5,000 Immigrants Have Arrived in Israel Since War’s Start
OVER 5,000 IMMIGRANTS HAVE ARRIVED IN ISRAEL FROM EASTERN EUROPE SINCE WAR’S START: More than 5,000 new immigrants from Ukraine “and its environs” have arrived in Israel since the start of the Russian invasion, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry announced.
According to the ministry, some 60-65 percent of the 5,070 immigrants — around 3,000 people — that arrived in Israel as of last week were from Ukraine. The rest were said to be from Russia and Belarus. President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal, went to the Caesar Hotel in Jerusalem on Thursday, March 17, to greet the new immigrants temporarily residing there. Accompanied by Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, the president listened to their experiences fleeing the war-torn country. There has been rising criticism of the refugee policy, from both within and outside the government, particularly regarding caps on the numbers of refugees not eligible for citizenship being allowed into Israel, as well as their treatment. The UN estimates that more than three million Ukrainians have fled across the border since the war began on February 24. (TOI / VFI News)
‘WHY WON’T ISRAEL GIVE UKRAINE WEAPONS?’ ZELENSKY CRITICIZES KNESSET: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used his address to MKs and cabinet ministers by videoconference last week to talk about Israel not doing enough to help his country since Russia invaded.
Pleading for Israel to impose sanctions on Russian businesses, he asked, “Why has Israel refrained from sanctions on Russia? Israel needs to give answers to these questions, and after that, live with them.” Zelensky begged Israel to send its Iron Dome missile-defense system to protect Ukrainian civilians from Russian airstrikes. He praised the Iron Dome as the best missile-defense system in the world and complained that Israel was not even supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons. “We are turning to you and asking whether it is better to provide help or mediation without choosing a side,” he told the MKs and ministers. “I will let you decide the answer to the question, but I do want to point out that indifference kills.” Criticizing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has mediated between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zelensky said mediation can be between two sides but not between good and evil. Lapid thanked Zelensky for “sharing his feelings and the hardships of the Ukrainian people.” Israel would continue to help Ukraine and “never turn its back on people suffering from the nightmares of war,” he said. Zelensky said the Russians were using terms like “the final solution” against Ukraine. The February 24 date of the Russian invasion was the same date the Nazi Party was founded in 1920, he said, adding that Ukrainians saved Jews in the Holocaust. Appealing to Israelis, Zelensky cited Russian attacks near the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial and the burial place of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman. He pointed out that Israel has not sanctioned Russian businesses. (JPost / VFI News)
CENTCOM CHIEF: THE NUMBER ONE OBJECTIVE IS THAT IRAN DOES NOT POSSESS A NUCLEAR WEAPON: CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie on Friday, March 18, told reporters that “the number one objective of the United States with regard to Iran is that Iran not possess a nuclear weapon.”
“I continue to see Iran as the greatest threat to regional security and stability. They furnish weapons, support, and direction to proxies across the region who engage in acts of terror and undermine local governments, all advancing Iranian interests,” said McKenzie. He warned against Iran’s ballistic missile threat which he said “has continued to advance and expand with greater ranges and accuracy. CENTCOM has continued to watch Iran and its proxies as we act as a deterrent to Iranian attacks on US interests.” On a potential nuclear deal with Iran, McKenzie said, “So the number one objective of the United States with regard to Iran is that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon. So I think any solution that closes that path to them contributes to regional security because we’d all like to work with an Iran that is not a nuclear-armed Iran. The best way to get there is probably through a negotiated agreement.” He added that an agreement with Iran does not solve Iranian proxies. It doesn’t solve the compelling problem of Iranian ballistic missiles, land-attack cruise missiles, and small unmanned aerial vehicles, and we need to recognize that. That’s a separate problem.” The comments came just days after dozens of Iranian ballistic missiles hit the northern Iraqi city of Erbil near the US consulate complex, destroying some residential structures. (INN / VFI News)
NAZANIN ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFE RETURNS HOME AFTER YEARS IN IRANIAN JAIL: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe can’t wait to take her little girl to school for the first time like any other mother. She has been detained in an Iranian jail for many years but returned to the UK last week. The mother-of-one will remain in a British Government safe house with her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella until they can return to their flat
Nazanin’s friends and neighbors in North London said Richard and Gabriella are ‘obviously absolutely overjoyed that mummy is home. There is so much going on and they need time to adjust but Richard said that they just wanted to settle back into normal life – taking walks in the park, going out for a coffee.’ Nazanin’s first hours of freedom in the UK involved enjoying a cup of tea with her family and then sharing a bed with her husband and daughter after returning to Britain following almost six years of detention in Iran. (DM / VFI News)
BRITISH-IRANIAN ACCUSED OF SPYING FOR ISRAEL IS RELEASED AFTER 5 YEARS: Anoosheh Ashoori, a British-Iranian who was held by Iran, accused of spying for Israel, was set free and flew out of the country last week after five years in prison.
Ashoori, 67, boarded a flight to Muscat along with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a UK charity worker who was detained in Iran for nearly six years on charges of subversion. Their release came as the UK government settled a decades-old debt to Iran. A retired civil engineer, Ashoori, was held at the Evin prison. His daughter, Elika Ashoori posted a video message to Twitter in which she said she was “delighted” to announce that her father would be returning home. “1,672 days ago our family’s foundations were rocked when our father and husband was unjustly detained and taken away from us,” she said. “Now, we can look forward to rebuilding those same foundations with our cornerstone back in place.” Ashoori, who had lived for 20 years in the UK, was arrested in 2017 as he visited his elderly mother in Tehran. He had been sentenced to 12 years in prison for alleged ties to Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, something long denied by his supporters and family. Amnesty International has said that while in detention Ashoori was “subjected to torture, repeatedly interrogated without a lawyer present and forced to sign ‘confessions’ while sleep-deprived.” The British government said a third detainee, Morad Tahbaz, who holds US, British, and Iranian citizenship was released from prison on furlough as part of the same deal. (TOI / VFI News)
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR WHO WENT THROUGH FOUR CONCENTRATION CAMPS KILLED IN UKRAINE BY RUSSIAN STRIKES: A 96-year-old man who survived the Nazi death camps of Buchenwald, Peenemuende, Dora, and Bergen-Belsen was killed Friday, March 18, when his home in Kharkiv, Ukraine, came under Russian attack.
Boris Romanchenko’s death was announced Monday by Germany’s Buchenwald concentration camp memorial institute. Citing Romanchenko’s relatives, the memorial said he was killed when his home in Kharkiv was struck by apparent artillery fire. “Boris Romantschenko campaigned intensively for the memory of the Nazi crimes,” the institute said on Twitter, adding that he had been vice president of the Buchenwald-Dora International Committee, a survivors’ organization. The mayor of Lviv, Ukraine, mourned Romanchenko in a Telegram post. “He was killed by a Russian missile in his apartment during a ‘denazification operation,’” Mayor Andriy Sadovy wrote. “The new fascists continue the work of Hitler.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly called his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine a “denazification,” falsely claiming that Ukraine is committing “genocide” against its Russian-speaking population. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish, and speaks fluent Russian, as do many Ukrainians. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, sits a mere 25 miles from the Russian border. It has been under bombardment for a month, since the start of Russia’s invasion. (INN / VFI News)
‘INEXPLICABLE ANTISEMITISM’ STILL A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM: At the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal joined Macron and his wife Brigitte in marking the 10th anniversary of the murder of four Jews on Sunday, March 20 — three of them children, in a terrorist attack on the Ohr Torah school in Toulouse.
Soon after arriving in Toulouse, and following a wreath-laying ceremony, the Herzogs and the Macrons, together with former presidents of France Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, visited the Ohr Torah School, and met with the families of the victims, after having previously met with teachers and students who had been at the school at the time of the attack. At the school itself, they spent time with school principal Yaacov Monsonego and his wife Yaffa who had lost their daughter Myriam in the attack, and they also learned of how the incident had strengthened the Jewish community of Toulouse in their resolve to remain united. At the memorial ceremony for the victims that was also attended by leaders of the Jewish community, Herzog emphasized that there is no justification for the murder of innocent children or any act of terror anywhere. He described terrorism as a means of distilled hatred which is found among the extremist elements of Islam, who use this bitter hatred as a reason for attacking Jews, as well as other Muslims and Christians. Even today, he said, there are incidents of inexplicable antisemitism throughout the world, based on irrational hatred. This is most evident in social media, Herzog noted and urged that it be fought at state, legal, and educational levels. Antisemitism includes acts and deeds against the Jewish state and attempts to annihilate it, he said. In reference to the ongoing Iranian threat, Herzog stressed that Iran is the central source of international terror. The family of nations must stand together against Iran, he insisted. (JPost / VFI News)
SINGAPORE TO OPEN EMBASSY IN ISRAEL AFTER 57 YEARS OF TIES: Singapore will upgrade its presence in Israel from consulate to embassy, in the latest move reflecting thawing relations between Israel and Muslim countries.
Israel and Singapore forged diplomatic ties in 1965 and have enjoyed friendly relations for decades. Israel sells Singapore defense equipment and has had an embassy in the country since 1968. However, Singapore, mindful of its huge Muslim-majority neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, has sought to keep the ties out of the public eye. The Times of Israel reported that Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, visited the country last year but kept it quiet out of deference to Singapore. Now, Singapore is openly boasting about its Israel relations. Vivian Balakrishnan, the Southeast Asian city-state’s foreign minister, made the embassy announcement Monday, March 21, in Jerusalem where he was meeting with Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid. The embassy will be in Tel Aviv. Since the launch of the Abraham Accords, not only has Israel normalized ties with the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco, and Bahrain, it has improved existing diplomatic relations with Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. (JPost / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff