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July 23, 2016 / 17 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish community’

Facing Growing Protests, Venezuela’s President Declares ‘State of Emergency’

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has declared a 60-day state of emergency. The move came Friday night in response to what he claimed were domestic and U.S.-based plots to subvert him, and followed efforts by opposition lawmakers to raise a recall referendum against Maduro’s administration.

Protests in the country are gaining traction as nearly 70 percent of the population calls for Maduro’s ouster. The president was the hand-picked successor to the late president Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer while running for re-election.

Chavez was a close friend of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the two men cemented ties between their two nations while severing Venezuela’s ties with Israel. Venezuela has the largest oil reservoir in the western hemisphere.

After the partition of Israel was approved by the United Nations in 1947, more than 200 homes, shops and synagogues were destroyed in Venezuela, according to an article written by Rachelley Krygier, who wrote in June 2014 in the Caracas Chronicle about her mother’s family’s immigration experience when they arrived from Aleppo, Syria. Her father’s family, fleeing Cuba, also came to Venezuela.

“None of them could have foreseen what came next. The country was completely transformed from a refuge into a hostile, threatening place,” she wrote. Between 1990 to 2011, the Jewish community of Venezuela shrank from 25,000 to 9,000.

“Signs of anti-Semitism in the government became evident in 2009, when Chavez condemned the state of Israel, expelled the Israeli ambassador  and conducted meetings with Iran’s Ahjmadinejad. Our Holocaust survivors saw in the news how our president shook hands with a leader who denied what they and their loved ones had gone through,” Krygier wrote.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Maduro ordered military exercises for next weekend, vowing the government would take over idle factories. He did not provide details. Opposition lawmakers continued to lead protests.

“We’re talking about a desperate president who is putting himself on the margin of legality and constitutionality,” Democratic Unity coalition leader Jesus Torrealba told hundreds of supporters at a rally, according to Reuters.

“If this state of emergency is issued without consulting the National Assembly, we would technically be talking about a self-coup.”

Control over Venezuela’s National Assembly was won by the opposition in a December election that was fueled by voter anger over skyrocketing inflation, product shortages and crime, but the lawmakers have been consistently undercut by the country’s Supreme Court.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Farmers Return to Work in Fields on Gaza Border

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Israeli farmers in the Gaza Belt region were allowed to go back to working their fields near the southern border on Sunday.

Security officials said they don’t believe Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization is seeking an escalation in tensions with Israel at this time, according to a report on Channel 10 television news.

Sources said it is believed a smaller terrorist group was responsible for the rocket attack that was fired at southern Israeli communities over the weekend.

Nevertheless, the IDF is continuing its search for cross-border terror attack tunnels along the Gaza border.

Since the start of those operations, two tunnels leading from Gaza into Israeli territory have been uncovered.

Hana Levi Julian

The Age of Chavez May Be Over As Venezuelan Opposition Wins in Landslide

Monday, December 7th, 2015

(JNi.media) Venezuela’s opposition won control of the National Assembly by a landslide on Sunday, with at least 99 seats in the next 167-seat legislature, compared to the ruling socialist party’s 46 seats. The victory may change radically the future of President Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded the late president Hugo Chávez in 2013. The change may also bring a hopeful future to the Jews of Venezuela, who have been living in fear of the populist regime. In the last 15 years more than half of the country’s Jews have left Venezuela, with the local community’s numbers dropping from about 25,000 Jews in 2,000 to only 7,000 today.

Andres Beker, a Venezuelan Jewish expatriate in the United States whose parents still live in Caracas, told the Jerusalem Post last year: “There’s less hope about the future. My parents are huge fans of Venezuela. Until last year I thought they would stay no matter what. Now, for the first time, they’re talking about Plan B: leaving Venezuela.”

President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday night acknowledged his party’s defeat — the first one for the ruling socialists in 17 years. Maduro vowed to continue the socialist policies of his mentor, Chávez, despite the country’s triple-digit inflation and two-year recession, caused by economic policies that were only feasible as long as oil prices hovered around $100 a barrel. The sharp drop in oil prices pulled the rug from under the Socialists’ feet. As the post-election night wore on, the militant Maduro softened his tone. “In Venezuela, peace and democracy must reign,” Maduro said, adding, “I’ve said we’ll take the fight to the streets, but maybe I was wrong. We can’t go where we’ve always been.”

According to the AP, some opposition voices are proposing a recall referendum to kick Maduro out of office before his term ends in 2019. They could possibly do it if it turns out they’ve won a two-thirds majority of 112 seats. There’s also talk that the outgoing majority might pass a law granting Maduro special powers to effectively reverse the election’s outcome, before the new congress is sworn in next January.

The Jewish community of Venezuela was established in the 19th century, when Sephardic Jews from the Dutch colony of Curaçao began to migrate to the Venezuelan city of Santa Ana de Coro in 1824. David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, wrote 10 years ago: “They have developed an impressive communal infrastructure built around a central umbrella organization, La Confederación de Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela (CAIV) … Fifteen synagogues (all but one Orthodox), and, perhaps most striking of all, a Jewish all-in-one campus, Hebraica. Combining Jewish nursery and day schools, a country club, cultural center, a verdant setting, and wide-ranging sports activities, Hebraica serves as the focus for much of the community.”

“The community is close-knit, an overwhelming majority of Jewish children attend Jewish schools, the level of participation is high, identification with Israel is intense, and intermarriage rates are low compared to the United States or Britain,” Harris continued, noting that “What is equally striking in talking with Venezuela’s Jews … is an obvious pride in being Venezuelan.”

However, as can be seen in a US State Dept. report on religious freedom in Venezuela, “in November 2004, after the assassination of well-known prosecutor Danilo Anderson, the Government used satirical comments made by journalist Orlando Urdaneta on a US television program to allude to possible Israeli participation in Anderson’s killing. The Israeli Embassy in Caracas denied any Israeli involvement in the assassination and warned that such representations by the Government were misleading. On November 29, 2004, members of the country’s investigative police searched the Hebrew Center of Caracas at the beginning of the school day as part of the Anderson investigation. Jewish community leaders expressed outrage and indicated doubt regarding the authorities’ explanation for the search. Newspaper reports suggested that rumors of Israeli involvement in the assassination might have been behind the investigation.

JNi.Media

Obama’s Cultural Rape

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Rape is an ugly word, an even uglier deed. I don’t use the word lightly or easily. Rape is a crime of violence, not passion; of destruction. The intent is to take the soul, destroy the body. It is an injustice beyond measure, a violation of humanity. No, I’ve never been raped but I know women who have been.

When someone uses the word “holocaust” – even without the capital letter, it bothers me because too often it is thrown around easily and rather than elevate the crime, it diminishes, just a bit, the Holocaust. I think rape is the same way – people use the word so freely, it takes away from when a real rape is inflicted on a person.

And yet…and yet, I’m going to use it here because it is the only word I can think of that applies, and the man ultimately responsible for this rape, this cultural rape – is Barack Hussein Obama – and yes, I’m using his middle name because he felt fine using it in Cairo and other places. And perhaps, just a little, that middle name plays a role in what he is about to do.

The full story, credit for it, comes from and goes to Caroline Glick in her article in the Jerusalem Post, “Our World: A miracle and an Outrage.” The gist of it is – by some miracle, 2,500 years of heritage, of holy books and more survived the devastation and the almost entire complete exile of the Iraqi Jewish community. Saddam Hussein (yeah, there’s that name again), stole over 2,700 Jewish books and writings from the Jewish community. He stored them in some basement to rot and by some miracle, invading US troops found the waterlogged remains.

Amazingly enough, the troops and leaders realized the magnitude of what they had found and the collection was taken to the States, refurbished, renewed, reclaimed at a cost of $3 million dollars. I don’t know how, but I’m willing to raise the money to pay the Americans back for this kindness.

But…here comes the outrage about which Caroline Glick wrote. The American government proudly put their accomplishment on display. Good for them. The exhibition at the National Archives runs through January – that is the scheduled date of the cultural rape about to take place. On or around that time, Obama and the State Department feel it is their responsibility to return the archive to its rightful owners. And I commend them for this decision as much as I condemn them for being too stupid to know who those rightful owners are. No, Mr. President

I believe that the Israeli Ambassador to the United States should request an immediate meeting with the United States President. I believe our Prime Minister must, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that the owners of the archives are the Iraqi Jews – who live primarily in Israel and that to send the archives, these holy books, “back” to Iraq is tantamount to destroying them. Obama might as well blow them up in Washington for all that sending them back to Baghdad will accomplish.

It is hard to believe that caring human beings would not do all in their power to stop a rape they know is about to take place – well, here’s our chance. We know where, we know when – now it is up to each of us to stop it.

Obama – what do you want to stop this travesty? Do you want 3 million dollars? We will raise it. You want a request from the Iraqi Jewish community – I’ll see to it. You want the Israeli government to request it – Bibi, please, do this before it is too late.

Just was what was stolen by the Nazis has long been recognized as belonging to the victims of the Holocaust, the archives belong to the Jews from whom Saddam Hussein stole them. They are not, and never were, the legacy of Iraq – rather, they are the legacy of a small community that was all but hounded into exile, only to re-establish themselves in Israel.

The archives should be donated to the community here in Israel, to a museum they established as a true legacy to what was once a thriving Jewish community. These holy books never belonged to the Iraqi government, Saddam Hussein, or the greater Iraqi people. To deny the rightful owners, to turn these books over to the Iraqis is an abomination, a cultural rape of 2,500 years.

Please help – write to Washington and demand that the archive be given to their rightful owners, the Iraqi JEWISH community, largely represented in Israel and no where else.

Please write to your Congress representatives and ask them to add their voices against this injustice.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula Stern

Remembering a Community’s Selfless Response to Hurricane Sandy

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

With the coming of the New Year I can’t help but think of the past year’s highlights. While many memorable events occurred in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Jewish community in 5773, one in particular stands out for me: our response to Hurricane (later named Superstorm) Sandy.

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy pounded America’s East Coast. Numerous communities in New York and New Jersey were devastated by flooding. Although Harrisburg experienced strong winds and heavy rains we were, thankfully, spared the fury of our temperamental Susquehanna River.

Our feelings of relief, however, were cut short when we learned just how badly other communities had fared. We soon heard of Jewish communities whose very infrastructure – schools, synagogues and homes – had been destroyed by the storm. To make matters worse, many of the areas most affected by Sandy were left without power for weeks after the storm.

Very quickly, Jewish relief organizations sprang into action to assist those who had lost everything. News stories abounded about ad-hoc aid centers, soup kitchens, and food and clothing distribution points that had been set up in Jewish day schools and synagogues.

It did not take long before Harrisburg’s diverse Jewish community found itself directly involved in the relief effort.

In a short span of time our shul, Kesher Israel Congregation, raised and distributed thousands of dollars to help fund those relief organizations actively assisting families most affected by Sandy.

The teens of the local Jewish Federation’s Bnei Tzedek group collected an incredible amount of canned goods, batteries and flashlights for Jewish families left without power in the Far Rockaway section of New York.

The Federation here also organized a clothing drive to help families of all backgrounds left without belongings in Sandy’s wake.

Perhaps most impressive, however, was our community’s rapidly assembled relief mission to Staten Island, New York.

In a wonderful statement of unity, a group of volunteers spanning Jewish Harrisburg (and beyond) spent Wednesday, November 14 in Staten Island helping hurricane victims in a hands-on fashion. Starting at 4:30 a.m. our group met at our JCC to load our bus with an abundance of supplies and clothing our community had donated for the hurricane victims.

Our group of relief volunteers represented the diverse nature of Harrisburg’s Jewish community. From an excited bunch of 7th graders in our local Jewish day school to a hard-working volunteer in his eighties, our group also spanned all ages. Once in Staten Island, we worked through the Young Israel, which had become one of the command centers assisting area residents hit by the storm.

In the days following Sandy, families of all religions, backgrounds and circumstances who had been devastated by the storm reached out to the synagogue for assistance. Upon our arrival we handed off our collected goods and the synagogue’s relief coordinator found appropriate jobs for each member of our group. In one way we all put in a hard day’s work assisting families, both Jewish and non-Jewish, whose homes had sustained damage ranging from flooded basements all the way to total loss. As a result of our efforts, Harrisburg’s Jewish community gained national attention.

What prompted our relatively small Jewish community out in Central Pennsylvania to be so generous with funds, resources and time? While a number of factors certainly played a role, I believe there is one that cannot be ignored.

The Jews of Harrisburg can honestly identify and sympathize with flood-stricken families, synagogues, and schools. As Harrisburg is nestled along the banks of the Susquehanna River, we know all too well what it means to suffer the effects of a hurricane. Having been through something of this nature on several occasions (my congregants report that the worst was Hurricane Agnes of 1972), our collective reaction was that of understanding, empathy and a sincere wish to be part of the relief effort.

In the months since Hurricane Sandy I have received many thank-you notes from people who were assisted by our community. I would venture to say, however, that those of us who did our best to help others in their time of need were ourselves, on a different level to be sure, very real beneficiaries of that relief effort.

Rabbi Akiva Males

Jewish Agency Hands Gondar School to Ethiopia

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky handed Getnet Amare, the mayor of Gondar, Ethiopia, the keys to the school that had prepared thousands of Jewish Ethiopian children for their subsequent immigration to Israel through education in math, physics, computers and English.

In a ceremony on Monday, the Jewish Agency donated all the school buildings and equipment to the city. “Jews lived in Gondar for 2,500 years. However, their longing to return home never weakened,” Sharansky said at the ceremony marking the conclusion of the Jewish Agency-led Operation Wings of a Dove. Through the operation, launched in 2010, Israel absorbed more about 7,000 people in Ethiopia, the Falash Mura, whose ancestors were Jewish but were forced to convert to Christianity.

“For us it is very symbolic that the Jewish community here is leaving behind a place of study. It’s a promise we make all the countries from which Jews emigrate: that we will leave behind a school for their local community’s children,” Sharansky said.

The final flight of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel will arrive in the Jewish state on Aug. 28 with 400 immigrants.

JNS News Service

Egyptian Jews: We support Military’s Fight against Terrorism

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

When Magda Haroun was out on the streets during the unrest now rocking Egypt’s capital, she saw someone standing over the body of a dead soldier.

“Not even a Jew would do this,” she heard him say.

Haroun, the president of the Egyptian Jewish community, doesn’t enjoy hearing anti-Semitic slurs on the street. She gets nervous when she hears Egyptians are burning the churches of Coptic Christians, a much larger religious minority than the country’s tiny Jewish community. She assumes that most of her compatriots have forgotten there are any Jews left in Egypt.

But when protesters filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the end of June calling on President Mohamed Morsi to step down, she was right there with them.

“The amount of people in Tahrir was breathtaking,” Haroun told JTA. “The unity between people was breathtaking. Some of the people recognized me because I was on TV. They were shaking my hand and telling me, ‘God bless you. You are a real Egyptian.’ ”

Haroun, 61, is the youngest of the 14 women who make up Cairo’s dwindling Jewish community. Most are now in their 80s, living off charity and rental income from properties the community has owned for generations.

But though small in number, Haroun says the community is proud of its country and, like many Egyptians, supportive of the army’s campaign to quell Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

The latest round of unrest in Egypt began last month after mass protests in Tahrir Square led the army to depose Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected leader, and install a new government. The Muslim Brotherhood denounced the move as a coup and confrontations raged between its supporters and the military, leaving more than 1,000 Egyptians dead in just the last week alone.

Jews have lived in Egypt for millennia. Around the time of Israel’s founding in 1948, the community was estimated to number 75,000, but in the decades that followed the vast majority fled.

Those that remain are happy to call Egypt home, Haroun says. Although she has relatives in several European countries, she vows to “never, never, never” leave.

“I’m very proud to be here,” she said. “I want to do whatever I can to help. We are a strong people. I am very happy now that people [are] in the street. Instead of talking about football, they are talking politics. There is more awareness about the importance of our country.”

On Tuesday, CNN reported that the White House was withholding some military aid to Egypt in protest of the military’s violent crackdown on Morsi supporters. But for Haroun, the army’s assertion of control is a welcome development she sees as “fighting terrorism.”

Haroun says the Jewish community thus far has not experienced any anti-Semitism as a result of the fighting — probably, she says, because it’s so small.

Under Morsi’s rule, however, it was a different story. Soon after taking office, the government voted to end a monthly subsidy of $1,000 to the Jewish community it had provided for more than 20 years.

“The way they wanted things to go, it’s a fascist movement,” she said. “I hope we’ll start a new era in Egypt where everyone will be equal regardless of political beliefs. I am very confident in the future.”

Another believer in a more tolerant Egyptian future is Levana Zamir, whose family was expelled from Cairo when she was 12. Now living in Tel Aviv, Zamir remembers an Egypt that strived to be open to the world.

“I’m very proud of Egyptians that they want to go back to the secularism and cosmopolitanism of Egypt,” said Zamir, the president of the Association of Jews from Egypt in Israel. “They need someone like [former President Anwar] Sadat, who wanted to open the Arab world.”

Haroun says that as much as the casual anti-Semitism she hears bothers her, she believes it comes from Egyptians’ unfamiliarity with Judaism.

“It’s all talking, there is no action,” she said. “The talk about anti-Semitism is ignorance. The Egyptians are loving. They love each other. It’s ignorance that pushes them to hate and to burn churches.”

Egypt’s unrest will prevent the community from celebrating Rosh Hashanah together in a few weeks. In past years, the community has hosted festive meals and invited foreign dignitaries and non-Jewish Egyptians.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/egyptian-jews-we-support-militarys-fight-against-terrorism/2013/08/21/

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