Delegation came to show solidarity with victims of Hizbullah and Hamas violence.
By SETH FREEDMAN
A delegation of Euro-Asian Jewish Congress delegates accompanied by journalists from the CIS is in the country to show solidarity with victims of Hizbullah and Hamas violence.
Headed by EAJC president Alexander Mashkevich - the billionaire chairman of mining conglomerate Eurasia Group - the delegates have visited communities near the Gaza Strip, and will now be traveling to the North.
They said the visit was an important opportunity to show foreign journalists the suffering caused by the rocket attacks.
"They [the journalists] have told me that they have changed their minds completely about the necessity of Israel's reaction after witnessing the plight of Israeli citizens [in the affected regions]," said EAJC spokesman Roman Spector.
Several of the 10 reporters accompanying the mission are from Russia, including one from the Kommersant daily. There are also journalists from Moldova, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
"They had only been exposed to the Lebanese side of the war and are very excited to get the chance to make a more balanced judgment on the reasons behind the conflict," said Spector.
It is vital for journalists to see both sides of the story, because "anti-Semitic activity has risen [in the Euro-Asian countries] as a result of the conflict," said Yonatan Ben-Dor, EAJC representative in Israel. "Much of the anti-Semitic feeling has manifested itself in the media."
The delegates hope to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday, and with several cabinet ministers - although their scheduled appointment with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had to be canceled after she was called to New York to meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The organization has raised more than $1 million to assist families who have had to flee their homes, but Spector said this was "not enough. [After seeing the results of the rocket attacks] we realize that far more is needed to aid these citizens."
He said Mashkevich had personally contributed "a very large amount" and expected him to add to that.
The group has visited summer camps run by Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Agency in the center of the country for children affected by the war. They also visited war casualties at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Ben-Dor said the cease-fire was "a good sign - but we are not at all optimistic for the future," citing Hizbullah's rejection of the UN cease-fire resolution.
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