Israel News for June 6, 2016

Jerusalem Day
Yesterday, Israel celebrated the 49th year since Jerusalem was reunified, in 1967. At a special ceremony on Ammunition Hill, the scene of a fierce battle during the Six Day War that claimed the lives of 36 Israeli paratroopers, PM Netanyahu pledged, “We will never abandon the Kotel and our ties to the Temple Mount will never be denied.”

Speaking at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva later in the evening, the PM said, “We will not be ousted from our city or our land. I will not oust people from their homes and we will not be ousted from our homes.” He added, “There was no peace [here] for the [three] religions until Jerusalem was under Israeli sovereignty. Someone was always dispossessed. It is only when we watch over the city, under Israeli sovereignty, that there can be freedom for the three religions.”

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of marchers and spectators braved the rain to take part in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade in NYC yesterday.

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Ethiopian Commemoration
As Israel celebrated the reunification of Jerusalem yesterday, the Ethiopian community commemorated the 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who died while in the process of leaving Ethiopia for Israel during Operation Moses. The majority of the deaths came as a result of starvation and disease while waiting in refugee camps to be airlifted.

Operation Moses, run by the Mossad and the CIA, succeeded in smuggling 8,000 Ethiopian Jews from refugee camps in Sudan to Israel from 1984-1985.

Thousands of members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community took part in the annual ceremony on Mt. Herzl. Also in attendance were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and the new Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu). The PM and the President both spoke about the battle against racism and discrimination.

The PM said, “I place the utmost importance on the elimination and eradication of racism and discrimination. It is an outrageous phenomenon in our country, something which is intolerable, and something which we must come out against with all of our power. (Racism and discrimination) have no place in Israeli society. You are flesh and blood part of our nation, and equal amongst equals. We salute the thousands of victims who fell during their trek from Ethiopia to Israel.”

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Tough Love
Israeli paratrooper training is grueling. But one paratrooper platoon commander has taken it a step too far. The commander is on trial in a Jaffa military court for throwing a tear gas grenade into a tent full of his soldiers in order to wake them up.

According to the investigation, the platoon leader in question asked one of his soldiers to awaken the platoon at 7am. The soldier failed to do so because, he claimed, his telephone turned off. The commander, who two days earlier had warned his soldiers that he would throw a tear gas grenade into the tent if they failed to wake up on time, fulfilled his threat.

Several soldiers were injured as a result of trying to escape the tent and many of the soldiers were made ill by the gas.

The platoon commander had a history of violent acts against his soldiers. But in spite of his actions the commander was returned to his post, pending the trial results. The brigade commander explained, “In light of the fact that it was carried out in an environment in which unconventional acts such as these prevailed, he should not be dismissed…The main message is that the correct path is to fight against incidents such as these.”

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Too Crowded
How many people can the Land of Israel bare? According to Dr. Alon Tal, founder of Adam Teva V’Din – Israel Union for Environmental Defense, the most pressing issue facing Israel today is overpopulation. He said that the current Israeli population growth rate is unsustainable in many ways. “We would need to be building 60,000 new apartments each year to keep up, but that’s not happening.”

Based on Israel’s current population growth, there could be 50 million people in a few decades. Think about that for a minute.

While this sounds amazing for business, is it practically sustainable? Does this mean a larger diaspora? Or a larger Israel?

One of Tal’s recommendations is to cut the current government subsidies for each new child beyond the second. He is also a big proponent of adoption as a way of maintaining the population balance.

For further reading click here.

Ask the Rabbi
A man interested in making aliyah asked Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the premiere rabbinic authorities, where he should settle in Israel. The rabbi responded, “Jerusalem or Beni Brak.” The man then said that he couldn’t afford an apartment in Jerusalem or Beni Brak, but only in Netanya. The rabbi responded that he could live in Netanya, as long as his apartment was near Kiryat Sanz (the Chassidic enclave), “for there is Torah there.”

Did real estate values just go up there?

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New Jews
Yes, there are now Jews in Madagascar. No, not Chabad. These are 121 Madacascar natives who just recently underwent Orthodox conversions to Judaism. The converts are former Messianic Christians who believe, as do many of the island’s natives, that they are decedents of members of the 10 lost tribes.

To read more about this and watch a video, click here.