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Celebrate Tu B’Shevat: Plant a Tree Chance to Win a Trip to Israel
Tu B'Shevat celebrates the beginning of a “new year” for trees. What more appropriate way to mark the holiday than by planting trees in Israel! The JNF makes it easy, simply visit www.jnf.org Each tree that you purchase counts as an entry in a sweepstakes for a chance to win a RT to Israel, 2 nights stay at the Carlton, Tel Aviv and 2 VIP tickets to the Yom Yerushalayim celebration on May 24, 2017. Someone is going to win the raffle, it could be you!
NORPAC Mission to Washington: Early Bird Discount
NORPAC’s Mission to Washington is an annual event where over a thousand citizen activists come to Washington, DC, in order to advocate for a stronger U.S.-Israel relationship with Members of Congress. Each year NORPAC selects different issues to present to Members of Congress related to upcoming legislation in the U.S. House and Senate. A talking points handout is supplied to all Mission attendees well before the event in order to bring them up to speed on the latest, most pressing issues and legislation. Attendees are also briefed during the bus ride to Washington.
The 21st annual mission will take place this year on May 13. There is a significant Early Bird discount for those who register by March 13.
Given the recent change in administration, this is an especially important time to participate in the mission. Attendees meet with both Democrats and Republicans in order to insure that Israel remains a bi-partisan concern.
Feel free to reach out to Dan Feder with any questions that you might have.
The Battle for Ammunition Hill: 50 Years Later
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Six Day war and the reunification of Jerusalem. Probably the most famous battle in Jerusalem was the battle for Ammunition Hill (Givat Hatahmoshet) in which Israeli soldiers fought their way up a steep hill against a heavily fortified Jordanian bunkers.
The Jerusalem Post recently ran an article in which they interviewed one of the heroes of that battle. Here is an excerpt.
I was really scared cared,” recalls Jacob Haimovitch, better known as Yaki Hetz, as he ponders the heroic role he was thrust into during the Battle for Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. “It all happened so quickly.”
Hetz was just a 21-year-old private when he and his comrades in Motta Gur’s 55th Paratroopers Brigade’s 66th Regiment attacked the strategic site from the west at 2:30 a.m. on June 6, 1967 and came under unexpectedly intense Jordanian resistance. When his platoon’s bazookaman and then its commander were hit by Jordanian fire, he swiftly took command and led his men into the dark trench.
“Although I was a simple soldier, I knew we couldn’t lose the momentum of the battle,” he says, sitting at the entrance to the Ammunition Hill National Heritage & Memorial Site. “My friends told me afterwards that I actually shouted, “Aharai!” [Follow me] and then shot two bullets in the air.”
Hetz administered first aid to one of his soldiers, then shot two Jordanian soldiers as he and his men proceeded to move through the trench under heavy fire. They eventually blew up the main Jordanian bunker with hand grenades and took control of the Hill. Thirty-six Israeli soldiers and 71 Jordanians were killed in the bloody battle that ended at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. Hetz received an IDF Medal of Courage for his leadership role in a key battle to reunite Jerusalem. He went on to receive an IDF Southern Command citation for his heroism in the Battle for the Chinese Farm during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Asked what he had learned in the past 50 years, Hetz pauses and says: “I am very much for peace, but we must first of all be strong. If we’re not strong, our enemies will slaughter us. Our strength is in our spirit. The Jordanians were better soldiers from a professional point of view, and they had better weapons. But we won because of our fighting spirit. We have to pass this spirit on from generation to generation. That’s the most important thing, and it’s why I still come here regularly to guide groups and tell my story.”
A very famous song about the battle of Ammunition Hill was written by Yoram Taharley. You can listen to it with English subtitles and with scenes from the battle by clicking here in the online version of the Israel Corner
Celebrate Tu B’Shevat: Plant a Tree Chance to Win a Trip to Israel
Tu B’Shevat celebrates the beginning of a “new year” for trees. What more appropriate way to mark the holiday than by planting trees in Israel! The JNF makes it easy, simply visit www.jnf.org Each tree that you purchase counts as an entry in a sweepstakes for a chance to win a RT to Israel, 2 nights stay at the Carlton, Tel Aviv and 2 VIP tickets to the Yom Yerushalayim celebration on May 24, 2017. Someone is going to win the raffle, it could be you!
Shall We Dance?
The world-famous Batsheva Dance Company will be performing at the Brooklyn Academy for Music (BAM) this Motzaei Shabbat at 7:30 PM. To view the program and to order tickets, click here
Hakarat HaTov: Palestinian family saves Israeli lives in nighttime bus crash
In his drasha last Shabbat, Rabbi Rosenfeld mentioned a bus crash in Israel on a route that he himself used to travel when he served in the IDF. There was a very positive angle to the story. Read the recounting of the events as they were reported by Ynetnews
It's nighttime in the Binyamin region. A Palestinian family from the village of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya notices an upturned bus that had rolled downhill from the nearby road leading to the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Levona. Without a moment to lose, the family heads out while still in their pajamas, and under the pouring rain assist those hurt in the accident, where two people had lost their lives.
Capt. Sivan Raviv, a medical officer in the Binyamin Division, told Ynet that the family was the first to call emergency services late Friday night, and that their quick thinking saved lives. "They didn't hesitate or stop to weigh things out. They saw that human lives were on the line. When we arrived at the site we saw the family members already trying to extract the injured parties and offer them treatment."
At that very moment, the region's complex reality was underscored when a few kilometers away from the accident infantry soldiers from the Kfir Brigade were in hot pursuit of an armed terrorist near the Palestinian village of Aboud, where two shooting attacks had taken place with a 24-hour period. When word of the accident reached them, the soldiers divided into two groups—one to continue the chase after the terrorist, and the other to go tend to those hurt in the accident. Once arriving on the scene, they worked together with members of the Palestinian family to help rescue the injured parties.
Shortly after the family called to report the accident, Magen David Adom, a fire fighting unit, residents from Ma'ale Levona and additional medical teams arrived, and together they managed to evacuate those injured to several hospitals within an hour and a half. "We didn't give up," said Sivan. "It was hard to carry those injured on gurneys through the mud, while we fell down, got back up and lifted them once more, until reaching the ambulances and the two helicopters belonging to Unit 669 (the IDF Combat Search and Rescue unit—ed) that were waiting for us nearby."
An Inconvenient Truth (for Some)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who assumed office Jan. 1, said it is “completely clear” that Jerusalem’s Temple Mount was home to the ancient Jewish Temple.
Guterres told Israel Radio last Friday that it is “completely clear the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple,” referring to the second of the two Jewish Temples. He added that there is “no doubt” that Jerusalem is holy to all three Abrahamic religions.
While this might seem obvious to all of us, the statement went against resolutions that were passed by UNESCO last year which referred to the Temple Mount and the adjacent area only by their Arabic names and ignored Jewish and Christian ties which go back millennia. Not surprisingly, Palestinian officials were quick to condemn Guterres’s remarks.
“[The statements] are a direct attack on the Palestinian people’s right in the holy city, biased in favor of the site of occupation, and akin to granting legitimacy to Israel’s illegal presence in Jerusalem,” said Fayez Abu Eitah, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council.
Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told China’s Xinhua News Agency that Guterres’s comments “ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aqsa mosque of pure Islamic heritage,” and “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs and overstepped his role as secretary-general…and [he] must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”
May Their Memory be a Blessing
Four young lives were snuffed out this past Sunday in a vehicular terror attack on IDF soldiers in Jerusalem while they were on a cultural trip.
Cadet Shir Hajaj (22), from Ma'ale Adumim, was the oldest of four daughters. "Shir, my sister, what a loss. I am so sorry. Where are you? I'm sorry you didn't get your life. What a good family we had. What a good childhood. From now on, all your beauty will be robbed in the sadness of your song," said her sister, Bar, in reference to Shir's name, which is the Hebrew word for "song."
"She was a flower and we expected great things from her. She had great determination and perseverance. There are no other children like her" added her mother, Merav.
Lieutenant Yael Yakutiel (20) from Givataym. Her parents, Yaakov and Shelly, stood together while Yael's father eulogized his daughter. "There is no beginning, middle or end. We don't have enough of you. You were so loved. Your wonderful smile, love of life, love of others and the fun we had with you."
"You were funny, studious and good-natured. After you got angry, you would forgive. You thought a lot. We didn't get enough of you. You were a teacher, a soldier, and wanted to do something meaningful in education. You took us on a tour of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in order to practice the tour you would give to cadets.”
Second Liutenant Shira Tzur, 20, from Haifa, began her military service in the Israeli Air Force flight academy, but transferred to her current unit with the intent of becoming an officer.
Shira was "full of happiness and loved to give and contribute. She was a counselor in the scouts and excelled in everything she did. Shira and her family were the salt of the earth and we all embrace them at this difficult moment. She was a child full of energy and was always smiling."
"Shirush, where are you? Why did you leave me?" her grandfather called out over her grave. "Who's going to call now and tell me, ‘Sabba, how are you doing'?"
Erez Orbach, 20, from Alon Shvut, volunteered for IDF service and was a cadet at the IDF's Officer's Training School. He was born and raised in the settlement of Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. He was excelling student at the high school yeshiva he attended in Efrat and later attended the Ma'alot hesder yeshiva, which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service.
Rabbi Yaakov Fisher, who heads the yeshiva Erez studied in, remembered the person he was. "Erez was a guy full of willpower and motivation, very determined, but inside he was tender, gentle and sensitive, with principles and values, who was beloved by all.” "He will be remembered for his constant smile and his willingness to assist and volunteer for any good cause."
Call, Don't Email Your Legislator
The New York Times reports that activists of all political stripes recommend calling legislators, not just emailing — and certainly not just venting on social media. Even if you don’t speak directly to the lawmaker, staff members often pass the message along in one form or another. Often, when a caller offers an opinion, staff members write the comments down in a spreadsheet, compile them each month and present reports to top officials. When you call, identify yourself as one of their constituents. Of course, always be polite when you call.
Key Phone Numbers
Senator Chuck Schumer (212) 486-4430 in New York and (202) 224-6542 in Washington
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (212) 688-6262 in New York and (202) 224-4451 in Washington
Congressman Jerold Nadler (212) 367-7350 in New York and (202) 225-5635 in Washington
Fighting Back Against U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334
In recent editions of the Israel Corner we reported on the passage of UNSC Resolution 2334 which condemned Israeli settlements and went so far as to label the Kotel as occupied territory. The resolution passed when the United States chose to abstain from voting rather than do what it normally does in these one-sided resolutions, which is to veto it. Last week we reported that the House of Representatives as one of the very first acts of the new Congress voted 342 to 80 to call for the repeal of the UN vote.
Now, the action moves to the Senate. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have introduced a bipartisan resolution in the Senate that expresses opposition to UNSC Resolution 2334 and calls for it to be repealed or significantly altered. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand are both co-sponsors of the Senate resolution. Please contact their office and thank them for their support. Also, spread the word to your friends and family across the country so that they may contact their respective Senators. The easiest way to do so, is to go to aipac.org and click on the link provided to have AIPAC send requests for support to the Senators on behalf of the behalf constituents. Visitors to the site are asked to provide their address which is then used to route the message to the appropriate Senators. Better yet, call their offices.
Israeli Soldier from Gaza War Succumbs to his Wounds
Maj. Hagai Ben-Ari, who was critically wounded during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge and had been unconscious since then, passed away on Tuesday. In his passing, he became the 68th IDF soldier killed in the Gaza war. The 31-year-old officer was highly-regarded and was supposed to be appointed the commander of the Paratrooper Commando Unit. His soldiers admired him. Even long after he was injured, friends kept visiting, coming to embrace him, talk to him, and encourage him. "Hagai had a rare quality of being able to touch people," his wife, Moriya said. “A kind of exceptional emotional intelligence that made people admire him and want to share their deepest secrets and plans with him and seek his advice.”
House of Representatives Condemns UN Security Council Resolution on Israeli Settlements
HaKarat HaTov to all those who contacted their Congressman and urged them to support the Congressional resolution that expresses opposition to UNSC Resolution 2334 and calls for it to be repealed or significantly altered. The resolution passed by a vote of 342 to 80. Congressman Jerry Nadler voted in support of the resolution.
United Nations Security Council Resolution re Settlements
Why Does it Matter?
Some may think “who cares about the UN vote?” Here is why it does matter:
The resolution makes Israeli citizens that are involved in the settlement enterprise in the West Bank vulnerable to lawsuits in courts all over the world. The resolution opens the door for lawsuits against Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court: government ministers and senior IDF officers who make decisions about construction in the settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes, or the expropriation of lands could be accused of war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
The resolution creates a distinction between the State of Israel and the settlements built on lands captured in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. It calls on the international community not to aid those settlements and allows for countries and organizations to boycott the settlement enterprise. Such a move would lead banks, gas stations, HMOs, retailers, high-tech companies and others to close their branches beyond Green Line to avoid being included in the "blacklist" of companies doing business in the settlements and consequently being boycotted as a result.
Senator Chuck Schumer
“The U.N. has been a fervently anti-Israel body since the days of ‘Zionism is racism’ and, unfortunately, that fervor has never diminished. Knowing this, past Administrations - both Democrat and Republican- have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution. Unfortunately, this Administration has not followed in that path and its actions will move us further from peace in the Middle East.”
Congressman Jerry Nadler
“Rather than bringing a peaceful accord nearer, the United Nations Security Council’s approval of today's one-sided resolution pushes both sides further apart. The resolution seeks to create an irresponsible and inaccurate narrative, making no mention of Palestinian responsibility, either for their incitement of violence or their refusal to return to talks with the Israelis, and only serves the purpose of seeking to delegitimize Israel on the world stage.” For more articles, visit www.lss.org/advocacy
PM Benjamin Netanyahu's response to Secretary of State John Kerry Speech
Video of Bibi's speech >>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9RqR8oKsqk.
Israeli Victims of Terror
Israeli Dalia Elyakim was killed in the terror attack at a Christmas market in Berlin. Her husband, Rami was severely wounded.
Moshe Egoz, a friend of the Elyakims, described the pair as a “dream couple that loved life and loved to have fun and travel.”
Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon paid tribute to 60-year-old Dalia as a “smiling, happy” woman who loved to travel.
“Dear family members, we accompany you as we lay to rest Dalia Elyakim, a resident of Herzliya. Dalia was murdered on German soil by a heinous and vile terrorist, heartless and without a conscience. The terrorist chose to attack a place where locals and tourists walked through a market, happy at the approach of the new year, and instantly destroyed the world of dozens of families,” Fadlon said.
Layan Nasser, was killed in the shooting attack in the nightclub in Istanbul on New Year's Eve. Ranna Matira, who knew Layan personally, described her as everyone’s friend. “We all loved her. She would always say to us, ‘I really love you, take care of yourselves and always stay in touch with me. Don’t lose contact.’ It breaks my heart. The moment that I heard about her death I remembered her beautiful words.”
Donate to Israel....Wisely
The end of the year is a time when many people make contributions which they can then apply towards this year’s taxes. There are tens of thousands of charitable organizations in the States and in Israel. How do we select which ones use the money wisely? For American institutions, many people turn to web sites like www.charitynavigator.com
What about donations to organizations in Israel?
Midot is a non-profit company that strives to promote effectiveness and impact as the main criterion for social investors and for Non-Profit Organization (NPO) leaders by rating NPOs and producing sector analysis reports. There web site www.midot.org.il/english explains the methodology they use to measure organizations’ effectiveness and lists those that meet their stringent criteria.
U.S. Senate Authorizes $600 Million in Israeli Defense Funding
Thanks to the overwhelming support of Congress and the leadership of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), this measure will ensure that Israel maintains a military edge over potential aggressors and strengthens America's anti-missile capabilities.
This funding in the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) for Fiscal year 2017 (FY2017) will go toward US-Israel joint developed anti-missile programs such as Iron Dome ($62m), David's Sling ($150m) and Arrow 3 ($120m). It will also provide funds for research and development of new counter-terrorist measures, and additional funding for anti-tunneling technology. The funding in this bill is above and beyond the $3.1 billion military aid package already allocated as part of the outgoing Memorandum of Understanding. [Source: Norpac]
After the Fires
The fires that caused so much damage in Israel have been put out but the need for assistance continues. Hundreds of people have lost their homes with all their belongings to the raging flames. Thanks to the generous response from our community, thousands of dollars have already been distributed to fire victims in Haifa, Talmon, Neve Tzuf and Zichron Yaakov.
If you have not yet contributed, please consider doing so. Click here to make an online donation or send a check to the shul, made payable to "LSS Chesed Fund" and write "Fires in Israel" in the memo line
Israel's Wounded Warriors: Day of Recognition
Most of us are familiar with Yom Ha’Zicharon when Israel commemorates its fallen soldiers. In 2014, Israel instituted a Day of Recognition (Yom Ha'hukara) when it recognizes injured IDF veterans and injured victims of terror. This year, the Day of Recognition falls on Thursday, December 15. Speaking at the ceremony to mark the day, President Rivlin said:
"When the clouds of smoke have dispersed and the blood stains washed from the streets. So begins your journey. This is the battle after the war. The battle after the terror. A battle, not limited to time and place, and with no medals or awards. A battle that you fight with an injured body, and often, with an aching soul." A battle to breathe, to get up, to stand, to eat unassisted, to speak, to read and to write. To do up laces, buttons, to hold a cup without it falling. To hold a child in your arms. To sleep one night in peace and tranquility, free from nightmares and pain.
But you do not stand alone. Israeli society needs to learn from you not only what it means to be a hero, but also, and perhaps more importantly, what it means to cope, constantly and persistently, with challenges and obstacles." The president concluded "may the next year see no more injured soldiers, or victims of terror."
Please visit the Yom Ha’Hukara web site to learn more about the Day of Recognition, to hear directly from President Rivlin, from children expressing their thanks to the wounded soldiers and from the soldiers themselves. There is even a link to a Facebook page where you can add your thanks and “salute” to these heroes.