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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘bill’

Knesset Committee Approves Flag Burning Bill for Final Vote

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Monday approved for a second and third reading in the plenum an amendment proposed by MK Nava Boker (Likud) to Israel’s Flag, Emblem and Anthem Law, which seeks to increase the punishment for dishonoring the national flag or emblem. The bill equates the punishment for dishonoring the national symbols with the punishment for doing the same to the symbols of countries friendly to Israel.

Currently the law sets the punishment for dishonoring the Israeli national flag and symbols at up to a year in prison or a fine of up to 300 Israeli liras (pounds). The lira was replaced by the shekel as Israel’s legal tender back in 1980, which shows how long it has been since any legislator was last troubled by the dishonoring of the national flag.

However, dishonoring the flag of a friendly country will put you in prison for up to three years, and the alternative financial penalty is $15,000, so the bill seeks to extend the sentence and fine to those same levels.

Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) complained about the fact that “we belittle ourselves. Anyone whose national flag is burned will be offended. When we are insulted the result is a conviction for a year, and when someone from abroad is upset it’s three years? Do the police keep records of the number of convictions given for such an offense? The national emblems are a source of national pride in every country. It is not a political matter. An American whose flag is burned is offended.”

“Freedom of expression does not mean you are allowed everything. Even religious emblems deserve elementary respect. A person who arrives at a synagogue or a mosque cannot do whatever he wishes. Even at a concert you don’t stand up and laugh. There is no need to exaggerate, but it’s illogical that there are no sanctions against those who burn flags,” Amsalem added.

MK Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Joint Arab List) asked to lower the punishment from three years in prison as the bill states, to a day, and remove the financial penalty. His request was rejected.

David Israel

Raucous Knesset Passes NGO Foreign Funding Transparency Bill

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

The Knesset plenum on Monday night passed the NGO Law, a.k.a. the Transparency Law, by a 57 to 48 majority. The new legislation’s official title is “Law on disclosure requirements for recipients of support from a foreign political entity.” It was the brain child of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and it requires NGOs that receive more than 50% of their budget from a foreign source to report this fact to the NGO registrar and to note it in a visible fashion in all their publications as well as their communications with public officials.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Monday night on his Facebook page that “the purpose of the law is to prevent an absurd situation whereby foreign countries intervene in Israel’s internal affairs through their NGO funding while the Israeli public is unaware of it. Contrary to the arguments on the left, passing the law will increase transparency, contribute to creating a dialog that reflects accurately the views of the Israeli public and will bolster Democracy.”

The vote followed a boisterous, even rowdy six hour debate during which the opposition submitted no less than one thousand reservations, and opposition members expressed resolute objections to the bill. Meretz chair Zehava Galon accused the bill’s authors that their purpose “isn’t enhancing the transparency but [constitutes] political persecution. … the bill’s authors and promoters wish to shut the mouths of organizations that challenge government policy.”

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) warned that the new law “defames our reputation in the world worse than any NGO could have done and destroys us from within.” Other ZC members were also of the opinion that the law is intended to quash opposition to the rightwing majority, at the expense of Israel’s reputation as a world democracy.

For comparison, the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), passed in 1938, requires that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a “political or quasi-political capacity” disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances. The purpose is to facilitate “evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons.” In 2007 the Justice Department launched an online database which can be used by the public to search filings and current reports.

The US law requires periodic disclosure of all activities and finances by people and organizations that are under control of a foreign government, of organizations or of persons outside of the United States (“foreign principal”), if they act “at the order, request, or under the direction or control” of this principal (i.e. as “agents”) or of persons who are “controlled or subsidized in major part” by this principal. Organizations under such foreign control can include political agents, public relations counsel, publicity agents, information-service employees, political consultants, fundraisers or those who represent the foreign power before any agency or official of the United States government.

But the US law provides explicit exemptions for organizations engaged in “religious, scholastic, academic, or scientific pursuits or of the fine arts,” as well as for those “not serving predominantly a foreign interest.”

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) told the House that “anyone wishing to influence the agenda of the Israeli public must be transparent. It is inconceivable that foreign states would hide behind associations and organizations acting on behalf of interests that are not in line with those of the State of Israel. Now everything is on the table, everything is revealed, and they will undergo the public’s scrutiny.”

Slomiansky proceeded to read from a list of just how much money some leftwing NGO received from abroad—some of whom get 100% of their budget this way—and the opposition benches went on the warpath, drowning his voice with their angry shouting.

JNi.Media

New Bill to Stop Privileged Conditions for Hamas Security Prisoners

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

The “Hamas summer camp” in Israeli prisons is about to be terminated, with a new bill submitted by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu), demanding the revocation of privileges for security prisoners in Israel.

The Bill, “Denial of privileges of security prisoner belonging to a terrorist organization” amends the current Prisons Ordinance and regulates the system of awarding privileges to prisoners convicted of attacking Israeli citizens and belonging to terror organizations. The new bill is in keeping with the basic rights of security prisoners according to international conventions.

The privileges which will become outlawed should the bill pass are conjugal visits, canteen purchases, possession of TV sets and game consoles, high school equivalency and academic studies, vacations, and receiving clothing and provisions from the outside.

MK Forer said that it is inconceivable that while terror victims and their families are paying such a high price and suffering so much, the terrorists who caused their anguish would play video games and enjoy educational and leisure activities in prison. “Back in 2009, a special commission determined that security prisoners in Israel enjoy privileges without compare anywhere else in the world,” he said.

MK Forer stressed that these privileges are not based on any international convention. “This bill demands that we act according to international conventions that define the basic human rights [to which security prisoners are entitled] and stop the summer camp that’s been created regarding the conditions for security prisoners,” he reiterated.

JNi.Media

Knesset Committee Approves Bill Protecting Minorities Serving in the IDF

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

On Wednesday the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved for a second and third reading a bill aiming to protect those who voluntarily serve in the IDF.

The legislation, proposed by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), seeks to protect Israeli minorities who voluntarily serve in the IDF and suffer from increasing incitements against them. Proposed in order to protect the rising numbers of Christians who voluntarily join the IDF, the bill would make it punishable by law to incite against soldiers who voluntarily serve in the IDF.

The initial proposal included a prohibition on inciting against minorities who had not yet enlisted but were interested in serving, which would be similar to the current law that prohibits one from inciting against doing mandatory IDF service. However, this clause was removed from the proposal which now deals only with soldiers who are currently serving in the IDF.

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg, who testified before the committee, praised the bill, but expressed reservations that it would not prevent incitement against young minorities who are interested in enlisting.

He said, “The bill places an emphasis on minority soldiers who are currently serving in the IDF, but does not discuss or protect young minorities who want to enlist in the IDF or National Service.”

Peleg added that “the incitement and violence against those seeking to integrate into Israeli society is unacceptable. This bill is a small yet important step to promote the integration of minorities into Israeli society. Im Tirtzu will continue working on behalf of Israel’s minorities.”

David Israel

Justice Committee Approves NGO Foreign Funding Transparency Bill for Final Vote

Monday, June 27th, 2016

After rejecting dozens of objections, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday approved for its second and third readings in the Knesset plenum a bill which would require non-governmental organizations that get more than half their funding from foreign governments or governmental agencies to make the public servants and elected officials they meet with aware of this fact and also report it in all their written publicity material.

The committee decided to merge three bills: one sponsored by the government and two other proposed by MKs Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu) and Bezalel Smotrich (HaBayit HaYehudi).

NGOs that will violate the so-called NGO Transparency Law will be fined $7,500. The law, if passed, will not apply retroactively, meaning these organizations will not have to declare such contributions that were received in the past. The law, should it be approved, will go into effect in January 2017 and will only apply to donations received from that date on.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) praised the transparency law, saying it would expose the fact that anti-Israeli NGOs are being funded by foreign governments. She said in a statement, “Countries should know that expressing their opinion about events inside Israel should be done via the familiar diplomatic channels. There is no comparable foreign intervention in a state’s internal affairs anywhere in the world, and there is no democracy that would have approved it. We, too, will not permit such a blunt intervention without exposing its foreign funding sources and bringing it to the public’s attention and to the attention of its elected officials.”

After the bill was approved by a vote of 7-6, Constitution Committee Chairman Nissan Slomiansky (HaBayit HaYehudi) said the bill was revised to avoid any constitutional harm. Addressing members of the opposition, he said, “You also admit that nothing much is left of [the bill].”

As to the opposition, its members on the committee were not happy. Neither was MK Benny Begin (Likud), who was elected with the strong intervention of Prime Minister Netanyahu, but who might as well be in the opposition. Begin said the legislation may produce results that do not coincide with the legislator’s intention. “We should operate thrrough diplomatic means,” he argued. “This was proven by the negotiations with Holland, Britain and Switzerland.”

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) said, “If it were up to MK Smotrich, the law would differentiate between Jewish and Arab donors. The law is devoid of any legal content.”

MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) said the bill “shames and slanders NGOs which criticize the government’s work. Someone recently said that there are buds of fascism in the country. That is what there is in this law – buds of fascism against organizations that promote human rights.”

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said the bill clearly “persecutes” NGOs, and called to “throw out of the Knesset legislators who introduce such bizarre laws.”

MK Osama Sa’adi (Joint Arab List) said, “There is a person who contributes tens of millions of dollars to an NGO through a company that is listed in Panama. If we are talking about transparency, then an NGO which is hiding its funds should reveal its sources [of funding].”

MK Revital Swid (Zionist Camp) said the bill was introduced solely “for the political gain of parties that want to show their public that they acted and labeled.”

MK Micky Rosenthal (Zionist Camp) stated that the purpose of the law is to “poke in the eye and say ‘Here, we did it to you on purpose.'” He said NGOs will easily find a way to circumvent the law.

Back in January, Bild, Germany’s largest circulation daily newspaper, supported Shaked’s NGO transparency bill, which had been attacked as anti-democratic by a Washington Post editorial. Bild noted that the criticism of the bill ignores the fact that millions of foreign dollars are given each year to anti-Israeli NGOs which operate inside Israel and support the boycotts against the Jewish State. Can the bill, which merely requires those NGOs to openly reveal their funding sources, really be compared to Putin’s blatantly anti-democratic rule, Bild was wondering.

David Israel

New Bill Revokes Get-Refusing Inmates’ ‘Mehadrin’ Kosher Food, Boarding Privileges

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

The Knesset on Wednesday debated a bill submitted by Habayit Hayehudi Chair MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli revoking the special privileges of prisoners who refuse to grant their wives a get-religious divorce. The bill singles out Orthodox Jewish prisoners who are entitled while behind bars to stay in the prison’s “religious” section, participate in Jewish studies, and eat a stricter-standard “kosher l’mehadrin” meals. The idea is to use the loss of these privileges to force the prisoner to set his wife free.

To be clear, the law does not deprive the Orthodox inmate of his basic Jewish needs, it merely takes away elements of his “ultra-Religious” lifestyle.

Some Orthodox prisoners are actually sitting in jail for their refusal to grant the get, so that by freeing their wives they can set themselves free. But in the case of these Orthodox men, prison often resembles their normal everyday life, and in some cases may be an improvement — in prison they can sit and learn all day with a group of other Orthodox men, celebrate Shabbat and the holidays, and not have to worry about parnossah (making a living). MK Moalem hopes that removing those prisoners’ ability to live a full Jewish life behind bars and inserting them in the general population might help change their outlook on life in prison.

MK Moalem-Refaeli said, “A man who turns his wife into an aguna and refuses to obey the judges’ order to stop abusing her is not truly a man who values halakha and maintaining a Jewish lifestyle. He tramples the most essential Jewish principle, Love your fellow man as you would yourself, only to make his wife’s life miserable. Therefore he is not worthy of enjoying the plethora of privileges prison affords religious inmates.”

JNi.Media

‘Woman in Gold’ Helen Mirren Testifies for Holocaust Art Restitution Bill

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

British actress Helen Mirren testified in Congress Tuesday in support of a bill to make restitution easier for American heirs of Holocaust era victims, The Art Newspaper reported. Mirren starred in the 2015 British drama “Woman in Gold,” about Austrian-born Jewish American Maria Altmann’s court fight to recover her family’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” by Gustav Klimt (her late aunt modeled for the picture), which had been stolen by the Nazis.

Mirren told two Senate judiciary subcommittees in a joint hearing on the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act that “the very act of Nazi expropriation was not only unjust but it was inhumane.” She added, “Greed, cruelty, self-interest and domination will always be with us, it’s an easy option. Justice is so much more difficult, so much more complex. But we all dream of justice. We are incapable of changing the past, but fortunately we have the ability to make change today.”

“Restitution is so much more, much more than … reclaiming a material good,” Mirren said. “It gives Jewish people and other victims of the Nazi terror the opportunity to reclaim their history, their culture, their memories and, most importantly, their families.”

The legislation is sponsored by Republican senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Other supporters of the bipartisan bill included president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald S. Lauder, and senators Al Franken (D, Minnesota), Chuck Grassley, (R, Iowa) and Orrin Hatch, (R, Utah).

Lauder, who purchased the Klimt painting after Altmann had sued the Austrian government to give it back, and won, told the Senators, “What makes this particular crime even more despicable is that this art theft, probably the greatest in history, was continued by governments, museums and many knowing collectors in the decades following the war.”

Today the Klimt painting is part of the permanent collection of the Neue Galerie, a museum of German and Austrian art Lauder co-founded in New York.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/woman-in-gold-helen-mirren-testifies-for-holocaust-art-restitution-bill/2016/06/09/

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