JPost Editorial: Celebrating aliya
For the first time since its establishment, Israel marked Aliya Day, a national holiday devoted to celebrating the contributions of immigrants and raising awareness about the importance of future immigration.
The day of the year chosen – the seventh of the Hebrew month of Heshvan – coincides with the reading of the Torah portion in which the patriarch Abraham is told to leave his home for the promised land.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted in conjunction with Aliya Day, that immigration is “the basic purpose of the Jewish state and the realization of Biblical prophecies about the ingathering of exiles and the return of the Jewish people to its homeland… This is a great holiday for all Israeli citizens, new and old.”
But if aliya is so central to Zionism, why did it take nearly seven decades to set aside a day to celebrate it? Part of the reason has to do with the fact that in the first decades after the establishment of the State of Israel it hardly made sense to distinguish between new immigrants and those who weren’t. The vast majority of Israeli citizens were Jews who were newcomers to the Jewish state. There was nothing special about being a new immigrant. Those who had been born in Israel – “the Sabras” – were an elite minority.
Today, after Israel has successfully absorbed millions of immigrants in a miraculous return of a people to its historic homeland after being exiled for nearly two millennia, the time has come to set aside a day to celebrate the past and contemplate the future of aliya.
‘Who is a Jew?” has always been a prominent issue on our people’s agenda.
The immigration wave from the former Soviet Union only highlighted the centrality of this question. After all, most of these immigrants self-identify as Jewish, even if Jewish religious law (Halacha) does not recognize them as such and, as a result, neither does the state.
In Israel, The answer to “Who is a Jew?” has broad ramifications because the state immediately grants an array of rights, including permanent residency and citizenship, to those it officially recognizes as Jewish. Yet despite the unique contours of the “Who is a Jew” debate unfolding in Israel, what we are witnessing today is but another manifestation of the great Jewish dispute that began during the modern era, when Jewish identity was severed from religious observance.
That sundering gave rise to several fundamental questions: is a secular or atheistic Jew even Jewish? Can a person be considered Jewish if only his father is a Jew? And if a secular Jew is recognized as Jewish, as Halacha allows, then why not allow people to join the tribe as members of a secular Jewish nation, rather than by way of religious conversion? While such weighty concerns are endlessly interesting to ponder, I would like to propose that all questions related to Jewish identity must first take into account the dramatic change, including from the vantage point of religious law, which the Jewish people have undergone.
Judaism is no longer intimately and inexorably linked to religious observance. In addition, Jewish identity in Israel is based on and derived from fundamentally different conditions than in Diaspora.
Isi Leibler: Sharing a deeply personal experience
I am an octogenarian and one of the few who has both witnessed the tragedies and become engaged directly in the triumphs of the Jewish people in our time. Yet this is the first occasion that I felt the need to share a truly emotional personal experience with my readers and the public.
I was born in Antwerp, Belgium, and fortunate enough at the age of four, on the eve of World War II, to have been taken by my parents to Australia, where I spent most of my life prior to making aliya 17 years ago.
Antwerp had a uniquely thriving Jewish community.
It was regarded as an incubator for fusing the passionate Yiddishkeit of Eastern Europe with a worldly, Western European outlook. It had flourishing Jewish day schools that also provided first-rate secular studies. My mother attended a religious Zionist stream where she learned to speak Hebrew. The indigenous Flemish inhabitants, then as today, were – with notable exceptions – mostly hostile to Jews. There was a powerful antisemitic nationalist party, the Flemish National Union, and many of its members collaborated with the Nazis.
Ultimately, most of my family who remained in Antwerp during the Nazi occupation were deported and died in Auschwitz. I recollect as a youngster the depressing discussions and growing feeling of doom as my parents grew ever more fearful concerning the fate of their relatives, especially my grandparents, from whom we received phony postcards created by the Nazis after their deportation, informing us that they were well – followed by a deafening silence.
After the war, we learned that my grandparents had been transported to Auschwitz in October 1943 and murdered on Simhat Torah, which is when we commemorate their yahrzeit.
The violent curriculum can be found in 240 books – ranging from civics to mathematics – in over 400 UNRWA schools in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, experts say.
Over 200 US-government- approved textbooks used in hundreds of Palestinian UNRWA-sponsored schools are reportedly teaching Arab children between the first and ninth grades to kill Israelis, and sacrifice themselves as martyrs to drive Jews out of the country.
The violent narrative can be found in 240 books – ranging from civics to mathematics – in over 400 UNRWA schools in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, said experts at a Tuesday conference for the Center for Near East Policy Research in downtown Jerusalem.
David Bedein, who heads the research institute and Israel Resource News Agency, said the disputed books were purchased from a warehouse owned by the Palestinian Authority and then carefully vetted by a team of researchers.
Despite repeated reassurances from the Palestinian Authority’s minister of education that all the textbooks would teach a “united curriculum,” Bedein said the findings showed a central theme: “the preparation of the children for war.”
Indeed, among the myriad of examples presented from the books, one is a math word problem asking students to use variables, including the number of Jews killed during the first and second intifadas.
Michael Lumish: This week on NOTHING LEFT (Nov 8, 2016)
(Please note that I speak at the 52 minute mark. – ML)
Michael Burd and Alan Freedman (hosts) tell us:
This week we hear from Greek journalist and newscaster Maria Polizoidouon Greek attitudes to Israel and immigration into Europe; we speak with Maj-Gen Yaakov Amidror from the Begin-Sadat Centre in Israel; blogger and journalist Mike Lumish joins us live from San Francisco to give us the latest on the US election, and Isi Leibler joins reports from Jerusalem.
3 min Editorial: Obama’s legacy
10 min Mary Polizoidou, Greek journalist, her countries invasion by Asylum Seekers and Greek Gov anti- semitism.
26 min Maj-Gen Yaakov Amidror, Begin-Sadat Centre
52 min Mike Lumish, blogger and commentator speaking Live from West Coast latest on US elections.
1 hr 33 min Isi Leibler on what surprises does Obama have for Israel before he leaves office?
Toronto, ON – In response to a November 7 McGill Daily editorial which proclaimed a policy of censoring pro-Zionist opinions from being published as McGill’s largest student newspaper considers the “Zionist worldview” as being “oppressive,” HonestReporting Canada (HRC) condemned the Daily’s policy as being hateful, discriminatory and antithetical to free speech and fair and balanced journalism.
“The McGill Daily’s refusal to give a platform to pro-Zionist commentaries has racist dimensions and xenophobic overtones as the viewpoints of Jewish students, many in the Montreal Jewish community and supporters of Israel (avowed Zionists) are deemed persona non grata,” said Mike Fegelman, HRC’s Executive Director. ”Zionism is the national movement that affirms the right of Jews to live in their 3,000 year old ancestral and sovereign homeland and legitimizes their right to self determination. Jewish nationalism should never be a forbidden topic in the McGill Daily for those who want to advocate and educate the masses about Zionism. The McGill Daily’s policy fans the flames of hatred and fundamentally serves to intimidate, stigmatize, and silence Jewish and pro-Israel Zionist students at McGill University. This bigoted policy should be rescinded, the McGill Daily should publicly apologize, and McGill’s student body and the public at large should name and shame the paper.”
The World Council of Churches has a long and well-documented history of promoting anti-Israel propaganda. The organization, an umbrella organization of approximately 350 Christian denominations, promotes anti-Israel hostility in a number of different ways that are documented in this CAMERA-prepared article published by the Jewish Political Studies Review in 2011.
The article states in part that “Through a combination of default and design, the WCC behaves as an ideological adversary of the Jewish state and an ally of its adversaries in both the Middle East and the West. It also provides religious and intellectual cover for others to do the same.”
WCC legislative bodies issue one-sided statements that lambaste Israel while remaining silent about the misdeeds of its Palestinian adversaries. It has also remained relatively silent about the ethnic cleansing perpetrated against numerous people groups by jihadists in Iraq and Syria. When it comes time for the WCC to criticize countries and actors in the Middle East, the WCC’s preferred target of condemnation is Israel, first, last, and always.
In addition to publishing dishonest and one-sided statements about the Arab-Israeli conflict, the WCC promotes virulent anti-Zionism (which at times borders on antisemitism) by providing logistical and financial support to Palestinian Christians and Western “peace” activists who regularly agitate against Israel. The WCC supports the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine Israel, (EAPPI) and the Palestinian Ecumenical Forum (PIEF).
EAPPI supports western “peace” and “human rights” activists who obtain images and narratives of Israeli Jews behaving badly during their stay in the West Bank and broadcast these images to their fellow Christians upon their return home, generating support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, a movement that promoted antisemitism on college campuses in the U.S. PIEF supports anti-Zionist Palestinian Christian clergy in their effort to assail Israel’s legitimacy to Christian audiences throughout the world.
At present there is no approval process for booking rooms in Parliament. This is clearly unsatisfactory. I hope people will write to their MPs to support the implementation of such a process — so that extremist meetings like that hosted by Tonge will never again be held in Parliament.
The free use of meeting rooms in Parliament is a privilege – not a right. Events have proved that the booking process must be subject to oversight.
If Parliamentarians must host extremist meetings, let then book a venue at a commercial rate. Here is one possible venue – though whether the Bridge Café (made famous in The Apprentice – and appropriate for antisemites, as it is where the losing team goes) is prepared to host racist meetings is unclear.
Students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that they were justified in holding a blatantly anti-Israel event, “because Zionism constitutes antisemitism.”
The school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was responding to criticism it incurred over its Halloween bake sale — titled “Zionism is scary” — which featured cookies and cakes iced in the Palestinian flag, alongside and a board of quotes “from the Zionist mind,” distorting the words of Israeli leaders.
Gilad Skolnick, director of campus programming for CAMERA on Campus, called the display “gross bigotry.”
“By distorting Zionism into something ‘scary,’ SJP is fueling animosity against Jewish students, the vast majority of whom support the state of Israel,” he told The Algmeiner. “This mean-spirited event is designed to spark campus outrage at Jews who support Israel’s existence.”
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of campus watchdog the AMCHA Initiative, called the event and its theme a “clear attempt to demonize and delegitimize the founding ideology of the Jewish state and oppose its right to exist and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.”
When the recently sentenced youth was convicted in May, it was reported that:
“The indictment stated that Manasra returned from school and met his cousin. “They talked about the ‘situation’ at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the state of the Gaza Strip residents, the PA and Hamas. Intending to help them, they decided to become martyrs and be killed as part of a religious war.”
Since the surge in violence began last autumn, Bowen and his colleagues have repeatedly dismissed the issues of incitement and glorification of terrorism as contributing factors, preferring instead to promote PLO approved talking points concerning “the occupation” to their audiences.
Remarkably, the fact that this Palestinian teenager – and many others – expressed a will to die as a “martyr” in a “religious war” has not distracted the BBC from promotion of that chosen political narrative or prompted it to carry out any serious journalistic investigation into the issue of incitement.
As has also been documented here (see ‘related articles’ below), when stories have emerged which clarify the reasons for the naval blockade’s existence, the BBC has refrained from reporting them to its audiences. Recently another case of maritime smuggling for Hamas by a Gaza Strip fisherman came to light.
“A 22-year-old Gazan fisherman was indicted Sunday in the Be’er Sheva District Court for engagement in criminal activity against Israel on behalf of Hamas. […]
According to the indictment, in 2013 activists from the Hamas military brigade of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam approached al-Saidi seeking his assistance in acquiring military and diving equipment using a boat he received from Hamas.
Al-Saidi was asked to smuggle 50 diving suits, 50 flippers, 20 sets of binoculars and 6 oxygen balloons in return of $1,000. […]
He later attempted to smuggle a number of weapons amounting to 200kg, according to the indictment, for $1,200. During the operation however, he was spotted near Egypt by the country’s army, prompting its soldiers to fire upon him, injuring one of his accomplices in the process.”
Once again, there has been no BBC reporting on this case – which is the third such story ignored by the BBC in the last six months alone. The corporation’s funding public could therefore be forgiven for arriving at the conclusion that the broadcaster has no intention of providing them with the kind of information which would contribute to their “awareness and understanding” of why a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip is necessary.
A disused factory in the Czech Republic where German industrialist Oskar Schindler employed more than a thousand Jews to save them from the gas chambers is to host a Holocaust memorial, officials said Tuesday.
Parts of the complex in Brnenec (Bruennlitz in German), close to Schindler’s birthplace in Svitavy (Zwittau), were given the status of cultural monument earlier this month, according to the Czech culture ministry.
Built in the 19th century, the laboratory, mill, chemical depot, front door and a square used for roll call “have close historical links… to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Brnenec,” the ministry’s spokeswoman, Simona Cigankova, told AFP.
During World War II, Schindler (1908-1974), saved the lives of 1,200 Jews by employing them in his enamelware and munitions factories in Nazi-occupied Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Israel Aerospace Industries has announced that it has signed a $15 million contract with one of its major Asian clients for the development of by cyber security solutions.
A statement posted on IAI’s website said the contract is “for an advanced, national level, strategic cyber solution, which combines cellular systems and cyber and includes establishing an intelligence center and infrastructure and providing unique sensors.”
The project will be headed by IAI’s subsidiary, ELTA, through its own cyber subsidiaries and development centers, the statement said.
“This new contract is an example of the ‘ecosystem’ created by IAI’s cyber subsidiaries and research and development centers and the parent company,” said IAI Cyber Programs Director Esti Peshin.
“Our worldwide innovation centers benefit from IAI’s size and experience, while simultaneously having the flexibility of a startup company. The proximity to the customers combined with innovation, white-hat hacking and engineering capabilities enable us to effectively deal with the many challenges of the cyber world.
American business magnate Warren Buffett made a $5 million investment in Israel bonds at an event that raised $60 million.
Buffett, whom Forbes ranked as the third richest person in the world with a net worth of $60.8 billion, praised the Jewish state at a State of Israel Bonds event Sunday in Omaha, Nebraska. The 43 attendees had invested a minimum of $1 million each to spend the evening with Buffett, who serves as CEO for the American conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.
“If you are looking for brains, energy and dynamism in the Middle East, Israel is the only place you need to go,” Buffett said.
He added: “You can tell prospective investors that I would have taken a perpetual bond if you had offered one. I believe Israel is going to be around forever.”
In 2013, Buffett made the Israeli firm Iscar his first foreign acquisition, buying the remaining 20 percent of the metalworking company after having acquired 80 percent in 2006.
The Jewish Agency has opened an international volunteering center in Uganda as part of the agency’s Project TEN Tikkun Olam initiative.
The center, in Namulanda between the capital city of Kampala and Entebbe, was established in cooperation with local authorities.
Volunteers come to the center from Israel and from Jewish communities around the world to work with local disadvantaged communities. They build and develop infrastructure and community projects in the fields of education, health and agriculture that can later be run by locals for the long term. Among other things, volunteers assist with health care in poor areas and in rural elementary schools.
Volunteers will also work with the children of refugees from South Sudan, some of whom have lived in Israel in the past, in an effort to help with their education. The volunteers will further work to establish a local youth group, as well as to train a group of leaders in the fields of technology and education.
The first group of volunteers from Israel flew to Uganda last month to gain an in-depth understanding of the community’s needs and to draft a plan. They will work together with Brit Olam International Volunteering and Development and with other volunteer organizations operating in the country.
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