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>JN June 21, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 106

Men, Women Separated by Rabbinical Pressure

By IsraelWire

The Maale College for cinema and communication, in Jerusalem, the only cinema school for religious students in Israel, will hold separate classes for males and females, beginning with the next school year. After a decade of operation of mixed classes, the college decided, after discussions with rabbis and yeshiva administrators, to separate the sexes and to make the focus of the college more religious. The reason behind the decision: the rabbinic establishment's opposition to works and cinematic features that were too provocative.


Barak's Government Expected to Fall

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Ministers representing a major coalition partner in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's cabinet have submitted their resignations -- a move that could destroy his parliamentary majority and hurt the Middle East peace process.

Ministers of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party submitted their resignations to Barak, signaling their intention to leave the coalition government. The resignations take effect in less than 48-hours, giving the prime minister some time to negotiate and try to save his 11-month-old government.

If the Shas party leaves the coalition, it will destroy Barak's majority in parliament and make it more difficult for him to win approval for agreements related to the Middle East peace process.

The party holds 17 seats in parliament. Without Shas, the prime minister faces the prospect of forming a new, narrower and more fragile coalition. Shas is currently involved in a dispute with Barak's government concerning funding for its system of private schools and legalizing its network of pirate radio stations.

The Shas party, which represents many poor and working-class Israelis who immigrated from the Middle East and North Africa, is demanding millions of dollars for the schools. Critics of Shas say the school system is tainted by scandal and is poorly managed.

The coalition crisis erupted two weeks ago, when Shas voted with opposition parties in the Knesset for early elections. Then last week the party's religious leadership ordered the ministers to resign.

A member of the opposition Likud party, Danny Naveh, says the prime minister should call for new elections. "There is no way that Mr. Barak could be able to keep all the segments of his coalition together for too long. So, unfortunately, the only solution is for Barak to admit he has failed in his job as prime minister during the last year, or his first year as prime minister, and to call new elections."

A member of the Arab Balad party in parliament, Azmi Bishara, says the political poker game will continue. "Barak will try, I think until the last moment, to keep this religious party in the government, in the coalition, because I think he needs, or he tends to believe, that he needs a Jewish majority in the parliament. He does not want to be in a situation where he needs the 10 Arab votes in the parliament."

The resignations come at a critical time in the Middle East peace process. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is due in the region nearly next week, in an effort to narrow gaps between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. Her trip is designed to determine whether enough progress has been made to convene a three-way summit with President Clinton, Barak and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

Israel and the Palestinians are facing a self-imposed deadline to reach agreement on a permanent peace treaty by September.


60 Years After Holocaust, Daughter Gets Dad's Will

By IsraelWire

One month ago, Batya Tiemens, a Jerusalem resident, received a surprising phone call: the caller from Holland told her that she had found the will written by Tiemens' father, who died 60 years earlier in the Holocaust.

Tiemens, who was born in Holland, recently wrote a book titled "Struggle and Victory" about her life under the shadow of the events of the Holocaust. The book was publicized in Holland's newspapers, and the name caught the eye of Marion Tan-Toya. Ten years ago, when Tan-Toya and her husband were renovating their home, they found a double bottom in a closet in the bathroom. Hidden there was a document case with the name Tiemens written on it. Tan-Toya made contact with Batya Tiemens, and said that she wanted to visit Israel and personally deliver to Batya the last remnants of her parents and four siblings, who all perished in the Holocaust.

During the emotion-filled meeting between Tan-Toya and her husband with Batya Tiemens and her family, Batya told of the last time she saw her parents and siblings. Her father had been summoned to a work camp, and knew that meant death. Her father, mother, and four younger brothers went into hiding in another part of the city. Batya and her older brother went to hide in a different location. That was the last she saw of her parents and siblings. Later on, she heard that her family had been informed upon and were taken and shot in the street.

When Batya opened the document case, she found tens of family photographs, documents, and a will written by her father, in which he divided his effects between his wife and children.


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