Monday, May 02, 2022

From Ian:

An Open Letter to Anti-Zionists from a Veteran of the Left
Over one year on, the leading lights of the British far left are men and women who have been repeatedly accused and often disciplined for antisemitism. On social media and in activist groups, they rail against the ‘witch hunt’ they darkly suggest is being orchestrated by the Israeli government. Flinging the ubiquitous hashtag #ItWasAScam, Corbyn’s defenders dismiss in toto the mountains of evidence of Labour Party antisemitism. Meanwhile, in Facebook groups such as the plaintively named ‘Jeremy Corbyn should have been Prime Minister,’ commenters vie for the most vitriolic denunciations of Israel and fervid adoration of Corbyn. I am disgusted by their antisemitism, stubborn disregard of facts and messianic fervour, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t understand it.

Here’s a story. When I was in that Trotskyist group, I was for a time on its newspaper’s editorial board. An opponent organisation that we hated, with zeal rivaling that towards ‘the Zionistsss,’ accused our Great Leader of having made a blatantly racist remark years earlier, and he was furious at us for failing to sufficiently defend him against this slander. Yet even as I joined the other malefactors in sincerely groveling for forgiveness, in a repudiated pocket of my brain I knew, and I knew my fellow accused also knew: the Great Leader did make that racist remark. The evidence existed in black and white, in a readily available public transcript. Yet even though I ‘knew’, I can honestly say I didn’t allow myself to know until well after I’d quit.

It’s incredibly difficult to see facts that jeopardise your very sense of belonging. We all need this sense, a warm refuge of comradeship and meaning; above all, a loved and respected leader who gives us a sense of security. Challenging the core beliefs of your anti-Zionist community will be hard and painful. It may throw into question seemingly everything you believe and your place in the world. Do it anyway. Antisemitism is vile and it is increasing everywhere, including on the left. As a socialist—and I do still consider myself some kind of socialist—I call on you to reflect.

Antisemitism does not only come from antisemites. The world is not so easily divided into antisemites and non-antisemites, black and white. Particularly when it comes from the left, antisemitism exists in shades of grey: nebulous feelings and beliefs that morph according to circumstances. Sometimes antisemitism pits people against their own Jewish identities. It echoes ancient lies about Jews and makes some otherwise well-meaning people believe them at some level—no matter how sincerely they proclaim that they don’t. And it frightens and angers me that there is so little willingness on the left to reflect on this, or on history. The Holocaust was possible not simply because the Nazis decided to exterminate the Jews, but because enough of German society shared enough of the Nazis’ beliefs about Jews to find their ‘solution’ acceptable. As for the rest, enough people just didn’t care what happened to Jews. It took long-standing murky, distorted perceptions about Jews for the Holocaust to be not only conceived but horrifically realised. It took myriad shades of grey.

I don’t know where today’s antisemitism is headed, but it strikes a terrible fear in my heart. So I beseech you, anti-Zionists: Think it possible that you may be mistaken.
WaPo Opinion Piece Decries ‘Anti-Palestinian’ Media, but Gets Every Single Fact Wrong
Ironically, this quote appeared in a slanted Washington Post opinion piece containing numerous falsehoods. Written by two American-Palestinian activists, “How Media Coverage Whitewashes Israeli State Violence Against Palestinians” argues that, by “neglecting to contextualize Israeli state violence, the media has given the Israeli government a free pass, enabling it to continue ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people with impunity.”

In their April 28 article, Laura Albast and Cat Knarr furthermore assert that “headlines in outlets such as the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, NBC News and others use language that fails to recognize the power imbalance between the Israeli military apparatus and the native Palestinian people.”

As HonestReporting has repeatedly detailed (see, for instance, here, here, here and here), the opposite is true. In actuality, news organizations all too often dismiss the reality of Palestinian terrorism.

Case in point: on April 30, the Reuters wire service headlined an article “Israeli and Palestinian killed in West Bank violence,” lumping Israeli terror victim Vyacheslav Golev together with a former Palestinian security prisoner who was shot during violent clashes and was hailed a “martyr” by multiple US-designated terror groups (see here, here, here and here). Yihya Adwan reportedly served as a commander in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Nonetheless, Albast, a senior editor at the Institute for Palestine Studies-USA, and Knarr, who serves as the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ communications director, accuse journalists of “conveying incomplete narratives that give reign to Israeli aggression.” In an attempt to substantiate this claim, the authors charge Israeli police with “attack[ing] Palestinian worshipers at the holy site of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem” on April 15, in what they describe as “carefully calculated… state violence.”

Authors of opinion pieces and editorials are entitled to express their personal opinions and beliefs. However, in the words of the famous Senator, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Yoseph Haddad: Diary of a journey: An Arab-Israeli delegation to Auschwitz
Last week, I had the privilege of leading a delegation to Poland composed of Israeli Arabs – Muslims, Christians and Druze. The delegation, organized by the Together Vouch for Each Other NGO, went there to learn about the Holocaust up close, to see the horrors, and to make the issue of Holocaust remembrance accessible to Arab society in Israel and the Arab world.

This was especially important to us because in Arab society, we do not learn enough about the Holocaust, certainly not compared to what Jews learn. There are no visits to Yad Vashem, no lesson plans on the subject and no memorial ceremonies on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The vast majority of us have never met a Holocaust survivor and certainly haven’t been on a trip to Poland.

The day after we arrived in Kraków, we visited the factory of Oskar Schindler, the greatest of the Righteous Among the Nations.

It was a powerful and special visit for us. A delegation of non-Jews, we came to honor a non-Jewish man who saved the lives of Jews by losing his fortune and risking his life. We were all moved by the gravity of the occasion. We began to grasp the significance of our journey.

We arrived at Auschwitz on the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. For all of us, it was our first visit there.

We made history by being the first group to hold the ceremony there in Arabic. It is difficult to describe how moved we all were, to hear eulogies in Arabic among the barbed wire and the pavilions, to light candles in memory of the victims and to hear the personal testimony of our American Jewish friend Eric Rubin, who joined the delegation and told the story of his family who perished there. As I translated from English to Arabic, I broke down along with him. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day itself, we returned to Auschwitz and participated in the March of the Living. Our group received a lot of love and support from other participants who were excited to hear Arabic there and even more excited to learn that we were a delegation of Arab citizens of Israel.

Eighty years ago, Jews marched hopeless to their deaths; we marched together, Jews and Arabs, all of us full of hope and singing “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem” (“We come to greet you in peace”).


JPost Editorial: Harvard Crimson is drinking the BDS Kool-Aid
Want more examples of naiveté? Consider this: The editorial said there is an “overwhelming power imbalance that defines and constricts the ongoing debate. This stark power differential extends far beyond the arena of free speech, shifting from rhetorical to lethal on the ground in Palestine, where Israeli soldiers have killed nearly 50 Palestinians, including eight children, this year alone.”

Forget that the paper gives no context as to how those Palestinians were killed, creating the impression that IDF soldiers just randomly murder innocent Palestinians – not that most of those killed were in the act of shooting civilians, stabbing soldiers or throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails at passing cars. Forget all that for a minute.

What is embedded in the paper’s protest against an “overwhelming power imbalance” is the notion that weak means right, strong means wrong. That’s a half-baked way to look at the world. In this view, al-Qaeda should get the paper’s sympathy in its battle with America because it is undeniably the “weaker” party in that fight.

We could give the Crimson the benefit of the doubt and say that it doesn’t want to cancel out the Jewish state, and is just opposed to the “occupation.” If that is indeed the case, then what BDS has succeeded in doing, as leading left-wing US political philosopher Michael Walzer told the Post recently, was create an extremely effective “old-fashioned front organization” that hides its true motivations.

“Most of the kids who support BDS on campus think that they are opposing the occupation,” Walzer said, even though BDS as an international organization “is committed to the destruction of the state of Israel.”

What needs to be done, therefore, is to rip the mask off the organization, expose its true colors and reveal what lurks behind terms like “Palestinian liberation” and “BDS.” To do that, more and more Americans – non-Jews and Jews alike, including those critical of various Israeli policies – need to stand up and forcefully explain why they shudder at the thought of a world where there is no room for Israel.


NGO Monitor: HRW’s Appointment of Sari Bashi will Amplify Campaigns vs. Israel
On April 29, Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced the appointment of longtime anti-Israel campaigner Sari Bashi to the position of program director, where she will be responsible for HRW’s research and investigations. Over the past two decades, Bashi has been a prominent voice in these campaigns, holding several positions at politicized NGOs. She previously served as HRW’s Israel and Palestine Director in 2015-2018 and is a co-founder of Gisha, an Israeli NGO funded primarily by European governments that claims to “protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents.” In a statement following her appointment, Bashi said that she would lead “a team of 271 researchers, associates, specialists, and managers.”

The appointment of a figure who has spent the majority of her career working towards the delegitimization of the state of Israel through major distortions of international law is another reflection of HRW’s deep-seated ideological bias. In different roles, Bashi has advanced the false Israeli apartheid narrative, advocated for boycotts of Israeli companies and products, expressed support for NGOs linked to the PFLP terror group, and contributed greatly to a discourse that singles out Israel for obsessive attack among powerful NGOs:


Apartheid
Bashi is lised as a contributor in HRW’s April 2021 report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” which denies Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state by alleging Israel has committed crimes of apartheid and by reducing all security policies to “demographic objectives.” The report recommends “Impos[ing] targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against officials and entities” and “Condition[ing] arms sales and military and security assistance to Israel.” (Read NGO Monitor’s analysis, “HRW’s ‘Apartheid’ Publication: Demonization, BDS, and Lawfare.”)

In January 2021, Bashi praised B”Tselem’s position paper accusing Israel of apartheid as “an important step in the struggle for equal rights for all those living between the river and the sea.” (Read NGO Monitor’s report “From the “River to the Sea”: B’Tselem’s Demonization Crosses the Line.”)

In July 2021, while working as “research director” at another NGO, DAWN, Bashi urged the Biden Administration to “implement the recommendations made by human rights groups to condition military and security assistance to the Israeli government on concrete and verifiable steps to end the crimes of apartheid and persecution, of which settlements are a central element”
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Terror-linked NGOs
In October 2021, following Israel’s designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terror organizations over their ties to the PFLP, Bashi tweeted, “Section 24(a)(1) of Israel’s antiterrorism law imposes up to 3 years in prison for identifying with a ‘terrorist group’ by publicly expressing support, praise or sympathy. I support @alhaq. I praise @DCIPalestine. I sympathize with @Addameer. Please join me in breaking the law.”


How to deny the Holocaust without denying it
Which of the two is more dangerous: the clever denier or the foolish?

We are about to see. America and Europe are awash with progressives. They are academics and politicians; celebrities and champions of change (Linda Sarsour); groups with a grudge (Me Too, Women against Trump, LGBT, Antifa, BLM). Even in Congress the word ‘Nazi’ is scattered like confetti. Trump and supporters are Nazis for not wanting waves of ‘asylum seekers’ to crash the border, or for ‘insurrection’ by invading the Capitol.

Worst of all perhaps is when Israeli slings ‘Nazi’ at Israeli; not of course for committing genocide. The Israeli Holocaust down-grader is not that big a fool. Haaretz columnist, Adira Haas is a good model. No one, she says, has the right to rank and rate suffering. Whether the death camps or Gaza border clashes, suffering is suffering. Hail Holocaust denial with a twist of moral doctrine.

Whatever their method, those who deny the Holocaust without denying it have been effective. The progressive media – even CNN and the New York Times have bought into the Holocaust denial game.

Here we must observe something that is beyond cunning. Jews are not the direct object of hatred. Israelis treat the Palestinian Arabs badly. This back door invites us to enter. We are tempted, because Israelis give Israel-haters good reason. If they hated Israel viscerally they would not be enlightened and only a few suckers would be attracted. But when haters attack Israel in a round-about way, via sympathy for Palestinian "victims", sympathy is aroused and people are drawn. When hatred is clothed to look enlightened, disgust for Israel has a glow.

Those who deny the Holocaust without denying it have thought it all out. By claiming that Israelis are the Nazis of our time they polish up Hitler’s record while tarnishing Israel’s. Comes a point where the two meet, where like is like, and deniers can say that Jew = Nazi. What seemed all light nonsense before seems all dark purpose now.


How Did an Interview Between MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan and Peter Beinart About Ukraine Turn Into an Attack on Israel?
Selective Outrage: Beinart Says US Military Aid to Israel ‘Hypocritical,’ Mehdi Accuses Jerusalem of ‘Repression’

Peter Beinart then lambasts as hypocritical Washington’s policy regarding “unconditional” military aid to Israel. Yet this sense of outrage does not apply to a Palestinian Authority that allocates more than 7 percent of its annual budget to what has been termed a “Martyrs’ Fund” because of those who receive the cash: convicted terrorists.

Beinart’s silence on the issue is in line with a seeming unwillingness by major media outlets to raise questions regarding the Biden Administration’s decision last year to resume US financial assistance to the Palestinians.

Apparently, there is nothing “hypocritical” about the PA possibly diverting US tax dollars to incentivize violence against Israeli citizens.

The working assumption made by Hasan and Beinart is that Israel is a repressive society, as bad as Yemen, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

In fact, Israel is a country ranked above Italy, Spain and the United States in a respected global index of democratic values. The country is by far the most democratic country in the Middle East.

By lumping in Jerusalem with some of the world’s most egregious human rights violators, Hasan, Beinart, and by extension MSNBC are slandering a country that extends rights and protections to all its citizens – Jews and non-Jews alike.

Even worse, such a mischaracterization of Israel diminishes the very real plight of people around the world who are suffering under the rule of truly oppressive regimes.
Mehdi Hasan’s Inconsistent Standards
On the other hand, at no point did Hasan specifically identify how Israel has not “fully backed” the U.S. position, but whenever presented with the choice, Israel has voted with the U.S. when it comes to Ukraine. There have been three votes in the United Nations General Assembly, where Israel has a vote, on the topic of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Israel voted with the United States on all three occasions. Repeatedly, Israel has also explicitly condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, as well as for committing war crimes in Ukraine. Israel set up a humanitarian field hospital in Ukraine, and as of a couple weeks ago, had sent a hundred tons of medical equipment, clothing, food, and other supplies for displaced Ukrainians. The Israeli Foreign Ministry even set up a special unit to coordinate the transfer of individual and corporate donations to assist Ukrainian refugees. Meanwhile, Israel has allowed in some 25,000 Ukrainian refugees, not even counting those Ukrainians who have arrived and are eligible for citizenship (compared to, at approximately the same time, a mere 12 Ukrainian refugees that had been allowed into the U.S.).

Among anti-Israel activists, principles other than “Israel bad” are difficult to find. Hasan’s comments on Sunday illustrate this quite well.

Hasan indicated “not fully backing the U.S. position on Ukraine” is bad when allegedly done by Israel.

In the same segment, Hasan referred to the Squad, which is guilty of actually voting against and vocally criticizing the U.S. position on Ukraine, as elements of “positive change” because they criticize Israel.

The only connecting tissue between these two statements by Hasan is that Israel must be treated negatively. No other coherent principle binds these two positions, as they are otherwise inconsistent.

In this way, Hasan’s comments highlight a reality about much of anti-Israel activism. Criticism of Israel isn’t so much based on what Israel does or doesn’t do, as the activists will find a way to criticize it either way. Instead, criticism of Israel is about its existence in the first place.


McGill Student Union Decides Not to Ratify Palestine Solidarity Measure
McGill University in Montreal announced on Tuesday that the Student Society at McGill University (SSMU) will not be ratifying the Palestine Solidarity Policy referendum that had been passed in late March.

That resolution, which was heavily anti-Israel, led to protests by Jewish students and alumni, as well as Jewish groups and organizations. McGill officials had threatened to take action against SSMU if it accepted the referendum.

According to a letter sent to students and others at the school by Fabrice Labeau, McGill’s deputy provost for student life and learning, the SSMU board of directors “recognized, through its own independent examination of the policy and possible consequences of its adoption, that the policy was not tenable given SSMU’s duties to all students. I am reassured by the actions of the SSMU board, which are, in my opinion, responsible and appropriate.”

However, Labeau made clear that “activism has a place on our campuses. This includes pro-Palestinian activism.”

“When organizations whose mission is to represent all students within our community take firm stands on divisive issues that go as far as denouncing certain identities, political ideologies, and lived experiences, some students will invariably experience exclusion and alienation,” he wrote. “I have seen and heard time and again how such actions make members of our community legitimately feel singled out, unwelcome, and even, at times, unsafe. This cannot be accepted in a community like ours, committed to respect and inclusion.”
AFP Corrects Misgav Am Not A Settlement
CAMERA last week prompted correction of two Agence France Presse photo captions which misidentified the northern Israeli kibbutz of Misgav Am as a “settlement.” The two pictures with their erroneous April 25 captions follow:

Located within the ceasefire lines of 1949, Kibbutz Misgav Am (established 1945) is not a settlement but a Jewish residential community, like any other community found inside Israel’s internationally recognized territory.

In response to communication from CAMERA, editors commendably amended the captions to refer to the community as the “northern Israeli kibbutz of Misgav Am.”
BBC Radio Wales replies to request for clarifications
Readers may recall that last month CAMERA UK wrote to BBC Radio Wales to request clarifications relating to an edition of the programme ‘All Things Considered’ on the topic of Purim.

We asked BBC Radio Wales to explain the use of the phrase “their less pleasant roots” in relation to Israeli Jews:
“What are those “roots”? In what way are they “less pleasant”? In what way have Israeli Jews supposedly “gone back” to them?”

We also asked why the topic of Palestinians was gratuitously yet superficially inserted into a programme ostensibly explaining a Jewish festival to listeners.

On April 28th we received a response (via an email account to which it is not possible to reply) from the programme’s producer that does not address those questions but does provide some insight into the BBC’s idea of “due impartiality”.
A journey through Jewish Sicily
What was it I saw that those who were not there did not see? Layers of history, cultures, figures who were here for a fleeting point in time or a thousand years, and communities who built their lives here over centuries and in one moment disappeared, expose the fragility of their existence from the dawn of time. Everything swirls in my mind, a storm, setting the imagination on fire. I cannot forget who is seeing it all – not a private individual, a vacationing tourist, but the official representative of the absent presence that has been resurrected long after the voices of the ancient rulers fell silent and disappeared in the fog of history.

Sicily, the object of desire of many conquerors throughout history, a strategic location between three continents, attracted many kingdoms. Greece and Rome fought Carthage for control here and won; Byzantium.The Muslims were also here in the 10th and 11th centuries. The Normans (Vikings) and after them the Holy Roman Empire, France, Spain, and others. Before the unification of Italy in 1861, Sicily was under the control of the House of Bourbon in Napoli as part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The Jews were here, as well; some 30,000 before they were expelled from the island in January 1494 as part of the expulsion of the Jews of Spain (Sicily was then under the control of the Spanish crown).

Servants of the royal chamber
For more than two years, we've been trying to come to Sicily, but the COVID pandemic ruined our plans. Now we are here. We spent most of our time in the two main towns, Catania and Palermo. One afternoon we went to Syracuse, an ancient town on the east of the island, founded in the eighth century BCE by immigrants from Greece. One of its famous residents was Archimedes, the greatest mathematician of antiquity, whose inventions helped defend his town from the attacks of the Roman Republic in the third century BCE. In the end, however, the Romans triumphed.

The Jews followed. For more than 1,500 years, Jews lived in the town (the second largest community on the island after Palermo, the capital) until they were expelled on the orders of Ferdinand and Isabella along with the rest of the Jews of Sicily. A historic irony is that in 1455, some 40 years before the deportation, the Jews asked to leave for the Land of Israel, but the authorities were opposed. The Jews were considered Servi camerae regis (servants of the royal chamber). They were arrested and the authorities planned to confiscate their property and sell them as slaves. The affair ended with the payment of a huge ransom of 1,000 ounces of gold. There are similar stories about Jewish communities elsewhere, in other times. Jews tried to make aliyah to the Land of Israel even though it had been destroyed, and for thousands of years swore not to forget Jerusalem and dreamed about making the promises of a return to Zion come true. That was their dream for many long years. Our dream. The news of every such attempt at aliyah that was cruelly blocked spread throughout the Jewish world and deterred other attempts.
Meir Y. Soloveichik: The Matzah Bakery of Dnipro
As war threatened these very same Jews, another reflection of Jewish resilience was made manifest in their continuing to produce the bread of faith. And as the crisis worsened, a usually fractured Jewish world came together to support and sustain the Ukrainian Jewish community, to support those staying in Ukraine, to welcome those fleeing, and to help settle those who have arrived in Israel.

Here too the poetry is profound. Many Sephardic Jews precede the reading of the Haggadah with a reenactment of the Exodus in which one seder celebrant places a matzah on his back and is asked, Where are you from? “I am from Egypt,” comes the reply. Another question is asked: Where are you going? And the answer: “I am going to Jerusalem. Will you come with me?”

Matzah represents the Jewish journey of generations and how the hope for redemption bound Jews to one another. We would be remiss if we did not reflect, this year, on the vindication of these hopes. Speaking after the war in Ukraine began, Natan Sharansky, who was born in the region, noted that growing up, the ethnic identities listed on one’s Soviet passport—words such as “Russian,” “Ukrainian,” or “Georgian”—made little difference. But one appellation was the kiss of death: “When it came to a university application, for example, no one tried to change his designation from Russian to Ukrainian because it did not matter. However, if you could change your designation of ‘Jew,’ it substantially improved your chances of university admission.”

Sharansky, who is greatly concerned about all that is unfolding in the land of his birth, could still not refrain from reflecting with wonder. According to reports of those who heard him, Sharansky essentially said this: “This week I was reminded of those days, when I saw thousands of people standing at the borders of Ukraine trying to escape. They are standing there day and night, and there is only one word that can help them get out: ‘Jew.’ If you are a Jew, there are Jews outside who care about and are waiting for you. There is someone on the other side of the border who is searching for you. Your chances of leaving are excellent. The world has changed. When I was a child, ‘Jew’ was an unfortunate designation. No one envied us. But today on the Ukrainian border, identifying as a Jew is a most fortunate circumstance. It describes those who have a place to go, where their family, an entire nation, is waiting for them on the other side.”

This year, here; next year, the Land of Israel. The crisis continues, and the attention of the West is rightly upon Ukraine and battles unfolding there. That must not stop us, this Passover, from reflecting on the resilience of Jewish faith, from reminding ourselves of Jewish bonds of brothers, and from marking miracles in our own age.
Israeli hospital in Ukraine aids 6,000 patients in 6 weeks
On April 28, Israel’s 66-bed Shining Star (Kochav Meir) field hospital in Mostyska, western Ukraine, completed its six-week mission.

More than 6,000 civilians were treated, 40 surgeries were performed and 21,000 lab tests and 800 diagnostic images analyzed. In addition, several severely ill or wounded citizens were airlifted to Israel for further treatment.

“We succeeded in establishing a civilian field hospital in Ukraine, a thing which six months ago many people in Israel thought impossible,” said Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, director of the Sheba’s Israel Center for Humanitarian Emergency and Disaster Medicine.

“When we came here, there was a lot of uncertainty about our ability to do it, but after six weeks of operation I think all those people understand this is possible and this is necessary.”

Running a field hospital under threat of Russian attack was “a little bit scary,” admitted Sheba Medical Center fetal MRI specialist Dr. Eldad Katorza, deputy director of Shining Star, “but we felt we were doing a great thing for the people of Ukraine. We helped more than 6,000 civilians, and … we are leaving behind us a huge legacy of hope to the Ukrainian people.”

Yoel Har-Even, director of the field hospital, said that most importantly, the Israelis “trained hundreds of physicians and nurses at bedside and in our training center to give them the ability and knowledge to continue taking care of their patients.”
5-year-old Ukrainian girl receives lifesaving treatment in Israel
Five-year-old Karina Andreiko was not hurt in the war in Ukraine. In some ways, she was saved because of it.

Stressed by the long search for why her daughter was smaller than other kids — and by the war with Russia — Karina’s mother last month sought help from an Israeli field hospital about five kilometers (three miles) from the family’s home near the Ukrainian-Polish border. A doctor there listened to Karina’s heart, heard a murmur and conducted an ultrasound. The diagnosis was a congenital defect between Karina’s heart chambers, treatable with a simple procedure available in Israel, but not in Ukraine, doctors said.

Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli nonprofit, agreed to transport Karina to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, near Tel Aviv, for treatment. Passports were secured, a plan was made, and on Monday, two weeks after Karina’s mother approached the field hospital, doctors in Israel treated Karina with the catheterization expected to allow her to live a normal life.

“I am happy that I came to Israel for my child to have an operation here,” said Karina’s mother, Iryna Andreiko. “On the one hand, I am very worried about her, but I think everything will be fine.”

Fearful of Russia, Israel has tried to strike a cautious posture toward the Russian invasion of Ukraine, even as the West lined up against President Vladimir Putin.

While Israel has not imposed sanctions on Russia or provided arms to Ukraine, it has criticized the invasion and provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine’s embattled populace, including planeloads of supplies.
8 fun and fascinating facts surrounding Israel’s founding
Israel is celebrating 74 years of independence on May 5 this year. The passage of time and the solemn black-and-white photos of the period lend a feeling that the historic events and the nascent country’s first footsteps were orderly, well-thought-out affairs.

But in reality, things couldn’t be more different: the country’s very name was hotly debated, the Declaration of Independence was far from ready on time and a state emblem was yet to be found.

Scroll down below for the top fun and fascinating facts surrounding Israel’s founding, and you will see that the country’s famous atmosphere of balagan (chaos) and resourcefulness has been here right from the start. Happy holiday!

1. 1948 wasn’t actually the first time a government was declared
It’s common knowledge that the State of Israel was founded in 1948, but it’s far less common knowledge that some people tried to bring it about a whole five years earlier.

In 1943, when World War II was still raging, veteran Zionist leaders convened a large public meeting in Ramat Gan called “The People’s Congregation” from which a temporary Jewish government would be elected. As the National Library of Israel’s “The Librarians” blog recalls in detail, nothing momentous came out of all those lengthy speeches. Still, they tried.

2. The country’s name wasn’t an obvious choice
Israel is obviously nowadays called Israel, but other options included Zion (dismissed because it’s a biblical name for Jerusalem, and also to distinguish between the general Zionist movement and Israeli citizenship), Ever (after the biblical figure Eber, and similar to the Hebrew word for Hebrew, Ivrit) and Judea (rejected in order to differentiate between Jews and Israeli citizens).

Israel, by the way, was the name suggested by the country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
Ancient Samaritan oil lamp discovered during work on Mount Gerizim
A nearly completely intact clay oil lamp from 2,300 years ago was found near a stone bath during recent conservation work at the Mount Gerizim National Park.

“It is great to find something even after all those years of excavation,” said Netanel Elimelech, director of the park run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. “We found a lot of clay sherds lying around, but to find something complete with signs of its use is pretty nice. You can still see the black marks of burning from when the lamp was used. It throws you back (in time.)”

The archaeological complex on Mount Gerizim, located outside of Nablus, was excavated in the 1990s under the leadership of archaeologist Dr. Yitzhak Magen. Recently conservation and accessibility work has been undertaken by the Nature and Parks Authority and the Civil Administration.

The lamp was discovered while workers were clearing out an area around the stone bath from debris by hand, said Elimelech.

“We were clearing real close to the surface and the lamp just popped out,” he said.

The stone bath is believed to have been used for purification and cleansing by the Samaritans. Unlike a Jewish mikveh, the Samaritan bath is an actual element that, though heavy, can be moved.

The archaeological site on the Mount of Blessing at the top of Mount Gerizim spreads over 400 dunams. It includes remains from a large Samaritan city from the Persian-Hellenistic period which was built around a scared precinct. The precinct was surrounded by a well-fortified wall and in the center stood the Samaritan Temple. Remains of a large building containing dozens of rooms were previously excavated south of the sacred precinct. Within this structure is an olive press, a splendid residential building and shops.






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