Anshel Pfeffer

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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Jerusalem: Yad Vashem cash woe

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2009

Holocaust research and commemoration programmes have been hit by the global recession and Israel’s security problems.

Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which opened a new $50m museum four years ago, has been forced to freeze some of its main programmes. Among them was an initiative to collect the names of all the Jews murdered in the Holocaust — with 3.5 million gathered so far; to record survivors’ testimonies; and to compile an encyclopedia of Jewish communities.

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Haifa University: Shoah survivors in Israel happy

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2009

Shoah survivors are more prone to health problems than their contemporaries, and are happiest living in Israel, according to research published this week.

Research carried out by the Brookdale Institute identified 233,700 survivors living in Israel. It found that they are 40 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than other European-born Israelis of the same age group. In addition, 57 per cent suffer from high blood-pressure, 40 per cent from chronic back and neck pains and 26 per cent from rheumatism.

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Natan Sharansky to chair Jewish Agency

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2009

Natan Sharansky, once imprisoned in the Soviet Union for his human rights activities, is to be named as chairman of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organisation.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will also name a war historian as his ambassador to Washington.

Mr Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prison camps. Following his release he emigrated to Israel and formed the now defunct Yisrael B’aliya party. After serving four times as a minister, he resigned in 2005, in protest over then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to disengage from the Gaza Strip.

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There were no Gaza war crimes, claim IDF

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2009

The Israel Defence Force has denied all allegations of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, in a detailed 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, who presented the report.

"The dozens of incidents we investigated prove that the IDF acted throughout the operation, in accordance with international law and abided by the highest moral and professional standards."

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Recession hits Shoah programmes

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 21, 2009

Holocaust research and commemoration programmes have been hit by the global recession and Israel’s security problems.

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Egypt in backlash against Hizbollah

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 14, 2009

The discovery of a Hizbollah terror network in Sinai could lead to a major Egyptian backlash against the Shiite movement and Iran.

Egyptian security forces this week revealed the arrest of dozens of suspects, allegedly belonging to cells recruited by Hizbollah in Egypt. At least 15 terrorists are still at large in Sinai and hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen have been involved in the searches. Shots were twice fired at Egyptian security forces by Bedouin tribesmen believed to be working with the terrorists.

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So who’s in Bibi’s circle of power?

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2009

While Binyamin Netanyahu’s more controversial ministerial choices grab the headlines, his small team of aides and advisers are settling in to their new roles in Israel’s corridors of power. Most of them have been with him for years and proved their loyalty during his long period in the political wilderness.

No less important, they have all been vetted by the prime minister’s ultimate confidante — his wife, Sara.

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Rabbis use code to bar chametz

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2009

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is turning to barcode technology in the Passover struggle against leavened products.

Every year, Israeli supermarkets with a kashrut certificate “sell” all the chametz products in stock to a non-Jew on the eve of the festival. The nominal sale is automatically cancelled when Pesach ends and the chametz reverts to the supermarkets’ ownership.

During the week-long festival, most of the chametz goods remain on covered-up shelves.

In many stores, shoppers can simply reach under the covers, take out chametz and pay for it at the tills.

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Lieberman to be charged with fraud

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2009

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is to be charged with money laundering and fraud, according to Justice Ministry sources.

“We have enough proof to indict him on multiple charges of money laundering through a string of shell companies,” said a lawyer from the Justice Ministry, who is close to the investigation.

In the next few weeks, the police’s National Fraud Squad is expected to recommend an indictment against Mr Lieberman. Then Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz must decide whether to press charges, pending a hearing.

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Lone attacks fear after axe murder

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 6, 2009

The IDF warned this week of a new wave of terror attacks carried out by lone attackers after a 13-year-old was killed by an axe-wielding Palestinian last week.

The murder took place last week at the Bat-Ayin settlement, in the Etzyon bloc, south of Jerusalem. Shlomo Nativ was murdered and Yair Gamliel, seven, was wounded. The murderer fled in the direction of the nearby Palestinian village of Safa. Intensive searches by the IDF and the General Security Service (GSS) failed to locate him.

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For sale: one rebbe

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

If you’ve got $250,000 to spare, you could buy yourself a day to remember — Shabbat with the reclusive Gerrer rebbe.

The Gerrer Chasids have been hit by the global financial slump and seen a significant fall in fundraising. The Gerrer network has 120 schools and yeshivot around the world with 23,000 pupils. It also has many medical and welfare groups.

The Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, has taken the lead in an emergency fundraising campaign for the network that he controls.

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Fatah slam Jenin band’s Shoah gig

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

A Palestinian youth orchestra was ordered to disband after performing for Holocaust survivors and its leader was arrested by the Palestinian security services and banished from the West Bank.

Fatah leaders in the Jenin refugee camp are furious that 13 members of the Strings of Freedom orchestra took part in a “Day of Good Deeds” event in Israel last week. The music group was set up six years ago by veteran educator and violinist Wafa Younis, an Israeli Arab. She lived in the camp but has now been banned.

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Analysis: Israel hits higher up supply chain

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

As Israeli disquiet grew this week over the extent to which its recent action in Gaza succeeded in slowing arms smuggling, news emerged of a strike by its air force against an arms convoy in Sudan.

Excellent intelligence meant Israel had early warning of an arms shipment containing suspected long-range missiles for Hamas and was able to identify it among hundreds of ships crossing the Red Sea and convoys traversing the desert.

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Arms still tunnelled into Gaza

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

Explosives are still being smuggled into Gaza, despite Operation Cast Lead and the international coalition set up to stop the flow of weapons.

Israeli intelligence reports have revealed that, since the end of the operation, 22 tons of explosives, 45 tons of explosive-making materials and hundreds of missiles and mortar bombs have been smuggled into Gaza through the tunnel beneath the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

This has been happening despite the efforts of eight Nato members, including the UK, who have set up a coalition to fight the smuggling.

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'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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