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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Moshe Gafni’

Likely Compromise Found in Coalition Rift over Reform, Conservative Mikvahs

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) on Monday morning presented a compromise solution for the problem caused by last Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling siding with the demands of Reform and Conservative petitioners for equal access to state-run mikvahs-ritual baths. Last February, the Supreme Court ruled that local religious councils must make state-run mikvahs available for conversion ceremonies run by Israeli Reform and Conservative clergy.

Last week, the Knesset Interior Committee debated a bill proposed by Shas and UTJ, the two ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, determining that the use of public mikvahs in Israel will be conducted strictly according to halakha and under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate.

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) for his part on Friday announced that he plans to submit the bill in order to prevent the implementation of the court’s ruling. This would be in keeping with the coalition agreement between UTJ and Likud, which says that each time the Supreme Court issues a ruling that jeopardizes issues close to the heart of the Orthodox-Jewish party, the government must submit a bill to bypass the court.

Gafni, who argued that the court’s new ruling violates the national status quo on issues of religion and state, also cited the coalition’s obligation to maintain the same status quo.

Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, an Orthodox Jew who was part of the unanimous decision in favor of the Reform and Conservative petitioners, suggested in his ruling that the religious council in question, in Be’er Sheva, illegally segregated against Israeli citizens. “From the moment the state has constructed public mikvahs and made them available to the public — including for use in conversions — it cannot practice inequality in their usage,” Elyakim wrote. Rubinstein added that “the state’s decision not to supervise dipping in the mikvah that is conducted as part of a private conversion does not justify preventing it.”

One of the other two judges on the panel was Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab. Chief Justice Miriam Naor was the third judge. It should be noted that while last week Ha’aretz complained about a decision by Judge Rubinstein favoring the Chief Rabbinate, implying he should have recused himself from deciding Orthodox Jewish issues because he wears a yarmulke (sic), the same paper did not make a similar complaint in this case.

The MK Bitan compromise will suspend the application of the Mikvah law for nine months, during which time two to four mikvahs would be built for the Reform and Conservative public. The Jewish Agency is expected to bear the costs of construction. Meanwhile, the coalition would work on a softer version of the Shas-UTJ bill, which would skirt the Supreme Court ruling but not actually bypass it. The first draft was scheduled to be presented to the Interior committee Monday morning.

According to MK Bitan, “We are not planning to pass a Supreme Court bypassing law, but instead to find solutions to the problems raised by the court’s ruling. According to the understanding, we will build between two to four mikvahs in various locations in the country for the Reform and Conservative public so they can dip there according to their method.” Bitan stressed that “we must maintain equality for everyone in spending resources.”

A Haredi party source that spoke to JNi.media on the condition of anonymity said the Bitan compromise will most likely be accepted since it does not actually compel religious councils to share existing mikvahs with the Reform and Conservative, but allocates to them new mikvahs. Nevertheless, the Haredi coalition parties are likely going to be subjected to attacks from the Haredi media, which see the very idea of allowing the two non-Orthodox movement a foot in the door as ushering disaster. Some in the Haredi media, such as Ha’peles, would like to see the Haredi parties using their critical role in Netanyahu’s small coalition to extract deeper concessions regarding the non-Orthodox mikvahs.

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

Shas MK Deri Calls Hareidi Assault on IDF Officer ‘Terror’

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and several Knesset Members expressed outrage on Friday after Hareidim attacked an IDF officer’s car when he ventured into the Jerusalem neighborhood to visit two of his soldiers.

One of them is a lone soldier, without family in Israel, and the other recently lost his grandfather.

The officer, who is from Kiryat Arba, escaped with bruises after the Hareidi attackers smashed the back window of his private vehicle, whose windows were reinforced against Arab rock-throwers on the highway between Kiryat Arba and Jerusalem.

“They had murder in their eyes,” the soldier told his mother, according to Yediot Acharonot. “They were just like terrorists in encountered in Gaza,” he added. The 21-year-old officer saw action in Gaza in the Protective Edge counter-terrorist operation against Hamas last summer.

A rising number of Hareidim who enlist in the IDF has made a minority of extremists even more violent in their opposite to anything that hints of Zionism.

They are subservient to their rabbis, who so far have not taught that there is no mitzvah in physically attacking a fellow Jew.

Aryeh Deri, chairman of the Hareidi Shas Sephardi party, called the attack “terror.” Yehadut HaTorah (UTJ) MK Yaakov Litzman said, “Attacking a soldier by extremists is a red line that must be condemned. Use of violence of any kind is sacrilegious.

UTJ Knesset Member Uri Maklev called the incident “terror” and charged that the extremist gang is headquartered in Beit Shemesh. He also accused the police of negligence by ignoring the gang.

He told Kikar Shabbat:

This is a gang of extremists who are more violent to other Hareidim than they are to the general public. It is the same group that once attacked [Hareidi] MK Moshe Gafni and the late Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. The police know the identity of some of their leaders but surrender and do nothing about it.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the attack, “This is an outrageous incident, and the lawbreakers who raised a hand against an IDF officer should be prosecuted. Military service is a source of pride. The IDF is the people’s army that protects us all. Population groups from all of Israeli society serve in it – that’s how it was and how it will continue to be.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Likud Begins Coalition Building

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

The Likud has begun the process of building a coalition.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu said that reality isn’t taking a break, and the citizens of Israel expect to quickly have a government.

Netanyahu’s goal is to have a government formed within the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Netanyahu has already spoken with all the party leaders he plans to invite to join in his coalition, including: Naftali Bennett (Bayyit Yehudi), Moshe Kachlon (Kulanu), Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni (UTJ).

Earlier today, Labor chief Yitzchak Herzog called up Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Gafni Says UTJ Will Only Go with Right

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Moshe Gafni, the co-chairman of the Chareidi UTJ party said, “Rav Shach would never let us go with the Left, Degel HaTorah [Gafni’s faction in UTJ] has never gone with a leftwing government.”

The statements were made at a Degel HaTorah party meeting to party leaders and activists, according to a Bechadarei Chareidim video and report.

Actually, in July 1999, UTJ (and Moshe Gafni) sat in Ehud Barak’s leftwing government, side by side with Meretz (along with Shas, Liberman’s Yisrael B’Aliyah and the Mafdal).

To their credit, UTJ left the coalition in September of 1999, due to an open breach of Shabbat by the government when it ordered the transport of a large turbine generator for the electric company on Shabbat.

Gafni said that Degel HaTorah would have no problem going with the Left, in fact the Left would make sure the Chareidim receive even more money from the government.

But, Gafni said, Rav Shach [Degel HaTorah’s late spiritual founder] said the party needed to worry about the children of the non-religious who are learning in the public schools, over a million of them, who don’t know what is “Shema Yisrael,” implying that a Rightwing government helps in that area.

After the UTJ party became excluded from the current coalition, Gafni became an extremely vocal and enraged voice against the “Dati-Leumi” sector, even going as far as threatening to destroy Hesder Yeshivas and dry out the settlements in revenge when he gets back in power particularly in response to the Shaked Enlistment Law.

It appears Gafni’s pronouncement regarding the Left was made in reaction to Aryeh Deri’s recent statement that the Shas party would not join a leftwing government, which then put pressure on UTJ to also declare their allegiances for their rightfully concerned voters.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Lapid Freezes Funding for Draft-Delayed Haredim

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday froze the money going to Haredi yeshivas, following a Tuesday Supreme Court ruling that ordered the state to halt all payments to yeshivas whose students’ draft has been postponed.

Lapid instructed the Finance Ministry’s comptroller to freeze the payments, but on Thursday he issued a statement saying that, after discovering that the funds had already been sent to the Education Ministry, he convened an emergency meeting with his comptroller following which he ordered her to block those funds as well.

Lapid’s statement said that this was done in an effort to obey the high court’s ruling.

Now the two offices will be cooperating to separate the 18- to 20-year-old yeshiva students with an August draft postponement, who will not be paid, from the rest of the yeshiva students.

“These will no longer receive state funds,” said the Lapid statement. “Only once the Education Ministry’s examination of their cases is concluded will the Finance Ministry release the funds to those yeshiva students not included in the court ruling.”

The Supreme Court ruled on several appeals from so called good government groups. The court ordered government to issue an updated announcement by March 31 regarding the pay, saying the justices might issue a new decision should the Knesset not come up with new legislation by then.

Meanwhile, the justices have prohibited government to transfer any funds “intended to support Torah institution students born in 1994, 95 and the first half of 96, who received their draft date starting in August, 2013, and who have not shown up to be drafted based on general decisions to postpone their draft made by the IDF Chief of Staff.”

So, everybody wins: Lapid gets to show his few remaining potential voters that he’s tough on parasitic Haredim; the Haredi yeshiva deans get to show the world that Israel hates Torah; and Yeshiva students and their families get a rare opportunity to drop their nasty habit of eating several times a day and living in homes.

Yori Yanover

The Beit Shemesh Spit that Wasn’t?

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Beit Shemesh rose to international notoriety during Chanuka 2011, with a TV documentary hosted by then TV journalist Yair Lapid. During the documentary, we are introduced to a very scared 7 year old girl, Naama Margolise, who refused to go to Orot girls school in Beit Shemesh, due her being harassed by extremist ultra-orthodox protesters (“Kanoim”).

In addition, we see a national religious woman being spat at by an extremist ultra-orthodox man.

The central issue in dispute during that period was the attempted land-grab at Orot School, a national religious designated girls school located on the seam between the national religious and ultra-orthodox communities, by a group of extremist Kanoim.



The image of Naama Margalit became a symbol, overnight, of the struggle for peaceful neighborly relations in Beit Shemesh, respect for the law, and against the alleged ‘free-hand’ policy of the city towards hundreds of out-of-control Kanoim extremists.

Almost exactly two years later, this week MK Moshe Gafni has called upon Yair Lapid, now Finance Minister, to apologise for the “anti-chareidi tirade” which, he claims, was based on a slanderous lie. According to Gafni, there never was a spitting incident.

Gafni said that the police had closed the file, and that Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich had stated this was because such a spitting incident never took place:

“Everyone knows that an Israeli political party was founded based on that spitting incident. One man made a television report of the incident on a Friday night, involving mass chilul Shabbos, and told all his viewers that a chareidi man spit at a girl in Beit Shemesh. We chareidi political representatives told whoever would listen that we do not believe the reports and that we never heard of such an awful thing happening.

“The incitement [against the entire chareidi community] that followed was terrible. Now it turns out that Yesh Atid [the political party of Treasury Minister Lapid] was founded based on a spitting incident that never existed. A chareidi did not spit. The Minister testified here in the Knesset plenum that no complaint was ever filed in the matter.

“I now expect that the one who prepared that report on Friday night, and is now the Treasury Minister, Yair Lapid, will come to the Knesset plenum and apologize. He should apologize to the chareidi community whom he turned into a society that spits at little girls. Let us see if Yair Lapid has the courage to ask for forgiveness.”

(Report by Eliezer Rauchberger in Yated Neeman)

The police reportedly closed the “spitting file” – and this has promoted the sudden flurry of activity from the ultra-orthodox political leadership,who are now claiming that their public has been finally vindicated.

It is important to clarify there were actually two incidents in the Lapid documentary (see full Channel Two documentary below) involving spitting/harassment in Beit Shemesh:

Case One: Na’ama Margalese – the iconic 7 year old, filmed being scared and refusing to go to school.

Case Two: Alisa Coleman – the modern orthodox woman seen being spat at by an ultra-orthodox man

Case 1 did not go to the police. Perhaps this was because the TV item was filmed several months after the traumatic events, or because it was unclear what those events were, or who the culprit was. When Interior Minister Aharonovich reported that there was no complaint received by the police, he is referring to this case.

Indeed, Minister Aharonovich stated in response to MK Moshe Gafni: “I did not say that such an incident did not occur. Only that the police never got a complaint in the matter.”

Case 2 was reported immediately to the police by Mrs. Coleman, and criminal charges were brought in court against an ultra-orthodox resident of Beit Shemesh. Although there is video of the incident, and numerous witnesses, the case has now been closed by the police. According to reports, this was due to the two sides deciding not to pursue the case further.

Mrs. Coleman said today that she has not been contacted by the court, nor was she a party to any agreement to not pursue the case further. She is now seeking an explanation from the state prosecution department “why they decided to drop such a cast iron case, which was so politically charged?”.

When asked to comment on this case, MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, whose political journey which brought him to the Knesset started with the Orot Girls School protests, stated:

“We have a clear video of a man spitting on a woman. The police didn’t say the spitting didn’t happen. They simply could not prove that the guy who they arrested for it did it. That is the entire story.

“This does not relate to the four months of assaults on little girls that we experienced and that were also caught on video.”

The protests and campaign during Chanuuka 2011 in Beit Shemesh was about the land-grab at the Orot school by extremist “Kanoim”, and the intolerable behaviour by Kanoim to other members of the Beit Shemesh community.

In conclusion, with the closing of the Case Two, the alleged spitting at a national religious woman by an ultra-orthodox man, the police have not “vindicated the ultra-orthodox public” who Moshe Gafni stated in the Knesset that he represents.

The police have closed a file on one individual, in unclear circumstances, which did not constitute vindication for this particular man, and certainly not for his colleagues, arguably a few hundred extremist “Kanoim”.

As for the “entire ultra-orthodox public”, to whom Yair Lapid apparently now owes an apology, the closing by the police of the Coleman spitting case is neither here nor there.

As far as I know, no one ever alleged that the “entire ultra-orthodox public” was guilty of spitting at Mrs. Coleman!



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David Morris

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