Israel launches spacecraft; party leaders join forces: Israel Update

February 22, 2019

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The first Israeli lunar spacecraft Beresheet was launched from the coast of Cape Canaveral yesterday. Aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the spacecraft will orbit the Earth after detaching from the launcher, and land on the moon around April 11. Built by SpaceIL, Beresheet is the first lunar lander to be entirely financed by the private sector. If all goes well, Israel will become the fourth country—after the United States, Russia, and China—to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface. Watch the launch here.


The name of the new party being formed by former chief of staff Benny Gantz and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid will be "Blue and White," according to reports. Blue and White is creating a bloc to compete with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud in the April 9 elections. The premiership will be rotated during the party's expected tenure, should it win the most seats and form a coalition. Gantz will serve as prime minister until November 2021 and Ya'alon will hold the role of Defense Minister. After that, Lapid will become prime minister and Gantz will take on the role of Defense Minister.


The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has formed a committee tasked with creating a list of Israeli products to ban from entering Palestinian markets. The move came in response to a decision by Israel’s security cabinet  to approve withholding NIS 500 million ($138 million) of tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority. The decision was a move to start implementing a new law that permits Israel to withhold tax money from Ramallah over payments the PA makes to security prisoners and the families of dead terrorists.


After seven MPs resigned from the Labour Party on Monday in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's approach to Brexit and antisemitism, defections to the Independent Group increased when an eighth MP also left the party the next day. One of the MPs, Luciana Berger, said Labour had become institutionally antisemitic. "I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation," she said. The Independent Group will need to attract people beyond Labour to become a proper "centre party."


French President Emmanuel Macron announced measures to combat the rise of antisemitism. He discussed plans for a bill to combat online hate speech, called for extremist right-wing groups’ dissolution, and will urge his education minister to look at harassment of Jewish children in public schools. Macron will additionally take steps to define "anti-Zionism as a modern-day form of anti-Semitism." The bill in question has raised thorny issues, with many insisting there is a distinction between being antisemitic and anti-Israel.


The United States Consulate General in Jerusalem, which serves Palestinians, will be absorbed into the new US Embassy to Israel, a U.S. official said. The consulate general in Jerusalem is the top mission for Palestinians; who, with broad international backing, seek East Jerusalem as the capital of the state they want to establish. Palestinians have condemned the merger.


Palestinians clashed with Israeli police on Jerusalem's Temple Mount trying to force their way into an area that has been closed for years. Police said 19 Palestinians were arrested. The area near the Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, was sealed by Israeli authorities in 2003 and has been kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Waqf, which Israeli officials believe has led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area. 


Shabbat Shalom,


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


Shep Englander, CEO, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati


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Chaverim M'Israel at Mercaz and Rockdale Temple

Adi Itscovich and Asaf Munk, this year’s Chaverim M’Israel (Friends from Israel),  are helping the Cincinnati community form an increased connection with the land, culture, and people of Israel.


At Mercaz, Adi and Asaf taught about "different waves of immigration to Israel." They also explored Jewish identity with kids and parents at Rockdale Temple. 


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The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is the non-partisan, public affairs arm of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. 
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Jewish Community Relations Council
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