This is how Lieutenant Dean Issacharoff must have felt when General Prosecutor Avichai Mandelblit closed the file The State of Israel against Issacharoff without any actual proceedings taking place.
Lt. Dean Issacharoff, spokesman of the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, had served in the military between 2011 and 2015 as a member of the Nahal Elite Unit in the Hebron region. It is no secret that the soldiers serving there are time and again involved in altercations with Palestinians. In most cases, those are relatively moderate, so long as „only“ stones are thrown.
At a propaganda meeting in April, Dean Issacharoff had been claiming that in the course of such an attack his commander ordered that a Palestinian was to be handcuffed and arrested. „In such a situation I never know how to act. He did not resist. He did not speak Hebrew and I do not speak Arabic. So, I caught him by the nape of his neck and then kneed him in the breast and the face until he was bleeding and stunned“
This is the material from which the lies are woven, with the sole objective of defaming our IDF. And they are told and retold so often that the well-meaning, naïve and non-critical listener believes the lie and turns it into the truth.
But this time there were critical listeners who wanted to stop the lies. His former colleagues mistrusted the truth of his testimony, after all they had been eyewitnesses to the incident described. On the platform „Reservists On Duty“ founded by reservists in 2015, we find a reply in which he is repeatedly accused of lying. Reservists on Duty take up the opposite position to that of Breaking the Silence and are fighting against BDS and Antisemitism, in particular abroad. And, wherever possible, they try to uncover the lies disseminated by Breaking the Silence. Reserve Captain Omri Sayner, Lt. Issacharoff’s former commander, wrote on his Facebook Page: „I won’t let you lie and bring discredit to my name and that of my soldiers“.
As a result, Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked asked the General Prosecutor to open an investigation of the incident. „If it really happened in this manner, then he must be interrogated and punished. If it was not the case, the State must officially announce that it was a lie“.
Thanks to the precise description of the incident it was easy to find Hassan Giulani who had been arrested in Hebron in February 2014 and question him about the alleged assaults by the IDF. What the General Prosecutor heard was a very different description. Giulani confirmed that he was arrested after throwing stones on the soldiers. But this is the only conformity!
He confirmed that there was no use of any kind of violence. Only when he resisted being handcuffed was the necessary violence used. He was neither beaten nor hurt. And at no time from the arrest to his release was he stunned or unconscious.
Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked was happy with the result: „It is good that the truth about this organization has come to light, an organization that secures its revenue at the expense of the IDF and Israeli citizens“.
Friends and supporters and, above all, the well-meaning donors, should be confronted with this case. When looking at the two lists of donations from the years 2013 and 2016, I would like to advise you to do as Mordechai did: wear sackcloth and scatter ashes on their head. They should at least do so virtually, and publish on their websites that they had fallen prey to malicious deceit. That by their – tax-privileged – donations they had been supporting an infamous organization, whose intention had never been to do a good deed, but had, and still has, only one aim: vilifying the State of Israel and the IDF. And I would like to hold a mirror up to their faces and point my finger at them, saying: This is what perfect Anti-Semites look like! And wherever possible I shall boycott and fight them.
And I urgently recommend to Mr. Sigmar Gabriel that, should he one day again take up a politically relevant position, to seriously consider whose collaboration he prefers. In April 2017 he regrettably betted on the wrong horse.
The internet portal of the association „Journalistenwatch“ e.V. (Association for Media Critics and Counter-Public) describes itself: „The articles and data published on are the results of careful research. The news and the articles are based in part on news agencies‘ reports as well as notifications by colleagues in our field. The association expressly offers no guarantee – neither explicit nor implicit – for the truth, completeness, dependability and actuality, as well as the usability of the retrieved posts for the user“. For its „Promotion of Public Education“ activities, the association has been classified as a non-profit organization, meaning that it either pays less taxes than other associations or even no taxes at all.
The association’s main sponsor, according to their own publication, is the „Middle East Forum„, a US American Think Tank whose objective is clearly democratic and pro Israeli. When we look at the list of the organizations sponsored, we see among others NGO Monitoring, Shurat HaDin, Gatestone Institute, Algemeiner, and also Journalistenwatch. The question is, how did this association succeed in being included in this list under false pretenses.
I have been following this portal for several days and I am appalled by how such right-wing and extreme right opinions are purported to serve to promote education and learning, i.e. benefit the public, when we consider what comments are being allowed there. Yesterday, on November 9, a text was published entitled: „The Jewish Central Committee demands compulsory visits to KZ-Memorials„, and it was signed „dts“.
DTS is short for „Deutsche Textservice Nachrichtenagentur“ (German Text Service Agency) in the city of Halle, Germany, which cannot presently be reached on the internet. It is followed by a lengthy commentary by „ME“ (Max Erdinger). The original text of the article can be found at the MDR Press Portal with the following remark: „Leipzig (ots) – the following text, is free for MDR, subject to precise indication of origin“ (8.11./13:31). Ots leads to the page belonging to dpa „News aktuell“.
To come back to the text. Journalistenwatch felt free not only to publish the text without indicating its origin, but also to leave out and slightly change it by rewording it. This is not so correct, but it is not dramatic as far as contents are considered. The commentary that follows tries to find out, why compulsive visits to concentration camps would be counterproductive for the underlying intention. But the wording is convoluted. „Those who nevertheless do so, do it for motives whose disingenuousness is getting ever more clear as time passes. Nowadays, the objective can no longer be to remind future generations that, as Germans, they have a special responsibility arising from their history. Firstly, because young Germans are being repeatedly told on every occasion that they are no longer first of all Germans, but just „humans“, and also because young Germans are no more part of the mass murders perpetrated by their ancestors than young Russians or young Chinese are responsible for the horrors committed by their forefathers.“
The way this sentence was written requires confirmation, but it is still not true. Young Russians and Chinese are not accountable for the horrors perpetrated by their forefathers, but just like the Germans, they have the responsibility of ensuring that it never happens again.
It is the duty of the younger generation to do everything to resolutely oppose any right wing ideas and any right wing movements. And it is their task to recognize and understand the mechanisms and the manipulations that lead to the marginalization and persecution of minorities.
An attitude like that described by ME in his commentary is not very helpful. „The more time passes, the more evident it becomes that what is actually driving the Central Committee of Jews is to perpetuate the Germans‘ sense of guilt towards the Jews. They can forget about that. I shall not cooperate. Though I was born fifteen years after the end of World War II, I have dealt with it enough. I have read everything written on the subject. Enough is enough“.
He has had enough.
This exactly is the attitude of such people who, with the privilege of being professional journalists, have the ability to manipulate people. They could do it in a positive way, but they usually do it negatively.
Otherwise comments like those would never be published:
Nick – 3 hours ago
I am disgusted by those eternal demands, sorrow and feeling of offence. Their whole existence is limited to that.
Marcus Junge – 9 hours ago
CCJ demands, we can stop reading there, since it will be followed either by more „Germanization“, more struggle against Germans or more taxes, i.e. the usual hate of Germany and the deep desire to destroy it.
Rotzlöffel – 10 hours ago
I DEMAND that the Central Committee of J*ws all stick their finger in their backside and perform a balancing act over Gaza in order to show humanity where unbridled racism and ethnic cleansing lead to!
A.C. Hauser – 10 hours ago
What Israel does to the Palestinians nowadays is in no way better than this poor attempt to once again attribute the sole guilt to the Germans.
And then the J*ws wonder why nobody likes them.
Freidenker – 11 hours ago
No problem Mr. Schuster, you are sooo right – and moreover those pupils should have to also listen to the following quotations by Jews so as to intensify their ethic consciousness:
Óur race is the master race. We are the holy gods on this planet. We are as far away from the inferior races, as they are from insects. (…) Other races are considered to be human excrements. It is our destiny to assume the rule over the inferior races. Our earthly kingdom will be ruled by our leaders with an iron rod. The masses will lick our feet and be our slaves!“
(Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in a speech before the Knesset. Amnon Kapeliouk, „Begin and the Beasts“, New Statesman, June 25, 1982).
Bernie Götz – 16 hours ago
Our fellow Jewish citizens who STILL like the good life they are living in Germany should take up a better position with respect with the mass immigration of Jew hating hordes of Muslims.
The greater the progress of Islamization, the bigger the no-go-areas, especially for them.
Should Jews again be expelled from Germany, then certainly not by the long-dead Nazis.
Raffaelo More Moderator Bernie Götz – 16 hours ago
Nor by those who have been living here for some time! An important addition that should be mentioned!
Bernie Götz Raffaelo More – 14 hours ago
Naturally, they would themselves have to flee, or else they convert or become slaves.
In which case those converted would become accomplices.
This quotations were made by copy/paste.
Remark by myself: As far as the quotation attributed to Menachem Begin, it must be said that the article dated June 25, 1982 does not include such quotation, not to mention being attributed to Menachem Begin. Such attribution was made much later and can often be found on the right wing websites as a quotation of the „bad Jew“. You can read what Begin actually said on the screenshot
It was my experience that my pupils voted in favor of a visit to Dachau. There they participated in a tour guided by Dr. Max Mannheimer, whom they had previously met when he visited our school. They therefore knew that he would reply to any of their questions.
In addition, my pupils asked me not to have to watch the movie „Schindler’s list“ again. Their absorbing capacity was complete after the three or four previous viewings.
Theodor von Adorno said on this subject in 1966: „The demand that Auschwitz not be repeated is the very first step of education. It precedes any other in such fashion that I do not consider it necessary nor desirable to justify„.
He understood that it is the responsibility of the following generations to accept this legacy. Coercion is most certainly the wrong way. It is our mission, that of the first generation after the War, to process this legacy and transmit it in a fashion that does not become oppressive.
The respected think tank „Middle East Forum“ should urgently suspend its financial resources for this association, which is there under false pretenses.
@esther scheiner, israel
@translated by: Translation International, Herzliya, Israel
Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian Islands and is located in the far north, at a distance of only about two kilometers from the Albanian mainland. The island belongs to the richest areas of Greece. Starting 800 BCE, permanent settlements are documented there. Like all other countries encircling the Mediterranean, Corfu was conquered by anyone feeling that he had to extend his territory: Saracens, Hellenes, Romans, Normans, Ottomans, Crusaders, Venetians, French, Britons, Serbs and Italians. They all came and left traces.
The city of Corfu is protected both to the north and the south by well-built fortifications, and the old city is completely encircled by a wall.
From the esplanade, one can walk in the narrow twisting lanes of the old city, far from the main shopping mile. The narrower and more twisting the lanes become, the less they remind us of the stream of tourists crowding the broader streets. Shortly before climbing to the new fort, well-hidden between an alternative bicycle merchant (wooden bicycles) and the office of the communist party, you find the only synagogue remaining on the island.
Jews had been living in Corfu since the 12th century. They were fully integrated in trade, science and art and contributed to enriching life on the island. Most of the Jews came from the west (Apulia), but also from the east and from other parts of Greece.
By the end of the 19th century, about 7000 Jews were living here. In 1891, there was a tragic legend of ritual murder. Some 5,000 people emigrated to Alexandria in Egypt or to Europe, so that at the beginning of the 20th century there were only 2,000 Jews left in Corfu.
On June 9, 1944, 2,000 Jews were deported from Corfu by the Nazis; 1,800 of them, together with 67,000 additional Greek Jews, were murdered in concentration camps. In the transport and death books, the Jews of Corfu are listed painstakingly: 1,700 were killed in the gas chambers on June 29, 1944, 300 became slave laborers, 150 died from the consequences of the inhumane conditions, 150 survived and were freed by the allies, 70 of them emigrated, to Israel, the USA and unknown destinations. The others returned to Corfu.
Presently the community has 60 members. There used to be four synagogues on the island. The first one was known as the „Apulian synagogue“. It was built around the year 1550. The second was a small addition on the ruins of the Apulian synagogue. It was named the „New Temple“. The third was located next to the „New Temple“ but was smaller and went by the name of „Medras“. The ruins of this temple can be seen, but seem not to be worth mentioning for the Jews of Corfu.
It is sad, but that is the way it is; at the museum, the only thing the man sitting there does is to say „Synagogue first floor“ – I have felt more welcome than here!
Upon nearing Santorini, I was the victim of an optical error. The summits of the island of Thira were all covered by a thick layer of snow, or so I thought. I wondered where this snow had come from with a temperature of over 20 degrees centigrade at six in the morning. A few minutes later, when we drew nearer to the mountain range, I understood that this was due to the dense cover of snow-white houses.
Santorini is the name of a volcanic archipelago in the southern Aegean Sea belonging to the Cyclades group of islands. The names of the two main settlements on the biggest island, Thira, are Fira and Oia, the place of the blue domes.
According to one’s personal degree of fitness, Fira can be reached by three ways: you can resolutely climb the 566 steep steps, or let a mule do the climbing (10 Euros) or use the gondola lift (12 Euro). Both animal rights activists and cruise companies caution against the ride, and did so even before a woman was killed in a terrible accident. We got tickets to use the train. Once arrived on top, the best thing to do is to follow the tourist stream and instead of admiring the never changing wares, which here are enriched by luxury goods, one can admire the picturesque architecture. With a bit of luck, one is suddenly outside, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourists, able to enjoy not only the quiet and an area without shops, but also the incomparable view over the Caldera.
Santorini used to be a typical volcanic island, which, as a rule, is conical with a round base. In 1600 BCE, a very violent explosion took place. The pressure was so great that ash particles were found at a distance of hundreds of kilometers. As can be perceived in the easily visible rock formations, the island itself was buried under a layer of ash that reached up to 60 meters in depth. Historians of religions assume that the tremendously high fire and ash pillar that burnt for days could be an explanation for the phenomena described in the Tora when the Hebrews left Egypt. The Tsunami that followed could have caused the division of the Red Sea. This is not impossible. After all, Jonah travelled from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Arabia in a whale.
The first documented traces of permanent settlement on Santorini go back to the fifth millennium BCE. The first inhabitants of the island were followed by Phoenicians, Dorians and Ptolemeans, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Francs and Ottomans.
After the Venetian area, Khair ad-Din Barbarossa conquered the Aegean Islands in 1537. The inhabitants had the choice of joining the Ottoman Empire and pay a yearly tribute that was individually determined, or to oppose the offer. In the first case, the islands would be spared additional reprisals. In the second case, they were fought against. As thanks for services rendered in the fighting against Venice, Don Joseph Nassi was appointed the Duke of Naxos, to which Santorini belonged, by Sultan Selim II. He was also named Ruler of Tiberias, with the task of resettling the Jews there. Don Joseph Nassi died in 1579 without setting foot in Tiberias. After his death, Santorini returned to the Ottoman Empire.
One of Santorini’s characteristics is viticulture. Due to the climate, with its dry summers, when there is only dew for irrigation, the wine growers invented a special technique for shaping the vines. They are given the shape of a basket which can catch and hold the dew.
There is no Jewish life on Santorini, neither in the past nor in modern times.
For a long time, Mykonos had been overshadowed by its smaller neighbor island Delos. The latter was considered holy, and neither giving birth nor dying was allowed on the island. Legend says that Mykonos was created when the giants were defeated by Hercules who threw them into the sea, where they became stones, thereby creating the island
Another legend tells about the birth of the island of Delos. Hera, Zeus‘ sister and wife, was jealous of his numerous lovers. One of her rivals, Leto, was pregnant with the twins Artemis and Apollo. As the guardian of marital sexuality and the protector of marriage and birth, Hera knew many tricks for hindering a birth. She forced earth to swear not to provide Leto with dry land for giving birth. Therefore, Poseidon created the swimming island of Delos, where Leto was able to give birth to her children. Afterwards, Poseidon attached the island to four diamond pillars.
There are documents proving that Delos has the most ancient synagogue building. From inscriptions, one can learn that around 200 BCE there were Jews and Samaritans living on Delos. The remains of the building tell a lot about its use, first as a residential building and later as synagogue. There remains a part of a beautiful throne-like chair, the niche where the Holy Scriptures were kept, as well as marble benches along the walls. The Delos synagogue is the oldest of the six remaining synagogues that date back to the period of the Second Temple (525 BCE until 70 CE).
From antiquity, we know only little about Mykonos. In the year 1207, Mykonos, like the other islands of the Cyclades, was conquered by Venice. In 1537, Khair ad-Din Barbarossa conquered Mykonos along with Santorini. Because of its strategically favorable position, the island was important for whoever engaged in international trade by sea. The inhabitants of Mykonos were mostly seamen. During the Greek revolution (starting 1821), they helped the Greeks with all the boats and crews of which they disposed in their successful fight against the Ottoman Empire .Between the two world wars, tourism started to establish itself. Mykonos was still in part not connected to electricity, and visitors continued their trip in the direction of Delos.
Jackie Kennedy came in 1960, thereby starting the fashion of Mykonos being a lifestyle vacation destination. During the summer months this charming island loses its identity. As soon as the sun sets, it is party time in the tavernas, the bars and the cafés. But Mykonos has much more to offer. Small twisting lanes with cobblestones that are easy to walk on, white houses with their typical colored stairs and balconies, and naturally – the five windmills. For 400 years, they were used to grind grains for flour. Nowadays they are the most photographed landmarks on the island and are privately owned. In „Little Venice“, with the colored houses on the seashore, the pirates once used to hide their booty. This picturesque quarter has kept its Venetian building style and radiates a particular charm.
Speaking in detail about this city here would be like carrying coal to Newcastle. When one speaks of Greece now, subject no. 1 is always and everywhere that of the rotten economy. In Athens, one finds both living side by side: incredible wealth and abysmal poverty. On the one hand, no country is presently really interested in investing in Greece, since no one has any idea what its future will be. On the other hand, China (COSCO), which bought the ailing port, and the German construction company Hochtief AG, which secured 40% of the economic rights in the airport for itself, enabled both highly indebted enterprises to operate in the black again.
What is the cause for this economic plight? Taxes that are too high and are not being paid by too many people, high unemployment, lack of perspective for the economy, low private consumption… Can there be a solution? None has been found until now.
The city reminds us of Rome in a way. With every step one meets with traces of antiquity, sometimes a pillar, then an arc. The big first Olympic Stadium of the new era reminds me of the Nazis‘ ostentatious buildings. And over all those of course is the Acropolis. Our time was too short to climb up to it. But even from this perspective, it was more than impressive. How could men possibly have built this wonderful construction over a period of only 15 years without slave labor?
There is a reference to a certain „Moschos, the son of Moschion the Jew“. It dates from 300 BCE and was found in Oropos, a small port settlement belonging to Athens‘ municipal area.
The first large number of Jews, as handed down by oral tradition, arrived in Greece immediately following the destruction of the Second Temple, i.e. around the year 70 CE. Those „Romaniotes” have since that time been living in the region of the eastern Mediterranean. They should not be confused with the Sephardic Jews who fled the Inquisition in Spain, and the Ashkenazi Jews who came much later. Liturgic texts of the Romaniotes, written around 1000 CE are included in the Ashkenazi Jews‘ prayer books in use to this day.
Before the Germans, Italians and Bulgars occupied the country in 1942, 78,000 Jews were living in the whole of Greece. More than 70,000 of them were deported to Auschwitz. As opposed to the Catholic Church, who clearly supported the Nazis and did nothing to help the Jews, the official Greek-Orthodox church and many Greek citizens tried to save Jews and provide them with secure hiding places. Despite this fact, 49,000 Jews were murdered in Thessaloniki alone.
Two monuments in memory to the victims of national socialism can be found in Athens. One of them in the Jewish cemetery, the second in the city center, near the new synagogue. The community is taken care of by Chabad who presents the Rabbi, a kosher supermarket and a kosher restaurant.
Some 6,000 Jews are presently living in Greece, 3,500 of them in Athens and 1,500 in Thessaloniki.
Rhodes is the capital of the twelve islands composing the „Dodecanese“ region in the south-eastern Aegean Sea. The island’s south-east tip is at a distance of only 17.5 km from Turkey. It is a very mountainous island. The prevailing limestone allows it to have enough water despite the rainless period between May and September, even providing water for two neighboring islands. Human settlements can be proven to have existed since the early stone age.
From early times, the island’s location made it interesting for other states, which used it for long distance trade or as a base for warring nations. The war between Thebe and Athens against Macedonia brought Rhodes its independence in 332 BCE. A few years later, the city was again besieged. The construction and sale of an epochal siege engine brought so much revenue to the city that it had the „Colossus of Rhodes“ molded which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was a dedication present to the sun god Helios to whom the victory over the besiegers was ascribed. It fell victim to an earthquake as early as 227 BCE.
Then came the Byzantine era, that is still visible in the city walls. The period of the Knights and the power of the order of Saint John, who ruled the island from 1309 to 1522, has left characteristic traces in the city with the mighty Grand Master’s palace.
Next comes the Ottoman period. The Turkish occupation continued until 1912 and was followed by a takeover by the Italians. It is remarkable that until 1938, there was to Antisemitism, and the Jewish community kept increasing in size, until, by the middle of the 1930s it consisted of four thousand members. In the 1930s, the synagogue was even extended with the addition of a women’s gallery.
The Jews of Rhodes arrived in waves: At the end of the 3rd century came those chased from Palestine for good by the Romans. At the end of the 15th century, they came from Spain, then from Apulia. They spoke „Ladino“, the language used by Sephardic Jews from Spain.
In September 1938, the first anti-Jewish laws were passed. Two thousand Jews left the country.
The Italian Lira, which was the currency used on Rhodes at the time, lost its worth very fast, so that the German occupiers soon had problems providing for the troops‘ needs. On July 13, 1944, all Jews still living on the island were imprisoned. Their possession and money secured continued provisions for the German troops.
On July 23, 1,673 Jews, together with 94 Jews from the neighboring island of Cos, were transported to Auschwitz through Piraeus. Most of them were killed there, 60 people were able to escape deportation, 163 survived the holocaust. In 1947, only 60 Jews were living on Rhodes and one Jew in Cos.
The Turkish General Consul Selahattin Ülkümen saved the life of 42 people, freeing them, after they had been incarcerated or even when they were on their way to Piraeus, by evoking (and perhaps even inventing) Turkish laws and treaties. They were 17 Jews of Turkish origin and their non-Turkish families.
On December 12, 1989, he was recognized by Yad Vashem as a „Righteous among the Nations“.
The „Kahal Shalom Synagogue“ is the oldest synagogue in Greece. The year it was constructed, 1577, is shown on a plaque in the inner court. Services, Chuppot and Bar Mitzvot are only held here when guests from abroad come especially to Rhodes to celebrate there.
The synagogue includes a small museum with items and pictures of past Jewish life on Rhodes, moving documents of a community that was almost completely destroyed by the holocaust.
The divided island of Cyprus has been settled since 8,000 BCE. Findings from the 3rd century BCE prove that there was trade with other islands and cities of the neighboring islands, as well as with the Near East and Egypt. The copper found there, which gave the island its name, is the basis for its considerable wealth. Up to the new era, Cyprus was conquered by various powers: Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians and Ptolemeans came and went. In 58 CE, Cyprus became part of the Roman Empire. Between 330 and 1191, it fell to the Byzantine Empire until it was conquered by Richard Lionheart and sold to French Knights. In 1489, the Venetians came into power and improved the existing forts against the ever-menacing attacks by Turks, who succeeded in conquering the country only in 1570. In 1878, they left Cyprus to Great Britain under a lease contract.
The island then became a British Crown Colony. The British increasingly assumed control of the country, viewing Cyprus only as an opportunity for maintaining a military presence in the Mediterranean. They were not interested in human destinies.
The end of World War II awakened the Cypriots‘ hope of achieving independence after all this time. The dissatisfaction of the Greek Cypriots increased, because they aimed at becoming part of Greece. However, the British did not agree: „It has always been self-understood that certain regions in the Commonwealth can never expect to become totally independent, due to special circumstances“. That was the official position.
In 1960, the island achieved independence by the „Convention of Zurich and London“. Everything was regulated in the Convention up to the smallest detail. The Turkish minority in the new State was granted rights that were so extensive that the Greek majority was taken aback. Tensions increased until, in the summer of 1974, Turkish groups attacked the island from the north and occupied its northern part.
The „Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus“, which was unilaterally decreed in 1983, includes about 37% of the country, 56% constitute the national area of the Republic of Cyprus, 4% became the UN buffer zone and 3% are British territories.
In the British Territories, British Law is applicable. The Cypriots living there enjoy freedom of movement. On one part of this region there are enormous fruit plantations representing one of the bases of the economy. Until the beginning of the 20th century, those plantations used to be mosquito-infested swamps. A Jewish-British regiment successfully drained it, thereby saving the lives of many inhabitants.
This is also the place where Aphrodite (Venus) is said to have been born from the sea. Her procreation is very dramatic, as is possible only in Greek mythology. Uranus is the son of Gaia and Eros. He had many children with his mother Gaia, and he hated them all. He banned them from his vicinity and hid them in the sea. His mother Gaia did not agree to this and had her son Kronos emasculate him. Kronos threw the bloody sexual organ into the sea, where blood, water and his semen were transformed into a foaming spray that gave birth to Aphrodite.
Early traces of Jewish life on Cyprus are practically inexistent. In the Jewish cemetery of Margo, it is said that there are the remains of gravestones from the time of the Romans, but access is forbidden. But there must have been a Jewish population in Cyprus at the time, otherwise their stay would not have been forbidden for all eternity after the „Diaspora Revolt“ (115 – 117 CE).
During the Ottoman Era, Jews from Safed are said to have settled in Famagusta.
Immigrants from Russia tried their luck as farmers in Margo. With the support of the Jewish Colonization Association, they started their project without any idea of what it means to live as farmers. Despite the perfect infrastructure, they gave up because of the bad living conditions. (The JCA took over the administration of the communes founded in Israel by Baron de Rothschild in 1900, including Zichron Ya’acov).
Between 1945 and 1949, Cyprus served as a place for the internment of around 52,000 Jews who were on their way to Palestine as „illegal immigrants“ and were intercepted by the British army. The British Government had been drastically limiting the number of immigrants to Palestine since 1939. The internment camps in Palestine were hopelessly overfilled. In order to improve the situation somewhat, they started to transport as many refugees as possible outside the country. When the British concentration camps on Cyprus became insufficient, the refugee boats were intercepted and redirected to their ports of origin.
Presently some 2,000 Jews are again living in Cyprus. Two communities – one in the Turkish territory and one in the Greek territory are under the care of Chabad.
The arrival in Haifa after an interesting, instructive and relaxing trip, is always very emotional. In the early morning, before sunrise, as the ship sails along the coast, we identify small towns and villages, and then we slowly approach the illuminated Bahai Gardens… this is what I love particularly.
The several days long boat trip from Venice to Haifa certainly won’t be boring.
On board one can find everything one needs for spending the time in a pleasant and meaningful manner. Beside sports activities, there are the pastimes that are typical for boat trips, such as shuffle board or paddle tennis, sometimes even a small putting green and golf course.
From six a.m. until the middle of the night ample food is provided, often as an „all inclusive“ package deal without added costs for guest hooked on calories.
Shops and casinos are open only during the time the boat is sailing in international waters. But as soon as their doors open, the temples for the shopping and gambling addicts fill up.
One can also attend the mostly thrilling and informative lectures concerning coming destinations. On our boat it was Hugh Neighbour who provided information and insights.
Those who become bored on cruises or want to visit more places can participate in the numerous and often free of charge excursions. You take your ticket, look for your group, and from then on you are completely and utterly at the tour guide’s mercy. If you are lucky, as I was the case with Georgia in Athens, you can learn a lot and still enjoy yourself. If you are unlucky, as I was with Sylvia in Cyprus, then you can expect a bleak tour.
The most exciting way to visit and experience things may be to go independently. Of course you have to keep in mind the time when your floating hotel will be sailing away once more.
We travelled with the Seven Seas Voyager. With 560 passengers, it almost counts as a midget among cruise boats.
To write about Venice here would be beyond the scope of this blog. Even on our tenth visit there were new places for us to discover. What stood out, especially in the morning, were the tourists invading the Piazza San Marco, producing long waiting lines there, the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile. Year after year, the 56,000 inhabitants living in the historical center of Venice are overrun by about 30 million visitors. Almost two million of those are passengers from over 500 cruise ships, coming mostly only for one day. Benefit and harm, in this case revenue and expenditure, are about even.
In his article „Quantifying Cruising“, Professor Giuseppe Tattara from the University of Economics Ca‘ Foscari gives an enlightening overview.
Currently, the cruise ships arrive and depart via the San Marco Pool and the Guidecca Canal. During their passage each of the ships displaces up to 35,000 cubic meter water – the bigger they are, the more water they move. The displaced water undermines the quay walls and as a result also the walks along the route. The municipality is incessantly busy repairing the damage to avert danger to buildings and people. The reason why the giant ships are allowed to take this route despite its disadvantages is that officially the canal is considered to be open sea, thereby not being subject to municipal supervision. A restriction of the number of passengers to under 1000 per ship would certainly bring ecological relief to the city.
The Jewish Community in Venice goes back to the 5th century. Jews were tolerated as traders, but not as inhabitants of the city. They had to live either on the mainland, or for those coming from Germany, at the „Fondaco dei Tedeschi“, close to the Rialto Bridge. Starting in 1366, Jewish money lenders received residence permits but no definite right of abode. Around 1382 the „Jew Decrees“ regulated their residence rights as well as their contributions and tax obligations. The validity of those individual contracts was limited in time. This resulted in strange rules whereby Jews could be driven out of the city to the mainland, or were only allowed to move away from the city by special permission. This was to make sure that they were retained as the money lenders and pillars of maritime trade without whom the Naval Power could not exist.
Between 1516 and 1797 Jews were only allowed to live in the Ghetto Nuovo, separated from the other population by two gates that were locked at night, on weekends and holidays. Despite such harassment, Jews mostly lived in security in Venice. They were spared the Inquisition, and attacks by Christians were considered criminal acts and were prosecuted. Although from 1397 they had to wear special garments, in times of danger they were allowed to take off those garments and even to use armed guards (whose purpose was to protect the money rather than the people).
In 1544, the family of Josef Nasi, Donna Gracia’s nephew and son in law, received a charter allowing it to live in Venice outside the ghetto and to reopen their banks from 1545.
Later, the Ghetto Vecci and, as of 1633, the Ghetto Novissimo were added to the Jewish residential area. This was where the rich Jews from Spain lived in big, comfortable palaces, while the two other ghettos were crowded. There was little building space, and some of the houses were up to seven floors high with low ceilings.
The Jews as a whole were called „Università“. The Università was responsible for choosing the community’s representatives who negotiated with the city officials. The main subjects discussed were those of hygiene, halachic slaughtering, social issues and, of course, taxes. Those were levied in proportion to the city’s debts. Internal jurisdiction lay with the rabbis.
The Plague (1630-32) caused many Jews to leave the city, while at the same time new refugees arrived from northern and eastern Europe. In 1641 the Maritime Power Venice lost part of its leading position in the Mediterranean in favor of the Turks, which caused many trade routes and trade partners to be lost to the Jewish traders who were hardly able to fulfill their payment obligations.
As a result of increasing tension between Venice and the Jewish population, the first anti-Semitic reprisals began.
In 1797, Napoleon conquered Venice, ordered the ghetto gates to be burned and cancelled the residential obligation. But Jews obtained full citizens‘ rights only in 1848. Following the Italian revolution of 1848/49, the freedom fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi wanted to help the inhabitants of Venice, but was not able to reach it.
After many people left their living quarters in the ghetto once it was opened, the Jewish Quarter slowly but steadily declined.
The 286 Jews who were still living there in World War II were deported by the Nazis and murdered for the most part. Only a few survived the Holocaust or were able to flee before their deportation. Presently, about thirty people are living in the ghetto, and the Jewish community as a whole totals about 500 members.
Of the seven synagogues that once existed, two are still used for religious purposes, Scola Levantina and Scola Ponentina. Three others, Scola Grande Tedesca, Scola Canton and Scola Italiana, have become museums.
DALMATIA – ZADAR
The oldest evidence of Zadar’s colonization goes back to the 6th Century BCE to the time of the Illyrians. From the 2nd Century BCE Romans took over control of the coastal town and shaped the aspect it has kept up to this day. For example, the old city’s street network corresponds to the classical Roman north-south and east-west layout, with a market place at the street junctions.
After a Byzantine and a Franconian interlude, around the year 1000 the citizens came under the protection of Venice. Afterwards came the Croatians and Hungarians. In 1118, the Venetians attacked the city but could not conquer it. In 1202 an additional attack followed by a siege was more successful, and Zadar was once again under Venetian rule. In 1409, Zadar was sold to Venice. The Venetian area can still be recognized in the building style of the old city.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Ottomans attacked this important trading post on the Adriatic. The city was however so well defended that the Ottomans had to leave without achieving their objective.
In 1797 Zadar briefly became part of Austria after Venice’s decline following its conquest by Napoleon, but in 1805, it was ceded to France. In 1813 it returned to Austria, where it remained until 1918 as Crownland. After World War I it fell to Italy.
Shelling by the Allies in World War II substantially damaged the old city core, and a big part of the Italian speaking population left the city.
After the end of World War II, Zadar became part of the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia and has been part of the independent Republic of Croatia since 1991.
There has been a university in the city since the 14th century. It was located in one of the city’s most beautiful buildings that, at the time, was a monastery, along the promenade. Meanwhile the university has been extended.
On September 11, 2017, Zadar was hit by a storm the like of which had never before been recorded. The whole of the old city was flooded and many streets were gravely damaged.
It is futile to look for Jewish life in Zadar. Although they had been living in Dalmatia since the 7th century, there are hardly any documents or indications regarding the Jewish communities before the 13th century. The first documents from that period are prohibitions against Jews settling in the region, so as to prevent any possibility of their competing with non-Jewish traders.
From the late 13th century to the 14th, Croatians and Jews benefited from each other, and the economy flourished. In the middle of the 15th century, the government decided that there were too many Jews in Croatia, and they were gradually expelled until 1526. From then on, their traces are lost for the next 200 years.
Around 1700 the first Jews began trickling back, and in 1782 Emperor Josef II published the Patent of Tolerance. This law guaranteed them full civil and settling rights, though they actually obtained those only in 1873.
At the turn of the century, 20,000 Jews were living in 21 communes in the region. There soon developed internal conflicts between Zionists who wanted to maintain their Jewish identity and were in contact with Israel, and the assimilated Jews who identified with the non-Jewish population. Until the war broke out in 1939, the Zionists predominated, but suffered increasingly from persecutions by right-wing nationalist Catholics.
At the start of the Nazi occupation 25,000 Jews were living in Croatia. They were rich, their children went to the universities. This wealth drove the non-Jewish population to increasing hatred against them. Nevertheless, they continued building synagogues and increasing their economic influence. When the German attacks against intellectual Jews began in 1941, they fled. Croatia tried to collaborate with the Nazis concerning the „Jewish Question“. The Jews who had remained in their homeland were deported and murdered in Auschwitz. Only 5,000 of them survived the holocaust.
When historical Yugoslavia started to disintegrate in the early 1990s, the Jews again became a political football. Both sides, Croatians and Serbs, mutually accused each other of antisemitism so as to bring the Jews to their side.
Presently around 1,700 completely assimilated Jews are living in Croatia.
Bari is located on the heel of the Italian boot, and has been continuously populated since the Bronze Age. Due to its strategically favorable location, the city soon drew the attention of Greeks, Byzantines, Romans, Germans and Normans. The Saracens founded an Islamic emirate there which, after 400 years, was conquered by the Byzantines.
Wilhelm the Wicked, a Norman, had the city burnt down following a rebellion, persecuting the whole population.
Under the rule of Frederick II, a king of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the city experienced a flourishing period of economic boom. After his crusade, Frederick II found that the city gates were closed to him and he had to use force to enter. He had an imposing fort built which, on the one hand, protects the city against maritime attacks, but it is also a stronghold from which one could fight against it.
Nowadays the old city of Bari with its crooked lanes is a popular tourist destination. The local population has no problem finding a way through them on motorcycles and scooters. What characterizes women in Bari is that they open their ground floor kitchen windows and doors in order to sell homemade pasta and fresh pastry.
There is nothing left to discover of Jewish life in Bari.
There is a Via Della Sinagoga, commemorating the location where the ancient synagogue of Bari may have stood. But there are no longer any other testimonies to Jewish life in Bari.
Around the year 1380 there were four Middle Ages synagogues in Trani, which were all confiscated by the Church and were re-consecrated as Catholic churches. The 310 Jews still living in Trani were forced to convert.
In 2006, the Sinagoga Scuolanova in Trani (which was part of the Bari province until 2007) was re-consecrated and can again be used by the small Apulian community. Ironically, a picture of the Virgin Mary, located in a prominent place in the synagogue inside the landmarked building, may be neither overpainted nor removed. The solution found is to cover it with a big wall carpet with the picture of a Menorah. The former women’s section and the Mikveh bath have also been preserved.
In the middle of the Twentieth Century, the situation of Jews in Arab countries markedly deteriorated. Upon publication of the UN partition plan in 1947, dramatic pogroms started – first in Yemen. Following those pogroms, the Jewish community in Yemen, Aden, Eritrea and Djibouti practically lost its livelihood. Under the name „Operation Flying Carpet“, around 50,000 displaced persons were brought to Israel between 1949 and 1950. In order to make those transports possible, secret negotiations took place, and Britain and America supplied transport planes.
On May 16, 1948, Mallory Brown published a stirring article in the NY Times: „Jews in grave danger in all Muslim lands“. The fears could not have been more evident. Not only could prevailing tensions turn into a wave of violence against Jews at any time, it speaks also of the payment of security bonds, of leaving all property behind. A total of almost 900,000 Jews were sitting in a trap on the day the State of Israel was founded. And they went on their way, alone and without prospects. Nothing had helped; the apparent integration into Muslim society had only been a short-lived interlude. They left on foot, or if they were lucky, by boat or airplane.
In any case, it was the way to an uncertain future.
And the Exodus is not yet over. Between 2003 and 2016, in a secret operation, some 220 Jews were brought from Yemen to Israel. With the exception of 40 people residing in a special protected area belonging to the US Embassy in the capital city Saana, there are no longer any Jews there. With the last flight in March 2015, the community rabbi came as well, carrying a Tora Scroll over 500 years old.
In Iran however, the country that time and again threatens that it will destroy Israel, between 10,000 and 25,000 Jews are still living. The number depends on who prepared the statistic. They live under the Regime’s protection, enjoy religious freedom and are a recognized minority. Nevertheless, they are second-class citizens. Climbing to upper echelons in public service is closed to them. During elections they can vote for Jews or Muslims whereas Muslims may not vote for Jewish candidates. Iran on the one hand needs them as proof for its pretended liberal policy, and on the other hand also as a bargaining chip. Should Israel at any time attack the theocracy, these Jewish citizens would certainly be the first victims. The modern form of Dhimmitude.
Today, when the forgotten refugees of the Middle East are mentioned, it is the Palestinian refugees that are spoken of, those who had left their homes, for the main part on instructions from their own clan chiefs. They left, hoping that after a short time they would come back as victors. Their hope proved to be false. They became the victims of misguided propaganda.
The UN has adopted over 600 resolutions on the subject of „Israel-Palestine“, 101 of which deal with „Palestinian refugees“. However, there is not even one resolution dealing with Jewish refugees from Arab countries, although their number is almost twice that of the Palestinians. The estimated value of the assets left behind when they fled is meaningful as well.
During the early 1950s, Sir John Measham Berncastle, who for a long time had been assessing the value of real property in Palestine, was asked by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) to prepare an estimate of the assets left by Arab refugees when they fled. He concluded that the total value of land, houses, jewelry, cash and last, but not least, the bank accounts frozen in Israeli banks, would be about 4,4 billion US$ (value 2012). Those amounts were the result of the waves of flights around the time of the State’s foundation and the period after the Six Days War. That sounds dramatic.
However, let us not forget that through the UN’s pampering force, UNWRA, which was especially and uniquely created for a certain group of refugees, never-ending amounts of money are being collected. A small compensation. The more is the pity that the simple Palestinian does not get to enjoy any of it.
The Jewish refugees either had to sell their possessions for ridiculously low prices, or they fled with only the clothes on their backs. Their losses are estimated to amount to 6,7 billion US$. Lost for all eternity since there is no one, no NGO, no UN coddling entity, to defend those people’s interests. They fled leaving everything behind and reached Israel with nothing.
The young, only recently established State of Israel, was soon burdened to its limits by the enormous waves of refugees. Within a short time, its population was doubled; sometimes it seemed that it would be impossible to supply sufficient food for everyone. But the miracle succeeded, the refugees – who often had to spend years in transit camps – were eventually integrated into Israeli society.
At this stage, I dare to use an accounting example. The original number of around 700,000 Palestinian refugees increased to become 5 million by the year 2017, i.e. seven-fold. That is not the case with Jewish refugees. Their „refugee status“ was cancelled immediately upon their registration as immigrants in Israel.
On the occasion of the New Year 5778, statistics mention 6,5 million Jewish Israelis. About 50% of them are descendants of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, i.e. 3,25 million, 3 times as many, which is rather realistic over a period of 70 years.
So why now the forgotten refugees?
The film „The Forgotten Refugees“, regrettably available only in English, sheds light on the subject of the million forgotten refugees by means of reports by sons and daughters of those who fled, but also by means of historic documents. When asked why they call themselves „forgotten refugees“, one woman answers: „We have been completely cut out of the history of the Near East“, confidently adding: „We are the image of Israel“. Another says: „Nobody took any notice of us, we were not even seen. We felt the big injustice to which we were exposed. But what could we have done? So we swallowed our sufferings and went on with our lives. Today I believe that this also helped our faster integration into Israeli society. The Egyptian government took away everything we owned. We shall never go back. But we shall never give up fighting for justice“. There must be a fight against forgetfulness: „We want to speak, we want to tell our stories. We do not want our history, our rich heritage, older than three thousand years, to be forgotten“.
The Knesset adopted a small though significant step in this direction in the summer of 2015. November 30 is to be National Remembrance Day for Jews who fled Arab countries. The date marks the day on which the UN Division plan was made public in 1947. The day representing the birth date of the Jewish State of Israel.
On November 30th 1947, „spontaneous“ attacks and aggressions against Jewish communities took place in many Arab countries, causing the start of the big Exodus.
It is infinitely hard for any person to become a refugee or to have to live with the stigma of refugee status. Therefore, it is amoral to compare one misery with that of another group of refugees. As I said before, there is only one group, the Palestinian refugees, who are well cared for and „marketed“ not only by the UN. The media focus is repeatedly turned to them, the exaggerated numbers are published time and again so as to justify the enormous media, political and economic efforts invested around them.
One of the basic tenets of Roman law, „audiatur et altera pars“ (let the other side be heard), is not being applied by the UN where Jewish refugees are concerned. Their existence is simply being ignored there.
It is my intention to focus on the group of refugees that is so seldom mentioned – the Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
Forgotten refugees? Where are they supposed to be? The UN Office of the High Commissary for Refugees (UNHCR), founded in 1951 by the UN General Assembly, does not forget anyone! Nevertheless, between 750,000 and 900,000 (some statistics even state one million) Jewish refugees who had to leave their Arab homelands between 1948 and the 1970s, are hardly ever mentioned. A certain number of Jewish refugees from Yemen and Egypt from before 1948 should also be added to them.
Let us take a deep look back into history.
In the year 70 CE Jerusalem is burning. Titus, Vespasian’s son, destroys the second temple, and the Jews‘ spiritual, religious and emotional center no longer exists.
The drama had been heralded shortly before the new era. The Romans had annexed Judea, Jerusalem was in danger of sinking into insignificance, and Caesarea was getting more important and was becoming the seat of the Roman occupiers. The relationship between Romans and Jews was characterized by greed, corruption and legal vacuum. Any rebels were immediately killed without any legal proceedings.
When procurator Gessius Florus misappropriated the temple funds in order fill the empty State treasury, the anger of Jerusalem’s citizens erupted. The reaction of Florus was a massacre of the population. Josephus Flavius writes about him:
„In his cruelty he knew no pity, in his nefariousness no shame, and never has anyone more than him turned truth into lie or invented cleverer means to achieve his criminal intentions“. (The first Jewish-Roman War 2, 14.2).
Josephus Flavius identifies the start of the first Jewish-Roman war, which only ended in 73CE with the fall of the Masada Fortress. 960 resistant fighters led by the Zealot Eleazar Ben Ya’ir chose suicide so as to escape capture and enslavement by the Romans. It is not for nothing that Masada even today is the symbol of our desire to be free.
More than 1 million people lost their lives in that war. Those who could, fled, as opposed to the destruction of the First Temple, when the majority of Jews were deported to Babylon, where they settled, more or less.
A short time later, the Bar Kochba Revolt followed (132-135 CE). The grounds for the revolt have not been ascertained. Was it the prohibition of circumcision, was it the foundation of the Roman city Aelia Capitolina on the territory of Jerusalem, or was it simply the Jews‘ discontent with the political circumstances? Historians are uncertain. The consequences were horrible. 580,000 Jews lost their lives, 50 cities and 985 villages were destroyed. Those numbers may be high, but they are what the historians of the times knew.
Whatever remained of Jerusalem was then destroyed; the Jewish community dispersed around the world, the Diaspora was born.
From then on Jews settled on the shores of the Mediterranean, they followed the Rhone valley to the north; they even made their way back to the country from which Abraham had once come – Mesopotamia.
However, the Jews did not achieve tranquility. Between 115 and 117 CE the „Diaspora Rebellion“ of Jews in Mesopotamia, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt and Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya) broke out. The background for this Rebellion (which is not called war / bellum, but „tumultus iudaicus“) is unknown, but it was certainly started by fanatic Jews, the atrocities were almost unsurpassable, and it claimed so many victims that Eastern Libya was practically depopulated and had to be repopulated by the Romans with their own veterans. For a long time, good neighborly coexistence remained unimaginable. An „eternal“, complete prohibition for Jews to enter and stay was ordered for Cyprus.
Nevertheless, the Jewish Community steadily increased.
At the time of the Inquisition, in the 15th Century, a great number of Jews again emigrated from Spain. Some of them reached Germany through France and continued further into Eastern Europe. Many Jews returned to the Near East, others tried their luck in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt.
However, they were „Dhimmis“, which meant that not only did they have to pay a „protection tax“; they were also submitted to some of the Sharia regulations. The prevailing head covering for men in Islam was the turban. „Dhimmis“ were prohibited from wearing it, as they lacked honor in the eyes of the Muslims, and the turban was a symbol of honor for Arabs. Jews and Christians who had a good relationship with the Muslim rulers were sometimes able to acquire this honor by paying additional taxes. This was also true for non-Muslims who fulfilled some kind of important function.
Maimonides (born 1135 in Cordoba, died 1204 in Cairo) is considered one of the most important Jewish scientists, and not only of his time. When given the choice to convert to Islam or flee, he chose the second option and moved to Morocco with his family. From there they first moved to Jerusalem, and later on went to Alexandria and Cairo. Maimonides wrote in Judeo-Arabic, which was the prevailing everyday language for Jews in Arab countries. He may have been one of the Jews who paid to acquire the honor of wearing a turban.
From the middle of the 7th century CE, Islam began to spread rapidly around the shores of the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Spain, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and the Arab Peninsula. Jews and Christians living there were allowed to keep their religion, and as „People of the Book“ they stood under the new rulers‘ „protection“.
The true danger however, which began since early Islam and continues to this day – even stronger – is the Muslims‘ clear intention. It is no accident that in Sura 17 one finds definite instructions on how to deal with unbelievers and their property if they do not acknowledge Islam. However, the following indication can be found as well: „If someone accepts guidance, he does so to his own advantage, and if someone errs, to his own detriment. Moreover, no one will bear another’s burden. And I would never impose a penalty (on a people) without first sending (him) a delegate“.
How soothing. But what is the delegate’s mission? Conciliation? Pressure? How does one identify delegates? Without turning to extensive research and Quranic exegesis, we may assume that two items are certain:
Dhimmis have no honor, independently of their personal status; they are completely dependent on the Muslim administration of their homeland.
Any region conquered and/or occupied by Muslims at any time, that region remains for all eternity an Islamic region for them and they naturally claim it as their own.
That is what leads Muslims to this day to the conclusion that they have exclusive rights, that Dhimmis may never have their own State. And, logically, that Israel may never exist as a Jewish State.
The youth choir was chosen to represent Haifa and Israel and made us proud. The festival took place on Gangneun city located on the country’s north-east shore. This tourist haven of 250.000 people is located 160 km east of Seoul, and hosts the festival since 16 years with great success and care for the participant’s experience.
The youth had the chance to meet their peers at the age from 14 to 18 from eight other countries from around the world. Together they performed in daily shows on three different stages. Additionally they paraded, participated in traditional ceremonies, for example in a traditional tea ceremony and visited art exhibitions. Further on they had guided tours around the city and its surroundings, and got the „taste“ of the local culture.
During the four day festival they met and sung with the delegations from Russia, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Japan, The Czech Republic, China, Thailand, and of course South Korea. They marched proudly with the Israeli flag during a spectacular opening ceremony and parade that was enlaced with songs, dances and great joy.
The main stage was located on the central beach and hosted very unique and multi-cultural shows every evening. Shiluvim had a central role at the opening evening with a variety of songs from their repertoire, singing in Hebrew, Amharic, Swahili and English. They moved the audience and finally made everybody stand up and dance, sweeping them away with love and genuine joy. The first show was so good, that the word came out for the first time within the 16 years for a “da capo” and all following shows were packed with new friends and admirers from all delegations and from tourists that came to the festival.
After its big impact, in the following days our choir was asked to perform as the final act that closes the festival in the presence of the city mayor, the city’s leading staff and other VIPs.
During their stay the girls met and learned about other cultures from their new friends, from different countries, and for one week there was no national and political boundaries and walls, only genuine care and friendship that we hope will last for a long time.
Dana Harit, the group manager said: „The youth had a unique experience that opened their mind and soul during four days of peace and pure human brotherhood (or sisterhoodJ). They had the chance to feel how mankind can live together as one and understand how their future can look like if they will take what they gain during these ten days for their future and understand the responsibility they have to make it meaningful and stronger. We represented Israel and the city of Haifa proudly and with great dignity, that will change the perception about Israel to all those who met us, and we got invited already to next year’s festival.“
Shimon Ifrach, the CEO of the Neve Yosef community center said: „It is a great honor and pride for us as the sponsors and educators of this group, and we thank our board of directors, and all our partners and friends who helped us fund this project and delegation. I followed the group from Israel, and we all saw the main shows live on YouTube with great excitement, they moved me as they moved the audience with their powerful performances. I had no doubt the group will make us proud and that they’ll have a big success there that will influence their future success.“
The Shiluvim Koliym project is in its 15th year at Neve Yosef community center.