The Ukrainian-Born Founder of WhatsApp Has Become a Major Donor to Jewish Causes

Jan Koum, the founder of the mobile messaging service WhatsApp, famously keeps a low public profile. As Asaf Shalev reports, the Ukrainian-born Jewish entrepreneur has kept his large donations to an array of Jewish causes—including Chabad-Lubavitch, Israeli hospitals, and the European Jewish Association—quiet as well.

Koum’s story is a real-life rags-to-riches tale of an immigrant who came to the United States with nothing, sought to improve his lot, worked hard, and became fabulously wealthy as he developed a product used by billions of people every day.

Koum was raised on the outskirts of Kyiv in the town Fastiv, which happened to be shelled by Russian forces early in the current war. In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union and amid political turmoil and anti-Semitic tension, a teenaged Koum and his mother immigrated to Mountain View, California, and began living in a two-bedroom apartment made available through public assistance. His father stayed behind and died in 1997.

They relied on food stamps as his mom earned money babysitting and Koum swept the floors of a grocery store for work. His mom was soon diagnosed with cancer, entitling the family to disability payments for a while. She died in 2000, leaving Koum an orphan at twenty-four.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Jewry, Chabad, Philanthropy, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security