Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Updated: 43 min 3 sec ago
Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins on Wednesday, April 27, in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.
Shmuel Blumenfeld was born in 1926 in Krakow, Poland. In early 1942 he was arrested and sent to the Plaszow forced labor camp with his father who was murdered there. He escaped deportation to the Belzec extermination camp but was sent to Auschwitz where he worked in a coal mine. In January 1945 he was sent on a death march to Buchenwald. After serving in the IDF, he joined the prison service. During the Eichmann trial, Shmuel was one of Eichmann's guards. "I showed him the number on my arm." Shmuel Blumenfeld passed away on April 15, 2022.
Rebecca Elizur was in the first grade when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. The family was arrested in 1942 and taken to the Westerbork transit camp, where deportation trains left weekly for the extermination camps in Eastern Europe. Because her father had a British passport, they were assigned to be exchanged for Germans held by the Allies. Instead of being sent east, the family was deported to Bergen-Belsen. In April 1945, Rebecca and her family were put on a train but the train was bombed. A few days later, they were liberated. Rebecca returned to Amsterdam and immigrated to Israel in 1959.
Zvi Gill was born in 1928 in Zduriska Wola, Poland. In 1942 his father and brothers were taken to the gas trucks in Chelmno, while Zvi and his mother were transported in cattle cars to the Lodz ghetto. Deported to Auschwitz in 1944, he was sent to a forced labor camp and then to Dachau. He collapsed during forced labor in a heavy snowstorm but was saved by an older German guard. He arrived in Israel in 1945, fought in the War of Independence, and became a senior journalist with the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Olga Kay was born in 1926 in Ujfeherto, Hungary. In May 1944, her family was deported to Auschwitz, where most of the family went straight to the gas chambers, while she and her sister Eva were sent to work. In July they were sent to the Kaufering concentration camp in Germany and in November were transferred to Bergen-Belsen. When she was liberated on April 15, 1945, she weighed 55 pounds. In 1985, Olga immigrated from the U.S. to Israel.
Arie Shilansky was born in 1928 in Siauliai, Lithuania. In June 1941, the Germans invaded and a few weeks later, the family was imprisoned in a ghetto. In November 1943, most of the children were taken away while their parents were at work, while Arie hid in a factory. In July 1944 he was sent to the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland, then to a sub-camp of Dachau in Germany, and was liberated in May 1945. In 1948, he immigrated to Israel and fought in the War of Independence.
Shaul Spielmann was born in 1931 in Vienna, Austria. In September 1942, the family was sent to the Terezin ghetto and in November 1943, they were deported to Auschwitz. Shaul's name was on the list of prisoners destined for extermination, but his father Benno, who worked in the camp office as a registrar, moved it to a list of older boys, thus saving him from death. In January 1945, Shaul and the other prisoners were forced on a death march. "We walked in forests, on paths strewn with corpses. At night, the prisoners lay on the ground in the frost; by morning, some had frozen to death." After liberation he immigrated to Israel and fought in the War of Independence and subsequent Israeli wars. He worked in Magen David Adom, saving many lives.
(White House) President Joseph Biden spoke Sunday with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel to discuss shared regional and global security challenges, including the threat posed by Iran and its proxies. Biden noted that both countries have been able to arrive at common positions on difficult matters. The President also accepted an invitation to visit Israel in the coming months.
(Prime Minister's Office) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with President Joe Biden on Sunday and updated him on the efforts to stop the violence and incitement in Jerusalem. They discussed the Iranian issue, in particular the Iranian demand to remove the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) from the U.S. Foreign Terror Organization list. Israel clarified its position that the IRGC is the largest terrorist organization in the world.
(Axios) Barak Ravid -
The U.S. and Israel will hold a new round of strategic talks this week focusing on the Iranian nuclear program and countering Iran's activity in the region, Israeli and U.S. officials said. The Biden administration has recently started discussing a scenario in which the nuclear deal isn't revived. Israel is pressing the administration to cooperate on a "Plan B" in case that happens. Israel's national security adviser Eyal Hulata will arrive in Washington later this week for meetings with his White House counterpart Jake Sullivan.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Early on Friday, hundreds of violent rioters began mass riots on the Temple Mount that included stone throwing and setting off fireworks. Despite the riots, police did not respond in order to enable worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque to complete the prayer. The rioters then began hurling rocks in the direction of the Western Wall, where Jewish prayers were also taking place. As the violence intensified, police were forced to respond with riot dispersal means in order to push the rioters back.
We call on all regional and international actors to condemn this violence, reject fake reports, and contribute to maintaining calm during the upcoming days.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid said Sunday: "In the past three weeks...during Ramadan, terrorist organizations have been trying to hijack the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to create an outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, and from there, a violent conflict across the country. Hamas and Islamic Jihad extremists burst into Al-Aqsa Mosque in the early mornings, again and again. They brought weapons into the mosque. They threw rocks and explosives from within it, and used it as a base to incite violent riots. It is not Israel that endangered worshippers - it is the terrorist organizations who endangered them."
"We have no plans to divide the Temple Mount between religions. We call on Muslim moderates, on Muslim states, to act against this fake news....During Ramadan, Israel ensured that hundreds of thousands of Muslims could go to the Temple Mount and pray at Al-Aqsa....Despite attempts to stoke violence, we have done and continue to do everything to enable peaceful prayer."
(Ha'aretz) Yaniv Kubovich -
Israel on Sunday shut its border crossing with Gaza, blocking the entry of 12,000 Gazan workers, following three rocket launches from Gaza at Israel on Friday and Saturday.
(Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel) Anna Ahronheim -
A Palestinian rocket fired at Israel on Friday fell short and landed near a residential area of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, seriously injuring one Palestinian and lightly wounding three others.
(Globes) Danny Zaken -
Hamas claims it was not responsible for the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, but nothing happens in Gaza without Hamas approval. It is Hamas that is sending the supposedly "wayward" organizations to launch the rockets.
(Ynet News) Yoav Zitun -
Israel fired dozens of artillery shells early Monday at targets in Southern Lebanon, two hours after a rocket fired from there landed in an open field in western Galilee.
(Palestinian Media Watch) Itamar Marcus -
On April 17, 2022, official PA TV broadcast a prayer by a Palestinian imam in the Al-Ain Mosque in El-Bireh: "Grant us victory over the infidels.... Allah, delight us with the conquest and liberation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque....Allah, delight us with the extermination of the evil Jews."
(Israel Hayom) Hanan Greenwood -
A Palestinian sparked a social media firestorm on March 21 when he posted footage of himself setting a mezuzah parchment on fire on TikTok. The man is shown tearing the mezuzah off the doorframe, removing the parchment inside and setting it on fire - all with a big smile on his face.
(Twitter) Foreign Minister Yair Lapid -
A video that went viral on TikTok shows a young Palestinian who destroyed a mezuzah - which contains Hebrew verses from the Torah and is affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes. When you watch this video, think about what would happen if there was a similar video of a young Israeli who did exactly the same thing to a Koran or to a picture of the Prophet Muhammad.
(Ynet News) Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland -
Total calm on the Palestinian front is impossible. On the one hand, a comprehensive peace agreement according to a two-state solution is unfeasible. On the other, the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem can't accept the existing situation as permanent. This leaves us with two possible courses of action: either examining alternative solutions to the conflict and avoid obsessing over the only direction pursued since 1993 or "managing the conflict."
Managing the conflict requires Israel to understand the interests of the other actors. The leadership in Gaza understands that its rule is at risk if it fails to improve, by even a little bit, the state of infrastructure, employment, energy, and water resources. Israel's current policy, which both facilitates a controlled increase in the number of Gazan workers that enter the country and infrastructure projects, is the right move.
The silent majority of Palestinians in the West Bank, as well as the Palestinian security apparatus, can put up with Israeli military operations as long as they are relatively focused and as long as the number of fatalities stays low. Israel cannot give in to the rioters. But if the purpose is to "manage the conflict," the trick is to avoid actions whose cost far outweighs their benefits.
The writer is a former head of Israel's National Security Council.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Lenny Ben-David -
On April 16, 2022, the New York Times decried the Israeli "killings" of 14 Palestinians "in response" to attacks that killed 14 Israelis. Seemingly, a case of tit-for-tat. However, the vast majority of the 14 Palestinians were armed terrorists. Raja Abdulrahim's April 16 article, entitled "Palestinians Decry Israeli Raids as Collective Punishment," dripped with empathy and photographs of Palestinian civilians, particularly mothers and children, who fear Israeli counterterrorist raids.
She reported that Mohammad Zakarneh, 16 (17, by most accounts), was killed "heading home to break his Ramadan fast," while omitting that Palestinian Islamic Jihad tweeted a picture of him wearing a PIJ headband and holding a photo of himself with an assault rifle. How can the Times ignore the many armed terrorists, members of Palestinian terrorist organizations, when their local obituaries include the fighters' pictures in uniform or with weapons?
Abdulrahim's article includes a photo of a martyrs' wall in Jenin, taken by a Times photographer. The caption of the photo claims that "some are civilians." But upon enlarging the picture, not one civilian can be found. All 14 poster obituaries showed the dead men holding weapons or belonging to various terrorist organizations or standing in Jerusalem to defend the Al Aqsa Mosque.
The writer served 25 years in senior posts in AIPAC in Washington and Jerusalem, and as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington.
(Jerusalem Post) Lahav Harkov -
Pro-Israel organizations have submitted nearly two million examples of repression of Jews and violations of their human rights to the UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the past three months. The COI was established last year as an open-ended inquiry into the conflict.
The inquiry called for submissions about the "root causes" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including evidence of human rights violations, such as racial and religious discrimination and repression with "no temporal restrictions," meaning they can be from before Israel was established.
The organizations gathered names of hundreds of thousands of Holocaust victims and Jews who fled persecution and ethnic cleansing in the Middle East and North Africa. They also wrote about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini's collaboration with the Nazis and his role in inciting mass violence against the Jewish people, such as in the 1941 Farhud pogrom in Iraq.
Palestinian Media Watch and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) submitted photos, videos and documents detailing decades of Palestinian incitement to violence against Jews, as well as Palestinian efforts to erase Jewish history and terminate the Jewish state, and the Palestinian Authority's "martyr payments" to families of terrorists. Israel objects to the COI and will not cooperate with it.
(Israel Hayom) Ariel Kahana -
The building in Jerusalem's Old City known today as the Petra Hotel, near Jaffa Gate, which the Jewish Ateret Cohanim association purchased from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate 20 years ago, is currently subject to an international campaign to prevent any Jewish presence at the site. However, historical research shows that the hotel was Jewish-owned from the first half of the 19th century until 1931.
During the British Mandate, the hotel was a magnet for both Jewish and British leaders. In 1918, the cornerstone of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was laid there. The 1929 Arab riots ultimately led the hotel's owner at the time, Yerachmiel Amdursky, to abandon the Amdursky Hotel.
According to Hebrew University Professor Emeritus Ruth Kark, the original hotel was established by the Amzaleg family who made aliyah to Israel from Gibraltar. The family maintained ownership of the property until 1895, with it being reopened as the Amdursky Hotel in 1903.
Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, herself an immigrant from Gibraltar, has embarked on an international media campaign to fight back against attempts to prevent the hotel's transfer to Ateret Cohanim.
(Palestinian Media Watch) Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch -
Analysis of the PA's expenditures in 2021 shows that, per capita, it spends 33 times more paying terror rewards than it spends on health services for the Palestinian population. It spends 11 times more paying terror rewards than it spends on education of Palestinian children, and twice as much as it spends on benefits for needy Palestinians.
In 2021 the PA spent $193 million on terrorist prisoners and released terrorists and another $78 million, at least, on wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists. These sums were paid to 5,000 prisoners, 12,000 released prisoners and 40,000 families of dead terrorists.
The writer served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps and was director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.
(Jerusalem Post) Jonathan Elkhoury, an Arab Israeli Christian, has made it his mission to debunk myths about Israel's Christian minority. Five years ago, Elkhoury formed a group of Israeli minorities - Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouin - who were interested in getting more involved in society, including serving in the Israel Defense Forces. "Now we have so many that are just waiting to go and speak," he said. When Israeli minorities appear on campuses that have anti-Israel activists and they defend the Jewish state, "it shakes their whole lives and beliefs."
Christians make up 2% of Israel's population, around 160,000 people. "Christian society is one of the most successful minorities. We have doctors, lawyers, judges....There is no glass ceiling." Elkhoury said 1/3 of Christian teens join military service or the police.
(Los Angeles Jewish Journal) Amb. Dore Gold -
In 2022, we have two related centers of gravity for energy production, and they both threaten the West: Russia and Iran. In the case of Russia, the European dependence on Russian gas has undermined the West's ability to isolate Vladimir Putin for his savage invasion of Ukraine. In the case of Iran, a major oil producer, the West is preparing to remove sanctions on the world's #1 sponsor of terror. The West should have learned the danger of relying on rogue states for something as fundamental as energy.
After Israel's discovery of the immense Leviathan gas field in 2010 with 18 trillion cubic feet of gas, a team of MIT geologists who analyzed the Levant basin reached the conclusion that there were six more Leviathans within Israel's territorial waters.
An undersea pipeline was envisioned to transport the gas to the European market across the Mediterranean at a distance of 1,180 miles, from Israel to Cyprus and Greece - a distance that was not unprecedented. By comparison, the two Nord Stream undersea pipelines carrying Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany were 764 miles. An agreement covering the proposed EastMed pipeline was signed in 2020 by Israel, Cyprus and Greece, with completion seen in 2025.
Unfortunately, the Biden administration withdrew its support for the EastMed pipeline in January 2022 for reasons that are not entirely clear. At the same time, the new Israeli government halted the granting of licenses for natural gas exploration for one year while it devoted its efforts to work on renewable energy, like solar power and wind power.
The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.