Israel news

Ashkenazim-only school 'illegal'

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Israeli Education Ministry has stepped up its campaign against schools that segregate Ashkenazi and Sephardi pupils.

This week, the ministry ordered the closure of a school that had been set up three months ago to cater for 74 Ashkenazi girls in the strictly Orthodox town of Emanuel in the West Bank.

Their parents had taken them out of the local Beit Yaakov girls' school after the Supreme Court ruled that the separate classes in the school for Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls were illegal.

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Israel's Defence prepares for future attacks

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Israeli defence establishment is beefing up its preparations for extensive missile attacks on its towns and military bases in case of war.

At a special meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, the chiefs of the military and emergency services presented the latest civil defence readiness plans.

The exact details of the threat assessments are classified but it is expected that in a war between Israel and its neighbours to the north, Syria and Hizbollah in Lebanon, hundreds, perhaps thousands of missiles would rain down on the north and the Tel Aviv area.

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Knesset yes to civil marriage

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Knesset has authorised civil marriage in Israel for the first time.

The law will allow for only a very limited form of civil marriage, specifically for people whose religious identity is not determined.

The new law, introduced by MK David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, will allow Israeli citizens whose religious status is unclear - usually due to the fact that the Rabbinate does not recognise them as Jews - to marry through a new civil registrar's office.

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Charity gives £76m in zero interest loans

By Nathan Jeffay, March 18, 2010

Listeners to Israeli radio stations have been surprised over the last four weeks to hear adverts for interest-free loans - a particularly unlikely scenario given the global economic crisis.

These slots are part of what is thought to be the first major advertising campaign by a charity seeking recipients, rather than donors.

The Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA) is trying to ensure that as Israeli banks tighten their lending criteria - like financial institutions across the world - low earners are not falling into a poverty trap because they are unable to borrow.

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World's top rabbi celebrates 100th

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

He has never flown in a plane or used a computer, but thanks to the advances in transport and communications that have taken place during the course of his lifetime, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who turned 100 this week, is the most influential rabbi in the world.

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Judaica collector bought fake menorah

By Marcus Dysch, March 18, 2010

A British antiques collector bought an 18th century silver menorah only to find it had been "Judaised" with candleholders added 200 years later.

Jerusalem-based Martin Stern, who has worked as a restitution campaigner, found the candlestick at a Tel Aviv auction firm.

The piece is thought to have cost thousands of dollars. Mr Stern had intended to donate it to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, but curators declined his offer after discovering the "menorah" was not a real piece of Judaica.

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Security forces: How police limited the Jerusalem riots

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Security officials believe that they have contained the violence in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The last four weeks saw an unprecedented outbreak of rioting, following a decision by the Israeli government to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem on a list of national heritage sites.

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Analysis: Palestinians saw chance for violence, and took it

March 18, 2010

The conflict between Israel and the US over construction in Jerusalem could have been turned into a positive opportunity. Instead, the bumbling of both governments has given Palestinian radicals another excuse for violence.

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Palestinian view: No compromise on our holy Old City

By Daoud Kuttab, March 18, 2010

This is not how the peace process was supposed to work. Architects of negotiations have forever talked about leaving difficult issues until last, and in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, nothing fits the bill of "difficult" as much as Jerusalem.

Israeli behaviour towards the US has its own truism. You don't pick a fight in the beginning of negotiations and you certainly try not to embarrass those who are known to be among your best supporters in Washington.

But these are not normal times.

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Analysis: Netnayahu faces US crisis

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu is not a natural gambler. He hates making decisions and will use every opportunity to defer and procrastinate. But this week he was handed a clear ultimatum by the White House: make the choice - us or your coalition.

His response: to continue playing for time.

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