News Digest — 3/10/22
U.S. House Approves $1 Billion For Iron Dome Replenishment
The United States House of Representatives passed their omnibus bill, which included $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, on Thursday morning (10th). The bill must now pass the U.S. Senate before it is officially implemented.
The Iron Dome funding has been stalled for six months. The House of Representatives approved a stand-alone bill in September to provide Israel with $1 billion for replenishing the anti-missile system. The vote passed 420-9. In the Senate however, it was blocked, even though it had support, but senators were unsure of how it would be funded.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter Thursday (10th), “Thank you to the United States House of Representatives for passing the crucial security and missile defense funding for Israel in this spending package. The replenishment of Israel’s missile defense will ensure its military edge, and secure our citizens and bolster Israeli-U.S. cooperation.”
“Once again we witness the extraordinary bond between the U.S. and Israel – a relationship that spans both sides of the aisle and that is based on common values, strategic interests and a shared aspiration for a more peaceful and free world,” he added.
Terror Groups Slam Herzog’s Visit To Turkey
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on Wednesday (9th) expressed opposition to President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Turkey.
Hamas, some of whose leaders and activists have long been based in Turkey, said that it “followed with great concern the visits of officials and leaders of the Zionist entity to a number of Arab and Islamic countries, the latest of which was the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to a number of Gulf Arab countries in the region.”
Hamas expressed regret over the visits by Israeli leaders “to our brothers in Arab Islamic countries.”
The terror group called on Arabs and Muslims not to give “the Zionist entity the opportunity to infiltrate the region and tamper with the interests of our people.”
It reiterated its strong opposition to any form of communication between Israel and the Arabs and Muslims. It accused Israel of “desecrating” Islamic and Christian holy sites and “Judaizing” Jerusalem.
PIJ, the second-largest terror group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, also condemned in a separate statement the hosting of Herzog in Turkey, saying that those who strive to restore relations with Israel are “betraying Jerusalem and Palestine.”
“This visit comes during the aggressive Zionist escalation against our people in Jerusalem,” PIJ said, accusing Israel of working to “Judaize the holy sites” in Jerusalem.
PIJ also noted that Herzog’s visit to Turkey comes amid continuing “settler incursions into the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents a bias in favor of the enemy against the Palestinian people’s jihad.”
The Palestinian Authority (PA) was quiet and did not comment on Herzog’s Turkish visit as of Wednesday evening (9th).
Israel To Host 25,000 Ukrainian Refugees Until Danger Subsides
Israel will host about 25,000 citizens of Ukraine, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Tuesday (8th).
“In the first and immediate stage, Israel will grant temporary protection from repatriation for approximately 20,000 Ukrainian citizens who were present in Israel before the outbreak of fighting, most of them without any legal status.”
“This will be until the danger subsides,” Shaked’s spokesperson said.
It was also determined that Israel will grant “entry and stay” for 5,000 additional Ukrainian refugees. Initially they will be given a temporary visa for three months.
Should the fighting continue beyond this time, all those present in Israel will be allowed to remain in the country and accept employment.
“Every Ukrainian citizen who wants to come to Israel within the framework of the new program will be able to apply online through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. No other conditions will be required except for a short background check,” the spokesperson said.
“At the same time, Israeli citizens will be able to apply to invite Ukrainian citizens, up to one nuclear family per applicant, and they will be given priority as far as possible, in order to facilitate the hosting process in Israel.”
Shaked said that in addition to the unprecedented number of Ukrainian citizens who may stay in Israel until the danger subsides, the country is expected to absorb in the coming weeks and months around 100,000 Ukrainians who are fleeing the fighting, within the framework of The Law of Return.
Ukrainians fleeing the war who have a Jewish background, along with their families, may come to Israel and receive full citizenship.
On Sunday morning (6th), however, Shaked said that Israel is accepting Ukrainian refugees, the vast majority of whom are not Jewish, at unsustainable rates and that the government must take steps to curb the influx.
Galilee Town Absorbs Hundreds Of Ukrainian Jewish Refugees
Hundreds of Olim (Jewish immigrants) fleeing war-torn Ukraine have settled in the northern town of Nof HaGalil, thanks in part to Facebook posts by the mayor.
Ronen Plot, who himself immigrated from Moldova to Israel some 50 years ago, said he felt compelled to make sure his community properly welcomes the refugees.
“Nof HaGalil is built on immigration,” he told AFP. We will absorb as many people as we can.”
He wrote on Facebook that “if a big immigration wave arrives, we’d be happy to take part in the Israeli effort,” and urged residents to donate clothing and furniture to the new arrivals.
Plot told AFP that he had secured some 600 empty hotel rooms and 300 apartments to temporarily house the refugees.
“They endured a lot of misery, they are hungry, tired – it’s awful,” he said.
Chaim Gershman was among the Ukrainian Jews that chose to settle in Nof HaGalil because of Plot’s Facebook post.
“I saw a man inviting me saying come to our city, we’ll welcome you,” he told AFP, adding that he had been shocked by the outbreak of the war.
“At first, we didn’t believe a thing like this would happen and we thought it was fake,” he said.
Gershman, his wife and their four children are currently staying in two rooms at the Plaza Hotel in Nof HaGalil.
The town offers a natural starting point for new immigrants, due to its unique nature as a historic absorption center for people from the Soviet Union.
More than 50 percent of Nof HaGalil’s residents speak Russian, and street signs bear Cyrillic letters. Local shops sell Slavic delicacies and other familiar products.
Jerusalem and other towns are offering to follow in the steps of Nof HaGalil and have already prepared to house immigrants, including Efrat, Beersheba and Haifa.
University Of Wisconsin Jewish Students Targeted With Swastikas & Antisemitic Abuse
The University of Wisconsin-Madison was recently hit with multiple antisemitic incidents within the span of several days.
According to a statement from the university, a swastika was etched into a bathroom wall in a dorm building, a student was harassed with antisemitic slurs, and another student was harassed for “looking Jewish.”
StopAntisemitism.org said that anti-Semitism has been an “ongoing problem at the school.”
In response, UW-Madison leaders released a letter on Tuesday (8th) condemning the incidents.
“Anti-Semitism is wrong and it will not be tolerated at UW-Madison,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor and Chief Diversity officer LaVar Charleston said. “We are working to support all community members and increasing our educational efforts to prevent bias incidents from happening in the future. We are committed to creating a campus where everyone feels valued and knows they belong.”
Noting that UW-Madison has procedures for responding to hate incidents, they urged anyone with information to come forward.
“Our first priority is to respond to those who are most directly affected,” they wrote. “The Dean of Students office follows up on all reports involving students. The university may also engage in outreach efforts more broadly on a case by case basis.”
Bomb Threat Causes Evacuation Of New Jersey Jewish Community Center
A New Jersey Jewish community center was evacuated on Tuesday morning (8th) after receiving a bomb threat.
The Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill was cordoned off after receiving the bomb threat at 8:30 a.m., with all the children and staff vacating the building before police searched for a bomb, the Courier Post reported.
No explosives were found by investigators and the JCC was given the all-clear at 5 p.m. on Tuesday (8th) to reopen.
“While we are relieved that this threat was unfounded, we are concerned about the antisemitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life,” Jennifer Dubros Weiss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey told the Post.
According to the NJPen news site, the Katz JCC also experienced a similar bomb threat five years ago.
Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ) denounced the incident, calling for increased focus on keeping Jewish community centers secure.
“Today, our community suffered the emotional distress of another bomb threat at the Katz Community Center. I’ll be honest – I’m saddened and angered,” he said on Twitter.
“These threats have no place in our communities, and we must continue to find ways to help Jewish community centers feel safe.”