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25 Syrian children, all terrified of us

By Lieutenant Colonel A - August 1, 2017

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

I remember the beginning of Operation Good Neighbor as if it were yesterday. The truth is that we had serious doubts about whether it would really happen — whether the Syrians would actually arrive. Then, at 3:00 am in the freezing cold of the Golan Heights, we noticed them walking along the fence.

Twenty-five children holding their mothers’ hands passed through the gates in what seemed like a modern Exodus. The phrase “The Syrians are at the border” took on new meaning.

You could see the suspicion in their eyes. Tired and barefoot in the darkness, they met IDF soldiers for the very first time, we who had been so demonized by their culture. After many conversations with quite a few Syrians, I have come to realize that it’s no myth: up until the day they received our help, many Syrians genuinely believed IDF soldiers had horns and tails. Read More

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A Yazidi survivor lauds freedom of religion in Israel

(Photo: Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

By Giulio Meotti - July 27, 2017

Originally appeared here in Arutz Sheva 

Do you know of this most extraordinary girl, Nadia Murad? The Islamic State’s henchmen kidnapped her when they decimated the Yazidi, they raped her and sold her. She escaped. Today she travels the world to make it aware of the genocide of her people at the hands of those horrendous Islamic predators. Nadia Murad was recently in Israel and said incredible things. 

She praised “the ability of Jews to remain strong and preserve their culture”, she called the Jews “an example” and asked Israel for support. This girl did not study at Harvard and does not write for the Western mainstream media, but she has more courage and moral clarity than all those clumsy intellectuals and journalists who love to demonize Israel. 

Nadia is right. Israel has been a sanctuary not only for the Jews endangered all over, from Baghdad to Yemen, but also for the non-Jewish religious minorities. 

I saw what Israel did for  the Druze, the Bahai in Haifa,  the Bedouin,  Samaritans,  Alawites, and the Christians who fled the Lebanese civil war, for the Circassians and the Ahmadi Muslims. Read More

 

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Finds in Jerusalem shore up biblical account of Babylonian conquest

(Photo: Eliyahu Yanai, Courtesy of the City of David Archive)

(Photo: Eliyahu Yanai, Courtesy of the City of David Archive)

By Amanda Borschel-Dan - July 26, 2017

Originally appeared here in The Times of Israel 

New finds in the City of David confirm the veracity of the biblical account of the Babylonian capture and conquest of First Temple period Jerusalem. The event is commemorated next Tuesday on the Hebrew date Tisha B’av (August 1) in a day of fasting and mourning, Israeli experts said.

According to Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dr. Joe Uziel, co-director of the current excavations at the City of David, findings discovered in the site’s eastern slope, including a row of 2,600-year-old rooms and their contents — all covered with visible layers of charcoal ash — aid in understanding the days leading up to and the act of the destruction.

Within the collapsed rooms were uncovered rare artifacts, including a unique, apparently Egyptian, ivory statue of a nude woman, and smashed pottery jars with a rosette seal which was in royal use during the final decade before the fall of the First Temple, according to co-director Ortal Chalaf.

“These seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty. Classifying objects facilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields. The rosette, in essence, replaced the ‘For the King’ seal used in the earlier administrative system,” said Chalaf. Read More

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Iraqi Christian Youth Leaders look to Jewish History for Inspiration

By Seth J. Frantzman - July 18, 2017

Originally appeared here in The Jerusalem Post 

The terrorist attack on Friday in Jerusalem brought back memories of terror in Iraq for Diana, a member of a group of Assyrian youth leaders touring the country. “You go out and you don’t know if you are going to come back safely,” she recalls. “I saw people acting normally as if nothing happened, life goes on, memories came back.”

Her family of Chaldean Catholics left Kirkuk in Iraq in 2008 and moved to Canada, part of a wave of immigration of Christians who have left Iraq since the 1990s. She is one of 28 young Assyrians from North America spending a week and a half touring Israel.

In the last decades the population of Iraqi Christians has declined from some 2 million in the 1990s to less than 500,000 today. When ISIS attacked Nineveh plains around Mosul in 2014 more than 100,000 Christians fled numerous villages and towns that they have ancient roots in. Now a movement has begun abroad to encourage Christians whose families fled Iraq to take a new interest in rebuilding communities and reconnecting young people to their identity. Read More

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Israeli Wheelchairs of Hope donated in Vietnam

(Photo: MASHAV-Israel Embassy in Vietnam)

(Photo: MASHAV-Israel Embassy in Vietnam)

By Israel21c Staff - July 12, 2017

Originally appeared here in Israel21c

The Israeli Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, decided to take the budget allocated for a party celebrating Israel’s 69th Independence Day in May and use it to purchase 100 innovative lightweight wheelchairs from Israeli company Wheelchairs of Hope to donate to needy local children.

In a ceremony held at the Orthopedic and Functional Rehabilitation Center in Hanoi on June 22, Israeli Ambassador to Vietnam Meirav Eilon Shaha presented 20 colorful Wheelchairs of Hope to a festive crowd, sending a message of solidarity and friendship. Read More

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Earliest mosaic of Jonah and the whale found in Galilee synagogue

(Photo: Jim Haberman/University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)

(Photo: Jim Haberman/University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)

By Amanda Borschel-Dan - July 7, 2017

Originally appeared here in The Times of Israel 

Unprecedented depictions of the biblical Jonah and the whale have been found at a fifth-century Roman synagogue in Israel’s lower Galilee. In the recently discovered mosaic, Jonah’s legs are shown dangling from the mouth of a large fish, which is being swallowed by a larger fish, which is being consumed by a third, even larger fish.

According to the team of specialists and students led by University of North Carolina, this is the first known depiction of the story of Jonah in an ancient synagogue in Israel.

This is the team’s seventh season at the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq. Beginning in 2012, a series of other prominent biblical scenes, including Noah’s ark and the splitting of the Red Sea, in which Pharaoh’s soldiers are swallowed by large fish similar to the fish swallowing Jonah in the mosaic uncovered this summer, were previously found at the archaeological dig.

In addition to the Roman synagogue, the site also houses remains of what is possibly a Medieval synagogue as well. Read More

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With Tears of Joy, Long-Lost Ethiopian Jews Reunite With Family in Israel

(Photo: Jani Salokangas/ICEJ)

(Photo: Jani Salokangas/ICEJ)

By Abra Forman - June 8, 2017

Originally appeared here in BreakingIsraelNews.com

More than 200 families and supporters greeted a group of 72 Ethiopian Jews arriving in at the Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday evening on the latest aliyah (immigration to Israel) flight arranged by the Jewish Agency and sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ).

Holding banners and waving flags, the Ethiopian Israelis were overjoyed to reunite with family members who have waited for years to return to Israel.

The Israeli cabinet decided last year to resume aliyah operations to bring the last remnant of the Ethiopian Jewish community to Israel. Tuesday’s flight was the first since the program was reinstated, and several more flights are planned for June. Some 9,000 Jews are still waiting in Ethiopia for Israeli government approval to make aliyah. Read More

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Why Israel is saving Syrian rebels

(Photo: Baz Ratner / Reuters)

(Photo: Baz Ratner / Reuters)

By Terry Glavin - June 20, 2017

Originally appeared here in Macleans.ca

On a hospital bed at the Ziv Medical Center, high in the Upper Galilee Mountains, a Syrian rebel who goes by the name Ramadan was still wincing in pain from a bullet that had torn through his right shoulder only 10 days before. But he said there was something important he wanted to tell me. The gruff-voiced, barrel-chested fighter sat up on his hospital bed and began.

“All the world is killing us, all the world,” he said. “All my life I was told Israel is my enemy. I grew up like that, to believe that Israel is the devil. But all the world is against us, and only Israel is our friend. The world is killing us. Israel is saving us.” Read More

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Israeli company that extracts water from air launches Florida pilot

(Photo: Courtesy of Mendy Studio)

(Photo: Courtesy of Mendy Studio)

By Andrew Tobin - June 21, 2017

Originally appeared here in The Times of Israel 

JTA — Large parts of Florida are suffering from severe drought, and hurricane season threatens to make things worse.

Enter Water-Gen, an Israeli company, whose technology captures humidity to extract drinking water from the air.

On Monday, the South Florida city of Miami Gardens announced it was launching a pilot program with the company to address its water problems — the first US city to do so.

“As representatives responsible for the quality of life and safety of our communities, preparedness and readiness to counter crises is mandatory,” Mayor Oliver Gilbert III said at a City Hall news conference. “Water-Gen’s pilot will enable us to measure its use for clean drinking water if needed for hurricane relief and any other emergency water situation that may arise.” Read More

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Robert Kraft-led trip to Israel has profound impact on Hall of Famers

(Photo: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

(Photo: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

By Mike Reiss - June 21, 2017

Originally appeared here in ESPN.com 

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis bleeds Pittsburgh Steelers black and gold, but as he boarded an airplane Tuesday set to return from Israel to the United States, he reflected on spending a week with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and laughed.

"I told my wife [Trameka], he has a new fan," Bettis said. "My phrase was 'I'm a friend of him, not of them.'"

That's how strongly Bettis -- who played several high-stakes games against the Patriots during his lengthy career with the Steelers -- felt about what transpired from June 13-21. Bettis was one of 18 Hall of Famers who joined Kraft on a trip to Israel.

"To have an opportunity for me and my wife to be baptized in the Jordan River, that was amazing. To have an opportunity, as a Christian, to see where Jesus Christ was born, was amazing. To walk in his footsteps. To go to the Church of Holy Sepulchre, those kind of things, things I read about in a Bible but to actually have an opportunity to walk and see it with my own eyes, they were amazing," Bettis said in a phone interview. Read More

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Palestinian official donates playroom to a Haifa hospital

(Photo: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

(Photo: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

By Israel21c Staff - June 13, 2017

Originally appeared here in Israel21c

Every year, an estimated 1,200 children and adults residents of the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories come to Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa for medical treatment.

A few months ago, “M,” a senior figure in the PA who wishes to conceal his identity, was treated for cancer at Rambam. While hospitalized, he met many patients and their families from the PA areas, and began to take particular interest in the unique needs of hospitalized children.

“When I arrived at Rambam, I saw a medical team that treats its patients with dedication, but I also saw the suffering of sick children,” said M. “Palestinian children, Israelis, Syrians, and children from other countries are being treated at Rambam for serious illnesses and are in need of all the help they can get.” Read More

 

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Treating wounded Syrians who arrive in Israel is 'Holiest of Holy'

(photo: IDF)

(photo: IDF)

By Anna Ahronheim - June 2, 2017

Originally appeared here in the Jerusalem Post

As the brutal war across Israel’s northern border rages on, Syrians desperate for medical care continue to make the treacherous journey to the border of a country they were raised to see as their enemy.

While Israel has largely stayed out of the fighting on it’s northern border, more than 3,000 Syrians have been treated here in the four years since the IDF began allowing in the wounded who make their way to the border.

Those who arrive at the Syria-Israel border, both combatants and civilians, are given emergency field treatment to stabilize them before the IDF transfers them to medical centers, where medical care is provided free of charge and patients are treated under strict anonymity out of fear that they and their families could be targeted in Syria if their time in Israel becomes known. Read More

 

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Israeli President: Christians Are Our brothers

(photo: xinhuanet.com)

(photo: xinhuanet.com)

By Israel Today Staff - May 18, 2017

Originally appeared here in Israel Today

Israel President Reuven Rivlin said during a meeting with church leaders in Jerusalem that Christians and Jews are "brothers."

Rivlin invited the heads of the various churches in Jerusalem to his official residence on the occasion of Easter.

He used the opportunity to decry the rising persecution of Christians across the Middle East.

"I say to you here, our Christian brothers of Jerusalem, our thoughts are with you at this difficult time," stated Rivlin. "We have all seen the pictures from Syria; I visited some of the injured being treated in Israeli hospitals. What has happened there to the Christian community – and to the whole country – is a stain on all of humanity." Read More

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Boko Haram refugees get Israeli-funded soccer league

By JTA - May 17, 2017

Originally appeared here in Arutz Sheva 

Israel’s ambassador to Nigeria donated the embassy’s fund for an Independence Day celebration to establish a soccer league in the African nation for refugee children.

Ambassador Guy Feldman canceled the embassy’s Yom Haatzmaut reception and set up the league for 225 children who escaped the Boko Haram terrorist organization, Ynet reported. The embassy provided uniforms, balls and coaches, according to Ynet. Read More

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Israel to Explore Ways to Treat Syrian Children Hurt in Chemical Attack

(Photo: Ziv Medical Center)

(Photo: Ziv Medical Center)

By JNS.org

Originally appeared here in Algemeiner.com

Less than a week after a suspected chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province, Israel’s cabinet agreed to examine a proposal to bring Syrian children in need of medical care to the Jewish state for treatment.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz proposed bringing the wounded children — some of whom are currently in Turkey — to Israel. Read More

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Israeli firm to provide drinking water — from the air — for India and Vietnam

(photo: Water Gen)

(photo: Water Gen)

By JTA and Eric Cortellessa - April 4, 2017

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

TEL AVIV — An Israeli company whose technology made a splash at last week’s AIPAC conference has signed deals to produce drinking water — by extracting it from the air — in India and Vietnam, two countries that have long faced shortages.

Water Gen inked an agreement last week with India’s second-largest solar company to produce purified water for remote villages in the country. Earlier, the company arranged with the Hanoi government to set up water generators in the Vietnamese capital.

“The government of Vietnam greatly esteems the technological developments in Israel, and I hope that the Israeli technology that we supply to Vietnam will significantly help to improve water conditions in the country,” Water Gen President Mikhael Mirilashvili said after the signing in Hanoi, according to a statement. Read More

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Program brings 2 millionth free book to Arab-Israeli preschoolers

(photo: Maktabat al-Fanoos promotional video, YouTube)

(photo: Maktabat al-Fanoos promotional video, YouTube)

By JTA - April 4, 2017

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

A program to distribute free books in Arabic to Arab-Israeli preschoolers is distributing its two millionth book.

Maktabat al-Fanoos, Arabic for “Lantern Library,” is operated by the Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Grinspoon Foundation Israel, founder of the Hebrew book program for Jewish Israeli preschoolers, Sifriyat Pijama, and Price Philanthropies, which funds Bidayat early childhood centers. The Grinspoon Foundation also sponsors the PJ Library, which provides Jewish-themed books in English for Jewish-American pre-schoolers.

Maktabat al-Fanoos was founded in January 2014 and gives out eight books a year to 97,000 Arab-Israeli children ages 3-5 in kindergarten and pre-k classrooms. All children in government preschools get the books for free and children in semi-private schools get the books at cost. Read More

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Jerusalem Jews and Arabs bond over backgammon

(Photo: Shabtai Amedi)

(Photo: Shabtai Amedi)

By Abigail Klein Leichman - March 19, 2017    

Originally appeared here in Israel21c 

On a winter night inside the Mayer Davidov Garage in the Talpiot industrial area of Jerusalem, some 500 university students, mechanics, high-techies and senior citizens — wearing kippahs, kaffiyehs and everything in between — played or cheered on contestants in a backgammon championship accompanied by live Arabic music.

Backgammon (“shesh-besh” in this part of the world) is thousands of years old and remains a popular pastime among Arabs and Jews.

In Jerusalem, a surprising number of them are playing the board game together since the spring 2016 launch of Jerusalem Double, a project of the nonprofit organization Kulna Yerushalayim (We Are All Jerusalem).

“Backgammon is played throughout the Middle East, so we have this game in common. It’s fun, down to earth, accessible and inclusive,” relates Zaki Djemal, one of the founders of Jerusalem Double along with Dror Amedi, Mahmoud Schade, Hiday Goldsmith, Kamel Jabarin, Mahmoud Jamal Al-Rifai, Matan Hayat, Noa Tal-El and Shir Hoory. Read More

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Israeli aid group sends solar light to Yazidi refugees in Iraq

(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

By Viva Sarah Press - February 26, 2017

Originally appeared here in Israel21c

Israel-based international humanitarian aid group, iAID, has announced that it will be providing solar panels to a Yazidi refugee camp in northern Iraq to help 330 families access electricity.

“Persecuted Yazidi families living in horrible conditions in remote regions on the mountains of northern Iraq will receive [solar panels] which will be used to help provide lights in over 330 family tents and in bathroom and shower structures so to prevent gender-based violence,” Shachar Zahavi, founder of iAID, said in a statement. Read More

 

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Afghan toddler undergoes live-saving surgery in Israel

By Itamar Eichner - February 25, 2017 

Originally appeared here in Ynetnews

A worldwide effort has saved the life of a two-year-old Afghan toddler named Yakub, who was secretly brought to Israel after suffering from a heart defect from birth. The child was rushed to an operating room immediately upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, where doctors saved his life.

Yakub was born in a remote village in Baghlan, where soon after his birth, his parents noticed the child did not eat, cried often and did not grow and develop like other children.

After seeking out doctor after doctor, a family friend put the parents in touch with a man named Farhad, who dedicated his life to helping sick children in Afghanistan.
 
Farhad made contact with the organization Save A Child's Heart (SACH), based out of Wolfson Medical Center, where doctors analyzed Yakub's tests and decided to operate in an attempt to save his life. Read More

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