Anshel Pfeffer

Mothers to go to jail in school race case

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The crisis surrounding the segregated Beit Yaakov school in Emanuel seems set to continue with a new Supreme Court ruling ordering that the mothers of some of the pupils be sent to prison.

Thirty five fathers of girls at the strictly Orthodox school were jailed last Thursday for two weeks for contempt of court, after they refused to allow their daughters in the mainly Ashkenazi "Chasidic stream" to study with girls in the mainly Sephardi "general stream".

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Israel eases blockade of Gaza Strip

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The Israeli cabinet has agreed to ease the blockade on Gaza and allow all foodstuffs and building materials into the Strip. At the same time, the naval blockade will stay in place and the IDF is preparing to stop further flotillas from reaching Gaza.

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Israel's UK ambassador tipped for UN post

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

Israel's ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, is being considered for the post of temporary ambassador to the United Nations.

The UN post is considered one of the key diplomatic jobs. Often the position goes to a political appointee rather than a career diplomat. The current ambassador, Prof Gavriella Shalev, was appointed by former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The government is determined to replace her by the time her two-year term ends in August.

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Parents jailed over school race row

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

Seventy four strictly Orthodox couples have decided to go to prison for two weeks rather than disobey their rabbis and send their daughters to school with Sephardim.

The Supreme Court's decision to jail the parents was the culmination of 18 months of proceedings. Charedi social activists petitioned the court last February after the Beit Yaakov School in the town of Emanuel was effectively divided between a predominantly Ashkenazi "Chasidic stream" and a mainly Sephardi "general stream".

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'Mossad spy' is arrested

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

An Israeli citizen has been arrested in Warsaw on charges that he fraudulently obtained a German passport that was used by one of the alleged assassins of Hamas operative Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai five months ago.

Uri Brodsky is currently awaiting extradition to Germany.

He was arrested at Warsaw Airport three weeks ago on a Europe-wide arrest warrant issued by the German federal authorities.

Mr Brodsky is suspected of using a false identity to obtain a German passport last year in the name of Michael Bodenheimer, an Israeli citizen who was unaware of his identity being stolen.

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Analysis: The Arab target is Iran

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

What did Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas say to Barack Obama last week in the Oval Office? Did he indeed express the view that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip should be allowed to stay in place, as some reports maintain? Or did he say no such thing, as his aides quickly rushed to claim?

The White House has yet to confirm either version but, judging from the way the report was greeted in Palestinian circles, few believe the denials.

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Analysis: Flotilla probe set up to satisfy world

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

The commission of inquiry into the flotilla set up this week by Israel may be called the Turkel Commission after its head, Judge Jacob Turkel, but the man whose name it really should carry is Richard Goldstone.

The only reason Binyamin Netanyahu caved in to demands to set up an inquiry is the fear of another hostile international commission, like the one set up by the UN after Operation Cast Lead last year.

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Soldier faces charges over Cast Lead

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

The IDF's Military Advocate General, Major General Avichai Mendelblit, will hold a hearing next week for a soldier suspected of double manslaughter in last year's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The solider allegedly shot and killed two Palestinian women who were in a group of civilians holding white flags. This is the third and most serious case in which charges are being brought against soldiers involved in the operation.

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Analysis: Lebanon War lessons were totally ignored

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

When the commission of enquiry into the botched raid finally gets down to work, they should start by reading a three-year-old document. The Winograd Commission report, written in the wake of the Second Lebanon War four years ago, has no direct connection with the clash off the coast of Gaza, but all it had to say regarding the decision-making process of Israel's political and military leadership is relevant to the current crisis.

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Israel to announce its own inquiry into flotilla

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

The Israeli cabinet is expected to appoint a committee of inquiry into the Gaza flotilla operation on Sunday.

The current plan is to a form a committee with a limited mandate which will not question soldiers who took part in the operation. The inclusion of international observers on the committee is still under consideration.

The IDF has already set up its own committee of military experts to investigate the operational aspects of the boarding of the flotilla.

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Killed flotilla passengers belonged to radical Islamist group

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

Most of the nine men killed on board the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara were members of Islamic movements, it has now emerged.

The majority belonged to Insan Hak ve Hurriyetleri, the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, or IHH. The Turkish Islamist movement has ties to Hamas and al Qaida and financed and organised the ferry's trip.

Israel claims that many of the other passengers on the ferry had links to terrorist groups as well.

IDF officers who were involved in last week's operation say there were two groups of passengers.

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Israel and Egypt: the new allies

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

The fallout from the Gaza flotilla and the emergence of Turkey as a clear ally of Iran and Syria and all but an official enemy of Israel, is part of a radically changing balance of power in the region, one that is seeing unprecedented levels of cooperation between Israel and Egypt.

Senior Israeli officials have been saying in recent months that Egypt has been pursuing two seemingly opposite courses in its relationship with Israel.

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Turkey and Israel relations in crisis after flotilla

By Anshel Pfeffer and Sami Kohen, Istanbul, June 3, 2010

The Gaza flotilla affair has plunged the crisis in the Israel-Turkey relationship to new lows and added impetus to Israeli efforts to find alternative allies in the region.

Israeli diplomats admitted this week that the relationship with the Ankara government has never been this bad.

"If we thought that Prime Minister Erdogan could not make things any worse," said one diplomat, "his support for the flotilla and his attacks on us this week have made it clear that there is no longer any strategic alliance between the two countries. At least, not while he is in power."

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Analysis: Salvaging the wreckage

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 3, 2010

In the aftermath of the disastrous raid on the Gaza flotilla, the Israeli leadership is scrambling to prevent two specific developments. The first is a re-run of the Goldstone Commission that produced a damaging report on Israel's conduct in Operation Cast Lead last year. Few Israelis imagine that another report commissioned by the United Nation's Human Rights Council would be any kinder to their country.

The other major concern is a campaign of international pressure on Israel to remove the blockade of Gaza at a disadvantageous moment.

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Analysis: Gaza aid deaths: how could it happen?

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 31, 2010

Flotilla 13, the IDF's naval commandos, were the toast of Israel's military - until yesterday. The recipients of a rare citation for the entire unit from Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, only last month, the "Shayetet" are credited with numerous secret missions far away from the country's shores. According to the non-Israeli press, these missions included interdiction of ships bearing arms from Iran to Israel's enemies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

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Dershowitz turns down Israeli ambassador role at the UN

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

Alan Dershowitz has declined a request from Binyamin Netanyahu for the law professor to become Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have been searching for an "international media star" to replace the lacklustre Gabriela Shalev, the current ambassador to the UN.

"Netanyahu, who was himself an ambassador to the UN, sees that job as Israel's premier spokesperson abroad," said a senior official at the Foreign Ministry. "That's why he is not interested in appointing a diplomat, but a media performer."

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PA drive to boycott settlement goods

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

Israeli officials are concerned that the Palestinian campaign against buying produce from the settlements will escalate into a larger international boycott on Israeli goods.

In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority published a booklet with a list of Israeli companies that operate in the West Bank and on the Golan Heights, calling upon its people not to buy their products.

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Israel to make jail harsher for Hamas

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

The Knesset this week passed a first reading of a new law mandating harsher prison conditions for Hamas members.

The measure, which was supported by the government, has been nicknamed the "Shalit Law" in reference to captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who is being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Proposed by Likud MK Danny Danon, the legislation will allow prison authorities to deny Hamas prisoners rights they have enjoyed until now, including family and conjugal visits, academic studies and watching television.

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Israeli mother who starved child avoids prison

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 21, 2010

The strictly Orthodox woman from Jerusalem who was charged with starving her three-year-old son was convicted of intentionally harming her child in a plea bargain with the prosecution on Monday.

According to the terms of the plea bargain, the mother will not serve any prison time but will spend the next three years under house arrest, following which she will be sentenced by the court.

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Ex-Charedim challenge school system

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 21, 2010

A former education minister, an ex-general and a university president have joined a group of formerly Charedi men in challenging the political arrangement which allows strictly Orthodox schools to receive state funding despite not teaching secular subjects.

For the past five years, the Education Ministry has been trying to make all Israeli schools that are financed by the government teach a set of core subjects - including grammar, mathematics, basic sciences and English - as a condition of funding.

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