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Creating a ‘Parallel Diplomatic Channel’ Between Israel and South Africa

Jewish and Christian South African leaders. Photo: South African Friends of Israel.

JNS.orgAs chief rabbi of South Africa, I undertook a recent diplomatic mission to Israel amidst the hostility of the South African government and a breakdown in communications between the two countries.

I met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and other senior government officials, assuring them of the support of the Jewish community and millions of non-Jews in South Africa.

The purpose of my trip was to establish a strong, parallel diplomatic channel between the people of South Africa and the Jewish state.

I conveyed a message to the government and the people of Israel on behalf of the South African Jewish community, as well as millions of our fellow citizens throughout the country. I told them that the African National Congress government does not speak in our name and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in its battle against the forces of evil.

When I met with President Herzog, Foreign Affairs Minister Yisrael Katz and Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli, I reassured them that despite the ANC government’s morally repugnant support for Hamas and Iran, most South Africans have distanced themselves from the ANC’s position. Millions of South African Christians pray for and support Israel. Israel has many allies and friends here in South Africa who are ashamed of their government’s support for terrorist regimes and despots. Moreover, the ANC’s support has sunk to 40% and is still falling.

I sought to tell the government and people of Israel that the bond between the Jews of South Africa and Israel can never be broken, no matter what the ANC does.

As Jews, we speak the name of Jerusalem at every funeral, saying a special blessing to mourners: “May the Almighty comfort you amongst all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” At every wedding, we recite the immortal verse, “If I ever forget thee, O Jerusalem.” Three times a day in our prayers, we pray for the redemption of Israel and Jerusalem. When we pray, we face in the direction of Jerusalem.

Zionism is an essential part of our Jewish identity. It’s part of our soul. Our connection to Israel began almost 4,000 years ago when God spoke to Abraham at the dawn of Jewish history. As a nation, we have maintained an unbroken presence in the land for more than 3,300 years—since the time of Joshua. Our connection to our land is older than that of any people on earth. Our bond with Israel is unbreakable.

Going forward, great efforts will be invested in building this informal diplomatic channel between Israel and South Africa until such time as a sound official diplomatic relationship can be re-established. I undertake this task for the sake of our Jewish community, but also for the sake of South Africa, which will only benefit from a closer bond with the only democracy in the Middle East.

In numerous areas of life in which the South African government has failed its people, citizens have stood up and come forward to make a difference. Here, too, with the country’s connection to Israel under threat, we must come forward, speak up and reinforce our connection with Israel. Those who can should visit to express solidarity.

The current foreign policy of the ANC government, which associates our country with the world’s worst terrorist states and tyrants, is not in the interests of the South African people. South Africa can benefit greatly from Israel’s innovation, people, technology and economy. Most of all, it can benefit from the Divine blessings that flow into South Africa from Israel: The promise made to Abraham that those who bless Israel will be blessed.

In our time, we have witnessed these Divine promises fulfilled. After 2,000 years of exile—no nation on earth has ever survived such a protracted exile—we returned to our biblical homeland.

Just as promised in the book of Deuteronomy: “Then G-d will gather you in from all the nations. … If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there the L-rd your G-d will gather you in and from there He will take you … and bring you to the Land that your forefather possessed and you shall possess it.”

Our bond with Israel, forged in exile and sanctified by Divine promise, will never be broken. Am Yisrael Chai.

The post Creating a ‘Parallel Diplomatic Channel’ Between Israel and South Africa first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips

After a weekend overnight shutdown of Israeli airspace, during which time Iranian missiles and drones attacked the country, Canadians ware cautiously optimistic that travel to and from Ben Gurion Airport will resume regular schedules later this week. Air Canada cancelled departures from Toronto on Saturday and from Tel Aviv on Monday—the latter despite the airport […]

The post Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students

Students accusing Israel of genocide at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Lawyers representing Harvard University in Massachusetts have requested the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by six Jewish students who accused the school of ignoring antisemitic discrimination.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the university said in a court filing that a lawsuit, as well as a period of discovery during which its conduct would be thoroughly examined, was not necessary due to the “tangible steps” it has taken to combat antisemitism in just the past few months. Additionally, the school argued that the civil suit, led by graduate student Shabbos Kestenbaum and Students Against Antisemitism, lacked standing.

“Without minimizing at all the importance of the need to address energetically antisemitism at the university, plaintiff’s dissatisfaction with the strategy and speed of Harvard’s essential work does not state a legally cognizable claim,” said the motion to dismiss, as quoted by The Crimson. “Consequently, the amended complaint should be dismissed.”

Harvard University recently received an “F” grade for its handling of antisemitism in a first-ever Campus Antisemitism Report Card issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, students have stormed the campus calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, terrorizing students and preventing some from attending class.

In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

In February, a faculty group posted on social an antisemitic cartoon which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David dangling two men of color from a noose.

These incidents, and more, are currently being investigated by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is probing Harvard’s handling of skyrocketing instances of antisemitic intimidation and harassment on campus.

Proclaiming that Harvard “failed Jews repeatedly,” Kestenbaum told The Crimson that he would not stand down.

“Harvard’s meritless motion to dismiss our lawsuit only proves our point: It has never taken the concerns of us Jewish students seriously, and has no plans to start now,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure in both the court of law and the court of public opinion … We hope that donors and prospective students follow closely.”

No Ivy League school earned better than a “C” in the ADL’s landmark report, a grade awarded to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Four others — Columbia University, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania — received “D’s” while Harvard and Princeton University both received “F’s.”

“Every campus should get an A — that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” ADL chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the report. “They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate. But that hasn’t been the experience with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before Oct. 7.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War

Israeli soldiers scan an area while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, near Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Israeli army’s chief medical officer told a recent gathering of NATO and allied officials about the striking success of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in saving injured soldiers during the war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to IDF Medical Corps chief Elon Glassberg, the army has brought the time between the moment of injury and seeing a senior medical practitioner to under four minutes, and in many cases under one minute. One reason for the speed is that the IDF has changed its strategy for treating wounded soldiers from the typical field hospitals to which soldiers are evacuated and treated — and in serious cases transferred via helicopter to a hospital — to a system that brings doctors to the battlefield with soldiers.

The new system has, according to Glassberg, more than 670 doctors and paramedics embedded within combat groups in Gaza. As a result, wounded soldiers are given immediate care.

Additionally, the new policy calls for airlifting every wounded soldier to a hospital via helicopter, which are on standby at all times and outfitted to be like flying emergency rooms, staffed with surgeons and intensive care doctors.

The IDF has conducted over 950 such operations in the helicopters, according to Glassberg, bringing approximately 4,200 soldiers to hospitals. In the field, 80 soldiers were saved due to quick doses of plasma and 550 had bleeding stopped before the flights.

Of course, helicopter times to hospitals vary and are not predictable on the minute. The current time from moment of injury to arriving at the hospital stands at one hour and six minutes. This is in comparison to an average time of two hours and ten minutes during the 2014 Gaza War, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

The new processes by the IDF are saving lives. According to Glassberg, the current rate of death among wounded soldiers is 15 percent. In Gaza today, however, 6.3 percent of soldiers who are injured end up succumbing to their wounds, showing how quick action is key in ensuring the injured soldiers can return home after the war — or, in many cases, back to the battlefield.

Glassberg also pointed out how the IDF is continuing to learn how to best protect soldiers in the future. For example, he noted, a majority of deaths occurred due to injuries to parts of the body that are not protected by bulletproof vests. Therefore, Israel is already discussing new vests to give to soldiers to lower the casualty count.

The post Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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