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Iraqi Jews: Holland Won't Help


The eight Jews remaining in Baghdad have accused Holland of refusing to help them despite an immediate threat to their lives.

The eight have been attacked and are subject to constant threat from terrorist groups, community officials said, but have been unable to obtain exit permits from Holland, the country that officially represents Israeli interests in Iraq. According to members of the Jewish community, officials in Holland's embassy said that the embassy was not qualified to deal with permits, and that the Jews must travel to Amman or Damascus instead.

Baghdad's Jews, most of whom are sick or elderly, say they would be in danger if they were to travel in Arab countries. The Jews said they currently remain in their homes because of the danger of terrorist gangs.

Israeli School Year to Begin Under Palestinian Rocket Threat

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli border communities are facing the new school year under the threat of Palestinian rockets. Residents are accusing the Israeli government of failing to protect them.

Parents in the Israeli border town of Sderot say five out of nine schools have not been fortified, even though Palestinian rockets fired from the nearby Gaza Strip land there nearly every day. Furious parents say they plan to strike and keep their children home when the school year begins in 10 days.

Alon Schuster, who heads the Gates of the Negev Regional Council in southern Israel, told Israel Radio that the government has not kept its promises to fortify the schools in Sderot and collective farms known as kibbutzim and moshavim. "And we will fight together, the people of Sderot and the kibbutzim and moshavim, in order to get the basic protection that each citizen of Israel deserves."

While some fortifications have been built in Sderot, residents say kibbutz schools have been totally neglected. "We have two schools with about 800 students as well and we don't have any sheltering at all," says Uri Na'amati, who heads the Eshkol Regional Council...

Since Israel pulled all soldiers and settlers out of Gaza two years ago, the army says Palestinian terrorists have fired some 3,000 homemade Kassam rockets across the border. Angry residents have demanded harsh retaliation, but they have not been encouraged by the government's response.

"I think everyone understands that there's not a magical military answer to the Kassam question," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. "I mean if it was an easy issue to solve militarily we would have done it already." As a result, many frustrated parents are sending their children to schools outside of the range of Palestinian rockets.

Rabbinate Stats: 180 Women, 185 Men 'Chained' by Spouses


A recent study of unresolved divorce cases over the past two years in the Chief Rabbinate shows that some 180 women are "chained" to their husbands, while a slightly higher amount of men are "chained" to their wives.

Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, the Director-General of the Rabbinical Courts, says this shows that "the claims by women's organizations of thousands of women whose husbands refuse to give them divorces have no basis in reality." In addition, the numbers show that men are slightly more likely than women to fall victim to "divorce blackmail" by their spouse.

A spouse becomes "chained" when the divorce proceedings have ended, yet his or her spouse refuses to agree to the divorce. A woman suffers more in this situation, as she is biblically forbidden to marry again, and children she might bear to another man would be considered bastards according to Halakhah [Jewish Law]. A man is similarly not permitted to marry before being divorced, but the ban is much less severe, and in any event his future children would not be considered illegitimate.

The Rabbinate considered the 942 divorce cases that were opened before 2005 and were still unresolved by the end of 2006 - a fraction of the cases that were opened during the period in question. Some 16,000 divorce proceedings are begun each year.

Specifically, the review analyzed nearly 350 of the unresolved cases - but which were active in 2005 - and came up with the following numbers: Some 19 percent remain open because the husband refuses to grant a divorce, while about 20 percent are open because of the wife's refusal.

Another 13 percent of the cases remain unresolved because of monetary disputes between the husband and wife. Herein is a tricky phenomenon, "How do we know that the words 'monetary dispute' do not conceal a demand by one of the sides to pay high sums of money for the other's consent to a divorce?" So asked Arutz-7 of Haggai Seri, founder of the "Fathers" Organization, a once-divorced, twice-married activist on behalf of husbands' rights.

"The question is a correct one," Seri said, "and each case must be carefully checked. There are cases where just demands are being made, and others that are simply out of spite. For instance, I know a case where the wife stipulated a custody agreement giving the husband three days a week of rights, compared to her four; the husband said, 'We are parents equally, and until you recognize that, you won't get a divorce.' The very next day, she changed the agreement to reflect a 50-50 division... That is not considered blackmail, but rather his right to gain what he clearly deserves."

The Knesset, at the end of its recent session this summer, voted into law a bill that allows Rabbinical courts to impose sanctions on spouses who refuse to grant a divorce. Seri said he welcomes the law, "but only if it is imposed bilaterally, and not only on husbands."

The law authorizes the courts to issue restraining orders to recalcitrant spouses - orders that can forbid him/her to leave the country, hold a driver's license or bank account, or even, in some cases, to hold a job. The courts can even, in extreme cases, order his or her incarceration or, if he/she is already in prison, their isolation. The sanctions can also include the confiscation of monies and property, as well as the full or partial negation of payments and stipends.

"The bill is designed to force a divorce in cases where the Court has decided that one must be issued," said Zevulun Orlev (NRP), who sponsored it together with Likud Knesset member Gideon Saar.

Arab Women Are Freer Today to Choose Their Spouse

By Newswise

Arranged marriages among Arab women are on the decline. Young Arab women are freer today than in the past to choose their spouse. A new study conducted at the University of Haifa found significant differences between the young Arab family in contemporary Israel and the conservative Arab family of pre-state Israel.

"Almost 86 percent of women in the first generation had been parents who had been involved to a large extent in choosing a spouse, in comparison to 52 percent of the second generation and about 13 percent of the third generation," noted Dr. Nasreen Haj Yahia Abu Ahmad from the School of Social Work, who carried out the study under the guidance of Prof. Yoav Lavee.

The study findings showed that changes have occurred in various areas, from the method of engagement, parental involvement in the choosing of the spouse, and the character of the meetings with the spouse in the process of engagement. The study included 537 Arab women, half of them Muslim and half of them Christian, from 179 different families and from three generations.

Among many explanations, the researcher suggested one reason the young generation has seen changes. "The more a woman finds herself intensely exposed to the Jewish population, the more her views and behavior will be less traditional."

"Young women in Arab society are more educated than their mothers and their grandmothers and are employed more outside the house," explained Dr. Haj Yahia Abu Ahmad, about the trend in changes and differences among the generations.

The traditional arranged Arab marriage was common among the first generation (39 percent), but has become very rare among the second generation (10 percent) and among the 3rd generation it has almost completely disappeared.

Arab women now meet their grooms before engagement more than before. The researcher noted there is also a significant decrease in match-making (shidduch) and getting to know the spouse only after engagement. In the first generation, match-making occurred about 51 percent of the time, while it occurs approximately 18 percent of the time in the third generation.

According to Haj Yahia Abu Ahmad, the data show a significant increase in acquaintance before engagement. "This acquaintance was very rare in the first generation (less than 1 percent) and has completely turned around to be more common among the generation of grand-daughters (61 percent)" she noted.

The University of Haifa study also indicates a significant decrease in the selection of a partner from the same family. "73 percent from the 3rd generation married a partner not from the same family compared to 56 percent of their mothers and 45 percent from their grandmothers," said the researcher. This change is reflected in a decrease in marriage among the same clan, among family relatives and among cousins.

It was also found among the youngest generation that the younger the woman, the higher the age of marriage. Women from the first generation married on average at age 16, women from the second generation at age 19, and women from the current generation married at age 21 on average.

Also, young women reported that the division of labor with their partner was more shared than the division of labor had been with their parents. Husbands took on some of the tasks associated with running the house and taking care of the children. The study also found that the process of decision-making for more traditional couples was less in their hands, and more with their parents.

The researcher believes that the study findings illustrate an incorrect picture of the Arab woman as weak, inferior, dependent, and confined within traditional patterns that are resistant to change. This description doesn't reflect the reality of Arab women's lives in Israel. "The gloomy picture of the pseudo-depressing situation of the Arab woman and description of her as submissive and dependent to the male and subordinate to him is not correct," she concluded.

Report: Olmert Suggests Land Swap with PA

By & Ha'aretz

The Olmert administration has suggested trading land with the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of a final status agreement, according to Ha'aretz. The proposal includes granting the PA safe passage from Gaza to Judea and Samaria, giving the PA control over the route while Israel would retain "sovereignty."

No specific areas to be exchanged were reported, and sources said details would be worked out after the principles of the plan are accepted. Minister Chaim Ramon is one of the prime leaders appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to formulate ideas and carry out negotiations with the PA.

The final borders beginning to take shape use the separation barrier as a general line of demarcation. Several Arab villages on the Israeli side of the barrier would be transferred to the PA, and representatives of Judaism, Islam and Christianity would administer the holy sites in Jerusalem, a deal that would end Israel's sovereignty over the capital.

The plan also recognizes the right of immigration of millions of Arabs living in foreign countries on condition that they live only in PA areas and not in Israel. "There is no secret channel and what was published about scenarios and expectations in some Israeli media is not true," said a statement from Abbas' office.

Sources close to Abbas say the PA chairman has removed his objection to the establishment of a state with temporary borders following the signing of the agreement of principles, but has conditioned his agreement on international assurances of a timetable for the end of negotiations on permanent borders.

However, Palestine Liberation Organization chief negotiator Saeb Erekat denied Thursday that Abbas would agree to declare statehood on provisional borders.

Haifa Univ: Extracting Energy From Beneath the Ocean Floor


The University of Haifa, in cooperation with Stanford University, is embarking on a unique, wide-ranging research effort to investigate energy production using gas lying just below the sea floor as an alternative to oil.

The initiative will be conducted in the new School for Marine Studies at the University of Haifa, the establishment of which was made possible through an $8 million donation by U.S. businessman Leon Charney.

"One of the primary goals of the school is to evaluate the possibility of turning gas lying at the sea floor into a valuable economic resource in order to eliminate dependence on oil and change the geo-political reality in the world," said Charney. The University of Haifa hopes that the school will become a world leader in research in this field.

The school will purchase new equipment which will enable marine research projects that will examine possibilities for producing alternative energy from the sea.

"At a time when the entire world is concerned about the future of the planet, the University of Haifa is spearheading new research on the subjects of water and energy, where all of our futures lie. Our research will focus on producing alternative energy from water instead of oil – a revolution in the field. We are pleased that Stanford University is cooperating with us in this important research," added Charney, who stressed that this source of energy exists all over the planet and its production will eliminate the dependence on oil that is concentrated in a number of Middle Eastern countries.

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