a different side of Israel

Tag: USA (page 8 of 49)

Maya Bouskilla Joins The Army

Maya Bouskilla ArmyIDF gets a special gift for Passover: Maya Bouskilla, a famous Israeli pop singer, has enlisted to the IDF at the age of thirty. The Israeli army service is mandatory for every young person at the age of 18, which means that Maya has joined about a decade past enlistment usual age, making her one of the oldest candidates to ever join the army.

Bouskilla evaded serving in the Israeli army, claiming to be religious. However, a few years later, Maya appeared in an advertising campaign for swimsuits that was not exactly modest, putting her religious orientation under serious doubt. The Israeli media passed a harsh critique on this move, which was rightly viewed as the adoption of a double standard. This was definitely not Kosher on her part!

Maya tells she has regretted dodging the army. Did Major General Elazar Sern make the Israeli singer change her mind? Stern has protested last month against the popularity of false claims of religion amongst young women, urging them to join the Israeli forces.

Is it simply a coincidence that Maya joins the army just as she releases her new album? Enlist to the army for public relations? It sounds too radical to me …

I say –if you’re gonna shoot, shoot, don’t sing!
Image: IDF Photo

Shin Bet Blog

Shin Bet BlogIsrael security agency has launched a new blog in which four employees, identified by their initial letters, tell about their work as Shin Bet agents. Sounds intriguing? By what I’ve read and heard so far, the blog is not too exciting (to say the least).

This move is unexpected, considering the legendary reputation of this secret agency. I was very curious to hear what motivated this rare initiative. It appears that shin bet is interested in marketing itself as a standard high-tech company, while fighting its intimidating image. This move is a part of a bigger campaign aiming to attract program engineers and other high-tech professionals from Israel and across the world.
The lives of the Shin Bet employees as described online seem completely normal. That is the message Sin bet wishes to convey.

One of the bloggers, Y, tells the readers that his first priority is his family. “You don’t stay at work if u don’t really have to”, admits Y, who only wants to return home as early as he can. If you are looking for patriotic slogans, search elsewhere. It looks like working for Israel’s intelligence agency is not the James Bond stories that one might imagine. I personally prefer the myth, and by judging readers’ commentary, I’m not the only one!

While the official website has been recently translated into English and Arabic, the blog is only available in Hebrew. Don’t be too disappointed though: who really wants to read a blog by a boring high-tech employee ?…

This 2008 Passover

Before you read the post below I have a couple of words about the Gorilla. Yes, he is eating Matza. He really doesn’t have that much of a choice. If he is anything like the rest of us though I suggest you stay away from the Ramat Gan Zoo in the next couple of weeks – it’s not going to be pretty…

Hat Tip: Tibor Yagar MSN GALATZ

Israelis have always had a “love-hate” affair when comes to the 7 day holiday known as Pesach (Passover) or Hag HaAviv (Festival of Spring) to secular folk. Pesach is one of Judaism’s most beautiful and important festivals as it commemorates the Jew’s freedom from slavery under the Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramsis II, more than 3,000 years ago. Like Thanksgiving in America, the Passover Seder is one of the best times for families to be together to enjoy this holiday and eat the foods that God commanded their forbearers to eat as they left Egypt for what turned out to be 40 years of wandering through the wilderness of Sinai.

Gorilla Trying Matza in Ramat Gan ZooFor some Israelis, however, Pesach is not the joyous and meaningful festival that it should be, and many go abroad for the week to escape having to eat matzah or unleavened bread and other foods deemed Kosher for Pesach. Recently, more and more restaurants and stores have begun offering bread products, including pita, pizza, and even baguettes to those who want them. This now includes large supermarkets as well as small convenience stores, many of which are run by non-religious kibbutzim. Enforcing the existing law concerning the selling and eating of “hametz” (leavened bread and other non-kosher for Pesach products) has been difficult, and many businesses, including a large supermarket chain, simply pay fines as a “cost of doing business”.

Enter Pesach 2008. Due to objections in the existing laws by secular Israelis, a Jerusalem court judge issued a decree that in some instances the existing “Passover Law” will not be binding for private establishments who are not considered as “public arenas”. This means that breads and other “hametz” products will now be allowed to be sold in grocery stores, restaurants and pizza parlors, etc., and that beer will flow freely in all the pubs (as if it hasn’t already up to now!). While this has made a lot of secular people happy, religious and traditional Jews feel just the opposite as this edict clearly violates a very old and important tenet of Judaism.

Or does it? Those who intend to keep Kosher for Pesach wouldn’t eat or drink in most of the establishments who will serve “hametz” as many of them are already non-kosher and are open during the year on Shabbat and religious holidays; serving non-kosher foods, including pork and shellfish. This being the case, there’s really no reason for these types of establishments to have to be Kosher for Pesach anyway, since serving non-kosher pepperoni pizzas prepared on matzos instead of normal pizza dough is a bit superfluous.

The bottom line is the personal consciousness of people; and being forced to do something they really don’t care to do is not going to change them. Anyway, it’s been estimated that at least 70% of all Jews in Israel will forsake their pizzas and falafels for a week and be none the worse off for it. In fact they will do this proudly, out of respect for their faith and tradition.

As for the remaining 30%, hopefully some of you will get the message and join your Jewish brethren in observing a truly unique and wonderful religious tradition to celebrate our release from human bondage into freedom.

Chag Pesach Samech!

Israeli Film Festival in UK

Noodle The MovieExciting news for the Israeli cinema: the first Israeli film festival kicks off in London, Britain, showing recent films that have won international recognition as long with some classic Israeli movies. The film that opens the film festival is an award winning film Noodle, starring Mili Avital, which tells the story of a flight attendant who tries to reunite a Chinese boy with his missing mother.

“This Israeli cinema showcase is an opportunity for cinema-goers to experience some of the best of the great films that Israel has produced over the years and also to find out more about the diverse society that exists behind the daily news headlines”

, said movie’s director Ayelet Menahemi.

Israeli cinema has gained world-wide recognition, both from audiences and critics. In the last few years, Israel has produced high quality movies: Walking on Water, Free Zone, Beaufort, to name a few. Remarkably, this year, Israel was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category, and won second place. Indeed, we have reasons to be proud. Even more significantly, Israeli cinema opens a window wide for the world to see what it means to be an Israeli, which is much more than the limiting frame of the Jewish-Arab conflict.

Riding the “Kosher” Bus

In the midst of cleaning for Pesach—or, as they say, making the house kosher for the holiday—I have been pondering the use of the term kosher as it is being applied to Israel’s kosher buses.

Kosher Buses In Israel?The segregation of women on some public transportation in and between religious neighborhoods—literally, sending them to the back of the bus—has caused a outpouring of anger in many circles here and overseas. As always, it falls to the victims themselves to campaign against the infringement of their civil and human rights. Women who do not want to be relegated to the back seats, and who have been humiliated and even attacked for this refusal, are now appealing to Israel’s courts to challenge this arrangement on public buses. They are being supported by overseas groups, including a campaign by the U.S. affiliate of the International Council of Jewish Women, the National Council of Jewish Women, and initial reactions from the judges in these cases agree that there is a clear violation of women’s rights as protected by the law.

For those of us who remember the first acts of the civil rights’ movement in the United States, we are very aware of the significance of segregated buses. We can also attest to the fact that these violations of civil and human rights inevitably lead to violence—in this case, violence specifically targeted against women.

And here is the true point of the “bus situation.” This is not really about seating on buses, or any real attempt to preserve modesty between the sexes. If those behind the segregation of men and women were really acting in the interest of modesty, they should have perhaps followed the example of countries like Mexico who provide women with separate “grope-free” public transportation.

Every woman who has ever used public transportation has experienced sexual harassment of one type or another. The idea of “grope-free” transportation offers separate transportation for women so that they can travel comfortably, without having to fight off the wandering hands and lewd looks of male passengers. Had the “kosher” bus initiators made similar arrangements for the women in their community, I doubt whether there would have been any uproar. In fact, the argument could have been made that there was some forward thinking in this policy, just as there is a strong argument to be made for separate education for boys and girls. (In many research studies, the latter has actually been shown to serve the scholastic and intellectual development of the girls.)

But the point of segregated buses is not to protect the women. Insisting that the women travel at the back of the bus is a symbolic act of patriarchal oppression in a community that feels it has to remind its women of their “proper place.” It has nothing to do with religion, and it is not remotely “kosher.” It is another tactic to enforce the status quo in a community that fears the cracks of gender equality are growing wider.

As we get ready for the Pesach holiday, let us remember that the message of the holiday is freedom. Any perversion of that message is simply not kosher.

Written by Leah A.

Enabeling the Shtettle Mentality

It was only until after I came on Aliyah with my family nearly ten years ago and after settling down did I realize that I live in a bubble. A hard concept to imagine, but coming from Kew Gardens Hills, NY, I thought it was there that I dwelled in a happy bubble. Yet, that was not the case. Now being one of the “Anglo’im”, I have come to grips with the fact that we live in a small world of our own. If you are an Anglo and live in Israel, no matter how long you’ve lived here, in all likelihood, you interact, befriend and socialize primarily with other Anglos as well. You may make some Israeli friends here and there, and in more rare instances, you befriend South Americans, French, Russians, Ethiopians as well as other Jews from the Diaspora. But by and large, your circles consist primarily of Anglos. The only exotic Anglos you know (if you are a ‘Yank’ like me) are those from the UK, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.

Our purpose as olim is to integrate into Israeli society – to become Israelis. Yet, from what I see, people tend to cling onto their native cultures. Language and accent, being the major barrier between Anglos and Israelis, is one of the greatest obstacles which divides our communities to mainstream Israelis. This is true in all sets and subsets of the religious and non-religous oleh communities in the country.

What is striking though, in religious communities throughout the country where many Anglos now call home, English is the common language found throughout these cities. English postings clutter community bulletin boards in shops and libraries; English lectures in public places; English ganei yeladim and now they’re opening up an acreditied Yeshiva High School for boys in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem which is for English speakers only.

Though it defeats the entire purpose of aliyah and klita (immigration and absorption), the purpose of opening this school is to address a need that is great in the Anglo communities where young teenagers have been having a very difficult time adjusting to the Israeli yeshiva system. Most of these youngsters either had difficulties adjusting to the Israeli school system, be it socially or communicatively. However the question arises, how is this going to help them in the long run? Furthermore, many boys ending up at this Yeshiva will attend because they want to be in an English environment and not necessarily because they merely didn’t “fit in”. In the long run, these boys will not really be able to function in Israeli society, (including the IDF) and in essence, they are being taught and bred to live outside of Israel.

Ironic, though many, if not most religious Anglo communities in Israel have come on aliyah because of their religious convictions, the establishment of this Yeshiva can facilitate yeridah (moving from Israel). Though I’m sure that there are students who, plain and simple have a serious problem learning and living in a foriegn language, there are most, who with help, can overcome this obstacle and mainstream into young Israeli society. In the short run, since many of these students socialize exclusively with their fellow Anglos, it even adds a new barrier between themselves and Israeli society.

For those of us who grew up in the diaspora, many of us lived on the other side of an invisible wall that divided us and the Gentile world, as it has been for many centuries. Friendships and social relationships were maintained at an arms-length distance, especially amongst the orthodox communities. Assimilation has been a huge “no-no” and the secular societies were to remain off limits.

How can this be so in Israel when the concept of absorption has a much sweeter taste than assimilation?

Good News – The world hates Iran more than Israel!

Wow, I’m very much relieved! Just when I thought that the country I have chosen to live in for the past 32 years was top on the list of countries that most of the world despises, it’s suddenly been revealed that there is another county out there that is even more unpopular. And that one (you’ve probably guessed it) is none other than the Islamic Republic of Iran.

JeremiahHow this all came about is the result of a recent poll conducted by the BBC, that U.K. based media network that has always been a bit unkind towards the Jewish State. This poll, conducted last week, and involving listeners form all over the globe found that of all the respondents, 54% said that Iran is the country most feared and which has the most unpopular regime. After Iran, Israel came in a close second with an unpopularity rating of 52%. Pakistan came in third at around 51%, larger due to recent events there which included the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and the activities of President Pervez Musharraf, whose present popularity rating in his own country may be even lower than that of U.S. President George W. Bush.

The BBC went even deeper into “percentages” and broke down various ratings of popularity and unpopularity for countries that have often been considered as part of an “axis of evil” due to their internal and external policies. Iran was actually perceived more favorably by countries like Egypt (62% positive towards Iran) whose citizens dislike of their Israeli neighbor grew to 94% of those polled, which is up from 85% in a previous poll. Other countries in the same region also increased their dislike of Israel, including Lebanon, whose dislike of Israel increased to 87% of those polled, up form 78%. For Lebanese, this may be understandable due to how their country was pounded by the Israeli Air Force in the 2006 war. Most likely, however, the BBC pollsters failed to asked the Lebanese concerning the Hezbollah’s (who are based in Lebanon) launching of more than 4,000 Katyusha and other missiles at Israel’s population centers, which in itself caused a great deal of personal property to Israelis.

Both European and Asian respondents, including those living in countries like Japan also expressed a higher percentage of disapproval to Israel policies towards the Palestinians and others in the region. And even Americans polled registered increases in negative feelings, which were up from a former 33% to 39%. 43% of polled Americans did express positive feelings towards Israel, however. The U.S.A. in comparison came in fifth in this “most unloved” poll, behind North Korea, with a 47% unfavorable rating; while Germany and Japan received the highest favorable ratings. For those two countries anyway, that’s a 180 degree turnabout from how they were regarded during WWII.

Many people both within Israel and abroad, admit that the Israeli government could do a lot better PR job to present their country’s position in respect to how most of the world views this country. After all, people usually believe what they want to believe, whether it is true or not.

Desperate mother fights for wheelchairs

Human drama in front of the Knesset building a couple of days ago: a woman, mother of two, threatened to blow up her car outside the compound, with one of her children inside. According to recent reports, the woman demanded two wheelchairs for her handicapped children. Police has also reported that she was holding a knife, while threatening to cut her own throat.

This woman is not insane, she’s a desperate mother. She was not looking for money or fame. This cry for help shows how easily we forget the real dramas in life: we talk about Tel Aviv’s most expensive apartment, valued at $ 34 million dollars, and at the same time, ignore the stories of thousands of Israeli families who don’t have most basic needs. I cannot imagine what went through her mind, but I’m not a mother who has to watch her own children suffer. I simply cannot judge her. Why hasn’t the state assisted her so far? A mechanical wheelchair costs less than what the state spends on a single MP in one month.

Luckily, the woman surrendered and the incident ended peacefully. The news says that the Variety foundation will finance the costs of the two wheelchairs. Yesterday, this woman, who has been struggling for years to receive wheelchairs for her children, finally won her personal battle. Who said ‘Desperate times call for drastic measures’? Evidently, that’s the only way to get things done in this country.

Deals with the Devil

Newspapers around Israel have reported that Hamas is now threatening to murder Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was wounded and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists back in June 2006 which ignited the second Lebanese-Israeli War. Hamas stated that if the Israeli government does not meet their demands of the release of 350 prisoners, many of whom are imprisoned for outright murder of innocent civilians, they will begin negotiating over releasing Shalit’s remains as opposed to the soldier himself.

Dealing For Gilad ShalitOver the past several weeks reports from officials stated that Shalit was alive and in good health. Doubts about his well-being have surfaced since his capture nearly two years ago, yet over time, intellegence sources have confirmed that the young soldier was indeed alive. There has been no contact between Shalit and his family since. Yet, nearly a year after his kidnapping, Hamas released a recorded message of Shalit was was broadcast to all of Israel and eventually worldwide. It pulled at the heartstrings of many, as of the three soldiers who were kidnapped during this conflict, Shalit is the youngest and most vulnerable. Unlike Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two IDF Reservists who were kidnapped by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon less than a month later, there has been at least some signs of life from Shalit.

Shalit’s father, Noam Shalit has become a familiar face in the media. Reports of his meetings with Prime Minister Olmhert, President Shimon Peres and Members of Knesset have lead him either to dead ends and virtually nowhere while pleading with officials to do anything they can in their power to have his son released. Support for the soldiers have come from across the globe, from private citizens to human rights organizations to world leaders. Yet, cries have fell upon deaf ears as Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev have become nothing more than barganing chips to both Hamas and Hezbollah. Leaving the Israeli government pleading with her hands tied behind her back is part of how this game has been played.

Many people have voiced very strong opinions, many of whom advocate not giving into terrorists and not allowing blood thirsty terrorists loose just so they can continue causing more harm to Israelis in Israel and worldwide. Jonathan Pollard, the American-Israeli who was imprisoned over twenty years ago for leaking confidential information to Israel which lead to the destruction of nuclear facilities in Hussein’s Iraq, has stated that he would refuse to be released from prison if it meant a barter agreement between his release and the release of wanton murderers.

Now put yourself in the shoes of Noam and Aviva Shalit, whose bespectacled now 21 year old son is in the clutches of those who sacrifice their lives for the love of Allah and 72 virgins. Imagine yourself trying to function daily, going to work, doing your job, eating, sleeping, shopping, holidays, etc and knowing that your child’s well-being, safety and whole life is in the hands of those who have no problem sending youngsters into crowded areas with bombs strapped to their belt buckles to murder who ever is within their radius. Imagine sitting at your own dinner table having a meal and looking at an empty seat across from you. It would be one thing if the child were dead. As horrible as this would be, at least there would be an everlasting mourning period and some sort of closure.

Can you at least imagine what is going on in their minds? I’d doubt you can.

Now, what would you do? Advocate for the release of 350 imprisoned terrorists who could indeed inflict more harm upon innocent civilians for the release of your child or demand that terrorists release him because he has already served a sentence without a prisoner exchange?

Take your time to decide.

Wentworth Miller & Dana International Say Yes

Hollywood actor Wentworth Miller teamed up with the singer Dana International to create a promo for an Israeli TV satellite provider, “Yes”. Dana International is a well known transsexual pop singer in Israel who has made a name for herself internationally as the winner of the 1998 Eurovision song contest.

Miller, who has recently visited Israel plays Michael Scofield in “Prison Break”, an American show that enjoys wide popularity in Israel and across the world.

In the promo you can see Miller attempting to escape prison as he runs into the controversial Israeli singer. In the ad, Dana informs Miller in her usual fashion and sultry English mixed with Hebrew that he cannot escape prison just yet because we, the audience, must still watch season Four.

The subtext of the ad “winks” at the viewers capitalizing on the rumors that Miller might be gay.
While many people find this commercial tasteless, I bet that this is exactly what its makers were after – to provoke and win the audience attention. And boy, were they successful!

Like the famous song goes – “let’s give them something to talk about” – the gimmick works considering the simple fact that everyone in Israel is still talking about this ad!

Unusual bird found in Tel Aviv

Sudanese GooseI never expected to see what I saw when exiting the Tel Aviv Central train station Wednesday afternoon. Arriving at Arlozorov Street to catch a bus west, I suddenly saw a large, duck-like bird hopping on a grassy area near the street. I was so taken back by the sight of such an unusual looking fowl being in a place where normally only pigeons and sparrows are, that I took a few moments to watch it. The duck-like creature was actually larger than a wild duck, which I presumed it was. Another person took a photo of it with his cell phone, which I could not, since mine doesn’t have a suitable camera. I soon found out why the “duck” was hopping – it didn’t have a left foot; only a stump that looked like it was hatched that way. I tried to approach it to throw it some of a bagel I had with me, but the bird didn’t seem to know that this was food. It must have been truly a wild creature that must have strayed off course in the process of migration as we are now in the waterfowl migration season.

The bird must have been exhausted, and it tried to take off and fly. After a few tries, one of which caused it to crash land almost in front of a departing bus, it finally did get airborne and it circled the area and flew to a large park across the street, where I presume it again landed.

Upon returning home later that night, I looked it up from my recollection of its appearance and was surprised when it turned out to be known as an Egyptian Goose, also known in Hebrew as an “Avaz Sudani” (Sudanese goose). It must have flown all the way from its usual winter home, somewhere in Africa, and was going north in the spring migration. How or why it chose to land in the middle of Tel Aviv is anybody’s guess, and its decision to land where it did must have been the result of sheer exhaustion.

I have included a picture of what it looks like in case someone else reading this blog may have seen it too. I can only hope that maybe it was seen by enough people to be reported to the Nature Parks Authority and maybe was caught and taken to Safari Park to be cared for until it can continue it journey. Or maybe it might like its new home here and decide to stay.

In any case, I’m sure you’ll agree that this was something unusual and out of the ordinary for a mid-week afternoon in Tel Aviv.

Syria and The Summer of Love

Emergancy ExcerciseAl Quda Al Arabi in the UK is reporting that the Syrians are getting a little fidgety and have called in reserves expecting an imminent attack by the “zionist pigs”. The “zionist pigs” are not sure what they’re babbling about but it seems like the area is getting a little tense (we all know how peaceful it is normally….).

Barak visiting the North this week mentioned that Hezbollah is gathering weapons and is heavily arming itself in an expected showdown but that the IDF is doing the same. “Looking at this picturesque quiet we know that things are brewing just below surface”…

Talk in the chat and online commentary is that something will happen soon enough. Some say that the Syrians are causing a diversion with their troop movements, that Hezbollah will initiate a third party attack on the northern border, or that the next attack will coincide with Israel’s 60th Independence Day coming soon.

Regardless (or not..), our Home Security Command announced a massive exercise next Tuesday that will cover 253 municipalities and will include government, public, private, emergency and rescue organizations.

Oh, we are also going to get back those really fashionable gas masks after they were “refreshed” earlier this year.
But hey, no need to panic 😉

Ahh, can you feel it? The Summer of Love!

Woman Rapes 8 and 11 Year Old Sons For Revenge

Picture: Harel Yosef
Mother RapesA mother from a small religious community confessed to raping her two sons, 8 and 11, to get back at her husband. The social services suspected abuse following one child’s display of unusual sexual behavior at the boarding school where he was placed. Another woman is suspected of abusing her twelve children. The mother did not show any compassion towards her younger son who is mentally disabled and who now bears scars of the abuse on his skin. The siblings of the family have become so mentally unstable that the brothers were molesting their younger sisters, apparently on a regular basis. How can you possibly comment on such a deviant and appalling stories?

These are two cases out of many reported this week. Forgive my cynicism, but is there a child abuse competition that I haven’t heard about?

Currently, there is only one physician in Israel who is an expert in detecting child abuse. Recent study has shown low rate of child abuse diagnosis among Israeli doctors in northern Israel. These sad facts may indicate that these horrendous stories are just a small percentage of a large scale phenomenon.

I really cannot imagine how a child could overcome such a trauma – of being betrayed and abused by their own parents. Judges must impose harsher sentences because these children will have to bear the scars for life on their bodies and on their souls.

Top Israeli Banks Profits for 2007

Despite a crises in mortgage banks in both the USA and UK, Israel’s top banks revealed substantial profits for the year 2007. Leading the top three was Bank Leumi with a gross profit of N.S. 3.5 Billion. This was followed by Bank Hapoalim with N.S. 2.25 Billion, and Israel Discount Bank with 1.26 Billion.

Spokespersons for the banks did say, however, that their profits were affected somewhat by what has been happening in financial markets abroad, especially in the U.S.A. The severe mortgage and real estate crises in America has not yet had major implications in Israel, by many observers fear that the “ripples” created overseas could eventually find their way to the Israel mortgage and housing markets in Israel which are still fairly strong, due to continued sales of new apartments to purchasers in the U.K and Europe, especially France.

The bank profits were also evident in the salaries paid to top bank executives. CEO’s Galia Maor of Bank Leumi and Zvi Ziv of Bank Hapoalim reportedly received N.S. 9 Million each in 2007, while Giora Ofer of the Discount Bank received a whopping N.S. 17.5 million; nearly as much as the other two combined.

Banks in Israel have enjoyed large profits for some time, mainly due to the high fees and commissions they receive on all types of transactions, including payments of various debits by customers, commissions on stock market transactions, high interest rates on overdrafts and other short term debt, and even fees for counting large sums of money (banknotes) deposited into customer’s own accounts. These fees and commissions are some of the highest in the world, and are much higher than those charged by banks in the U.S.A. This is especially true in regards to foreign currency transactions. Perhaps this is why many bank executives receive such high salaries, as noted above. Due to the current mortgage bank crises in the USA, however, Bank Hapoalim’s overall profits were 20% less than in 2006. Bank Discount’s profits actually increased by 51%, which may explain the high salaries paid to Ofer and other high ranking Bank officials.

In another financial related matter, Lev Leviev, head of African Israel Development Company and LLD Diamonds, said that in his opinion, the Israeli economy is heading towards a recession. Perhaps this statement, by one of the country’s richest men, came in the wake of his losing 336 million Shekels (nearly $100 million dollars) in recent stock market falls. Despite this slight reversal, Leviev is said to have made more than 4 Billion Shekels in the year 2007.

Keeping Prostitution Illegal for Prostitutes

WorkingA Knesset committee was shocked yesterday by the testimonies of several prostitutes who chose to publicly share their life stories. Their harsh experiences convinced parliament members to withdraw proposal to legalize prostitution.

This special session focused on the testimony of a prostitute, “Rachel”, who bravely stood before the committee. “Most of the women who do this went through terrible abuse as young girls. Any woman who sinks to this feels nothing, she surrenders her body and escapes through drugs,” said Rachel

Another woman told the committee: “I sat there with my head hung low and a client came and picked me. That was the moment where I broke and became a different person. A person who works as a prostitute is trying to overcome the shame, they are lying to themselves in an effort to repress it, to say you can get used to this, but you can’t”.

These words should be a constant reminder: women do not choose to prostitute. It was a very courageous act on the part of the women who came and expressed themselves. Prostitutes are one of the most oppressed and exploited sectors in society. We must address prostitution as our problem. We can only hope that these testimonies will not only prevent legalized prostitution, but also promote more effective attempts to rescue and rehabilitate women who are forced into prostitution.

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