Jewish Blog

The Anti Israel Hate Fest Continues

The Gaza riots on May 14, 2018, brought new opportunities for the media, the EU and many others to bash Israel again, The headlines screamed about the deaths of “innocent” Palestinians protesting “peacefully” on Israel’s border. The fact that over 85% of those killed on that day were known members of terrorist organizations and that 40,000 “peaceful” protestors attempted to storm the border fence using Molotov cocktails, IEDs, flaming tires, firearms, and flaming kites, was missed by many.  But imagine what the U.S. would have done had over 1.5 million (number adjusted relative to population of US versus Israel) ISIS members tried to storm the US borders. For that matter, any and every country would be expected to defend its borders from those whose aim was to storm the border, kidnap citizens and kill as many Israeli citizens as they could. And yes, those were Hamas’ stated aims. So describing the protestors as peaceful was not truthful at best.

But the media do not care about the truth, nor do they care about Palestinians. When, in April, Syrian forces shelled the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus in their attempt to root out ISIS, dozens of Palestinian refugees and local Syrian civilians were killed. However, there were no howls of pain from the media, or the UN and its councils and commissions about this. It seems that the only time the world cares about the deaths of Palestinians is when they happen at the hands of Israelis.

So, of course, the United Nations was up in arms about the deaths in Gaza. On May 14, the Security Council attempted to pass a resolution mandating an independent probe of the deaths on the Gaza border. “The Security Council expresses its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest,” read a draft of the statement “The Security Council calls for an independent and transparent investigation into these actions to ensure accountability,” read the text. The United States vetoed the resolution.

Not to be deterred, on May 21st, the United Nations Human Rights Council, which includes such stalwart defenders of human rights as China, Iraq, Venezuela and Qatar, voted to send an “independent” international commission of inquiry to investigate the violence at the Gaza border.

Holding Israel to a different standard than any other country in the world is just a convenient way to blame it for even the smallest perceived misdeed. Let’s face reality. Being anti Israel is the politically correct way of being antisemitic. It’s not PC to say you hate Jews, but to say you hate Israel is totally acceptable, especially if you even mask that somewhat by saying you are pro Palestinian and an advocate for Palestinian rights.

Unfortunately, antisemitism seems to be an incurable disease. It sometimes seems to go into remission, but always reemerges sooner or later. Perhaps, as suggested by Melanie Phillips (Observations, Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2018), constant repetition of the fact that the West Bank is Jewish land occupied by Arabs, that Arabs are the true colonizers, that Jews are the only extant indigenous people of the land and that the Balfour Declaration, which was approved by the international community, gave the Jews the right to settle the entire land from the river to the sea. These measures will not cure antisemitism, but they may make the Palestinian narrative seem a bit more unlikely and make it a little harder to hide behind the pro Palestinian mask. Further, Israel should remind the world that it is the Palestinians who favor “ethnic cleansing” as they have repeatedly stated that when they get their country it will be Judenrein, free of Jews.

To proclaim Israel’s right to exist and Jerusalem as its capital city, JewTee has created a number of Pro Israel designs which appear on shirts, pajamas, mugs, tote bags, aprons  buttons, and gift items. Here are some of the most popular:

America Israel Friendship button

America Israel Friendship Button

 

Jerusalem Israel's Capital American Apparel Fitted T Shirt

Jerusalem has never been the Capitol of any other entity besides Israel.

Hamas Exists To Kill, Israel Kills To Exist, Baseball Cap

Hamas kills because it wants to. Israel kills because it has to.

 

Israel Is Forever Women's T Shirt

Israel Is Here To Stay.

I Stand With Israel Large Ceramic Mug

Drink to show your support for Israel.

To see our entire collection of Pro Israel Shirts and gifts, click here.

Categories: Anti Semitism, Gaza, Gaza War, Hamas, Israel, Israel T Shirts and Gifts, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Terrorism, UNHRC, United Nations | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Mourns and Celebrates

Shalom Y’all:

These past few weeks were momentous ones for the State of Israel. On April 12, Israel celebrated Yom HaShoah, which commemorates the death of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem Israel Hall Of Names

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Hall of Names

 

On April 18, Yom Hazikaron, Israel Memorial Day, Israelis remembered Israeli soldiers missing in action, those who lost their lives fighting for freedom for the State of Israel, and terrorist victims, felled by forces who wish to see the end of the Jewish State.

Garden of The Missing In Action, Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel

President Rivlin pays his respects at the Garden of The Missing In Action, Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel

 

This was immediately followed, on April 19, by the joyous celebrations of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 70th Independence Day. 

Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, Flag Dance

Flag Dance performed by Bet Shemesh students in honor of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day

Israel Independence Day Flags

Israel flags and sign commemorating Israel Independence Day.

 

Lag B’omer with its festive bonfires was on May 3.   

Lag B'Omer Bonfire, Jerusalem, Israel

Lag B’Omer Bonfire

 

On May 12, Israel won the Eurovision Song contest. See the winning song, Toy,  by Netta Barzilai below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CziHrYYSyPc

 

On May 13 Israelis rejoiced on Yom Yerushalayim, which celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem and the ability of Jews to visit the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. 

Hassid praying at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

Hassid praying at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

 

On May 14, the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, followed two days later by Guatemala and on May 21 by Paraguay. Unfortunately, on the day of the United States Embassy move, 50,000 Palestinians engaged in very violent riots, including attempts to breach the security wall separating Gaza from Israel, throwing Molotov cocktails, sending flaming kites towards Israel, etc. These acts, which endangered the lives of Israeli citizens, resulted in the unfortunate death of 62 Palestinians, at least 53 of whom were members of terrorist organizations. Let’s hope Hamas will end the violence so peace can be restored.

US Embassy, Jerusalem, Israel

US Embassy, Jerusalem, Israel

 

After nightfall on May 19 and on May 20, Israel celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot, Pentecost, on which Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It’s customary to learn Torah throughout the night. In Jerusalem, tens of thousands finish their nightime of study by walking to the Kotel, Western Wall, before dawn, to pray the morning prayer at sunrise. This practice began in 1967, when the army regained control of the Kotel a week before Shavuot and opened it to Jewish visitors on Shavuot. That year over 200,00 Jews came to pray at the site that had been off limits to them since 1948. Since then thousands of Jews continue to walk to the Kotel every Shavuot.

Crowds praying at dawn at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.

Crowds praying at dawn at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.

 

Now its back to the regular routine: for elementary, junior high and high school students until the end of school year in June; college students finish in June unless they they take classes in the summer semester, which ends in August; and for many employees until August, when most Israelis take their vacations.

The three week period of mourning for the Temple begins on July 1 and Tisha B’Av, the fast day for the two Temples, begins the night of  July 21.

The Jewish High Holidays are early this year. The first night of Rosh Hashanah is on September 9.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Holocaust, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel, Israel Independence Day, Israel Memorial Day Yom Hazikaron, Jerusalem, Jerusalem Day, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Shavout, Video, Western Wall Kotel, Yom Haatzmaut, Yom Hazikaron, Yom Yerushalayim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hanukkah Facts and Blessings

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Shalom Y’all:

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

This year JewTee has decided to feature articles about the fast approaching Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, or  Chanukah, a holiday of joy and thanksgiving. We all know that on Hanukkah you light candles, play the dreidel and eat latkes, but why do we do these things? Read on to find out the answers to these and many other Hanukkah questions.

When is Hanukkah 2017?

Hanukkah 2017 begins the evening of December 12th and lasts until nightfall December 20, 2017. 

What does Hanukkah mean?

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is the Hebrew word for dedication or inauguration. The word Chanukah in Hebrew can also be divided into two Hebrew words: Chanu- meaning they rested, and Kah-here.  In addition, the numerical value of the Hebrew letters which spell Chanukah is 25. On the 25th day of Kislev, the Hebrew date of Chanukah, the Maccabees rested from fighting and rededicated the Temple.

What is the History of Hanukkah?

The history of Hanukkah starts with Alexander the Great. When he conquered Syria, Egypt and Israel, he  allowed the countries he conquered to practice their own religion and gave them a bit of autonomy. Some Jews liked the Hellenistic pagan culture and began to adopt Greek language, names, customs and dress.

More than 100 years later, a descendent of Alexander, the Seleucid Greek King Antiochus IV ruled the area. In 168 BCE, thinking the Jews had revolted, as they had forced his Hellenistic High priest designee to flee, he entered Jerusalem, massacring thousands of Jews and enslaving thousands more. Siding with the Hellenists against the Traditionalists, he forbade the practice of Judaism, including the Sabbath, circumcision and dietary laws, under the penalty of death. Torah scrolls were confiscated and burned. He restored his Hellenistic High Priest and further defiled the Temple by placing a statue of Jupiter above the altar and requiring that pigs be sacrificed there to the pagan god.  The King then ordered representatives to go from town to town to force the people to worship the pagan gods. Those who refused were put to death. 

When they reached the town of Modiin, where Mattityahu, the old priest lived, an altar was built in the center of the village and a Greek officer demanded that Mattityahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. When he refused, a Hellenistic Jew attempted to offer such a sacrifice. Mattityahu  killed him. His five sons and their friends then killed the  Greek overseer and destroyed the altar. This band of Jews fled to the hills and formed a guerilla army. So began the war against the Hellenistic Jews and the Greeks. 

Before his death, Mattityahu designated his oldest son Judah, nicknamed Maccabee, Hammer, to lead the battle against the Greeks and the Hellenistic Jews. Judah’s followers were called the Maccabees, which is also an acronym for the Hebrew phrase- Who Is Like You Among the Powers,  Oh Lord.

The Greeks fought the Maccabees and their followers. After three years, in 165 BCE, the Maccabees managed to reconquer Jerusalem. The Temple had been used as a pagan sanctuary in which pigs were sacrificed on its altar. The Maccabees cleaned the temple, built a new altar and menorah, as the real one had been melted down by the Greeks. The Maccabees then rededicated the Temple on the 25th of Kislev, which is the Hebrew date on which we begin the celebration of Chanukah.

When they attempted to light the Menorah with pure olive oil from jars with the High Priest’s seal, they found only one vial, containing enough oil to last but one day. This was problematic, as the Menorah was supposed to be lit daily. Miraculously, it lasted for eight days, which was enough time for a new supply of oil to be produced.  To commemorate this miracle, the sages established an eight day holiday of thanksgiving and candle lighting.

Hanukkah really celebrates two miracles- the military victory of the vastly outnumbered Jewish army over the Seleucid Greeks and the spiritual victory of Jewish values over Hellenism, symbolized by the rededication of the Temple. The candles that we light memorialize the spiritual victory.

Hanukkah Traditions and Foods

The most important Jewish tradition relating to Hanukkah is the lighting of the Hanukkah candles. Here are some questions and answers concerning the lighting of the Hanukkah candles.

How many Hanukkah Menorahs Should I Set Up for My Family?

In the Sephardic (Jews originally from the Iberian peninsula) tradition, only one Menorah per household is lit. In Ashkenazic tradition, each member of the household  lights his or her own menorah.

Which Hanukkah Candles Should I Use?

Many people like to use olive oil, since the miracle of Hanukkah involved olive oil. These days many Jewish bookstores, including those online, sell pre-measured olive oil in disposable glass cups which fit into the cupholders of many standard menorahs. But wax candles are fine also as long as they last at least 30 minutes after nightfall.

Where Should I Place My Menorah?

The idea is to publicize the miracle of the lights. So, if possible, place it outside the house on the left side of the front door, where passerby will see it. If you live on an upper floor, or placing it outside is not feasible, put it next to the window facing the street. If this is also not feasible, then place it inside the house on a table.

When Should I Light the Candles?

It’s best to light the candles at nightfall. However, as long as people are still awake, it can be lit even late at night.

However, on Friday night the Hanukkah candles should be lit before the Sabbath lights, at least 18 minutes before sundown. Since the Hanukkah candles still need to burn for at least 30 minutes after nightfall, many people use Sabbath candles, as these last longer than the usual colored Hanukkah candles.

Is there a particular way to light the Hanukkah candles?

On the first night, place the candle at the far right, as you face the menorah. The helper candle, the Shamash, which is used to light the candle, is not counted as a candle. It should have a designated place on your menorah.

First light the Shamash, then recite the blessings, and then light the Hanukkah candle using the Shamash.

On the second night, begin by placing one candle on the right, followed by another on the right. Light the candle to the left, first. The principle is as follows -place candles in the Chanukah menorah from right to left; light the Hanukkah candles in order from left to right. This means that the candle added that night will always be lit first.

The first two blessings are said with the Shamash already lit, but immediately prior to lighting the Chanukah candles.

Blessing #1 

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Asher kid-shanu bi-mitzvo-sav, Vi-tzee-vanu li-had-leek ner shel Chanukah.

Blessed are You, the Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah candle.

Blessing #2 

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Shi-asa nee-seem la-avo-seinu, Baya-meem ha-haim baz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, the Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.

Blessing #3

This blessing is said on the first night only. 

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Sheh-he-che-yanu vi-kee-yimanu Vi-hee-gee-yanu laz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season. Afterwards, we say the following:

Ha-nerot ha-lalu anach-nu mad-likin Al ha-nissim vi-al hanif-laot Al ha-tshu-ot vi-al ha-milchamot She-asita la’avo-teinu Ba-yamim ha-heim, ba-zman ha-zeh Al ye-dey kohan-echa haki-doshim.

Vi-chol shmonat ye-mey Chanukah Ha-nerot ha-lalu kodesh heim, Ve-ein lanu reshut li-heesh-tamesh ba-hem Ela leer-otam bilvad Kedai le-hodot u-li-hallel li-shimcha Al ni-secha vi-al niflo-techa vi-al yeshua-techa.

 We kindle these lights for the miracles and the wonders, and for the salvation and for the battles which You performed for our forefathers, in those days , at this season, through your holy priests. These lights are sacred for all eight days of Chanukah and we do not have permission to make personal use of them, but only to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to your great Name for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvation.

To watch the Chanukah candles being lit and to hear the blessings, click here:

There’s still time to buy Hanukkah shirts, mugs, aprons and other gifts from JewTee.com. To see our entire collection of Jewish and Hanukkah apparel and gifts, click here:

Our next post, will highlight Hanukkah foods and another Chanukah traditions. 

 

 

Categories: Chanukah, Chanukah Hanukkah T Shirts and Gifts, Hanukkah, hanukkah blessings, Hanukkah Facts, Hanukkah Traditions, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Reasons Why Tisha B’Av Is Relevant Today

Temple Burning Tisha B’av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is a fast day commemorating  the destruction of both the First and Second Temples located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of Jews from their country. This year it begins at sundown July 31 and ends at nightfall on August 1st. 

A number of other calamities also befell the Jewish people on that day including: the crushing of Bar Kochba’s revolt against Roman rule and the death of 580,00 Jews in Israel as a result of it; the official start of the First Crusade which killed 10,000 Jews in France and Germany during the first month alone; the expulsion of the Jews from England, France and Spain; the beginning of the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto; and Himmler’s receipt of approval from the Nazi party for the “Final Solution,” which resulted in the death of six million Jews.

While  these seasons are more than sufficient to warrant a day of fasting, many Jews  wonder if the fast is still relevant today since the main reasons for the fast – the destruction of the two Temples and the city of Jerusalem and the expulsion of its citizens- is not as relevant today.  Jerusalem has been rebuilt and united and Jews have returned to Jerusalem and to Israel. However, as we will see, Tisha B’Av is extremely relevant to us today.

  1. The Temple- Although the Temple has not been rebuilt, Israel is in possession of the site on which the first two Temples were erected- the Temple Mount. However, as evidenced by recent events, the Temple Mount is far from being”in our hands.” The unfortunate decision to leave the Waqf, an Islamic trust controlled by Jordan, in administrative charge of the Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, has resulted in the belief by Palestinians and most other Muslims that the Temple Mount belongs to them. Furthermore, despite historical and archeological evidence to the contrary, Muslims have proclaimed that Jews have no connection to the site and to East Jerusalem. This July, the World Heritage committee of UNESCO passed a resolution disavowing Israeli sovereignty of the Old City Of Jerusalem, which includes the Western wall and the Temple Mount. How Christian countries which believe in the Bible and New Testament can agree to such nullification of their own history is beyond belief. The decision by Israel to remove all security devices from the gates leading to the Mount has reinforced the Arab belief in their sovereignty over the site. Clearly, the Temple Mount is not “in our hands.”
  2. Anti Semitism- Anti Zionism is the new Anti Semitism. Anti Semitism is alive and well and is ever increasing its hold on the populations of the world. In Arab countries, it’s in their mother milk. Although some Arab leaders may secretly want to cooperate with Israel, the incitement and hatred promulgated through the years has created an Arab population whose pores ooze anti semitism. The European populace, bolstered by the large influx of muslim refugees, is not Jew friendly. America is seeing a rise in anti semitism that is likely to continue.
  3. The Diaspora- Only half the World’s Jews live in Israel. That means that the other half live in the Diaspora. While life in the Diaspora can be good, Israel is intended to be the homeland of the Jews. For two thousand years Jews prayed for their return to Jerusalem. Now that this is possible, Jews should put their money where their mouth is and come to live in Israel.
  4. Lack of Respect- The Rabbis say that one of the main reasons the second Temple was destroyed was because of the lack of respect Jews paid to each other. Today, this lack of respect has become endemic. Different Jewish sectors totally disparage each other- religious and secular, Haredim and other Jews, Orthodox and Conservative and Reform, and factions within these groups. If we don’t respect each other, how can we expect others to respect us? Only when there is a national crisis, do most groups pull together and briefly behave as one people.

So what can we do to try to better the situation and turn Tisha B’Av from a day of fasting into a day of rejoicing? To begin with, we need to vociferously denounce all attempts at denying the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. We must make it clear to everyone that Israel is the Jewish state both historically and legally and all attempts to deny this are false. In addition, Jews must visit Jerusalem and the Western Wall in large numbers to make it clear to all that Jerusalem and Israel belongs to the Jews.

The solution to Diaspora Jewry is clear. They should come to Israel now, of their own volition, before they are forced to leave. Those who are afraid of religious coercion need not worry. Israel is a democracy and all forms of Jewish worship are welcome. There is an egalitarian section of the Wall and it will be expanded and made even more aesthetically pleasing. Those looking to find meaning in their lives can reconnect with Judaism in a Jewish country in which one need not strive to hide one’s Jewishness to be accepted. Institutions of Jewish learning abound and are very welcoming.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for anti semitism. It will continue to gain new adherents. As the world becomes an ever more dangerous place, the Jews as scapegoat, aka Israel, will continue to grow in popularity, as expressions of sympathy with Israel will be forbidden. The recent lesbian marches are prime examples. However, all efforts should be made to counter this anti semitism in every way possible.

Finally, Jews need to begin treating each other with greater respect. There is no reason for name calling, or shaming Jews with whom one disagrees. One need not agree with a fellow Jew, but should not make the disagreement a basis for the denigration of the other. Multiple viewpoints can and should exist and the merits of each debated respectfully. We must remember that all Jews are family and we must try to act accordingly.

May everyone’s fast be easy and meaningful. May our next Tisha B’Av will be one of rejoicing, not mourning.

Categories: Anti Semitism, Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Politics, Temple Mount, Tisha B"av, UNESCO, Western Wall Kotel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Kotel and Conversion Controversy- A Tempest In A Teapot?

jerusalem-1328645_1280

As I sat in my living room yesterday on an overcast fast day marking the beginning of the three week mourning period for the two destroyed Temples in Jerusalem, I could not help but reflect on the current Kotel and Conversion controversy which threatens to weaken the ties between Israel and its brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. One of the main reasons the Rabbis give for the destruction of the Second Temple, is Sinas Chinom, the baseless hatred of one Jew to another. This, I fear, is what this controversy may lead to.

Does Israel really not care for Diaspora Jews and is it indifferent to their feelings and religious beliefs? Is Israel a country a country controlled by the Haredim, or (Ultra Orthodox), whose every whim is honored? Do secular, Reform and Conservative Jews really not have a place where they can pray as they wish in the Kotel complex?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel values and appreciates Diaspora Jews of all types. The country is not controlled by Haredim. In fact, 44% of Israeli Jews self identify as secular, while only 9% identify as Haredim. There is a pretty area near the Kotel set up for egalitarian prayer. Unlike the separate areas for men and women at the Kotel, which are often crowded and under the direct sun, the egalitarian area is shaded and often empty.

So why the uproar? It’s mainly about the Compromise bill on the Kotel, the Western Wall, which was approved by Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Haredi ministers, but frozen at the last minute at the behest of the Haredi party in the government. Yes, since the Haredim initially approved the compromise, they should have gone along with it. if the compromise was not acceptable to them, they should never have approved it. If later they were not happy with it, they should have discussed their objections with the other parties to the compromise. The freezing of the compromise bill and the lack of notice and consultation with parties to the agreement, greatly angered those affected, especially, the Reform and Conservative movements. The bill would have given the power to oversee the egalitarian space to a committee that would have included representatives of Conservative and Reform Judaism. The freezing of the bill means that the egalitarian area will continue to be overseen only by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. This loss of power over a segment of Judaism’s holiest site was a big blow to the non Orthodox movements and they reacted accordingly.

However, their reactions made it seem as if the Israel government had denied the right of non Orthodox people to pray in an egalitarian area at the Wall. That’s fake news. The egalitarian area is alive and well and this bill does not change that. In fact, the government said that the area will be enlarged and made even more  aesthetically pleasing. However, through this bill, Conservative and Reform Judaism hoped to gain official recognition as alternate forms of Judaism in Israel. Both the Reform and Conservative movements are very weak in Israel, as Israelis who are religious are generally traditional, Orthodox or Haredi, and those who are secular usually do not belong to any movement. So this was the opportunity the  two movements were waiting for to become official alternate forms of Judaism, and it failed.

While their disappointment and anger is justified, making it seem that the Israeli government is ignoring the needs of Diaspora Jews is just not true. There is an egalitarian area for prayer and no one is taking that away. The potential loss of power of the Conservative and Reform movements of the egalitarian prayer space is inconsequential to all but the movements’ leaders. Members of these movements will not be affected in any way by the freezing of the Compromise bill.

The Conversion bill which would have given sole authority for conversions in Israel to the Chief Rabbinate also would not change the status of Reform and Conservative Jews. All conversions in Israel are currently done under Orthodox auspices. The bill would only have prevented private Orthodox courts, a desirable alternative for many, from granting conversions in Israel. The conversion bill would not have changed anything under the Law of Return.

The Kotel is a religious area. Religious Jews have been praying there and preserving its holiness for millennia. They pray daily for the restoration of the Temple and fast a few times a year to commemorate events which negatively affected the Temples’ existence. The Kotel is open to all, as is the egalitarian area. The failure of the Compromise bill to pass has not affected the rights of secular Jews to pray there in any way. All Jews, no matter how they were converted in the Diaspora, are still Israeli citizens under the Law of Return.

So let’s put this incident in perspective. Leaders of the Reform and Conservative movement suffered a loss of power, but their members were not negatively affected in any way. So let’s stop insinuating that the Israeli government took away the rights of secular Jews to pray, or failed to appreciate their invaluable contributions to Israel.

In these trying times, when anti semitism is rebounding, let’s remember that we are all Jews, regardless of our way of showing it. Let’s unite behind Israel, which is the only Jewish state in the world and the only country which can guarantee that Jews will not be discriminated against because they are Jewish. Israel needs the Diaspora Jews and the Diaspora Jews need Israel.

Show your support by coming to Israel and praying at the Kotel or its egalitarian area. You’ll be glad you did.

Categories: Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Judaism, religion, religious freedom, Western Wall Kotel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom Is Not Free- Remembering The Fallen Heroes

1600px-Flickr_-_Israel_Defense_Forces_-_Flags_for_the_Fallen

                                                                                                                                                           http://www.flickr.com/people/45644610@N03

 

Israel will be 69 years old on  the night of May 1, 2017.

Those 69 years have been filled with both joy and sorrow. Israel has fought in 8 wars and military operations since its founding in 1948. Over 23,000 soldiers have been killed as a result of these operations and over 3,000 civilians have lost their lives due to terrorist attacks.

In a country as small as Israel (the most recent survey showed that Israel has about 8.7 million people), almost everyone has either had a family member killed or injured, or knows someone who was so affected.  

Therefore, unlike most Americans today, Israel takes Memorial Day very seriously.  

In 1968, The United States Congress changed the date of Memorial Day, which was originally May 30, to the last Monday in May to create a three day weekend. This has diluted the purpose of the day. On Memorial Day in the United States, the U.S. flag is lowered to half staff until noon. Americans who have lost family members or friends in the various wars and conflicts in which the United States has been engaged visit cemeteries to pay tribute to the fallen. Many attend Memorial Day parades which feature veterans and members of the various Armed Forces. There is also a National Memorial Day Concert which takes place on the lawn of the United States Capitol.

However, for most Americans the Memorial Day weekend means the unofficial start of the summer season, the Indy 500, NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, The Memorial Tournament golf event, the final of the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship, and, of course, Memorial Day Sales and barbecues.

In 2000, perhaps in response to the dilution of the meaning of the day, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember the fallen at 3:00 P.M on Memorial Day Monday. To mark the Moment, Major League Baseball games halt, Amtrak train whistles sound across the country, and other organisations do what they can to remind Americans to observe the Moment.

For Israel, the pain of the loss of the fallen is very fresh. This year another 97 people were added to that roster of heroes. There are over 9,000 bereaved parents in Israel, almost 5,000 widows and close to 2,000 orphans under the age of 30, all of whom lost a family member fighting for Israel’s right to exist. This number does not include the relatives and friends of the over 3,000 civilians killed by terrorists.

Israel understands all too well the debt of gratitude it owes to its soldiers and its heroes who sacrificed their lives so that Israel could exist and be free. Therefore, Israel’s Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron, is taken very seriously.

It officially begins with a one minute siren, heard throughout the country, at 8 P.M., during which the entire nation stands still for one minute. Even traffic is halted. This is followed by an official State Ceremony at the Western Wall (the Kotel) in Jerusalem and other gatherings and services throughout the country. (Israelis take this moment so seriously that yesterday, Sunday,  a group of Israelis on a flight from Marrakesh to Munich stood silently for one minute  at 8 P.M.)

For the next 24 hours, all theatres, cinemas, nightclubs, bars, etc. are closed. Radio and television station broadcast programs portraying the lives and heroic deeds of fallen soldiers and play melancholy music which conveys the mood of the day.

A second memorial siren, this one lasting for two minutes, is sounded at 11 A.M. the next morning, marking the beginning of the public recitation of prayers in the military cemeteries throughout the country. The official service is held at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. Flags are lowered to half staff, special memorial prayers are recited, government officials speak, and a wreath is laid. The ceremony usually concludes with a military gun salute.

At 1PM another national service takes place at Mt. Herzl, this one honoring the memories of those felled by terrorist acts.

This year over 1.5 million Israelis are expected to pay their respects at the graves of those killed in Israel’s struggles.

Schools are open, but almost every high school in Israel has a “memorial corner” with the pictures of the school’s graduates who were killed defending the State. Some high schools organize their own Yom Hazikaron ceremonies and invite the families of the fallen graduates to participate.

Students wear white shirts and blue pants, or skirts, to school that day and soldiers wear their uniforms to the military cemeteries.

A few minutes after sundown, when Memorial day ends, the official switch from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, takes place. In a ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, the flag is raised from half staff to the top of the pole. The president of Israel then delivers a speech of congratulations, and soldiers representing the Army, Navy, and Air Force parade with their flags. This is followed by a torch lighting ceremony, marking the country’s achievements, Many municipalities have their own flag ceremony in which students march with the Israeli flag.

Israelis celebrate Independence Day in a number of ways. Many cities have nighttime activities, fireworks and free concerts. Many spend the night singing Israeli songs and dancing Israeli folk dances. During the day, many families go on hikes and picnics. Others barbeque at home or with family and friends.  Army camps are open to the public and many museums and cultural institutions offer free admission and programs. The day concludes with the granting of the Israeli Prize to individuals who have made unique contributions to Israel’s culture, science, arts and humanities.

The juxtaposition of these two very disparate days and moods is both very moving and meaningful. It helps us realise that freedom is not free. There is a high price to pay and we should be eternally grateful to those who pay it.

Let us  hope that no additional names will be added to the list of the fallen and that we will finally be able to live together in peace.

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Categories: Israel, Israel Independence Day, Israel Memorial Day Yom Hazikaron, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Yom Haatzmaut, Yom Hazikaron | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel At 68

Shalom Y”all:

Beginning last night and ending nightfall this evening, Israelis celebrate Yom YaZicharon- the Day of Remembrance. This is Israel’s Memorial Day, the day on which Israel commemorates and pays tribute to Israelis who sacrificed their lives for their country or were killed by terrorists. Unlike America’s Memorial Day which marks the unofficial start of summer and is celebrated by going to the beach and barbecuing, Remembrance Day in Israel is a solemn affair. Sirens sound, the media tells stories of the fallen, and people visit graves of soldiers killed in the line of duty and people felled by terrorist attacks. It may be that the reason Israelis take this day so seriously is because since most Israelis serve in the military or have relatives who do so, death through conflict is not as remote a possibility. Furthermore,  since Israel is such a small country, many many Israelis know someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice, or was injured in conflict, or through a terrorist attack.

As night falls over Israel, the celebration shifts from one of solemnity to one of jubilation- Israel Independence Day has begun. The juxtaposition of the two days reminds all that freedom is not free; it is achieved only through the sacrifice of others.

Although the current State of Israel is only 68 years young, about 3,000 years ago King David defeated the Jebusites and established the capitol of  the first independent Jewish kingdom in Jerusalem. Jews ruled Jerusalem for over five hundred years. They lost their independence when the Romans conquered the city in the year 66 (over five hundred years before the birth of Mohammed) and did not regain it until 1948.

What’s happened to Israel during the last 68 years? Israel has been involved in 13 military conflicts, eight of them  wars. These repeated military actions have resulted in the deaths of  23, 447 Israelis. This past year alone there were 68 Israeli casualties of terrorism. Israel today has 9,000 families who have lost a loved one to war or terrorism, including close to 5,000 war widows. Israel is currently threatened by Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Iran and the Palestinians.

In efforts to make peace, Israel uprooted 2,500 people from the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula (Yamit) as part of the peace treaty with Egypt. As a peace offering to the Palestinians, about 9,000 Israeli citizens were expelled from their homes in Gaza and in four towns on the West Bank,

How has the world reacted to Israeli’s presence in the family of nations?  For the most part by trying to: isolate Israel, delegitimize it and ultimately end its existence. It has even resorted to rewriting history. For example, UNESCO’s executive board recently adopted a resolution ignoring the Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall and pronouncing these and two other biblical Jewish sites,  Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, to be Islamic holy sites. It referred to Hebron and Bethlehem as, “Palestinian sites.” 33 countries voted for this resolution, while only six countries- Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States-  voted against the resolution. Among the countries supporting the resolution were such Christian countries as France, Spain and Sweden. How they could do so when they know that the New Testament speaks of the  Jewish Temple in Jerusalem  and that  Jesus the Jew preached in Jewish Jerusalem hundreds of years before Mohammed was born, speaks to the lack of concern for truth and the power of Islamic constituencies within these countries.

Israel is also plagued by countless NGOS within its borders whose sole purpose is to harm Israel. For an in depth look at what these NGOS and some countries are doing to besmirch Israel, read Catch the Jew, by Tuvia Tenenbom.

Why the wish for Israel’s demise? The existence of the State of Israel is an anathema to those who hate Jews. Instead of Jews being totally subject to the whims of the governments in the countries in which they reside, 43% of the Jews in the world now reside in Israel, a country which is economically stable and has its own defense forces. So to try to bring about the downfall of Israel, the Jew haters criticize virtually every Israeli action. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel, but only 3 resolutions against all the other countries in the world- one against the Syrian regime, which has already murdered 200,000 of its people, one against Iran and one on North Korea. No resolution was adopted against human rights abuses in China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etc.

The BDS movement is alive and well and continues to gain new supporters. Since  criticizing Israel is accepted, it’s not very far from there to anti semitic rants against Jews everywhere. One has only to see the signs carried by protestors in Seattle during anti Israel demonstrations during the Gaza war to see how this has translated to raw anti-semitism. http://www.ruthfullyyours.com/2014/07/16/shocking-anti-semitic-hatefest-in-seattle-appalling-must-see-pictures/

Anti-semitism is now espoused by many groups on the left, including Britain’s Labor Party. Anti Semitism is also on the rise in Europe and Islamic terrorists now routinely target Jews in places such as France. Therefore, among the 36, 000 people who immigrated to Israel last year, about 8,000 were from France. This number is expected to rise.

The Palestinians continue in their efforts to get Israel to make dangerous concessions by using the power of public relations to tell tales that aren’t  true, which most of the world is all too ready to accept.  France and others will soon try to force Israel to make dangerous, one sided, concessions at the Paris “Peace Conference” which, if adopted,  will result in strengthening Hamas and creating additional threats to Israel and the moderate Middle Eastern countries.

So on this 68th birthday, why should Israel celebrate? All this misery, loss of life and hatred are depressing at best. How has Israel reacted? By adopting an attitude of life must go on and let’s live life to the fullest. Israel has become the  “Start Up Nation ” and has invented many of the world’s most innovative products and services such as: amniocentesis, drip irrigation, desalination, drones, baby monitors, office printers, instant messaging, Pillcam, flash drives, Centrino computer ships, Waze,  and Get Taxi. Israel’s concern for others has led it to participate in many humanitarian efforts including being the first on the scene to give relief after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and among the first to send aid to Japan after its 2011 earthquake. Almost daily, Israel rescues wounded Syrians from the war in Syria and treats them is Israeli hospitals. These Syrians are probably enemies of Israel and many may be members of Al Quaida affiliated groups. Since 2013, more than 2,000 Syrians  have been saved. This despite the fact that Syria has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has fought against it.

Israel’s military is among the strongest and most moral armies in the world, even notifying civilians in targeted areas (“roof knocking”) of upcoming attacks. ( The United States forces have now begun to do this in Iraq). Ultra Orthodox Jews and Arabs within Israel, especially Christian Arabs, are beginning to volunteer for the Israeli Army. (Like Jews, Druze Arabs are conscripted into the army and are truly loyal Israeli citizens.) Israel’s economy is robust. And, of course, unlike most Arab countries who refused to accept Palestinian refugees and now Syrian refugees, Israel absorbed millions of Jewish refugees, many from underdeveloped countries. Finally, polls indicate that Israel is one of the happiest countries in the world.

So let’s celebrate Israel’s miraculous existence and wish it a true peace with all its neighbors.

Categories: Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Middle East, Politics, Pro Israel Post, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Chanukah Hanukkah Is Almost Here

Shalom Y’All:

It’s been almost four months since we made aliyah, but it seems like years.

During this time In Israel we bought a new car, a new stovetop,  a new TV, and various small appliances which we should have bought in the States.

We’ve prayed in  a number of different synagogues, seen an excellent play in English, been invited to a Shabbat meal with two couples we did not know before, attended an Israeli wedding, and celebrated  the High Holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah here.

Despite the fact that the neighborhood we live in has both religious and secular residents, there were few cars on the street on Rosh Hashanah and no cars at all on Yom Kippur. In fact, on Yom Kippur, many kids ride their bikes on the streets throughout Israel since the streets are free of vehicles. On Sukkot, many food establishments have their own succahs and it is very interesting to see multiple sukkot on streets with restaurants. Jerusalem and many other cities have large public sukkot featuring free entertainment. There is a festive holiday atmosphere in Israel throughout Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

We’ve also spent loads of time filing out forms, including those required to: open a bank account and a checking account,  buy a car, obtain an Israeli Driver’s license-which requires multiple completed forms, an eye test , at least one driving lesson and a driving test, even though we have American licenses – obtain temporary Israeli passports issued after being in Israel for at least three months, but less than a year.

I also attend an Ulpan (one run by the City of Jerusalem) three days a week from 8:30 AM (everything begins early in Israel) to 1 PM. The Ulpan is a school for learning the Hebrew language. The government pays for the first 500 hours of instruction, which, at three days a week, is about ten months. The school administrator tests every student before she assigns them to a class. Those with no knowledge of Hebrew are assigned to a class which meets five days a week, while those with fairly good Hebrew skills attend only twice a week. The rest are three day a weekers. While instruction is in Hebrew, there is, in my humble opinion, too much of an emphasis on grammar. Too little time is spent on conversation. This may be because the classes are too large to engage in meaningful conversation.

The classes composition is like a mini UN. My class has a number of French speaking students from France, a Spanish and Portuguese speaking student from Brazil, English speakers from the United States, a Danish student, an Australian, a Canadian and other students whose origins I do not know since they are new.

It’s getting cool in Jerusalem, although it’s still much warmer in the southern part of the country.  Somehow, I neglected to take everyday turtlenecks with me and I have yet to find a store that sells them. Shipping them from America is very expensive, as the cost of shipping often exceeds the cost of the purchase. The only thing to do is to wait until someone I know visits Israel and is willing to bring a few items with them for me. It seems Israelis do not wear turtlenecks, although I’m not sure why. Correction: I have been told of a store that sells turtlenecks in Geula, a religious neighborhood in Jerusalem.

On a more serious note, there is a slight undercurrent of anxiety in the country due to the  Arab violence. While the threat is real, statistically the probability of any particular person getting hurt is much much less than the chances of getting hurt in an auto accident. Still, it’s unnerving and people at bus stops, for example, try to sit or stand with their backs to the wall. It’s most unfortunate that the incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Isis has created a situation where young Arabs are led to believe that stabbing and killing a Jew is somehow defending Jerusalem for Islam and a desirable act. Building additional barriers around Jerusalem and increased intelligence have helped curb the violence here and the majority of the incidents are now taking place in the territories.  But, hopefully, this too shall pass. In the meantime, Jews are just a tad more careful and those licensed to carry firearms are increasingly doing so.

On a brighter note, Chanukah Hanukkah begins in three weeks. Here are some unique Chanukah shirts and gifts:

Make Latkes Chanukah T-Shirt

Funny Latkes Chanukah t Shirt

Hanukkah Lights Hooded Sweatshirt

Funny Hanukkah Lites Hoodie

Real Men Make Latkes Chanukah Tank Top

It takes a Real Man to Make a Perfect Hanukkah Latke

Oy To The World Funny Jewish Zip Hoodie

Funny Hanukkah Hoodie and Oh So True.

These shirts and hoodies come in many sizes, styles and colors. Buy one for yourself or give them as Chanukah gifts. See the entire collection at JewTee’s Chanukah Hanukkah Shirts and Gifts.

Categories: Aliya, aliyah, Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish T Shirts and Gifts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

JewTee Blog Purim Edition

Shalom Y’All:

As I hope you know, Purim begins on the eve of March 4 and ends nightfall March 5. On Purim we celebrate our salvation through Queen Esther from the edict Haman prepared to annihilate all the Jews in the Persian empire.

On Purim Jews listen to the Megillah at night and the following morning, give Shalach Monos- gifts of food and/or drink to family and friends- charity to the poor  and eat a big meal in the late afternoon. In the carnival spirit of the day, kids, and often adults, dress in costumes and liquid refreshment of all kinds is imbibed.

In the topsy -turvey spirit of the day, I bring you the latest “news”:

Obama Netanyahu Friends At Last

Let’s Be Friends, Make Amends, Now’s the Time To Say I’m Sorry.

In a bombshell announcement today, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have agreed to bury the hatchet, become friends and learn from one another. President Obama will teach PM Netanyahu how to shoot basketballs into baskets while PM Netanyahu will teach President Obama how to shoot sunflower seed husks from the mouth into a bowl.


 

Sunny Days Ahead

Jew Are Refugees

In a shocking reversal of long-standing policy, the newly appointed Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Sun, has declared that all Jews living outside of Israel are refugees and has pledged 3 billion dollars to their resettlement in Israel. Consequently, UNWRA will be disbanded and a new agency, UNIRA (United Nations Israel Resettlement Agency) will be established.

Mr. Sun reached for comment at his residence in New York, explained that since all Jews once lived in Israel, any Jew not living there now is a refugee. Furthermore, he explained, since the borders of ancient Israel encompass much more land than the current state, Jews will be free to live anywhere within the ancient borders of the Jewish state. Arabs who wish to continue living there may do so if they agree to be “dhimiis.” (Druze Arabs and the families of Bedouin, Muslim and Christian Arabs who have served in the Israeli army will enjoy full rights.) Arabs who are unhappy with this turn of events will be free to move to any of the 22 Arab countries in the Middle East.

Reached for comment after this bombshell announcement, former West Coast Bank President Atbat said, “Oh well, we gave it a good shot. I’ve always wanted to ‘paint the town red’ in Tel Aviv and now I’ll have my chance.”

Hummus leaders in Graze City also seemed resigned to the new state of affairs. They explained that they had been offered a lucrative financial opportunity to turn their rockets into drones to be used to deliver packages from e-commerce companies to residents of the Jewish state and to turn their tunnels into underground shopping malls. The entire Graze Strip will become a vacation playland with separate beaches for men and women, and rocket building and tunnel digging activities for kids.

 

Green Is Better Than Red

Green Is Better Than Red

As to their enmity of the Jewish State, Hummus head Khabead Mashup said, “While I was having a good smoke on my Hookah, it came to me. We’ve tried to fight them. That didn’t work. It just gave us tons of rubble to clean up and many funerals to attend. So now, we may as well join them and get our hands on some real money.  When we feel like fighting and getting our own state, we’ll just attack one of the 22 Arab countries who did so little to help us.”

 


 

Beauty Is In The Eyes Of The Beholder

Beauty Is In The Eyes of  The Beholder

Hussle Realhoney, Iran’s Leader, shocked the world today by announcing it was renouncing  the manufacture of nuclear weapons and instead focusing on establishing a yearly Purim contest. (Iran, formerly Persia, is the location of the original Purim story.) “Instead of being hit with sanctions and losing revenue from the lack  of oil sales, we will make Tehran the world’s wealthiest city. Girls from all over the world will come to Tehran for the title of the world’s most beautiful girl. Contestants, who will need to be sponsored by their home country, will spend months being pampered and prepped with the world’s best beauty products. Of course, in keeping with our traditions, female contestants will have to be fully clothed with only parts of their faces allowed to be seen. Since true beauty lies on the inside, however, there is no need for  greater exposure.”

On the day of the contest, all contestants will appear before the “King” who will judge their beauty and abilities and pick that year’s World Beauty Queen. The Queen’s responsibilities will include selfies with all World Leaders.

Asked who the “King” would be, Beauty Contest developers said that while no final decision had been made, those in the running included: Prince Charles, Big Sean, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, Simon Cowell and Jesse James, all of whom have chosen women other than those they were married to.

Despite thousands of requests from married men, the part of Queen Vashti will not be played by the wife of a married man.

That’s it for now.

HAPPY PURIM TO ALL!

Categories: Israel, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Jewish Humor, Purim, Purim, religion | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

UNWRA Foments Hatred Towards Israel

Shalom:

In a previous post, I complained about the United Nations Human Rights Council. Today I would like to address the stance of UNWRA towards Israel.

The formation of the State Of Israel resulted in the creation of both Jewish and Arab refugees.

Between 800,000 to 1,000,000 Jews were forced to flee from the Arab lands in which many of them had lived for over a thousand years. Over half a million of these Jewish refugees were absorbed in the newly created tiny State of Israel without any compensation from the Arab lands who had confiscated their property and possessions. The United Nations also did not provide any assistance.

About 700,000 Arabs living in Palestine either fled or were forced to flee. Unlike Israel, the many neighboring large Arab countries did not absorb these refugees. Instead, in 1949, the United Nations created UNWRA, the “United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.”

The workload of UNWRA should be lessening each year, as the original refugees pass on. However, the United Nations in its infinite “wisdom”, decided to broaden the definition of a refugee, for Palestinians only, from a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster to include patrilineal descendants of the original refugees as well. So, had the usual definition of refugee been used, the number of Palestinian refugees today would be between 30,000 to 50,000. Instead, the number is between five to six million.

Of course, UNWRA’s staff has had to grow and continues to grow as the number of refugees increases. UNWRA also administers large “Palestinian refugee” camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and provides social services there as well.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 1.25 million “Palestinian refugees,” live in Gaza, about two thirds of its population. About half of Gaza’s residents receive UNWRA food supplies and more than a quarter live in UNRWA refugee camps. UNWRA runs 245 schools, 22 medical facilities and eight refugee camps in Gaza. It employs more than 11,000 people and is Gaza’s second largest employer 

Rather than seeking to resolve the problem by encouraging Arab countries to absorb the “refugees,” maintaining neutrality, or trying to lessen the negative view of Israel held by many in Gaza, UNWRA is perpetuating the tradition of hate by fostering the “refugees” unattainable goal of returning to Israel by any means possible, including violence.

To see a distressing graphic representation of the propaganda UNWRA teaches in their schools, click on the following : UNWRA Teaches Palestinian Students that Israel Is Palestine.

To see an organization, whose raison d’être is to bring peace to the world,  encourage educators to teach this type of propaganda in its schools is kafkaesque and a real tragedy. How can Israel ever make peace with people who have been taught since childhood that destroying Israel is their life’s mission?

Categories: Gaza, Israel, Jewish Blog, Middle East, Politics, Pro Israel Post, United Nations, UNWRA, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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