben-Zvi, Dizzy Hlgoah Aruch RIP.
The event was held at the Martyr's Forest –which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust with 6 million trees planted in their memory. The trees act as living memorial candles for the memory of the perished.
Across the forest are located many tombstones for the memory of destroyed Jewish communities in Europe as well as monuments: the B'nai B'rith cave, “Scroll of Fire” monument, Anna Frank monument and more.
Photo Credit: Avi Hayun
Photo Caption: from left to right - Alan Schneider, B'nai B'rith World Center director; Dr. Mark Pevzner, son of Samuel Pevzner; Danny Atar, Chairman of the KKL-JNF; H.E Alexander Shein, Russian ambassador to Israel; Dr. Haim V. Katz, B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman; Ofer Cohen, father of Hadar Cohen Rip which was murdered in a terror attack in Damascus Gate earlier this year; Shimon Dadon, Commander of the Border Guard Training base.
IDF Responds to Fire from the Gaza Strip
Overnight, in response to the ongoing attacks against Israeli forces, an IAF aircraft targeted four Hamas terrorist infrastructure sites in the northern Gaza Strip.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner IDF spokesman: “Our efforts to locate and destroy the Hamas terror tunnel network are our main priority due to the serious threat to the lives and wellbeing of Israeli civilians. The IDF does not, and will not, tolerate any attempt to threaten the lives of the people of Southern Israel and is determined to continue to foil any attempt to do so. Hamas' continued aggression jeopardizes the people's mutual interest and right to a calm and quiet normal life, our activities are intended to restore the quiet and negate the threat."
Declaration by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the EU on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day 3 May 2016
On this day we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day. On the 25th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration the EU wishes to recall the principle that "the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development".
The right to freedom of opinion and expression includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information. It is a key component of democratic governance and development. People need to be fully informed to be able to form an opinion and participate in
decision-making processes that affect their lives. Freedom of information also contributes to better governance as it enhances transparency in public affairs and can be used as a tool to make governments accountable for their actions, in particular when
access to information results in the exposure of human rights violations or corruption practices.
Ensuring access to information can serve to promote justice and reparation, in particular after periods of grave violations of human rights.
The EU is committed to continue promoting and protecting freedom of opinion and expression worldwide, not only offline but also in relation to the cyberspace and other information communication technologies, as highlighted by the adoption in 2014 of
the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline.
It condemns the increasing level of intimidation and violence that journalists, Human Rights Defenders, media actors and other individuals face in many countries across the world when exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression online and
In addition to combating outright violence the EU is determined to fight against laws or practices that impose censorship, encourage self-censorship or provide legal penalties, including criminal, financial and administrative sanctions, as well as against the misuse of market powers and poor economic conditions. The EU reaffirms its determination to promote and support, freedoms of opinion and expression as rights to be exercised by
everyone everywhere, based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination and universality - through any media and regardless of frontiers.
This is your Right!
Customs Inspectors and ISA Personnel at Nitzana Crossing Foil Attempt to Smuggle Four Tons of Ammonium Chloride Hidden in Salt Shipment
The following was cleared for publication this morning16):
Customs inspectors at the Nitzana Crossing, in cooperation with the ISA, prior to the Passover holiday, foiled an attempt to smuggle four tons of ammonium chloride – hidden in a shipment of salt – into the Gaza Strip. Ammonium chloride is used in the production of long-range rockets; four tons would have enabled the manufacture of hundreds of such rockets.
Approximately one week before the holiday, a shipment – purportedly containing 40 tons of salt – destined for Gaza reached the Nitzana Crossing, which is used for the transfer of goods between Egypt and Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A comprehensive inspection by customs personnel revealed that sacks of ammonium chloride were hidden within the salt. The sacks were found to weigh four tons. Ammonium chloride is defined as a dual use substance and its passage into the Gaza Strip requires a permit since it is liable to be used by Gaza-based terrorist organizations – such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad – in the production of long-range rockets. The ISA became suspicious that, given the large quantity of salt that had been ordered for the Gaza Strip, salt shipments were being used to smuggle in chemicals for use in manufacturing facilities in the Strip, especially the manufacture of rockets.
The ISA suspects that in this smuggling attempt the importer, a resident of the Gaza Strip with ties to the Hamas military wing, sought to bring the material into the Strip for use in Hamas' production facilities. This case underscores the activity of Gaza-based terrorist organizations in smuggling dual-use materials disguised as goods destined for the civilian population and reconstruction projects.
The security establishment and the Israel Tax Authority customs view the incident with utmost gravity. It is their intention to continue to locate and thwart attempts to smuggle in dual-use materials and deal with those involved to the fullest extent of the law. It should be noted that cooperation between customs authorities, especially personnel at the land crossings, and the ISA has led to the foiling of dozens of attempts to smuggle items and materials that are prohibited from importation into the Gaza Strip – such as sulfuric acid, diving suits, rocket propulsion fuel components, polyurethane, sulfur, fiberglass rolls and specially coarse coal for use in iron smelters and metalwork – and which are suspected of being for use by local terrorist organizations.
Photos courtesy of the Israel Tax Authority
Israel, Greece and Cyprus hold first joint firefighting drill
The joint exercise is the first practical result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's initiative to build a wide-ranging system of emergency cooperation between the countries.
The joint fire-fighting exercise currently being held by Israel, Greece and Cyprus, led by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli embassy in Nicosia together with the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority, the National Emergency Authority and the National Security Council, reached its peak today (Wednesday, 13 April 2016). The joint exercise is the first practical result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's initiative to build a wide-ranging system of emergency cooperation between the countries, including firefighting and handling of natural disasters.
The Israeli and Cypriot firefighting teams. Photo: Israel embassy, Cyprus.
Wave of terror 2015/16
The recent series of attacks against Israelis is the direct result of incitement by radical Islamist and terrorist elements, calling on Palestinian youth to murder Jews.
According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), during the past month there has been a wave of terrorist attacks which began on the Temple Mount and in east Jerusalem. The attacks later spread to Judea and Samaria and even crossed the Green Line into Israel under the battle cry of "Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger."
Following is a list of major terror attacks against Israelis since September 13, 2015, the eve of Rosh Hashanah:
This is a partial list that does not include most of the daily instances of riots, rock throwing and Molotov cocktails in which no one was hurt.
Ramle: Security guard stabbed by two teenage girls outside a building in the center of the city that houses a mall, the central bus station and government offices. The assailants, aged 13, were taken into custody by police with knives in their possession. One was carrying a school backpack.
Jerusalem: Three terrorists attacked Border Policemen at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem after they were asked for identification. Border Police Cpl. Hadar Cohen, 19, was mortally wounded and died in hospital. A second policewoman was seriously wounded. The assailants, who entered Israel illegally from the Jenin area armed with guns, knives and explosives, were shot and killed at the scene. Police neutralized two pipe bombs.
Sal'it (east of Kfar Saba): Attempted stabbing. Assailant shot after infiltrating security fence.
Beit El (Samaria): Three IDF soldiers were wounded - two seriously - when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire at an IDF checkpoint near Beit El in the West Bank. The gunman was shot and killed by IDF forces at the scene. The shooter, Amjad Sakari, 35, was a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces.
Route 443: A vehicle with Palestinian license plates attempted to burst through a checkpoint and ram into IDF soldiers manning the post. The assailant was shot and taken to hospital.
Jerusalem: A 17-year-old recent immigrant from the US was stabbed and lightly wounded near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on Saturday afternoon, while returning from the Western Wall. A 16-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem turned himself in to the police.
Givat Ze'ev (north of Jerusalem): Close to midnight, a man was seriously wounded when a terrorist stabbed him in the upper body at a gas station restaurant. The terrorist, identified as Obada Aziz Mustafa Abu Ras, 18, from the village of Bir Nabala, was apprehended at the scene.
Beit Horon (between Jerusalem and Modi'in): At about 5 p.m, two terrorists infiltrated the community and stabbed two women. A supermarket cashier stopped them from entering the busy store, blocking the entrance with a shopping cart. A security guard shot and killed them. The terrorists (aged 17 and 23), who apparently planned a combined attack using knives and explosives, were also carrying three pipe bombs. Shlomit Krigman, 24, of of Shadmot Mehola in the Jordan Valley, fatally injured, died of her wounds the next morning. The second victim is in moderate condition.
Dolev (Samaria): A gunman opened fire at a vehicle driving near the community, firing 6 bullets.
Tekoa (south of Jerusalem): A 30-year-old pregnant woman was stabbed and moderately wounded by a 15-year-old assailant outside a clothing warehouse. The attacker was shot.
Otniel (south Hebron hills): Dafna Meir, 38, mother of six, was stabbed to death outside her home. The assailant, 15, from Beit Amra, near Hebron, was apprehended in his home several days later.
Jerusalem: Attempted stabbing attack in Armon Hanatziv neighborhood; the knife didn’t penetrate. The attacker fled; a suspect was later apprehended.
Hebron, near Tomb of the Patriarchs: Female soldier moderately wounded by sniper fire from Abu Snena neighborhood. The two snipers were later arrested.
Jerusalem – on the road to Gush Etzion: Shooting at passing cars; Arab Israeli lightly wounded.
Tel Aviv: In a shooting attack at a pub, two killed – Alon Bakal (26), the pub’s manager, and Shimon Ruimi (30) – and 8 injured, two seriously. The assailant (29, Arab-Israeli citizen from Arara village in northern Israel) was killed a week later during an attempt to apprehend him. Taxi driver Amin Shaaban, 42, of Lod, was later shot and killed by the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street.
Samaria (between Hawara and Tapuah on Route 60): Ramming attack – one soldier lightly injured; driver shot and killed.
Hebron: A Palestinian attempted to stab security forces; assailant was shot.
Jerusalem: Two people were killed and one wounded in a stabbing attack outside Jaffa Gate, the main entrance to the Old City where thousands of tourists from around the globe are preparing to celebrate Christmas. Rabbi Reuven Birmajer, 45, died of multiple stab wounds to the upper torso. Ofer Ben Ari, 46, was hit by a stray bullet fired by two Border Police officers. The terrorists were shot and killed by Border Policemen on the scene.
Hebron: A terrorist attempted to stab soldiers and was taken into custody.
West Bank: Car ramming attack thwarted during violent riot near Ramallah. Palestinian assailant attempted to ram vehicle into security forces at Kalandia Crossing. Both assailants were shot.
Beit Aryeh – Luban: Three Israelis were lightly injured by a huge rock that crashed through the windshield of their car.
Jerusalem: Eleven to fourteen people were injured in a vehicular ramming attack at a bus stop opposite the Calatrava Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem, around 3 pm on Monday afternoon. The injured include two moderately, a 15-month-old baby who was seriously injured, and the baby's mother. The terrorist (21, originally from the Beit Hanina neighborhood in Jerusalem, currently residing in Hebron) was shot and killed by security forces.
Jerusalem, Romema neighborhood: Three people were wounded in a car-ramming and stabbing attack. After hitting two people with his car, the assailant exited the vehicle and stabbed a pedestrian. The assailant was shot and killed by an IDF soldier at the scene.
Ofra (northwest of Jerusalem): Two IDF soldiers were injured in a ramming attack. The Palestinian driver was shot and killed by soldiers on the scene.
Abud (northwest of Jerusalem): Palestinian stabbed an IDF soldier in the neck. The attacker was shot and killed at the scene.
Hebron: Two assailants stabbed and wounded a soldier. The assailants were shot and killed.
Hizme checkpoint: An IDF soldier and a civilian were shot near the checkpoint, north of Jerusalem. The assailant was killed.
Jerusalem: An Israeli police officer was moderately wounded in a stabbing attack. The assailant approached a police car on Hanevi’im Street, near Damascus Gate, and stabbed the officer. The assailant was shot and killed.
Gush Etzion junction: A Palestinian (16) tried to carry out a stabbing attack at the hitchhiking stop, which has been the site of 10 terrorist attacks in the past two months. IDF forces shot and killed the assailant. An Israeli man was light-to-moderately wounded from bullet shrapnel.
Jerusalem: A Border Police officer was stabbed near Damascus Gate, in the Old City. The assailant was shot and killed.
Kfar Adumim Junction (east of Jerusalem): Two soldiers were lightly to moderately hurt in a car-ramming attack.
Beit Ummar: Six soldiers were lightly to moderately wounded when a Palestinian rammed his car into IDF troops at the entrance to the Beit Ummar refugee camp, south of the Gush Etzion junction.
An IDF soldier was stabbed and seriously wounded at the Al-Fawar junction, south of Hebron. The assailant, 19, a student at the Palestine Technical College, was shot and killed.
Tapuach Junction (northern West Bank): A Palestinian rammed a car into security forces, wounding three IDF soldiers and a Border Policeman who were at the junction assessing additional security measures to prevent terror attacks. The assailant was shot and apprehended.
Jerusalem: Two Palestinians (female, aged 14 & 16) stabbed passersby on Jaffa Road near the Mahane Yehuda market with scissors, wounding an elderly Palestinian man from Bethlehem. The assailants were shot, one killed on site. A security guard was wounded by the gunfire.
Northern Samaria: A youth (18) was lightly wounded in a ramming attack near Shavei Shomron. Later, a Palestinian tried to stab soldiers at the Samaria Brigade Junction and was killed.
Route 443: IDF soldier Ziv Mizrahi (18) was killed in a stabbing attack at the gas station on the highway between Jerusalem and Modi'in. A female officer and another woman were lightly wounded. The attacker was shot and killed by security forces.
Samaria Brigade Junction: A Palestinian (16, female from Nablus) pulled out a knife and charged at a young Israeli woman waiting at a bus stop. The assailant was spotted by a civilian driver, who ran into her with his car. Security forces at the site shot the assailant, who died at the scene.
Kfar Adumim junction (east of Jerusalem): A Palestinian taxi driver tried to ram his car into a group of Israeli pedestrians. After failing to hit anybody, he got out of the car and attacked them with a knife. One man slightly wounded. The attacker was shot and killed.
Gush Eztion junction: Hadar Buchris, 21,was fatally stabbed as she waited for a ride at a hitchhiking stop at the junction. IDF soldiers at the site shot and killed the terrorist.
Kiryat Gat: Four people, including a 13-year-old girl, were wounded in a stabbing attack on King David Street. The stabber was apprehended several hours later.
Tel Aviv: Two people were killed and one wounded in a stabbing attack during afternoon prayers in a Judaica store located in the Panorama building - a commercial center in southern Tel Aviv. The terrorist, from Dura in the West Bank, was apprehended. Hamas "welcomed" the attack. The victims: Rabbi Aharon Yesayev, 32, of Holon and Reuven Aviram, 51, of Ramle.
Gush Etzion: Three people were killed when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire with a submachine gun at cars in a traffic jam at the Alon Shvut junction, south of Jerusalem. The victims: Ezra Schwartz, 18, of Sharon, Massachusetts, Yaakov Don, 49, of Alon Shvut, and Shadi Arafa, 40, of Hebron. Four others were lightly wounded. The terrorist was apprehended.
Schwartz came to Israel as part of a program in which young people come to Israel for nine months of volunteer work. The volunteers, who study at a yeshiva in Beit Shemesh, were visting the memorial established for the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and killed last summer, and were handing out food to soldiers stationed in Gush Etzion when the attack took place.
Otniel (Route 60): Rabbi Ya'akov Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, were killed in a shooting attack while driving on Route 60 near Otniel, south of Hebron. His wife and four other children in the vehicle were lightly wounded by shrapnel and the resulting crash. A suspect was taken into custody.
Jerusalem (Pisgat Zeev neighborhood): Two Palestinian youths (11 & 14) on their way home from school stabbed and moderately wounded a security guard on the Jerusalem light rail. The guard shot and wounded one of the attackers; the other was taken into custody.
Shortly afterwards, there was an attempted stabbing of a police officer near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Assailant was shot and died of his wounds. Later, a Palestinian youth (16) tried to stab a Border Policeman at a checkpost near Abu Dis. The assailant was shot and killed.
Eliyahu checkpoint (near Alfei Menashe, northern Samaria): Palestinian woman attempted to stab guards at the checkpoint. She was shot and killed by security forces.
Tapuah Junction (Samaria): Four Israelis were wounded, two seriously, in a car-ramming terror attack directed at a group of people at a hithchhiking stop. The attacker was shot and killed by security forces.
Beitar Illit (south of Jerusalem): A civilian security guard was lightly wounded in a stabbing attack. The assailant, a Palestinian woman, was shot and wounded.
Northern West Bank: An Israeli man was seriously injured in a stabbing attack in the Palestinian village of Nabi Ilyas, when he stopped to shop at a stall.
- Border Policeman St.-Sgt. Benjamin Yakubovich, 19, of Kiryat Ata, critically wounded in on November 4, died of his wounds.
Sha’ar Binyamin (north of Jerusalem): Israeli injured in stabbing attack outside supermarket.
Hebron: Two teens, aged 16 and 18, were injured - one seriously - in a shooting attack near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The two snipers were later arrested. A short time later, an Israeli soldier was severely injured in a shooting attack at the Beit Anun junction north of Hebron. The assailant (16, from the village of Bani Naim) was apprehended.
Gush Etzion: Attempted stabbing attack. Assailant shot on site.
Halhoul junction (north of Hebron): Three Border Policemen were wounded, one criticallly, in car-ramming attack. The terrorist was shot and killed by security forces. Border Policeman St.-Sgt. Benjamin Yakubovich, 19, of Kiryat Ata, critically wounded in the attack, died of his wounds on November 8.
Netanya (north of Tel Aviv): A 71-year-old man was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack. The assailant was shot.
Rishon Lezion (south of Tel Aviv): Three people were wounded, two seriously - including an 80-year-old woman - in a stabbing attack by a Palestinian from Hebron (19) at a bus stop in the center of the city. The assailant was apprehended.
Scene of stabbing attack in Rishon Lezion, Nov 2, 2015
Gilboa (Jalama) crossing, north of Jenin in the West Bank:Two Palestinians attempted to stab a soldier at a a gas station adjacent to the crossing point. One assailant shot, the second apprehended.
Hebron: Three Border Policemen wounded in car ramming attack. Earlier, attempted stabbing attack of IDF soldier during a violent riot. Assailant shot on site.
Gilboa (Jalama) crossing, north of Jenin in the West Bank:Palestinian (17) armed with a knife tried to stab Israeli guards and was killed on site.
Tapuach Junction (Samaria): Two terrorists, arriving on a motorbike armed with knives, attempted to stab Border Police officers. One killed, second apprehended.
Jerusalem (French Hill): One person moderately injured in stabbing attack near light rail. Terrorist shot at the scene.
Hebron: Terrorist stabs and lightly injures soldier near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Terrorist was shot and killed. Later a Palestinian attempted to stab an IDF soldier in the Beit Hadassah neighborhood. Assailant was shot on site.
Gush Etzion Junction: A woman was stabbed in the back, moderately wounded, outside the Rami Levy supermarket. The assailant was apprehended.
Gush Etzion Junction: IDF soldier moderately wounded in stabbing attack. Two assailants shot on site.
Jerusalem: Terror attack foiled - two Arabs (17 & 16) from eastern Jerusalem armed with an axe and a knife were arrested in the center of town (Kikar Tzahal).
Hebron: IDF soldier stabbed, seriously wounded in the morning north of Hebron. Assailant shot on site. A second attempted stabbing of an IDF soldier outside the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in the afternoon was thwarted. The assailant (19) was shot.
Metzad (Gush Etzion bloc): Man (58) moderately wounded in stabbing attack after his car was stoned.
Hebron: Female Arab terrorist (17) attempted to stab border policeman with knife. Officer shot the terrorist, who later died of wounds.
Ariel junction (Samaria): Israeli man (25) waiting for a ride was stabbed by terrorist who fled the scene and was later apprehended.
Gilboa (Jalama) crossing, north of Jenin in the West Bank: A young Palestinian (16) posing as a sweets vendor tried to stab a security guard and was shot and killed.
Gush Etzion: IDF soldier injured in stabbing attack. Assailant shot on site.
Beit El (north of Jerusalem): Israeli couple and their three young children wounded in a firebombing attack on their car
Bet Shemesh: Yeshiva student (18) moderately injured in stabbing attack at bus stop near a synagogue. Two terrorists (21) from the Hebron area armed with knives tried to board a school bus full of children. They were shot and killed by police.
Yitzhar (Samaria): Attack foiled when security forces noticed a young woman (15) approaching the gate armed with a knife. The woman was shot and apprehended.
Ofra (north of Jerusalem): An Israeli policeman was mildly injured in an apparent car-ramming attack when the driver crashed into a checkpoint, ignoring police warnings to stop. The driver fled.
Adam junction (north of Jerusalem): Female soldier critically wounded in stabbing attack. Terrorist killed by IDF forces.
Maale Adumim (east of Jerusalem): Attack foiled when security forces found home-made explosive devices in a car. Two Palestinians were arrested.
Beit Ummar (north of Hebron): Five soldiers injured - after their vehicle was stoned, the soldiers got out to arrest the stone-throwers and were rammed by a Palestinian car. The attacking driver was shot and seriously wounded.
South of Hebron (Al Fawar junction): Avraham Hasno (54) of Kiryat Arba run over and killed by truck after his vehicle was stoned. Earlier, an IDF officer was lightly injured in stabbing attack in Hebron.
Gush Etzion junction: Two lightly wounded in car-ramming attack at bus stop at the Gush Etzion junction. The terrorist then drew his knife before he was shot and killed.
Beer Sheva: IDF soldier Sgt. Omri Levy (19) killed and 10 civillians and police officers wounded when a terrorist armed with a knife and a pistol entered the central bus station, shot the soldier, grabbed his gun and started shooting. Police officers shot and killed the terrorist, an Israeli Arab (21) from the Bedouin town of Hura. An Eritrean asylum seeker, Habtom Zerhom (29), who was mistaken for a second terrorist and shot by a security guard, died of his wounds.
Jerusalem (Armon Hanatziv neighborhood): Terrorist (16, from Jabel Mukaber) tried to stab Border Police officers; one of the officers shot and killed him.
Hebron: Three separate attacks: (1) Palestinian tried to stab a civilian walking back from morning prayers; the civilian shot and killed the terrorist with his personal firearm. (2) Palestinian woman (16) stabbed and lightly wounded a female Border Police officer, who shot and killed her. (3) Terrorist (18) from Hebron, stabbed and moderately wounded an IDF soldier at Police checkpoint. Second soldier shot and critically wounded attacker.
Kalandiya checkpoint (north of Jerualem): Terrorist tried to stab a police officer, and was shot in lower body; then tried to stab a bomb squad officer. Another officer shot and killed him.
Nablus: Joseph's tomb, a Jewish holy site, set on fire overnight by Palestinian rioters.
Jerusalem: Border Policeman foiled possible terror attack after detecting explosive device at a checkpoint at east Jerusalem's Issawiya neighborhood, near the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus.
Hebron (Zayit junction outside Kiryat Arba): Palestinian terrorist disguised as a photojournalist stabbed and moderately wounded an IDF soldier. A second soldier shot and killed him.
Jerusalem: Attack foiled by Border Police. Officers who boarded a bus full of passengers discovered a knife hidden under a seat. The owner of the knife had boarded the bus with a young child in his arms to allay suspicion.
Jerusalem, Damascus Gate at the Old City: Terrorist (19) from Hebron lightly injured two people before being shot and killed by the security forces.
Jerusalem: Woman (72) stabbed and injured while waiting for a bus at the Central Bus Station. Terrorist shot and killed.
Raanana (northeast of Tel Aviv): Two stabbing attacks in the morning, an hour apart: The first at a bus stop in the center of town, in which a man (32) suffered light wounds; the attacker (22, from eastern Jerusalem) was subdued by passers-by and held until the police arrived. The second attack resulted in one seriously wounded and three lightly wounded; the terrorist (a construction worker at nearby Beit Levinstein) was arrested.
Jerusalem: Two terrorists, both residents of the adjacent Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, boarded an Egged bus in East Talpiot in southern Jerusalem, one armed with a gun and the other with a knife. Chaim Haviv, 78, and Alon Govberg, 51, were killed, and 15 wounded, several seriously. One terrorist killed by police, second apprehended. Richard Lakin, 76, who was shot in the head and stabbed in the chest, succumbed to his wounds on October 27.
Makor Baruch, a religious neighborhood. Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky, 59, of Jerusalem was killed and five wounded. The terrorist, who was apprehended, is a resident of the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood who holds Israeli citizenship, was an employee of Israeli phone company Bezeq, and was using a company car to commit the attack.
Hamas praised the attacks, saying they are "a message to anyone who harms our holy places."
Jerusalem: Stabbing attack foiled at Lion's Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. Terrorist (18, from eastern Jerusalem) was shot and killed.
Jerusalem (Ammunition Hill, northern Jerusalem): Border policeman was stabbed and lightly injured by a female terrorist (16). The officer managed to shoot and stop her, and she was evacuated to hospital.
Jerusalem (Pisgat Zeev in northern Jerusalem): Two terrorists (both teenagers) stabbed and seriously wounded a man (25) and a boy (13) riding his bicycle. Police shot and killed one terrorist and apprehended the second. The boy is in critical condition.
Jerusalem (8:30 pm near entrance to city): Terrorist on bus stabbed a soldier (19) and tried to grab his gun. After a struggle, the terrorist was shot and killed by a police officer.
Maaleh Adumim-Jerusalem highway: Police officer lightly injured when he pulled over a driver acting suspiciously, and the (female) driver set off an explosive device. Gas canisters were later found in the vehicle. The terrorist was seriously wounded.
Jerusalem (Sabbath morning): Arab (16) stabbed two Jewish men in their 60s near Damascus Gate, leaving them moderately and lightly wounded, respectively. The terrorist then attacked Border Police officers, who shot and killed him.
Kiryat Arba: Terrorist stabbed a police officer (47) and tried to grab his gun. Other officers shot him.
Kiryat Arba (Jewish town near Hebron, south of Jerusalem): Man seriously wounded in stabbing attack. Victim evacuated to Jerusalem hospital. Terrorist escaped.
Afula (town in Galilee): A soldier was wounded in stabbing attack. The terrorist was apprehended soon after.
Hebron: Attempted stabbing attack of IDF soldier in Hebron. Assailant apprehended on site.
Nablus: IDF soldier injured by firebomb near Joseph’s Tomb.
Jerusalem: Israeli civilian injured by rock throwing.
Jerusalem: Alexander Levlovich, 64, was killed while on his way home from a Rosh Hashana dinner when he lost control of his vehicle after it was struck by rocks. Two passengers were lightly injured.
Some related links
President Rivlin speaks to Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
Support for Israel in the United States has never been, and must not become, a party political issue. During the elections season, it is my deep hope that the close relationship between Israel and the United States remains beyond debate.
President Reuven Rivlin today (Thursday, 18 February 2016) welcomed a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, led by the organization's Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg, and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein. The delegation is visiting Israel during their 42nd Annual Leadership Mission to Israel.
"Each of you represent organizations and communities which are proud to be Jewish, proud to be American, and proud to stand with Israel," said the President as he welcomed the delegation, and added, "Your communities are an important bridge between Israel, and the largest Jewish community in the Diaspora."
The President stressed the importance of bi-partisan support for Israel in the United States, especially during the election season. He said, "Many of you have different political views, support different candidates, and possibly vote for different political parties. But whichever party or candidate you support, there are important issues on which everyone must agree. Support for Israel in the United States has never been, and must not become, a party political issue. During the elections season, it is my deep hope that the close relationship between Israel and the United States remains beyond debate. American friends of Israel should be able to feel free to express their democratic right and vote as they want, and know that whatever happens the bonds between Israel and the US are strong."
The President also noted the importance of facing the rising threat of anti-Semitism. He said, "We must also stand united in the fight against anti-Semitism. Across the world we are seeing a rise in this old, and new disease, and there is more and more pressure to boycott the world's only Jewish state. We must stand firm against these threats; Israel is your partner in this fight."
Photo President Rivlin speaks to Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations .
Photo: GPO/Mark Neiman.
PM Netanyahu addresses Conference of Presidents
The combination of the battle against the forces of yesterday and the desire to embrace the opportunities of tomorrow makes countries of the world ask: Which country straddles both? And they come to a conclusion increasingly: Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday evening (14 February 206) made the following remarks to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations:
"First I want to say that the people of Israel feel the grief of stricken families, whether by terror or as we've had today, a horrific accident, road accident. And we send our condolences to the families of those killed, and of course our hopes for the speedy recovery of the wounded.
We live in an era where there are two parallel but contradictory trends regarding the State of Israel. The first one is all too familiar to you and that's the ongoing multinational hostility to Israel. You see it at the UN; you see it at the UN Human Rights Council - I can't believe there is such a term that is so self-contradictory: UN Human Rights Council; the ICC; regrettably the EU. We've had some efforts to change at least the EU. But we know that in many of these multinational forums, Israel is singled out. I hope that one day we'll receive a double standard because right now, we're not enjoying a double standard; we are suffering a triple standard. There is one standard for the democracies - well, there's one standard for the dictatorships. They're usually exempt. The other is for the democracies and there's still a third standard for the democracy called Israel. I think you're all familiar with that and in some senses it's getting worse .
There is an opposing trend, which you've just commented on from one perspective, and I want to thank you for taking the message of Israel and the Jewish people far and wide. But the other thing that is happening simultaneously is this: Small countries like India, China, Japan, Russia - they're all coming to Israel. Scarcely a week goes by that we don't have a delegation from one of these countries of either political office-holders, or more and more, entrepreneurs, heads of companies. The same is happening in the nations of Africa and Latin America - virtually all of them. And they're all coming here. And the reason they're coming here is for two reasons.
The first reason is the concern with the spread of militant Islam, which has become a global plague and there terrorism that it produces. And countries want to have, to benefit from Israel's experience, our intelligence. I mean, military intelligence, special service intelligence, operational experience. They want to partake of that experience to help defend themselves. So one reason they're coming here with increasing numbers is the battle against the forces of yesterday, the forces of medievalism that want to take back our world at least a thousand years.
The second reason they're coming here is because they want to embrace the future, and they see Israel as a thriving, dynamic economy that has fostered innovation, that has great capabilities, and basically when they come for this reason, they come for three reasons: technology, technology and technology. That's why they're coming here.
So because of these two forces, you have this tremendous change where countries in all the continents of the world are coming to Jerusalem, coming to Tel Aviv, coming to Beer Sheba, which has become a center of cyber security for the world - a global center of cyber security. They're coming here because they want cyber security. They want to improve their management of their water resources. They want desalinization. They want recycling. They want agriculture. They want biotech. They want technology - Israeli technology, Israeli technology, Israeli technology.
And the combination of the battle against the forces of yesterday and the desire to embrace the opportunities of tomorrow makes them look around the world and they say, well, which country straddles both meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities? And they come to a conclusion increasingly: Israel.
Now, there's a dissonance between what I've just said. On the one hand, that multinational obsession. It's an obsession. There's no other word for it. You know, when the UN Human Rights Council has over half, close to 60% of its resolutions directed against that one democracy, Israel, more than everything combined - more than Syria, more than Libya, more than Iran, combined - then you know that this is an obsession. So, on the one hand, when you have this obsession and you have the contrary movement that something has to give.
And I've been talking to leaders around the world, and I've asked you to do the same, and I think you have. And I've said, "Look, isn't it about time," I say to these countries, "that the stronger relations between our countries, which are growing ever-stronger literally by the day, when would that be reflected," sir or madam, "in your voting in international, your country's votes in international forums?" And I think that we have to press this point. We shouldn't be shy about it. We shouldn't accept that there is this strange dichotomy and dissonance between the friendship and the alliances that are being built between Israel and the many countries and the way they vote about Israel in international forums. I think that's true of the EU; it's true of the Organization for African Unity; it's true in Latin America. And I think we should press this point home, because as interests shift, as Israel becomes such an important country internationally , it's important that this will be reflected in international forums as well.
Now, there is no place where there has been a more dramatic shift along the lines that I have just laid out than right here in the Middle East. Major Arab countries are changing their view of Israel, and you've just heard one example, that's the public one. That is, that they don't see Israel anymore as their enemy, but they see Israel as their ally, especially in the battle against militant Islam with its two fountainheads: the militant Islamists led by Iran and the militant Islamists led by Daesh. And to this or that extent, all or most of the Arab countries, if not all of them in the Middle East, with the exception of Syria perhaps - strike perhaps, with the exception of Syria, but that's no longer a country - they all feel threatened by this dual threat, more as you go to the Persian Gulf by Iran, and more as you go westward towards Africa from Daesh. But they all see the combination of these two threats and they see Israel as their ally, n ot as their enemy, in confronting these threats. Now, this is something that is forging new ties, many of them discreet, some of them open. And I think there too we can expect and should expect and should ask to see a change.
It used to be said that if we have, if we can have some kind of progress, political progress with the Palestinians, that would bring about better relations with the Arab world. I think it could actually be the other way around. I think the better relations with the Arab world could help bring progress with the Palestinians. I think that is very clear given the, what I regret to say is the dysfunctionality that I often see in Palestinian politics, and I think that the encouragement of Arab states, leading Arab states, for a more realistic position on the part of the Palestinian Authority might contribute to a stabilizing situation and even advancing to a better future.
So I think that, I think we live in a time of great change, rapid change, but what I want to bring to your attention is this change that you are a party to and you just witnessed. I want to say too that most recently we've had a summit in Cyprus of Israel, Greece and Cyprus, and we spoke about finding ways to cooperate in energy. This is another astounding change. Israel can be an energy-exporting country. It's a good thing we discovered the gas fields late in the game, so we had to first learn to live by our wits and by our ingenuity. But Israel has gas and we, today I appeared before the Supreme Court. I asked to appear before the Supreme Court. It's the first time an Israel prime minister has asked to appear before the Supreme Court in our history. I have to tell you, it's the first time in my life that I appeared in court period. So, it's good to close this historic day in a meeting, in this meeting with dear friends. And I think that we ha ve opportunities. We have opportunities to change our relations with the countries of the world, the countries of the Middle East and the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. And we're working vigorously, including with your help, to realize that potential.
Now, having said that, and I can say having welcomed and working constantly to expand our relationships and our alliances, I want to say emphatically that we have no illusions that America remains the best friend of the State of Israel. The United States and Israel are the greatest allies. And I deeply appreciate the support of President Obama, the Congress, the American people. We're working together today on an MoU. I hope that we can complete it soon, and we certainly will welcome Vice President Biden, who will come to visit us. I think it's another reflection of this deep friendship between our countries. And I think the American people understand that in this turbulent Middle East and this turbulent world, America has no better friend than Israel and Israel has no better friend than the United States of America.
But of course we have one other friend that is always there, and that's the friendship of the Jewish people. I am committed to the unity of the Jewish people. I am committed to the simple principle that all Jews must feel at home in Israel. And I think as we've demonstrated recently, including in the Kotel arrangement - I want to thank Avichai and Natan Sharansky for the help that they have done there - we want to make sure that all Jews feel welcome here. And in that spirit, I want to say: You are always welcome here; your help is deeply appreciated; your friendship is unassailable; and your loyalty to the future of our people is indisputable. And for all that, I want to thank you. Thank you all."
Photo : PM Netanyahu addresses Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
ZAKA takes part in first UN conference since receiving consultative status last week
ZAKA Representatives Participate In
UN Disaster Management Conference In Geneva
For The First Time Since The NGO Received Consultative Status.
Jerusalem, February 2, 2016 - Just a week after receiving official consultative status at the United Nations following a four-year struggle for recognition, ZAKA Search and Rescue representatives are participating in a four-day United Nations Disaster Management Conference in Geneva entitled Humanitarian Networks and Partnership Week (1-4 February, 2016).
The conference, which focuses on the first few critical days of an international mass casualty incident, aims to establish working groups to examine how best to respond to issues including, among others: search and rescue, caring for volunteers at the disaster site, media at the disaster site, building a multi-national platform for information exchange in times of emergency, etc.
The official consultative status awarded to ZAKA on January 26, 2016 by the UN allows the Jerusalem-based international humanitarian volunteer organization to take an active role in discussions, conferences and meetings related to mass casualty incidents. It is hoped that this new status will allow ZAKA to expand its humanitarian efforts around the world and increase best practice sharing with other international emergency forces and organizations.
ZAKA International Rescue Unit commander Mati Goldstein (l) and his deputy Dano Monkotovitz attending the UN Disaster Management Conference in Geneva. Credit: ZAKA
President Rivlin and PM Netanyahu address Israeli ambassadors
Pres Rivlin: "Your mission is not limited to defending Israel against propaganda attacks and international pressure. Diplomacy has been and remains a vital component of the proactive advancement of the State of Israel, and the safeguarding of its vital interests."
President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday (31 January 2016) addressed a conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Israeli ambassadors, consuls general and mission heads from across the world, including those due to depart for their posts in the coming weeks.
During his visit to the MFA, the President toured the situation room, and visited the wall of remembrance to the memory of those who were killed during diplomatic service abroad.
In his address, the President said, "Israel is today a strong country. The Israel Defense Forces, and security services know the field of operations well and understand the growing and increasingly complex challenges, while the international arena in which you represent the State of Israel is more complex than ever. The Israeli foreign service as a whole, and you as its most preeminent representatives, make up an essential and central component in the safeguarding of Israel's national resilience."
The President stressed, "Your mission is not limited to defending Israel against propaganda attacks and international pressure. Diplomacy has been and remains a vital component of the proactive advancement of the State of Israel, and the safeguarding of its vital interests. The power of diplomacy has not depleted, something that today remains evident even - or perhaps especially - amid the complexities of the Middle East."
The President spoke in relation to the comments made by the French Foreign Minister regarding the renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians in an international conference. President Rivlin noted, "In the last few days we have the comments made by the French Foreign Minister relating to an international peace conference. In relation to this I wish to say - it is proper that the dialogue between us and our close allies on all issues relating to the security of Israel and its citizens should be conducted in a direct manner, not above Israel's heads in a conference with many participants."
He added, "It must not be allowed in the current absence of a political process, that we will be condemned to passivity. The improvement in the state of the relations between the two peoples is a distinct Israeli interest which must go alongside the active and assertive defense of the State of Israel and its citizens. Such a policy proves that Israel is cautions, not reactionary, and that the security of its citizens together with efforts for peace stand at the forefront of our national priorities. This mission, of conveying Israel's intentions to the world for their understanding rests upon your broad shoulders as it rests on the shoulders of Israel's leaders. In the complex reality with which we are dealing, the State of Israel needs a strong Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose voice, recommendations, and analyses are heard clearly internally and externally. We must work to ensure that the foreign service, you, in your professional standing, receive the trust and opportunity to build bridges and bonds which enable not only the communication of Israel's spirit and innovation, but also personify these values."
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Sunday, 31 January 2016) issued the following statement at a Foreign Ministry conference for Israeli ambassadors:
Photo : PM Netanyahu address Israeli ambassadors
Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon
Yad Vashem Marks International Day of Commemoration in Memory of Victims of the Holocaust
The Annual Symposium for the Diplomatic Corps has been canceled
President Obama to attend a Righteous Among the Nations Ceremony at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., United States
Yad Vashem is honoring the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of Victims of the Holocaust with a series of high profile events, both in Israel and abroad.
Washington D.C., USA
On January 27th a unique ceremony honoring Righteous Among the Nations will be held at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. The event, hosted by the Israeli Embassy, Yad Vashem and the American Society for Yad Vashem, will mark the first time that a ceremony presenting the medal and certificate of honor to Righteous Among the Nations will be held in the United States. The Righteous Among the Nations to be honored include two Americans, Master Sargent Roddie Edmonds and Lois Gunden, and Polish citizens Walery and Maryla Zbijewski, all of whom have been recognized posthumously by Yad Vashem for risking their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. The medals and certificates will be accepted on their behalf by their next of kin. President Barak Obama will deliver the keynote address at the event. Remarks will be offered by Israel’s Ambassador to the US, H.E. Ron Dermer; Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council and Holocaust survivor who was rescued by Righteous Among the Nations; Lenny Wilf, Chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem and Holocaust survivors.
· United Nations – New York, USA
Jane Jacobs-Kimmelman, Director of the International Relations Section at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies, will attend an NGO briefing at the United Nations in New York to present Yad Vashem's approach to Holocaust education and how the International School is working with educators around the world.
Prof. Dan Michman, Head of Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research and Incumbent of the John Najmann Chair for Holocaust Studies, will deliver a lecture on the Righteous Among the Nations at a memorial service organized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in cooperation with the Israeli embassy.
· European Union – Brussels, Belgium
Dr. Robert Rozett, Director of the Yad Vashem Libraries will present a keynote lecture about Antisemitism at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Brussels.
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.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs responds to EU resolution
The EU continues to apply a double standard in relation to Israel, ignoring the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility for the diplomatic stalemate and the incitement feeding the current wave of Palestinian terrorism
Following diplomatic and political efforts by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union softened the language of its resolution. However, the EU continues to apply a double standard in relation to Israel, ignoring the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility for the diplomatic stalemate and the incitement feeding the current wave of Palestinian terrorism. Out of 200 border conflicts in the world today, the EU has chosen to discriminate against Israel. This approach prevents the EU from being an honest broker in the conflict.
The 9th joint Seminar of Israel and the European Commission on Combating Anti-Semitism, Xenophobia and Racism is taking place on December 16th and 17th, 2015 in Brussels.
The Seminar will bring together experts on anti-Semitism and hate crime from both sides in order to discuss two major issues: (1) Anti-Semitism, incitement and racism on social networks and the internet in general as they are prevalent phenomena today. (2) The security of Jewish communities in Europe - a subject, which is unfortunately on the agenda due to threats posed to Jewish communities by terrorists in Europe.
The seminar has been held for nine consecutive years, alternately in Jerusalem and in Brussels. It has been attributed great professional importance due to the issues discussed and the high quality and diverse backgrounds of its participants.
The Israeli delegation is headed by Ambassador Yuval Rotem, Senior Deputy Director General, Head of Department of Public Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel (MFA). He will be accompanied by a delegation of experts in the field of combating anti-Semitism, among them Akiva Tor, Head of the Department for Religious and Diaspora Affairs at the MFA and Gideon Behar, Director of the Department for Combating Anti-Semitism at the MFA.
On the European side, Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice and Consumers will be opening the Seminar, and EU representatives from law enforcement bodies, court and media of the European Union will take part, as well as participants from a wide range of countries in Europe. Additionally, a meeting with First Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans will be held in order to discuss anti-Semitism.
Ambassador Yuval Rotem: “The level of anti-Semitism in Europe remains high, and the number of anti-Semitic incidents have been increasing in recent years. This requires thorough action from the EU and European countries in order to counter this phenomenon. In this context, the current expert seminar is an important tool for achieving the goal of eradicating anti-Semitism, and we highly welcome this annual gathering."
In her opening statement Commissioner Vera Jourova said: "The European Commission is extremely concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism and a general increase of hatred-based violence. I am happy that today we come together to look for common solutions for an extremely worrying phenomenon. We are focusing on what unites us: the fight against racism, against xenophobia, and in particular against anti-Semitism.
PM Netanyahu addresses Paris Climate Conference Monday 30 November 2015
The terrorists fail to realize that our common, shared values are the source of our strength - the strength we summon to overcome the pain of our losses, and the strength we summon to defeat the tyranny the terrorists seek to impose on our civilization.
Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the climate conference in Paris today (Monday, 30 November, 2015):
I take this opportunity to again express the solidarity of the people of Israel with the people of France.
They fail to realize that those same shared values are the source of our strength – the strength we summon to overcome the pain of our losses, and the strength we summon to defeat the tyranny of the terrorists, the tyranny they seek to impose on our civilization, which always gets stronger, passing each test, overcoming each challenge.
Last year Israel was ranked number one in the Global Clean-Tech Innovation Index.We are a world leader in making the use of water more efficient, therefore more energy efficient. Israel is the number one recycler of water in the world. It has the highest ratio of water efficiency in the world – 70-80%, this is thanks to innovative technologies like drip irrigation, which I know many of you are familiar with.
Photo Copyright: GPO/Amos Ben Gershom
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris
The Jewish Refugee in World War II -The Philippines as a Case Study
On November 24th 2015 a symposium focusing on “The Jewish Refugee in World War II – the Philippines as a Case Study” was held in the Constantiner Lecture Hall of the International School of Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem (Jerusalem). The meeting was a collaborative event of the Philippines Embassy of Tel Aviv and of Yad Vashem, with people from the Philippines Embassy graciously welcoming all guests as they arrived. The meeting opened with words from His Excellency Nathaniel Imperial, Ambassador of the Philippines in Israel. He spoke of the Philippines in the 1930s and 1940s and of how a small number of good men had made the Philippines the sanctuary for 1200 Jews from the late 1930s to 1941. Of this group of fortunate Jews, who called themselves “Maniliners”, there was one lady was in attendance at the meeting. Ambassador Imperial also made reference to Berlin-born Frank Ephraim (1931-2006), who arrived in Manila at age eight and who has written his story in “Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror”. It was decided to hold the Jerusalem meeting in November to connect with commemoration of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) which occurred on November 9th 1938. Referring to the film “Rescue in the Philippines” to be viewed at the symposium, the Ambassador mentioned with pride that it had been shown at the Presidential Palace of the Philippines with the President in attendance.
Photos : courtesy of the Embassy of Phillipines
International Conference on Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism Leading to Terrorism: The Challenge of Terrorists Acting Alone or in Small Cells.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted (November 9-11) an International Conference on Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism Leading to Terrorism: The Challenge of Terrorists Acting Alone or in Small Cells, with delegates from 41 countries and 10 regional and international organizations, as well as representatives from civil society organizations. The Conference was hosted in cooperation with the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and in consultation with the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. The hosting of the conference in Israel highlighted its important role internationally in the field of counter-terrorism.
YOUTUBE REMOVES HAMAS CHANNEL AFTER SWC PROTEST Media Briefing Urges Social Network Giants to Bar Palestinian Online Terror
At a press conference today, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper urged the public to report hate sites (at www.Facebook.com/SimonWiesenthalCenter) on social media platforms which are fueling the current spate of attacks in Israel.
Center officials, who presented Facebook postings from Europe calling for attacks against Israelis in their countries, said, “We are concerned that if this trend continues, we could see violent incidents on our own shores."
Photo provided by Simon Wiesenthal Center
Israel hosts Animals Committee of the CITES Convention
Israel will host the 28th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This is a precedent-setting event, as Israel's first global UN conference of this magnitude.
From August 30 - September 3, 2015, Israel will host the 28th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
This is a precedent-setting event, as Israel's first global UN conference of this magnitude. The project was initiated by the Israel Foreign Ministry's Division for the UN and International Organizations together with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA). Over 200 scientists from more than 40 countries are expected to attend, as well as representatives of UN agencies and NGO's. A reception will be held at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, September 1.
Among the issues to be discussed are the hunting of sharks, the smuggling and trade in elephants and rhinoceros, maintaining the wild populations of monkeys and rare parrots, the sale of snakes for the fashion trade, and the very lucrative practive of illegal hunting.
The State of Israel signed the CITES Convention in 1979 and appointed the INPA as the sole government agency in charge of implementing the Convention.
Israel is a small country that is very concerned with conserving its nature and as an active member of the CITES Convention it helps conserve wildlife populations across the world. Israel is situated in the Near East at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. While Israel's unique location has given rise to a rich variety of flora and fauna species, the growth of densely populated cities has severely reduced the amount of natural areas. In light of these threats, the INPA has implemented a strict policy which helps preserve the fauna and flora in Israel including rehabilitation and reintroduction of species and restoration of habitats, as well as stritct supervision over trade in species protected under the CITES Convention.
CITES was negotiated in 1973 to protect wildlife against over-exploitation and to prevent international trade from threatening species with extinction. It entered into force on 1 July 1975 and now has a membership of 151 countries. These countries act by banning commercial international trade in an agreed list of endangered species and by regulating and monitoring trade in others that might become endangered.
The Animals Committee of experts is composed of individuals from the six major geographical regions - Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and Oceania. It provides scientific advice to the Conference of the Parties, and undertakes periodic reviews of species.
Opening of CITES Animals Committee in Tel Aviv
Photo 2 :
Israel Ambassador Manor and CITES Secretary-General Scanlon sign the Host Country Agreement in Geneva, July 2015
Copyright: Israel Mission to the UN, Geneva
Leading The Future
43 students from the USA and Canada concluded a two-month internship at leading companies in Israel through the Birthright Israel Excel Fellowship Program
Today, Wednesday 5.8.15 marked the end of the fifth year of the Birthright Israel Excel Fellowship Program. The evening, at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was attended by prominent individuals such as Mr. Yoram Tietz, Chairman of Birthright Israel Excel Program and Managing Partner of EY Israel, Avi Zeevi co-founder and General Partner of Carmel Ventures, Jonathan Saacks Managing Partner at Genesis Partners, David Gappell, Director of the Schusterman Foundation-Israel and Mr. Gidi Mark, International CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel.
This year, the management of the hosting companies welcomed 43 students from 27 top universities in the U.S. and Canada. They served as advisors and business mentors during a two-month internship. The students, chosen out of the thousands of applicants, stayed in Israel for two months, during which they met with Israeli leaders in various industries, visited important locations across the country and took part in professional workshops. Furthermore, they were paired with Israeli peers, officers from the intelligence unit of the IDF and students from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, who served as a bridge to Israeli society and culture. The students also received personal business mentoring and participated in a professional internship providing them with an understanding of the Israeli business world.
Israel's business leaders include: Avi Zeevi, Co-Founder and General Partner of Carmel Ventures, Tal Keinan, founder and CEO of KCPS Clarity, Leonard Rosen, CEO of Barclays Capital Israel, Modi Rosen, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Magma Venture Partners, Gil Golan, Director at the Advanced Technical Center-Israel of General Motors, Yoram Tietz, Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Israel, Tomer Bar Zeev Co-Founder and CEO of IronSource and Eran Barkat, Partner at BRM group, to name a few.
"The Birthright Israel Excel Fellowship forms and empowers the future leaders of the Jewish world. Birthright Israel Excel is an extension to- and considered one of the most important projects of- Taglit-Birthright Israel. The Fellowship offers outstanding students the opportunity to discover the country and intern at leading Israeli companies, generating bonds that will serve as a catalyst in creating cooperation between the Diaspora and Israel," said Taglit-Birthright Israel's International CEO Gidi Mark. "With their return home, each student is linked to a local mentor, usually a senior businessman and philanthropist, active in the Jewish community and Israel. The mentors advise participants about their professional futures, the importance of social and philanthropic responsibilities and connect them to their Jewish identity and to the business and social sides of the State of Israel".
Taglit co-founders and philanthropists Michael and Judy Steinhardt and Lynn Schusterman, created Birthright Israel Excel five years ago with as goal to develop a cadre of future Jewish leaders, and empower them in the world of business, technology, and social entrepreneurship. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the Excel Fellows’ connection and commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and to foster the development of a collaboration between international and Israeli companies. The program is supported by the Steinhardt Family Foundation, The Lynn and Charles Schusterman family foundation, and the Paul E. Singer Foundation.
About Birthright Israel
Birthright Israel connects young Jews to the State of Israel as well as to their Jewish identity through a free ten-day educational tour of the country. Over the past 15 years, Birthright Israel has opened the eyes of hundreds of thousands of trip participants to the people and the land of Israel. The trip aims to build an understanding, friendship, and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel and to reinforce the solidarity of the Jewish people worldwide. This allows for the creation of new friendships between participants and Israelis as well as deepens their understanding of the country and the Jewish religion and connects participants to their Jewish heritage. Birthright Israel is considered the most successful and largest Zionist project in the Jewish world.
Birthright Israel has a unique, historical and innovative partnership between the Government of Israel, thousands of individual donors and private philanthropists, and Jewish communities around the world through the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The gift of a trip to Israel started with philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt. Each year, individuals from across the world donate to Birthright Israel with the shared belief that it is the birthright of all young Jews to be able to visit their ancestral homeland.
Since its inception in 1999, over 500,000 Jews from over 66 countries have participated in the free 10-day educational tour of Israel. Of these over 80,000 young Israeli soldiers (from prestigious units of the IDF) and students have joined various groups on their tours.
Over the years, several studies have been conducted at Brandies University, located in the USA, demonstrating the lasting effect on Diaspora Jews when focusing on their Jewish identity, their connection to Israel and their ability to promote the country.
Photo provided by Taglit
More than 200 Immigrants from France to Arrive in Israel Tonight Aboard Special Aliyah Flight
Aliyah up 11% compared to 2014; More than 20,000 French Jews have arrived in Israel over the past five years
JERUSALEM – The wave of French immigration to Israel continues: More than 200 French Jews, half of whom are children, will arrive in Israel tonight (Monday, July 27) aboard a special Aliyah flight organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.
The current wave of Aliyah from France comes following cooperative efforts by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency to sustain the high rate of French Aliyah and increase Aliyah from around the world. More than 20,000 French Jews—primarily young people and families—have made Israel their home over the past five years. Over 7,200 French Jews made Aliyah in 2014 – an all-time record, and the first time since Israel's establishment that more than 1% of a Western country's Jewish population immigrated to the country in a single year. The coastal city of Netanya is the number one destination for French immigrants to Israel, followed by Tel Aviv-Yafo, Jerusalem, Ashdod, and Ra'anana.
According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, some 4,260 immigrants from France have arrived in Israel so far this year, an 11% increase compared to the 3,830 who came during the equivalent period in 2014. Moreover, interest in Aliyah from France has jumped by some 30%: 3,160 new Aliyah files were opened in France during the first six months of 2015, compared to some 2,509 during the same period last year. Registration for Aliyah information sessions reached 6,150, compared to 4,425 during the equivalent period in 2014.
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ze'ev Elkin said: "This plane with 200 immigrants from France is just one of many arriving in Israel this summer. This is the second year in a row that we are seeing a significant increase in Aliyah from France, and so the ministry and the entire government are working to further increase the rate of Aliyah and dedicate more resources to improving immigrant absorption. This year we are preparing to receive between 30,000 and 35,000 immigrants from around the world, the most in a decade."
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: "Over the past two years, The Jewish Agency has significantly expanded its operations in Europe in response to increasing interest in Aliyah on the part of European Jews. We are seeing an unprecedented wave of Aliyah from European countries, which indicates not only how Europe is becoming an uncomfortable place for Jews, but—even more importantly—the extent to which Israel is becoming a magnet for Jews interested in a meaningful Jewish life, in freedom, personal security, and a sense of belonging to a country that is integral to the future of the Jewish people."
PHOTO: French Jewish familie about to immigrate to Israel at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris earlier today (July 27, 2015). Photo : Jeremy Fournée for The Jewish Agency for Israel.
Amb. Prosor's Press Statement on Iran
Today is a very sad day for Israel and the entire world because the international community is taking steps to lift the sanctions on Iran without first waiting to see if Iran complies with even a single obligation in the agreement.
Ladies and Gentleman,
Today, you have awarded a great prize to the most dangerous country in the world.
I hate to be the one who spoils the party, but someone has to say that the emperor has no clothes. Today is a very sad day. Not only for the state of Israel, but for the entire world, even if at this moment, the international community refuses to see the tragedy.
It is a sad day because the international community is taking steps to lift the sanctions on Iran without first waiting to see if Iran complies with even a single obligation in the agreement.
It is a sad day because this agreement gives Iran a seat on the commission which will decide whether or not it has violated the agreement. This is like allowing a criminal to sit on the jury which will decide his own fate.
You haven't changed Iran's destructive ideology, which goes beyond proliferating deadly weapons and funding terror.
It is not only that you have not cured the symptoms, you have strengthened the source of the problem. You have given the source of the problem - Iran - money, stability at home, and time to carry out its destructive ideology.
For the first time anyone can remember, Israel and the Arab world see eye to eye - this deal is dangerous for the region, for the people of the region- Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, and for the entire world.
You, in the international community, have a bad track record when it comes to seeing impending disasters, even when it is right in front of your eyes.
Good intentions too often leads to wishful thinking. Look at what happened with the Arab Spring, how so many people were absolutely convinced that we were at the dawn of a new Middle East. Think back, how many people praised Assad, who studied ophthalmology in London, as a reformer, who would change the economy of Syria - and quite a change it has been.
And all those who at that time dared to say they see things a bit differently were branded as without imagination, without creativity, and unable to escape old paradigms.
When the nuclear deal was made with North Korea, I remember good and well-intentioned people who wanted to believe they signed a deal which would prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons - and we all know what has happened since then.
They told us, we would live in a more secure world.
I'm sure that many of you, many around here, do not feel more secure in the world today.
Ladies and Gentleman,
I present to you this map - which is Iran's Empire of Terror.
Now, take a close look at this map. This is what the world looked like this morning, before you voted on the process of removing sanctions from Iran. You can see the impact of Iran's terror apparatus with your own eyes here. Countries like Thailand, Azerbaijan, and the Capital of the United States, managed to prevent, at the last minute, Iranian terror plots before they could be carried out. Other countries were not so fortunate. Countries from Bulgaria to Argentina have experienced the horror of Iranian terror first-hand.
In Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, and countries across the world, Iran has spread its tentacles in order to expand its empire.
This weekend, 21 years ago, Iran and Hezbollah sent a suicide bomber driving a van loaded with explosives, into the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. 85 innocent people were killed and many others were injured.
Since then, you can find Iran's fingerprints in every corner of the globe, targeting innocent civilians, smuggling arms, financing terrorist groups, and engaging in illegal proliferation activity.
Now, what did the world do to respond to Iran's growing empire of terror?
If the international community refuses to see this as a tragedy, that is a grave strategic error. But if it is aware of the tragedy, and it still chooses to purse this dangerous path, that is a catastrophe.
I would like to say that the Iranians are metaphorically laughing in everyone's face, but the sad part is that this time it is not a metaphor.
When the villain is laughing, you know something is wrong. Friends, the villain is laughing, and his laughter echoes throughout the world. Loudly and clearly.
When we hear laughter from a country whose Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, says that even after the agreement is signed, Iran will continue the battle against the United States, Iran will continue supporting terrorists in the Middle East and around the world - something is wrong.
When we hear laughter from a country whose president, just days before the agreement was signed, marches at the head of a parade in Tehran in which American and Israeli flags are burned- something is wrong.
When we hear laughter from a country which does not even attempt to mask its hatred, something is wrong.
Friends, something is very, very wrong.
Israel, but not only Israel, is on the front lines. We will all pay the price- and not just in the Middle East. It might sound surprising to some of you, but we in Israel tend to take it seriously when someone threatens to destroy us.
Ladies and Gentleman,
In future years, the consequences of this mistake will become clear to all, but for Israel, tomorrow is already too late.
Israeli Ambassador to the #UN Prosor held a press conference outside the #SecurityCouncil chambers following the adoption of a resolution which serves as a first step in the process of lifting #sanctions on #Iran: “Today, you have awarded a great prize to the most dangerous country in the world. If the international community refuses to see this as a tragedy, that is a grave strategic error. But if it is aware of the tragedy, and it still chooses to purse this dangerous path, that is a catastrophe. When the villain is laughing, you know something is wrong. In future years, the consequences of this mistake will become clear to all, but for Israel, tomorrow is already too late.”
Copyright: UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Council Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process Council of the EU
Marking a year since Operation Protective Edge, President Rivlin conducts a security and civilian tour of the area around the Gaza Strip
A year on from Operation Protective Edge, President Reuven Rivlin this morning, (Thursday), conducted a tour of the Eshkol Region near the Gaza Strip, where he was greeted by new regional authority head, Gadi Yarkoni.
Visiting nearby Kibbutzim of Nir Oz and Nirim, the President received a security update from Col. Eyal Rozen, of the Southern Front Command. The President began by speaking with reference to Abraham Mengistu, who was being held in Gaza, as was today cleared for publication. He said, "This is a painful situation which I, together with the relevant officials at the President's Office, have been following closely since it began. I am in contact with the Mengistu family and I know that all the relevant authorities have been working tirelessly, and monitoring the issue closely, from the moment Avraham crossed over the fence. This is a humanitarian issue, and we expect those holding him to behave accordingly and return him in good health. According to the information which has arisen, Mengistu is being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. We will continue to make every effort in order to bring an end to this incident, as soon as possible."
The President went on to speak about the year that had passed since Operation Protective Edge. He said, "A year has passed and I am very pleased to be here as the guns have been silenced, and tranquility has returned to encompass the area. I came here - as I have on several occasions this year - to see the way in which the area has returned to daily routine, and to see up close the necessary rebuilding and rehabilitation. I have no doubt that at any moment in which the quiet is violated, the IDF knows how to return calm swiftly to the people of the region, and enable them to return to their daily lives. It is also well understood by those in Gaza, that peace and quiet for the citizens there, means first of all, the peace and quiet for the Israelis in this region and all the citizens of Israel."
Later, the President spoke with the agricultural manager of Kibbutz Nir Oz, David Moshe, who explained to the President about their development and cultivation projects in the area close to the Gaza border, and spoke about the danger of being exposed to snipers. The President was moved to hear of the thriving agricultural successes, and said, "I am seeing here today the most important achievements of last year's operation. The south is thriving, and new families are coming to make their homes in the western Negev. The south is a place of tourism and development. I am proud to be here once again, and meet with those special people who epitomize the area and communities near the Gaza Strip. The residents of this region are a power of strength and resilience for all Israel, and it is a true honor to be with you today."
The President concluded his tour by visiting Shorashim flower and vegetable nursery in Ein HaBesor, which suffered a direct hit by a missile fired from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. The President toured the nursery and spoke about the various plants and vegetables being grown, and discussed the process of rebuilding since the operation.
Photo : President Reuven Rivlin during a visit to the northern border on May 27, 2015. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
President Rivlin hosts Bedouin council heads along with Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Monday), hosted at his residence the forum of heads of the Bedouin councils, together with Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Uri Ariel MK, to discuss possible solutions to the problems of Bedouin communities in the Negev.
At the beginning of the meeting, President Rivlin congratulated Minister Ariel for his concerted efforts on this issue and said, “We must find a solution. It is important to say that previous governments sought not to leave the issue unanswered, but worked to create the necessary budgetary conditions - though we are yet to reach our target."
The President added, "The Goldberg Report formulated the way for important steps to be taken, which sadly were not brought to be ratified. These are issues need to be passed by the widest possible majority and I think the Begin Report is the right place from which to move forward. I express my faith in the Minister, that he will know how to move forward from here, in order to find an acceptable solution to all sides."
Minister Ariel said, "We are not 'doing a favor' for the Bedouin citizens. We are working in order to provide Israeli citizens what they rightfully deserve. Time is working against us all, and we are making every effort, with the help of regional leaders, in order to reach the necessary understanding,"
The Minister invited the President to tour the region, and then asked the attending leaders to raise in their discussion the issues which needed resolving. Issues raised by the regional heads included: Problems relating to recognized and unrecognized towns; shortage of employment of opportunities; the allocation of resources during a period when the communities were growing constantly; severe lack of education infrastructure, and the destruction of homes. The President and the Minister listened closely to the regional leaders and ensured them of their cooperation and partnership to find the necessary solutions as soon as possible.
"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
Photo provided by IIE
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
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
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
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.
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.
Photo provided by Israel Tourism Ministry
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
The Israel Security Agency (ISA), Israel Police, Israel Tax Authority and the State Attorney's Office, assisted by the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the Justice Ministry, have recently uncovered an efficient network operated by Hamas to acquire and smuggle materials used for strengthening the organization's military infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
By means of this network, the Hamas purchased and brought into the Gaza Strip, via the Kerem Shalom Crossing, thousands of tons of raw materials that were used in its military installations, to prepare attack tunnels, at its training facilities and for the manufacture of war materiel. In certain instances, the materials that were purchased in Israel were transported from the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing directly to Hamas training bases and installations.
The ISA, in conjunction with the Israel Police and Israel Tax Authority, has so far investigated 26 suspects, including Israeli citizens, who were involved in supplying the materials, storing them and smuggling them through the Kerem Shalom Crossing. The Israel Police and Israel Tax Authority have also investigated additional suspects. Trucks and large quantities of to-be-smuggled materiel were seized.
Severe indictments – including for security offenses – have been filed in Be'er Sheva District Court. Requests have been filed regarding the confiscation of the seized vehicles and materials.
Operation of the network
The Kerem Shalom Crossing provides the only passage for merchandise and goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The State of Israel saw to the regular operation of the Crossing, even during Operation Protective Edge, in order to allow the importation of consumer goods and basic products for the population of Gaza. Terrorists in Gaza, especially Hamas, identified the potential at the Crossing for bringing in materials need to build up their military infrastructures.
Registered Palestinian merchants were used to purchase a range of raw materials and other goods (including – inter alia – iron and various iron goods and products, electrical and electronic equipment, communications equipment, fiber optic cables, drills and other digging equipment, concrete, etc.) for military use. Israeli, foreign and Palestinian Authority-based suppliers supplied the goods. Elements in Israel were, for the most part, used to store the goods. These elements were aware that the goods in question were for the Gaza Strip despite the lack of the necessary permits and either knew or estimated that they were designated for terrorist organizations.
In this manner, large quantities of materials were systematically purchased in Israel and smuggled into the Gaza Strip over a period of time. As routes through Sinai became more difficult, the foregoing route became more valuable to Hamas.
Among the Gaza terrorists involved were:
Muhammad Oda – A Hamas operative involved in the production of war materiel. He purchased hundreds of tons of iron and galvanized pipes, which were transported directly to Hamas training facilities.
Adnan Seir – A Hamas operative involved in the production of war materiel.
Muhammad Abu Halima – He purchased tones of pipes and iron which were transported directly to Hamas installations built on the ruins of former Jewish communities.
The Al-Tzalah Association – Affiliated with Hamas.
Smuggled goods were frequently hidden among consignments that had received the necessary permits. In one instance, raw materials for use in the manufacture of explosives were hidden in a container of humanitarian equipment.
The case underscores – yet again – how Hamas cynically exploits Israel's humanitarian approach and how Hamas does not hesitate to endanger the basic interests of the Palestinian public in its efforts to rebuild its Gaza-based military capabilities.
Hamas has invested vast sums in building up its military infrastructure even as its leaders and spokesmen seize every opportunity to bewail the Palestinian public's dire economic plight.
Israeli security and law-enforcement authorities will tighten the supervision of goods designated for the Gaza Strip and will use all legal means (criminal prosecution, economic sanctions, the confiscation of goods, revocation of permits, etc.) at their disposal to combat smuggling.
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
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.
Photo provided by the Swedish Embassy
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)
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
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."
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.
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
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.
Sharansky: "This is a year of record Aliyah. Beit Brodetsky is an excellent place to learn Hebrew, to get to know Israel—and also to find a shidduch (match)."
Landver: "Today you received a first home in Israel, a warm home and a social and professional structure. You are the future of the State of Israel."
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky and Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver dedicated a new center for young immigrants from around the world this morning (Thursday, December 11) in Tel Aviv. The Beit Brodetsky Center for Young Immigrants is a joint venture between The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and will be operated in conjunction with the Ministry of Education in order to encourage young people from around the world to immigrate to Israel and ease their integration into Israeli society.
294 young immigrants between the ages of 18 and 35 from 23 countries—most of whom have arrived in Israel over the past month, and more than half of whom hold academic degrees—will be participating in the first cycle of the live-in center dedicated in a festive ceremony this morning.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky told the hundreds of young immigrants in attendance: "This is a year of record Aliyah, with some 25,000 immigrants arriving in Israel from around the world. People around the world ask how immigrants continue to come despite the images of warfare. If they look at you, they will understand how good and complete life is in Israel. Beit Brodetsky is an excellent place to learn Hebrew, to get to know Israel—and also to find a shidduch (match)."
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said: "Today you received a first home in Israel, a warm home and a social and professional structure, but at the same it is important to me that you know that even when you finish your stay at this center, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption will be another home to you for many years, and the professional staff of the ministry will accompany you on your path to successful absorption and integration into Israeli society. You are the future of the State of Israel."
Located in northern Tel Aviv, near Tel Aviv University, the center for young immigrants is a joint venture between The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and is part of the expanded cooperation between the two bodies aimed at increasing the number of young immigrants coming to Israel and helping them as they take their first steps as Israeli citizens. The new center will serve as a bridge between the young immigrants and Israeli society, providing them with the infrastructure necessary for optimal integration while realizing their individual potential.
As part of the live-in program, the young immigrants will participate in intensive Hebrew lessons (ulpan) taught by educators from the Ministry of Education's Division for Adult Education. Participants will enjoy rich and diverse social and cultural programming and will be provided with counseling and guidance on continuing their education and advancing their careers in Israel. The center will eventually be home to some 600 young immigrants who will be divided into two cycles each year.
Uriel Benita and Elodie Assayag immigrated to Israel from Peru and France (respectively) two months ago and are living in the new center. They thanked the groups and individuals behind the venture for the warm welcome they have received. "One day, I was walking in the street in France and someone stopped me and told me to take off the Star of David necklace that was hanging around my neck. That was when I knew I would be making Aliyah," said Elodie. "I have made friends from around the world and I look forward to contributing to my new country."
PHOTO: Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver join young immigrants from around the world in dedicating the Beit Brodetsky Center for Young Immigrants in Tel Aviv, December 11, 2014. Photo credit: Zed Films.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Prime Minister Sobotka, It's a pleasure to welcome you and your delegation to our inter-governmental meeting here in Jerusalem. I've been to Prague twice. I told you that I was impressed by the natural affinity between the Czech people and the Jewish people, both in character, the championing of freedom, the great value that we place on individualism, on curiosity, on creativity, in literature and science and the arts and every field. There was an easy sympathy that we could feel in the Czech Republic and I think that you feel here in Israel.
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
The Cabinet, at its weekly meeting yesterday (Sunday, 23 November 2014), was briefed by Prime Minister's Office Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women Director Vered Swid on violence against women in Israel and on inter-ministerial treatment of the phenomenon, ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which will be marked tomorrow.
Swid told the ministers that there has been a decline in instances of violence against women including sexual offenses and added that the improvement in the data is the result of joint work by Government ministries including the Social Affairs and Social Services, Public Security, Health, Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Justice and Education ministries which, along with shelters for battered women and women's organizations, brought about a series of activities throughout the country. These include: Operating emergency switchboards in five languages; operating 14 shelters for battered women and their children; operating 90 units and centers for both individual and group treatment of incidents of violence in the family; creating additional positions for social workers who deal with violence in the family; operating local council programs to prevent violence against women; locating, diagnosing and treating victims of violence in the family; operating the "Bridges" plan to reduce violence in the family among immigrants; educational pamphlets to identify "red lights"; operating therapy groups for men; self-defense workshops, etc.
Swid added that the "Put a Stop to Violence" campaign will soon be launched. The campaign, which was initiated by the Authority, calls for men to seek counselling and treatment. Swid recently presented the campaign to the UN, where delegates from various countries expressed an interest. The campaign will be featured in cinemas and on websites, including in Arabic.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We will not countenance attacks on women, murder of women by their partners, or treating women like property. These phenomena must be fought against and we will do so."
The Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee on Advancement of the Status of Women, Minister Limor Livnat, said, "Recently, we have witnessed a serious phenomenon in which women and girls are photographed without their knowledge, and contemptible and humiliating photographs are disseminated over social networks. This can cause terrible tragedies for those who have been photographed and this phenomenon as well must be fought against."
(November 20, 2014—Jerusalem) On Sunday, November 23, 2014, a ceremony posthumously honoring Petro and Kateryna Durniak from Ukraine as Righteous among the Nations will take place at Yad Vashem. Christina-Ludmila Kril, daughter of the Righteous among the Nations Petro and Kateryna Durniak, will be in attendance from Ukraine to accept the medal and certificate of honor on her parents' behalf. Olena Ivanchuk, from the Ukrainian Embassy will be in attendance, as well as Freddy Gruber, son of Righteous Josef Gruber who was a friend of Petro Durniak. They will be joined by Holocaust survivors, family and friends. The medal and certificate will be presented by Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Department of the Righteous among the Nations of Yad Vashem. A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 11:00 a.m. followed by the presentation of the medal and certificate of honor and unveiling of the names in the Garden of the Righteous among the Nations at Yad Vashem. The event will take place in Hebrew and Polish. The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations Dept. 02 644 3410.
The Rescue Story:
In the summer of 1942, when 50,000 Jews from Lwow (today Lviv), were deported to their deaths at the Belzec Extermination Camp, David Winter and his wife decided to separate from their newborn daughter, Anna, in order to increase her chances of survival. They secretly took Anna out of the ghetto and asked David's Ukrainian friend Petro Durniak to watch over their baby daughter. Petro's wife, Kateryna was pregnant at the time and shortly after Anna's arrival the couple had a daughter of their own, Christina. The couple changed Anna's name to Barbara and presented the two girls as twins.
The Winter couple survived the Holocaust and the first news they heard of their daughter came from David's brother, Nachum Winter. Nachum was a soldier in the Red Army and after his hometown Lwow was liberated, he requested time off and travelled to search for any of his relatives who may have survived. He found his niece at the home of Kateryna Durniak (she and Petro were separated at this time) and gave her his monthly salary in gratitude for care of his niece. Before he left he took a photograph with his niece. When Nachum discovered his brother and his wife at one of the refugee camps in Central Europe, he informed them that their daughter was alive and sent them the picture he had taken with Anna-Barbara. David and his wife contacted Kateryna and organized for Anna-Barbara's transfer to them, across the border of the USSR.
The Winter family moved to Israel, but shortly afterwards they emigrated to Austria. With time, the Winters lost contact with the Durniak family. However, the Durniaks never forgot Anna-Barbara. Kateryna kept her picture in a family photo album and after her death, her daughter Christina kept the photograph.
The rescue story of baby Anna-Barbara came to light in 2013 when Freddy Gruber, whose father Josef Gruber was recognized as Righteous among the Nations in 2005, travelled from his home in Israel to Lviv to meet his father's family. Freddy also searched for any descendants of his father's friend, Petro Durniak. He arrived at Christina's home and she showed him the picture of Anna-Barbara as a small child. Upon his return to Israel, Freddy turned to Yad Vashem and told Anna-Barbara's rescue story. After further investigation, the Department of the Righteous among the Nations uncovered a testimony given by Freddy's mother, Antonia Gruber, in 2005. In a single sentence she mentioned that her future husband's friend, named Durniak, had rescued a Jewish girl. In addition, a testimony from 1961 of Nachum Winter was found in the Yad Vashem Archives where he gave a detailed explanation of how he discovered his niece. Attached to his testimony was the picture that was taken of Nachum and Anna-Barbara at Kateryna's home. These two photographs, the one saved by Nachum from the Durniak family, and the photograph that was in David Winter's testimony, clearly show the same child. Therefore, with the help of testimony which was given more than fifty years ago, Yad Vashem was able to connect the two parts of this story.
On July 10, 2014, Petro and Kateryna Durniak were recognized as Righteous among the Nations.
For more information about the Righteous among the Nations: http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteo us/index.asp
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education. www.yadvashem.org
A group of 200 Panamanian Christians of Hossanna Vision completed a 10-day trip to the Holy Land despite the wave of violence that has shaken the country in recent days.
The group has been one of the largest of Latin America and even worldwide, even as on these weeks there have been several terrorist attacks.
Pastor Roger Serrano of the group noticed helicopter flew over the Old City, and the presence of Zeppelin balloons in the air. Also he noticed the police presence in the streets which all together gave them a high sense of security.
The latest attacks of Islamic militants on Israeli citizens included yesterday the murder of a young soldier stabbed in Tel Aviv. At the same day a young girl was also stabbed in a different incident. A week before a car driven by Islamic extremist hit and killed a baby and an Ecuadorian young girl.
The events coincide with 10th anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Many of the Panamanian tour participants of Hossanna Vision said the next year they will attend the evangelical world meeting to be held here.
Photo provided by Panama Embassy
Romania marks its National Holocaust Commemorative Day each year on October 9. This year, the Romanian Government organised a wide range of events in Bucharest.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Titus Corlăţean and International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) delegation take part in organization of National Holocaust Commemoration Day in Romania
On 8 October 2014 Minister of Foreign Affairs Titus Corlăţean took part in the events organized on the occasion of the National Holocaust Commemoration Day (9 October) - the commemorative ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial in Bucharest and the special session organized by the Chamber of Deputies within the Romanian Parliament.
The member of a delegation of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) also participated in the events, during their visit to Romania between 8 and 9 October 2014. The Delegation is formed of the IHRA incumbent President Sir Andrew Burns and the IHRA Executive Secretary Dr. Kathryn Meyer. The visit aimed at promoting the efforts of the host-state to commemorate the Holocaust on a national level.
"During the past years, Romania has achieved a number of important steps to support the study of the Holocaust, so that younger generations may discover the truth about this tragic stage in our history. I would like to point out that Romanian law has clear provisions condemning Holocaust denial and incitement to anti-Semitism. We are determined to fight against any attempt to deny the Holocaust, and against any attempt to incite to anti-Semitism," added Foreign Minister in his speech.
National Holocaust Commemoration Day
More details in the website (telaviv.mae.ro)
or on our Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ambasada.romaniei.7)
and Twitter (Romania@Israel).
(September 28, 2014 – Jerusalem) On Tuesday, September 30, 2014, a ceremony posthumously honoring Sebastián de Romero Radigales of Spain, as a Righteous among the Nations, will be held at Yad Vashem.
The medal and certificate of honor will be received on his behalf by his granddaughter, Ms. Elena Colitto Castelli. The ceremony will take place in the presence of H.E. Mr. Fernando Carderera, Ambassador of Spain in Israel, Holocaust survivor Isaac Revah, family and friends. The event will begin in the Hall of Remembrance, at 11:00, and continue in the Garden of the Righteous, and will take place in English and Spanish. Media who wish to attend, please RSVP: 02 644 3410.
For pragmatic reasons, the Germans agreed to exempt Jews holding Italian and Spanish citizenship from deportation, on condition that they return to their countries. Italian Jews were thus spared and could return to Italy; but the Spanish Jews were faced with the reluctance of the Spanish government to permit them to be repatriated.
This was the situation when Radigales arrived in Athens. In a letter dated April 15, 1943, written shortly after his arrival, Radigales thanked Foreign Minister Jordana for his nomination and added that he was now working hard to arrange the repatriation of 510 Jews from Salonika who had Spanish citizenship. Despite Jordana's instructions "to maintain a passive approach and to avoid any personal initiative," Radigales relentlessly continued negotiating on behalf of the Jews with the German and Spanish authorities.
On August 13, 1943 a group of 367 Jews with Spanish citizenship arrived in Bergen-Belsen. Radigales continued tirelessly in his attempts to protect these Jews until the Spanish government finally changed its position, and permitted the transfer of this group to Spanish Morocco. Their travel documents bore Radigales' signature. Isaac Revah, who was a child at the time, recalled how his group was permitted to leave the camp in February 1944. "Being released from a Nazi camp is an extraordinary event. It all happened thanks to an outstandingly courageous and humane man," he wrote to Yad Vashem. Revah did not forget his rescuer's actions, and applied to Yad Vashem to have Radigales honored and recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
Radigales did everything in his power to help the Jews in Athens. He also intervened with the German authorities to have Jews released from the Haidari detention camp; assisted those who went into hiding; safeguarded the belongings of arrested Jews to ensure that they would be returned to their owners or their rightful heirs after the war – actions that went above and beyond his duty as a diplomat, and often against his government's policies. Sebastián de Romero Radigales passed away in 1970.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education. www.yadvashem.org
Today, it is clear to everybody that the real division in the Middle East is not between Jews and Arabs, between Israel and the Arab states, but between moderates and radicals. There are no significant differences between Hamas and ISIS, or between Jihad and Al Qaeda.
Your Excellency, President of the State of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin, honorable members of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be here with you today on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a time of renewal and hope.
I am especially thankful for this opportunity to share with you my perspective and my understanding of Israel's current situation.
Just a month ago, we completed Operation Protective Edge and achieved a ceasefire, putting a halt to the bombardment of our towns by thousands of rockets and mortars.
This is an opportunity to thank you for your understanding of the great challenges that Israel faced during the 50 days of this operation.
Yet, it is our obligation today to assess the results of this operation and to contemplate whether and how it may be possible to prevent the next operation. It is particularly important to understand how it is that nine years after our complete withdrawal from Gaza, we are still fighting and looking for ways to avoid yet another future clash.
It is perhaps even more important to try and understand why 21 years since the Oslo Accords we are still in a deadlock in our negotiations with the Palestinians. Or why we haven't witnessed a strategic breakthrough in our relations with all of our neighbors, not only the Palestinians.
Why haven't we succeeded in reaching a comprehensive peace agreement? The answer, it seems to me, is simple. We have been like a doctor who makes a wrong diagnosis, gives a wrong medicine, and is then surprised that the patient doesn't recover.
The problem is that Israel has been contending for many years with two misunderstandings or fallacies and the world isn't ready to change its mind. First of all is the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the heart of all Middle East conflicts and problems.
In my opinion, it's not the biggest problem and not the central problem. It's actually a marginal problem and really not so important. It may be important for the public relations of Arab leaders, as a way of avoiding their own domestic problems. By inciting crowds and blaming Israel for everything, they try to explain away why they have failed.
Today, it is clear to everybody that the real division in the Middle East is not between Jews and Arabs, between Israel and the Arab states, but between moderates and radicals. There are no significant differences between Hamas and ISIS, or between Jihad and Al Qaeda. While they may differ in name, in their essence they are the same.
We were shocked at the execution of innocent Palestinians in Gaza at the hands of militants in front of crowds of innocent women and children, just as we were shocked by the brutal murders broadcast to the whole world by ISIS. And we were equally dismayed at the brazen disregard of Hamas leaders for the lives of their own citizens, whom they used cynically as human shields.
Nor do we forget what sparked the last confrontation: the brutal kidnapping and murder by Hamas of three Israeli teenagers in Gush Etzion.
It is important to remember that Israel made every effort to avoid harming innocent people in Gaza. Hamas, on the contrary, used its civilian infrastructure, its kindergartens, schools, mosques and homes as sites for launching rockets on peaceful Israeli towns and communities.
And even more importantly, it is crucial to remember that for years the main demand of the international community from Israel was to withdraw to the 1967 boundary.
Yet that is precisely what we did in the Gaza Strip. And despite this withdrawal, we suffered 18,000 missiles and shells on our territory.
Israel can also be part of the solution for the ultimate victory of the moderate forces in the Middle East in their struggle against the radicals and fanatics throughout our region. Both our intelligence services and air force can serve a key role in ensuring this victory.
We are ready to discuss all proposals concerning the rebuilding of the civilian infrastructure of Gaza. On the other hand, we need to consider the mechanism for preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities.
Moreover, we need to work out how to achieve demilitarization of Gaza because only demilitarization can guarantee a durable and sustainable ceasefire between us and the Palestinians.
Hamas is a threat not only to Israel but first of all to the Palestinian Authority and to Mahmoud Abbas. The Moslem Brotherhood is the main threat to Egypt. ISIS is the main threat to Iraq and Hezbollah is the biggest obstacle preventing Lebanon from becoming a really free and independent country.
And Iran of course is the biggest threat to the entire world, not only for the Middle East [...]
As you see, the next year will be very challenging, with a lot of threats and a lot of opportunities. I hope that at the end of the day, we will have enough reasons to be optimistic and to hope that the champions of peace, moderation and decency will defeat the forces of violence and hate.
Indeed, let us hope that all reasonable people will move forward together with greater international cooperation, understanding and tolerance.
Ahead of the upcoming holidays (24 September-17 October), the National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau offers the following updated travel warnings.
There is – at this time – an increasing potential threat as a result of the recent Operation Protective Edge during which there were many demonstrations at Israeli embassies and consulates around the world. There has also been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents. These trends are likely to continue during the holiday period.
In the wake of the 4 May terrorist attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels, there is concern over additional attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, especially in Western Europe, by global jihad elements (including ISIS), specifically by fighters returning home from Syria and Iraq.
The global terrorist campaign by Iran and Hezbollah continues to threaten Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, especially "soft" targets, i.e. tourists and Jewish symbols (rabbis, community leaders, Chabad houses).
Please note that a severe travel warning remains in effect for the Sinai Peninsula (see below).
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 and Somalia. 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, Burkina-Faso, Djibouti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Pakistan, Togo 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, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman and Turkey. 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.
"You, children from southern Israel and the West Bank, symbolize the hope for peace after a very difficult summer"
Over 500 children from Israel and the West Bank will take part in the Soccer Peace Schools this year at over 24 schools
One week after the ceasefire came into effect, Israel's 9th president Shimon Peres, opened the annual Peres Center for Peace 'Soccer Peace Schools' program in southern Israel with 80 children from the Sderot, Sha'ar Hanegev and the Palestinian town of Yatta in the West Bank. The children play in joint soccer teams and take part in a special education program for peace. Shimon Peres was accompanied by the Head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, Alon Schuster, and the two presented soccer balls to the team captains to mark the opening of the program.
Former President Shimon Peres blew the opening whistle of the game and said, "Soccer isn't played one against the other but one alongside the other. You, children from southern Israel who play soccer with Palestinian children symbolize the hope for peace and the hope for all of us to overcome any challenges. You have all had a very difficult summer and today you are opening a new year which I hope will be a year of sport and dialogue. On this pitch there is a soccer school which is also a school for peace for all peoples."
Alon Schuster turned to the children and added, "You were children who were raised into this situation, and we can remind you that it's also possible to live differently, I am proud of you and wish you luck with your training."
Issa, the coach of the Palestinian children expressed his pride and excitement to be the coach of a joint team, "I'm excited to see you after months in which we were unable to meet. I hope that on this pitch we can begin something new, that we can go back to enjoying playing soccer together."
Through the Peres Center for Peace Twinned Peace Soccer Schools project children, aged 6-16, participate in a comprehensive 'peace education through sport' program that combines athletic training with unique peace education activities, allowing participants to get to know the "other," learn one another's languages, break down barriers, and develop friendships based on trust and mutual understanding.
The first practice took place today following a very difficult summer, during which the groups could not engage in such activities. Despite the political tensions, the Israeli and Palestinian children came together to play side-by-side. In addition to the soccer practice which took place today in Kibbutz Dorot, over 500 Israeli and Palestinian children from throughout Israel and the West Bank will come together for soccer and peace education activities in the framework of the Twinned Peace Soccer Schools program this year.
Photos – Efrat Sa'ar
In recent weeks, Israel has fought for its home. While the IDF shined in the field, the diplomatic front had its ups and downs. In light of increasing anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment globally, a group of young Jews from all over the world decided to improve Israel's image. Last week they came to Rambam to learn about – and spread – the Israeli spirit.
A delegation of 36 people from 24 nations arrived last week at Rambam to participate in an international seminar for young Jewish leadership. All aim to be future leaders of Jewish communities worldwide.
The participants, selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, included doctors, lawyers and academics, as well those in high tech, the public sector and communications.
The foreign ministry, which maintains close ties with Rambam, organized the visit. The ministry holds several such seminars yearly, and 'graduates' go on to support Israel through various activities.
At Rambam, the visitors met doctors who participated in altruistic activities abroad, the hospital's multi-cultural staff and patients. They toured the world's largest underground emergency hospital, in Israel's largest medical center.
"I am from a country that doesn't sympathize with Israel," said Bolivan-born Ruben Iberkleid, "So it is heart-warming to see the wonderful activities at Rambam." Sanaz Meshkinfam, born in Iran and now living in LA, added, "Rambam symbolizes everything in Israel." Here you can see how medical teams work toward humanitarian goals, not just in Israel but throughout the world. This makes you want to be a part of it."
Meet Israel's friends from around the globe
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In order to assist small businesses in the south that have been affected as a result of Operation Protective Edge, the Agency for Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises in the Ministry of Economy invites e-commerce platforms to promote on their websites goods and services of businesses in the Gaza periphery and within the 40 kilometer zone - and benefit from free advertising exposure in a campaign the Agency is spearheading.
The agency directive has just been published on its Hebrew-language website (sba.economy.gov.il), is directed at e-commerce platforms and price comparison websites, encouraging them to increase consumer accessibility and therefore extra sales to those small and mid-sized businesses located within the area in the south that has been designated "a special situation in the home front".
Those e-commerce platforms that receive approval from the Agency for Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises will then benefit from exposure - free of charge - within the framework of a radio and internet advertising campaign to be launched by the agency. The advertising campaign will direct viewers and listeners to a dedicated landing page on the agency's website where all the relevant e-commerce platforms will be promoted.
Agency for Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises Director Ran Kaviti: "The objective of this campaign is to assist small businesses by advertising their products and services and thereby generating increased sales. This will help them overcome the significant drop in sales they have experienced as a result of Operation Protective Edge. We call on e-commerce platform entrepreneurs, managers and owners to submit their applications and receive help from the agency so that, together, we can reach every home in Israel and strengthen the small businesses in the south economically and commercially."
Director of Employment Regulation & Senior Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Economy Michal Tzuk today submitted to the Minister of the Economy the conclusions of the inter-ministerial steering committee on dealing with the shortage of skilled manpower for the hi-tech industry * The committee formulated a long list of recommendations with the goal of reducing the gap between the demand for skilled and high-quality workers in the fields of science and technology, and the current supply in the employment market *
Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett: "Israeli innovation is an inseparable part of our national strength. Israel's economic strength and image depends, among other things, on it being a groundbreaking innovative power, providing mankind with technological solutions for cyberspace, security, defense, agriculture, water, energy, medicine, safety, etc. However, Israeli hi-tech suffers from a flaw, and that flaw is extremely significant – the shortage of skilled manpower required for technological professions. The great potential for employment and growth is not realized because companies have problems in finding high-quality, skilled employees. Not enough young people are studying mathematics and the sciences; there are not enough Arab and ultra-Orthodox graduates in technological fields, which is a shame. Hi-tech knows how to employ everyone, and needs more and more talented employees. Therefore, this report comes exactly at the right time, and its test will be in how it is implemented."
This morning the inter-ministerial steering committee, headed by the Director of Employment Regulation & Senior Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Economy, submitted to the Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett its conclusions on dealing with the shortage of skilled manpower for the hi-tech industry, which suffers from a serious shortage of high-quality academic graduates in engineering, computers, and science. While there are some 7,000 new positions in the hi-tech industry annually, the education system produces around only 6,600 graduates each year with the potential to study engineering and sciences, and a large percentage go on to study other fields. While the demand rises, the number of students for the subjects in demand has stagnated.
In light of the importance of the issue to Israeli finances, labor market, industry, and the economy, a committee deliberated over the last year on formulating a range of tools which would provide solutions to the stagnation in the number of students in the innovative industries, and bring about an increase in the supply of candidates to be employed in the many positions – most carrying high salaries – offered to high-quality graduates.
Representatives of many bodies participated in the inter-ministerial committee, including: The Office of the Director of Employment in the Ministry of Economy, the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Economy, the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister's Office, the Budget Department in the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Planning and Budgeting Committee at the Council for Higher Education in Israel, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, the fund and unit for Guidance for Ex-Servicemen in the Ministry of Defense, the IDF, the Israeli Employment Service, the National Cyber Bureau, and various representatives in the fields of industry, employment, and development of human resources.
Amit Lang, Director General of the Ministry of Economy, noted that: "Every day we witness the effects of the lack of professional manpower on the Israeli economy in general, and on its hi-tech industry in particular. The difficulty experienced by the technology companies in finding expert employees in science, engineering, and computers, has a direct effect on the economy's ability to export goods and services in the technological industries. Therefore, we attribute great importance to strengthening the professional and academic training in fields which enable their graduates to acquire a profession for life, while also providing solutions to the needs of industry and the economy. We are currently working on the formulation of a government resolution which will establish a team, led by the Ministry of Economy, to implement the important recommendations of the report. We will continue to work – together with all the partners in the government, academia, the private sector, and the Third Sector – to increase the supply of scientists, engineers, practical engineers, and computer science graduates, and we will create growth impetus to provide solutions for the needs of the economy, alongside high-quality job placements with high salaries appropriate for skilled employees in the relevant fields."
Director of Employment Regulation & Senior Deputy Director General Michal Tzuk noted that: "The hi-tech industry is a primary growth engine for the Israeli economy. However, the shortage of available and skilled manpower is an obstacle to the development of the hi-tech industry. Finding skilled and high-quality manpower, available and accessible for employment, is a prime requisite to continue strengthening and developing the industry, and we will work to realize and implement the recommendations so that they will begin to be implemented during the 2015 budgetary year."
Main Committee Recommendations
Dealing with two major issues:
In the short term, the committee recommends steps including:
In the medium term, it is recommended to do the following, including:
In the long term, the committee recommends:
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, the Government Press Office (GPO) has dealt with 705 foreign journalists from over 42 countries who came to cover the events. During the Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, 303 foreign journalists came to Israel. The journalists joined and reinforced the existing crews regularly working in Israel, who number approximately 750 journalists.
Upon the conclusion of the operation, the GPO accumulated testimony by foreign journalists regarding harassment by Hamas activists regarding the carrying out of their assignments. Journalists said that during their coverage of the fighting they received threats and – in several cases – were the victims of violence that included destruction of their equipment because they had documented criminal activity by Hamas such as the launching of rockets from the heart of civilian areas.
At the onset of the operation, the GPO opened a media and information center in Ashkelon and held weekly tours, briefings and press conferences with Cabinet ministers and government and military officials. Journalists noted that their meeting with Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, who briefed them on the challenges of urban and guerrilla warfare, assisted them in understanding the complexity of the current violence.
At Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, journalists met and spoke with wounded IDF soldiers and with Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were being treated in Israel. Before the end of the operation, journalists toured the IDF field hospital at Erez Crossing, which received and treated approximately 50 wounded. During the tour, the journalists witnessed the violation of the ceasefire by Hamas and heard the many explosions in the area. As the journalists observed the delivery of humanitarian aid via the Kerem Shalom Crossing, they noted the scope of the humanitarian assistance, which included medicine, medical equipment, food, clothing and fuel. In the past month, approximately 1,500 trucks with humanitarian aid entered the Gaza Strip.
GPO Director Nitzan Chen said, "During 29 days of stubborn fighting and constant threats to the home front, the GPO worked to provide information and service to the foreign media and to present them with the whole picture of Israel."
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has uncovered dozens of terror tunnels in Gaza. The threat that these tunnels pose to Israel's civilian population would not be tolerated by any other nation. Here are answers to the most important questions about these tunnels.
1. What exactly is the "tunnel threat"?
Hamas' tunnel network is in fact a vast underground city with dozens of access points located throughout Gaza. Hamas uses these tunnels as weapons caches, bunkers, command centers and a concealed transportation artery for terrorists and weapons, including rocket launchers.
Some of these tunnels lead directly from Gaza to Israeli communities near the border, enabling terrorists to infiltrate, kidnap and attack Israeli civilians. The residents of southern Israel live in constant fear knowing that, at any time, a terrorist could emerge from a tunnel near their house and abduct or murder their neighbors or children.
2. Where does Hamas build these tunnels?
Hamas exploits the Palestinian population of Gaza by building tunnels beneath densely populated areas. Many times, the tunnels' access points are hidden between schools, mosques, hospitals and other civilian buildings. The terrorist organization deliberately embeds its terrorist infrastructure inside civilians neighborhoods, knowing that the IDF is reluctant to strike civilian areas.
The tunnels openings sometimes lead beyond the Gaza border, into Israeli territory. Many tunnels have been found in close proximity to Israeli communities.
In three recent incidents, squads of Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel through such terror tunnels. The latest incident took place on July 28 when terrorists infiltrated Israel via a tunnel near Nahal Oz. Their goal was to attack an Israeli community near the border. IDF soldiers thwarted the attack and killed one of the terrorists.
On July 17, heavily armed terrorists climbed out of a tunnel near the Israeli community of Sufa, a few kilometers from the Gaza border. Four days later, terrorists wearing full IDF uniforms infiltrated Israel through a different tunnel. IDF forces killed the terrorists and discovered that they were wearing suicide vests. Their goal was to massacre Israeli civilians.
3. How can Hamas afford to build tunnels?
While new houses and other civilian structures go unbuilt, Hamas has invested millions of dollars and other resources in building and operating its massive tunnel network.
Every month, Israel transfers construction materials into Gaza intended for civil projects. These materials are co-opted by Hamas for tunnel construction. Since January 2014, 4,680 trucks carrying 181 thousand tons of gravel, iron, cement, wood and other supplies have passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza.
With these supplies, Hamas could have built houses, hospitals, schools and libraries. It could have built infrastructure to improve the quality of life for the residents of Gaza. Instead, it elected to expand its underground terrorist city.
4. How does the IDF confront this threat?
IDF ground and aerial forces operating along the security fence and inside Gaza conduct meticulous searches for the tunnels and their access points. The tunnels are well hidden, often beneath civilian structures or open areas.
Each tunnel uncovered is carefully mapped and examined before its demolition.
The IDF is committed to eliminating all threats aimed at harming Israeli civilians. The threats posed to Israelis by Hamas' network of infiltration tunnels are unthinkable. That is why we will not stop in our mission to locate and neutralize them. Hamas, as the authority in the Gaza Strip, is accountable for all acts aimed at harming Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.
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Pope Francis spoke to President Peres this morning and asked to deliver a message of coexistence, moderation and peace to all the citizens of the region in light of the current security situation
Pope Francis to President Peres:
"Actions on behalf of fanatics don't leave us anywhere; it's true that many innocents suffer and pay with their lives, but we have to move forward and insist on this path of prayer for peace"
President Peres to Pope Francis:
His Holiness Pope Francis spoke to President Peres earlier today and conveyed a messaged of coexistence, moderation and peace to the citizens of the region in light of the security situation. President Peres thanked Pope Francis who his involvement and concern and said, "Right now there is fire, we are trying to do as much as we can to lower the flames because we do not consider the people of Gaza as enemies. I know that the people of Gaza themselves didn't decide on this situation that they find themselves in. There is a small group of fanatics who are the cause of suffering in Gaza. Our operation is aimed to bring an end to two killing methods – the rockets from the sky and the tunnels from under the earth. We have discovered two tunnels which were supposed to enable them enter into the heart of civilian life and kill indiscriminately. Fortunately we discovered it on time and prevented the murder. Right now the main thing we are doing is to put an end to these tunnels and we are trying to see how to limit the confrontation, particularly with regard to the rockets which they fire at our civilians. I hope it will not be a long lasting operation and I can assure you that our people are careful and will continue to be very careful not to cause damage and death to innocent peoples. We shall continue to search for a road to peace in spite of the fire and in spite of the failure to have a ceasefire because finally the solution must be political and not just military."
His Holiness Pope Francis said to President Peres, "This is a painful moment; I am convinced that God brings us together in prayer for peace, and please allow me to say it's a prophetic gesture which in some ways will mark the future path. It's true that actions on behalf of fanatics don't leave us anywhere; it's true that many innocents suffer and pay with their lives. But we have to move forward and insist on this path of prayer for peace. I believe in prayer, in the power of prayer and I believe in the hearts of men who are working for peace. I ask God for a quick solution and a political solution. I'm close to you with my prayers and thoughts.
President Peres thanked Pope Francis for his efforts for peace and said, "I thank you for your efforts for peace. The three meetings that I have had the pleasure to participate in have left a lasting impression. I know that there is still a long way and I know there are difficult situations but like on many occasions, crises may give birth to peace and a better time. Your visit in Israel and our prayer in the Vatican had an unexpected impact on many people and I believe it planted a small tree of hope in the hearts of many, which we have to continue and develop.
Pope Francis thanked President Peres and said, "I thank you for everything that you do Mr. President and I ask Gold to bless you very much. That he accompany you on the path of peace and please feel my presence close to you as a brother and as a friend."
Photo Credit: Koby Gidon/GPO
National Public Diplomacy Directorate and Masa Israel Journey join forces to establish joint public diplomacy war room; Masa participants from around the world join effort to present Israel's case to the world using social media
JERUSALEM – Masa Israel Journey and the National Public Diplomacy Directorate within the Prime Minister's Office have launched a joint effort to raise awareness of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in both traditional and new media. The goal of the effort is to show that Israeli civilians are under attack from Hamas in the Gaza Strip and explain to the world that Israel embarked on a defensive operation under the banner, "Israel Under Fire."
Volunteers from several Masa programs have contributed their time out of a desire to show the world what is really happening in Israel and out of a sense of attachment to the country. The volunteers are helping translate materials into their native tongues, adapt the messaging to their specific national audiences, and contribute their own unique perspectives based on their experiences in Israel. They post on Facebook and Twitter, respond to falsehoods, expose Hamas lies, share explanatory YouTube videos, and attempt both raise awareness and challenge the discourse on social media.
Volunteers are conveying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's primary message in this conflict: "The difference between us and Hamas is that we use rocket defense systems to protect the people of Israel, and they use the people of Gaza to protect their rocket arsenal." The prime minister has been emphasizing this point in media interviews and in conversations with world leaders and it has gone viral thanks, in part, to the volunteers' social media efforts.
Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel that is currently celebrating its tenth year, brings Jewish young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to experience life Israel for 5-10 months on 250 unique programs aimed at strengthening their Jewish identity and connection to Israel. Some 86,000 Jewish young people have participated in Masa programs thus far. Masa participants have contributed approximately one million volunteer hours to Israeli society, in areas such as education, at-risk youth, immigrant absorption, strengthening underprivileged neighborhoods, and so on.
Sarah Hayum, a 21-year-old Masa participant from Luxembourg volunteering in the public diplomacy war room, said: "I saw how the international media is treating the situation in Israel and Gaza. My Facebook feed was full of pro-Palestinian claims against Israel. I couldn't just stand by. I needed to do something and show the world—to the extent I can—how wrong they are."
Masa Israel Journey CEO Liran Avisar Ben Horin said: "This is a critical partnership for all those taking part in the public diplomacy war room, particularly at a time like this, when the other side is fighting us on social media in an effort to win hearts and minds. The Masa volunteers' immediate mobilization is praiseworthy and I thank them for giving of their time out of a true sense of belonging. This is what true love of Israel, and Zionism, look like."
Photos by Oded Fromovitz for Masa Israel Journey.
President Shimon Peres conducted a diplomatic work meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Federica Mogherini
Foreign Minister Mogherinir:
"My visit is to support the effort to reach a ceasefire and immediately restart talks in a dynamic and creative way to end this conflict."
"We know we have to pay attention to the risk of anti-semitism"
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, conducted a diplomatic work meeting this morning with the Foreign Minister of Italy, Federica Mogherini, during which they discussed the ongoing security situation. President Peres welcomed Foreign Minister Mogherini and said, "It's a clear situation today, because Egypt offered a ceasefire. Israel accepted it. The Arab League accepted it. The only one that refused and continues to fire is the Hamas. We're trying to defend our own people, as we must, and we're also trying hard not to hit innocent people in Gaza."
President Peres told the Foreign Minister of the ongoing efforts by the IDF to reduce civilian casualties, " There is a zone from which most of the rockets are being fired and we issued a warning to the people to leave instead of becoming victims of the policy of Hamas which tries to protect their rockets with civilians. Our choice is to do what we can to minimize civilian casualties and we are permitting the arrival of food and other essential supplies including medication."
President Peres thanked Europe for its support and said, "Europe and the US took a clear stance against the one-sided, unreasonable and cruel policy of Hamas. I think Hamas will meet its end because no-one will continue to support terror, and that will be the best news for the people of Gaza. At the same time we shall continue to look for ways and opening to renew the political negotiations but we would like to see a permanent peace instead of ongoing terror. This time Hamas is isolated, justice has a clear majority."
Foreign Minister Mogherini thanked President Peres and said, "It's a visit we planned weeks ago but is even more important in these days, first of all to get a closer insight into the dynamic and also to show our concern. My visit in Ashdod yesterday showed me the strong physical and psychological pressure, on the people. As a mother I understand very well the pressure and the tension there and at the same time the number of civilian victims in Gaza is extremely worrying. I think it's in the interest of the Israeli and Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, to stop this. All that we can do to support a ceasefire will be done, not only Italy but also in coordination with the other European countries and the United States. I hope that these difficult days will come to an end soon. My visit is to support this effort to reach a ceasefire and immediately restart talks in a dynamic and creative way, to end this conflict."
The Foreign Minister continued and said, "The region is tense and there is the risk of radicalization in the Arab world and also in Europe, where we know we have to pay attention to the risk of anti-semitism, especially in these days."
Photo Credit: Mark Neiman/GPO
A very special event called "Amir's Folder of Love" took place last week at Kibbutz Netiv Halamed Hey. The event commemorated the life and tragic death of Amir Karten, son of musician Emanuel Karten.
Three hundred people from all over Israel attended the event and twenty well-known musicians volunteered to perform. Among these included guitarist Chen Banyan with fiancé Shahar singing a selection of opera pieces, singer Michal Tal, world renowned guitarist Yaron Hasson and singer Uzi Fuchs. Singer, musician and entertainer Dani Ben Israel energized the audience with a performance that received a standing ovation. The event was produced by Shuki Shtzuv and documented by Hagit Farber, producer for Arutz 2.
At the age of 17, Amir was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in the foot caused by an inherited p53 gene mutation. Following a year of treatment, Amir entered remission. Despite the challenges of a compromised foot, Amir traveled the world, undertook challenging jeep trips, climbed mountains, crossed deserts and lived life to the fullest. He obtained two academic degrees in chemistry, secured a job at Teva and later built a home with his wife Mika and son Yanai.
At the age of 29 when Mika was pregnant with their second son, Amir's cancer returned. Despite his courage and determination, Amir succumbed to the disease and died shortly after in 2011.
The cancer-linked P53 genetic mutation previously caused the death of Amir's older sister Karen in 1983 at the age of 7, and later claimed the lives of their mother Ronit (Emanuel's first wife) as well as that of her brother.
Amir's life and spirit continues through his father's project "Amir's Folder of Love." The project, filled with love, optimism, music and compassion, organizes musical performances in kibbutzim throughout Israel, arranges jeep trips and promotes the composition of songs in Amir's name.
All revenues and proceeds are donated to the oncological department of Tel Hashomer Hospital.
Photo by Emanuel Kerten
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, yesterday evening (Sunday, 22 June 2014), addressed the Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem:
"Thank you. Thank you, my friend and colleague, the Chairman of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Knesset, Ze'ev Elkin; Efi Stenzler, the Chairman of JNF, whom you have just heard; Nitzan Chen, who is organizing this event; and all of you, distinguished guests.
So I have a question: How many of you speak English? Hmm, is there translation here? How many of you speak Hebrew? Wow, well, I'll tell you what. I'm going to say a few words in Hebrew and then I'll say a few words in English and as I speak Hebrew, this would be an encouragement for you to attend ulpan so, you know, the next time we meet, you could understand everything that I say. Thank you. Very good.
We were attacked today in the Golan () and a 15-year-old child, youngster, teenager, was murdered. Nine days ago, three teenagers were abducted by Hamas (). We are doing everything in our power to get them back safely to their homes. We don't like challenges. Israel is the most challenged nation on Earth. And I think you'll discover this, but you'll discover something else on your visit to Israel. What you'll discover is the unique capacities of the Jewish people in the Jewish state to overcome adversity and to build a remarkable nation. I think Israel is a remarkable achievement. You'll discover that. You may already know that. And I think you have an extraordinary opportunity as representatives of the Jewish media, to tell our story to the world, but first of all to our world, to our people.
In 66 years, starting from a beachhead of a few hundred thousand, we've multiplied our population ten-fold. Our economy has grown a hundred times. The Israel economy that you see today is like a hundred Israeli economies that we had at our independence. Our GDP per capita has grown thirty-some times. Israel is a center of world technology and innovation. Our feet are grounded in our past in this land, but we seize the future.
See, I just told you that our population grew ten-fold. I didn't tell you that our rainfall decreased almost by half. If you can you imagine that, we have half the rainwater. We don't have big rivers. We don't have many snowcapped mountains. We have one. It doesn't produce enough water. Our rainfall goes down by half; our population expands by ten; our economy by a hundred; our standard of living by thirty. We have no water problem. How is that possible? It's possible because we have – I don't know that word, seichel? – tremendous innovation, tremendous technology. Israel is the number one recycler of wastewater in the world. We recycle over 80% of our wastewater. The next one, Spain – are people here from Spain? It's an important achievement, but it's 25%.
You know, if I asked you which cow produces the most milk, you'd say a French cow? Maybe a Dutch cow? This is all from the Mondial, you know. Well, no, on that one, Israel beats everyone. The Israeli cow produces more milk. You should see this cow. It's a computerized cow. Every moo is recorded.
There's a pill, a camera pill. You may have seen it? It goes – you swallow it, it goes through your digestive system and you can find out what's wrong. The next generation of pill already squirts the medicine where you have a problem. Then it comes out. Well, you can imagine. Now that's for your digestive tract. What about the spaces inside your body that are not in the alimentary canal? The digestive tract? Well, now there's a tiny robot that they've developed and it goes inside the cavity and it gets to a blood vessel. You see, the blood vessel may have split. Now, that's not too difficult. You can now take glue, right? And glue it inside the robot. Except there's a problem: You can glue an elephant to the ceiling, there are glues strong enough to do that, but you can't glue two wet surfaces together. Well, we've solved that one too. This is Israel.
This story has to be told. Israel seizes the future. Israel right now has about 7% of the world's cyber market, cyber security, you know? You don't want people getting into your bank accounts, into your cellphones, for that matter into your traffic system or into the power plants of your respective cities. Israel has about a hundred times more its share of this market than its size. That's Israel. And Beer Sheba's becoming the cyber capital of the Eastern Hemisphere. That's Israel.
Start-ups, innovation, technology, why? Because the Jewish people always ask questions. You said they always argue? Ah, I could argue with that. Of course we always argue. We always argue, we always inquire. That's our tradition. We argue with God, for God's sake. We seek to better the world and not all of the world that receives our contributions, they don't always return in kind. And yet, we have been able to develop a remarkable state, and with all our achievements, looking into the horizon, we have to keep our feet on the ground, firmly planted on the ground.
I don't mean just the physical ground, but I mean the ground of reality because if there's one thing we learned in the history of our people, it is that we have to identify danger in time and take action against it in time. When the Jewish people failed to do that, we paid a horrendous price – the most horrendous price that any people have paid in history and we have learned that lesson. And as I look today around the world and in our part of the world, I see three great challenges that we have to deal with. When I say "we", it is not merely we here in Israel but you who are uniquely situated to help in each one of these challenges, you in the Jewish media.
The first challenge is the rising tide of anti-Semitism, especially in Europe – Western Europe and Eastern Europe. It's an amalgamation of three forces: hard Left, hard Right and the Islamist anti-Semitism that has perforated many parts of Europe. We've seen the bloody consequences of this hatred in Toulouse and in Brussels and elsewhere. And we have to fight it. We cannot accept it. I think that we have to speak out against it forcefully. The only way you defeat a lie is with truth, with facts, with courage. And I think that the truth has to be told about the Jewish people and the Jewish state first by the Jews. Nobody will defend us if we do not defend ourselves. That's the first thing that I ask you to do, but it's also the first thing I expect you to do. You should demand it of yourself. Don't bow your head. Stand up proud as Jews. Speak the truth. Assail the anti-Semites.
By the way, I just heard that in the United States, where there is huge support for the State of Israel, an all-time high, there's still an association, small association, but nevertheless an association of the Presbyterian church that decided to apply some divestment against Israel. I said, you know what I would do with them? I would ask them to come to the Middle East and look around. This is what they choose to do today when the Middle East is fragmented in this horrible war, this savage war, savagery between militant Shi'ites and militant Sunnis. Hundreds of thousands are being slaughtered, millions are displaced, Christians are fleeing for their lives, churches are burnt. The only place where you have freedom, tolerance, protection of minorities, protection of gays, protection of Christians and all other faiths is Israel. So I suggest to them to take a plane, come here and then if we can manage it, let's arrange a bus tour for them in the region. You know, let them go to Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq. And my only suggestion for them is that – well, I have two suggestions for them. One, that it be an armor-plated bus; and two, that they shouldn't announce that they're Christians.
Israel is the only place, it's the only beacon of light, of true freedom, true tolerance, in this very large expanse between Gibraltar and the Khyber Pass. And you should say it. You should tell it to the anti-Semites. You should speak about the greatness and tolerance of our people here, in the various communities. You should fight anti-Semitism. That's the first challenge we have.
We have made a decision today in our Cabinet to assist and to bring to Israel the communities in Western Europe and Eastern Europe, anybody who wants to make Aliyah – and we want them to make Aliyah – to come to Israel, but the first order of the day is to fight the anti-Semites.
The second is to cement fraying identities in the West, and especially in North America. I'm talking about young Jews who have not received a Jewish education, have not been to Israel. And that I think is important. We have invested in a government program to cement this identity. You can help in that in a big way. There are great programs like Birthright and Masa, in which we want to bring young kids here. There is no substitute for bringing youngsters like yourselves here to Israel to see with your own eyes and to communicate it to others because we believe that when young people are exposed to our country – and our country, I mean our collective patrimony – and to our heritage, we can infuse them with pride. We can make them want to be Jews and we'll persuade some of them to come here. And that I think is the second great challenge that we have today, which I think you can assist in and you could take a major part in.
And the thing is, the third challenge is the dangers that come from our region, and I've spoken about what is happening here. What is happening here now is that the centuries-old hatred between Sunnis and Shi'ites have now been uncorked with the collapse of the secular regimes, mostly dictatorships, that have contained this. They've collapsed and the Shi'ite militancies are fighting the Sunni militancies with greater and greater venom and barbarism and everyone gets caught in between. This is a fault line between civilization and savagery.
You can see it on the Golan Heights. You know, we set up a field hospital there. I suggest you go there. And if you don't have it on your plans, Nitzan, organize it. Just go to the field hospital. We take in Syrian civilians, children. Some of them lost limbs. We take care of them. They've escaped the hell that is Syria today and we take care of them. Then we allow them to come back, but we can't take their photographs, of these children, or publish them rather because they'll be executed for being treated, for having their lives saved in Israel. They'd be executed. This is a fault line between civilization and barbarism.
We cannot correct in the near future this tragedy, neither in Syria nor in Iraq. Both camps, the radical Shi'ites led by Iran and the radical Sunnis led by Al-Qaeda and ISIS and other organizations, they're enemies of our civilizations. They're enemies of humanity. They're enemies of Israel. They're enemies of the United States. They're enemies of every country that is represented here by you. When your enemies are fighting one another, don't strengthen either one of them. Weaken both. There are things that can be done to blunt the ISIS takeover of Iraq, just as there are things that must be done to blunt Iran's takeover of Iraq so that what happened in Lebanon and Syria is not replicated. That's important.
But by far, the most important thing today, not only today but in historical perspective, the most important thing is to make sure that a militant regime, a militant Islamic regime or a militant Islamic movement does not get its hands on the weapons of mass destruction. That is the number one imperative of our times. Now, while the Syrian conflict was not solved, what was achieved there in this realm was important. The agreement to get rid of the chemical weapons in Syria was important. And it's almost completed – over 90%, much more even, has been removed. Notice what I said: Removed. The chemical stockpiles, the weapons, the means to manufacture chemical weapons – they've been removed, taken out of Syria. And that task should be completed.
That is not the deal that is now, I fear, being negotiated with Iran. Rather than dismantle and remove, what is being discussed with Iran is to keep and inspect. Very different. In other words, most of the sanctions would be lifted from Iran and most of the capability would be left in Iran. Bad. Exceedingly bad and exceedingly dangerous for the future of the world – not only the region, not only Israel, the world. Iran is developing ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles. They don't need it for Israel. They don't need it for attacking us. They're intended to attack anyone within thousands and thousands of kilometers of their range, and ICBMs have only one purpose: To have nuclear bomb warheads.
It is the height of folly to allow one of the Islamist camps to have nuclear weapons. This will change history. It will be a pivot of history in a catastrophic way. That should not happen. If there is one message that needs to be put out today it is: Don't let Iran on the sidelines of this conflict in Iraq have nuclear weapons capability because sooner or later – and it's sooner rather than later – they'll have atomic bombs. That should be prevented.
I give you these three challenges – the battle against anti-Semitism, the battle against loss of identity and the battle to ensure that radical Muslims do not have weapons of mass destruction – as the three great challenges of our day, of Israel but not only of Israel. If we learned anything from history, it is that the anti-Semitic fires that begin with the Jews soon spread to others and consume entire societies.
These are great challenges. The Jewish people have shown a remarkable ability to address challenges, especially since the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty here in the State of Israel. I believe that we can see our challenges. As we take pride in our achievements, we can see the challenges. We don't lower our heads, avert our eyes. We look at them and we address them. And when I say "we", I include you in this collective because you're part of our people. You're here because you feel that connection. And I want you to transmit those feelings and those thoughts as you tour this country, as you see this remarkable land and this remarkable state where nobody argues with each other. But as we address each other, there's a tremendous bond and tremendous pride that we have been able to overcome the iron walls of history and rise from the ashes.
I read recently a book, a slender book. It's called "The Lessons of History". It was written by a remarkable historian, American historian, Will Durant, who wrote, I think, eleven volumes that he called "The Story of Civilization", documenting various civilizations. And then towards the end of his life, he wrote a small book with his wife, who happened to be Jewish, Ariel, "The Lessons of History". What did he learn?
So, do you want the good news or the bad news? Well, I'll give you the bad news first. The bad news, he said, basically, if you read it, you glean one lesson and that is that numbers count. You know, big nations have an advantage. They produce bigger GDPs which produces more military ability which produces more prowess which overcomes other nations and so on. They too go through cycles of decline. Numbers count.
But then he says at a certain point that you can beat numbers and geography if you have a cultural force, and he said the young State of Israel is perhaps the best example of the ability to overcome the odds. Now this was some forty years ago. I think we've overcome the odds since. We'll overcome the odds now and in the future. We overcome it with what he calls our cultural force, and I call it our heritage, our hope, our faith, our bond. That is what I want you to express to Jews everywhere – young, old, middle-aged. I know you'll do it.
Welcome to Jerusalem.
Welcome to Israel.
This is your land.
Netanyahu: "The power of our nation and our people is based on the strength of our Jewish identity. I want to thank you for investing in our common future."
JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Speaker of the Knesset Yuli (Yoel) Edelstein addressed the Jewish Agency Board of Governors at a gala event at the Knesset this evening (Monday, June 23). Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky and outgoing Chairman of the Board of Governors James S. Tisch addressed the gathering, as well.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
"We face many challenges. Our immediate challenge is to bring the three kidnapped teens home safely. Our working assumption is that the boys are alive and we are doing our utmost to bring them home alive." Discussing the Government of Israel-World Jewry Joint Initiative, which is being formulated in partnership with The Jewish Agency, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "We have embarked on a great partnership. The power of our nation and our people is based on the strength of our Jewish identity. That is what we are working together to give the next generation, to ensure our future. I want to thank you for investing in our common future."
Speaker of the Knesset Yuli (Yoel) Edelstein said:
"I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Mohammed Karkara, the son of an Israel Defense Forces employee, who was killed on the border with Syria yesterday. I would also like to express my appreciation of the IDF soldiers and security personnel who are posted along our borders, protecting the citizens of Israel, while sparing no effort to find any shred of information that might lead to our missing sons. I would also like to express my high regard for the kidnapped teens' wonderful families, for their strength of spirit and their steadfast support of the government and the soldiers of the IDF. I believe it is the duty of the State of Israel to enrich Jewish identity, both in Israel and abroad. This is a strategic imperative, in order to ensure the Jewish people's continuity in Israel and in the Diaspora. I encourage Members of Knesset to meet with Jewish communities around the world and look forward to advancing future partnerships and joint ventures with the assistance of The Jewish Agency Board of Governors."
Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky said:
"This is a fateful time for the Jews of Europe, the Jews of Israel, and world Jewry as a whole. The Jewish Agency is partnering with the Government of Israel in order to ensure that our common future is prosperous and secure."
Hundreds of leaders from Jewish organizations and communities around the world have gathered in Israel to participate in The Jewish Agency's Board of Governors meetings this week in Jerusalem. Speakers at the gathering have included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli (Yoel) Edelstein, Minister of Education Rabbi Shai Piron, Minister of Environmental Protection Amir Peretz, and Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky.
Discussions during the three-day event have focused on initiatives spearheaded by The Jewish Agency in partnership with the Government of Israel and world Jewry to ensure the continuity of the Jewish people and strengthen young Jews' connections to Jewish life and to the State of Israel. Board members were presented with reports on the dramatic increases in Aliyah (immigration to Israel) from France and Ukraine and the expansion of Jewish Agency activities in those countries and elsewhere around the world. The participants also discussed the fight against rising anti-Semitism and efforts to combat the delegitimization of Israel. Tomorrow, members of the Board of Governors will go to the Knesset to meet with Members of Knesset from across the political spectrum and discuss issues affecting the Jewish world and Israel-Diaspora relations.
PHOTOS: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky address the Jewish Agency Board of Governors at the Knesset earlier today, June 23.
Photo credit: Lior Daskal for The Jewish Agency for Israel.
Four-day event brings together over 100 Jewish media delegates from more than 25 countries to discuss some of the major topics facing Israel and the Diaspora.
More than one hundred correspondents, editors, bureau chiefs and publishers of many of the top Jewish media outlets in the world will gather in Jerusalem for the first Jewish Media Summit (JMS) on Sunday, June 22, 2014.
Over 25 countries are represented at the gathering which was organized by the Government Press Office, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, JNF-KKL and the Jewish Agency.
Israel's top leaders will be taking part in this important gathering including: Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Israeli President Elect Reuven Rivlin, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky and more.
The gathering is designed to bring together top Jewish media professionals and discuss some of the major topics facing Israel and the Diaspora. Amongst the topics to be discussed: The Role of Jewish Media in Maintaining Jewish Life, Israel's Image Problem, Jewish Media Coverage of Israel, New Economic Models for Jewish Media, the Joint Initiative of the Israeli Government and World Jewry and more.
The delegates will also get a chance to get to know sides of Israel they might not be familiar with through special tours arranged specially for the JMS.
For a complete schedule, further information on the summit, log onto the conference's website. The majority of the proceedings will be broadcast live on the site.