World Briefs: US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides Is Resigning and more

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US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides Is Resigning
Tom Nides, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, is resigning this summer at a time of unresolved tensions in the U.S.-Israel relationship he strove to uphold, JTA.org reported.

An administration official said that Nides would be gone by this summer. The report first appeared in Axios on May 9. Axios quoted Secretary of State Antony Blinken as saying that Nides wanted to spend more time with his family.

“Tom has worked with characteristic energy and skill to further strengthen the special bond between the United States and Israel, and to advance U.S. diplomatic, economic and security interests,” Blinken told the online political news site. “We will all miss having him represent us in Israel, but I know he is looking forward to some well-deserved time with his family.”

Nides, a former executive at Morgan Stanley who was a senior State Department official in the Obama administration and who had deep Democratic Party ties, brought an easygoing sensibility to the role, especially to ties between Israel and the U.S. Jewish community.

Nides’ efforts to advance an impression of a conflict-free relationship were undercut by tensions stoked after the election last year of the most far-right government in Israel’s history, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Birthright Sees 40% Decrease in Summer Trips Due to Rising Travel Costs
Birthright Israel announced on May 8 that it will send 40% fewer young people to Israel in 2023 compared to last year, JNS.org reported.

The program, which is nearly 30 years old, pointed to increased inflation and travel costs for the drop.

This year, Birthright will bring 12,658 young Americans and Canadians on free, 10-day educational trips to Israel between mid-May and September. Last summer, that number was 18,358.

“The inflation that has hit much of the global economy and the rising costs of travel post-COVID have driven up Birthright Israel’s expenses,” Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark said. “Without offsetting donations, thousands of applicants in the future will be denied the chance, as were thousands this summer, to experience a Birthright Israel trip. We feel terrible about that, but we had no choice.”

Birthright has a waiting list of 20,000 young Jews, he added.

El Al Disciplines Pilot Who Criticized Judicial Reform in Flight
El Al will discipline a pilot who spoke out against the Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms during an April 18 flight to New York, Hebrew media reported on May 7, JNS.org said.

The pilot, Doron Ginzburg, said over the flight intercom system on Holocaust Remembrance Day that “things like Holocausts are potentially to be occurring in dictatorships, and we are fighting in Israel to remain a democratic country.”

Ginzburg’s punishment will include an official letter of reprimand from the company for expressing his opinion without authority. In addition, he will not be permitted to command a plane for a specified time, and thus won’t be able to make announcements during flights.

Israel’s national carrier came out against the pilot’s actions at the time he made them, saying, “The company condemns political statements of any kind by any of its employees as part of their work, and certainly not on its planes, which cannot be a platform for this type of activity.”

— Compiled by Andy Gotlieb

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