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Israel News for October 14, 2015

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Security Measures
Last night, the government’s security cabinet approved several measures in response to the recent wave of terror.
– It gave police the power to impose lock-downs on violent areas of Jerusalem.
– It prohibited the rebuilding of the homes of terrorists destroyed by the IDF.
– It ordered revoking the permanent residency or citizenship of terrorists (subject to authorization of the Attorney General).
– It authorized expanding the police force, using IDF forces to reinforce the police, and hiring 300 security guards for the public transit system, at a cost of more than 80 million shekels. Initially, IDF troops will be used to secure buses until the security guards are trained.

The cabinet will meet again later today to continue discussion.

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Rabbis and Terrorists
The recent terror attacks by Palestinians have spurred debate among Israelis about how to treat terrorists who have already been subdued. Is deadly force against a terrorist permitted if he or she is no longer a threat? How about non deadly violence, like beating?

Three major Israeli Zionist rabbinic leaders have offered rulings on the issue.

Rabbi David Stav, the Chief Rabbi of Shoham and head of the Tzohar rabbinic organization, has ruled that it is NOT permitted to harm a terrorist who is subdued and poses no further threat. R. Stav said that the primary reason for his decision is so that Jews do not damage their moral compass and sink to the level of the terrorists. He also thinks that photos of Jews beating subdued terrorists will damage Israel’s standing in the world community. R. Stav said, “even though the terrorists deserve it, it is not our way.”

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem, agreed that civilians must not take action against subdued terrorist who are no longer a threat. He is, however, in favor of the death penalty for terrorists, as long as it is administered by the court. He believes that prison is not a sufficient deterrent.

On the other side of the debate Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Safed, ruled last week that “it is forbidden to leave a terrorist alive after he has committed a terror attack. If he’s left alive there’s a possibility that he will go free and kill more people.” He said that only in special situations where shooting the terrorist could cause explosives to detonate or if they need to interrogate him can he be taken alive.

R. Eliyahu went so far as to demand a special investigation into the circumstances which lead to terrorists being taken alive to determine if the security forces had been negligent in their duties.

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Ex Chief Rabbi Indicted
R. Yona Metzger, the former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, was indicted yesterday. The charges included accepting bribes of up to 8 million shekels (of which he personally kept 5 million), theft, fraud and tax evasion. Metzger’s attorneys tried to reach a plea bargain but the prosecutor refused.

One of the most serious, and disturbing, charges against him are related to conversions. It seems that Metzger made a deal with a Los Angeles rabbi, Gabriel Cohen, whereby he would send foreigners who wished to convert (who were either unable or unwilling to do so in Israel) to the rabbi who would do the conversion in exchange for payment, giving Metzger half.

In one case, from 2011, Metzger referred to Cohen a Russian businessman who had immigrated to Israel and wanted his two children converted. After the conversion, Metzger and Cohen allegedly split the $360,000 the man paid.

Metzger is also accused of getting kickbacks from money he raised for charity organizations and yeshivas as well as for receiving gifts and bribes and concealing funds from tax authorities.

He denies all of the charges and pledges to fight for his vindication.

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Jews in Yemen
If you thought Yemen was a bad place for Jews, it seems like it just got a lot worse. According to a Jew who recently escaped from Yemen, by pretending to be a Muslim, and arrived in Israel, the government of Yemen recently issued a warning to the Jews in the country: “Get out of Yemen or convert to Islam.”

Over 150 Jews fled Yemen between 2009 and 2013. Those remaining were under the protection of Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh, until he was ousted in 2012. Now they are effectively under the control of the Houthi rebels who took over the capital, Sana, earlier this year.

The remaining 80 to 100 Jews in Yemen are living in a protected compound in Sana called Tourist City and in the town of Raida in the north. Despite their often precarious existence, most of the Jews don’t seem eager to leave. They continue to practice Judaism and live much as they have for over 2000 years and they’re set on continuing, at least for now. Hard to believe that Jews would choose to live in Yemen, but who are we to judge?

In an interesting twist, the Israeli Knesset member advocating for their rescue is a Druze member of Likud.

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Believe It
Yes, it’s true. The Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, UAE and Qatar are in talks to purchase the Israeli made Iron Dome missile defense system. They won’t be buying it directly from Israel, because how would that look? But they’ll still be using Jewish technology to protect against potential Iranian missile attack. Sweet.

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