PA Chairman Abbas sends holiday greetings to “Jews everywhere”

April 21, 2005

* Hundreds of Jewish soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to get kosher Passover rations
* Passover seders to be held in Baghdad, Fallujah, Tikrit, Bahrain and Qatar



1. "Abbas sends holiday greetings" (JTA, April 20, 2005)
2. "Jewish soldiers in Iraq get kosher Pesach rations" (Ha'aretz, April 21, 2005)
3. "530,000 passengers expected through Ben-Gurion during Passover" (Ha'aretz, April 21, 2003)
4. "Passover exodus floods airport" (Ynet news, April 20, 2005)



[Note by Tom Gross]

Palestinian Authority chairman Mohammed Abbas (also widely known in the Middle East by his 'nom de guerre' Abu Mazen) has sent Passover holiday greetings to "Israelis and Jews everywhere."

This is of some significance from a man who for years disputed the Holocaust.

His predecessor, Yasser Arafat, also routinely sent Passover greetings to Jews, but then on several occasions, such as in 2002, dispatched suicide bombers to kill them the next day. Israelis have higher expectations of Abbas.

The Jewish festival of Passover begins on Saturday night and lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days outside Israel.

Please note that in relation to the article below about Passover Seders being held in Iraq, this is under the protection of the US army. It is still not safe for a Jew to enter Iraq in a civilian capacity despite millennia of previous Jewish presence in the region.

I attach four articles below.

-- Tom Gross




Abbas sends holiday greetings
Jewish Telegraph Agency
April 20, 2005

Mahmoud Abbas wished world Jewry a happy Passover.

"With the advent of the Passover festival, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the people of Israel, and Jews everywhere 'Chag Sameach, happy holiday,'" the Palestinian Authority president said during an interview Tuesday with Israel's Channel Two television, switching briefly from Arabic to Hebrew for the greeting.

"Passover is the festival of liberation. With your help, we Palestinians would also like to achieve liberation," he said, addressing the Israeli audience.



Jewish soldiers in Iraq get kosher Pesach rations
By Shlomo Shamir
April 21, 2005

The Jewish members of America's armed forces will again receive kosher K-rations this Pesach throughout the holiday, provided by the U.S. Defense Department.

Thousands of packages containing kosher for Pesach MREs (meals ready to eat) have already reached U.S. army and navy supply bases, with special shipments aimed at Jewish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each kit contains 24 MREs, enough for three meals a day for the eight days celebrated in the Diaspora. The meals, prepared by a catering plant in Chicago and supplied by the Jewish Welfare Board's Jewish Chaplains Council, give soldiers a choice of three menus.

The Jewish Chaplains Council estimates that the number of Jews stationed in Iraq is between 500 and 600. Of the 30 Jewish chaplains on active duty around the world, eight chaplains are stationed in Iraq, including two female rabbis.

Each chaplain stationed in Iraq will hold two seders at base camps, with central seders taking place in Baghdad, Falluja and Tikrit. There will also be two seders at the army headquarters in Bahrain, and air force headquarters in Qatar. Jewish soldiers stationed in remote locations will be able to attend seders led by soldiers who received special training for that purpose.



530,000 passengers expected through Ben-Gurion during Passover
By Zohar Blumenkrantz and Amiram Barkat
April 21, 2003

(Summary only)

Some 530,000 passengers on 3,553 flights are scheduled to pass through Ben-Gurion International Airport over the Passover holiday (April 17 to May 7), posing the first major challenge for the new Terminal 3.

The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) expects a 20 percent increase in passenger volume during this peak travel period compared to last year.

... The airport's busiest day will be May 1, the day following the second Passover holiday, with 286 departures and arrivals carrying 43,000 passengers.

The peak Passover season will end on Thursday, May 5, with 35,000 passengers on 235 flights.



Pesach exodus floods airport
Tens of thousands of passengers, coming in and out of the country on hundreds of daily flights, are set to pack Ben-Gurion International Airport this Pesach, an increase over recent years
By Danny Sadeh
April 20, 2005,7340,L-3075432,00.html

Israelis' traditional exodus from the country for their Pesach [Passover] vacation is more intensive this year than in recent years. At the same time, more travelers are expected to enter the country, as well.

More than 200 fully loaded planes are set to fly out of Israel Wednesday and Thursday. On average, this means one plane takes off every 12 minutes.

Israelis' favorite destination this year has not changed: 30 fully booked flights are scheduled to take wandering Jews to their seders in what many local travel agents like to call the second Israel, Turkey.

However, those who can spend more than $500 on a family vacation overseas will be heading to North America. Among the favorite destinations of an additional 30 packed flights taking off in the next couple of days are New York City, Orlando, Florida, and the West Coast.

The younger, more adventurous local crowd seems to be making amends for the mass departure from neighboring Egypt in Biblical times. As many as 15,000 Israelis are set to return to Sinai, despite repeated security warnings. However, this is still only about half of the number of Israelis who spent last Pesach there.

Incoming traffic

But there will be incoming traffic as well. An El Al official reported that the airline is flying 33 percent more visitors into the country this year than last year during Pesach. Other international airlines are reporting a significant increase in the number of arriving passengers, as well.

"We have no room for tourists wanting to come to Israel," said Ofer Kisch, CEO of Lufthansa Israel.

In total, 39,000 passengers are set to go through Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday. Come Sunday, May 1, at the holiday's end, 286 flights are set to go through the airport, carrying 43,000 people in and out of the country.

All that jazz is set to conclude come May 5, with 35,000 passengers on 235 flights. That is, until next year.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.