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A Bill Raising Age for Marriage to 18 Approved

A bill prohibiting marriage under the age of 18 was recently approved in the Knesset, the new development changed the previous minimum age of 17. The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the bill initiated by MK Yariv Levin. Five ministers supported the bill and only one opposed, naturally, Minister Mushulam Nahari from Shas.

According to Levin, the minimum age of marriage must be aligned with worldwide norms and legal developments in underage marriage. This phenomena compromised the underage person’s rights, among these rights is the right to be joined in matrimony with full knowledgeable consent and with a right mind. Underage women are most at danger, in these kinds of marriages, as they are being wed according to traditional ideologies in which a woman’s place is at home and her life roll is limited to bearing and raising children. That is why the young woman’s consent might be a result of pressure from their family and in fact the marriage is forced. Furthermore, according to the bill, studies indicate that a large percent of underage marriages end up in divorce as well as violence and financial difficulties due to the couples’ young age and lack of maturity.

During the debate a representative from The Ministry of Justice stated that the office supports the bill. He explained that as the law rules 18 as the legal eligibility age, it is only appropriate that marriage, a legal declaration, will be prohibited under the legal eligibility age. The representative also stated that the Ministry of Justice also supports the clause that stipulates that a marriage license will be given at the age of 16 only in special cases.

This is indeed a historical landmark that will correct an injustice caused to young people, and especially underage women. This bill is social by nature and its approval will have a direct effect by sparing thousands from forced marriages, poverty and violence and will give them the opportunity to commence their lives however they choose. The bill is soon to be put for a preliminary vote at the Knesset.

Four Kinds of Jews

There are four kinds of Jews.

  • There is the non-believer, who has a nasty nihilistic outlook.
  • There is the non-believer who still seeks positivity in the world.
  • There is the believer who employs a rational, utilitarian and liberal mindset.
  • And there is the believer who lives in an anachronistic, ridiculous, fundamentalist haze of long-debunked dogma.
  • The Iraqi born, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel and spiritual leader of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef ascribes the recent disaster on the Carmel which claimed one-third of the National Park’s ecological splendor, and 43 lives, to desecration of Shabbat.

    “Fires only happen in a place where Shabbos is desecrated”

    He said, quoting from the Talmud.

    “Homes were ruined…entire neighborhoods wiped out, and it is not arbitrary. It is all divine providence…We must repent, keep Shabbos appropriately. When the People of Israel repent, God safeguards them with a wall of fire.”

    Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hevron and Kiryat Arba said the fire was Divine punishment for giving away parts of the land of Israel to terrorists.

    Only God knows what God thinks but here is what I can tell you:

    For years, Israeli firefighters have complained of undersized crews, outdated equipment and minimal supplies. Israel only has 1,400 firefighters, far below the worldwide average. Israel does not have a single firefighting plane; and emergency crews actually ran out of flame retardants on the first day of the disaster.

    The state’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, is responsible for Israel’s firefighting forces.

    He refuses, though, to assume blame for the disaster which took 83 hours, at least, to extinguish and demanded assistance from several nations, including Palestinians. Yishai, amid the blaze, accused Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and treasury officials of turning down his requests to increase the firefighting budget.
    Meanwhile, negligence, not intentional arson, seems to be the cause of the fire.

    A 14-year-old resident of the Druze village, Usfiya, is suspected of igniting the inferno by throwing away a charcoal from a water pipe. Authorities are declining to confirm that an additional 13-year-old resident of the town has been questioned in recent hours.

    Stranger Than Fiction: Stronger Than Hate Speech

    It is not important how I vote. I feel that all political parties in Israel have positive and negative aspects of their platforms, from which one can draw from to shape their own political agendas and ideologies. My own political outlooks, which I shall stray from arrogantly disclosing, are a healthy amalgamation of what ideas are available.

    Be they Arab astronauts, Zionist settlers, Peaceniks, Tamini, Ethiopian or Tibetan Messianic Jews from China, the members of a democracy such as the State of Israel, should keep an open mind to all of the views and opinions flowing freely through the Knesset and the media. This is how one becomes educated in an ever-shrinking pluralist community.

    So without stating my own personal political convictions, I propose to my open-minded, intelligent and gracious readers the following question:
    Is it just me, or has Shas, in the last year, gone absolutely mad? Really. It is embarrassing.

    Rabbi Ovadia YosefThe party’s platform is as follows:

  • Israel is the Jewish people’s state and Jewish identity must be preserved when it comes to decision-making, while curbing moves that see “a country of all its citizens” emerging.
  • Shas does not call for a state based on religious law, rather, “a state with a Jewish soul” where Jewish character is preserved within state laws.
  • Every diplomatic question on the agenda has Halachic answers. These are to be determined by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
  • Shas pledges to set objectives for minimizing unemployment and rewarding employers; assisting women and sectors that need support; and forming a socioeconomic convention in order to create a common denominator for all market forces.
  • Shas will work to integrate Jewish tradition into the education system.
  • Get Real:

    When Carlo Strenger of Haaretz and Tel Aviv University, earlier this year, mentioned in one of his columns, Israel’s systematic oppression of Sephardic Jewry b’Eretz, he was kidding. He was testing the nation’s public’s intelligence and, and, and sanity! Right Dr. Strenger? Because if he wasn’t he was fueling a dangerous fire: the very same fundamentalist bullshit which is poisoning the Shomrei Torah Sephardim (Sephardi Torah Guardians), also known as Shas political party.

    Earlier this year, the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said:

    “Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel…”

    Which may or may not be true – but it is not the kind of hate-speech one spits in such a widely public forum, especially while the country is struggling to make itself understood among the “Goyim.”

    According to the Shas spiritual leader:

    “In Israel, death has no dominion over them… With gentiles, it will be like any person – they need to die, but [God] will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money. This is his servant… That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew. Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat. That is why gentiles were created.”

    As if he were reading right from the lying pages of Mein Kampf and affirming it all, right there. The Torah never included such hate speech.

    This is after insulting the religious Ashkenazi population by publicly forbidding Sephardic Jews from hearing the Megillah read by an Ashkenazi during Purim.

    Rabbi Ovadia, isn’t it time we forget what sets us apart culturally, instead of what binds us?

    Furthermore, Yosef embarrassed the state last Rosh HaShannah when he issued the following statement, blemishing the Holiness of the day:

    “Our enemies and haters may come to an end, Abu Mazen and all these villains – may the Holy One, Blessed Be He, afflict them with the plague… these evil enemies of Israel… “

    No, no, no! We may not trust Abu Mazen, not always, but don’t say THAT! That’s stating the obvious! Anyway, doesn’t the Blessed Rabbi intend these wishes for the Hamas regime, rather than the more moderate Palestinians? Furthermore, I happen to know some Palestinians, whom I don’t want to perish!

    This hate-speech is just the tip of the iceberg. Supporting party leader, Eli Yishai’s movement to expel the children of foreign workers, is just another example of what makes the “Shas” party a mixed bag of nuts.

    Won’t somebody change this Jew’s diapers before the stench begins to ruin the country’s spiritual reputation!

    What about Pollard?

    Two weeks ago, Shas Party leader Eli Yishai sent a letter to Netanyahu asking for him to push for the release of convicted Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard, imprisoned in the United States for the last 25 years (part of a life imprisonment handed down to the former U.S. civilian intelligence analyst in 1987).

    Jonathan Pollard posterYishai wrote that, in appeasing U.S. requests to halt West Bank construction, freeing Pollard is a must; if for no other reason than the sake of justice.

    Yishai also mentioned that former U.S. officials involved in Pollard’s case admit that his sentence was too severe and they too believe Pollard should be released.

    Several Knesset Members joined Yishai’s plea and gave Netanyahu a letter addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama.

    Netanyahu, however, had no plans of taking the letter with him to the United States.

    The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement:

    “The Prime Minister has brought up Pollard’s case several times in discussions with the U.S. government, so he does not need to do so through a letter. The proper procedure for transferring letters is to send them in an official manner to the U.S. embassy in Israel,”

    Here is a letter by Justice4JP and the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home, published last Sunday:

    Sunday, November 14, 2010 Statement of Justice for Jonathan Pollard and The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home
    Statement of Justice for Jonathan Pollard and The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home Before any deal with US, pull Pollard out of harm’s way!
    J4JPnews – November 14, 2010
    Justice4JP and the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home unequivocally call for the release of Jonathan Pollard as a matter of simple justice, not as part of any deal that would weaken Israel or endanger other Jews in any way. Nevertheless, it is shocking that Israel would even consider making a major gesture to the Americans at this time (such as re-implementing a building freeze) without first pulling Pollard out of harm’s way.
    Israel’s continuing failure to demonstrate the most minimal responsibility for the fate of her agent is shocking particularly in light of all of the latest revelations of government malfeasance by both the US and Israel towards Pollard for the last 25 years.

    If there is any American “incentive” to release Pollard as a gesture to Israel — and a matter of simple justice — it is particularly at a time when the US is negotiating with Israel for what it wants. Now is the time to secure Pollard’s release, before any gestures are considered by Israel. Our position remains, now more than ever, Pollard must be freed as a matter of simple justice — and he must be freed now.
    JUSTICE FOR JONATHAN POLLARD

    In the video below, Netanyahu gets heckled down in New Orleans..

    Rabbi Ovadia Sends a New Years Wish to Abbas


    Spiritual leader of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef made a public wish during his Rosh Hashana sermon that

    “our enemies and haters may come to an end, Abu Mazen and all these villains – may the Holy One, Blessed Be He, afflict them with the plague… these evil enemies of Israel.”

    Abu Mazen is the same as Mahmoud Abbas.

    Nissim Ze’ev, a veteran Knesset representative for the Shas said on Sunday that the Rabbi was misunderstood:

    “He means that the Holy One, Blessed Be He should end the hatred that the villains harbor against us. It is easy to interpret what he said as meaning that we do not want peace, but this is untrue. The Rabbi supports negotiations for peace. The Jewish people has many enemies and the Rabbi does not mean to say that all of them should be annihilated, just that their hatred for us should end.”

    Hilmi al-Ghoul, an “adviser on national matters” to the chief of the Palestinian Authority said that Rabbi Ovadiah’s “racist” pronouncements, pronounced on the eve of resumption of direct talks between the Jewish Country and the PA, under American auspices, sends a message to the world that the Jews refuse to accept the “two state solution.”

    In Preparation for Purim

    Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party, had a go at Mahmous Ahmadinejad, during his weekly Saturday evening sermon. He called the Iranian president the “Haman of our generation” referring to the upcoming Purim holiday, and added the he “can go to hell”.

    The rabbi, whose address was centered on the laws of Purim, spoke about the followers of Haman, the grand vizier of Persia.

    “In every generation we have Hamans,”

    he said.

    “Now we have a new Haman in Persia, threatening us with his nukes.”

    He went on to further curse the Iranian leader, using verses from the Bible.

    In the halachic part of his sermon, Rabbi Yosef made the ruling that Sephardic students in Ashkenazi yeshivot should not take part in the prayer quorum on the Saturday before Purim in order to read the “Zachor” Torah portion separately, in keeping with their custom.

    He explained that listening to the verses, which discuss Amalek’s war on Israel, is a Torah mitzvah and therefore each person must do it according to the common pronunciation of their own community.

    Rabbi Yosef did not miss an opportunity to tease the Ashkenazim. After imitating the way they read that Torah portion, he said,

    “The Sephardim’s pronunciation is the real one. Their accent is wrong. But they insist. They’re stubborn… They don’t want to change. Even their Ashkenazim testify that our pronunciation is the right one, the truth.”

    Supreme Court decides: Running someone over and leaving them for dead IS a crime

    Judge Moshe DroriImagine that upon exiting a Jerusalem supermarket parking lot under video surveillance, somebody has the audacity to charge you. The supermarket clerk actually comes up to your car and asks for the money you refused to pay. So you can do one of two things. You can either pay and get on with your life, or you can leave without paying. Apparently—and I just today discovered this — there’s a third option, and it’s pretty original: You can hit the clerk with your car and drive off.

    Judge Edmond LeviKeep in mind that this is all recorded. The man in question, a Yeshiva student and the son of the chief Rabbi of a major Israeli city, was let off by circuit court judge Moshe Drori (on the right) last September with community service and a 10,000 NIS fine without being convicted. This, due to the fact that a conviction would ruin his chances of being appointed a rabbinical court judge.

    Now, far be it from me to impose my own personal value of not running people over with cars on the rabbinical court system, but I guess I’m just a far-be-it-from-me kind of guy, and I really feel like imposing my value in this case. And apparently I’m not alone, because today, Israel Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy (on the left), while theatrically pounding his fist on the table, imposed that value as well, and the Yeshiva student was convicted in an appeal yesterday.

    Noga ZoraishThe rabbinical court system in Israel has often been accused, among other things, of misogyny, being completely out of touch with mainstream Israeli society, and judging converts by ultra strict Hareidi standards (for example, requiring a female potential convert to change her profession from policewoman to something that wouldn’t require her to wear pants). It’s too bad that these strict standards don’t apply to their judges and include forbidding running people over with your car because you don’t want to pay a bill.

    Shas chairman Eli Yishai, in the traditional manner of Hareidi-pulling-for-Hareidi, put it this way in his letter to Drori last year requesting leniency:

    “If a recommendation for non-conviction carries weight, then this is the time and place. Even now,” Yishai wrote of the accused, “he serves as a spiritual leader and an address for all those in need.”

    Except, of course, for Noga Zoraish, the woman he ran over with his car.

    Bibi Folds

    People power has apparently won concerning the Finance Ministry’s proposed plan to impose VAT on fruit and vegetables sold to Israeli consumers in open air markets as well as in regular supermarkets. After intense pressure from a number of groups, including fruit and vegetable vendors themselves (who staged wholesale dumping of their produce at open air souks around the country) and from coalition partner Shas (many of whose members are poor and have large families), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu overrode Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz‘s to levy the now 16.5 VAT on farm produce, saying that “sometimes it’s necessary to listen to the will of the people”.

    vegetable soukBut at the same time, however, the government is now formulating plans to increase the VAT on other items even further – to 17.5% – to make up for the 1.3 billion Shekel revenue short-fall that is expected to occur due to not imposing what is now known as the produce tax. Prior to the P.M.’s decision, many people were calling for Finance Minister Steinitz to resign. Those close to him say he is furious with the decision concerning the produce tax, and will not resign; even though opposition Kadima party members are calling this act “a sign of weakness” on the part of the present Likud party led government.

    Raising the overall VAT another one percent will in the long run result in even more economic hardship than the VAT on fruits and veggies, as it will result in all other items, including staples like dairy items, bread, flour, cooking oil, and chickens being more expensive. Besides, it was argued that people would still find ways to circumvent paying VAT on produce purchases by buying from roadside stands and other black market fruit and veggie dealers. The idea to raise the VAT even more is something that had probably been in the Finance Ministry’s game plan since the new government assumed power in April, 2009. Despite a deep recession, the government has been desperately looking for ways to increase revenues without resorting to levying higher income taxes. Another thing that has become the new government’s problem is that the January Operation Cast Lead military operation left a big deficit in the previous government’s budget, which the new government inherited when assuming power. By gradually raising the VAT, the government is applying what is known as the salami technique in which they gradually raise the tax amount, bit by bit, like slicing a salami; until eventually they have the entire “salami” of increases with less protest from the general public.

    As you can see, it’s obviously easier to get the entire salami, slice by slice, instead of trying to take the entire portion at once. The question now, however, is whether people are gullible enough to fall for this ploy; or whether they really can do anything about it, outside of outright rebellion.

    Maybe Israelis will be more successful than the Iranians were at protesting government imposed policies. It all depends on how we like to eat our salami.

    Tzipi Livni womanhood in Israeli politics

    Livni in The Uman in Tel AvivA little while ago the US showed the world that it can reinvent itself just when we thought we knew everything about them. A black man was elected to president. I still remember the Eddy Murphy comedy show Delirious where he makes fun with the notion of a black president. A president that would have to make his speeches while running to avoid getting shot… And yet, there he is. Obama is the President.

    Now in Israel it seems like we are not quite there. Yes, this is a generally forward thinking society BUT (insert big but here..) there are actually political figureheads/political parties that feel that politics is no place for a woman. This is to the extent that if you were to look at the election posters in Jerusalem where all three candidates are showing, the face of Tzipi Livni has been erased.. To remind you the year is 2009!

    Now this goes beyond the religious parties which like there Iranian counterparts are fanatics. This extends to the mainstream. When it comes to discussing the issues and facing a woman in the race, the gender card will ultimately be used by any of the “modern thinking” leaders as well. It will just be better disguised.

    Given that we are a testosterone driven society. We are faced with 10 flavors of death in any direction, but still. Wouldn’t the job of a good prime minister be putting together the right team? Would it not be possible for a woman to run Israel?

    Livni recently went for the young vote with her campaign. She did the Tel Aviv bar/club circuit trying to get the young vote. She recently has invested more in getting the undecided women vote and sounded good in front of the women’s conference in Herzelia. I heard some of the speech and she sounded comfortable and energetic. I didn’t like the way she sounded when she was in some of the other venues and in Knesset. She got a heavy, old political guy tone to her that just sounded tired and almost forced. Like someone who has to make them sound like an old experienced political horse, something she isn’t and shouldn’t be. I think sounding like a modern, smart, leading woman in this election is the way to go.

    I don’t think Tzipi Livni will win this election although she seems to be moving forward in the poles. The assumption is that Bibi and the Likud will take it and then form a coalition with one of the top three mainstream parties, maybe the religious as well. I would like to see her in there though and wish her the best of luck. It would be nice…

    This is Livni on the Lior Shlein show (Night Show)



    Who will blink first?

    Livni had about a month to form a coalition ever since she was elected Kadima’s. But in the past 28 days she seemed to hurry nowhere, conducting the negotiations quite sluggishly.

    Today her 90 minutes are up, and she only has a single round of overtime. (if you’d excuse my soccer metaphors). This morning, Mrs. Livni met with the president Shimon Peres and was granted 2 more weeks to try and form a government. If she fails, then the country is automatically thrown into an election period.

    Until this moment the gap between her Kadima party and Shas is so wide, that it seems she has much work to do if she wants to bridge the differences. But I also think that Shas is just as eager to remain in the coalition, and as time progress, they will become more and more flexible in their demands.

    And Tzipi Livni knows that. So perhaps that’s the game she’s playing. Is she a poker-face player (as evident by her past in the Mossad) or a weak politician (as her opponents claim)?

    Israeli Maccabiah games

    Maccabiah opening ceremoniesThe 17th Maccabiah games (AKA. Jewish Olympics) started this week, an event that happens every 4 years. Over 7,000 athletes from 55 countries will participate in the events. The ceremony was impressive, big, colorful and uniquely Israeli, a real world class events with a reported 30,000 in attendance. Run loosely along Olympic guidelines, the 11-day event includes athletics, swimming, football and tennis as well as lawn bowls, chess, bridge, netball and cricket.

    The opening ceremonies were attended by senior members of government, all sitting behind bulletproof glass, of course. Sharon in his address basically tried to encourage Aliyah (a permanent return to Israel) and took the opportunity to blatantly tell the athletes to basically stick around when the games are all done. There is traditionally a certain percentage of athletes that remains after these events and the big man was trying his best convince them to stay.

    And now for something completely out there, Shas Party (the main religious party) Chairman, Eli Yishai, attacked the 17th Maccabiah management for desecrating Shabbat by requiring personnel to work on Saturday to prepare for the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony. He said their actions were a “disgrace” that crossed red lines. Yishai said a worker told him he and his friends had to start preparing for Saturday night’s dress rehearsal before the end of Shabbat.

    The worker refused to reveal his identity out of fear they would lose their jobs. Funnily enough it seems that this employee would rather keep his Shabbat desecrating job then quit though – interesting. Maccabiah spokespeople responded by saying, “We would be happy to see Yishai among the Knesset Members and government ministers that will partake in this international event.”, in short telling Yishai to take a flying leap.

    Netanya suicide attackUnfortunately, the next day after the opening ceremonies a suicide bomber drove into the center of Netanyah, approximately 35 minutes from Tel Aviv, blowing up, killing 4 women and wounding 90 people. The blast took place outside a busy downtown shopping mall.
    An hour earlier, the Dutch soccer team attending the Maccabiah games left that same mall for soccer practice. The team is staying at a local Netanyah hotel and after the blast several team members said they wanted to go home. Several forum posts on local news sites suggested the players try London..

    Their team manager said, “Most of our players are in shock, and we do not know how they will deal with it. Most of them want to leave Israel as soon as possible, because they are not used to such a thing. I will try to convince them to stay for the games, but it is their individual decision.”

    Netherland players looking pale

    And in all this, a truly great story, an Israeli Arab teenage girl from the town of Sakhnin became one of the first medalists in this year’s Maccabiah Games with a victory in the women’s 200-meter breastroke in the Wingate Institute pool, causing a wave of pride in her father, family and community.

    Asala wins a gold medal

    Halaj Shahada, proud father of Asala, 17, said there would be celebrations in Sakhnin following her gold medal win. “The Maccabiah belongs not only to all the Jews, but also to all the Israelis, and I am a proud Israeli,” Asala said.

    Israeli Olympics, never a dull moment.

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