Wednesday, December 25, 2019

From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: Happy Hanukkah from Trump and Johnson
Trump’s and Johnson’s words are especially apt in light of the assault against Israel launched on Friday by the International Criminal Court. Responding to a petition by the Palestinian Authority, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the opening of an investigation into Israeli "war crimes" allegedly committed by the Israel Defense Forces during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014. The absurd probe is the latest in a long line of discriminatory measures taken against the Jewish state by the so-called "international community."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed this very issue when he lit the first Hanukkah candle at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Sunday with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

"2,200 years ago, the Maccabees fought the war of liberation for the Jewish people and the Jewish faith against the anti-Semitic Greeks," said Netanyahu. "They wanted to extinguish our faith, to stamp on our freedom, to drive us out of this land, to say that we have no right to exist."

He went on: "We have fought against immeasurable odds, as no people has fought in history. We crossed the abyss from extinction to survival, independence, and now a thriving democracy. And yet, we find ourselves now, in the beginning of the 21st century – in the year 2019 – where the International Criminal Court, that should know otherwise, has set forth decrees that are just as anti-Semitic as the decrees of the Greeks."

Trump and Johnson couldn’t have said it better themselves.

10 hate crimes that shattered 2019, 10 angels who put it back together
2019 has been a year marred by a number of targeted mass shootings around the world, leaving minority populations reeling from the hate flung their way. But in the face of such darkness, it has also produced some remarkable moments of outstanding courage and determination not to let hate win.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have listed their the top ten moments of hope and hate this year, with mass shootings in El Paso, Texas Christchurch, New Zealand, and Jersey City topping the list; mass shootings account for half of the hate list. Three of the shootings took place in mosques and synagogues; one occurred on Yom Kippur.

On the hope list, it is the moments of human kindness that stand out: a Muslim woman defending a Jewish family against antisemitic hate on the London underground, while in Oregon a teenager inspires a new law to mandate Holocaust education in schools.

In August, 22 people were killed and 26 injured after a gun-man drove for more than 11 hours specifically to target Mexicans at a Walmart in El Paso, an attack which the ADL’s Center on Extremism noted was "the deadliest white supremacist attack in the U.S. in more than 50 years."

The attack came just months after a similar onslaught against Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March which left 50 dead. In both Christchurch and El Paso the shooters posted messages to web chat board 4Chan, stating white supremacist views.

"The attack on Christchurch underscored the fact that white supremacy is a global terror threat whose ideology manifests around the world and results in acts of violence in many instances," the ADL said in their report.

The Orthodox Jewish community in the New York Metropolitan area has been the target of a number of attacks over the last year, culminating in the killing of three people at a Kosher supermarket in an attack in which a policeman also lost his life. The targeted attack was tied to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which has professed antisemitic beliefs.

Synagogues were also the targets of the next two events on the list, at the Chabad Congregation of Poway, California, and in Halle, Germany. The Poway shooter was another who posted a manifesto online, speaking of his hatred for non-Christians and holding up the Christchurch shooter as a role model.

But as difficult as these attacks are, the top event on ADL's hope list is a timely reminder that hate can be overcome.
Whose problem is antisemitism? Everyone's
THE GLOBAL interconnectedness of contemporary antisemitism means that the effort to confront and roll it back must also be global. Arabs who recognize the damage antisemitism has done to their own societies should also recognize that on the right-wing fringes of American racism, Arabs and Muslims fare little better than Jews in the pantheon of those most vigorously despised and demonized. Americans, for their part, should see that Arab antisemitism is also their problem, and bear up to the responsibilities of fighting it.

But how? What is the American role in fighting antisemitism in Arab countries – and who are America’s natural allies in that struggle?
The most common answer one hears revolves around the need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and with good reason. The conflict exacerbates the problem – and an eventual resolution, in my judgment by way of a two-state solution – will clear much of the swamp in which Arab antisemitism festers.

After generations of a US diplomatic focus on high politics to resolve the conflict, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has placed new emphasis on the economic dimensions of the challenge. Creating new business partnerships based on “win-win” outcomes for Israelis and Palestinians alike could in due course augment traditional diplomacy and help build the range of viable Palestinian institutions necessary for sustainable governance.

But functional approaches by themselves are no panacea. We must not forget that among the September 11 hijackers were several well-educated and well-heeled young people. Their extremism flowed not from economic disadvantage but from a cultural pathology of brainwashing. To expunge that pathology, Arab autocrats – beginning with those allied with the US – must at last expunge this vile content from the schools, mosques and media they control.

A difficult truth about political life is that while it usually takes two or more parties working together in good faith to advance brotherhood and peace, it often takes only one to block or tear down that work. That is why our efforts to build a better world cannot rest. It is also why, as the God of Abraham is our witness, fighting antisemitism as well as anti-Islamic and anti-Arab bigotry is ultimately one seamless fight that must involve people of good will everywhere. Arabs and Jews simply must stop hating each other so that together we can face the truly dangerous people who hate us both.

The writer is a Moroccan publisher. He is on the board of directors of the Atlantic Council and an international counselor of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The top Mossad spy who befriended his terrorist target — then had him killed
When the Mossad in 1974 sent a solitary agent to live under deep cover in Beirut and arrange the assassination of the mastermind of the 1972 Munich massacre, it gave him one clear order: make no contact with the target.

The spy didn’t just defy that order. He ended up becoming one of Ali Hassan Salameh’s closest friends, before becoming one of his killers.

Today he is a figure celebrated in Mossad as something of a legend, responsible for one of its most famous successes.

On Monday that spy, identified only as Agent D, spoke on television for the first time about his work to bring down Israel’s most wanted terrorist in the wake of the Munich killings.

The 1972 attack at the Munich Olympics saw 11 Israeli athletes murdered by the Black September Palestinian terror group. In the years following the attack, the Mossad assassinated many of the figures behind the attack, as has been featured in Steven Spielberg’s sometimes-controversial film Munich — but one target eluded the spy organization: Salameh, chief of operations for Black September.

Salameh, known as the “Red Prince,” was the son of a top Arab commander killed in the 1948 war over Israel’s creation. Living in the Lebanese capital Beirut, he was a key ally and potential successor of Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization. And he was known for his lavish, playboy lifestyle. But the Mossad couldn’t get near him.

Enter Agent D, who was sent to live in Beirut and Syrian capital Damascus under an assumed identity and spent years trailing Salameh and conveying information on his movements to the Mossad.

The agent spoke to Channel 13 as part of its “Hit List” docuseries. He described a life under cover that was both lonely and dangerous.

“Being there long-term when you’re alone and lonely includes a factor of mental, emotional and psychological stress,” he said. “A person gets worn down. He can suddenly make a mistake… and out himself.”
Discovering Palestine
In 19th-century guidebooks, Christian holy sites received considerably more attention – and devotion – than the sacred places of Jews and Muslims. And revealingly, none of the authors referred to Arabs as "Palestinians."

The first popular tourist guide devoted to Palestine (and Syria), subtitled Handbook for Travelers and published in 1876, was edited by Karl Baedeker whose German grandfather had been the world’s most renowned guidebook publisher. By the time of the 1898 edition, when the travel memoir had yielded to the travel guidebook, there was a sufficient flow of tourists to Palestine to justify detailed information about appropriate clothing (ranging from "dust mantles" to "woolen drawers," "rubber collars and cuffs" and a "pith helmet"). Visitors were warned of "crowds of ragged, half-naked children shouting backshish," hoping for a few coins. Travelers were instructed how to say at the Bath, "You need not rub me."

In Jerusalem, "a dirty modern town" with a "crust of rubbish and decay," the "fanaticism and jealous exclusiveness of the numerous religious communities … form the chief modern characteristics of the city." Little attention was paid to the decrepit and unappealing Jewish Quarter, except for "the Wailing Place of the Jews," where "a touching scene is presented by the figures leaning against the weather-beaten wall, kissing the stones, and weeping." There "the Spanish Jews, whose appearance and bearing are often refined and independent, present a pleasing contrast to their squalid brethren of Poland."

In 19th-century guidebooks, Christian holy sites received considerably more attention – and devotion – than the sacred places of Jews and Muslims. Jews had a commendable and duly recognized place in ancient history, but only their miserable lives in modern Palestine were worthy of close attention.

In the end, the guidebooks reveal as much about their Christian authors as they do about the places they visited and the people they encountered. Revealingly, none of the authors referred to Arabs as "Palestinians," who would not emerge as a distinctive and self-identified people until the rebirth of a Jewish state in the biblical homeland of the Jewish people.
UNHCR Expected to Release Israeli Company 'Blacklist'
The United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to publish a blacklist of all Israeli companies operating in territories defined as being under Israeli occupation. i24NEWS Correspondent Pierre Klochendler visited blacklisted companies and interviewed the owner.

Progressive Jewish intelligentsia vie for larger role at World Zionist Congress
The list includes names like Peter Beinart, the liberal writer; Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the liberal Middle East policy group J Street; and Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.

No, it’s not an ad for a symposium on the Upper East Side, but a slate of first-time candidates seeking seats in the 38th World Zionist Congress, the legislative authority of the 120-year-old World Zionist Organization that helps determine the fate of $1 billion in spending on Jewish causes.

Elections, which are open to Jews 18 and over anywhere in the world, are held every five years. The next ones will be held between January 21 and March 11.

The candidates hope to steer funding away from Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and toward causes like expanding rights for women and minorities. The second paragraph of the group’s platform notes its opposition to “the current policy of permanent occupation and annexation,” which it calls “unjust” and a threat to Israeli democracy.

Liberal Jewish groups already hold a majority of the American Jewish community’s 145 seats in the congress, but they have mainly used them to advocate for more religious pluralism in Israel. The new candidates hope to nudge those groups toward addressing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank more directly and to registering the unhappiness of the American Jewish community with the status quo there.

“My view of the American Jewish establishment and the Zionist establishment is that it is morally corrupt by defending the indefensible, for defending an occupation that holds millions of people occupied,” Beinart said in an interview.
Iran’s top chess player wants to ‘change his nationality’ over Israel ban
Iran’s top ranking chess player is reportedly seeking to renounce his citizenship to get around the country’s policy of not competing against Israeli athletes.

Mehrdad Pahlavanzadeh, the president of the Iran Chess Federation, told the Tasnim news agency that Alireza Firouzja wanted to participate in an upcoming tournament in Russia that Tehran has decided not to take part in because Israelis will be competing.

“Firouzja has made his decision and has told us that he wants to change his nationality,” Pahlavanzadeh was quoted saying by Reuters.

“Firouzja is currently living in France … and may want to play under the French or US flag,” the chess federation head added.

Firouzja, 16, is no. 2 in the International Chess Federation’s rankings of junior players.

Iran does not recognize Israel and its sport teams have long avoided competing against Israeli athletes.

Saeid Mollaei, an Iranian judoka, announced in September he would no longer compete for Iran after being forced to throw a match to avoid facing an Israeli rival.

Mollaei has since received asylum in Germany and the International Judo Federation has indefinitely banned Iran from competing over its refusal to face Israelis.
Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Weekly Anti-Israel Demonstrations in Front of Michigan Synagogue
Marvin Gerber, a member of Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed an 85-page complaint last week in U.S. District Court against anti-Israel protesters who have held weekly demonstrations since 2003. The lawsuit, which claims the demonstrations amount to anti-Semitic hate speech, asks the court for an injunction to stop the protesters, calling the demonstrations "harassing conduct."

The protesters show up between 9:30 and 11:30 during Saturday morning services with signs that read "Resist Jewish Power," "Jewish Power Corrupts," "No More Holocaust Movies," "Boycott Israel," and "Stop U.S. Aid to Israel." City officials have said they cannot intervene, citing free speech rights. A protest leader said in 2013 that his group was holding the congregation accountable for supporting the State of Israel.
Strategic Affairs Ministry: Campus anti-Semitism increasingly 'related to Israel'
Anti-Semitic attacks on US college campuses have reached a new high, the Strategic Affairs Ministry is reporting.

According to information collected by the ministry, in recent months more and more Jewish college students have reported coming under attack by anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian entities on campus because they did not revoke their support of Israel.

A report from the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which has taken the reins in the battle against BDS, states that "A situation of 'guilt by association' has been created for any Jewish student who is seen as a supporter of Israel – and therefore deserving of being exiled."

Blake Flayton, a student at George Washington University, wrote in The New York Times about his friends attacking him for expressing solidarity with Israel.

"I am a young, gay, left-wing Jew. Yet I am called an 'apartheid-enabler' and a 'baby killer' because I'm a Zionist and support Israel," he recounted.

Similar stories are flooding in from other colleges and universities across the US.

"This is the start of a trend, especially on progressive campuses. However, it's not everywhere," the Strategic Affairs Ministry reported.

According to the data available, 2019 saw an improvement in how the US federal government was confronting anti-Semitism on campuses. But anti-Israeli groups are adopting a more aggressive approach. According to a study by the AMCHA Initiatives, while there has not been an uptick in the number of anti-Semitic incidents on US college campuses, there has been a 70% increase in the number of anti-Semitic campus incidents having to do with Israel.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry said that "BDS activism on campuses has increased, along with the number of anti-Semitic incidents against Jews because of their support for Israel."
‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ Menorah Just Christmas Tree on Fire (satire)
Looking to tout its Jewish credentials, anti-Israel advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace left followers confused as it posted a picture of a Christmas tree in flames with the caption “our Hanukkah menorah!”

“Happy to celebrate this holiday with our fellow Jewish Jews and with our wonderful new menorah,” stated the caption of the picture that looked nothing like a menorah or anything remotely Hanukkah related. “Just as our candles burn, we hope 2020 will see Israel, its people and its supporters burn – and we can say that because we are Jews!”

JVP deleted a previous Hanukkah post which showed the hanukkiah, or Hanukkah menorah, lit incorrectly. Four candles were lit on the first night of Hanukkah, while the shamash, which is lit every night, was empty. Critics of the group cited the picture as evidence that the organization is not in fact connected to Judaism.

In an effort to re-establish its Jewish credibility, JVP has posted a series of Hanukkah recipes including lobster latkes, maple bacon sufganiyot, and Santa-shaped cheeseburgers.
BBC politicisation of Christmas continues on WS radio
The December 24th edition of BBC World Service radio’s ‘Global News Podcast’ included yet another example of the BBC’s politicisation of Christmas.

Presenter Alex Ritson introduced the report by Barbara Plett Usher.

Ritson: “Bethlehem – regarded as the birthplace of Jesus – typically sees a tourism boom at Christmas and this year looks like it could be one of the busiest in recent memory. But as a Palestinian town in the West Bank, Bethlehem is also feeling the economic effects of the Israeli occupation. Israel has restricted movement out of the West Bank and confiscated some Palestinian land to build Jewish settlements. Barbara Plett Usher reports from the holy city.”

Bethlehem of course came under complete Palestinian Authority control exactly twenty-four years before this item was aired, in December 1995. Listeners heard nothing at all about the Palestinian terrorism which made security measures necessary but the BBC practice of describing an area still subject to negotiation as “Palestinian land” was once again in evidence.

Plett Usher: “There’s an enormous Christmas tree in Manger Square, sparkling with many, many, many lights and the place is packed with people coming for the opening of the Christmas fair. Lots of kind of anticipation, excitement, Christmas cheer. This is really when Bethlehem comes into its own. This is really Bethlehem’s time of the year. There’s plenty of good cheer. Tourism is a bright spot despite dark times for the Palestinian economy.”

Plett Usher avoided informing listeners that the Palestinian Authority’s economic woes are largely self-inflicted and that they are the result of its insistence on paying salaries to terrorists and their families.
4 egregious errors in Sky News report on Bethlehem
Here’s the Dec. 24th Sky News report about Bethlehem by their Mid-East correspondent Mark Stone:

Here are some quick takes on the most egregiously misleading claims in the video segment:

1. Stone claims that Israeli fence separates “Israeli JEWS from Palestinian Muslims and Christians”.
However, as we pointed out in a tweet to the journalist, this is extremely misleading, ignoring the fact that nearly 25% of Israelis are non-Jews. The fence isn’t about religious separation. It’s about a sovereign state preventing terrorists who aren’t citizens or residents of that state from killing civilians. The claim, by design or not, serves to buttress what Stone says is the Palestinian view: the smear that the ‘wall’ is representative of Israeli “apartheid”

2. Stone fails to challenge Suhail Khalilieh, a Palestinian activist from the Applied research Institute – Jerusalem, who claims the security “barrier” is a “barrier to peace”.
This is an inversion of reality, one that conflates cause (suicide attacks that murdered scores of Israelis in the early 2000s) with effect (the Israeli construction of a security fence to prevent such deadly attacks.) Indeed, there is no real recognition in the entire report of Palestinian responsibility for the barrier, such as the suicide bombers and PA leaders who incited and organised such attacks.

3. Stone also fails to challenge another Palestinian who says Bethlehem is “surrounded on all sides” by the settlements.
Yet, as our CAMERA colleague demonstrated recently, a Peace Now map (below) contradicts this erroneous claim: As you can see, on the south east, there are the settlements (solid pinks blocks) of Tekoa, Nokdim and Sde Bar. But, to the north and west of this block of settlements there are significant stretches with no barrier and no settlements.

4. Also unchallenged by Stone is Khalilieh’s claim that it is merely a “biblical theory” that Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) was historically Jewish land. Put simply, despite the constant drumbeat of Palestinian propaganda to the contrary, there is no historical debate whatsoever regarding Jews’ historical connection to, and presence in, the land of Israel.
Revisiting the BBC’s promotion of Amnesty International
The recent publication of a report concerning Amnesty International by David Collier provides an opportunity to revisit the issue of the BBC’s promotion of that NGO.

Throughout 2018 Amnesty International was the second most quoted and promoted foreign NGO in BBC reporting on Israel and the Palestinians. Coverage of the arrest and trial of Ahed Tamimi included quotes from Amnesty International and even promoted a link to the NGO’s related campaign webpage. A BBC News website live webpage covering the ‘Great Return March’ featured quotes from Amnesty International and the organisation was quoted in a BBC Sport report about a cycle race and later the same month in another report.
The BBC returns to an old obsession
Long-time readers may recall that back in early 2013 the BBC exhibited something of an obsession with one Israeli football club.

The BBC, football racism and Israel

Obsession: four BBC ‘Beitar’ articles in under a week

As was noted here at the time:
“Yes – there is a serious problem with a group of racist fans of one football club out of dozens – most of which (as even acknowledged in the BBC article on the subject) have players from many different religious and ethnic backgrounds – in a country which includes players from minority ethnic and religious groups on its national teams.

Deplorable as the racism among some fans at Beitar Jerusalem is, its existence makes Israel no different and no worse than most countries on the planet which have also failed to eliminate racism from football. It certainly does not justify the over-generalised headline “Football racism fears in Israel” or the placing of two separate reports on two home pages of the BBC News website for a relatively prolonged period of time.

Unless, that is, this incident is being exploited to try to advance a specific narrative about an entire country.”

In 2016 the BBC’s Middle East editor promoted an irrelevant comparison – and false equivalence – between incitement and glorification of terrorism sanctioned and organised by the Palestinian Authority and its main party Fatah with the behaviour of a specific group of Israeli football hooligans.
Brute yelled ‘Jew bastard’ while attacking Orthodox man on UES: cops
A 28-year-old man spewed anti-Semitic hate as he allegedly attacked an Orthodox Jewish man on the Upper East Side, cops said Tuesday.

Police say Steven Jorge punched the 65-year-old on E. 41st Street, near 3rd Avenue, around 11 a.m. Monday and continued to attack the man while on the ground while yelling derogatory language.

Jorge allegedly yelled “F–k you Jew bastard” before assaulting the man, who was wearing a black yarmulke, according to Dov Hikind, former state assemblyman and founder of Americans Against Antisemitism.

The 28-year-old was picked up by cops later and charged with assault as a hate crime.

“What is happening in NYC, with attacks against Jews has created a deep and growing concern in our community,” Hikind said. “The victim of this hate crime is in total shock and disbelief. He is traumatized and will live forever with this wanton attack.”

The NYPD has reported a surge in hate crimes in 2019 with anti-Semitic crimes accounting for the majority of incidents.

A Non-Jewish Brooklynite Visits Hasidic Crown Height
I live a few blocks from a Hasidic Jewish community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn that has unfortunately been the target of a rise in hate crimes over the past year. My friend Rabbi Yoni Katz shows me around his community as we talk about finding one's purpose and fighting hate by getting to know each other.

Suspect in Beverly Hills synagogue vandalism pleads not guilty
The suspect in the vandalism of a Beverly Hills synagogue has pleaded not guilty to felony charges that include a hate crime allegation.

Anton Nathaniel Redding, a 24-year-old Pennsylvania native, was charged with breaking into the Nessah Synagogue and “heavily ransacking” the building in the early morning hours of Dec. 14, including unrolling a Torah scroll and crumpling it.

Redding was charged with one felony count each of vandalism of religious property and second-degree burglary, along with the hate crime, KTLA News reported.

Shortly after being identified on surveillance camera footage, Redding was located in Hawaii and detectives traveled there to take him into custody in collaboration with local law enforcement.
Polish Catholic Church Urged by US Jewish Leader to Back Removal of Antisemitic Images From Retail Outlets
The decision by Europe’s largest home-improvements retailer to nix a range of home decorations that played on antisemitic stereotypes from sale in its Polish outlets was a significant development that should be welcomed and endorsed by the country’s powerful Catholic Church, a prominent US Jewish leader said this week.

In a lengthy interview with Poland’s Catholic News Agency, Abraham Foxman — the national director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — warmly welcomed the announcement made earlier this month by the German-owned retail giant OBI that it would no longer sell the offending decorations, following an online protest over the sale of framed pictures showing Orthodox Jews counting gold coins.

“If a large retailer that is hugely popular among Poles removes these articles from its stores, it raises the expectation that the other retail chains in Poland where these filthy anti-Jewish products are sold will follow OBI’s example,” Foxman said.

At the same time, Foxman encouraged the Catholic Church to show moral leadership by condemning the antisemitic statues and portraits of Jews counting money that are widely sold in Poland as good-luck charms.

“I would like to appeal with all my heart to the Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, to urge Polish bishops and priests to stand up to this phenomenon,” Foxman said. “This is an old antisemitic stereotype that has resulted in the murder of Jews down the centuries. Let us stand in solidarity against this form of antisemitism.”
Israeli restaurant voted best in Paris after 3 months in business
World-renowned Israeli chef Assaf Granit’s Shabour restaurant opened only three months ago in Paris, and has already been rated as the city’s best restaurant, according to French daily Le Figaro’s gastronomical guide, Le Figaroscope, tech site NoCamels reported.

The recognition is the latest in a long line of awards for the restaurant. Shabour was the subject of a lengthy and glowing article in Le Figaro when it opened in September, and was ranked as one of the 13 trendiest new restaurants in Paris in October. A month later, it won a major award in a competition held by the French culinary magazine Le Fooding.

Shabour – the Hebrew letters of the name mean “broken” – is operated by Granit and his partners Uri Navon, executive chef Dan Yehoshua and manager Tomer Lenzem, and took home the title of “Best Restaurant of the Year.”

In addition, the guide also concluded that it had “hands down” the best dining energy, and gave special praise to the pumpkin ravioli with hazelnut butter and tarragon.

2019 immigration to Israel hits highest number in a decade
An estimated 34,000 immigrants moved to Israel in 2019—the largest number per year in the past decade, according to numbers published by the Jewish Agency.

The data includes those who immigrated during the period of January-November 2019 and the number of immigrants expected for December 2019. Through the end of November 2019, more than 32,600 immigrants arrived in Israel from around the world, an increase of 18 percent from the same period last year.

The Jewish Agency data showed that more than 255,000 new immigrants moved to Israel in the last decade from 150 different countries. The main countries of origin include Russia, Ukraine, France, the United States and Ethiopia.

More than half of the immigrants arriving over the last decade, about 130,000 people, came from the former Soviet Union.
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Aliyah from France also reached the highest-ever during this decade with 38,000 immigrants, which is about one-third of the total number of immigrants from France since the establishment of the State of Israel.

The report also showed that more than 3,040 immigrants moved to Israel from other Middle Eastern states, as well as countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Aliyah from the United States continues to stand at more than 3,000 immigrants per year, according the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh.

The Jewish Agency also noted that around 60 percent of the immigrants during this decade were under the age of 45.

Mayor of Casablanca attends Hanucah lighting ceremony
For the first time, a Hanukiah was lit in Casablanca in Morocco in the presence of the Mayor of the city to mark the Jewish festival of Hanucah. Some 700 were present in the hall to witness the event, which was reported on Moroccan TV.

However, the ceremony took place behind closed doors. One wonders what might have happened had the Hanucah candles been lit in the public square, as it is in many cities in the West.

It is not so long ago since lighting the Hanukiah was an occurence so natural in Morocco that it did not attract media attention.

Here are the children of the Alliance Israelite school in Tangiers lighting the Hanucah candles in 1966.
Holocaust survivors gather at Western Wall for Hanukkah candle lighting
Around 100 Holocaust survivors visited the Western Wall on Tuesday night to light a second Hanukkah candle, in an event that CEO of the Claims Conference said marked “the victory of the Jews over the evil Nazis.”

The survivors gathered at the magnificent hall at the Western Walls tunnels site, greeted by staff of the event’s sponsors, the Claims Conference and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, where they were treated to a virtual reality tour of the ancient temple followed by a light meal.

They were then addressed by Claims Conference CEO Shlomo Gur, who likened the victory of the Maccabees against the Greeks to that of the Holocaust survivors against the Nazis.

“During the Holocaust Jews made great efforts in ghettos and concentration camps to celebrate Hanukkah. We have all heard amazing stories from different places about how they managed to celebrate the holiday in the camps and made super human efforts to do it the best they could,” he said.

“Some have used tiny drops of margarine sparsely given to them as food, to form tiny candles in which threads taken from their crumbling clothes was used as a wick. This holiday gave Jews a lot of strength needed to get through the inferno they were in.”

He added: “This is the victory of the Jews over the evil Nazis. You are a living proof of this victory. It is your heroism and your victory and therefore there is nothing more appropriate than to celebrate Hanukkah right here.”

His speech was followed by a rendition of Jerusalem of Gold, followed by A Yiddishe Mame, bringing a tear to the eye of many in the crowd.

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