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The Week In News

JANUARY 28, 2021 | The Jewish Home




Dear Readers, In this week’s Parsha we read how the Yidden didn’t return to Mitzraim after 3 days as Moshe Rabbeinu said they would. They also didn’t return the objects they borrowed from the Mitzri’im. Was this not a Chilul Hashem? Is it a Chilul Hashem to invite guests in Sedom? Were they wrong for tying a sheep to their bed in a land that worshipped sheep? How about forging passports to cross the Polish border after World War Two? Was refusing to work on Shabbos in the 1920’s a Chilul Hashem? Am I allowed to support a Democratic candidate if I live amongst Republicans? Can I vote Republican if my neighbors are Democrats? What should I do if my neighbors are both Republicans and Democrats? Is dressing like the larger community a Kiddush Hashem? How about singing like them, does that sanctify Hashem’s name? The first and foremost way of desecrating Hashem’s name is by going against His will and doing an aveira, chas v’shalom. This includes chillul Shabbos, being dishonest, not keeping Kosher or insulting someone. Doing such an action shows a disregard for the Creator and is essentially stating that He is irrelevant. Doing a Mitzvah shows He is indeed relevant in our lives. We also attempt to glorify His Name by having good manners, keeping the laws of the land or community practices, when they don’t contradict the Shulchan Aruch. What it doesn’t mean is finding favor in the eyes of the nations at any cost. Throughout history we have been frowned upon for our ways, for one reason, while our brethren elsewhere were treated like outcasts for the opposite reason. It makes no difference if the current fad is to speak a certain way or drive a certain car. Or

whether society is awed by the knowledge of sports players or how to be a foodie. We have our thousands-of-years-old Torah and Minhagim to guide every facet of our lives. From how we wake up to how we get dressed, what we learn and what we eat. How we speak and how we work - the Torah is our guide and our Chachamim the torch bearers. Fair-minded people eventually come to respect us. Our link to the past. Our honesty. Our regard for the sacred and the enormous value we place upon family life. We must always remember, it’s the Torah’s values that will ultimately gain respect, not changing with the times. Then there are the scoffers. Otherwise known as Amalek. To them anything authentically Jewish that represents a belief in a Creator is to be ridiculed. Openly, or often-times under the guise of a noble casue. It makes little difference. It’s ultimately the believing Jew they are after. To them we say: you are not our first Haman. Throughout the centuries, each Haman felt they were on top of the world, drunk with their own power. We outlasted them and their “modern” ways and we shall outlast you as well. We are an am chacham v’navon as well as an am k’shei oref in the positive sense. We will stick by our beliefs through thick and thin. Confident that the final Geulah is just around the corner, when we shall wake up from our upside down Golus dream and the world will see there is indeed a creator, that there is such a thing as objective morality and that good things do indeed happen to good people. May it be speedily in our days. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,


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JANUARY 28, 2021 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

The Gate of All Goodness Is Through ‫תפילה‬ Seforim tell us that ‫תפילה‬ is the gate to all the ‫אוצרות משמים‬. This is to say, that even a person who is deserving to be saved from a difficult situation, or to receive something really good from Hashem, might not receive that bracha without ‫תפילה‬. So too, a person who does not necessarily deserve a ‫ ישועה‬or something really good from Hashem, might get it anyway, through ‫תפילה‬.

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Living with In theNews Times The Week

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

JANUARY 28, 2021 | The Jewish Home

We Have the Light

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman This week, we follow the Bnei Yisroel as they finally leave Mitzrayim and cross through the Yam Suf to freedom. Four-fifths of the Jewish people were unworthy of redemption and perished during the makkah of choshech. As the Bnei Yisroel followed Hashem’s instructions and gathered at the river’s shore, Paroh and his forces chased after them. The people raised their voices in prayer to Hashem that He save them from the grip of their evil pursuers. Hashem appeared to Moshe (Shemos 14:15) and told him that this was not a time for prayer. “Tell the Bnei Yisroel that they should move ahead” into the water, Moshe was instructed. Rav Chaim Volozhiner, in Nefesh Hachaim (1:9), explains that Hashem said that they should move forward, because escaping Mitzrayim’s clutches was up to them. If they would display emunah and bitachon in Hashem by listening to Moshe and venturing into the water, then in the merit of their belief that the water would split for them, the water will miraculously part and allow the Bnei Yisroel safe passage out of Mitzrayim. Sometimes, the koach of tefillah is not sufficient to merit salvation, but maintaining faith in Hashem’s ability to change the forces of nature and help his people brings about salvation. I was discussing this concept with my cousin, Rav Yisroel Menachem Levin, and he referred me to the posuk in Mishlei (18:14) which states, “Ruach ish yechalkel machaleihu - A man’s spirit will heal him his sickness.” The Vilna Gaon (ibid.) explains that a person can overpower his sickness with happiness. Rav Dovid Goldberg explains that the reason for this is because a happy person is someone who has emunah and bitachon. A person who has faith is happy because he has no fears, knowing that Hashem will help him. His illness will therefore be cured. People who have emunah and bitachon are blessed with special Divine intervention on their behalf. At the end of the parsha (17:8), we read how Amaleik attacked the Jewish people. Moshe, Aharon, Yehoshua and

Chur led the battle against them. The posuk relates that when Moshe raised his hands, the Jews advanced in their battle. The Mishnah teaches that when the Jews put their faith in the Aibishter, they won. That emunah and bitachon remained with them until Seder Bamidbar. The parsha ends as Hashem instructs Moshe to write down the story of Amaleik’s attack and know that He will erase the memory of Amaleik. Until that happens with Moshiach’s arrival, we face attacks from Amaleik in every generation. Amaleik, the nation of asher korcha baderech, works assiduously, with various guises, to temper Jewish belief. When the members of Klal Yisroel asserted themselves, they emerged strong. The encounter with Amaleik tightened their connection to Hashem and brought them closer to the moment of Har Sinai. Similarly, in every generation, when Amaleik attacks us, he causes us to reaffirm our

of their possessions. Beaten and barely holding on, they establish roots in a new country. Slowly, they become accepted and comfortable in the new host country. Good times are had by all, but then, just as times are so good that it seems as if Moshiach has come and brought us home, the cycle begins again. The goyim get fed up with us, the noose tightens, and, before we know it, Amaleik has us on the run again. This time it is different, for we have been told that America will be the final stop in this exile. When we leave here, it will be to go to Eretz Yisroel. As the new administration takes over and begins undoing as much as it can of what President Trump accomplished, many will not be pleased. They may notice that many of those in leadership positions in the administration, congress and the senate are Jews. Those on the right will be blaming “The Jews” for what is happening and those on the left, well they don’t

People who have emunah and bitachon are blessed with special Divine intervention on their behalf. beliefs and turn to Hashem. This is why Hashem promises that our archenemy will be ever-present until the redemption. He keeps us in line, and as we battle him, we reaffirm our belief. As we adapt to our host country in the exile, people grow comfortable with their surroundings and begin assimilating and adopting the outside culture. When that happens, the host nation begins despising us, overt anti-Semitism reappears, and Jews are reminded of who we are and what we are about. Throughout our history, this pattern has been followed. Jews get comfortable and then are forced from their homes to a new exile. There is much pain and anguish. Jews are mercilessly killed and robbed

like us much anyway. It can be expected that we will need extra zechuyos and siyata d’shmaya over next couple years to keep us out of sights of those who would do us harm. Amaleik is ever-present, bombarding us with new challenges, moral, legal and ethical. In the spirit of “asher korcha,” he seeks to cool us from our devotion to Torah and mitzvos. Sometimes, they sound intelligent and sophisticated, while at other times, they are directed at man’s baser temptations. When people begin doubting halacha or mesorah; when people throw up roadblocks to shemiras hamitzvos; when they mock our values and talmidei chachomim, seeking to adapt Torah to other cultures

and religions; when they say that we must be more open-minded or accepting, we should recognize the voice of Amaleik. To survive, we must remain faithful to our mesorah, unyielding in our devotion to Torah, untempted by anything that introduces conduct foreign to our upbringing. Rishonim and Acharonim remind us that what transpired to our forefathers is a precursor of what will happen to us. “Maaseh avos siman labonim.” The trajectory of the Jews in Mitzrayim foretells what will happen to us as we approach our period of redemption. The Jewish people, dispersed around the world, will be faced with many nisyonos. We will suffer until the appointed time arrives. Today, we live in the period of ikvesa deMeshicha, leading up to Moshiach’s arrival. Just as during the period leading up to the redemption from Mitzrayim there was a plague of darkness, so too, in our day, there is darkness all around us. We are confronted by a constantly changing society, one that is plagued by ebbing morals and a host of temptations that invade our lives. We cannot allow ourselves to fall prey to the vagaries of the moment. In order to merit the coming of Moshiach, we have to exert ourselves to remain loyal to that which makes us great. We are confounded by many tests, as the level of tumah rises around us and so many are blinded to the obvious truth. The challenges are tough. The tests to our emunah and bitachon are great. Tzaros abound. The good suffer, the weak squabble, and Jews around the world fear the future. We can only imagine what transpired during the awful period of Egyptian slavery, as tens of thousands of grandchildren of Yaakov Avinu gave up hope. Mitzrayim, with its dark and corrupt values and attitudes, began to appeal to them. And then the plague of darkness descended on the country and those poor souls who had succumbed to the pressures slipped away into oblivion. Only one-fifth of the Jews made it through the plague of darkness. The challenge is to realize that what appears to be light, what seems to be glitzy and attractive, might be darkness in a disguise. The Brisker Rov spent Shabbos in a hotel for the sheva brachos of one of his sons. The Rov was careful not to benefit from electricity on Shabbos in Eretz Yisroel, because the electric production facilities are operated by Jews. A talmid volunteered to arrange for the hotel to provide a large room in which the lights would be off for them to daven and eat in. For whatever reason, the job wasn’t done, and when the Rov walked into the

Living with In theNews Times The Week

JANUARY 28, 2021 | The Jewish Home

room, the lights were shining brightly. He immediately left the room and found a small, dark place where there was no light. He announced that they would be using that room over Shabbos. In obvious distress, the talmid approached the Rov to apologize. “I am so sorry,” he said, “that the large room is lichtig (illuminated).” The Rov responded with a surprised look on his face. “Dort iz lichtig?” he asked, indicating the first, well-lit room. “Doh iz lichtig!” he said, pointing to the small, darkened room around him where Yidden sat davening. Our way of life is lichtig. The Torah is lichtig. Proper observance of Shabbos creates a lichtige environment. Where shomrei Torah umitzvos gather, it is lichtig. Just as during the makkah of choshech, when the Jews had light even as the whole country was thrust into darkness, so too, in our day, when there is a confluence of obscurity and deception, and distortion and disinformation hold sway, we need to remain allegiant to authenticity, truth and justice. At a time that cries out for light in so many ways, let us each do our share to shine some light on a dark world and help reveal the truths about the occurrences of our time, so that we may be better prepared for the coming redemption. We see many things that are plainly obvious to us, yet we see how the media, culture and outside world misinterpret and lie in order to further their agenda. In the outside world, darkness rules, truth is of little importance, and lies are accepted as fact. As we see forces of darkness gaining, we must not capitulate and surrender. We need to remember that lev melochim vesorim beYad Hashem and intensify our emunah and bitachon so that Hashem will be kind to us. We mustn’t be misled and fall prey to media narratives pushing a new moral code and driving anti-religious agendas. They appeal to the heart, emotions and minds of a new generation. People are enticed by charismatic speakers, charming thoughts and moving tales. Purveyors of darkness wrap their goods in color and glitter to entice unsuspecting people. We must take care not to confuse the important with the inconsequential. We live in the lap of luxury, with the pleasure bar constantly rising. We spend time engaged in trivial pursuits instead of engaging in activities that accrue real benefits. When priorities are misplaced and we become entwined with the inconsequential and frivolous, our lives become perilous. We must remember that there is strength

in humility and nobleness in character. In a world where greatness is elusive, mediocrity is mistaken for superiority. Fairness has been replaced with intolerance, as those who called for unity work towards

establishing division. The looming darkness doesn’t have to envelop us. We are different. Torah and mitzvos bring us light and meaning that drive out the darkness of makkas choshech

and the depravity of Amaleik. May we be blessed with the luminous lives promised for those who maintain emunah and bitachon even through difficult circumstances.

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Sarah's The WeekCorner In News


JANUARY 28, 2021 | The Jewish Home

Imagination Creates Chemistry Sarah Pachter

“It is our imagination which is responsible for love, not the other person.â€? Marcel Proust Kelly shared the story of her very first conversation with Jeff, her now husband. A mutual friend suggested the match, and Jeff was given Kelly’s number. One Friday afternoon, Jeff called. After they introduced themselves, Kelly casually excused herself, saying, “Well, I gotta go, thanks for calling, bye!â€? No explanation was given, and no apologies extended. The conversation lasted less than thirty seconds. Jeff was left flabbergasted. All throughout high school and college, he was considered a ‘catch.’ Girls typically flocked to him, and he was never without a date or admirer. Most girls would try to extend a phone conversation with him, or make sure a date was set up. Someone like Kelly, so cavalier and nonchalant, seemed‌ exciting. From Kelly’s vantage point, she simply had to go, and figured at some point he’d call again. According to Jeff, “After that moment, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. The chase was on.â€?

hand, is the space to feel alive. She claims imagination bridges the gap between the two, and is where desire can grow and intimacy can rekindle. In fact, Perel asked couples in twenty different countries the following question: When do you find yourself most drawn to your partner?

When vacationing to a foreign destination, every part of the experience can become an adventure, and the senses, especially visually, are enticed. That same vacation, the fourth time around, won’t elicit the same pleasure.

of answers shared a For example, “I am partner when she is apart, and then when

When our partner is not physically present or available, a space is formed for imagination to flourish. When either spouse gets in touch with the ability to imagine him or herself with the partner, desire can rekindle. Perel relayed in a recent TED Talk2, “When imagination comes back in the picture, and a couple can root it in absence and in longing, the flames of desire can grow. Space, or distance, is the oxygen to that fire.�

“When my partner is radiant and self-sustaining.�

Perel specializes in marriages that have faced devastating issues, like infidelity. She suggests that imagination is a strong tool that can repair and sustain relationships. She spent years exploring the tension between every person’s need for security and freedom, within the framework of a marriage.

“Watching her doing something she is passionate about. Seeing her in her element and succeeding, like on stage or performing.�


“When we laugh together.�

The first group theme of distance. most drawn to my away, when we are we reunite.�

Esther Perel1, a famous marriage therapist, is well known for her ability to rekindle love amongst even the most challenging of relationships.

“When he surprises me.�

“When we share an experience that is new or exotic.�

The second most common answer had to do with self-sufficiency. Some answers participants shared:


The third type of answer contained elements of surprise and novelty.

A few answers kept surfacing, irrespective of religion, culture, or gender.

The imagination plays a powerful role in romance, dating, and even marriage.

Security and freedom are two desirable characteristics within a relationship that often clash. Security, although we crave it, squelches desire. Freedom, on the other

self-reliant. Perel explains that caretaking undermines romance, and is a powerful anti-aphrodisiac.

“When I’m looking at my partner from a comfortable distance.�

Perel explains, “Here again, the partner seems somewhat elusive and distant in this space, and the imagination can spark.� This group of answers emphasises self-sufficiency. There is no neediness, and the partner is capable, strong, and



The common thread amongst these answers is the power that imagination holds in our relationships. When we are apart from our spouse, when he or she seems confident and capable, and when there is novelty present, our imagination lights up, which enhances pleasure. The Torah gives us the perfect formula for creating positive distance and cultivating imagination within the framework of marriage: the laws of family purity. Short term separation provides oxygen to the flame of intimacy, and allows for a renewed reunion every month. We can bring this concept into dating, as well. I often share the following ‘painting’ example with my students. Suppose a guy asks you out for Tuesday at 2:00pm. You look at your calendar, and realize the painter is coming to fix the cabinets at that time. You have been trying to nail the painter down for months, and this is the only time he is available. Students ask me, “Should I cancel the painter?� My firm answer every time is, “Absolutely not!� Keeping to your schedule indicates lack of neediness and availability, both attractive to the other party. (It should be noted that if you are never available, you

might consider restructuring your life to make dating a priority.) How you explain your lack of availability is equally important, and that is where the power of imagination can come into play. You don’t have to share that you have a painter coming. Imagine for a moment this text conversation: You: Oh, Tuesday I can’t. Him: Why, what’s going on? You: Wouldn’t you like to know... đ&#x;˜‰ Or, simply: You: I have plans‌ If you tell the guy that painters are coming, his imagination shuts off. If you keep it vague, his curiosity is sparked, and you immediately become more interesting. The Torah also provides an opportunity for building imagination within the dating realm. Shomer negia (a Torah law referring to refraining from touching the opposite sex before marriage) provides a healthy structure within which imagination can build. This message of imagination is particularly poignant during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the largest problems we face is the ability for singles to meet safely during this time. Most have turned to Zoom meetings as a temporary bandage to this larger issue. Although it is in no way ideal, there are benefits to this mode of communication. Zoom creates natural distance, and invites an element of imagination. Of course, a relationship built exclusively on imagination can turn the relationship into something it is not. However, a healthy imagination can spark desire, motivation, and become the energy to help bring a relationship to the next level. Both Torah and secular authorities espouse the connection between imagination and intimacy. This is a powerful tool that can be utilized to build closeness in any relationship.


OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

JANUARY 28, 2021 | The Jewish Home

From Outcast to Ally

a sea of hostility. And yet, while it can be understood and even justified, Israel has had to pay a steep price for this self-image. While Israel is located in the Middle East, it has hardly been part of it. Israelis today feel much closer to Paris, London, and even New York, than they do to, say, Amman, Jordan, a city that today they can technically visit and is located a mere 45 miles from Jerusalem. Baghdad, the commercial hub frequented by Palestine’s Jews 80 years ago, is today viewed by the average Israeli the same way the average European or North American does – a fter the passing of Chacham Ova- its back to the Mediterranean and ene- faraway, scary place, populated mostly by people would kill them if they could. dia Yosef, theofgreat leader Sepmies on all sides. past its bornearly all of the region’swho governments declared Baghdad. Yaakov, a book dealerLooking by trade, would fter the passing Chacham OvadiaofYowar. Many even expelled their Jewish populations. travel frequently to the family’s city of origin to sef, the great leader of Sephardic Jewry, a There have been many diplomathardic Jewry, a stream of articles ders was not an option. The only viable This drastic shift thrust the country into a state stream of articles and memoirs were writ- sell and restock. They would ride from the Beit and memoirs were written to eulogize and approach was to hunker down and protect ic andeals in Israel’s short history. Some of affairs, indeed entire mindsight, that would ten to eulogize and commemorate the revered Yisrael neighborhood down Derech Chevron to the characterize for sevenmonumental, decades: Fortress Israel. Jerusalem Station. From there, they would sage. commemorate the revered sage. the Train inside from the outside. To be sure, itwere some minor. Some Since its inception, Israel has seen itself as a facet of the rabbi’s upbringing in 1930s Pal- board the early morning bus and be in central A Afacet of the rabbi’s upbringing in this attitude was far from unhinged. In successful, some less so. But the most resmall Middle East enclave, with its back to the Baghdad by late afternoon. estine that many writers highlighted was how 1930s Palestine that was many high- Anecdotes its first years of existence, Israel cent roundonof kicked off by the soMediterranean and enemies all deals, sides. Looking likethirty these from the pre-state years involved young Ovadia withwriters his father’s past its borders was notAbraham an option. The only via- back in August, highlight a bygone reality, a time when travbusiness affairs, even as a small child. Economic fought three existential wars and rebuffed called Accords lighted was how involved young Ovadia el, commerce, and connectivity in general with ble approach was to hunker down and protect the conditions meant that young Ovadia was often individual incidents of incursion too nu- is unique. was with his father’s business affairs, neighboring nations was the norm for the pop- inside from the outside. To be sure, this attitude needed to lend a hand. While other dealsyears have only marked even One as set a of small child. Economic condimerous to count. countries too was far from unhinged. In its first thirty of Eretz Yisrael. That, of Enemy course, changed stories that I found particularly in- ulation of existence, Israel fought three existential wars overnight with the formation of the State of Israteresting told of little Ovadia’s numerous business the ending of war, these deals have exfar to launch actual attacks on the Jewish tions meant that young Ovadia was often and rebuffed individual incidents of incursion too el. In response to Israel declaring independence, trips with his father Yaakov – trips to his native state did the best they could by providing plicitly sought to forge an active peace. It needed to lend a hand. One set of stories that I found partic- money and weapons. So yes, Israel had is difficult to overstate the significance of ularly interesting told of little Ovadia’s ample reason to view itself as a bastion in this development. Simply put, this trend numerous business trips with his father Yaakov – trips to his native Baghdad. Yaakov, a book dealer by trade, would travel frequently to the family’s city of origin to sell and restock. They would ride from the Beit Yisrael neighborhood down Derech Chevron to the Jerusalem Train Station. From there, they would board the early morning bus and be in central Baghdad by late afternoon. Anecdotes like these from the prestate years highlight a bygone reality, a time when travel, commerce, and connectivity in general with neighboring nations was the norm for the population of Eretz Yisrael. That, of course, changed overnight with the formation of the State of Israel. In response to Israel declaring independence, nearly all of the region’s governments declared war. Many even expelled their Jewish populations. This drastic shift thrust the country into a state of affairs, indeed an entire mindsight, that would characterize it for seven decades: Fortress Israel. Since its inception, Israel has seen itself as a small Middle East enclave, with

The Real-World Effects of Israel’s Normalization Deals BY SHAMMAI SISKIND


Feature The Week In News

of normalization with surrounding countries has the potential to radically transform the country’s interactions with its neighbors and add a completely new dimension to what it means to live in Israel. No doubt it will take time before the full repercussions come into play (especially in the era of the COVID crisis). But the effects of these accords are already being felt. TWO POWERHOUSES MEET Let’s begin with the United Arab Emirates, the most significant treaty within the Abraham Accords. Interestingly, both Israel and the Emirates share some very similar interests, especially today, when the effects of a global health crisis are being felt equally by all. Dubai, which has the most diversified economy in the region, saw its gross domestic product (GDP) contract 3.5% in the 1st quarter from the COVID fallout. This was a major letdown following two years of modest growth. Israel is facing a very similar situation. After years of a steadily expanding economy and record low unemployment,



Feature The Week In News

JANUARY 28, 2021 | The Jewish Home


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on. After nd record is facing about six ped from 23.5% by ently posns.

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the Israeli economy is facing a severe recession, with GDP falling by about six percent over 2020. Unemployment jumped from 3.4% in the beginning of the year to 23.5% by May. Normalization could have an eminently positive impact on recovery for both nations. First and foremost is commerce. Being at odds with most Middle Eastern nations for most of its history, Israel has always had a challenge securing cheap energy. Israelis would benefit greatly if they could purchase UAE oil. Israeli technology would, in turn, have a booming market for many of its most cutting-edge industries. From hi-tech to defense, Emirati customers are hungry for Israeli products. One recent news feature in Israeli media told of a local medical technology firm that had received multiple requests from Mediterranean metropolis of Tel Aviv of Haifa, for instance, a city with a mixed and various Muslim holy sites throughthe Israelis healthcareare establishment UAE willing Arabhave and the Jewish population, travel of UAE investment potential to create also morein than to visit over the past several years. The compaagencies are gearing up for the demand. out the that country. UAE, as evidenced from the thousands flew demand for whole new industries. Several collabThe Emirates have already begun Advertisements can already be seen disny had to bend over backwards to delivoration projects UAE andtoIsrael fields from Ben Gurion to Dubai over the past month travel to Israel between er their products and were rarely ever preparations for making playing deals for trips Testimospace exploration, civil aviation, water and a half. Butdemand the fullfrom potential part of tourism their tourist including industry. Reports to meet all the Emiratiof Israeli nials from individual agencies confirm: have recently come out that the country’s clients. That changed literally overnight the interest in these deals is from Jews technology, and renewable energy are already in to UAE is only beginning to be tapped. Currently, with the signing of the normalizations premier airline Emirates will launch dai- and Arabs alike. most of the millions of Israelis who travel abroad the works. This type of growth will, in turn, reorideal. In all, Israeli officials have esti- ly nonstop flights between Dubai and Tel Of course, the other side of the coment the Israeli market to include a regional focus, each year head to Europe or the United States, but Aviv beginning February 15, 2021. The mated exports to the UAE will quickly merce coin is investment. Israeli startups

The fortress image has given way to that of the regional partner. that could now change. In Israel’s third largest

which means not only a more prosperous Israel

ued even through the tumultuous second half of 2020. But these companies have always had to

other nations that have joined thus far also come with important benefits for Israel.

reach $300 to $500 million a year and airline has allegedly already received as a whole have seen persistent rises in but a more regionally integrated city of Haifa, instance, a city slots withfrom a mixed the Israel Airports Authority eventually producefor a multi-billion-dollar fundraising over theIsrael. past several years, and has been at work since September market. a trend that has continued even through Arab and Jewish population, travel agencies producing its kosher catering facility in Another important sector, with imthe tumultuous second half of 2020. But MORE THAN A ONE-OFF are gearing up for the demand. Advertisements Dubai. these companies have always had to look plications beyond mere economics, is Many have tried to undermine the so-called can already be seen displaying dealsIsraelis for trips to are also more than will- far abroad for their capital. Now, firms tourism. In addition to creating more “wave of normalization” bysource pointing out that the Dubai.forTestimonials from individual agencies for seeking this vital revenue hospitality, attractions, and ing to visit UAE, as evidenced from the have a local investment. UAE venture capital in Issimilar businesses, the direct interaction thousands that flew from Ben Gurion to other nations to sign on, other than UAE, are confirm: the interest in these deals is from Jews between Israelis and Emiratis is central Dubai over the past month and a half. rael is predicted to reach $350 million a simply not that significant geopolitically and and Arabs alike. to promoting and maintaining relations But the full potential of Israeli tourism year. economically. course, theitsother side toof the commerce over Of time. Israel for part, wants to UAE is only beginning to be tapped. It’s important to note that more inThere are twovestment responses to this. coin is investment. Israeli startups as a most whole attract business for its tourism industry Currently, of the millions of Israelis doesn’t just mean more rewhich constitutes six percent of its entire who travel abroad each year head to Eusources for existinga companies. all First, while UAE is without doubt theLike most have seen persistent rises in fundraising over gross domestic product. Key attractions rope or the United States, but that could of the new economic channels between important country to solidify normalization, the the past several years, a trend that has continfor Emirati travelers would include the now change. In Israel’s third largest city Israel and the Emirates, the benefits of

UAE investment have the potential to create demand for whole new industries. Several collaboration projects between UAE and Israel in fields including space exploration, civil aviation, water technology, and renewable energy are already in the works. This type of growth will, in turn, reorient the Israeli market to include a regional focus, which means not only a more prosperous Israel but a more regionally integrated Israel. MORE THAN A ONE-OFF Many have tried to undermine the socalled “wave of normalization” by pointing out that the other nations to sign on, other than UAE, are simply not that significant geopolitically and economically. There are two responses to this. First, while UAE is without a doubt the most important country to solidify normalization, the other nations that have joined thus far also come with important benefits for Israel. Morocco, for instance, holds many of the same promises for Israel, albeit on a smaller scale. Following the normalization announcement, Adiv Baruch, chairman of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute (IEICI) that oversees exports from Israel, told media outlets that the potential for cooperation with Morocco and mutual trade is enormous. Agriculture and healthcare are by far the two areas Morocco is most interested in Israeli goods and services. IEICI expects trade in these and other areas to

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quickly exceed $100 million and top $1 billion over the next three years. Even Sudan, a relatively weak and as of now unstable country, has what to offer Israel. The country has for years struggled to kick off its natural resource-linked industries like agriculture and mineral mining. Other sectors like civil aviation are also in desperate need of competent guidance and service. Khartoum is eager to secure Israel’s help for these and other sectors. Second – and this is really the key – the fact that normalization has not consisted of one stand-alone deal, rather a regional trend, is what makes the phenomenon so important. The reason these deals are so momentous is not because of any particular economic or diplomatic win. They are significant because they to credit was a much-needed relief for THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM present a paradigm shift. the decades country, long reelingclear fromthat economic Any diplomatic development (espeLong in the making, Israel has gradFirst, Israel spent making it healthcare are by far the two areas Morocco is instability. The Emirates were promised ually and successfully transformed its cially one in the Middle East) is never most interested in Israeli goods and services. refused to be destroyed. The country demonstratimage from the persona non grata of the fully understood without considering the by the American administration access ed it was bold, daring, and here to stay. IEICI in these and other areas to to advanced weapons systems previousMiddle expects East to antrade important and even full range of incentives each party has. welcomed ally. There were two, long and This, at the end of the day, is the only ly off-limits Middle Eastern The second step, no lesstodaunting than nations the quickly exceed $100 million and top $1 billion arduous making this happen. means to get a solid perspective such region as the lauded stealth fighter first, was on to what show the thatF-35 it was able and– a over thestages nextinthree years. First, Israel spent decades making the long term may hold. point of the deal even many Israeli offiwilling to be an asset to its neighbors. Step-byEven Sudan, a relatively weak andWhile as ofthe now clear that it refused to be destroyed. The mutually beneficial ele- cials were uncomfortable with. step and progress has been made inlooming the effort unstable country, has Israel. The tourism, country demonstrated it waswhat bold, to dar-offer And, of course, in thefor backments of trade, easing of

Israel has gradually and successfully transformed its image from the persona non grata of the Middle East to an important and even welcomed ally. ing, and here to stay. tensions were the components that made ground is the proverbial elephant in the a long time. And they have now hit the tipping country has for years struggled to kick off its The second step, no less daunting most headlines, there was certainly no room: the Iranian threat. point.meted Interaction between Israel and the coun-as a natural resource-linked industries like amount agriculthan the first, was to show the region that small After years of building an image of kickbacks out in tries that surround it are no state, longer limitednuclear to ture mining. like civil it wasand able mineral and willing to be anOther asset tosectors radical pariah developing these deals. its neighbors. Step-by-step progress has technology, investing billions in militanThe U.S. recognized Morocco’s anbackchannels and secret trade deals. The foraviation are also in desperate need of competent been made in the effort for a long time. nexation of Western Sahara, a territo- tism, and promoting its so-called “Shia tress image has given way to that of the regional guidance and service. Khartoum is eager to seAnd they have now hit the tipping point. ry that has been in dispute for the past Crescent” policy to unite the region’s Shicure Israel’s helpIsrael for these and other sectors. Interaction between and the counforty years. Sudan partner. was removed from ite Muslims into a pro-Tehran coalition, Washington’s terror blacklist, ending concern over the Ayatollahs has become triesSecond that surround are no – andit this islonger reallylimthe key – the fact the country’s 27-year-long designation INthe single biggest geopolitical factor in ited to backchannels and secret trade THE ROOM that normalization has not consisted of one stand- THE ELEPHANT deals. The fortress image has given way as a supporter of violent extremism. The the Middle East today. Indeed, Bahrain, Any diplomatic development (especially one in alone deal, rather a regional trend, is what makes unfettering of the Sudanese economy the second country to seal a deal with Isto that of the regional partner. theopening Middle East) israel never understood withthe phenomenon so important. Thefrom reason these and restrictions avenues after fully the Emirates, has been pretty out considering the full range of incentives each deals are so momentous is not because of any particular economic or diplomatic win. They are party has. This, at the end of the day, is the only

in these deals. The U.S. recognized Morocco’s annexa Western Sahara, a territory that has been pute for the past forty years. Sudan was re from Washington’s terror blacklist, endi country’s 27-year-long designation as a su er of violent extremism. The unfettering Sudanese economy from restrictions and o avenues to credit was a much-needed relief country, long reeling from economic insta The Emirates were promised by the Americ ministration access to advanced weapons s previously off-limits to Middle Eastern n such as the lauded F-35 stealth fighter – a of the deal even many Israeli officials we comfortable with. And, of course, looming in the backgro the proverbial elephant in the room: the I threat. After years of building an image as a r pariah state, developing nuclear technolo vesting billions in militantism, and promot open (relatively thatpolicy counterso-called “Shiaspeaking) Crescent” to unite ing Iranian wasathe main gion’s Shiiteencroachment Muslims into pro-Tehran coa impetus for entering the Accords. concern over the Ayatollahs has become the Does this mean the entire trend is biggest factorainbulwark the Middle E merely geopolitical an effort to solidify against Iran? Is the Abraham Accords day. Indeed, Bahrain, the second country an aggrandized stunt based solely a simply deal with Israel after the Emirates, ha on the-enemy-of-my-enemy premise? pretty open (relatively speaking) that coun Those views are overly cynical. While Iranian encroachment main impe the importance of the Iran was factorthe cannot and should not be minimized, it would be entering the Accords. a gross simplification to reduce the entire Does this mean the entire trend is mer trend to that. The truth is, the commoneffort to solidify a bulwark against Iran? ality of interests between Israel and the Abraham Accords simply rest of the region has been close an for aaggrandized long time, long before Iran posed the danger it based solely on the-enemy-of-my-enemy pre does today. True, ideology does and will Those views are overly cynical. While t continue to play a strong role in the Midportance of the Iran factor cannot and shou dle East. Connection to tribe and faith are bepart minimized, it would a gross of the very fabric of lifebe in this area simplifi of the world. But at the same time – and The tr to reduce the entire trend to that. not necessarily undermining traditional the commonality of interests between Isra loyalties – a pragmatic trend has been the restrise. of Shifts the region hasnorms, beenthe close for on the in political time, long before Iran posed the danger introduction of digital communications and similar technology, and demographtoday. True, ideology does and will conti ics quickly becoming younger have all play a strong role in the Middle East. Conn contributed to a rise in tolerance as well toastribe and faith are part old of the very fabric a willingness to reconsider models inofthis of the world. But at the sam doingarea things. Granted, these trends making government old guards –are and not many necessarily undermining trad nervous, although many have chosen to loyalties – a pragmatic trend has been accept and try to ride the changing tides rise. Shiftstoin political as opposed fight them. norms, the introd of digital similar tec One ofcommunications the biggest winnersand of this trend has been, and will continue to be, gy, and demographics quickly becoming yo Israel. It is a country with energy, innohave all contributed to a rise in tolerance vation, and real-world advantages for asthose a willingness reaching outto in reconsider friendship.     old models o things. Granted, these trends are making government old guards nervous, although

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Armed with Spirit: A Father’s Advice to his Son in the Israeli Army Based on the Weekly Torah Portions by Rabbi Shalom Hammer “I always tell Americans who make aliyah that they do not become full-fledged Israelis until they see their first child drafted into the army. While that moment makes people anxious, it is also a moment of tremendous pride and gratification,” writes renowned lecturer and Torah scholar Rabbi Shalom Hammer in Armed with Spirit: A Father’s Advice to his Son in the Israeli Army Based on the Weekly Torah Portions. Hammer’s pride and respect for his son Yakov reverberate in this thoughtful book, which manages to be both a work of the intellect and the heart. As a work of profound scholarship, the reader learns much about the parashiot and chagim. As a record of a father and son’s private correspondence, the reader is moved by the honesty in their relationship and inspired by the commitment of Israeli soldiers. Over the course of the three years that Yakov served in Tzahal, his father sent him divrei Torah via WhatsApp. These words were meant to encourage Yakov, as a religious young man in the Israeli Army, surrounded by mostly secular soldiers from the Shomer Hatzair Kibbutz movement. As a lecturer in the IDF and a teacher for pre-military academies, Hammer was well-aware of the challenges Yakov would face. Hammer conveys many messages to

Gefen Publishing House 265 pp. his son through his Torah thoughts – whether they be insights into the human psyche, thoughts about the Land of Israel, or reflections on the secular vs. religious soldier. Much of the give and take discusses the unique role of the soldier in the IDF, particularly the religious one. Following the Torah gems (which are mostly on the Torah portion, but sometimes focus on chagim or special days in the Jewish calendar), are Yakov’s reflections. The pairing works well (clearly identified in a different font); although Yakov’s responses are usually brief (with little downtime in his demanding schedule), his comments show the depth of their relationship, the authentic give and take between the two, and the real struggles of young religious soldiers. For example, when Rabbi Hammer writes to Yakov on Yom HaShoah about the hallowed role of Israeli soldiers being the, “elite responders reminding the world, ‘Never again,’” Yakov replies, “Abba, one of the most popular questions posed by my

Reviewed by Devorah Talia Gordon

fellow chayalim who are secular is, if there is a G-d, then how could He have allowed the Holocaust to happen?” While his father’s response is validating, it also overflows with humility and emunah. These are the types of real exchanges and struggles we are privy to in the book, as well as issues such as kashrut problems on army bases, soldiers not knowing basics about Jewish belief and practice, and staying inspired when performing mitzvos (both in and out of the army). It would be wonderful if the reader could hear more from Yakov, since his insights and daily challenges are what give this book so much of its originality and texture. One of the most moving passages was a long one, where Yakov tells about completing a grueling, twenty-kilometer trek around sunrise on morning. While the other soldiers took the much-needed pause for some time to rest, Yakov donned tefillin and davened Shachris. Yakov is candid, however, about his inner struggle to do so;

and shares the keen observation that moments such as these make it much harder for religious youth to stay strong in the army service. Hammer does a fine job of raising religious and political issues, not in a didactic manner, but giving the reader the opportunity to explore the issue. For example, his son raises his concern about secular Israelis perhaps feeling apologetic for the “Israeli occupation;” Hammer and his son discuss the need to educate Israelis who may not want to relate to Judaism but at “the very least they need to be made aware of what Judaism and Israel have to offer from a historical and cultural one.” Many exchanges, such as this one, make this book worthwhile, even if the reader has different political or religious views from Hammer. In fact, it seems the reader who could benefit most (perhaps after a religious chayil) is the one who has dissimilar views, and can learn about the religious Zionist perspective. Most of all, the reader of Armed with Spirit will walk away with more respect for Israeli soldiers, for the sacrifices they endure to protect Eretz Yisroel, and the way they are taught, as Yakov writes, “to lead by example for our soldiers and for our nation.”


Global Shalom Movement T. Schiller If there’s one commodity that has flourished in recent months, it’s opinions. Opinions about masks, minyanim, simchos, vaccines, and the all- time favorite- politics. The by-product of said surge in opinions has been a spike in tensions, dividing family, friends and communities the world over. With animosities at an all-time high, many of us long for the days when we could shmooze without fear of offending anyone with our opinions. Yet we can’t imagine relationships returning to normal when our views are still so at odds or we have been deeply offended. Enter the Shalom Challenge, the timely brainchild of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. A global initiative to be Marbeh Shalom through a fresh and engaging framework. Completely free, the campaign is already raising awareness and gaining momentum even though it only officially launches on February 4th, which was planned to coincide with the Yahrzeit of the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva Z”L. With one look at the Shalom Challenge home page, you know that this is something we haven’t seen before. The chal-

lenge is essentially a call to arms for Jews the world over to “Take Shalom Viral”. You can join as an individual, join a team, or create your own team. Whichever function you choose, you will inevitably be joining family, friends and countless communities on a mutual quest to re-connect and get along better. All buzz aside though, the Shalom Challenge has a very practical and concrete side to it as well. According to Mr. Michael Rothschild, Founder of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation “The Shalom Challenge is a four-week journey of wisdom and inspiration that will have an incredible impact on our relationships and our ability to respect the opinions of others.” When the program officially launches, participants will begin to receive short daily videos or messages via email or Whatsapp, and each week the focus will shift to a different aspect of Shalom. The team behind the Shalom Challenge obviously put a lot of thought into the program. They broke it down into key elements that address the most common

impediments to Shalom and worked hard to make the content of the daily messages thought provoking, practical and most importantly inspiring. The issue of shalom is complex and it affects how we relate as distinct communities within klal yisrael, how we relate to our acquaintances and family, and how we relate to those who differ from us. All day we are faced with opportunities to decide how we feel about others, how we view them, how we treat them and what we ultimately say. Thousands of people simultaneously viewing the same message every day translates into thousands of acts of acceptance and good will. Multiply those im-

pulses over the course of the four week Shalom Challenge and we will have generated a tidal wave of Shalom. This year we have all seen how a small event can spark a worldwide movement and raise awareness. Accepting and respecting an opinion you vehemently oppose may be counter-intuitive, but it becomes so much easier when it’s the trend. Imagine the impact of thousands of people around the world championing the cause of Shalom. There probably isn’t a person on this planet who hasn’t been impacted by the tragedies and chaotic events of the past year. Hashem says “Ein Kli Machzik Bracha L’Yisrael Ela Hashalom”- There is no greater vessel for bracha for Klal Yisrael than Shalom. As we all unite in treating others with respect and acceptance through the Shalom Challenge, we will be creating an incredible layer of Bracha and protection for Klal Yisrael. We all need Bracha in our lives, so please take a minute to sign up for the Shalom Challenge or create your own team at and join the movement.

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Oman Names New Crown Prince

Dhi Yazan Bin Haitham was appointed as the Crown Prince of Oman, marking the first time the Sultanate has appointed an heir in waiting. According to Oman News Agency, the Sultan signed Royal Decree No. 6/2021 to “set up a specific and stable mechanism for the transfer of power in the sultanate.” The Order stipulates that power will be transferred “from the Sultan to his son and then to the eldest son of the Heir Apparent assuming the succession.” Dhi Yazan is only 30 years old and currently serves as Oman’s Culture, Sport, and Youth Minister. The son of current leader Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, Dhi previously served in Oman’s Embassy in London and graduated from the University of Oxford. The unprecedented decision to designate an heir comes after a succession crisis that followed the passing of longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos in 2019. Qaboos, who passed away at the age of 79 after three decades on the throne, did not appoint an heir, fracturing the royal family. Dhi Yazan joins the Gulf’s new crop of young crown princes, along with 33-yearold Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s 39-year-old ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. In neighboring Bahrain, 51-year-old Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa became prime minister in late 2019. Meanwhile, Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed is leading the Emirate’s shift from an energy-based economy to one based on information and artificial intelligence. The Gulf States’ young leaders are a radical departure from the aging monarchs who traditionally called the shots in the volatile Middle East. “There is a real appetite for 30-something leadership in several countries, including Oman’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” noted Elana DeLozier, a Middle Eastern affairs

expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Even if that person is not the top leader, having youth in senior positions brings hope that the desires of the young will be worked into policy.”

Thai King Breaks Sister’s Feet

Will Russia Remain in Libya?

Shanghai Targets Fake Divorces

China is cracking down on fictitious divorces as part of an effort to keep housing prices down in the Shanghai province. By law, home purchases in China are limited to only two per couple. The cap led many happily married Chinese to enter divorce proceedings as a way to legally purchase more homes than they could legally have should they remain together. Under new regulations unveiled last week, home purchases in Shanghai made within the first three years following divorce would count as part of the total they had while still together. Shanghai’s government said in a statement that the new policy is “aimed at resolutely enforcing the decisions of the central committee of the Party” and “firmly upholding the policy stance that ‘houses are for inhabiting, not for speculation.’” The step makes Shanghai the third Chinese province to crack down on fake divorces as a means to battle soaring housing prices. With many Chinese enjoying rising incomes yet reluctant to trust the country’s notoriously corrupt banking system, real estate is viewed as a safe option for wealth management. This has led housing prices in Shanghai to skyrocket, jumping 30% in 2019 and doubling over the month of December. Authorities have introduced a series of measures to counter the surge, from capping real estate loans to demanding higher down payments. Key to this effort is fighting back against fictitious divorces, a phenomenon that has become widespread in China’s more prosperous provinces. In a sign of its popularity, a hashtag on the microblogging site Sina Weibo was recently shared over 240,000 in under a week after news of the policy change broke. “It’s very normal to see people get divorced for the purpose of buying a second property,” notes Shanghai realtor Peng Jingling. “The difference between 30% deposit and 50% or even 70% is huge. Divorce makes big change when you want to buy another property. “I think among those divorced couples, 95% of them remain ‘fake’ divorces. Maybe 5% end up real divorces.”

the Thai royal family. Criticizing the royal family in the media is an offense under strict lèse majesté provisions of Thai law.

Andrew MacGregor Marshall, the former Reuters bureau chief in Bangkok, is accusing Maha Vajiralongkorn, the king of Thailand, of breaking his sister’s ankles. MacGregor Marshall is free from Thai censorship laws now that he is no longer in Asia. Supposedly, the king attacked Princess Sirindhorn after she was knock over by his dogs. Insiders claimed that he either jumped on her legs or beat her with a cane. The assault was allegedly prompted by her confronting him over his plans to make his official consort a second queen, alongside his present wife, Queen Suthida. Princess Sirindhorn went to see her brother two weeks ago to try to change his mind about elevating Sineenat “Koi” Wongvajirapakdi to the status of full queen. Since then, the palace announced that Sirindhorn had injured both of her ankles in a fall and had been taken to hospital. According to MacGregor Marshall, the full story is that “a furious row erupted” during the meeting and, “she was knocked over by one of Vajiralongkorn’s dogs, and while she was lying on the ground, he [the King] either stamped on her ankles or struck them with a cane, shattering both of them.” Princess Sirindhorn underwent operations on both ankles at Chulalongkorn Hospital and is unlikely to walk again for several months. A furious king is not the only concern for the people of Thailand. The country is battling a deep recession brought about by COVID-19 and the collapse of the pivotal tourist trade. Opponents of the ultra-rich royal family have been emboldened in recent months as rallies by student protesters against the establishment have seen their numbers swelling. Demonstrators have recently taken to protesting by wearing crop tops exposing their midriff to mock the king, who has been photographed wearing similar garb at airports and in German shopping centers. The protests have been inflamed by reports of the king’s vast wealth, estimated by London’s Financial Times at between 30$ billion and 40$ billion, after sovereign funds were effectively put under his direct control by the leaders of a successful 2014 coup. He is believed to be the world’s richest king. Vajiralongkorn is also alleged to have built up an extraordinary fleet of 38 jets and helicopters for the exclusive use of

A massive new trench currently being dug by Russian mercenaries in Libya suggests that Moscow plans to remain in the war-torn country for years to come. The trench in question is being dug by combatants belonging to the Wagner Group, a mercenary force loyal to Moscow. Stretching for more than 43 miles between the cities of Sirte and Al-Jufra, the trench is clearly designed to be used as a military fortification. The considerable effort poured into the excavation suggests that Russia intends on keeping its military forces in Libya for a considerable period of time. First arriving in 2018, Russia’s Wagner Group has fought on behalf of General Khalifa Haftar in his battle against Libya’s Government of National Accord. Libya’s civil war has raged since 2014 between tribes allied with Haftar and the Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez Sarraj. The conflict has led to over 250,000 civilian casualties and has evolved into a broader geopolitical struggle involving Russia, the UAE, and Egypt, who support Haftar, and Turkey, which backs Sarraj. While Russia inserted fighter jets and tens of thousands of Wagner Group fighters into the fighting, Turkey recruited tens of thousands of jihadists from Syria for the effort. The throngs of foreign militants led the violence to spiral out of control and challenged international efforts to mediate a truce. In August, both sides agreed to a ceasefire and then signed a peace deal in November that mandates all foreign fighters to leave Libya. The breakthrough set a January 23 deadline for all proxy militias to withdraw, a condition seen as crucial for ensuring that the fighting does not resume. Yet the massive trench being built by the Wagner Group indicates that Russian mercenaries have no intention of leaving anytime soon. The highly detailed fortifications appear designed to prevent a GNA attack on Haftar’s forces and cost tens of millions to construct, suggesting that the troops have no intention of withdrawing. The development has the potential to derail UN mediation efforts and will likely permanently cement Russia’s presence in Libya. Bordering the Mediterranean and sitting on enormous oil reserves, Lib-



The Week In News ya offers Russia enormous influence in North Africa and Europe. “I don’t think anyone digging a trench today and making these reinforcements is leaving anytime soon,” said GNA Defence Minister Salaheddin al-Namroush. A senior U.S. intelligence official told CNN that the trench is another reason “we see no intent or movement by either Turkish or Russian forces to abide by the UN-brokered agreement. This has the potential to derail an already fragile peace process and ceasefire. It will be a really difficult year ahead.”

Stalemate between Modi and Farmers

The latest round of negotiations between Indian farmers and the Modi government ended in a stalemate as both sides refused to compromise their positions. Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, a group representing millions of farmers throughout India, abruptly ended talks after the government refused to repeal three hotly-contested agricultural laws. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s offer to suspend the laws for 18 months was rejected by farmers, who demand they be repealed entirely. “It’s an effort to quell the farmers’ protests and not a sincere move to resolve the issues,” said Avik Saha, who heads the farmers’ negotiating committee. “Keeping the laws in abeyance doesn’t achieve the purpose for which farmers are agitating.” Tomar maintained that the government has no intention to compromise any further. In his first remarks to the press after the negotiations fell apart, Tomar told Samkyukt Kisan Morcha representatives not to bother contacting him until they were willing to consider his proposal to suspend the laws for18 months. “Whatever best options are available, we have offered to farmer unions,” said Tomar. “I hope farmer unions will consider it in a positive way.” Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped out in New Delhi in protest of three farm laws they contend make it impossible for them to earn a living. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce Act, The Farmers Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities Act were recently enacted by the Modi government to reform India’s agricultural system. The laws do away with minimum prices for crops, allowing farmers to trade outside the government’s Mandi system. But while the Modi government argues that the legislation opens up Indian agriculture to foreign investment and new technology, farmers say that it will effectively bankrupt them.

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Ambassador and Envoy Erdan Gilad Erdan began his term as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States last week, replacing Ron Dermer as Jerusalem’s envoy to its most important ally. Already Israel’s envoy to the United Nations, Erdan is now the first person to hold both posts since Abba Eban in the 1950s. In his new role, Erdan will be tasked with building a relationship with the Biden administration and the Democratic Party, who now control the White House, Congress, and the Senate. Making Erdan’s job particularly challenging is the upsurge of anti-Israel sentiment in the Democratic Party, including the support for the BDS movement espoused by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. The former Public Security Minister will also play a key role in broadcasting Israel’s concerns to the Biden administration regarding a possible U.S. return to the Iran deal. Erdan recently spent several weeks in Washington learning the ins and outs of the position, while meeting with senior power brokers and forming relationships with key lawmakers. His predecessor, Dermer, had held the position since 2013 and was widely viewed as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest confidant. Over the past seven years, Dermer cultivated relationships with the most powerful people in the Republican Party and was in frequent contact with former President Donald Trump. The unusual access Dermer enjoyed at the White House led many to deem him “the most influential person in Washington.” On the other hand, Dermer was accused of neglecting Israel’s ties with the Democratic Party, endangering the bipartisan consensus that Israel always enjoyed in the U.S. “Good luck, Gilad! I am confident that our new Ambassador to Washington,” tweeted Dermer on Thursday. “Gilad Erdan will further strengthen the great alliance between America and Israel, and I wish him the best of success.”

162 New Ethiopian Olim One-hundred-sixty-two new Ethiopian immigrants landed in Tel Aviv last Friday as part of a campaign to bring the remaining members of the Falash Mura community to Israel. Many of the new olim kissed the ground after disembarking and waved Israeli flags. The usual greeting ceremony was torpedoed due to fears of the coronavirus. “The fact that dozens of new olim will celebrate this Shabbat on the land of Israel

fills me with feelings of pride and satisfaction,” said Absorption and Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, who was born in Addis Adaba, the capital of Ethiopia. “Today, a long and taxing journey of waiting to be reunited with their families is over, and I am happy to lead the return of our sons and daughters home to Israel.” The flight included 11 infants and 43 children and was the sixth installment of “Operation Tzur Yisrael,” which seeks to bring Ethiopia’s remaining 2,000 Jews to Israel. The plan received government approval in September and was given a 370 million shekel ($109 million) budget for the effort. The first flight landed in November. The operation will continue until the final Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel in February. A key source of funding for Friday’s flight was Peter Wang, a Christian Chinese businessman who decided to underwrite the trip after visiting Israel in 2018. Saying that the aforementioned visit showed him “in a profound way how G-d is with Israel,” Wang told the Times of Israel that his fervent Christian faith pushed him to pay for the cost of chartering the plane. “Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the L-rd your G-d will gather you and bring you back,” said Wang. “Jewish brothers and sisters in Ethiopia have been praying to return to the land of their ancestors for centuries. “I believe G-d has heard their cries out of distress and seen their longing for the promised land.”

Israel’s Concerns Over the Nuclear Deal Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen will meet next month with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss Israel’s concerns over the new administration’s plans to resume nuclear negotiations with Iran. Cohen will head a delegation comprised of senior officials from the Defense and Foreign Ministries and will be the first Israeli official to meet with Biden since the latter took office. Cohen is also slated to sit down with William Burns, who has been tapped by Biden to be his CIA director. According to Israel’s Channel 12, Cohen will present a wealth of intelligence demonstrating Iran’s disregard for the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with a group of world powers and outline Israel’s position on any future talks between the U.S. and Iran. The spy chief will present a list of 12 demands Israel has regarding any new deal with the Islamic Republic. The terms include mandating Tehran to cease enriching uranium and producing centrifuges at its multiple nuclear plants, an end to supporting proxy groups such as Hezbollah, and to withdraw its military infrastructure in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. Israel also wants Tehran to allow UN inspectors unfettered access to all of its nuclear sites and for Iran to stop targeting its

embassies worldwide. Israel is concerned that Biden will agree to an updated agreement that would allow Iran to rehabilitate its economy despite continuing to enrich uranium. The fears revolve around reports that senior Biden aides support scrapping the economic sanctions that have devastated Iran’s economy in order to coax it back to the negotiating table. The new U.S. president had frequently pledged during the campaign to reenter the original 2015 nuclear deal if Tehran respects its commitments. “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations,” wrote Biden in September. On Saturday, Israel National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat spoke with his counterpart, Jake Sullivan, regarding the expected resumption of talks with Iran. The phone conversation was the first between senior Israeli and U.S. officials since Biden was sworn in last Wednesday. “The two agreed to soon discuss many topics on the agenda, including the Iranian issue, regional matters, and advancing the Abraham Accords,” said the Prime Minister’s Office.

Mission to Morocco

After 20 years, the Israeli liaison office to Morocco reopened, with Ambassador David Govrin’s arrival in Rabat on Tuesday. Israel also opened its consulate in Dubai, two days after opening its embassy to the United Arab Emirates in its capital, Abu Dhabi. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi noted, “The arrival of the heads of Israeli missions to Morocco and Dubai completes the first important phase of opening new Israeli missions in the region, in the framework of the Abraham Accords.” Ashkenazi pointed out that in recent weeks, the number of Israeli missions in the Middle East was multiplied threefold, from two – in Amman and Cairo – to six – two in the UAE, plus Bahrain and Morocco. “This is living proof of the changes in the region and the warm peace between us and countries in the region,” he said. “This is an important day for peace and an exciting day in the framework of implementing agreements with the UAE and Morocco.” Amb. Govrin will serve as the head of the Israeli Liaison Office in Morocco, which was previously opened in 1994 and closed six years later, during the Second Intifada. Morocco had an office in Tel Aviv at the time, which it plans to reopen, as well.

JANUARY 28, 2021 | The Jewish Home

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