web analytics
June 26, 2016 / 20 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Crisis’

Incoming Defense Minister Rattles Israeli Political Establishment

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

by Michael Bachner

The news that MK Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteynu party, will be Israel’s next defense minister has rocked the political establishment on the right and left.

Liberman, a tough-talking former ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has sought the Defense Ministry portfolio for years – and appears set to receive it after a deal struck with Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Liberman’s rise followed a tumultuous day of negotiations and backroom deals in which both Liberman and MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the historically left-wing Labor party, vied for the job of defense minister and the chance to enter Netanyahu’s government.

“I regret the prime minister’s decision. I did not imagine that he would make such a paradoxical and dangerous move,” said MK Benny Begin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday morning. “The prime minister has been very proud of what he called ‘a reasonable, balanced and responsible’ defense policy, while Liberman’s statements give an opposite impression.”

Netanyahu received harsh criticism from opposition parties as well, including Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, who blasted Netanyahu for “bartering the most sensitive and important positions as if nothing mattered” in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Liberman was an ally of Netanyahu – the two ran together in a united party during the 2013 election after which Liberman became foreign minister – until they had a public falling out two years ago. The Yisrael Beiteynu party remained in the opposition after last year’s election, and as recently as March Liberman castigated Netanyahu as a “liar, cheat, and con man.”

Liberman has been a frequent advocate for a harsher military response toward Palestinian Authority terrorism, notably against the Hamas terror group that runs Gaza.

“The elimination of Hamas is the primary mission of the Israeli government and as defense minister I will carry it out,” Liberman said before last year’s elections. “We will not reach agreements and understandings with them. The only agreement that can be reached with Hamas is when they are buried in the ground,” he said, adding that such an Israeli policy cannot be implemented when the government is comprised of “a coalition of nerds.”

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East and a former British prime minister, colluded with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to push Herzog into the government – a move reportedly designed to facilitate a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. According to the report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Blair even met with Herzog’s political partner, MK Tzipi Livni, in her Tel Aviv home this week, despite the fact that she is sitting shiva – the Jewish mourning ritual – for her brother.

Liberman is set to replace current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a senior Likud member who has recently clashed with Netanyahu over a series of issues related to the IDF’s independence from the political establishment.

Ya’alon, apparently alluding to the news of his ouster, said on Thursday that Israel is facing a crisis of leadership. “There is a loss of our moral compass on basic issues,” Ya’alon said. “If I had to give a golden tip, it would be to navigate with a compass rather than a weather vane. Navigation with a compass is tried and true, and it’s also a question of leadership.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Israel State Comptroller’s Report Details Housing Crisis

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Israel’s state comptroller Joseph Shapira released his report Wednesday on the nation’s housing crisis, detailing a 55 percent rise in the price of a home between 2008 and 2013.

According to the 294 page report, rent costs rose by 30 percent in the same period, and that “no solution was found” by the Netanyahu government. Wage raises did not match the skyrocketing prices, the report noted, and,”The various government departments responded with no strategic plan of action in the long term, and without having set any goals.”

What was once a given – the Israeli tradition of both sets of parents splitting the cost of buying an apartment for their children when the young couple marries – is today a given no longer. For many Israelis the high cost of living has put the tradition entirely out of reach. Rents are also significantly higher, even in communities located in the “periphery.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party released a statement in response to the damning report, saying that only a strong government led by Netanyahu could resolve the crisis, “just as we did with many other reforms and deep institutional changes we implemented, which made the Israeli economy strong and competitive.”

Former Likud MK and current candidate Prof. Benny Begin told the Anglo Voters’ debate at Cinema City in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, “In 2009, less than 20,000 apartments were being built annually. This year with Housing Minister Uri Ariel, 50,000 were built. But we need a stable government, a strong backbone and a strong Likud to keep one government in place in order to continue that trend,” he emphasized.

Yisrael Beytenu candidate Ashley Perry, also present at the debate, said his party would strengthen the economy and the housing market by helping families purchase new homes with a mortgage designed to avoid the difficult issue of the 33 percent out-of-reach down payment. For Israelis who have served their country via the military, Perry said, there should be a 90 percent mortgage incentive plan and after-school programs for working mothers to help them earn a living.

Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, another candidate present at Wednesday evening’s Ango Vote debate, also underlined the fact that more than 50,000 housing units were built this past year but said his party chairman had been sabotaged. “The plan was to build thousands of rental units as well,” he said, “but there was not enough time for Yesh Atid to implement our entire housing improvement plan, which involved an increase of NIS 10 billion in the 2015 budget. It was on the table when elections were called. We wanted to pass the budget, and then call the elections – but the prime minister refused.”

Yachad candidate Hillik Bar also blamed the prime minister, noting that at least two million Israelis live in rented housing. “It’s a jungle,” he said. “This government has made no attempt to reduce the price of housing.”

Bayit Yehudi candidate Uri Banks slammed Yesh Atid party chairman and Finance Minister Yair Lapid altogether over the issue, saying he “came in with a foolish plan which increased demand without the supply to meet it. He committed suicide on that plan and brought us to these elections.”

Hana Levi Julian

Israel’s ‘Deep Ties’ With US Will Continue

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Wednesday that Israel’s “deep ties” with the United States will continue.

Netanyahu reassured lawmakers that the strong bond between the two countries would weather the current “crisis” claimed Tuesday in an article published in The Atlantic quoting an anonymous senior staffer in the Obama White House.

“The safety of Israel is not important to those who anonymously attack us and me personally,” Netanyahu told the special session, held in memory of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi, assassinated 13 years ago.

“I stand for our safety and security interests.”

Netanyahu added that he values and respects “our deep ties with the United States” and promised that strategic ties between Israel and America will continue.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli-American Journalist Held Hostage in Ukraine

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

An Israeli-American journalist has been kidnapped in Ukraine and is being held by separatists there, according to a report by the HBO-owned online news site Vice News.

Pro-Russian separatists were quoted Tuesday in the report, admitting they were holding reporter Simon Ostrovsky in the city of Slaviansk.

The news was announced by the self-declared mayor of the city, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, who held a news conference and told reporters “his men” were holding an American journalist with Israeli citizenship.

Ponomaryov did not specifically name Ostrovsky. But other journalists working in the area told Reuters that a group with him had been grabbed by the mayor’s men on Monday, and later freed. Unlike the rest, however, Ostrovsky was not released.

BBC journalist Graham Phillips uploaded a YouTube video documenting his efforts to track down Ostrovsky.

In the video, Phillips is heard requesting information about ‘Simon, Simon journalist’ from the self-declared mayor. Ponomaryov gruffly responds in guttural Russian that Ostrovsky will not be released any time soon. The footage is shaky because the cameraman is being knocked around by the numerous armed military guards, who are brandishing AK-47s as they threaten the news team. It is clear that Ostrovsky is being held hostage, and that his life is likely in danger – at best.

In some ways, the entire nightmarish scene brings to mind the hostage crisis years ago in Uganda. All the other journalists were let go – but the American with Israeli citizenship was held.

The kidnapped journalist has produced stories on Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the situation in Judea and Samaria.

For the past several weeks he has been covering the crisis in Ukraine. The last time he was heard from, he posted a tweet on the Twitter social networking site during the separatist mayor’s news conference on Monday. In that post, he commented that a woman working with the mayor’s group had “called us all liars” and asked for donations to pay for the funerals of ‘militants’ killed the previous day in a clash.

Hana Levi Julian

Europe’s Financial Crisis Weighs on Israel’s Economic Outlook

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

The austerity package passed by Spain’s parliament last Thursday has done little to calm economic jitters worldwide, with the effects being felt in Israel as the Bank of Israel (BoI) is set to decide today whether to lower its key interest rate for a second straight month.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party pushed through the controversial plan to cut state spending by some $80 billion, despite stiff resistance from opposition parties. The package includes a rise in the Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate from 18 percent to 21 percent and the reduction of unemployment benefits. Spain is struggling with an unemployment rate of around 25%, and has sought to ease its banking crisis by obtaining a bailout from the Eurozone.

On the same day that the austerity package was passed, German parliament approved an aid package for the Spanish banking sector worth approximately $146 billion. Many commentators in Germany expressed concern over the utility of another bailout. German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented: “The reality is that Spain is getting aid with loosened conditions. Soon Italy will ask, too. And the other reality is that, instead of investors, once again (mainly German) taxpayers will have to pay for the faulty speculation of banks.”

In Israel, the opening of the trading week on Monday morning saw the shekel-dollar exchange rate crossing the NIS 4/$1 line. The current shekel-dollar rate is at a three-year high, while the shekel-euro rate is 0.68% lower, at NIS 4.8705/€1. Later on Monday, the BoI is expected to announce its key interest rate for August, with some analysts speculating that the rate will be lowered for a second straight month, from 2.25% to 2%. Last month, the BoI cut the rate from 2.5% to its current rate.

Moti Bassok and Ram Ozeri, writing in Haaretz, explained that while a cheaper shekel makes Israeli imports more enticing, lower interest rates diminish foreign demand for shekel-based investments – which in turn tends to lower the shekel’s value. Supporters of an interest rate cut cite recent slower economic growth and weak foreign trade figures. The recent performance of Spanish government bonds have heightened fears that Spain will require much more assistance than last week’s $146 billion bailout, and Spain’s fiscal difficulties are causing the Euro to tumble, reaching a new low of approximately $1.2083/€1.

Israel is watching the continuing European debt crisis warily, as the European Union is Israel’s top trading partner. But despite Europe’s economic woes and trepidation in Israel, the EU is set to intensify relations with Israel by approving up to 60 new cooperative initiatives, according to AFP.

The initiatives are expected to be endorsed on Tuesday at the the annual Israel-EU Association Council meetings in Brussels. Predictably, they are sparking indignation from certain corners, as they come only two months after the EU’s statement condemning Israel for actions that “threaten to make a two-state solution impossible” – ie. settlement building, “settler extremism,” and “provocations against Palestinian civilians.”

According to AFP, the initiatives will include heightened cooperation in the energy and transportation sectors, and more closely-coordinated relations with a variety of EU agencies.

A European diplomat, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, was critical of increasing bilateral relations, saying: “Once again we’re hearing critical words on the one hand but it’s business as usual on the other…EU statements on the peace process are no more than theatre.”

Paul Hirschson, deputy spokesman at Israel’s foreign ministry, pointed out that the increased cooperation “is related to the existing work plan rather than some sort of upgrade, because that way the EU would have to find a way of delinking it from the peace process.”

In 2008, Israel’s attempt to enhance ties with the EU was stifled when the bloc suspended discussions because of Israel’s offensive against the Hamas regime in Gaza. It thereafter declared that any progress in bilateral relations would be conditional on progress in the Middle East peace process.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman left for Brussels on Monday and will be attending a meeting of the Israel-EU Association Council.

Jewish Press Staff

Postcards from Hell – The Face of Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

“Gaza is the largest Palestinian city, roughly 500,000 in the metro area, out of 850.000 altogether in the province of Gaza. In 2009 the total population of the Gaza Strip was estimated in 2009 at 1,600,000.”

We Google-translated the above from رحلة سياحية لغزة (Tourist Trip to Gaza), which is part of the Tourism section of a website belonging to a radio station named “Sun.” The section on Gaza encourages tourism to the city which has been associated in popular public opinion with images of starving refugees huddled in shacks under daily Zionist air raids.

Sun is a regular radio broadcast of the Arab minority in Israel since 2003. Its slogan is: “Free Radio, modern Radio.” It says it represents the generation that no longer accepts being second class citizens in Israel. It is open to liberals who dare to break all political or social taboos. It also works to challenge the institution of the state and at the same time to build bridges of understanding and co-existence between Jews and Arabs.

The “Visit Gaza” section is current, and offers stunning images of Gaza City, a beautiful and vivacious place that could easily compete with many Israeli beach towns, including my own gorgeous city of Netanya.

So, all we have left to do is to take you on a tour of Gaza, and for the fun of it, we’ll add to these fabulous images quotes from two sources about conditions in this lovely city by the sea, UNRWA and the PA. In the end there’s a video you don’t want to miss. Enjoy!


As the Gaza blockade moves into its fifth year, a new report by the UN’s agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, says broad unemployment in the second half of 2010 reached 45.2 per cent, one of the highest in the world. The report released today, finds that real wages continued to decline under the weight of persistently high unemployment, falling 34.5 per cent since the first half of 2006. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)


The report concludes that 90% of Gaza water is unfit to drink. The reasons behind this deteriorating situation, the writer of the report believes, are the racist policies of occupation, the latest war on Gaza , the siege, and the division and its impact on society and education, which resulted in 45% of unemployed graduates. (Gaza Under Attack, Refugees Deteriorating Conditions)


The Refugees’ Affairs Department of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) published a report detailing the conditions of Palestinian refugees, living in the Gaza Strip. The report compares the conditions of refugees in 2012 and 2006. The report writer, Ala’a Abu-Diaa, states that refugees’ conditions are deteriorating, in relation to housing and lands’ price, which doubled in the last five years. The rate of exports decreased 80% compared to the pre-siege period. Gazans found refuge, the report continues, in tunnels linking Gaza with Egypt. (Gaza Under Attack, Refugees Deteriorating Conditions)


The UNRWA report finds that the private sector was particularly badly hit compared to the government sector.
In the second half of 2010 businesses shed over 8,000 jobs, a decline in employment of nearly 8 per cent relative to the first half of the year. By contrast, the Hamas-dominated public sector grew by nearly 3 per cent during the same period. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)


Human rights activists have criticized the international community for its silence on the flagging Gaza economy that has been shattered by the siege and the 22-day Israeli assault on the Gazans at the turn of 2009. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)


“These are disturbing trends,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “and the refugees, which make up two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million population were the worst hit in the period covered in this report. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)


“Over a million refugees in Gaza live in hard conditions in several camps across the strip and are dependent on assistance provided by the UNRWA,” the report said. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)


The UN agency needs to build 100 schools and 10,000 housing units in addition to a number of health centers but these have been severely hampered by Israeli siege of the strip. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)


Successive UN human rights chiefs have slammed Israel’s illegal settlement plans, its Gaza blockade and the building of an apartheid wall across Palestinian territories in the occupied West Bank among other things. (UNRWA)

Refugees are still going through endless crisis, beginning with electricity and including fuel, which affect all walks of life in the besieged coastal enclave. The newly published report states that over 70% of refugees depend mainly on aid delivered by UNRWA.

And Now, for a Video We Like to Call:

Gazans who have been under Israeli blockade for several years have been largely dependent on food supplies, goods and fuel brought in via the tunnel. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)

Yori Yanover

The Rebbetzin Knows Best?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

A letter to the Chronicles in Crisis column in the Magazine section of The Jewish Press a few weeks back (12-24-2010) greatly disturbed me. The writer expressed her opinion that many “older” female singles were not doing what was necessary to maximize their looks. She writes, as an example, that she was at a lecture given by a visiting rebbetzin from Eretz Yisrael and a quick glance at her fellow attendees affirmed her observation that many were “plain Janes” who were not trying to look more attractive – and hence be more marriageable.

I found myself disagreeing with the writer’s generalization. Many single women do make the effort to look their best and are well-dressed and well-groomed.

However what caught my attention – and my ire – as I read the letter was what I feel is a misguided, potentially disastrous statement by the guest speaker which the writer included in her article.

The rebbetzin, according to the writer, had urged these unmarried women – who obviously respected her enough to have come out to hear her speak on a cold winter’s night – to refuse a date with a young man who had Internet access or to stop seeing him immediately if she was already dating one.

I have no doubt that this pious woman had the best of intentions when she encouraged these girls to reject young men whom she felt were too “modern” and whose focus should be on full time learning. However, I feel she was very misguided and very likely undermining their already diminishing prospects of finding a good match. As the letter writer did not mention whether the speaker emphasized the importance of middos and erlichkeit in a potential spouse, I can only imagine that the issue of whether the young man had Internet access took priority.

It is tragic that many of these still young women – despite being intelligent individuals with good jobs and lots of responsibility – will take this woman’s well meaning but ill-advised words to heart. They will assume, because of her piety, that only pearls of Torah come out of her mouth, and will defer to her “wisdom” and refuse to date frum young men who use the Internet: Young, responsible men who live in the 21st century and who know that being computer literate is as necessary for parnassah today as is the ability to read and write.

These girls, according to the letter writer, are already a bit older and not doing enough to enhance their looks. No doubt setting them up is getting more challenging as their competition grows with each passing year. The truth is a young man of 27 has his pick of attractive girls in their very early 20s. “Older” girls on the “wrong” side of 25 are at a disadvantage. Those are the facts on the ground. At this stage in their lives, they should be accepting dates with every mentchliche earner/learner redd to them.

But many won’t, and will feel virtuous in doing so, infused with a sense of righteous sacrifice for not compromising their “frumkeit,” having internalized the values of a relative stranger who feels she knows what is best for their future spiritual well-being. Even if it doesn’t mesh with what their parents want.

Several of my friends have shared with me their deep dismay and confusion over the fact that their adult sons and daughters quickly run to their rebbe or rebbetzin, before or after a date, to get their input as to whether they should proceed or not with the relationship. These parents feel usurped.

Shouldn’t their children confide in them, they ask. Shouldn’t they, as the mothers and fathers who raised them and who have certain lifestyle goals and hopes for them, be the ones advising them as to who and what type of person they should marry, and not somebody – no matter how learned – who has known these young men and women for a short time or just in the confines of a lecture hall.

Often the advice these young people receive – if they are male – is to forgo college and a secular education (often against their family’s wishes) and to learn for as many years as possible. To achieve this, they are advised to marry a girl whose parents will commit to supporting the young couple for many years. The girls are exhorted to marry learning boys with the expectation that they will supplement their parents’ support by getting a secular education and working. The huge question of who will be raising the children as their mothers take on the role of full-time breadwinners seems to be ignored.

Why has the idea of men working for a living become something to be looked down upon? Did not the gaonim and gedolim of the Mishnah and Gemara all have occupations? Many even did menial work or manual labor in order to support their families. According to the Talmud, there are three things a man is required to teach his son: Torah, how to swim and a trade.

How did we stray so far from this concept?

Cheryl Kupfer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/the-rebbetzin-knows-best-2/2011/03/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: