Israel news

Analysis: Mr Netanyahu’s London visit could be a summer break he would prefer not to take

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2009

Binyamin Netanyahu is hardly looking forward to his visit to Britain next week. Relations between the two governments are going through a rocky period and Israel does not consider Gordon Brown a critical partner given his current political situation.

The meetings at Downing Street and the Foreign Office will have little diplomatic value. They will consist mainly of lectures by the hosts on the evils of settlements and attempts by Mr Netanyahu — mostly unsuccessful —to move the debate on to the Iranian threat.

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Fears over policing as crime surges in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2009

It is not just the numbers — 12 civilians murdered in less than three weeks since the beginning of August, an abnormally high body count for crime in Israel. It is also the utter senselessness of most of the deaths.

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Amnesty stops its support for Cohen concert

By Robyn Rosen, August 20, 2009

Amnesty International says it has withdrawn its support from a concert in Israel because it did not receive sufficiently widespread support from Israelis and Palestinians.

Organisers of the Leonard Cohen concert, which sold out in a day and is due to take place in Tel Aviv next month, approached the US branch of the human rights charity to set up a fund which could distribute the profits of the concert to Israeli and Palestinian charities.

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Israeli rabbis back gay parenting

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2009

A revolutionary halachic ruling that will allow religious homosexual men to marry women and have children with them is currently being discussed at one of the most prestigious Orthodox institutes in Israel.

Rabbi Menachem Burstein is founder and head of the PUAH Institute, recognised in Orthodox circles as the leading organisation on matters of fertility and Jewish law. He confirmed this week that he has “been dealing with this subject for quite some time”.

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Dudu Topaz kills himself in prison

By Jessica Elgot, August 20, 2009

One of Israel’s top television stars, Dudu Topaz, has committed suicide in prison, the Israeli Prison Service has announced.

Mr Topaz, 62, apparently hanged himself in the shower at the Nitzan Detention Centre in Ramla while awaiting trial for multiple charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.

Mr Topaz was on suicide watch but no security cameras could see him in the shower.

Zion Amir, Mr Topaz's lawyer, blamed the media circus around his trial for driving his client to suicide.

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First Jewish man elected to Fatah Council

By Jessica Elgot, August 17, 2009

An academic who renounced his Israeli citizenship is the first man of Jewish descent to be elected to Fatah’s Revolutionary Council.

Dr Uri Davis, 66, a lecturer at Al-Quds University, received Palestinian citizenship when he renounced his Israeli passport in the 1980s in protest of what he calls Israel’s “apartheid politics”. He was one of 700 Fatah members who were competing for 89 seats in the Council.

Dr Davis, who is married to a Palestinian woman and lives in Ramallah, was elected on a ticket to represent “non-Arabs who support the Palestinian cause”.

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Israelis banned from world conference

By Marcus Dysch, August 13, 2009

The Israel Antiquities Authority has launched a furious attack on the World Archaeological Congress claiming Israeli archaeologists were excluded from a conference held in Ramallah.

Together with the Archaeological Council of Israel, the IAA claimed WAC officials had “set out with the goal in mind of inserting political issues into the professional archaeological experience” during the Overcoming Structural Violence conference.

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Public outcry over IDF initiation ‘abuse’

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 13, 2009

“The truth is that neither officers nor soldiers really want to hear me when I tell them not to do initiation ceremonies,” admits Colonel Yigal Slovik, commander of the 401st Armoured Brigade.

“Everyone wants a bit of tradition. They want it to be like it was in their day, or in the days of their predecessors. If not, they feel unfulfilled. But if we let these things carry on, we will see more scenes of worsening brutality. I don’t want us to be like the Russian Spetsnaz, where soldiers die at the hands of their comrades.”

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Mayor stoned in Jerusalem Shabbat war

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 13, 2009

The dispute over Shabbat in Jerusalem worsened this week when a group of Charedi men attacked Mayor Nir Barkat and stoned his car.

The weekly battles which have raged for the past two months over the Shabbat opening of a large car park at the Mamilla Shopping Centre near the Old City show no sign of abating.

Last weekend, for the first time, strictly-Orthodox demonstrators managed to block the entrance to the car park despite the attempts of police to block them.

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Dog flies first class — for $32,000

By Jessica Elgot, August 13, 2009

An Israeli woman has paid El Al $32,000 to reserve the whole of a business class section of a flight from Paris to Tel Aviv for herself and her boxer dog “Or”, whom she refused to leave alone in the hold.

The 60-year-old woman, who gave her name only as “Rivkah,” said she wanted to make sure that she would be able to calm him down. Rivkah hired a vet to accompany them on the flight.

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