A7News: Israel Becoming Less Secular

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Israel Becoming Less Secular

An Israel Democratic Institute demographic survey finds religious growth, secular decline; the percentage of religious is highest among the youth.

  1. Israel Becoming Less Secular
  2. Government Officials Warn Annapolis Conference is a Mistake
  3. No Israel-PA Joint Statement in Sight
  4. Israel to Reduce Electricity Supply to Gaza
  5. PA Negotiator: Go Back to 1947 Partition Plan
  6. ‘Stand With Us’ Stands against Campus Anti-Zionism
  7. Olmert Plans to Evict Hevron Jewish House, Community Defiant
  8. IDF Psychiatrist (res.) Indicted for Attempting to Spy for Iran
  9. Israeli Flag To Take The Guiness Record As World’s Largest

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1. Israel Becoming Less Secular

by Hillel Fendel

An Israel Democratic Institute (IDI) demographic survey finds religious growth and secular decline – but most significant is that the proportion of religious in the public is highest among the youth.

The percentage of Jews describing themselves as secular has dropped sharply over the past 30 years, while the religious and traditional proportions have risen. The annual survey finds that the secular public comprises only 20% of the Israeli population – compared to 41%, more than twice as much, in 1974.

Nearly half the population, 47%, describes itself as traditional, while the hareidi-religious and religious-Zionist together comprise 33% of the public.

The numbers were compiled based on a survey of representative sampling of 1,016 Israelis Jews.

Tradition Reigns
Over the past seven years, according to IDI statistics, the proportion of secular Jews has dropped sharply from 32% to 20% today. The “traditionalists” have traditionally had the lead in polls of this nature – except for one year in 1974, when they trailed the seculars, 41% to 38%.

Other findings show that the Sephardic population is much more traditional and religious than the Ashkenazic sector. Ashkenazic Jews are those originating from European (Christian) countries, whereas Sephardic Jews lived in the Iberian Peninsula (now Spain and Portugal), African and Middle Eastern (Moslem) countries. Only 7% of the Sephardim describe themselves as secular, compared to 36% of the Ashkenazim. At the same time, 56% of the Sephardim are religious or hareidi, compared to only 17% of the Ashkenazim.

39% of those under age 40 are religious – more than those in their 40’s and 50’s (32%), and much more than those aged 60 and over (20%).

It can be inferred from the numbers that Israel is a traditional society, and that it will become even more so as the years go by.

Country is Right-Wing; the Religious – Even More So
Politically, the religious are more right-wing, but so are the others. Among the religious, many more identify with the right than with the left, by a 71-8 margin; among the traditional, it’s 49-21, and among the secular, it’s 43-27. In total, 55% of the population view themselves as right-wing, and only 18% are to the left.

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2. Government Officials Warn Annapolis Conference is a Mistake

by Hana Levi Julian

Objections to the ever-nearing Middle East summit scheduled for next week in Annapolis are growing in all quarters, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s top ministers.

Syrian officials have said that attending the Annapolis conference will be a waste of time if the status of the Golan Heights, recaptured by Israel in 1967, is not on the agenda.

Saudi Arabian officials have said there isn’t much point in attending if Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators cannot come to an agreement on a basic joint statement for the event.

Now reports are emerging that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak both told close aides that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is “doing the wrong thing” by going to the Annapolis conference. Likud MK Yuval Shteinitz voiced the allegation Thursday morning in an interview with Voice of Israel government radio.

The Foreign and Defense Ministers have not commented on the charge.

Shteinitz also said he feels the prime minister is “making a terrible mistake by going to Annapolis.” He rejected the claim that it is Hamas and not Fatah that is firing rockets on Sderot. “What difference does it make?” asked Shteinitz. “Mahmoud Abbas said he is responsible for security of all of the Palestinian Authority (PA). It does not make any difference who fires at us.”

The Likud MK compared Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, when he went to Munich to talk with Adolf Hitler after the Nazi invasion of European countries.

Shteinitz charged that Prime Minister Olmert is negotiating under fire while the Arabs perpetrate rocket attacks in Sderot and terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria. He likened this to Chamberlain’s trying to appease Hitler while the Nazi war machine was in high gear.

He also said that going to Annapolis violates the American Roadmap plan, which calls for negotiations only when terrorist attacks and incitement against Israel completely end.

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3. No Israel-PA Joint Statement in Sight

by Hana Levi Julian

Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiators have been meeting all week in last-ditch attempts to agree on a joint statement to be presented at the Annapolis summit next week – without success.

Representatives for the two sides met again Thursday night to try and hammer out a joint statement which will satisfy U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice while allowing the two sides to agree to disagree.

Sources said Friday morning that PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will eventually have to decide whether to bridge the gaps, or disappoint the U.S.

Officials in Jerusalem, however, said the PA is not really invested in reaching an agreement on the joint statement because PA residents have rejected the idea of compromise with Israel, giving Hamas another edge in toppling the Fatah-led government.

The differences to be worked out include a PA demand that Israel agree on a timetable for expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria, and establish a PA state.

Prime Minister Olmert has previously stated that he would not concede and commit Israel to such a timetable while terrorism is still out of control.

Hamas meanwhile is taking advantage of the dithering to sabotage the conference altogether.

The terrorist organization, which ousted Abbas’s Fatah force in its takeover of Gaza in June, is whipping up anger in the PA “street” by claiming Israel’s right-wing wants to invade the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, according to the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The tactic, said the Center, is aimed at deflecting attention from its recent massacre of Fatah supporters at a Gaza rally held to commemorate the anniversary of the death of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Recent Hamas speeches have warned of the “shame and disgrace” of the Annapolis summit, calling on Arabs and Muslims to censure the “Zionist enemy” for alleged attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque at the Temple Mount.

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4. Israel to Reduce Electricity Supply to Gaza

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

The Israeli government announced Thursday that it would reduce the electricity supply to
110 Kassam rockets and mortars have been launched by enemy forces.
Gaza in retaliation for ongoing rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian Authority terrorists. This came after a two-week suspension of the measure imposed by the High Court of Justice.

Since November 1, according to the IDF Spokesman’s Office, 110 Kassam rockets and mortars have been launched by enemy forces at Sderot and the western Negev.

In its statement to the High Court, the government declared its intention to begin reducing the supply of Israeli electricity to Gaza starting on Sunday, December 2. According to the decision, the power supply will not be entirely cut off, allowing the Hamas rulers of Gaza to decide where to direct the reduced flow. In order to maintain the flow of electricity to hospitals, for example, the PA’s Hamas leadership will need to cut power to other areas.

The planned brown-out was announced in advance in order to avoid undue humanitarian stress, in accordance with a recent decision by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz. The Attorney General approved the measure reducing Israeli-produced electricity supplies to Gaza in principle, on condition that power is not cut completely and local Arabs are given advance notice.

According to a decision by the government in September declaring Gaza a “hostile entity,” ministers voted in October to carry out sanctions against the Hamas-controlled region, including power and petroleum cuts. However, the cabinet also required that all such actions be brought before the Attorney General for review. At the time, Mazuz said that the Defense Ministry must examine how to implement the measures so that they “would not cause humanitarian harm to the civilian population.”

In early November, the High Court of Justice ruled that the State had one week in which to document its claim that reducing electricity to Gaza would not cause unreasonable harm to the Arabs of Gaza. It also ruled that the left-wing groups who oppose the
The planned brown-out was announced in advance in order to avoid undue humanitarian stress.
electricity cut-off would then have another week in which to prove the opposite. The two-week suspension of the electricity sanctions came to an end on Wednesday.

IDF officials argue that power and fuel cuts to Gaza would pressure Hamas to end attacks against Israeli targets in the Negev, while not affecting hospitals, the water supply or sewage systems. If implemented correctly, the army believes, such sanctions will make a large-scale ground operation in the area unnecessary. Furthermore, all of the proposed measures have already been given legal backing by the Military Advocate General, Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mendelblit.

However, according to the Jerusalem Post, on Thursday a senior IDF official criticized the plan to cut power to Gaza, saying the policy was ineffective. The sanctions should be made more severe or dropped completely, the official said, noting that people in Gaza are still driving their cars despite Israeli cuts in fuel supplies.

Meanwhile, Attacks Continue
Meanwhile, apparently unfazed by the government’s announcement, PA terrorists in Gaza continued to shell the western Negev throughout Thursday. Enemy forces fired at least 20 mortar shells and rockets at Israeli targets since the morning. No injuries were reported in any of the attacks.

As of Thursday night, PA terrorists fired seven mortar shells and two rockets at Israeli towns in the western Negev. Six of the shells landed in the town of Netiv Ha’asarah, adjacent to the Gaza region, while the two rockets landed in open areas near other Negev communities. A seventh mortar shell fired Thursday landed near the Gaza security fence.

Five mortar shells fired by enemy forces in Gaza landed near IDF positions. In one case, in the early afternoon, the shelling was part of a battle between PA gunmen and IDF soldiers at the Karni Crossing into Gaza.

The PA attack began shortly after two IDF vehicles collided near the Gaza security fence. Terrorists opened fire on a force that came to extricate one of the vehicles and fired two mortar shells at the soldiers. Witnesses reported heavy gunfights.

No soldiers were wounded in the attack, but two soldiers were lightly injured in the accident that preceded the clash. The IDF said that nine terrorists managed to escape the scene and flee deeper into Gaza.

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5. PA Negotiator: Go Back to 1947 Partition Plan

by Gil Ronen

In the course of recent negotiations, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asked the head of the Palestinian Authority’s negotiating team, Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), to accept Israel as a Jewish state, reminding him that it was accepted as such by UN Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947, for the partition of the Land of Israel.

According to Ahmed Tibi, a member of Israel’s Knesset who used to be an aide to PLO founder Yasser Arafat, Abu Ala answered: “let us implement [Resolution] 181 first and we shall talk.” Tibi recorded the exchange in an article he wrote for Arab newspaper Kul el-Arab.

Amru Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League said late Thursday night that the Arab countries will not offer Israel “normalization for free.”

“There is no such thing as normalization for free,” Moussa told reporters after a meeting of 11 Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo. The Arab League countries were invited by the U.S. to participate in the Annapolis summit next week. “Arabs are going to participate in the (Annapolis) meeting, to show support for the Palestinians, based on the Arab peace initiative,” he explained.

UN Partition Plan, 1947 (Resolution 181).

UN Resolution 181 delineated a two state solution for Jews and Arabs west of the Jordan river. Both states were to be joined by an economic union and share joint currency. The resolution declared that Arabs and Jews would become “citizens of the State in which they are resident and enjoy full civil and political rights” a
The City of Jerusalem was to be demilitarized and placed under a special international regime.
nd that Arabs living in the Jewish state could opt, within one year from the date of the resolution’s implementation, for citizenship of the Arab state, and Jews living in the Arab state could opt for citizenship of the Jewish state.

Demilitarized Jerusalem Under the UN
The Jewish State was to receive the eastern Galilee from the Hulah Basin and the Sea of Galilee in the northeast to the crest of the Gilboa mountains in the south. The Jewish section of the coastal plain “extends from a point between Minat El-Qila and Nabi Yunis in the Gaza Sub-District and includes the towns of Haifa and Tel-Aviv, leaving Jaffa as an enclave of the Arab State.” The Jews were also to receive the Negev area, but without the city of Beersheva, and a strip of land along the Dead Sea.

The City of Jerusalem was to be demilitarized and placed under a special international regime, to be administered by the United Nations through a “trusteeship council.”

The Arab leadership refused to accept the partition plan in 1947 and opted, instead, for military annihilation of the Jews. Their plan failed and the State of Israel was born, with the Jews carving out a more favorable map for themselves by military means.

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6. ‘Stand With Us’ Stands against Campus Anti-Zionism

by Talia Zarbiv

Zionist university students in the United States, whose campuses have been overwhelmed by anti-Israel propaganda and hate messages, are changing the distorted view of Israel through the StandWithUs organization.

The brutal and primitive murder of 14-year-olds Kobi Mandel and Yosef Ishran by Arab terrorists in May, 2001, catapulted Los Angles couple Roz and Jerry Rothstein into action to form the StandWithUs group. “I was finished with waiting,” she recalls. “I thought of the barbarism that had to be there, and the training of Palestinian kids in society that led to it. As a child of Holocaust survivors, looking at the Arab media, the training of the small Palestinian children resembles the indoctrination of Nazi youth.”

The Rothsteins had no intentions of creating a coast-to-coast activist operation when it gathered 50 Jewish rabbis and leaders in their living room after the murder. Their first initiative was to convince the Los Angeles Times to speak with them about the anti-Israeli bias in their articles and presentation of photographs.

StandWithUs began to deal with the intense campus onslaught against Israel after Arabs launched the Oslo War, also known as the second Intifada. The challenges students faced came in the form of professors teaching anti-Israel views as well as a strong and vocal anti-Israel student presence. The organization now has offices across the globe including locations in Los Angeles, New York, the United Kingdom, and Israel.

The group’s forums on campuses have given Jewish students a support system to express support for Israel and to debunk the anti-Zionist venom that often is hurled at them. One recent Israel in Focus gathering in southern California drew more than 200 activists from the United States, Canada and Mexico. George Washington University student Harry Baumgarten commented, “I feel that…I am a part of a greater network I can turn to for support when confronting issues on my campus.”

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman’s address to the group helped make the students realize they are not alone. “It left me breathless and impressed,” said Baumgarten. “Just hearing someone’s voice who still commands so much respect for Israel in a time when so few people do was such an excellent way for us to start out.”

Roz Rothstein, citing the significance of amalgamating Zionist students, added, “It’s not just about how this Intifada affects Israel. It’s about how the Intifada has affected Jews around the world.”

She emphasized that StandWithUs is not a political organization and is not affiliated with any American or Israeli political party.

The groups’ non-partisan efforts are focused on the seemingly eternal built-in bias among the media
The training of the small Palestinian children resembles the indoctrination of Nazi youth.
and academics against Israel. StandWithUs launched a poster campaign in Washington’s subway system in response to an anti-Israel campaign of photographs showing an Israeli tank aimed at Arab children. StandWithUs countered with pictures of Arab children holding machine guns.

“You have to counter it because otherwise they feel they won because theirs is the only message,” Rothstein said.

In Europe, the group is fighting the growing anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli atmosphere and trains Israelis in its Jerusalem office, teaching them how to work with overseas students faced with rabid anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

One of the initiatives of StandWithUs is the X-Ray Project, a photography exhibit which uses actual X-rays and CT-scans from the two largest hospitals in Jerusalem to show the effects of terrorism on a civilian population. The exhibit shows X-rays and CT-scans of patients who survived suicide bombings in Israel, displaying nuts, bolts, and nails, lodged into victim’s bodies by the force of the bomb.

“This exhibit effectively conveys the horrors of terrorism. It is a must see for health workers as well as lay people. It might even move those who, in the past, have been reluctant to condemn terrorist attacks that have targeted Israelis, according to Harvard Medical School Dr. Jonathan Rhodes.

One of the most subtly vicious epithets against Israel is the use of the word “apartheid”. StandWithUS explains to students, “Apartheid was the official policy of the white minority in South Africa. Under this system, the Black majority was prevented from voting and gaining access to political power. Israel, a Jewish majority country, is a fully democratic country that ensures the political and human rights of all of its citizens. Arabs that live within Israel are citizens with full rights.

“The Arabs in the West Bank are not Israeli citizens [because] After the Oslo accords and prior to the wave of violence started by the Palestinians, nearly all of the Palestinians in the West Bank were under the direct jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA)

It notes that former President Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid ” unjustly compares Israel to an Apartheid state.”

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7. Olmert Plans to Evict Hevron Jewish House, Community Defiant

by Ezra HaLevi

Senior Palestinian Authority (PA) officials say they have been guaranteed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Jews will be evicted from Hevron’s Beit HaShalom. Residents and supporters are defiant.

Beit HaShalom, or “Shalom House” with a floor space of over 3,500 square meters, was purchased by Jews from its Arab owner two and a half years ago. It is strategically located in a spot leading from the Hevron Jewish suburb Kiryat Arba to the Cave of Patriarchs. Jews entered the partially-built structure in March, 2007, and government officials have made attempts to negate the sale to the new Jewish owners.

WorldNetDaily‘s Aaron Klein reported Thursday that a senior PA negotiator says he was told by Olmert’s office that Beit HaShalom is on the top of the list of pending evictions to be approved at the upcoming Annapolis summit, along with several hilltop communities classified as outposts.

However, leaders and supporters of Hevron’s Jewish Community declared last Sunday at a fundraising dinner in New York City that they are not only refusing to leave the legally-purchased and refurbished property, but also are in the process of preparing it for winter, despite the government’s refusal to authorize the work.

Ruth Simon, an octogenarian honoree at the Manhattan dinner, disregarded the upcoming Annapolis Conference and promised to push forward with plans to expand a child-care center being built and expanded in the City of the Patriarchs. Simon said that although she never had children of her own, she is heartened that the children of Hevron will enjoy the facilities of the center in memory of her husband.

“We live in Hevron not only because our ancestors are buried there,” said Hevron Mayor Avraham Ben-Yosef, “but because they lived there…Peace plans have brought nothing but misery and grief. The real peace plan is G-d’s plan.”

Yossi Baumol, Director of the Hevron Fund, admitted “it has been a very difficult time for Hevron these past few years. But we know that though sometimes we stand alone against the many – so did our father Abraham – called an Ivri (Hebrew – lit. “on a side”) because he stood on one side while the whole world stood on the other.”

Moshe Wertenteil, a Jewish activist honored with his wife Ilana at the dinner, hinted at future plans for the city – even as plans for Annapolis were being concretized. “We look forward to the purchase and population of more properties like Beit HaShalom all over the city,” he said, answered by applause.

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8. IDF Psychiatrist (res.) Indicted for Attempting to Spy for Iran

by Hana Levi Julian

An IDF psychiatrist who serves as a reserve major in the army’s medical corps, has been charged with trying to spy for the country that is most invested in destroying the State of Israel.

Maj. (res.) David Shamir, a 45-year-old resident of central Israel, was indicted in a Tel Aviv District Court Friday with offering his services as a spy for Iran and other foreign agents, for a fee. The charges include attempts at spying, contact with a foreign agent and obstruction of justice.

He was arrested by the General Security Service (Shin Bet) and the Police International Investigation Unit, which specializes in international security offenses.

The prosecution alleged that during his reserve service, Shamir saw classified materials, including emergency Medical Corps plans that showed the distribution of medical corps and control centers, plans for evacuation of civilians in case of a missile attack and various operational and intelligence assessments.

Shamir contacted the Iranian Foreign Office in April after deciding to sell the information to foreign agents in exchange for money. Several days later, the charge sheet continues, “he was contacted by the elements he had contacted.” In August, he sent a fax with a similar offer from his home to the Iranian consulate in London and in Turkey. Having received no response, he allegedly re-sent the faxes in October.

The would-be spy also allegedly contacted FSB, the Russian intelligence agency, expressing his willingness to serve and asking about the recruitment process for spies.

On November 3, he also contacted the Hamas-controlled al-Azhar university in Gaza, saying he was an Israeli “interested in joining the struggle.”

A search of Shamir’s home turned up documents that backed up the allegations, and defense officials said the would-be spy confessed to having emailed the Iranian Foreign Ministry. He admitted to offering himself as an Israeli citizen and IDF officer with numerous contacts and who was interested in cooperating with the Islamic Republic for a fee.

The cooperation never materialized, according to Israeli officials.

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9. Israeli Flag To Take The Guiness Record As World’s Largest

by Baruch Gordon

The largest flag in the world – an Israeli flag the size of two football stadiums – has arrived in Israel this week and will be presented at a ceremony in honor of 50 years of friendly relations between Israel and the Philippines.

Two flags of identical size, one Israeli and one Philippine, will be measured by representatives of the Guinness Book of Records, who are anticipated to declare them the “largest flag in the world.”

The flags will be rolled out at a festive ceremony on Sunday at the Massada airfield near the Dead Sea in the presence of the Director General of the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Shaul Zemach, the donor of the flag, Philippine businesswoman Grace Galindez-Gupana, and the Consul General of the Philippines.

The Israeli and Philippine flags will be rolled out by tens of youth, residents of the Tamar regional council near Massada, and Philippine residents.

Sister Grace Galindez-Gupana, who initiated and financed the flags, has been promoting tourism between the two countries for years, and hopes that the flags will interest Israeli and Philippine citizens to visit each others’ country.

Each flag was sown in the course of 3 weeks by six professional sewers under the direction of two designers and 40 volunteers, and weighs 5,200 kilos (11,000 lbs). Each flag is twice the size of the American “super flag” which holds the title at the moment as the largest flag in the world.

Minister of Tourism Yitzhak Aharonovich, stated: “The Israel flag is the Zionist symbol of independence of the people of Israel and the State of Israel, and I thank Sister Grace, who in this moving gesture is giving us the opportunity to take pride in our independence of 60 years. I hope that tourists from around the world will endeavor as Sister Grace is in advancing tourism between all peoples.”

Next year, Israel celebrates its 60th year of Independence, and the flag will be integrated into events.

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Friday, Nov. 23 ’07
13 Kislev 5768

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we help reinforce a Jewish/Torah-observant lifestyle
Weather Forecast
Chance of Rain.
Tomorrow: Partly Cloudy
Today Nov 24
T.A 19-12C 21-13C
Haifa 19-12C 20-12C
Jlm 13- 8C 15- 8C
HaGolan 13- 9C 15-10C
B.Sheba 18- 9C 19- 9C
Hebron 13- 8C 15- 9C
Ariel 14- 9C 15-11C
J.Valley 23-17C 24-16C
Galilee 11- 7C 13- 8C
Eilat 23-13C 24-12C
Weather Forecast

Halachic Times
Jlm. T.A.
A. shachar 05:01 05:03
Talit 05:28 05:30
Sunrise 06:13 06:15
Sof Shema 08:49 08:51
Sof Tfila 09:41 09:43
Chatzot 11:25 11:26
Mincha G. 11:55 11:56
Mincha K. 14:26 14:28
Sunset 16:41 16:37
Nightfall 16:54 16:55

Currencies
Update: 21/11/2007
US Dollar 3.903 Ù
GB Sterling 8.0281 Ú
Yen (100) 3.5959 Ù
Euro 5.7718 Ù
Can $ 3.9506 Ú
Swiss Franc 3.5234 Ù


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