News Digest — 5/22/20

Remembering Ethiopian Jews Who Died Trying To Reach Israel

Israel on Thursday (21st) held a memorial service in Jerusalem to commemorate the thousands of Ethiopian Jews who perished under terrible conditions while trying to reach Israel.

At the annual ceremony at Mount Herzl National Cemetery, President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined community leaders  to remember the estimated 4,000 Jews from the African country who perished in the 1980s as they fled, mostly on foot, from persecution and civil war trying to reach Israel.

“May the memories of the Jews of Ethiopia, our brothers and sisters who lost their lives on their way to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, be in our hearts forever,” Rivlin said.

Netanyahu said he was proud to be the head of a government that for the first time had a minister and deputy minister from the Ethiopian community, known for centuries as Beta Israel.

With attendance limited due to coronavirus health regulations, the small crowd of dignitaries heard an IDF musical ensemble that featured Israel’s candidate to the Eurovision song contest, Eden Alene, herself an Ethiopian Jew.

In her uniform, with several months left in her IDF service, an emotional Alene sang, “We will not stop,” a tearful song recounting the trek of the Ethiopian faithful to Israel.

At a special session of the Knesset marking the occasion, Deputy Internal Security Minister Gadi Yevarkan described the horrific conditions the Ethiopian Jews faced as they trekked by the thousands on foot to refugee camps in Sudan with little or no possessions.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that in 1984 he was deputy commander of the IDF’s Shaldag elite commando unit that assisted in the legendary “Operation Moses” that rescued 8,000 Ethiopian Jews in a massive clandestime airlift, and brought them to Israel.

Some 140,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel today.



119 New Ethiopian Olim Welcomed By Aliyah Minister, Jewish Agency Head

Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog and Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata welcomed on Thursday (21st) 119 new olim from Ethiopia into Israel.

Due to the strict regulations put in  place to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus by Israel’s Health Ministry and by travel authorities, the olim were brought on a specially chartered aircraft.  

Keeping in line with existing regulations, the Defense Ministry will work with health officials to ensure the new olim stay in a government-provided youth hostel for their quarantine period.

This was the second such group of Ethiopians since the coronavirus pandemic started, with 72 olim arriving in March.

The new immigrants were greeted upon arrival by Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog and new Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata.

“It’s a huge privilege to welcome these wonderful olim from Ethiopia just as I begin my position as Aliyah and Integration Minister,” Tamano-Shata, who is herself an Ethiopian immigrant, said in a statement.

“They have been waiting a long time to fulfill the dream of aliyah.  Now they’ve made it home and I’m extremely moved.  I will make sure we do all we can to assist them as they start to build their lives in Israel.”

“ This week 111 olim arrived from Ukraine and 41 from Russia.  The Aliyah and Integration Ministry works tirelessly to promote aliyah, absorption and integration of new olim from all over the world.  We are preparing for a massive wave of aliyah resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.  I’m glad the new government is placing an emphasis on aliyah and integration, and is making increased aliyah from all over the world a priority,” she stated.

“Welcoming these new olim on the day we commemorate the Memorial Day for Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel and honoring the memory of the many Ethiopians who died on the difficult journey, provides a bittersweet closure.  Those who miraculously completed the journey are haunted by the hardships they experienced in the sweltering desert along the way,” said Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog.

“I congratulate these new immigrants and every single one who came before them…who endured untold suffering in order to realize their dream of life in Israel.  The Jewish Agency will continue to ensure that each one who wants to come to Israel,  will find his/her way home,” he added.



Christian Leaders From Latin America, Europe Praise Jerusalem Day

Parliamentarians from Latin America and Europe sent letters to President Reuven Rivlin congratulating the Jewish people and the State of Israel on Jerusalem Day.

“On Jerusalem Day, we  celebrate not only the determination of the Jewish people to live in the eternal capital of Israel, but also the shared Judeo-Christian values that have sealed the historic relations between Latin America and Israel since November 1947, when 13 of 20 Latin American countries voted in favor of the creation of the State of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly,” reads a letter signed by a minister from Uruguay,  a senator from Columbia and legislators from Guatemala, Argentina and Suriname.

Similarly, a letter signed by officials from the EU and 12 European parliaments remembered how “13 of the 17 European countries voted in favor of the creation of the State of Israel.”

All of the signers are members of heads of the Israel Allies Caucuses of different parliaments in Europe, including from Sweden, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Wales, Slovakia, Finland, Netherlands, Estonia, Croatia and Lithuania.  The non-profit Israel Allies Foundation creates caucuses to encourage cooperation among faith-based supporters of Israel in parliaments and legislatures worldwide.  

The letters come at a time when the world is debating Israel’s right to territory won during the 1967 Six Day War, which includes parts of Jerusalem.  The European Union, specifically has threatened and condemned Israel over the possibility that it may annex settlements in the coming months, as per U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

Jerusalem Day is being celebrated from sundown Thursday (21st)  to sundown Friday (22nd) this year.

Latin American support for Israel has been on the rise for the past decade, as the Evangelical Christian community grows in those countries.  According to The Jerusalem Post around 20% of Latin Americans are now Evangelicals.  In Brazil the percentage is close to 30 and more than 40% in much of Central America.

“During these times of closed borders and social distancing, it is especially heart-warming to hear from the leadership of our caucuses around the world regarding their love and support for our united capital Jerusalem,” said Israel Allies Foundation CEO Josh Reinstein., who helped organize the letters.

“Notwithstanding the physical distance between us, we will still work as one to strengthen support for Israel through faith-based diplomacy, so that next Jerusalem Day there will be many more embassies in Jerusalem.”



Netanyahu: Iran Will Face Destruction If It Attempts A “Final Solution”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday (20th) warned Iran that Israel is prepared to destroy any regime which threatens the Jewish state.

Responding to a recent propaganda poster published on the website of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Netanyahu tweeted, “Khamenei’s threats to carry out ‘The Final Solution’ against Israel bring to mind the Nazi ‘Final Solution’ plan to annihilate the Jewish people.”

“He should know that any regime that threatens the destruction of the State of Israel faces a similar danger,” he said.   

The Iranian poster read, “Palestine will be free. The final solution: Resistance until referendum,” and depicted crowds celebrating around Jerusalem, raising Palestinian and other terror groups’ flags, while burning the Israeli flag.

Khamenei made it clear that until a referendum is held to eliminate the “Zionist regime,” Iran will continue to support terror groups.  “We will support and assist any nation and any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this.” 

Iran’s “final solution” to eliminate Israel was submitted to the United Nations in November 2019 as “The plan for holding a national referendum in the territory of Palestine” and is published in full on Khamenei’s website.



Palestinians Declined Supplies From UAE, Refuse to Contribute Toward Arab Ties With Israel

The Palestinian Authority (PA) declined a shipment of medical supplies sent by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, Palestinian news agency Maan reported Thursday (21st).

“The UAE authorities did not coordinate with the State of Palestine before sending the aid,” government sources told Maan.  “Palestinians refuse to be a bridge for Arab countries seeking to have normalized ties with Israel.”

An Israeli official said the flight which belongs to the UAE’s flag-carrier Etihad Airways, delivered humanitarian aid provided by the UAE to the Palestinians through the World Food Program.  All Israel did was allow them to land at Ben Gurion Airport because the Palestinians have no airport of their own.

According to a statement from the United Nations Special Coordinator, the UN coordinated a 14-16 ton shipment of “urgent medical supplies from the UAE to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the Palestinian territories.

“The aid included personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment, most notably 10 ventilators that are acutely needed,” a UN statement read.