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Scarlett Johansson Splits with Oxfam Over Group's Support of Israeli Boycott


Actress Scarlett Johansson has stepped down as an ambassador for Oxfam due to the group's support for a boycott of Israel. A statement released by a spokesman for the actress said, "Scarlett Johansson... and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement."

Johansson became a target of pressure for pro-boycott groups after signing on to an advertising campaign for SodaStream, an Israeli company with a factory in Ma'ale Adumim, a Jerusalem suburb located over the 1949 armistice lines.

The Palestinian Authority claims all land east of the 1949 lines, and accuses Israelis who live in the area of illegally occupying the land. Pro-PA groups have pushed for boycotts of Israelis living east of the line as a gesture of support for PA demands.

Among the groups that criticized Johansson's involvement with SodaStream was Oxfam. After Johansson stated that she was a "supporter of economic cooperation… between a democratic Israel and Palestine." Oxfam said it was "considering the implications of her new statement and what it means for Ms. Johansson's role as an Oxfam global ambassador." Oxfam has faced criticism in Israel for routinely violating the law in parts of Judea and Samaria under Israeli administrative control.

Prime Minister: Son is Not Dating Non-Jew, Just Hooking Up

By The Times of Israel

Following a media firestorm earlier this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the media Thursday that his son Yair was not dating a non-Jewish Norwegian woman, just that they are "bumping uglies." (Editor: Wiktionary: ("vulgar, slang) to perform sexual intercourse.")

In an emergency meeting called to decrease tensions between himself and the religious elements of his coalition, the Prime Minister told Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri, "My son is absolutely not romantically involved with a non-Jew. If he wants to knock boots however, that is his business."

The story first broke earlier this week when several eyewitnesses spotted Yair Netanyahu and Sandra Leikanger in a Herzliya café, studying biology, English literature, and Sandra's chest. "I implore the media to leave my son out of the news and to place your focus where it belongs: on my low approval ratings and inability to achieve anything. That is what we should be talking about, not whether a 23- year-old boy is doin' it, and doin' it, and doin' it well."

Religious groups were up in arms about the country's First Son promoting intermarriage. "This sends a horrible message to Jews not only in Israel but around the world. If this relationship leads to marriage, what are we telling our youth? Never forget that shiksas are for practice."

On Shiksas, Love and the Prime Minister's Son Blog by Rachael Risby-Raz

I used to be a shiksa. A very good shiksa; pure British blood, blonde-haired and from a good family of Bible-believing Christians. Then I came to Israel and fell in love.

I fell in love with a country, with a religion and with a people. Later on, I fell in love with an Israeli. Not just any Israeli, a sabra, a good Jerusalem boy whose mother's family had escaped from the Nazis in Europe and whose father was the son of a rabbi from Yemen. Despite the fact I was an ex-shiksa, they welcomed me with warmth and acceptance into their family.

Now I am a proud Jew, an ardent Zionist, and still deeply enamored with my country, my people and my religion … and I have three gorgeous dark Israeli kids who don't look anything like me.

When I first came to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, it was because, as a scholar of theology and history, I had always been interested in Judaism and the Jewish people. Three weeks after I arrived, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus on its way to the University, killing one of my ulpan classmates. It was tempting to flee, but I stayed. I had found the place I wanted to be and terror was not going to move me away from where my soul felt at peace.

I don't think that people come to study in Israel, no matter how great the universities are here, if they don't have some kind of pre-existing interest or curiosity about Israel and Judaism. It is not hard to believe that the Prime Minister's son's girlfriend, who is probably not enjoying her 15 minutes of fame as the world's most famous shiksa at the moment, was drawn to our country and people for some reason as well.

I chose to tie my fate with that of the Jewish people and join the family. I underwent an orthodox conversion in Jerusalem with some wonderful rabbis who told me from the outset, "First be a good person, then be a good Jew," and that is how I live my life. I may not be the best Jew but I definitely try. I fill my life and raise my family with Jewish values and traditions; we celebrate holidays, observe ancient rituals; we live and breathe the history of our People in our daily lives.

I joined a long line of shiksas who chose to become part of the Jewish People. Shiksas like Ruth who said, ""Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God," and even Moses' wife, Zipporah the Cushite could be considered a convert to Judaism. But without a doubt my favorite biblical shiksa/convert is Rahab, from the Book of Joshua.

A rather unpleasant experience happened to me during my conversion process. My rabbis were amazing, godly people, but my encounter with the rabbinical establishment in Israel was less `spiritual'. The whole process is run on the basis of suspicion and accusation. Heaven forbid that someone might actually want to join the Jewish people because of their deep belief in the religion's tenets. The highlight for me was when a Shaliach Beit HaDin (a rabbinical court official) told me that because I had too many stamps in my passport, I couldn't open a conversion file at the Interior Ministry because they were suspicious that I might be a "call girl". I kid you not.

When I completed the conversion process and the day came to immerse in the mikvah and officially become a Jewess, they asked me what name I would take. I answered that my Jewish name would be Rahab. "No, no, no," they protested. "You cannot be Rahab, you must mean Rachel." They would not accept such a choice and in the end half my documents say "Rahab" and the other half read "Rachel." But in my heart, I am Rahab and proud of it.

Rahab was a great biblical figure. She believed in the God of Israel and helped the Israelites. She had an impressive Jewish husband, Joshua, and among her descendants you can find a who's who list of priests and prophets. And they called her a "call girl" as well.

Years later, when I served in government, I had the opportunity to represent both the Prime Minister, and all the converts in a sense, on the Halfon Committee, an Inter-Ministerial Committee set up to examine the overall organizational structure and pooling of resources in the area of conversion in Israel. I hoped, and still hope, that the conversion process in Israel can be improved so that those who earnestly want to join the Jewish people and tie their fate with ours can be welcomed and nurtured, not humiliated and accused.

David Breakstone, the Vice-Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, recently wrote a blog post about the problem of recognition of the Judaism of the love of his son's life and the difficulties of the conversion requirements in Israel. Now the Prime Minister's son is in love with a shiksa, who maybe one day might want to join the Jewish people (as did his father's second wife), maybe Netanyahu should invest some time and effort into streamlining and improving the conversion process so that it will allow sincere shiksas to become righteous Jews who will raise happy Jewish families in the Land of Israel.

(Rachael Risby-Raz served as Diaspora Affairs Advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert)

Number of Jewish Couples Living Out of Wedlock Rising

By Israel Hayom

The number of Jewish couples living out of wedlock has risen by 2.5% over the last decade and stands at 73,000, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics report published on Wednesday. The report released ahead of Family Day on January 31, which replaced mother's and father's days, sheds light on the changing demographics of the Israeli population.

Currently 3.9% of couples choose to live together without getting married. The other 96.1% of couples continue to go the traditional marriage route, though the report says their numbers are decreasing.

According to the report, there are currently 114,000 single-parent families -- 6.1% of all families, as opposed to 89,000 in 2000, a 28% rise. The number of divorced men stands at 163,000 and divorced women at 254,000.

There are more single males (35%) than females (28%). The report also cited a near doubling of the number of single mothers with children under the age of 17 --16,500. The average family with children earns 15,941 shekels ($4,563) a month -- 28.6% more than the average household without children.

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