Opinion | With Congresswomen’s Trip, Israel Faced a No-Win Situation

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Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar
From left: Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar (Left photo by United States Congress via Wikimedia Commons; right photo by Kristie Boyd; U.S. House Office of Photoraphy via Wikimedia Commons)

I watched with unease last week as the Israeli government fumbled its response to plans by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., to visit Israel and the territories.

When the two announced their trip last month, everyone knew that their purpose was not to gain a deeper understanding of the policies of the Israeli government. Nonetheless, Israel’s U.S. Ambassador, Ron Dermer, issued a diplomatically worded welcome: “Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.”

That’s where things should have ended. But last Thursday, Israel announced that the legislators were no longer welcome, declaring that their announced itinerary “reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it,” referring also to their support of the boycott, divestments and sanctions movement, and Israel’s prohibition on allowing BDS advocates to enter the country.

So what changed after the upbeat Dermer statement? Many observers pointed to a tweet from President Donald Trump, which warned, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit.” Almost immediately thereafter, Israel announced the ban.

But whether Trump’s tweet had anything to do with the ban is unclear, especially following media reports of the congresswomen’s scheduled itinerary while in Israel, and a revelation of the insidious anti-Semitism of the group that was sponsoring their trip, Miftah, an organization that has praised suicide bombers and once published an article, since retracted, that promoted the “blood libel” doctrine, claiming that “Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.”

Moreover, although Omar said that she planned to meet with some Knesset members prior to being joined on the trip by Tlaib, the congresswomen’s joint itinerary did not include meetings with any Israeli officials. Rather, the trip centered on visits to the Palestinian territories and meetings with Palestinian nonprofits and activists.

The decision of Israel to refuse admittance to Tlaib and Omar angered many of Israel’s Democratic friends, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who called it “a sign of weakness.” Many mainstream Jewish organizations, including AIPAC, Jewish Federations of North America and American Jewish Committee were also critical.

It is true that Israel made a mistake in changing course and banning two American legislators from visiting. But it’s also true that the barrage of criticism Israel has faced in the wake of its decision has gone overboard and is off-target.

When Israel announced it would permit a visit from Tlaib on “humanitarian grounds” so that she could visit her aging grandmother, she quickly decided she wasn’t coming after all. Although in a letter she had agreed to refrain from BDS activity if only she could visit her grandmother, the congresswoman had a curious change of heart, claiming that to refrain from BDS activities would be “oppressive.”

Both Omar and Tlaib have moved far beyond mere criticism of the Israeli government, teetering on the edge of anti-Semitism. On Aug. 16, the two shared a cartoon on Instagram by a cartoonist who placed second in Iran’s 2006 Holocaust cartoon contest. The cartoon depicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump silencing Omar and Tlaib, with a Star of David prominently placed in the center of the cartoon.

Omar could not even muster condemnation of the Palestinian Authority for its recent ban of LGBTQ activities without trying to make it about Israel. Earlier this week, she tweeted: “Pretending that this act somehow balances or mitigates Israel violating the dignity & rights of Palestinians — or undermines case for defending Palestinian rights — is deplorable!”

And both congresswomen have suggested that cutting U.S. financial aid to the Jewish state might be an appropriate response to their ban.

Israel’s first response to the trip — allowing Omar and Tlaib into the country — made sense. Members of the U.S. Congress, regardless of their political views, should be welcome to visit the Jewish state. That’s part of the price for America’s decades-long bipartisan support for Israel. Although the context in which the Jewish state made its decision is critical in understanding what was really going on here, the fallout has simply amplified the voices of these anti-Israel representatives.

Israel was faced with two bad choices. The one it chose was the worse of the two — but not by a lot.

Toby Tabachnick is a senior staff writer at the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

Opinion | Netanyahu’s Lasting Damage to Israeli-American Relations

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Benjamin Netanyahu next to an Israeli flag
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (U.S. Department of State via Wikimedia Commons)

By Jonathan Fink

The United States and United Kingdom may have a “special relationship,” but the relationship between the U.S. and Israel as bilateral allies is just as powerful — that is, unless Netanyahu has his way. His decision to ban Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from visiting Israel due to their public calls to boycott the country was just the tip of the iceberg and follows a pattern of Netanyahu putting himself first, and the Israeli-American relationship second.

The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, commonly referred to as “Bibi,” is currently the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, serving his current term since 2009. He’s been in office during the tenure of two United States presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and has had plenty of opportunity to make meaningful progress in fostering a strong relationship between our two countries. Instead, he has consistently shown disrespect toward U.S. government officials in order to shore up his right-wing base.

U.S. support for Israel has historically been bipartisan, with members of Congress and U.S. presidents united on providing Israel military financial assistance (approximately $3 billion annually or $140 billion since World War II) to the Jewish state. In return, the Israeli administration should, at the very least, respect the offices and the esteemed decision makers who provide that funding. After all, this unwavering, bipartisan commitment to Israel isn’t for naught — it’s to forge and strengthen our mutual connection.

In March of 2015, Netanyahu famously circumvented Obama when he came to the U.S. and addressed both chambers of Congress without Obama’s prior knowledge. Many in the Democratic Party took offense, and saw the action as Bibi undermining and disrespecting the U.S. president.

The already rocky relationship got further complicated when Netanyahu worked against what would be one of Obama’s signature accomplishments, the Iran nuclear deal. This deal, announced in June 2015, was heavily negotiated by major nations such as China, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Russia, France and Germany.

Making the deal happen was no small feat, and while it wasn’t without its faults, Netanyahu was one of its most vocal critics, calling it “a mistake of historic proportions” and actively lobbying against it. Netanyahu’s rejection of the historic deal gave left-leaning Democrats in the U.S. the impression, once again, that Netanyahu was working against our domestic interests and straining the Israeli-American relationship.

Now, we have the most recent instance of Netanyahu compromising our connection, as he reversed an earlier decision and decided not to allow Reps. Omar and Tlaib into Israel. Though there was the shaky justification of the law banning pro-BDS supporters from entering the country, Netanyahu should have taken the opportunity to allow these two representatives to see the beauty and wonder that Israel offers for themselves.

All of Netanyahu’s excuses about why these two representatives were banned from visiting barely hold up, since Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said, just a month ago, that Israel would allow Tlaib and Omar in “out of respect for the U.S. Congress.” Dermer held the correct, respectful attitude initially — a position that might have mended some of the bonds Netanyahu has broken over the years. Alas, Bibi has an election coming up, and in an apparent nod to the demands of his right-wing base, he capitulated to the demands of President Trump instead, reversing his decision almost immediately after Trump tweeted his displeasure.

Netanyahu is playing a short-term game; putting cracks in the U.S.-Israel relationship leaves his support, especially in the Democratic Party, on shakier ground. There are those who say that the U.S.-Israel relationship is stronger than ever. However, getting short-term political gain from working with Republicans at the huge expense of the Democrats does not indicate a healthy and strong relationship — instead, it shows a weak one. A strong relationship with only half of a government is not only unsustainable, but against the democratic ideals that Israel claims to stand for.

Should he continue to disrespect congresspeople and administrative officials in the Democratic party, he may find himself in the precarious position of having support from only one party: the Republicans. With a divided Senate and House, this could mean he will not have enough votes in the future to advance his interests. In the worst case scenario, he would be unable to secure the financial and military support Israel has come to depend on.

This is not just a problem for Bibi; a rejection of Israel’s interests would hurt American interests as well. Those who think the strong U.S.-Israel relationship doesn’t matter are short-sighted and need to look at the bigger picture. The support that the U.S. provides Israel is an investment in the region as a whole, advancing our strategic interests and benefitting us technologically and militarily.

Our relationship is too strong, too special and too important for both countries to risk. Netanyahu can and must do better than this or he could damage our relationship forever — and he’ll be largely to blame.

Jonathan Fink is a member of Philadelphia’s young professional Jewish community.

Local Israelis Reflect on Gun Laws, Gun Culture

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Ayala Laufer-Cahana in an IDF uniform with a gun
Ayala Laufer-Cahana served in the IDF. (Courtesy of Ayala Laufer-Cahana)

Like the vast majority of Israeli Jews, Ayala Laufer-Cahana served in the Israeli military — and with that service came firearm training.

“As we were training and holding the gun,” she said, “this message was repeated to us again and again: ‘This is the only time in which you have a gun. We suggest you never pursue a weapon unless you become so well-trained and so determined that you will point and shoot. Having a gun does not protect you.’ That’s what I was told as a soldier and, indeed, none of us had a gun after that.”

With the debate on gun control continuing in the aftermath of highly publicized mass shootings, as well as daily headlines about gun violence in Philadelphia, local Israelis can’t help but think about the differences between Israeli gun culture and gun culture in the U.S.

For instance, mass shootings are far more prevalent in the U.S. than in Israel, which some Israelis living here attribute to the difference in the accessibility of firearms by private citizens. In Israel, a person must be at least 21 to apply to the government for a permit to buy a gun, and about 40% of those applications are denied. The applicant cannot have a criminal record, and they have to undergo evaluations for physical and mental health as well as training for the specific firearm they wish to acquire. Approval is granted mainly to those who can substantiate a need, such as having a residence in a West Bank settlement, a border area or an area where attacks are frequent.

In the U.S., there is no similar permitting process. Rather, federally licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks on customers for all firearm sales. Between 1998 and 2018, out of nearly 304 million checks conducted via the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, 1.6 million, or 0.52% of applicants, were denied a sale, according to the 2018 NICS Operations Report. Background checks are not required for the sale of firearms between two private individuals within the same state.

The difference between the two countries’ gun laws is something Israeli Yoni Ari has definitely noticed since he’s lived in Philadelphia for the last few years as the regional director of the Israeli-American Council.

“Here, everyone can get a gun and every kind of gun,” Ari said. “It’s weird that everyone can go to a gun shop and buy a gun. In Israel, it’s the opposite. If somebody wants to harm someone, they will do it, with a gun or without a gun, but there has to be more caution about people getting it. Israel is a good example of how we’re protecting the people.”

In Israel, those with gun permits are limited to the types of firearms they can buy based on their stated need during the application process. For example, if a person gets a gun permit for hunting, they can only buy a gun approved by the government for hunting. If a permit is for home security, then the person is mostly restricted to buying a handgun.

The permits must be renewed every three years. In addition, a person is limited to owning one gun. They can’t sell their gun without prior government approval, even to another private citizen. The number of bullets they can possess at one time is limited to 50, and they can only be bought at government-regulated shooting ranges where each bullet’s sale is registered.

In the U.S., there is no limit on the number of guns or amount of ammunition a person can own at any one time and background checks are never done again at a later date.

The contrast perplexes Laufer-Cahana, a physician and entrepreneur in Philadelphia.

“The culture is that a gun is something that should be taken very seriously, that in the right hands is lifesaving, and in the wrong hands, it is destruction and misery,” she said. “But the law is just so completely different than the law here. A gun in Israel is not a right. … I can just not get used to this thing … For anybody coming from another country, it just boggles the mind.”

[email protected]; 215-832-0751

Portuguese Cod: Delicious, Despite a Tumultuous Past Century

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Fish on a table in a market
Fish in a market (Photos by Keri White)

I just spent 10 glorious days in Portugal and, for kosher-style diners, Portugal is all about the fish — cod in particular, although sole, tuna, haddock, hake, mackerel, grouper, amberjack, bass, sea bream, sardines and others that I can’t even remember are available in plentitude.

Because a large part of the typical Portuguese diet is comprised of shellfish and pork products and vegetables are not a big part of the local diet, fish, by delicious default, takes center stage.

Salt cod, or bacalhau, is practically a staple food in Portugal, so I assumed cod inhabited local waters and every man, woman and child was able to catch it in their backyards. We subsequently learned from an Uber driver named Jorge that most of the cod consumed in Portugal today is imported from Norway. That seemed suspect, so I did some research and confirmed that Jorge was indeed correct.

It all started back in the 1600s when Portugal dominated the Age of Exploration. Fishing fleets would head to Newfoundland, where cod was bountiful, and the fresh catch would be dried in salt to preserve it for the long journey home.

Eventually, Portugal turned its focus eastward, where the spice routes from India proved extremely profitable, but the taste for cod on the home front remained. Consequently, the British began to supply cod to Portugal and, by the 1900s, there was virtually no domestic Portuguese cod industry.

In 1926, however, things changed. A brutal military dictatorship took over the country, and the population began to face food supply problems.

In 1942, the regime initiated the “Cod Campaign,” which was designed to boost domestic production capacity. Like everything else, the cod industry was forced under state control and, by 1958, Portugal was back in the cod business full throttle, with 80% of the fish consumed there being caught and processed domestically — although the fishermen were neither paid nor treated well.

The industry began to decline in the 1960s when some importation began, and the dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, was overthrown in 1974. This caused the local industry once more to collapse as competitive global markets opened, fishing zones were limited due to environmental concerns and the artificially controlled pricing was eliminated.

But there seems to be no lasting stain on the cod industry in the culinary world, and virtually every restaurant we visited offered several dishes that featured cod.

I have recreated two of our favorites below. Note: The Portuguese may use salt cod that they soak in milk for a day or so to remove the salt and restore its moisture, but I opted for fresh cod in these recipes.

Additionally, if you are not a fan of cod, most any fish could be substituted. In fact, we had a version of the tomato-based dish below prepared with swordfish and covered with thinly sliced, crispy potatoes. Boiled potatoes and rice are also common accompaniments.

Bom apetite!

a dish of cod with cilantro, potatoes, half a hard boiled egg and olve oil
Cod with cilantro

Cod with Cilantro

Serves 4

My husband had this dish at a restaurant called O Pescador in Caiscais, a beach town 25 miles west of Lisbon. The cilantro mixture would work well on any fish, and I’m keen to try it as an accompaniment to chicken, meat, veggies or stirred into rice.

  • 4 cod fillets, about 1½ pounds total
  • 1 medium-sized onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed well
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the cod fillets in a shallow baking dish; drizzle them with ¼ cup of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

In a blender or food processor, place the onion, garlic, cilantro and the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil. Puree until smooth.

Spoon equal parts of the cilantro mixture onto the fillets, and bake them in the oven for about 30 minutes until the fish is completely cooked, flakes easily and is opaque throughout.

Cod in Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

This simple preparation is classic throughout Portugal and can be used with most any fish. If using a thinner, more delicate fish — like sole or flounder — reduce the cooking time. Serve this over rice or with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

  • 4 cod fillets, about 1½ pounds total
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped coarsely, with juice
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet with a cover, heat the oil and sauté the onions, garlic, salt and pepper. When they begin to sizzle, add tomatoes and wine.

Simmer the mixture until the tomatoes begin to break down and form a sauce, about 5 minutes.

Carefully place the cod fillets in sauce, cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes, basting frequently with the sauce, and turning halfway through cooking until done.

Doneson-Jaffe

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Joy and Charlie Doneson of Doylestown and Karen and Robert Jaffe of Moorestown, New Jersey, announce the engagement of their children, Loryn Michele Doneson and Jared Frederick Jaffe.

Loryn graduated from Temple University with a bachelor of science in education. She is a preschool teacher at Shir Ami in Newtown and a Hebrew school teacher at Congregation Beth El in Yardley

Jared graduated from Wilmington University with a bachelor of science in general studies.  He is an associate assessor for the Montgomery County Board of Assessment.

Joining in the celebration are Michael Doneson, Stephen Doneson and Dani Levine-Doneson, who are Loryn’s brothers and sister in-law.

Loryn is the granddaughter of Phil Rabinowitz and the late Adrienne Rabinowitz, Rochelle and Lionel Doneson. Jared is the grandson of the late Nathan and Sylvia Jaffe and Isadore and Dorothy Wilson.

A wedding is planned for August 2020.

‘Putting the Joy Back Into the Oy’: Professionals Gather for JPRO19 Conference

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a group of 17 Philadelphians who attended JPRO19
Some of the Philadelphians who attended JPRO19 in Detroit this year (Photo by Addie Lewis Klein)

Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia CEO Naomi Adler had worked as a co-chair of the JPRO19 conference for close to a year when the event began on Aug. 12 in Detroit, Michigan.

She and the rest of the planning committee labored over what themes to emphasize and which speakers to bring to emphasize them; they went back and forth and, as the week of the event approached, 400 attendees sounded pretty good for a couple days of panels, breakout sessions and networking.

The hard work paid off: Now that she’s back from JPRO19, which drew roughly 600 Jewish communal professionals from across the country, Adler said this year’s event was among the most unique, energizing conferences she’s attended in her decades of doing so.

Her proof? A majority of the people seemed to actually attend the sessions they signed up for.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that at a conference,” Adler said.

JPRO has only been called JPRO since 2014; originally founded in 1899 as the National Conference of Jewish Charities, the organization began as a network of Jewish community members teaching one another how to most effectively raise and distribute charitable donations to millions of recently arrived immigrants. Later, it became a version of what it is today — a national network of Jewish communal professionals, with chapters across the country, that convenes every few years. The last conference was in 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.

While the conferences still feature sessions on best practices in fundraising, in keeping with the organization’s origins, the scope of what is expected of a Jewish communal professional is much broader than it used to be.

This year’s conference focused on four thematic areas: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice; Building Resilient Communities (essentially, how to react and stay strong during crises); Civil Discourse in Complex Times; and Designing Workplaces for the Future. It was more than enough to fill the three-day conference with roundtables, panels, smaller discussion groups and, as Adler and others from the Philadelphia delegation tell it, plenty of extracurricular discussion.

“The vibe was something I never experienced before at a conference,” Adler said. One factor that she greatly appreciated was the reflection of an oft-missed fact: Seven in 10 Jewish communal professionals are women, she said. Thus, to speak on and be spoken to by panels that often reflected this reality was a welcome experience.

Attendees discussed the most pressing material and cultural issues facing the Jewish community today, Adler said, from the persistence of poverty in the American Jewish world to the increasingly difficult prospect of unified community sentiment on Israel. All topics were discussed passionately and respectfully.

Her favorite line of the week? “We have to put the joy back into the oy of Judaism,” she said.

In terms of local representation, it wasn’t just Jewish Federation representatives at JPRO, though some members of the Philadelphia delegation were subsidized by the organization. Eve Berger, the Philadelphia director of Moving Traditions, heard about JPRO through Penina Hoffnung, the senior manager of community engagement at Jewish Federation, and leapt at the chance to go.

“I raised my hand and said, ‘Me! Me! Me!’” Berger laughed.

What she found was a group that wanted to “lead authentically,” as she put it, to give one’s full self to the job of forging Jewish community in the hopes that it would inspire the people who make up that community.

Aside from a weekend of acquiring new knowledge and skills, Berger said, she was able to connect with other Jewish communal professionals from across the country, which was a good way to learn about best practices from people in similar positions.

Ironically, it was also a chance to meet Jewish communal professionals from Philadelphia, Berger said, such as Galia Godel, the LGBTQ Initiative program manager at Jewish Family and Children’s Service who was recently profiled in The Forward. One of the key elements of Godel’s work is to improve Jewish organizations’ inclusivity for LGBTQ members of their communities.

Like Berger, Godel heard about JPRO through Hoffnung. Also like Berger, she was grateful to receive a subsidy from the Jewish Federation to attend. She expected a fairly typical conference: panels, workshops and the like, and perhaps a chance to meet a few interesting people. But the conference turned out to be much more than that, even though there are few people whose job descriptions match hers. Days after the conference, she was still brimming with excitement over the people she had met.

“It was actually kind of fantastic,” she said.

One thing that made it special was the surprises.

“Like, oh my gosh, it would have never occurred to me that the development team of a JCC in Canada would have so much to offer for the work that I want to be doing here in Philadelphia here as an educator,” she said.

She was especially energized by the discussions regarding polarization.

“It felt so useful and moving, and I was really excited about it,” Godel said.

[email protected]; 215-832-0740

The Big Parties Head Into Final Stretch as Israeli Elections Near

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a giant poster of Benjamin Netanyahu next to a street in Israel
View of a giant election campaign poster in Jerusalem showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud Party, March 31, 2019. (Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 via JNS.org)

(August 14, 2019 / Israel Hayom) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a living example of how an election campaign can be decided at the last minute, on the days the polls open. In 2015, he amazed everyone when he led the Likud to 30 seats, many more than the last polls had predicted.

Many attribute that victory to the blitz of interviews Netanyahu gave on Election Day, as well as his unforgettable warning that “the Arabs are flocking to the polls.” In April Netanyahu did it again, closing the lead polls had predicted Blue and White would maintain over the Likud, this time by broadcasting a live feed on his Facebook page.

But this September, Netanyahu won’t be alone — the other parties have learned their lessons and intend to fire back on Election Day. But they mean to focus not on the rivalry between blocs, but on internal strife within the bloc.

While Likud and Blue and White will try to collect as many seats as possible at the expense of the other parties in their respective blocs, the smaller parties will take advantage of the final day to drive home the message that it isn’t the size of the party that matters, but the size of the bloc.

According to one Likud official, “In general, the Likud doesn’t comment on its campaign, and the plan for the final stretch is under wraps and known to only a few very workers at the campaign headquarters, who have signed secrecy agreements.”

However, we do know that the Likud will be investing millions, mostly in identifying clusters of potential—a process of data analysis that has been underway for two months already. The Likud will be integrating figures from the field with information from social media and cellular phones in an attempt to deploy targeted ads at specific sectors.

We also know that because of the battle with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, heavy resources will be invested in bastions of Yisrael Beitenu voters, including hostels and retirement homes, including free rides to the polls on Election Day.

Blue and White

Blue and White is also getting ready for the election by using technology to identify potential voters, as well as a targeted campaign that will call on members of the left-wing camp to support the biggest center-left party, one that is capable of posing a challenge to the Likud government.

Last time, Blue and White attracted the support of many left-wingers, prompting them to abandon satellite parties like Meretz and Labor. This time, Blue and White will try to recreate their April success, but the rest of the left-wing parties have already learned their lesson and are getting ready for a final Election Day push.

Blue and White campaign staffers have set up 200 headquarters nationwide to coordinate fieldwork. On Election Day, a Blue and White-branded bus will travel to various areas. Party activists will be assigned to 9,300 polling places to observe the voting and ballot count.

The Blue and White election office has divided the country into 26 zones, each of which is assigned to a Blue and White Knesset member. A special “situation room” will be in operation from 6 a.m., with legal counsel, logistics coordinators and computer techs.

The HQ will keep tabs on which voters have and have not voted, thanks to technology that will send the information to special staff who will spend the day calling potential voters.

The Democratic Union

The Democratic Union (the joint list comprising Meretz, the Israel Democratic Party and the Green Movement), for example, intends to run a scare campaign, not about the possibility of the party disappearing because it might fail to make it over the minimum electoral threshold, but about the possibility that “Israeli democracy might be obliterated.”

Party leaders will speak out against Netanyahu and the Likud and accuse Blue and White of intending to join a Netanyahu-led government after the election.

The joint party plans to use technological means to find potential voters, all from the left-wing camp, and drive home the message that any party that does not declare that it will work to replace the Netanyahu government is not a viable option.

Labor-Gesher

In recent weeks, the Labor Party has set up a special office to create a campaign for the last week of the election, as well as a special headquarters for Election Day itself. Labor officials say that the last-stage campaign will include a surprise that will “shake up” politics—especially Blue and White. According to the officials, the campaign will keep Labor votes from migrating to Blue and White, and will also cause potential Blue and White voters to vote for Labor leader Amir Peretz.

In addition to a special Election Day HQ, the party will be sending volunteers to knock on doors in strategic areas identified ahead of time to convince left-wing voters, as well as residents of the periphery, to throw their support behind Peretz and Gesher Party leader Orly Levy-Abekasis. Labor officials are also saying that one of the sectors they will be focusing on is former supporters of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu Party. The party says that this is the largest field operations program it has ever organized and that millions of shekels were invested in its activities.

Yemina

Yemina (formerly the United Right, the joint list of Jewish Home, the National Union-Tkuma and the New Right) is also gearing up to fire back at the Likud’s last-minute efforts at scaring voters. The list plans to station about 1,000 volunteers at polling places to give the party visibility. The list will make use of existing databases from its constituent parties. Yemina is planning a campaign of phone calls to urge supporters to go out and vote.

To thwart any attempt by Netanyahu to siphon off votes on Election Day, Yemina does not plan to wait until the last minute and is already planning to convince voters that the size of the bloc, not the party, will be the deciding factor in the election.

Yemina leader Ayelet Shaked said, “This time, Netanyahu is starting to try and siphon off votes from the [other] right-wing parties early, and that allows us to make our voters able to withstand the intense messages that will flood in on Election Day, and realize that the size of the bloc, not the biggest party, is what will decide.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom and was republished by JNS.org.

NextGen Hosts Birthright Alumni, Community Members Down the Shore

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On Aug. 3, NextGen hosted a Birthright Alumni and Community Bar Night at Maynard’s Cafe in Margate, New Jersey.

This Year’s Honeymoon Israel Participants Learn More About the Trip

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The participants of this year’s Honeymoon Israel trip gathered at the Jewish Community Services Building on Aug. 6 to learn more about the trip and hear from past participants.

Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan Visits Ann’s Choice Community

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The Jewish Residents’ Council of Ann’s Choice Community in Bucks County hosted the Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan. There were approximately 250 residents and guests in attendance as the caravan performed in both Hebrew and English.