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Israel OKs Signing Deals with Firms Working in Iran

By the Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is often perceived as the person leading the battle against Iran and its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Over the years, Netanyahu's efforts have included pushing Western countries to impose tough economic sanctions on Iran and to cut business ties with Iranian companies. Apparently, though this does not apply to doing business in Israel. According to a letter written by a high-level government official in the Finance Ministry, foreign companies that do business in Iran are not prevented from competing for major infrastructure projects in the State of Israel. The letter was sent in recent days from the office of the Accountant General at the Finance Ministry and the chairman of the government's Tender Committee to construction companies – Israeli and foreign – that are competing in a tender to construct a new light-rail line in Jerusalem. It was written in response to questions from some of the foreign companies competing in the bidding, whether their involvement in projects in Iran would disqualify them from competing for the Jerusalem light-rail contract. The companies are bidding for a deal to construct the Green Line for Jerusalem's light rail as well as the extension of the existing Red Line. The deals are estimated to reach approximately $3.5 billion. In August, as new US sanctions took effect on Iran, President Donald Trump said that companies doing business with Iran would be barred from the United States. "These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the United States. I am asking for world peace, nothing less!" Trump tweeted at the time. In the letter though, the official writes that companies working in Iran can still bid for the Jerusalem light rail project. The tender committee, the official writes, was asked: "to clarify whether the bidders may cooperate with entities which have business in Iran and are not listed in the list of the Israeli Sanctions Administration." In the letter, the Accountant General's office refers bidders to previous documents which state the following: "In light of questions that have arisen in this regard, it is clarified that the current structures of the bidders themselves…do not give rise to any legal issues under the laws specified below." It goes on to list the "Trading with the Enemy Act" and the "Law on the Struggle against Iran's Nuclear Program." The government's answer has direct impact on CRRC, a state-owned Chinese corporation that is competing for the contract to supply the locomotives for the Jerusalem light rail. Last May, for example, CRRC signed a massive multi-billion dollar contract to construct 450 subway wagons for Iran. Allowing CRRC to compete in the tender though could contravene the "Law on the Struggle against Iran's Nuclear Program" which was passed in 2012 with the objective of imposing sanctions on individuals and corporations that assist Iran in promoting its nuclear program. The Law declares an additional objective to impose restrictions "on corporations that maintain business relations with Iran, for Iran's benefit or in its territory, as part of the international struggle against Iran's nuclear program." The government's answer as stated above clears the way for companies like CRRC to continue doing business in Iran while at the same time competing for massive infrastructure tenders in Israel.

Hawaii Democrat who Backed Assad, Blasted Israel over Gaza, to Run for President

By World Israel News

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who slammed Israel for using live ammunition against "unarmed protesters" and opposed removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, will formally announce her candidacy for president in a CNN interview to air Saturday night, according to reports. "I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," said Gabbard, 37, a former Iraq War veteran. On May 14, the same day the U.S. Embassy was officially relocated to Jerusalem, and the Israeli military was forced to put down violent riots on the Gaza border, Gabbard tweeted that "Israel needs to stop using live ammunition in its response to unarmed protesters in Gaza. It has resulted in over 50 dead and thousands seriously wounded." Gabbard also met with Syrian President Assad in 2017 as part of a "fact-finding mission." The Hawaii congresswoman told CNN's Jake Tapper, "Initially I hadn't planned on meeting him… When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so, because I felt it's important that if we profess to care about the Syrian people, about their suffering truly, then we've got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace. And that's exactly what we talked about." Her meeting with Assad drew criticism from Republican politicians but the Democratic leadership didn't comment about it. Assad is considered a war criminal by the Trump administration, having used chemical weapons on his own population and been suspected of mass killings.

ZAKA Divers to Retrieve Holocaust Victims' Bones from Danube


Nearly 75 years after tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were shot at the banks of the River Danube in Budapest in 1944, ZAKA Search and Rescue divers are about to begin searching the river in an attempt to retrieve their bones for a full Jewish burial. This, after three years of protracted international negotiations by ZAKA representatives to receive permission for the historic search and recovery mission, including requests made at the highest level of government. The decision to allow ZAKA divers to commence work was announced following a meeting this week between Interior Minister Aryeh Deri in Budapest with his Hungarian counterpart. Over the decades, there have been no attempts to locate and retrieve the bones of the Holocaust victims who fell in their thousands into the river as a result of the mass executions by the Arrow Cross party members. The ZAKA Search and Rescue organization, known for its work around the world to bring victims of terror attacks and mass casualty incidents to full Jewish burial, took upon itself this historic task of retrieving and finally burying the bones by Jewish law. The movement of the water and boats, natural decay, and even repair work on the bridges over the Danube all add to the logistical challenge of the project. The ZAKA divers will be assisted in their search by a recently-purchased sonar device that can descend to a depth of 150 meters and scan within 130 meters, quickly identifying objects and transferring the information and exact location to the device operator. Hungarian Jewish Federation (EMIH) head Rabbi Shlomo Kovesh, appointed by the Hungarian government as project liaison, contacted ZAKA last week to advise that all necessary approvals were in place. As a result, an initial delegation of ZAKA divers headed by ZAKA Special Units commander Haim Outmezgine is currently in Budapest and plans to begin searching the river Tuesday with the help of the ZAKA sonar device. ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, who has personally been involved in this project over the last three years, said: "This is the final act of kindness we can do for these holy martyrs who were murdered sanctifying God. ZAKA sees this as a mission of the highest order and value, to do everything we can to finally bring them to burial in accordance with Jewish law."

Palestinians Harass Israeli Policeman on Temple Mount for Wearing Jewish Skull Cap

By United with Israel

Guards at a mosque built on top of the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Monday refused to allow an Israeli policeman to enter for a routine security check because he was wearing a Jewish skullcap known as a "kippah," a Palestinian official said. Firas Dibs, a spokesman for the Islamic authority that oversees the site, says dozens of worshipers scuffled with police after the guards closed the doors to the mosque and barricaded themselves inside. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld commented that police "prevented any disturbances from taking place" after residents closed the doors of the mosque and prevented officers from entering. The doors were opened a few hours later, and police detained five people for questioning. The Temple Mount has remained Judaism's holiest site since biblical times when the Holy Temples stood at this location for about 1,000 years. Muslims built an Islamic shrine on top of the Jewish Temple Mount it in the seventh century and currently control the site via the Islamic Waqf, which forbids non-Muslims from praying there. Technically, the Temple Mounts sits in sovereign Israeli territory, notwithstanding permission that the Waqf has been granted to "administer" the site. Dibs said police carry out routine security checks every morning, and that the policeman was only prevented from entering because he was wearing a kippah. Dibs said police carry out routine security checks every morning, and that the policeman was only prevented from entering because he was wearing a kippah. The Palestinians have long feared that Israel plans to take over the site so it can rebuild the temple, allegations denied by the Israeli government, which says it has no plans to change the status quo.

The Treyf Banquet and the End of a Dream

By My Jewish Learning
On a hot and humid Cincinnati evening in July 1883, more than 200 distinguished guests, Jews and non-Jews alike, gathered at the exclusive Highland House restaurant to celebrate a milestone in the history of American Judaism: Hebrew Union College, which Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the publisher of the American Israelite, founded, had just ordained its initial graduating class. America had finally produced four homegrown, ordained rabbis. Most of the diners had just attended the eighth annual meeting of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), the first association of American Jewish synagogues, which Wise had also organized. The graduates and guests looked forward to an evening of gastronomical pleasures. What they witnessed was the beginning of the end of Wise's dream of American Jewish religious unity.

For the nearly four decades after his arrival in America from his native Bohemia, Isaac Mayer Wise envisioned creating and sustaining a unified American Judaism that balanced European tradition and New World realities. He built the Hebrew Union College to train American rabbis and created the UAHC as a forum for traditional and reform-minded rabbis and congregations to air and resolve their differences.

By 1883, the fact that some traditionalists had introduced a degree of modernization such as English sermons and English prayers into their services and the more liberal ones even allowed organ music, and mixed choirs of men and women encouraged Wise to hope for convergence. He was aided by his close friend, Reverend Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, a leading traditionalist figure who, like Wise, focused more on uniting American Jewry than on doctrinal differences. Other rabbinical voices were not so united in vision and purpose. Especially contentious were the so-called Eastern radical reformers, led by Rabbi David Einhorn of Baltimore. Veterans of the radical reform German rabbinical conferences of the 1850s, the liberals intended to expunge what they deemed outmoded religious practices such as kashrut –derisively called "kitchen Judaism"–and the second day of holiday observances. Some radicals even advocated observing Shabbat on Sunday. Wise himself damaged the reform-traditionalist détente in 1855 by introducing, at a meeting intended to demonstrate the harmony of American Judaism, his prayer book, Minhag America. Though moderate in its reforms, the book distressed the traditionalists, including Leeser, and did not go far enough for some of the radical reformers. Wise's diplomatic genius contained these differences. By creating the UAHC in 1873 and convincing the organization to found Hebrew Union College in 1875, Wise shakily maintained the fragile traditionalist-reformer détente into the beginning of the 1880s. Historian Abraham J. Karp notes that Wise "understood that congregations could be united through participation in a project rather than through agreement on resolutions" and proposed creating the seminary as a concrete way to develop an American rabbinate and, thus, an American Judaism. The celebratory banquet for the first Hebrew Union College graduating class on that fateful July evening tangibly confirmed for Wise the efficacy of his strategy. However, the first course on the menu was "Little Neck Clams (half shell)." According to the memoirs of Rabbi David Phillipson, the course provoked "terrific excitement" and "two rabbis rose from their seats and rushed from the room." While leaders gave unity speeches from the podium, many traditional rabbis sat stoically through the meal, failing to applaud, and refusing to taste even one morsel of the "Soft-shell Crabs" and "Salade of Shrimps," or the ice cream and cheese that followed the meat courses. Historians debate whether Wise approved the menu, the Jewish caterer acted on his own, or the Einhorn faction surreptitiously ordered the treyf courses to force a showdown. Wise claimed no knowledge of how the shellfish got on the menu. He kept a kosher home and claimed to have ordered Gus Lindeman, the caterer, to serve only kosher food. Lindeman did serve kosher meat but "supplemented" it with the shellfish and dairy desserts. A later investigation by a panel of UAHC rabbis cleared Wise of wrongdoing, but the damage was already done. The events of that evening, dubbed in history the "trefa banquet," forged an important link in the chain of events leading to the formal break between tradition and reform. In the three years after the banquet, a series of debates between radical Rabbi Kaufmann Kohler and traditionalist Alexander Kohut crystallized the positions of each side. In 1885, the UAHC conference in Pittsburgh, dominated by radicals, adopted a platform of Reform Jewish theology that defined the movement for over half a century. In 1886, some change-oriented rabbis who could not go as far as the Pittsburgh radicals established the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, laying the foundation for Conservative Judaism. In 1888, America's Orthodox community decided to recruit a chief rabbi from Eastern Europe to serve as a regnant authority. Later that year, Rabbi Jacob Joseph of Vilna arrived in New York City to become the first official chief Orthodox rabbi in America. After these events, there was no turning back. American Judaism divided into organized movements, each claiming its right to define Jewish religious practices. The "trefa banquet" did not cause that division, but most colorfully symbolized the sensibilities and principles that led to it.

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