Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among the topics discussed was the status of Israeli-American Naama Issachar, who was arrested in Russia for alleged possession of cannabis, and sentenced to a seven year prison term. Netanyahu expressed optimism that Issachar could be pardoned prior to next week's Fifth World Holocaust Forum, which Putin will be attending. While the 26-year-old Issachar has been held in Russia for the past nine months, the “Free Naama” campaign has spread throughout Israel and has put pressure on Netanyahu to secure her freedom.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry engaged in a rare rebuke of a foreign country for Holocaust revisionism on Monday, issuing a statement condemning Ukraine for its “public glorification” of Holocaust collaborators and “antisemitic ideologists.” The statement came in response to a Ukrainian diplomat’s demand that Jerusalem stay out of “internal issues of Ukrainian politics” following the publication of a joint letter by the Israeli and Polish ambassadors to Kyiv decrying the “glorification of those who promoted actively the ethnic cleansing” of Poles and Jews. That letter came a day after Ukrainians marked the 111th birthday of Stepan Bandera, the wartime leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a violently anti-Semitic organization that collaborated with the Nazis.
The 2020 Jewish and Israeli Film Festival will kick off Thursday, January 23 with a showing of The Unorthodox, a powerful display of how activism can yield social change. Opening night is sponsored by the JCRC and Israel Center of the Jewish Federation, who will host a pre-screening “Israeli election experience” and a post screening facilitated discussion. To learn more and purchase tickets, click here.