Israel news

Israelis warned about fake ‘festive’ olive oil

By Ben Lynfield, December 10, 2009

As the festival of Chanucah approaches, Israelis are being warned to watch out for a particular seasonal hazard: fake olive oil.

Leading kashrut expert Rabbi Yosef Zaritsky told shoppers on the Charedi website Bchadrei Charedim that those buying oil for Chanucah, which starts on Friday night, should “be on guard for counterfeit oil”.

Officials from the Chief Rabbinate are also engaged in a campaign against brands that emerge during the holiday season selling cheap olive oil that is of questionable content.


It’s sex education, Orthodox-style

By Nathan Jeffay, December 10, 2009

The largest umbrella organisation for modern Orthodox high schools in Israel has recommended that its affiliated institutions start teaching sex education.

Until now, sex education has been absent from yeshivah high schools, modern Orthodox boys’ schools which place a heavy emphasis on religious studies. However, Bnei Akiva Yeshivot, which have 27 affiliated boys’ schools across the country, this week told teachers that it is time for change.

In recent months it has been encouraging its 24 affiliated girls’ schools to introduce sex education.


Israel dismisses EU resolution on Jerusalem

By Anshel Pfeffer and Martin Bright, December 10, 2009

Israel’s top diplomats were dismissive of an EU resolution calling for Jerusalem to be the “future capital” of both Israel and the Palestinian state.

While Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon described the resolution as “just words”, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused the Swedish government, which proposed the original resolution, of attention-grabbing.

“So far their presidency of the EU has been unremarkable,” he said on Army Radio, “and they simply wanted to do something that will make people notice they had the presidency before their term is over.”


Watch Ada Yonath's Nobel prize award live

December 10, 2009
Israeli scientist Professor Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2009 for her study of the structure and function of the ribosome.

Watch the Nobel Prize Award ceremony live from Stockholm here at 3.30pm. You may need to update flash to watch the livestream.


Analysis: Israel’s environment will remain a mess as long as security is the priority

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 10, 2009

It was only on Wednesday that Binyamin Netanyahu’s ‘will he, won’t he go to the Copenhagen climate conference?’ was finally decided. He won’t.

His office has said a number of times over recent weeks that he would like to be there, but every time they also leaked pressing reasons why he would not be able to.


Comment: My battle for the converts will run as long as there is discrimination

By Seth Farber, December 10, 2009

I founded ITIM seven years ago to help secular Israelis navigate the labyrinths of the Israeli rabbinate and rabbinical courts. Though I had heard some horror stories about the chief rabbinate, I was determined, as an Orthodox rabbi, to work within the establishment, primarily in order to maximise my effectiveness helping secular families celebrate (or mourn) within the context of their Jewish lives.

During the past seven years, ITIM has developed joint projects with the rabbinate related to brit milah, marriage, divorce and burial.


Chief Rabbi vows to help converts wed

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 10, 2009

The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Yonah Metzger, has announced a new move designed to alleviate the problems faced by gerim (converts) wishing to marry in Israel.

In a letter to the chairman of the Knesset’s Aliyah and Absorption Committee, MK Lia Shemtov, Rabbi Metzger promised that converts would be able to register for marriage in every city in Israel.

If the local rabbi who issues marriage permits refuses to recognise their conversion, an alternative marriage registrar would be appointed.


Boycott is 'blasphemy' says Hebrew University chief

December 10, 2009

Universities should treat attempts to boycott academics as blasphemy, says the new president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson said he had “deep concerns” about new efforts by the University and College Union to broaden the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) front against Israel.

“It is endangering the academic discourse whenever it infiltrates even marginal institutions. It comes from the margins into the heart,” he said.


Israelis protest against settlement freeze

By Jessica Elgot, December 10, 2009

Protests over Binyamin Netanyahu’s plans for a 10 month freeze on settlements continued through the night in Jerusalem, where around 10,000 settlers, Charedim and sympathisers gathered.

It was US President Barack Obama who was the main target of anger from settlers, who gathered near the official residence of the prime minister, in the city’s Paris Square.

Banners criticised the US influence on Israeli policy. One read “We were hoping for change, got the same old imperialist.”

Another read: “Bibi, you serve us, not the US.”


EU: Jerusalem must be capital of Israel and Palestine

By Jessica Elgot, December 9, 2009

The Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has defended the EU’s statement on Jerusalem, which called for it to become the capital of two states.

Mr Bildt’s original proposal, which has firm support from Britain, recommended re-dividing the city, so that east Jerusalem could be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

A watered-down version of the Swedish proposal was approved by the EU, removing the recognition of east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and referring to the Palestinian Authority, instead of “Palestine”.