Israel News for February 26, 2016

Terror Attack
A 47 year old security guard was found unconscious with several stab wounds to his upper body early this morning at the Ma’ale Adumim mall south of Jerusalem. The wounds were apparently made by an ax. Security forces suspect the attack was nationalistically motivated and have closed off the city to all Palestinian workers until Sunday. The victim was rushed to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where he is fighting for his life.

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Terrorist Payback
Palestinian terrorist Naif Hassan Omar Zaid, 51, was convicted of murdering yeshiva student Eliyahu Amadi in Jerusalem’s Old City back in 1986. He was sentenced to life in prison, but escaped while being transferred to a hospital during a hunger strike, and has been living in Bulgaria for the past 22 years. In December 2015, Israel demanded Bulgarian authorities extradite. Since then, Zaid has taken refuge at the Palestinian Authority embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city.

This morning local media reported that Zaid was found dead at the embassy. The Palestinians claim that he was assassinated by the Mossad. Israel claims no connection to the attack.

Everyone agrees that the terrorist is dead. Good enough?

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PM vs. Cameron
Yesterday we reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron criticized Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. PM Netanyahu has responded saying, “My friend David Cameron, who is undoubtedly a friend of Israel, probably forgot some basic facts about Jerusalem. Only Israeli sovereignty is preventing ISIS and Hamas from setting fire to the holy sites in the city, like they do elsewhere across the Middle East.”

He added that, “Only Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem guarantees the rule of law for everyone, something that doesn’t exist in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya or other parts of the Middle East, including the Palestinian Authority and Gaza.”

So there.

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Kotel Controversy
While 150 Reform rabbis held an egalitarian prayer service at the site of the soon to be opened southern section of the Kotel, the Chief Rabbinate Council sharply criticized the Chief Rabbi of the Kotel, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, for endorsing the compromise agreement that permitted the establishment of the new section.

Just before the release of the critical statement by the Rabbinate, the Chief Rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem, Rabbi Nebenzahl, issued a letter supporting Rabbi Rabinowitz, concluding it with a strong endorsement saying, “I trust him with all my heart to work to save the remains of our Holy Temple and to act with sanctity and purity worthy of praise.”

Meanwhile, the Council of Sages of Agudas Yisroel, the political faction representing the Chasidic communities in Israel, released a statement instructing their representatives to cooperate with the government only on condition that it passes legislation to preserve the status quo, which grants control of official religion (Judaism) in Israel exclusively to the Orthodox. The Council of Sages is comprised of prominent Chasidic Rebbes of the communities of Ger, Viznitz, Sanz, Boyan, Belz, Slonim, Biala, Modzhitz and Sadigora.

Despite the harsh words, there have been no threats by the religious parties to leave the government, which would cause it to fall. Not yet.

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Marriage Dilemma
All Jewish marriages in Israel must be registered by the local Rabbinate and must be conducted by rabbis approved by the Rabbinate. Jewish couples must meet certain religious requirements in order to be registered and married by the rabbinate.

Tzohar, a religious zionist rabbinic organization whose members are approved to perform weddings by the Chief Rabbinate, has become an attractive alternative for couples when seeking a rabbi to perform their wedding. The Rabbinate doesn’t like that very much, because it feels undermined. There’s also the matter of the income lost by Rabbinate representatives who don’t get the chance to perform as many weddings (and collect as many gratuities) as they used to before Tzohar came on the scene.

The ongoing friction between the Israeli Rabbinate and Tzohar might be the cause of a new obstacle for engaged couples who want to get married. Over 100 couples from the Haifa region who registered to get married in recent months through Tzohar and not directly through the rabbinate have received judgments from the Rabbinate claiming that they are ineligible for marriage either because they are not Jewish, they have been previously married or that they are illegitimate (Mamzer). These claims have been proven to be false.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs has promised to investigate the situation.

Trouble in Egypt
The Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported yesterday that the Egyptian parliamentarian Tawfik Okasha had dinner on Wednesday with Israeli ambassador Haim Koren and the two talked politics. Okasha reportedly discussed several local and regional issues with Koren, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the construction of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The dinner sparked outrage on social media by many users who criticized Okasha for “hypocrisy” since he has made his opposition to “an American-Zionist conspiracy to destabilize Egypt” a hallmark of his one-man television show, which airs on the local Faraeen TV channel.

Mostafa Bakry, an MP and TV presenter who also subscribes to the American-Zionist conspiracy theories, slammed Okasha’s actions as “unforgivable treason” and a “shame”, according to Al-Ahram. Veteran radio host Hamdi El-Konayesi also blasted Okasha and said his behavior was “unacceptable”.

The report of the “scandalous” meeting appeared just hours after President Reuven Rivlin accepted the credentials of Egypt’s new Ambassador to Israel, Hazem Ahdy Khairat, marking the end of a more than three-year period without any Egyptian Ambassador to Israel.
At least we still have the peace treaty, for the time being.

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German Bestseller
Guess what the newest bestselling book is in Germany: Mein Kampf. A new annotated edition of Adolf Hitler’s notorious autobiography, which served as the foundation for the Final Solution, was released last week for the first time in 70 years by the Institute for Contemporary History.

After World War II, the government of Bavaria, which owned the copyright, forbade its publication. But the copyright has expired and there’s nothing to stop the book’s publication and distribution.

According to Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director General of the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, “Over the years, those who really wanted to read the book could find a copy despite the ban, the book has even been translated into Hebrew. However, in this scientific edition, the text does not stand alone. The Institute that issued the book certainly does not support the Nazis, they are serious people and the book definitely came out in good hands.”

But still, it’s Mein Kampf. And it’s sold out. Think about it.

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