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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘FREE’

Jordan Holding First Free Parliamentary Elections in 10 Years

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Voting for the parliamentary elections in Jordan started across the Kingdom at 7 AM Tuesday and will continue until 7 PM, with a total of 490,240 Jordanians having voted by noon, Jordan Times reported. The number of eligible voters stands at 4,130,145, according to the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

The Jordanian elections were announced after parliament was dissolved by King Abdullah II on May 29, with the King appointing Hani Al-Mulki as interim Prime Minister following the resignation of Abdullah Ensour.

These elections are the first since 1989 to be held primarily under a form of proportional representation, following electoral reforms announced in 2015. Earlier elections were held under the “one-man one-vote” system, designed to curb the power of Islamic political parties after they obtained 22 seats out of 80 in 1989. The Tuesday vote is monitored by dozens of international observers. The 2015 reforms have led to opposition parties agreeing to participate in this election, including the Islamic Action Front, which boycotted multiple previous elections. According to reports, in order to reduce the IAF influence in these elections the Jordanian government has fomented splits in the Muslim Brotherhood, complete with the seizure of Muslim Brotherhood properties and the defection of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood figures to form a new, supposedly more moderate party.

The elected lower house of Jordan’s parliament is constrained by an upper house of equal legislative responsibility whose members are chosen by the King. While the lower house can initiate legislation, it must then be approved by the senate and the King. If the King returns the law unapproved, it must gain approval from two-thirds of both the house and the senate to go into effect. The King appoints a Prime Minister and Cabinet from the lower house, but he is not required to consult parliament on his choice or choose the leader of the largest party for PM. Cabinet reshuffling by the King within a single parliament are frequent, used to reward loyal MPs and to counter public dissent, as the King can shift blame for issues to the previous Cabinet. The King can dissolve parliament before the end of its term if he desires early elections, or suspend parliament entirely and rule by decree, which has been done twice in the 21st century, from 2001–2003 and 2009–2010.

Maj. Gen. Atef Saudi, Director of Jordan’s Public Security Department (PSD), said that no major security incidents were reported so far.

JNi.Media

Chabad Chayil’s Free Hebrew School For Dade County

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Registration is now open for a new year of Hebrew School for children of North Dade County. This supplementary program is designed for boys and girls ages 5-12 attending American Heritage, Charter, Country Dade, Nova, Pine Crest, and Riviera public schools and anyone looking for a once-a-week Hebrew School.

“As was the case last year, the program will be completely free with no cost and no obligation through the month of October” said Rabbi Moshe Kievman. After the holidays, regular classes will continue at affordable pricing with an option for no cost to parents in need.

The program starts Sept. 7 and will meet weekly on Wednesday afternoons from 4:30-6. Classes are conveniently located in Highland Lakes, across from AWK8, just west of Aventura and north of Skylake at Chabad Chayil.

The curriculum includes prayer, holidays, traditions, and Judaic study with a primary focus on Hebrew reading, and is designed to teach each child at whatever level he or she may be. “This program will offer a first taste of Jewish learning in a creative, joyful, hands-on and interesting way,” said school director Layah Kievman. “We try to impart a sense of tradition using modern and innovative teaching techniques. This is a Hebrew School of the highest quality that kids can’t wait to go to.”

According to all studies, Jewish education is a proven factor in ensuring Jewish involvement and continuity. Chabad seeks sponsors to subsidize tuition scholarships for families unable to pay. “We seek to ensure that every single child has access to a high-quality Jewish education,” said Rabbi Kievman. “Chabad is the place to experience Jewish enrichment classes in a fun yet meaningful way. It’s where parents feel comfortable and where kids don’t want to miss a day.”

The school welcomes every Jew regardless of religious background or level of observance. The school does not require membership of any sort as a condition for enrollment. To register or learn about other after-school activities, call (305) 770-1919 or visit HebrewSchool.info.

 

Shelley Benveniste

Quebec Bill 59 Seeking to Protect Muslims by Quashing Free Speech

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Quebec’s Bill 59, titled “An Act to enact the Act to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence and to amend various legislative provisions to better protect individuals,” has been raising concerns among Quebec residents and people across Canada. As the Center for Inquiry (CFI) has put it, “Human Rights actions in one province often set precedents for other jurisdictions,” and the unusually aggressive measures of Bill 59, should they become law, may threaten free speech everywhere in Canada.

Bill 59, introduced in June 2015, would allow the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to censor speech that promotes “fear of the other.” It doesn’t provide details as to what constitutes such fear, which probably leaves the definition up to the QHRC, and its president, one Jacques Frémount. Back in 1964, US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart described his threshold test for obscenity (as opposed to legitimate film and literature) saying, “I know it when I see it.” This vague approach is bad enough when it comes to censuring x-rated media, but when it comes to actual free speech, the core of democracy, such vagueness is the stuff of state tyranny.

The CFI points out that the bill’s section 3 allows reporting of hate speech that hasn’t occurred but is anticipated. The section states: “The person can also report any situation that could contravene the prohibitions in section 2, in particular if the person has knowledge that such speech is about to be engaged in or disseminated or if the person has been asked to engage in or disseminate such speech.”

The third item of the bill’s Section 17 sets forth a proposed public record of those who have contravened this proposed legislation: “For the purposes of this Act, the Commission also … maintains an up-to-date list of persons who have been the subject of a decision concluding that they contravened a prohibition under section 2 and makes the list available on its website.”

Section 20 stipulates fines to be paid at between $1,000 and $10,000 with doubling if a prior contravention has occurred.

Section 24 goes after the livelihood of educators who have crossed the QHRC, suggesting that “a person whose name is on the list kept by the Commission … is considered to exhibit behavior that could reasonably pose a threat for the physical or emotional safety of the students.”

Pen Canada has stated that “Bill 59 poses a significant threat to free expression in Québec. Although this piece of legislation aims to combat hate speech and speech inciting violence specifically, its broad language coupled with restrictive prohibitions and significant penalties will place a chill on the expression of legitimate ideas and debate.”

“Not only does Bill 59 prohibit citizens from engaging in or disseminating hate speech, but also from acting in a way that causes the speech to be disseminated,” Pen Canada continues. “This language casts an alarmingly wide net. For those in heated political discussions, will the defense of ‘legitimately informing the public’ be sufficient against anonymous complaints to the Commission?”

A petition to “Stop Quebec Bill 59” spells out what the more polite websites objecting to the bill have not said: “People are trying to impose Islamic blasphemy law right here in Canada, RIGHT NOW! You may or may not have heard about the Quebec Bill 59 but it will affect us all. Bill 59 will enforce Islamic Sharia Law, making it a crime to question or criticize or ridicule an idea. This is a law that would explicitly infringe upon our rights to free speech. Be it in person, on a street, or even on the internet.”

And if you haven’t yet clicked away to add your name to the petition, the authors conclude: “This bill is not only not needed but flies in the face of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It criminalizes criticism of Islam and anything considered an Islamic practice (Honor killings, honor rape, female genital mutilation, female oppression, and beating of wives and children).”

Constitutional attorney Julius Grey commented recently that, “Quebec is not yet a police state, but it is an inspector-state.” True to that definition, Bill 59 has been adopted in principle by Québec’s National Assembly and is currently being studied in detail by the Committee on Institutions. Once the committee releases its report and the National Assembly votes to adopt it, the bill could become law.

JNi.Media

Catch 22: Letting Hamas Partake in PA Free Elections Could Topple the PA

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

According to Israeli security apparatus estimates, there’s a significant chance that Hamas will win the municipal elections in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza by a landslide, severely weakening the PLO dominated Palestinian Authority and compromising Israeli security. The municipal elections are set to take place on October 8, in close proximity to the international peace conference in Europe, which means Israel is less likely to step in to block the vote, even if it wanted to. Also, doing so would thwart the only back to back democratic event to have ever existed in the territories Israel conceded in the Oslo Accord — that the 2012 municipal elections be followed in an orderly and legal fashion by the 2016 municipal elections.

However, according to Israeli media, many in the PLO leadership are leaning on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to postpone or cancel the municipal elections, fearing a repeat of the 2006 parliamentary elections in which Hamas defeated the PLO and a year later forcibly exiled Abbas and his PA from Gaza.

It should be noted that the Oslo Accords forbid the participation of terror organizations in PA elections, but Hamas has already set a precedence in 2006, and today’s PA is even weaker and less popular than it was ten years ago. Abbas may not be able to push the date, much less cancel the vote, because such a move could result in riots across the PA.

The city of Shechem is a clear example of the PA Chairman’s loss of control over the security situation in much of the area under his authority. According to Israeli media, the PA no longer rules in Shechem, which is mired in anarchy that could spread to other cities, most likely to Hebron, already considered a bastion of Hamas. Shechem today is being ruled by about 100 armed gangsters, belonging to both political and criminal groups. This month there have been bloody confrontations between PA security forces and the armed locals, resulting in four dead, two of them police.

Senior PLO sources have told Israeli media that Mahmoud Abbas has lost interest in local security issues under his care, and the man in charge is his chief aide, Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, who also controls the intelligence reports reaching Abbas’ desk.

Hamas has recently published a propaganda video showing the Gaza Strip as a kind of Paradise, with large parks, luxury buildings, a sassy nightlife, and shopping areas. It also features Gaza residents holding up signs saying, “Thank you, Hamas.” Will PA voters fall for this propaganda? Probably not. They will not vote for Hamas because they are unaware of the poverty and destruction that permeate the Gaza Strip, they’ll vote for Hamas because they perceive it as more anti-Israel and less corrupt than the PLO.

Israeli pundits believe the big winners from a Hamas win in the PA would be Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), who would benefit from the decisions of alarmed Israeli voters. Which is why Prime Minister Netanyahu should be invested in making it harder for Hamas candidates to win in the PA. Mass arrests of Hamas activists could be the way to go — risking international condemnation, naturally, but too much might be at stake for the Israeli PM to care.

JNi.Media

IDF: Free Degree For Released Combat Soldiers

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The IDF announced that soldiers who enlisted before 2013 and served in a combat unit will now be eligible for a free academic degree as of October.

The new measure, which is estimated to cost NIS 230 million a year, will pay for two thirds of the soldiers’ education while the last third will be paid for by the soldiers’ post-military grant. The funds for the program will be provided by the Friends of The IDF and the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot also reportedly asked Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to find ways to fund the education of non-combat soldiers as well.

Ari Friedman, 25, served in the Kfir Brigade and welcomed the IDF’s decision. “I am glad to see that the IDF is taking the initiative to assist its soldiers in advancing their education and life beyond their service,” he said. “I have no doubt that this will make a positive impact on the soldiers upon their release, as well as on the State of Israel at large.”

Soldiers from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds will also be eligible for the new program despite not having served in a combat unit.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

The Jewish Exception to Free Speech on Campus

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

In 2012, the Electronic Intifada, an online anti-Zionist media outlet that aggressively promotes the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, ran a lengthy article suggesting that “allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ create a real climate of fear” that is “silencing” pro-Palestinian student activists on U.S. campuses. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the article, not because of the absurd nature of the charges — that Jewish students were somehow intimidating and silencing pro-Palestinian student activists just by virtue of speaking up about the intimidation, and silencing they themselves were experiencing at the hands of those same activists — I laughed because of the accompanying photograph set beneath the headline. In one concise image, it revealed the utter disingenuousness of the thousand words that followed.

Students face a climate of intimidation on several California campuses (UC Berkeley SJP)

Students face a climate of intimidation on several California campuses (UC Berkeley SJP)

The photo, credited to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at University of California Berkeley, depicted a large pole on campus that was covered from top to bottom with multiple layers of promotional flyers. However, the only ones that were fully visible — because they had been affixed directly on top of the others — were the SJP’s flyers demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and urging the university community to support BDS. The juxtaposition of the photo with its caption, “Students face a climate of intimidation on several California campuses,” practically begged the reader to think: Which students are facing a climate of intimidation?  Certainly not the members of SJP, whose bold and brazen “freedom of expression” to demonize and delegitimize Israel and promote efforts to harm it is literally smothering everyone else’s!

In the four years since that article was published, the smothering of speech depicted in the article’s photo has not improved. In fact for one group of students, it has gotten worse.  Much worse.

A study of anti-Semitic activity in 2016 on more than 100 campuses, which our organization released earlier this week, revealed that over the past year the number of incidents involving the suppression of Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly by members of SJP or other anti-Zionist student groups had approximately doubled. For example, in April of this year, more than two dozen members of the General Union of Palestine Students at San Francisco State University disrupted and ultimately shut down a Jewish student event featuring a speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. A few minutes after Barkat’s speech had begun, protestors stormed into the hall and loudly chanted slogans such as “Get the hell off our campus,” “Long live the Intifada,” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free,” until the speech was prematurely terminated. Similar disruptions and attempted shut-downs of Jewish student events unfolded on campuses across the country.

It is telling that in our study we found a strong correlation between incidents involving the suppression of Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly and those involving the expression of anti-Semitic tropes that demonize and delegitimize Israel or promote its destruction: in 2016 all 12 of the schools at which the speech and assembly of Jewish students were suppressed played host to one or more incidents of anti-Zionist expression, and the greater the number of these incidents, the higher the likelihood that Jewish student expression would be suppressed. Not only does this strong correlation suggest that anti-Zionist expression may incite conduct which harms Jewish students, it also underscores the breathtaking hypocrisy of anti-Zionist activists on campus, who vigorously exercise their own freedom of expression but deny Jewish students that same right and freedom.

In addition, the increase in incidents which trample on the civil rights of Jewish students indicates the growing success of a tactic known as “anti-normalization,” which members of SJP and similar anti-Zionist groups routinely employ to aggressively stifle all pro-Israel expression. For example, in one of its founding documents the SJP group at Binghamton University outlined strategies for harassing Jewish students and disrupting or shutting down their Israel-related events in a section entitled: “Tactics and Strategies Used to Counter Zionist Normalization.”

Adherents of “anti-normalization” target not only pro-Israel students, but anyone presumed to support Israel, first and foremost Jewish students, regardless of their actual personal feelings on Israel. As a result, Jewish students engaging in Jewish activity having nothing to do with Israel — wearing their Jewish sorority or fraternity letters, displaying Star of David necklaces, walking to Hillel for Sabbath dinner – report fearing for their safety and well-being.  In addition, because of their support, or even just presumed support, for Israel, Jewish students report being rejected from progressive social justice activities such as pro-choice rallies, anti-rape demonstrations, Black Lives Matter events and racial justice conferences.

The situation has become intolerable for many Jewish students.

This past spring, the University of California system took a critical stand against the rising anti-Semitism plaguing its 10 campuses. Its Board of Regents issued a Statement of Principles Against Intolerance acknowledging that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism which incites additional Jew hatred and, like other forms of discrimination, has no place at the University of California system. The Regents’ statement also singled out “actions that physically or otherwise interfere with the ability of an individual or group to assemble, speak, and share or hear the opinion of others,” stating that they “impair the mission and intellectual life of the University and will not be tolerated.”

Universities across the country must follow suit.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

New Legislation Would Free Up $1.5 Billion in Credit for Israeli Housing Starts

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Construction companies are no longer allowed to charge their customers fees for their own legal services, according to a key item in a new amendment to the Sales Law being promoted by the Ministry of Housing and Construction, Calcalist reported Thursday. Another significant change in the law would remove the requirement that contractors post a bank guarantee for the VAT portion of the cost of the apartment, and instead the state would set up a special fund to cover the buyers’ outlay. This would save contractors millions of dollars, releasing more than $1.5 billion in bank credit to the real estate market. The construction firm would still have to insure the rest of the buyer’s investment, in case said firm goes out of business.

The Housing Ministry, which began the move to amend the law nine months ago, is hoping the changes would pass by the end of the Knesset summer session in August. The move was spurred by the common understanding that the construction section of the current Sales Law is outdated, and has led real estate companies to develop their own ways of bypassing it, at the expense of their customers. The amendments were forged by an inter-office team that included Deputy Attorney General Erez Kamenetz, the Consumer Protection Authority, the Finance Ministry, and the Tax Authority.

“It is our responsibility to help the Israeli public get accessible housing, while legally protecting the buyers and maintaining fairness in all processes,” Minister of Housing Yoav Galant told Calcalist. One of the problems in the way housing business is done in Israel has to do with the buyer paying the contractor’s attorney for processing the new apartment at the Land Registry Office (the local word for the office is Tabu — no relation to taboos, the word is simply the Arabic mispronunciation of the Turkish word Tapu, or title-deed). A recent legislation limited the fees paid to said attorney to about $1,300, but even so, the clients may believe that by paying his fees the attorney is now working for them, which he certainly isn’t — he remains in the service of the contractor.

The Housing Ministry believes that registering the apartment and providing a legal deed is part of the overall product the contractor is expected to provide, and so they now want to go one step further and eliminate altogether the requirement for buyers to pay for this service.

There are other amendments which are not as crucial economically, but certainly add transparency to the process of buying an apartment in Israel. Companies would have to inform buyers of every change they intend to make in the original construction plan, for instance, if they want to add apartments. They also must inform buyers of changes in nearby lots, so that, if, for instance, their magical view of the Mediterranean would now be blocked by a 48-story tower, buyers would have the opportunity to get out of the deal and look elsewhere.

Contractors may no longer be permitted to sell apartments on land that is yet to be re-zoned for construction. If a plan for a new housing construction exists but the permit for building has yet to be issued, firms may sell units to buyers, but only with the proviso that the project is not yet legally authorized, providing the date for the expected authorization, and that buyers can get their money back in its entirety should the permit not be issued.

Also, any significant change in a purchased apartment’s layout, including in common areas such as storage spaces and lobbies, would be considered legally as failure to fulfill the contractor’s commitment and buyers may recoup their investment.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-legislation-would-free-up-1-5-billion-in-credit-for-israeli-housing-starts/2016/06/09/

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