First Read For April 28
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News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are talking about today.

First Read For April 28

Government program will ‘demonize’ immigrants; New memorial to fallen soldiers to open in Israel; Poland criticized for policy on seized Jewish property; Russia may have had advance knowledge of Israeli attack.

IDF soldiers at the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights. Basel Awidat/Flash90
IDF soldiers at the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights. Basel Awidat/Flash90

Did Russia approve Israeli attack on Syria?

The Israeli attack yesterday near the Damascus international airport may have had the advance knowledge of Russia, according to The Daily Beast.

While Israel is opposed to the Syrian regime, Russia the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his allies, Iran, and Hezbollah.

After Syrian officials blamed Israel for yesterday’s attack, Russian spokesmen denounced the attack but were careful not to confirm Israel’s role/

Asked whether Israel had notified Moscow in advance of the strike, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said “Russia and Israel exchange information using various channels.”

HIAS criticizes administration’s immigrant program

HIAS, the 130-year-old Jewish refugee assistance organization, has criticized a new government program designed to aid victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants as unfairly singling out minorities, according to JTA.

The new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will provide counseling to victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, as well as information on the immigration status of the perpetrator. “ICE wants to ensure those victimized by criminal aliens feel heard, seen and supported,” the agency announced.

HIAS said in a statement that VOICE discriminates against a vulnerable population. “Singling out certain people based solely on their immigration status sets a dangerous new direction for our society,” the statement said. “This new, taxpayer-funded government office only serves to marginalize minority communities, demonize newcomers and divide us.”

Report: Poland is not returning seized Jewish property

An independent think tank that monitors restitution issues has reported that Poland is the only European Union nation that does not comply with an international understanding allowing for the return of Jewish property seized during World War II.

JTA reports that the report by the European Shoah Legacy Institute states that among Eastern European countries, Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina “stand alone as the only countries that have failed to establish a comprehensive private property restitution regime for property taken either during the Holocaust or Communist eras, or one that addresses both types of takings.”

The study notes that both countries established private property restitution legislation shortly after World War II, but adds that those measures were “short-lived.”

Trump friend may head U.S. Holocaust council

President Trump reportedly will appoint Howard Lorber, a businessman and longtime friend, to serve as chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council’s governing board, JTA reports. Lorber, 68, president and CEO of the Vector Group, a New York holding company, served as an economic adviser on Trump’s presidential campaign.

Soldiers’ memorial unveiled on Mount Herzl

A new memorial complex that commemorates all of Israel’s fallen soldiers, which will be inaugurated next week on Yom HaZikaron, the country’s Memorial Day, was unveiled yesterdayon Mount Herzl, the ynetnews.com website reports. 

The memorial hall, a 18-yard-high stone-made mountain, features more than 23,000 bricks, each bearing the name of the fallen and the date of his or her death. 

Each brick is illuminated with a candle that automatically lights up on the anniversary of the person’s death. The hall contains the names of all security personnel who died in the line of duty, from the first soldier Aharon Hershler, attacked by Arabs in Jerusalem in 1873, to the most recently-fallen soldiers.

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