Israel news

Israeli scientists help paralysed talk

By Leon Symons, July 29, 2010

VScientists at Israel's Weizmann Institute have invented a unique device operated by sniffing that could allow people who are completely paralysed to communicate with their family and control wheelchairs.

The new system identifies changes in air pressure inside the nostrils and translates these into electrical signals. The device was tested on healthy volunteers as well as quadriplegics, and the results showed that the method is easily mastered.


Ban Jewish burka, say Israeli rabbis

By Nathan Jeffay, July 29, 2010

Israeli rabbis are set to ban the burka for a small group of radical Jewish women who have taken to wearing it.

Two years ago, it emerged that around 100 women in the city of Beit Shemesh had begun to cover their faces with a veil and wear numerous layers of clothing to obscure their body shape. When many rabbis criticised the trend, the women took no notice because they considered the rabbis too moderate.


Analysis: This time, ignoring the council is right

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

A year-and-a-half ago, in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the United Nations Human Rights Council announced that it was setting up a fact-finding commission to investigate claims of human rights abuse and war crimes.

The commission's chairman, one of the most respected members of the South African Jewish community and a committed Zionist, begged senior Israeli ministers to cooperate with him, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused. The result was the damning Goldstone Report, which has continued to haunt Israel and especially the IDF for almost a year now.


Israel to boycott UN Gaza flotilla inquiry

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

The Israeli government will not cooperate with the latest commission set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate Israel's conduct during the Gaza flotilla affair two months ago.

Despite no official statement being made by the government, senior officials all confirmed that there was no way Israel would confer legitimacy on the UNHRC, widely seen as a forum designed solely for attacking Israel. One official said that "we are not going to even grace them with an official statement. They are totally irrelevant".


Israel clamps down on violent settlers

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

ISraeli law enforcement agencies have begun a new crackdown on what it believes are "violent and inciteful elements" amongst extreme right-wing settlers.

On Monday, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yosef Chai yeshivah and an influential figure, especially among the younger settlers, was arrested by the police for questioning on allegations of "severe incitement".


Israel sends volunteers to Haiti

By Jennifer Lipman, July 26, 2010

Israel is to send a group of police officers to Haiti to help steady the disaster-struck country.

The Foreign Ministry has agreed to send the 14 volunteers to the Caribbean country as part of a United Nations stabilisation mission.

The Israeli team will join Italian and Serbian officers in the mission, which is aimed at maintaining public order.

In a statement the Foreign Ministry said: “Israel's dispatching of the police team is an expression of its desire to contribute its experience and professional expertise.”


Loyalty oath bill ‘provokes Arab citizens’

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

The Israeli cabinet is split over a demand to make all new citizens pledge allegiance to the "Jewish and democratic" character of the state of Israel.

There is no formal pledge of allegiance today in Israeli law. Native-born Israelis do not have to make any kind of commitment as a condition for citizenship and neither do immigrants of Jewish descent who become Israeli by the Law of Return.


Israel may lift bar on entering West Bank

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

The IDF is considering lifting the ban on Israelis entering Palestinian cities in the West Bank for the first time in a decade.

The ban was originally imposed a few months after the second intifada began in late 2000, after a number of Israelis who had entered the cities of the West Bank were murdered by terror groups.

Since then, roadblocks at the entrances to all the cities prevent Israelis from entering. Palestinian police who find Israelis in those cities without an official permit arrest them and escort them out to the roadblocks.


Singing rabbis 'banned'

By Nathan Jeffay, July 22, 2010

Israel's chief rabbinate is threatening to withdraw licences to perform marriages from rabbis who sing under the chuppah.

Wedding ceremonies in Israel tend to be generic, performed by a rabbi allocated by the rabbinate. But in the last decade, Israeli couples have begun turning to charismatic rabbis, who liven up ceremonies by singing parts of it.

"It's like a performance, like a theatre," said Ana Prashizky, a Bar Ilan University sociologist who has studied the trend.


Israel's conversion bill vote delayed

July 22, 2010

There will be no Knesset vote on the controversial new conversion bill before the winter session, which begins in October.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hopes that in the interval, the bill can be redrafted in order to make it more palatable to the Reform and Conservative movements.

Mr Netanyahu made his rejection of the bill clear at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, where he said that "this law could create a schism within the Jewish people".