Amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Jews in the Midwest will have the opportunity to hear from an expert on politics in Israel, who recently returned from a journalistic visit to the Ukraine-Moldova border.
On Wednesday, April 6 at 8 a.m., Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post, will be the keynote speaker at the Jewish National Fund-USA’s Midwest Breakfast for Israel, which will be held virtually this year.
Originally, Hoffman’s scheduled keynote was titled “Peace, Politics, and the Pandemic: An Insider’s Look at How Israel Is Overcoming the World’s Challenges.” However, a shift in global focus from the pandemic to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine necessitated a change in the direction of its discussion.
“The main message of the conference was to be about how Israel stayed ahead of the curve of the pandemic and used its creativity to defeat it. About how Israel united the most diverse government in history to overcome political challenges, and diplomatically became a member of the Abraham Accords, thriving on the creativity and different approach used to achieve it said Hoffman.
However, Hoffman recently returned from a trip to the Ukraine-Moldova border, and believes this crisis is a more relevant topic to discuss.
“Time travel – you would think it’s not possible, but it is. You can go back to a much worse century, live it, and that’s what’s happening right now,” said Hoffman: “I’ve seen thousands of people fleeing for their lives from one country to another, nothing but their shirts on their backs and carrying a backpack and a suitcase, and that’s it. , leaving behind their homes, careers and lives.”
Hoffman plans to discuss Israel’s response to the crisis. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has taken a somewhat neutral stance in the dispute, according to media reports, being the first world leader to meet Putin and immediately calling on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy afterwards.
“[Bennett] does its best to play a somewhat neutral role, even though Israel has obviously joined the United Nations in condemning the Russians,” Hoffman said.
According to Hoffman, Israel has taken in a disproportionate number of refugees from Ukraine compared to the rest of the world, and although non-Jewish refugees must pay a fee to be accepted into Israel, Hoffman says government ministers have called for this to change. .
A critical problem facing Israel is the shortage of housing and land in the central part of the country, Hoffman said. These refugees will need to relocate to Israel’s southern region, and Hoffman views the work JNF-USA is doing as crucial to helping Israel prosper and expand.
“I really respect and appreciate what the JNF is doing to secure Israel’s future,” Hoffman said. “What’s happening here right now is that an overwhelming majority of Israelis live in the center of the country, and that’s not sustainable. We have a Negev at 60% of the territory. The JNF is building the Negev to make it a place where even rich people want to live, and that’s what we need for our future.
In addition to building land in less populated areas, JNF-USA is working to support and provide resources to Jewish refugees from Ukraine, according to media reports.
During the interview, Hoffman plans to detail his personal experience on the border and how the Jewish community responded to the crisis.
In addition to hearing from Hoffman, attendees will learn about the work of the Jewish National Fund-USA on behalf of the land and people of Israel.
“We got involved with JNF-USA after learning about all the great ways they support Israel beyond just planting trees,” said event chairs Gail and Rabbi Steve Adams. in a press release. “We hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity.”
Register to attend the free virtual event at jnf.org/BFImidwest or contact Kim R. Levy, Executive Director, Midwest JNF at [email protected] or 847-656-8880, x763.