temple mount

Israel News for May 26, 2017

Temple Mount
More than 1,000 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Yom Yerushalayim, marking the 50th year since east Jerusalem was liberated from Jordanian control and reunited with the rest of the city. It was the largest Jewish group to visit the holy place at one time since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. One of the prominent rabbis leading the group was Rabbi Yaakov Medan, the head of Yeshivat Har Etzion.

Police arrested 15 Jews for bowing and/or singing Hatikva.

To watch a video and hear some of the rabbis words (hebrew), click here.

Meanwhile, the Jordanian government condemned the presence of Jews on the Temple Mount. A statement from the Jordanian government slammed Israeli authorities for “allowing Jewish extremists to storm Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif,” which they said “violated the sanctity of the mosque and offended the feelings of Muslims around the world.”

Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani stated, “Al Aqsa Mosque is for Muslims alone,” Momani said in his statement, adding that “Jordan will utilize all its legal and diplomatic options to protect holy sites, Quds Awqaf employees and worshippers at the mosque.”

For further reading click here.

Missing Soldiers
Jason Greenblatt, US Special Representative for International Negotiations, met yesterday with the parents of IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, whose body is being held by Hamas in Gaza.

According to a statement released after the meeting, “Mr. Greenblatt expressed outrage at the inhumane actions of Hamas for holding their son’s body’s hostage. Mr. Greenblatt shared his sincere hope and prayer that their son’s remains would soon be returned.”

Greenblatt tweeted, “Met with Leah & Simcha Goldin to express my deep sympathy on the loss of Hadar. Shame on Hamas for their inhumane actions. #PrayForHadar.”

For further reading click here.

Gaza Power-less
Every month, Israel provides the Gaza Strip with 125 megawatts of electricity, which costs NIS 40 million on average. Israel takes that sum out of the tax money it collects for the Palestinian Authority. As a result of a power struggle with Hamas, who rejects PA rule in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority has decided to cut their financial contributions to Gaza by about 30%. As a result of that, Israel has decide to cut back the electricity it provides to Gaza accordingly. [That’s what happens when you don’t pay your electric bill.]

For further reading click here.

Kosher Shot
Earlier this week Israel’s Milk & Honey (M&H) distillery launched the country’s first-ever malt whisky. The distillery’s first 391 bottles of single malt whisky will go on sale later in June.

For further reading click here.

Startup Nation
The Startup Nation is alive and well, producing companies and technology that are changing the world. Business Insider put together a list of “The 25 coolest tech companies in Israel” with a brief description of each one.

To read the entire list click here.

Israel News for September 9, 2016

No Preconditions
Last week we reported that Russian President Putin had invited both PA President Abbas and PM Netanyahu to meet for direct talks in Moscow. Abbas had seemingly accepted the offer, marking a departure from his ongoing policy of rejecting any direct talks with Israel. This was viewed as a potential breakthrough, but now it looks like it might have been a bit premature. Sources say that Abbas has placed preconditions on the talks, and that’s unacceptable to Israel. Now the Palestinians are claiming that Israel has rejected the offer to meet in Moscow.

At a press conference in the Netherlands, PM Netanyahu addressed the issue saying, “I am ready to meet with Abbas at any time without preconditions for direct talks. It’s something I’ve said a hundred times and I’m repeating it here. I’m not picky about the place, it can be in the Netherlands or in Moscow, no problem. It can certainly be Moscow. I’ve said that to President Putin and I’ve said it to the Russian envoy Bogdanov.”

“The main question is if Abbas is ready to meet without preconditions. We hear conflicting versions. Just yesterday, a Palestinian spokesman made it clear that they are willing to meet, but they have conditions such as the release of prisoners and they want to know in advance what the results of the talks will be. If Abbas wants to meet without preconditions for direct talks, I am ready anytime. I’ve been calling on him to do it for seven years, so if he agrees, there could be a meeting.”

For further reading click here.

Body Found
Rescuers have found the fifth body in the rubble of the building parking garage that collapsed this week in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, the Labor and Welfare Committee of the Knesset held an emergency session on Thursday with the CEO of the construction company that built the structure.

Kulanu MK Elie Elalouf, the committee chairman, said, “The committee sadly foresaw this. We held seven hearings on the situation. We saw that there is serious negligence in the construction sector. No one held a discussion on the required preparations for the massive amount of construction going on in the country, which is only expected to grow. We’ve also seen the lack of preparedness on the part of government ministries.”

For further reading click here.

Chief Rabbi Speaks
Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef participated last night in a night of Torah study held near the gravesite of Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak Hakohen Kook, on the anniversary of Rabbi Kook’s passing. R. Kook was the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi in Israel during the British Mandate, and is considered to be the father of “Religious Zionist” ideology.

At the event R. Yosef praised R. Kook as one of the great rabbis of his generation and spoke about several contemporary issues in Jewish law, invoking the opinion of R. Kook as support for his positions. He spoke about the need for gender separation in religious youth groups and said, “Rabbi Kook demanded separation between males and females in youth groups and at school.” He also used R. Kook to reinforce his stringent positions relating to conversions saying, “I had an argument with one of the head politicians who was trying to get me to be lenient in conversions. Rabbi Kook fought against this.”

Finally, R. Yosef reiterated his opposition to Jews ascending the Temple Mount saying, “How often did Rabbi Kook say not to ascend the Temple Mount; the rabbis as a whole, too, strongly opposed this practice. In a judgment on the matter by the Rabbinical Committee it was decided that most Rabbinical Authorities of the generation oppose Jews ascending the Temple Mount. There are some who allow it, but majority rules. It is a serious prohibition. He who ascends the Temple Mount…needs to repent.”

For further reading click here.

Kotel Collections
During the last three years, citations have been issued by police to eleven people caught asking for charity at the Kotel. The Chief Rabbi of the Kotel, Rabbi Rabinowitz, who is seen as the main enforcer of the policy, has come under fire from Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, who is considered to be the most senior rabbinic authority in the Haredi community. R. Kanievsky has remarked that stopping Jews from asking for charity at the Kotel goes against Jewish tradition.

R. Rabinowitz claims that the beggars disrupt people’s prayers and create a “Chillul Hashem” (desecration of God’s Name) by their often aggressive attempts at collecting. He also claims that he previously consulted with R. Kanievsky as well as with Rabbi Elyashiv, the previous senior rabbinic leader, who both agreed that beggars should not be allowed to interrupt prayers or to solicit (and bother) non-Jews at the Kotel.

For further reading click here.

Newman Returns
It’s been almost 20 years since the hit comedy Seinfeld aired its final episode, but apparently Israelis have not forgotten it. That’s probably why Ikea in Israel decided to create a commercial featuring Newman, the unlikeable mailman from the series. In the commercial Newman plays a mailman (what else?) who hates his thankless job except for on one day a year — the day he gets to deliver the Ikea catalogue. The commercial is in English, accept for one word in Hebrew. You’ll have to watch it to find out what the word is.

To watch the short commercial click here.

Israel News for August 16, 2016

No Forgetting
The Shin Bet, Israel’s version of the FBI, has a long memory when it comes to terrorists, and will keep hunting them no matter how long it takes. Yesterday, they arrested a 21 year old terrorist over two and a half years after he a stabbed and wounded a policeman.

The Shin Bet said in a statement that it will “continue to operate with all its available resources to prevent terror attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice, even when a long time has gone by since the attack was committed.”

You can run, but you can’t hide from the long arm of the Shin Bet.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Demolition
Early yesterday morning Israel security forces destroyed the floor of the home where the terrorist who murdered 13 year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel lived. In accordance with government policy, the entire house was not destroyed. Dozens of Palestinian protesters tried to disrupt the demolition by attacking soldiers with rocks and firebombs. The soldiers responded with stun and gas grenades.

After the demolition, Hallel’s mother Rina Ariel said, “So long as the entire house is not demolished and the family expelled, there isn’t enough real deterrence and there is nothing to prevent the next terror attack. It’s very easy to rebuild a floor of the house. The real answer would be expelling the family and settling the house with Jews. If the hostile population knew every house of a terrorist will be given to Jews, it would cause great deterrence.”

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount
On Tisha B’av, seven Jews who visited the Temple Mount were detained by police for violating the visitation rules. That means they were probably caught praying, or at least moving their lips in what looked like prayer. Their act of extremism didn’t go over well in the Arab world.

King Abdullah of Jordan, considered to be the custodian of the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem (although its not so clear whether the Christians would agree with his custodianship), was quick to lash out against Israel for allowing Jewish extremists to enter the mount and vowed to defend the mosque with all the means at his disposal.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also condemned Israel for its reprehensible behavior. How dare Israel allow Jews to pray at Judaism’s holiest site?!

For further reading click here.

Israeli US Votes
While PM Netanyahu has pledged to remain neutral in the upcoming US presidential elections, the 300,000 US citizens living in Israel will be allowed to cast their absentee ballots for their favorite candidate. And both parties are not taking those votes for granted.

Yesterday, the Israeli branch of the U.S. Republican party began a campaign to get American voters living in Israel to cast absentee ballots in favor of Donald Trump. The Israel branch claims that about three quarters of the eligible voters in Israel will vote for Trump.

The Democrats don’t agree. The Israeli branch of the Democratic party will soon be launching its own campaign, claiming that at least half of eligible voters in Israel will vote for Clinton.

Game on.

For further reading click here.

Air Force
An advanced training exercise called Red Flag, during which fighter jets simulate combat involving coalition forces, will take place at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada. Israel will take part in the exercise. So will Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. Last year Israel participated in the joint exercise with Jordan.

For further reading click here.

Big News
On the night after Tisha B’av, the religious Israeli radio station Kol Achai decided to air its own version of the War of the Worlds, except that they did it about the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah). They ran an entire broadcast complete with fake news reports and real interviews with a slew of respected rabbis and other experts to simulate what might happen when the Mashiach finally does arrive.

It was pretty cool, at least initially, to hear news broadcasts reporting on miraculous events that would lead up to and usher in the Messianic era. But it was obviously all fake.

Wait. Have you been reading the headlines during the past 70 years? Here are a few examples you might want to take note of: State of Israel declared after nearly 2,000 years of exile just three years after the end of the Holocaust; fledging Jewish army defeats the armies of a dozen Arab nations; Israeli army reunites Jerusalem; millions of Jews from the four corners of the globe move to Israel; the Iron Curtain suddenly collapses and over one million Jews from the USSR move to Israel; tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel; the majority of world Jewry now resides in Israel, the Jewish homeland.

Do I need to go on? Are the headlines not clear enough? How about the flourishing State of Israel?

No simulation is necessary. The Messianic area is clearly upon us — but it’s a process that is spread over many years, and we haven’t yet reached the final climax. But it’ll happen, hopefully sooner than later. I’d really like to be around to see it. Wouldn’t you?

Summer Lag
You might have noticed that August is a very slow time for Israel news. The Knesset is on vacation, as is most of the country. We’re trying our best to find stories that we think you’d like to read. But as they say, no news is good news, especially in Israel.

Israel News for July 15, 2016

Gaza Post
If you’re planning to mail something to Gaza, forget about it. Israel is halting postal services to Gaza because people have been trying to smuggle weapons, drones and other illegal equipment into the zone. Just this year there have been 315 attempts at smuggling in contraband via postal packages.

Does Amazon deliver to Gaza?

For further reading click here.

Parade Cancelled
Organizers of the Gay Pride parade in Beersheva have cancelled the parade in the city, after the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the police to divert the parade from the city’s main street because of security concerns. The parade organizers apparently felt that it was main street or no street. So instead, they will hold a protest rally outside of the Beersheva municipality building.

Beersheva mayor Ruvik Danilovich said, “I regret their decision to cancel the parade, I hope to work together to expand cooperation with the LGBT community. The gay community is in integral part of the social fabric of Beersheba, as such the community has the freedom to act in accordance with its world view.”

The Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem will take place next Friday and is estimated to draw over 10,000 marchers and spectators. The parade was marred last year by the murder of Shira Banki and the wounding of 6 others. The parade route will be extended this year.

For further reading click here.

Foreign Engineers
The Israeli “startup nation” high-tech industry is suffering from a severe shortage of at least 10,000 engineers. To help alleviate the shortage, the Prime Minister’s Office has authorized a special team to recommend a solution which would allow companies to hire foreign workers.

Sources say that according to the plan, foreign employees will receive “specialist visas” enabling them to move to Israel for two years, with the possibility of a further extension of up to three more years. Children and spouses of the holders of specialist visas will receive permission from the Immigration Authority to work in Israel.

The Immigration Authority would create a database of 1,500 Israeli companies who would submit requests that would be expedited by the authority, cutting out much of the existing bureaucracy. No quota for foreign tech workers will be set.

In order to maintain the average salary level of Israeli tech workers, the foreign workers will receive a minimum gross salary of 20,000 shekels per month.

Netanyahu, who is also Minister of the Economy and Industry, will endorse the team’s recommendations.

For further reading click here.

Flags on Temple Mount
Dozens of people have begun posting photoshopped images of themselves holding Israeli flags on the Temple Mount. The trend is gaining momentum on Facebook. Some of the images contain famous video game characters, butterflies and other funny things.

The trend began after an Israeli named Haim Brosh shared a photoshopped picture of himself holding a flag in front of the Dome of the Rock, under the words “Carry a flag to Zion.” He was detained by police, who thought the image was real. It is illegal to have an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount (at least for Jews). Brosh was released with a warning, although it’s unclear what the warning was for.

For further reading click here.

Soccer Diplomacy
During his recent visit to Israel, the Egyptian foreign minister met with PM Netanyahu in the PM’s residence in Jerusalem. After their meeting they apparently watched part of the Euro Cup Finals match on TV. Netanyahu posted a photo on Facebook and Twitter with the caption, “Tonight Sara 7 I hosted Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry in our Jerusalem home. We made time to watch the #Euro2016Final.”

The posts sparked outrage from the Egyptian public, condemning the fraternization with the Israeli leader. Yesterday the Egyptian government denied that the foreign minister watched the game with Netanyahu, saying that he just stumbled into the room where the game happened to have been on. “The Egyptian foreign minister doesn’t watch soccer games during a formal and important visit such as this.”

Imad ad-Din Hussein, an editor from the Egyptian in the daily newspaper al-Shorouk, wrote, “I would understand if our foreign minister would watch a game, a movie or a play with an Arab official, who is a friend… But not an Israeli official.”

For further reading click here.

Israel News for July 12, 2016

Temple Mount Hallel
Hundreds gathered at the entrance to the Temple Mount today to participate in a memorial service for 13 year old Hallel Ariel, who was brutally murdered by a terrorist in her bed in Kiryat Arba two weeks ago.

Hallel’s family was joined by several MKs, including Yehuda Glick and Oren Hazan from the Likud party and Bezalel Smotrich and Minister Uri Ariel from Bayit Yehudi. The Knesset members were prohibited from entering the Temple Mount by order of the Prime Minister.

There were speeches and dancing and Hallel’s father, Amichai, blew the shofar and said, “The world needs this heart (Temple Mount), otherwise blood will continue to spill. The world is waiting for us to bring the light and banish the darkness.”

Hallel’s aunt said, “This isn’t a day of sadness, this is a day of joy. Not a day of mourning and destruction, but of rebuilding and expectation for the redemption.”

Hallel’s mother Rina thanked those who came saying, “We didn’t come here this morning to cry, we came to strengthen our hearts.”

Around fifty people ascended to the Temple Mount along with the Ariel family, under heavy police protection. Ignoring the regulations against praying on the mount, the Jews recited prayers and blessings out loud. They were confronted by angry Muslims shouting, “Allah Akbar.”

For further reading click here.

Controversial Law Passes
Yesterday the Knesset passed the controversial “transparency law”, which requires NGOs to disclose details of overseas donations if more than half their funding comes from foreign governments or organizations such as the European Union. The NGO’s must disclose these funding sources in Knesset committee meetings and in all communications with public officials, the media and in ads to the public. Representatives of the NGO’s will not have to wear ID tags identifying their status while in the Knesset, as was first proposed in the earlier version of the law.

Around 27 NGO’s that receive funding from the EU or individual European governments will be directly effected by the new law, which has been categorized as anti-left by opponents, since right-wing organizations are usually funded by private donors and therefore exempt from the mandated disclosures. Almost all of the NGO’s effected by the law are left-wing human rights groups.

The law has been publicly criticized by the US and EU as being undemocratic. Peace Now has promised to challenge the law in the Supreme Court saying, “While the law will delegitimize left-wing organizations, pro-settler NGOs who receive millions of dollars in foreign donations without any transparency will remain unaffected. It is a law whose only aim is to silence and mark those who dare to voice criticism of the government or against settlements.”

Supporters of the law, led by its sponsor Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, claim that the law is necessary to prevent foreign governments from using funds to influence Israel’s domestic policies.

PM Netanyahu praised the new law, saying that it would “prevent an absurd situation in which foreign countries meddle in the internal affairs of Israel by funding NGOs and without the Israeli public’s knowledge. Contrary to claims on the left, the bill’s approval will increase transparency, will encourage the creation of a debate which truly reflects public opinion in Israel and will strengthen democracy.”

The new law will only apply to donations made after January 1, 2017 and the first report to the registrar of nonprofits will have to be made only eighteen months thereafter. The fine for non-disclosure is 29,200 shekels ($7,500).

Can the Europeans simply cover the fine and allow the NGO’s to remain silent?

For further reading click here.

IDF Rabbi
Rabbi Col. Eval Karim has been appointed by IDF Chief of Staff as the next IDF Chief Rabbi to replace the outgoing rabbi Gen. Rafi Peretz, who is retiring after six years in the position.

Karim currently serves as the head of the Rabbinate Department in the Military Rabbinate. He previously served as an officer and then commander of the elite paratrooper commando unit, and fought in two of the Lebanon wars. He studied in the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva and headed up the pre-military academy of Ateret Kohanim, before returning to the IDF Rabbinate.

Karim has come under fire for statements he made implying that woman are prohibited from serving in the IDF and that soldiers can rape gentile women during war. But the rabbi has clearly stated that his statements were made in response to purely theoretical questions of Jewish law.

Yeah Atid head Yair Lapid has called on Karim to clearly declare that he approves of women being drafted and serving in the IDF.

In response to the claims that Karim sanctioned rape in wartime by IDF soldiers, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office issued a statement saying: “Col. Karim asks to clarify that his statement was issued as the answer to a theoretical question and not in any way whatsoever a question of practical Jewish law. Rabbi Karim has never written, said or even thought that and IDF soldier is permitted to sexually assault a woman in war—anyone who interprets his words otherwise is completely mistaken. Rabbi Karim’s moral approach is attested by his years of military service in command, combat, and rabbinical positions in which he displayed complete loyalty to the values and spirit of the IDF, in particular the dignity of the person.”

The Torah sanctions certain actions that are considered to be no longer applicable in practice. Examples of these are slavery, the killing of Amalek and the rape of gentile women during war. But these concepts are still “on the books” and are studied and analyzed as part of Jewish law. They also contain valuable homiletical messages and lessons that go far beyond their literal readings.

When a rabbi is asked a question relating to the intricacies of the laws of slavery or wartime rape, he must respond within the context of the question even though he doesn’t intend his answer to be taken as practical law. The entire discussion is clearly within the theoretical realm of intellectual scholarship.

Taken these theoretical statements as reflecting a rabbi’s practical stance is a mistake, and shows a lack of understanding of the concept of theoretical discussion and scholarship.

I think the statement of the IDF spokesman says it all.

For further reading click here.

Druze Chief MD
The IDF has appointed Colonel Dr. Badar Tarif as its new Chief Medical Officer. He will be promoted to Brigadier General. Thousands of Druze serve in the IDF, including many who serve in elite combat units and as high ranking officers. As an example, the commander of the Golani infantry brigade is also Druze.

Go Druze!

For further reading click here.

Israel News for June 28, 2016

Jews Banned
Yesterday we reported the Muslim extremist attacks against security forces on the Temple Mount, whose goal was to prevent Jews and other non-Muslims from visiting the Mount. Early today the police banned all non-Muslims from visiting the Temple Mount for the duration of Ramadan.

For the past few years the policy has been to prevent non-Muslims from visiting the Temple Mount during the final few days of Ramadan, but the policy was changed this year. Now it’s been changed back. A win for terror?

But the ban didn’t stop Arabs from attacking Jews praying at the Kotel. Early today a 73 year old woman praying at the Western Wall was hit by rocks thrown from the Temple Mount. She was lightly wounded.

Police arrested 11 masked terrorists they said were involved in the Temple Mount violence and the Kotel rock throwing.

To watch a video of the violence click here.

Turkish Challenge
PM Netanyahu signed the official reconciliation deal with Turkey, which grants over $20 million in reparations to the families of those killed in the Marmara raid and releases all IDF personnel from the threat of prosecution in Turkey or The Hague. But he didn’t bother to present it to his cabinet for approval first. Problem?

Defense Minister Avigdor Leiberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have all announced their opposition to the agreement. The two dealbreakers for them are the reparations and the fact that Turkey has not committed to facilitating the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers being held by Hamas.

Bennett said, “The state cannot pay compensation to terrorists who tried to harm the IDF. Reconciliation with Turkey is important for this time and is in the interest of the State of Israel, but compensation to the perpetrators of terrorism is a dangerous precedent that the State of Israel will regret in the future.” He also said, “If Turkey has control over Hamas, they had better do all within their ability to ensure that Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin’s bodies are returned to Israel.”

Although the Turks did sign a letter indicating their commitment to try and facilitate the return of the bodies, it was not included in the official agreement.

Other Likud ministers, as well as members of the opposition, have also criticized the reparation payments as being a sign of weakness and a victory for terrorists. Some cabinet ministers resent the PM’s signing of the agreement without presenting it to them first for approval.

According to a recent poll, 65% of Jewish Israelis oppose the agreement, with 72% stating that the agreement should have been contingent on the return of the soldiers’ bodies.

But despite the protests and critiques, it looks like the PM has enough cabinet votes to “rubber stamp” the agreement after all. The cabinet will vote tomorrow.

For further reading click here.

UN Visit
During an official visit to Gaza, Israel and PA, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon condemned Israel’s blockade of Gaza, calling it “collective punishment.” But Israel intends to continue the blockade and rejected demands by Turkey to include the lifting of the blockade in the reconciliation agreement. Turkish aid to Gaza will go through the Port of Ashdod.

PM Netanyahu asked Ki-Moon to use his position to gain the release of the bodies of the IDF soldiers being held by Hamas.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Dad
On October 13, 2015 two terrorists boarded a Jerusalem bus with guns and axes and murdered three Israelis and wounded several others. The father of one of the terrorists (who was killed during the attack) was arrested yesterday for incitement and being affiliated with terror organizations. He had been giving talks and lectures at educational institutions, including elementary schools and Al-Quds University, in which he expressed support for his son’s terror attack and other terrorist activities.

For further reading click here.

Hannibal Revoked
IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has issued an order revoking the Hannibal Protocol, which requires the use any force necessary to prevent the abduction of a soldier, even if it endangers the soldier’s life.

The protocol drew mass criticism when it was implemented during the 2014 Gaza after the abduction of Lt. Hadar Goldin. After Goldin was captured by Hamas during a battle in the town of Rafah, IDF commanders ordered a massive barrage of firepower to attempt to stop the abduction. Dozens of Palestinians, including some civilians, were killed as a result. Goldin was later declared dead, but Hamas still holds his remains.

For further reading click here.

Bad Eggs
Israeli authorities seized around 40,000 eggs stored in a warehouse in the Galilee village of Tamra. The eggs were smuggled into Israel from the Palestinian Authority and were suspected of being unfit for human consumption. The owner of the warehouse and his son were arrested. The eggs were destroyed. Was this a deliberate attempt at sabotaging Israeli breakfasts, or just some bad egg handling?

For further reading click here.

Israel News for June 27, 2016

Riots on Temple Mount
Dozens of masked Muslim extremists threw rocks and other objects at Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount, as Jewish visiting hours began early this morning. Police, Border Police and Yasam riot police forces succeeded in driving the rioters into the mosque, enabling both Jewish and other non-Muslim visitors to continue at the site for a short period.

After the visits ended the security forces were attacked again, before quelling the violence. According to surveillance video, the rioters stockpiled rocks and set up barricades throughout the night in preparation for today’s attacks. They had also attacked police on Sunday.

Despite the violence, police continued to enable non-Muslims to visit the compound, which included only 18 Jews among 375 tourists in total.

To see a short video click here.

Israel & Turkey
Israel and Turkey announced a reconciliation agreement in Rome today. PM Netanyahu met with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was also there for the event, prior to the announcement.

The diplomatic crisis with Turkey began after Israeli forces raided a Turkish ship (the Marmara) that was part of a flotilla of vessels attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, on May 31, 2010. Nine Turkish citizens were killed in the raid.

As part of the reconciliation agreement, Israel will pay the families of the none victims over $20 million as reparation. The money will be transferred only after a law is passed in Turkish parliament, which terminates all ongoing legal proceedings in Turkish courts against Israeli officers involved in the Marmara incident.

In addition, one of the main parts of the reconciliation agreement is that the IDF soldiers and commanders who took part in the operation to capture the ship will not be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Also in the agreement is a clause which commits Turkey to preventing Hamas attacks on Israel and Israeli citizens from or on Turkish soil.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza will continue. Turkish humanitarian aid to Gaza will be allowed to be delivered via Israel.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog was critical of the reconciliation agreement, saying, “The return of relations with Turkey is an important political goal, but the reparations to those who attacked IDF soldiers is unacceptable, especially when it is signed by the Netanyahu – Bennet – Lieberman threesome. All should know that the leadership of the right is paying reparations to those who have attacked our sons.”

Besides slamming the reparation payments, Herzog decried the fact that insisting that Turkey facilitate the return of Israeli’s missing in Gaza (dead and alive) was not part of the agreement. He said, “besides this incomprehensible compensation, my heart is torn to see the indifference and the ignoring of the families of those who are missing (in Gaza), who are yelling at the top of their lungs. Yet their cries are not getting through to the hearts of the people who sit in the cabinet.”

However, a senior official involved in the agreement said, “We requested and received an official letter in which Turkish President Erdogan instructed Turkish intelligence and all the relevant government agencies to take all measures necessary to bring the issue of the prisoners and MIAs in Gaza to a close on humanitarian grounds.”

MK Hanin Zoabi of the Joint Arab List, who was on the Marmara, claimed that, “Israel agreeing to transfer $21 million to Turkey constitutes a clear admission of guilt.” She also critiqued the fact that lifting the blockade of Gaza was not included in the agreement.
For further reading click here.

Abbas Backtracks
On Thursday PA President Abbas, during a speech before the EU Parliament, accused Israeli rabbis of poisoning Palestinian wells in the West Bank. On Friday his office issued this statement: “After it has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless, President Mahmoud Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world.” The statement also said that Abbas “rejected all claims that accuse him and the Palestinian people of offending the Jewish religion,” and that Abbas also “condemned all accusations of anti-Semitism.”

For further reading click here.

Believe it
Ezra Sheinberg, the former head of a community and Yeshiva in Tsfat who was recently found guilty of sexual offenses against 14 women, has petitioned the court demanding 285,000 shekels in severance pay from the Yeshiva and community he headed. The court is examining his request. Believe it.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for June 14, 2016

Peace Proposal
In recent weeks, as the French sponsored international peace summit took form, reports circulated about the openness of PM Netanyahu to a 2002 Saudi Arabian sponsored peace proposal adopted by the Arab League. Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also seemed to indicate hope in a potential peace agreement. The Egyptian president announced his intention to organize a peace summit in Cairo that would bring the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table using the Arab League proposal as the framework. The PM reacted enthusiastically. He invited opposition leader Isaac Herzog to join the government to take part in the historical opportunity to make peace.

Hold on. At a meeting with Likud MKs last night, the PM made it clear that unless the Arabs maKe major changes to their proposal, it was a non starter. He said, “If the Arab nations grasp the fact that they need to revise the Arab League proposal according to the changes Israel demands, then we can talk. But if they bring the proposal from 2002 and define it as ‘take it or leave it’ – we’ll choose to leave it.”

Netanyahu was positive about the fact that the Arabs were interested in a peace deal with Israel, but rejected the conditions of their proposal, which include Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan and the West Bank (with minor adjustments) and the return of Palestinian refugees.

The Saudi foreign minister recently said in an interview that he rejected any dilution of the Arab League proposal saying, “Why should the Arab Peace Initiative be changed?”

Is this just the beginning of a negotiation or the end to another false hope for peace?

For further reading click here.

UN First
For the first time since the establishment of the UN, Israel’s Ambassador has been appointed to head a UN committee. After months of behind-the-scenes diplomatic struggles, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon was elected to head the UN Legal Committee yesterday. The committee deals with sensitive topics including fighting global terrorism.

Despite fierce anti-Israel lobbying by the Palestinian and Iranian UN representatives, 109 nations voted in favor of appointing Danon. His appointment was strongly supported by the US and most European countries.

For further reading click here.

Israel and Russia
PM Netanyahu has spoken in the most positive terms about his recent visit to Moscow and his work deepening Israel’s relations with Russia. But based on an article in Pravda, one of Russia’s premier newspapers, Netanyahu’s recent Moscow visit “created the impression of failure.”

The Pravda commentator pointed out that despite protests by Israel, Russia has continued to supply weapons to Lebanon, which are being used by Hezbollah. Moscow sees Hezbollah as part of the legitimate government of Lebanon and “an essential element of structure of the Middle East.” He also points out other issues which show the tension between Israel and Russia.

The truth probably lies somewhere between the PM and Pravda.

For further reading click here.

Flag Fine
The Knesset Interior and Environment Committee has approved a substantial hike in the fine for desecrating the Israeli flag from the current 300 lirot (the old Israeli currency) to 58,400 shekels ($15,137). The committee is also discussing increasing the prison sentence for flag desecration. Under current law, the maximum punishment for debasing the flag of a foreign country is three years imprisonment, while desecrating the Israeli flag, besides the fine, carries a punishment of only one year.

Zionist Union MK Zouheir Bahloul attacked the measure, sating, “I’m against undermining freedom of expression and I think a year is a proportionate sentence. Why make it three years? It’s strange that in an enlightened nation, one of the most enlightened in the world, the flag is turned into idolatry. Soon we’ll reach the point where whoever doesn’t kiss the flag every morning will be punished.”

Israeli flag burners beware.

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount
PM Netanyahu has lifted the ban on Knesset Members and cabinet ministers visiting the Temple Mount. The ban had been in place for eight months, and applied to both Jewish and Arab Knesset Members. The Knesset’s Ethics Committee is expected to end its own ban on Temple Mount visits today.

Arab MKs had vowed to visit the Temple Mount during the current Ramadan holiday. Now they’ll be able to do so legally. Now they’ll be able to do so legally.

Will Jewish MKs resume visits as well? If they do they might be treated to a sermon by preacher Ali Abu Ahmad who was recently recorded preaching to hundreds of followers on the Mount and ending his sermon with this sweet prayer: “Oh Allah, protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews! Oh Allah, annihilate all the Jews! Oh Allah, enable us to kill them!”

For further reading click here.

Israel News for May 26, 2016

Terror Attack
Terrorists threw two Molotov cocktails at two Border Police women near the Ofrit base, located near Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus. The two officers were lightly injured from the fire started by the firebombs.

For further reading click here.

Lag B’omer
Hundreds of thousands of Jews from all walks of life and religious leanings converged on the town of Meron in the Galilee yesterday to celebrate the festival of Lag B’omer at the tomb of the second century Talmudic sage Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Lag B’omer is the 33rd day of the 49 days counted between the second day of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. According to the Talmud, during this period of time in the second century in Israel, 24,000 students of the great sage Rabbi Akiva mysteriously died. One of the reasons given by the Talmud was that their deaths were punishment for their ill treatment of one and other. Whatever the reasons, the students stopped dying on Lag B’omer and so the rabbis turned it into a day of celebration.

But the massive gathering at Meron is primarily in commemoration of the Yahrzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai (also a student of Rabbi Akiva) who is credited in Jewish tradition for authoring the Zohar, the famous cornerstone of the Kabbalah (Jewish mystical teachings).

According to the Zohar, on the day of his death Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai gathered together all of his students, who were the greatest sages of the time, and revealed to them the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah. During this momentous session his home was filled with an intense light, like a fire.

To commemorate this holy and mystical event, thousands of bonfires are lit in Meron and throughout Israel. In fact, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that most of the air quality monitoring stations noted a rise in particle concentrations due to the many bonfires lit.

The main bonfires in Meron are lit by prominent rabbis including many Hasidic Rebbes. The first bonfire was lit at 8:30 PM last night by the Boyan Rebbe, as has been done for the last 100 years.

In addition to the bonfires, thousands of 3 year old boys are given their first haircut at Meron, following the Kabbalistic tradition performed by the Arizal, one of the greatest expounders of Kabbalah who lived in 16th century Tzfat. Hundreds of hairdressers set up shop in the area to lend a professional hand.

The festivities in Meron continue until nightfall tonight.

May the bonfires and prayers at Meron bring light and peace to the entire world.

To watch the lighting by the Boyan Rebbe at Meron, click here. (Forward the video to the 4 hr. mark)

Temple Mount
Speaking at his swearing in ceremony as a new member of the Knesset, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a longtime Temple Mount activist, called for an end to the ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

Glick took over the seat of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who resigned after Avigdor Liberman was given the defense portfolio as part of the agreement to bring his party into the government.

In his remarks Glick said, “As long as I’m here, I will do all that is in my power to end the injustice that takes place every day at the holiest place in the world, where police officers are under orders to check whether a 90-year-old Jew is, God forbid, moving his lips or not.”

On the morning before assuming his new position in the Knesset, Glick visited the Temple Mount. But he won’t be doing so again as long as he is a Knesset member, in line with the directive given by the Prime Minister to all government and Knesset members (including Arab MKs) to not visit the Temple Mount.

For further reading click here.

According to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, 3.2 million Jews immigrated to Israel since the founding of the State in 1948. 1.35 million of those Olim have come since 1990, primarily from the former Soviet Union and its satellite states.

Since 1972, 115,195 Jews have made Aliyah from the US. According to the report, the top destinations for American immigrants is Jerusalem, which is home to 29,882 American Olim who arrived since 1972. Tel Aviv was a distant second with 10,620, followed by Beit Shemesh with 6,937, Raanana with 3,717, Haifa with 3,520, Netanya with 3,043, Modiin with 2,006, and Efrat with 1,978.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for April 19, 2016

Terror on Bus
A bomb exploded at the back of a bus in Jerusalem yesterday injuring at least 20 passengers. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was the first to confirm that it was a terror attack. The police and Shin Bet are trying to identify the terrorist and are investigating the possibility that he was one of the passengers, who was the most severely wounded.

The Bus driver, Moshe Levi, said that he recognized the wounded man as the terrorist after the blast. Levi said, “The [bus] ride was normal; I saw the terrorist get on the bus at one of the stations. The terrorist boarded and paid just like everyone else. He didn’t look suspicious to me, and he wasn’t carrying a strange bag or something. No, I didn’t suspect him.” Levi added, “I saw lots of people bleeding and screaming. I ran out of the bus and opened the [emergency] doors. Outside there were people who had been thrown out of the bus [by the blast]. I saw the terrorist lying on the ground, with severed hands and feet. I told the MDA people to treat him. When I got to the hospital I saw this man lying on the ground in the emergency treatment ward, I understood from the security people there that this was the terrorist. And I had asked them [the MDA medics] to help him.”

The police have not yet confirmed that the man was the terrorist.

Reactions from Palestinian groups were as expected. Hamas called it a “natural response to the crimes of occupation,” but did not claim responsibility. Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, also welcomed the attack as “proof of the failure of security coordination” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it “welcomes the operation as a positive and important development of the intifada.”

For further reading click here.

Biden on J Street
In a speech to J Street yesterday, US Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged “overwhelming frustration” with Israel’s government, saying, “I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they’re moving us and more importantly they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction.“ He added that it was the America’s obligation to guarantee Israel’s security and to “push them as hard as we can” toward a two-state solution despite “our sometimes overwhelming frustration with the Israeli government,” but that, “there is at the moment no political will that I observed from either Israelis or Palestinians to go forward with serious negotiations,”

Biden also blasted Palestinian leaders for not condemning terror saying, “No matter what legitimate disagreements the Palestinian people have with Israel, there is never justification for terrorism. No leader should fail to condemn as terrorists those who commit such brutalities.”

For further reading click here.

No Cameras
The idea seemed brilliant. If you want to prove once and for all whether Israel is really violating the status quo and harassing Muslims on the Temple Mount, just install video cameras to record everything happening up there. After months of negotiations, Israel and Jordan agreed to the details of implementing the project. But wait, it was too good to be true. Guess who blocked the plan? You got it: the Palestinians.

Apparently, the Palestinians aren’t anxious to document what really happens on the Temple Mount. As part of their anti-camera campaign, banners were hung all over the Temple Mount calling for Palestinians to smash the security cameras. One guard from the Waqf (Islamic Religious Endowments Organization) summed it up by saying,“We don’t need any cameras here. Only Allah sees all.”

The Palestinians launched a second banner campaign called “The picture is clear – so no cameras are needed,” bearing pictures showing Israeli policemen attacking and dragging Palestinians from the Mount.

I wonder why they wouldn’t want cameras up there?

For further reading click here.

Court Convicts
The Jerusalem District Court today convicted Yishai Schlissel of murdering 16 year old Shira Banki at the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem last July. The judge scolded police for negligence in allowing the attacker to get to the parade. Just two months before the parade, Schlissel had finished serving a ten year sentence for stabbing someone at the gay pride parade in 2005. He also expressed his opposition to the parade both in the media and in ads published in synagogues in Jerusalem and Kiryat Sefer, prior to the parade. A the judge said, “the writing was on the wall.”

For further reading click here.

Rivlin is Blessed
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the great sages of Israel, at his home in Bnei Brak last night to receive his blessing before Passover.

To see photos of the visit, click here.