Philly Delegation Participates in Holocaust Remembrance Journey


Photos by Shahar Azran, courtesy of FIDF

— by Jen Glantz

Over 100 prominent Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) lay leaders and supporters from the United States and Panama, including a delegation from Philadelphia, were accompanied by over 50 IDF officers as they toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Poland as part of the ten-day FIDF “From Holocaust to Independence” journey to Poland and Israel.

The delegation visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, which was the largest of the Nazi’s Concentration Camps. The delegation also listened to the personal story of a Holocaust survivor from Israel, Asher Aud, in Auschwitz 2-Birkenau, where mass exterminations of Jews took place throughout the war.

More after the jump.
Earlier, The delegation toured the town of Tarnów-Zbylitowska Góra, which was home to thousands of Jews at the onset of World War II, who ultimately faced unspeakable suffering at the hands of the Nazis, and the village of Zbylitowska Góra as well as Buczyna Forest, where many Jews, including over 800 children, were executed and buried by the Nazis.

The delegation also visited the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Krakow, an important district in Jewish history and learned about its significant Jewish community that thrived from the 14th Century until the Holocaust. The delegation toured the Krakow Jewish Ghetto, where Jews were forced to live during the Nazi occupation, and saw the remnants of the Krakow Ghetto Wall. Upon arriving to Poland, the delegation enjoyed a celebratory dinner with the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Gantz.


The delegation, including FIDF supporter Herbert London and his wife Vicki, near the synagogue

The official military ceremony at the Children’s Grave at Zbylitowska Góra

A group of FIDF delegation participants and IDF soldiers, with FIDF National President, Julian Josephson and FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, at the remnants of the Krakow Ghetto Wall

Left to right: FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Gantz, and FIDF National President, Julian Josephson in Krakow, Poland

Treasury Imposes New Sanctions on Iran


DOD Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sun L. Vega

— by David Streeter

The United States Treasury issued new sanctions against Iran because of its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Treasury said in its announcement:

The United States is taking a number of actions today that tighten sanctions on Iran’s access to its oil revenues and further expose the Iranian government’s continued abuse of human rights. Key provisions of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA) that go into effect today, expand the scope of sanctionable transactions with the Central Bank of Iran and designated Iranian financial institutions by restricting Iran’s ability to use oil revenue held in foreign financial institutions as well as preventing repatriation of those funds to Iran.

After the jump: Obama Administration Presents IDF’s Gantz with Legion of Merit Award

The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, also designated one individual and four entities for their involvement in the Iranian government’s censorship activities. These censorship activities restrict the free flow of information in Iran and punish Iranian citizens who are attempting to exercise freedom of assembly and expression.

‘Our policy is clear — so long as Iran continues to fail to address the concerns of the international community about its nuclear program, the U.S. will impose tighter sanctions and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime,’ said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. ‘We will also target those in Iran who are responsible for human right abuses, especially those who deny the Iranian people their basic freedoms of expression, assembly and speech.’

Today marks 180 days since the President signed the TRA. Section 504 of the TRA amends existing sanctions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) that target the Central Bank of Iran, designated Iranian financial institutions and Iran’s energy sector. At the 180-day mark, section 504 narrows the exception for countries that have significantly reduced their purchases of Iranian crude oil so that the exception now only applies to financial transactions that facilitate bilateral trade between the country granted the exception and Iran.  For the exception to apply to a financial transaction, funds owed to Iran as a result of such bilateral trade will now have to be credited to an account located in the country granted the exception and may not be repatriated to Iran.

This provision will significantly increase economic pressure on Iran by restricting Iran’s repatriation of oil revenue. In addition to effectively ‘locking up’ Iranian oil revenue overseas, this provision sharply restricts Iran’s use of this revenue for bilateral trade and severely limits Iran’s ability to move funds across jurisdictions.

Obama Administration Presents Gantz with Legion of Merit Award

The Obama Administration presented the Israeli Defense Forces’ Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz with the Legion of Merit award for his military service. JTA reported:

Gantz accepted the award on Tuesday during his five-day visit to the United States at the invitation of his U.S. counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. On behalf of President Obama, Dempsey presented Gantz with the award.

An attached letter signed by Dempsey and the U.S. secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, said Gantz was recognized for his outstanding and noteworthy command, and for his military service.

Gantz accepted the award on behalf of Israeli soldiers and commanders, and said it represented the strong relationship between the U.S. and Israeli militaries, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Veterans Day: Americans Visit Israel To Thank IDF Soldiers


FIDF supporters from the Ohio Region on the FIDF National Mission to Israel, standing next to one of the airplanes that participated in the attack of the Iraqi nuclear base in the 80’s. Photo credit Einav Rimon

TEL AVIV- November 11, 2012 – Over 50 prominent Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) lay leaders and supporters from the United States embarked on a unique seven-day journey to Israel as part of the FIDF National Mission to Israel to show their appreciation and support for Israel’s soldiers. The delegation arrived in Tel Aviv last Sunday, November 4th, 2012.

The FIDF mission, which was primarily aimed at acquainting participants with the IDF and its brave men and women in uniform, provided participants with the opportunity to spend time with IDF soldiers on various military bases across Israel. The group met with soldiers from several elite IDF bases, including the Machva Alon Educational base and the famous Nevatim Air Force base, where they met F-16 pilots. Mission participants were also given a special tour of the Gaza Border Region.

The group met with several top-level government and IDF officials, including the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, at his official Briefing Room, and Lt. Gen. (Res.) Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs, and the IDF’s 17th Chief of the General Staff.

More after the jump.


FIDF supporters at an IDF Air Force Base. Photo credit: Einav Rimon.

“The Friends of the IDF delegation which has embarked on this important journey to Israel signifies the deeply rooted connection between the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the brave soldiers who serve to protect it,”

said FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon.

This extraordinary mission to Israel culminated with a special FIDF ceremony, saluting the IDF commanders, at the Palmachim Air Force base. Hundreds of soldiers, FIDF supporters, and members of the IDF general staff, including IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, came together for an evening of celebration of and gratitude for Israel’s soldiers and the hard work they endure to protect the Jewish homeland and its people around the world.

Among the mission participants were FIDF National Chairman, Nily Falic; FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon; and FIDF National President, Julian Josephson.

FIDF Mission participants with IDF soldiers on a base in the South of Israel.

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon Returns From Israel

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon concluded a three day visit to Israel today for consultations with senior Israeli officials including Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, Chief of the General Staff Gantz, and National Security Advisor Gen. Yaakov Amidror.  Mr. Donilon and his delegation addressed the full range of security issues of mutual concern.  The visit is part of the continuous and intensive dialogue between the United States and Israel and reflects our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.  Mr. Donilon relayed to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the President looks forward to meeting with him at the White House on March 5.

Gen. Dempsey in Israel: “America is Your Partner”

— by David Streeter

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey visited Israel to conduct high level meetings regarding the Iranian threat. The New York Times reported on Dempsey’s trip:

The meetings were closed and their contents were not revealed. But General Dempsey, on his first visit to Israel as military chief, was quoted in brief remarks released by the office of Israel’s defense minister as saying, ‘We have many interests in common in the region in this very dynamic time, and the more we can continue to engage each other, the better off we’ll all be.’…

General Dempsey began his visit here with an intimate dinner on Thursday evening at a restaurant in Jaffa with his counterpart, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Israel’s military chief of staff. The men were joined by their wives. Early Friday, General Dempsey was greeted at Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv with an honor guard and held meetings with General Gantz and other senior commanders.

The top generals ‘discussed military-to-military relations, the new U.S. defense strategy, budget and economic issues and regional security challenges,’ Col. Dave Lapan, the Special Assistant for Public Affairs in the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a statement.

Other meetings were held with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Barak and Israel’s president, Shimon Peres. General Dempsey also visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, where he wrote in the visitors’ book, ‘We are committed to ensuring that such a human tragedy never happens again.’ He departed Israel before the onset of the Sabbath at sundown on Friday.

Each of the meetings ‘reinforced the deep and special relationship shared by Israel and the U.S.,’ Colonel Lapan said, and ‘served to advance a common understanding of the regional security environment.’…

Mr. Peres told General Dempsey on Friday that ‘Even today in a very complicated situation we can find a common ground. We have profound trust in your democratic system and your armed forces.’ General Dempsey assured Mr. Peres that ‘America is your partner and we are honored to have you as a partner in that regard.’

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Military, General Martin E. Dempsey, visited Israel On January 19th — 20th, 2012. This was General’s Dempsey’s first visit to Israel, and he was hosted by the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz.
During his visit, General Dempsey held a private meeting with Lieutenant General Gantz, as well as a briefing with senior commanders of the General Staff, focusing on cooperation between the two militaries, as well as mutual security challenges. During his visit, General Dempsey also met with the Minister of Defense, Mr. Ehud Barak, with the Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, and with the President, Mr. Shimon Peres.

General Dempsey was welcomed to the IDF General Headquarters in Camp Rabin (the Kirya) by an IDF honor guard of soldiers and to the sounds of the national anthems of Israel and the United States of America. General Dempsey also visited the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he was very moved by the exhibition.

In brief remarks after the tour, Dempsey noted the significance of the date — 70 years to the day of the infamous Wannsee Conference held in that Berlin suburb on Jan. 20, 1942. It was at that meeting that senior officials of the Nazi regime discussed their “Final solution to the Jewish problem.”

“We are committed to ensuring that such a human tragedy never happens again,” Dempsey wrote in the museum’s visitor’s book.