Haredi Parties

Israel News for 6-27-17

Shabbat Transport
One day after successfully pressuring the government to disband the compromise agreement allowing for an egalitarian prayer area at the Kotel, the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and UTJ sent a letter to the Ministry of Transport asking that it revoke permits for public transportation on Shabbat in municipalities that permit it including Holon, Ramat Hasharon and Herzliya.

The letter said, “Amendment 28 to the Traffic Ordinance enables the Minister of Transportation to preserve the honor of Shabbat and to decrease its public desecration. The amendment states that ‘the Minister shall take into account, as far as possible, the tradition of Israel, with regard to the prohibition on the movement of vehicles on days of rest’. This refers to the desecration of Shabbat and Jewish holidays via public transportation.”

On a related issue, the Haredi parties have succeeded in moving a bill through the Knesset that places the sole authority to conduct conversions under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate. The law would bypass the Supreme Court’s decision to recognize private conversion for the purpose of the Law of Return.

Currently, all conversions conducted abroad by Orthodox or non-Orthodox rabbis are accepted by the State of Israel for granting citizenship under the Law of Return. The state rabbinate only recognizes conversions by Orthodox rabbis who are on a pre-approved list. The rabbinate controls marriage registration. That means converts converted by non-Orthodox rabbis or by Orthodox rabbis not on the “list” cannot be married in Israel.

The ultra-Orthodox parties view prohibiting public transportation on Shabbat and authority over conversion as vital to maintaining the Jewish character of the state.

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Air Strikes
The Israeli Air Force attacked two Hamas military targets in Gaza last night after a rocket launched from Gaza landed in Israel (in an open area). A terror group related to ISIS claimed responsibly for the rocket attack. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all military activity in Gaza.

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Outsourcing Tech
Due to a growing shortage of computer programmers and engineers, Israeli tech companies are outsourcing to Eastern Europe. There are currently hundreds of development centers located primarily in the Ukraine, but also in Lithuania, Bulgaria and Poland.

For example, Wix.com, which helps small businesses build websites and is one of Israel’s hottest tech companies, employs 120 workers in two development centers in Ukraine and another 80 at a site in Lithuania. Salaries in the Eastern European countries are 40% lower than in Israel. Most of the European workers speak English and there are also many Russian speaking Israeli, so communications isn’t a problem. Also, the countries and Israel share the same time zone.

The government is working on initiatives to improve math and science education and to integrate more Arabs and Haredim into the tech industry. But the shortage of programmers and engineers is expected to grow to over 10,000 within a decade.

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