Israel Brief April 30, 2013: Nathan Sharansky’s Egalitarian Kotel plan loses support from both sides

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Sharansky’s Kotel plan loses support from both sides

Source: JTA, 4-30-13

Natan Sharansky’s proposal to reduce tensions at the Western Wall has lost support from Orthodox and non-Orthodox leaders….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 22, 2013: Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky gets green light to pursue Western Wall prayer plan

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Sharansky gets green light to pursue Western Wall prayer plan

Source: JTA, 4-22-13

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was given a green light by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue his plan for a permanent egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 22, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the MASA Mega Event — Tells Masa Participants: Israel is Your Country

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Netanyahu to Masa Participants: Israel is Your Country

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the thousands of young Jews who came to Israel as part of the Masa Israel project.

Source: Israel National News, 5-22-12

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed on Tuesday the thousands of young Jews from around the world who came to Israel as part of the Masa Israel project, which is co-sponsored by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency.

In his speech, Netanyahu called on the participants to make aliyah to Israel and to defend Israel in their countries.

“You come from many different countries, but deep down this is your one ancestral home,” said Netanyahu. “Israel is your homeland, Israel is your birthright, and Israel is your future.”

He added, “We embrace and welcome all of you who are coming here physically to join us to build a Jewish future and we send with love all of you who are planning to go back to your countries. You’re taking back with you the truth. You can speak the truth about Israel, and that’s what I expect you to do.”

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky mentioned Aaron Zindani, the Jew who was murdered in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, and said to the youth, “We must do everything to protect the Jews of Yemen and Iran. On a day like this, when someone was killed just for being Jewish, you should know that if you are thinking about making aliyah you should not hesitate, but do it now.”

The Masa Israel project brings each year about 10,000 young Jews from around the world for study and volunteer in Israel. The project aims to strengthen ties between Israel and the Jewish world. Upon their return to their countries, many participants assume key positions in their communities and become ambassadors of Israel in their countries. In recent years, many Masa Israel participants have made aliyah.

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the MASA Mega Event

Source: PMO, 5-22-12

Natan Sharansky just said something absolutely shocking.  He said that there are differing opinions among Jews.  No!  That may imply that you have four people with four opinions.  See, it’s not true – it’s four people with eight opinions.  We debate, we argue, we discuss, we disagree.  Then we agree.

I’ll tell you what we agree on.  See, when Natan, who is a hero of the Jewish people, when he was jailed in the Soviet Union and he could have avoided going to jail; all he had to do was give up his desire to come to Zion, to come to Israel.  All he had to do was do that.  But he wouldn’t.  So they put him on trial, and they sentenced him to a long prison term.  And then they asked him, “Do you have anything to say?”  He said, “To you, this court, I have nothing to say, but to my people and to my beloved wife, I say, ‘Next year in Jerusalem'”.  That’s what we agree on.  This year in Jerusalem.

I am very happy to see all of you here, this year in Jerusalem.  I know that you’ve come here from many countries.  I have to say that I saw some of you outside, but you come from all over the world.  You come from Mexico, from Britain, from France, from Australia, Canada, Brazil.  What about Russia?  Or from the Ukraine?  But I gather there is no one here from the United States?

So, you come from many different countries, but deep down this is your one ancestral home.  This is your country.  Israel is your homeland; Israel is your birthright; and Israel is your future.  So, I want to ask a direct question: how many of you plan to make Aliyah?  Stand up if you’re making Aliyah.  That’s great.  Let’s give them all a round of applause.  Thank you.

Now, first of all, we embrace and welcome all of you who are coming here physically to join us to build the Jewish future, and we send with love all of you who are planning to go back to your countries, and I think Natan said a very important thing: you’re taking back with you something very, very precious.  You’re taking back with you the truth.  You can speak the truth about Israel.  And that’s what I expect you to do.  You see, there are many people around the world who, day in and day out, malign Israel.  It used to be acceptable to spread the vilest lies about the Jewish people, and now, unfortunately, it’s acceptable to spread the vilest lies about the Jewish state – to slander and malign Israel.

But all of you have gotten to see the truth for yourselves.  You’ve seen what a great nation this is.  You’ve seen the signs.  You’ve seen the technology.  You’ve seen the progress.  You’ve seen the growing, bustling cities.  You’ve seen fun.  There’s a lot of fun in Israel.  By the way, it’s not true that it’s only fun in Tel Aviv; it’s also fun in Jerusalem.  It’s great.  You’ve seen that Israel is an open, pluralistic society.  You’ve seen that in the Middle East, where the rights of women, gays, minorities – anyone who’s different or anyone who’s a minority or anyone who’s not cut from that rigid ideological cloth – you see that in Israel people are free; people are endowed with rights; that Israel as a liberal democracy stands out.  And you’ve seen about something else: how this nation cares about each and every individual.

You know, today we had a terrible tragedy in the North.  It was an entire family, eight souls that were lost in a tragic car accident.  And you know, the whole country is focused on one survivor, a little girl called Rachel.  Rachel, the entire nation is with you.  The entire nation embraces you.  Everybody embraces this little girl, and that’s the truth about Israel.  The whole world wondered how we could unite and sacrifice so much for a single soldier, just to return one soldier: Gilad Shalit.  We did that because we care about each and every life.  See, our enemies think that because they celebrate death – they have a cult of death – they think they’re strong and they think that because we celebrate life, we’re weak.  But it’s exactly the opposite.  We’re strong because we celebrate life and we’re strong because we’re prepared to defend our lives.  And Israel will win because Israel loves life.

I want you to go back to your countries, and I want you to do two things.  One: I want you to reconsider Aliyah, that’s the first, because you have a brilliant future here, brilliant future.   This is a cutting edge country – in technology, in agriculture, in medicine, in art, in literature.  In anything.  This is a country not only of a lot of opinions, but a lot of talents.  You know we have more Nobel Prizes per capita than any other country in the world?  Maybe one of them is sitting here.  We have tremendous opportunities for young people, but we have something that we can offer you that I think you’ve figured out in the time that you’ve been here, and when you leave, you’ll have a perspective.  This is where the heart is.  This is where the Jewish past and the Jewish future blend.  This is where you can shape not only your own individual lives, but the lives of our people, and we’ve travelled for nearly 4,000 years – 3,000 years in this city alone – to ensure our future.  Be part of it.  Don’t pass it up.  You can give deep meaning to your lives.  So I want you to reconsider Aliyah, and defend Israel.  Defend Israel by saying the truth and defend Israel by being proud – proud of your heritage, proud of your Jewish identity, proud of the fact that together, we’re building and ensuring our common Jewish future.

Thank you very much.  Thank you Masa.

Israel Political Brief March 25, 2012: Israeli lawmakers inaugurate Diaspora caucus

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Israeli lawmakers inaugurate Diaspora caucus

Source: JTA, 3-25-12

Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum launched a caucus to strengthen relations with Diaspora Jewry.

At least 40 Knesset members have joined the ad hoc committee co-founded by coalition chairman Zeev Elkin of the Likud Party and Nachman Shai of Kadima, which met for the first time on Tuesday.

The lobby will provide an open forum to discuss issues involving the Diaspora, but it cannot set official policy. It was formed at the initiative of Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, according to reports.

A new study of Israelis conducted by the Jewish Agency found that 91 percent of respondents believe that Israel should help Jewish communities abroad. Another 91 percent said they believed that Diaspora Jewry would stand with Israel in the face of a threat from Iran or other enemies.

Jewish Agency Secretary-General Josh Schwartz presented the study at the committee meeting.

“Jewish children were attacked in their school in Toulouse just because they and their parents wanted to maintain a connection with their Jewish heritage and the Jewish state,” Sharansky said at the meeting “This murderous attack proves to us again in the most tragic way that the enemies of the Jewish people and the enemies of the Jewish state are one and the same. The State of Israel and the Jewish people face the same threats.”

Israel Brief September 15, 2011: Hillel & JAFI Introducing Advocacy Program ‘Talk Israel’ to US College Campuses

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‘Talk Israel’ tents coming to U.S. college campuses

Source: JTA, 9-15-11

The Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel are erecting white tents on 20 campuses throughout North America to serve as forums to discuss Israel and the Middle East.

The “Talk Israel” program will take place Sept. 20 and 21 at universities including the University of California-Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, George Washington and the University of Maryland.

The tents will serve as campus venues for students to engage in respectful dialogue and raise questions and issues relating to the peace process and the Palestinian Authority’s statehood initiative at the United Nations.

“This is our answer to the war against Israel’s legitimacy that is being waged around the world; to bring Jewish students to Israel and to foster in them a sense of belonging, identity and pride,” Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said in a statement.

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