Israel News for April 5, 2016

Electric Bill
Have you paid your electric bill? Well, the Palestinian Authority hasn’t paid its for a while. Israel provides electricity to the West Bank through several Palestinian distribution companies. The PA currently owes the Israel Electric Company close to $460 million. So yesterday the company cut power to Bethlehem by 50% after doing the same in Jericho a few days earlier. Last year, it briefly cut off power to parts of the West Bank several times. It has also deducted money from regular tax transfers to the Palestinians to help cover the debts.

The PA gets hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid every year in addition to the taxes it collects domestically. Now they need to pay their electric bills.

For further reading click here.

Jordanian Workers
If you’re planning a vacation in Eilat, there’s a good chance you’ll here Arabic spoken by the hotel staff. No, they won’t be Palestinians. Israel has just authorized 500 Jordanians to work in hotels in Eilat ahead of vacation season. They will join the 400 Jordanians already working there. The workers will go home to Jordan every night.

According to the Tourism Ministry the Jordanians will primarily be employed in cleaning, dishwashing and room service. The Ministry said that efforts have been made to encourage Israeli workers to fill the jobs in Eilat including giving them bonuses, free lodging and day care. But “surprisingly”, Israelis aren’t interested in the jobs.

Lucky we made peace with Jordan.

For further reading click here.

Affirmative Action
While discrimination against Sephardim is alive and well in the Ashkenazi Haredi community in Israel, there now seems to be a solution, at least for some Sephardim.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky, recognized as the premiere posek (halachic authority) in the hared community, received a question that read as follows: “Can a man whose children are not being accepted into an Ashkenazi yeshiva change his Sephardi family name to an Ashkenazi sounding name so that his kids will be accepted?”

Rav Kanievsky answered, “This is not considered trickery. The main thing is that the kids get into yeshiva.” Problem solved, as long as you don’t look Sephardi.

For further reading click here.

Meat Bust
After an investigation by the Israel Police, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Health, nine people were arrested yesterday for smuggling meat from the Palestinian territories into Israel.

Here’s how it worked. A Palestinian importer bought meat in South America that was intended for the Palestinian Authority and imported it via Haifa’s port. From Haifa the meat was stored in the Palestinian town of A-Ram outside of Jerusalem, and from there it was smuggled into Israel through various checkpoints under substandard conditions that are contrary to Ministry of Health regulations. The meat was brought to a storage area in Atarot, where it was repackaged with forgeries of kosher certifications, expiration dates and veterinary authorizations. From there it was distributed to popular restaurants and shops throughout the country.

The investigators will now try to determine whether restaurant owners were involved in the fraud.

For further reading click here.

Deja Vu
If your stomach is feeling particular strong today, you might be able to handle this story about the “kosher” restaurant in Lviv, Ukraine (formerly known as Lviv and Lemberg – depending on who ruled the city). Before WWII the Jewish population of the city numbered 110,000, which was one third of the entire population. Then the Nazis took over in 1941 and, with the enthusiastic encouragement and assistance of the local Ukrainians, murdered almost all of them. There are currently 1,200 Jews living in Lviv, but the memory of the Jews seems to still be on the minds of the locals.

One of the ways that they commemorate their city’s Jewish past is with a small restaurant called The Golden Rose, named after a 16th century synagogue that stood next door until it was blown up by the Nazis in 1943. The restaurant has Jewish art and symbols on its walls. The waiters wear Hasidic hats with peyos attached and joke about Jewish stereotypes. The menus have no prices, because Jews like to bargain. You get the picture. You can also find these types of eateries in Krakow and Kiev, and probably other places in the blood-soaked “Old Country”.

Is it politically incorrect to say that I hope they all finally get what they deserve? Oh well.

To read more about one reporters experience in this Lviv restaurant, click here.

War Against Toys
Toys R’ Us, the iconic US based toy store chain, is under attack in Jerusalem by, guess who — the Haredim. The toy store chain is implementing a global campaign to do away with gender categories of toys. In other words, no more grouping or categorizing of toys based on gender. The Jerusalem branch has come under fire from elements in the Haredi community who are threatening to boycott the store and “excommunicate” it, claiming that the new policy threatens modesty and is a bad influence on its youth. According to one boycott proponent, “Toys R Us is trying to change creation, confuse the genders, and go against human nature as God created it.”

Personally, I always found the super heroes in tights thing extremely confusing. Would making them wear pants solve this whole gender dilemma?

For further reading click here.