Israel News for February 25, 2016

Victim Buried
Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of Air Force reserve Captain Eliyav Gelman in Gush Etzion last night, who was accidentally shot and killed by soldiers firing at a terrorist who was attempting to stab him.

To watch a video of the funeral, click here.

British PM
British Prime Minister David Cameron strongly criticized Israeli construction in East Jerusalem during a session of the British Parliament yesterday, saying, “I am well known for being a strong friend of Israel, but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what had happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem, occupied East Jerusalem, it is genuinely shocking.”

Cameron added, “we do not support illegal settlements, we do not support what is happening in East Jerusalem and it’s very important that this capital city is maintained in the way that it was in the past.”

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat rejected Cameron’s comments and said that the PM was unfamiliar with the realities of the situation. Barkat said, “The situation of the residents of the city is significantly better than those in the countries which surround us and, needless to say, than the situation during the British Mandate in Israel.” He added that citizens in Jerusalem have a right to live wherever they choose, irrespective of race, religion or gender.

Barkat invited Cameron, who he said was a “true friend of Israel,” to join him for a personal tour of the city. “I invite him to come and see how we have minimized the social gaps in eastern Jerusalem and I invite him to promote connections, developments, and local cooperation together with us instead of building walls and conflicts in the heart of Jerusalem.”

For further reading click here.

Yehuda Glick
Police have dismissed charges against Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick, who was accused of assaulting a Muslim woman on one of his visits there. The charges were dropped after police determined that the testimony of the plaintiff, Zoya Badrana, was fabricated.

As a result of the initial indictment, Glick was barred from entering the Temple Mount by a Jerusalem judge who said that his presence there was “inflammatory”. The dismissal of the charges against him might be sufficient grounds for overturning the court’s ruling.

After his acquittal Glick commented, “There are many here who should do some soul searching, but at this time I’m not interested in that, only in thanking God.”

For further reading click here.

Knesset vs. LGBT
A day after marking its first ever LGBT rights day, the Knesset yesterday defeated a number of bills aimed at improving the gay community’s status. Several opposition members joined the coalition in voting against the bills.

The bills, proposed by opposition members, included recognizing widowers in same sex couples, banning conversion therapy, recognizing same sex marriage contracts, and training health professionals to deal with gender and sexual inclination issues

Opposition MKs from Yisrael Beiteinu and most of the Arab MKs did not come to vote for the bills. Several other opposition members made mutual agreements with coalition members to absent themselves from the vote.

MK Amir Ohana (Likud), the first openly gay right-wing lawmaker, left the plenum without voting, while MK Sharren Haskel (Likud), head of the LGBT Knesset caucus, voted against the bills.

For further reading click here.

Haifa Scandal
Otot is an NGO that operates a hostel for homeless children in Haifa, as well as in other major Israeli cities. The Haifa hostel is located in the lower Hadar neighborhood, which apparently is not the safest place to be. The group decided to look for a better location after a number of girls staying at the hostel were sexually assaulted, cursed at and mugged in the neighborhood. A few years ago some residents threw stones at the hostel, ruined its plumbing and injured one of the girls.

Otot found a building in the central Carmel that belongs to the Rotenberg Foundation, a private foundation established in 1942 that deals with education and social affairs. The foundation agreed to rent the premises to the NGO as a hostel, and Otot has already raised some 1 million shekels in contributions for renovating the building.

About four months ago, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav found out about the agreement between the foundation and Otot and informed the foundation chairman, David Rotenberg, that he objects to the plan. As a result, the foundation suspended the decision to rent the building to the NGO pending the mayor’s consent.

In recorded conversations with MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) who tried to persuade Yahav to change his mind, the mayor is heard saying, “Let them go to Kiryat Ata… Why do I have to give you a place in Haifa? Heaven forbid if they come here… If you want to continue with this there will be a world war.” He also said, “I have the autistic [children], I [should] have the homeless? What’s the matter with you?… I don’t want them in my city, let them go to Kiryat Ata.”

Talk about political correctness. Is this guy for real? Does he think he’s running for President of the U.S.?
For further reading click here.

Tech Shortage
The High Tech industry in Israel has been a major contributor to economic and job growth in the country. However, the industry is doing so well and growing so quickly, that it’s running out of skilled employees to hire. The limited labor supply has also driven wages up, which is great for employees but not so great for the companies. The situation is forcing companies to move, or consider moving, operations overseas to places with larger and cheaper skilled labor pools.

PM Netanyahu, who also serves as Economy Minister, wants to solve the problem by allowing companies to import skilled foreign workers. The plan, raised in a meeting this week with ministry Chief Scientist Avi Hasson, would begin by issuing work visas to hundreds of foreigners, mainly software engineers.

A forum of Israeli technological colleges has said that the answer is not to import workers, but rather to encourage more Israelis to study science, technology, engineering and math.

So if you’re a computer scientist or software engineer, Israel needs you.

For further reading click here.