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Bill Protecting IDF From Slander Passes First Knesset Ruling

Bill Protecting IDF From Slander Passes First Knesset Ruling

(JNS.org) People and groups who slander the Israel Defense Forces may find themselves facing lawsuits, according to an amendment to Israel’s libel law that passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset last week. The bill was introduced in response to the film Jenin Jenin, which falsely accused the IDF of massacring Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002, Israel Hayom reported. The bill says Israel’s detractors have felt free to engage in slander “because they are aware that no legal proceedings would be taken against them.” Current Israeli libel law does not allow for slander lawsuits to be filed against “the general public” without first being approved by Israel’s attorney general, but the new proposal would make the IDF “a separate entity from the greater Israeli public, which would allow for the filing of a lawsuit for defamation of the Israel Defense Forces.”

Comptroller flags neglect of Holocaust survivors

Jerusalem—The Jerusalem Post reports that State Comptroller Joseph Shapira is focusing on “the mistreatment of Holocaust survivors and problems with the government’s handling of special education students, while also covering a myriad of other issues.” His report on the problems was released last week.

“The Ombudsman’s Office is an important tool for cleaning house and repairing injustices,” Edelstein said. “I call on citizens to continue using this tool.”

Shapira said that survivor complaints are mostly about the process of requesting benefits, including delays in payment increases once a survivor got sick and failure to apply the allowable deductions for prescription costs. He also noted complaints regarding the delay and process for increasing payments to survivors once they got sicker and became entitled to increased payments. They also cited the failure to grant discounts to entitled survivors on the costs of drugs.

Shapira said that “recognizing the suffering that Holocaust survivors have endured, their advanced age and the commitments made to them by Israeli society,” he would “do all he could in order to aid them to realize their rights promptly.”

Critics Assail Israeli Silence On Arab Peace Plan

JERUSALEM — AP reports that there is nothing but silence coming from the top echelon of Israeli officials when it comes to the Arab League’s “improved” peace initiative. Critics say the plan offers Israel “everything it ever dreamed of: normal relations with an entire region that has long objected to the very existence of the Jewish state, and even the chance to keep some war-won land,” and they don’t understand the lack of reaction. Kerry is the reason the plan was resuscitated, and he “sweetened” the deal with land swaps, which would allow Israel to hang unto the major settlements and holy sites in East Jerusalem. Tzipi Livni, called the offer “good news,” but, reported AP, “In veiled criticism, Netanyahu declared that the conflict with the Palestinians wasn’t ‘territorial,’ but instead was due to their refusal to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jews.”

Danny Danon, Deputy Defense Minister said, “Going back to the 1967 lines and dividing Jerusalem is not the will of a majority of Israelis.” Ehud Olmert said that considering the chaos in neighboring countries, “it is important, especially now, to connect with moderate forces to promote the peace process.” (See front page story.) Erel Margalit, from Labor, said the offer could not be ignored. “…It’s a strategic issue which Israel needs to speak about loudly and clearly. We are thrilled this initiative is on the table.” And Danny Yatom, a former director of Mossad, called Netanyahu’s silence a “mistake.”

Israel has Highest Poverty Rate in Developed World

Jerusalem—Haartez reports that based on a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Israel has the highest poverty rate in the developed world. Israel, with a rate 20.9 percent, is at the bottom of a list of 34 developed countries, and the paper reports, the income gap between rich and poor is one of the widest in the world. The OECD data indicates that inequality has increased more in the past three years than in the previous 12. Only Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the U.S. precede Israel when it comes to income inequality rates, the study indicates. Nordic and Central European countries have the least income inequality. Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, the director of Israel’s National Insurance Institute told Haaretz, “The planned cuts in child allowance will increase the number of families living below the poverty line. An additional 30,000-40,000 children will be under the poverty line, which currently stands at NIS4,000 per month ($1,091) for a couple.”

Gas Presence Found in New Karish Reservoir

Haifa—The Jerusalem Post reports that Delek Group, an Israel-based conglomerate and gas provider, announced signs of a significant gas presence from the Karish 1 well (shark in English), located about 75 kilometers northwest of Haifa in the Alon C basin. Preliminary estimates reveal that Karish 1 probably contains about 57 billion cubic meters of gas, the Delek Group said.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Israeli Rabbinate Agrees to Stop Turning Women Away from Mikveh

Jerusalem—In response to a petition brought by the Center for Women’s Justice and Kolech to the Supreme Court (CWJ v. Minister of Religion, File 9740/11), the Chief Rabbinate has agreed to adopt the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with regard to the use of the mikveh. CWJ and Kolech brought the appeal in the name of two petitioners who had been preventeda from using the mikveh because they were single. After filing the petition, CWJ and Kolech attorneys learned that access to the mikveh is also routinely denied to Reform or Conservative brides on the eve of their weddings.

Though the official position of the Chief Rabbinate remains that single women are prohibited from using the mikveh, the Rabbinate has declared that “no woman who comes to use the ritual bath should be asked any questions regarding her personal status and that the use of the ritual bath must not made conditional on that status” (Affidavit filed in Response to the Petition).

Having achieved its goal, CWJ and Kolech agreed to withdraw their petition, though still reluctant about how the new policy of the Rabbinate would be enforced. In response, the Supreme Court made it clear: “… the doors of the court were open, and remain open, to them.”

Susan Weiss, the founding director of CWJ and attorney for the Petitioners: “We applaud the new directive of the Chief Rabbinate and pray that we will not have to return to the Court. Any woman who is denied access to the mikveh should let us know.”

US Helicopter Carrier in Eilat

Eilat—The USS Kearsarge, a helicopter carrier from the United States Fifth Fleet, docked recently in the port of Eilat. The carrier is on its way to an assignment in the Persian Gulf, and soldiers will visit the country while the vessel is docked. The Kearsarge has approximately 1,800 marines, 20 V-22 helicopters and Harrier fighters. The vessel stopped for several days of routine maintenance in the framework of the cooperation between the Israeli and US navies. U.S. Navy vessels and submarines visit Israeli ports as part of their ongoing activities, and the IDF has emphasized that the carrier’s arrival was planned in advance.


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