Anshel Pfeffer

Bibi bows to US as settlers removed

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2009

London became the venue this week for discussions between the Israeli and American leaderships over a new co-ordinated policy towards Iran and the Palestinians.

A team headed by Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor has been meeting a White House team to discuss President Barack Obama’s plans to talk to Iran about its nuclear programme.

The Israelis hope to receive a definite time limit to American talks.

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Cash pledged for Reform conversions

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2009

Two separate rulings by the Supreme Court in Israel last week have brought the controversial issue of giyur (conversion) back to the fore.

In a petition filed by the Israeli Reform movement, the court ruled that the government has to provide the Reform and Conservative academies that prepare candidates for conversion with the same funding it gives Orthodox academies.

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Analysis: Iran is not on the radar - yet

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2009

There is more than a hint of disingenuousness to the protestations that last week’s exercise of the entire Israeli Air Force and next week’s national Home Front drill are both routine annual exercises.

Armies, of course, routinely carry out exercises — but part of that routine is to play out certain scenarios, and it is those scenarios which give an indication as to the army’s intentions and concerns.

So what can we learn from the scenarios in these two exercises?

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7 million Israelis rehearse for war

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2009

Israel is launching its largest-ever emergency drill next week, but the government insists that it is a routine exercise.

Next Tuesday, sirens will sound throughout Israel, and the entire population will be requested to take shelter in “protected spaces”.

The nationwide alert will be the high point of the Defence Ministry and IDF Home Command’s exercise, “Turning Point 3”.

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Religious war waged in the suburbs

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 21, 2009

Israel’s Charedi and secular communities are squaring up once again — this time in the central neighbourhoods of the country’s two largest cities.

Kiryat Yovel, the largest remaining secular area in Jerusalem, is facing an influx of dozens of Charedi families who failed to find flats in nearby religious Bayit Vegan. Secular residents have tried to convince neighbours not to rent or sell flats to Charedi families.

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Israeli teachers ‘back to basics’ as international rankings fall

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 21, 2009

A new education minister in Israel almost always heralds a complete revolution in pedagogical priorities and teaching methods; until the next change at the top.

Likud’s Gidon Saar is no exception. His predecessor, Professor Yuli Tamir, promoted advanced learning theories. Now, Mr Saar is promising “back to basics” for Israeli schools.

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Israel’s unlikely ally versus Iran: the Arabs

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 14, 2009

Israel has identified unlikely allies in its emerging diplomatic dispute with the new administration in Washington over Iran’s nuclear programme — the Arab states.

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Analysis: A one and three-quarter state solution may be Bibi’s best offer

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 14, 2009

The White House has all but spelt it out. If Binyamin Netanyahu doesn’t commit himself to a two-state solution in his meeting with Barack Obama on Monday, he may as well save the airfare. Bibi is an astute enough observer of American politics to understand that this time, no amount of lobbying by congressional allies or senior Jewish Democrats is going to change the administration’s policy. He is going to have to find a way to deliver the goods.

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Israel reveals its unlikely allies

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 12, 2009

Israel has identified new allies in its emerging diplomatic dispute with the new administration in Washington over Iran 's nuclear programme – the Arab states.

"In the past, the Arab leaders would complain about the Americans being too pro-Israel," says a senior Israeli diplomat in Jerusalem.

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Israel’s air force ready for anything over Iran

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 7, 2009

From 8,000 feet, the houses of Gaza City seem peaceful, wreathed in low, wispy clouds, coming in from the sparkling blue Mediterranean. I bank right and begin spiralling downwards, aiming for the Hamas headquarters in the centre of town, where I will level out at 2,000 ft for my bombing run. Suddenly my vision is obstructed and the plane shakes and bucks. A pilot’s worst nightmare — bird strike! The single engine begins faltering. What do I do now? Carry on with the mission? Regain height? Bail out? How should I know, I am only a journalist.

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Pope will achieve nothing, say Israelis

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 7, 2009

Israel will see little benefit from Pope Benedict XVI’s visit next week, say senior Israeli officials.

The Pope will land in Tel Aviv on Monday for a five-day “pilgrimage” to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The much heralded visit has become a political, financial and security nightmare for many of those involved in organising it.

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UN divided over Gaza ‘war crimes’ report

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 7, 2009

Israel has created a rift in the higher echelons of the United Nations over the investigation of alleged “war crimes” in the Gaza operation.

Israeli diplomats, backed by President Shimon Peres and American diplomats at the United Nations, have persuaded the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon not to investigate further the allegations of illegal actions carried out by the Israeli army during Operation Cast Lead. But Mr Ki-moon is under intense pressure from many in his own organisation to announce a new investigation.

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Child-killer suspect arrest

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 30, 2009

The arrest of a Palestinian suspect, who admitted carrying out the murder of a child a month ago, has confirmed the security forces’ theory of a lone attacker.

The General Security Service (GSS) arrested Mussa Tit, a 26-year-old shepherd from the village of Hirbet Safa, south of Jerusalem, two weeks ago.

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Man stole treasure found under home

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 30, 2009

Armed only with a bucket and spade, an industrious East Jerusalem householder excavated five ancient rooms under his East Jerusalem house, finding gold coins and many other archeological treasures, all of which he sold to dealers.

The 34-year-old resident of the Christian Quarter was arrested last week and is expected to be charged with selling antiques illegally and carrying out an archeological dig without permission.

The man admitted selling his findings to dealers in the Old City. When the police raided his home, they found only broken shards of pottery and two large jars.

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Israelis fend off pirates in ocean firefight

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 29, 2009

A team of Israeli security guards fought off armed Somali pirates who tried to hijack an Italian cruise ship in the Indian Ocean.

The Israelis fired pistols and used water hoses to repel six invaders who attacked in a fast motor boat, shooting and attempting to climb onto the cruise ship using a rope ladder.

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Jews and Muslims vow to protest against the Pope

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 23, 2009

Muslim and Jewish protesters are planning to disrupt the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel next month.

Residents of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City are planning a demonstration against the closure of the area around the Western Wall for 12 hours during the visit. Protesters have vowed to flock to the Wall and remain there for the duration of the stay.

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Analysis: What the report does prove

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 23, 2009

“I am not going to apologise for even one moment that we carried out an operation in which only ten soldiers were killed,” said a very senior IDF officer this week. “We fought against a vicious enemy that used civilians, ambulances, schools and mosques as shields, every step of the way. So I’m not prepared for any self-flagellation, just a degree of self-criticism.” This attitude encapsulates the reasoning behind a series of reports released this week by the IDF on the fighting in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead.

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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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