Fires rage for 2nd day across Israel; US peace plan in June: Israel Update

May 24, 2019

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Wildfires continue to rage across Israel today for the second day in a row, as officials warn the public to stay away from parks and forests. Multiple firefighting planes, fire trucks, and firefighting teams have been and are trying to gain control of the massive flames. Moreover, Netanyahu directed the Foreign Ministry to reach out to nearby countries for “immediate” assistance in putting out the hundreds of fires, which are expected to continue into the weekend. Additional flaming Gaza balloons ignited fires throughout Israel's south.  


The White House announced Sunday afternoon the first part of its Middle East peace proposal, what officials are calling an economic "workshop" to encourage investing capital in the West Bank, Gaza, and the region, a senior administration official tells CNN. The workshop will take place in Manama, Bahrain, on June 25 and 26, bringing together finance ministers with global and regional business leaders. The effort is being headed by Jared Kushner, the senior White House adviser and President's son-in-law, and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, who have spent years developing the proposal along with the much stickier political component, which officials said would be announced later in the year. The plan will discuss four major components the senior administration official said: infrastructure, industry, empowering and investing in people, and governance reforms "to make the area as investible as possible." In a recent statement, the Palestinian Authority formally rejected the invitation to join the conference in Bahrain. Meanwhile, some pundits are hailing the upcoming summit in an Arab capital “a big step forward.”


Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement for a six-month ceasefire along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel. According to the report, the agreement includes a Hamas obligation to halt violent incidents along the border fence, maintaining a buffer zone 300 meters from the border; an end to the launching of incendiary balloons at Israeli communities and nighttime clashes between Gazans and security forces; and a stop to flotillas trying to break through the maritime border between Gaza and Israel. In return, Israel will once again allow fishing at up to 15 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast, enable United Nations cash-for-work programs, allow medicine and other civil aid to enter the Strip and open negotiations on matters relating to electricity, crossings, healthcare and funds.


A 19-year-old American woman serving as a combat soldier in the Israeli army died by suicide last week. Michaela Levit, 19, is the third Israeli “lone soldier” to die by suicide this year. Lone soldiers are largely expatriates who serve in the Israel Defense Forces while their parents live overseas. The Israeli military and soldiers’ advocates denied reports of a "worrying trend" of rising suicide rates among the lone soldiers following two suicides and a deadly drug overdose this year. Advocates, soldiers and army spokespeople have said that over the past decade, there has been a significant improvement in how the military cares for such troops.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorneys will get a few extra months to come up with arguments on why the corruption cases against him should be dropped. On Wednesday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit agreed to postpone the pre-indictment hearing until October. The hearing had been scheduled for July. On Monday, Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar filed legislation that would automatically grant the prime minister and other lawmakers immunity from prosecution. As the law stands now, lawmakers can request that their fellow lawmakers grant them immunity. Meanwhile, 56% of Israelis oppose legislation that would grant Netanyahu immunity from prosecution, according to a poll. 


The Israeli NGO IsraAID is distributing relief materials in Colombia to thousands of Venezuelans escaping harsh conditions in their country. An IsraAID emergency response team is on the ground in Cucuta, on the Colombian border with Venezuela, where thousands of Venezuelans are crossing daily seeking relief from the economic and political crisis in their country, according to the organization. There are already 1.2 million Venezuelans in Columbia. IsraAid said it has committed to remain in Colombia long-term. 


A guest lecturer at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, called Zionists white supremacists. Shayna Lavi, a Jewish student in the class, explained that the lecturer initially began discussing Islamophobia, but then made "a claim that those who support Israel want to ethnically cleanse the Middle East and those affiliated with Israel and pro-Israel organizations are white supremacists." The lecturer also reportedly noted that Rep. Ilhan Omar is "attacked by AIPAC and all these pro-Israel organization because [Omar is] Muslim,” and that the United States and Israel have “shared values” of “killing people, colonialism and white supremacy." In another instance, a speaker at a New York University doctorate convocation ceremony praised campus organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and called Israel an apartheid state.



Shabbat Shalom,


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


Shep Englander, CEO, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati


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Local teens represent Cincinnati on global stage during International March of the Living
On Thursday, May 2, 27 Cincinnati
teens and three leaders joined more than 10,000 people from around the world in Poland as part of the 31st International March of the Living to remember the victims of the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom
HaShoah). The Cincinnati delegation was selected to lead the 20 United States delegations during the March, and Sycamore High School senior Alex Karev was selected by his Cincinnati peers to participate in the ceremonial torch lighting. Read more about their trip here. 
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