Update on Operation Protective Edge and Federation Response
July 17, 2014
As Operation Protective Edge continues, our partner agencies are working at full capacity to help mitigate the effects of ongoing rocket fire on a weary but resilient Israeli population. Today, Alan Hoffmann, director general of The Jewish Agency for Israel, shares with us his reflections on their vital work.
Tomorrow, Rebecca Caspi, executive director of JFNA’s Israel office and senior vice president of Israel and overseas, will share her report.
From Alan Hoffmann, Director General
The Jewish Agency for Israel
Today we enter the tenth day of Operation Protective Edge, a day that began with the announcement of a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire. Like all of us in Israel, I hope that we will soon return to a true sense of quiet and security.
In the nearly five decades that have passed since I first arrived in Israel from South Africa, the People and State of Israel have endured ongoing threats and hostilities. I have never ceased to be impressed by the resiliency of this society in the face of conflict, and by the deep expressions of solidarity and support that the global Jewish community provides to Israel, particularly at times of anxiety and need. I have felt that same sense of profound admiration and appreciation very strongly in the last two weeks, during the current operation to cease the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
So much of the work that The Jewish Agency for Israel does, on behalf of JFNA and Federations across North America, is focused on those geographic areas and sectors of society that are most directly impacted by the constant threat of rocket fire.
It is here—in the absorption centers for 3,000 new immigrants in the south of Israel and throughout the country; in the respite activities we have offered for 20,000 children so far in the areas within the 40-kilometer (25-mile) radius from the Gaza border; in our support for those who are directly affected physically, emotionally and financially by rocket fire and other acts of terror; in our ongoing work to strengthen our Partnership2Gether communities within the 40-kilometer area; in the civil defense facilities we supply for the residents of Amigour housing in Sderot—that I see most clearly the amazing spirit of the people of Israel and the truly significant ways in which we together, JFNA and The Jewish Agency, provide real assistance, solace and a sense of hope.
This touched me most poignantly in my visit to the Ye'elim Absorption Center for new immigrants in Beer Sheva. It was equally evident at the Shefayim Water Park, where 1,500 children were given the opportunity to escape the constant threat of rocket fire and its debilitating psychological impact.
Just yesterday, in the midst of this ongoing conflict, The Jewish Agency helped welcome 400 new immigrants from France, each of them inspired by the hope for a better life in Israel. These immigrants come with full knowledge of the situation here, and with the strength and conviction that together, Israel and the Jewish People can overcome this threat, as we have so many others.
In addition, our Israel experience professionals, through Masa Israel Journey, Israel Experience® and Onward Israel, are providing daily for the safety and security of the thousands of young people who have come here this summer to strengthen their Jewish identity and engage with Israel through peer-based experiential and educational programs. I am inspired by their sense of connection, involvement and resiliency as well. These young people are yet another expression of the unbreakable bond which joins all of us as a People, which is felt so clearly through the work that we do together here in Israel.