Anshel Pfeffer

Thanks for the Oscar… now wave goodbye

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 3, 2011

It has the plot of a happy-ending Spielberg flick, but the denouement of a Coen brothers angst-fest.

The news that the film Strangers no More, about a school for the children of migrants in south Tel Aviv, got the Best Short Documentary award at the 2011 Oscars this week brought delight to Israel and the Jewish world - not to mention its pupils and staff.

More..

Hamas starts new Gaza fight

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 3, 2011

Fighting has intensified over the past week around the Gaza Strip in what Israeli defence sources believe is an attempt by Palestinian organisations to test the boundaries and return Gaza to the agenda despite the tide of revolution sweeping the Arabcountries.

The current round of hostilities began last Wednesday night when three Grad rockets hit the city of Be'er Sheva.

More..

Barak's out, so where next for Labour Party?

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 3, 2011

Three historical ruling parties in the Middle East have taken severe beatings over the last two months: Egypt's National Democratic Party, Tunisia's Constitutional Democratic Party and Israel's Labour Party.

More..

West Bank burns as settlers have day of rage

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 3, 2011

Jewish settlers embarked on a wave of demonstrations and attacks against Palestinian property this week following the demolition of a number of homes built illegally in the West Bank.

Police and IDF forces arrived at the Havat Gilad outpost in Central Samaria in the early hours of Monday morning to demolish three houses.

More..

Law to criminalise Israel boycotts planned

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 24, 2011

A new law that will fine Israelis who promote boycotts of Israel and prevent foreign citizens who do so from entering the country will be brought to the Knesset next week.

More..

As Egypt convulses, Iran slips through Suez

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 24, 2011

Iran tried this week to divert attention from the growing unrest within its cities by sending two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in over three decades.

More..

Israel fury over Jordan demo

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 17, 2011

Israel has reprimanded the chargé d'affaires at the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv for remarks made by the new Jordanian Justice Minister in favour of releasing a soldier who murdered seven Israeli girls in 1997.

Jordan's King Abdullah replaced his cabinet two weeks ago, appointing Hussein Majali, a prominent lawyer, as the justice minister.

Fourteen years ago Mr Majali was the lawyer for Ahmed Dekamse, a Jordanian soldier who had opened fire on a group of Israeli school-children who were touring the island of Naharayim on the Jordanian border.

More..

Joy in Egypt but uncertainty elsewhere

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 17, 2011

The announcement that the Supreme Council of the armed forces was taking control in Egypt for the duration of the transition period to a new civilian government, reassured the Israeli leadership in the wake of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

Despite initial efforts to mobilise international support for the embattled president, Israeli analysts had realised, perhaps belatedly, that the Mubarak era was finally over and that Israel would do best to lower its profile while the Egyptians muddle their way, hopefully, towards some form of democracy.

More..

Rabbi faces arrest over 'kill' book

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 10, 2011

The Israeli police have issued an arrest warrant for the Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Dov Lior, over his endorsement of a book that discusses the halachah of killing of non-Jews.

The arrest warrant, issued last week, has caused uproar in religious settler circles.

Rabbi Lior is considered one of the central spiritual leaders of the religious right in Israel.

Police have been seeking Rabbi Lior for questioning for the past six months over the rabbinical endorsement he wrote on the book Torat Ha-Melech, published in November 2009 and written by Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur.

More..

Emergency selection for new IDF chief

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 10, 2011

The crisis that has been engulfing Israel's political and military establishment since it was announced last week that Major General Yoav Galant would not be appointed IDF's 20th chief of staff may have now abated.

Instead of Maj-Gen Galant, who has been accused of illegal land appropriations, Major General Benny Gantz will be appointed chief of staff on Monday.

Maj-Gen Gantz's appointment, two months after he retired from duty, was decided upon following Attorney General Yehud Weinstein's decision not to defend in court the appointment of Major General Yoav Galant.

More..

The good news: Iran may be next

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 10, 2011

Who's next? Which domino will be the next to fall? Which other Arab capital is about to see thousands of young demonstrators battling it out with police and calling for the speedy departure of their autocratic ruler, as we have over the past few weeks in Tunisia and Egypt?

Given that not one expert or analyst foresaw the events in Cairo and Tunis, one wonders how they can tell if and where it will happen again.

More..

Egypt protests: start of a new Middle East?

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 3, 2011

The hundreds of thousands of protesters crowding Tahrir Square this week seemed to have little idea of what they wanted to happen next.

"We must have multi-party elections and then all Egyptians can decide what they want to happen," said Sayyed Nasri, a civil engineer from Cairo's Giza neighbourhood, who had come to the square every morning to join the call for democracy and the end of the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

More..

Israel trembles as Egypt quakes

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 3, 2011

There is no single emotion that defines a revolution. Across Cairo, 30 years of autocracy are pouring out in streams of tears and screams of joy.

But the hope, fear and uncertainty coursing through the Egyptian uprising is shaking Israel.

Peace with Egypt under President Hosni Mubarak has been, according to one defence official, "Israel's second biggest strategic asset after the United States".

More..

Are the revolts across the Arab world linked?

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 27, 2011

It is tempting to lump the unrest sweeping the Arab world this week into one tidal wave, but the scenario in each country is unique.

More..

Palestine leak - what they forgot to say

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 27, 2011

One message stood out from the publication this week of internal documents of the Palestinian negotiation team by Al Jazeera and the Guardian newspaper: Israel had destroyed the best chance that it had ever had of making peace with the Palestinians.

But the claim, that in talks held from late 2008 to early 2009, Israel refused generous territorial and demographic concessions offered by the Palestinians, presents only part of the picture.

More..

Palestinians arrested for Jerusalem tourist stabbing

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 26, 2011

A group of Palestinian men involved in both terror and criminal activity have been arrested in connection with the stabbing of two women in the Jerusalem Hills last month. Two of the men were indicted for the murder of American tourist Kristine Luken and the serious wounding of her friend, British immigrant Kaye Wilson.

More..

Tunisia violence: not best place to be Jewish

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 20, 2011

It's not hard to find Jews in Tunisia, even while there is a revolution on. Head down to the Avenue de Liberte in Tunis in time for shacharit and you can find worshippers leaving the main synagogue. And it's not hard to see that they have reason to be worried.

As one man leaving the shul, in his 60s and wearing a black beret, said: "It's a good time to be quiet and put your head down."

More..

Hizbollah practises taking over Beirut

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 20, 2011

Tension in Lebanon has reached a fever pitch as the international tribunal investigating the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 delivered its indictments to the International Criminal Court in Hague on Monday.

Last week, Hizbollah toppled the Lebanese government when it led a walkout of ministers from the administration headed by Saad Hariri, the assassinated PM's son. They were protesting against the government's co-operation with the tribunal.

More..

Tycoon property war erupts in Jerusalem

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 13, 2011

Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian millionaires are trying to go beyond politics and decide the future of east Jerusalem using their money and business acumen to wage real-estate battles against each other.

This week the demolition of the Shepherd's Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, owned by the settlers' patron, American millionaire Irwin Moskowitz, made headlines around the world.

But another tug-of-war has been fought behind the scenes over a planned Jewish neighbourhood in east Jerusalem.

More..

NGO probe plan stirs up storm in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 13, 2011

The Knesset vote in favour of a parliamentary commission of enquiry into the foreign sources of finance for Israeli human-rights groups has caused a political storm, not only between the right and left but also within the ruling Likud party.

More..