Newsletter : 15fx0811.txt
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Israel Working at Top Speed to Convert Boeing 767 into a Long-Flight Refueling
US defense and air industry sources report that the Israeli Air Force may give up on
the US Boeing's KC-46A Pegasus as its future refueling tanker for long-range flights
because of delays in its delivery. Israel had first planned to take the Pegasus to replace
its converted Boeing 707 when delivery was first to the US Air Force was scheduled for
August 2017. But this week, the company put the date back by another eight months and the
price increased by half a billion dollars.
American sources point out that if Israel wants to retain the option of attacking
Iran's nuclear facilities when Barack Obama exits the White House in January 2017, it
can't wait for the brand-new US Pegasus tanker, which doubles as a military transport
plane, to come off the Boeing production line and be delivered to its air force.
The Boeing 707 in current service, after a multibillion investment in its conversion to
a long-flight refueling tanker, no longer meets the fluctuating conditions in the Middle
East. Work is therefore going ahead on the conversion of the Boeing 767 as its
On July 22, DEBKAfile's military sources revealed a mammoth transaction for Iran to
purchase Russian UL78 MK1 (Midas) tankers with a range of 7,300 km. (The distance from
Iran to Israel is 1,200km). Each tanker is capable of spontaneously feeding 6-8 fighter
craft. This purchase represented Tehran's aspiration - not just to draw level with Israel
but to outdo its air force in range and fueling capability.
This transaction no doubt spurred the decision by Israel's defense chiefs to go ahead
on its own project, instead of waiting for the American KC-46A to become available. Israel
Aerospace Industries [IAI] is therefore working at top speed on the Boeing 767, a
long-range, wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner with a range of 7,000 to 11,000 km. The
converted aircraft will be designated 767-200ER MRTT.
In an interview published by the German newspaper Der Spiegel on August 8, Defense
Minister Moshe Ya'alon said: "Ultimately it is very clear, one way or another, Iran's
military nuclear program must be stopped. We will act in any way, including taking
military action, and are not willing to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. We prefer that this
be done by means of sanctions, but in the end, Israel should be able to defend
Gay Pride Stabber Sent to Psychiatric Ward
Gay Pride parade stabber Yishai Shlissel has been admitted to a psychiatric ward in
order to assess whether he is fit to stand trial, Channel 10 reported Monday. Shlissel
stabbed six people, fatally killing 16 year-old Shira Banki, during the Jerusalem Gay
Pride parade several weeks ago. He had just been released from prison after serving a
10-year sentence for a similar attack in 2005.
Shlissel's very presence at the event has been increasingly revealed to be due to a
series of major failures by the Israel Police and Israel Prison Services. He has
repeatedly refused to recognize the Israeli government or participate in any way in legal
proceedings, leading the Jerusalem Magistrates Court to sentence him for a psychiatric
evaluation last week.
Later Monday, Channel 10 reported that Shlissel had, in fact, experienced a psychotic
episode in 2009 and undergone extensive treatment in a special facility, and was being
forced to take medication since. It is unclear whether this was ever mentioned to
Even before the parade, Shlissel was labeled by intelligence as a "danger to the
event." However, he was never summoned to report to police before or during the march and
was never questioned before the fact regarding his intentions.
Arabs Busted Over 'Protection' Scheme for Kotel Visitors
Just like in Al Capone-era Chicago, Israelis visiting the Kotel have been forced in
recent months to pay money demanded of them by a "protection racket" based in Arab
neighborhoods of Jerusalem or risk damage to their cars, or persons. Police have
launched an investigation, and several members of the gang were recently arrested
but the gang is still operating, witnesses said.
The gang works outside the Dung Gate, the entrance to the Old City that leads directly
to the Kotel, according to the Kikar Hashabbat website. The gate is used by thousands of
people daily, and is the main access point for tourists, many arriving by bus or rented
Parking on the street is usually difficult to find, with the spots near the entrance
usually taken by buses and security vehicles. Drivers of rented cars and Israelis arriving
in their own vehicles usually need to park some distance away from the gate out of
view of police and security officers. It is these drivers that the gang targets, offering
them some "friendly advice to pay a security fee to 'watch' their vehicle," said one
It's truly "an offer they can't refuse," because if they do, the visitors often find
their vehicles damaged when they return and the gang awaiting them, giving them a
beating for failing to pay up.
So far, two residents of the Silwan neighborhood, aged 17 and 20, have been arrested,
after an undercover agent who tried to park his vehicle outside the Gate was approached
and offered "protection." The officer identified himself and the two started to run, but
he was able to catch them. Police said they expect to make further arrests in the case.
Rabbis Set Up 'Independent' Conversion Courts, Sans Rabbinate
A group of rabbis from the Religious Zionist movement have set up a "competing"
independent of Jewish Court of Law (Beit Din) which will exclusively handle conversions.
While it isn't a "revolution," say its backers, the group is an innovation, conducting
conversions that the Chief Rabbinate has preferred not to get involved with. Candidates
for conversions by the court will undergo religious education at one of several
institutions participating rabbis are involved with, with the support of the Jewish
The group said that it would work with the Rabbinate on a case by case business to
ensure that their conversion candidates are accepted as Jewish by all government agencies,
where possible. The group expects the majority of those it converts to be the children and
grandchildren of families of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Although they are
Israeli citizens, many of these children are the products of "mixed marriages," with their
parents marrying in the Soviet Union and immigrating to Israel. Most of the children speak
Hebrew fluently and serve in the IDF.
According to the group, the new court is absolutely necessary, as these children are
already well-integrated in Israeli society. "It is our moral obligation to ensure that
these immigrants are absorbed into Israeli society, for their sake and the sake of the
In a statement Monday, Natan Sharansky. chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency,
welcomed the establishment of the courts. "We all wish to continue the process of
ingathering the exiles from throughout the world in an era of lost identities and growing
assimilation," said Sharansky. "In order to keep the gates of Israel open to all who wish
to join our people in accordance with halakhah (Jewish law), it is important that rabbis
who have been authorized by the Chief Rabbinate to conduct conversions participate in this
process, and this new initiative will enable them to do so."
However, Rabbi Haim Druckman, considered the dean of Religious Zionist rabbis in
Israel, sharply criticized the establishment of independent religious courts (batei din)
that would circumvent the Rabbinate and conduct conversions on its own. Speaking to Arutz
Sheva Monday, Rabbi Druckman said that the conversion process must remain within the
purview of the Rabbinate, in the same way that kashuth supervision and marriage and
divorce were their responsibility. "I am totally opposed to any alternative conversion
processes even if they are done properly under Jewish law. Such actions will injure
religious life in Israel."
Israeli Hamburger Chain Pilloried for Sexist Ad
A new online advertising campaign for an Israeli hamburger chain created a social media
backlash over the weekend. The Agadir ad shows a young and slim blonde woman in a bikini
leaning on an elderly and seemingly wealthy man, with the slogan "Rich Taste." According
to the campaign's critics, the ad actually redefines the boundaries of good taste.
One of the suggested ways of protest was to give the chain's restaurants only one star
in online reviews in order to prevent other diners, who are unfamiliar with Agadir's food,
to visit the place. "This campaign makes me want to puke," one protestor wrote.
"Goldstar's sexist campaign at least showed the beer. Where's the hamburger in this
photo?" another person asked. And someone else wrote, "Agadir is breaking records with
"They are turning to a new market segment of rich elderly men with their escort girls.
Good luck with losing customers," one person wrote, and another added: "I have never eaten
there before and I probably never will."
Agadir owner Eitan Tarablos, who is currently on vacation, appeared unfazed by the
storm he created and clarified that he had no regrets over the campaign and had no
intention of cutting ties with the chain's advertising agency, as some critics suggested.
On the contrary, he added, the online campaign would be joined by a cellular campaign in
the future. He said, however, that many surprises expected in the future would balance the
"I'm vacationing in Ibiza," he said in a telephone conversation Saturday. "I have no
Internet access, but the storm the ad created is delusional. Wait, it's only the teaser. I
suggest that people wait for the entire campaign, and then things will be clarified. I am
reflecting an existing situation here, so what's the problem? It's rich taste, and there's
nothing wrong with that. Everyone has suddenly become politically correct here."
But all your campaigns are sexist. Last time you issued a calendar featuring your
waitresses in underwear. "Our campaigns are not sexist, they're sexy, and that's a huge
different. The waitresses were all glad to be part of it and enjoyed it, because we are a
workplace which pays its employees an excellent salary. Agadir is a bold, happy and sexy
brand which sells excellent food and a sexy and fun atmosphere, and so are our
Tel Aviv vs. Berlin: The Same Hotel More Than Double the Price
Israelis thinking of traveling to Berlin this summer in order to check the prices of
pudding, for example, should know that the trip could easily turn out to be cheaper than a
vacation in Tel Aviv. Much cheaper, in fact.
A Yedioth Ahronoth inquiry reveals a significant price gap between a hotel in the
Israeli metropolis and a hotel belonging to the exact same chain in the German capital, so
that even if you add the price of a flight to Berlin the vacation abroad will still
cost you less.
There are two reasons for the major price gap: Tel Aviv is considered one of the most
expensive cities in the world, its hotels have high occupancy rates and the prices rise
accordingly. Berlin, on the other hand, is considered cheaper than many cities in Europe.
Moreover, due to the high supply of hotels and the construction of new ones, the occupancy
rates there are low and so are the prices.
We checked the room prices at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv City Center versus the new
Crowne Plaza Berlin - Potsdamer Platz. We also checked ticket prices among the three
leading airlines offering flights from Tel Aviv to Berlin (El Al's low-cost company UP,
Air Berlin and easyJet).
The prices were checked for several dates in August on a room-only basis. In the Tel
Aviv price we also included the local VAT (which is not paid by tourists who visit
Israel). The results revealed that an Israeli wishing to fly to Berlin during August will
pay for both the flight and the hotel less than the price he will be required to pay for
the hotel alone in Tel Aviv. The gap sometimes reaches more than $400, a sum which will
allow you to take another passenger along.
For the UP and easyJet flights we only considered the price of the ticket without
luggage and without an allocated seat and food.
We also checked hotel prices in Rome and London. In the Italian capital we discovered
that the Crowne Plaza St. Peter's is cheaper than the Crowne Plaza in Tel Aviv, sometimes
by hundreds of dollars. In London, on the other hand, the prices at Crowne Plaza
The City and Crowne Plaza Kensington remain significantly higher than the Crowne
Plaza in Tel Aviv.
Five nights at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv City Center from July 28 to August 2 were
offered for $1,096 (room only). During the same dates, the price for a room at the Crowne
Plaza Berlin is only $536. A week at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv City Center on August 11-18
or August 18-25 was offered for $1,440. At the exact same dates, the price for a room at
the Crowne Plaza Berlin is only $599.
We also checked room prices at the Sheraton Tel Aviv versus the Sheraton Berlin. Here
too, we found huge price differences: $1,632-2,448 for the Tel Aviv hotel compared to $646
for the Berlin hotel.
If you fly to Berlin on a cheap flight on August 11 (returning August 18) and stay at
the Crowne Plaza in Berlin for seven nights, you will pay $1,033 compared to $1,440
for the hotel alone in Tel Aviv. Adding $434 will allow you to take along another
passenger, so that the whole package to Berlin will cost two people $1,467.
It should be noted that Berlin has another Crowne Plaza hotel near the
Kurfürstendamm shopping street, which is slightly more expensive. But Tel Aviv also
has another Crowne Plaza hotel on the beach, which is also more expensive.
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