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Israeli Officials Celebrate July 4: 'Much to be Thankful For'


The 242nd US Independence Day celebration took place Tuesday night at the Avenue Convention & Events Center at Airport City. Israeli officials congratulated the US and emphasized the strength of the American-Israeli alliance during the Trump administration. Knesset member Ofir Akunis (Likud) said, "Happy birthday to the United States of America, we are glad to be at an all-time peak in the alliance between our countries. Both of us [share] one great future, and I'm glad to be here. Mazal tov, America." Deputy Minister Michael Oren, "In our 70-year history, we've never known an administration so friendly. The friendliness is not just from the president and his relationship with the State of Israel, but it's his entire administration: The secretary of state, national security adviser, defense minister, ambassador to the UN. This is an administration that is with us on issues vital to Israel's future and security, on Iran and Syria, on Gaza, in the UN, and that is definitely a reason to celebrate." Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, "If you notice, it's the 242nd anniversary of American independence. This should remind us of resolution 242, which never mentioned Jerusalem, which did not call for a full withdrawal from the territories, and reminds us what our rights are under international principles and that we have to protect them. I think, considering that President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, has moved the embassy to Jerusalem, and has gotten us out of that treacherous Iran agreement, we have much to be thankful for." Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Energy, "Israel has no greater friend than the US since 1948. The US has always been Israel's most supporter, strategic backer, and it's not just about Israel - the US is really the true and only leader of the free world. Therefore, we cherish the US, we share its values, and we are here to celebrate the fourth of July with the knowledge that a strong United States is the best guarantee for a stronger Israel, and a stronger free, democratic world for all human beings."

Shas Knesset Member: Earthquake Caused by Reform, Conservative Jews

By the Jerusalem Post

Shas MK Yinon Azoulai issued a tirade against progressive Jews from the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, and postulated that Reform and Conservative demands for egalitarian prayer rights at the Western Wall were responsible for the earthquake Israel experienced on Wednesday morning. An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale struck northern Israel shortly before 5:00 a.m. No damages or casualties were reported. Speaking from the podium during a motion to the agenda, Azoulai, said non-Orthodox Jews were not Jewish, and that they should spend the money they invest in Israel on building another "Western Wall" in the US. "Today we heard that there was some kind of earthquake, maybe we should engage in some introspection that this earthquake was because someone here is trying to harm that which is holy to us?" said Azouali. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has over the last few days been advancing plans to renovate the egalitarian prayer section at the southern end of the Western Wall, which has generated intense opposition from hardline national-religious and haredi elements. "Listen to our pain, they are not Jews… To whom is the prime minister giving? To those who go against us in all different types of organizations," asking why Netanyahu cannot identify the "catastrophe" of upgrade to the egalitarian section at the Western Wall, or of "the Women of Dispute," meaning the Women of the Wall prayer rights group and progressive Jews.

"What do you [progressive Jews] have to do with the ancient stones of the Western Wall? I suggest to you a proposal, that you take your money that you invest in the State of Israel and build yourselves another Western Wall in the US," he said derisively. Azoulai, who became an MK in March, made similar comments during a Knesset committee hearing in May, when he said that non-Orthodox Jews were not part of the Jewish people. His sentiments reflect not only the severe animus of many haredi politicians to non-Orthodox Jews but also those of his father, Religious Services Minister David Azoulai, whose seat in Knesset he inherited when his father stepped down as an MK earlier this year due to poor health. The senior Azoulai claimed in 2015 that Reform Jews were not Jewish since they do not follow Jewish law, He also described non-Orthodox denominations as "people who try and falsify" the Jewish religion.

Einstein Letter on Rise of Nazis Sold at Auction

A letter written by Albert Einstein on the day he renounced his German citizenship, after realizing he could not return due to the rise of the Nazis, was sold. The letter written on board the S.S. Belgenland and dated March 28, 1933, sold for $30, 250 at the Nate D. Sanders Auction House in Los Angeles. A second letter from Einstein written in 1938 in which he discusses helping Jewish refugees escape Nazi Germany sold for $31,250. The 1933 letter was written with his wife, Elsa, to his sister Maja Winteler-Einstein about the dire situation in Germany, just minutes before they docked in Antwerp, Belgium, where Einstein renounced his German citizenship. Later that day, Einstein handed in his passport at the German consulate in Antwerp. After the Nazis seized power in January 1933, they raided Einstein's home when he and his wife were traveling to the United States. They also reportedly put a bounty on his head. The day the letter was written, the Einsteins were traveling back to Germany, intending to live at their summer home in Caputh, before discovering that the home also had been raided. This led Einstein to decide to renounce his citizenship. "We will now look for a hiding place for the summer," Albert Einstein wrote in concluding the letter. In the 1938 letter, also to his sister, Albert Einstein discusses helping Jews and other persecuted people flee German-held countries in Europe, including using his own funds to do so. He asks his sister to leave Switzerland and visit him in the United States.

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