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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Committee’

Knesset Committee Sends Visa Ban on BDS Activists to Final Vote

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

The Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday approved for a second and third (final) plenum vote a bill banning issuing a visa and residency to anyone calling for a boycott against Israel. The bill is sponsored, among others, by MKs Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Roy Folkman (Kulanu).

According to the introductory notes, as part of the State of Israel’s fight against the calls to boycott her, a person who is not an Israeli citizen or permanent resident will not receive an entry visa or any kind of residency permit if they, or the organization they serve, issued call to boycott or a commitment to take part in a boycott. At the same time, the Interior Minister may award a visa or residency for special reasons.

Temporary residents who support boycotts against Israel would not be upgraded to permanent residency, meaning they could be expelled.

Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) asked during the debate: “Why should I let into my home someone who slanders and harm my country? We are not afraid of criticism, but we do have national pride/ A person who has already received temporary residency from us, and is in line for permanent residency, gets up and harms us, as our guest, why should we let them stay?”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said the law’s intent is to “censor those who object to the occupation,” noting that it does not distinguish between boycotts against all of Israel and those against only Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

MK Smotrich argued against committee members who suggested the new law would be struck down by the Supreme Court, saying it is absolutely proportionate. “Anyone who is not ashamed to receive from us favors and privileges and during his test period (going from temporary to permanent residency) spits in our face – they are the first ones who should lose their visa.”


Knesset Committee Hears Diaspora Jewish Students Won’t Support Israel in US, Europe, Fearing Anti-Semitism

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Jewish students are refraining from expressing support for Israel on campuses in the US and Europe due to their fear of anti-Semitism, students told the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, according to an official report issued Monday.

A survey presented by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs showed that in 2015 some 9,000 verbal anti-Semitic attacks were reported on Facebook; 11,354 on Twitter; and 4,468 on Instagram. In addition, 4,465 anti-Semitic video clips were posted on YouTube. It was also found that 40% of Europe’s citizens are anti-Semitic and 75% of Jewish students in the US were attacked for anti-Semitic reasons.

Jewish students living abroad told the committee that anti-Semitism and the BDS movement are causing them to conceal their Jewish identity (some keep their yarmulkes in their pockets) and their pro-Israel positions.

Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) said, “Today, mainly on academic campuses dominated by extreme liberalism, anti-Semitism is disguised as condemnation of the Jewish State. It is fueled by hatred towards the State of Israel.”

“When it is no longer polite and fashionable to hate Jews as they are,” said Neguise, “the hatred is disguised as criticism of the Jewish State”.

Prof. Irwin Cotler, former Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, said the current level of anti-Semitism “is the highest in 40 years, and includes the rejection of Israel’s right to exist at all, and the portrayal of Israel as a monster and enemy of mankind.”

He added that under the UN’s patronage, Israel is condemned more than any other country. “And the amazing thing is that the countries which lead the condemnations under the claim of ‘damage to human rights’ are Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia.”

Gilad Kabilo, activity coordinator at the StandWithUs organization, spoke of their 15 years of activity, including in social media. “We thwart boycott-related activities while producing good results on the ground, and we distribute accurate information about Israel, as well as promote discourse on the right of the Jewish nation to its historical native land,” he told the committee.

Ido Daniel, Program Director at Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism, spoke of the increasing anti-Semitic incitement on the web. The program’s activists fight [anti-Semitism on the web] using 16 languages, and have combated more than 30,000 anti-Semitic incidents on social media over the last year alone.

“People in the world understand that boycott or criticism of Israel’s policy means denial of the Holocaust, the demonization of Jews, and a license to murder Jews,” he said. “The outcome is that Jews are afraid to openly express their Judaism.”

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) spoke of the UN-funded textbooks in the Palestinian Authority. “They are full of pathologic hatred towards Jews, desire and aspiration for Israel’s destruction,” she said, while noting that a Jewish friend of hers in Atlanta said that this year she refrained from placing a Hanukkah menorah at her window.

According to Hagai Bar of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Today’s boycott activists have withdrawn from attack to defense mode, and are currently fighting over the right to boycott.”

Jonathan Elkhoury of the Christian Empowerment Council spoke of the change in the position of many students after they hear a Christian Arab such as himself defending of Israel.

Juda Stone of the Jewish Agency warned of the phenomenon of Jewish students who are afraid of anti-Semitism, which “leads them to escape their own identity.”

Benny Fischer, president of the European Union of Jewish students, said that not all those who support boycotting Israel are anti-Semitic, but they see themselves as “peace activists.” He also warned against the use of phrases such as “Jews have no future in Europe.”

Hadar Farkash, a student at Berkley University, spoke of the phenomenon of anti-Israel lecturers, as well as Palestinians and Americans – and even Jews – who are anti-Israel.

Jonah Shipmiler of NGO Monitor spoke of boycott movements which operate in Israel and encourage Israeli youngsters not to enlist in the IDF.

Jerusalem Institute of Justice, in cooperation with CA-inspiration, which operates on US campuses using a unique method which incorporates campaign research in social media, presented to the committee figures on exposure to content through social media. The exposure itself brought about a thorough change in the discourse at the Indiana University and Purdue campuses, as well as a profound change in the way organizations which promote incitement and violent discourse against Israel operate on social networks.


Education Committee Debate on ‘Breaking the Silence’ in Schools Hits High Notes

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee last week met to debate allowing Breaking the Silence group into Israeli public schools, following petitions filed by MKs Amir Ohana (Likud) and Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu).

The meeting was called after Breaking the Silence representatives had been invited to give lectures in schools, and against the background of a bill which is being drafted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett to prohibit the appearance of the organization’s representatives in front of children in educational institutions.

As right- and left-wing MKs argued over whether to prohibit the activity of Breaking the Silence in schools, six MKs were ejected from the stormy debate, during which MK Ohana said Breaking the Silence “is at the top of the industry of lies against the State of Israel.”

MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) said Breaking the Silence is a “patriotic organization” and that those who object to it want a “paranoid education system that does not deal with criticism.”

Breaking the Silence did not send representatives to the meeting, and the two school principals who invited the organization’s representatives to appear in front of their students were absent as well.

According to its website, Breaking the Silence “is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. We endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Our work aims to bring an end to the occupation.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) called Galon a “traitor” and she replied, “You are a pimp [as confirmed by the] court.”

“Our children fight no less and are killed no less than you,” Galon added. “Whoever reveals improper conduct should be respected. You are a group of cowards and hypocrites, that’s what you are.”

“Breaking the Silence does so in order to present the IDF soldiers as soldiers who systematically abuse locals,” Ohana said, adding “this poison against the soldiers and the State of Israel which is created by Breaking the Silence should be stopped, and we must say ‘not in our schools.'”

According to MK Forer, the organization has crossed the line. “It slanders Israel in the world, takes a fragment of [an event] and turns it into a whole story. The organization should be unequivocally taken out of the schools and the academia’s walls,” he said.

MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) asked, “Who slanders Israel in the world more than [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett’s people, who argue among themselves over who has a bigger flag? When I have to reply to the question of who do I trust more, Naftali Bennett or [Tel Aviv school principal] Ram Cohen – I unequivocally trust Ram Cohen more.”

Cohen was recently reprimanded by the Education Ministry after inviting Breaking the Silence to address his students.

“Breaking the Silence is more Zionist and patriotic than anyone here,” Gilon continued. “The hypocrites are the most repulsive. They are the ones who, just like a hyena, jump on a corpse. I will not tell you that I refer to (Yesh Atid Chairman MK) Yair Lapid; you will understand that on your own.”

MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) called on the Ministry of Education to invite organizations “which present the IDF as it is – a moral army,” to appear in schools. She also urged Breaking the Silence to “stop disrespecting the Knesset” and attend discussions which its representatives are invited to.

Amit Deri, head of the Reservists on Duty organization, said that Ram Cohen refuses to allow representatives of IDF reservists to give lectures to his students. “We have been to every school which Breaking the Silence lectured in, we arrived immediately afterwards. This organization encourages insubordination de facto.”

Shai-El Nachmani from the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium high school told the committee that he was present at a Breaking the Silence lecture and the message he received was that students must not enlist in the army. Committee Chairman MK Yakov Margi asked whether the Breaking the Silence representative explicitly said to not enlist. “They did not clearly say it, but that’s what I concluded,” Nachmani replied.

According to “Im Tirtzu” director Matan Peleg, “The main issue with Breaking the Silence’s activity is that they blame the entire Israeli society for war crimes. I want to take every soldier who has committed a crime and put him in jail, but this organization blames the entire State of Israel for war crimes. You tell me: how is this educational, and why should we bring them to [our] schools?”

Avichai Shorshan, one of the founders of “My Truth,” added, “Breaking the Silence takes extreme events which do not reflect everyone and disseminate them all around the world as if this is the face of the IDF. Hamas uses materials from Breaking the Silence in order to operate against us in international institutions. Is it appropriate for this organization to meet our children?”

MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) said that since “Breaking the Silence declares that it is against the occupation, it means that it holds a political position – which should be prohibited in schools.” Schools, according to Glick, “must only host pluralist organizations.”

MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) said, “This is another campaign of silencing which is not only aimed towards Breaking the Silence, but also against human rights organizations. He added, “This is an attempt of silencing the main issue of occupation. It is becoming clear that the State of Israel is not democratic even for Jews themselves, when it silences other’s opinions.”

MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) read aloud Natan Alterman’s poem “Al Zot” (For This), and noted that in 1948 David Ben-Gurion requested to print out the poem and hand it out to all IDF soldiers. “Today there is one school principal who still has the courage to bring out this voice and he is immediately summoned to a field court martial. We are not only talking about Breaking the Silence. We are talking about the moral image of our society,” Khenin said.

MK Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) told the committee that he grew up in a dictatorship and each time someone is called a traitor his heart tears apart. “When Bedouins were killed during Operation Protective Edge, the mayor of Dimona was the first one to offer his condolences, not the MKs who are here shouting. I am sad because I don’t see how it is possible to mend the rift.”

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said that she educates children to join the army and contribute as much as they can, but at the same time educates them to be aware of all opinions, ask questions and criticize.

“The only system where this still somehow exists is in the public education system, and now the Minister of Education wants to take it away. In the state religious education system there is no place for asking questions and criticizing,” said Rozin. The discussion, she said, exists only in the secular public education sector, “because the rest are blocked from pluralism.”

David Israel

Finance Committee Approves Long Term Savings for Every Child Retroactive to Jan. 2015

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

The Knesset Finance Committee on Sunday gave its final approval to the long-term savings plan for every child, to take effect January 1, 2017. Starting on this date, the state, through Social Security will deposit 50 shekel ($13.10) each month for every child until he or she turns 18, or 21, if the child or their parents decide to stay in the program an additional three years, in which case they would receive a 500 shekel ($131.00) bonus from Social Security.

Parents will be allowed to set aside an additional 50 shekel for their child out of the children’s allowance they receive from Social Security. They will be asked to pick a savings bank or a fund, without mobility between those plans. The plan is expected to yield for every participating child as much as 22,000 shekel ($5,764.00) by the time they turn 21.

The plan will be presented for two final votes at the plenum in the coming days.

Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) congratulated the Finance Ministry on its willingness to backdate the implementation of the law to as early as the start of next year. He reminded the committee members that it was his faction which pushed for the savings plan. He also expressed satisfaction at the ministry’s returning children’s allowances to their level in 2013, before then Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) had his way with them.

The monthly deposits will be adjusted according to the cost of living index. All management fees for the individual savings accounts will be paid by the state.

The committee approved a 2.7 billion shekel ($710 million) indemnification across the board to pay for the new plan through 2019, with retroactive payments for 2015-16.

MK Manuel Trachtenberg (Zionist camp), who was his party’s nominee for finance minister before the last elections, said he is voting for the plan because it is good and valuable, but protested the indemnification at the expense of other government social programs.

MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) also praised the program and condemned the indemnification, which was added to earlier cuts, comprising altogether an estimated 5.2% of the current budget.


Government to Reveal Lost Yemenite Children 2001 Committee Findings

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

The Netanyahu cabinet on Sunday is expected to approve the revelation of the findings of a 2001 state committee investigation of the disappearance of the children of Yemenite immigrants who arrived in Israel between 1948 and 1954. The proposal to expose the findings was initiated by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), and MK Nurit Koren (Likud), who petitioned Prime Minister Netanyahu to appoint a minister-level official to examine the issue.

In May, Netanyahu appointed Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), whose mother, former MK Geula Cohen (Likud and Tehiya), is herself Yemenite. Now, as Hanegbi has concluded his examination, with the help of the state archivist and the Government Freedom of Information Unit of the Justice Ministry, the publication of the committee’s report will be voted on by the cabinet, and followed by a vote of the Knesset Constitution Committee.

According to the proposal, the classified protocols of the 2001 Cohen-Kedmi Committee, which began its investigations in 1995. This followed bloody clashes in Passover of 1994, between the followers of Yemenite Rabbi Uzi Meshulam and police. The Meshulam followers were barricaded in the rabbi’s Yahud home  for 52 days, until police raided the place, aided by snipers and helicopters. One man was killed in the clashes.

The government-appointed committee heard more than 850 testimonies in those seven years, 27 of which remain classified. The committee’s findings were issued in 2001 in a 1,828-page report. Regarding 979 missing babies, the committee concluded that they had concrete evidence that they had died, just as hospital staffs were telling their newcomer parents. But the committee said it had not been able to find evidence on 69 missing babies, and raised the possibility that they had been given to adopting parents by social workers, without consent or even knowledge of their biological parents.

At the time, the government placed a gag order on the content of the committee’s protocols until the year 2071, with the rationale of wishing to avoid additional pain to the parties involved. The proposal the cabinet is expected to approve on Sunday conditions the revelation of specific cases of illegal adoptions on the consent of the adopted person in question. Considering the fact that they are now in their sixties and even seventies, every such revelation will likely touch the lives of dozens of individuals.

Justice Minster Shaked said in a statement that “there is a major public interest in revealing this affair, and to exposing as many of the details as possible. The era of hiding information is over in this country.”


Liberman to Knesset Defense Committee: Hamas Preparing for Next Round

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

“Hamas in Gaza has 26,000 soldiers and another 40,000 clerks who receive their salary from the Hamas. It is currently building up an attack force to try to move the fighting into Israeli territory in the next round, but it is also working to restrain various entities within the [Gaza] Strip, mainly due to the change in the Israeli response policy after every incident, which has become dramatically harsher,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chaired by MK Avi Dichter.

The defense minister said Israel will invest close to $1 billion over the next few years on defending the Gaza-vicinity communities.

Liberman noted the financial distress of Hamas, due to the reduced flow of funds from abroad and the economic and civic distress in across the Gaza strip. He said that today only 1% of the civic budget in Gaza comes from Hamas, while another 4% comes from the PA. 95% of the Gaza budget is donated by the international community.

There is tension, Liberman said, between the desire to allow Gaza citizens better living conditions, and the awareness that Hamas uses it to gain strength, as was the case when the Knesset approved the entry of construction materials into Gaza.

The defense minister also said that Hamas is not interested in solving the crisis in Gaza, looking instead to force the international community to get involved. So, for instance, it avoids connecting the Israeli power supply of a decontamination facility that was funded with $100 million from the World Bank.

Liberman noted that more than 90% of the water in Gaza is not suitable for drinking, and water desalination by international organizations will take at least two years to deliver. The crisis will arrive before then, he warned, and Israel will consolidate the plans to deal with it in the next few months.

Liberman also said that people within the Palestinian Authority are preoccupied with the day after Abu Mazen (nom de guerre of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas). Liberman noted that Abu Mazen himself is occupied mainly with leaving behind a diplomatic legacy, including a number of diplomatic initiatives planned for 2017, and is not working to improve the economic situation in the PA.

“Improving the economic conditions of the Palestinians is a security interest of Israel, and when it is clear that it would not be possible to reach agreements on diplomatic issues such as Jerusalem, it is still possible to work to improve living and economic conditions,” Liberman said, noting that the PA has instructed its representatives to not speak of these things, but to address diplomatic issues only.


Knesset Committee to Debate Proposed Law Expanding Defense Minister’s Powers

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

A proposed new law would magnify the authority of the Israeli defense minister (within pre-1967 Israel only, as the Civil Administration deals with Judea and Samaria), enabling him or her to restrict the freedom of a citizen without trial, under considerations of “national security of the public safety.”

The bill is to be debated next week by the Knesset Constitution Committee, whose legal advisers had already called it “problematic.”

Bayit Yehudi MK and Committee Chairperson Nissan Slomiansky told Ha’aretz the committee will have to consider how to balance the protection of national security and the public, against the “severe injury to human rights.”

The legislation if passed would allow the minister to restrict the professions in which a citizen could work, stop a citizen from leaving the country and/or stop that person from making contact with certain individuals, reports the Ha’aretz newspaper. It would also enable the defense minister to detail Israeli citizens without trial, among other privileges.

But all of the above restrictions already exist as privileges of the Public Security Minister in pre-1967 Israel, and the right of the Defense Minister in areas of Judea, Samaria and some parts of Jerusalem as well.

For instance, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet domestic intelligence service) can recommend to either minister that any individual be held under “administrative detention,” given enough reason to do so. Those reasons are not always made public, but one can be held under the law relating to administrative detention without being charged or brought to trial, for months. The validation must be renewed every three months, but the minister may detain anyone he likes as long as he can justify it to the High Court.

This law would limit that administrative detention – in pre-1967 Israel, at least, to six months.

As for restricting the professions in which one is able to work, security clearance, one’s military record and one’s criminal record and/or academic record – all of which can be traced via one’s Israeli identity card – already is used for such purposes, whether that information is always shared with the applicant or not.

As regards leaving the country, the average Israeli traveling abroad – as other travelers – goes through at least five security checks before ever reaching the airline check-in counter. By that time, Israeli security personnel have either decided one is a risk to national security, or they’re not.

If so, you’ll never make it to the plane.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/knesset-committee-to-debate-proposed-law-expanding-defense-ministers-powers/2016/10/27/

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