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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 marchers."

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 proposal."

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 president Rouhani.

`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 Mosque."

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 Kingdom.

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 the country.

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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