Israel news

Charity gives £76m in zero interest loans

By Nathan Jeffay, March 18, 2010

Listeners to Israeli radio stations have been surprised over the last four weeks to hear adverts for interest-free loans - a particularly unlikely scenario given the global economic crisis.

These slots are part of what is thought to be the first major advertising campaign by a charity seeking recipients, rather than donors.

The Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA) is trying to ensure that as Israeli banks tighten their lending criteria - like financial institutions across the world - low earners are not falling into a poverty trap because they are unable to borrow.


World's top rabbi celebrates 100th

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

He has never flown in a plane or used a computer, but thanks to the advances in transport and communications that have taken place during the course of his lifetime, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who turned 100 this week, is the most influential rabbi in the world.


Judaica collector bought fake menorah

By Marcus Dysch, March 18, 2010

A British antiques collector bought an 18th century silver menorah only to find it had been "Judaised" with candleholders added 200 years later.

Jerusalem-based Martin Stern, who has worked as a restitution campaigner, found the candlestick at a Tel Aviv auction firm.

The piece is thought to have cost thousands of dollars. Mr Stern had intended to donate it to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, but curators declined his offer after discovering the "menorah" was not a real piece of Judaica.


Security forces: How police limited the Jerusalem riots

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Security officials believe that they have contained the violence in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The last four weeks saw an unprecedented outbreak of rioting, following a decision by the Israeli government to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem on a list of national heritage sites.


Analysis: Palestinians saw chance for violence, and took it

March 18, 2010

The conflict between Israel and the US over construction in Jerusalem could have been turned into a positive opportunity. Instead, the bumbling of both governments has given Palestinian radicals another excuse for violence.


Palestinian view: No compromise on our holy Old City

By Daoud Kuttab, March 18, 2010

This is not how the peace process was supposed to work. Architects of negotiations have forever talked about leaving difficult issues until last, and in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, nothing fits the bill of "difficult" as much as Jerusalem.

Israeli behaviour towards the US has its own truism. You don't pick a fight in the beginning of negotiations and you certainly try not to embarrass those who are known to be among your best supporters in Washington.

But these are not normal times.


Analysis: Netnayahu faces US crisis

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu is not a natural gambler. He hates making decisions and will use every opportunity to defer and procrastinate. But this week he was handed a clear ultimatum by the White House: make the choice - us or your coalition.

His response: to continue playing for time.


Obama reaffirms Israel 'special bond'

By Jessica Elgot, March 18, 2010

US President Barack Obama has spoken of the “special bond” the US has with Israel, keen to smooth over the mounting diplomatic crisis between the countries.

Tensions have been high since the Israeli Interior Ministry announced the building of 1,600 new homes in Ramat Shlomo, east Jerusalem, just 24 hours after US Vice President Joe Biden visited the country in an attempt to start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.


Gaza rocket kills Negev man at kibbutz

By Jessica Elgot, March 18, 2010

A man has been killed by a Kassam rocket fired by Gaza terrorists. It exploded next to him when it hit a kibbutz in the northern Negev, Nativ Ha’asara.

The man is believed to be a migrant worker from Thailand who was working in the kibbutz’s greenhouse.

The rocket is the third to have hit the region in the past 24 hours, after riots in Jerusalem and protests in the Gaza Strip over Israel’s plan to build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem.

Two women have been treated for shock, but no-one else has been reported injured.


The Simpsons in Israel to be screened next week

By Jessica Elgot, March 17, 2010

Israel has welcomed America’s most famous yellow family in a new episode of The Simpsons to be released in the US next week.

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen will star as an Israeli tour guide who takes Homer and Bart around Jerusalem, including a trip to the Western Wall.

During the episode, “The Greatest Story ever Doh’ed” Homer experiences “Jerusalem Syndrome” and becomes convinced he is the Messiah.

Producer Al Jean said Mr Baron-Cohen’s character would have political clashes with Marge Simpson.