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Grassroots effort to make ‘Never Again’ resound in classrooms across America –

Posted By on June 3, 2020

(June 1, 2020 / JNS) Amid the rise in anti-Semitism in the United States and abroad, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Never Again Education Act into law on Friday as part of Jewish American Heritage Month, one month after the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

The story behind the passage of this landmark legislation is one that transcended the usual partisan politics of Washington, D.C., bringing together Jewish and Christian groups, and liberal and conservative lawmakers in a rare display of bipartisanship to have a measurable impact on awareness and understanding of the ramifications of the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, we have an seen a significant spike in anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism over the past few years, and these undeniably disturbing events spurred action, said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who introduced the bill in the House and who has waged a multi-decade effort to pass such legislation.

Citing an Anti-Defamation League report released this month that showed that 2019 consisted of the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in four decades, she said that both sides of the aisle saw how urgent this is, and this bill was bipartisan from the start.

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The new law seeks toexpandthe U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museums education programming to teachers nationwide, requiring the museum to develop and disseminate resources to improve awareness and understanding of the Holocaust and its lessons.

There will be $2 million allocated annually for this year and each of over the next four years to the Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund, administered by the USHMMs governing body, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Private donations for the fund would also be permitted.

Maloney, the 13-term lawmaker who represents New Yorks 12th Congressional District, noted her experience as a former educator played a role in pushing for the bill whereby education is a key tool in fighting all forms of hate and bigotry, and by reaching children in the classroom, we can make sure they learn understanding and acceptance rather than discrimination.

Anti-Semitism must not only be punished but also prevented, she said. By giving educators the tools they need to teach about the Holocaust and the dangers of anti-Semitism and hate, I believe we can stop anti-Semitism before it starts, said Maloney.

Support was built inch by inch

The bill had the support of more than 50 national organizations and more than 250 local partners, according to Maloney, who credited the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Hadassah and the Jewish Federations of North America as instrumental in getting the legislation passed.

Hadassah CEO and executive director Janice Weinman told JNS that she attended the New York Congressional Breakfast hosted by the New York Jewish Community Relations Council in early 2018.

I heard Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney speak about her nearly 20-year fight to strengthen Holocaust education, and I knew this was the prescription America needed to guarantee the promise of Never Again, said Weinman. And I knew it was right for Hadassah to lead the effort because we are a Zionist organization with a large national membership that believes in the power of information and education to change the world.

Janice Weinman, executive director and CEO, Hadassah. Source: Screenshot.

Our national president, volunteers around the country and I talked about Never Again everywhere we went for the next year-and-a-half, she continued. And everyone was energized by the possibility that this bill could one day become the law of the land if we fought hard enough. And fight we did.

Hadassah director of government relations Karen Barall told JNS that Hadassah appealed to the organizations 300,000 members and other Jewish groups.

We started to invite representatives from other large organizations to meetings Hadassah was arranging on Capitol Hill, and our first targets were the 55 co-sponsors from the previous Congress, she said. Support was built inch by inch, one office at a time, and was supplemented by a grassroots effort.

Before and after meetings, Hadassah chapters from the representatives district would organize to contact their offices expressing their support for the bill. Their phone calls, emails and social-media posts certainly helped to solidify support. It took more than a year to reach 300 co-sponsors, and Hadassah engaged nearly all of them one way or another.

Ultimately, the bill had 302 co-sponsors in the Democratic-led House205 Democrats and 97 Republicans.

While garnering support in the House, Hadassah recruited Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), who was very responsive to our request from the start and, meeting with Republican senators, got a receptive audience in Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

North Dakota does not have a large Jewish population, but Senator Cramer didnt see this as a Jewish issue, said Weinman. He saw this as an American issue.

Rosen and Cramer were joined by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Rosen told JNS that the Senate vote happened after significantly increasing the number of co-sponsors of the bipartisan Senate bill and laying the groundwork for the House bill to clear committee and receive a vote from the full Senate.

The Senate version was slightly different from the U.S. House of Representatives one, which the Senate ultimately passed, in that the former had the U.S. Department of Educationand not the USHMMoversee the expansion of Holocaust education in the United States.

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Fulfilling the promise of Never Again

As to Rosen being the leading sponsor of the bill, she pointed to her time when she was president of Congregation Ner Tamid in Nevada, where she heard the stories of so many Holocaust survivors, stories of resilience in the face of certain death, stories of loss as so many were taken from us.

After first being elected to Congress in 2017, first as a congresswoman from Nevadas 3rd Congressional District, I asked myself, what can I do as a legislator to fulfill the promise of the words Never Again and ensure that they mean Never Again foranyone? I truly believe that education is the most powerful tool we have in the fight against hate and bigotry.

Other groups that lobbied for the billan effort that included being in contact with congressional officesincluded Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress), the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC).

JFNA worked closely with Jewish communal agencies to connect with Holocaust survivors and encourage them to sign on to a letter in support of the bill. This grassroots effort collected more than 1,800 signatures from survivors in 38 states350 community groups from every single state helped galvanize political support, JFNA spokesperson Rebecca Dinar told JNS.

For example, in Southeast Floridas Broward County, which is home to one of the largest concentrations of Holocaust survivors, Evan Goldman, vice president for community planning and government relations at the Jewish Federation of Broward County, spearheaded the local effort to engage survivors in signing the online letter and emphasized the importance of collaboration in making it happen, according to Dinar.

In Chicago, where theres a large community of Holocaust survivors, Yonit Hoffman, director of Holocaust Community Services at CJE SeniorLifea Federation-funded agency that serves 1,700 survivors on a regular basisled the effort to garner 452 signatures onto the letter.

Student ambassadors of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums Bringing the Lessons Home program tour the Tour of Faces in the permanent exhibition. The program trains high school students in the Washington, D.C. area to become museum docents. Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

We do lots of education, training and advocacy around their stories, which are less heard and less represented in museums and other educational settings, she told JFNA for a story on their website.

The RJCs legislative affairs committee wrote to every Republican in Congress urging them to co-sponsor the bill, the organizations spokesperson, Neil Strauss, told JNS.

Once the House passed its version of the bill, we began visiting Republican Senate offices, usually joined by colleagues from Hadassah and other groups supporting the bill, but we were forced to shift to most advocacy via email due to the coronavirus pandemic making in-person meetings impossible, said Strauss.

The RJC put such an emphasis on the importance of the bill that the organization even withdrew its support for the four House Republicans who voted against it.

Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Tom Rice (R-S.C.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.)cited conservative dogma on spending and the need to have small-sized government.

In response to Norman and Arrington, RJC executive director Matt Brooks toldJewish Insiderthat there comes a time when you have to take votes that go beyond process. And, I think, especially now with this time of rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. and around the world, the symbolism of this and the importance of the government standing up and showing its support for Holocaust education outweighs any process concerns.

Brooks noted that others in the Republican caucus may have had similar misgivings or concerns about this process, but they did the right thing, and looked beyond that to stand up against anti-Semitism and to stand with the Jewish community. So we remain disappointed in their votes. We think that they voted absolutely the wrong way on that, no matter how they want to justify it.

At the end of the day, said Brooks, we dont think that this vote is a reflection of their views on anti-Semitism, but it makes it so that we will not be supporting any of those individuals going forward.

The Anti-Defamation League, in addition to its lobbying efforts, had an action alert on its website in order to allow people to better engage with members of Congress about the matter, ADL CEO and national director Jonathan Greenblatt told JNS.

Meanwhile, AJCongress has always supported legislation promoting Holocaust education, Akri Cipa, a policy analyst at the organization, told JNS.

Cipa cited a Pew Research study in January that only strengthened his organizations conviction over the need for the Never Again Education Act.

The study showed that less than half of Americans, some 45 percent,know that 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust, while 29 percent werent sure or had no answer. (Simultaneously, 69 percent of respondents correctly said that the Holocaust was between the years 1930 and 1950, while 63 percent of respondents correctly defined the Nazi-created ghettos as parts of town where Jews were forced to live.)

Christina Chaverria, program coordinator for education initiatives for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums Levine Institute for Holocaust Education, leads a teacher training during the Conference of Holocaust Centers in 2018. Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

United on fundamental issues

Sandra Parker, chairwoman of CUFIs political arm, CUFI Action Fund, told JNS that her organization threw its support behind the legislation following Trump signing an executive order in December combating anti-Semitism by applying Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to Jewish Americans, especially on college campuses, where anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activity has run amok.

This bill got on our radar during the current Congress, and we immediately decided to back it, she said. Combating anti-Semitism has always been a priority for our organization, but given the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism across the country, as well as the horrifically violent acts weve witnessed in recent years, I think it stands to reason that we are seeing an increased emphasis on policies aimed at contending with this issue, including the Never Again Education Act.

In addition to meetings with members of Congress, CUFI leaders authored opinion pieces as the organizations founder and national chairman, Pastor John Hagee, wrote one in the blogging section of The Times of Israel, and its director of government affairs, Alexandria Paolozzi, co-authored another with Barall in The Hill, with the latter case being just another example of both sides of the ideological spectrum working together for the bills passage.

Barall told JNS that to win the fight in the Senate and get the bill to the White House, we recognized that gathering co-sponsors while keeping the bill as bipartisan as possible would require us to establish a coalition.

So, we did. Some were natural fits for the bill.The RJC supported the bill and had been helpful in gathering Republican support in the House.JFNA had also been involved in the House effort and had a history lobbying for the bill.CUFI joined the effort shortly after Sandra Hagee Parker and I had a chance meeting at a White House event.We spoke about the Senate, and she gave me her card and said CUFI would like to work with Hadassah to get the bill passed. We went to meetings together, shared information with each other, and developed a strategy for the coalition to play its best hand. The rest is history.

Rosen said that the bills passage through Congress could not have happened without the tremendous support from so many groups across faith and party lines. We were blessed to have a broad coalition of outside groups advocating for the bill from the moment it was introduced. Some of these groups have been advocating for decades to ensure more robust Holocaust education.

Overall, dozens of groups lent their support to this effort, with my office working directly with a core coalition of half a dozen organizations to move this bill to the Senate floor. Without their crucial support, we would not have been able to garner 80 bipartisan Senate co-sponsors and get this bill across the finish line.

That rare combined effort from those organizations highlighted that fighting anti-Semitism and furthering the message of Never Again arent for only liberal or conservative groups.

The coalition of ideologically diverse Jewish groups that worked together to get this bill passed through Congress and on to the Presidents desk speaks to the universal importance of Holocaust education, said Greenblatt. While we may have disagreements or ideological differences in some areas, we can all agree that educating our young people and future generations to come about the Holocaust is a paramount priority for the Jewish community.

Keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive and ensuring that children learn its valuable lessons about the importance of tolerance so they can confront hatred and anti-Semitism is not a partisan issue. Its unifying, Hadassah national president Rhoda Smolow told JNS. And I think its appropriate and healthy for organizations to work together in common cause. We have many friends across the ideological spectrum, and we are very proud of the success this coalition had in working together.

The joint effort reinforces the importance of the legislation, and it signals that despite differences of opinions and the multitude of voices and perspectives, the Jewish community at large is united on fundamentalissues, said Cipa.

With CUFI, Parker said, as Hagee has noted previously, anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem, its everyones problem. As a Christian Zionist organization and the worlds largest pro-Israel organization, weve worked hard to forge trusting relationships throughout the Jewish community. We share the same concerns about Israels safety and security, rising anti-Semitism and Holocaust denialnot just in America but everywhere.

Strauss remarked, Combating anti-Semitism is a cause that can unite groups that disagree on other matters, and we believe there is great potential for additional efforts going forward.

Such efforts, according to some of the aforementioned groups that spoke to JNS, range from state legislatures mandating Holocaust education (currently, 18 states either encourage or require teaching about the Holocaust) to fighting the movement calling for boycotting Israel to Congress upgrading the position of U.S. special envoy for monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism to an ambassador-level role. The House passed legislation last year to do that, while the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the upper chambers version last week, sending it to the full Senate for a final vote.

Ultimately, said Smolow, we hope the legislation will have a measurable impact on awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, particularly among students and to certain extent their family members. We have to do a better job of preserving the memory of the Holocaust. There is no better way to do so than through educationand no better equipped institution than the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to meet this challenge.

But we also hope that this will help to deaden the appeal of hate groups and communities that traffic in anti-Semitism. The Holocaust offers us all universal lessons on the importance of tolerance, and what happens when we do not stand up when tolerance is threatened.

We hope this legislation better enables teachers around the country to teach about the horrors of the Holocaust and the dangers of anti-Semitism, said Parker. We hope it will help teachers light a flame inside every heart that will motivate students to stand up against the wickedness of anti-Semitism and reject it wholeheartedly. We hope it inspires them to stand with Jewish friends and neighbors, and the Jewish people everywhere in the face of growing threats.

Greenblatt said, Its our hope that the American people recognize how important it is to ensure that our future generations are taught the lessons and horrors of the Holocaust, because greater understanding of the Shoah is not only important for fighting anti-Semitism, it is also important for fighting hate against all marginalized communities.

In this time of stark and ever-widening political divide, for both sides of the aisle to come and work together to pass this piece of legislation, it goes to show that our nations leaders recognize the pertinence of Holocaust education.

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Grassroots effort to make 'Never Again' resound in classrooms across America -

Talmud comes alive in 1,800-year-old marble face found in Galilee – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on June 1, 2020

A 1,800-year-old fountainhead in the shape of a face was uncovered by chance by a visitor at the Tzipori National Park in the Galilee, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced Monday.In the Babylonian Talmud, the Jewish sages warned their disciples that they should not place their mouth directly on the faucets of fountains shaped a human or animal-like creature to avoid the appearance of idol worshiping. The new discovery offers a powerful testimony of the Jewish text coming alive.With regard to figures of human faces [partzufot] that spray water in the cities, i.e. fountains, one may not place his mouth on the mouths of the figures and drink, because he appears to be kissing the object of idol worship. Similarly, one may not place his mouth on a pipe [sillon] and drink, here due to the danger that this practice poses, reads a passage of Avodah Zarah 12a (translation, similar artifacts have been uncovered over the years in several locations in Israel, including Caesarea and Beit Shean. They were common over the course of the Roman and Byzantine period.Tzipori was not like any other city in the region 1,800 years ago: the great Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi moved the Sanhedrin the Jewish Great Assembly there in the second half of the second century, and the Mishna, the foundational text of rabbinic Judaism, was compiled in the city. The archaeological site today still presents the remains of the Jewish Quarter from that period, together with many vestiges of the Roman presence, including the remnant of a 4,500-seat theater.The Tzipori National Park, which preserves the remains of the ancient capital of the Galilee, Tzipori, where the Sanhedrin sat and the Mishna was completed, does not cease to surprise with its archaeological findings, Dr. Yossi Bordovich, head of the Heritage Department at the Nature and Parks Authority, said in a press release.Remains of dozens of beautiful Roman and Byzantine mosaics have established Tzipori as an internationally renowned site, while in recent years additional excavations uncovered an ancient wine press for wine production, a small figurine in the shape of a bull and a water pool that may have been used by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi.The artifact uncovered by a resident of the area, David Goren, who spotted it protruding from the ground, is shaped like a lions head with some human features. It measures about 15 centimeters in diameter and is made of high-quality marble probably originally from Turkey.The fountainhead will be handed over to the Israel Antiquities Authority in the coming days and in the future will be showcased at the Tzipori National Park.

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Talmud comes alive in 1,800-year-old marble face found in Galilee - The Jerusalem Post

Thinking Shavuot, Torah and the Jewish people – The Jewish Star

Posted By on June 1, 2020

By Rabbi David Etengoff

HaRav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik zatzal was one of the 19th centurys greatest European Torah scholars. He is known as the Beit HaLevi after the title of his grand exposition of the Pentateuch that is universally recognized as a jewel within the Lithuanian Torah tradition. In his comments on Sefer Shemot 19:5, he discusses why Hashem gave us the Torah and, in so doing, helps us understand its role in our lives.

The Beit HaLevi explains that the Torah was given to the Jewish people so that we would analyze it in accordance with the accepted rules of Biblical exegesis as delineated by our sages, who have been tasked as the protectors of Hashems Torah in this world.

He notes that the conclusions that are reached according to these guidelines thereby constitute that which is undeniably true. In addition, he asserts that since the Torah is lo bshamayim he (no longer in Heaven) (Talmud Bavli, Baba Metziah 59b), its authentic interpretation can only be apprehended via the intense study and analysis of the earthly beit din. After all, lo nitnah Torah lmalachei hashareit (the Torah was not given to the Ministering Angels) (Talmud Bavli, Yoma 30a), but rather to us.

After presenting these ideas, the Beit HaLevi focuses on why our Sages call Shavuot zeman matan Toratainu (the time of the Giving of our Torah), instead of zeman matan Torah (the time of the Giving of the Torah).

His answer is mesmerizing: The reason Shavuot is called zeman matan Toratainu and not zeman matan Torah is because Toratainu means that the Torah became our own. [How did it become our own? This happened] as a result of Torah She-beal Peh (the Oral Law) and the explanations of the [Torah] that are the product of our people.

For the Beit HaLevi, although the Torah She-biktav (the Written Law) is the Almightys greatest gift to the world besides life itself, it is through the never-ending dynamic process of Torah She-beal Peh (the study and explanation of His holy Torah) that humankind encounters Him.

In many ways, the Beit HaLevi infuses profound meaning into the phrase we recite each morning in our tefilah, Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu umah nayim goraleinu (We are fortunate, how good is our portion, how pleasant our lot, and how beautiful our heritage).

Chelkeinu, our portion, is two-fold in nature. It includes the outright gift of the Torah She-biktav and the ever-developing Torah She-beal Peh, through which we analyze, interpret and apply that bequest to the challenges and realities of our lives. Truly then, Ashreinu!

May we be zocheh to witness the fulfillment of the passage we proclaim every day in the Birchot HaTorah (Ibid., p. 17): Please, Hashem, our G-d, sweeten the words of Your Torah in our mouth and in the mouths of your people, the family of Israel. May we and our offspring and the offspring of Your people, the House of Israel all of us, know Your Name and study Your Torah for its own sake. Vchane yihi ratzon.

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach, and may Hashem in His great mercy remove the magafah from klal Yisrael and the entire world.


Thinking Shavuot, Torah and the Jewish people - The Jewish Star

Are Conversion Standards In Israel Too Harsh? – The Jewish Press –

Posted By on June 1, 2020

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Over 3,100 years ago, Ruth left her land and people to accompany her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi, to Eretz Yisrael with the intention of joining the Jewish people. According to the Talmud (Yevamos 47b), Naomi attempted to dissuade her, but once she saw Ruths resolve exemplified by her statement your people will be my people, and your G-d will be my G-d (Ruth 1:16) she relented and Ruth formally became a Jew.

For thousands of years, batei din have converted individuals who wished to join the Jewish people on an ad hoc basis; there simply werent that many people who wished to convert. Nowadays, though, we have hundreds of thousands of what some people call Zera Yisrael children and grandchildren of Jews who are not halachically Jewish living among us in Israel and the Diaspora.

This situation forces us to ask: Should non-Jews who identify as Jewish and live in Jewish communities be discouraged from converting as was customary for thousands of years? Or should they be encouraged to formally join the Jewish people in order to alleviate the many social, religious, and demographic problems that currently exist?

Conversion for Marriage

In Hilchos Issurei Biah (12:14), the Rambam describes the ideal convert: one who desires just like the Jews at Har Sinai to enter into the covenant, take shelter under the wings of the Divine presence, and accept the yoke of the Torah. The Talmud (Yevamos 24b) debates whether a non-ideal convert (i.e., one who converts for impure motivations) is even Jewish, but concludes that the halacha is in accordance with the statement of the one who says that they are all [valid] converts.

It appears, though, that such converts are only recognized after the fact (i.e., bediavad). The Talmud even expresses concern that they may cause harm to the Jewish people. One well-known passage in the Talmud (Yevamos 47b) states that converts are as harmful to the Jewish people as a leprous scab (sappachas) on the skin. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that converts hold on to their prior ways, and the Jewish people may learn from them or rely upon them for religious matters.

Despite the Talmuds concern regarding conversions performed for less-than-pure motivations, historically such conversions were sometimes allowed. For example, Rabbeinu Tam (on Yoma 82b, s.v. mah) permits a woman who converted out of Judaism and married a non-Jew and then repented to remain married to the non-Jewish husband after he converts to Judaism.

Similarly, the Rambam (Teshuvot 2:211) permits a Jewish man to continue a relationship with a slave with whom he was intimate after she converts as it is better to eat gravy [i.e. violate the minor prohibition of marrying a slave after she has been freed and converted] than to eat forbidden fat itself [violate the more severe prohibition of having relations with a maidservant]. He writes, We relied on the principle of It is a time to do for G-d by abrogating His law.

More recently, R. Shlomo Kluger (Tuv Taam VeDaas 230) ruled that a Jewish soldier who returned home from war with a non-Jewish woman could have her converted. He writes that we are concerned that if we do not allow her to convert, the Jew will go off to evil ways (tarbus raah). In this context, R. Kluger makes an important assertion: Since there is no external impediment to their union, and given that the non-Jewish woman desires to convert, the conversion is considered to be for the sake of Heaven.

Similarly, R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, despite his overall apprehension regarding conversions and the sincerity of kabbalas mitzvos, attests that he has been asked numerous times regarding a non-Jewish woman who was civilly married to a Jew and wished to convert and be married with a chuppah and kiddushin. R. Grodzinski (Achiezer 3:26, 28) concludes that it is customary to convert the woman under such circumstances.

Conversions Performed for Marriage in the 20th Century

During the 20th century, we find three noteworthy approaches to conversion for the sake of marriage all in response to the rising intermarriage rate.

The first approach, adopted by the Syrian community, was to ban all conversions, even those not performed for the sake of marriage. A ban against conversion was first implemented by R. Shaul Setton Dabah in the Syrian community of Argentina in 1922 to counter the rising number of intermarriages.

In 1935, R. Jacob Kassin issued a similar ban on the Syrian community in New York, extending the prohibition to marrying someone who has already converted. This ban was reaffirmed after World War II, when Jewish soldiers returned with non-Jewish partners, and again in 1972, 1984, and 2006.

This ban undoubtedly preserved the Syrian Jewish community. However, numerous poskim, including R. Herzog (Pesakim UKsavim) and, more recently, R. Asher Weiss (Darchei Horaah, Gerus 12:17) criticize it, noting that there may be a mitzvah to accept worthy converts; that banning a convert from marrying into a specific Jewish community may violate the Biblical prohibition of onaas hager, and that even if it was an appropriate horaas shaah, it is time to repeal it now that so many decades have passed.

The second approach, adopted by numerous rabbis in Sephardic lands (and in some Ashkenazic communities), was to permit conversion for the sake of marriage, even with minimal religious commitment. For example, R. Eliyahu Chazan, as well the Nehar Mitzrayim (Hilchos Gerim, p. 111), write that the policy in Egypt was to allow non-Jewish women to convert for the sake of marriage.

R. Bentzion Meir Chai Uziel, in an early responsum (Mishpetei Uziel, Yoreh Deah 1:14), writes that when a non-Jewish woman is already married to a Jew, she will grow closer to the Torah and her husbands family if we convert her. It is therefore permitted or better, obligated to bring them close and have then enter into the covenant of Israels Torah and remove the affliction of assimilation, which is an inflammatory affliction in the vineyard of the House of Israel, he writes.

Elsewhere, R. Uziel (ibid. Even HaEzer, 20) expresses great concern for the non-Jewish children of intermarried couples and encourages the conversion of non-Jewish spouses and their children.

R. Ovadia Yosef, in a Knesset committee hearing (November 16, 1976), supports this tradition, and notes, [While] some Ashkenazic rabbi are stringent in this matterthere are many who are lenient. At the head of them is R. Shlomo Kluger from Galiciaand so write the rabbis of Egypt, R. Eliyahu Chazan and R. Yosef Mesas, and others. In practice, most of the rabbinic judges of Israel today accept this change, and therefore even when they know the woman comes to convert for marriage, they accept her.

R. Yosef recounted that he personally ruled on tens of conversion cases each year.

The third approach, best represented by the rulings of R. Moshe Feinstein, is based on deep ambivalence and apprehension regarding conversions performed for the sake of marriage. In numerous places, R. Moshe criticizes batei din that regularly perform such conversions. Although he writes that he withholds judgment, he adds: I am not comfortable with this, and neither was my father (Yoreh Deah 3:106).

He rules that only when a beis din is convinced that a potential convert wholeheartedly accepts upon himself the mitzvos (even if he is not aware of all of the mitzvos or we estimate that he will be unable to fulfill all the mitzvos) do we accept him into the Jewish people (ibid. Yoreh Deah 1:159).

These three approaches were prevalent in different geographic areas, each facing its own communal and religious challenges.

Conversion in Israel Nowadays

As mentioned above, the Jewish world today faces a mounting crisis in both the Diaspora and Israel. In the wake of the mass emigration from the former Soviet Union, there are currently over 400,000 Israelis who are officially categorized as without religion. They attend Jewish schools, even religious schools, serve in the army, and live and work alongside other Israelis.

Many were born and raised in Israel, observe Shabbos, chagim, and the laws of kashrus. They are fully integrated into Israeli society, have absorbed its values, internalized its culture, and are coming closer to Judaism.

Historically, the chief rabbis of Israel including R. Herzog, R. Uziel, R. Unterman. R. Nissim, R. Goren, R. Ovadia Yosef, and R. Bakshi Doron have encouraged converting non-Jews who choose to cast their lot with the Jewish nation in Israel, whether it be non-Jewish spouses of Jewish refugees who fled to Israel, non-Jewish volunteers on kibbutzim who decided to stay in Israel, or non-Jewish immigrants (and children of these immigrants) from the former Soviet Union.

In recent years, numerous rabbis have called for converting these Israelis and their children. Refraining from converting them, they argue, doesnt discourage intermarriage; it actually increases it. R. Asher Weiss (Kuntras Shevui, Bamidbar, 5773) argues that our current predicament calls for a change in approach:

In my opinion, our generation is not like previous generations, as from eternity we have refrained from initiating conversions and only [accepted] a person who came with the intention of converting after being pushed away numerous times. And this is the proper way according to the Torah. However, in our era, when so many of those who immigrated from the Soviet Union are non-Jews according to the law and are mixing in with the residents of the land, there is a great stumbling block for generations, and we should not discourage them from converting. Rather, we should make efforts to convert them. While we should not be lenient, G-d forbid, regarding the requirement of accepting upon themselves the yoke of Heaven and the yoke of mitzvoswe should not discourage them from converting.

Similarly, R. Nachum Eliezer Rabinovitch, zl, who just recently passed away, argued that immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and especially their children, should be encouraged to convert, in accordance with halacha. He even established independent conversion courts, known as Giyur KHalacha, for this purpose.

Each generations rabbinic leadership is entrusted with the authority to decide the best policy for potential converts, local communities, and the Jewish people. As the Beis Yosef writes, the decision is made according to the perception of the beis din. As we celebrate receiving the Torah this Shavuos, we should consider whether to enable others to join the covenant of the Torah as well, and if so how.

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Are Conversion Standards In Israel Too Harsh? - The Jewish Press -

To the Jewish community: You may not recognize me as a Jew but the antisemites do – Christian Post

Posted By on June 1, 2020

By Michael Brown, CP Op-Ed Contributor | Sunday, May 31, 2020

The ongoing controversy over GOD TVs Hebrew speaking channel in Israel has triggered an age-old debate: Are Jews who believe in Jesus still Jews?

For decades now, religious Jews in particular have said to me, Youre not a Jew! Yet the antisemites of the world have no trouble identifying me as a Jew, flooding my social media pages with vile, Jew-hating comments. How ironic.

To be sure, there are plenty of religious Jews who would see someone like me as an apostate Jew yet still a Jew. Many would even take the stance that I am a tinok shenishba, a child born in captivity, and therefore not as fully culpable for what they see as my idolatrous beliefs. There is also the famous Talmudic statement that, Even though he sins, he is still Israel (b. Sanhedrin 44a).

Yet others, in keeping with some halakhic (legal) rulings or simply following their heart, will tell me I am not a Jew, quite forcefully at that. (See here for an example, starting at 12:28. For similar sentiments expressed to a Messianic Jewish colleague of mine, even though he is married to a sabra [that is, a native born Israeli], is an Israeli citizen, celebrates the Holy Days, observes biblical kashrut [dietary laws] and honors the Sabbath, see here, starting at 7:18.)

For my part, the last thing Im expecting is a word of congratulations or affirmation from the Jewish community, especially from traditional Jews. As much as I respect devoted rabbis and community leaders, I have crossed a dangerous line in their eyes, forfeiting my rights and my inheritance. So be it.

Jews who believe in Jesus will suffer rejection and ridicule and scorn. It comes with the turf, and I make no complaints about it. (See Hebrews 13:10-15.)

That being said, I still do find it highly ironic that, while many in the Jewish community do not see people like me as Jews, antisemites have not lost sight of our identity. And if we are Zionists, believing that Israel is the eternal homeland of our people, we are even more sinister in their sight.

Accordingly, when I post videos refuting common antisemitic myths and libels, Im told that Im funded by Jewish banks, that I work for the Mossad, that Im a crypto Jew, secretly infiltrating the Church to turn it to Judaism, and more. (Ive even been accused of being a secret agent for Chabad, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group that actively proselytizes non-religious Jews!)

The other day, I spotted these comments on one of our social media pages, completely unprovoked: I hope the Holocaust gets a round two and you are the first to go Dr. Michael Brown so I can laugh on your ashes. It was followed by this: Take a [expletive] on your greedy Jew grave. And then this: Get zyklon b. (I captured these in screenshots before deleting them.)

Another posted this, responding to a video where I called out an antisemitic pastor who also celebrates the killing of gays: Jesus is not a Jew. Jesus is the Son of God. The Jew has rejected the Son of God. The Jew has speculated in their Talmud that Jesus is born of a Whore Mother and a Roman Soldier in their Talmud. Doc Brown, if the Gospels have any chance to reach the masses... The Jew must be separated from Christianity. Jesus was not a Jew nor a Rabbi. He was the Word made Flesh. Doc Brown, you are a Zionist shill. Punk [expletive] [expletive].

And then this, to another video, which dealt with a passage in the Book of Revelation: Brown is a Talmudist Eastern European Jew supremacist.

And this, to a video rebuking an evangelical Christian antisemite: 5 words for you zionist Jew racist deceiver Talmudic.

On and on it goes, often by the hour, sometimes by the minute. The Jew haters recognize a Jew when they see one.

Thats why Hitler slaughtered Jewish Lutherans side by side with atheist Jews and Hasidic Jews. A Jew was a Jew was a Jew.

It didnt matter if that Jewish person saw himself as more German than Jewish or if that Jewish Christian was thoroughly assimilated in church life and had lost any connection to Jewish tradition or custom. He was still a Jew, and as such, had to be exterminated.

Thats why it was no surprise when a Messianic Jewish synagogue was vandalized in 2018 (in Cary, North Carolina) and another was targeted for bombing in 2019 (in Las Vegas, Nevada). The buildings looked Jewish enough for the haters, even though the congregations professed faith that Yeshua was the Messiah.

And thats why, regardless of how much I am rejected by my own people (again, this is not a complaint; I am no martyr), I will continue to expose the lies of contemporary antisemitism along with some of the horrible chapters of church history.

I remain a Jew regardless of public opinion.

God knows, and thats more than enough for me.

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To the Jewish community: You may not recognize me as a Jew but the antisemites do - Christian Post

OMNIQ’s Artificial Intelligence-Based Quest Shield Solution Selected by the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore – GlobeNewswire

Posted By on June 1, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY, June 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- OMNIQ, Inc. (OTCQB:OMQS) (OMNIQor the Company), announces that it has been selected to deploy its Quest Shield campus safety solution at the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore in Maryland.

The Quest Shield security package uses the Companys AI-based SeeCube technology platform, a ground-breaking cloud-based/on-premise security solution for Safe Campus/School applications. The platform provides unique AI-based computer vision technology and software to gather real-time vehicle data, enabling the Quest Shield to identify and record images of approaching vehicles including color, make and license plate information. The license plate is then compared against the schools internal watch list and law enforcement data bases such as the Maryland Coordination & Analysis Center (MCAC), to provide immediate notifications to security and administrative personnel. In addition to providing a vehicle identification and recognition solution to the Talmudical Academy, the Quest Shield comprehensive security platform addresses other security concerns including controlling access to the buildings and visitor management as well as the ability to pre-register guests for school activities.

Additionally, as part of COVID-19 mitigation, parents in Maryland will be asked to take and record their childs temperature each day before they leave for school. Quest Shield will automate this process, by providing parents an online form where they may record the temperature. All Talmud Academy students will be equipped with an ID tag that will have a QR code that can be read with a barcode scanner. As students enter campus, faculty equipped with Quest handheld scanners will read the barcode to confirm that the students temperature has been taken that day; if the form has not been filled in, faculty will check temperatures before allowing students inside.

Shai Lustgarten, CEO of OMNIQ commented: It is our privilege to work with the Talmudical Academy to provide our solution to enhance safety at their Baltimore campus. Quest Shield is an extension of the homeland security solution we designed for the Israeli authorities to fight terrorism and save lives.

Rabbi Yaacov Cohen, Executive Director, Talmudical Academy of Baltimore commented:Concern about campus safety and the safety of our students and faculty drove the Talmudical Academy to seek ways to implement new strategies aimed at preventing crimes and violence that may be committed on the school grounds. The unfortunate reality today is that situations we could never imagine just a few years ago are happening now with increasing regularity. Most security systems that are currently being deployed on other campuses are good at recording events subsequent to crimes being committed. With Quest Shield, we have an opportunity to alert personnel and Law Enforcement ahead of any sign of violence.

Mr. Lustgarten added: The Quest Shield has been tailored to provide a proactive solution to improve security and safety in schools and on campuses as well as community centers and places of worship in the U.S. that have unfortunately become a target for ruthless attacks. Were pleased to work with a forward-thinking organization like the Talmudical Academy, it is gratifying that the Academy selected the Quest Shield platform to strengthen its security precautions.

Additionally, many schools and communities are expressing concern around children returning to school in the fall due to COVID-19. With that in mind, Talmudical Academy will also employ the Quest Shield to provide an automated screening process to confirm that students have had their temperatures checked, per Maryland regulation, upon their arrival on campus and prior to them entering the school facilities.

Mr. Lustgarten concluded: We are proud to be able to improve student safety in the U.S., as well as in other vulnerable communities. Quest Shield has previously been implemented by a pre-K through Grade 12 school in Florida and at a Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City. We look forward to working closely with the Academy and other institutions to promote the health and safety of students, faculty and support personnel.

About OMNIQ, Corp.OMNIQ Corp. (OMQS) provides computerized and machine vision image processing solutions that use patented and proprietary AI technology to deliver data collection, real time surveillance and monitoring for supply chain management, homeland security, public safety, traffic & parking management and access control applications. The technology and services provided by the Company help clients move people, assets and data safely and securely through airports, warehouses, schools, national borders, and many other applications and environments.

OMNIQs customers include government agencies and leading Fortune 500 companies from several sectors, including manufacturing, retail, distribution, food and beverage, transportation and logistics, healthcare, and oil, gas, and chemicals. Since 2014, annual revenues have grown to more than $50 million from clients in the USA and abroad.

The Company currently addresses several billion-dollar markets, including the Global Safe City market, forecast to grow to $29 billion by 2022, and the Ticketless Safe Parking market, forecast to grow to $5.2 billion by 2023.

Information about Forward-Looking StatementsSafe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements in this press release relating to plans, strategies, economic performance and trends, projections of results of specific activities or investments, and other statements that are not descriptions of historical facts may be forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. This release contains forward-looking statements that include information relating to future events and future financial and operating performance. The words anticipate, may, would, will, expect, estimate, can, believe, potential and similar expressions and variations thereof are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which that performance or those results will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time they are made and/or managements good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to: fluctuations in demand for the Companys products particularly during the current health crisis , the introduction of new products, the Companys ability to maintain customer and strategic business relationships, the impact of competitive products and pricing, growth in targeted markets, the adequacy of the Companys liquidity and financial strength to support its growth, the Companys ability to manage credit and debt structures from vendors, debt holders and secured lenders, the Companys ability to successfully integrate its acquisitions, and other information that may be detailed from time-to-time in OMNIQ Corp.s filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Examples of such forward looking statements in this release include, among others, statements regarding revenue growth, driving sales, operational and financial initiatives, cost reduction and profitability, and simplification of operations. For a more detailed description of the risk factors and uncertainties affecting OMNIQ Corp., please refer to the Companys recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings, which are available at OMNIQ Corp. undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless otherwise required by law.

Investor Contact: John Nesbett/Jen BelodeauIMS Investor

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OMNIQ's Artificial Intelligence-Based Quest Shield Solution Selected by the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore - GlobeNewswire

‘We stand in solidarity’: Jewish organizations respond to the protests over George Floyd’s death – JTA News

Posted By on June 1, 2020

Kelly Morgan, MS, CGC, on Exploring Targeted Testing for the Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA Mutation – Cancer Network

Posted By on June 1, 2020

In a recent study, presented at the 2020 ASCO Virtual Scientific Program, theBRCAFounder OutReach (BFOR) offered pre-testing online education with posttest engagement of primary care providers.

In an interview withCancerNetwork, Kelly Morgan, MS, CGC, a genetic counselor at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, offered background on why the study was conducted in this patient population.


To start from the beginning, we know that those of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry have actually a 1 in 40 risk of carrying aBRCAmutation. So, theBRCAgene, which are associated with breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreas cancer, are quite prevalent. However, these mutations were actually discovered over 20 years ago. They were discovered by Dr. Kenneth Offit, he is 1 of the principal investigators of this study. We know today that more than 80% of Ashkenazi Jewish individuals have not been tested for theseBRCAmutations.

He, along with the other principal investigators of the studyall felt that it was very important to explore the feasibility of offering targeted testing for the Ashkenazi JewishBRCAmutations in our healthcare system. This has been explored in other healthcare systems Australia, United Kingdom, Israel, Canada but we have yet to try it here. I think we were able to take a very unique approach to offering this expanded, more population-based test.

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Kelly Morgan, MS, CGC, on Exploring Targeted Testing for the Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA Mutation - Cancer Network

I’m a black reverend whose grandfather marched with King and Heschel. Here’s how white Jews can support black people right now. – JTA News

Posted By on June 1, 2020

ATLANTA (JTA) A lot of my Jewish friends are asking me how they can help and what needs to be done regarding the killing and lynching of individuals and families in the black community, most recently George Floyd.

To put yourselves in our shoes for a moment, imagine what the response of the Jewish community would be if George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor were Jewish?No doubt it would reach biblical proportions.

One of the main challenges to interfaith collaboration is that since every group prioritizes its own challenges, we put less work into reciprocity and interfaith collaboration. But those of us who seek to once again reestablish black-Jewish relations, we simply must learn to prioritize one anothers efforts as we do our own.

In order for our respective cultures to understand one anothers needs, there must first be real dialogue in order to understand and discover the priorities of each.

Each and every day, each and every one of your black friends including me lives with the real fear of being killed by police officers. Wed like for Jews to help us end the killing of innocent blacks with the exact same fervor, dedication and commitment that you show toward preserving and defending your own families and communities.

My doctoral research shows that in America, while white Jews were once forced to assimilate to survive, the Jewish community has become one of the most financially successful religious groups in the country. I believe that the main reason white racists are killing blacks right now is because by and large, the black community doesnt pose a credible threat to their economic security and personal freedoms.

Im asking the Jewish community to use your political and economic power to help us dismantle institutionalized racism and end white supremacy, particularly in law enforcement, the courts and all of society in general.

Im also asking you to be proud of who you are. If you wear a kippah, wear it loud and proud my black is beautiful. And your black is beautiful. Stop trying to pass as white (to those who are white passing) and let yourself experience the inconvenience of being people of color (which is what you are) even if youre a fair-skinned Ashkenazi Jew.

We know that there is power in numbers. The truthful acknowledgment of Jews as people of color will not only allow you to be your authentic selves, a people who protested and subsequently defeated Pharaoh, but it will cause a deep, transformational change in your hearts toward your black brothers and sisters, understanding the plight of blacks in white America. My friends, we may all be a different hue, but were all the same color.

Its also critically important to denounce any racist friends that you may have and speak against the racist Hamans that you personally know. Break any business ties with racist whites and divest from any ventures and capital projects with those individuals or corporations you know who support racist activity and expressions, even if it means risking your own financial interests.

Finally, embrace blacks as absolute equals. In the words of the writer Benjamin Kweskin, Be mindful that your diversity and inclusion isnt just a euphemism for tokenism. White racists view Jews (and all people of color) as the N-word, too. But the Jewish community has its own unique power to break the system of white supremacy in America.

When I attend Jewish solidarity rallies, there are only a handful of blacks amid thousands of Jews. When I attend black solidarity rallies, there are only a handful of Jews. If we can have meaningful, robust dialogue, understand one anothers priorities and come together, when Jewish communities are attacked by anti-Semites, then the black community will be there for you. And when injustices occur toward blacks, I believe that Jews will in turn be there to support our communities en masse as well.

We need each other. We can do infinitely more to bring about real justice, true freedom and democracy if we at last come together as one people.

My friends, white supremacy is our common enemy. If we all come together and apply Dr. Kings principles of nonviolent protest, organize mass economic divestiture, rewrite policy, change the rule of law and vote racists out of office, we can destroy white supremacy in America.

Its going to take exactly this type of radical approach if real change is what we want. If youve ever expressed interest in strengthening black-Jewish relations, now is the time.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.


I'm a black reverend whose grandfather marched with King and Heschel. Here's how white Jews can support black people right now. - JTA News

A peace treaty is not the license to extortion – Weekly Blitz

Posted By on June 1, 2020

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

For years, Egypt and Jordan have exploited their peace treaties with Israel as a tool of extortionto prevent Israel from pursuing its security and political interests.

In speeches by the new defense minister Benny Gantz and foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi at their swearing-in ceremonies, both declared fealty to the path of peace. I am obligated to do all that is possible to promote political settlements and to strive for peace, Gantz declared, while Ashkenazi stated: President Trumps peace plan is a historic opportunity. It will be promoted responsibly and in coordination with the United States, while maintaining the peace treaties.

If not for the unique political contextthe debate over applying Israels sovereignty to the Jordan Valleythe talk about the peace treaties would be both routine and proper. But in light of the threats about Israeli measures voiced by Jordans King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, along with the Israeli controversy on the matter, the words bear a special significance. They connote a kind of pledge to make Israeli decisions on sovereignty conditional on regional consent.

There is no disagreement that striving for peace is a worthy goal. The picture is made more complex, however, by the ways the peace treaties between Israel and its neighbors have been implemented. In the dynamic that has developed, those neighbors conduct toward Israel has frequently entailed the logic of granting peace in exchange for protection.

The Hashemite Kingdoms role in keeping the long border with Israel quiet is praiseworthy, and its value should be acknowledged. But when experts on Israeli-Jordanian relations recommend that for the sake of continued quiet on that long border Israel should refrain from steps it needs to take to realize its security interests in the Jordan Valley lest it forfeit the gains of peace, they are essentially acceding to that dynamic of extortion. It constitutes consent by the one receiving protection to the one providing it.

Countries that live in peace should certainly take each other into account when they make decisions. But the duty of mutual consideration, as reflected in Israels peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt, is far from symmetrical. From the start of the peace negotiations with Egypt, the demand that Israel solve the Palestinian issue was an essential condition. And indeed, senior officials in the Israeli Foreign Ministry and various commentators have long explained the coldness of the peace with Egypt by pointing to Israels supposed failure to meet that obligation. This is despite the fact that it was Yasser Arafat who rebuffed President Jimmy Carters request to join Israel, Egypt, and the US in the autonomy talks. A similar situation exists regarding the peace with Jordan.

The peace treaties gave Jordan and Egypt a means of influence and pressure that constrains Israels ability to implement its interests in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Jordan Valley. As far back as 1978, when the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David Accords were being drafted, the prominent Labor politician Yigal Allon warned of the danger of conditioning the Israeli-Egyptian peace on progress in the Palestinian sphere. He demanded an end to any interdependency: What will happen if the Arab side, when setting up the autonomy, poses conditions that Israel cannot accept? Clearly Egypt is seeking to maintain an explicit option to disengage from the normalization.

For many years before the peace treaty with Jordan in 1994, Israel provided invaluable assistance that ensured the survival of the Hashemite regime, from vital intelligence information and diplomatic aid to deterring Syria from an all-out invasion of Jordan during the Black September events of 1970. Many aspects of this covert assistance have continued all the more in the era of official peace, along with considerable overt benefits for Jordan such as Israels annual provision of one hundred million cubic meters of water. In other words, if Israeli-Jordanian peace has assumed the character of coexistence in exchange for protection, it is not because of its asymmetrical benefits to each country. Rather, it is because Ammanby far the weaker of the two partiesuses it as a means of extortion to stop Israel from pursuing its security and political interests, while Israeli governments have inexplicably acquiesced to this coercion.

At the critical geopolitical junction where Israel now stands, its free pursuit of its national interests would be nothing short of a declaration of independence.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for 42 years. He commanded troops in battles with Egypt and Syria. He was formerly a corps commander and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.

A previous version of this article was published inIsrael Hayomon May 20.

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A peace treaty is not the license to extortion - Weekly Blitz

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