April 16, 2024
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Lapid Threatens to Bring Down the Govt on Haredi Army Issue

Jerusalem—According to reports in JTA, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid threatened to bring down the Israeli government if a bill requiring the enlistment of haredi Orthodox men does not include imprisonment for avoiding conscription. Lapid, made the threat during a party meeting following marathon talks of the Peri Committee, also known as the Knesset Committee for Promoting Equal Share of the Burden.The committee became deadlocked over a disagreement between its chairman, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon over whether to imprison haredim who dodge the draft. Lapid posted on Facebook that, “We will not sit in a government not willing to move on the issue of an equal share of burden. There is an historic opportunity to right an historic wrong, a bleeding wound in the heart of Israeli society. Whoever is out to compromise this opportunity in order to make political gains undercuts Israel, Zionism, the IDF and every young Israeli who has ever entered an induction center.”


Quiet Protest at The Kotel

Jerusalem—The Women of the Wall (WOW) continued their 25-year-old tradition of doing Rosh Choseh services at the Kotel, but were not able to bring a sefer Torah and lein. The police said a regulation forbidding that was still in effect, and the issue was not forced. The women will go to court for adjudication on that one.

About 300 women showed up to daven in a corner of the Kotel plaza, an area fenced in by barricades and police. Although there were rabbanim who once again called for a massive protest, only a few hundred male protestors showed up, carrying signs, and at worst they tried to throw eggs at the women. They, too, were held behind police lines and barricades. The thousands of female protestors who showed up last month were nowhere to be seen, and there were, as there had been for 25 years, very few Haredi women davening at the Kotel on Rosh Chodesh.

The scene last month with Women 4 the Wall, headed by Ronit Peskin, was intended to take back the Kotel from women who dare to wear taleisim and tefillin, just as Rashi’s daughters did. The protest Peskin coordinated with Rabbi Pesach Lerner of the National Council of Young Israel and other haredi rabbis, erupted into violence and chaos. It also caused a storm of protest from Jews Chutz La Aretz, who considered the riot a major Chillul Hashem. The rabbis in charge of the Kotel and the Minister of Religion have yet to submit their proposals. Nathan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency, has a compromise plan on hand, just in case a settlement cannot be reached.


Israel Leads Global Drone Exports as Demand Grows

Jerusalem—AP-ABC News say that a report by the U.S. consulting firm Frost & Sullivan determined earlier this year that Israel is now the largest exporter of unmanned aerial systems, surmounting aerospace giants in the U.S. Analysts see demand for military UAVs quadrupling over the next decade, driven by their success in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drones proved essential in Israel’s last two wars in Gaza, providing its troops eyes over its enemies in congested urba n areas, and are lauded for sparing dozens of soldiers’ lives. “The Israeli companies are very good and very advanced and very smart at making systems that function in a tactical environment because they’ve been at war constantly,” said Michael Blades, an industry analyst who authored the Frost & Sullivan report. “It came out of necessity but they got really good at it.”


Israel Rushing to Complete Golan Fence

Golan Heights—The Washington Post reports that Israeli military engineers, concerned that the Syrian civil war, jihadists or Hezbollah terrorists will spill into Israel, are rushing to complete a new “smart fence” in the Golan Heights. It is a steel barricade featuring concertina and razor wire, touch sensors, motion detectors, infrared cameras and ground radar. The 45-mile fence is to be finished in the coming months.“These obstacles work. Maybe they are ugly, maybe they are not nice, but they do what they are supposed to do,” said Col. Yonathan Bransky, deputy commander of the Israel Defense Forces division that patrols the Gaza perimeter and the Sinai fence.


Reform and Conservative Rabbis, Including Women, to Hold Official Positions in Israel

Jerusalem—The Times of Israel reports that the Ministry of Religious Services will, for the first time, allow rabbis from the Reform and Conservative movements to serve as community rabbis, the State Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. The new regulations come after a seven-year legal struggle and in line with a 2012 ruling by the Supreme Court. The changes will allow spiritual leaders from non-Orthodox movements to serve as community rabbis, with state-funded salaries, provided they pass the ministry’s test. Salaries for the Reform and Conservative rabbis will come from the Ministry of Culture and Sports, rather than the Ministry of Religious Services. Also, the rabbis will not be government employees, but will instead receive stipends from the state. The new regulations cover only rural communities, not cities.


Tracking and Prosecuting Illegal Arab Building in Israel

(JNS.org)—While the international community often focuses on the legal status of Jewish construction in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, an NGO called Regavim is working to track and prosecute illegal Arab building across Israel’s landscape. Regavim currently has 30 cases being tried in Israeli courts, with up to 140 investigations being conducted at any time. “Jews are forced to adhere to a very strict building framework, while Arabs in many parts of the country are given a free hand. And this is exactly the opposite view that the international community has of Israel,” Ari Briggs, director of Regavim, told JNS.


Wave of Politically Motivated Arson Hits Jerusalem Area

Jerusalem—Israel Hayom reports a wave of politically motivated arson has swept through the Jerusalem district. Since the beginning of May, firefighters have been called 15 times to the Ofrit army base on the Mount of Olives, near the village of Issawiya. According to an investigator, each of the fires was intentionally started,. Firefighters responding to calls have been frequently barraged with rocks. Jerusalem’s fire department was summoned 13 times in May to put out fires at Hashalom Forest, near the village of Jabel Mukaber and the Abu Tor neighborhood. Three fires were extinguished in a single day.


U.S. Exposes Israeli Secrets

Washington—According to the McClatchy newspaper group, Jane’s Defense Weekly published details of Arrow 3 defense systems to be built in Israel so that contractors could submit bids—and also wrote an article about it. The project was psuhed forward because of the threats from Iran and the changing political climate in the Middle East.The information was also posted on a federal website. The $25 million project is up for bids, and the specs consisted of 1,000 pages of detail. “If an enemy of Israel wanted to launch an attack against a facility, this would give him an easy how-to guide,” an unnamed Israeli official told McClatchy. “This type of information is closely guarded and its release can jeopardize the entire facility.” Lt. Col. Wesley Miller of the Department of Defense told McClatchy that the U.S. routinely publishes construction plans on the website to allow contractors to accurately estimate costs. McClatchy also reported that the U.S. has built some $500 million in Israeli military facilities, including an air base, intelligence offices and underground hangars.


Extinct Frog Reappears in the Hula Valley

Hula Valley—Nature Communications reports that an international team of paleontologists and geneticists in the Hula Valley has discovered a frog that has reappeared more than half a century after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared it extinct. Scientists at Hebrew University say it is a “living fossil,” without close relatives among other living frogs. The frog was first discovered in the 1940s, and began disappearing after the swamps were drained in 1955. It was declared extinct in 1996. Rebecca Biton, a Ph.D. student at Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, Prof. Sarig Gafny of the Ruppin Acadmic Center, Prof. Eli Geffen of Tel Aviv University, Dr. Vlad Brumfeld of the Weizmann Institute are the Israeli members. The scientists have said that the results indicate that the frog may be the only remaining frog stemming from a group descended from a single, in this case, ancient, ancestor. There are plans to flood the area in an attempt to restore conditions favorable for the frogs’ survival.


Hartman Institute Chooses 27

Jerusalem—The Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI), a leader in sophisticated, ideas-based Jewish education for community leaders and change agents, recently announced the 27 members of the fifth cohort of its Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI). The three-year program of study, reflection, and professional development begins July 1, 2013, at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. RLI participants represent a broad range of religious, geographic, and gender diversity. The framework of the program creates a community of rabbis uniquely able to disseminate the program’s pluralistic message to hundreds of thousands of families, and by doing so, transform the lives of Jews in North America. Participants spend a month each summer and a week each winter studying at the Hartman campus in Jerusalem. During the remainder of each year, participants engage in weekly study with leading Hartman Institute scholars, learning classical and modern sources and developing ways to integrate this knowledge into their rabbinical work.


Israel Seeks to Expand into Life Sciences

Haifa—Reuters reports that Israel, inspired by its success in high-tech electronics and software, is now pursuing life sciences. Israel is first in the world for the number of medical device patents per capita and second in biopharmaceuticals. Israel has nearly 1,000 life science firms, of which 29 percent are in biopharma, developing proprietary drugs and experimenting with stem cells to treat diseases such as diabetes, Gaucher’s disease and leukemia. 500 medical device firms in Israel generated more than $1.6 billion in exports back in 2011.


SodaStream Shoots Up

Airport City—Despite the fact that is often the target of boycotters SodaStream, the amazing popular Israeli beverage invention that lets you make your own soda pop and flavor it as you like, got a huge stock boost last week when markets found out that the company is being considered for purchase by both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, who both denied it. According to www.Financialdaily.com. Barclays raised the firm’s price target on the stock to $100 per share, up from $55. The company’s stock shot up 8 percent on the news. Shares of SodaStream are up almost 28 percent over the past month and 54 percent year to date in 2013. Globes, SodaSteam exports products to 45 countries. The company saw revenue rise 55% in 2012 to $440 million, for a profit of $50 million.


Was Iran Reactor Damaged in Earthquake?

(TIP) —Gulf states are calling on Iran to provide reassurances regarding the integrity of its Bushehr nuclear reactor, which may have been damaged in April after multiple earthquakes, including one with a 7.7 magnitude, struck the region. Iranian scientists built the nuclear facility in an earthquake-prone area, and it is closer to the capitals of five Gulf nations than it is to Tehran. Iranian officials have repeatedly dismissed safety worries about Bushehr. Hours after one of the April earthquakes, the country’s Atomic Energy Organization said that more reactors would be built in the area. The moves will likely deepen international concerns, especially those of Gulf states known to have urged the U.S. to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, regarding Tehran’s ability or willingness to be a responsible steward of nuclear power.


Iran’s Nuclear Designs Are Greater Threat

Washington—Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren told The Washington Post that the chaos in the Middle East is a tool that distracts the world from its nuclear program. “The Iranians have amassed some 182 kg. of uranium enriched to a level easily enhanced to weapons grade. This stockpile stops short of the red line drawn by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the Iranians are quietly preparing to cross it.”

Oren said that the Iranians have installed 16,000 centrifuges—an immense number by any standard—most of which are spinning. Iran is introducing 3,000 advanced centrifuges that will at least triple its enrichment rate and more than double its total output. Sanctions cut into Iran’s economy and undermine its currency, but the nuclear program progresses. Iranian rulers believe that they will eventually achieve their nuclear aspirations. They are not yet convinced that the prize will be denied them by military action. Oren says that a nuclear Iran will dominate the Persian Gulf and its vast oil deposits, driving oil prices to extortionate highs. And Iran can transfer nuclear weapons to terrorists who can launch them at foreign ports in shipping containers. Oren believes the Iranians needs to be scared straight.


Hack Attacks Traced to Iran

Teheran American officials told The New York Times that a gaggle of hacks on U.S. companies been traced to Iran. The targets were oil, gas and electricity companies, and the aim was sabotage, not espionage. The hack attacks “were devised to destroy data and manipulate the machinery that operates critical control systems, like oil pipelines,” the newspaper reported. The hacks were described as “probes that suggest someone is looking at how to take control of these systems.” Iran’s tight grip on Internet activity makes it unlikely that this happened without government consent. The officials also confirmed an earlier report in Wall Street Journal that claimed Iranians were behind the attacks.


Hamdallah New Palestinian Prime Minister

Ramallah—Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appointed Rami Hamdallah as the next prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. The 55-year-old head of the Nablus-based An-Najah University replaces Salam Fayyad, who resigned a month and a half ago. Hamdallah is a PLO member, but does not belong to Fatah. Palestinian critics have suggested that he is a pushover and will do as he is told, unlike Fayyad, who kept strict controls on monies coming in from abroad in an attempt to control corruption. Hamdallah is considered a bona fide academic. In 2002 he oversaw the 2004 elections and the 2006 parliamentary elections in which HAMAS was elected. Haaretz reports that “Abbas published a short statement saying that he was committed to the Cairo reconciliation agreements with HAMAS, and would do his best to implement them in the established timeline. According to these agreements, Hamdallah’s government will serve three months, and its main objective will be overseeing preparations for the presidential elections and the legislative council in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”


Chemical Warfare in Syria

Paris—Le Monde-France reports that Omar Haidar, chief of operations of the Tahrir al-Sham (Liberation of Syria) brigade, was a witness to gas attacks by the Syrian Army, and described a metallic ping like “a Pepsi can that falls to the ground.” No odor, no smoke, and then the symptoms appear. The men cough violently. Their eyes burn, their vision blurs. Soon they experience difficulty breathing; they begin to vomit or lose consciousness. Le Monde reporters witnessed this on several days in a row in the Jobar district, on the outskirt s of Damascus. Gas attacks occurred on a regular basis in April. Dr. Hassan O., of the Al-Fateh de Kafer Battna hospital in the Ghouta region east of Damascus said, “The people who arrive have trouble breathing. Their pupils are constricted. Some are vomiting. They’ve lost their hearing, they cannot speak, their respiratory muscles have been inert. If we don’t give them immediate emergency treatment, death ensues.”


PA Uses Radicals To Scare Westerners Into Donating to West Bank Government

Ramallah—In commemoration of the 92nd “yahrzeit” of the fall of the Caliphate, hundreds of radical Islamists, marched in Ramallah. Gates One Institute reported that the Palestinian Authority, which had in the past cracked down on Hizb-ut-Tahrir [Party of Liberation], the radical organization that led the march, instructed its security forces not to intervene, even as spokesmen of Hizb-ut-Tahrir condemned US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revive peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. Hizb-ut-Tahrir is a radical, Islamist political organization that decries the almost 100-year-old decision by the Turks to depose Caliph Abdul Medjid Effendi and abolish the Caliphate.”Since when does the Palestinian Authority allow Al-Qaeda supporters to stage demonstrations in our cities?” asked a Palestinian shopkeeper. The report also cites a Palestinian university student who witnessed the event: “Today I felt as if I’m in Syria or Gaza. It’s strange that the Palestinian Authority, which arrests people who post critical comments on Facebook, allows Muslim extremists to march in Ramallah, calling for the establishment of a Caliphate.” The fundamentalists also shouted slogans in support of the jihadi terrorists engaged in the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.


It’s Not the Economy, Stupid

(JNS.org)—The Palestinian Authority has rejected Secretary of State Kerry’s ambitious $4 billion economic plan designed to boost the Palestinian economy in exchange for political concessions. Mahmoud Abbas’ economic adviser, Mohammad Mustafa, said, “The Palestinian leadership will not offer political concessions in exchange for economic benefits.” Private investment will only flow after the conditions are created for long-term stability, not as the means to create those conditions. Investment in the West Bank today is necessarily cautious and prudent—as befits the radical instability of the wider region, the potential for chaos extending to the West Bank, and ongoing local crises such as the recent ousting by Abbas of the single most credible figure for would-be West Bank investors, former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.


Al Quds in Cherem

Jerusalem—Al-Monitor reports that while Jerusalem’s health care system suffers from a shortage of Arabic-speaking doctors and medical staff, hundredsof doctors, dentists,social workers, lab technicians and physiotherapists who have finished their medical school studies are unable to get accreditation from the Israeli health care system because they are graduates of East Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University. Despite legal attempts to gain official recognition from the Israeli government, Al-QudsUniversity is not recognized by Israel’s Council for Higher Education and its students are unable to take certification exams. The fact that doctors coming from other countries are allowed to work in Israel while doctors who study in East Jerusalem cannot is an expression of a discriminatory policy relegating East Jerusalem Arabs to a state of professional limbo.


Russia Sets Up Navy in the Med

Moscow—Reuters reports that the Russians has sent 16 naval vessels carrying three helicopters to Mediterranean Sea, ostensibly to defend Russian security as Moscow faces off with the West over Syria. It is the first such deployment since the Cold War. Putin said the deployment was not “saber-rattling” and not meant as a threat to any nation. Russia cooperates with NATO navies against piracy and its ships call at Western ports, but is supporting the regime of al-Assad, because of the strategic importance of the region. Putin has ordered a number of military exercises, which diplomats see as “muscle flexing.” Just days earlier, Moscow announced plans to resume nuclear submarine patrols in the southern seas.


Turkish Protests Continue

Istanbul—When a small group of environmentalists banded together on May 28 to save an Istanbul park from being turned into a shopping mall, the government’s harsh response spurred popular outrage that quickly spread to 78 cities across the country.Prime Minister Erdogan has accumulated more foreign debt in his rule than all of Turkey’s previous prime ministers combined. Last year’s drop in growth to 2.2percent from 8.8 percent in 2011 was a wake-up call that Turkey might not always be able to make its payments. Against this backdrop, many Turks are enraged by signs that Erdogan and his aides have enriched themselves while in power. The protests have highlighted the lack of press freedom in Turkey. As police attacked the protesters, CNN Turk broadcast a cooking show. According to Reporters Without Borders, Turkey imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world.


Bulgaria Backtracking on Hezbollah Terrorist Investigation

(JNS.org) The socialist party at the head of Bulgaria’s new government has backed away from the country’s previous claim that Hezbollah was responsible for the deadly bombing of an Israeli tourist bus in Burgas last July. There is only an “indication” that Hezbollah was behind the attack that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver, and the European Union should not take the incident as definitive reasoning for branding Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the government of Bulgaria has now said. “But we cannot take decisions with important consequences for the EU based on indirect data,” said new Bulgarian Foreign Minister KristianVigenin, according to Reuters.


Ireland Leads Opposition to Hezbollah Terrorist Label

(JNS.org)—Israeli government officials are accusing Ireland of leading EU opposition to officially labeling Hezbollah a terrorist group. Major European nations such as Germany and France now support the move to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing, but 27 EU states must first agree on the issue. Ireland, which currently presides over the EU, opposed the issue along with Finland and Sweden at a discussion of the issue Tuesday, Israeli officials reportedly said. A spokesman at Ireland’s embassy in Tel Aviv neither confirmed nor denied this, only saying that more discussion is needed to “arrive at an agreed position on the proposal,” the Jerusalem Post reported. The allegations come in the wake of a reversal in the position of the new Socialist Bulgarian government regarding Hezbollah’s reponsibility for the Burgas bus attack in July. The government now believes only an “indication” of Hezbollah’s responsibility for the attack exists after Bulgaria’s previous government claimed to have concrete evidence for Hezbollah’s role.


Russian Seniors, Hasidim are Poorest Jews in New York

(Israel Hayom/JNS.org)—According to a UJA-Federation of New York report, Jewish poverty in the New York area is on the rise. The report found more than 560,000 people living in 200,000 poor or near-poor Jewish households, a doubling of the number of people living in poor Jewish households since 1991, despite only a 14 percent increase in the Jewish population. Nearly 50 percent of Jewish children in live in poor or near-poor conditions. Jewish poverty has grown much faster than the Jewish community as a whole. Factors that make a family more likely to be poor include having children under 18, households with seniors, and households that include someone who is divorced, separated, or widowed. The largest group of poor Jewish households in the New York area is Russian-speaking seniors. The Hasidic community has the second-largest number of poor households and the third-highest incidence of poverty of any group.


Alicia Keys: Principled

New York—Despite protests from the likes of famed author Alice Walker (The Color Purple), Grammy-award winner Alicia Keys has announced that she will perform at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv on July 4 as scheduled.Unlike Stevie Wonder, who recently caved to public pressure and cancelled a performance in support of Friends of the IDF, decrying the attempted cultural isolation of Israel Keys told the New York Times, “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love and that is the spirit of our show.”

Robert G. Sugarman Elected Chair of Conference of Presidents

New York—In a unanimous vote at a General Meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Robert Sugarman was elected to a one year term as chairman, announced Nominating Committee Chairman Alan Solow and outgoing Chairman, Richard B. Stone. Mr. Sugarman is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School and has had a distinguished career practicing law and retired as a partner with Weil Gotshal and Manges, LLP. Mr. Sugarman continues to practice law with the firm on a pro bono basis underscoring his commitment to jurisprudence and to communal service. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Mr. Sugarman demonstrated a broad commitment and dedication to the Jewish community assuming board positions with organizations such as Hillel of New York, UJA Federation, Lawyers’ Division, the Museum of Jewish History and served for three decades with the Anti-Defamation League culminating in his election to their highest position as National Chair from 2009 until 2012. Conference CEO/Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, said, “We face many challenges at home and abroad that will increase the demands on the Conference. Bob’s leadership will be all the more important and will build on the accomplishments of Richard B. Stone.”


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