Thursday, February 27, 2020

Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton faced off in the first presidential debate on Sept. 26. (credit: Pool/Getty Images)

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin

Young Chinese men from the Jewish community of Kaifeng pray with tefillin. (credit: YouTube screenshot)

Sheldon Adelson Pledges $14 Million to Israeli-American Community

( Republican-Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, are pledging $14 million to the Israeli-American community, Israel Hayom reported.

The Adelsons made the announcement on Sept. 26 at the end of the Israeli-American Council’s (IAC) annual national conference. Adelson told the audience of 2,100 attendees there are hundreds of thousands of Israeli Americans who could integrate into the U.S. Jewish community. He hopes that the IAC can have greater political influence in Israeli-American outreach.

Dr. Miriam Adelson said Israel will be strengthened once the IAC becomes stronger, and referred to members as “Israeli soldiers” in the U.S.

Adelson’s efforts to build connections between the U.S. Jewish community and Israel were also evident during a private meeting with a Yesha Council delegation at the IAC conference.

“Mr. Adelson was extremely excited to hear about a new Amazon-like Buycott website that the council is in the process of launching . . . to promote Israeli goods directly to consumers” in the fight against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, read a statement from the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.


Clinton, Trump Spar Over Iran Nuke Deal, Islamic State During First Presidential Debate

( Presidential candidates Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton squared off in their first presidential debate on Monday evening.

While the debate largely focused on domestic issues, the candidates did spar over the Middle East, including the fallout over the Iran nuclear deal and how to handle the Islamic State.

“You look at the Middle East, it’s a total mess,” Trump said. “Under your direction, to a large extent ... you started the Iran deal. They were choking on the sanctions. And now they’re going to be probably a major power at some point pretty soon, the way they’re going.”

Clinton defended her record, saying the nuclear deal, which she helped to lay the groundwork for as Secretary of State, has delayed Iran’s capacity to develop a nuclear weapon.

“When I became Secretary of State [in 2009], Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb,” she said, explaining that she laid strong sanctions under her watch. “And my successor, John Kerry, and President [Barack] Obama got a deal that put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot.”

Trump also said that Clinton has spent her “entire adult life” fighting the Islamic State and that she will never be able to defeat the group. However, Clinton dismissed Trump’s accusation, saying that the Republican “has no plan” to fight the terror group.

While Israel was not mentioned directly during the debate, Trump did reference Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

“This is one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history,” Trump said. “I met with Bibi Netanyahu the other day. Believe me, he is not a happy camper.”

On the eve of the presidential debate on Sunday, both candidates separately met with Netanyahu in New York City.

Following the meeting, Netanyahu said that both candidates are strong supporters of Israel and that “it doesn’t matter which one is elected.”

“They both spoke about their support for Israel and the importance of relations between our countries,” Netanyahu said. “It doesn’t matter which of them will be elected, U.S. support of Israel will remain strong, our pact will remain strong and will even get stronger in the coming years.”


Israel Signs $10 billion,
15-Year Natural Gas Deal With Jordan

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to Israel and Jordan on Monday finalized a landmark 15-year, $10 billion agreement in which Israel will supply its neighbor with natural gas from the offshore Leviathan field.

The agreement is Israel’s first energy export deal and follows the approval of Israel’s national energy plan, which still causes controversy in the Knesset.

Leviathan, discovered in 2010 roughly 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Haifa, holds an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The field is one of the world’s largest offshore discoveries of the past decade.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz lauded the deal as a “national achievement,” saying that those who criticize the deal “should apologize to the Israeli public this coming Yom Kippur. Had their ridiculous campaign of deception succeeded, Israel would have lost one of its most important strategic resources. The gas framework has proved itself and it will facilitate the future development of Leviathan. This is a historic moment for Israel, which has become, for the first time, an energy exporter. I have no doubt more deals with more countries will follow.”


Israeli President Holds First Twitter Q & A

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin held his first Twitter Q&A session on Sunday. #AskRivlin was held on both Rivlin’s Hebrew (@rubirivlin) and English (@PresidentRuvi) Twitter accounts, and trended as the number one hashtag throughout the morning in Israel. He answered questions using both video and text. In this first session, he responded to questions regarding Israel’s foreign policy, future and food.

The president began by saying, “I am very happy to be with you this morning. You are the voice of the people and we can learn a lot from the voice of the people.
I am looking forward to taking your questions.”

The Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest NJ, which is part of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, submitted a question for the Twitter Q&A, and it was answered. In response to the question, “Do you think the world has learned the lessons of the Holocaust?” Rivlin responded, “We still face antisemitism—sometimes as anti-Zionism. The world knows the danger of racism and hatred, and must still stand up against it.”

In another question posed during the session regarding the future of Israel, the president was asked if the country could be united, to which he responded, “I am very optimistic. We have no choice—we are joined and separate. We look forward to building the shared Israeli hope for all the people.”

On a lighter note, when asked what foods were served at Rosh Hashanah in his home, Rivlin said “I grew up Ashkenazi with gefilte fish. Now with 9 grandchildren, Moroccan, Yemenite, Ashkenazi, we have all the tastes of the Jewish people.” While talking about food, the president was asked if he preferred the chocolate or mocha version of Israel’s popular treat Krembo, to which he answered, “Sadly my diet means I can’t have either but to tell a secret… both!”

The president concluded by thanking all those who participated, and apologized for not being able to answer every question. He finished by wishing all his Twitter followers “Shana tova, happy new year.”

After the session, President Rivlin became the first international head of state to create a “Twitter Moment,” collating all the president’s responses in English and then in Hebrew. The “Moment” can be embedded by news sites and shared on social media.


Chinese Crackdown on Jewish Practices in Ancient Community of Kaifeng

( The Chinese government has been cracking down on the small Jewish community whose ancestors settled in the central Chinese city Kaifeng over 1,000 years ago, according to The New York Times.

Only 100 to 200 Chinese Jews are active out of 1,000 claiming Jewish ancestry in Kaifeng, and have been targeted by President Xi Jinping’s government campaign against non-licensed religions.

Organizations that have helped in rebuilding the Jewish community have been shut down, and the government has prohibited gatherings for Passover and other Jewish holidays, closed Hebrew and Judaism classes, and removed Jewish historical signs and objects from public places.

Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism and Taoism are the only approved state religions in Communist China.

“The whole policy is very tight now,” Guo Yan, 35, a tour guide, who runs a small museum on Kaifeng’s Jewish past, told The Times. “China is sensitive about foreign activities and interference.”

No arrests have been made and the Jewish community can still gather in small groups to pray, but they are closely monitored by the government.

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