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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Stabbing Inside Jerusalem’s Old City Police Station

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

A man was stabbed twice in the back, inside the “Kishle”, the police station located next to Yafo (Jaffa) Gate, inside the Old City of Jerusalem, according to a TPS report.

The man was taken to Sharei Tzedek hospital in serious condition.

At the moment, the police are saying the attack was criminal.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Illegal Antiquities Trader Busted in Jerusalem Raid

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

by Michael Zeff

A souvenir shop in the Mamilla Mall near Jerusalem’s Old City was raided by officers of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s (IAA) Tuesday night after it was discovered that the store served as a front for illegal antiquities trading. The raid yielded a treasure trove of close to a thousand items of questionable provenance. Bronze arrowheads thousands of years old, coins minted 2,000 years ago during the days of King Herod, Hasmonean rulers, and even Alexander the Great, and special vessels for storing perfumes.

“The souvenir shop, which did not have an antiquities sales license, had been under surveillance for a while,” Dr. Eitan Klein, who supervises the antiquities trade for the IAA, told TPS, adding, “During the second stage of the investigation, our agents posed as collectors and tourists, and purchased undocumented ancient artifacts from the shop. Finally, last night we raided the place and seized all the illegal antiquities. This operation is part of a broader enforcement of new laws and regulations governing the Israeli antiquities trade.”

According to the IAA, these regulations and the subsequent law enforcement activities are designed to prevent antiquities dealers from laundering illegal artifacts that are the product of antiquities robbery, the illicit excavation for profit of archaeological sites.

“Laundering artifacts means taking antiquities obtained through robbery, and inserting them into merchants’ commercial inventory in order to pass them off as legal and sell them. We estimate that today about 90% of undocumented and unregulated artifacts originate in robbery and looting,” Klein explained.

A salesperson at the store in question, Mamilla Souvenir’s (sic), denied all the allegations, telling TPS that “all our goods are clean. I’m sure the matter will be cleared in the next few days.” However, according to the IAA, an indictment will soon be filed against the shop’s owner, who was unavailable to comment.

“Antiquities robbers and the unlicensed antiquities dealers will very quickly come to understand that they have no one to sell the stolen antiquities to and, in the absence of demand, the plundering of antiquities in Israel will be greatly reduced,” predicted the head of IAA’s Antiquities Robbery Prevention Unit, Amir Ganor.

The Tazpit News Agency

Forest Fire in Jerusalem Threatening Main Power Company Station [video]

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

A forest fire that broke out below Mount Menuhot in Givat Shaul, at the entrance to Jerusalem, is threatening to reach Jerusalem’s main power station nearby. The IEC building and the compound have been evacuated. Ten firefighting teams are on the scene, as well as additional teams from Beit Shemesh and from Judea and Samaria, as well as firefighting planes.

Jerusalem forest fire 5

 

The eastbound lanes Route 1, the main highway from Tel Aviv, have been blocked near Ginot Sakharov, and additional traffic routes: Akiva Azulay, Kanfey Nesharim, Menachem Chaftzadi and Maginey Yerushalaim have been blocked.

A spokesperson for the firefighting and rescue forces reported that the fire is moving quickly eastbound, driven by the winds. Firefighters have been trying to move between the fire and residential neighborhoods.

The weather forecast in Israel on Wednesday is calling for high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds, an ideal combination for fast-spreading forest fires across the country.

Jerusalem forest fire 3

 

fire near jerusalem buses

 

David Israel

Analysis: Jerusalem Chief Rabbi’s ‘Protest Prayer’ May Be Just What Reform Campaign Needed

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

On Tuesday morning, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi, the Rishon Lezion Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar conducted a heartfelt prayer with a few dozen supporters in the remote area of the Western Wall known as the “Israelite Section,” which had been designated by the Israeli government for the mixed prayer services of Reform and Conservative visitors.

The chief rabbi’s followers erected an improvised mehitza-divider to separate men and women, in defiance of the government program. After the morning service, Rabbi Amar spoke tearfully, saying “there’s no such thing as the Reform Kotel, there’s only the Holy Kotel.”

“No one can revoke this holiness,” Rabbi Amar continued, “not the government, not the court, you can’t, it’s a hekdesh-sanctuary, it’s the Temple Mount. Not the goyim, not the UN, no power can revoke it. We stand guard and declare that our entire purpose is for the sake of God’s honor, only God’s honor, and the Shechina-emanation of God, and the people of Israel and the Land of Israel.”

Rabbi Amar’s prayer service reflected a perception on the part of many Haredi leaders that the Reform and Conservative movements are making inroads in Israel through the Supreme Court and certain government officials, and are threatening the classic status quo, whereby secular Israelis did not go to shul, but the shul they didn’t go to was Orthodox. Most Israelis are not interested in these American imports, but the fact that the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem went out of his way to condemn Reform access to the Kotel probably gave those two-minute movements a new lease on life.

For the record, the idea for the mixed prayer area by the Kotel came from an Orthodox Jewish politician, then Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), who in 2013 announced the creation of a new prayer area, south of the Mugrabim Gate and north of Robinson’s Arch, an area of 4,844 sq. ft., which is a non-contiguous extension of the Kotel Plaza. It was Bennett’s attempt at solving a 28-year long dispute between the Women of the Wall, a group of largely non-Orthodox Jewish women who have been praying in the Kotel’s women’s section on the first of each Jewish month as well as on select holidays, singing and donning talit and tefillin—all acts which have been provoking ultra-Orthodox Jews since the early 1990s.

While a broad section of ultra-Orthodox public figures attacked the Bennett solution, going as far as to dub it “tzelem ba’heikhal” or a statue in God’s temple, the Women of the Wall group also rejected the minister’s peaceful solution, accusing Bennett of aligning himself with the “extremist” views of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the government-appointed Kotel Rabbi, and of Israel’s chief rabbis (of course, when one accuses the mainstream religious and political leadership of extremism, it would be difficult for her to claim the center).

The WOW also called the special fenced wooden platform Bennett provided for mixed prayers a “sundeck overlooking the Western Wall,” which, come to think of it, could be the name for a bangup real estate bonanza. And the Reform movement over in the US, where they dominate Jewish life, at least on paper, with some two million members (in largely Orthodox Israel they may be noisy but their numbers are puny), announced that the Kotel must be open and accessible to all the Jews and men and women must be treated equally there. In other words, why can’t you all be more Reform, like the rest of us.

The fact is that the Bennett solution, while acquiescing that Israelis who are Reform and Conservative have the right to use a state-owned and funded religious facility, resolves the conflict in a peaceful way, which is not something the Reform and Conservative movements want. Since the platform has been erected, it has been standing empty, first because very few Reform and Conservative Israelis have the time or inclination to regularly fight Jerusalem traffic to go pray at the Kotel when most of them hardly ever pray in their own synagogues during the week; and second because without the opportunity to provoke the Orthodox, what’s the point of schlepping all the way to Jerusalem?

Now, the pushback from the Jerusalem Chief Rabbi has revived the non-Orthodox, whose fundraising and membership largely depends on being the victims of Orthodox “repression.” And so, once again, spokespersons for both movements have condemned the aging rabbi, whose salary is provided by the taxpayers, and who attacks the principles of equality, freedom and the American way.

Perhaps the good chief rabbi of Jerusalem should have taken a hint from the fact that he and his followers were the only ones praying on the Reform “sundeck,” because no one else ever prays there on any given day, and even the Baha’i movement in Israel represents a bigger threat to Orthodox Judaism at the Kotel than do the Reform and Conservative.

The best cure for the WOW phenomenon is probably to let them have their way until they get bored with it. The most recent new month celebration of the WOW, a week ago, attracted fewer than 90 women, and the only coverage it received was a provocation by its CEO, who showed local cops at the end of the service that she had “smuggled” a Torah scroll into the women’s section. Otherwise even she couldn’t get arrested by a largely disinterested police, and couldn’t get covered by the media which is inundated with much bigger stories.

JNi.Media

Meet the Activist Rabbi and his Gay Bodyguard: the Knesset’s Most Incredible Allies

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Looking at the two newest lawmakers for the Likud party, you would never guess they were close friends: Yehuda Glick is a Brooklyn-born Orthodox rabbi who built his career on pressing for Jewish prayer on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; Amir Ohana is the first openly gay parliamentarian of the center-right Likud party and founder of its LGBT Caucus.

Yet the two men share an extraordinarily unique bond that began in earnest in 2014 when Glick was gunned down by an Arab would-be assassin, an attack he miraculously survived. After being released from the hospital, the death threats continued pouring in – yet the police declined to provide protection.

That’s when Amir Ohana, a relatively unknown LGBT activist from the southern city of Be’er Sheva and a former agent with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), stepped in: he volunteered to be Glick’s personal bodyguard.

“I’m not a religious person, but I believe in freedom – and it was my honor to defend freedom,” Ohana, 40, explained in a recent interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that took place, together with Glick, 51, in Ohana’s office in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. “I don’t hold religious views but I can respect our legacy and our history as a people. What I want is for everyone to be free to pray wherever they want, and the Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews.”

The Temple Mount, however, also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock complex – the third holiest site in Islam. The shrine has been a frequent flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions surrounding the site – in particular Palestinian claims that Israelis, including Glick personally, are “invading” and “defiling” the complex by visiting – are widely seen as underlying the most recent wave of terror attacks against Israelis.

Because of that tension, for the last several months all members of the Israeli parliament – Jewish and Arab alike – have been banned from visiting the holy site by order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. And in keeping with the “status quo” on the site: Jews may visit sections of the compound in small groups, and only during designated hours, but are evicted if they attempt to pray.

Both Glick and Ohana strongly protest this policy. Glick has been perhaps the most visible advocate of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and, with his striking red beard, has become something of an infamous figure in the Arabic-language media and social networking platforms, where he has been caricaturized as a serpentine villain.

Glick as snake

The hatred directed at Glick eventually led to his near-assassination and, later on, brought him together with Ohana – who is now, as chance would have it, his colleague in the Knesset.

The ‘Enemy of Al-Aqsa’

On the night of October 29, 2014, Glick was leaving an event at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. At 10:04 p.m. Mutaz Hijazi, a Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem, showed up on a motorbike.

“This guy stops right next to me on his motorcycle, wearing a white helmet and all black,” Glick recalled to TPS. “He says to me, in Hebrew, ‘I’m very sorry.’ I said, ‘What are you sorry about?’ I get close to him and he says to me, ‘You are an enemy of Al-Aqsa’ and he takes out a pistol and shoots four bullets into the center of my body.”

As Hijazi sped off, Glick staggered along with four bullets in his torso.

“My wife hid under the steering wheel. I saw that I was bleeding and – I have no explanation for this – I had no pain. I managed to walk maybe twenty yards, then I collapsed,” Glick said. “I heard Shai [Malka] say, ‘We just witnessed murder.’ He rips off my shirt and yells to me, ‘[Rabbi] Yehuda, don’t go! We need you!’ That was the last sentence I remember.”

Within a few hours, Israeli security agents – “Amir’s friends” in the Shin Bet, Glick says – discovered footage of Hijazi on the security camera from St. Andrew’s Scottish Church adjacent to the scene of the shooting. By 4 a.m. Israeli forces had tracked Hijazi to his family’s home in the Abu Tor neighborhood and, following a shootout on the roof, killed him.

Hijazi was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, but a local official of the mainstream Fatah party also claimed responsibility for the “heroic act.”

“I knew there were threats, but I didn’t really believe that it could happen,” Glick said of his attitude before the shooting. “I also believed we have a democratic country and people don’t kill people because they have different views.”

“Now he’s dead and I’m alive,” Glick summed up.

‘A Zealot for Human Rights’

For all the fury he attracts from extremists in the Arab world, as well as from his left wing colleagues (one of whom boycotted his swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset), Glick also faces a backlash from rightist Israelis who recoil from some of his more liberal ideas – including his acceptance of non-Orthodox Jews, his criticism of an Israeli soldier who shot an already-wounded Palestinian terrorist, and his extensive interfaith work (which, according to Glick, was sparked by hours spent in his Bedouin .

Ohana, too, finds himself in the odd position of fending off attacks from opposing sides of the aisle. As he attended the Tel Aviv Pride Parade nearly two weeks ago, despite remarks from some of his right-wing political allies who have crudely likened the to parade to a celebration of bestiality, Ohana also received threats from some in the largely liberal gay community who despise his nationalist politics – so much so that the police, in a twist of fate, decided to provide Ohana with a personal bodyguard for the march. (The interview with Glick and Ohana took place before massacre at the gay bar in Orlando this past weekend and before the terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market last week, at which Ohana happened to be present.)

“In Israel it’s quite unique. When you talk about right and left, unlike everywhere else in the world, you primarily talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Ohana explains. “So there is no reason why a person can’t be right wing – and even, as I’m sometimes called, a hawkish right winger – and yet support LGBT rights, women’s rights, freedom of speech, everything that is considered liberal. We are a liberal national party.”

Remarkably, despite all their drastically different backgrounds and religious beliefs, Glick and Ohana seem to share this view. Both men seem determined to fight for issues beyond their own sectarian interests – whether it’s Ohana, the LGBT activist, protecting Glick’s struggle for the Temple Mount, or Glick, the Orthodox rabbi, irritating his base by supporting non-Orthodox women’s prayer groups at the Western Wall, for example, and even gay rights.

“I’m a zealot when it comes to human rights and respecting every single human being,” Glick boasts. “I think that every single person deserves rights. I mean it’s obvious, you know, we’re living in a democratic country.”

Does he, then, support gay marriage, an impossibility under the current Israeli arrangement in which marriage is governed by the Orthodox rabbinate?

“I support that he should have every single right he deserves,” Glick says somewhat evasively, pointing to Ohana, and referring to Ohana’s partner: “I know that he has a wonderful mate.”

Yet when asked why he wouldn’t attend the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, Glick replied: “I don’t see a problem with [going to the parade], but I wouldn’t go because other people might see me as a problem,” adding that he went to visit Shira Banki, a teenage girl stabbed by a Jewish religious extremist at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2015, while she was in the hospital. Shortly afterward, Banki died of her wounds.

‘Jerusalem of Peace’

Glick was sworn in to his parliament post in late May, following the resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. As our interview ended, he decided to inaugurate his new office by placing the ritual mezuzah on the doorpost – a small box holding verses of the Torah which is thought to protect one’s home.

Ohana tags along to Glick’s new office, borrowing a kippa from an aide, and the two hang the mezuzah together.

“I protected you once, so I may as well finish the job,” Ohana quips.

Glick then declares that his office has a name.

“This isn’t Yehuda Glick’s office,” he says. “It’s called ‘Jerusalem of Peace.’”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

President Rivlin: Israel Is Democratic and Jewish and Tribal, and There Are Arabs, Too

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

The 16th Annual Herzliya conference opened at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, with a discussion by Israeli senior ministers and political party leaders on the joint initiative “Shared Israeli Hope.” President Reuven Rivlin opened his keynote address saying Israeli society has transitioned from being made up of a clear majority and minorities into a society made up of four main sectors or tribes, which are becoming more and more equal in size: secular, Modern Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox and Arab.

“We must speak the truth; this is not something that we expected,” he said, noting that many had called him a post-Zionist following his previous Herzliya conference address and questioned, “Is anyone who discusses the issues of Israeli identity, post-Zionist?” He explained that Israel was “Four tribes, four competing, different stories, about who we are, and what we want to be.” He noted that “the headline of the conference should have been, ‘Israeli hope: to be or not to be.’” He said that “a year ago there were those that interpreted my words as yet another typical, joyful presidential call… but first and foremost, my words were intended to serve as a call to wake up to the gaps and inadequacies between the reality of Israeli society and the system of Israeli institutions.” Looking ahead he said, “We are obliged to strive for institutional and systematic changes which must be conducted as a national effort… we must recognize that there are material and structural barriers to forming shared rules of the game for the different sectors… The creation of a shared Israeli identity and a shared Israeli hope is a mighty and noble process which will take a generation.”

One of the main engines for change Rivlin discussed was that of academia and employment. “Academia and the Israeli labor market will become an engine of real change, only when academic institutions and employers view the establishment of the Israeli dream – for a young man from Ofakim, a young woman from Bnei Brak, a young man from Jatt and a young woman from Binyamin – as a national mission of paramount professional and economic interests… Academia and the labor market today cater mainly to two tribes, but there are two more.”

He noted that if Israeli society were willing to embrace the necessary changes, the State of Israel would serve as a model for others, “A Jewish and democratic state; democratic and Jewish is one in the same.”

Following the president’s keynote address, senior ministers and political party leaders were given the opportunity to respond.

MK Naftali Bennett, Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs, and Chairman of Habayit Hayehudi party, began his address by taking the audience on a journey to 3,000 years in the past: “We are in a sovereign state. A Jewish State under the rule of King David with great economic and political power.” He traced Jewish history through the periods, explaining how Jews in the Diaspora lived in survival mode, “Zionism was based on survival and security.” He noted that now, back in the Jewish homeland, Jews no longer needed to be afraid and could “break into a new creativity without being afraid,” adding that the new generation of Zionism needed to be based on “destiny.” He stressed that Judaism was a religion focused on contending “with the reality of the world and bringing values into it.”

Directing his address to his role as minister of education, Bennett said, “I am the minister of education of all children in Israel… they are all my children and they are equal regardless of their color, religion, politics or anything else. We express this with an intensity unlike anything else in Israel.” He also noted how his office had adjusted budget allocations to ensure that adequate funds were appropriated to areas in need in Robin Hood fashion: “We take from the strong and give to the week… when I took on my position… per capita more funds were invested in wealthier areas.”

MK Aryeh Deri, Minister of the Interior and Minister of Development of the Negev and Galilee, and Chairman of the Shas Party, said, possibly ignoring the entire books of Numbers and Deuteronomy: “It was never the dream that one [nation] should get rid of the other.” He stressed that the Arab citizens “truly want to integrate within us and be a part and parcel with us… We need to show them that we respect their culture, heritage and history… We have no desire to mix cultures but rather to live together in one state” with full equality and egalitarian rights. Also paying an homage to the man from Sherwood Forest, Deri said, “There are steps, even as painful as they may be, where we will take from the big… and give to the smaller ones.” He added that any “discourse of hatred” needed to immediately be stopped. To a round of applause he stated, “In our state it is prohibited that we should accept any racism or discourse of racism.” He should have possibly share this with the minister of Religious Services from his own party, who announced a while back (I paraphrase) that non-Orthodox Jews are not really Jewish.

MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, opened his address noting all the ideals and values that he shared with the president: “Bringing the various populations closer to one another. Advancing the general welfare of all citizens. Building shared citizenship.” But he added that there are “important things that we cannot ignore… The basic thing that guides me in politics is my deep internal conviction that the guiding interests of both people are equal. Everyone wants the blessing of life.”

He emphasized the principles of nationalism: “What does it mean to be a citizen? What does it mean to be a national? We want complete equality on the national level and the civil social level.” He said that it was impossible to only talk about the economy and citizenship without nationalism. He also noted how he was always steered to discuss the future rather than the past: “We have a deep pain. In the heart of every Arab. The injustices of the past. And it hurts me so much when I hear narratives of 3,000, 4,000 years and I am told not to talk about the narratives of 60 years but to look into the future.”

By that narrative, MK Odeh referred to the fact that the Arabs of Mandatory Palestine had a chance to receive two thirds of the land if only they accepted that the Jews could have one third — and they refused. They wanted instead to murder all the Jews of the land with the help of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. They failed and have yet to recover from the shame and disappointment of that terrible failure.

Odeh focused specific attention on the subjects of unrecognized villages and said that it would not hurt anyone for the state to “state recognizes the terrible massacre of Kafir Qasim and the massive injustices and confiscation of land.” He stated that his party’s stance was two states for two people, side by side with complete equality for both but “crimes occurred and we have to talk about that… There are citizens of the State of Israel who are not allowed to return to their land… Will it harm one Jewish person…. If people of Mahalul are returned to Mahalul… To build 80 villages… Will it harm one Jewish person?… We need to talk about civil and national rights for Arabs in Israel and it doesn’t have to harm anyone. The opposite. That is what will heal these two people.”

Naturally, when MK Odeh speaks of two states, he really means four states: three purely Arab — Jordan, the PA and Gaza, and one 20% Arab — Israel.

MK Zahava Galon, Chairman of Meretz, said that the “elephant in the room” was that the Arabs do not have their own state and we are “50 years into the occupation of the territories.” She said that no discussion could take place regarding the demographic question without talking about occupying this nation and controlling their lives.

Taking on the judicial perspective of “Shared Israeli Hope,” Chief Justice Miriam Naor, president of the Supreme Court, noted that “Our image as a democratic society requires a balance between the individual and society.” She said that the legal system plays a role in advancing Israeli partnerships and creating boundaries. “Discrimination undermines social solidarity. The courts are responsible for eradicating discrimination.”

Which is why they are appointing their own judges, evading the control of the legislator on judicial selections — because as soon as you let the people make their own decisions they’re bound to start discriminating.

David Israel

Despite Pressure, Ethics Committee Votes to Keep MKs Off Temple Mount

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

The Ethics Committee on Tuesday voted to uphold its decision from seven months ago, banning Knesset Members from entering the Temple Mount compound. In its November 2015 decision the committee said it had been told by senior Israel Police officials that visits by MKs to the holy site in eastern Jerusalem would significantly deteriorate the security situation throughout the country.

The Ethics Committee stated that, until further notice, visiting the Temple Mount, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, may be considered an ethics violation that carries sanctions. It cited the ethics rule that MKs are supposed to act for the good of the country.

The Ethics Committee said it discussed the matter again on Tuesday following pleas by committee member MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) and Jewish MKs. Jerusalem District Police Commander Major-General Yoram Halevy briefed the committee and said that for the time being Police position on the ban remains unchanged.

The committee said it was further informed that in light of the relatively calm situation, Israel Police is considering allowing Arab MKs to visit the Temple Mount towards the end of the month of Ramadan, and allowing Jewish lawmakers to visit the site as well after the Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

“In light of what the committee has heard, it has reached a majority decision to uphold its previous decision for the time being,” the Ethics Committee said in statement, adding that it would change the decision should the security forces decide that MKs may be allowed to visit the Temple Mount once again.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/despite-pressure-ethics-committee-votes-to-keep-mks-off-temple-mount/2016/06/14/

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