A7News: Shooting Attack in Shomron, Two Wounded

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Shooting Attack in Shomron, Two Wounded

A Jewish 20-year-old shot by Palestinian terrorists at the entrance to Ariel has been evacuated by helicopter to a hospital.

  1. Shooting Attack in Shomron, Two Wounded
  2. Electricity to Gaza to be Cut Briefly Due to Attacks
  3. Thousands Remember Matriarch Rachel at Tomb
  4. 99.8 Percent of Criminal Trials End in Conviction
  5. Dr. Mazar: PM’s Office Complicit in Temple Mount Destruction
  6. Bill Calling For Jew-Free Hevron Met With One to Evict Arabs
  7. No End in Sight for Secondary School Teachers’ Strike
  8. Syria Trying to Regain Loyalty of Israel’s Druze
  9. Supreme Court Orders Rabbinate to Authorize ‘Heter’ Produce
  10. Rabin Memorials Begin in Israel

TV Programs
Senior academic lecturers go on strike.

Yekutiel Ben Yaakov restricted from his home and business

Radio Programs
Audio: Avraham – the First Jewish Missionary Click to Listen
Audio: United on Jerusalem Click to Listen

1. Shooting Attack in Shomron, Two Wounded

by Hillel Fendel

Arab terrorists opened fire at Israeli hitch-hikers outside the Shomron city of Ariel shortly before 11:30 AM, wounding a 20-year-old soldier in his stomach. He was evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah, and is listed in moderate-to-serious but stable condition.

The attack occurred shortly before noon when a long round of shots rang out from a west-bound car that passed by the hitch-hiking post along the moderately busy Tapuach-Ariel-Raanana highway. The terrorists’ vehicle then made a quick U-turn, and sped back towards the central Shomron. The terrorists also shot at Israeli cars on the highway, wounding a second man lightly in his leg. The car had Palestinian Authority license plates.

A little-known Fatah terrorist cell has claimed responsibility for the attack. Fatah is headed by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Police and military forces erected checkpoints in the area, and are in pursuit of the terrorists. A car was reported to be ablaze in one of the Arab villages in the area, and is believed to be the vehicle used by the would-be murderers. The Tapuach-Ariel section of the highway is closed to traffic.

Yesha Council: Result of Government’s Policies
The Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council of Jewish Communities announced that the attack was “the inevitable result of the government’s goodwill gestures to Abu Mazen (Abbas). We have warned that the release of terrorists from prison, and the removal of others from the list of wanted terrorists, would lead to attacks. Instead of trying to strengthen Abu Mazen, an effort that is doomed to fail, the government should be trying to strengthen the security of Israel’s citizens.”

Previous Attacks
The attack was the first of its kind in the Shomron in over a month. On September 14, two women were lightly wounded when they were ambushed by Fatah terrorists as they were driving between Karnei Shomron and Kedumim, just a few kilometers from the site of today’s attack.

The Ariel junction, located 23 miles east of Tel Aviv, has been the site of several fatal shooting attacks in the past. In August 2003, an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old were murdered there; ten months earlier, three soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded in a suicide attack. In August 2001, Zohar Shurgi, 40, a father of three, was killed in shooting attack between Ariel and Tapuach.

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2. Electricity to Gaza to be Cut Briefly Due to Attacks

by Ezra HaLevi

The Israeli government will cut electricity to certain areas of Gaza for two hours a day in response to a barrage of Kassam rockets Tuesday fired from the area. Sderot residents say it is too little, too late.

The blackouts will start out localized in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, opposite Sderot, from which most of the rockets are fired.

At least 22 Kassam rockets and 12 mortar shells were fired by Gaza terrorists toward Israeli towns and cities in the western Negev Tuesday. After the first barrage, the Air Force launched a strike on a rocket firing cell, killing senior terrorist Mubarak al-Hassanat, 37. Al-Hassanat served as deputy chief of the Hizbullah-associated Popular Resistance Committee in Gaza and in the Hamas Interior Ministry as well. He was formerly associated with Fatah, but took the position in Hamas’s government to help improve and oversee its development of an organized guerilla army.

One of the rockets landed near a strategic facility in the Ashkelon industrial area and another slammed into a residential building in Sderot. Several residents were lightly injured and others suffered from shock.

Six Kassam rockets were fired Monday as well.

The government announced that Defense Minister Ehud Barak will approve a list of sanctions against Gaza residents during a meeting with defense officials on Thrusday. Deputy Defense Minister MK Matan Vilnai (Labor) told Army Radio that the vast majority of electricity in Gaza is supplied by ten power lines from Israeli power stations. He ruled out cutting off all the power at once, but said he favored reducing it in stages. Hospitals will continue to receive power, “so as not to create a humanitarian crisis.”

The supply of gasoline to Gaza will also be “reduced slightly” he said, saying the goal is to remind residents that there are consequences for the rocket-fire.

Sderot residents lamented the government’s inaction on Army Radio Tuesday morning. “They stick concrete blocks and shelters all around and say ‘deal with it’ and that’s it – ‘there is no solution’ they tell us,” a local woman said.

“This decision is characteristic of this nihilistic government, it pains me to say,” Sderot resident Eliyahu Cohen told Arutz-7 Wednesday morning. “They refuse to deal with the problem at its root. [The decision to cut electricity for two hours] was merely made to satisfy their own consciences. For residents of Sderot, who suffer every day from Kassam rocket attacks – it is yet another insult. The siren goes off and nobody is hit and the government says nothing happened, but it is impossible for us to get used to, and it traumatizes each day anew.”

Former Chief of Staff Says Business Interests Preventing Gaza Assault
According to an in-depth report published by former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Boogie) Ya’alon, the Olmert government is refraining from carrying out the necessary counter-terror operations in Gaza due to commercial ties and business concerns.

Ya’alon writes in the report, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, that the “master plan” for a Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority entails Israel purchasing 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that British Energy discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast. “The market value of the gas has been estimated at $4 billion. Therefore, sale of the gas to Israel would mean a billion-dollar windfall for the PA and, potentially, for the Palestinian people,” Ya’alon writes.

“Unfortunately, British assessments, including those of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, that Gaza gas can be a key driver of an economically more viable Palestinian state, are misguided. Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israel’s past experience, the proceeds would likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel.

The former Chief of Staff’s most damning claim: “For Israel, the need for BG’s gas may have already taken a toll. It is possible that the prospect of an Israeli gas purchase may have played a role in influencing the Olmert cabinet to avoid ordering a major IDF ground operation in Gaza, despite at least 1,000 rocket and mortar attacks against southern Israel since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007…Israel’s funneling a billion dollars into local or international bank accounts on behalf of the Palestinian Authority would be tantamount to Israel’s bankrolling terror against itself. Therefore, an urgent review is required of the far-reaching security implications of an Israeli decision to purchase Gaza gas.”

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3. Thousands Remember Matriarch Rachel at Tomb

by Gil Ronen

Thousands of Jews flocked Monday night and Tuesday to the tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel, just south of Jerusalem, to pray in her memory. The pilgrimage correspondeded with the 11th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, the anniversary of Rachel’s passing. According to the Bible, she was buried on the way to Efrath, in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem).

Rabbis for the Land of Israel, headed by Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, conducted a special prayer ceremony at the tomb against government plans to divide Jerusalem.

Ever since the mid-1990s, when Arabs in Bethlehem began sniping at the structure, access to the tomb has been restricted and high concrete walls were constructed to protect visitors. For years, only bulletproofed buses were allowed into the compound.

This year was different: following a meeting in the Knesset between MK Uri Ariel (NU/NRP) and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, the minister agreed to let non-bulletproofed buses in as well. Private cars are not allowed in because the walls that have been built around the tomb have left very little room to park within them. However, the elderly and disabled are allowed to enter in private cars.

The site has been identified as Rachel’s tomb since ancient times. The structure around the tomb was widened in 1841 by Jewish leader and financier Moshe Montefiore.

In the book of Jeremiah, Rachel is depicted weeping over the exiled children of Israel:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. Thus says Hashem: Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says Hashem: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says Hashem: your children shall come back to their own country.”

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4. 99.8 Percent of Criminal Trials End in Conviction

by Gil Ronen

The Public Defender’s Office asked Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann Tuesday to change the law to make it harder to convict criminals. Currently, virtually every person on trial in Israel for criminal offenses is found guilty.

The National Public Defender, Attorney Inbal Rubinstein, and her deputy, Dr. Yoav Sapir, wrote that “we are as far as we can be from a situation in which the system does everything it can to prevent the conviction of innocents.” Only two out of 1,000 cases end with a “not guilty” verdict in Israel.

The public attorneys suggest that criminals be tried by two-judge panels and that guilty verdicts only be possible if both judges agree. A law to this effect was once drafted by then-MK Prof. Amnon Rubinstein and passed the Knesset in a preliminary reading, but never went any further.

The system: plea bargains
The most common way the Israeli court system deals with criminal cases that are not clear-cut is through plea-bargains. The accused is often advised that his chances of acquittal are virtually nonexistent, and i
Proponents of the system claim that guilt or innocence is determined effectively by the police and the prosecution.
s expected to sign a plea bargain with a reduced sentence instead of fighting to clear his name.

Proponents of the system claim that the determination of guilt or innocence is carried out effectively at the initial stages of the criminal process, during the police investigation and in the examination of the case by the prosecution. It is assumed that cases which reach the court are those in which guilt has been clearly determined. Another explanation given for the plea-bargain system is that it saves the understaffed courts time and money.

The immediate reason for the attorneys’ letter was the latest development in the 14-year-old case of the rape and murder of Henit Kikos, a resident of Ofakim in the Negev. Kikos disappeared on June 10, 1993, and her body was found some time later. Sliman El-Abid, a resident of the Bedouin town Rahat, was arrested and charged with the crime after confessing to a police agent planted in his cell.

There was not a unanimous decision in his trial which reached the Supreme Court twice, and there has been an ongoing legal and public dispute about El-Abid’s guilt.

“Our experience teaches us that in cases in which a person is convicted by a majority of opinions [as opposed to a unanimous decision – ed.] … leave a heavy feeling of uncertainty regarding the convicted person’s guilt,” the public defense lawyers wrote. “We think that the Israeli court system cannot live with this lack of certainty regarding the danger that an innocent person will go to jail. The public’s trust in the court system is shaken.” They quote from the great Jewish sage Maimonides, who wrote “it is better and more desirable that 1,000 sinners be set free, than to kill one innocent man a single time.”

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5. Dr. Mazar: PM’s Office Complicit in Temple Mount Destruction

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Well-known archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University told Arutz Sheva Radio that she sees the recent revelation of First Temple artifacts on the Temple Mount as further proof of what she called the Antiquities Authority’s “criminal behavior.” The
The destruction on the Temple Mount continues… due to “a direct order from the Prime Minister’s Office.”
destruction on the Temple Mount continues, she charged, due to “a direct order from the Prime Minister’s Office” to ignore the Islamic Waqf’s violations of antiquities preservation laws.

Asked why the Prime Minister would issue such a directive, Dr. Mazar said, “I am an archaeologist, not a politician. However, it is clear that the Prime Minister must not avert his eyes from the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount. Not even at the cost of tranquility. These are artifacts that have been permanently ruined and we will never be able to restore them.”

The Antiquities Authority, Mazar noted, allows construction by the Waqf, the Islamic religious authority, to proceed on the Temple Mount without consistent state oversight. In the past, Mazar, as a member of the Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Temple Mount Antiquities, warned that ongoing Waqf digging of a trench on the Mount was destroying Second Temple artifacts.

“It is adding insult to injury,” Dr. Mazar said on Monday, “I have no idea what [the Antiquities Authority] wants people to think of them – other than that they are preening themselves over criminality and over their permission to carry out illegal construction.”

In September, the Committee of which Dr. Mazar is a member filed a petition with the High Court of Justice to halt the destructive works being carried out by the Waqf. In addition to an immediate intervention, the Committee petitioned for the regulated oversight of any further Waqf construction on the Temple Mount.

“We would expect that the same demands [made during construction at other historical sites] be applied primarily at the Temple Mount,” Mazar added, explaining that the Antiquities Authority provides precise regulations for such projects all around the country. Under existing law, contractors who discover artifacts while digging for their construction projects are obligated to freeze construction and inform the appropriate authorities. This law is completely ignored on the Temple Mount, according to Dr. Mazar and her colleagues.

Waqf Denies Existence of First Temple Artifacts
The director of the Waqf for holy sites in Jerusalem told a Lebanese newspaper that Israeli reports of archaeological finds from the First Temple period are baseless. Azzam Al-Hatib charged that Israel timed the reports to try to prove a Jewish link to the site at the same time the Palestinian Authority has demanded control of the Old City.

Muslims have been conducting a campaign that has escalated in the past two years to convince the world that there is no Jewish connection with the Old City of Jerusalem. They argue that the Western Wall (Kotel) was a hitching post for a mythical horse ridden by Islam’s founder, Muhammad. Historically, the 7th-century Arabian leader never set foot in Jerusalem.

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6. Bill Calling For Jew-Free Hevron Met With One to Evict Arabs

by Ezra HaLevi and Gil Ronen

The far-left Meretz party submitted a bill Wednesday calling for removing all Jews from Hevron, the city of the Biblical Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs. The National Union threatened to respond with a bill calling for removing the Arab residents.

The first bill was submitted by Meretz Chairman MK Yossi Beilin.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Minister Ruhama Avraham said that the government opposes the bill because the matter is “a diplomatic issue and only the government will decide upon it.”

MK Beilin said he was pleased with the government’s position because it did not rule out the eviction of Jews from Hevron, but stated that such a decision must be made by the government.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) told the Knesset plenum that he has presented a bill that calls for the expulsion of all Arabs from Hevron. He said the law mirrored the wording of the MK Beilin’s bill.

When Arab MKs began shouting at him angrily, Eldad reassured them that he would not be bringing the declarative bill before the Knesset because he agrees that it is racist, just as Beilin’s bill is.

MK Avraham gave a similar response to MK Eldad’s proposal, saying the transfer of Hevron’s Arabs is a “diplomatic issue” as well.

The bill was rejected by a vote of 47 to 11 and MK Eldad did not submit his bill to vote.

Hevron Jewish Community Responds

It is ironic that during the very weeks we are reading about Abraham, Hevron, and purchase of the Machpelah Cave, the Knesset should be dealing with a bill promoting expulsion of Jews from Hebron, following in the footsteps of Nazi Mufti Haj Amin el-Hussainei and the British in 1929,” community spokesman David Wilder told Arutz-7.

Wilder also took issue with the government’s response to the bill: “The response should have been: ‘Hebron, the first Jewish city in the land of Israel, home of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, site of the second holiest place to Jews in the world, is part of the eternal essence of the Jewish people, the Jewish state and Jewish heritage. Such a subject should even be broached. Hebron will remain an integral part of the State of Israel forever.’ The fact that this was not the response strengthens the fact that this government must be toppled as soon as possible and a new government, recognizing Hebron’s significance, should take power.”

The Hevron community has hosted over 70,000 visitors since Rosh HaShana and expects tens of thousands next Sabbath, when the Torah portion documenting the purchase of the Machpela Cave by Abraham will be read by Jews around the globe.

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7. No End in Sight for Secondary School Teachers’ Strike

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

An ongoing secondary school teachers’ wage strike entered its 12th day Tuesday, with no contact between the teachers’ union and the government. Classes at the nation’s universities are also suspended due to a three-day-old lecturers’ strike.

Speaking during a press conference in Paris on Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the strike “unjustified and unnecessary.” He accused the Secondary School Teachers Association of hurting both students and teachers, adding that the teachers had been offered a “good deal.” Olmert also criticized what he said were strongly exaggerated comments by teachers’ union leader Ran Erez at a press conference Monday.

In his comments on Monday, Erez charged the Finance and Education ministries with adopting policies that will lead to the ruin of education in Israel. If the government convinces the Labor Court to force the teachers back to work, Erez threatened, he will turn to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to “prevent Israel from becoming a third-world country.” He added that if the situation remains as it is, then the next strike will be staged by parents and not by teachers.

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s comments in Paris, Erez said that Olmert displayed his own ignorance of the issue at stake. The fact that Prime Minister Olmert opposes the strike and supports the Finance Ministry’s current offer is a sign that teachers must reject the offer and continue the strike, Erez concluded.

“A university-educated teacher with 20 years’ experience today makes about 5,200 shekels a month,” Erez said. “If we divide that salary by the number of hours that teacher works in practice, then we come to a wage that is less than that earned by a babysitter.”

The government has offered the Secondary School Teachers’ Association an additional six billion shekels for teachers’ salaries, according to Lital Apter, media advisor to Education Minister Yuli Tamir. “Is that negligible in their eyes?” Apter asked.

Tafnit Joins the Fray
Tafnit party chairman Uzi Dayan, who appeared with union leaders at Monday’s news conference, said that the teachers’ struggle for better working conditions is just as important as the battles of the Second Lebanon War. He distanced himself from union leader Erez’s threat to turn to the United Nations for help, but called on Prime Minister Olmert to back the teachers.

“Our children deserve better education,” Dayan said.

The Tafnit party failed to win Knesset representation in the last general elections, but Dayan, a former senior IDF commander, has been working hard over the past year for grassroots support.

Recruiting Rabin to End the Strike
In what was received by some teachers as an attempt at political manipulation, Education Minister Tamir called on the Secondary School Teachers’ Association to suspend their strike tomorrow in order to allow students to learn about the “Rabin legacy.” The official state memorial day in honor of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin falls on Wednesday.

The teachers’ union rejected Tamir’s effort to gain a reprieve from the strike.

University Lecturers Agree to Mediation
Finance Ministry Wage Desk Director Eli Cohen has agreed to a suggestion by Minister Tamir that an independent mediator be appointed to bridge gaps between the government and striking university lecturers. The academic lecturers shut down classes, which had been scheduled to begin on Sunday, in order to obtain a change in their salary structure.

However, representatives for the university lecturers’ union said they have heard nothing about a mediator. “The egg was hatched before it was laid,” a union spokesperson said.

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8. Syria Trying to Regain Loyalty of Israel’s Druze

by Ezra HaLevi

In a move aimed at staking a claim on the Israeli Golan Heights, Syria’s President says he will grant citizenship to the area’s Druze residents.

Syrian President Bashar Assad announced the plan, according to a state-run newspaper, in order to highlight his claim that “the Syrian citizens in the occupied Golan belonging to the homeland, mother Syria, and the rejection of Israeli identity.”

Israel annexed the Golan Heights in the 1980s, after Syria lost the area to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

The Druze religion requires loyalty to the state in which one resides. Many Druze serve in the IDF, fighting and dying for the Jewish state. Most Druze live in Syria and Lebanon.

With intermittent talk from politicians about giving away the Golan Heights to Syria in the future, however, the Druze community has become fertile ground for anti-Israel activity. Local Druze activists claim that the Golan will one day be under Syrian sovereignty and threaten those who serve in the IDF that they will then be put on trial and punished.

Druze leaders in the Golan were quoted by the Maariv daily newspaper Tuesday saying they reject the offer of Syrian citizenship. “I am an Israeli citizen, and I am obligated to the State of Israel,” local council leader Atar Batchish said.

Hussam Farahat, head of the Bukata city council, said: “We live in Israel, and we are loyal to the country we live in…We live here in honor and honor the state.”

Batchish explained, however, that some Druze might take up the offer, “because they are afraid that someday the Syrians will again rule the Golan.” An additional consideration is the assumption that there will be no negative consequences meted out by Israel for accepting Syrian citizenship.

Druze MK Sayid Nafa said publicly that he supports the move by Syria. Nafa replaced MK Azmi Bishara on the radical Israeli-Arab Balad Party list when Bishara fled Israel due to allegations of treason. Nafa, who recently made an illegal visit to Syria with 330 senior Druze religious members, called Assad’s offer “a wise step” that demonstrated Syria’s support for those living in the “occupied Golan.”

There is reportedly a steep rise in efforts by Druze religious leaders to reduce service in the IDF and even renounce Israeli citizenship. Yediot Acharonot reported in February that major social boycotts have been launched, banning marriage, business relationships and even friendship with Druze who have accepted Israeli citizenship.

MK Majalli Whbee (Kadima) blasted MK Nafa following the latter’s illegal trip, saying he represents “marginal extremists who do not represent the overwhelming majority of the Druze community in Israel.” He also called upon the government to take harsher measures against such trends. “The state is hiding its head in the sand and not doing enough to cut down subversive activities,” he said.

It is unclear whether Druze loyalty is shifting due to anti-Israel sentiments, or due to an increasingly widespread assumption that the Israeli government will surrender the Golan Heights to the Syrian dictatorship. During the Second Lebanon War, the all-Druze Herev Battalion killed at least 20 Hizbullah guerillas and reported no injuries.

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9. Supreme Court Orders Rabbinate to Authorize ‘Heter’ Produce

by Hillel Fendel

The Supreme Court has ordered the Chief Rabbinate to authorize rabbis who will issue Shemittah-year Kashrut certification.

The Rabbinate had earlier determined that municipal rabbis – the Chief Rabbis of the various cities and localities – may determine their own individual policies regarding Shemittah year produce. This led to a situation in which local rabbis who did not support the heter mechirah dispensation refused to issue Kashrut authorization to farmers, restaurants and other establishments that did.

In response, agricultural suppliers, the Flowers Council, and the Agriculturalists Union sued the Rabbinate in the Supreme Court, claiming that the sudden change in decades-long policy had caused them great damage. The suit specifically concerned the city of Herzliya, whose Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakobovich announced last month that he would not honor the heter dispensation. He said at the time that the rabbinates in other cities, such as Jerusalem, Rechovot, and Petach Tikvah, were considering similar moves.

Shemittah Background
The Shemittah or sabbatical year is a Biblically-ordained, year-long period during which Jews are forbidden to work the Land of Israel. It is observed once every seven years. Some 120 years ago, when Jews began to return to the Land of Israel after nearly two millennia of exile, they began farming the land for their livelihood. When the first Shemittah year arrived, in 1889, leading rabbis ruled that the farm land could be sold to non-Jews for the Shemittah year, and could be then farmed almost as usual – with the condition that major agricultural activities such as plowing be performed by non-Jews. This arrangement was known as the heter mechirah, literally, the “sale dispensation.” Other leading rabbis did not accept it, however – setting the stage for a century-plus of disputes on this issue.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel had long accepted the heter mechirah as its official policy, despite the many opponents the arrangement has amassed over the years. Now, however, the Chief Rabbinate has come under the control of more hareidi-religious rabbis, who have long opposed the heter, and policies have changed accordingly.

It is widely agreed nowadays that though Israeli agriculture suffers during the Shemittah year, the country’s existence is not at stake as a result. The Chief Rabbinate has now decided that the time is ripe to shed its support for it. In a telephone poll of the 16 members of the Chief Rabbinate Council this past August, 12 members agreed that individual local rabbis could refuse to issue Kashrut authorizations to establishments that relied on the heter.

The Ruling, and Religious-Zionist Response
The Supreme Court ruling, which was largely authored by Justice Elyakim Rubenstein, an observant Jew, stated that the Chief Rabbinate need not force any rabbi to act in opposition to his understanding of Halakhah [Jewish Law], but it must provide rabbis who do support the heter in order to provide Kashrut for consumers who wish to abide by it.

The Tzohar Rabbis Organization – a religious-Zionist group – welcomed the ruling, but expressed disappointment that the Rabbinate had to wait for a Court edict before taking this action. The Tzohar rabbis are in the beginning stages of providing their own Kashrut certifications, based on acceptance of the heter, but they may stop this arrangement if the Chief Rabbinate takes over.

The Ruling in Detail
Justice Rubenstein wrote that the Supreme Court is not expressing a Halakhic (Jewish legal) opinion, but is rather dealing with the administrative validity of Rabbinate decisions: “The approach of the Rabbinate ever since it was formed during the British Mandate, and of its predecessor during Ottoman rule, was to find a way to enable Jewish agriculture to survive during Shemittah years… The Rabbinate’s goal in recent decades was not to save Israel’s economy… but rather to help and support Israel’s agriculture and farmers.”

The Rabbinate’s new policy, however, does not meet the standards of administrative law, Rubinstein wrote: “Such a significant change, if necessary, must be made in a proper and serious manner, and must be reasonable and documented. I fear that this was not the case… For instance, it should not have been done by phone, and the farmers and Ministry of Agriculture were not given a chance to be heard.”

Beinish Against Stringencies
Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch concurred. Essentially saying that the Rabbinate need not be so stringent, her written ruling attempted to explain why the Court can intervene in the Chief Rabbinate Council’s decisions:

“The Chief Rabbinate Council is, in fact, authorized by law to issue Kashrut certifications, and has the authority to decide Kashrut issues according to Jewish Law – but the judgment it has been granted is not absolute. When it must decide its policy regarding Kashrut certification, its considerations must exclusively be those that clearly touch upon the heart of the Kashrut question. As long as Kashrut laws are not abrogated, it must always keep in mind the need to prevent the abrogation of elementary civil rights more than is clearly necessary for the maintenance of the Kashrut laws. When a Halakhic solution exists, the Chief Rabbinate is not authorized to expand and be more stringent beyond the Halakhic policies it has employed in the past, in a manner that worsens the harm to civil rights for a purpose other than the specific one for which it was given the authority in the first place.”

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10. Rabin Memorials Begin in Israel

by Hillel Fendel

Once again, the week of the 12th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan has become a time of public controversy as the country commemorates the murder of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

The memory of the 12-year-old murder, to which Yigal Amir confessed and of which he was convicted, has opened old wounds and bad blood between the Israeli left and right.

Left-wing spokesmen continue to refer to the widespread right-wing protests against Rabin’s policies prior to the murder as “incitement to violence.” This, despite the following:

  • Amir was, by his own admission, self-motivated. In a video of his police interrogation, screened on national television Monday night for the first time, Amir clearly states that he first conceived of the idea of killing Rabin when the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed (Sept. 1993).
  • Right-wing leaders clearly said that violence was not acceptable in fighting the Oslo process.
  • Most importantly, several incidents of anti-Oslo incitement before Rabin’s death were actually instigated by the General Security Service (Shabak) itself, with the purpose of discrediting and shaming the right-wing camp. For instance:

    • The Shamgar Commission, which investigated the Rabin assassination, found that nationalistic and religious elements were “specifically harmed by Shabak agent-provocateur Avishai Raviv’s provocations.” In what some saw as a major understatement, the commission concluded that “his GSS handlers could not have been able to ignore this.”
    • Avishai Raviv admitted, shortly after the murder, that he had staged a swearing-in ceremony for young Jewish members of the “Eyal” militant movement so that it could be shown on television. The ceremony was screened twice on national TV, and brought great criticism upon the nationalist camp. Israel’s Media Watch (IMW) filed a complaint with the police against the reporter, proving from the unscreened footage of the ceremony that it was clearly and obviously staged, in violation of the law forbidding public servants from performing acts of trickery and breach of trust. However, the police closed the case – as it did for nearly 20 other cases which involved Shabak agent Raviv.
    • The famous “Rabin in SS Nazi uniform” poster: TV broadcaster Nitzan Chen testified to the police that it was Raviv who provided him with a copy of the poster at a Jerusalem anti-Oslo protest, and later verified that the poster would be shown on the evening news. Protestors denied seeing the poster on display at the rally.
    • Raviv took “credit,” in the name of his fake Eyal organization, for the murder of an Arab in Halhoul – though the killing was later found to have been committed by an Arab.
    • Former IMW chairman Yisrael Medad notes that “90% of the so-called right-wing incitement screened by the media at the time featured none other than GSS agent-provocateur Avishai Raviv,” whose government-paid job it was to stir up precisely that type of trouble.

Despite his 1992 election promise not to negotiate with Yasser Arafat’s PLO terrorist organization, Rabin gave guns and Israeli land to Yasser Arafat in exchange for promises of peace.

The Foreign Ministry has released, in honor of the anniversary, copies of several speeches delivered by Rabin, including his acceptance of an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew University in June 1967 following the Six Day War (Rabin had been the IDF Chief of Staff during the War); at the signing of the first Oslo Accord at the White House on Sept, 13, 1993; at the signing of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty on Oct 26, 1994; his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, on Dec. 10, 1994, and at the Tel Aviv “peace” rally just moments before he was killed on Nov. 4, 1995.

Opposition to Palestinian State and Concessions in Jerusalem
However, a speech Rabin delivered in the Knesset in October 1995, in which he opposed the formation of a Palestinian state – a stance he repeated on several occasions – was not released. In that speech, Rabin also spoke of his vision for a united Jerusalem: “These are some of the changes that we see and want in the final status agreement: First and foremost, a united Jerusalem, including Maaleh Adumim and Givat Ze’ev, as Israel’s capital… a security border for Israel’s protection in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest sense of this term… the inclusion of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar [south of Jerusalem] and other communities.”

At last year’s memorial session in the Knesset, Prime Minister Olmert quoted a passage from the above speech by Rabin: “There are not two Jerusalems. There is only one Jerusalem. As far as we are concerned, Jerusalem is not a matter for compromise.”

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who also quoted the above passages in a Knesset speech in memory of Rabin in 2003, added that Rabin’s wife Leah told him on her deathbed, “with her last remaining strengths, ‘Arik, isn’t it true that Yitzchak would never, ever have ceded in Jerusalem?’ Knowing Yitzchak Rabin for many years, even with our differences regarding Oslo, I answered Leah, ‘I am certain he would never have ceded in Jerusalem.’ This was our last talk; two days later, she passed away.”

Memorial Ceremonies
The official memorial ceremonies for Rabin began on Monday at the Rabin Center with the participation of the IDF General Staff. Ceremonies are to be held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem with the participation of Jewish and Arab students, and at the Ramat HaSharon Tennis Center. On Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the killing, ceremonies are to be held at the Prime Minister’s Office and Mt. Herzl, and a special Knesset session will be dedicated to Rabin.

On Friday, a group called the Peace Guards will convene at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, at the site where Rabin delivered his final speech before being killed. On Saturday night, a large rally and main ceremony will be held in his memory.

Education Minister Yuli Tamir, a founding member of extremist left-wing Peace Now, has asked the leaders of the striking teachers to allow the teachers back to work for just one day so that they can take part in memorial ceremonies to take place in schools. “It is a matter of utmost educational importance to have a framework in which the students of Israel can learn the ramifications of this day,” Tamir said.

Video Promoting Amir’s Release
A video has been circulating calling for the life sentence of Yigal Amir to be shortened, to enable his release at some time in the future. Many MKs and others have condemned the call; Binyamin Netanyahu, for instance, said that as Prime Minister, he would ensure that Amir never be released from prison.

Nationally-famous pop singer Ariel Zilber, who has aligned himself with nationalist causes of late, appears in the film. He later explained to Army Radio that he sees no reason to treat Amir any differently than any other murderer – “especially in light of the wholesale manner in which Palestinian terrorists and would-be murderers are released from prison… And I’m not even sure that Amir killed Rabin; there are many serious question marks about the whole story. Mistakes have been made in the past and people have sat in jail for nothing – and if it turns out that Amir really wasn’t the murderer, who will apologize to him?”

MK Ophir Pines (Labor) responded, “These are people who will stop at nothing to advance their interests. I expect the entire right-wing in Israel to condemn with a clear voice this atrocious initiative.” Even MK Zevulun Orlev, the leader of the National Religious Party, said, “It is known that behind the campaign to free Amir are disturbed people, who cause the greatest damage to the religious public and towns in Judea and Samaria.”

Rabin and Oslo
It remains a matter of debate whether Rabin was in the midst of changing his mind about the Oslo process he began when he was assassinated. Despite this, renowned attorney Yoram Sheftel recently said that with all the talk of the Rabin Legacy, the “true Rabin Legacy, as far as I’m concerned, is the murder of 1,500 Jews with the weapons given [by Israel to] the terrorists during the implementation of the Oslo Accords.”

Baruch Gordon contributed to this story.

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Wednesday, Oct. 24 ’07
12 Cheshvan 5768

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