May 28, 2024
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Jerusalem Conference 2022 Expands to New York City

On May 22, the Jerusalem Conference convened at the Intercontinental Hotel Times Square, coinciding with the Celebrate Israel Parade. The conference’s goal was to bring the Jewish community and Israel’s supporters together, stimulating discussion about Israel-American Jewry relationships and Jewish identity and raise awareness about rising antisemitism.

Israeli Minister of Immigration & Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata opened, “When Israel is challenged by terror attacks, Israelis need to know support for the Jewish State is not just at home, but also across the sea.; there are many around the world looking towards Israel, praying for the safety of Jerusalem. As minister of aliyah and integration, representing olim, who play a central role in building our state, my answer to all who seek to threaten or attack Israel, is planes landing in Ben-Gurion Airport, continuing the two-thousand-year-old dream of returning to Zion. Israel will always be the safe and secure homeland of all Jews from all over the world.”

Israel’s Olim HaBayta operation began with the Russia-Ukraine conflict, to rescue our brothers and sisters and bring them home to safety in Israel.” Tamano-Shata expressed, “Thank God, we’ve absorbed more than twenty thousand new olim since beginning the operation. This huge achievement will continue day and night, overseas and in Israel, to ensure everyone who wants to make aliyah can. The circumstances surrounding aliyah from Ukraine especially touch my heart. When I made aliyah as a small child of 3, in 1984, as part of Operation Moses, my family and I were refugees in Sudan. What gave us strength during that difficult time was the dream of reaching Jerusalem.”

Former White House Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt discussed the Iran Deal. ”I am still fearful. The Iran deal is a threat, not just to Israel and its surrounding countries. It’s a threat to America. We should understand what’s happening in Ukraine. Russia is threatening the U.S., its allies and Ukraine with nuclear weapons. Imagine if Iran had nuclear weapons.” Regarding Biden’s upcoming trip to the Middle East, he said: “I am not in favor of him visiting the Palestinian hospital unless he is going to visit it under the auspices of the Israeli government. The notion that he would go into parts of Jerusalem, without the Israeli government, and pretend it’s Palestinian, is a huge mistake.” Greenblatt stated, “He’s messed up the relationship with Saudi Arabia in a huge way. He’s disrespectful to the kingdom and the Crown Prince. He said he would ‘make Saudi Arabia the pariah that it is.’ And now we are begging for their oil.”

Regarding the Abraham Accords, Greenblatt has a plan to strengthen regional relations. “You cannot fault the UAE for criticizing Israel from time to time. I think it’s incumbent on anybody who supports the Abraham Accords and who supports Israel to go to these countries and show them what Israel’s about and what Judaism is about.” Greenblatt added, “It’s incumbent on anybody who supports Israel to shout from the rooftops, ‘Don’t sign this Iran Deal.’”

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan relayed, “President Zelenskyy wanted to speak via Zoom with Yad Vashem to say what’s happening in Ukraine is the Shoah. After very careful consideration, I refused. We have to be very clear; there ARE war crimes being committed in Ukraine. But not every war crime is genocide, and not every genocide is a Shoah.”

Dr. Leah Goldin joined Kehilath Jeshurun’s Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz in a conversation. Hadar Goldin, captured and killed by Hamas in 2014, has not been returned to his family for burial. Dr. Goldin expressed that responsibility to bring Hadar home is shared by the U.S. She said, “Hadar is the victim of a ceasefire. Hadar is an American-Jewish problem, and we need Am Yisrael to bring him home.”

Rabbi Steinmetz added, “The ceasefire violated by Hamas was brokered by the United States, the Secretary of State and the United Nations. They need to stand by the ceasefire which they broke…We need a network of communities to take this on.” Dr. Goldin ended with a message which her son embodied, “In life, you have two options, to deal with yourself or to do great things. I tell myself this every day.”

Other notable participants included Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations CEO William Daroff, JCRC-NY Executive Vice President/CEO, Gideon Taylor, World Zionist Organization chairman and Jewish Agency interim head Yaakov Hagoel, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan and Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Asaf Zamir.

The Jerusalem Conference, held in Israel for 20 years, expanded to New York this year, by the Arutz Sheva-Besheva media group. The group includes a weekly newspaper and two news websites in English and Hebrew.

By Judy Berger

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