WASHINGTON, D.C. August 28, 2015
TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties
FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director
It's been anything but a quiet end to the summer for the region. Ukraine celebrated its August 24 independence day during its second year in a state of war.
The conflict in Eastern Ukraine has continued unabated. Leaked reports this week indicated that over 2,000 Russian "contract soldiers" had been killed in the conflict, and another 3,200 wounded. Ukraine said that seven of its soldiers had been killed and thirteen wounded in renewed fighting near Donetsk earlier in the week.
Ukraine has also received several hopeful news items this week. The Ukraine and pro-rebel sides have agreed to make a renewed push for a ceasefire, to start of September 1. Ukraine also received some economic breathing room, with creditors agreeing to a write-off on some bond issues.
Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel said this week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit Kyiv and President Petro Poroshenko to visit Jerusalem in the "near future," marking the first official visit by Ukraine's new president to Israel.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented this week that the U.S. has been sending "signals" that it wants to repair ties with Moscow. In a press briefing on Tuesday, State Department Spokesman John Kirby said "we will continue to find opportunities to cooperate, such as on the Iran deal, and we hope on Syria," but made no mention of further rebuilding U.S.-Russia ties.
In an unambiguous piece of happy news this week, we've included a report on the work of Israeli eye doctors, who restored sight to nearly 100 people in Kyrgyzstan this month, part of an initiative to provide vital medical care worldwide on a volunteer basis.
Lastly, for those that hadn't seen, NCSEJ mourned the passing this week of a true hero of our movement and of the Jewish people, Mark Dymshits, who died in Israel at 88. Dymshits was part of a 1970 plot to escape the Soviet Union by flying an airplane to Israel. Dymshits and his coconspirators' grossly unjust trial and imprisonment galvanized the nascent Soviet Jewry movement worldwide. He will be sorely missed.
Mark B. Levin
Please visit http://ncsej.org/NCSEJ-Wkly.pdf
for NCSEJ's Weekly News Update.