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Tammuz 16, 5772 / Friday, Jul. 06 ’12
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- 1. Poll: 46% of Israelis Favor Kadima Leaving the Coalition
- 2. A ‘Personal’ Moment for Murdered Israeli Athletes?
- 3. FBI: Bibi Helped in Plot for U.S. Nuclear Equipment
- 4. In Narrow Vote, Presbyterian Church Rejects Israel Divestment
- 5. Kuwaiti Muslim Uncovers Jewish Identity
- 6. In Future, Half the Population Won’t Enlist, Says Expert
- 7. Libya’s Outgoing Leaders Push for Sharia
- 8. Clinton to Visit Israel, Discuss Peace Efforts
1. Poll: 46% of Israelis Favor Kadima Leaving the Coalition
by Elad Benari
A poll conducted for Channel 10 News on Thursday found that 46 percent of Israelis believe that the Kadima party should quit the coalition if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not adopt the Plesner Committee’s report.
The poll, which was conducted by the Midgam Institute headed by Prof. Camille Fuchs, found that 25 percent of respondents said that Kadima should stay in the coalition, while 29 percent said that they do not know.
The Plesner Committee, headed by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner, was tasked with coming up with a new law that would ensure equal sharing of the burden among hareidi-religious Jews and Arabs. The Supreme Court ruled that the Tal Law, which regulated the exemption of hareidi soldiers from enlisting in the IDF and attempted a gradual increase of hareidi army service, was unconstitutional.
The committee caused a crisis in the coalition after Plesner made it clear he wants to heavily fine hareidi religious youth who refuse to enlist in the IDF, while issuing only general guidelines for the Arab sector.
After several key members resigned from the committee, Netanyahu disbanded it. This angered Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, who issued a clear ultimatum to Netanyahu to adopt new draft law proposals if he wants to keep Kadima in the coalition. Plesner presented his committee’s report despite the committee having been disbanded. Netanyahu said on Thursday he would be ready to impose personal sanctions on hareidim, despite his earlier objections.
The Channel 10/Midgam poll also asked respondents whether they support the Plesner Committee’s conclusions, and found that 64 percent of respondents answered that they are in favor of personal sanctions on hareidim who evade military service. 25 percent opposed the imposition of personal sanctions and 11 percent said that they do not know.
The third question posed to respondents related to the identity of the head of a new centrist party, if such a party is established. Eight percent said they would consider voting for such a party if former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni heads it. 11 percent said they would consider voting for a centrist party headed by Yair Lapid and only seven percent said they would vote for a centrist party headed by Haim Ramon, who announced this week he will be forming a new party.
2. A ‘Personal’ Moment for Murdered Israeli Athletes?
by Rachel Hirshfeld
Chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, Lord Coe, said that he will hold a “personal” moment for the Israeli athletes brutally murdered at the Munich 1972 Games during this year’s opening ceremony, The Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported.
While he said that he would mark the anniversary during a “personal moment,” it is unclear how he intends to do so.
A campaign led by Jewish leaders worldwide and Ankie Spitzer, widow of murdered Israeli coach Andrei Spitzer, has applied pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hold one minute of silence during this year’s opening ceremony to officially pay tribute to the victims of the brutal attack.
However, after forty years, the IOC has yet to heed the families’ requests.
“On behalf of all the families, I have asked the International Olympic Committee for almost 40 years for a minute of silence in their memory,” Ankie Spitzer said in a video imploring the public to sign a petition on behalf of her cause.
“A minute of silence for these men who went to the Munich Olympics in peace, friendship, and sportsmanship and who lost their lives. The International Olympic Committee has repeatedly said ‘No,’” she continued.
“One minute for the Munich 11 victims to show the world that the doctrine of the Olympic spirit to build a peaceful and better world, which requires mutual understanding with the spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play, is much more powerful than politics,” Spitzer continued.
Two separate memorial events are planned for the Munich athletes this year. One event is organized by the Israeli Olympic Committee on August 6, which President Shimon Peres is expected to attend and the other, organized by the Zionist Federation a month later.
In addition to Israeli MKs, more than 50 British MPs, led by Conservative Bob Blackman, have signed a motion calling for a minute of silence, and the governments of Germany, Australia, the US Senate and Canada have called for a silence to be observed, noted the JC.
3. FBI: Bibi Helped in Plot for U.S. Nuclear Equipment
Declassified FBI documents from a 1985-2002 investigation implicate Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an initiative to illegally purchase United States nuclear technology for Israel’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu was allegedly helped by Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer with ties to Israeli prime ministers and U.S. presidents. Milchan’s involvement in Israeli intelligence and arms dealing has been the subject of reports for some time, and was described in an unofficial biography published last year.
The documents rely on testimony from Richard Kelly Smith, a U.S. citizen charged with illegally selling Krypton triggers to Israel and Taiwan. Smith was the president of a company called Milco that worked for NASA; he allegedly sold to the Israeli Defense Ministry through the Hailey company, which was owned by Milchan.
The sale of nuclear technology to Israel is illegal under U.S. law because Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Smith fled the U.S. in the 1980s to avoid charges. He was arrested and extradited in 2001, and in 2002 was sentenced to 40 months in jail and a $20,000 fine.
Netanyahu allegedly met with Smith during his time at the head of Milco. The two met in Tel Aviv restaurants, in Netanyahu’s home and elsewhere. At the time, Netanyahu was in touch with heads of Hailey, as well as with senior political and military figures in Israel – among them Ariel Sharon, another future prime minister.
4. In Narrow Vote, Presbyterian Church Rejects Israel Divestment
by Rachel Hirshfeld
The Presbyterian Church USA narrowly rejected a proposal to divest its portfolio from companies that supply equipment to Israel, which, it alleges, enforce Israeli control in the “occupied territories.”
The vote, at the church’s biennial meeting, followed weeks of lobbying and days of impassioned testimony by American Jews, Palestinian Christians and Presbyterians, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
By a margin of 333-331 with two abstentions, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, being held in Pittsburgh, rejected a motion to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions.
Presbyterians voted, however, to replace the divestment proposal with a separate one calling for positive investment in businesses in the “West Bank.”
The vote represented a surprising reversal after a smaller committee voted by a 3-to-1 margin earlier this week to support divestment.
Supporters of divestment claimed that withdrawing church funds from “offending companies” would bring the church’s actions into line with Christian values.
Opponents, on the other hand, warned that divestment would cause a rift in relations with American Jews and rouse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which, largely, fails to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
According to Brian Ellison, chairman of the Presbyterian Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee, Hewlett-Packard sells hardware used by Israel in its naval blockade of Gaza; Motorola Solutions supplies surveillance technology to the so-called Israeli “settlements”; and Israel uses militarized Caterpillar bulldozers to “raze Palestinian homes.”
The vote brings PCUSA into line with other mainline U.S. Protestant denominations that have rejected divestment. The United Methodist Church voted in May not to divest from the three companies in question. The Evangelical Lutheran Church rejected divestment in 2007 and 2011.
5. Kuwaiti Muslim Uncovers Jewish Identity
Mordechai Halawa, 34, was raised in Kuwait as a Muslim. Several years ago, a small twist of fate led him to discover his Jewish roots.
Halawa, who told his story to Channel 2’s M magazine, was studying in Ontario, Canada, eight years ago. One day his cell phone was not working, and he went outside to a pay phone to make a call.
At the pay phone, he saw a man in hareidi Jewish garb. He found himself unable to ignore the unusual sight, and began talking to the man, a professor of philosophy by the name of Dr. Yitzchak Block. “I find it hard to believe that what they say [in Kuwait] about the Jews is really true,” he found himself telling Block. “My grandmother was Jewish too, and converted to Islam to marry my grandfather.”
Block carefully informed Halawa that according to Jewish law, his grandmother was still Jewish despite her conversion – and that Jewish status goes by the matrilineal line, making Halawa’s mother and himself Jews as well.
Halawa decided to research the family connection to Judaism. Before he could finish, he slipped and fell while on roller blades, leading to a new connection to the Jewish community.
“I couldn’t function normally. I had some extra time, so I decided it was a good opportunity to visit a synagogue,” he explained. The Jews at the synagogue greeted him with warmth, he said, “I couldn’t help thinking to myself, ‘are these the cruel Jews they always told us about in school in Kuwait? Is this who they meant?’”
Halawa spoke to his grandmother, who confirmed that she is from a Jewish family. He continued to grow closer to the Jewish community. Twenty months ago, he came on a tour to Israel – and decided he did not want to go home.
“When I came here, no soldier waved a gun in my face, and the truth is, that really surprised me,” he recalled. “When I visited the Western Wall for the first time I cried. I saw secular Jews, Chassidic, Jews of every kind. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Halawa is currently living in the Old City of Jerusalem, where he spends much of his time learning Torah at the Aish HaTorah yeshiva. He hopes to marry soon.
6. In Future, Half the Population Won’t Enlist, Says Expert
by Elad Benari
Professor Sergio Della Pergola, a demographics expert from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said on Thursday that the changing birthrate among different sectors in Israeli society may lead in the future to a point where half the people who reach conscription age will have an exemption from military service.
“The percentage of children reaching the recruitment age and having an exemption in the hareidi-religious and Muslim sectors is continually increasing,” Prof. Della Pergola told Arutz Sheva. “Currently it stands at 25 percent, and I predict that in 25 years half of those who reach conscription age will have an exemption.”
He added that believes that if the Draft Law changes, it will also affect the birthrate among the hareidim and the Arabs, saying, “There is no doubt that there is an indirect connection between integrating populations within the mainstream of Israeli society and the world view [of those populations] when it comes to social life, economic and demographic patterns.”
“According to our information, equal burden also brings with it integration into economic and social life. Today the average is about three children per family, and equality can lead in the long run to a point where there will be fewer demographic differences between populations.”
The analysis comes as the members of the coalition continue to be divided over a new Draft Law. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he would be willing to impose personal sanctions on hareidim who evade service. He made the comments during talks with the leaders of the coalition parties.
The new Draft Law has created a crisis in the coalition. The Draft Law committee headed by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner announced its recommendations at a press conference on Wednesday morning, following a blow-up between Mofaz and Netanyahu, who dissolved the committee this week following internal dissension.
Plesner said he wants to heavily fine hareidi religious youth who refuse to enlist in the IDF but issued only general guidelines for the Arab sector. His insistence on this caused several members of the committee to leave and ultimately forced Netanyahu to dissolve the committee.
Mofaz has issued a clear ultimatum to Netanyahu to adopt new draft law proposals if he wants to keep Kadima in the coalition.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Netanyahu met to discuss the issue with Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Yisrael Beytenu party, Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman told the Prime Minister during their meeting that the Plesner Committee’s conclusions are unacceptable to him and that he will demand that everyone, including Israeli Arabs, enlist at the age of 18.
7. Libya’s Outgoing Leaders Push for Sharia
by Elad Benari
Libya’s outgoing National Transitional Council said on Thursday that Islamic law sharia should be the “main” source of legislation and that this should not be subject to a referendum.
“The Libyan people are attached to Islam, as a religion and legislation,” NTC spokesman Saleh Darhoub said, according to a report on AFP.
“As such the National Transitional Council recommends that the (next) congress make sharia the main source of legislation,” he added, “And this should not be subject to a referendum.”
Darhoub later explained that the decision was made to reassure elements of society fearful of being saddled with a constitution that does not take sharia into account.
“We are not afraid of holding a referendum on sharia. But we wanted to reassure elements of society who are scared of the referendum,” Darhoub said, according to AFP.
Libyans will vote on Saturday for a General National Congress, which will be tasked with appointing a new government and a constituent authority. It will be the country’s first democratic elections since the 1960s, when former strongman Muammar Qaddafi took power. Qaddafi was captured and killed by rebels last October after a months-long civil war.
Some of the key issues to be determined by the constitution are the form of governance, the weight of Islam in state and society, the role of women and the rights of minorities.
After the constitution is approved, the newly elected congress will have 30 days to issue a new election law, with elections for a government to be held 180 days after that, according to the NTC’s roadmap.
Hundreds of armed men calling for Islamic law and rejecting democracy as “Western” staged a demonstration last month in the eastern city of Benghazi, noted AFP.
Well-armed Islamist groups in the east, such as the Partisans of Sharia, oppose the vote on Saturday, saying that the country needs no constitution other than the Koran. Libya’s interim rulers have said that radical Islamists are a minority.
8. Clinton to Visit Israel, Discuss Peace Efforts
by Elad Benari
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Israel and Egypt as part of an eight-nation tour which began Thursday, the State Department announced.
“Clinton will travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel departing Washington, DC on July 5,” AFP quoted a statement from State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland as having said.
The AFP report noted that on her way back from Asia, Clinton will make a two-day stop in Egypt, her first since President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood became the country’s first Islamist leader.
Her last visit to Egypt was in March 2011, when she toured Cairo’s Tahrir Square in the wake of the protests that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.
She will wrap up her tour with a two-day stop on July 16-17 in Israel where, according to Nuland’s statement “she will be meeting with the Israeli leadership to discuss peace efforts and a range of regional and bilateral issues of mutual concern.”
It will be Clinton’s first visit to Israel since September 2010, AFP noted. Earlier this week it was reported that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will visit Israel this summer to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other leaders.
Romney has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel.
Clinton began her tour in France on Thursday, where she will attend talks on how to end the 16-month conflict in Syria.
While in Paris, Clinton will also meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud. PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said this week that Abbas will stress the importance of releasing PA prisoners jailed in Israel when he meets with Clinton and French president Francois Hollande.
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