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Olim Are the Key to the Future

(Photo: IFCJ)

(Photo: IFCJ)

As we have happily told you, this week another Fellowship Freedom Flight brought 110 Ukrainian Jews to their historic homeland in Israel. Now we will support these new olim (immigrants) as they settle into new lives in the Holy Land. Writing at The Jerusalem Post, Dmitry Apartsev – himself an immigrant to Israel from the former Soviet Union – writes that Israel’s newest citizens are part of the Jewish state’s future:

One-third of Katzrin’s proud residents are olim from the Former Soviet Union – veteran olim and new olim, just like me. It is impossible to imagine the Katzrin Local Council, which I head, and Katzrin’s 7,000 residents without its immigrant population. The olim of Katzrin are the central power in the city’s development, a significant component of its strength and an important key to its future. And what is right for Katzrin is, of course, right for the State of Israel as a whole.

I made aliya from Lithuania as a young boy, part of the large wave of immigration to Israel in the early 1990s. Believe me – being a “new oleh” is not an experience that you easily forget. Immigrating to a new country is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. Someone who has not experienced first-hand the sensations of separation and strangeness will never understand what it’s like to move to a new country, a new language.

These challenges, without a doubt, formed who I am today and helped shape the public official I became, one who has served in senior positions in immigration and absorption policy in Israel …

Tonight, I will pick up the phone and call a family of new immigrants that arrived in Israel this morning on the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews’ (known here as the “Keren LeYedidut”) third “Fellowship Flight” from Ukraine.

They join four other families who recently came to northern Israel on a prior aliya flight organized by IFCJ’s head, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

I will tell them a bit about myself, my background, and…

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Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8:52 AM  | Stand For Israel

UN Claims Israel Is Top Violator of Women’s Rights

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

The United Nations has made many audacious and biased claims against Israel. But now the U.N. has placed the Jewish state atop its list of nations that violate the rights of women. Fox News’ Anne Bayefsky writes about the U.N.’s ridiculous claims against Israel, especially in light of the lack of women’s rights elsewhere in the Middle East:

Guess who is the number one violator of women’s rights in the world today?  Israel.  Violating the rights of Palestinian women.

At least that is the view of the UN’s top women’s rights body, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  CSW ends its annual meeting on Friday, March 20 by condemning only one of the 193 UN member states for violating women’s rights – Israel.

Not Syria. Where government forces routinely employ rape and other sexual violence and torture against women as a tactic of war. Where in 2014 the Assad regime starved, tortured and killed at least 24,000 civilians, and three million people – mostly women and children – are refugees.

Not Saudi Arabia. Where women are physically punished if not wearing compulsory clothing, are almost entirely excluded from political life, cannot drive, cannot travel without a male relative, receive half the inheritance of their brothers, and where their testimony counts for half that of a man’s.

Not Sudan.  Where domestic violence is not prohibited.  There is no minimum age for “consensual” sex.  The legal age of marriage for girls is ten. 88% of women under 50 have undergone female genital mutilation. And women are denied equal rights in marriage, inheritance and divorce.

Not Iran. Where every woman who registered as a presidential candidate in the last election was disqualified.  “Adultery” is punishable by death by stoning.  Women who fight back against rapists and kill their attackers are executed. The constitution bars female judges. And women must obtain the consent of their husbands to work outside the home.

In fact, not only is there no possibility that the UN Commission on the Status of Women will criticize Iran, Iran…

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Friday, March 20th, 2015 at 3:01 PM  | Stand For Israel

Photo Friday: Israel Will Bud and Blossom

(Photo: flickr/rhubarb1000000)

(Photo: flickr/Ian Lysaght)

Israel will bud and blossom
and fill all the world with fruit.
(Isaiah 27:6)

Today is the first day of spring! In this picture, buds blossom in Haifa, Israel. Shabbat shalom, friends.

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Friday, March 20th, 2015 at 1:29 PM  | Stand For Israel

Meet Israel’s New Lawmakers

(Photo: bibleplaces.com)

(Photo: bibleplaces.com)

When Israelis voted this week, not only was Prime Minister Netanyahu reelected, but many new legislators were also chosen to serve in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. As at least one-third of the Jewish state’s lawmakers will be newcomers, Yediot Achronot introduces some of the leaders who will shape Israel for the next four years:

Jackie Levy, 55. The former mayor of Beit Shean and son of former Minister David Levy. His sister, Orly Levy-Abekasis, is a Knesset member on behalf of Yisrael Beytenu. About 13 years ago, he was injured in terror attack at the Likud headquarters in Beit Shean, which left six people killed.

Yoav Kish, 46. A retired combat pilot holding the rank of lieutenant colonel, and a civil pilot in El Al Israel Airlines … About two years ago, he was appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu as a public representative on the Equal Share of the Burden Committee.

Nava Boker, 44. A journalist and public activist for firefighters’ rights and improving the firefighting and rescue system. She is the widow of police commander Lior Boker, who was killed in the Carmel fire in 2010.

Dr. Avraham Nagosa, 57. A social and political activist working to advance the immigration of Ethiopian Jews and improve immigrant absorption. He made aliyah in 1985…

Danny Attar, 57. Atar served as head of the Gilboa Regional Council for about 20 years and is known in his region as a “bulldozer.” He was born in Moshav Dvora at the foot of Mount Gilboa, served as a fighter in the Golani Brigade, completed an infantry squad commanders’ course and infantry officers’ course, served as a platoon commander in Golani and as a company commander in the 13th Battalion. He fought in the first Lebanon War and retired from military service with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He is married with three children.

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Friday, March 20th, 2015 at 8:36 AM  | Stand For Israel

No Outcry over Egypt Demolishing Homes – Because It’s Not Israel

(Photo: flickr/Marius Arnesen)

(Photo: flickr/Marius Arnesen)

The media continuously attacks Israel over any actions the Jewish state takes to defend her people and her land. But there has been no international outcry when Ma’an News reported that Egypt demolished over 1,000 homes along the Gaza Border – because Egypt isn’t Israel:

The Egyptian army demolished 1,020 houses in the border city of Rafah as part of the second stage of the establishment of a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian security officials told a Ma’an reporter in El-Arish city on Tuesday that 200 more houses would be demolished to create a no-go zone extending 500 meters from the border fence …

After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October 2014, the military stepped up the campaign to build the buffer zone amid accusations of Hamas support for the group that carried out the attack, which Hamas has strenuously denied.

Both sides of the border are densely populated as the city of Rafah originally extended in both directions, a growth that was the result of the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula for more than a decade following the 1967 war.

In the early 2000s Israeli authorities demolished thousands of homes in Palestinian Rafah in order to create a 300-meter buffer zone on the Egypt border, but after the pull-out in 2005, many moved back into the area.

The Egyptian government, which has actively destroyed smuggling tunnels underneath the border and directly targeted Hamas since the 2013 military coup, has now promised to uproot as many as possible to ensure the creation of a buffer zone on its side.

The border area used to be host to hundreds of tunnels which Gazans used to import goods to get around the seven-year-old Israeli siege of the territory.

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Thursday, March 19th, 2015 at 8:31 AM  | Stand For Israel

Meet the Woman Who Voted in All 20 Israeli Elections

Gavel/Scales/Ballot/Israeli Flag - iStock 16613386 (LG)Yesterday Israeli voters turned out in the largest numbers in 16 years. One voter who cast her ballot has done so in every election Israel has held. Jerusalem Post reporter Niv Elis tells of his grandmother, who has voted in all 20 of Israel’s elections:

My grandmother, Margalit, has a perfect voting record.

It’s not that she’s picked the winner in every election – her party of choice didn’t lead the country until 1977 – but Tuesday, at the age of 87, she voted in her 20th Israeli election, out of 20.

Even in her retirement in northeast Tel Aviv, not everyone can boast that accomplishment.

She was hesitant at first. Since my grandfather, Shraga, passed away at the age of 93 last summer, the process of doing anything alone for the first time has been tough.

Easier to stay indoors, drink coffee, and pass the days.

But with a little nudge, she made her way to the polling station, picked the slip of the party she decided she would support weeks ago (whether or not she actually made it to the polls), sealed it in the envelope, and put it in the blue ballot box.

My grandparents had a long history of Likud voting.

They were followers of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who inspired my grandfather to come to Israel with a dream of riding a horse and holding a rifle. He fought in the Irgun under Tzipi Livni’s father, Eitan, and had enough clout in the Likud’s predecessor, Herut, to get Begin to be his first son’s godfather.

They were married shortly after the War of Independence and voted in the first elections when they were finally held eight months after the state’s establishment.

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Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 at 8:39 AM  | Stand For Israel

Five Things to Know About the Israeli Elections

Hand casting ballot/Israeli flag - iStock 16858123 (LG)Israelis are voting today in the Jewish state’s elections. The Times of Israel provides a few facts about election day in Israel – that the results will be very close and that they might not be known for some time:

It’s too close to call.

With Israelis headed to the polls the race remains tight. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is trailing Isaac Herzog’s center-left Zionist Union by a few percentage points and is expected to come in second …

Tuesday’s winner might not be the party with the most votes.

This isn’t a two-way race. It’s an 11-way race. And the winner isn’t the party with the most votes, but the one that can unite several smaller parties together into a governing coalition. In 2009, Netanyahu became prime minister even though the Likud came in second on Election Day …

We’ll know who the next prime minister is only a few weeks from now.

Unlike US elections, in which a clear candidate (usually) emerges victorious, Tuesday is just one phase of a drawn-out process in Israel. After the votes come in, parties will unite behind their preferred prime minister no matter who came in first. Israel’s president will then select the party leader with the largest supporting bloc to form a government.

The chosen leader gets up to two months to form a majority coalition, an often unpredictable process in which deals are cut and ministries and other influential posts doled out. In 2013, elections in late January yielded a coalition only in mid-March, even though Netanyahu won by a wide margin. Pundits are predicting a Netanyahu reelection because the right-wing bloc may again win a majority — even if Likud itself comes in second.

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Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 9:03 AM  | Stand for Israel

Israelis Prepare to Vote, Palestinians Prepare to Fight

(Photo: flickr/ crazymaq)

(Photo: flickr/ crazymaq)

With elections underway in Israel, for many today is a day of hope and promise. Not so for many Palestinians, says Gatestone Institute’s Khaled Abu Toameh. He writes that for them elections are not about who leads Israel, but instead are about removing Israel from the map:

As Israeli voters head to the ballot boxes to elect their new representatives, Palestinians say they are preparing for another war with Israel.

The preparations came even as US Secretary of State John Kerry and some Israeli candidates, especially Zionist Camp leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, continue to talk about the need to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after the election.

For some Palestinians, the election is not about removing Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu from power. Rather, it is about removing Israel from the face of the earth and replacing it with an Islamist empire.

The next Israeli government will face a two-pronged attack on the Palestinian front — one from the Gaza Strip, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad say they have just completed preparations for the next conflict with Israel, and another from the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) says it is determined to pursue its “diplomatic war” against Israel in the international arena.

On the eve of the election, Kerry expressed hope that Israelis will elect a government that “meets the hope for peace.”

Kerry’s statement about the revival of the peace process shows that he remains oblivious to the reality in the Middle East, particularly with regards to the Palestinians.

Kerry is ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are today divided into two camps; one that wants to destroy Israel through terrorism and jihad, and another that is working hard to delegitimize and isolate Israel in the international community with the hope of forcing it to its knees.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to scoff at Kerry’s talk about the resumption of the peace process. The two groups, which control the 1.7 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, actually have other plans for the post-election…

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Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 8:38 AM  | Stand for Israel

Resisting the Pressure

U.S. President Barack Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud AbbasThere are increasing indications that Western powers will seek to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations right after the Israeli elections on March 17. Dore Gold writes at The Algemeiner that no matter how the elections turn out, Israel’s government must stand firm in resisting the pressure to agree to a dangerous deal:

Whatever government Israel elects on March 17 will have to be firm in resisting the pressures that are likely to mount. The most immediate demand to be made is that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders, with “limited” land swaps, as the U.N. draft resolution [from December 2014] recommended. In past interviews, such as the one he gave to The New York Times on Feb. 7, 2011, [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas clarified that his idea of a “limited land swap” involved 1.9 percent of the West Bank. This miniscule land swap in no way could offset the huge concession he was demanding of Israel — to agree to the 1967 borders.

This land swap would not provide enough territory to protect Israeli settlement blocs. Leaks to Al Jazeera of past negotiations under Olmert indicate that the Palestinians refused to concede the large settlements of Ariel and Maale Adumim. In short, Abbas’ land swaps would leave thousands of Israelis on territory that the Palestinians expect to be theirs. The concept of 1967 borders with land swaps is a non-starter.

The pressure on Israel to agree to a nearly full withdrawal on the basis of the 1967 lines also directly impacts Israel’s security — yet another reason for any Israeli government to resist such a demand. Ironically, just as this pressure can be expected to increase, the current chaos in the Middle East makes such a withdrawal more dangerous than ever. The vacuum created by the breakdown of several Arab states, like Syria and Iraq, has allowed for the growth of a new breed of terrorist organizations, like Islamic State, that are far more challenging than the…

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Monday, March 16th, 2015 at 9:23 AM  | Stand for Israel

Photo Friday: Sun and Moon Stood Still in the Heavens

(Photo: flickr/Yosef Silver)

(Photo: flickr/Yosef Silver)

Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
    at the glint of your flying arrows,
    at the lightning of your flashing spear …
You came out to deliver your people,
    to save your anointed one. (Habukkuk 3:11-13)

The moon stands tall in the heavens over a Jerusalem cemetery, as an IDF soldier stands guard. Shabbat shalom, friends.

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Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 12:35 PM  | Stand For Israel

"informing, equipping and mobilizing individuals and churches to support the
State of Israel"

Rabbi’s Commentary
A Beacon of Freedom in a Sea of Oppression

Last week, a United Nations’ commission singled out Israel as the world’s worst violator of women’s rights – ignoring the Jewish state’s offering of full freedom to women…


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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