Israel News for March 29, 2016

Rabbinic Clarification
The media had a field day after Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef commented in his weekly Saturday night class that gentiles were only permitted to live in the Land of Israel in order to serve Jews and were otherwise forbidden to live in Israel. But it was obvious to anyone familiar with the subject that the rabbi was simply quoting from Maimonides’ laws relating to the seven Noachide laws. He certainly wasn’t relating his own opinion on the matter.

But of course the media either didn’t know this or just didn’t care. Slapping a provocative headline accusing the Chief Rabbi of making racist statements against non Jews works much better for getting readers to buy papers or to click on articles. If they turn out to be wrong…no big deal. At least they got their page views and sold a few more bucks worth of ads.

Rabbi Yosef’s office clarified this issue in the following statement released yesterday:

“During his weekly lecture, the Rishon Lezion, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, commented on the laws of selling hametz during Passover. He explained the halachic concept of ger toshav (resident non-Jew) according to the Rambam.

These instructions are theoretical and deal with upholding the seven Noahide Laws during the time of the Messiah. They have no connection to our current time. It’s clear that there is no rule today to deport those who aren’t Jewish from the Land of Israel.

The honorable Rishon Lezion (Chief Rabbi) has always held a conciliatory manner and he would not present such an extreme stance. He is one of the few who declared it is forbidden to kill a neutralized terrorist and that the terrorist must be handed over to the authorities.

The Torah of Israel is a Torah of life and encourages peace and tolerance. We are saddened that there are those in the media who choose to distort the issue, to remove it from it context and to present it in a negative light.”

Terrorist Corpses
PM Netanyahu yesterday ordered the Defense Minister to stop returning the corpses of terrorists to their families. In most cases the funerals of these terrorists have become staging grounds for incitement and violence against Israel.

Belgian Jew
Walter Benjamin, a Belgian Jew who was injured in the recent terror attack in the Brussels airport, has said that he plans to make Aliyah when he recovers. Benjamin was on his way to visit his daughter, who lives in Israel, for Purim when he was caught in the bomb blast. His leg was amputated as a result of his injuries.

Two students from an Antwerp yeshiva were also among the 300 people wounded in the bombings.

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Bankers Capped
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, of the Kulanu party, has taken on the country’s top bankers and won. Kahlon sponsored a new law that was approved by a 56 to 0 vote in the Knesset yesterday to cap the salaries of Israel’s bankers at 35 times that of the lowest paid worker in the banking industry. In practical terms that means bankers will not be able to make more than 2.5 million shekels ($658,000) per year.

The Association of Banks in Israel is said to be considering an appeal to the Supreme Court against the legislation but it had no official comment.

The PM, who is known to be pro business and free market, hasn’t officially commented on the new law but his spokesmen told Israel radio, “This is an important reform by the finance minister and the prime minister supports him on the matter. At the same time, we do not think it would be right to extend it to other sectors.”

Bernie Sanders must be feeling proud to be a Jew today.

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Environmental Victory
In a victory against one of the most annoying enemies of our environment, the Knesset today passed a law banning the free distribution of plastic shopping bags by supermarkets and other stores. The law, which requires a mandatory 10 agurot (3 cents) charge for every plastic shopping bag used, will take effect next year.

MK Uri Maklev (UTJ), a supporter of the bill, explained, “The use of disposable plastic bags in Israel now stands at 274 bags per person per year, more than 2 billion bags total per year. This is a bill that will affect all of us, and it’s important not only because it will reduce littering, but also as a matter of teaching [good habits]”.

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