Olmert himself departed from his prepared speech to respond to the anecdote, saying: "The 15th of August was [the] Sbarro [bombing] " a day we will never forget." The Sbarro bombing actually took place on August 9th, but August 15th is indeed a significant date in subsequent Israeli history; it was the day the Gaza Disengagement officially started and Gaza was closed to Jews.The big shocker was outgoing Ambassador Danny Ayalon, who discouraged those present from coming on Aliyah.
"I join Ze'ev's call for Aliyah (Jewish immigration) from the states, but I have to say, you can wait a while."I can't believe that he really said it; it reminds of of that Goldricht guy, the "yored" (one who leaves Israel) rabbi, who teaches in Yeshiva University and spoke at the YU Alumni in Israel Shabbaton last spring. He made a speech saying it's easier to raise good frum kids in the states than in Israel. I was there. I heard that one with my own ears! We were incensed! It was obvious that he was rationalizing his own "yirida," leaving Israel.
It's all so sad, since I think that the OU crowd in some ways is the most "connected" to Israel. Most North American olim come from the "modern orthodox" OU and Young Israel communities. I accompanied two Nefesh B'Nefesh flights and the percentage is overwhelming. These things only cause a chasm between us. At one point the Israel Center, the OU's activity center in Jerusalem was offering a special deal to spend Shabbat at the OU convention, and I did think about it. It seemed like a good deal, and I thought that the program would be full and interesting. But then I thought again and realized that it was geared to North Americans and their priorities which aren't mine. I'd be "those people" who live in "settlements," rather different from Long Island.
I signed up for the NCSY Reunion, which will be after Shabbat. Lots of friends who live in Israel plan on attending, and G-d willing we'll see some old friends who haven't yet made aliyah. That's something else, I hope.