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JCRC Update | March 20, 2015

Crisis in Ukraine

The past year has been a trying time for Jews all over the world as crises have affected our community to such an extent that the whole world has taken notice. War last year in Israel; violence against Jewish communities throughout the world, including murder, directed at Jews in Belgium, France and Denmark; increased anti-Semitism worldwide, including here in the U.S.

The crisis in the Ukraine has gone somewhat under the radar, because it is not a specifically Jewish story. Jews are not targeted specifically because they are Jewish (in fact, both sides in the conflict have accused the other of anti-Semitism).

But Jews are suffering on a massive scale nonetheless. Thousands of Jews are caught in the crossfire between Russia and Russian-backed Separatists and Ukrainian government forces, which have been fighting for over two years since the pro-Russian Prime Minister of Ukraine was sacked and a pro-Western Prime Minister took his place.

Thousands of seniors are suffering without food. An already poor community, some dependent on Jewish social services for the basics, is becoming desperate in light of the constant battle. They need our help now.

The Jewish Federations of North America is now collecting funds directly for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to provide important relief and other services. The money raised will also be used to prepare the Jewish communities in the war zone to make aliyah to Israel. There appears to be no hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict any time soon, and the JDC will need hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next several months to provide these services.

Please consider making a donation by visiting www.jewishlouisville.org/unrest-in-ukraine. For more detailed information, please see JDC CEO Alan Gill’s op-ed piece on this page.

Election Update

It appears from the results of this week’s Israeli elections that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored a decisive victory over his center-left rival, Isaac Herzog. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party now has 30 seats in the 120 seat Knesset, a sharp increase over the 18 seats they had in the previous government. This puts him in prime position to form a government of other right wing parties elected this week.

We will not know the final makeup of the Knesset for several weeks, as negotiations will take place to determine who will get important positions in the government such as Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, and Justice Minister.

But as we look at the totality of the results, the real political makeup of the Knesset has not really changed. The huge increase for Likud seems to have come at the expense of other right wing parties.

The Center-Left Zionist Union, which earned 24 seats, also seems to have taken seats from other centrist or left wing parties. The religious parties seemed to have maintained similar representation as well. There is much larger Arab representation, both in the Joint Arab list and in other parties, with 17 Arab members of the Knesset now.

For all the noise associated with this election, Israelis seemed to be satisfied generally with the status quo. No matter who the ministers are, we can expect policies on very important issues such as the peace process and economic inequality to remain virtually identical.

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