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The Start of a New Century

The beginning of the year 2000 heralded a new millennium and a new century - the 21st century. At the same time it appeared that Israel was close to reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians, after achieving similar agreements years earlier with two Arab countries - Egypt and Jordan.

But these hopes were dashed. In September 2000 the Palestinians initiated another round of violent action, which worsened as the months went by, deteriorating, finally, into the "AI-Aqsa intifida." Israel went through a difficult period of security confrontations, terrorist attacks and Israeli reprisals. In May 2000 Israel's involvement in Lebanon came to an end and Israeli forces withdrew from the security zone near Israel's border.

Israel's economic situation worsened due to the deteriorating security situation and the economic crisis in the world, manifesting itself in the explosion of Israel's "hi-tech bubble."
On September 11, 2001, Islamic terror hit the United States, and the economic situation in the world and in Israel deteriorated even further.

Reverberations from the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict were felt in the form of increased anti-Semitism throughout the world, especially by extremist Muslims. The majority of anti-Semitic incidents took place in Europe, thereby influencing Jewish life in a number of countries.

In the spring of 2002, after a series of serious terror attacks by suicide bombers (mostly within Israeli territory) involving great loss of life, the Israel Defense Forces launched the Defensive Wall (Homat Magen) operation in the Palestinian territories. Israel's actions were widely condemned, but the motives for its actions were understood, especially by the United States. Diaspora Jews organized to help Israel - with political support, demonstrations and special Appeals.


The Jewish Agency's People-to-People Center opens, which aims to connect affinity groups and professional communities in Israel and the Diaspora on a one to one and group basis.

February 7
The Executive of the Jewish Agency initiates activities for condemning the establishment of a right wing national government in Austria and calls for world Jewry not to holiday in Austria and not to hold Jewish conventions there.

May 24
The IDF withdraws from southern Lebanon. This marks the end of Israel's military involvement in Lebanon, which began in June 1982.

The Palestinians increase their terror activities, which continue even today despite mediation attempts by the US, the UN and European countries.

During the year, the Partnership 2000 program, initiated by the Jewish Agency, breaks off into different departments. Among the new initiatives are the People-to-People Center, a cultural center for the Diaspora, and the Jewish world on the Internet. Some of the programs are operated in cooperation with other departments of the Jewish Agency.


February 6
In elections for prime minister, Ariel Sharon of the Likud defeats Ehud Barak of Labor by a 64% majority and establishes a new, broad government.

During the first half of the year, 91 delegations leave for different countries - 66 to the East and 25 to the West, in the framework of a Jewish Agency-WZO campaign to promote aliyah.

April - May
During April and May, ten aliyah fairs are held in the CIS.

June 1
Twenty-one new immigrant youth from the CIS are murdered in a vicious suicide bombing at the entrance to a nightclub near the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv - a popular place of entertainment for teenage olim from the CIS; 105 are injured. The Jewish Agency helps bring family members of the deceased to Israel. It also helps their families in Israel and waives the loans given them upon their arrival in Israel in the framework of the "absorption basket" (sal klitah).

June 24
The government of Israel and the Jewish Agency begin a national project for the improvement of the absorption conditions of Ethiopian olim. Some 660 million dollars is to be invested over a period of nine years to advance education and employment and cultivate leadership and volunteering in this community.

June 26
One thousand Jewish leaders from around the world participate in the Jewish Agency Assembly, which resolves to embark on a solidarity campaign under the slogan -"Israel Now." This is a direct result of Palestinian terror attacks, which have had an adverse effect on the country.

July - August
One hundred and twenty years to the First Aliyah - the beginning of settlement - is marked in Israel. A number of events are held at Degania - "the mother of the kibbutzim."

During the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, there are attempts to depict Israel and Zionism in a negative light. This is a Palestinian initiative meant to punish Israel for its activities in the administered territories. The Jewish Agency retaliates in order to repair the image of Israel - a sovereign and democratic country, acting within the law, whose historic right to exist is being threatened.

September 1
Elections to the Thirty-fourth Zionist Congress begin around the world. They continue until mid-December 2001.

September 30
In the shadow of the US terror attacks of September 11, 2001, a group of major Jewish donors, who have been asked to help Israel in its war against terror, convene in New York. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks at the convention (by video phone from Jerusalem) while Sallai Meridor, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, attends in person. Participants announce their commitment to donate 60 million dollars.

A terrible tragedy in the Black Sea. More than 50 Israeli citizens, almost all new immigrants, are lost when a Russian plane crashes en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk. The Jewish Agency flies family members to the crash site, providing assistance in identifying the bodies of their loved ones. In Russia and in Israel, the Jewish Agency sets up incident rooms and initiates special broadcasts on Kol Israel's (the Voice of Israel's) Reka radio network in order to notify the families.

October 23
Five new partnerships between cities in Israel and Jewish communities around the world are launched in the framework of Partnership 2000. At the BOG Assembly of the Jewish Agency, the following partnerships are announced: Netanya - Cincinnati (USA); Ramle and the Gezer regional council - Kansas City (USA); Ashkelon - Mexico; Nahariya - Belgium; Shoham - Venezuela.

November 21
A new religious settlement for 300 families - Halukim - is founded in the Negev with the help of the Jewish Agency.

The Jewish National Fund marks its 100th anniversary with a series of ceremonies and events.

The Jewish Agency, together with Keren Hayesod, the United Jewish Communities and the government of Israel, initiate the Confrontation Line project. It is a three-year plan and involves an investment of 80 million dollars to aid settlements and individuals living near Israel's confrontation lines, following the withdrawal of IDF forces from Lebanon.

Palestinian terror activities intensify in Israel and in the administered territories and suicide bombings cause many Israeli casualties. Between September 2000 and the end of 2001, 300 Israelis were killed; some 90 were soldiers; 78 were new olim.

Fewer olim - only 43,000 - arrived in Israel during 2001.


At the initiative of the Jewish Agency, the State of Israel agrees to encourage aliyah from Argentina, France and South Africa. The Jewish Agency prepares for increased aliyah, especially from Argentina due to the harsh economic situation there. Keren Hayesod partially funds these operations.

March 7
The Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency approves changes in its composition. The main change is the addition of a large number of Israeli public figures - including journalists, industrialists and economists - regardless of their political affiliation.

The IDF launches the Defensive Wall (Homat Magen) operation against terrorist bases in areas under Palestinian Authority control. Tough battles are fought, especially in the Jenin refugee camp. Terrorist attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers decrease dramatically. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, is besieged for a number of weeks in his Ramallah headquarters.

April - May
Anti-Israel demonstrations take place throughout the world. In response, Diaspora Jews demonstrate their solidarity for Israel: two large solidarity rallies of hundreds of thousands are held in Washington and New York, and thousands of Jews demonstrate in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, etc


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