Buses carrying 'Women of the Wall' advertisements are vandalized and attacked; until earlier this year the Egged bus company refused to run ads featuring photos of women in Jerusalem. Unlike the majority of Jewish communities in western countries, most girls in Israel do not usually have bat mitzvah ceremonies. A new Jerusalem campaign promoting the right of girls to have the ceremonies at the Western Wall has been met with violence by ultra-Orthodox elements in the city. Busses carrying the advertisements, paid for by Women of the Wall, have been vandalized and the posters themselves ripped off of public buses.…Read More... | 7 Comments
IDF officer admits Operation Brother's Keeper has little to do with returning the kidnapped teenagers. By Yael Marom Parts of Operation Brother's Keeper were planned in advance and are being implemented with no connection to their stated purpose - the return of the three kidnapped Israelis teenagers - according to an IDF officer in Jenin. The officer, who spoke to the ultra-Orthodox news outlet "Hadrei Haredim," (Hebrew) said that the army has been preparing for an operation in the city due to the arming of residents there. According to Hadrei Hadarim, the officer stated that the army is intentionally trying to…Read More...
'The sergeant told him that he cannot make a call because he is a military prisoner, and that he cannot use the phone because he didn't wear his hat on time,' Ferera's lawyer says. By Daniel Beller Uriel Ferera, the young Orthodox conscientious objector who was sentenced to military jail for refusing to join the Israeli army, says he was made to stand almost completely naked while his guards laughed at him. Furthermore, the guards ridiculed his faith and humiliated him while he prayed. Later, the IDF prevented Ferea from receiving letters, emails and faxes in support of his refusal.…Read More...
Uriel Ferera, a 19-year-old Haredi from Be'er Sheva, was raised on the values of social justice and peace. Now, the IDF has announced it will jail him for an undetermined period of time for refusing to serve. By Daniel Beller When Uriel Ferera was born in Argentina 19 years ago, democracy in the South American country was an established fact, and no one was being jailed for having left-wing views, not to mention being a pacifist. On April 27th, in Israel - a country that likes to call itself “The only democracy in the Middle East” - he will be…Read More... | 11 Comments
Over 70 Israeli activists publish an open letter in support of the ultra-Orthodox community, as it struggles against a new law that would draft its young men into the army or national civil service. (Translated from Hebrew by Asaf Shalev) We, civilians and activists – religious, masorti (tradition-committed) and secular - wish to express our support for the struggle of the ultra-Orthodox community against forced military enlistment. There must be an end to the empty rhetoric employed by the Israeli government and its constituent parties that are calling for the "sharing of the burden" of military service, by which they…Read More... | 8 Comments
For a secular Jewish woman in Jerusalem, the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef presented an opportunity to cross one of the city’s strongest yet invisible boundaries – entering the bowels of the ultra-Orthodox world. By Michelle Bubis When you belong to the dwindling minority of secular Jewish progressives in Jerusalem, it’s hard to sustain more than the standard rant against religious oppression. But while flatly opposing the politics of faith that run this place may be the way to go pragmatically, it runs the risk of throwing out the human interest with the bathwater. On a day when a sheer…Read More... | 14 Comments
History has shown that the longer the ultra-Orthodox are excluded from the Israeli coalition, the more likely are the chances that they forge alliances with left-of-centre and dovish partners. Could the Haredi parties be the ones to tip the balance in favor of a peace agreement? By Romana Michelon As of late July, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is once again making global headlines. Largely the result of the diplomatic efforts made by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, this is the first time since 2010 that chief negotiators representing Israel and the Palestinian Authority confront one another in direct, albeit…Read More... | 4 Comments
As in years past, fundamentalists in Jerusalem are attempting to incite the ultra-Orthodox against the LGBT community. Judaism, however, is not an enemy of tolerance. By Elinor Sidi The Jerusalem LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community again encountered hateful signs plastered across the city this week, as seen in the below pashkevil (Yiddish bulletin poster). We were surprised to see this once familiar relic we came to know so well from 2005 and 2006, when the city was burning with hatred. This pashkevil again quotes the same survey justifying homophobia on the basis that it is found in all…Read More... | 2 Comments
The Israeli government's Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided today (Sunday) to back a bill by MK Yariv Levin (Likud) which will allow discrimination against Arabs and ultra-Orthodox in employment and real-estate rights. According for the suggested legislation, favoring people who served in the IDF will not be considered discrimination nor will it be challengeable in court. Since Palestinian citizens of Israel are not required to serve in the military and most ultra-Orthodox are exempted from doing so, the new bill will give employers and real-estate owners a legal way to reject Palestinian applicants. Palestinians are underrepresented in almost all areas…Read More... | 14 Comments
While the running debate at the Western Wall has been over women’s prayer, Jewish men have been playing a supporting role in shifting 'local custom.' Women of the Wall may be exactly what their name implies: women. But standing and praying in solidarity with them this month were several dozen Jewish men. In between police barricades and the familiar fence enclosing the women's prayer area at the Western Wall Plaza, were about 30 Jewish men – Israel-born, immigrants, secular, Reform and Conservative, young and old. They came out to support approximately 300 Jewish women – many in religious garments traditionally…Read More... | 4 Comments
As top rabbis declare that attempts to draft ultra-Orthodox men into the army constitute a 'religious war,' masses turned out for an anti-draft rally in Jerusalem. Violent confrontations broke out between a few demonstrators and police. Thirteen were injured and 10 arrested. Around 30,000 ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) demonstrators, many more than anticipated, showed up for a mass rally against the planned induction of Yeshiva students outside the Israeli army's recruiting offices in Jerusalem Thursday night. The government plans to revoke a special exemption given to these ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, part of plan to "equalize of the national burden" orchestrated by Yair…Read More... | 22 Comments
For the first time in 24 years, Israel Police protected nearly 500 Women of the Wall members Friday morning as they gathered at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem for their monthly prayer service. The women were confronted by thousands of ultra-Orthodox protesters, both young girls who watched from the side and men of all ages, who acted violently towards the group of women. Protesters reportedly threw stones, water bottlers, garbage and whatever else they could in their direction, and a few were reportedly arrested. The police managed to enable a small group of 20-30 women to actually reach the women's section…Read More... | 8 Comments
Netanyahu will continue to serve as prime minister after the upcoming elections, but putting together a governing coalition will have significant long-term implications. The headline result of the upcoming elections in Israel, as Noam Sheizaf has thoroughly documented, is not in doubt. Benjamin Netanyahu will continue as Israel’s prime minister for another term, and will strive to maintain his policy of status quo in every area of policy. Nonetheless, there are at least two aspects of uncertainty in these elections. First, the potential for more significant changes in areas not related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (such as economic policy or…Read More... | 13 Comments
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