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June 29, 2016 / 23 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘israeli’

Pres. Rivlin Warns Israeli Arabs, Druze at Iftar Meal, ‘Beware Efforts to Destroy Coexistence’

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

President Reuven Rivlin warned participants at an Iftar meal (Ramadan fast breaking feast) Monday in the northern Israeli city of Sakhnin to beware those trying to undermine ‘the remnants of trust… between two peoples.’

The event was attended by municipal and faith community leaders from 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,” the president said.

“We too are still in the shadow of the terror attack against us just last week, terrorism which is unrelenting toward us.”

Rivlin stressed the need to stand united against terrorists. “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,” he said.

“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.’”

Rivlin said Israelis 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,” he said. “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.

“Our lives and your lives here in this country are intertwined,” he reminded his hosts.

Mayor of Sakhnin Mazen Ghanaim thanked the president, saying, “You are a sensitive and caring person. We all condemn in the strongest terms all acts of violence. The distance from Ramallah to Jerusalem is just 15 minutes.” He made clear, “We are working to promote employment, equal education, and peace.”

The mayor took the opportunity to note, “Today in the Knesset it 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.”

Rivlin assured Ghanaim that he would speak with Kahlon about the matter.

Hana Levi Julian

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

Heated Debate at Education Committee Emergency Session on Pro-BDS Israeli Academics

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

A stormy emergency session was held Wednesday at the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, following a report released by the rightwing Im Tirtzu movement that revealed the involvement of 20 Israeli academics in the proposed resolution of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to join the boycott against Israel. The debate revolved around academic politicization and the support given by university faculty members to boycotts against Israel.

The emergency session was called by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu), who said that “Israel cannot support and budget lecturers who call for a boycott against Israel. The boycott movement is an anti-Semitic movement, and they (the lecturers) cannot hide behind freedom of expression.”

Forer announced his plan to introduce legislation that would allow the State to prevent an institution of higher learning from receiving funds that amount to the salary of a lecturer who calls for a boycott against Israel.

Professor Zvi Ziegler, who heads an inter-university forum to combat the academic boycott, said that “the number of lecturers who support an academic boycott against Israel is so small and marginal – damaging but marginal – that it would not be worth it to deal with them. The damage they cause is a lot less severe than the damage that would be caused to Israel’s reputation as an enlightened and advanced country if we fight them.”

Matan Peleg, director of Im Tirtzu, told the committee that “this phenomenon must be stopped for the sake of the future of Israeli academia.”

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) said: “Could it be that the Arab Members of Knesset are doing the same thing as professors in the State of Israel – receive money and call to boycott the country? I ask myself, who learned from whom?”

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) said that while he supports a two-state solution, “the academic boycott hurts the chances of a shared existence.”

MK Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) urged the Council for Higher Education of Israel “to discuss this unacceptable phenomenon, so that there will be respectful rather than inciting academic freedom.”

MK Yoseph Yonah (Zionist Camp), himself a university professor, stressed that while he is against boycotts and the BDS movement, “a democracy’s strength lies in its ability to accept criticism.” He further argued that any initiative aimed at restricting academic freedom would cause much more damage.

MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp) said, “This debate is not between Jews and Arabs, or for or against BDS, because most of us are against BDS. We must check to see who is breaking the law and who isn’t.”

MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Camp) said Israel should fight the BDS movement “while preserving the values of democracy.” He noted that among the thousands of university faculty members in Israel, there are between three and ten lecturers who support the boycott, “and I am revolted by their actions and denounce them.”

MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) said, “This is an example of academic freedom under attack. Those who create politicization in the academia are the members of Im Tirtzu, with their amateurish report. We are sick and tired of this system of muzzling and restricting every democratic value in the country. Leave us alone. As for BDS, it is a non-violent protest that succeeded in South Africa, and it is legitimate to operate in this manner here as well.”

MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu), who serves as deputy chairperson of the Education Committee, chaired the meeting in place of Committee Chairman Yakov Margi (Shas), who did not attend in protest of the comments allegedly made by Channel 10 News Chairman Rami Sadan against his party and its leader, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

JNi.Media

Haredi Party Spearheading Effort to Protect Israeli Religious Charities from US Tax Authorities

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

The heads of charity organizations in the ultra-Orthodox society, commonly known as Gemachim, received at least a temporary measure of relief from the Knesset Finance Committee, chaired by MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), ahead of a new amendment of the Income Tax Act that takes effect in September and compels Israeli financial institutions to report through the local tax authorities on the Israeli financial affairs of US citizens. The amendment is the result of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA) agreement between Israel and the US, which was a prerequisite for continued cooperation between Israeli and American financial institutions.

It’s not much, but MK Gafni demanded that the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel order the banks to give the Gemachim time until the end of June to resolve their status as public institutions, which he hopes would allow them to exclude themselves from the FATCA rules. Gafni envisions a tweaking of the amendment to exclude groups with deposits of less than $50 thousand, or holdings worth less than $50 million.

According to Chairman Gafni, the new regulations could bring the collapse of the Gemachim. “The Israeli government signed an agreement with the US government without considering the disastrous consequences for one of the most important enterprises of the Jewish people that has existed for millennia — the charity and mutual aid societies,” Gafni said, explaining that the Gemachim are “the only means at the disposal of a person under financial duress to receive an interest-free loan to get back on his feet.”

MK Israel Eichler (UTJ), Chairman of the Public Petitions, summoned Dr. Ilan Steiner, Director of the Bank of Israel Currency Department, to his committee hearing, to warn him against another aspect of the US attack on these charity institutions. According to Eichler, banks are being forced under pressure from foreign governments to close the accounts of Gemachim accounts, “in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ and stopping money laundering, the IRS and the American government have become supervisors of all bank accounts around the world including in Israel. Everyone has to go through their inspection, so the Gemachim have received a letter that they will not be able to keep their bank accounts anymore.”

MK Eichler told Dr. Steiner: “I hope that the Bank of Israel find a way to abide by the agreements with the US while not mixing up the Gemachim with the war on terror. The banks must not become a burden and a restriction on associations and charity organizations who want to help people and do not engage in terrorism. There are limits to the madness of the banking system. We must not allow the charity organizations and Gemachim to be paralyzed by American pressures.”

The issues of compliance regarding money laundering and the war on terror stem from the side benefits of an IRS act that was intended to make sure US citizens who make money abroad share some of it with Uncle Sam. According to the IRS, FATCA targets tax non-compliance by US taxpayers with foreign accounts, focusing on individuals’ reporting about foreign financial accounts and offshore assets, as well as by foreign financial institutions about financial accounts held by US taxpayers or foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.

Using the US’ enormous economic clout, FATCA bullies the world’s financial institutions into reporting on their American clients to Uncle Sam. Under FATCA, to avoid being withheld upon, foreign financial institutions must register with the IRS and agree to report to the IRS about their US accounts, including accounts of foreign entities with a substantial US ownership. Foreign institutions that enter into an agreement with the IRS to report on their account holders may be required to withhold 30% on certain payments to foreign payees if such payees do not comply with FATCA.

Talk about working for the Yankee dollar.

According to The Marker, Gemachim stand to suffer three different ways from the new law: instead of permitting a Gemach to transfer money into their accounts, they could now be questioned regarding the source of the funds and whether or not tax was paid on them in the US; each deposit could be subject to harassment by the bank, in order to verify that it is not part of a money laundering scheme; and the Gemach could be saddled with a new definition as a financial institution, and as such would be compelled to report on its fund sources to the IRS or face criminal sanctions.

JNi.Media

As US Anthropologists Reject BDS Resolution, Israeli Economy Thriving Despite Boycotts

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

On Tuesday, the 10,000-member American Anthropological Association announced the results of a vote on its proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions: the call to boycott failed. After many who are close to the organization had predicted the measure would pass, it lost by 2,423 to 2,384 votes.

The failure of the boycott proposal came as unexpected relief to people like Ted Gup, a professor of journalism at Emerson College, who wrote on the eve of the vote in The Chronicle of Higher Education that it is “misguided, counterproductive, and sure to damage both the association and the Palestinian cause.” He added that “it also puts at risk any network of scholars by inviting similar future reprisals.” Also, he warned that “the boycott will harm the very people it is intended to help and embolden those whose hardline policies the AAA disdains.” But “beyond all this,” Gup, who is Jewish, noted that “the boycott itself is irreparably flawed and discredited by the historical and contemporary context that produced it.”

It also appears that the boycotts have had no influence at all on Israel’s economy, which today is the fastest growing in OEDC, according to a Bloomberg News report citing a steep increase in foreign investments in Israeli assets, which last year hit a record high of $285.12 billion, “a near-tripling from 2005 when the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was started by a group of Palestinians.”

“We don’t have a problem with foreign investment in Israel — on the contrary,” Yoel Naveh, chief economist at Israel’s finance ministry, told Bloomberg.

According to people from the entire spectrum of the market: money managers, economists and government officials, “Israeli assets are an attractive alternative to weak performers elsewhere.” And even though Israel’s economy has slowed down in 2016, it is still growing faster than the economies of the US and Europe and its interest rate is higher.

Interestingly, Bloomberg also reported that the business community rejects the fabricated accusations against Israel perpetrated by the BDS activists, “that investing in Israeli innovation and natural gas violates Palestinian rights, and that Israel’s misdeeds are so exceptional that they justify singling it out for censure.”

Bloomberg quotes data collected by IVC Research Center which suggests that even with an appreciating shekel, Israeli startups have raised $3.76 billion in 2015 from foreign investors, their highest annual figure in ten years. In 2015 Israeli industrial high-tech exports rose 13% from 2014 to $23.7 billion, and in 2016 Israel’s economy is expected to grow 2.8%, compared with the US (1.8%) and the EU (1.8%).

Or, as the Torah put it, back in 1248 BCE: “But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.” (Exodus 1:12)

Back to the failed BDS vote at the AAA, there’s a point Ted Gup was making in his thoughtful article which suggests the more Israel makes itself known to the world, the less would anti-Semitic NGOs be able to feed off its flesh. “In the summer of 2015, with the support of a Fulbright, I taught at the University of Haifa, in Israel’s third-largest city and one of its most secular and progressive urban centers,” Gup related. “The university boasts a student population that is one-third Arab. It is common to see student-soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces, rifles slung over their shoulders, checking alongside their Arab classmates the same class announcement boards or discussing homework. Nor is it unusual for heated debates about Israeli policy to arise between Jews and Arabs in the classroom — and even more commonly, between Jews and Jews.”

Then he made a most cogent point, coming as it does from a leftwing perspective: “So how does a learned society like the AAA justify punishing the likes of the University of Haifa or see doing so as an effective message to the Israeli government? Many of my colleagues on the Haifa faculty openly criticize that government, as do their students. A wholesale boycott of academic institutions applies the same indiscriminate standard of punishment that the association says it abhors. The AAA would argue that you don’t bulldoze a house or bomb a block in Gaza because of one attacker. How then do you justify cutting off relations with all Israeli academic institutions based not on actions but on geography?”

JNi.Media

The Israeli Left’s War against the Flag

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

The Israeli Left has a serious flag problem. Well, a problem with the Israeli flag to be precise. The one with the six-pointed blue star. Not the ISIS flag.

The Left intensely dislikes people who wave Israeli flags, although I think it would be okay with those radical anti-Trump protesters waving Mexican and Iranian flags. At the Israeli Left’s own rallies, like one widely reported recently, one sees oodles of Stalinist red flags, lots of PLO flags, and sometimes one may see Hamas flags, but no Israeli flags.

In a few famous cases, the Left’s contempt for the flag goes well beyond that. A few months ago, the ultra-leftist Israeli “artist” and “activist” Ariel Bronz appeared at an assembly sponsored by the anti-Israel Haaretz newspaper and pranced about the stage with an Israeli flag inserted in his rear end. Haaretz approved and hailed the behavior as the epitome of democracy and patriotism. In an earlier incident one Natali Cohen Vaxberg, also a leftist activist and actress, posted on the web videos of her relieving herself (number two, to be precise) on the Israeli flag. More courageous defense of freedom of speech, squealed Haaretz and its leftist amen choir in delight.

The latest twist in the Left’s jihad against the flag has to do with plans by participants in the upcoming Jerusalem Reunification Day festivities to wave it. This has triggered horrific anger among the enlightened Left. They are particularly irate because celebrants plan to march all over Jerusalem waving flags, including in all parts of the Old City.

That is simply fascism, scream the Leftists, especially because the celebrants will walk through the “Moslem Quarter” of the Old City. Flying flags under the noses of these “occupied” Arabs is intolerable oppression, even though these Arabs have Israeli citizenship and are welcome to join the celebrations and wave flags with the others if they wish.

So now a group of about 100 radical leftists has placed an ad in the press this week, paid for by you-know-who, denouncing plans to wave Israeli flags in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day. The ad says that as peace seekers the signatories demand that the government and police prohibit the waving of flags in the “Muslim Quarter” of the Old City, which – they add – is near the Temple Mount and the day will be close to Ramadan. It should be noted that the signers do not express any opposition to PLO, Hamas, or ISIS flags flying on the PLO-controlled Temple Mount itself, nor in any leftist street rallies anywhere else in the country.

So who are the brave souls devoted to freedom of speech and true democracy who have signed this petition demanding the suppression of Israeli flag waving? Some of them are notorious activists in the movement to create a world boycott against Israel in the name of BDS = Boycott-Divest-Sanctions warfare against Israel, such as Tel Aviv University’s purple-haired faculty dingbat Rachel Giora or anti-Israel ex-diplomat Alon Liel.

Some others are also Tenured Extremists. One signer is Liel’s constant sidekick, the “Peace Now” professor Amiram Goldblum from the Hebrew University, who has devoted much of his career to demonizing Israel as a fascist apartheid regime while he himself opposes freedom of speech and democracy in Israel and claims Judaism itself is the root of all that is wrong in the Middle East. He is joined by Ze’ev Sternhell from the Hebrew University, a Marxist anti-Zionist who once called for terrorists to murder Jewish settlers and wants student Zionists to be suppressed because they are “fascists.” A few dozen other radical leftist sheep join in the herd to sign.

The rage among leftists over the flying of the flag on Jerusalem Reunification Day is actually a thin disguise for what really is bothering the Left and what its real agenda is. The Left is not really opposed to flag waving but to Jerusalem Reunification. It wants Israel back behind its pre-1967 Auschwitz borders, with the Western Wall a Muslim shrine in “Palestine’s” hegemony, and with tens of thousands of rockets raining down upon the rump Israel that will temporarily remain if the Left ever manages to impose its agenda on the country.

 

Steven Plaut

Israeli Arab Pundit Urging Louis C.K. to Cause Trouble on Jerusalem Visit

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

As preparations have begun for the single concert trailblazing comic Louis C.K. will perform in Jerusalem on August 18, Arab journalist, humorist and screenwriter Sayed Kashua is already upset because he fears the comic will betray the Palestinian cause—even though the comic has never declared his political views about the Middle East, other than to compare Israel and the Arabs on LNS to his two daughters having a tantrum fight. Or as Kashua put it on Friday, in his Ha’aretz column: “If he doesn’t cause a political scandal — me and Louis C.K. are finished.”

With brisk sales for the one-time event, and with prices reaching almost $200, Kashua already detects signs that the most innovative and popular American comic of the day is selling out the Arabs: he first announced his Israel concert on the Howard Stern radio show, Howard Stern whom Kashua calls “the shallow racist who thinks that if he were Israel he’s have eliminated all the citizens of Gaza in five minutes. Who claims that the Jews arrived at a totally empty place, that there were no inhabitants in that desert.”

Kashua sees the Louis C.K. visit as far more than a cultural event — to him this is a political event which legitimizes Israel’s policy, especially in Jerusalem, although the Pais Arena, where the concert is scheduled to take place, is just inside the ancient “green line” separating the pre- and post-1967 eternal city.

Kashua declared that he is suspending his binge watching of the Louis C.K. hit online for-pay series Horace and Pete until after the comic’s short tour of the holy land. “Only if he causes a political scandal that will dominate the local and world press, will I forgive him,” Kashua vowed. “And not something about a regional peace and a hope for equality, but the kind of criticism that would force the state leaders to enact anew law that bans the entry of artists who support free speech.”

Until then, Kashua promises, Louis C.K. can forget about his next three bucks.

Sayed Kashua was born in the Arab Israeli town of Tira. After a successful career as columnist for Ha’aretz and screenwriter for Israel TV (“Arab Labor”), in which he examined honestly and humorously his ambivalence as a successful Arab intellectual in Israel’s Jewish society, Kashua moved to Chicago, Illinois, with his wife and three children, to teach at the University of Chicago, as well as at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-arab-pundit-urging-louis-c-k-to-cause-trouble-on-jerusalem-visit/2016/06/03/

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