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July 22, 2018

Israeli Knesset passes ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

Israeli Knesset passes ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

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On Thursday, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed the “Jewish nation-state” bill granting Israel the status of “national home of the Jewish people”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel”.

The bill was passed at 3 AM with 62–55 majority. Two lawmakers abstained. The bill declared Hebrew as the only official language and demoted Arabic from national language to a “special status” language. Netanyahu said, “An absolute majority wants to ensure our state’s Jewish characters for generations to come.” Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein said this bill, which received just 51.66% votes in favour out of the full Knesset of 120, was “one of the most important laws ever to be passed by the Knesset”.

The Knesset began the voting on Wednesday. Previously, the bill had clauses declaring the state as a Jewish-only community as well as direction for judiciary courts to consider Jewish values over democratic values. Both of the clauses were challenged by the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the Attorney General. The latter clause about Jewish values for courts was dropped in May; the other clause was eventually dropped, and the final draft of the bill was approved on Monday. The bill was first introduced in 2011 by the right-wing Likud party.

The latest draft of the bill said the Hebrew calendar is to be the official calendar of the state. It also read, “Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established” and “the state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” Israel is home to about 1.8 million Palestinians, who account for roughly 20% of the national population. The bill also declared Jerusalem, in its entirety, as the capital of Israel.

The bill received negative reception from a number of people. The Arab Joint List multi-party alliance called it “anti-democratic, colonialist, racist, and with clear characteristics of apartheid.” Calling it a “shameful night”, Meretz Party’s Tamar Zandberg said it was a “debased and tainted law”. The Joint List’s Ahmad Tibi questioned, “Why are you afraid of the Arabic language?”.

Last week, Netanyahu said, “We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel’s democracy but the majority also has the rights and the majority decides”. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a US-based Jewish Organisation, said the bill “was born in sin, its only purpose is to send a message to the Arab community, the LGBT community and other minorities in Israel, that they are not and never will be equal citizens. Two months ago we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, where it was written that the State of Israel ‘will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender.’ Today Netanyahu’s government is trying to ignore those words and the values that they represent.”



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April 30, 2015

Holocaust survivor publicly forgives 93-year-old Auschwitz guard during his trial

Holocaust survivor publicly forgives 93-year-old Auschwitz guard during his trial

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

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On Friday, Eva Mozes Kor, a 81-year-old Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, publicly forgave and embraced 93-year-old former SS guard Oskar Gröning, who is currently on trial in Germany as an accessory to 300,000 murders of Jews at Auschwitz.

Kor, who was among many Jews medically experimented on at Auschwitz, has thanked Mr Gröning for answering to the crimes he aided during his time as an Auschwitz guard.

Kor is amongst a number of Auschwitz survivors attending the trial who have joined the prosecutors as co-plaintiffs in the case against Mr Gröning. While Kor has forgiven Mr Gröning, she still holds him liable for his involvement during the Holocaust, as she did last week when she testified against him. Other survivors have recently spoken out about the trial; survivor Eva Pusztai-Fahidi said on Tuesday the trial itself against a former SS guard matters more than the end punishment.

During the first day of Mr Gröning’s trial, he denied any direct role in the killings, though he did admit to having witnessed them. Mr Gröning said he shared “moral guilt” for the crimes, regardless of whether his actions make him criminally guilty.

The prosecutors have argued that serving as a concentration camp guard is legally accessory to the act of murder. Mr Gröning is reportedly one of three remaining former SS guards that have been identified for trial. If found guilty, the former SS Guard could reportedly face up to fifteen years in prison.



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April 22, 2014

Canadian former deputy PM Herb Gray dies at age 82

Canadian former deputy PM Herb Gray dies at age 82

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gray in 2008
Image: Christine St. John.

Herb Gray, a Canadian former deputy Prime Minister whose federal political career stretched 39 years, died yesterday. He was 82.

The lawyer from Windsor was undefeated through thirteen consecutive elections, from 1962 to his last in 2000. The Liberal was the third longest serving Parliamentarian of the nation. Nicknamed Gray Herb for his seriousness and The Gray Fog for his ability to deflect questions, Herb was the first Jewish minister in Canada.

Deputy PM Sheila Copps‘s 1997 resignation saw Gray promoted to fill the role. Prior to that he served as interim Liberal leader in 1990.

Despite his professional seriousness he had a love of political satire, collecting editorial cartoons and listening to radio shows such as Royal Canadian Air Farce and Double Exposure. Outside of politics he enjoyed rock music and played classical piano.

Gray survived throat cancer treated with radiation in the 1990s and operations for prostate and heart conditions in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

James Moore, Conservative current Minister for Industry, tweeted about the “marvel” of Gray “swatting away our questions […] when we were in opposition.” Current Liberal head Justin Trudeau said Gray was a “great statesman” who “left behind an immense legacy unmatched by most in Canadian history”.

Copps said he was “an incredible Canadian and a brilliant parliamentarian” and ex-leader of the Liberals Bob Rae said he “served Canada with such distinction and care”. Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Gray “an honourable parliamentarian who served his country well”.

Gray is survived by wife Sharon Sholzberg, who once said she not once witnessed her partner heading “out for a drink with the boys”, and their two children and eight grandchildren.



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February 27, 2014

Arabs react to Israeli debate on Jerusalem\’s Holy sites

Arabs react to Israeli debate on Jerusalem’s Holy sites

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

In Jewish tradition, the rock upon which Abraham built his altar for the sacrifice of Isaac (Dome of the Rock interior).
Image: OSU Special Collections & Archives.

Islamic and Jordanian leaders responded yesterday to a debate conducted by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, addressing current Arab control over holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem including Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Last week, members of the Jordanian Parliament condemned the plan for a debate in the Knesset on the issue, but yesterday after the debate in Israel almost 50 of them had petitioned the Jordanian government to stop the enforcement of the 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty. The treaty allowed for the exchange of ambassadors and on that point, the Jordanian parliament voted on the recall of the nation’s ambassador to Israel. Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur said, in remarks to Qatari newspaper Al-Watan, any Israeli action affecting Jordanian control of the Holy sites would violate the treaty and Jordan could review whether or not the treaty had been invalidated. Meanwhile, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation criticized the Knesset debate as a provocation.

Before the Israeli debate Tuesday, Palestinian protesters took to one of the Gates of the Temple Mount in the Old City, used by Jews, armed with firecrackers and rocks and were met by Israeli police.

On Tuesday, members of the Israeli Knesset began a debate on an issue it had never before broached. MK Moshe Feiglin of Likud started the debate about one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, The Temple Mount. Feiglin spoke to freedom of religion and the right of Israelis to pray on the site controlled by the Arabs while opponents addressed their fears the sensitive topic could harm ongoing peace talks. He said, “Any terror organization can raise its flag there, [but] there can be no trace of the Israeli flag. Only Jews are forbidden to pray at this place.”

During the debate, Labor MK Eitan Cabel reacted to Feiglin’s motion, “Why stop at the Temple Mount? If you are the new messiah of our times, what about” — he named various specifics of the holy promise of the lands of the Greater Israel — “Why leave them behind?” A “Greater Israel” promised by God is generally considered off limits in civic discourse inside Israel. The Knesset did not vote on the issue.

Al-Aqsa Mosque ranks just behind Mecca and Medina as the holiest of Islamic sites. Jews consider the Temple Mount to be their holiest site.


AlAqsaFromKotel.JPG

The Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Western Wall Plaza.
Image: Wilson44691.

Israel-2013(2)-Aerial-Jerusalem-Temple Mount-Temple Mount (south exposure).jpg

Southern aerial view of the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Image: Godot13.

Israel-2013(2)-Jerusalem-Temple Mount-Al-Aqsa Mosque, portal (north exposure).jpg

The portal of the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the north.
Image: Godot13.

Israel-2013-Jerusalem-Temple Mount-Al-Fakhariyya Minaret & Islamic Museum.jpg

Al-Fakhriyyah Minaret & Islamic Museum.
Image: Godot13.

Al Aksa Mosque, Mount of Olives.jpg

The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Image: Jane Fresco.

Al-Aqsa 6.jpg

The Dome of the Rock (close).
Image: بلال الدويك.

Pulpit of the Cadi Borhan-ed-din Jerusalem Holy Land.jpg

The outdoor Islamic Pulpit of the Cadi Borhan-ed-din Jerusalem Holy Land at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem.
Image: Snapshots of The Past.

Al aqsa moschee.jpg

Al Aqsa Mosque from the Dome of the Rock.
Image: MatthiasKabel.

Israel-2013-Jerusalem-Temple Mount-Dome of the Rock & Chain 02.jpg

The Dome of the Chain (Arabic: قبة السلسلة, Qubbat al-Silsila) in front of The Dome of the Rock.
Image: Godot13.

Temple Mount south, Jerusalem 2010 4.jpg

Southern Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Image: Wknight94.



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July 21, 2013

Nineteenth Maccabiah Games open in Jerusalem

Nineteenth Maccabiah Games open in Jerusalem

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Sunday, July 21, 2013 The nineteenth edition of the Maccabiah Games, one of the largest sporting events in the world, was inaugurated Thursday in Jerusalem‘s Teddy Kollek Stadium. Jewish athletes from all over the globe take part in this event every four years. US gold Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman lit the Maccabi cauldron.

The ceremony was attended by the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat. This year, over 40 sports are scheduled to be contested by more than 70 countries.

The last time the Maccabiah Games were inaugurated in Jerusalem was in 2001. The opening of the event was done at the Teddy Kollek Stadium.
Image: Maor Melul.

Ballons representing the more than 70 participant countries in the Maccabiah Games.
Image: Maor Melul.

The Venezuelan delegation at the Maccabiah Games.
Image: Maor X.

The official languages of the Maccabiah Games are Hebrew, English and Spanish; this can be noticed during the introduction of the Latvian delegation.
Image: Maor Melul.

Morocco returned to the Maccabiah after an absence of several years.
Image: Maor Melul.

The flag of the World Maccabi Movement.
Image: Maor Melul.

The largest delegation present at the Maccabiah Games 2013 is the one from the United States of America.
Image: Maor Melul.

The flag of Israel being carried by jewish olympic medalists.
Image: Maor Melul.

The Maccabiah Games is one of the largest sports events in the world, commonly called “the Jewish Olympics”.
Image: Maor Melul.

File:Aly Raisman lighting the Maccabi Torch.JPG
US gymnast Aly Raisman lighting the Maccabi cauldron.
Image: Maor Melul.

Part of the light show at the inauguration of the Maccabiah Games 2013; an israeli flag made of light beams waves over Teddy Kollek Stadium.
Image: Maor Melul.



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February 3, 2010

Poland issues EU warrant for Swede suspected of stealing Auschwitz sign

Poland issues EU warrant for Swede suspected of stealing Auschwitz sign

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The sign has been replaced by a replica.

A court in Poland has issued a European Union arrest warrant for 34-year-old Anders Högström, the alleged mastermind involved in the theft of the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign from Auschwitz. The sign, later recovered cut into three pieces, was stolen from the entrance of the death camp in December last year. Five Poles have been arrested for the theft of the sign, that translates to “work sets you free”. The wrought-iron sign weighs 40kg and is five metres long, and was unscrewed and ripped from above the gate of the infamous site in the heart of Poland. The theft caused outrage around the world, in particular in Poland and Israel.

Spokesman for the court of the Polish city Krakow, Rafał Lisak, said that the Swedish national is suspected of “incitement to commit theft of a cultural treasure”. Höngström is the founder of a Swedish neo-Nazi group, National Socialist Front. However, he later quit the group and reeled against the extreme right-wing movement. The warrant issued for him obliges any European Union constituent country to arrest the suspect and return him to Poland for a trial.

Between 1940 and 1945, over one million Jews and other minority groups were killed in the gas chambers of, or died of starvation in, the three camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.


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September 22, 2009

Germany threatens to walk out of UN General Assembly if Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust

Germany threatens to walk out of UN General Assembly if Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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A spokesman for the German government has announced plans to walk out of the United Nations General Assembly if Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust in a speech he is due to give on Wednesday.

The spokesman said, “We will leave the hall if President Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust or makes anti-Semitic statements … we are making efforts toward a unified European position,” going on to request a “common response” from other European Union member nations. Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, also encouraged a boycott of Ahmadinejad’s speech.

On Friday, Ahmadinejad gave a speech in which he called the Holocaust “a lie” and a “fairy tale”. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the remarks, calling Ahmadinejad “a disgrace”.

Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany, where the Nazis carried out the Holocaust, a mass persecution and killing of Jews and other minorities, during World War II.



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April 9, 2009

Jews Around the World Recite Special Sun Blessing

Filed under: Archived,Judaism,Religion,World — admin @ 5:00 am

Jews around the world recite special sun blessing

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Massada synagogue
Image: Daniel Ventura.

On Wednesday morning, April 8, Jews gathered around the world to recite the sacred and rare blessing of the sun (birkat hachama in Hebrew), recited only once every 28 years.

The blessing is intended to celebrate the positioning of the sun, stars, and planets in the exact formation in which they were created. Although modern science seems to have disproved such a claim, the blessing is still recited and maintains much symbolic value in the Jewish faith.

The sun or the shape of the sun must be seen in order to recite the “BirkatHachamah” after sunrise but no later than noon. Areas which forecast cloudy or rainy weather were hoping for a glimpse of the sun. A contingency plan would be to raise above the clouds aboard an aircraft to sight the sun and then recite the prayer.

This year also marks the first time in 2,000 years that the prayer was recited at Massada’s ancient synagogue.



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March 24, 2008

Al-Qaeda\’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, calls for \’strikes against Jewish and American interests\’

Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, calls for ‘strikes against Jewish and American interests’

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Monday, March 24, 2008

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File:Ayman al Zawahiri.jpg
Ayman al-Zawahiri in an FBI photo

Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri has released a new audiotape calling for Muslims to attack Israeli and American targets in revenge for Israel’s recent offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The tape was posted on the internet and on it, Zawahiri urges strikes against Jewish and Americans interests, along with all those who participate in aggression against Muslims.

“Muslims, today is your day. Strike the interests of the Jews, the Americans, and all those who participated in the attack on Muslims. Monitor the targets, collect money, prepare the equipment, plan with precision, and then—while relying on God—assault, seeking martyrdom and paradise,” said Zawahiri.

He also added that any attacks on these interests should not be confined to Palestine, Israel or the Middle East.

“Today there is no room for he who says that we should only fight the Jews in Palestine. Let us strike their interests everywhere, just like they gathered against us from everywhere,” added Zawahiri.

U.S. intelligence is currently reviewing the tape, but so far the authenticity cannot be independently confirmed.

In a separate recording released last week, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden called on Palestinians to reject negotiations and use “iron and fire” against Israel. A voice described as bin Laden’s also urged Muslims to support the insurgency in Iraq as a way to liberate Palestine.



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January 25, 2008

Oregon court lets child decide on own circumcision

Oregon court lets child decide on own circumcision

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Friday, January 25, 2008

In an ongoing custody battle, the Oregon Supreme Court decided a 12-year-old boy should have a say in whether he should or should not be circumcised as part of a conversion to Judaism. The child of Lia and James Boldt was raised in the Russian Orthodox Church, but his father James, who has primary custody, converted to Judaism in 2004. The couple divorced in 1999.

After conversion, James began discussing the religion with his son and informed the ex-wife of his intentions for the son to convert as well. The mother objected to the conversion and circumcision as invasive and possibly dangerous. The father argued that his First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion allowed him to choose what religion his child was raised in.

The Oregon Supreme Court in a decision authored by Chief Justice Paul De Muniz reversed the decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals and returned the case to the trial level court. The trial court in Jackson County, Oregon, was to determine if the 12-year-old boy agrees with being circumcised or if he disagrees with the procedure, and take that into account with their ruling. The state supreme court had received four amicus briefs from national Jewish groups supporting the father’s position.



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