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Tag: Yad Vashem

Brush Fire in Zion

“The dry heat combined with a light wind” caused the Jerusalem forest “blaze to spread quickly as eight firefighting crews along with two planes attempted to gain control over the blaze.” wrote Israeli reporter Sharon Udasin.

Yad Vashem was evacuated as the inferno that broke out in the Mount Herzl area began to spread towards Har Nof, Bayit Vegan and the Pi Glilot oil refinery.

Jerusalem fire 2011Haaretz reported that “one worker suffered from smoke inhalation and was taken to the hospital.” The Fire Department spokesman said on Channel 10, “large teams of firefighters have been deployed in the entire area, and curious onlookers should clear out. Firefighting planes are flying above us in an attempt to put out the fire.”

Director of Yad Vashem said:

“The firefighters took an hour from the moment we notified them. They arrived very tardily. Our maintenance teams stopped the fire at the last minute…The fire reached a distance of just 40 meters from the Yad Vashem archives. We stopped it just before it could destroy our most precious treasures. I don’t know and don’t want to think what would have happened if we hadn’t stopped it.”

Last Saturday, a fire broke out near the Church of Capernaum on Lake Kinneret’s northern shore, causing damage to banana groves. The fire started in a brush-field near Route 87.

Israel Has a Friend In Italy

The Italian Prime-Minister Silvio Berlusconi came to Jerusalem on Monday to meet with our fearless Prime-Minister, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu. The visit was amiable and showed promise for Israel’s future as a welcome country in European eyes.

Bibi, in his Knesset remarks, said that

“Israel knows it has a great friend in Europe in Berlusconi.”

He also stated that

“this meeting will give momentum to relations between our two countries.”

“We appreciate you. We embrace you. We love you.”

said Netanyahu.
Silvio Berlusconi said he dreams of one day seeing Israel join the European Union as a full-fledged and influential member state.

“As long as I am one of the shapers of politics, my greatest dream is to include Israel among the European Union countries,”

said Berlusconi shortly after arriving together with top Italian ministers in a joint cabinet meeting with their Israeli counterparts.

Berlusconi informed that he only holds joint cabinet meetings with the most important European nations. He said his visit demonstrates that he views Israel as part of Europe.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the Italian delegation warmly, and announced that the Jewish country is lucky to have a friend like Berlusconi in a region traditionally unfriendly to the Jewish people and to Israel.

The visit kicked off with a gala dinner at the King David Hotel then the following morning Berlusconi held working meetings with Lieberman and Netanyahu, where Lieberman hoped to enlist Berlusconi’s help in applying stronger European pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.

He also met with opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni, before visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem; about which he said the remembrance of what had happened in his and other European countries made him feel

“like someone punched me in the gut.”

A further joint cabinet session happened at the Prime Minister’s Office, where the premiers and ministers reviewed bilateral agreements and decided on areas of cooperation in the coming year, with an aim of deepening relations between Italy and Israel. A press conference was held afterward.

On Wednesday morning Berlusconi addressed the Knesset in a special session, and then opened an exhibition of seven original sketches from Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus. The Italian premier will end his visit in the Holy Land with a lunch with President Shimon Peres at the President’s Residence. From there he will go to Bethlehem for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Berlusconi will be leaving Israel on Wednesday evening.

Silvio Berlusconi is among Italy’s richest men, estimated to be worth $6.5 billion.
He won his third term as prime minister in 2008, two years after his center-right coalition was voted out.
Mr. Berlusconi, 72, owns a business empire that spans media, advertising, insurance, food and construction.
He is also the owner of Italy’s most successful football club, AC Milan, admits he has had cosmetic surgery, has fought off repeated corruption allegations, and has been dogged by a sex scandal.

Israel is lucky to have such a good friend in him.

Pope’s Visit Anticipated Amid Property Disputes

Pope Benedict XVIThe arrival in Israel of Pope Benedict XVI on May 14 is already being prepared for in earnest by Israeli and Catholic Church authorities. The visit of the Pontiff will include a formal call to Israel President Shimon Peres at Beit Hanassi, and to the Beit HaShoah Holocaust memorial as well as the usual holy places in the Old City and elsewhere. Benedict’s visit to Yad Vashem will be the second by a reining Pontiff following Pope John Paul II ‘s historic visit there in March, 2000. Being of German descent, and due to his membership in the National Socialist Youth Movement as a child, his visit to Israel and to Yad Vashem takes on an even more significant aspect.

The visit will not be without its problems, however, as the Catholic Church is presently in dispute with the Israeli government over the ownership of some church properties in Jerusalem and other locations, including the building on Mt. Zion which is known by the Church as the Coenaculum, where Jesus and his disciples held the Last Supper. Other disputed properties include the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Church and Gardens of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives, the Monastery on the summit of Mt. Tabor; and the Church of the Multiplication, which is located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee

Church JerusalemPresident Peres, in a gesture of good will is trying to persuade the government to abide by the Church’s requests (demands?), hoping that this will enable more tourists and pilgrims to visit Israel and the Holy Land. So far, however, the government including the Interior and Tourism ministers are not ready to give these places up. As was noted to a Haaretz reporter by Tourism Minister, Stas Misezhnikov, “If we were certain this great gift would bring millions of Christian pilgrims to visit here we would have good reason to agree to these demands. But since we are not certain this will happen, why should we give out gifts?”

A considerable amount of Christian church property is in the control of various religious denominations, but these particular properties have been in dispute for some time, especially ones located in East Jerusalem since the Six Day War of 1967. The Pope’s visit in itself will be a logistical challenge, and some protests are being planned against the temporary closure of some of the holy sites he will visit, including the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth and the Kotel or Western Wall in the Old City.

Pope John Paul II’s visit in 2000 had hoped to bring millions of pilgrims to Israel, due to it heralding the 2nd Millennium. But not only did this not happen (less than 100,000 actually came) but the Second Intifada broke out in September of the same year. Many people wonder now what will be the outcome of this papal visit, taking the current political and security state of the region into account.

Yosef “Tommy” Lapid dies at 77

Human Narration on

Tommy Lapid - Torch BearerFormer Minister of Justice, Yosef “Tommy” Lapid died this morning from cancer in Tel-Aviv. Lapid was a life-long journalist and publicist. He was a central figure in Israeli media, as is his son, Yair Lapid. In 1999, Tommy Lapid became chairman of Shinui, a political party which acted under the banner of secularism and the rights of the middle class.

Lapid was born in Serbia, and had survived the holocaust. Among his many positions, he served as the chairman of Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial center. The word Lapid means “Torch” in Hebrew.

As a child, I became familiar with the name Lapid via the travel guides Tommy wrote in his travels around Europe. I remember his books being arranged on my parents’ cupboard. Later, I came to know him as the “loud man” on “Popolitica” — the weekly television panel, hosted by journalist Dan Margalit. Every week, Dan and the panel interviewed political guests and discussed current events, while accompanied by pop performances between the different items.

Later in his life, Lapid became the torchbearer of the secular vendetta. He led Shinui in 2003 when it gained its largest electorate ever, promising to fight religious coercion and to diminish the massive financial support that large parts of the orthodox community receive regularly from the government. As a result, he was accused of being overly divisive.

Whether you endorse Lapid’s doings or not, one thing is certain — his legacy is not one to be overlooked.

Bush: We Should Have Bombed Auschwitz

Bush at Yad Vashem 2008U.S. President George Bush appeared to have been moved to tears during his visit Friday morning at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. As he viewed many of the exhibits showing scenes from Auschwitz and other death camps where many of approximately 6 million Jews perished during WWII, Bush, who was accompanied by Israeli notables such as Prime Minister Olmert, President Shimon Peres, former Justice Minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid (himself a Holocaust survivor) and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, was said to have shed tears at least twice.

As he viewed the exhibits, the President appeared to be so moved that he was quoted from Shalev as saying “we should have bombed it (Auschwitz) ” in reference to the map of the camp compound that was supposed to have been the one that then President Franklin D. Roosevelt was shown when he decided not to have U.S. Air Corps bombers attack during bombing raids in the later months of WWII.

Bush was said to have made this statement following his placing a wreath on a memorial containing the ashes of Jews murdered at six extermination camps, including Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, Buchenwald, and Treblinka. This was the President’s first personal visit to Yad Vashem as he did not visit it during his visit as Governor of Texas in 1998. Though he did not appear to express it, he surely can testify that nobody can deny that the Holocaust existed, and in such a terrible scale.

That Bush was moved by his visit to the memorial, as well as his visit to the Jewish State is indicated in the words he wrote in the Yad Vashem guest book: “God bless Israel, George Bush”. He also made the point of shaking hands with members of a choir composed of young Israeli schoolgirls and posed with them for pictures.

The President ended his visit to Israel with a short tour of the Galilee and Lake Kineret, including the Christian holy sites of Capernaum and the Church of Beatitudes, where historian say Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount. The next stop on Bush’s Mid East tour is the Persian Gulf State of Kuwait. Though no final agreements were made by either Israel or the Palestinians during Bush’s short visit, the President seemed optimistic that a peace treaty will be made between the parties by the end of his term as President. He did note that Jerusalem “will be a problem” in regards to solving its final status.

The meetings with both Israeli and Palestinian officials have not concluded what will be done in regards to the Palestinians living in Hamas controlled Gaza, who took to the streets and demonstrated loudly against Bush’s visit, which did not include any contact with Hamas leader and former P.A. Prime Minister Ismail Hananyeh. These protests also included firing 12 Kassam rockets and at least 11 mortar rounds at the Israeli town of Sderot and nearby areas.

Bush said that he is willing to return to the region before his term expires to help implement a final peace agreement The only problem here is how to include 1.5 millions Palestinians whose leaders do not seem willing to go along with what their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank are involved in. Bush will most likely be pondering this problem during the remainder of his 8 day Middle East visit.

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