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Washington, D.C. - As terrorist rockets continue to fall on Israel, the United States Senate tonight unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and sponsored by 62 others, which strongly supports Israel’s inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.

The resolution, S. Res. 599, was cosponsored by over half the Senate in a demonstration of widespread support for Israel as she defends herself from the constant barrage of hundreds of Gaza-based terrorist missiles targeting Israeli civilians. Nearly 1,000 terrorist missiles have been fired into Israel this year.

“We strongly reiterate our support for Israel’s right to self-defense as a barrage of missiles from Gaza are attacking the people of Israel and endangering innocent lives,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The passage of this Senate resolution clearly expresses the United States’ unwavering commitment to the security of our nation’s close and historic ally in the Middle East. We firmly stand united with Israel against terrorism.”

“The passage of this resolution sends a strong and clear message that the United States stands in solidarity with the State of Israel,” Senator Kirk said. “Israel is a fellow democracy and has an inherent right to defend its citizens from terrorist missiles.”

The resolution urges the President to work with the international community to prevent Hamas and other terrorist organizations within Gaza from retaining the ability to launch rockets against Israel, and calls on the United Nations Security Council to condemn Gaza-based attacks against Israel.

Other senators cosponsoring the resolution include: Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), John Kyl (R-Ariz.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.),  John Thune (R-S.D.), Pat Toomey (D-Pa.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), David Vitter (R-La.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

 

Sincerely,

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator

This Tuesday, the Israel Paralympic Committee and the Wingate Institute released the names of the twenty five men and women Paralympians who will participate in the London Olympics! The athletes will compete in cycling, ping pong, rowing, wheelchair tennis, marathon, sharpshooting, equestrian, sailing, and swimming. Israel has had tremendous success in the Paralympics, winning 330 medals, of which 113 were gold. Israel hosted the Games in 1968.

The Paralympics are singularly inspiring and exciting. The Paralympics brings the same competition between nations as the Olympics, but for every amazing story of an Olympian who has “overcome the odds,” there are hundreds of Paralympians who have achieved the seemingly-impossible. For those who have overcome physical or mental disability, to compete at the highest level speaks volumes to their determination, will, and spirit.  There is no doubt that considering its size, Israel is an “underdog” nation. Yet, in many fields, Israelis do not just “keep up” with the larger nations, they exceed them. Whether its high tech or medicine, Israeli contributions to the world are vastly disproportionate considering its size. And when you factor in the part of the world Israel is in, and its truly amazing to see what it has accomplished. If Israel is the proverbial “underdog nation,” then the Paralympics are the “underdog games.”

Tolerance and respect are core values of the Paralympic Games. Tolerance is not a just a word on everyone’s lips, but a creed to live by. While Olympians clearly push their bodies to the limits in attempting extreme feats, Paralympians not only defy any physical disability, but are exceptionally determined, confronting unnerving challenges, and defying the confines of their physical abilities. Undaunted by disabilities, Paralympians meet adversity with courage to achieve rousing triumphs.

On July 9, President Shimon Peres will hold a special ceremony to honor the Olympic and Paralympic delegations before they set out to represent Israel in the Summer Games.

 

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman launched the MFA’s new Tourist Information application today (Wednesday, June 13 2012) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. The application was developed over the past year by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Department for Israelis Abroad, in collaboration with the Bureau for Information Technology and Communication Services. The application, which is in Hebrew, is available for free download on the Apple App Store under the title Tourist Information (מידע למטייל). An Android version will soon be available as well.

FM Lieberman stated that the move is an additional contribution to the strengthening of the relationship and service the MFA provides the public. “I commend the excellent work and cooperation of the Consular Department and the Bureau for Information Technology and Communication Services who developed an application that enables Israeli tourists around the world to utilize the services provided by our diplomatic missions in the countries they visit, and to view all pertinent information regarding the country.  This application is not static; it will continue to develop, and this is an additional layer added to other MFA initiatives designed to improve service to the public.”

With this application, the MFA is able to provide Israeli citizens with an additional means of receiving information on various countries, travel recommendations, contact information of Israeli diplomatic missions around the world and recommended behavior in routine and stressful situations. The information provided is both essential and useful for Israeli citizens abroad, whether they are backpackers, tourists or businessmen interested in basic information about their destination.

The Head of the Consular Affairs Bureau, Yigal Tzarfati, stated that the aim of the Bureau is to improve services to the public by any means possible, and this application represents an additional, important method of doing so.

During the event, FM Lieberman referred to the State Comptroller’s Report regarding the Marmara Flotilla, and stated that after reading the report carefully, the conclusion is that from the publicity standpoint, the entire affair should be dealt with by the MFA so that it will be able to manage similar future events in the international media successfully. Only the MFA, with its accumulated skills and deployment, is able to provide a real-time response and to deal with misrepresentations attempted by hostile entities in the international media. A situation similar to that during the Flotilla, where several entities such as the National Information Directorate, the IDF Spokesperson, the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs all attempted to manage the situation simultaneously, will merely create confusion and problems.

Check back tomorrow at 630 PM EDT


Live streaming by Ustream

12:28 pm The first panelists assemble, they include Israel Consul General in New York Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Executive Vice President of the JCRC Mr. Michael Miller, Minister MK Yuli Edelstein, and Rannen and Kasaey, two Israelis who will share unique stories and perspectives.

12:30 Ambassador Aharoni: “We expect the Palestinians to recognize our right to exist just as we recognized theirs”

12:35 Mr. Michael Miller: “I hope we all enjoy this open dialogue this afternoon”

12:37 Minister Edelstein is asked by the moderator whether the world is right to be “baffled” by Israel’s recent actions in trying to block the Palestinian’s UDI bid. Minister Edelstein: “We are prepared to negotiate a solution There is only one way to reach ANY understanding. I don’t know when negotiations will start and when they will end. One thing I know for a fact, they won’t end if they don’t start.”

12:45 Raneen Khoury, an Israeli-Arab from Nazareth talks about coming to New York. When she told people she was coming this week, people joked she was coming with Abu Mazen. Raneen emphasizes the importance of open dialogue, saying,”I’m a Christian, and I could have been a Druze or a Muslim or a Jew. But what matters above all else is I’m a person.”

12:51 Kasay Damosa is speaking now, telling the amazing story of her mother from a small Jewish village in Ethiopia. Kasaey “My family and I started the journey to Israel through Sudan in 1983. We got to Sudan and that was one of the hardest things we had to face. We were basically stuck in the refugee camp for 9 months.” While there, she says they could not tell people they were Jewish, as Sudan is a Muslim country.

1:00 Q&A has begun, see @israelconsulate for the full play by play

1:30 First panel has ended, we’ll be posting all the open debate later today on this page, but for now, head on over to twitter.com/israelconsulate to get a snapshot of the discussion

2:24 Next panel is about to start, and it should be a good one – focusing on REAL people. Read about the panelists here

2:26 We’re going to start with Adam Assad, who is a Druze-Israeli. He’s a 19 year old studying International Relations, “I want to complete the puzzle of Israeli society. I want to show you the Druze community in Israel.” “I just applied to get a new job in Haifa, and people told me, you can’t get this job because you are an Arab, you are Druze. I applied to the job and did all the interviews and my friend Masjid and I, we got the job. Out of 10 people who applied, 2 got the job – a Muslim and myself. I’m not saying Israel is perfect, in every society there is inequality, but it’s about the person”

2:34 Next up is Clara Cohen, born in Argentina, who says “I never had to choose between being Argentinian or a Jew. I can be both in Israel. I can bring my Argentinian heritage to Israel”

2:44 Hadas speaking now about her father, an Ethiopian rabbi. Her journey to Israel meant walking at night, and sleeping by day, but she was two, so someone probably carried her she jokes.

Tomorrow, Thursday, September 22nd, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council and Israel’s Ministry for Public Diplomacy and the Diaspora is launching a very special event, one in which you can take part in!

We’re calling it “Open Tent” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. With everything going on this week at the United Nations, Israel realizes how important it is to have an honest, open dialogue. A free, no taboo discussion on Israeli society and the future of the Jewish state.

In addition to speakers ranging from Minister MK Yuli Edelstein, the event will feature leading experts from a wide array of disciplines. Most importantly, this event is about YOU! Your voice, your questions, and your involvement.

One of the panels you should be most excited about focuses on Multi-Culturalism in Israel. Realizing that diversity creates both challenges and opportunities, we want to give our followers on social media the chance to talk to real Israelis from a variety of backgrounds. No question is off limits. What do they think about the upcoming UN vote? What role do minorities play in a Jewish state?

Below, you can read a little about some of the faces of Israel we’ll be talking with tomorrow. You can submit questions you would like to ask them or Minister Edelstein below, on our Facebook page, or send us a tweet @israelconsulate.

 

Raneen Khoury

Born and raised in the city of Nazareth, Raneen has lived in the midst of Israeli co-existence, always trying to progress Arab – Jewish relations within Israel through various co-existence projects such as the establishment of the National Service Organization.

Currently she is the manager of “Lehava” project whose aim is to decrease the digital gap within Israeli society.

 

Adam Asad

Adam is a 19 year old Druze from Sajour, a village situated in the North of Israel. Throughout university, Adam was involved in community work with Muslims, Jews and Christians.   Adam is currently an English teacher and in pursuit of his second degree, a BA degree in International Relations at the University of Haifa.

 

Kasaey Keren Damoza

I was born in a small village in the Ghondar region of Ethiopia to a family of six. In 1983, my family and I set out on our journey to the land of Israel, passing through the Sudanese desert and Red Cross camps. I served at the Israeli Defense Force as a communication officer and discharged as a lieutenant. Now,I am finishing my Masters in Management of Non-Profit Organizations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

 

Clara Cohen

36 years old.  Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Moved to Israel at the age of 21. Works as Director at Latin America & Spain Department in a privately owned company.

 

 

Hadas Yossef

Born in Ethiopia, at two years old she began the journey to Israel with her family by foot, all the way from Ethiopia through Sudan.

After completing her studies in Architecture at the Bezalel High Institute for Arts, Hadas began working as a professional architect at one of the biggest firms in Israel.

Knesset member and former minister Ze’ev Biom died on Friday at the age of 67 after a battle with cancer. A member of the Kadima Party, his career in Israel’s parliament included posts as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister of Housing and Construction and Minister of Immigrant Absorption. In addition, he served as Deputy Minister of Defense from March 2003 until January 2006.

A former teacher in Kiryat Gan, Ze’ev eventually became mayor of the Israeli city for 13 years. He is survived by his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren.

[Translated from Hebrew]

Have the lessons of the Holocaust been learned?

For us, the Jewish people, the answer is yes.
For the rest of the world, the answer is no, or at least not yet.

Today, 66 years after the horror, we are here, in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of our nation. We, the representatives of the Jewish nation, are holding a special ceremony to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The lesson that we have learned, first of all, is that we are here, in our sovereign country, in our capital city.

We have learned another important lesson, probably the most crucial lesson to be learned from the atrocity, from the chain of atrocities that brought about one much worse; this has continued for hundreds and thousands of years, since we lost our country and our sovereignty, and since we lost our capability to defend ourselves. The lesson learned was that we had to restore the capacity of the State and the army for self-defense.

This lesson was understood by Herzl even before the great atrocity took place. He foresaw it, and we implemented it.

But there is one other lesson. At the end of the Holocaust, there were 11 million Jews in the world. Before it, there were 18 million.

Even at a very slow rate of natural increase of the population, there should have been almost 30 million Jews in the world, but in fact, there are only 13.5 million; much less, half of what there should be. This did not happen by physical loss; it happened because of assimilation and the loss of identity.

The only place where the Jewish people has grown is here, in Eretz Yisrael, in the State of Israel. We have continuous substantial and blessed growth. There is no nation that could live on a demographic pin head. Therefore, while cultivating our country, we must continue to encourage aliyah, bringing Jewish people to Israel, and to prevent their assimilation abroad. All the projects that we operate – Birthright, Masa and also Moreshet – are aimed at our young adults and also young Jews abroad. They are essential elements in assuring our future.

Have we learned the lesson? The answer is yes. Has the world learned the lesson? Well, I think one thing is clear: the fact that global anti-Semitism is renewing and expanding is obvious. If anyone thought that anti-Semitism stopped after World War II and the Holocaust, it is now evident that it was only a hiatus. The same forces that you mentioned joining together, share a new/old anti-Semitism with the world, and so we must fight it, globally too. For that, I congratulate my friend Silvan Shalom, who, when serving as Foreign Minister, brought about an important United Nations resolution – marking this day, a resolution which was adopted by the UN.

This resolution is indeed implemented in many countries, which is an important achievement and in many ways also unique, at least in the ability to propose an Israeli draft resolution to this organization, which I am well familiar with, I spent a long time there. It was a milestone. But I still ask: does the world that condemns that anti-Semitism also condemn this anti-Semitism?

Every now and then, very feebly – it isn’t just anti-Semitism; it is the regime – a member country of the UN, the regime of ayatollahs – stands up and knowingly and openly calls for the annihilation of at least another six million Jews, without even a hint of pretense. And nobody says a thing. Well, that’s not exact. Here and there a comment might be heard, but where is the anger, the outrage? Where is the outcry? Where is the “J’accuse?”  I’m not asking about us. We are here; we’ve learned our lessons. But where is the global uproar that should have risen from advanced communities around the world in response to explicit declarations of genocide, of exterminating a people, that same people!

We must be honest with each other. Diplomacy is, first and foremost, identifying the situation as it is. If we want to change it, we must understand it. And we have a very disturbing historical phenomenon. I don’t think that it is only hard for us, but for all civilized people, all civilized peoples, who allow such an affliction, such statements, such savagery, barbarism and primitivism to be uttered and spread. It is said; it spreads, becomes acceptable, commonplace, and always prepares the ground for the next action and also prevents those actions that will not take place.

I am aware that there are many leaders and good-hearted, conscientious people around the world. I know that they think what I think. I know that in their hearts, they tell themselves what I am saying today from this podium.

However, that will not suffice. Because in the face of this regime, that calls for our annihilation, and arms itself with weapons of mass destruction in order to fulfill its nefarious intentions, there should be a much stronger protest. This makes me somewhat disheartened, my friend Silvan.

I was in that institution, I served in it as the representative of Israel. One day I heard that there were rumors about a file about Waldheim, who was then President of Austria. It might have been the Secretary-General of the UN. The Secretary-General said he had a profile about a war criminal in some UN archive.

What was this archive? It turned out that there was a war-criminal archive instituted by Churchill and the Allies during the war to collect material against Nazi criminals and their collaborators. They gathered the information, and listened and discussed and prepared the files and at the end of the war they took these files, brought them to the UN, and locked them in the basement, where they just lay for decades.

I asked if I could go in there, and they said “no.”  I asked why, and was told that I needed the consent of all the allied countries, 18 or 19 countries, I think, and there was no such approval. Well, it took me a year until I got the okay and was taken to the archive.

It wasn’t exactly in the basement, it was on the first floor of a UN building somewhere in New York. I walk in and see boxes upon boxes; I go to ‘W,’ pull out the box: Waldheim, Kurt, and various notes. My hair stood on end (I had more hair then). Horrible things, lying there, hidden for dozens of years. I look at the next file (I didn’t start taking boxes out, it was the same box): Birkenau 1944, records of exterminations, the death marches, trains, the S.S., it’s all documented. 1944, but I think I also saw files that referred to 1943.

My friends, these 18 countries, perhaps the best statesmen in history, distinguished men, truly great men – they knew. They knew in real time, and not from this particular testimony that I have just mentioned. There are plenty of testimonies: terrible things that are very hard to read. They knew, but they did not act.

Why did they not act? Because they were busy fighting the major battle against the Nazis, which was their main concern. But how hard would it have been to bomb the railway tracks leading to the death camps? When you go there, and many of you have been there – I was there with some of you, several times – you see they could have bombed the camps. They were already bombing that awful chemical plant only seconds away. They would only have needed to tilt the plane a bit and could also have bombed the ramp and two incinerators, and the tracks. It wouldn’t have made the slightest difference to their war effort. They knew and they did nothing.

Today they are very aware of it. They know, they hear, they see, they photograph. You don’t need special intelligence, you only need to turn on the television, hear the news, read the newspaper. Will they act? Will they talk? Will they really talk? Will they attack? Will they condemn?

The Iranians say that it’s against the Zionists, anti-Zionism. It was Martin Luther King who burst that bubble better than anyone else. He said, and I quote: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!”

Martin Luther King. That’s right. So that’s what the Iranians say. But this is the truth. It is not only a threat against us, because it always begins with the Jews but never ends with the Jews. The hatred of Jews kindles an overall fire, and I expect that on this day, when I applaud the world for marking the most heinous crime in world history and the history of our people which was perpetrated against our people – I hope others will also learn the lesson. We already have.

I expect the world to learn the lesson and start fighting in words and in deeds against the new anti-Semitism. That is what I expect and I am certain, my friends, that you expect the same.

By Avigayil Kadesh

Always a time for planting in Israel, the ancient Jewish New Year for the Trees or Tu B’Shvat – this year, corresponding to the 20th of January – will serve as a symbolic start to bringing the devastated Carmel forest back to life after the early December fire that led to 44 deaths and destroyed about five million trees along with many plants and creatures.

It will take massive manpower and money to restore the nature reserve, fix damaged buildings and infrastructure, and care for residents traumatized or left homeless by the blaze. Many government ministries are working together with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) to rehabilitate the forest and prevent future disasters.

The Carmel Forest blankets the coastal Carmel mountain range, the only Israeli biosphere reserve designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze towns and cities are nestled in and around its 80 square miles, including the port city of Haifa on its northern slope. continue reading…