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  • Writer's pictureAvi Abraham Benlolo

TheFridayReport (from Israel): See Today's Video Report from the Golan Heights and News Briefing

Watch this briefing from the Golan Heights by Avi Abraham Benlolo and Colonel Kobi Marom

07/16/21: Golan Heights - Dear Friends, Shabbat Shalom from Israel. Its been a wonderful whirlwind week criss-crossing the country and meeting with Israeli leaders and diplomats to discuss The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI).

First and foremost, we are pleased to announce that Colonel (ret) Kobi Marom will be joining our International Board of Advisors and is intimately involved in our continued growth in Israel.

As you will see in the video attached, AGPI caught up with Colonel (ret) Kobi Marom for an update about the increasing security threat to Israel on its Northern Border. We also had a crucial meeting with Sheikh Taher of Majed al Shams, the largest Druze village in the Golan Heights.

The reception to our initiative has been overwhelmingly positive, with lots of interesting ideas and collaborative projects already underway.

We spoke about the rising tide of antisemitism at home and around the world and the importance of combating it aggressively. Shock and dismay about the emergence of Antisemitism on Canadian streets was the reaction most leaders exhibited, and agreed that a strong Israel is a fundamental premise to combating Antisemitism.

With this in mind, today AGPI commended Toronto's police for charging a Toronto man on two alleged anti-semitic incidents in the city. In our statement, we said that we cannot allow hate crime and antisemitism to prevail in our city, and for that matter, in any city.

But still, the ignorance and truth about Israel and its openness to all faiths and cultures persists, shockingly even among some members of the Jewish community. A dreadful survey reported on by the Times of Israel stated that some 25% of Jews think Israel is an 'apartheid state'. Outrageously, the survey found that 22% also believe "Israel is committing genocide".

The survey commissioned by the Jewish Electorate Institute and commissioned by Jewish Democrats (according to the Times) also said that 67% of American Jews believe that denying Israel's right to exist is antisemitic. It's hard to believe that some 33% of American Jews may not believe it is.

What we witnessed at Majed al Shams was the exact opposite of what is believed in this survey. During our meeting with its Spiritual Leader - who is also responsible for 5 villages in the area - he told us that his community is integrating into Israeli society. The Druze are taking on Israeli passports, going to Israeli universities and working in central Israel.

The obvious wealth in Majed al Shams was obvious. Residents were driving in high end cars as the city appeared to be open and thriving. Indeed, the same picture is apparent in many Druze and Arab towns across the country - yet 25% of American Jews are ignorant enough not to know that in fact, diversity is thriving in Israel.

What the Abraham Global Peace Initiative will be doing is building a framework to dispel this myth and many other myths that try to defame and slander Israel. My report from Israel in today's National Post highlights a number of collaborative meetings held this week with critical leaders:

We have to work toward strengthening peace and democracy even when we are uncomfortable — challenging accepted norms and reaching across the table when possible. That’s why I also met in Jerusalem this week with the UN’s Deputy Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Lynn Hastings, to discuss how we can resolve the Mideast conflict.

Peace in the Middle East can be achieved through a greater effort toward rights and freedoms, including the much-needed advancement of women’s rights. This in turn will advance the societies in which they live. That point was underlined in a conversation I had with Canada’s very impressive new ambassador to Israel, Lisa Stadelbauer.

Except for Israel, where 30 per cent of the current government is comprised of women, women in the Middle East continue to suffer discrimination. This must change.

Indeed, Jerusalem’s dynamic Deputy Mayor, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, told me that women all over the Middle East are yearning for improved rights and freedoms. The Gulf Israel Women’s Forum, which she co-founded with the head of the London Stock Exchange’s Israel market, Justine Zwerling, is fielding calls from women from throughout the region who want to join. The goal of the organization is to unite women from the Gulf and Israel in friendship and business.

Indeed, the challenges before us might seem too great. But as one young Arab leader I spoke with today said, "never give up". Thats why more than ever, we must accentuate hope where hope lives while at the same time, counter hate and intolerance vigorously.

- Shabbat Shalom, Avi

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ABOUT: Avi Abraham Benlolo has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights. He has dedicated nearly three decades in executive capacities, was founding President and CEO of a major organization in the Jewish community, has raised over $150 million for charities and is a leading voice in Canada. His academic research, graduate degree, Ph.D. coursework and nearly three decades of professional work has focused on these arenas in addition to peace and security in the Middle East. He has published hundreds of articles in these areas. In recognition of his national and international leadership in this area, he has received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate from a prestigious Israeli university for his work in Holocaust studies and combating antisemitism; an Order of Vaughan for his distinguished contribution to anti-racism, equity and diversity; the Queens Diamond Jubilee Award for his contributions to Canada and a race relations award for best practice, based on distinguished service in promoting human rights.

As a supporter of Israel, he is proud to have established "The Avi Benlolo Scholarship Fund in National Security" at Haifa University.

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