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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘bill’

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

Felder-Cusick Bill Foils City Council Efforts to Force Additional Taxes on New Yorkers

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Following a lively debate Tuesday, the New York State Senate, led by Majority Leader John Flanagan, voted to overturn the NY City Council’s recent passage of a plastic bag tax.

Championed by Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn, caucuses with Republicans) and Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island), Senate bill S.7336 will amend the general city law, to prohibit the imposition of any tax, fee or local charge on carry-out merchandise bags. The bill was introduced by Felder after what the Senator considered an unjust effort by the City Council to impose its will on a majority of New Yorkers who disagreed with the measure.

“The last thing New Yorkers need is another regressive tax,” said Felder when he introduced his bill. Standing with Assemblyman Cusick and flanked by his colleagues in the Senate, including Senators Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn), Roxanne Persaud (D-Brooklyn) and Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), Felder introduced his bill at a press conference last month and initiated an online Stop the Bag Tax petition, which allowed his constituents and other New Yorkers to weigh in on the issue. Felder and the Senate’s Cities Committee also held a public hearing in Manhattan. The Senate’s Cities Committee voted unanimously in favor of moving the bill forward.

Felder began fighting the bag tax as a member of the NY City Council, when the measure was introduced in 2008. “I’ve been disgusted every time I’ve heard the absurd plastic bag tax legislation introduced,” he said. “New York City has to stop nickel-and-diming New Yorkers. This tax placed an undue financial burden on countless low- and middle-income residents who already struggle.”

Following Tuesday’s vote, Felder thanked his colleagues in the Senate for passing his bill. “I appreciate the support that we had today, but I wasn’t surprised by the outcome because my colleagues have followed this issue closely and heard the concerns of New Yorkers far and wide,” he said. The Senator noted that Assemblyman Cusick is now leading the charge in the Assembly where the bill has already passed the Cities Committee. “I’m hopeful that the bill will now pass in the Assembly,” he said.

Jewish Press Staff

Bill Letting 9/11 Victims Sue Saudi Arabia Passes Senate

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The Senate on Tuesday approved by a voice vote the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act allowing families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the Saudi government—disregarding a veto threat by the White House. In his recent visit to the Kingdom, President Obama suffered unprecedented humiliation from Saudi officials, presumably hinting at what would come next should he expose them to a torrent of 9/11 litigation. The Saudis have also threatened to move billions of dollars out of the US economy, so there won’t be any assets to freeze when they lose in court.

Sponsored by Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the bill recognizes the right of victims’ families to sue in US court for the role that Saudi government personnel played in the 2001 attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. Cornyn said that the United States “will combat terrorism with every tool we have available, and that the victims of terrorist attacks in our country should have every means at their disposal to seek justice.”

The Obama administration is yet to declassify and release US intelligence on Saudi involvement in the attacks, despite repeated pleas from victims’ families.

Irish investigative journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan were contacted by an unnamed counter-terrorism official in 2011 and told there are 80,000 9/11-related documents being kept secret by the FBI, which may not all concern the Saudi family, but many suspect that reclassifying them would expose the truth about the conspiracy, namely that it was driven by elements in the Saudi royal family.

Senate Democrats went against the wishes of the Obama administration, which warned the bill could expose Americans overseas to legal risks.

Schumer had no doubt the Senate had the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto. “We don’t think their arguments stand up,” he told reporters at a news conference after the vote.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, warned that the legislation, if passed, would alienate Saudi Arabia and undermine the US’ longstanding relationship with a critical ally in the Middle East. Of course, once said ally starts attacking your civilian population, you may need to re-think the relationship.

New Jersey resident Terry Strada, whose husband, Tom, died in the attacks, was in Washington with her daughter Caitlin to await the vote’s results. She told CNN, “We’ve waited long enough. We’ve waited 15 years. We shouldn’t have to wait any longer. It’s good policy to hold accountable any nation that aids in a terror attack on U.S. soil and that aids in the death of US citizens.”

David Israel

Bill Clinton’s Palestinian State

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Originally posted to the {Commentary Magazine website}

While campaigning in New Jersey on Friday for his wife, Bill Clinton was interrupted by a pro-Palestinian heckler. “What about Gaza?” the person yelled. What followed was an interesting exchange with the clearly exasperated former president that says more to inform the current attempts by both the Obama administration and the French to revive Middle East peace talks than it does about Hillary Clinton and what she might do if elected in November.

That Clinton would be heckled about the Palestinians is not a surprise. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is one of the few issues on which Sanders has not pulled Hillary Clinton to the left. She has tried, often without success, to match Sanders’ enthusiasm for massive expansions of government power and expenditures and new entitlements. But on foreign policy, she has attempted to walk a fine line between the Democratic base’s basic isolationism and her own internationalist/interventionist instincts while noting differences with her rival on temperament and experience rather than on substance. But she has not been shy about drawing strong differences with Sanders on Israel and the Palestinians.

Though she was the “designated yeller” at Prime Minister Netanyahu during President Obama’s first term, Clinton has also tried to position herself as a mainstream supporter of Israel and sharply disagreed with Sanders’ belief in U.S. neutrality and his willingness to spread canards about Israel’s attempts to defend itself against Hamas that have at times exceeded even those of the terrorists when it comes to inaccuracy.

So if Sanders’ fans are going to hound Hillary or her chief surrogate on any clear difference between them, it’s as likely to be about her not being as willing to attack the Jewish state as the Vermont socialist. That’s what happened on Friday but what Bill Clinton said in reply to the heckler’s cracks about Clinton’s unwillingness to join Sanders in condemning Israel was significant because it brought up something that is rarely discussed in the mainstream media coverage of the Middle East: Palestinian rejectionism.

While his wife has never stopped whining about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that she blames for their problems rather than their own misconduct, Bill Clinton’s chief post-presidential complaint has been about how Yasir Arafat robbed him of the Nobel Peace Prize he was counting on. In July 2000, Clinton hosted Arafat and then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a summit at Camp David that he hoped would mark the culmination of the Oslo Peace Accords that had been signed on the White House Lawn seven years earlier. In order to secure a final resolution of the conflict, Barak went further than any Israeli leader had ever dreamed of going in terms of concessions to the Palestinians. To the delight of the Clinton administration, he was put on the table a peace offer that gave the Palestinians a state in almost all of the West Bank, a share of Jerusalem, and all of Gaza. That was essentially everything that the Palestinians wanted, the two-state solution on a silver platter with an American president prepared to back up the Israeli leader even though the plan was far ahead of what most Israelis at the time said they were willing to risk.

But instead of grabbing the opportunity with both hands, Arafat said “no.” No matter how much Clinton, who saw his Nobel hopes going down the drain, Arafat wouldn’t budge, claiming that to accept the realization of the Palestinian dream of statehood would be his death sentence. What’s more, after shocking both the Americans and the Israelis with his refusal, Arafat doubled down on the refusal by launching a terrorist war of attrition after he got home. Seizing on the flimsy pretext of outrage about Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, the Palestinians began a bloody campaign in which the Palestinian Authority police fired on the Israelis they were supposed to be cooperating with, and Hamas and Fatah terror groups competed with each in launching horrifying suicide bomb attacks on Israeli civilians. Before it was over this second intifada would take the lives of over a thousand Israelis as well as thousands of Arabs and destroy a Palestinian economy that had boomed since Oslo.

It’s also important to note that Clinton and Barak didn’t take Arafat’s no as final and kept trying in their last months in office (Clinton was term-limited, and Barak’s political fate was sealed by his failed initiative) to get him to relent. In the Sinai resort of Taba in January 2001, the U.S. and Israel tried to resolve Palestinian complaints about the generous peace terms they’d been offered by sweetening it with further Israeli concessions. Again, Arafat’s answer was no. There would be no Nobel for Clinton and no peace.

So when Bill Clinton says, “I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state,” he’s right. If they had wanted one, they could have had it. But they didn’t. Nor was Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas willing to accept a state in 2008 when Ehud Olmert offered even more generous peace terms at the prodding of George W. Bush. Since then Abbas has refused to negotiate seriously even though the supposedly hard-line Netanyahu has accepted a two-state solution (as he repeated on Thursday) and again offered withdrawal from most of the West Bank during talks sponsored by Secretary of State Kerry.

The back and forth between the former president and the pro-Palestinian heckler about Hillary Clinton’s role during the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is interesting. Clinton did her best to restrain Israeli self-defense and brokered a cease-fire with the cooperation, as her husband helpfully pointed out, “the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt” during the period when the Obama administration was tilting toward those extremists after they seized power. Yet she has not been prepared, as Sanders has seemed to do, to excuse Hamas’s war crimes in using Gaza as a base for launching rockets at Israeli cities and terror tunnels while using civilians as human shields.

But the really important point to be gleaned from this story is that few in the international community or the press have bothered to ask why Clinton failed to give the Palestinians a state. It was not for lack of trying or, in the case of Barak, an Israeli government not prepared to take risks for peace as he declared his desire to give up settlements and divide Jerusalem. The problem was that the Palestinians were not prepared to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn. Making peace on those terms would have meant ending the conflict for all time rather than merely — as Arafat openly boasted — merely collecting concessions in a war of “phases,” that would enable them to resume fighting on more advantageous terms in the future. Even if we accepted the dubious proposition that a blood-soaked terrorist like Arafat wanted peace, the point is that if even a towering figure in Palestinian history such as he didn’t dare sign a deal accepting Israel then how could anyone else?

Bill Clinton was right on Friday when he said Israelis needed to know that the U.S. is concerned about its security in order for peace to be possible. But if Israelis regard pressure from the U.S. to demand even more concessions in the absence of a Palestinian change of heart to be insane, it’s because they remember what happened at Camp David and its aftermath as well as the ultimate results of Ariel Sharon’s unilateral surrender of all of Gaza in 2005: a Hamas terrorist state.

President Obama foolishly ignored this proof of the intentions of the Palestinians and made an already bad situation worse.We don’t know if Bill Clinton’s experience will chasten Hillary Clinton’s desire for her own Peace Prize if she becomes president or if this knowledge will ever find its way into the brain of a President Donald Trump, who also appears to lust after the glory of a deal that would end this conflict. But it should. The next president needs to avoid being fooled by the false arguments of Palestinian apologists into giving Hamas a pass for terror in Gaza. But more than that, they need to understand that the only real obstacle to peace isn’t settlements or Netanyahu but the same Palestinian intransigence that cost Bill Clinton his Nobel Peace Prize.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/bill-clintons-palestinian-state/2016/05/17/

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