NETANYAHU: PALESTINIANS MUST FACE REALITY OVER JERUSALEM















Last Benjamin Netanyahu said Jerusalem had been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and had "never been the capital of any other people".

He spoke amid ongoing protests in the Muslim and Arab world at a US decision recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.

Violence flared near the US embassy in Lebanon and elsewhere on Sunday.

Speaking in Paris after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Netanyahu said efforts to deny the "millennial connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem" were "absurd".

"You can read it in a very fine book - it's called the Bible," he said. "You can read it after the Bible. You can hear it in the history of Jewish communities throughout our diaspora... Where else is the capital of Israel, but in Jerusalem?

"The sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we will move towards peace."
Raft of protests

There has been widespread condemnation of President Donald Trump's decision - announced on Wednesday - to reverse decades of US neutrality on the status of Jerusalem which cuts to the heart of the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The city is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel in the 1967 war - as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Sunday has seen a further raft of protests at the US move:

In Beirut, riot police used teargas and water cannon to stop hundreds of protesters from reaching the US embassy

Further protests took place in Cairo and Rabat, the Moroccan capital

In the Palestinian territories themselves protests continued while Israel said it had blown up a tunnel from Gaza, which it says was being dug to enable militant attacks

Thousands of people demonstrated outside the US embassy in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, some waving banners reading "Palestine is in our hearts"

A burning object was thrown at a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg late on Saturday in what police said was a failed arson attempt

US allies round on Trump over Jerusalem

How are capital cities chosen and what do they represent?
Vicious row between two leaders

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a large rally in Istanbul he would not abandon Jerusalem to a state that "kills children".

Mr Netanyahu said the Turkish leader had "attacked Israel".


"I'm not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villages in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, helps Iran go around international sanctions and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people," he added.

Mr Erdoğan has described Jerusalem as a "red line" issue for Muslims and warned Turkey could end up severing diplomatic ties with Israel over the issue.

Turkey and Israel only restored diplomatic relations last year, six years after Turkey cut ties in protest at the killing of nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists in clashes with Israeli commandos on board a ship trying to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.


WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS CONDEMNS FIREBOMB ATTACK ON SWEDISH SYNAGOGUE


NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress has expressed extreme concern after a gang of masked men hurled firebombs at a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg on Saturday night.  “Anti-Semitic violence will never be tolerated; we call on all European governments to make this message infinitely clear and enforced,” said WJC CEO Robert Singer.

“The terror targeting the Jewish community in Gothenburg is a cause for extreme concern and vigilance. There can be no tolerance for any anti-Semitic violence or hate speech of any kind, and the World Jewish Congress stands vigilant in its support of the Swedish community,” Singer said. “We urge the Swedish authorities to take every measure possible to ensure the safety, security and well-being of its citizens. No person should ever have to live in fear or danger.”

“On my recent visit to Sweden I held in-depth discussions with members of the community and they made it clear to me that their security in the face of rising anti-Semitism was their greatest concern. During my visit, I met with Sweden's minister of justice, the minister of democracy responsible for minorities, the national police commissioner, and the chief of police for Greater Gothenberg on this issue. We trust that the Swedish authorities are taking responsibility for the safety of the community and its venues and are treating this matter with the utmost attentiveness and seriousness, and we stand ready to provide all forms of support,” Singer added.

“Just a few months ago, on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Gothenburg community was faced with a serious neo-Nazi demonstration scheduled to march past its synagogue on the holiest day of the Jewish year, which was derailed following intervention by the local administrative court in Gothenburg, and after significant measures taken by the community, and with our assistance, all at the highest levels,” Singer said.

"Anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head on both the right and the left across Europe, but regardless of where it is coming from, it will not be tolerated. We call on the governments of Sweden and all European countries to make this message infinitely clear and enforced,” said Singer.

"Anti-Semitic violence will never be tolerated; we call on all European governments to make this message infinitely clear and enforced," WJC CEO Robert Singer said.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.


WOMEN HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS SHOW ‘ZEST FOR LIFE’ AT UNUSUAL ISRAELI FASHION SHOW

















JERUSALEM --  An unusual fashion show featuring elderly Holocaust survivors took place in the Negev Desert city of Arad Tuesday night, thanks to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) and local organizations.

Seven women survivors, four originally from the former Soviet Union, participated in the fashion show, which was held in cooperation with the Association for the Elderly in Arad and the Department of Welfare of the Municipality of Arad at the “Sounds of the Desert” senior citizens club. The women, all of whom receive support from The Fellowship including food, medicine, and home heating fuel, showed original designs by Irene Boutique Fashion. The Fellowship is currently funding projects in Israel that are helping 19,000 Holocaust survivors.

Elizabeth Rodich is one of the four survivors who modeled at the event. Born in 1937 in Ukraine, she was barely a toddler when World War II broke out and her parents and three brothers fled with her to Oryol in present-day Russia. Her eldest brother was conscripted into the Red Army and returned after the war severely crippled, his leg amputated.

“My mother was also a seamstress. During the war years, we had nothing. My mother would sew us clothing from frayed scraps of fabric. I remember receiving my first real dress when I was 15. It was so beautiful and perfect that I didn’t dare to wear it! I’ve worn my own clothes all my life, dresses that I designed on my own, hats, and even shoes. I’m really excited about this show.”

Rodich added: “When I wear special clothes, I feel like I’m doing it for the first time. I have a dream that I still hope to realize -- to create a special exhibition that will include all my designs – the dresses, shoes, hats and handbags that I’ve sewn throughout my life.”

The Fellowship’s local coordinator, Nadine Gino, said the show was important so “that our elderly women feel young, fresh and vibrant.” The Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, said it was “heartwarming” to see the women “enjoying rich, full years of life.”

“These women and other survivors and elderly who rely on our support endured unimaginable suffering during the Holocaust. Through an event like this, these survivors teach us about real beauty, pride, and a zest for life. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this, and to help tens of thousands of elderly and Holocaust survivors in Israel,” Eckstein said.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide – and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Led by its founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $140 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.4 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Toronto, and Seoul.





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JERUSALEM: NETANYAHU SEES EU FOLLOWING

US RECOGNITION














Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he expects European countries to follow the US in recognising Jerusalem as his country's capital. He is in Brussels for talks - the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited the city in more than 20 years.

The EU wants to see Jerusalem as the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states under a peace process.

Donald Trump's move has left the US isolated on a highly sensitive issue between Israel and the Palestinians.But arriving in Brussels, Mr Netanyahu again welcomed the announcement, saying Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and Mr Trump had put "facts squarely on the table".

"I believe that all, or most, European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity and peace," he added.

As well as recognising Jerusalem, President Trump also said he was directing the US state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


"You know where the European Union stands," the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said. "We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both."

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel in the 1967 war - as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.Jerusalem is also home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Mr Trump's announcement sparked fierce protests in the Middle East which again flared on Sunday. In the Lebanese capital Beirut police used tear gas to stop demonstrators reaching the US embassy, while in Jerusalem itself, a Palestinian was arrested after stabbing and seriously wounding an Israeli security guard. --BBCi


HANUKKAH IS A REFLECTION OF OUR TIMES SAYS RENAISSANCE RABBI


By ERIKA LOPEZ

The recent turmoil in the United States, as dark forces intent on maintaining racist and sexist policies, make the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah the perfect celebration for our times. The Jewish Festival of Lights, celebrated for eight nights to mark the victory of the resistance to tyranny by a small band of Jewish freedom fighters called the Maccabees, is an excellent example of the forces of light overcoming darkness, says Herb Freed who is an author, filmmaker and rabbi.

Freed, who was a protégé of civil rights legend Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, is deeply interested in the spiritual connections that bind us including humanity, brotherhood and love. His novel, Bashert, looks at the divine force of love that connects two souls. Freed fears we have lost our way. He asks, “How did America allow a few people with great wealth and power to douse the lights of caring, sharing, protecting our neighbors and convince us that the old virtue of loving our neighbors as ourselves must be eradicated?”

Hanukkah provides hope for these times. Beyond the fun of indulging in fried foods, playing games of dreidel, singing and dancing, lies an important message, Freed believes. “Can we kindle the lights of sanity once again? I say we must. The world depends on it. Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights, is the time to proclaim resistance to demagoguery and a worship of false idols. It’s time to resist tyranny and embrace our common humanity.”

HERB FREED started his adult life as an ordained rabbi and became the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Lake Mahopac, New York while producing and directing three shows at the Maidman Playhouse in New York City. Eventually, he resigned his pulpit to become a movie director. He has directed and produced 15 feature films most of which have had psychological, spiritual and/or social themes in spite of their commercial categories. He is best known for Graduation Day, a horror film, and Tomboy, a teenage romp, as well as the psychological drama Haunts, and CHILD2MAN, a story of survival during the Watts riots.

If you have any interest in speaking with Herb, or featuring his thoughts during the holiday season, please shoot me a quick email. Thank you so much for your time!
.--BBCi 


LARGEST FSU JEWISH TEEN GATHERING SPOTLIGHTS EMERGING LEADERS


NEW YORK, NY -- More than 350 Jewish teens and young adult leaders from the former Soviet Union recently celebrated their role in strengthening Jewish life at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Active Jewish Teens (AJT) Conference in Kharkov, Ukraine.

The gathering, created and ran with the AJT teens, included participants from JDC and BBYO networks in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia, and Israel. And for the first time, American teens active in BBYO, the Jewish teen movement, will also join as part of JDC and BBYO’s global partnership focused on building a worldwide movement of Jewish young people.

“It’s nothing short of miraculous that in just one generation since the fall of Communism, these teens are proudly exploring and embracing their Jewish identity and building new avenues for Jewish life through innovative projects, volunteerism, and meaningful leadership roles,” JDC CEO David Schizer said. “We can be quite proud of the role we have played in making this dream — of impassioned young Jews dedicated to Jewish community and the wider Jewish world — a reality, and to have partners like BBYO to support the robust engagement of local teens from Ukraine to Latvia.”
 
The conference’s overall focus was on Jewish values, with more than 100 workshops exposing the teens to tikkun olam (repairing the world), Jewish mutual responsibility, Jewish laws and customs, volunteerism best practices, and contemporary interpretations of classic Jewish texts. A stand-out session mimicked the U.S.-based hit show “Shark Tank,” enabling five teens to present grassroots projects they want to implement in their community. The selected winner received a small grant from a committee made up of donors and a JDC representative to jumpstart their effort.

"As AJT president, I have learned that creative thinking, good communication, and effective time management are key to getting things done. But for me, the most important thing that AJT has given me is a strong connection to Jewish culture and Judaism.  It is this connection to my Jewish heritage that is my source of inspiration and motivation to continue working on behalf of my community now and in the future,” said Dima Arutynov, 18, Co-President of AJT.

Teen participants will learn from inspiring speakers and AJT teachers, graduates of JDC’s flagship Metusda leadership program, directors of youth clubs, and well-known local and Israeli educators to deepen their Jewish knowledge. A festive opening kickoff will be led by the current AJT President and Parliament. Attendees can also participate in a Jewish song leading sessions led by BBYO song leaders, as well as Israeli dancing and an art workshop, Shabbat and Havdalah ceremonies, and the election of the new AJT presidents.

“No matter where in the world, when teens are given the opportunity to build their own experiences and create their own community, they usually exceed their own lofty expectations” said Matt Grossman, BBYO CEO.  “Their optimism and creativity are writing a new history for Jewish organizations and Jewish life.”

Active Jewish Teens (AJT) is JDC’s rapidly expanding Jewish youth group and peer network grew out of a confluence of enthusiastic grassroots efforts, and growing demand, by Jewish youth in Ukraine and Russia and the wider former Soviet Union, to build connectivity between young Jews in the region.  This was made possible by combining guidance and resources from both JDC and BBYO and the expertise of JDC-BBYO fellows placed in Ukraine through JDC Entwine who helped provide critical tools to shape and build the movement of which these young Jews dreamed.

"During my experience as AJT president, I have learned how to effectively communicate with my peers, how to lead and motivate others, and how to make dreams come true!  A year ago when I was running for president, I campaigned on having more sports at AJT – and this year we had an AJT Sports day in which over 20 cities from across the FSU participated in day of sports!  I learned hard work and determination – and dreams -- can bring results, 16-year-old co-president of AJT Eva Shepilova said.  
In just three years, AJT’s network has flourished, now connecting over 3,000 teens through local chapters in 57 cities across the former Soviet Union. AJT brings teens together at its annual conference, now in its fourth year, just like their teenage peers in JDC-BBYO partner communities around the world.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.


AGUDATH ISRAEL COMMENDS HOUSE COMMITTEE ON TAYLOR FORCE ACT


Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox Jewish organization, commends the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for unanimously reporting out the Taylor Force Act, bipartisan legislation that will, among other things, terminate the current practice of providing payments to terrorists and their families.
 
The action by the House Committee is a meaningful step forward in the U.S. fight to combat terrorism. Providing aid to a regime, the Palestinian Authority, that rewards and glorifies murder against innocents casts a shadow on our nation's commitment to that fight.  It does more than "send the wrong message" - it indirectly provides material support to these nefarious acts.  The House Committee has declared that this is intolerable.
 
We congratulate Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) for sponsoring this important bill, and thank Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) for their leadership in moving it forward.