Israel News for June 8, 2016

IAF Strikes
Syrian military sources quoted on a Syrian opposition sponsored news site claim that Israeli planes attacked a military position 13 kilometers north of Homs, which is about 100 miles north of Damascus just north of Lebanon.

The sources report that the IAF attack, which occurred two days ago, was directed against Hezbollah weapons caches. The caches were destroyed, while the Syrian government anti aircraft battery in the same location was left unscathed.

Sounds about right.

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PM in Moscow
Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Russian President Putin in Moscow yesterday, marking 25 years since the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries back in 1991. That was also the year that the massive aliyah of over 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union began.

After the meeting, Putin spoke about the deepening relationship between Russia and Israel and the potential for economic development between the two countries. He also recalled that the Soviet Union was the first country to vote in favor of Israel’s establishment during the momentous vote in the UN in 1947.

The PM echoed Putin’s remarks and expressed Israel’s gratitude for the role that the Red Army played in defeating the Nazis in WWII.

Putin also gave Netanyahu a personal tour of the Kremlin along with a lengthy history lesson, something the PM most likely appreciated given his own propensity at giving history lessons to other leaders (remember the one he gave Obama).

As a sign of the deepening relations between the two countries, an agreement is expected to be signed which will enable citizens who moved from former Soviet Bloc countries to Israel in 1992 to be eligible for Russian pensions. Those Jews were forced to give up their Soviet citizenship in order to leave, which made them ineligible to receive their pensions. The agreement will correct that injustice.

The agreement will also in effect fulfill Avigdor Liberman’s demand of the government to increase the pensions of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, without costing Finance Ministry a shekel. Nice.

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Electricity to Gaza
Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Yuval Steinitz recently approved a plan to supply more electricity to Gaza to enable the Gazans to operate their new sewage treatment facility. The plant will lower the level of pollution in the sea, which will benefit the Israeli desalination plant in Ashkelon. The Ashkelon desalination plant’s operations have been disrupted several times in the past few months due to heavy water pollution.

Sounds like a win-win situation, as long as Gaza pays its electric bills, which they haven’t been so good at doing in the past.

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Church Repair
For the first time in over 200 years repairs have begun to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem. The project is focused on reinforcing and preserving the ancient chamber which, according to Christian tradition, houses Jesus’ tomb.

The landmark church is shared and managed by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches, which have big trouble agreeing on just about anything. Agreeing to the current renovation was no simple matter. Could it be a sign? Probably not.

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Auschwitz Items
The Auschwitz Museum has announced the recent discovery of 50 boxes containing around 16,000 personal items that belonged to Jews in the camp. The items include flatware, brushes, pipes, lighters, kitchenware, penknives, buttons, jewelry, watches, keys, stamps, medical kits, shoes and documents. They will be transferred to the museum to be analyzed and eventually displayed.

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Holocaust Hero Honored
The city of Netanya named a street in honor of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Lithuania who issued visas to Jews enabling them to escape Lithuania and travel across the Soviet Union to Japan.

Sugihara’s actions, which were made without the permission of the Japanese government, allowed 6,000 Jews, including the entire Mir Yeshiva, to escape the Nazis. Sugihara began issuing the visas in late July 1940, writing them day and night until he closed the consulate about a month later. Even as he left he was writing visas and handing them out the window as his train pulled away, bowing and apologizing to those who still remained on the platform.

Sugihara was forced to resign by Japan’s Foreign Ministry for his actions, which were contrary to official government policy. He died in obscurity in 1986. But his memory and heroism will forever hold an honored place in Jewish history, and in the streets of Netanya.

To watch a video clip of the ceremony, click here.