Browsing Posts published in August, 2010

On Tuesday evening on Highway 60, near Hebron, four Israeli civilians, one of whom was pregnant, were gunned down in their car in a hail of gunfire. “The vehicle was sprayed with dozens of bullets,” a paramedic at the scene told Israel’s Channel Two. “There were numerous shell casings around. We found four bodies and there was no chance whatsoever to help them; all we could do was to pronounce [their] death.”

The victims included two men, ages 25 and 40, along with two women of similar age. continue reading…

We Are Not Quitters

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Next week, we are presented with an opportunity to make history.

At the invitation of President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will come to Washington to sit face-to-face and discuss peace. I am here to tell you that, as stated at the formulation of this Israeli government, Israel is committed to seeing these talks through to reach a final agreement and a permanent end to the conflict.

In short, we are not quitters.

The road to peace has been long and will continue to be strenuous, but we will not relent. There are forces around the region that have, and will continue to try, to derail us from this pursuit. Still, Israel remains steadfast in our desire to secure a lasting peace with Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, alongside a thriving Palestinian state.

Israel is ready to sit down with the Palestinian leadership and come to resolution on the issues of concern to both peoples. After sixty years, Israelis hope the Palestinians will no longer treat us as wary neighbors but rather as regional allies and friends.

It is my sincere hope that at this historic turning point, Palestinians will join with Israel in a quest for peace.

Israel is dedicated to seeing this long elusive peace realized. We will not quit.

Michael Oren is Israel’s Ambassador to the United States

Gilad Shalit turns 24 tomorrow. It has been over four years since Gilad was kidnapped from Israel by Hamas. None of his family or even the International Red Cross has been permitted to see him since. Not for his birthday, nor even to provide for his most basic humanitarian needs as international law demands.

When Gilad was 11, he wrote a story called “When the Shark and the Fish first met.” The words of a small boy, a maritime allegory, have come to represent the entire conflict. In the video below, posted originally two years ago, a group of 11-year-olds from the Bronx read this story whose author was just like them when he wrote it, except that he hailed from Israel instead of New York.

While the terrorists who hold Gilad captive have taken away his freedom, they have not silenced his voice.

Unfortunately, the international community still has not spoken forcefully enough to secure Gilad’s release. While the world looks on, nothing has changed — four years since he was kidnapped, Gilad is still a hostage, Hamas still refuses to allow the Red Cross to visit him, and there is still no end in sight.

As of August 2010, Ido Aharoni assumed the post of Acting Consul General at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, serving the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

He has been a member of Israel’s Foreign Service since the summer of 1991. During his tenure in Israel’s diplomatic corps Aharoni held two overseas positions, in Los Angeles and New York.

In September 2007, Aharoni was appointed to serve as the Head of Israel’s Brand Management Team in Jerusalem. In the spring of 2006, he was appointed to serve as a Senior Advisor to Israel’s Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister, in charge of media and public affairs.

Between 2001-2005, Ido Aharoni served as Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.  He assumed this position several weeks prior to the terror attacks of 9/11.  As the head of the department, Aharoni oversaw the operation of Israel’s largest public affairs and media relations apparatus worldwide. He handled media relations, community outreach, as well as a variety of informational services.

While in New York, Aharoni became familiar with nation-branding methods, which he later introduced to his superiors in Jerusalem.  This effort resulted in bringing about a paradigm shift in the perception of Israel’s public image by Israeli officials, in Israel and in the USA.

Prior to his arrival in New York, Aharoni served as a Policy Advisor to the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. Over the years, Aharoni served five directors-general.

From 1994 to 1998, Aharoni served as Israel’s Consul for Communications and Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles.  In that position, Aharoni covered the seven southwestern states of the USA and worked extensively in some of America’s top markets (Greater Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, Salt Lake City and Denver).

In the spring of 1993, upon completion of the Foreign Ministry’s cadet program, Aharoni was appointed to serve under then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, as Policy Assistant to Israel’s Chief negotiator with the Palestinians.

Before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Aharoni earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Tel Aviv University with a joint-major in Film and Television, Sociology and Anthropology. He then moved to the United States where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Mass Communications from Emerson College in Boston.

Ido Aharoni served in the Israel Defense Forces as a company commander in the infantry during the first Lebanon war. He recently retired from military reserves, at the age of 48, as a Major (Ret).  He is married to Julie Goodman-Aharoni, a native of Los Angeles.  They have tree children: Talia (20), Sharon (17) and Adam (12).

The Orbaum sisters, while 19, have actually spent two decades together if you count their time spent in the womb. Identical triplets, they share an amazing bond that few can understand. As sisters, they always stuck together, attending the same schools and sharing every milestone in life together. Like all Israelis, their paths have led them to serve their country in Israel’s armed forces.

Growing up, the Orbaum girls may have loathed being dressed in matching outfits, but today, they all don the same khaki uniforms for their service in Israel’s Air Force. While all three are in the IAF, being assigned to different divisions is perhaps the first time they have been separated. But they are united in their mission, serving the State of Israel.

“We didn’t all decide to joint the IAF,” explained Odelia, the oldest of the triplets (by a minute). “That is just how it worked out.”

Odelia works as a control officer in the IAF’s command-and-control center near Tel Aviv; Nomi is an air traffic control officer at the IAF’s Palmahim Base; and Donna is currently in training for a different IAF position near Herzliya.

To read more about Odelia, Nomi, and Donna, click here.

Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomes the invitation of the United States to begin direct negotiations without preconditions. The Prime Minister has been calling for direct negotiations for the past year and a half.

While Israel called for a moratorium on construction in the West Bank last winter as a sign of good faith in order to restart negotiations, it has taken months of shuttle diplomacy by US envoy George Mitchell to convince Palestinian leadership to return to negotiations.

Said Netanyahu, “Reaching an agreement is a difficult challenge but is possible. We are coming to the talks with a genuine desire to reach a peace agreement between the two peoples that will protect Israel’s national security interests, foremost of which is security.”

Please stay tuned for further updates.

Months after the incident off the coast of Gaza on May 31st, the BBC program “Panorama” presents thorough research and analysis from both sides, resulting in arguably the most complete account of “the Flotilla.” From the origins of the flotilla organizers and participants to what happened when Israeli soldiers boarded the Mavi Marmara, the BBC’s piece is a must-watch. Check out the segment below.

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

Photo: IDF Spokesperson

Following the July 26th deadly Yasur (CH053) helicopter crash, Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, has departed for a special visit to Romania on Thursday (Aug. 12). Maj. Gen. Nehushtan, will be accompanied by his colleague, the Romanian Air Force Commander, and together they will fly to the crash site in the Carpathian Mountains to visit the area.

In the afternoon, the IAF Commander and a special Israeli delegation made up of personnel from the Yasur helicopter formation and the 669 Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit will join Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Jewish synagogue in Bucharest for a ceremony in commemoration of the Israeli soldiers killed in the crash. The Romanian Jewish community, Romanian senior officials and representatives of the Romanian military and air force will attend the ceremony as well.

In the evening, the IAF Commander and the Israeli President are expected to attend a dinner hosted by the Romanian President.

On Friday (Aug. 13), Maj. Gen. Nehushtan, the Israeli President and the members of the delegation will participate in an official ceremony in commemoration of the holocaust victims of Bucharest and will meet with the Romanian Chief of the General Staff.

The delegation is scheduled to return to Israel on Friday afternoon.

Following the incident off the coast of Gaza on May 31st, specifically the IDF’s actions after boarding the Mavi Marmara, Israel has been accused of wrongdoing and breaking international law. Israel has always believed that exposing the truth is in their best interest as it has nothing to hide. The old adage “the truth will set you free” was the impetus for the creation of the Turkel Commission, an independent, nongovernmental panel led by former Supreme Court Judge Jacob Turkel, with foreign observers to remove any possible bias.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu delivered a statement on Monday before the Turkel Commission, explaining the change in Israel’s policy towards the Gaza Strip and what really transpired aboard the Mavi Marmara, highlighting all actors involved.

Said Netanyahu, “Our soldiers faced a very real danger to their lives from brutal attacks, and acted in self-defense.  We made tremendous efforts to prevent injuries, but the IDF soldiers have the right to defend themselves. ”

He went on to explain “how dangerous an open sea lane to Gaza is for the security of the State of Israel. On one ship, the Karin A, Iran tried to send dozens of tons of weapons to Gaza. On another ship, the Francop, Iran tried to send Hezbollah hundreds of tons of weapons, approximately two-thirds of the total ammunition fired at Israel during the Second Lebanon War”

To read the Prime Minister’s full address to the Turkel Commission, click here.