Newsletter : 16fx0517.txt
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'Jerusalem is Being Divided De Facto'
A number of leftwing NGOs including Ir Amim and Tag Meir have called upon Israeli
police this week to bar the annual Jerusalem Day "Rikudgalim" march from parts of the Old
City. The effort to prevent the march from passing through the Muslim Quarter of the Old
City gained momentum this week when the "Yerushalmim" faction within the city council
endorsed the proposed ban.
Vice Mayor Dov Kalmanovich and city board member Moshe Lion wrote letters to Jerusalem
District police and the mayor's office, imploring them not to interfere with the annual
celebration. "The Jerusalem Day march is held every year throughout the streets of a
united Jerusalem and has become the central event of our city's holiday. Among other
things, it symbolizes the unity of the city.
"This unity is expressed by the fact that thousands of people can march through the
city streets, including places where IDF soldiers risked their lives on the way to the
Temple Mount, in order to understand the special time [we live in] and the fact that we
all can march in the streets in security and without fear."
Lion argued that changing the march's route would constitute a reward for those who
wish to undermine Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem. "As someone who knows and appreciates
the police and their work, I'm certain that order will be kept in the city's streets
during the march, and that security forces will assist in maintaining the safety of
In his letter to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Vice Mayor Kalmanovich also suggested that
altering the march route constituted a victory for Israel's enemies. "Giving in to terror
sends a negative message that weakens the nation's strength. The majority of people in the
State of Israel have declared their support for a united Jerusalem."
Kalmanovich suggested that the proposal by the Yerushalmim faction to alter the march
route was part of a larger plan to achieve a de facto partition of the city. "Radical
leftwing groups like Ir Amim and Tag Meir are not part of the national consensus and I am
amazed at how they [the Yerushalmim faction] have joined [to support] this leftwing
Is Ahmadinejad Returning to Politics?
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be plotting a course to a third term,
with a sudden spate of public appearances fueling rumors that the hardliner may be
pursuing a new presidential bid. Ahmadinejad, whose belligerent rhetoric and open calls
for Israel's destruction isolated Iran diplomatically, nevertheless won reelection in 2009
by wide margin, receiving 63% of the vote.
Observers say that the 59-year old former leader could pose a serious threat to
incumbent president Hassan Rouhani, who campaigned as a reform-oriented moderate, despite
his country's ongoing threats to annihilate Israel.
Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 and reelected in 2009, but was barred from running for
a third consecutive term by the Iranian constitution. The former president is allowed,
however, to run for a third and final non-consecutive term in 2017. Roughly a year ahead
of Iran's next presidential election, Ahmadinejad appears to be laying the ground work for
a political campaign.
While he largely avoided public appearances after leaving office in 2013, Ahmadinejad
has attended a number of major events in recent weeks, speaking to exuberant crowds
cheering "Ahmadinejad is coming back!"
Despite Iran's economic woes under Ahmadinejad, conservative Islamic leaders generally
view the former president as their best chance to retake the presidency from reformers
like Rouhani. Iran's Revolutionary Guard has also sent positive signals, with one of its
official news organs offering public praise of Ahmadinejad while criticizing incumbent
`Jews Invented the Temple Mount Lie'
The Association of Palestinian Scholars and Preachers praised the controversial
decision of UNESCO, which recently denied Jewish history at the Temple Mount and referred
to the area only as the religious Islamic sites "Al-Haram Al-Sharif" and "Al-Aqsa
The Association declared this decision a victory for the religious and historical
legitimacy of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is built on the Mount - the holiest site in
Judaism. The Association further declared that the term Temple Mount is an "historical
lie" invented by Jews, and that history is not allowed to be established on "lies," in an
ironic statement given that the First and Second Temples stood at the site, as has been
repeatedly proven by archaeology.
Furthermore, according to the Association, the expression "Al-Aqsa" is the religiously,
historically and politically correct word which points to the Muslims right from 1,500
years ago, indicating a period a full 1,000 years give or take after the destruction of
the First Temple when Islam was created. They also requested that UNESCO make another
decision on maintaining the sanctity of the mosque and the right of Muslims to hold a
religious ritual there at any time.
Will Israelis Finally Get Sundays Off?
Knesset Members Eli Cohen (Kulanu) and David Amsalem (Likud) will submit a bill this
week seeking to allow workers to have one long three day weekend a month it was reported
Monday. The benefits of a long weekend include improved quality of life, a significant
expansion of leisure culture, more quality time with the children, strengthening familial
bonds, reducing worker burnout, better synchronization with the global economy,
strengthening of trade, tourism and services and increasing the participation in cultural
and sports events among the traditional and religious population.
The proposal is intended to be implemented over three years, and during that period the
extension of this long weekend for the entire year will be examined. The missing work
hours will be spread out over the week, or over the entire month.
The normal workweek in the world today is 40 hours, while in Israel it stands at 42.5
hours. The rest days in most of the world's countries are Saturday and Sunday. This is
true in all countries of the Christian world, and in most countries in Asia and the Far
East, and even in some Muslim countries (such as Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia, Tunisia,
Pakistan and Malaysia).
Israel Hires Jordanians to Wash the Dishes, Change the Sheets
By The Washington Post
EILAT, Israel This is what a little peace looks like in the Middle East. A room
cleaner named Ahmad. A dishwasher named Mohammad. And a man with a vacuum in the lobby of
an Israeli beach hotel. Israel and Jordan signed their peace treaty in 1994 that is
a generation ago but it has often been a cold peace, without real people moving
back and forth, without workers, wages or bosses.
Now Jordan and Israel have launched a pilot project that is so small and simultaneously
so ambitious that it tells the story. For the past six months, very quietly, Israel has
been allowing Jordanians to cross the border to its Red Sea resort to work minimum-wage
jobs at hotels.
The first 700 of 1,500 have started. So far, nothing bad has happened. "The Jordanians
need work, and we need workers," said the head of the Eilat Hotel Association, Shabtai
Shay. Getting the Jordanians work permits to cross the border from Aqaba to Eilat took
three years of negotiations with 10 Israeli ministries, he said. "It was mission
impossible," Shay said.
On the Israeli side, there were concerns about security, vetting, the checkpoint,
unions, the hours and how Israeli tourists would feel about being attended even
behind the scenes by service workers who were Muslims from the Hashemite
Jordan and Israel fought two wars, in 1948 and 1967. Their relations have been further
strained by the fact that Jordan is filled with Palestinian refugees. "I never thought I'd
live to see the first Jordanian worker in our hotels," Shay said.
The Israeli resort of Eilat is not exactly the French Riviera. There is a short strip
of beach with a touristy promenade of duty-free outlets, chain restaurants and swimming in
the Red Sea. During the intense heat and humidity of July and August, it is packed with
holidaying Israeli families. To the East is Jordan and to the West is Egypt. In the
distant haze is Saudi Arabia. Few Israelis venture to those destinations.
There are 55,000 Israelis living in Eilat and 40 hotels with 12,000 rooms that employ
9,000 workers, about a third of them in housekeeping jobs Israelis won't do
anymore, or won't do for the money offered.
A dozen Jordanian hotel workers interviewed by The Washington Post said they were
either happy with their new jobs in Eilat or as happy as someone who changes dirty
sheets in a foreign country can be. "It has made my life," said Ahmed Riashi, 25, who
washes dishes at Isrotel's Royal Garden Hotel. He previously worked as a waiter at a
five-star hotel in Amman, the capital of Jordan. He estimates his wages have doubled in
Israel. He is saving; he feels he is going somewhere. "I was surprised, in a good way,
when I arrived here," Riashi said.
He said Jewish Israelis are surprised, too, to see a Jordanian then want to take
a selfie together. "We haven't had a single complaint from customers," said Etty Krichly,
recruitment manager for Isrotel, which employs about 170 Jordanians. If this is what peace
looks like, it is still a wary and tenuous thing.
The Jordanian hotel workers cross the border into Israel at six in the morning but must
return to Jordan by eight every evening. They sleep in Jordan in a company dormitory. They
are not allowed to travel outside the Eilat city limits, nor can they change employers
without getting new permits. The Jordanians are only allowed to work as cleaners, not
cooks, waiters or bartenders.
The Jordanian hotel employees are allowed to enter Israel with only the clothes on
their backs and one opened pack of cigarettes, because the Israelis do not want
them to smuggle cigarettes, which are cheaper in Jordan than Israel.
Ahmad Salahat, 25, who cleans rooms at the Dan Eilat Hotel, a posh place on the
beachfront, said the hours and the wages were not as high as he had hoped but
nobody was cheating him. "They have treated us very well," he said of his Israeli
employees. One Jordanian worker professed love for his human resources manager, who doles
out candies and hugs. Another employee wanted to learn Hebrew and immigrate to Israel. One
complained about the two-hour commute across the border on a bad day.
Jordan and Israel may be at peace, but when Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
visits Jordan's King Abdullah II, the trips are not covered by the media in either country
until after the fact.
On social media, some Jordanians have criticized their fellow citizens for working for
the Jews, while some Israelis have worried about opening the turnstiles to terrorists. The
employees said they cared less about politics and more about wages. "In Jordan there's
work, but the pay isn't so hot, so here I am," said Eman Saleem, 33, who worked in Jordan
as a nurse's aide and a flight attendant. "I do this for me," she said. "For my life."
Saleem washes dishes and on her day off came to pick up her paycheck in ripped jeans
and designer sunglasses. Asked if she was harassed in Jordan for working for Zionists in
Israel, she said no. "My friends are open-minded," Saleem said.
These room cleaners, pool scrubbers and floor sweepers they are 99% men
are first vetted by a Jordanian employment agency, then Jordan's General Intelligence
Directorate, then interviewed by the Israeli hotels and scrutinized all over again by Shin
Bet, Israel's domestic security agency.
One worker who spoke briefly with The Washington Post was interrogated by Jordanian
security agents upon return because of the contact with foreign reporters. The hotel
workers make minimum wage but it is the same minimum wage as Israelis about
$1,200 a month. After they pay commissions to their recruitment agency, room and board in
Jordan, transportation, plus taxes, they take home about $700 to $800 a month.
Palestinians are not allowed to work in Eilat hotels. For several years, the Israeli
government allowed the hotels in Eilat to import foreign workers from Nepal, Sri
Lanka and the Philippines. Those programs were ended. Then the hotels were staffed by
African migrants fleeing war and poverty in Sudan and Eritrea. Israel built a new fence in
the Sinai to stop the illegal immigration and now is pushing the Africans out of
For every Jordanian the hotels hire, the Israeli government insists they fire one of
the Africans. The hotel managers, and the Jordan workers themselves, know that one violent
incident, a stabbing, an assault, could shut down the program.
Magi Malul, a human resources manager for Isrotel, works closely with the Jordanian
workers. "I love them, I really do," she said. Malul speaks Arabic, which she learned from
her grandmother, a Jewish immigrant from Morocco who migrated to Israel. In 2004, Malul's
mother and 16 others were killed on a bus by a pair of Palestinian suicide bombers dressed
as women. Malul said she cried so much the salt from her tears burned her cheeks.
"It was difficult for me at first, working with the Arabs," she said of her job. She
had never met a Jordanian. Malul said she knows the men are uncomfortable, but she hugs
them anyway. She shrugged, "I'm a typical Israeli."
"Every society has good and bad," Malul said. She pointed to a stack of 25 new permits
on her desk for 25 new Jordanian workers, who will start soon. Her new recruits. She will
greet them with candies at the border. "We have to try to make peace," she said. "This is
my little part."
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