BEN-GURION AIRPORT, Israel (AP) — Despite regional tensions, about 350 Jews from North America landed in Israel on Tuesday, planning to make the Jewish state their new home.
Their arrival coincides with an escalating internal debate over whether Israel should attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel and the West believe Iran may be aiming to produce nuclear weapons. Iran denies that.
Either and Israeli attack that could set off a regional conflagration, or an Iran with a nuclear bomb to back up its frequent calls for the destruction of Israel, would seem to be good enough reason to postpone moving to the Jewish state — but the newcomers dismissed that.
"I'm not nervous about Iran," said 18-year-old Becca Richman, who left her family in Philadelphia to serve in the Israeli military. "Honestly I'm more nervous about fitting into Israeli society than I am being in the army. This is my dream. This is what I came to do."
Nearly 130 other army recruits were on Tuesday's chartered flight. The immigrants were met by throngs of family members, flags, banners, a stage and live music.
Among the dignitaries greeting them was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He commended them for deciding to "link their personal future with the future of the Jewish state and the Jewish people."
Netanyahu singled out the prospective soldiers.