Israel News for 8-22-17

US Kotel Report
The US State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report for 2016 expresses displeasure about the Israeli government’s reluctance to follow thru on the compromise agreement reached with non-Orthodox Jewish denominations to create an egalitarian prayer area at the southern area of the Western Wall (Kotel).

The report also expressed concern about the continued prohibition of women to read from the Torah at the Kotel and about “reports of Haredi men spitting at non-Haredi Jews and persons of other faiths, including those wearing Christian clerical clothing.”

Israel’s Supreme Court is scheduled to rule next week on a petition against the government’s decision to freeze the egalitarian prayer area plan. The Chief Rabbis have submitted a petition claiming that the court has no jurisdiction to rule over matters related to the Kotel and Jewish worship.

For further reading click here.

Pedophile Crackdown
Israel’s Ministry of Education has begun conducting rigorous checks into the criminal records of all school teachers and staff members ahead of the resumption of the school term, following heightened fears across the country that Israeli schoolchildren may be exposed to sexual offenders whose history has never been the subject of adequate scrutiny.

The impetus for the checks was the inditement of Shaul Shamai, a 48 year old substitute elementary school teacher in Tel Aviv, for multiple counts of indecent acts against a minor. Shamai was arrested after one of the students told her mother he had hurt her, and the mother complained to the principal.

Since the Education Ministry began examining the backgrounds of school workers, nine sexual offenders were found to be employed over the last year as substitute teachers in elementary schools throughout Israel while 31 teachers were barred from work due to suspicions found in their criminal records. The nine teachers were all fired and are no longer permitted to be employed by the Education Ministry.

Schools have been issued with new instructions by the Ministry of Education stipulating that no substitute teachers may be employed, or even allowed on school premises, without official approval of the ministry itself.

For further reading click here.

UN Blacklist
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, has compiled and is planning to publish a blacklist of international companies doing business in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan. The purpose of the list is apparently to put pressure on the home countries of the companies to stop them from doing business with Israel.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called the list “an embarrassing move,” as well as “an expression of modern anti-Semitism reminiscent of dark periods in history.” He went on to accuse the UN commissioner for human rights of becoming “the BDS Movement’s most active member worldwide” who made it his goal “to harm the State of Israel instead of doing his job,” and called on the international community and the UN “to immediately stop this dangerous move.”

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called the list “shameful” and “an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the anti-Semitic BDS movement.”

For further reading click here.

Fast Train
Israel Railways yesterday conducted the first trial run of a train on the new Jerusalem – Tel Aviv line, which will connect the two cities in less than half-an-hour. The train will make one stop at Ben Gurion Airport.The new line is scheduled to begin service in April 2018.

Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz said, “This is a fast train that will take 28 minutes to travel between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and will enhance the status of Jerusalem and the ability of people to live there and set up businesses and it will completely transform the connection between Jerusalem and the rest of the country.”

For further reading click here.

Haredi Vacations
Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis are spending part of their summer vacations at kosher hotels in European destinations such as the Swiss and Italian Alps. It’s a relatively new phenomenon which is is growing each year.

To watch a video report (in Hebrew) about this new Haredi vacationing trend, click here.