Archive for the ‘Ethiopian Jews’ Category

Can an alphabet merging Hebrew and Arabic promote coexistence … – Haaretz

The alphabet, designed by an Israeli, is based on a fascinating discovery made by a French ophthalmologist in the 19th century

Middle East peace may remain out of reach, but at least the Hebrew and Arabic languages have found a compromise.

Israeli typography designer Liron Lavi Turkenich has created a stylized writing system that merges the two ancient alphabets, allowing Hebrew and Arabic speakers to read the same words. Her hope is that Aravrit will promote coexistence in Israel and beyond.

I believe Aravrit sends a message that were both here, and we might as well acknowledge each other, Turkenich told JTA. That applies to Jews and Arab Israelis, but also to Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world.

Israelis have been receptive. Over 1 million people have watched a Hebrew-language video introducing Aravrit since it was posted last week on Facebook by Kan, Israels new broadcasting authority. Dozens left positive comments. A version of the video with English subtitles was released Monday.

I think maybe this explains the crazy success of the Hebrew video: We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution, Turkenich said.

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Turkenich, 32, was inspired to create Aravrit by the road signs in Haifa, the mixed Jewish and Arab city where she was born and has lived most of her life. Although many of the signs feature Arabic along with Hebrew and English she realized that she had always ignored the lettering, which like most Israeli Jews she cannot read.

For her final undergraduate project, Turkenich set out to combine Hebrew and Arabic lettering in a way that would allow them to live together, as she put it. She started by revisiting the work of French ophthalmologist Louis mile Javal, who in the late 19th century found that people can read pretty well using only the top half of Latin letters. With some experimenting, Turkenich discovered that the same is true of Arabic and by happy coincidence, the opposite holds for Hebrew.

In Hebrew, most of the identifying characteristics of letters forms are near the bottom part, she said. When I went to check Arabic, I crossed my fingers that they would be on the top half and they were!

Based on this insight, Turkenich combined each of the 22 letters in Hebrew with each of the 29 in Arabic to create an Aravrit alphabet with 638 characters. Vowels are used as needed for legibility below the Hebrew letters and above the Arabic ones, per the languages respective rules. Turkenich tested the Hebrew elements on herself and her friends. For advice on the Arabic, she turned to Arab-Israeli commuters on her daily train ride from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

Whenever I heard someone speaking Arabic, I would ask them if they had time to answer a few questions. They always said yes, she recalled, noting that she now has Arab friends who help.

Aravrits letters can be combined to form words or sentences. A Hebrew-speaker should be able to read the bottom half or the words, and an Arabic-speaker should be able to read the top half. For example, the Aravrit word for peace would say salaam on top and shalom on the bottom.

Since graduating in 2012 from Shenkar, a college of engineering, design and art in Ramat Gan, Turkenich has further developed Aravit into a writing system. She has incorporated alternative forms of letters in both languages some Hebrew letters take on a different form at the end of words and connected the Arabic elements in traditional cursive style. The changes have given her the flexibility to craft each word in a unique way, and she is working on writing down the rules.

Turkenich said she gets lots of requests to write Aravrit, including recently from the head of a small mostly Jewish city in Israel that she declined to name. She also teaches and gives lectures about her work in Israel and around the world. Aravrit is currently on exhibit at The Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Beersheba.

Language of course can be a political issue in the Jewish state. Hebrew and Arabic both have sacred roots, and are central to the identities at stake in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier this month, Israeli ministers backed a bill that would constitutionally enshrine the countrys Jewish status and make Hebrew the only official language, demoting Arabic from that status and, critics say, further marginalizing the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab.

But Turkenich said her goal is to build on the languages, not subvert them. In Aravrit itself a hybrid of the Hebrew words for Arabic and Hebrew sentences follow the grammar rules of Arabic on top and Hebrew on the bottom, she noted, and the lettering retains the most prominent features of each script. A word like peace, for example, would read as salaam on top and shalom on bottom.

Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them, she said. Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch.

Arabs are not the only Israeli minority group Turkenich is interested in. While earning a masters degree in typeface design from Englands University of Reading in 2015, she developed a typeface called Makeda, the name Ethiopians use for the Queen of Sheba, which works for Amharic, Hebrew and Latin letters. She hopes it will be used for Israeli government and legal documents relevant to the countrys 135,000 Ethiopian Jews.

Makeda is a little less idealistic than Aravrit, Turkenich said, laughing. That was me growing up.

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Can an alphabet merging Hebrew and Arabic promote coexistence … – Haaretz

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June 5, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Why Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman Is White – Forward

Wonder Woman is, shockingly, the first film in our current decade-plus superhero moment to feature a female lead. But while the film is pioneering in terms of gender representation, in other respects it is not especially innovative. The film does include some black Amazons, and a couple of POC, but the headline characters are white, and almost all the marketing has been centered on white people. The film may be a breakthrough for white women, but as far as women of color are concerned, it perpetuates the bleak superhero status quo.

The whiteness of Wonder Woman doesnt seem up for debate. And yet, some have decided to debate it. An argument has been bubbling underground on social media that Gal Gadot, who plays the title role, is actually a person of color. It was aired in full by Matthew Mueller at comicbook.com. Gal Gadot is not actually Caucasian, but is in fact Israeli, Mueller announces confidently. He then goes on to chastise POC critics for not recognizing her casting as triumph for diverse representation.

Mueller doesnt actually have much of an argument. He mentions a Times of Israel blog post which points to the history of Jewish oppression and waffles back and forth on whether Jews might be considered POC. But mostly Mueller just announces Gadot is Israeli! like a magician pulling a piece of lint out of a hat and trying to convince you its a rabbit.

Mueller can get away with this slapdash approach because race is itself such an incoherent concept. Mueller argues that Caucasian equals white, as if whiteness is an actual ethnicity or regional background.

But the truth is that whiteness isnt a biological or historical truth; its a fuzzy, culturally determined category that has fluctuated widely over time. At various historical moments and in various places, Irish people, Eastern Europeans, Southern Europeans, and, of course, Jews, have been excluded from the category of white people. It may seem ridiculous to say that a nationality like Israeli is non-whitebut Donald Trump racialized the nationality of Mexicans during the 2016 campaign. Whiteness isnt a formally defined, logical system. Its a blunt instrument designed to enable some people to hurt others. As such, it doesnt have to be particularly elegant or well made.

In this context, the best definition of white people is simply people who are considered white. Gadots nationality was not a secret; she wasnt passing as something other than Israeli. Mueller is arguing that when people see Gadot as white, they are wrong. But being white is really just a matter of what people see you as. People know Gadots background; they simply see that background as consistent with whiteness David Edelsteins bizarrely exoticizing comment that Israeli women are a breed unto themselves notwithstanding. For that matter, in Israel itself, Gadots skin color and European background protect her from the kind of discrimination faced by Ethiopian Jews, other dark-skinned Jews, and Palestinians.

Among those who see Gadot as white are the Wonder Woman filmmakers. Gadot is Jewish and Israeli, but like the Jewish Scarlett Johansson Hollywood perceives her in terms of unpsecified whiteness. In the film, Wonder Womans mother is played by Connie Nielsen, a white Danish actor. Wonder Woman as a young girl is played (in a show-stealing turn) by white actress Lilly Aspell. Gadot got the role as Wonder Woman precisely because she is seen as an appropriate actor to play a character who has traditionally been white.

In the movie itself, its clear that the other characters perceive Wonder Woman as white. The movie is set in World War I, a time when overt racism was even more acceptable than it is today. But when Wonder Woman crashes a high level military meeting, no one utters racial slurs or questions her whiteness. They are only scandalized because of her gender. One of Steve Trevors army buddies played by Said Taghmaoui discusses his experience of racial prejudice with Wonder Woman. During the discussion, he clearly does not think that she is likely to face the same kind of discrimination.

Perhaps the clearest sign that Gadot is white, though, is Muellers own argument. The fact that some groups who were once seen as non-white have become white and successful is a constant talking point for people who dont want to deal with ongoing racism. Robert Kennedy famously pointed to the success of the Irish to deflect James Baldwins criticisms of racism in the United States. The very incoherence of whiteness becomes a way to defend whiteness. Our ideology makes no sense; therefore we cant actually be oppressing you is a ridiculous argument, but a consistently popular one.

Gadot is white. But thats not to say that Jews face no discrimination. On the contrary, Gadots casting illustrates the quieter, ongoing failures of Jewish representation in superhero films. As Ive discussed here before, Hollywood seems constitutionally incapable of casting a Jewish actor to play a Jewish hero whose Jewishness is narratively acknowledged. Gadot can be Wonder Woman only if she sets aside her Jewishness as a visible identity. Heroism is only available as a reward for assimilation.

Gadot is a great Wonder Woman; she brings humor, enthusiasm, and presence to the character. But her casting is not a triumph for POC representation. And its not, really, a triumph for Jewish representation. The Wonder Woman film challenges the idea that only men can be heroes. But it accepts the conventional wisdom that says that, to be a hero, you must disappear into whiteness. Thats a message that hurts people of color. And its a message that ultimately hurts Jews who are not people of color as well.

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Why Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman Is White – Forward

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June 3, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

An Israeli’s Alphabet Combines Hebrew And Arabic To Promote Understanding – Jewish Week

TEL AVIV (JTA) Middle East peace may remain out of reach, but at least the Hebrew and Arabic languages have found a compromise.

Israeli typography designer Liron Lavi Turkenich has created a stylized writing system that merges the two ancient alphabets, allowing Hebrew and Arabic speakers to read the same words. Her hope is that Aravrit will promotecoexistence in Israel and beyond.

I believe Aravrit sends a message that were both here, and we might as well acknowledge each other, Turkenich told JTA. Thatapplies to Jews and Arab Israelis, but also toIsrael and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world.

Diagrams showing how Aravrit combines Hebrew and Arabic letters. JTA

Israelis have been receptive. Over 1 million people have watched a Hebrew-language video introducing Aravrit since it was posted last week on Facebook byKan, Israels new broadcasting authority. Dozens left positive comments. A version of the video with English subtitles was released Monday.

I think maybe this explains the crazy success of the Hebrew video: We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution, Turkenichsaid.

We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution.

Turkenich, 32, was inspired to create Aravrit by the road signs in Haifa, the mixed Jewish and Arab city where she was born and has lived most of her life. Although many of the signs feature Arabic along with Hebrew and English sherealized that she had always ignored the lettering, which like most Israeli Jews she cannot read.

For her final undergraduate project, Turkenich set out to combine Hebrew and Arabic lettering in a way that would allow them to live together, as she put it. She started by revisiting the work of French ophthalmologist Louis mile Javal, who in the late 19th century found thatpeople can read pretty well usingonly the top half of Latin letters. With some experimenting, Turkenich discovered that the same is true of Arabic and by happy coincidence, the opposite holds for Hebrew.

In Hebrew, most of the identifying characteristics of letters forms are near the bottom part, she said. When I went to check Arabic, I crossed my fingers that they would be on the top half and they were!

Examples of Aravit words hanging on display. JTA

Based on this insight, Turkenichcombined each of the 22 letters in Hebrew with each of the 29 in Arabic to create an Aravrit alphabet with 638 characters. Vowels are used as needed for legibility below the Hebrew letters and above the Arabic ones, per the languages respective rules.Turkenichtested the Hebrew elements on herself and her friends. For advice on the Arabic, she turned toArab-Israeli commuters on her daily train ride from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

Whenever I heard someone speaking Arabic, I would ask them if they had time to answer a few questions. They always said yes, she recalled, noting that she nowhas Arab friends who help.

Aravrits letters can be combined to form words or sentences. A Hebrew-speaker should be able to read the bottom half or the words, and an Arabic-speaker should be able to read the top half. For example, the Aravrit word for peace would say salaam on top and shalom on the bottom.

Since graduating in 2012 from Shenkar, a college of engineering, design and art in Ramat Gan, Turkenich has further developed Aravrit into a writing system.She has incorporated alternative forms of letters in both languages some Hebrew letters take on a different form at the end of words and connected the Arabic elements in traditional cursive style.The changes have given her the flexibility tocraft each word in a unique way, and she is working on writing down the rules.

Liron Lavi Turkenich comparing produce in a video for her Aravit writing system. JTA

Turkenich said she gets lots of requests to write Aravrit, including recently from the head of a small mostly Jewish city in Israel that she declined to name.She also teaches and gives lectures about her work in Israel and around the world. Aravrit is currently on exhibit at The Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Beersheba.

Language of course can be a political issue in the Jewish state. Hebrew and Arabic both have sacred roots, and are central to theidentities at stake in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier this month, Israeli ministers backed abill that would constitutionally enshrine the countrysJewish statusand make Hebrew the only official language, demoting Arabic from that status and, critics say, further marginalizing the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab.

Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them.Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch.

But Turkenichsaidher goal is to build on the languages, not subvert them. In Aravrit itself a hybrid of the Hebrew words for Arabic and Hebrew sentences follow the grammar rules of Arabic on top and Hebrew on the bottom, she noted, and the lettering retains the most prominent features of each script. A word like peace, for example, would read as salaam on top and shalom on bottom.

Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them, she said. Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch.

Arabs are not the only Israeli minority group Turkenich is interested in. While earning a masters degree in typeface design from Englands University of Reading in 2015, shedeveloped a typeface called Makeda, the name Ethiopians use for the Queen of Sheba, which works for Amharic, Hebrew and Latin letters. She hopes it will beused for Israeli government and legal documents relevant to the countrys 135,000 Ethiopian Jews.

Makeda is a little less idealistic than Aravrit, Turkenich said, laughing. That was me growing up.

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An Israeli’s Alphabet Combines Hebrew And Arabic To Promote Understanding – Jewish Week

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June 3, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

An Israeli’s Alphabet Combines Hebrew And Arabic To Promote … – Jewish Week

TEL AVIV (JTA) Middle East peace may remain out of reach, but at least the Hebrew and Arabic languages have found a compromise.

Israeli typography designer Liron Lavi Turkenich has created a stylized writing system that merges the two ancient alphabets, allowing Hebrew and Arabic speakers to read the same words. Her hope is that Aravrit will promotecoexistence in Israel and beyond.

I believe Aravrit sends a message that were both here, and we might as well acknowledge each other, Turkenich told JTA. Thatapplies to Jews and Arab Israelis, but also toIsrael and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world.

Diagrams showing how Aravrit combines Hebrew and Arabic letters. JTA

Israelis have been receptive. Over 1 million people have watched a Hebrew-language video introducing Aravrit since it was posted last week on Facebook byKan, Israels new broadcasting authority. Dozens left positive comments. A version of the video with English subtitles was released Monday.

I think maybe this explains the crazy success of the Hebrew video: We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution, Turkenichsaid.

We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution.

Turkenich, 32, was inspired to create Aravrit by the road signs in Haifa, the mixed Jewish and Arab city where she was born and has lived most of her life. Although many of the signs feature Arabic along with Hebrew and English sherealized that she had always ignored the lettering, which like most Israeli Jews she cannot read.

For her final undergraduate project, Turkenich set out to combine Hebrew and Arabic lettering in a way that would allow them to live together, as she put it. She started by revisiting the work of French ophthalmologist Louis mile Javal, who in the late 19th century found thatpeople can read pretty well usingonly the top half of Latin letters. With some experimenting, Turkenich discovered that the same is true of Arabic and by happy coincidence, the opposite holds for Hebrew.

In Hebrew, most of the identifying characteristics of letters forms are near the bottom part, she said. When I went to check Arabic, I crossed my fingers that they would be on the top half and they were!

Examples of Aravit words hanging on display. JTA

Based on this insight, Turkenichcombined each of the 22 letters in Hebrew with each of the 29 in Arabic to create an Aravrit alphabet with 638 characters. Vowels are used as needed for legibility below the Hebrew letters and above the Arabic ones, per the languages respective rules.Turkenichtested the Hebrew elements on herself and her friends. For advice on the Arabic, she turned toArab-Israeli commuters on her daily train ride from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

Whenever I heard someone speaking Arabic, I would ask them if they had time to answer a few questions. They always said yes, she recalled, noting that she nowhas Arab friends who help.

Aravrits letters can be combined to form words or sentences. A Hebrew-speaker should be able to read the bottom half or the words, and an Arabic-speaker should be able to read the top half. For example, the Aravrit word for peace would say salaam on top and shalom on the bottom.

Since graduating in 2012 from Shenkar, a college of engineering, design and art in Ramat Gan, Turkenich has further developed Aravrit into a writing system.She has incorporated alternative forms of letters in both languages some Hebrew letters take on a different form at the end of words and connected the Arabic elements in traditional cursive style.The changes have given her the flexibility tocraft each word in a unique way, and she is working on writing down the rules.

Liron Lavi Turkenich comparing produce in a video for her Aravit writing system. JTA

Turkenich said she gets lots of requests to write Aravrit, including recently from the head of a small mostly Jewish city in Israel that she declined to name.She also teaches and gives lectures about her work in Israel and around the world. Aravrit is currently on exhibit at The Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Beersheba.

Language of course can be a political issue in the Jewish state. Hebrew and Arabic both have sacred roots, and are central to theidentities at stake in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier this month, Israeli ministers backed abill that would constitutionally enshrine the countrysJewish statusand make Hebrew the only official language, demoting Arabic from that status and, critics say, further marginalizing the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab.

Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them.Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch.

But Turkenichsaidher goal is to build on the languages, not subvert them. In Aravrit itself a hybrid of the Hebrew words for Arabic and Hebrew sentences follow the grammar rules of Arabic on top and Hebrew on the bottom, she noted, and the lettering retains the most prominent features of each script. A word like peace, for example, would read as salaam on top and shalom on bottom.

Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them, she said. Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch.

Arabs are not the only Israeli minority group Turkenich is interested in. While earning a masters degree in typeface design from Englands University of Reading in 2015, shedeveloped a typeface called Makeda, the name Ethiopians use for the Queen of Sheba, which works for Amharic, Hebrew and Latin letters. She hopes it will beused for Israeli government and legal documents relevant to the countrys 135,000 Ethiopian Jews.

Makeda is a little less idealistic than Aravrit, Turkenich said, laughing. That was me growing up.

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An Israeli’s Alphabet Combines Hebrew And Arabic To Promote … – Jewish Week

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June 3, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

keeping the faith…. | Editorials | thesuburban.com – The Suburban Newspaper

This week we commemorate the centenary of the birth of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The man who challenged the world to, Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. We owe a duty of action, but not just that. We owe a duty of memory and witness to that universal message.

Over the past week, the legacy of JFKs words was put into robust reality by so many of you. We would like to pay tribute to your endeavours that are testament to his clarion call of just over a century and a half ago. A call to be involved in the passions and tempers of our times.

Human rights activists joined members of the Jewish community in remembering the 26th anniversary of Operation Solomon. It was the largest rescue operation in history. On May 24,1991, 35 Israeli planes transported tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Without that miraculous effort, these Jews would have faced certain destruction.One of the military commanders reported that one grim reality made the numbers possible. These survivors had suffered such hardships, including starvation, that their bodies had deteriorated to an unbearable thinness. The commemoration took place at Congregation Shomrim Laboker which is the synagogue that welcomed the first Ethiopian Jews to arrive in Montreal and who still form a vital part of its community. The late Ethiopian rights activist Baruch Tegegne was instrumental in getting this operation the highest priority of the Israeli government. Much of his family lives in Montreal. The hundreds in attendance listened to former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler who was the keynote speaker at this years event. Cotler is entering his 40th year of advocacy on behalf of Ethiopian Jews. Also addressing the gathering were Deputy Israeli Consul-General Rotem Segev, Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and our own editor Beryl Wajsman.

Last Saturday afternoon thousands of marchers representing some two dozen cultural communities took part in the annual March for Humanity and Genocide Prevention through the streets of downtown Montreal. This March was originally started by the Armenian National Committee in its drive to educate the public about the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks between 1915-1917. Their original efforts resulted in Prime Minister Harper giving official recognition to the Genocide. Over the years the Armenian community has attracted others to march with them . It was quite a sight to see Armenian, Greek, Israeli, Italian, Lebanese and so many other flags fluttering in the wind alongside the Maple Leaf and the Fleur-de-Lis. The Greek community in particular is now publicizing the history of the Pontic Genocide of 1913. Leading the march were the heads of the communities but it was all the more striking that they were joined by Mayor Denis Coderre, Deputy Mayor Mary Deros, federal Minister Mlanie Joly and Prof. Cotler. Never Again is a message that must be made real by action not just words and this past weekend it was.

This past Sunday over a thousand members of the Irish community were joined by representatives of many other communities and organizations, including from this newspaper, in its annual March to The Stone. People came from as far away as Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City to participate.We do not have to tell you that the Irish are a foundational people of this great city. Though this March takes place every year, it had a special importance this year. The Stone is the memorial to 6,000 Irish immigrants who succumbed to typhus in the great immigration of 1848-1850. Those dead represented some 10% of the population of Montreal at the time. The Stone sits in front of their graves. Sadly, the graveyard was covered over for a parking lot years ago. That was enough of a desecration.But now Hydro-Quebec wants to build a substation there and add further insult to injury. Well, the Fighting Irish are fighting back and many of us along with them. The March may not have been for the most joyous of reasons, but those three kilometers in the hot sun were worth the effort and it was a stirring event. Looking around, it was also a reminder of how deep and long friendships are not just between individuals but between people. The marchers have all been at the barricades in so many cases and causes. Despite its historic challenges, the Irish community and the leaders that have sprung from it continue to lead us all with an abiding sense of optimism, courage and grace. We salute the organizers Paul Loftus, Scott Phelan, Victor Boyle, Fergus Keyes, Tim Furlong, Danny Doyle and the elected officials who turned out including Mayor Coderre, NDP leader Tom Mulcair and MP Marc Miller.

All your efforts, the difficult pursuit of all these causes, keep alive the dream embodied in another declaration of the late President. We choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard and because they are necessary. Your actions are a living testament to the faith that has been kept.

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keeping the faith…. | Editorials | thesuburban.com – The Suburban Newspaper

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Tulsa company’s film series on Israel coincides with Trump visit – Tulsa World

As Donald Trump made his first visit to Israel as president, the airing of a Tulsa production companys documentary video series on Israel came to a conclusion this week.

The final segment of Impact Productions 13-part series Why Israel Matters aired Tuesday on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and will soon be available on DVD. It can be viewed in its entirety at tbn.org/programs/why-israel-matters.

Impact Productions produces television series, documentaries and feature films with inspirational and faith content, said Micah Barnard, producer of the Israel series.

Each episode of the series focuses on one major theme and explores that theme through personal stories, he said.

For example, one episode is about making aliyah, referring to Jews who were raised around the world returning to Israel to make it their home.

That episode tells the stories of three people who moved to Israel: a Jewish girl who grew up in China; an Ethiopian who was part of Operation Moses, in which 3,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to safety from Sudan during a civil war there; and a childhood friend of Anne Franks who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Barnard said he had never been to Israel before shooting this documentary.

It was just amazing how it opened my eyes to see the impact such a small nation has had on the world, he said.

Most visitors to Israel hit the tourist sites, he said, and never connect with the people.

Its so important to connect with the actual people of Israel, he said. We see through the lens of politics and the view of what the media wants us to see.

But to go over there and hear from the people, and sit in their homes and share coffee and meals with them, its different.

He urged people to look past the news headlines and actually explore Israel for what it is.

Tom Newman, founder of Impact Productions, said the Why Israel Matters series started with a conversation over breakfast with Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, a high-profile law firm that defends Christian values and supports the nation of Israel. Liberty Counsel sends college students to Israel to learn about the nation.

Out of that conversation came the idea to make a documentary series to educate people about modern Israel, Newman said.

A lot of people dont realize how important Israel is.

The number of Nobel Prize winners from Israel is staggering. … People have no idea, he said.

Impact Productions contracted with Tulsa filmmaker Andrea Jobe to direct the series.

Jobe, with her husband, is founder of Pivot Films in Tulsa.

She said when Impact first approached her, she was not interested in going to Israel, but once there, I did a 180-degree turn. It was just so fascinating on every level imaginable.

Im very pleased with it (the series); I just wish each story could have been its own feature film, she said.

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Tulsa company’s film series on Israel coincides with Trump visit – Tulsa World

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May 28, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Memorial Day for Ethiopian Jews – Atlanta Jewish Times

Wednesday, May 24, is being observed as a day of remembrance in Israel for Ethiopian Jews who died in trying to make aliyah.

More than 4,000 Ethiopian Jews died in the process of making their way to Israel, either in refugee camps in Sudan or somewhere along the route. They are remembered as heroes for their inspiration and their sacrifice for Judaism and religious freedom, said Habtnesh Ezra, the president of the Ethiopian Jewry Foundation.

The magnitude of suffering, struggling, pain, agony, as well as the indignations they went through, especially the women during their exhausting, long journey through the desert and the waiting time in the refugee camps even with the passage of time, we may never really come to fully know and to truly appreciate the sacrifices they endured for Kiddush HaShem, or sanctification for G-d, Ezra said.

The Ethiopian Jewry Foundation asks for those 4,000 to be remembered in your prayers May 24.

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Atlantan Angry at Israel for Forgetting Ethiopians – Atlanta Jewish Times

Gene Rubel doesnt mince words to express his outrage with the government of Israel.

Rubel, a Pittsburgh native who has lived in Atlanta for 20 years, isnt complaining about settlements or the lack of egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. Instead, he uses terms such as bureaucratic malfeasance and racism about the behavior of the Israeli government toward Jews still living in squalor in Ethiopia, waiting to immigrate to Israel and be reunited with family members there.

I heard a lecture a few weeks ago in which it was said that there are no more Jewish refugees in the world anymore; thats not true, Rubel said. Some of these Ethiopians have been there for 20 years waiting to go to Israel. Some people are saying its necessary to build a social welfare program to help them in Ethiopia, but there already is one in Israel.

Since the early 1950s, the Jewish Agency for Israel has helped 90,000 Ethiopians make aliyah.

But Rubels complaints are related to a decision the Israeli government made in August to establish a system to interview people and make a list of those eligible to still make aliyah. In 2016, none were brought; 1,600 are supposed to be brought this year.

Gene Rubel visits with Ethiopian immigrant Talila while she is receiving steroid treatments at an absorption center in Jerusalem in 2013.

He said the Interior Ministry is supposed to create a list but hasnt done it. The Ministry of Absorption funding is available. The people just need to go through a two-minute conversion because they are already Jewish. The primary list is based on those who have relatives in Israel. The funds are allocated to hire people and for the travel.

But nothing is happening, so Rubel, a former CEO of Jewish Healthcare International, has decided to start a movement to pressure the Israeli government to fulfill its commitment.

This is a failure of the Israeli government to do what it says it will do. These Ethiopians dont have any advocates, he said. I decided I need to create a grassroots push in Israel and the United States.

Rubel, who lived in Israel as a child in 1954 and as a college student in 1961, is fluent in Hebrew and has two children who made aliyah. He said he keeps up with news from Israel more than news in Sandy Springs.

Enlisting the help of Melissa Goldberg, a marketing communications professional, Rubel has launched a website (www.aliyafalashmura.org) to explain the situation of the Ethiopian Jews, referred to as Falashmura, and enlist the support of American Jews and Israelis.

He initiated meetings with local rabbis by talking with Congregation Or Hadash Rabbi Analia Bortz and presented his campaign on behalf of the Ethiopians at a recent Shabbat service there. He is reaching out to other rabbis and Jewish community leaders to urge them to spread the word and contact Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders.

Rubels activism isnt limited to the United States. He has enlisted the support of the Jewish Agency, which appears ready to help settle the Ethiopians in Israel. But a planeload of about 17 families, all identified before the Israeli governments August decision, was postponed from May 17 and now is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6.

Rubel has reached out to the Israeli Ministry of Interior, which is supposed to create the new lists of eligible Ethiopians. He has requested a weekly report on the number of those interviewed and the number registered as meeting the criteria, but he hasnt received a response. Given the three-week period for Ministry of Health and other processes between the time a family is registered and flown, I infer that no new registrations have been processed by the Ministry of Interior. As we say in Hebrew, busha vecherpa: They should be ashamed.

Referring to the latest delay, Rubel said the interviewing of families to determine eligibility for aliyah was supposed to take place last fall. It is a disgrace that we are now almost five months into 2017, and not a single family has been registered. Meanwhile, thousands of people are living in hovels with little food and no medical care. It is a disgrace that the Israeli government has allowed this to happen and even a greater disgrace that there is virtually no organized condemnation of this sorry state of affairs. Where are the Israeli human rights organizations? Where is the U.S. Jewish community? Where are the rabbis? Where are the shuls? Where are the Jewish Federations?

He said he wrote to several Knesset members who conducted a hearing in March, but he has received no response. The Times of Israel reported in March that Knesset members Eli Alaluf (Kulanu), David Amsalem (Likud) and Avraham Neguise (Likud) accused the Interior Ministry of setting deliberate obstacles to scuttle Ethiopian aliyah.

The Times of Israel also reported that the last plane carrying Ethiopians, with 63 aboard, arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport in October.

Im trying to raise public awareness of this issue, Rubel said. We have some people who are in trouble, and I want to know, what are we going to do to help them?

He said Israel suffers from substantial racism and classism, resulting in a disproportionate number of Ethiopian immigrants working as hotel cleaners.

His goal right now is for the first Ethiopian Jew identified under the Israeli governments August decree to be transported to Israel, Rubel said. Once the first one goes, that means theres a process in place. Then well figure out how to get the rest to Israel. The objective is to have 50 olim every month, but if theres the reported 9,000, its going to take a while to get them all to Israel.

Original post:

Atlantan Angry at Israel for Forgetting Ethiopians – Atlanta Jewish Times

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Israel revels in undivided Jerusalem – Intermountain Jewish News

Israeli students participate in the annual flag dance from downtown Jerusalem to the Western Wall. (Kobi Richter/TPS)

JERULALEM Thousands of Jerusalemites and Israelis from around the country capitalized on a temperate, sunny day Wednesday, May 24, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the citys liberation during the 1967 Six Day War.

The reunification of the city ended a 19-year period of Jordanian occupation following the War of Independence in 1948.

President Reuven Rivlin opened the official celebration on the evening of May 23 at the Western Wall, where he spoke about the difficult battle for the city in 1967, and recalled the moment he heard the Old City had been secured under Israeli control.

We gave our all for Jerusalem because we knew that on Jerusalem we must insist, said the President at the Western Wall.

We will always insist on Jerusalem, Rivlin reiterated. There never has been, there never will be any other reality. Here, in these stones, beats the heart of the Jewish people. Jerusalem is the heart of the State of Israel, and the Kotel is the heart of Jerusalem.

Colonel Motta Gurs call The Temple Mount is in our hands! over an IDF wireless device on June 7, 1967 quickly became a defining moment for a generation of Israelis. Jerusalem Day is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar; in 1967, June 7 was on 28 Iyar, which this year coincided with May 24.

The capture of the Old City came two days after Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egyptian forces in response to Cairos closure of the Straits of Tiran.

The attack ignited war with Egypt and Syria, but Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent word to Jordans King Hussein that Israel would not attack the Jordanians if they did not enter the war.

However, Hussein refused and began shelling Jewish communities in western Jerusalem. Israel responded and gained control of the eastern part of the city during the fighting.

In all, Israel tripled in size during the war, gaining control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem.

However, since the war, Israels claim of sovereignty in Jerusalem and the holy sites has been the subject of international dispute.

Rivlin urged Jerusalem as a symbol of unity instead of dispute between peoples and called for bringing peace to Jerusalem.

The city of Jerusalem that was once a divided city is the same city where Jews and Arabs, religious and secular people, find the space to live together, to meet and get to know each other; to build a shared Jerusalem, together, he said.

Hundreds of people participated in the ceremony, including representatives of the IDF units that liberated Jerusalem in 1967, current IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, who paid tribute to the fallen soldiers who liberated the Old City and the Western Wall. According to the Foreign Ministry, between 776 and 983 IDF soldiers were killed during the battle for Jerusalem, 4,517 people were wounded and 15 Israeli soldiers were taken prisoner.

In the Knesset, a special plenum to mark the occasion was held on Wednesday, with government officials and opposition leaders commemorating the fallen soldiers while also promoting their political agendas.

[Israel] saved Jerusalem from neglect and distress, and we developed it successfully to become a high point in all areas, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What used to be here in Jerusalem? We must tell the truth Jerusalem, like the entire Land of Israel, was a marginal and desolate province in the Ottoman Empire.

He called Jerusalem an oasis of peace and interfaith within a turbulent and uncompromising Middle East, but said it faces a paradox: The more we continue to develop the city and preserve its unique character, the more the denial and lies regarding the connection of the Jewish people to its capital intensify.

The Western Wall is our identity card and testament to who was here and what brought us back to our homeland. We will not return to a situation where we stand overlooking while being unable to access it, Netanyahu concluded.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog lauded the historical and cultural accomplishments of Jerusalem but warned that the citys demographic and geographic trends could bring about the failure of the dream the Six Day War fighters sacrificed for.

He mentioned recent statistics on Jerusalem indicating a negative migration trend, lower matriculation rates compared to the national rates, a distinct socio-economic weakness and an Arab population growth two times larger than its Jewish counterpart.

We need to ask ourselves if the earthly Jerusalem is up to par with the Jerusalem of Gold, stated Herzog.

The only way to preserve a Jewish Jerusalem for a Jewish state is to materialize the vision of the two-state solution and to separate ourselves from as many Palestinians as possible, he asserted. Only by separating from [neighborhoods such as] Shuafat and Issawiya will we truly unify and conquer Jerusalem.

Among the attendees at the Knesset session were Rivlin, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

In a special Army Radio broadcast in honor of Jerusalem Day, Barkat said that Jerusalem is booming. We see it in the number and diversity of tourists, in the hi-tech sector, cultural renaissance, the tremendous investment in infrastructure for public transportation, new light rails, network cabling, among other things.

Jerusalem is becoming more attractive, not just for tourists but also for Israeli young people and its own residents, continued Barkat. I am sure this process will grow and flourish as long as we continue to invest in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research reported that the number of hi-tech employees in Jerusalem over the last two years has spiked by 28% (compared to a national average of 8%).

Barkat also said that Jerusalem is a successful story of coexistence, with many Arab residents living in Jewish neighborhoods, or haredi Orthodox Jerusalemites living in secular neighborhoods.

However, the 2017 Jewish People Policy Institute interim report on Jerusalem also indicates that many Jews around the world and in Israel feel that Jerusalem is not moving in the right direction, especially due to concerns about Jewish-Arab relations and religious pluralism.

According to Barkat, development budgets grew from half a billion shekels to three billion shekels under his leadership, but the city still faces important challenges.

The government helps Jerusalem residents in a difficult socio-economic situation by helping them with tax credits, but unfortunately the state does not make up for the socio-economic deficits the city incurs as a consequence, explained Barkat.

We do have work plans to address the citys needs for development, upgrading the infrastructure and improving the education system, Barkat said, but we still require more capital to move forward.

We all still have a lot of work to do to transform the saying If I forget you Jerusalem into a practical reality, said Barkat. Fortunately, if every person connects to Jerusalem in different ways, the love for the city is present in the hearts of each and every Israeli.

For the Ethiopian Israeli community, Jerusalem Day is also marked as a remembrance day. Ethiopian Israelis, Knesset members and Prime Minister Netanyahu held an official ceremony at Mt. Herzl on Wednesday with thanksgiving prayers and memorial services for community members who perished on the arduous journey from Ethiopia to Israel.

We all have strong feelings about Jerusalem Day, said Nava Asmare, a 42-year-old mother of three who was born in a small village in Ethiopia in 1975 and immigrated to Israel at the age of 10.

On one hand, there is an intense feeling of gratitude and humility that we made it to Jerusalem and to the Land of Israel.

On the other hand, it is the day we remember all the people who dreamed about Jerusalem but never made it here.

Asmares 10-month old sister died in her mothers arms during the journey.

When Ethiopian Jews began immigrating to Israel during the 1980s and 90s, the journey was often treacherous, marked by thousand-mile walks through hostile territory, hunger, sickness and wild animals. Veterans of the move remember people dropping and dying like flies in transit camps, waiting to be airlifted to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses and during Operation Solomon in 1991.

According to Asmare, the lofty, mythical ideas of Jerusalem that many Ethiopian Jews grew up with led to a strong sense of a disconnection when they finally arrived in the Holy City.

I absolutely believed that Jerusalem would be this magical place, a real Jerusalem of gold, she said. We all did. We thought we would get to Jerusalem and be blinded by the gold and the light and the sanctity.

Of course, thats not Jerusalem today. We celebrate the unification of Jerusalem today, but we also know that in some ways the city is broken, not unified. Theres the upper, heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem. The Jerusalem of our dreams versus the actual city. So there are many, many mixed emotions, Asmare added.

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Israel revels in undivided Jerusalem – Intermountain Jewish News

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Can an alphabet merging Hebrew and Arabic promote coexistence … – Haaretz

The alphabet, designed by an Israeli, is based on a fascinating discovery made by a French ophthalmologist in the 19th century Middle East peace may remain out of reach, but at least the Hebrew and Arabic languages have found a compromise. Israeli typography designer Liron Lavi Turkenich has created a stylized writing system that merges the two ancient alphabets, allowing Hebrew and Arabic speakers to read the same words. Her hope is that Aravrit will promote coexistence in Israel and beyond. I believe Aravrit sends a message that were both here, and we might as well acknowledge each other, Turkenich told JTA. That applies to Jews and Arab Israelis, but also to Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world. Israelis have been receptive. Over 1 million people have watched a Hebrew-language video introducing Aravrit since it was posted last week on Facebook by Kan, Israels new broadcasting authority. Dozens left positive comments. A version of the video with English subtitles was released Monday. I think maybe this explains the crazy success of the Hebrew video: We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution, Turkenich said. We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter. Turkenich, 32, was inspired to create Aravrit by the road signs in Haifa, the mixed Jewish and Arab city where she was born and has lived most of her life. Although many of the signs feature Arabic along with Hebrew and English she realized that she had always ignored the lettering, which like most Israeli Jews she cannot read. For her final undergraduate project, Turkenich set out to combine Hebrew and Arabic lettering in a way that would allow them to live together, as she put it. She started by revisiting the work of French ophthalmologist Louis mile Javal, who in the late 19th century found that people can read pretty well using only the top half of Latin letters. With some experimenting, Turkenich discovered that the same is true of Arabic and by happy coincidence, the opposite holds for Hebrew. In Hebrew, most of the identifying characteristics of letters forms are near the bottom part, she said. When I went to check Arabic, I crossed my fingers that they would be on the top half and they were! Based on this insight, Turkenich combined each of the 22 letters in Hebrew with each of the 29 in Arabic to create an Aravrit alphabet with 638 characters. Vowels are used as needed for legibility below the Hebrew letters and above the Arabic ones, per the languages respective rules. Turkenich tested the Hebrew elements on herself and her friends. For advice on the Arabic, she turned to Arab-Israeli commuters on her daily train ride from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Whenever I heard someone speaking Arabic, I would ask them if they had time to answer a few questions. They always said yes, she recalled, noting that she now has Arab friends who help. Aravrits letters can be combined to form words or sentences. A Hebrew-speaker should be able to read the bottom half or the words, and an Arabic-speaker should be able to read the top half. For example, the Aravrit word for peace would say salaam on top and shalom on the bottom. Since graduating in 2012 from Shenkar, a college of engineering, design and art in Ramat Gan, Turkenich has further developed Aravit into a writing system. She has incorporated alternative forms of letters in both languages some Hebrew letters take on a different form at the end of words and connected the Arabic elements in traditional cursive style. The changes have given her the flexibility to craft each word in a unique way, and she is working on writing down the rules. Turkenich said she gets lots of requests to write Aravrit, including recently from the head of a small mostly Jewish city in Israel that she declined to name. She also teaches and gives lectures about her work in Israel and around the world. Aravrit is currently on exhibit at The Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Beersheba. Language of course can be a political issue in the Jewish state. Hebrew and Arabic both have sacred roots, and are central to the identities at stake in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier this month, Israeli ministers backed a bill that would constitutionally enshrine the countrys Jewish status and make Hebrew the only official language, demoting Arabic from that status and, critics say, further marginalizing the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab. But Turkenich said her goal is to build on the languages, not subvert them. In Aravrit itself a hybrid of the Hebrew words for Arabic and Hebrew sentences follow the grammar rules of Arabic on top and Hebrew on the bottom, she noted, and the lettering retains the most prominent features of each script. A word like peace, for example, would read as salaam on top and shalom on bottom. Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them, she said. Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch. Arabs are not the only Israeli minority group Turkenich is interested in. While earning a masters degree in typeface design from Englands University of Reading in 2015, she developed a typeface called Makeda, the name Ethiopians use for the Queen of Sheba, which works for Amharic, Hebrew and Latin letters. She hopes it will be used for Israeli government and legal documents relevant to the countrys 135,000 Ethiopian Jews. Makeda is a little less idealistic than Aravrit, Turkenich said, laughing. That was me growing up. Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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Why Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman Is White – Forward

Wonder Woman is, shockingly, the first film in our current decade-plus superhero moment to feature a female lead. But while the film is pioneering in terms of gender representation, in other respects it is not especially innovative. The film does include some black Amazons, and a couple of POC, but the headline characters are white, and almost all the marketing has been centered on white people. The film may be a breakthrough for white women, but as far as women of color are concerned, it perpetuates the bleak superhero status quo. The whiteness of Wonder Woman doesnt seem up for debate. And yet, some have decided to debate it. An argument has been bubbling underground on social media that Gal Gadot, who plays the title role, is actually a person of color. It was aired in full by Matthew Mueller at comicbook.com. Gal Gadot is not actually Caucasian, but is in fact Israeli, Mueller announces confidently. He then goes on to chastise POC critics for not recognizing her casting as triumph for diverse representation. Mueller doesnt actually have much of an argument. He mentions a Times of Israel blog post which points to the history of Jewish oppression and waffles back and forth on whether Jews might be considered POC. But mostly Mueller just announces Gadot is Israeli! like a magician pulling a piece of lint out of a hat and trying to convince you its a rabbit. Mueller can get away with this slapdash approach because race is itself such an incoherent concept. Mueller argues that Caucasian equals white, as if whiteness is an actual ethnicity or regional background. But the truth is that whiteness isnt a biological or historical truth; its a fuzzy, culturally determined category that has fluctuated widely over time. At various historical moments and in various places, Irish people, Eastern Europeans, Southern Europeans, and, of course, Jews, have been excluded from the category of white people. It may seem ridiculous to say that a nationality like Israeli is non-whitebut Donald Trump racialized the nationality of Mexicans during the 2016 campaign. Whiteness isnt a formally defined, logical system. Its a blunt instrument designed to enable some people to hurt others. As such, it doesnt have to be particularly elegant or well made. In this context, the best definition of white people is simply people who are considered white. Gadots nationality was not a secret; she wasnt passing as something other than Israeli. Mueller is arguing that when people see Gadot as white, they are wrong. But being white is really just a matter of what people see you as. People know Gadots background; they simply see that background as consistent with whiteness David Edelsteins bizarrely exoticizing comment that Israeli women are a breed unto themselves notwithstanding. For that matter, in Israel itself, Gadots skin color and European background protect her from the kind of discrimination faced by Ethiopian Jews, other dark-skinned Jews, and Palestinians. Among those who see Gadot as white are the Wonder Woman filmmakers. Gadot is Jewish and Israeli, but like the Jewish Scarlett Johansson Hollywood perceives her in terms of unpsecified whiteness. In the film, Wonder Womans mother is played by Connie Nielsen, a white Danish actor. Wonder Woman as a young girl is played (in a show-stealing turn) by white actress Lilly Aspell. Gadot got the role as Wonder Woman precisely because she is seen as an appropriate actor to play a character who has traditionally been white. In the movie itself, its clear that the other characters perceive Wonder Woman as white. The movie is set in World War I, a time when overt racism was even more acceptable than it is today. But when Wonder Woman crashes a high level military meeting, no one utters racial slurs or questions her whiteness. They are only scandalized because of her gender. One of Steve Trevors army buddies played by Said Taghmaoui discusses his experience of racial prejudice with Wonder Woman. During the discussion, he clearly does not think that she is likely to face the same kind of discrimination. Perhaps the clearest sign that Gadot is white, though, is Muellers own argument. The fact that some groups who were once seen as non-white have become white and successful is a constant talking point for people who dont want to deal with ongoing racism. Robert Kennedy famously pointed to the success of the Irish to deflect James Baldwins criticisms of racism in the United States. The very incoherence of whiteness becomes a way to defend whiteness. Our ideology makes no sense; therefore we cant actually be oppressing you is a ridiculous argument, but a consistently popular one. Gadot is white. But thats not to say that Jews face no discrimination. On the contrary, Gadots casting illustrates the quieter, ongoing failures of Jewish representation in superhero films. As Ive discussed here before, Hollywood seems constitutionally incapable of casting a Jewish actor to play a Jewish hero whose Jewishness is narratively acknowledged. Gadot can be Wonder Woman only if she sets aside her Jewishness as a visible identity. Heroism is only available as a reward for assimilation. Gadot is a great Wonder Woman; she brings humor, enthusiasm, and presence to the character. But her casting is not a triumph for POC representation. And its not, really, a triumph for Jewish representation. The Wonder Woman film challenges the idea that only men can be heroes. But it accepts the conventional wisdom that says that, to be a hero, you must disappear into whiteness. Thats a message that hurts people of color. And its a message that ultimately hurts Jews who are not people of color as well.

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June 3, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

An Israeli’s Alphabet Combines Hebrew And Arabic To Promote Understanding – Jewish Week

TEL AVIV (JTA) Middle East peace may remain out of reach, but at least the Hebrew and Arabic languages have found a compromise. Israeli typography designer Liron Lavi Turkenich has created a stylized writing system that merges the two ancient alphabets, allowing Hebrew and Arabic speakers to read the same words. Her hope is that Aravrit will promotecoexistence in Israel and beyond. I believe Aravrit sends a message that were both here, and we might as well acknowledge each other, Turkenich told JTA. Thatapplies to Jews and Arab Israelis, but also toIsrael and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world. Diagrams showing how Aravrit combines Hebrew and Arabic letters. JTA Israelis have been receptive. Over 1 million people have watched a Hebrew-language video introducing Aravrit since it was posted last week on Facebook byKan, Israels new broadcasting authority. Dozens left positive comments. A version of the video with English subtitles was released Monday. I think maybe this explains the crazy success of the Hebrew video: We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution, Turkenichsaid. We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution. Turkenich, 32, was inspired to create Aravrit by the road signs in Haifa, the mixed Jewish and Arab city where she was born and has lived most of her life. Although many of the signs feature Arabic along with Hebrew and English sherealized that she had always ignored the lettering, which like most Israeli Jews she cannot read. For her final undergraduate project, Turkenich set out to combine Hebrew and Arabic lettering in a way that would allow them to live together, as she put it. She started by revisiting the work of French ophthalmologist Louis mile Javal, who in the late 19th century found thatpeople can read pretty well usingonly the top half of Latin letters. With some experimenting, Turkenich discovered that the same is true of Arabic and by happy coincidence, the opposite holds for Hebrew. In Hebrew, most of the identifying characteristics of letters forms are near the bottom part, she said. When I went to check Arabic, I crossed my fingers that they would be on the top half and they were! Examples of Aravit words hanging on display. JTA Based on this insight, Turkenichcombined each of the 22 letters in Hebrew with each of the 29 in Arabic to create an Aravrit alphabet with 638 characters. Vowels are used as needed for legibility below the Hebrew letters and above the Arabic ones, per the languages respective rules.Turkenichtested the Hebrew elements on herself and her friends. For advice on the Arabic, she turned toArab-Israeli commuters on her daily train ride from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Whenever I heard someone speaking Arabic, I would ask them if they had time to answer a few questions. They always said yes, she recalled, noting that she nowhas Arab friends who help. Aravrits letters can be combined to form words or sentences. A Hebrew-speaker should be able to read the bottom half or the words, and an Arabic-speaker should be able to read the top half. For example, the Aravrit word for peace would say salaam on top and shalom on the bottom. Since graduating in 2012 from Shenkar, a college of engineering, design and art in Ramat Gan, Turkenich has further developed Aravrit into a writing system.She has incorporated alternative forms of letters in both languages some Hebrew letters take on a different form at the end of words and connected the Arabic elements in traditional cursive style.The changes have given her the flexibility tocraft each word in a unique way, and she is working on writing down the rules. Liron Lavi Turkenich comparing produce in a video for her Aravit writing system. JTA Turkenich said she gets lots of requests to write Aravrit, including recently from the head of a small mostly Jewish city in Israel that she declined to name.She also teaches and gives lectures about her work in Israel and around the world. Aravrit is currently on exhibit at The Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Beersheba. Language of course can be a political issue in the Jewish state. Hebrew and Arabic both have sacred roots, and are central to theidentities at stake in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier this month, Israeli ministers backed abill that would constitutionally enshrine the countrysJewish statusand make Hebrew the only official language, demoting Arabic from that status and, critics say, further marginalizing the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab. Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them.Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch. But Turkenichsaidher goal is to build on the languages, not subvert them. In Aravrit itself a hybrid of the Hebrew words for Arabic and Hebrew sentences follow the grammar rules of Arabic on top and Hebrew on the bottom, she noted, and the lettering retains the most prominent features of each script. A word like peace, for example, would read as salaam on top and shalom on bottom. Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them, she said. Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch. Arabs are not the only Israeli minority group Turkenich is interested in. While earning a masters degree in typeface design from Englands University of Reading in 2015, shedeveloped a typeface called Makeda, the name Ethiopians use for the Queen of Sheba, which works for Amharic, Hebrew and Latin letters. She hopes it will beused for Israeli government and legal documents relevant to the countrys 135,000 Ethiopian Jews. Makeda is a little less idealistic than Aravrit, Turkenich said, laughing. That was me growing up.

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An Israeli’s Alphabet Combines Hebrew And Arabic To Promote … – Jewish Week

TEL AVIV (JTA) Middle East peace may remain out of reach, but at least the Hebrew and Arabic languages have found a compromise. Israeli typography designer Liron Lavi Turkenich has created a stylized writing system that merges the two ancient alphabets, allowing Hebrew and Arabic speakers to read the same words. Her hope is that Aravrit will promotecoexistence in Israel and beyond. I believe Aravrit sends a message that were both here, and we might as well acknowledge each other, Turkenich told JTA. Thatapplies to Jews and Arab Israelis, but also toIsrael and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world. Diagrams showing how Aravrit combines Hebrew and Arabic letters. JTA Israelis have been receptive. Over 1 million people have watched a Hebrew-language video introducing Aravrit since it was posted last week on Facebook byKan, Israels new broadcasting authority. Dozens left positive comments. A version of the video with English subtitles was released Monday. I think maybe this explains the crazy success of the Hebrew video: We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution, Turkenichsaid. We can do something caring for the other side just by reading, without having a solution. Turkenich, 32, was inspired to create Aravrit by the road signs in Haifa, the mixed Jewish and Arab city where she was born and has lived most of her life. Although many of the signs feature Arabic along with Hebrew and English sherealized that she had always ignored the lettering, which like most Israeli Jews she cannot read. For her final undergraduate project, Turkenich set out to combine Hebrew and Arabic lettering in a way that would allow them to live together, as she put it. She started by revisiting the work of French ophthalmologist Louis mile Javal, who in the late 19th century found thatpeople can read pretty well usingonly the top half of Latin letters. With some experimenting, Turkenich discovered that the same is true of Arabic and by happy coincidence, the opposite holds for Hebrew. In Hebrew, most of the identifying characteristics of letters forms are near the bottom part, she said. When I went to check Arabic, I crossed my fingers that they would be on the top half and they were! Examples of Aravit words hanging on display. JTA Based on this insight, Turkenichcombined each of the 22 letters in Hebrew with each of the 29 in Arabic to create an Aravrit alphabet with 638 characters. Vowels are used as needed for legibility below the Hebrew letters and above the Arabic ones, per the languages respective rules.Turkenichtested the Hebrew elements on herself and her friends. For advice on the Arabic, she turned toArab-Israeli commuters on her daily train ride from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Whenever I heard someone speaking Arabic, I would ask them if they had time to answer a few questions. They always said yes, she recalled, noting that she nowhas Arab friends who help. Aravrits letters can be combined to form words or sentences. A Hebrew-speaker should be able to read the bottom half or the words, and an Arabic-speaker should be able to read the top half. For example, the Aravrit word for peace would say salaam on top and shalom on the bottom. Since graduating in 2012 from Shenkar, a college of engineering, design and art in Ramat Gan, Turkenich has further developed Aravrit into a writing system.She has incorporated alternative forms of letters in both languages some Hebrew letters take on a different form at the end of words and connected the Arabic elements in traditional cursive style.The changes have given her the flexibility tocraft each word in a unique way, and she is working on writing down the rules. Liron Lavi Turkenich comparing produce in a video for her Aravit writing system. JTA Turkenich said she gets lots of requests to write Aravrit, including recently from the head of a small mostly Jewish city in Israel that she declined to name.She also teaches and gives lectures about her work in Israel and around the world. Aravrit is currently on exhibit at The Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Beersheba. Language of course can be a political issue in the Jewish state. Hebrew and Arabic both have sacred roots, and are central to theidentities at stake in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier this month, Israeli ministers backed abill that would constitutionally enshrine the countrysJewish statusand make Hebrew the only official language, demoting Arabic from that status and, critics say, further marginalizing the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab. Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them.Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch. But Turkenichsaidher goal is to build on the languages, not subvert them. In Aravrit itself a hybrid of the Hebrew words for Arabic and Hebrew sentences follow the grammar rules of Arabic on top and Hebrew on the bottom, she noted, and the lettering retains the most prominent features of each script. A word like peace, for example, would read as salaam on top and shalom on bottom. Both Hebrew and Arabic have incredible histories. We should not erase them, she said. Its the same as the political situation: We cant start from scratch. Arabs are not the only Israeli minority group Turkenich is interested in. While earning a masters degree in typeface design from Englands University of Reading in 2015, shedeveloped a typeface called Makeda, the name Ethiopians use for the Queen of Sheba, which works for Amharic, Hebrew and Latin letters. She hopes it will beused for Israeli government and legal documents relevant to the countrys 135,000 Ethiopian Jews. Makeda is a little less idealistic than Aravrit, Turkenich said, laughing. That was me growing up.

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keeping the faith…. | Editorials | thesuburban.com – The Suburban Newspaper

This week we commemorate the centenary of the birth of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The man who challenged the world to, Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. We owe a duty of action, but not just that. We owe a duty of memory and witness to that universal message. Over the past week, the legacy of JFKs words was put into robust reality by so many of you. We would like to pay tribute to your endeavours that are testament to his clarion call of just over a century and a half ago. A call to be involved in the passions and tempers of our times. Human rights activists joined members of the Jewish community in remembering the 26th anniversary of Operation Solomon. It was the largest rescue operation in history. On May 24,1991, 35 Israeli planes transported tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Without that miraculous effort, these Jews would have faced certain destruction.One of the military commanders reported that one grim reality made the numbers possible. These survivors had suffered such hardships, including starvation, that their bodies had deteriorated to an unbearable thinness. The commemoration took place at Congregation Shomrim Laboker which is the synagogue that welcomed the first Ethiopian Jews to arrive in Montreal and who still form a vital part of its community. The late Ethiopian rights activist Baruch Tegegne was instrumental in getting this operation the highest priority of the Israeli government. Much of his family lives in Montreal. The hundreds in attendance listened to former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler who was the keynote speaker at this years event. Cotler is entering his 40th year of advocacy on behalf of Ethiopian Jews. Also addressing the gathering were Deputy Israeli Consul-General Rotem Segev, Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and our own editor Beryl Wajsman. Last Saturday afternoon thousands of marchers representing some two dozen cultural communities took part in the annual March for Humanity and Genocide Prevention through the streets of downtown Montreal. This March was originally started by the Armenian National Committee in its drive to educate the public about the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks between 1915-1917. Their original efforts resulted in Prime Minister Harper giving official recognition to the Genocide. Over the years the Armenian community has attracted others to march with them . It was quite a sight to see Armenian, Greek, Israeli, Italian, Lebanese and so many other flags fluttering in the wind alongside the Maple Leaf and the Fleur-de-Lis. The Greek community in particular is now publicizing the history of the Pontic Genocide of 1913. Leading the march were the heads of the communities but it was all the more striking that they were joined by Mayor Denis Coderre, Deputy Mayor Mary Deros, federal Minister Mlanie Joly and Prof. Cotler. Never Again is a message that must be made real by action not just words and this past weekend it was. This past Sunday over a thousand members of the Irish community were joined by representatives of many other communities and organizations, including from this newspaper, in its annual March to The Stone. People came from as far away as Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City to participate.We do not have to tell you that the Irish are a foundational people of this great city. Though this March takes place every year, it had a special importance this year. The Stone is the memorial to 6,000 Irish immigrants who succumbed to typhus in the great immigration of 1848-1850. Those dead represented some 10% of the population of Montreal at the time. The Stone sits in front of their graves. Sadly, the graveyard was covered over for a parking lot years ago. That was enough of a desecration.But now Hydro-Quebec wants to build a substation there and add further insult to injury. Well, the Fighting Irish are fighting back and many of us along with them. The March may not have been for the most joyous of reasons, but those three kilometers in the hot sun were worth the effort and it was a stirring event. Looking around, it was also a reminder of how deep and long friendships are not just between individuals but between people. The marchers have all been at the barricades in so many cases and causes. Despite its historic challenges, the Irish community and the leaders that have sprung from it continue to lead us all with an abiding sense of optimism, courage and grace. We salute the organizers Paul Loftus, Scott Phelan, Victor Boyle, Fergus Keyes, Tim Furlong, Danny Doyle and the elected officials who turned out including Mayor Coderre, NDP leader Tom Mulcair and MP Marc Miller. All your efforts, the difficult pursuit of all these causes, keep alive the dream embodied in another declaration of the late President. We choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard and because they are necessary. Your actions are a living testament to the faith that has been kept.

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Tulsa company’s film series on Israel coincides with Trump visit – Tulsa World

As Donald Trump made his first visit to Israel as president, the airing of a Tulsa production companys documentary video series on Israel came to a conclusion this week. The final segment of Impact Productions 13-part series Why Israel Matters aired Tuesday on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and will soon be available on DVD. It can be viewed in its entirety at tbn.org/programs/why-israel-matters. Impact Productions produces television series, documentaries and feature films with inspirational and faith content, said Micah Barnard, producer of the Israel series. Each episode of the series focuses on one major theme and explores that theme through personal stories, he said. For example, one episode is about making aliyah, referring to Jews who were raised around the world returning to Israel to make it their home. That episode tells the stories of three people who moved to Israel: a Jewish girl who grew up in China; an Ethiopian who was part of Operation Moses, in which 3,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to safety from Sudan during a civil war there; and a childhood friend of Anne Franks who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. Barnard said he had never been to Israel before shooting this documentary. It was just amazing how it opened my eyes to see the impact such a small nation has had on the world, he said. Most visitors to Israel hit the tourist sites, he said, and never connect with the people. Its so important to connect with the actual people of Israel, he said. We see through the lens of politics and the view of what the media wants us to see. But to go over there and hear from the people, and sit in their homes and share coffee and meals with them, its different. He urged people to look past the news headlines and actually explore Israel for what it is. Tom Newman, founder of Impact Productions, said the Why Israel Matters series started with a conversation over breakfast with Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, a high-profile law firm that defends Christian values and supports the nation of Israel. Liberty Counsel sends college students to Israel to learn about the nation. Out of that conversation came the idea to make a documentary series to educate people about modern Israel, Newman said. A lot of people dont realize how important Israel is. The number of Nobel Prize winners from Israel is staggering. … People have no idea, he said. Impact Productions contracted with Tulsa filmmaker Andrea Jobe to direct the series. Jobe, with her husband, is founder of Pivot Films in Tulsa. She said when Impact first approached her, she was not interested in going to Israel, but once there, I did a 180-degree turn. It was just so fascinating on every level imaginable. Im very pleased with it (the series); I just wish each story could have been its own feature film, she said.

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May 28, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Memorial Day for Ethiopian Jews – Atlanta Jewish Times

Wednesday, May 24, is being observed as a day of remembrance in Israel for Ethiopian Jews who died in trying to make aliyah. More than 4,000 Ethiopian Jews died in the process of making their way to Israel, either in refugee camps in Sudan or somewhere along the route. They are remembered as heroes for their inspiration and their sacrifice for Judaism and religious freedom, said Habtnesh Ezra, the president of the Ethiopian Jewry Foundation. The magnitude of suffering, struggling, pain, agony, as well as the indignations they went through, especially the women during their exhausting, long journey through the desert and the waiting time in the refugee camps even with the passage of time, we may never really come to fully know and to truly appreciate the sacrifices they endured for Kiddush HaShem, or sanctification for G-d, Ezra said. The Ethiopian Jewry Foundation asks for those 4,000 to be remembered in your prayers May 24.

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Atlantan Angry at Israel for Forgetting Ethiopians – Atlanta Jewish Times

Gene Rubel doesnt mince words to express his outrage with the government of Israel. Rubel, a Pittsburgh native who has lived in Atlanta for 20 years, isnt complaining about settlements or the lack of egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. Instead, he uses terms such as bureaucratic malfeasance and racism about the behavior of the Israeli government toward Jews still living in squalor in Ethiopia, waiting to immigrate to Israel and be reunited with family members there. I heard a lecture a few weeks ago in which it was said that there are no more Jewish refugees in the world anymore; thats not true, Rubel said. Some of these Ethiopians have been there for 20 years waiting to go to Israel. Some people are saying its necessary to build a social welfare program to help them in Ethiopia, but there already is one in Israel. Since the early 1950s, the Jewish Agency for Israel has helped 90,000 Ethiopians make aliyah. But Rubels complaints are related to a decision the Israeli government made in August to establish a system to interview people and make a list of those eligible to still make aliyah. In 2016, none were brought; 1,600 are supposed to be brought this year. Gene Rubel visits with Ethiopian immigrant Talila while she is receiving steroid treatments at an absorption center in Jerusalem in 2013. He said the Interior Ministry is supposed to create a list but hasnt done it. The Ministry of Absorption funding is available. The people just need to go through a two-minute conversion because they are already Jewish. The primary list is based on those who have relatives in Israel. The funds are allocated to hire people and for the travel. But nothing is happening, so Rubel, a former CEO of Jewish Healthcare International, has decided to start a movement to pressure the Israeli government to fulfill its commitment. This is a failure of the Israeli government to do what it says it will do. These Ethiopians dont have any advocates, he said. I decided I need to create a grassroots push in Israel and the United States. Rubel, who lived in Israel as a child in 1954 and as a college student in 1961, is fluent in Hebrew and has two children who made aliyah. He said he keeps up with news from Israel more than news in Sandy Springs. Enlisting the help of Melissa Goldberg, a marketing communications professional, Rubel has launched a website (www.aliyafalashmura.org) to explain the situation of the Ethiopian Jews, referred to as Falashmura, and enlist the support of American Jews and Israelis. He initiated meetings with local rabbis by talking with Congregation Or Hadash Rabbi Analia Bortz and presented his campaign on behalf of the Ethiopians at a recent Shabbat service there. He is reaching out to other rabbis and Jewish community leaders to urge them to spread the word and contact Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders. Rubels activism isnt limited to the United States. He has enlisted the support of the Jewish Agency, which appears ready to help settle the Ethiopians in Israel. But a planeload of about 17 families, all identified before the Israeli governments August decision, was postponed from May 17 and now is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6. Rubel has reached out to the Israeli Ministry of Interior, which is supposed to create the new lists of eligible Ethiopians. He has requested a weekly report on the number of those interviewed and the number registered as meeting the criteria, but he hasnt received a response. Given the three-week period for Ministry of Health and other processes between the time a family is registered and flown, I infer that no new registrations have been processed by the Ministry of Interior. As we say in Hebrew, busha vecherpa: They should be ashamed. Referring to the latest delay, Rubel said the interviewing of families to determine eligibility for aliyah was supposed to take place last fall. It is a disgrace that we are now almost five months into 2017, and not a single family has been registered. Meanwhile, thousands of people are living in hovels with little food and no medical care. It is a disgrace that the Israeli government has allowed this to happen and even a greater disgrace that there is virtually no organized condemnation of this sorry state of affairs. Where are the Israeli human rights organizations? Where is the U.S. Jewish community? Where are the rabbis? Where are the shuls? Where are the Jewish Federations? He said he wrote to several Knesset members who conducted a hearing in March, but he has received no response. The Times of Israel reported in March that Knesset members Eli Alaluf (Kulanu), David Amsalem (Likud) and Avraham Neguise (Likud) accused the Interior Ministry of setting deliberate obstacles to scuttle Ethiopian aliyah. The Times of Israel also reported that the last plane carrying Ethiopians, with 63 aboard, arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport in October. Im trying to raise public awareness of this issue, Rubel said. We have some people who are in trouble, and I want to know, what are we going to do to help them? He said Israel suffers from substantial racism and classism, resulting in a disproportionate number of Ethiopian immigrants working as hotel cleaners. His goal right now is for the first Ethiopian Jew identified under the Israeli governments August decree to be transported to Israel, Rubel said. Once the first one goes, that means theres a process in place. Then well figure out how to get the rest to Israel. The objective is to have 50 olim every month, but if theres the reported 9,000, its going to take a while to get them all to Israel.

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Israel revels in undivided Jerusalem – Intermountain Jewish News

Israeli students participate in the annual flag dance from downtown Jerusalem to the Western Wall. (Kobi Richter/TPS) JERULALEM Thousands of Jerusalemites and Israelis from around the country capitalized on a temperate, sunny day Wednesday, May 24, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the citys liberation during the 1967 Six Day War. The reunification of the city ended a 19-year period of Jordanian occupation following the War of Independence in 1948. President Reuven Rivlin opened the official celebration on the evening of May 23 at the Western Wall, where he spoke about the difficult battle for the city in 1967, and recalled the moment he heard the Old City had been secured under Israeli control. We gave our all for Jerusalem because we knew that on Jerusalem we must insist, said the President at the Western Wall. We will always insist on Jerusalem, Rivlin reiterated. There never has been, there never will be any other reality. Here, in these stones, beats the heart of the Jewish people. Jerusalem is the heart of the State of Israel, and the Kotel is the heart of Jerusalem. Colonel Motta Gurs call The Temple Mount is in our hands! over an IDF wireless device on June 7, 1967 quickly became a defining moment for a generation of Israelis. Jerusalem Day is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar; in 1967, June 7 was on 28 Iyar, which this year coincided with May 24. The capture of the Old City came two days after Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egyptian forces in response to Cairos closure of the Straits of Tiran. The attack ignited war with Egypt and Syria, but Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent word to Jordans King Hussein that Israel would not attack the Jordanians if they did not enter the war. However, Hussein refused and began shelling Jewish communities in western Jerusalem. Israel responded and gained control of the eastern part of the city during the fighting. In all, Israel tripled in size during the war, gaining control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem. However, since the war, Israels claim of sovereignty in Jerusalem and the holy sites has been the subject of international dispute. Rivlin urged Jerusalem as a symbol of unity instead of dispute between peoples and called for bringing peace to Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem that was once a divided city is the same city where Jews and Arabs, religious and secular people, find the space to live together, to meet and get to know each other; to build a shared Jerusalem, together, he said. Hundreds of people participated in the ceremony, including representatives of the IDF units that liberated Jerusalem in 1967, current IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, who paid tribute to the fallen soldiers who liberated the Old City and the Western Wall. According to the Foreign Ministry, between 776 and 983 IDF soldiers were killed during the battle for Jerusalem, 4,517 people were wounded and 15 Israeli soldiers were taken prisoner. In the Knesset, a special plenum to mark the occasion was held on Wednesday, with government officials and opposition leaders commemorating the fallen soldiers while also promoting their political agendas. [Israel] saved Jerusalem from neglect and distress, and we developed it successfully to become a high point in all areas, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What used to be here in Jerusalem? We must tell the truth Jerusalem, like the entire Land of Israel, was a marginal and desolate province in the Ottoman Empire. He called Jerusalem an oasis of peace and interfaith within a turbulent and uncompromising Middle East, but said it faces a paradox: The more we continue to develop the city and preserve its unique character, the more the denial and lies regarding the connection of the Jewish people to its capital intensify. The Western Wall is our identity card and testament to who was here and what brought us back to our homeland. We will not return to a situation where we stand overlooking while being unable to access it, Netanyahu concluded. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog lauded the historical and cultural accomplishments of Jerusalem but warned that the citys demographic and geographic trends could bring about the failure of the dream the Six Day War fighters sacrificed for. He mentioned recent statistics on Jerusalem indicating a negative migration trend, lower matriculation rates compared to the national rates, a distinct socio-economic weakness and an Arab population growth two times larger than its Jewish counterpart. We need to ask ourselves if the earthly Jerusalem is up to par with the Jerusalem of Gold, stated Herzog. The only way to preserve a Jewish Jerusalem for a Jewish state is to materialize the vision of the two-state solution and to separate ourselves from as many Palestinians as possible, he asserted. Only by separating from [neighborhoods such as] Shuafat and Issawiya will we truly unify and conquer Jerusalem. Among the attendees at the Knesset session were Rivlin, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. In a special Army Radio broadcast in honor of Jerusalem Day, Barkat said that Jerusalem is booming. We see it in the number and diversity of tourists, in the hi-tech sector, cultural renaissance, the tremendous investment in infrastructure for public transportation, new light rails, network cabling, among other things. Jerusalem is becoming more attractive, not just for tourists but also for Israeli young people and its own residents, continued Barkat. I am sure this process will grow and flourish as long as we continue to invest in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research reported that the number of hi-tech employees in Jerusalem over the last two years has spiked by 28% (compared to a national average of 8%). Barkat also said that Jerusalem is a successful story of coexistence, with many Arab residents living in Jewish neighborhoods, or haredi Orthodox Jerusalemites living in secular neighborhoods. However, the 2017 Jewish People Policy Institute interim report on Jerusalem also indicates that many Jews around the world and in Israel feel that Jerusalem is not moving in the right direction, especially due to concerns about Jewish-Arab relations and religious pluralism. According to Barkat, development budgets grew from half a billion shekels to three billion shekels under his leadership, but the city still faces important challenges. The government helps Jerusalem residents in a difficult socio-economic situation by helping them with tax credits, but unfortunately the state does not make up for the socio-economic deficits the city incurs as a consequence, explained Barkat. We do have work plans to address the citys needs for development, upgrading the infrastructure and improving the education system, Barkat said, but we still require more capital to move forward. We all still have a lot of work to do to transform the saying If I forget you Jerusalem into a practical reality, said Barkat. Fortunately, if every person connects to Jerusalem in different ways, the love for the city is present in the hearts of each and every Israeli. For the Ethiopian Israeli community, Jerusalem Day is also marked as a remembrance day. Ethiopian Israelis, Knesset members and Prime Minister Netanyahu held an official ceremony at Mt. Herzl on Wednesday with thanksgiving prayers and memorial services for community members who perished on the arduous journey from Ethiopia to Israel. We all have strong feelings about Jerusalem Day, said Nava Asmare, a 42-year-old mother of three who was born in a small village in Ethiopia in 1975 and immigrated to Israel at the age of 10. On one hand, there is an intense feeling of gratitude and humility that we made it to Jerusalem and to the Land of Israel. On the other hand, it is the day we remember all the people who dreamed about Jerusalem but never made it here. Asmares 10-month old sister died in her mothers arms during the journey. When Ethiopian Jews began immigrating to Israel during the 1980s and 90s, the journey was often treacherous, marked by thousand-mile walks through hostile territory, hunger, sickness and wild animals. Veterans of the move remember people dropping and dying like flies in transit camps, waiting to be airlifted to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses and during Operation Solomon in 1991. According to Asmare, the lofty, mythical ideas of Jerusalem that many Ethiopian Jews grew up with led to a strong sense of a disconnection when they finally arrived in the Holy City. I absolutely believed that Jerusalem would be this magical place, a real Jerusalem of gold, she said. We all did. We thought we would get to Jerusalem and be blinded by the gold and the light and the sanctity. Of course, thats not Jerusalem today. We celebrate the unification of Jerusalem today, but we also know that in some ways the city is broken, not unified. Theres the upper, heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem. The Jerusalem of our dreams versus the actual city. So there are many, many mixed emotions, Asmare added.

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed


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