Israel News for September 11, 2015

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Iran and Russia
According to Israeli defense officials, hundreds of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrived in Syria over the last few days to help the Assad regime fight rebel forces. They’ll most likely deploy near the Lebanese border to assist Hezbollah fighters there. Russia already has military advisors and security forces operating in Syria, and is planning to bring in combat aircraft and helicopters.

Israel believes that the commander of the Revolutionary Guards met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month in Moscow to coordinate military activities in Syria.

Has Russia found, in Iran, its ideal partner to counter US influence in the Middle East? The possibilities are frightening. On the bright side, they’re both bent on destroying ISIS, and they’re the only ones who are willing to use ground troops to do so.

Discriminatory Labeling
The European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Union to issue labels for products imported to Europe from areas occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, including East Jerusalem, the Golan and the West Bank settlements.

The European Parliament motion also encouraged the EU to step up its role in promoting a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, and emphasized that “only non-violent means and respect for human rights and humanitarian law can achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the EU motion was “discriminatory with a sharp smell of boycott,” and added that “under the guise of a technical step, this is an attempt to force a diplomatic solution instead of encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Europe is acting with hypocritical sanctimoniousness toward Israel when it does not consider proposing similar solutions to northern Cyprus or Western Sahara.”

PM Netanyahu has tried to block the implementation of the motion in private meetings with several European leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron. In a statement the PM said, “The European Parliament decision is unjustified, it is just a perversion of justice and a distortion of reason, and I think that it also harms peace, it doesn’t advance it. The roots of the conflict are not territories and the roots of the conflict are not the settlements. We already have a historical memory as to what happened when Europe marked products of Jews.”

France Wants Jews
Last year 7,000 Jews emigrated from France to Israel. Another 8,000 are expected to leave this year. But the French want their Jews back.

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the French government is concerned that the large number of educated and professional Jews leaving the country is causing a brain drain. They’ve sent their economic minister, Emmanuel Macron, to Israel to try and convince French immigrants to return.

While anti-semitism is assumed to be the main reason for increased Aliyah, the weak French economy seems to be playing a significant role too. In any case, France’s loss is Israel’s gain.

Israeli Wealth
Forbes Magazine has released its list of the top 100 wealthiest people in Israel. Every one of them is a billionaire, in shekels ($1 = close to 4 Shekels). The aggregate wealth of the top 100 equals 500 billion shekels.

The top position on the list went to Patrick Drahi at 60 billion shekels. A distant second went to Eyal Ofer with 34.3 billion. It’s doubtful that anyone who made the list is complaining. Well, in Israel, you never know.

Mission Impossible Accomplished
A married woman left her abusive husband and fled to Israel. She wanted a divorce. But there was a problem: the woman fled from a Muslim country that has no diplomatic relations with Israel. The husband was still there.

It took five years, but due to the incredible efforts of a special unit of the Bet Din (rabbinical court) in Israel that deals with obtaining divorce documents in difficult situations, she has finally received her Get (divorce).

After long and difficult secret negotiations through intermediaries in a third country, the Bet Din sent in three undercover rabbinic emissaries to the Muslim country who obtained a signed document from the husband directing them to write and deliver the divorce document. They made it back to Israel, and the woman is now free to remarry.

Drivers Don’t Pray
The Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of the Ponevich Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, one of the most prestigious in the world, has ruled that students in the yeshiva who have a driver’s license will not be allocated a seat in the yeshiva for Rosh Hashanah prayers. In the past every student got a seat in the Yeshiva without exception.

The affected students received phone calls from the administration over the last few days informing them of their predicament. Most of them happen to be 25 yrs. or older, and they aren’t taking this sitting down (literally). They claim that it’s really not the Rosh Yeshiva but the gabbai (facilities manager, sort of) who is responsible for the ruling, because he needs more available seats. The students plan to ignore the order and come to services anyway. Should be a fun service.