The US Homeland Security Agency is considering waiving visa requirements for Israeli citizens who wish to visit the US. Other countries also being considered for the visa waiver are Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. The US recently added Croatia to the list of 40 countries on the visa waiver program. So what’s taking so long to add Israel to the list?
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked declared the northern community of Maghar as an official city. It is the first city in Israel with a Druze majority. 57% of the 24,000 inhabitants of the city are Druze, 21.4% Muslim and 21% Christian. The Israeli Druze are loyal to the state and serve in the IDF, primarily in combat roles.
Last week Israel outlawed six prominent Palestinian civil society groups over alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is recognized as a terror organization by many Western governments. The groups banned include the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) and the Union Of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called the move an attack on human rights and demanded that it be immediately revoked. The US has also asked for clarification from Israel.
A controversial proposal by Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahane (Yamina) to open up Kosher supervision to private organizations instead of it remaining under the sole jurisdiction of the country’s Chief Rabbinate has been approved by the Knesset’s Religious Services Committee and will now be voted on by the entire Knesset. Under the plan, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel will no longer be the sole provider of kashrut certification but will instead serve as a regulator for independent kashrut organizations which will provide certification to restaurants and products.
The rabbinate will set the national Kosher standards and head an oversight body which will determine the compliance with those standards of the various kashrut organizations. A company that wishes to can choose to meet a more basic standard than that set by the rabbinate if the standard is approved by three municipal rabbis.
There are currently many private kashrut supervisory organizations, but they can only provide certification in addition to a certification provided by the official rabbinate. That means a company or restaurant wishing to use a private certification must also pay for the certification of the rabbinate in addition to the private one. The new law will allow establishment to pay for only one certification. The law is opposed by the Chief Rabbinate, which claims that it will degrade Kosher standards throughout the country. Proponents of the law say that competition will improve the quality of kosher certification, especially the service provided by the rabbinate.
The Health Ministry reported that there were 727 new daily COVID-19 on Tuesday. The infection rate now stands at .85%. There are currently 237 people in serious condition being treated in hospitals, with 137 on ventilators. The number of people who have dies from the virus since the start of the pandemic is 8,063. Israel will probably begin vaccinating children under 12 towards the end of November or sooner. This will hopefully be over very soon.
The Israel Air Force will hold its largest drill this week, which will include forces from the US, France, Great Britain, Germany and India.
A Gaza fisherman turned chef, with Jewish roots, owns a chain of 13 fish restaurants in Gaza. Go figure. To read more, click here.