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Israel Sends Condolences to the US


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent his condolences, Sunday evening, to President Barack Obama of the United States and to the American people on the death of 30 soldiers, including 22 members of the Navy SEALS, who were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday.

Netanyahu said, "The people of Israel bow their heads in memory of the fighters for freedom and against world terror."

Israeli Stock Market Plunges in Response to US Debt Crisis

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem) &

The debt crisis in the United States, including the downgrading of the U.S. debt rating by a major agency, had a negative impact on the first day of the trading week in the Middle East. Stock markets in Dubai and Egypt dropped about four percent, and the effects were even worse in Israel.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange delayed its open by 45 minutes to avoid panic but it did not help. The market plunged by 7% in response to the downgrade of the debt rating in the United States. "It is a powerful shock," economist Yaakov Sheinin told Israel Radio. He said President Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve should do something to calm world markets.

For Israel, the stock market plunge is the second shock in two days. On Saturday, a quarter of a million Israelis took to the streets to protest the high cost of living and low wages. It was the biggest event yet in a month of street protests over the skyrocketing price of housing, food and gasoline. A modest apartment in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv can cost $500,000 while the average salary in Israel is about $2,500 a month.

Israel's booming economy is growing at an annual rate of 5%, but the protests point to a widening gap between rich and poor. Demonstrators are demanding that the government lower taxes, subsidize housing and bring prices down.

That is putting pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose approval rating has plummeted since the protests began, to just 32%. At the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu expressed sympathy for the protesters, but said there is no quick fix.

The prime minister announced the formation of a panel of government ministers and top economists to meet with the protesters and draw up a plan to reduce the cost of living. But he said Israel must be cautious about public spending in the wake of the U.S. debt crisis. Netanyahu said Israel needs to improve the plight of the middle class, but stressed that the government must be "fiscally responsible."

A journalist has taken a magnifying glass to press reports that said 300,000 Israelis participated in Saturday night's protest against current economic policies. He accused fellow journalists of inflating the real numbers fourfold.

The protest in Tel Aviv was the largest one. Leading television and Internet news outlets proclaimed that there were close to 300,000 people there. Ma'ariv's Uri Radler calls this claim "physically impossible." The length of Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, where the protest took place, is 564 meters, he explains, and its average width is 30 meters, sidewalks included. The total area of the central protest was close to 17 dunams (over four acres and close to 17,000 square meters).

Crowd density was low – especially at the sides of the road. Therefore the reasonable estimate of the number of protesters in Kaplan Street is about 50,000. Several thousand people stood in adjoining streets, and others came and went. All in all, he says, there were 62 to 65 thousand people in Tel Aviv's protest.

And according to "truthful" news reports from Iran, The protest movement in Israel is `anti-Zionist" and further proof that the "Zionist regime is coming apart at the seams".

Iranian news agencies, controlled or under the influence of the regime headed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are informing Iranians that the social protest movement actually is a Facebook-inspired "revolution" that parallels the Arab Spring uprisings and is against the "occupation."

"Jewish protesters, who themselves are occupying Palestinian land, are a new problem for the Zionist enemy," proclaimed the official Iranian news agency IRNA.

It also reported that the demonstrations against corruption, discrimination and a host of other issues that are "in addition to Hizbullah, which is expected to accelerate the elimination of the Zionist regime."

A site connected with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards headlined, "The wave of revolutions reaches Israel" and said that the cause of the demonstration is "the Israeli policy of occupation." The Fars News Agency reported that that the IDF and the government are worried that Arabs will join the protest movement and start a third intifada.

The Summer of Our Discontent

By Naomi Ragen (Commentary)

If you have been keeping up with the mass demonstrations in Israel and are scratching your head to figure out exactly what's going on, you are not alone. Many Israelis, myself included, are similarly perplexed.

I'll give you an example. I had the following conversation with my grown kids. My son and daughter-in-law, both hardworking Israelis raising four small children, and burdened with house, car and childcare payments, thought the whole thing was laughable.

"Did you see who is leading the `baby carriage' protest?" My daughter-in- law said. "Two mothers who have ONE KID each who live in Herzliya. Yeah, they want the government to give them more stylish baby buggies! And who is going to pay the taxes for it, me!"

The general gist of what I'm hearing from my kids is that: "They're out there smoking and drinking in Tel Aviv, playing their guitars. When the summer is over they will all go back home."

Apparently, along with many others, they seem to feel the protests are politically motivated, just another Leftist plot to overturn the will of the people who elected Benjamin Netanyahu.

And indeed, when a popular Sephardic singer who is identified with the poorer classes announced that the demonstrators where "A bunch of spoiled North Tel Avivians who are angry their grandparents didn't leave them an apartment on (fashionable) Rechov Bazel, her statement was met by a storm of protest that reminded me of the way the Peace Nowers reacted to anyone suggesting the Oslo Accords wasn't going to bring peace on earth and good will towards all men. Indeed, there is a preponderance of left-wingers involved, including all the usual suspects in the arts.

But then I went to shul on Shabbat, and my very learned and truly pious Rabbi, with whom I agree on almost every issue, told the Bar Mitzvah boy: "Don't let anyone tell you that these protests are fake. They are in the name of social justice."

Well, that made me think again. It is certainly true that for the last year I have been looking at the tongue coming out of the supermarket cash register with greater and greater amazement. How can it be? I tell myself shocked, when the bottom line for a week's food seemingly doubles and triples from week to week. And we are just two people who don't eat that much, admittedly with a grown son who does, but still.

I often wonder how a normal Israeli family can afford to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads on Israeli salaries. And the truth is, the price of cottage cheese, bread, and other staples is higher than that in the U.S. or Europe, with no earthly justification.

On the other hand, we have an enviably robust economy, with very low unemployment and no housing bubbles or disasters. It is true that the gap between the tycoons that run the Israeli economy and the middle class who support their billionaire status has widened, and the burdens that the Israeli public shoulder are heavy because of our defense budget. And I certainly do sympathize with the medical interns who are quitting en masse because of low pay – 29 NIS an hour. I pay my cleaning lady 40 NIS.

But I resent any public gimmick to unseat our duly elected government. And I resent the atmosphere of self-appointed leaders threatening anyone who opposes what they are trying to do. I think Bibi together with Stanley Fisher have done a magnificent job in keeping Israel's economy booming.

That is not to say I do not sympathize with young families and students who are finding it hard to make ends meet. But the list of demands by the so-called leaders "leaders" of this social protest, have been downright silly. Public education starting at age three months? Huh?

This has inspired many segments of society to issue their own demands. Take the Single Ladies Protest: "We served in the army. Pay our taxes. Paid hundreds of shekel to JDate, and thousands in gifts for other people's weddings. WE DEMAND SOMETHING IN RETURN. It is not right that for every unemployed single drekky guy in Tel Aviv there are seven hot girls with a Master's Degree!

It isn't right that even our grandmother's are hoping already that we're Lesbians! At this rate we are never going to make the Young Couples Protest! We Demand, a telephone call after every date', the reeducation of bitter divorced men. Girls, the sperm bank is not the answer! We want a solution now!!"

When the weather cools down, and the tent cities disappear, we hope the government we elected and still support will figure out some way to make things better for everyone, whenever possible.

Israeli FM: Palestinians Plan Unprecedented `Bloodshed' Next Month

By VOA News

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is accusing the Palestinian Authority of planning unprecedented "bloodshed" next month, to coincide with its diplomatic bid to gain U.N. membership for an independent Palestine.

In comments to reporters Sunday, Lieberman said the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is organizing marches in which thousands of people will try to storm Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank. Lieberman warned that such protests will trigger violence that Israel has never seen before. He offered no evidence to support his claim.

Palestinian officials denied Lieberman's accusation, saying violence would be counterproductive to their cause. Abbas has urged his people to join peaceful demonstrations in support of the U.N. initiative.

An Israeli parliamentary report issued last week predicted a low likelihood of Palestinian violence in September, but it recommended calling up some military reservists just in case.

Abbas is lobbying U.N. members to grant full membership to a Palestinian state based on the entire West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, areas that Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Israel and the United States oppose the U.N. bid. They say Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are the only way to resolve borders and other core issues of the conflict.

Israel Court Allows Egg Extraction from Deceased Woman


The Kfar Sava Family Court ruled on Sunday that the family of a recently deceased 17-year-old may extract her eggs after her organs were removed for donation. This is the first time a court has allowed egg extraction from a body in Israel.

Hen Aida Ayish, a resident of the Sharon region, was severely injured in a car accident a week-and-a-half ago. She was brought to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava where she was hospitalized for a week in serious condition, and last Wednesday doctors declared her brain-dead.

Ayish's family agreed to organ donations, and they were surgically removed on Thursday evening at Meir Hospital. The 17-year-old's organ's saved the lives of four patients in need of transplants. Her eggs were extracted and frozen at the hospital.

According to medical personnel the family initially requested that the eggs be fertilized with the sperm of another dead body, which would have increased the chances of future pregnancy, however, the hospital refused to do so without the permission of a judge.

Ayish's family members have refrained from commenting on why they wished to perform the egg extraction.

The court has thus far only allowed the extraction of the eggs, though their future remains undecided. According to guidelines issued by the attorney general in 2003, the use of sperm from a body is only permissible when used to fertilize the deceased's widow. Parents who wish to use sperm from a body must receive private permission in court.

The Health Ministry has made clear that "the court's decision has been received independently without hearing the position of the Health Ministry," adding that "the Health Ministry has no knowledge of the details of the situation."The National Transplant Center said in a statement that "the case has nothing to do with us."

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