JERUSALEM (WJC)–A team of Israeli police officers will leave for Haiti to serve as part of a multinational force set up by the United Nations. It marks the first time Israelis will serve on a UN force. The 14 police officers attended a ceremony at the Western Wall on Monday ahead of their scheduled departure on early next week. The delegation constitutes the first-ever Israeli group to serve in active duty under the command of the United Nations. The police officers will remain in Haiti for an extended period of time.
“You are Israel’s true face,” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon told the officers during a meeting Wednesday. “This mission will demonstrate to friends and foes alike that Israel is always willing to contribute and volunteer anywhere and at any time. It is important for people to see Israel beyond the conflict and to see that this is the real Israel. We are not only strong materially, but also strong in spirit.”
The head of the delegation, Meir Namir, said that the best police officers were mobilized to the task, some leaving behind pregnant women, children, and one even putting off his wedding.
Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake in January 2010 which left more than 200,000 dead and approximately one million people homeless.. At the time, Israeli humanitarian workers assisted thousands of victims on the ground.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
NEW YORK (Press Release)– Heads of Jewish communities from around the world will gather in Jerusalem for a meeting of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Governing Board on 31 August and 1 September 2010. The gathering will focus on ways to fight the growing threats against Israel. It will be addressed by senior statesmen from Israel and abroad.
Writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Elie Wiesel will be presented with the first WJC “Guardian of Jerusalem” award in recognition of his lifetime accomplishments on behalf of the Jewish people. Members of the Israeli Haiti emergency rescue operation will receive a special award for their heroic humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, and opposition leader and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni will participate. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer and Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau also confirmed their participation.
Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar will give a keynote address to delegates about the recently launched Friends of Israel Initiative (www.friendsofisraelinitiative.org).
Ahead of the Governing Board, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said:
“Everywhere, we are witnessing concerted efforts to attack the legitimacy of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Boycott, sanctions and divestment campaigns are becoming prevalent; Israeli academics, authors, artists and sportspeople are being banned from participating in events; the media often presents a one-sided view of developments, and Israel is almost always being singled out for blame. We will be developing proactive initiatives to address these issues, and we will underline the need for Diaspora Jewry’s continued unwavering solidarity with Israel in a global environment that is increasingly hostile to those positions.”
The WJC meeting will be attended by around 150 leaders representing all major Jewish communities in the world and will adopt the future priorities and action plans of the organization. It will also discuss the difficult situation faced by certain Jewish communities, e.g. in Sweden and Venezuela.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
NEW YORK (WJC)–The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is collecting funds to help the victims of the devastating floods in Pakistan with food, clothing, medicine and other necessities.
Flooding began about three weeks ago and has affected an estimated 170 million people in Pakistan. The United Nations has described Pakistan’s worst humanitarian crisis as one of the world’s biggest disasters. About six million survivors are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, in desperate need of food, shelter and clean drinking water, with concerns growing over potential outbreaks of cholera, typoid and hepatitis.
“By harnessing our vast experience in international disaster relief and tapping our network of partners on the ground to assess the most pressing needs, JDC will quickly respond to those affected by the floods in Pakistan,” JDC CEO Steven Schwager said in a statement.
“Guided by the principle of ‘tikkun olam’ (repairing the world), we will help ensure that the most vulnerable are reached.” The Jewish organization is coordinating efforts with the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Interaction in Washington, DC.
JDC provides aid in countries around the world to immediate and long-term support for victims of natural and man-made disaster. It mounted similar relief efforts in South Asia in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and in Burma (Myanmar) after Cyclone Nargis struck. All funds collected will be directed to relief efforts. It also helped Pakistanis in the aftermath of the 2005 and 2008 earthquakes and implemented relief efforts in Haiti following the earthquake there earlier this year.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in Israel and more than 70 countries to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.
To make a contribution:
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
NEW YORK (Press Release)–EL AL, the national airline of Israel, recently hosted 19 year old student Sounlove Zamour on a flight from New York to Israel. Sounlove is a double amputee victim of the horrific earthquake that took place in Haiti this past January.
Sounlove is in Israel to continue with the next stage of her recovery process. She is being treated at the premiere high-tech rehabilitation center of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital.
The plan is to fit Sounlove with prosthetics and have her walk again, as has been done with many previous patients. Her sister Baranatha is accompanying Sounlove in Israel for the four month long stay where they are guests of the Friends of Sheba Medical Center, a foundation based in Los Angeles.
EL AL has a history of providing humanitarian assistance during times of need. In keeping with this tradition, two EL AL aircraft carried more than 80 tons of supplies, dozens of medical personnel, search and rescue teams as well as a canine rescue squad from Israel to assist with the relief efforts in Haiti.
Preceding provided by El Al Airlines
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO — Okoronkwo Umeham and his wife, Gail Feurzeig Umeham, have heard rumors that the Mexican government may apologize for his wrongful incarceration in a Tijuana Federal Detention Center earlier this month, but so far that is all that the reports have turned out to be – rumors. To my way of thinking, far worse than the fact that the Nigerian-American was detained for carrying soup vegetables that Mexican Marines mistook for drugs, was his being chained hand and foot even as he was being taken back to the U.S. border to be set free. Why should a man be humiliated with shackles and manacles when it already has been determined that he is innocent? That’s the biggest outrage.
I’ve received a press release from District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (who is Jewish) that she’s supporting a member of her staff, Deputy District Attorney Richard Monroy, for the Superior Court judgeship from which Bob Coates is retiring. With the flap about how Dumanis frequently has exercised the right of peremptory challenge to prevent certain out-of-favor judges from hearing criminal cases, it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to her own handpicked candidate for the bench. If there is any backlash against Dumanis’ policies, the Monroy judgeship (assuming he draws an opponent) may be a test case.
In the race for the 6th District seat of the San Diego City Council being vacated by Donna Frye, we were pleased to read that an old friend and a member of our community, Deputy State Attorney General Howard Wayne, has taken the lead in fundraising. Given the crowded field, he will need television time to remind everyone of his records of accomplishments during the six years (maximum three terms) he served this area as a state assemblyman.
My guess is that a lot of Jews who voted for Barack Obama for President will go over to the Republican side next election—assuming that the Republicans nominate someone who seems to be a reasonable choice. John McCain, in my opinion, would have gotten more Jewish votes than he did, but for the fact that Sarah Palin seemed to so many of us to be an off-the-wall choice for vice president. Now, with bad feeling between the leaders of Israel and the United States near an all-time high, many Jewish Democrats and independents will hope the GOP will find someone who is moderate on domestic issues and willing to stick by the Israelis even though the rest of the world is ganging up on them.
Jennie Starr, who already has pioneered social gatherings for Hebrew speakers in the county, now is exploring the possibility of creating a public charter school in which the Hebrew language would be taught in secular fashion. Starr indicates that one possible venue for such a school might be the Carmel Valley area, which can be reached by coastal communities by Interstate 5 and by inland communities by State Route 56. Before such a school can be established, there are many hoops to jump through –not the least of which is showing that there is sufficient support in the community at large to make such a school viable.
Navras Jaat Aafreedi, a gentleman in India whose articles about Jewish life there have been carried by this publication, tells us: “As I attempt to craft a course on Jewish History and Culture – which would be the first university-level course of its kind in South Asia – I am also attempting to have a section of our library devoted to Jewish Studies.” Anyone who wishes to help him should send books or DVDs by registered mail to him at the School of Social Sciences and Buddhist Studies at Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, Yamuna Expressway, Gautam Buddha Nagar – 201 308, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Bruce Kesler spotted the story in the San Francisco Chronicle about the new Assembly Speaker John Perez. Growing up in a mixed Jewish and Latino area of Los Angeles, he learned to speak a bissel Yiddish. … The Jerusalem Post reported that when Israel sent medical teams to Haiti following the massive earthquake earlier this year, it prompted some Jews to recall how Haiti had provided refuge to their families escaping from Hitler’s Germany and nazi-occupied Eastern Europe.
TEL AVIV (WJC)–Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and as such the highest military official in the United States, met in Tel Aviv with members of the IDF’s humanitarian delegation to Haiti.
He told the Israeli soldiers: “The important work you did with your delegation will not be forgotten, not by us and not by the residents of Haiti.” Mullen had requested the meeting during his three-day visit to Israel.
“I want to express my admiration for you. You represent the hope within the heavy tragedy the residents of Haiti had to live through. You created hope and a future for those people, and humanity is proud of you,” Mullen said.
His Israeli counterpart, IDF Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, said that Israel’s rescue effort “would not have succeeded as [it] did without the preparations by the US Army in Haiti. We know who will continue to assist in the long-term rehabilitation of Haiti. Now all we can do is to finish the treatment and prepare for the next operation.”
Later on Monday, Mullen and Ashkenazi visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. “We, all of us, must make sure that such terrible events will never happen again,” Mullen said there, adding: “We ask for hope, a better future for coming generations.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
LONDON (WJC) — Baroness Jenny Tonge, a senior member of the British opposition party Liberal Democrats, has been sacked as her party’s health policy spokeswoman in the House of Lords after she called on Israel to disprove allegations that its medical teams in Haiti harvested the organs of earthquake victims and sold them on for transplantations.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said Tonge’s comments had been “wrong, distasteful and provocative and I recognize the deep and understandable distress they have caused to the Jewish community. While I do not believe that Jenny Tonge is anti-Semitic or racist, I regard her comments as wholly unacceptable.”
He said Tonge apologized “unreservedly” for any offense she may have caused. The baroness is a patron of the news website ‘Palestine Telegraph’, which printed the allegations. In the past, Tonge often launched scathing attacks against Israel. In 2004, she told a pro-Palestinian lobby group on the issue of suicide attacks by Palestinians against Israel: “If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming [a suicide bomber] myself.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed Baroness Tonge’s dismissal, saying her support for an investigation into accusations of organ harvesting by the Israeli rescue teams was “outrageous and a calumny. Baroness Tonge has promoted this libel against Israel by utilising historical themes that are classically deployed to attack the Jewish people. She has dishonored the noble efforts of Israelis who engaged in a selfless humanitarian effort to save lives in Haiti.”
The umbrella body of British Jews declared in a statement that “any further use of anti-Semitic rhetoric must result in Tonge’s expulsion from the party and loss of the whip.”