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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Ultra Orthodox’

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

Hareidi-Religious Rioters in Ashdod Block IDF Arrests With Violence

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Hareidi-religious rioters in Ashdod blocked IDF military police late Monday night from arresting at least one man who did not show up at an induction center. Dozens of rioters overturned a police car and damaged several other police vehicles by throwing stones at them.

Police said in a statement, “A large number of Israel Police forces were deployed to the scene to extract the military policemen while dispersing the crowd. The police view this incident with the utmost severity and will use all the means at their disposal to locate those involved and bring them to justice.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Negiah!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Israeli police detained a few Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters who were blocking the main road in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Meah Shearim, during a demonstration against the arrest of two other Ultra-Orthodox army deserters.

Blocking traffic in Meah Shearim

Protesting in Meah Shearim

Photo of the Day

Grave Watching

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Some fifty Hareidi men stand in protest at a construction site in Gilo where ancient grave were found while digging.

They believe the bodies found are of Jews, and do not want them moved for the construction of new housing units that were planned for the site.

Photo of the Day

Some Ultra-Orthodox Troubled by Bazooka’s New Kosher Certification

Monday, November 30th, 2015

For religious Jewish kids growing up in America, Topps’ Bazooka bubble gum was the ultimate forbidden candy, along with the Topps’ bubble gum that was packaged along with the Topps’ baseball cards (you bought it for the baseball cards, right?). In Israel, Elite sold the gum with a standard kashrut certification and many a package of Elite Bazooka gum was shipped to America over the years.

Only recently did the Israeli ultra-Orthodox kashrut service of the “Badatz” (Hebrew acronym for Court of Justice) award the Elite Bazooka gum with a Mehadrin certification, classified as “Megadim” which is a fancy biblical word for sweets. But upgrading the certification from standard kosher to ultra kosher apparently hasn’t helped a few among the Israeli ultra-Orthodox reverse their attitudes. Yael Kliger, writing for Kikar Hashabbat, in a piece titled “Kosher but Smelly,” said she just cannot accept this chewy product, which she had been taught was made from pig’s fat.

Even the American Bazooka, which has been kosher certified for years now, was unacceptable to Israeli Haredim. “It was the treif of treifs, darkness within darkness,” Kliger recalls. The comic strip inside the gum wrapper was sought by her and her peers “to try to read the joke, often feeling bad and sinful for stupidly daring to touch the powdery wrapper of the treif gum.”

Ask any middle aged ultra-Orthodox man or woman, Kliger wrote, “they all remember some drama or horror story related to this product. Someone wrote that he remembers his grade school rabbi taking a lighter, igniting the gum in front of the students, and telling them that the dripping red liquid was the blood of the ‘other thing’ from the gum.”

“And now, unanimously it’s been decided bazooka is in?” Kliger argues that the Badatz, known for its assaults not only against unreliable kosher certifications, but also against smartphones, publications, all the many elements that they deem not to belong in an honorable Jewish home, now, for the money they received from the Elite candy maker, they see fit to reverse decades of group behavior?

There are many opinions on the reason for singling out the Bazooka as treif in the Haredi community in Israel, and to some extent abroad—as many views as there are talkback comments on Kliger’s article. Some believe it had to do with the fact that the Bazooka gum presented a challenge in terms of control — it’s so easy to grab and stuff in your mouth, so the rabbis had to put the fear of God in kids’ hearts. Others suggest it came down to the comics and the jokes — rabbis don’t like their kids reading jokes without a measure of control.

One talkbacker said the kashrut certification is meaningless, because of the halachic concept of “minhag hamakom,” the local practice. If it’s been forbidden, it should stay so.

In fact, Kliger was calling on the Badatz to demand some changes in the product, so it wouldn’t appear as if what has been so decidedly treif for so long is suddenly permissible. Like Mad Magazine and Cracked.

The Israeli Bazooka jokes, by the way, are even less amusing than the original, and are often plagued by bad translation from the English. Shahar Ilan, who reported on the new Haredi certification in Ha’aretz, used as an illustration a Bazooka comic strip in which a waiter serves Bazooka Joe soup, and the latter complains that it has “ta’am matzhik” which in Hebrew means “hilarious taste,” to which the waiter retorts: “So why aren’t you smiling?” — leaving the Hebrew reader scratching their head wondering why the soup was so hilarious.

JNi.Media

Education Ministry Official: We Have Plans to Integrate the Ultra-Orthodox

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

(JNi.media) Director of the ultra-Orthodox Dept. in the Ministry of Education Meir Shimoni recently revealed some of his office’s plans and objectives in a speech he gave at the Center for the Study of ultra-Orthodox Society, Kikar Hashabbat reported Monday. Shimoni’s statements have arouse a huge storm among heads of Haredi educational institutions and increased their concern regarding an intervention of the Ministry of Education not only in administrative matters but also in matters of curricula and children’s education.

Among other things, Shimoni said that his office is engaged in a “significant and historic groundbreaking,” recalling that “what happened with the ultra-Orthodox sector was very simple,” Shimoni said, “It was very convenient for the state over the past 40-60 years to come to the ultra-Orthodox society and tell them, here’s 5 billion shekel, take the money and do with it what you wish. That’s how things rolled on and on. Various norms were created. They didn’t deal with the core curricula, or the quality of teaching and learning, and everyone did as they saw fit.”

According to Shimoni, the Education Ministry is now determined to improve the ultra-Orthodox educational system. He said there are individuals both inside and outside the ultra-Orthodox society eager to institute these changes. They just need to be connected together.

Saying he is determined to use a carrot and stick approach, “a lot of carrot, only a little stick,” Shimoni spoke about the issue of integrating Haredim in the job market: “If we review the demographics, then by 2040, possibly towards 2050, if the ultra-Orthodox sector stays on its current trajectory, it would constitute about 50% of the Jewish population. That’s the data, give or take, and if we want that this 50% will be integrated into society, employment, the military, the security, all of that, we must take care of the education system yesterday.”

Shimoni insisted that the Education Ministry’s plan is to move at a moderate pace, “not by force but with smarts, with a great deal of caring and sensitivity, but also with determination, never give up the goal.”

Shimoni was appointed by the former Education Minister, Shai Piron, an appointee of Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who had made forcing ultra-Orthodox integration one of his main agenda topics, concentrating on an “equal burden” policy in IDF conscription. The new Education Minister, Naftali Bennett is considered friendlier to the ultra-Orthodox, being a religious Jew himself.

JNi.Media

Coalition Mutiny Against Revised Ultra-Orthodox Conscription Law

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

(JNi.media) There may be a coalition crisis brewing under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s watch, over a split between his two religious partners and the rest of his narrow, 61-member Knesset majority, Israeli media reported Thursday. The rift is over the new ultra-Orthodox conscription legislation, which some Likud and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu MKs are rejecting. The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is expected to meet Thursday to approve amendments to the “equal burden” bill, in accordance with Netanyahu’s coalition agreements with the ultra-Orthodox. The plan was for the approved bill to go to a House vote next week, but now there appears to be a wrinkle in that fabric.

A group of several coalition MKs from Likud and Kulanu are opposing the committee’s proposed changes. The ultra-Orthodox, for their part, have made it clear that the issue is a deal breaker, meaning that Netanyahu would have to look for 13 new members to support him should the bill not go through the committee as agreed.

After the establishment of Netanyahu’s third government in March 2013, a ministerial committee headed by Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) recommended an IDF conscription plan that would exempt only 1,800 exceptional yeshiva students each year, demanding that the rest serve like everyone else (hence the title, “equal burden”). The Committee recommended imposing economic sanctions on educational institutions that don’t meet recruitment targets, while yeshivas with high enlistment rates would be rewarded financially. The Committee also recommended that if conscription targets are not met, criminal proceedings should ensue against individuals refusing to enlist. The legislation was passed in March, 2014.

Last Monday, the Knesset approved in a first reading the draft amendment to the conscription law, postponing the application of criminal sanctions against ultra-Orthodox recruits, and extending implementation procedures of the existing law which was passed by Netanyahu’s 3rd government. The postponement of criminal sanctions is part of the coalition agreement signed by Netanyahu 4 with the ultra-Orthodox parties. Netanyahu and the coalition faction whips made a commitment to Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) to being the amended law to a second and third readings in ten days from last Monday.

The new law proposes two adjustment periods, one to be extended until June 30, 2020, to allow for an examination of the law’s effectiveness, followed by a second adjustment period, lasting through June 30, 2023. If enlistment figures by then would comply with expectations, the law would stay as is; otherwise, the defense minister of that time would be free to alter the arrangement to reach the recruitment targets set by the government in this law.

“Why do we need to postpone the implementation of the law by six years?” one coalition MK, who is member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, wondered, speaking to NRG. “A three year postponement is not enough?”

Coalition members are also resentful of the language in the law that hands over to the defense minister legislation power that belongs to the Knesset, enabling him or her to unilaterally alter the law of the land.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/coalition-mutiny-against-revised-ultra-orthodox-conscription-law/2015/11/19/

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