Jerusalem, Israel — November 19, 2017 … Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:
“Today we mark 40 years to the historic visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Jerusalem and Israel. President Sadat took a bold step, he came to the Knesset; he came to Israel. He was welcomed by the entire nation. Since then, the peace treaty with Egypt has survived despite its ups and down. Today, Egypt and Israel, as well as other countries, are on one side of the barricade in a stubborn struggle against the terror of radical Islam in its various fronts. This contributes significantly to the security of Israel. And I hope that in the future it will also contribute to the expansion of the circle of peace.
“With regard to President Trump’s political plan, we heard plenty of speculations over the weekend; I am not planning to address them. I would like to say however, that my attitude towards this plan will be determined according to security and national interests of the State of Israel, and these were made clear to our American friends.
“Regarding infiltrators, we will discuss one of the aspects of this topic at the cabinet meeting. Our policy towards infiltrators is three staged: Stage one is halting. We built a fence and enacted laws that completely blocked the flow of infiltrators and today we have zero infiltrators. Second stage is removal. We removed approx. 20,000 out of the existing infiltrators using various measures. Stage three is increased removal. This removal is enabled thanks to an international agreement I achieved, which allows us to remove the 40,000 remaining infiltrators without their consent. This is very important. It will enable us later to make the ‘Holot’ facility unnecessary and to use part of the vast resources we allocate there for inspectors and increased removal. That is why we are succeeding here. But our goal is to continue removing significantly more then what we have until now.”
History notes that Sadat recognized after heavy military and economic losses in 1967 and 1973, that most of the Egyptian public had lost interest in fighting on behalf of the Palestinians. He believed his army had regained its honor by crossing the Suez Canal in 1973, which ultimately led to his decision that the time was ripe for a dramatic overture to the Israelis.
Begin’s recognition that a signed peace with Egypt was more important than Sinai — has provided Israel with 40 years of stability, by removing the military threat on its southern border. That peace has lasted through Sadat’s assassination, the removal of President Hosni Mubarak, the election of a Muslim Brotherhood government, and an effective return to military rule under current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Even though the peace is cold, and Egyptian civilians almost never visit Israel, the military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries has never been more close, friendly and effective.
Jerusalem, Israel — October 25, 2017 … The David’s Sling Weapons System (DSWS) was awarded the prestigious Technology Pioneer Award at the 2017 Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, in recognition of ground-breaking achievements in Lower-Tier Ballistic Missile and Cruise Missile Defense.
“The marvelous capabilities of Israel’s David Sling Defense System are a significant breakthrough in the world of interception technology,” said Moshe Patel, Director of Israel’s Missile Defense Organization.
“The unique characteristics of the system interceptors are astounding in every test that is done. The DSWS is an important component of Israel’s operational capability to defend the country against regional missile threats. I would like to thank our American partners on the recognition of the ‘DSWS’ and the message it brings along.”
David’s Sling is a joint bi-national effort of the United States Missile Defense Agency and the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development at Israel’s Ministry of Defense.
The prime contractor for the David’s Sling Weapon System Program is Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, with Raytheon Missile Systems as a sub-contractor. The Multi Mission Radar is developed by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries and the Battle Management Command, known as the Golden Almond, is developed by Elisra, an Elbit subsidiary.
Jerusalem, Israel — October 17, 2017 … The Israeli Security Cabinet decided today that it will have no contact with a Palestinian government which embraces terror organizations.
The Israel Prime Minister’s office stated today that pursuant to previous decisions, the Government of Israel will not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel, as long as it does not fulfill the following conditions:
* Hamas will recognize Israel and desist from terrorism, as per the Quartet conditions;
* Hamas must be disarmed;
* IDF fallen and Israeli civilians held by Hamas must be returned;
* The Palestinian Authority (PA) must exercise full security control in Gaza, including at the crossings, and prevent smuggling;
* The PA will continue to act against Hamas terror infrastructures in Judea and Samaria;
* Hamas will sever its ties with Iran; and
* Funds and humanitarian equipment will continue to flow into Gaza only via the PA and the mechanisms that have been established for this purpose.
UPDATE: September 21 … “The delegation is now collecting information to best carry out the mission, to save lives, to aid Mexico” – Lt. Col. Sami Yehezkel
On the ground in Mexico City
Israel MFA team in Mexico.
Center – Israel’s ambassador Jonathan Peled.
UPDATE: September 21 … A short while ago, the IDF aid delegation landed safely in Mexico City and will soon begin their mission in coordination with local authorities.
Jerusalem, Israel — September 20, 2017 … Just hours before the celebration of the Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShana) Prime Minister Netanyahu directed the Israel Defense Forces to send a humanitarian team to Mexico.
Over 230 people, including at least 21 schoolchildren, are dead after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake slammed central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon.
Yesterday’s lethal earthquake was centered about 75 miles southeast of Mexico City and caused extensive damage, leveling at least 44 buildings, including homes, schools and office buildings, according to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Israel Defense Forces – Saving Lives!
The IDF issued the following communication:
“In accordance with government directives, an IDF humanitarian aid team has been deployed and departed to the earthquake stricken region of Mexico.”
“The delegation consists of 70 soldiers and officers in mandatory and career service from the Homefront Command and the Israel Air Force (IAF). Among them are engineering experts who will evaluate damage and provide engineering assistance to the disaster zone. Additionally, search and rescue troops were sent on the mission to assist.”
“Engineering evaluation and assistance is one of the central necessities that Mexico’s disaster area needs. The engineering experts on the delegation will evaluate the infrastructure and terrain in the area in order to determine which buildings are safe to use.”
“The delegation departed a short while ago from the “Nevatim” Airbase, using IAF’s “Re’em” aircraft. The head of the delegation is the Commander of the National Search and Rescue Unit in the IDF Homefront Command, Col. (res.) Dudi Mizrahi.”
“The delegation will land in Mexico City within 14 hours.”
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a senior IDF spokesman said the delegation is expected to arrive in Mexico on Thursday morning. He says the delegation’s main effort will be to provide engineering assistance.
Seven years ago, the Israel Defense Forces deployed an emergency field hospital and search and rescue teams to Haiti following a devastating earthquake. The IDF hospital served as the only fully functioning hospital on the Caribbean island saving hundreds of lives.
Conricus said that the IDF and the State of Israel will continue to assist in the aftermath of any disaster worldwide that requires Israel’s experience and abilities.
Key West, Florida — September 17, 2017 … It was Hillel who said: “If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” It was with these words that Israel’s national search and rescue team United Hatzalah (or IsraelRescue.org) dispatched an emergency mission to the United States to provide search, rescue and medical services.
As Hurricane Irma’s winds started to break trees, homes and hearts in Florida, 12 Israelis arrived in Atlanta from Israel and were joined by Israeli Americans who work in the US.
Hurricane Irma was the most powerful hurricane ever recorded as it left a trail of destruction through the Caribbean and Florida. Irma’s maximum wind speeds reached 185 mph and left over 70 people dead.
I stood in the baggage claim area with a tall Israeli flag sticking out from my daypack eager and ready to greet these Israelis who just left the safety and comfort of their homes for what would be a disaster area.
Coming from one of the exit doors was a smiling Israeli who said to me: “Joel, what are you doing? We have our cars and are waiting for you!”
Without one minute’s delay, the group went to a local outdoor sports store and started to stock up on emergency provisions. From red waterproof jackets and waterproof boots to emergency ropes and granola bars – we stocked up for the worst.
Our first stop was Congregation Beth Jacob which was currently hosting over 1,000 evacuees from Florida and wanted to break bread with us before we headed south for Florida.
Before departing for points south, I called the Georgia and Florida Highway Police. Both agencies stated that it was too dangerous to travel. So dangerous that they were not even deploying their own troops. I relayed this information onto the mission leader, a very seasoned search and rescue professional. His response: “We are going.”
Our next stop was a Jewish Senior care center in Savannah. On the way we spoke with several Georgia state police, offering them food and water. We had their back and they had ours. We drove through several flooded roads and streets to reach these seniors.
Upon arrival we saw they had no electricity but their generator was running fine. Emergency lights, air conditioning, stoves, medical monitors and the charging of computers and phones were up and running. Our psychological trauma team went right to work counseling every senior they came in contact with. Many were confused and disoriented.
Our team put them at ease within minutes.
Now it was onto Miami. Evidence of Irma’s destructive winds were everywhere.
Power lines were down, Palm trees were snapped into two, many of Miami’s streets were turned into fast flowing creeks. We made it to Tower 41, a condo building which housed two synagogues and became a command center for staff and volunteers from Hatzalah Miami, Hatzalah New York and Hatzalah Israel.
We made immediate plans to travel out to the Chabad Center in Naples which was slammed by Irma’s 140 MPH winds. After a 2 hour drive we arrived at the Center.
They had no power yet were planning to make lunch for 1,000 people.
Chabad, one of the sweetest Jewish organizations on earth, always ready to help their communities was now grateful for us helping them.
The Rabbi’s wife, seeing us in our orange rescue shirts and blue and white Israeli flag hats, had tears in her eyes.
“It’s not what you are doing, it’s that you are here.”
She said this from a place of deep suffering. Everyone around us was suffering. Their pain could not be more visible.
They had lost everything.
We decided to turn back to Miami and prepare for the Florida Keys. From what we heard it was totally destroyed.
The police used the word: inhabitable.
We split into three teams. Each team had a walkie talkie to maintain constant communication.
For those still in the Keys, they had no telephone, no Internet, no Facebook or Twitter, no messaging. They had no communication except for their radios. And if they had a radio and had batteries for their radios they would hear emergency broadcasts as to where the US Navy would drop water and food.
The team I was with was preparing to go house to house. Knocking on every door to see if anyone needed help. This was not an easy task as looting was abundant and shootings were becoming common. We needed to get close to the house without setting foot on their property.
In many cases, the elderly could be hard of hearing, we were forced to knock loudly on front doors and windows. In one home we discovered a man in his eighties, without food and water who was wheelchair bound and had been sitting in his own feces for over 72 hours.
We were the only ones going house to house.
Between homes we spotted two giant Navy helicopters. We drove towards the point where they were landing. It was the parking lot of a Sears shopping center. We quickly discovered that we and volunteers from a Minnesota police department were the only ones on scene. We helped unload hundreds of cases of water and military ready to eat meals.
Thousands of Key West residents lined up in the 95 degree heat and high humidity to receive these precious water bottles and meat ravoli from the US military.
We stood there sweating buckets as we placed 4 plastic covered ready made meals in the hands of those hurricane victims standing before us. They would then walk behind us and pickup a case of water.
Each and every person tried so very hard to say thank you.
It was truly an effort in this hellish environment. We had to break this deeply depressing contact and with a huge, warm smile started to greet the weary with a loud “good morning Florida” welcome.
We had to distribute food and water but we also had to distribute hope and faith in the hours and weeks to come.
Just before arriving at one of the last homes we had on our list to check, we came upon some wild deer. They were seeking cover under the homes. It was a family of deer. They had survived the storm. They were now chewing on the grass, grazing, staying close to one another.
As I approached one of them she did not flee. Rather, very gently she walked over to me. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said softly: “The storm is over. The sun is out. There is no more wind. You are going to be fine.”
Jerusalem, Israel — September 4, 2017 – One of Israel’s most respected domestic and international humanitarian aid organizations is now hard at work in hurricane ravaged Texas.
Hurricane Harvey dumped some 50 inches (125 cm) of rain on the low-lying Gulf coastal region after slamming Texas on Aug. 25, killing over 50 people and causing what the Texas governor said could be up to $180 billon in damage.
There was no time to rest on Shabbat as United Hatzalah and Israel Rescue Coalition’s (IRC) Houston relief team headed to Beaumont at the request of the Mayor of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner.
After distributing aid to evacuated residents of the area, the United Hatzalah team set up a field unit at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport which is located between Beaumont and Port Arthur, two of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Harvey. Evacuees were being brought on buses to the airport for care and to receive supplies before they were sent by plane to a mega center for local evacuees. As one local reporter from Channel 12 News Now put it, the Israeli volunteers were on hand to make sure that “evacuees received food, shelter and friendship” before being sent to the long term evacuation center in Dallas.
United Hatzalah and the IRC team consists of Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit members who focus on providing psychological and emotional stabilization and care following traumatic incidents.
Team member Avi Tennenbaum, who is a Psychotherapist and addictions expert, spoke about the team’s experience over the weekend providing that type of care as well as aid to Harvey evacuees. “We had an unforgettable day here in the airport. We treated many people who had just been evacuated and were en route to their next long term location as well as many first responders, members of the national guard and EMS crews.”
Tennenbaum has a BA in Psychotherapy and is a registered EMT with United Hatzalah as well as being one of the more senior volunteers with the organization’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response unit. He is a board-certified addiction professional and directs JNARS, a nonprofit organization for advancing the professional treatment of addiction disorders.
“For us as volunteers, this was an unforgettable weekend. We arrived in Port Arthur and met dozens of broken-hearted people who were evacuated with nothing but the shirts on their backs. We were able to bring some light into their dark experience and help them move forward to the next leg of their journey. We also offered critical emotional support to exhausted EMS personnel who were working around the clock to rescue those surrounded by floodwaters. The military, national guard, EMS crews, and good samaritans who were volunteering to help their fellow Texans were extremely grateful for our presence. We kept receiving hugs, blessings, and photo requests. But the most incredible thing for us was the stories that people shared with us,” Tennenbaum said.
“Part of the job here is to listen. We heard some incredible stories from people and we allowed them to cry and share their stories of how they evacuated babies on floating air mattresses and saw human organs floating in the floodwaters. Other stories included people being starved for three days with no water or food, or facing dangerous snakes that entered homes via the flood waters. People kept telling us how they simply woke up to water surrounding their bed in the morning. The stories were simply endless and our job is to listen and provide psycholgocial and emotional support and that is what we did,” Tennenbaum explained.
Among the Jewish volunteers who were assisting in the evacuations, were pilots and EMS teams, many of whom had been working for days without end.
“We need to listen to their stories and the stories of other volunteers and first response personnel just as much. They also need to talk and offload the stress of their experiences. Over the course of the weekend we were able to treat several pilots and EMS crews all of whom thanked us tremendously,” Tennenbaum said.
“One flight paramedic was so enamored by us that he clung tightly to Dr. Sharon Slater and our team leader Miriam Ballin.”
“Shabbat was a bit of challenge for us as we were not able to leave the area to get back to Houston due to the still high waters on the roads. So we stayed in the airport and continued helping people,” said Ballin. “One flight paramedic eagerly invited herself to our Shabbat meal and shared with us some incredible stories as she too was spending the day at the airport.”
“It was an unbelievable few days and we merited to do great things here. We hope to continue our efforts for a long time yet, ” Tennenbaum concluded.
IsraAid is among the first humanitarian organizations to
arrive whenever disaster strikes around the globe.
By Joel Leyden Israel News Agency
New York — August 29, 2017 … From Haiti and South Sudan to Japan and Kenya, IsraAid has been among the first to be on the scene when disaster strikes.
Today, a team of 10 IsraAid professionals are about to arrive in Texas. These non-governmental volunteers will set foot in Houston to assist with disaster management and provide mental health and engineering expertise. They will focus on coordination of relief work and provide basic needs including stress relief activities and recreation for those impacted by the disaster.
“The biggest challenge is always coordination in situations like these,” said IsraAID co-director Navonel Glick.
Glick said the IsraAID team will work with state authorities and aid groups including those of the Jewish Federation in Houston as well as others connected to Jewish communities in the area, he said.
“People need help on the ground. They need to be able to wrap their minds around what was lost and they need assistance figuring out how to cope and where to go from here,” said Dov Maisel, Director of International Operations for the IRC and Vice President of United Hatzalah. “That is the biggest challenge currently facing all Houston residents who have suffered during Hurricane Harvey.”
In order to help people impacted psychologically by the hurricane, the IRC is utilizing the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit of United Hatzalah, a volunteer-based emergency medical services organization based in Jerusalem with branches around the world.
The hurricane turned tropical storm has ravaged the Texas coastline since Friday and has claimed at least 11 deaths. The National Weather Service and Emergency management services predict the situation will only get worse in the hours ahead as several more inches of rain is expected from Houston to New Orleans.
“The US Coast Guard is continuing to receive upwards of 1,000 calls per hour,” Coast Guard Lt. Mike Hart said on Monday. The Coast Guard rescued more than 3,000 people on Monday, he said.
Over 9,000 Hurricane Harvey survivors are being housed at the Houston Convention Center.
Houston officials will not ask for immigration status or documentation from anyone at any shelter, according to tweets in English and Spanish from the city’s verified account.
“In crises with large-scale destruction, national and international aid efforts typically focus on practical, physical support, with limited resources allocated to the mental and emotional rehabilitation of affected populations,” said Yotam Polizer, co-CEO of IsraAID.
“For the most vulnerable groups, notably children and the elderly, time is of critical importance; the longer these groups are forced to remain in shelters, the higher the chance of long-term mental health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a disorder that can have a debilitating and long-term impact.”
Hartford, CT — August 20, 2017 … “The Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, and Neo Nazi’s should be a thing of the past,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal. This gathering was the latest showing of anti-hate rallies taking place in response to Charlottesville across the United States.
Joel Leyden, who runs “Jews Against Hate”, created a change.org petition at StopNeoNazis.com. If enough people sign it, a petition will be sent to Congress asking them to designate Neo-Nazis and the Alt-Right as terror organizations.
“We have a very real threat facing America and that evil threat is hate,” said Joel Leyden of the Interfaith Coalition Against Racism.
To combat that fear Joel Leyden joined forces with Zahir Mannan, of the Baitul Aman “House of Peace” Mosque.
About a month ago, they met as both surveyed a Jewish cemetery which had been vandalized in Hartford. That’s when the idea of a new group was born.
The Interfaith Coalition Against Racism brings together people of various religions with a mission of promoting tolerance over hate. It’s an ideal that seemed more urgent after the deadly violence in Virginia last weekend.
“There are a lot of things that we as a humane, civilized society can do in terms of standing up against real threats,” Leyden said.
“This is not against a particular person or really any group but it’s against injustice and hatred in general,” Mannan said.
The Interfaith Rally Against Racism took place at the Connecticut State Capitol Sunday.
Jerusalem, Israel — August 10, 2017 … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today at his Jerusalem office with a delegation of US Republican Members of Congress led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
On Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with a US Democratic Congressional delegation led by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
A leading Democratic congressman told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday that support in the U.S. House of Representatives for legislation strengthening Israel’s security is “overwhelmingly bipartisan.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House Minority Whip, told reporters that there was no lingering bitterness among Democrats towards Israel over Netanyahu’s congressional speech against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Hoyer asserted that “all of us together support Israel,” whether or not they agreed with the speech. He explained that he objected to the nature of the invitation to Netanyahu, which was not done in a bipartisan fashion, and not Netanyahu’s decision to speak.
“I thought he spoke very well. I stood and clapped for things I supported, as others did,” Hoyer said of Netanyahu’s speech. “But the essence is not personalities. Democrats are very supportive of Israel and that is our focus and continues to be our focus.”
When asked about Democratic support for Israel, Hoyer responded that no Democrats opposed a recently passed bill that imposed new sanctions on Iran, and that “the parties are very united, and the fact is that the parties are speaking with one voice.”
While Democrats and Republicans are divided over many issues, Hoyer noted, “when you have votes regarding Israel’s well-being and safety, they are overwhelmingly bipartisan.”
Hoyer, who is leading a group of Democratic congressmen on his 15th visit to Israel, said that he and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R – Calif.), who is leading a Republican delegation, will get together to demonstrate the bipartisan nature of American support for Israel. Both delegations to Israel are sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, which is affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Hoyer and the Democratic group met with Netanyahu on Monday, while the Republican group is scheduled to meet the prime minister on Wednesday.
“We have made a point to make sure we have an overlapping time here in Israel together, Republicans and Democrats. Because this is not a partisan issue. This is a bipartisan issue,” McCarthy said.
“Some of us are Democrats and some of us are Republicans. But we’re not here as Republicans and Democrats. We’re here as Americans who support Israel’s security, its sovereignty and the safety of its people,” Hoyer said before approximately 50 members of Congress.
“We’re here because the United States and Israel are partners for peace and partners for security.”
By Joel Leyden Israel News Agency / Jewish News Agency
July 31, 2017 — Jerusalem, Israel … Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Education from Serbia today, codifying the working relationship that Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, shares with the Serbian government.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Assistant Minister of Education Dr. Aleksandar Pajic as well as Serbian educators participating in a seminar at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies.
Over many years, Serbian teachers have participated in some of the hundreds of annual international workshops and educational seminars Yad Vashem has conducted for teachers and community leaders from all over the world.
Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies is known the world over for its unique approach towards Holocaust education.
“Our pedagogical approach is respected as one of the best methodologies to deal with this most sensitive topic,” says Lily Safra Chair for Holocaust Studies and Director of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies Dr. Eyal Kaminka, who signed the agreement on behalf of Yad Vashem.
“We have governmental partnerships with more than 50 countries around the world and are thrilled to officially add Serbia to this prestigious group.”
Prior to this agreement, those educators from Serbia who participated in seminars at Yad Vashem did so in an unofficial capacity. Now Serbian teachers will receive full accreditation for their participation and the number of seminars offered to them is set to increase.
Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies serves as a hub for Holocaust education, attracting students and educators from across the globe. Each year, the International School engages with some 300,000 students, as well as thousands of educators, community leaders, and decision-makers from around the world. Guided by its unique pedagogical philosophy, the International School has developed and perfected innovative educational materials, teaching tools and teacher-training activities in order to develop programs suitable for diverse age groups and cultures.