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July 25, 2016 / 19 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Kahlon: Half-Billion Shekels to Go to Holocaust Survivors and Elderly

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

By Joshua B. Dermer/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced plans on Monday to increase annual financial support for Holocaust survivors and elderly welfare recipients by a half-billion shekels (US$133 million) in advance of the country’s Holocaust Remembrance Day this week.

“Unfortunately, previous Israeli governments have not done enough on behalf of Holocaust survivors…the program is focused on pushing elderly Holocaust survivors over the poverty line,” Kahlon said during the annual Knesset event celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany. “In addition, there has not been enough done for the economically-disadvantaged elderly population—increasing their benefits was one of our conditions for entering the government.”

The new plans will benefit 60,000 survivors living below the poverty line and will add 350 million shekels (nearly US$1 million) earmarked for elderly welfare recipients.

“Two days from now, on Wednesday, we will enter Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), as we do every year,” Kahlon said. “As the years pass, we see a decrease in the number of Holocaust survivors in Israel. However, what is not decreasing is our desire to listen to their stories, which are an inseparable part of the country’s founding, as well as our desire to enable them to grow old with dignity”

Government funds towards survivors have increased in recent years, according to Aviv for Holocaust Survivors, an NGO dedicated to informing the Israeli survivor population of updates regarding grant allocation and changes in government policy.

“We believe that in 2016 there are not supposed to be any poor survivors—this is the last opportunity to help Holocaust survivors and that’s why everyone is trying to help,” said Aviva Silverman, CEO and founder of the organization, in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “It’s hard to say what impact and influence the project will have, but we truly embrace and treasure every and any kind of support and change. Any benefit given is a blessing.”

The median age of survivors in Israel is 82, Silverman said, and many survivors need assistance in understanding and applying for these benefits.

“The main problem is that because there are so many changes and announcements, the Holocaust survivors are not aware of many of the benefits they can enjoy,” Silverman told TPS. “Our job is to inform them and help them apply for these benefits.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

German Rightwing Party Calling for Ban on Islam as Leftists Clash with Police

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

The rightwing party Alternative for Germany has declared that “Islam does not belong in Germany” as part of its new party manifesto which was passed on Sunday. “An orthodox Islam that does not respect our constitution or even contradicts it is incompatible with our legal system and culture,” the manifesto declares.

The Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD), led by Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen, is a rightwing, Eurocentric political party founded in 2013. The party won 4.7% of the national vote in the 2013 federal election, just short of the 5% electoral threshold. In 2014 the party won 7.1% of the votes and 7 out of 96 German seats in the European election, and joined forces the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group. As of March 2016 the AfD had gained representation in eight German state parliaments.

Current opinion polls give AfD as much as 14% of the vote in the 2017 national elections, a figure that could grow depending on immigration-related events over the summer. Even at 14%, the AfD would make the big parties’ job of coalition cobbling next to impossible.

An estimated crowd of 2,000 AfD members came to Stuttgart to discuss and adopt the manifesto during a two-day party congress that opened Saturday, complete with violent protests from leftist demonstrators. Some 2,000 leftwingers clashed with police on Saturday as they tried to break up the AfD conference. An estimated 500 leftists were detained and 10 police officers were injured, a police spokesman said.

The AfD manifesto includes a ban on foreign financing of the construction and operation of mosques, rejection of minarets and muezzin calls as Islamic symbols of power, and a ban on head scarves for girls and women in state schools. The party congress considered and rejected a proposal to ban immigration, “in particular from foreign cultures.” Instead, the new platform says, “We welcome immigrants who are qualified for the labor market and who are willing to integrate into society.”

The platform calls for the deportation of foreigners with a criminal record. It also bans the slaughtering of animals according to Muslim and Jewish laws.

Ah, well, that was to be expected.

JNi.Media

Hungarian Authorities Arrest 2 Suspects in Death of Ofir Gross, z’l

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Hungarian police have arrested two suspects in connection with the death of 40-year-old Ofir Gross, an Israeli citizen whose body was found in a forest outside Budapest this weekend.

The two suspects have been accused of murdering Gross, a resident of Jerusalem who was studying in Germany to become a medical engineer. He had gone to Hungary after leaving from Debrecen on a fishing trip following the completion of his studies.

The suspects are male, aged 21 and 19. The authorities have declined to release further details about their identities, and the motive behind the murder remains unknown.

Gross last contacted his family on the Thursday before the holiday of Passover. His family, notified by Israeli foreign ministry officials, traveled to Hungary to identify his body.

Hana Levi Julian

Body of Missing Israeli Located in Hungary

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

The body of a missing Israeli citizen has been found in Hungary, according to Israeli government officials.

The family of Ofir Gross, 40, is traveling to Hungary to identify the body, which was found in a forest.

Gross, a resident of Jerusalem, was learning medical engineering in Germany when he disappeared from Debrecen while on a fishing trip more than a week ago. He had flown to Budapest and contacted his family last Thursday before the start of the Passover holiday.

Initial findings indicate that he may have been murdered, according to a report by the Hebrew-language Ynet website.

An eyewitness quoted by the Hungarian consul apparently last saw Gross drinking beer at a local bar. The witness alleged that Ofir had said he did not want to order food because “it was expensive” and also declined to take a hotel room for the same reason.

Israel’s Channel 2 television news interviewed Gross’s sister, who said her parents had spoken with their son, who said he was going to stay on a couch at the home of a local man.

The family has no idea whether he ever reached that destination, however. “It’s a terrible fear,” his sister told the news outlet.

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Circle Working Overtime to Pushback Claim of German Rift

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

The headline of Sunday morning’s Israel Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu daily freebee bankrolled by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, was: “Jerusalem Sources: ‘Relations with Germany Tight.'” The optimistic message came in response to an embarrassing probe by Der Spiegel this weekend pointing a finger at Israel Hayom as the source of a grossly misleading story in February, which attempted to assign to German Chancellor Angela Merkel a position she never knew she held.

Whenever Merkel meets with Netanyahu, according to Spiegel, you can count on Israel Hayom to publish the confidential content of their discussion shortly thereafter. But this time, they went ahead and wrote this headline: “Merkel: This Isn’t the Time for Two States.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this headline, and many rightwing Israelis were delighted to see a leading Western leader coming to her senses in these trying times; the only problem was, of course, that Merkel never said nor even hinted anything of the kind. Merkel and her advisors were furious, naturally, because Netanyahu, the obvious source for the “leak,” had twisted the chancellor’s warnings against his policy in Judea and Samaria into an endorsement.

“Merkel had repeatedly made it clear to Netanyahu that she believes the effects of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories are disastrous,” Spiegel reported. “The settlement policy, she believes, makes it unlikely that a viable Palestinian state can be established in accordance with plans aimed at a two-state solution. Any other approach, Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are convinced, would ultimately transform Israel into an apartheid regime. Netanyahu, however, has not shown himself to be the least bit impressed by such arguments.”

What emerges from the Spiegel story is a growing German concern that Netanyahu has been taking advantage of Germany’s support, cooperation and friendship and is using Berlin as a bulwark against policies Berlin supports. “The perception has been growing in the German government that Netanyahu is instrumentalizing our friendship,” Rolf Mützenich, deputy floor leader for the Social Democrats (SPD) in parliament, told Spiegel. The SPD is Merkel’s junior coalition partner. Foreign Minister Steinmeier is an SPD leader.

According to Spiegel, what Netanyahu has been doing these past few months, is turn warnings from Merkel and other senior German officials, such as Foreign Minister Steinmeier, that Israel’s settlement policy is making it impossible for a future two-state solution to ever work — into seemingly throwing in the towel and accepting this reality as inevitable. And nothing could be further from the truth. According to Spiegel, Germany, like the rest of the EU, is hell bent on establishing two states in Israel, because they are convinced that, with the Arab demographics being what they are, the only way open to Israel to remain a Jewish state otherwise is by a system of apartheid.

We can argue against this concept until we’re blue in the face, we can point to declining demographics on the Arab side, we can show a growing wave of Arab immigration from the PA and Gaza to Canada and the US, we can point to Israel’s history of an unwavering democratic approach to its minorities — the Europeans, at this point, aren’t prepared to buy any of it. And spreading headlines that they do when they don’t doesn’t change their minds, unfortunately.

The Israel Hayom Sunday article is an attempt to blame the Germans for the February faux pas. They cite “sources in Jerusalem” who say the Spiegel story is “an internal-German attempt to attack Merkel over her good relations with Prime Minister Netanyahu.” That statement could only be made by someone who didn’t read the Spiegel story, in which named sources in Merkel’s circle are accusing Netanyahu of misusing his friendship with Germany.

Then the Israeli paper claimed that this is what they heard in the Hebrew simultaneous translation, which is their version of the dog ate my homework. And finally, they pin the whole thing on Netanyahu, who pointed the entire Israeli press in that direction following the Chancellor’s remarks, saying she had finally come to her senses regarding the current slim chances of negotiations based on the two-state solution. For his part, Netanyahu pinned the blame for why the 2-state is dead for now on the “situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian Authority.”

The real problem is that the Netanyahu approach no longer works, at least according to Spiegel. The Chancellery has indeed lost hope that the peace process can be revived — “so long as Netanyahu remains in office,” the magazine insists, describing the visit of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to Berlin two weeks ago, when Merkel was “demonstrative in her support,” when she said, “I understand why President Abbas continually seeks out the Security Council.”

Ouch.

Finally, according to Spiegel, accusations from Netanyahu that the EU labeling of products made by Jews in Judea and Samaria are essentially an anti-Jewish boycott “are no longer taken seriously in the Chancellery. Merkel’s foreign policy advisor Christoph Heusgen is supportive of the EU approach.”

JNi.Media

Diplomatic Sources Say Israeli Ties With Germany Are Strong

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Ties between Israel and Germany are strong, according to diplomatic sources in Jerusalaem.

The comment comes in response to a report in Der Spiegel that Germany is increasingly frustrated with the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The magazine wrote a piece claiming that Berlin was upset over an article in Israel HaYom that discussed bilateral relations and the two-state solution.

Ties are quite strong, however, and the source speculated the piece in Der Spiegel may have been linked to internal political dealings within Germany.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Report: Germany Spied on Israel’s PM, US, UK, EU, Vatican & OPEC

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

Germany’S BND Spied on Netanyahu, US, UK, Austrians and Others

Germany’s BND (Federal Intelligence Service) reportedly has been spying on the office of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according a report Saturday by the German weekly Der Spiegel.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the report.

Israel’s espionage agency provided deep intelligence to Germany about an imminent terror attack on a list of targets. The alert, which included the Hanover soccer stadium, came just days after the Nov. 13 (2015) terror attacks in Paris, according to a report in the Stern weekly. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was set to attend the match together with other government officials to show solidarity with the French.

The BND pretty much has been spying on everyone, according to the report in Der Spiegel, which is what international intelligence agencies do. But it’s considered very bad form to get caught in the process, especially by media, who nearly always expose a spy agency for doing so.

Germany’s BND has been caught by Der Spiegel more than once, which prompts other media to wonder what this is really about.

The German weekly also reported the BND spied on American diplomats placed in various locations around Europe, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Air Force and NASA, the U.S. space agency.

Other targets that were under the German spy agency’s surveillance were the British Ministry of Defense, the International Monetary Fund, the interior ministers of Austria and Belgium and the headquarters of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Six months ago Der Spiegel reported the BND was monitoring all communication devices of the embassies and consulates belonging to the U.S., UK, France, Sweden, Spain and other nations. It also spied on the Vatican, the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, U.S. diplomats at the United Nations and in Brussels, the U.S. Department of the Interior, NATO officials and European Union states.

Apparently, Merkel took the American president at his word when he said last week at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.: ““We’re all going to have to do more when it comes to intelligence sharing.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-germany-spied-on-israels-pm-us-uk-eu-vatican-opec/2016/04/02/

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