Netanyahu to Press: Stop Dividing Us
As usual, there is plenty to write about, so for now I will not discuss the friction between Defense Minister Gallant and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I will also skip discussing the recent polls with their wildly differing results. One poll shows the Likud party suffering a defeat of a magnitude that it hasn’t experienced in many years, while another poll shows the Likud gaining greater popularity if an election were to be held today. I will also have to leave the elections for local government for another time, despite the mounting anxiety within the chareidi community over the mayoral elections in a number of cities. The results of those elections will have a major impact on the religious community.
There is one thing that must be discussed, though: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s latest defense of the chareidi community against its detractors. At a press conference on motzoei Shabbos, Netanyahu was asked a number of senseless questions and managed to respond appropriately on every subject, even sparring verbally with the reporters with impressive vehemence. I will quote Netanyahu’s comments concerning the chareidim.
Yuval Sadeh, a reporter for Calcalist who emphasized that he had just completed 100 days of reserve service, lobbed the following question at Netanyahu: “How are people who are sending their children to the army supposed to feel when the government is funding organizations that support dodging the draft?” This question, if I may say so, was utterly foolish. Sadeh was actually referring to the Vaad HaYeshivos, which is not an organization that encourages draft dodging; it simply helps yeshiva bochurim take care of their draft deferments.
“That is a tendentious question,” Netanyahu replied. “If you are referring to the chareidim, then let me remind you that the leaders of the opposition told them in the past to fill out anything they desired.” Netanyahu waved the piece of paper sitting on the podium before him. He was referring to the fact that Lapid and Gantz had promised the chareidim that they would sign any agreement they chose to write. “I have seen the chareidim volunteering in droves for civilian service,” Netanyahu continued. “But you are ignoring that, because you are interested in creating strife. You are here on a mission; there is a division of tasks here. I am focusing on eliminating Hamas, while you are conducting a war against me at the same time.”
Why Weren’t the Buildings in Gaza Destroyed from the Air?
If my weekly roundup of the news is meant to include last weekend, then there are two critical topics that must be discussed this week: the building collapse in Gaza (which is also discussed in my article on the special discussion in the Knesset in honor of Tu B’Shevat) and the court case against Israel in the International Court of Justice in the Hague, which was prompted by a suit filed against Israel by South Africa that accused the Israeli army of genocide.
Let’s discuss the tragedy in Gaza first. Twenty-one Israeli soldiers lost their lives this week in the deadliest event to take place since the beginning of this war. The soldiers were in the process of planting mines in a couple of buildings slated for demolition when a group of terrorists fired a missile at one of the buildings, setting off the explosives and causing the structures to collapse with the soldiers still inside them. An initial inquiry has shown that the soldiers had planted about ten explosives in each building when the Hamas terrorists arrived in the vicinity and fired an RPG in their direction. This caused the explosives to detonate and the buildings to collapse, killing 19 soldiers. Two more soldiers, who were in a tank stationed nearby to protect the soldiers in the buildings, were killed by another RPG before they had a chance to turn the tank’s turret and take aim at the terrorists. The inquiry also dealt with the question of why the buildings weren’t destroyed in an air strike rather than from the ground, which would obviously have been safer for the Israeli forces. The answer that was given was that the air force is generally called in to remove threats and eliminate terrorists, and that striking a target from the air causes a crater to form, which makes it difficult to continue carrying out demolitions and other such work on the ground. The alternatives were to destroy the buildings with explosives or heavy tools, and the army chose to use explosives.
Netanyahu said following the tragedy: “We have been through one of the most difficult days since the beginning of the war. I would like to give strength to the precious families of our heroic soldiers who fell in battle. I know that these families’ lives are going to change forever. I mourn for the heroic soldiers who fell, and I offer an embrace to the families during their time of sorrow, while all of us pray for the wounded. The IDF has begun an investigation of the tragedy. We need to draw the requisite conclusions and to do everything possible to protect the lives of our soldiers. On behalf of our heroes and for the sake of our lives, we will not stop fighting until we achieve absolute victory.”
It was a terrible tragedy indeed, since many soldiers were buried in the rubble of the collapsed buildings. This resulted in a protracted wait before the families could be notified of their losses. It was also necessary to send in additional soldiers to clear away the rubble, including officers who have expertise in dealing with such disasters. A large number of operatives from the Home Front Command’s rescue unit were summoned to the scene, along with civilian personnel from the special rescue division of the firefighting service. As for the lesson to be learned from this incident, it does not take a genius to realize that the very first conclusion should be that the IDF should work by destroying buildings from the air in the future, rather than using its soldiers to deploy mines for the purpose of carrying out demolitions.
Is the ICJ Ruling a Victory or a Defeat?
On Friday, a panel of 17 judges on the International Court of Justice in the Hague rejected a petition from South Africa to order an immediate halt to the fighting in Gaza on the grounds that Israel is committing genocide. The judges agreed by a majority vote to issue a number of interim injunctions that require Israel to use all the means at its disposal to avoid genocidal acts or any other actions that harm the residents of Gaza, including the killing of civilians or causing damage. The chief justice added that the court instructed Israel to make it possible for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza to ease living conditions in the area, to prevent the destruction of evidence of genocide, and to punish any Israeli officials who call for genocide. The court also ordered Israel to report on its activities within the month. The chief justice stressed that the court had also called for the immediate release of all the hostages being held in Gaza.
As could only be expected, there are major differences of opinion within Israel regarding whether the court’s verdict should be considered a win for Israel, a loss, or perhaps neither of the above. This also triggered a debate over whether Israel should have ignored the hearing in the Hague or Netanyahu was correct in sending Israel’s number one jurist—and the number one leftist in the judicial establishment—Professor Aharon Barak, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court and architect of the ongoing power struggle between the court and the Knesset, to represent Israel in the Hague.
The truth is that the Israeli government was concerned about the court case. If the court had ruled that Israel is committing genocide, it would not only have had an emotional and psychological impact but would also have meant that Israeli soldiers, officers, and politicians could be charged with war crimes and might be subject to arrest in airports throughout the world. The court case itself was also highly insulting to Israel, considering that the complaint was filed by South Africa, the country that is infamous for its own apartheid policies. This country had the gall to consider itself moral while calling Israel’s morality into question. And Israel is being opposed by countries such as Russia, which is waging its own campaign of genocide in Ukraine, as well as countries in Africa that are murdering their own citizens. This is the height of hypocrisy.
On Friday, when the court’s verdict was released, a wave of joy and relief swept through Israel over the fact that the ICJ hadn’t called for a ceasefire in Gaza. That meant that the court had rejected the claim that Israel was committing genocide. On the other hand, the court did maintain that it has the authority to judge the case and that it is possible to prove that Israel is committing genocide. The case still isn’t closed, and it is going to remain open for years to come. For the time being, the court has clarified that it considers itself authorized to examine Israel’s fight for its existence, and it ordered Israel to submit monthly reports on its activities. No other country is subject to such treatment, which is meant to cause the IDF to place its soldiers under constant scrutiny.
Most Fruit in Israel Is Imported
I assume that you have never heard of Shoshana Shenker. She is a journalist from a chassidish family, a resident of Bnei Brak, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and an obsessive writer (like myself) on every topic associated with the Holocaust. She also writes about consumer affairs under a pen name, Shoshana Chen, in Yediot Acharonot, the most popular newspaper in the country. She is one of the most respected figures in the Israeli media, and she has received quite a few awards for her work. Now, why am I telling you this now? Because she published an investigative article in honor of Tu B’Shevat about the species of fruits associated with Eretz Yisroel, and she revealed that most of the fruits in the country are imported.
“Most of the people of Israel are not aware,” she wrote, “that with the exception of dates, which are grown here—in fact, the Israeli date is considered the best in the world—and almonds, some of which are grown in Israel, all other dried fruits sold here are grown and cultivated abroad, and many of them come from Turkey, especially apricots, figs, raisins, and even carobs, which are the leading products sold for Tu B’Shevat. Israeli importers aren’t always careful about labeling dried fruits and nuts with their countries of origin, and the packaging often lists Israel as the place of manufacture even though the products come from abroad and are only packaged in Israel. The fact that something is packaged in Israel, even if none of the processing takes place here, is seen as justification for labeling the product as Israeli. ‘We package them in an Israeli plant, not in Turkey. The country of manufacture is the place where it is packaged. The same is true when you buy tomato paste or rice; it is labeled as an Israeli product, but it is really only packaged here,’ says Rami Levi, who owns a massive business that markets many of these products.
“Many packages of dried fruits that I found in the supermarket chains Rami Levi, Shufersal, and Victory listed their country of manufacture as Israel, even though there is nowhere in Israel where these dried fruits are produced,” the article continues. “A brand called Magash Iruach Pri Haaretz, which is a subsidiary of Rami Levi, went so far as to claim that one third of its products are Israeli products. This refers to the dates and almonds, but the other products, such as apricots, cranberries, and raisins, are imported. Other examples include dried apricots and prunes marketed by Sasson Hacoleh in Victory; dried figs, pineapples, and light raisins produced under Rami Levi’s private brand; Shuferal’s dried prunes, both regular and organic; and the dried figs and white raisins sold under the brand name Shuk Haculinari in Shufersal. All of these items are labeled as products of Israel, but all of them are imported from abroad and only packaged in Israel. The Victory web site even features a blue and white flag next to the raisins produced by Maya, even though the vendor admits that they are manufactured in America. Shufersal, as I mentioned, labels its packaged raisins as Israeli products. When they responded to our inquiry and acknowledged that the products are imported from the United States, they promised to correct the listing on their web site and to consult with the vendor about the labeling on the product. Nevertheless, we should mention that Shufersal was actually a positive exception among the supermarket chains we investigated, in terms of the large number of packages or individually sold items that did not conceal their origins outside the country. For instance, the apricots sold by weight come from Turkey, the sugar-coated pineapples and papayas are imported from Thailand, the dried mangos and cranberries are from China, and there are many other such products, including an assortment from Turkey. The dried fruit market, not including nuts, is estimated to have a turnover of about 300 million shekels a year, with Tu B’Shevat responsible for about one third of the annual sales. Ninety percent of the dried fruits that we consume have never touched Israeli soil.”
Acknowledging the Miracles
Once again, a report that should have attracted much more attention was barely mentioned in the media. The following terse account appeared in the press this week: “An anti-tank missile hit the area of Biranit, between Sasa and Netuah. There were no injuries.”
This brief report, which was barely even a blip, should have been an occasion for great excitement. We must not allow ourselves to forget how much we should give praise and thanks for such news. Even a single missile has the potential to leave death and destruction in its wake. We have grown so accustomed to living with miracles that we view them as natural occurrences, forgetting that nature itself is actually a miracle. But we must not be lulled into this false sense of complacency; we must remain ever alert and remember at all times to give thanks to Hashem.
This week, I had another reason to feel that only a silly person could be incapable of seeing the hashgocha protis accompanying us at every moment. One of the busiest people in this country is Yoav Ben-Tzur, the Minister of Labor. Since his area of jurisdiction includes the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi), which is responsible for dispensing all the government-funded grants and stipends to eligible citizens, Ben-Tzur has perhaps become the government minister most heavily involved in dealing with the aftermath of the massacre on Simchas Torah. He has been working incredibly long hours since the day of the attack and has definitely earned the accolades being showered on him from every direction.
Over the past few months, Ben-Tzur has left his office and traveled throughout the country to visit every place where the intervention of the NII was needed, whether it was for evacuees from communities in the line of fire, wounded victims of the massacre, people in need of psychological treatment, or others with legal entitlements to various stipends. And he has earned a reputation for being what Israelis tend to call “the right man in the right place.” Last week, Ben-Tzur reported the following: “The NII has approved 770 million shekels in grants for the victims of the acts of terror of October 7. Ninety-two million shekels have been paid thus far to the families of hostages, who will be receiving payments for the rest of their lives. There are still 87,000 open claims filed with the institute…. We have transferred funds for burial expenses and initial payments to 780 families of civilian victims of the massacre, for a total of 20 million shekels, in addition to the regular stipends that they receive every month. Wherever I went, the citizens have told me that the NII has saved the State of Israel.”
The hashgocha protis lay in something that occurred a few months ago, before the October 7 calamity. At the beginning of this government’s term, Ben-Tzur’s official title was “minister in the Ministry of Welfare,” and many people viewed it scornfully as a meaningless job that had been created for him as a political accommodation. The government then decided to split the Welfare Ministry in two, creating a separate Ministry of Labor headed by Ben-Tzur while Yaakov Margi remained the Minister of Welfare. Once again, the decision was widely mocked; there will always be scoffers who will ridicule any such move. Over the past few months, however, we have discovered that it was indeed critical for the Ministry of Labor to be revived and an actual labor minister to be appointed. While we had no idea at the time that the ministry would play such a critical role, Hashem provided the cure before the blow that struck this country on October 7.
An Hourglass from the Hostages’ Families
The plight of the hostages in Gaza remains at the top of the public agenda, and for good reason. As I have written in the past, there is a forum that is pressuring the government to make any concession necessary to bring the hostages home, but there is also a major debate over whether this pressure and the massive protests are helping the hostages’ cause or harming them. We all know that Hamas is also aware of what is taking place in Israel, and if the terrorists see that the government is facing internal pressure to concede to their demands, they will certainly use that fact to their advantage. In the interim, a new group has begun coming to the Kerem Shalom crossing and blocking shipments of humanitarian aid from entering Gaza. These activists claim that the aid shipments are leading Hamas to harden its negotiating positions and that the government should be continuing the fight against Hamas without hesitation, without interruption, and without providing humanitarian aid. The problem, of course, is that the American government is pressuring Israel to allow the aid shipments to enter the Gaza Strip.
That brings us to an interesting mass mailing that recently arrived in the Knesset. The postal service used to operate a post office in the Knesset building; however, the office recently closed. All that remains of it are the post office boxes serving the members of the Knesset and a few minimal services (for which I should acknowledge the hard work of Roni Moshe, a Knesset employee and religious resident of Petach Tikvah). Last week, every member of the Knesset and minister in the government received a package in the mail containing a small hourglass, presumably a curio or children’s toy. Each of these little knickknacks was accompanied by a letter with the following pained message: “Our friends and family members, Tzachi Ido and Omri Meidan, were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nachal Oz on October 7 and are being held captive by Hamas in Gaza. They, along with about 130 other hostages, are imprisoned in Hamas’s dark tunnels, suffering from torment and with the threat of death hovering over them at every moment. Together with them, we are all being held hostage emotionally by Hamas. While the Jewish people celebrated the Festival of Lights, their homes and our temporary homes as evacuees from our kibbutz remained darkened…. Every day, we get up with the knowledge that it might be the last day for Omri, Tzachi, and all the hostages. We cannot heal our wounds without bringing our sons, our fathers, our brothers, and all the hostages home safely, because our broken hearts will not heal without that.”
I presume that you understand their message and the symbolic meaning of the hourglasses. But let me quote just another line or two from this missive, with its heartfelt plea: “Their time, and our time as a strong society that values life and the principle of pidyon shevuyim, is running out…. Please do not abandon them in Hamas captivity.”
We can only daven to Hashem to have mercy on all those who are suffering.
A Former Hostage Describes Her Ordeal
On that note, I quote the testimony of Natalie Agojo, a 60-year-old woman from the Philipines who was captured by Hamas on October 7 and subsequently freed, at which point she discovered that her Israeli husband, Gideon, had been murdered. “We woke up early on the morning of October 7,” she said.” At 5:00 in the morning, my husband Gideon and I were already awake. We heard the red alert sirens at 6:30, and Gideon told me that it was nothing, but I found it suspicious, because I had already heard the gunshots outside. I told him to come into the safe room with me, but he told me at a certain point that he wanted to go outside and to see what was happening next to his car. I said, ‘What is there to see outside?’ But he insisted on going out, and then I heard two gunshots.
“When I heard the shots, I shouted from inside the house, ‘Gideon, come back. Gideon, where are you? Why did you leave me alone?’ But he didn’t answer me or return, and then I heard our car exploding. A short time later, the apartment began burning. The safe room door was open, and the smoke entered the room. The terrorists were already in the house. I jumped out the window directly into the hands of terrorists, who were waiting there with their weapons drawn. There were six terrorists there, and they began arguing about what to do with me. I understood from their hand motions that one of them wanted to kill me and another wanted to abduct me. I said to them, ‘I am a Filipino; I am not Israeli. Don’t kill me.’ They put me in a small van, and they loaded the bodies of Israelis who had been murdered into the back of the van, piling them up on the back seat and on the roof.
“After making a few stops, we arrived at an underground apartment in Gaza, where two other hostages had already been brought: Karina Angel and Irena Tati. The first thing I remember noticing was the large picture of Gilad Shalit on the wall of the apartment. I asked my abductors, ‘What am I doing here? How long will I be here?’ One of them told me that it could take two weeks, a month, or a year. I began to cry.
“We spent every day in darkness. There was no electricity, no water, and almost no food. Sometimes they gave us a single biscuit in the morning, and that was all that we had to eat for an entire day. The water had a foul odor, and showering was completely out of the question; we didn’t shower for 23 days. We were living in fear throughout that time. The men were shouting constantly, and I kept thinking that they were going to come inside and shoot us all. I didn’t sleep. We also heard the sounds of the IDF bombing the area and the missiles fired by Hamas. The floor constantly shook, and the house felt as if it was flying through the air.
“One day, the terrorist leader came inside and told us to put on jalabiyas because we were about to be transferred to a different place. We went outside wearing those black robes, which had only small openings for our eyes. We walked through a marketplace that was filled with people, and we were petrified. We could have been discovered at any moment. We were taken to a separate department in Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, where we met other hostages. They put us in a room together with the Cunio family—Sharon and David and their three-year-old twins, Emma and Julie. Chana Katzir was there as well. Over time, we became a family of sorts. When Sharon struggled to manage her children, we took them so that she could rest. Over time, we realized that other hostages were being held in the hospital as well. I met a few older women, as well as the boys Erez and Eitan. Our time in the hospital was much easier, until one terrible moment arrived. Three days before Sharon Cunio and her daughters were released, they separated David from the family. That moment left all of us shattered. The girls screamed and cried, and there was one last hug. It was extremely painful.”
When the ceasefire was declared and the hostages began being released, Natalie, also known as Noraline, waited for her turn. She was freed on November 29. “I was in the car with Ofelia Roitman,” she recalled, “and it stopped on the way. The terrorists said that there was a delay, and then a large mob of people suddenly rushed over and began banging on the windows. I was certain that they were going to kill us. I managed to breathe again only when I saw the soldiers at the Rafiach Crossing. I hoped that I would be reunited with Gideon, but when I arrived at the hospital, my brother met me there and told me that Gideon had been murdered on October 7. I felt as if I had been doused with ice water.” She also discovered that a friend had also been informed that her own husband and her daughter had been murdered. The two widows have been supporting each other since that day.
Italy Rejects Israel’s Ambassador
Although the government approved the appointment of Benny Kasriel as the Israeli ambassador to Italy until the end of July, the Italians have been sending unofficial messages to Israel expressing their displeasure with his appointment. The reason is that Kasriel has been serving since 1992 as the mayor of the city of Maale Adumim, which is located over the Green Line, and he served in the past as head of the Yesha Council. Keep in mind, though, that Maale Adumim is very close to Yerushalayim, and there is no dispute about the fact that Yesha is part of the State of Israel.
Whenever an ambassador is appointed by his home country, the host country is supposed to approve the appointment, but Italy has yet to approve Kasriel’s appointment. The Italians sent word through diplomatic channels that they are not pleased with the choice of a man who is considered a leader of the settlement movement and that the appointment has the potential to sour their relations with the European Union. The Italian government is considered very friendly to Israel, but it seems that its position regarding Israel’s choice of ambassador is affected by the broader consensus in the EU concerning the settlements. President Yitzchok Herzog has been asked by the Foreign Ministry to intervene by discreetly persuading the Italian government to accept Israel’s choice. We will have to wait and see if he is successful.
If Kasriel’s appointment is not accepted, it will be an echo of the experience of Dani Dayan when he was tapped to serve as Israel’s ambassador to Brazil. At that time, the Brazilian government refused to accept Dayan because he was a senior figure on the Yesha Council and he lived over the Green Line. Today, Dayan is the director of Yad Vashem.
In the end, Dani Dayan benefited from the situation. In response to Brazil’s opposition, Netanyahu appointed him as the Israeli consul general in New York instead. When he returned to Israel, he teamed up with Gideon Saar and Zeev Elkin, who declared political war on Netanyahu. Such is life.
Rabbi Chaim Korsia Urges EU to Fight Anti–Semitism
This week, on Tuesday, the Knesset met in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The world observes an annual day of remembrance for the Holocaust on January 27, the anniversary of the date when the Auschwitz death camp was liberated from the Nazis in 1945. This date was chosen by the United Nations in the year 2006. The State of Israel officially commemorates the Holocaust on a different day: Yom HaShoah, which is observed every year on the 27th of Nissan (even though the halacha prohibits eulogies during that month). For the religious public, meanwhile, the fast of Asarah B’Teves was chosen by the Chief Rabbinate to serve the same purpose. Nevertheless, the Knesset cannot completely ignore the date chosen by the UN, and the Israeli legislature therefore convened on Tuesday to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.
I mention all of this only by way of introduction to a moving memorial event that was held in Strasbourg by the European Commission. This event was especially significant in light of the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe (due to the large Muslim population in Europe and the war in Gaza) and in America (as is indicated by recent statistics). The memorial ceremony was held at the entrance to the European Council in Strasbourg, near a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The speakers included Maria Pejcinovic Buric, the secretary-general of the council, and Daniel Risch, prime minister of Lichtenstein.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the 47 member states of the European Council, as well as ambassadors and observers from other countries, headed by Theodoros Rousopoulos, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In addition, a number of representatives of the Jewish world were present, led by Rabbi Avrohom Weill, chief rabbi of Strasbourg and the Lower Rhine; Israeli ambassador Chaim Asraf; Maurice Dahan, president of the Consistoire in Strasbourg and the Rhine; Rav Mendel Samama, the rov of the Chemdas Shlomo congregation in Strasbourg; and Sara Lustig, chairwoman of the International Holocaust Alliance and adviser to the prime minister of Croatia (and the daughter of Bruno Lustig, the producer of Schindler’s List).
The main speaker was Rav Chaim Korsia, chief rabbi of France and vice president of the Conference of European Rabbis (whom, you may remember, I interviewed for this newspaper not long ago). Rav Korsia was unhesitatingly forthright. “There is a direct line that runs through all of Jewish history,” he said. “The voice is always the same voice, the cry is the same cry, and the terrible silence is the same. The only things that change are the venue and the calendar. There is a direct link between the smoke rising from the crematoria in Auschwitz and Majdanek and the smoke that rose from the burned homes in Beeri and Kfar Azza on October 7, the day of the Holocaust of the Jews of southern Israel. It is the same fire of hatred for Jews that burned when the ‘final solution’ was planned at the Wannsee Conference, and it is the same fire that destroyed all the walls of humanity during the violence on Simchas Torah. Nothing has changed other than the place.
“Anti-Semitism has been dubbed ‘the eternal hatred of the eternal people’ because it has no basis and does not depend on the times or circumstances,” he continued. “Anti-Semitism follows the Jews like a shadow. Wherever the Jews have gone, the hatred has gone as well, as in the case of the monsters, the beasts in the guise of men, who set out on a horrific massacre on the southern border of Eretz Yisroel and kidnapped men, women, and children so that they would have victims to torment. The world was silent then [during the Holocaust], and even today, not everyone has been shocked or condemned this. Evil and sin have received tacit approval.
“This is the right place to acknowledge the work of Dr. German Zakharyaev,” he added, “who initiated and established the Day of Liberation and Salvation [on its Hebrew anniversary]. This is a special day that is observed every year in dozens of countries and with the participation of their leaders and should be a clear statement and an obvious cry in a world that is filled with those who forget and those who cause them to forget. Dr. Zakharyaev has invested his assets and his energy to eternalize the victory of good over evil and salvation over sin, and the replacement of darkness with light, through public activities and declarations of thanks to the Creator of the world and to the governments and Allied soldiers who were His messengers and His partners in eradicating the soldiers of cruelty and human depravity. He has built a luminous beacon of morality with an alarm clock that is constantly ringing and flashing, reminding us that we must not forget and that the evil is still here.”
Rav Korsia concluded his remarks by addressing the world leaders who were present at the ceremony. “From this place, let us all call out loudly: No more!” he announced. “No to mounting anti-Semitism, no to evil, no to cruelty, no to bloodshed. At the same time, let us say yes to brotherhood, yes to tolerance, yes to peace, and yes to the spirit of man fashioned in the image of Hashem. There is no doubt that if such a statement emerges from the European Union, it will be a great ray of light for the Jewish people and for all of humanity within the darkness of this time.”