Israel News

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice strives to cover events of interest to our readers. Send your Israel related press releases, comments and suggestions to Israel Editor Eli Levine israel@pjvoice.org

FIDF Event Shines a Light on Siblings of Fallen Soldiers

Gil Lesnik

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces hosted a Shabbat dinner in Center City. The evening’s special guest was Israeli writer, producer and director Gil Lesnik, who screened his film “My Younger Elder Brother” at the dinner. The film documents the struggles of a previously overlooked group of bereaved people: the younger siblings of fallen soldiers. [Read more…]

Jerusalem Reunification From the Eyes of a Child

Western Wall, Jerusalem, June, 1967

Western Wall

-Written by Eli Yaron

I witnessed the reunification of Jerusalem firsthand. I was a nine-year-old boy when this modern-day miracle unfolded during the Six-Day War in 1967.

Three weeks before the war, I was enjoying the Yom Hatzmaut (Independence Day) celebrations, which included the IDF parade during the day, and the yearly Israeli song festival in the evening. The parade took place in Jerusalem that year. However, because the occupying Jordanians had restricted the access of Jews within the walls of the ancient part of the city, the parade had to be held in the newer part. Due to the cease-fire agreements with Jordan, the parade was limited to marching troops and jeeps. Although the air force flyby and the columns of tanks were not allowed, the parade was still a show of force.

Singer Shuly Nathan with her guitar on stage

Singer Shuly Nathan

The song festival included 12 songs that competed for first prize. I recall my family sitting around the radio listening to the songs. Then, it was announced that the mayor, Teddy Koleck, had asked for a special song, that was not part of the contest, to be written about Jerusalem. A young singer whom none of us had ever heard before, Shuli Nathan, started singing “Avir Harim Tzalul K’Yaytin” (Mountain Air That Is Pure as Wine), written by Naomi Shemer. We were mesmerized. My mother came in from the kitchen, and when the refrain of “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (Jerusalem of Gold) was sung for the first time, I saw her wiping a tear. On the radio, we could hear the crowd singing the refrain, followed by a brief silence and then applause that seemed to last forever. My father simply said, “Hayinu Kecholmim (as if we are dreaming).”

Most Israelis do not recall which song won the 1967 song festival contest. But all those who listened to the broadcast recall vividly that at the end of the evening, Shuli Nathan came on stage again to sing “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” with the audience joining her and choking back tears.

The next morning, the 7 a.m. news started with Nasser, the president of Egypt, demanding the removal of the UN peace-keeping forces between Israel and Egypt. The UN forces vacated their position on the border, and the Egyptian army took their place. In response, Israel mobilized those in military reserve units. Within a few days, our neighborhood changed — only children, young women, and the elderly were left. School continued as usual, and the only difference in my life was that my parents were working long hours. My father was working around the clock at ZIM, the Israeli shipping line. He came home every third or fourth day for a quick shower and meal, before going right back. My mother was working full-time at a friend’s hardware store, as he was called to reserve duty as well.

A few days later, two major events took place. On the foreign affairs front, Nasser announced he was closing the Tiran Straits to Israeli ships. And on the home front, our cleaning lady, a widow who lived in downtown Haifa in a mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood, came crying to my mother. Our cleaning lady said that her Arab neighbor told her, “Wait until we win. We are going to kill your children first, and then we will kill you!” My mother told her not to worry about a thing, because that would never happen. Tuning in to the Arab radio stations that broadcasted in Hebrew, we repeatedly heard the same message: “We will slaughter you and throw your bodies into the Mediterranean Sea, as none of you will remain alive at the end of the war.” [Read more…]

Celebrate Israel Festivals in 15 Cities Coast-to-Coast

By Meira Fine

This spring, the Israeli American Council is partnering with Jewish Federations, JCCs, and other organizations to host major Celebrate Israel festivals in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Las Vegas, Arizona, Seattle, Chicago and New Jersey from May 7th until June 11th. Additional celebrations will be hosted by community groups through IAC Beyachad (IAC Together) in many metropolitan areas, including Salt Lake City, Tucson, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Omaha. More than 50,000 pro-Israel Americans of all backgrounds and faiths will come together to celebrate Israel and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.The events will constitute the largest Israel celebration outside of Israel on record, a feat the IAC repeats each year.

“We are thrilled to bring people together from across the pro-Israel community to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification in what will be the largest celebration of Israel outside of Israel in history,” said IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet. “Israeli-Americans are very proud of the increasing role that we are playing as a bridge between the America and Israel, and within the Jewish and pro-Israel
communities here in the United States.”

Each event will feature its own depictions of Jerusalem’s reunification. In Los Angeles, a 24-ft. tall Towerof David, life-size replica of the Kotel, and past-and-present photography exhibit by Noam Chen will bring participants face-to-face with the Jewish people’s eternal capital. In Boston, attendees will enjoy an archeological dig, shop in a replica of the Machane Yehuda Shuk, and enjoy performances from a
range of Israeli and Jewish artists and student groups.

Past Celebrate Israel events have brought unique and iconic Israeli experiences to regions across the U.S. – from the more than 15,000 attendees who turned out years past in Los Angeles to hear the sounds of Israeli headliners, like Idan Raichel, to the thousands of participants who mingled in Tel Aviv beach sand in Boston.

Holocaust Survivors Travel With IDF Officers to Poland and Israel

Miroslawa Gruszczynska (left) and Holocaust survivor Miri Amir. Photo credit: Shahar Azran.

Miroslawa Gruszczynska (left) and Holocaust survivor Miri Amir. Photo credit: Shahar Azran.

Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor Bronia Brandman, 86, returned to the death camp for the first time since her liberation. Holocaust survivor Miri Amir was reunited yesterday with Miroslawa Gruszczynska, the woman whose family — awarded the title “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem — hid her from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. Both of these emotionally charged events took place during a trip to Poland by Holocaust survivors, officers from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and a delegation of 40 supporters of the organization Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). During the second leg of the journey, the group also traveled together to Israel.

[Read more…]

Palestinian Women Tried to Smuggle Explosives as Cancer Medicine, Media Shrugs

Reprinted with permission from Snapshots, a CAMERA blog

Photo courtesy of Snapshots, a Camera blog.

Two Palestinian sisters tried to smuggle explosives into Israel from Gaza by labeling them as cancer medication. The Israeli security service Shin Bet caught the two women on April 19, 2017. Many major U.S. news outlets failed to report the event.

[Read more…]

Schumer Speaks at AIPAC Policy Conference

On Tuesday, March 28, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the podium at the AIPAC Policy Conference. In a heartfelt address peppered with personal anecdotes, he spoke to the strength of the bond between the United States and Israel. He discussed the recent rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States. He also characterized the campaign to delegitimize Israel — waged by movements like BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) and by the United Nations — as a “cloaked” form of anti-Semitism. Finally, he called for unified support for Israel across the American political spectrum, and pledged, “[A]s long as HaShem breathes air into my lungs, I will fight to make Israel a safer, more secure, more prosperous nation.”

The transcript of Sen. Schumer’s speech, as provided on the AIPAC Policy Conference website, appears below. [Read more…]

Pelosi Addresses AIPAC Policy Conference

Minority Leader of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addressed the crowd on the last day of the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington. In her speech, she covered a lot of ground, from her family’s longtime commitment to Israel — referring to her father as a “Shabbat goy” — to her support, and that of many of her colleagues, for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She mentioned anti-Semitism and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the Iranian challenge and her abiding respect for the late President Shimon Peres. She also described the creation of the state of Israel as “the greatest political achievement of the 20th century.”

The transcript of Rep. Pelosi’s speech, as provided on the AIPAC Policy Conference website, appears below. [Read more…]

U.N. Israel Apartheid Report Condemned

Israeli flag at U.N. Photo: AP,

Israeli flag at U.N. Photo: AP,

The Jewish Labor Committee condemns the United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia’s report that asserts that “Israel has established an apartheid regime.” It is not surprising that the Commission, comprised entirely of 18 Arab states, most of which do not recognize Israel, would issue a report that appears to be the first time that “apartheid” has been used in document with the United Nations stamp to criticize Israel. [Read more…]

Over $4 Million Raised for Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Dr. Stuart and Lelaine Nemser; Dr. Robert and Marla Zipkin.

Dr. Stuart and Lelaine Nemser; Dr. Robert and Marla Zipkin.

The Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University (AABGU) held its largest and most important event of the year at the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center: the community tribute event, which raised over $4 million. [Read more…]