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Israel News for December 10, 2015

Terror Attacks
Late Wednesday two Israelis, Shaul Nir and his wife Racheli, were wounded when their vehicle was shot at by terrorists in the West Bank. Nir was seriously wounded and Racheli lightly wounded. The attackers escaped.

The Nirs had been visiting their daughter in the settlement of Avnei Hefetz for Hanukkah candle lighting and were returning to their home in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City when they were attacked. Their daughter’s husband was murdered in a terror attack in Hebron in 2003.

Shaul Nir was convicted for perpetrating a 1983 shooting and hand grenade attack on the Islamic College of Hebron, which killed three students and wounded 33. He was sentenced to life in prison but was released after seven years, in 1990, after being pardoned by then Israeli President Chaim Herzog.

Earlier on Wednesday a soldier and civilian were wounded in a stabbing attack in Hebron. The terrorist was shot and killed at the scene. One of the wounded in the attack is the son of former Bayit Yehudi Knesset member Orit Strock. The terrorist, Abad a-Rachman Yusori Maswada, was the cousin of the terrorist who stabbed an Israeli on Monday in Hebron.

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Rivlin and Obama
Israeli President Rivlin met with US President Obama at the White House yesterday. At the start of their meeting Rivlin thanked Obama for standing against radicalization and added that Israel agreed with his ideas. He said, “We have no war against Islam. We have a war against those who are using ideas to create extremism and threat against innocent people.”

Rivlin thanked Obama and the US for its military, financial and diplomatic support. He said, “Israel has no greater friend than the U.S. and I want to say this loud and clear. The people of Israel thank you from the bottom of our heart.”

Obama expressed his support for Israel and condemned Palestinian violence, adding that, “Abbas needs to condemn it and end incitement.”

Relating to Hanukkah, Rivlin compared Obama to the shamash candle on the menorah saying,”the shamash is the leader with which you light the other candles. You have been lighting the candles for seven years to show your people and the world the right way – we’re sure that the eighth candle you will light next year will show the world how to walk in the light.”

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PM and Trump
PM Netanyahu rejected Donald Trump’s recent call for banning Muslims from entering the US. The PM’s office released a statement saying, “The prime minister rejects the recent comments by Donald Trump regarding Muslims. Israel respects all religions and staunchly preserves the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is struggling against the radical Islamism that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews as one and poses a threat to the entire world.”

Netanyahu will, however, meet with Trump when the Republican party hopeful visits Israel later this month, despite the call to cancel by 37 Knesset members, all except two from the opposition. In response, the PM’s office reiterated that the meeting was scheduled prior to the statement by Trump and that the PM’s policy is to meet with any US presidential candidate while not endorsing any candidate or their positions.

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Rabbi Reprimands
Israel’s Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau reprimanded Education Minister Naftali Bennett for visiting a Solomon Schechter Conservative Jewish day school on a trip to New York earlier this month. Bennett, who also serves as Diaspora Minister, tweeted a video of his visit afterwards saying, “Meeting with the pupils of the wonderful Conservative school Solomon Schechter in New York. So much love of Israel and so much love of Judaism.”

Chief Rabbi Lau was not pleased, to say the least. He told an interviewer on the Haredi Kol Chai radio station that Bennett should have consulted with a rabbi before agreeing to visit the non-Orthodox school. He said, “To speak deliberately with a specific community and to recognize it and its path, when this path distances Jews from the path of the Jewish people, this is forbidden. If Minister Bennett would have asked my opinion before the visit I would have said to him explicitly that you cannot go somewhere where the education distances Jews from tradition, from the past, and from the future of the Jewish people.”

Bennett didn’t voice any regrets. His office issued the following statement:
“Minister Bennett believes that public leaders in Israel need to draw Jews close and not to excommunicate them. Diaspora Jewry is in a state of emergency as the phenomenon of assimilation reaches millions of Jews. As someone who is responsible in the Israeli government for the issue of the Diaspora, Minister Bennett is proud that he is concerned for all Jews because they are Jewish and will continue to meet Jews from all denominations.”

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Women Judges
The government opposed a Knesset bill permitting the appointment of women to Muslim religious (Sharia) courts. The bill was proposed by several Arab Knesset members and supported by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. The only opponents of the bill are the Haredi ministers, who fear that the bill could set a precedent that would then be applied to Jewish religious courts, and some conservative Arab MKs. Health Minister Litzman of United Torah Judaism (UTJ) threatened that the UTJ and Shas would use their right of veto on matters of religion-and-state granted to them in the coalition agreements if the government failed to oppose the bill. The UTJ said in a statement, “On this matter, UTJ is cooperating with the Muslim MKs who oppose the initiative.”

Who said Jews and Arabs can’t work together in harmony?

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Hanukkah Love
Hanukkah is the kind of feel good holiday that everyone can appreciate. To cite just a couple of examples: the king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, invited the director of the Conference of European Orthodox Rabbis to light the Hanukkah candles at his palace. Also, the president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, joined Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich and the small Warsaw Jewish community for candle lighting at the presidential palace. Duda said, “let there always be a great hope for the chosen people, for all the Jews in Poland and in the world.” Too bad he wasn’t around during WWII when 3 million Polish Jews were wiped out in his country with the help of his countrymen — but hey, it’s Hanukkah so it’s all good. Right.