Israel news

IDF: no war crimes were committed

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 23, 2009

The Israel Defence Force has denied all allegations of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, in a report published on Wednesday.

“We have not found even one case in which an Israeli soldier intentionally aimed and fired at innocent civilians,” said IDF deputy chief of staff, Major General, Dan Harel. “The IDF acted in accordance with international law and abided by the highest moral and professional standards.”

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Academic boycotter to study in Tel Aviv

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 23, 2009

One of the founding leaders of the movement to boycott Israeli academia has begun taking doctoral courses at Tel Aviv University.

Thousands of students at the university have already signed a petition calling on the board of governors to bar Omar Barghouti from the lecture halls, but the university is upholding the cause of academic freedom.

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Lev Leviev's lost billions hits Soviet schools

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2009

A major downturn in the financial fortunes of Russian billionaire Lev Leviev has hit the network of Jewish schools he founded in the former Soviet Union. Last week, Mr Leviev’s Africa-Israel holding company announced a 2008 loss of 4.9 billion shekels, attributed mainly to the slump in property prices worldwide. Israeli business journalists estimate Mr Leviev’s personal losses since the financial crisis began at $1.7 billion.

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Jerusalem: Yad Vashem cash woe

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2009

Holocaust research and commemoration programmes have been hit by the global recession and Israel’s security problems.

Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which opened a new $50m museum four years ago, has been forced to freeze some of its main programmes. Among them was an initiative to collect the names of all the Jews murdered in the Holocaust — with 3.5 million gathered so far; to record survivors’ testimonies; and to compile an encyclopedia of Jewish communities.

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Haifa University: Shoah survivors in Israel happy

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2009

Shoah survivors are more prone to health problems than their contemporaries, and are happiest living in Israel, according to research published this week.

Research carried out by the Brookdale Institute identified 233,700 survivors living in Israel. It found that they are 40 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than other European-born Israelis of the same age group. In addition, 57 per cent suffer from high blood-pressure, 40 per cent from chronic back and neck pains and 26 per cent from rheumatism.

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Natan Sharansky to chair Jewish Agency

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2009

Natan Sharansky, once imprisoned in the Soviet Union for his human rights activities, is to be named as chairman of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organisation.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will also name a war historian as his ambassador to Washington.

Mr Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prison camps. Following his release he emigrated to Israel and formed the now defunct Yisrael B’aliya party. After serving four times as a minister, he resigned in 2005, in protest over then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to disengage from the Gaza Strip.

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Israel remembers the 6 million

April 21, 2009

Most of Israel came to a standstill earlier today to remember the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Traffic came to a halt and people stood in silence as air raid sirens rang out for two minutes. Many bars and restaurants didn’t open.

President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attended the opening of a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem on Monday night. They pledged that there would never be a second Holocaust.

Mr Peres said the appearance at the Durban 2 conference of Iranian Presdient Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was "a deplorable disgrace".

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So who’s in Bibi’s circle of power?

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2009

While Binyamin Netanyahu’s more controversial ministerial choices grab the headlines, his small team of aides and advisers are settling in to their new roles in Israel’s corridors of power. Most of them have been with him for years and proved their loyalty during his long period in the political wilderness.

No less important, they have all been vetted by the prime minister’s ultimate confidante — his wife, Sara.

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But one Arab baker doesn’t care. He’s rushed off his feet at Pesach

By Ben Lynfield, April 7, 2009

Bread may be off the shelves for Passover in Jerusalem but for the Arab village of Abu Ghosh, it means a boost in trade.

Passover is the busiest week of the year, according to Thabet Abu Ghosh, owner of the 59-year-old Caravan restaurant, the oldest among the town’s many eateries catering mostly to Jewish Israelis. “We get about 50 per cent more customers. We have to cook more food, prepare more food, and order more pita.”

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Rabbis use code to bar chametz

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2009

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is turning to barcode technology in the Passover struggle against leavened products.

Every year, Israeli supermarkets with a kashrut certificate “sell” all the chametz products in stock to a non-Jew on the eve of the festival. The nominal sale is automatically cancelled when Pesach ends and the chametz reverts to the supermarkets’ ownership.

During the week-long festival, most of the chametz goods remain on covered-up shelves.

In many stores, shoppers can simply reach under the covers, take out chametz and pay for it at the tills.

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