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Sunday, 2 August 2009

Israeli Settlements: Obama Should Know Better

Early in the morning on July 7, an excited crowd of more than 100 gathered in Ben-Gurion International Airport to greet 232 new Jewish immigrants to Israel who arrived from North America on an El Al charter flight organized and funded by Nefesh B'Nefesh (which means "Soul in Soul" in Hebrew). The airport's old and defunct Terminal 1 has been transformed into a celebratory arrival hall for new immigrants brought by the nonprofit organization, which was founded in 2001 with the aim of revitalizing immigration to Israel from North America and Britain.

Recently considered by the Jewish Agency to be serious competition when it comes to immigration, NBN is now recognized as the official operator of North American immigration to Israel. After some years of animosity and tension between the two groups, the Jewish Agency, along with the Israeli government, signed a contract with NBN last September that not only grants formal recognition to NBN but also guarantees that the government and the Jewish Agency will each fund a third of NBN's $12 million annual budget. The remaining third comes from private donors. It is noteworthy, given the fact that Israeli taxpayer money goes toward this enterprise, that so few Israelis have heard of it. More