Israel news

'No more light touch for Hamas prisoners'

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

Human rights groups will not challenge the Netanyahu government’s new regime for Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.

A committee headed by former Justice Minister Professor Daniel Friedman recommended that Hamas prisoners should be denied academic studies, media access and have their family visits limited. “We might be the only democracy in the Middle East,” explained Professor Friedman, “but we don’t have to be the only suckers.”

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Netanyahu pledges to face down Iran

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

Stabilising the Israeli economy, dealing with the Iranian threat and establishing a dialogue with the Obama administration will be the first priorities of Binyamin Netanyahu’s new government, which was sworn in on Tuesday night.

With 30 ministers and eight deputy ministers, Mr Netanyahu’s Cabinet is the largest government in Israel’s history, and is based on a coalition of six parties and 74 members of the Knesset.

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IDF ‘war crimes’ probe ends amid controversy

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

The IDF’s Military Advocate-General, Brigadier Avichai Mendelblit, has closed the investigation into the testimony of Israeli soldiers who reported shootings of civilians during the Gaza operation — but the public controversy is far from over.

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10,000 new suits for Pesach

March 26, 2009

If yeshivah students in Israel are looking particularly smart this Pesach then billionaire philanthropist Ira Rennert is responsible.
He has donated 10,000 new suits to needy yeshivah students. Mr Rennert is ranked 132 on Forbes Magazine’s list of world billionaires.

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Pope meets Chief Rabbinate

March 26, 2009

Holocaust studies may become a required subject in Catholic schools following a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel at the Vatican. The Jewish delegation said the move could help stamp out antisemitism in the future.

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Rabbis to block Bodyworlds show

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The controversial Bodyworlds exhibition featuring plastinated corpses has been denounced as “an insult to human dignity” by Orthodox groups trying to ban it from being shown at a museum in Haifa.

The exhibition is due to open at Haifa’s National Science Museum over Pesach. This will be its first showing in Israel since it started touring the world in 1995.

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yonah Metzger and leading local rabbonim have issued rulings banning followers from visiting it.

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Israel may go it alone on Iran strike

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

While the American intelligence community is tearing itself apart in public over the question of whether Iran has accumulated sufficient uranium for a nuclear weapon, a quiet debate is going on behind the scenes in Israel.

Most Israeli intelligence analysts believe Iran is a few months away from the point of no return.

If pro-Israel president George Bush decided not to attack Iran, it is hard to see Barack Obama with his new policy of engaging Iran and the Muslim world ordering a strike. That leaves Israel with an awful dilemma — can it go it alone?

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Fallen soldiers honoured

March 26, 2009

The University of Haifa has created 121 scholarships in memory of every fallen soldier of the Second Lebanon War.

Each student awarded a scholarship will be encouraged to form a personal connection with the bereaved family of the soldier in whose name the scholarship was received.

Miki Goldwasser, mother of the late Ehud Goldwasser, spoke on behalf of the bereaved families, saying: “The generous donation merges the memory of the IDF’s fallen soldiers — some of whom never realised their dream to study — with scholarship grants to students who will realise their dream.”

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Car bomb sparks terror fear

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The failed attempt to explode a large car bomb in a shopping centre in Haifa on Saturday night has intensified fears of a possible wave of terror attacks.

The Israeli police and security forces have forbidden publication of any technical details of the car bomb. However, its size, described by explosives experts as “equal to 15 suicide bombers”, and the sophistication of the methods used to smuggle it into Haifa and the shopping centre car park, is of an order not seen in Israel for more than five years.

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Julia Neuberger tells students to shun aliyah

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2009

Baroness Neuberger, the president of Liberal Judaism, has told British gap-year students in Israel to return home to be community leaders rather than settle in Israel.

She made the point this week during a keynote address at the five-day convention of the World Union of Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem.

Speaking on her return to the UK, Baroness Neuberger said she had wanted to emphasise that if Zionist youth groups encouraged all its gap-year graduates to go to Israel, then “what hopes for leadership for us?”

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