Exodus from Kishinev, to the Promised Land

Last month, Cole Aronson traveled to the Moldovan capital of Chișinău—formerly known as Kishinev—with a group of Israeli volunteers helping the local Jewish community tend to the stream of Jewish refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine. He describes his sweltering final day in the city’s airport:

Na’ama wants to pass out water to the refugees at the airport check-in line and asks me where the plastic cups are. I curse the guy who’s been running the kitchen for the last few weeks for forgetting something so basic and punish him by smoking what I promise will be the last cigarette (okay, the last Winston) of my life. I borrow a lighter from a Hatzalah medic and apologize for yelling when his group brought alien bread into the Irish pub we kashered for the staff and refugees.

Someone’s found plastic cups. I’m charged with one of the two-liter water bottles and give the last of it to a young girl on a mission for a thirsty friend. She’s studied Hebrew well enough in her Ukrainian school to get out the syntactically pristine, heavily accented sentences ubiquitous among the Israelis from Russian-speaking lands I’ve met. Her meek confidence and streaks of blonde hair remind me of my sister. . . .

We land in Tel Aviv five minutes after a hundred soon-to-be new Israelis start waving plastic flags of Zion. Greeting each passenger off the plane is my old pal David, the logistics chief for Hatzalah whose low-grade anxiety actually calms me down. At baggage claim, I give a bag of Israel’s best snack, chocolate-filled Bamba, to my water-bottle friend and wish her and her mother a good Passover and good luck in their new life. A Ukrainian woman who looks more Israeli than most Israelis thanks me in bad English and assures me that she knows where she’s going.

Thank God that Moses and Joshua did too.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Moldava, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship