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Category: Israel News (page 3 of 103)

News in Israel, current events, Israeli politics, daily life and commentary on life in Israel and the Middle East.

El Al Airlines Charges the President an Extra Fee for Carrying an Oxygen Tank on Board

El Al, Israel’s national airline, has made a not so wise judgment call that is going to lead to a lot of negative publicity. El Al is typically the airline of choice when the president, prime minister and other VIP fly for official business trips. However, when President Shimon Peres booked a flight with the airlines, it decided to charge him an additional $5,000 for the addition of an oxygen tank.

According to safety procedure, an oxygen tank and other emergency first aid equipment are mandatory whenever the president, prime minister or other politician travel abroad by air.

Upon hearing of El Al’s plans of charging for the extra carry-on, Peres cancelled the flight and booked a flight instead with Air Canada.

Anat Friedman, a spokeswoman for El Al, issued an apology to the president. Israeli officials have acknowledged the apology and said that the president wishes to put the matter behind him.

President Peres will be arriving to Canada as a witness when the memorandum of understanding between the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Royal Society of Canada is signed. He will also be meeting with Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Part of the trip will include a stop in Ottawa with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a talk on security, peace and trade.

President Peres played a pivotal role in the negotiating of the Oslo Accords in 1992 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 along with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

While most airlines are struggling financially, they need to really consider the consequences when tacking on additional fees. The bad publicity could prove to be far more costly in the long haul. Hopefully, for El Al, their blunder in judgment is something they can recover from.

Former Israeli Spy Slams Prime and Defense Minister over Iran

Israel’s ex-security chief held nothing back as he ripped on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin made it known what was on his mind as he publicly denounced the prime and defense minister as inadequate leaders who are unfit to lead the country to a possible war with Iran.

Yuval retired as the chief of the internal intelligence agency Shin Bet last year and has worked closely with both the prime and defense minister. He also claims that Netanyahu is not being truthful with the Israeli people and is using misleading rhetoric and propaganda to get the public to support military action against Iran. He went on to say that most intelligence officials are in agreement that military force would actually push Iran towards nuclear ambitions.

“My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war,” he said.

“I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister. I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings. Believe me, I have observed them from up close … They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off.

“They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race.”

Government officials have denounced Yuval’s comments and claimed they were motivated out of his own personal frustrations and not based on factual substance.

Yuval’s remarks also coincided with serving military chief Benny Gantz’s own controversial comments. Gantz caused a stir when he commented that the Iranian government was composed of “rational people” and that he did not believe it was in the process of acquiring nukes. The comment runs completely counter to the prime minister’s statements about Iran’s desire to wipe out Israel. Gantz, however, shrugged off suggestions of possible discord between military commanders and political leaders.

Netanyahu continues to insist that Iran is working towards nuclear capability. Barak was in agreement and added that international sanctions are an ineffective deterrent and will not prevent Iran from doing what it wants.

Yuval is not alone in his dismay over the prime and defense minister. He is supported by Meir Dagan, the former leader of the Mossad, who has said previously that plans to attack Iran is “stupid” and that Iran is capable of being rational.

The Shiksa Song

Menny Malka and Yochai Sponder in the Shiksa song, a parody on the recent Jewish Orthodox attacks on “inappropriately dressed women”, including cases where the women were girls as young as 8 years old.

Israel Remembers 22,993 Victims of War & Terror

Today Israel remembers its fallen. 22,993 victims of war and terror

Israeli Lt. Col Dismissed for Striking Pro-Palestinian Demonstrator

The Israeli military has announced that it has dismissed one of its senior officers after a video surfaced of the soldier striking at a protestor with his rifle. The decision made by Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz was motivated by what was deemed as “moral failure” by the officer.

The incident occurred in the Jordan Valley where several pro-Palestinian activists joined for a protest bicycle ride. The planned route was barricaded by Israeli soldiers who told the protestors to turn back. Some words were exchanged and one of the soldiers, identified as Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner, suddenly swung the stalk of his M-16 rifle into the face of a protestor.

The activist at the receiving end of Lt Col Eisner’s rifle was identified as a Danish national who was treated and released from a hospital with minor injuries. The video did not show signs of Lt Col Eisner being provoked in any way, and the Israeli military has announced his suspension while an investigation is being conducted.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned Lt Col Eisner’s actions and stressed that it was an isolated incident and not a reflection of the core values of the Israeli Defense Force.

This is just one of two incidents that drew the ire of pro-Palestinian activists. The event followed a separate situation in which 79 protestors were barred from being admitted on board to a flight headed to Israel. The activists intended to fly to the country for a week-long seminar called “Welcome to Palestine 2012.” Similar seminars have been held in the past that addressed the control of Palestinian borders by Israel.

Soldiers were deployed at Ben Guiron airport to quell protestors from becoming unruly amid the news that they would not be permitted to board the flight headed for Tel Aviv. In addition, Israel also sent a manifest of names to European airports and requested for them to revoke the tickets of those on the list.

Ntenyahu condemned the activists for its outcry over Palestinian treatment by Israel, yet ignoring the human rights abuse taking place in Syria.

Dear Activist

This letter was published by Netanyahu’s office has been circulated with mixed responses. After the flytilla came through the Public Diplomacy page summarized:

“The Israel Police Implemented security measures today at Israels international airport in order to prevent any disruptions and and disturbances. 78 activists were denied entry into Israel. 18 flew back to the countries they came from and others will fly back within 24 hours. 9 Israelis were detained for causing public disturbances at the Arrival Terminal and where questioned by Police. “

Overall it went by pretty quietly and doesn’t seem to be a real success. That mostly depends on your political position though…for or against….

Legalizing Migron an Unlikely Possibility

The fight to get the Migron legalized appears to be bleak at this moment. Right-wing members of Knesset have been working feverishly to legalize the Migron before the August 1st deadline.

The Knesset will be on recess with plans to return by the beginning of May. This leaves only a three month window to get a law passed that would either stop or postpone an evacuation from taking place.

Mks have been piecing together a legislation that would get the Migron and other West Bank settlements legalized. The Migron is currently resting on Palestinian lands, and all residents will be ordered to evacuate if a compromise cannot be reached between the state and Migron residents.

A bill was recently introduced to the Knesset that stated that Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land will not be ordered to be evacuated if the land owner does not contest the construction within four years. It will be up to the courts to decide the amount of compensation to the owners, which can come in the form of a cash settlement or nearby lands of equal size. The preamble of the bill, however, will only be valid for settlements with a minimum of 20 families.

The cabinet had declined to support the draft law, which would allow time for an agreement to be reached with Migron inhabitants. Supporters of the law stated they would encourage for an open vote in the Knesset to dissuade the MKs from opposing it. According to a senior coalition source, cabinet support is vital; without it, the opposition will have the upper hand and thwart the vote in the plenum.

So far, right-wing members within Likud have vowed to distance themselves and remove support in the party primary to any MKs who vote in opposition to the bill.

The Train Is Back In Business

A nightly negotiation prevented the strike we all dreaded. Some passengers missed the news, while others changed their plans accordingly. Passengers are pleased about the outcome but suspicious about other strikes in the future. “Both sides aimed to high and the ones left with the bill are us, the passengers” says an irritated passenger about the negotiation outcomes.

According to the agreement between the Histadrut and the board of the train, the train’s maintenance will be outsoared to a private company and tow additional cargo and commerce subsidiary companies will be formed, in addition for respect the workers’ rights according to the Collective bargaining. In return the workers agreed to “industrial peace” and will avoid strikes within the next three and a half years.

The workers are to enjoy a 25% raise in salary – “depending on reforms”. According to the Histadrut, the train workers will be included in the 2013 salaries agreement in the public service, which will increase their current salary by 30%. The negotiation also produced a onetime grant of 40 thousand NIS for every worker and the board’s cooperation in hiring 140 new staff members, mostly cashiers, within the Collective bargaining.

Surprisingly, it was decided to withdraw the suspension of Gila Edri that took part in assaulting the train’s CEO Boaz Zafrir a few weeks ago in the train station in Lod.
The current agreement is almost identical to the previous agreement offered to the board by the Histadrut. The previous one was rejected immediately and fully, in response the workers embarked on a full strike protected by the Histadrut’s support. The generous flexibility shown by the board is almost too good to be true. It is uncommon for a strike to achieve such a bountiful agreement, one must wonder if all measures where Kosher.

The public is relived about enjoying the train one more “It’s hard not to use the train once you get use to it, I’m glad they figured out striking isn’t the answer” said a passenger in Tel Aviv. The Israeli public is not blind to the suspicious process in which the agreement was signed “I’m pleased the strike is over but I’m not thrilled and expect additional strikes” said another passenger. “It’s wrong to allow Gila Edri to remain in position. I think she conducted herself in a poor manner, forcefully and inappropriately” said passenger.

Israeli Law Bans Underweight Models

Foreign media reports of the new Israeli law targeted to fight eating disorders are flooding world news. “It’s fantastic!” said plus size model Emme to CNN. Israel is the pioneer, hopefully others soon will follow. The Modeling Bill passed second and third readings and echoed around the world. News networks around the world are speculating whether or not this precedent will inspire other governments to pass bills of this nature.

According to the modeling law, passed a few days ago, male and female models that are clinically underweight will not appear in commercials in the state of Israel. Furthermore, the usage of editing or retouching using programs like Photoshop in order to take in body measurements must be pointed out in bold noticeable writing. These terms will also apply on advertising produced abroad with foreign models that are imported to Israel.

The daily telegraph’s fashion section reported the passing of the bill and mentioned Israel is the first country that has prohibited under weight among professional models. “This looks like the first attempt by a government to fight the fashion industry accused of encouraging eating disorders by putting extreme thinness on a pedestal. This law could inspire other countries battling the Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa epidemics, especially among young women”.

The American CNN network also addressed the new law. American plus size super model Emme said in an interview to the network that the law is sure to encourage other countries to implement similar measures in the battle on eating disorders and prohibit underweight models to appear in advertising.

“I think it’s fantastic! So many men and women are struggling to achieve an appearance that is both unrealistic and unhealthy”, said Emme. The American model also pointed out that the British government has also been vigorously active in stopping advertising agencies that alter girths in photographs and use photographs that present models in an unrealistic manner. News of the groundbreaking bill even reached The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet Daily News, which has addressed the new law.

According to the bill, the minimum BMI (Body Mass Index) for models is 18.5, under which it will be illegal for models to appear in advertising. Body mass index is defined as the individual’s body mass divided by the square of his or her height. The agency hiring the model will have to refer the model for a medical examination that will determine weather or not he or she are eligible according to the new criteria.

Mount Dov: IDF Soldiers Rescue Calf

During routine training at the foot of Mount Dov, soldiers from the Combat Engineering Corps and the Givati Brigade came across a calf trapped in a three meters deep cement ditch within the compass of the shooting range. The training was stopped and the soldiers stepped up to rescue the animal.

A heavy wait visitor was seen earlier this week within the 769 Brigade’s shooting range area, near Mount Dov, close to the Lebanon border. A mature calf, most likely lost and separated from its herd, entered the shooting range and fell down a three meters deep cement ditch.

Soldiers from the Combat Engineering Corps in the middle of a shooting training suddenly notice the animal’s distress while passing by the ditch at noon. “At first, I received reports from my soldiers of a live cow that has survived the fall down the ditch in the shooting range and is now trapped” says Junior Lieutenant Amit Segal from the 769 Brigade.
Segal mentions that it was decided to cease the training and the shooting and attempt to assist the animal. “There are several cattle herds nearby and we decided contacting the owners in order for them to check the state of the animal” says Segal. “The calf somehow managed to avoid physical damage from the fall, but run all over the ditch unsuccessfully trying to escape. The soldiers fed it grass until the owners arrived”.

Soldiers from the engineering brigade, soldiers from the Rotem battalion of the Givati Brigade and soldiers from the769 Brigade all came to the animal’s rescue. The calf’s owner arrived along with his worker, who went down the ditch and roped the calf.

A group of 12 soldiers began tugging the calf “we started tugging but after a short while, one of the ropes tore under the weight and we had to lower the calf back to the ditch and try again with a different rope”. The combined efforts paid off and the calf was rescued unharmed. “Once we had rescued it, it began chasing us. We had to chase it out of the area in order to resume the training and keep it safe”, Segal wraps the successful rescue.

Israel Offers Assistance to Syrian Civilians

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs approached the Red Cross and offered to send assistance to the Syrian people. Lieberman: “The Jewish nation cannot sit by and do nothing while citizens of our neighboring country are being slaughtered”.

As the Syrian people flee Syria by the thousands and make their way to Lebanon, Israel’s foreign affairs minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that Israel is willing to send humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. Under Lieberman’s orders, Evyatar Manor, CEO of international organizations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, approached the Red Cross and suggested that Israel will send the assistance. Red Cross representatives in Israel replied that they will examine the Syrian people’s needs and will inform Jerusalem with the requirements forth with.

Lieberman said in regards to the humanitarian assistance:

“the Jewish nation cannot sit by and do nothing while our neighbor country is being slaughtered and people are losing their world. We cannot interfere due to lack of diplomatic relations, but we will at least offer our hand with humanitarian assistance as it is our moral duty to awaken the world and stop the massacre”.

Earlier this week official representatives of the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that approximately 1,000 to 2,000 Syrian refugees fled Syria and are now making their way to Lebanon. The report is consistent with other reports that reached news agencies earlier this morning. According to which, refugees are fleeing Syria by foot from the town of Qusair that has been bombard under the orders of President Assad, the refugees mainly consist of women and children.

Eye witnesses report the shelling began suddenly and that they had to flee their homes immediately. The Syrian army has been reported to bombard rebel camps all over Syria. The number of refugees is predicted to rise unless serious action will be taken to stop this genocide.

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.

Settling Accounts & South Heats Up

Today in a cabinet meeting Netanyahu said “We have collected a high price from them and we are still collecting, we will continue to operate as long as it is necessary.”

Friday the IAF caught up with the leader of the Popular Resistance Committee’s, Zuhir al-Qaisi (49). He took his office after the previous head of the Popular Resistance Committee, Jamal Abu Samadhana was also killed by an Israeli attack. He replaced the first head, also killed by the IAF.

Zuhir, AKA “Abu Ibrahim” was one of the planners of the Highway 12 terror attack near Eilat in August 2011. Eight Israelis were killed in the attack. He was also involved in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, attacks on the border crossing and numerous rocket attacks on Israel.

According to Israeli Intelligence, Zuhir was actively planning a large terror attack on the southern border with Egypt. He was extremely religious and had a radical interpretation of Islam, publicizing this a few days ago:

“Islam is the solution. Islam is a religion that will not exist without Jihad in Alla’s way. Alla will not change the people’s situation, until the people will change their own situation themselves.”

In the ensuing hostilities the terror groups Popular Resistance Committee and Islamic Jihad fired over 90 rockets into the south of Israel, hitting Ashqelon, Ashdod, Beer Sheva and small communities all over the area. Hamas seems to not be interested in hostilities and is so far standing back and some say is even trying to calm things down.

Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket defense system is proving handy. The system up until Saturday has shot down 25 of 27 rockets that entered its sphere of defense, proving highly effective and making the military folks and southerners feel better. Overall there have 5 wounded on the Israeli side and Palestinians are reporting 14 dead so far.

Islamic Jihad is vowing to continue the attacks.

Attack on an arms depot in the North of the Gaza strip:

Making Friends Bibi Visits Cyprus

These days you need to keep and make new friends. Benjamin Netanyahu and wife visited Cyprus in a historic one day trip. He met with Dimitris Christofias the PM and signed a mutual rescue agreement that allows both countries to send troops for a limited time to the other country in times of a disaster.

The same agreement was once in place with Turkey but since relations went downhill, this is a little message to the Turks that no one is irreplaceable.

Netanyahu said that “the sanctions on Iran are not working. We are dealing with a country that break all international codes of behavior.” He also said that the US and other countries should worry about a country like Iran holding a nuclear weapon.

Cyprus also has a tense relationship with Turkey that’s blaming it for drilling for Natural Gas in its territorial waters. That has also made the relations with Israel more important recently for Cyprus.

During some previous discussions Israel has asked to place some fighters in Cyprus. The same sort of discussions have gone on with Greece, which has also been getting chummy with Israel.

Milken Archive Releases Oldest American Jewish Music in Existence

The Milken Archive of Jewish Music announces the release of a significant new project which provides new insights into the development of Jewish music during the pre-Independence and first century of post-Independence America. “The Song of Prayer in Colonial and 19th Century America” provides an opportunity to learn about the foundations of early American Jewish music through the music that accompanied the Jewish immigrants as well as the original compositions and melodies that emerged in America.

The Milken Archive has been documenting, preserving and disseminating music which relates to the American Jewish experience since 1990. The archive holds a large collection of American Jewish music including oral histories, video footage of performances and many of the archive’s own recordings. The goals of Lowell Milken founder of the Archive, include the research of American Jewish music, compilation of historical documentation and encouragement of academic research relating to the American Jewish music experience.

The Milken Archive’s new project, “The Song of Prayer in Colonial and 19th Century America” follows early Jewish immigrants who arrived in America during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Beginning with families who fled the turmoil caused by the Spanish Expulsion and following through to the development of America’s Reform Movement, the multimedia volume explores the musical traditions of America’s earliest Jewish settlers.

The first American Jewish immigrants arrived from Spain and Portugal, often by way of South and Central America. Their liturgies included tunes and melodies of the Western Sephardic traditions. During these years, Ashkanazi Jews who immigrated to America generally joined the existing Sephardic community and integrated into their institutions.

The volume also highlights the religious music which accompanied the 19th century wave of Jewish immigration. Many of these individuals were adherents of the new Reform movement and introduced new melodies sung in German, Hebrew and English. The first volume of “Song of Prayer in Colonial and 19th Century America” demonstrates how these Jews worshiped with music that was often arranged in the style of Protestant hymns or sung to tunes borrowed from classical compositions. These immigrants sought to create a distinctly Jewish-American liturgy and their music expresses the infusion of their heritage with their new life in America.

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