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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘city’

Two Brooklyn City Pools Still Offering Women-Only Swimming

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Two public pools in Brooklyn will continue to offer women-only swimming hours, following a ruling by the city that it doesn’t constitute gender discrimination, News 1 reported.

The Commission on Human Rights reviewed the legality of separate swimming sessions intended to accommodate Orthodox Jewish women who otherwise would not use the pools, and decided to grant the exceptions.

The commission ruled that the Metropolitan Pool in Williamsburg and the St. John’s Recreation Center in Crown Heights will continue to offer limited hours once or twice a week, so Orthodox Jewish women may enjoy the pools without compromising their religious standards, which forbid bathing with men.

In man-on-the-street interviews, one New Yorker told News 1, “I’m kind of all for having a certain time in the day for women to swim and a certain time for men to swim and then another time for everybody to swim.”

But another New Yorker, less charitable, said, “They probably should get their own pool instead of making other people have to separate what is a public environment.”

The New York Civil Liberties Union called the ruling unfair. “It has all the earmarks of a religious exemption,” the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union told the New York Times. “People have every right to go swimming in a gender-segregated environment pursuant to their religious beliefs, but not on the taxpayer dime.”

However, the Parks department said in a statement that the women-only hours also accommodate women who have a “history of domestic violence or abuse, history of sexual violence or abuse, body-consciousness concerns.”

David Israel

While Islamic Terror Raging Everywhere, Pres. Rivlin Attends Ramadan Meal in Israeli-Arab City

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday evening addressed an Iftar (daily Ramadan fast breaking feast) in the northern Israeli-Arab city of Sakhnin. The event was attended by municipal and faith community leaders from the Muslim and Druze communities.

“Yesterday we were all shocked by the massacre in Orlando, and I want to send my condolences to the families, and to the American nation, following this cowardly and criminal act of terrorism,” said the President, and continued, “We, too, are still in the shadow of the terror attack against us just last week, terrorism which is unrelenting toward us.”

Sakhnin, population 26,000, is located in the Lower Galilee, about 14 miles east of Acre. Its population is Arab, mostly Muslim, with a sizable Christian minority. Sakhnin is home to the largest population of the esoteric cult of Sufi Muslims in Israel—approximately 80 members. In 1976, Sakhnin was the site of the first Land Day marches, in which six Israeli Arabs were killed by Israeli forces during violent protests. Two more were killed in clashes during the 2000 Intifada.

President Rivlin stressed the need to stand united against terrorists and said, “It is hard not to see that the terrorists are acting in every way possible to undermine the remnants of trust and the fragmented remaining bridges between the two peoples. We must stand together, Jews, Christians and Muslims, against evil which sometimes claims to speak in God’s name, and we must insist on fighting for the message of religion as one of ‘choosing life.’ We must insist that murder and violence are the result of intellectual distortion which has nothing to do with a healthy religion. We cannot be silent and we cannot let those violating religion by committing atrocities in its name, to cast a stain on those of faith, or to destroy the fabric of our lives here together. As believers, we must not let our children, Jews and Arabs, grow up with a distorted understanding that religion equals terror and death, that religion means extremism.”

The President concluded by thanking his hosts, and expressed his hope for coexistence between the different communities of Israel. He said, “Our lives and your lives here in this country are intertwined. We are here together, and we will remain here together, and we should all learn and teach every day how to live a life of kindness and tolerance, a life of equality and fairness, a life that each and every one of us deserves and that we all deserve together.”

Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghanaym thanked the President and said, “You are a sensitive and caring person. We all condemn in the strongest terms all acts of violence.” Noting there is no real difference between Arabs in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority, Ghanaym said, “The distance from Ramallah to Jerusalem is just 15 minutes,” and, “We are working to promote employment, equal education, and peace.”

Ghanaym, who is also Chairman of the Arab Mayors’ Association, told the President, “Today in the Knesset is was announced by the Finance Minister that the five-year economic plan for the Arab community has been held up. We ask of you Mr. President to continue to work to see the program come into being.”

Back in February, the president hosted 67 heads of Arab municipalities as well as the directors-general of government ministries, to discuss the government’s new five-year plan to aid Arab cities.

On Monday night, the President assured Ghanaym that he would speak with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

The five-year plan, which was announced last December by PM Netanyahu and Kahlon, will cost between $3 and $4 billion and increase funding for housing, education, employment of Arab women, infrastructure, welfare services and public transportation.

JNi.Media

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

Jewish Response to Murder: Yet Another Building Acquired in Old City

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Last October, Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, 41, his wife and their seven children were having the third meal in their rooftop sukkah in the “Muslim Quarter” (which used to have an even mix of Jews, Muslims and Christians until the 1929 Arab riots) of the Old City of Jerusalem when they heard a woman’s cries for help from the street below. Rabbi Lavi, an officer in the IDF Reserves, grabbed his gun and ran downstairs, where an Arab terrorist, who had already murdered 22-year-old Aharon Bennett and seriously wounded his young wife Odel, repeatedly stabbed Lavi in the chest and neck, killing him, too. Then the Arab took the rabbi’s gun and shot the Bennetts’ toddler in the leg. Odel, with a knife in her shoulder, managed to run to an Israeli police outpost fifty meters away before losing consciousness. The police shot and killed the terrorist.

In what they dubbed a “true Zionist response” to Arab hatred and terror, Ateret Cohanim, an Israeli Jewish organization with a yeshiva and about 1,000 Jewish residents in the “Muslim Quarter” of the Old City of Jerusalem, recently helped facilitate an acquisition of another building located not far from the Flowers Gate, near the site of the murders, continuing the Jewish return to this part of the Old City.

New building acquired in Old City by Areret Cohanim - interior / Courtesy

New building acquired in Old City by Ateret Cohanim – interior / Courtesy

The building (yet to be named) will be home to 3 or 4 Jewish families and some Yeshiva students. Ateret Cohanim is also involved in the revival and strengthening of Jewish life in the old Yemenite Village of Shiloach (Silwan), which has doubled over the last year; in the Jewish neighborhood of Maaleh HaZeitim (near Ras al’Amud on the Mt Olives); and in Kidmat Zion, at the eastern border of Jerusalem.

Ateret Kohanim issued a statement Monday morning saying, “Arab terror and ongoing Arab incitement and violence, aim to drive Jews out of Jerusalem, to keep Jews away from the Old City, the Temple Mount and even the Kotel, and also intend to weaken the resolve of the Jewish people, especially of the families and students in and around the Old City. However, the Arabs are mistaken on all fronts. We will not be driven out of ‘our Jerusalem’ and such acts of violence have only strengthened our resolve, conviction, faith and fortitude.”

JNi.Media

Israeli Ambitious Project Launching First New City in Decades: Harish

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

(JNi.media) Israel will invest more than $250 million in turning the community of Harish into the first new city to be built since the 1990s, Israeli media reported Wednesday. According to a multi-year plan to be submitted to the Netanyahu cabinet at its next meeting, Harish will be defined as “a national priority community” for the next four years. A special hub will be established to serve the tens of thousands of new residents, and the Ministry of Construction and Housing will boost the size of the personnel assigned to the new project. Harish will be connected to the main transportation routes and will have a new transit system.

To get an idea of the sheer ambition of the new project: currently there are about 300 families living in Harish, and the plan calls for more than 50,000 residents there by 2020.

Harish is a municipality in the district of Haifa in Israel, located in northwestern Samaria, on a par with Hadera, just west of the “green line” where the northern belly of Judea and Samaria pushes in to about 15 miles in from the coast. It was founded in the 1980s as Kibbutz Harish, at an altitude of 330 feet above sea level, which makes for a refreshing breeze each afternoon. The kibbutz was abandoned in 1993, except for a Border Guard detachment that camped there. On the lands of the abandoned kibbutz the Housing Ministry established a new community, also named Harish, of about 300 dwelling units. The Ministry of Housing has invested heavily in the local infrastructure and in planning, but the development endeavor has failed. Most of the streets are empty, and the local population is weak.

The cabinet’s decision requires government offices to weigh Harish’s entitlements not based on its demographics at the beginning, but rather at the end of each year, greatly improving the new city’s ability to manage the absorption of new residents before they actually arrive.

Among other things, the plan calls for the establishment of 400 classrooms and day care centers; a new community service center; family health centers (MCHC); a crisis center that will include a police, fire and rescue station, as well as an emergency operating center; reinforcing social services to strengthen the community and dealing with the difficulties of transition; developing and promoting transportation access to Harish via connections with highways 444, 65 and 9, including interchanges and grade separations, and paving route 611; and developing and promoting public transport, including increasing bus routes to employment centers and adding a station on the railway.

Prices at this point are very attractive, according to commercials: around $200,000 for 4-room apartments with the kind of view of the Mediterranean that’ll make you cry in your Chardonnay on your terrace.

JNi.Media

Livni Team Thinking Outside the Box: Swap Israeli Arabs for Settlers

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

A senior Israeli source close to the peace negotiations has told Maariv that Israel has proposed to the U.S. a population exchange with the Palestinian state that will not require a physical transfer.

The idea is to turn over the “Arab triangle,” where about 300 thousand Israeli Arabs live today in the eastern Sharon Valley (near Netanya), in return for the “block settlements” in Judea and Samaria, which include Gush Etzion, the Shchem area, Maale Adumim near Jerusalem and possibly the Hebron area. Such a swap would also most likely include the Jordan Valley.

The proposed swap would not include the “outposts,” which are more scattered and whose legal status is in dispute.

From the tone of the official speaking to Maariv, it appears that the idea could catch fire at this point in time, because it is far more likely to be embraced by a majority of Israeli Jews. It’s greatest claim to fame is the fact that it “only” removes 100 to 150 thousand settlers from their homes, a number which many Israelis could live with. This number has been bandied around by Science Minister Yaakov Perry in recent days, as the unavoidable “painful sacrifice” the Jewish state must endure for the sake of peace.

Kerry might be tempted to entertain this idea in public, even if he does not end up actually endorsing it, because it would appeal to the right wing in Israel as well as in the U.S. Fewer people get hurt, Israel is rid of part of a significant ethnic minority that can threaten the Jewish character of the state (Remember the ticking demographic bomb? It ain’t ticking so much, as Arab birthrate has been declining, but it still sounds good).

Last time this idea was contemplated, by current Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, it evoked a very negative, even angry response from the left, and from the Arab Israelis, who accused Lieberman of racism.

Hard to tell why physically uprooting Jews is not racism, but merely redrawing the border to the west of an area rather than its east is racist.

Of course, the main reason the Triangle Arabs hated this proposal, and no doubt will despise it again, is because they’re nobody’s fools: why move from a Western democracy to a third world PLO (and later Hamas) dictatorship?

Also, the 100 to 150 thousand settlers and their loved ones will not be enamoured with the expulsion part.

And, of course, the Palestinian negotiators will hate it because, to be fair, it kind of favors Israel, legitimizing upwards of half a million Jewish settlers, while at the same time helping it unload an ancient security problem—the Arab Tiriangle.

In my humble opinion, while I remain certain of the hopelessness of the Kerry effort, beginning to end, I must admit that this is just the kind of out of the box thinking that would boost the near-defunct 2-state solution.

Did you hug a released Palestinian terrorist today?

Yori Yanover

Book Review: Simon Sebag Montefiore’s ‘Jerusalem: The Biography’

Friday, October 18th, 2013

By Henry Goldblum

At first glance, Simon Sebag Montefiore’s best seller Jerusalem: The Biography is surely impressive. Media critics as well as Henry Kissinger have showered it with praise, and the BBC devoted a timely three-part TV series to the author, providing invaluable publicity. Indeed, the book is not dull by any standards. Drama abounds – be it in chapter headings (take chapter 5, “The Whore of Babylon”) or in the description of events, such as the Moloch ceremonies in the days of King Menasseh, “the sacrifice of children at the roaster…in the Valley of Hinom…as priests beat drums to hide the shrieks of the victims from their parents” (p. 39). The Muslim invasion is depicted in graphic detail, particularly the battle of 636 CE, which took place “amidst the impenetrable gorges of the Yarmuk River” (p. 172) – although the area through which the Yarmuk flows is in fact more of an open plain.

Renouncing Uniqueness

Sebag Montefiore has clearly invested much effort in conveying his vision of Jerusalem – past, present, and future. The result reflects thoughtful study of many sources relating to different features of the city, and the author certainly recognizes its special status. However, in his apparent desire to deal evenhandedly with the various local religions, he fails to make it clear that it is only for Jews and Judaism that Jerusalem is, was, and has always been the sole spiritual center on earth. This omission is unacceptable. The author rightly refers, if only en passant, to Midrash Tanhuma and the writings of Philo of Alexandria as two examples of this basic, constant belief, unlimited by time or circumstance. The intensity of Jerusalem’s sacred status for Judaism is such that later monotheistic faiths have attempted at various times to gain a foothold in the city, despite their having other, holier places (Mecca and Medina, Rome and Bethlehem). Perhaps recognizing the significance of capturing the “chosen status” of Judaism, they have utilized diverse strategies to prop up their variant “histories,” including reinterpreting Muhammad’s miraculous night visit to the “Farthest Mosque” on the outskirts of Mecca to include a stopover in Jerusalem.

It has always been fundamental for the Jew to appreciate this imbalance, and it cannot be overlooked in any attempt to describe Jerusalem. Sebag Montefiore has downgraded this uniquely Jewish aspect of the city; as far as he is concerned, Judaism’s monopoly on Jerusalem is limited to part 1 of his book, extending until the year 70 CE. Parts 2-8 belong primarily to other faiths and peoples, and the final section of the book, dating from 1898, is titled “Zionism,” as if the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty is a separate chapter in the history of the city rather than the restorationof a violently interrupted continuum. Significantly, he neglects to emphasize thata Jewish majority has dominated the citywhenever circumstances have permitted,including from the early 19th century onwardwithout interruption; nor does he remind thereader that only when Jews have ruled thecity have all other faiths enjoyed full rights ofworship there.

Historically Dubious These omissions are partially explained by the almost complete absence of references to classic Jewish works compiled in the Land of Israel – despite their obvious relevance in terms of place, time, and subject. Thus, the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds are together accorded a mere four quotations; the output of Jewish historians from Graetz to current Israeli scholars not of the revisionist mode is similarly glaringly absent. In contrast, detailed descriptions of events and individuals taken from non-Jewish sources abound – even when their relevance is historically uncertain or unsound – notably the passages on Jesus in chapter 11. The sole reference to Jesus in Josephus (Antiquities, book 17, 63-64), whom Sebag Montefiore cites among other non- Jewish sources as confirmation of his existence as a historic character, is widely regarded as being of dubious authorship (see Emil Schürer’s History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus, vol. 1, p. 428ff.).

The reliability of the author’s statement at the opening of the Islam section is similarly questionable: Muhammad is said to have come “to venerate Jerusalem as one of the noblest of sanctuaries” (p. 169). With all due respect, the Koran never mentions Jerusalem, and by beginning his discussion of Islam with the reinterpretation of the passage regarding “the furthest place of worship,” Sebag Montefiore creates a false impression, especially since in Sura 2, the Prophet commands that prayer be directed exclusively to Mecca. The other quotes on page 168 are all from later Muslim sources. The term “Iliya,” a corruption of the pagan name Aelia Capitolina coined by Hadrian, continued to be used by the Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem for a generation or more following Muhammad’s death, with examples from as late as the end of the 10th century. This is the name of the city appearing on the milestones of Caliph al-Malik, who built the Dome of the Rock in the 690s. The name Al-Quds, “The Sanctuary,“ came into common use only in the 11th century, in the context of the struggle between Crusaders and Saracens for dominion over the Holy Land (see Moshe Gil, The Political History of Jerusalem in the Early Muslim Period, p. 10). The anecdote concerning Caliph Omar’s tour of the Temple Mount (p. 175 in Sebag Montefiore’s book) only reiterates the secondary status of Jerusalem in Islam – the caliph rebukes Kaab, a converted Jew, who suggests praying in the direction of the Temple on the mount rather than toward Mecca. As Bernard Lewis has stated in The Middle East, “Much of the traditional narrative of the early history of Islam must remain problematic, whilst the critical history is at best tentative” (p. 51). Why, then, has Sebag Montefiore adopted Islamic accounts regarding this period so readily? Is he perhaps playing to Muslim sensibilities? All this leads us to an epilogue that looks forward, as might be expected from the previous sections, to a permanent division of the city into two capitals for two states, in accordance with current liberal and revisionist dogma. The hope of witnessing such a chapter in the history of Jerusalem rankles coming from a scion of the illustrious Montefiore family, whose philanthropy was once invested in the furtherance of a quite different destiny for the city.

Admittedly, Jerusalem: The Biography provides an enjoyable ride. A more appropriate destination and a less controversial and dangerous route might be preferable, but that, presumably, would require a change of driver.

Dr. Heny Goldblum is a lawyer and a scholar of history

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David Bedein

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