Israel news

Yeshivah backs off in fight with army

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2009

The heads of the Hesder yeshivahs, which allow 18-year-olds to combine Torah studies and army service, have issued a joint statement against any form of political protest within the IDF.

The rabbis are trying to end the crisis with the defence establishment which led to one of the yeshivahs being cut out of the arrangement last week. Defence Minister Ehud Barak cancelled the Hesder status of the Har Bracha yeshivah on the West bank following the refusal of its head, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, to retract his previous statements in support of soldiers refusing orders to dismantle settlements.

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Charedi sites close following ban

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2009

Two Charedi news websites closed down this week and a wave of resignations has hit other sites following the strictest rabbinical ruling against the internet to date.

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Police to recruit Arab youngsters

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2009

The Israeli Police will launch next week a low-profile programme to enlist 18-year-olds from the Arab population into its ranks.

The plan has three aims: to establish a national service option for Arab school leavers, to swell the police’s understaffed ranks and to try and improve relations between the state and the Arab community.

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Israeli firms 'refusing to hire Charedim or Arabs'

By Nathan Jeffay, December 17, 2009

Ethiopian Jews, Charedim and Israeli Arabs are being systematically discriminated against in the workplace, even if they hold degrees, according to an influential new report.

In the first study of its kind, academics from Kiryat Ono Academic College near Tel Aviv surveyed employers about how graduates from these communities, widely considered Israel’s most disadvantaged, can expect to be received when they try to enter the job market.

The respondents included advertising executives, lawyers, bankers and other professionals who employ graduates.

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Lieberman: Antisemitism is being used to undermine Israel

December 17, 2009

Antisemtism is being used to undermine Israel, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has warned.

“Classic antisemitism, along with Iranian funding and Islamic antisemitism, is being used to incite hatred against Jews, and to delegitimise the state of Israel,” he told the Foreign Ministry’s third annual Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism.

“The people behind the assault against Israel have crossed the line. They seek to destroy the Jewish state and take away the right of the Jewish people to define themselves.

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Row over kosher-only policy at Israeli ministry

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 17, 2009

An internal regulation saying that Israeli diplomats hosting foreign visitors must eat with them only in kosher restaurants has provoked a protest by Tel Aviv restaurateurs.

Israeli government agencies are mandated by law to operate only kosher catering facilities.

As a matter of tradition, Israeli ministers will eat only kosher at official meals, in Israel and abroad, even if they do not keep kosher at home.

At the Foreign Ministry, this extends to a regulation forbidding its employees to entertain visiting dignitaries at restaurants that serve non-kosher food.

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Quiet on the Gaza border is deceptive

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 17, 2009

Almost a year after Operation Cast Lead, Israel may still be fighting a legal and diplomatic battle over the war in the international arena, but around Gaza itself there is uncustomary calm.

On the Israeli side, all the damage caused by missiles and mortar rounds has been repaired, and life is back almost to normal in the villages around the Gaza Strip. While the occasional Kassam is still fired towards Israel, these are always badly aimed. They quite often fall in Palestinian territory and have not caused any Israeli casualties in the last 11 months.

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Call for Hebrew signs in Arab areas

By Ben Lynfield, December 17, 2009

The Jerusalem municipality will require shopkeepers in east Jerusalem to put up Hebrew signs on their stores in a bid to affirm that the area is part of Israel’s capital, according to Deputy Mayor David Hadari.

Arab storekeepers oppose the plan, which has also come under attack from liberal city councillors.

“This is part of having sovereignty in Jerusalem and of our identity as the state of the Jews,” Mr Hadari said. “There must be Hebrew letters.”

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Israel severs link between religious school and IDF

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 17, 2009

Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to end the Har Bracha yeshivah’s hesder arrangement — which allows 18-year-olds to combine Torah studies with army service — has sent reverberations through the IDF and the network of yeshivahs which have, for decades, enjoyed close relations with the military.

“This isn’t about just one yeshivah,” said a senior rabbi this week. “This is a battle for the soul of the next generation of the national-religious community.”

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Syria and Israel may restart talks

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 17, 2009

Israel and Syria are inching back to the negotiation table, although both sides are still not quite ready to sit down. In a number of statements in recent weeks, leaders and senior officials of both countries have indicated that they are open to resume talks that took place while Olmert was prime minister.

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