Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Yorker editor David Remnick to Yediot: ‘I can’t take the Occupation anymore’

December 26, 2010 270 comments

David Remnick

On December 24 2010, Yediot’s Friday Political Supplement ran an interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick by Adi Gold. Most of the interview was dedicated to his new biography of Barack Obama. Gold did ask a political question on Israel and Reminck’s response was very blunt. Note that this is a reverse translation (Hebrew original of section here.)

Do you see a certain change in the US Jewish community?

“A new generation of Jews is growing up in the US. Their relationship with Israel is becoming less patient and more problematic. They see what has happened with the Rabbinical Letter [proscribing rental and sale of property to Arabs — DR], for example. How long can you expect that they’ll love unconditionally the place called Israel [sic]? You’ve got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967. It’s been happening for so long that even people like me, who understand  that not only one side is responsible for the conflict and that the Palestinians missed an historic opportunity for peace in 2000, can’t take it anymore.

“The US administration is trying out of good will to get a peace process moving and in return Israel lays out conditions like the release Jonathan Pollard. Sorry, it can’t go on this way. The  Jewish community is not just a nice breakfast at the Regency. You think it’s bad that a US President is trying to make an effort to promote peace? That’s what’s hurting your feelings? Give me a break, you’ve got bigger problems. A shopping list in exchange for a two month moratorium on settlement construction? Jesus [sic].”

Categories: Uncategorized

Maariv runs some scary gossip on Bibi and “the Boss”

November 30, 2010 1 comment

Bibi and "the Boss"

Last night, Channel Ten TV News’s Raviv Drucker exposed a letter written to Benyamin Netanyahu in early 2009. The author, one Yisrael Yagel, a former executive in Netanyahu’s 2008 election campaign, penned an indictment of the Prime Minister’s management style, with particular emphasis on the role and influence of Ms. Netanyahu (“the Boss”).

This morning, Maariv also ran the letter, but as the first of a three-part series, with follow-ups from mid-2009 and early 2010. Ben Caspit, Maariv’s senior political columnist who has been a brutal critic of the Prime Minister’s Bureau, explains:

I have been in possession of these letters for more than a year. It was not Yagel who gave them to me. But it was Yagel who urged me not to publish them. After I got to know him, I made a very unreporterly-like decision and acceded to his request. I tried repeatedly to describe in this newspaper the dangers of the prime minister’s behavior. The weakness of his working environment. And most importantly: the degree to which the prime minister’s wife was involved in making most of the decisions, small and big, the power she wields, the terrible fear he has of her, the fact that some of the prime minister’s employees, who are actually our employees, are really her employees and are subordinate only to her will.

Below are translations of the letters as published in Maariv, the response provided by the Prime Minister’s Bureau and Caspit’s (separate) commentary. There’s a lot of “insider baseball”, but a lay reader will still get a sense of the Byzantine politics surrounding Israel’s helm. Here, for example, is a passage from the first letter:

“The matter reached an extreme level, which let a red light, a few days ago, in the debates on how the campaign should be run during the war in the south of the country [Cast Lead]. In a phone conversation, it appears (I only heard him) that Natan Eshel [a confidante of Ms. Netanyahu who was later appointed Netanyahu’s first Bureau Chief] unsuccessfully tried to persuade you to ramp-up the campaign. At the end of the call Natan told Yisrael Bachar (I was also in the room) that  ’he (meaning you) doesn’t yet know that the campaign will change, because I’ve already settled the matter with the Boss (meaning Mrs. Netanyahu.’ So the process is run by an outsider (Natan) who operates you (through Mrs. Netanyahu) like a puppet??? This is the point I decided not to remain silent!!! Even if what Mr. Natan Eshel said was tinged with bluster, it reflects an extremely problematic situation.”

Read more…

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What the Oslo Accords were about, from the mouths of babes. Literally.

November 25, 2010 2 comments

The second season of the Israeli version of the reality show Beauty and the Geek is an even bigger hit than the first. Not least because the producers constantly prove that, in Israel 2010, reality outdoes satire.

In the second episode, broadcast Tuesday evening, the girls are quizzed in the Channel Ten TV News studio on the Israeli-Arab conflict by high-brow interviewer Yaron London and mythical Palestinian affairs reporter Yoram Binur. Most of the section is heart breaking. At one point, however, viewers are treated to a dose of honest wisdom that would never be broadcast on a “serious” venue [watch the entire episode here; the passage translated below starts at 48:14].

Yaron London: We’ve talked enough about wars. Let’s talk about peace. What’s the difference between the Oslo Accords and the Road Map, Lital?

Lital: The Oslo Accords were an agreement that was meant to give them the feeling that at end of the day they will have a state on their own lands. But it didn’t really happen.

London: Meaning that we were cunning…is that what you’re saying?

Lital: We were…a kind of hoodwinking.

Lital won the quiz.

Categories: Uncategorized

Maariv: Geert Wilders to express support for “Jordan is Palestine” at Tel-Aviv conference

November 8, 2010 8 comments
There’s more to this. Israeli adulation for the Dutch ultra-nationalist is not limited to the National Union: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman of the Board of Fellows at Dore Gold’s neoconservative power-house — The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs — has been a leading cheerleader.

Dutch reinforcement for National Union

Arik Bender, Maariv, November 8 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

Cooperation between the extreme right wing in Holland and Israel: Dutch anti-Muslim nationalist Geert Wilders will come to Israel in order to support the idea that “Jordan is the Palestinian nation state,” which is being promoted by MK Arieh Eldad (National Union).

Eldad, chairman of the Hatikva party, one of the constituent parties of the National Union, is convening a special conference of his party in order to discuss an “alternative foreign policy plan,” which mainly consists of recognition of the fact that Jordan is the Palestinian state, while only one state will exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea—the State of Israel.

MK Eldad will present the main points of his idea at the conference, which will be held in Tel Aviv at the beginning of next month.  Eldad will be followed by a guest speech by the Dutch nationalist Wilders, in which he will voice support for the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Jordan.  Former defense minister Moshe Arens and former GSS director Ami Ayalon were invited to the conference in order to respond to the speeches.

The party led by Wilders, the Dutch Party for Freedom, currently holds 24 of the 150 seats in the lower house of the Dutch Parliament.  Wilders, who is opposed to Muslim immigration to Europe, sparked a furor following the film “Fitna” that he wrote, produced and directed in 2008.  In the film, he presents Islam and the Koran as a religion that supports terror.  Since then, he has received many death threats and is under heavy security.

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Yediot runs full page ad for a tourism package in Syria (!)

May 30, 2010 10 comments

The back page of Yediot’s daily magazine supplement, “24 Hours,” sports a mysterious full page advertisement for a tourism package to Syria. You can view the orginal here and bottom of post. Here is a translation of the text:

A captivating journey to the antiquities of the ancient city of Tadmor.

Syria, from $329, including flights, three-star hotel and a vehicle for four days.

The ad is pricey (at least $15,000) and is obviously a teaser — there is no phone number, URL or any identification of the advertiser. The question is, a teaser for what? A travel agency, perhaps, or, more likely, a full-blown campaign calling for resumption of peace-talks with Syria.

H/T Dana Zimmerman

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Categories: Uncategorized

Proposed law will criminalize sex under 16

May 26, 2010 2 comments

For adults only

Zvika Brott, Yediot, May 26 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

There is no adolescent who doesn’t wonder about the question when his “first time” will be.  A new initiative in the Knesset seeks to put an end to this deliberation, and simply decide for Israeli teenagers: You cannot have sexual relations before age 16.

The “abstinence bill” initiated by Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Carmel Shama (Likud) aims to toughen the currently existing law in Israel, which forbids having sexual relations before age 14.  It states that sexual relations under age 16 will be forbidden, even among partners of the same age.  “The lower the age that people begin to have sexual relations, the greater the physiological and psychological risks it entails,” MK Shama writes in the bill.  “The age currently determined by law is too low, we must not forget that we are talking about children.”

It should be noted that the model proposed by Shama is in force in many countries around the world such as the US, Canada, Britain, Holland, Norway and Finland.  However, there are also many countries that follow the rules that apply in Israel, including Spain, Hungary, Moldova, Croatia, Chile and Albania.

The bill does not specify the penalty that will be imposed on minors who have sexual relations beneath the permitted age, but it states that this will be proportional and coordinated with the welfare authorities.


The “abstinence bill” is important to MK Shama not only as a parliamentarian but also as a concerned parent.  “Last week, my eldest son turned 14.  I am horrified by the thought that he and his friends will have sex at this age, and with the consent of the State of Israel’s law book,” he explains.  “There is no intention to go into the teenagers’ bedrooms, and certainly not to punish, but rather to convey the message that this is forbidden and has dangers.  In the world of online acquaintance and liberal norms of partying and drinking, there are grounds for guiding intervention by the state.”

The bill enjoys the support of many MKs from the coalition and opposition, and it will be officially submitted to the Knesset secretariat this morning.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

The saga of Israeli airport security checks, chapter 137

November 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Security checks at Israeli airports and border crossings are infamous among Palestinian-Israelis and internationals working in Israel (see this satire via Dion Nissenbaum at the Checkpoint Jerusalem blog; h/t Lara Friedman.)

Below is a Maariv article on the legal battle on this issue waged by one Palestinian-Israeli, Dannan Maarouf, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) against the Israeli GSS (General Security Service.)

Not a pleasant flight

Shmuel Mittelman, Maariv, November 18 2009 [page B8]

Dannan Maarouf can be quite pleased. Recently the courts instructed the Airports Authority to compensate him with NIS 1,000 plus NIS 250 in court fees. This was because of the inappropriate behavior of the inspectors in Ben-Gurion Airport before he flew out of the country. Maarouf alleged in his lawsuit that the inspection resulted in damage to both his property and his dignity, because it took place before everyone and took longer than necessary. The Magistrates Court ruled that the inspectors’ behavior was indeed discourteous, although Maarouf’s behavior was also out of place.

Furthermore, the court ruled that the security procedures were followed correctly in this instance, and that there was no evidence that Maarouf was discriminated against in the course of the inspection, but added that the Airports Authority officials ought to have conducted the inspection patiently.

If the promises delivered by the GSS are to become reality, than the flight and landing experience of Maarouf and other Israeli Arabs in the country’s main airport may become a great deal more pleasant. This follows many complaints by Arab Israelis over delays in flights, suitcases inspected before everyone, affronts to their dignity and public humiliation upon entering and exiting the country.

The GSS, with the aid of the Airports Authority, revealed this week that it has formulated a plan to significantly alter its security inspections. These changes will, within two to three years, reduce the “the differential component of inspection” — both in extent and in essence, thus minimizing and blurring the discriminatory inspection of passengers based on their groupings. This way the organization hopes to terminate or significantly lessen the damage caused to the Arab population, while maintaining a proper level of security. These important steps will require the purchase of equipment, new technologies and logistical preparations in Ben-Gurion Airport, which are expected to amount to some NIS 300 million.

However, even after the changes and steps aimed at easing [the passengers’ situation], GSS sources clarify that in light of the danger of terror to civil aviation in Israel in general, and in light of the great fear of an aerial mega-terror attack in particular, they will not be able to refrain from carefully checking certain populations that will be segmented by various data, while building a “risk profile” of a potential terrorist.

It would appear that this profile will also include the term “Arab,” but in reference to a smaller risk group than until today.  This step does not satisfy the human rights organizations.  The GSS is relying, on this matter, on the United States, where the court has permitted the use of risk profiles on the basis of ethnicity or race, in order to protect national security.

Cosmetic changes

The GSS revealed the expected changes in a detailed response that it submitted to the High Court of Justice following a petition of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).  The petition said that the security checks were wrongful because they “discriminated against Israel’s Arab citizens on grounds of national and ethnic affiliation.”  The GSS and the Airports Authority have asked the High Court of Justice to reject the petition and enable implementation of the changes in a gradual manner.

Human rights organizations, however, have cast doubt on this, and say that the new measures are insufficient and that they are only “cosmetic.”  ACRI says in its petition, submitted by Attorneys Auni Bana and Dan Yakir, that the security checks at airports in Israel “puts an entire population group into the circle of suspicion, and exposes all its members to special checks due to their national affiliation.”  These checks, ACRI says, are “painstaking, invasive, troublesome and long,” and unlawfully infringe upon their constitutional rights.  Therefore, ACRI demands that security checks be carried out for all citizens, “on the basis of equal, substantive and uniform criteria.”

In a comprehensive response submitted by the GSS (by means of representatives of the State Attorney’s Office, Attorneys Osnat Mandel, Einav Golomb and Gilad Shirman), it insists that the system of security checks at Ben-Gurion Airport—“with all the changes that have been incorporated in it and will be incorporated in the near future”—is very different from the descriptions of the petitioner, and is conducted with a balance between security needs and the need to minimize the resulting harm to the population.


The GSS emphasizes that in order to thwart such terror attacks, it cannot base itself only on objective information and data about the passenger.  This is due to the limitations of intelligence information and the possibility of manipulations and exploitation of the passenger by terror organizations, even without his knowledge.

Conversely, an identical system of checks cannot be instituted for all passengers, since if such checks are “average,” this will lower the standard of checking that is currently employed.  However, if the level of checks is stringent, it will greatly burden all the passengers and critically damage the functioning of the airport and service to the passengers.  [The GSS] says that contrary to the assertion of the petitioner, there is no uniform stringent level of checks for all of Israel’s Arab citizens.  “In practice, most of this population undergoes quick checking procedures that do not cause an undue burden or delay,” it states.


Categories: Uncategorized