Yishai Fleisher

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Yishai Fleisher speaking in Washington DC.

Yishai Fleisher (Hebrew: ישי פליישר) is the international spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron and a broadcaster with a weekly podcast on The Land of Israel Network.[1] He is a frequent columnist for the Daily Wire and Jewish Press, and has been published in the New York Times.[2] He has been featured on CNN, Al Jazeera, Fox, Vice, and BBC.

In 2016, Fleisher argued against UNESCO’s attempt to recognize the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage site.[3][4] The protest against the move eventually brought both the US Administration and Israel to withdraw from UNESCO. [5][6]

Fleisher is the founder of Kumah, a pro-Israel organization educating about Israel and encouraging aliyah, and works closely with US and Israeli legislators on issues such as fighting BDS, recognizing Israeli indigenous rights, fighting historical appropriation, advocating for immigration to Israel, and strengthening the Jewish people's presence in the West Bank / Judea and Samaria.[7]

Background & Education[edit]

Fleisher was born in Israel to Jewish Refuseniks from the Soviet Union, and was raised in the United States. At the age of 17, Fleisher returned to Israel and served as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces and was injured in Lebanon during his military service in 1997.[8]

Fleisher returned to the US where he completed an undergraduate degree in political science at Yeshiva University, and a Juris Doctorate at the Cardozo School of Law.[9] He received his rabbinic degree from Kollel Agudat Achim in Jerusalem.

Media and journalism[edit]

Radio and podcasts[edit]

Fleisher was the director of programming at Israel National Radio (Arutz 7) from 2003 to 2011.[10] Later from 2011-2014 he broadcast the only English-language talk show on terrestrial radio in Israel at the time on Galey Yisrael (106.5 FM).[11] From 2014-2015 Fleisher was Director of Programming and a broadcaster at the Voice of Israel, an independent internet broadcast network located in Jerusalem.[12]

Fleisher has been featured regularly on international news outlets cable television and radio outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, I24, where he provides commentary on or debates topics related to the two-state solution,  the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria.[13]

He is also the host of the popular Yishai Fleisher Show, a weekly podcast on The Land of Israel Network.[14]

Yishai Fleisher with Hebrew University students at the Voice of Israel studios in Jerusalem

New York Times article controversy[edit]

In 2017, Fleisher penned an article in The New York Times titled A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future.[2] This article outlined five alternatives to the Two-State Solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. A subsequent article in the Huffington Post revealed that the article generated controversy among the newspaper’s editorial staff who questioned whether such ideas should be published.[15]

The Huffington Post published the transcripts of a meeting between New York Times employees and the Opinion Editor, James Bennet.[16] In response to an employee’s question about when an issue is considered debatable versus settled, Bennet said the following:

“We had a big argument over a piece by a settler. And you know, pick your issue. For some people it’s climate change, for some people it’s trans rights, for others it’s a two-state solution and the fate of the Palestinians. In this case, it was the settler saying, look, the two-state solution is dead and [it’s] time to face reality, and here’s some alternative paths for what the future would look like. And we had a real debate about whether this piece was crossing a line, because was it denying personhood to the Palestinians? Was it an act of, kind of, hate speech in a sense? I felt strongly that we should publish the piece and we did, as did others. Because this particular viewpoint is hugely consequential.”

Hebron advocacy[edit]

In 2016, Fleisher became the international spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron.[17] In that capacity, Fleisher has been the face of Hebron for VIPs from all over the world, including Members of Congress, governors, celebrities, and journalists.[18] Fleisher has worked to normalize Hebron in international community, increase tourism and recognize the value of the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs as a global heritage site[19] He also promotes Arab-Jewish relations and has attended coexistence events such as a kosher iftar break-fast for Ramadan in Hebron.[20][21]

During his tenure, Fleisher produced films and informational material for the Israeli government to counter UNESCO’s vote to recognize the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs as a Palestinian World Heritage site.[22] [23]

In 2017, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced the decision of the Trump administration to leave UNESCO specifically because of their anti-Jewish Hebron decision.[24][25]

Aliyah (Immigration to Israel) advocacy[edit]

At Yeshiva University, he co-founded Kumah [Arise], an organization  who’s mission was to enhance awareness about Jewish repatriation to Israel.

In this capacity, Fleisher helped create the Aliyah Revolution CD, a compilation of songs by major Israeli artists in 2009.[26][27][28] In 2006 Fleisher co-created the Free Your Mind,[29] an animated short feature promoting aliyah to Americans.[30] A take-off of the popular Matrix series, the animation was created by Gil Ronen.[31]

Fleisher conceptualized and helped write the original bill that created Yom HaAliyah, or Aliyah Day, which acknowledges Aliyah, immigration to the Jewish state, as a core value of the State of Israel, and honors the ongoing contributions of Olim, Jewish immigrants, to Israeli society.

The roots of Aliyah Day come from a 2008 session at the Knesset[32][33] and later in 2010 at an event held by MK Yaakov Katz.[34]

At the event Fleisher was quoted by Haaretz as stating:

"'It's very important to me that this law will also be exported to the Diaspora, so that [Jewish] schools will celebrate this day like they celebrate Independence day,' explained Fleisher, who runs Kumah, an organization encouraging immigration by distributing pro-Israel CDs and movies and through its widely read blog."[35]

In the bill’s introductory passage, Fleisher wrote, “Aliyah stands at the foundation of the State of Israel... and Israel strives to continue the process of immigration and the Ingathering of the Exiles. Public awareness is critical to this end… It is hereby proposed to establish Aliyah Day, designed to strengthen public awareness, especially among the young, as to the centrality of this value, via educational activities, public broadcasts, and public ceremonies. On this day, Aliyah will be discussed, commemorated and celebrated in schools, the Knesset and in the public arena. The State will thus commemorate the importance of past and future Aliyah, the elements that help it along, and of course the Olim themselves.”

The bill eventually became law in 2016.[36]

Yishai and Malkah Fleisher in Jerusalem


References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Right Person in the Right Place at the Right Time!". the Jewish Community of Hebron. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
  2. ^ a b Fleisher, Yishai (2017-02-14). "Opinion | A Settler's View of Israel's Future". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  3. ^ EDT, Jack Moore On 7/7/17 at 9:10 AM (2017-07-07). "Israel hits out at UNESCO over decision to label Hebron as Palestinian heritage site". Newsweek. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  4. ^ "Jewish settlers declare culture war on Unesco Hebron decision". RFI. 2017-07-10. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  5. ^ Hasten, Josh (2019-01-30). "Netanyahu's decision to end international monitors in Hebron 'strengthens' Israeli sovereignty". JNS.org. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  6. ^ "Nikki Haley: UNESCO vote on Hebron tragic, an affront to history - Israel News - Jerusalem Post". www.jpost.com. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  7. ^ Leichman, Abigail Klein. "Feeling the river of history flow". jewishstandard.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  8. ^ "Rabbi Yishai Fleisher - Daystar Television Guest Guide". Daystar Television. 2014-08-11. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  9. ^ "Yeshiva U., Cardozo back students' right to honor Carter". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  10. ^ Brosgol, Dan. "Interview with Yishai Fleisher- Director of Arutz Sheva, Israel National News". JewishBoston. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  11. ^ www.makorrishon.co.il https://www.makorrishon.co.il/nrg/online/1/ART2/585/767.html. Retrieved 2019-11-11. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Voice of Israel English-language radio closes after first year - Israel News - Jerusalem Post". www.jpost.com. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  13. ^ Yishai Fleisher on Al-Jazeera - Right of Jews to Hebron - Part I, retrieved 2019-11-11
  14. ^ "The Land of Israel Network – The Land of Israel". Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  15. ^ "Article by Israeli Prompted 'Big Argument' Inside New York Times, Editor Says". Algemeiner.com. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  16. ^ Feinberg, Ashley (2018-02-27). "Leak: How NYT Editor James Bennet Justifies The Op-Ed Page To His Colleagues". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  17. ^ "The Right Person in the Right Place at the Right Time!". Israel National News. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  18. ^ "Ben Shapiro in Hebron". Jewish Press. Ben also met ups with some of his fans in Israel, as he toured Hebron with Yishai Fleisher, the official spokesperson for the Jewish community in Hebron.
  19. ^ "FLEISHER: The Fascinating First-Person Tale Of The Kosher Iftar Of Hebron, Israel". The Daily Wire. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  20. ^ "FLEISHER: The Fascinating First-Person Tale Of The Kosher Iftar Of Hebron, Israel". The Daily Wire. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  21. ^ "Ramadan 'Iftar' Kosher Meal in Hebron Brings Israeli 'Settlers' and Palestinians Together". UWI. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  22. ^ "UNESCO's Cave of the Patriarchs Measure Is Latest Example of 'Narrative Warfare' Against Israel, Experts Say". Algemeiner.com. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  23. ^ "Bashing Israel, UNESCO also calls tombs part of 'Occupied Palestinian territory'". JNS.org. 2018-10-11. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  24. ^ Hebron: Biblical City, Modern Significance, retrieved 2019-11-11
  25. ^ "Israel to Fund Hebron Heritage Sites with Unpaid UNESCO Dues". Palestine Chronicle. 2018-09-03. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  26. ^ "INR Simulcasting Music Concert". Israel National News. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  27. ^ The Aliyah Revolution Album, retrieved 2019-11-11
  28. ^ "Kumah.org Presents The Aliyah Revolution Album cd SEALED". eBay. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  29. ^ Free Your Mind, retrieved 2019-11-11
  30. ^ "New Film Calls on N. American Jews to Move to Israel". Israel National News. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  31. ^ "Hundreds mourn family-rights activist Gil Ronen - Israel News - Jerusalem Post". www.jpost.com. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  32. ^ "Monday Declared 'International Aliyah Day'". Israel National News. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  33. ^ "Knesset Lobby For Aliyah From the West Launched". Israel National News. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  34. ^ "Head Start for 'Aliyah Day' Law". Israel National News. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  35. ^ "MK Katz Proposes Aliyah Day". Haaretz. 2010-03-19. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  36. ^ www.israelhayom.com https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/11/05/as-israel-celebrates-aliyah-day-figures-point-to-2019-as-a-peak-year/. Retrieved 2019-11-11. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]