Israel News for April 21, 2016

Iran Must Pay
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that almost $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be turned over to American families of people killed in the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and other attacks blamed on Iran.

The court’s 6-2 ruling dealt a setback to Iran’s central bank, finding that the U.S. Congress did not usurp the authority of American courts by passing a 2012 law stating that the frozen funds should go toward satisfying a $2.65 billion judgment won by the families against Iran in U.S. federal court in 2007.

The lawsuit was brought by more than 1,000 Americans who have waged a long legal battle seeking compensation for attacks they say Iran orchestrated. Congress inserted itself into the dispute by passing the law to help the American plaintiffs obtain the Iranian funds.

The plaintiffs accused Iran of providing material support to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Islamist political and military group responsible for the 1983 truck bomb attack at the Marine compound in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. service members.

They also sought compensation related to other attacks including the 1996 Khobar Towers truck bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. service members.

The courts ruling was praised by both Democratic and Republican leaders. The Obama administration and Congress had all filed court papers backing the families.

At least some of the money that Iran will be getting as a result of the nuclear deal will be put to good use.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Claimed
The terrorist who blew up a bus in Jerusalem on Monday died of his wounds in Shaarey Tzedek hospital yesterday. Hamas announced that the 19 year old terrorist, from the Aida refugee camp next to Bethlehem, was one of its operatives. Over 100 members of the terrorist’s family have been handing out sweets and singing songs of praise in light of the fact that he became a martyr and because he carried out a successful attack against Israeli citizens.

For further reading click here.

Jerusalem Highway
Driving through Jerusalem just got a bit easier with the opening of a new section of the Begin Expressway. The expressway now lets you drive direct from Modiin, down the 443, through Jerusalem, to the Gush Etzion tunnel and Rout 60,that runs through Gush Etzion and down to Hebron.
Israel just got a bit smaller and more connected.

For further reading click here.

Kotel Women
After meeting with police officers, prosecutors, the legal adviser of the Religious Services Ministry and the rabbi of the Western Wall, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit decided to prohibited Women of the Wall from holding a female version of the priestly blessing ceremony at the Western Wall during Passover.

The ceremony is one of the highlights of the holiday at the Kotel and draws tens of thousands of participants and onlookers. According to the law, the Attorney General can prohibit any action at the Kotel that does not constitute accepted practice there.

For further reading click here.

Electric Bills
Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that the Israel Electric Company (IEC) may not cut electricity to Palestinian areas. The IEC has been implementing 50% power cuts to Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron because the Palestinians haven’t been paying their electric bill, which now stands at around NIS 1.7 billion. The IEC was planning to roll out cuts to East Jerusalem and other cities on the West Bank, but the court ruling has nixed those plans.

The IEC also supplies power to Gaza, but the bills are paid directly out of Gaza’s tax revenues. Sort of like a direct debit.

For further reading click here.

Pesach Weed
If you’re feeling particular stressed because of all your Peach preparations (and who isn’t?), there’s now a simple solution that is certified kosher for Pesach. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, recognized as the premier halachic authority by the Ultra-Orthodox community, has ruled that marijuana is totally kosher for Passover use. He even reciting the blessing one makes before smelling a fragrance or spice, and took a nice long “shmeck” (sort of like a snort?) of the cannabis plant presented to him for examination. Everyone came out of the interaction quite satisfied and chilled.

Wishing you all a stress free and joyous Pesach!

To watch a video of this scene, click here.

Holiday Message
My six year old son has a knack of holding me to my words. Sometimes I’ll promise something that I’ll immediately regret and then I’ll just hope that as time passes he’ll forget. But he never does. No matter how much time passes and whatever else transpires, my son will always remind me of my original promise and demand that I fulfill it. But it’s not only the things I say, but also what I do. I once agreed to race him along a hiking trail that we were on. Now each time we return to that trail he expects me to race him. The first time I raced him set the bar — it was like a promise.

Three and half thousand years ago the Jewish People were enslaved by the Egyptians for over two centuries. They relentlessly persecuted, degraded and assaulted us. They murdered our children. Then, suddenly, God rescued us. He punished the Egyptians and destroyed Egypt. He led us out of slavery, split the sea before us and gave us freedom.

We never forgot how God saved us. Through the exiles, inquisitions, massacres, ghettos and death camps, we always remembered the Exodus and believed that God would once again repeat his redemption and save us. And every Pesach we continue to remember, and to remind God that we haven’t forgotten what He once did for us and that we expect Him to do it again. We’ll continue remembering and reminding until the final redemption comes. May it happen this Pesach.

Chad Kasher V’Sameach.