In recent weeks, the topic of National Service made headlines after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had announced that he would work to cancel National Service positions for B’Tselem following the controversial speech given by the organization’s CEO at the United Nations Security Council.
A new report released by Israeli Zionist movement, Im Tirtzu, reveals that there are at least seven far-Left organizations that are currently eligible to receive National Service positions from the government.
The report focuses on the anti-Israel activity advanced by these organizations, which includes accusing Israel of war crimes, promoting BDS, and calling for international pressure on Israel. The details acquired by Im Tirtzu via the Freedom of Information Law and the Ministry of Agriculture, which oversees National Service, reveal that 7 organizations benefit from a total of 17 positions. Since 2012, these organizations have received more than $20 million from foreign governments and an additional $14 million from the New Israel Fund.
The organization with the largest amount of positions – five – is Amnesty International, which accuses Israel of war crimes and advocates for an arms embargo on Israel. Israel Social TV, which provides a platform for BDS and the labeling of Israel as an apartheid and racist state, receives 3 positions, as does Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and Kav LaOved.
B’Tselem, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, and Public Committee Against Torture in Israel each receive one position and accuse Israel of committing war crimes. Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg commented that in recent years Im Tirtzu has “exposed an absurd reality in which Israeli organizations, which are funded by foreign governments, enjoy government benefits in the form of National Service positions. These are the very organizations leading the campaign of delegitimization against Israel.”
Peleg added: “It is important to understand that European involvement in Israel’s internal affairs has increased in recent years with the goal of weakening Israeli sovereignty. National Service positions are a privilege and not another platform for anti-Israel activity.”
Several leftwing creative and academic professionals have protested the decision of Israel’s national theater, Habima, to perform the show “A Simple Story,” written by Shahar Pinkas based on a S. Y. Agnon novel by the same name, in the JCC of Kiryat Arba, Hebron, next month, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The protesters called on Habima to cancel the performance, scheduled for November 10. Habima will also perform the same show on March 8 at the Ariel auditorium.
Haim Weiss, who teaches at Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, wrote on his Facebook page: “As far as I was able to verify, this is the first time the Habima theater will perform in Kiryat Arba. The willingness of the theater, its workers and actors to take part in the normalization of the occupation by turning Kiryat Arba into yet another town where they perform is very troubling.”
Weiss asks, “Was it the financial difficulties the theater is facing and the hope that appearing in Hebron would cause the Culture Minister and other Ministers to support them, that led to the decision on performing in Kiryat Arba-Hebron?”
Last April, Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) issued a directive whereby theatrical institutions that perform in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will receive a 10% increase in their state budgets, while institutions that refuse to include these communities in their schedule will suffer a 33% cut. The Israeli Civil Liberties Association has appealed the directive to the Supreme Court.
Weiss, who urged his Facebook friends to protest the decision, said it would be a great shame should Habima appear in “one of the most racist and violent bastions of the occupation.” He attached a picture of a banner advertising the November show, saying it was “symbolic that the banner for this shameful show was hung on a barbed wire fence.”
Written in 1935, “A Simple Story” describes the tribulations of a young man in Jewish community in a small town in eastern Europe, who loses his sanity over his love for a woman he could not marry. The novel is also a poignant social criticism of the bourgeois values of European Jews, who chase after food, drink, honor and avarice.
At the start of the Knesset winter session, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will act to amend the national service law so that it will no longer be possible for young Israelis to do their national service working for the B’Tselem organization, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office, released Saturday night. Netanyahu discussed the amendment Saturday evening with coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud).
Prime Minister Netanyahu has previously contacted the Attorney General on the matter, and the latter said the law needs to be amended to exclude the anti-Zionist NGO.
On Friday, Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, appeared before a non-binding session of the UN Security Council, together with the director of Americans for Peace Now, to attack Israeli policy on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
The meeting came a week after the US and the EU had expressed their outrage at the fact that Israel was planning 98 new housing units in Samaria, for the residents of Amona which was slated for demolition by the Israeli Supreme Court. Apparently, the fact that Israel refuses to let a few hundred Jews go homeless poses a threat to the national aspirations of Palestinians everywhere.
RASG Hebrew Academy High School in Miami Beach held its National Honor Society induction ceremony on September 22. Senior members of the Rabbi Yossi Heber, Z”L, Negba Chapter welcomed 15 new inductees.
Rabbi Aharon Assaraf gave the welcome/dvar Torah. The keynote address was delivered by Rosh Lowe. Moderators were Anna Sher, Avi Stein, and Malka Suster. The National Honor Society Pledge was administrated by Daniel Yerushalmi. Congratulatory remarks were given by Rabbi Zvi Kahn. Dr. Dara Lieber and Rabbi Aharon Assaraf presented certificates to new inductees who included:
Joseph Abrahams, Rafaela Benson, Jack Benveniste-Plitt, Noah Dobin, Brian Garcia, Moshe Goldring, Eden Grosz, Adira Kahn, Shani McCarley, Daniel Merran, Yaakov Schwab, Eden Shushan, Essence Slomianski, Alexis Sugar, and Raquel Zohar.
Hebrew Academy National Honor Society induction ceremony.
Finally, a building in Jerusalem where every visitor can see and feel the history and archaeology of the Land of Israel is taking shape right in front of our very eyes. The archaeology campus currently under construction will allow the general public access to Israel’s archaeological heritage by revealing the enormous variety of national treasures that were discovered in archaeological excavations, as well as the methods of exposing these national treasures in laboratories.
Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority, on Sunday unveiled the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, currently under construction on Museum Hill in Givʽat Ram, between the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum.
The campus will serve as an open, active house endeavoring to make the cultural heritage that belongs to all of us accessible to the general public: millions of archaeological treasures of the societies and religions that lived in Israel which were excavated and that will be excavated in the future. The campus will be home to visitors from Israel and abroad, and an educational center for students who will be able to see firsthand the exciting finds that were left for them by those who lived here hundreds and thousands of years ago.
The ceremony inaugurating the public wing of the campus will be attended by the Prime Minister and donors during the Sukkot holiday, and the building will be open to the public in about a year.
According to Hasson, “Just a small hop, skip and a jump over to the archaeology campus will allow every one of us to make a gigantic leap back in time, to the history of mankind and the country. The IAA is this generation’s guardian of the cultural assets of the past. The heritage belongs to all of the public, and it is our obligation to share with everyone the treasures that were safeguarded until now in the storerooms. On this campus, visitors will be able to take part for the very first time in the fascinating process of archaeological conservation that up till now was carried out behind-the-scenes, and experience firsthand the rich past of the country, as it takes shape before their eyes. The campus will be an attraction for tourists from Israel and abroad, and a home for anyone who wants to know where he comes from and where he is going.”
The total construction cost of of construction, about $105 million, comes from twenty-six donors as well as the State of Israel.
Display cabinet dedicated to new discoveries presents the story of the shipwreck in Caesarea harbor that was laden with a cargo of magnificent bronze statue fragments intended for recycling. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama
The campus, which covers an approximate area of 360 acres, is a unique gem designed by architect Moshe Safdie, symbolizing the archaeological excavation process – a tensile “transparent” roof that is the first of its kind in the country and simulates the tent-like canopies used to shade archaeological excavations, directing rainwater to a pool situated in a courtyard below, and creating a flowing cascade of water. Three levels descending like the strata in an archaeological excavation, contain courtyards, impressive display galleries, dedicated, climate controlled housing centers, and paths that overlook the laboratories and hundreds of thousands of artifacts housed in the campus, as well as the National Library for the Archaeology of Israel.
The inaugural exhibition in the campus will focus on and illuminate the diversity of the work of the professionals engaged in the worlds of archaeology and conservation.
Fascinating mosaics, many of which have never been displayed before, will be revealed for the first time within the framework of the archaeology campus. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama
The first exhibition in the display cabinet dedicated to new discoveries will present the story of the shipwreck in the Caesarea harbor, which was laden with a cargo of magnificent bronze statue fragments intended for recycling. From this exhibit one can learn a great deal about the world of marine archaeology, among other things, how the archaeologists excavated the artifacts underwater.
The exhibitions are spread throughout the building and deal with a variety of subjects.
In the huge housing center for the National Treasures visitors will walk on a suspended bridge while watching an audiovisual exhibit that will be projected on hundreds of thousands of artifacts.
The eastern rooftop of the campus is dedicated to mosaics, many of which have not been seen before and will be revealed to the public for the first time. The impressive el-Hammam mosaic from Bet Sheʽan was removed from the site in 1934, and only now, 82 years later, will visitors have an opportunity to see it. A magnificent mosaic depicting the biblical story of Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his back after the Philistines tried to kill him (Judges 16:3) was exposed by Jody Magness at Huqoq and will also be presented on the rooftop. A large nave of a Byzantine church with a colorful mosaic in it that was excavated by Shlomo Kol-Yaʽakov east of Ramla was restored in its entirety in one of the open courtyards of the campus.
At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve antiquities in laboratories that will be visible to the public. Credit: Shai Halevi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Hundreds of 7,000-year-old artifacts are exhibited in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery, revealing the Chalcolithic culture, which is surprising in its complex social system, the development of new production technologies and its extensive trade relations. Prominent among the artifacts: a painstakingly restored wall painting from Ghassul that was probably situated in a cultic chamber, statuettes, sculpted stands, clubs and scepters as well as the rare wooden bow and sandal from the Cave of the Warrior.
A special gallery in the campus focuses on ancient glass, and lumps of raw glass and hundreds of vessels are on exhibition (from the furnace to the masterpieces), describing the glass industry in the country and the ancient world, and the extensive distribution of these vessels in tombs some two thousand years ago. The precious glass vessels were buried as funerary offerings together with the deceased, in the belief that they would accompany the deceased to the next world.
The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel is home to the World Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the conservation center where the scrolls undergo conservation, a climate-controlled housing center for more than 15,000 scroll fragments, a library dedicated to the subject, and a gallery for the exhibition of the complex methods used by the five IAA Dead Sea Scrolls conservators – the only people in the entire world that are officially authorized to touch these 2,000 year old scrolls.
At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve the Dead Sea Scrolls. Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Other parts of the campus include the National Library for the Archaeology of Israel, which will be one of the largest in the Middle East, an auditorium where conferences, lectures, and movies in the field of archaeology can be held and shown, the administration offices of the IAA, a café and archaeological exhibits integrated on landscaped rooftops designed by landscape architect Barbara Aronson, which will enhance the area’s scenery.
The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel will be inaugurated on October 19 in a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister. It will be streamed live on the IAA Facebook page. The historic inauguration event will mark the importance of preserving Israel’s archaeological, spiritual and cultural heritage and will express gratitude to the donors who through their generosity made possible the construction of the campus.
A total of 120 French women, aged 18 to 23, have immigrated to Israel in 2016 through a specialized program, called Shlomit, which coordinates and finds Israeli citizens placement in national service, also known as Sherut Leumi.
French immigration increased from 1,900 immigrants in 2012 to 7,800 in 2015 and French immigrants make up 25% of all immigrants to Israel. However, the year 2016 has seen a particular upsurge of French women deciding to immigrate through the Shlomit organization and particularly through one of its branches, Shilat, which is specifically for religious women.
Shlomit was the first organization to extend national service opportunities to all Israeli citizens, regardless of sexuality, race, or financial status. The group’s mission is to enable every young Israeli citizen exempt from military service to serve the country and to make a significant contribution to the advancement of Israeli society.
“We endeavor to construct the best-suited combination between the particularities of the applicants, such as their specific skills, capabilities, place of origin, and languages, and those who could best utilize their services,” Shilat Director Osnat Tzadok told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
Most of this year’s applicants are from the area of Paris, but some have also emigrated from Marseilles or northern France. They tend to settle in Jerusalem in particular, but many of them also reside in Raanana, Netanya, Ashdod, Ramat Gan, and Tel Aviv. Program participants volunteer in a wide range of sectors, including hospitals, hospices, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and special education.
“It is not easy to immigrate to Israel, to integrate oneself within a new culture and country without one’s family, and to be disconnected from all that is familiar,” explained Tzadok. “Our program makes it easier by allowing participants to better familiarize themselves with the Israeli mentality, fostering confidence, creating new relationships and friendships, and learning Hebrew,”
As of the end of July, most Shilat participants will already have completed most of the administrative steps that immigration to Israel entails and are expected to start their year of service in September, but some will still be in the process of filing various necessary documents and arranging exemptions from military service.
Shilat helps the women get through that bureaucratic process and provides the women with benefits equivalent to those of lone soldiers, such as an apartment, an internet connection to reach family members, funds for transportation, and some assistance in everyday expenses. The program helps the women with the psychometric exams for academic studies after their service and offers Torah courses to enrich their religious knowledge.
Salome Benichou, a Shilat participant originally from Saint-Brice, told TPS that “Sherut Leumi for French Olim is complicated due to the fact that there is no forum to formally guide us through the process, to centralize the opportunities, and to actively make contact with French people and institutions while also providing support.”
“Shilat provides both professional and personal assistance through coordinators that are always available yet it allows for enough independence for immigrants to find their own place in Israeli society. It is an excellent medium to materialize the strong brand of Zionism I was brought up in,” she added.
Leaders of the program report that it has been very successful in integrating French women into Israeli society and that it has had a virtually nonexistent dropout rate. Participants in the program say that the success is a consequence of both the importance of Zionism in Jewish culture in France and of the efficacy of the program itself.
“What we need to understand about the immigrants from France is that many of them spend a year doing Israeli national service after having already done a Masa program for a year while their counterparts in France and the rest of Europe have already finished their degree. That is a pretty significant concession for both French young women and their parents to make in favor of Zionism given the French mentality,” concluded Liora, who is currently completing her second year of Sherut Leumi.
Day One of the Democratic National Convention began with utter chaos in the wake of a scandal over the revelation that the party’s leadership had tilted the primary elections in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against her contender, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
But the ink on the resignation letter of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was barely dry before Hillary Clinton hired her as a “surrogate” national chairwoman to lead her presidential campaign — in effect, promoting her for her loyalty, corruption notwithstanding.
Speeches by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama and then “rock star” runner-up candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont helped defuse some of the tension, but there was still plenty of bitter energy to spare.
The house was packed to the rafters for the Sanders speech, with thousands of signs — ironically, in the colors of the Israeli flag — waving frantically with slogans like, “Stronger Together” and “A Future to Believe In.”
The entire hall was on its feet as Sanders walked to the podium, and the cheers shook the building for at least five full minutes, with the former candidate repeatedly trying to begin his speech, only to give up laughing. “Thank you, thank you,” he said. The applause lasted longer than that garnered by the First Lady.
Supporters with tear-filled eyes chanted, “Feel.the.Bern! Feel.the.Bern!” But when they finally allowed their hero to talk, the message he delivered was not the one they wanted to hear, despite his obvious effort to let them down gently.
The longest-serving Independent Senator in the history of the nation told his supporters they must work to defeat Donald Trump — and they MUST support Hillary Clinton to do so.
He thanked Michelle Obama for her “incredible service to our country.” And he thanked “the 13 million americans who voted for the ‘political revolution’ who gave us the 1,846 pledged delegates here tonight!” He also thanked the delegates for “being here” and for “all the work you have done,” telling them he looked forward to their votes in the roll call on Tuesday.
After thanking his family, friends and others who have seen him through his entire political career, Sanders said, “I understand that many people here and around the country are disappointed … I think it’s fair to stay that no one is more disappointed than I am.”
The blunt reference to the rigged system that had lost him the primary to Hillary Clinton was unmistakable. But equally clear was the fact that Sanders, a seasoned politician, recognized there was little he could do about it. Knowing when to fold the cards, Sanders clearly now hopes to keep as many people on board as possible, despite the obvious corruption that has been exposed.
“I hope you take enormous pride in the accomplishments we have achieved,” he said. “Together my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution, our revolution, continues.”
“Election days come and go but the struggle of the people to create a government that represents all of us, and not just the one — that struggle continues… I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.
“This election is not about and has never been about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates that have sought the presidency,” he declared.
“This election is about and must be about the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and our grandchildren.”