Israel news

Barak to meet Brown, Miliband for Iran talks

By Jessica Elgot, September 29, 2009

Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak will meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband at the Labour Party conference in Brighton to discuss the growing nuclear threat from Iran.

But Mr Barak's visit may be hampered by a Palestinian group who have sought to obtain an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes committed by Mr Barak.

The group, represented by solicitors Irvine Thanvi Nataz, submitted the request to Westminster Magistrates, seeking the arrest under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 and the Criminal Justice Act.

More..

Secularists fight Charedi housing plan

By Ben Lynfield, September 24, 2009

The Charedi community has scored a victory in the latest round of its conflict with secular residents over the future of the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood in Jerusalem. Last week a Charedi group won a tender for a large housing project expected to further consolidate the growing ultra-Orthodox presence in the area.

The rapid influx of Charedim into the neighbourhood is being met with unusually vocal opposition from secularists, and the area has come to symbolise the larger battle over the character of Israel’s capital.

More..

Israel wants rules of war to be changed

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 24, 2009

Israel is launching a campaign to adapt the international laws on warfare to a new reality where organisations purposely operate from civilian areas.

They are hoping that the American and British governments, which face similar circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan, can be persuaded to join.

The effort comes in response to the UN Human Rights Council report released last week, which accuses the IDF of committing war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead at the beginning of 2009.

More..

Ehud Barak to speak at Labour conference

September 23, 2009

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak will speak at the Labour Party Conference next week.

He will be addressing the Labour Friends of Israel at their annual reception on Tuesday afternoon.

The presence of Mr Barak, who is also Israel’s deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party, is certain to be controversial given the hostility of many Labour Party members to Israel, and his role in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year.

More..

Baron Cohen to star in Simpsons' trip to Israel

By Jessica Elgot, September 21, 2009

The Simpsons are going to Israel, and their tour guide will be Bruno and Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen.

The episode, called The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed , is scheduled to air in 2010 and will feature the famous yellow family on a guided tour of Israel with an angry Israeli tour guide, voiced by Mr Baron Cohen.

Homer Simpson will develop Jerusalem Syndrome – where sufferers experience obsessive religious fantasies – and become convinced he is the new messiah, dragging Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson to the Holy Land.

More..

Charedi women refuse bus gender segragation

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 18, 2009

A new group has joined the fight over gender-segregated bus lines in Israel: religious women who do not want to be forced to sit at the back.

This month, four such groups boarded the “Mehadrin”, or especially stringent buses, running through Jerusalem, pointedly sitting at the front.

“Charedi women on the bus also joined us,” says Rachel Azaria, a religious member of Jerusalem City Council who is leading a coalition of local organisations against the buses.

More..

Fears of 'hostile' shekel trading

By Simon Griver, September 18, 2009

The recent strength of the shekel has generally been credited to a strong Israeli economy. However, market sources now claim that speculators are targeting the shekel, keeping it artificially high, with foreigners holding nearly $80 billion of the currency.

A massive sell-off of shekels could seriously destabilise the country’s economy and some, like Motorola Israel president Elisha Yanay, suspect that the speculators may have more than profit in mind.

More..

Charities struggle to feed Israel's poor

By Ben Lynfield, September 18, 2009

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, Israeli charities are buckling under the strain of providing for growing numbers of needy people, while their own resources are dwindling because of the country’s economic downturn.

“It’s very difficult for those of us who are holding the front,” said Shlomit Shulov-Barkan, deputy director of the Meir Panim soup kitchen network. It has been forced to lay off more than 40 of its 120 employees in the past six months due to declining donations, most of which come from Israelis.

More..

Israelis positive about Germany

By Nathan Jeffay, September 18, 2009

A new poll indicates that the majority of Israelis have a firmly positive attitude towards Germany and German culture.

In March 2008, some Israeli politicians voiced outrage when German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the Knesset in German.

But according to the new research, just published by the Hebrew University, three in five Israeli Jews think that Germany has handled the memory of the Holocaust well.

More..

Fighter pilot’s death re-ignites combat debate

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 18, 2009

The death of Captain Asaf Ramon in a jet fighter accident on Sunday has reopened the question of whether children from bereaved families should be allowed to serve in combat units.

Captain Ramon was the son of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the Columbia Shuttle disaster in 2003.

The IDF regulations state that a child or sibling of a fallen IDF soldier is exempt from service in a combat unit unless their parent signs an authorisation. On average, about 80 members of bereaved families join the IDF each year and serve in combat units with their parents’ consent.

More..