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Israel's Top Court Bars Far-Right Politician from Next Month's Election

By VOA News

Israel's Supreme Court Sunday disqualified an extreme right-wing politician from next month's parliamentary election for inciting violence and racism against Arabs. The Israeli election committee had permitted Michael Ben-Ari of the Jewish Power party to run. But the court Sunday backed a legal challenge by the opposition leftist Meretz party, which argued that Ben-Ari called for violence against Arabs, denying them civil rights, and incited racism. "The place for people who believe in the superiority of race is behind bars, not in parliament," a Meretz spokesman said. Ben-Ari condemned the court decision, saying "a judicial junta is trying to impose its laws ... it's not a democracy. The court ruled, however, that another Jewish Power candidate can run. It also overturned an election commission decision to bar candidates from two Arab parties – Hadash-Taal and Raam-Balad. The commission accused the two parties of calling for violence against the government. Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked blasted the court's ruling Sunday, saying it forbids Ben-Ari from running "while declaring terror-backing parties kosher is a crass and misguided interference in the heart of Israeli democracy." Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political life after police said last month he should be indicted for corruption. Netanyahu has aligned his Likud party with other right-wing parties, including Jewish Power, to form a single slate in next month's parliamentary election. Many in Israel, left and right, are disturbed by the alliance. A number of Jewish Power members are followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, a far-right extremist who called for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The court also ruled Sunday to overturn the Central Elections Committee's decision to bar the radical anti-Zionist Arab parties Balad and the United Arab List from running for the Knesset. The two parties, which are running on a joint ticket, had been barred by the committee for their support for terrorism and opposition to Israel as a Jewish state. Also, the court also moved to overturn the Central Election Committee's order that Ofer Cassif, the sole Jewish candidate on the joint list of the predominantly Arab Hadash party and the Ta'al faction be banned from the Knesset. Cassif, a Hebrew University lecturer, had been banned over comments he had made comparing the State of Israel to Nazi Germany. Ben-Ari, 55, had been the Otzma Yehudit faction's first candidate on a joint ticket with the Jewish Home and National Union parties, receiving the fifth slot on the joint slate. A former Knesset Member who served in the National Union part from 2009 to 2013, Ben-Ari was a student of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who founded the Kach party and served as the party's sole Knesset Member, from 1984 to 1988. While previous candidates have been barred from running for the Knesset – including Kahane, who was banned in 1988 – this marks the first time in the history of Israel that the court has banned a candidate over the objections of the Central Elections Committee.

Egypt Warns Hamas: Israel will Topple You and `We Won't Lift a Finger'

By World Israel News

Israeli media reports that Egyptian officials were enraged last Thursday when news reached them of the rocket attack over the Tel Aviv area from the Gaza Strip at the very moment they were acting as mediators to the conflict between Hamas and Israel. "If Israel decides to start a wide-scale operation in Gaza, [Egypt] won't stop the Israeli attacks. Even if Israel ends your rule in Gaza by assassinating every single one of you and reconquer[ing] Gaza, Egypt and its allies won't lift a finger to stop the Israeli response," said a senior Egyptian negotiator at the meeting, according to daily newspaper Israel Hayom. "You're endangering our lives," the official added. "Gazans' blood is on your hands.' The senior Egyptian official told Israel Hayom what he had said at the meeting and that his delegation had been blindsided by news of the rocket attack, which arrived just as the Egyptian team was relaying potential terms of a ceasefire agreement from Israel to Hamas leaders. Egyptian diplomats screamed at Hamas leader Yahyah Sinwar, "Where do you think your double-dealing will land you? We're trying to finalize a peace agreement with Israel, and behind our backs you let your people fire missiles at Tel Aviv?" The official told the paper that Sinwar appeared no less surprised by the news and said that Hamas was not behind the rocket attack. Sinwar then asked the Egyptian delegation to get in touch with Israel's defense establishment and let them know that Hamas wasn't responsible. The two rockets were launched at Tel Aviv around 9 p.m. on Thursday. Nine others were launched at communities in southern Israel. The missiles set off rocket sirens in the densely populated Israeli city, in addition to triggering alarms throughout the Dan region. In response, Israel hammered over 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. The rocket attack marked the first time since 2014's Operation Protective Edge that terrorists in Gaza attempted to strike Tel Aviv with rockets. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group in Gaza, also denied responsibility for the attacks, but Israeli security officials are skeptical about the denials. Both groups are bankrolled by Iran, with the Hamas terror organization serving as the official government of the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian official said that before the news of the attack reached the delegation, the meeting was calm "and full of smiles. We estimated that Hamas would accept [the Israeli conditions] permitting a stable and long-term calm. Minutes after one of the aides to the Egyptian delegation entered the room with a worried expression and handed his cellular phone to the heads of the delegation. The smiles quickly changed to sober expressions," the senior official said to Israel Hayom.

Due to Brexit, Jews Seek Passports from Countries that Oppressed Their Ancestors

By JTA

Concerned over losing valuable rights for traveling and staying in the 26-country Schengen Area, more Jewish Brits are turning to Spain, Portugal, and Germany for citizenship Portugal used to be little more than a sunny holiday destination to Adam Perry, a 46-year-old Londoner who works in procurement. But following the United Kingdom's 2016 vote to leave the European Union, Perry, who is a Sephardic Jew, applied for citizenship in the Iberian nation. Since 2015, legislation there and in Spain allows for the naturalization of descendants of refugees persecuted 500 years ago. Amid growing uncertainty over Brexit, whose deadline is March 29 (for now), applying to become a Portuguese citizen "was a pragmatic decision," said Perry, whose 5-year-old daughter may also be naturalized once his application is approved. But, he added, it was "also a form of protest action against Brexit, with which I deeply disagree." Perry is just one of the thousands of British Jews and non-Jews who have been prompted by Brexit to apply for citizenship in other European Union member states — most notably countries from which their ancestors had fled to escape persecution. Portugal, for example, last year saw a 25% increase in naturalization by British citizens, though only a few dozen of the 3,832 Brits who became Portuguese last year were Sephardic Jews. The others are mostly non-Jews who have been living in Portugal as residents long enough to get citizenship. Many more British Jews are becoming citizens of Germany, where their grandparents barely managed to escape alive. Hundreds of them have asked for assistance from Britain's Association of Jewish Refugees — a group founded in 1941 by Jews who fled the Holocaust to Britain, according to its chief executive, Michael Newman. "We are well aware of the irony of the situation," he said. "It's one of the many unexpected results of this chaotic thing called Brexit." Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the German embassy in London has received more than 3,380 applications for restoring German citizenship under article 116 of the German constitution for descendants of people persecuted by Adolf Hitler's party. In previous years, only about 50 such requests were made annually. To some applicants, becoming German is a purely pragmatic decision. Gaby Franklin, an author, and interior designer described getting a German passport as "an insurance policy" in an interview published earlier this month with Politico. Beyond ownership issues of family assets in France, she said, "We don't know what the travel arrangements will look like." EU countries waive visa and passport regulations for their citizens within the bloc and with some foreign countries. The status of British citizens in the European Union is unclear also because the British parliament has twice rejected the terms of a deal worked out between Prime Minister Theresa May and Brussels. May is expected to ask for a delay to avoid Britain crashing out of the union without a deal – a scenario whose practical consequences are as yet unclear. But getting a German passport specifically can get tricky for some prospective applicants for German citizenship. One prospective applicant, journalist Adrian Goldberg, wrote about his conflicted feelings in an op-ed for the BBC in December, titled "Sorry, Dad — I'm thinking of getting a German passport." For most of his life, the idea that he might seek German citizenship "would have been utterly laughable," Goldberg wrote. "I'm British through and through," he added, and "I can't deny that a rare England football victory against Germany always brings a special satisfaction." Brexit, though, "has changed the way I think." As a German citizen, Goldberg would have the right to work and travel freely across 27 nations without any visa requirements, as does any other EU citizen. "That might well come in handy if I decide to wind down my radio career on an English language station in, say, Mallorca," in Spain, he wrote. "Even more importantly, my three young daughters would share the same entitlement." But "it's not such a straightforward calculation," Goldberg also wrote. "Sure, I can get a passport which might conceivably make life easier for myself and my children. But only if I adopt the nationality of the country that murdered most of my dad's family." Getting German citizenship can also feel like reclaiming a part of one's identity, Rabbi Julia Neuberger, a member of the British House of Lords, argued in an essay she wrote after the Brexit referendum. "It doesn't make me any less British, but it does allow me to reclaim a bit of my history," Neuberger, whose mother was a refugee from Germany, wrote in The Guardian. "It also declares a belief in Europe, admiration for how Germany has dealt with its Nazi past, and a real belief that [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel's welcome of migrants was both right and brave." Still, dilemmas about the subject are "causing internal debates, with some passionate disagreements" among many British Jews who may claim German and Austrian citizenship, Newman, 44, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Newman, who has two children, personally is grappling with a related dilemma. He is entitled to a Polish passport through his mother. But a recent Polish law that outlaws blaming the Polish nation for Nazi crimes "creates a serious moral dilemma" for Newman, he said. The law, he added, "places limitations on studying the Holocaust and I'm not sure that's something I can agree to and just become a citizen of a country that does that." For Jews especially, Brexit is not the only uncertainty making foreign citizenship look appealing in Britain, where anti-Semitic incidents have reached record levels for the third year straight in 2018. According to a survey from September, almost 40 percent of British Jews would "seriously consider emigrating" if Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, often accused of condoning or promoting anti-Semitism, became prime minister. Also making Jews uncomfortable is the nativist sentiment that begot Brexit (harassment of foreigners for speaking languages other than English has become commonplace in the United Kingdom). This means that applying for foreign citizenship is not always socially convenient, Perry, the applicant for a Portuguese passport, conceded. "But in London, which is very cosmopolitan, this is not an issue," he added. "I speak openly about seeking a foreign passport as a result of Brexit." Upon hearing that Goldberg, the Jewish journalist, is seeking German citizenship, one of his closest friends told him: "You'd be a traitor, wouldn't you?"

Nearly Half of Israeli Jews Would Consider Marrying Non-Jew if in Diaspora

By the Jerusalem Post

Almost half of Israeli Jews would consider marrying a non-Jew if they lived abroad, a new poll measuring Israeli attitudes to Jewish life in the Diaspora has found. The poll was conducted on a sample of 500 Jewish Israelis in December 2018, with a margin of error of 4.3%. According to the poll, conducted by the Geocartography research institute, when asked if they were to live outside of Israel whether or not they would marry a non-Jew, 14% said it would not be a problem for them, and another 34% said they would prefer not to marry a non-Jew but would not rule it out. Fifty-one percent said they would never consider it. Intermarriage has become a significant issue in the Diaspora, with some 58% of American Jews intermarrying according to the 2013 Pew Report on American Jewry, something both Diaspora and Israeli leaders have warned about. According to the Geocartography poll, which was conducted for the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, it would appear that many Israeli Jews would, like their Diaspora brethren, be open to intermarriage if they lived outside of Israel. The poll was conducted ahead of an election panel debate Sunday night at the Museum of the Jewish People at Beth Hatfutsot between several Knesset candidates from a number of political parties, to discuss Israeli policy towards the Jewish Diaspora. The poll also asked Israeli Jews whether Diaspora Jews should get the vote in Israel. Here, the answer was a resounding "no," with 72% saying they should not be given the vote and 19% saying yes. When asked to whom the prime minister is obligated in fulfilling his duties, 62% said to Israelis first and foremost, but also to Diaspora Jews, 26% said only Israelis, and 11% said Israelis and Diaspora Jews to the same degree. The survey also found that only one-fifth of the Jews in Israel (20%) know how many Jews there are outside Israel, which currently stands at eight million Jews. Also, Israeli Jews greatly overestimated the percentage of Orthodox Jews in the US, with 63% saying that Orthodox Jews comprise between 11 to 50% of the US Jewish community when true figure is just 10%. When traveling abroad, a plurality of Israeli Jews, some 38% said they did not hide their Israeli Jewish identity, along with 33% who said they mostly did not hide it, but on occasion did, along with 19% who said they hid their Jewish Israeli identity most of the time. Asked what Diaspora Jews living abroad should do in response to growing anti-Semitism in several countries in Europe and the US, 39% said they should immigrate to Israel, 31% said legislation in foreign countries should be passed to combat anti-Semitism, and 17% said the status of Jews in Europe should be addressed.





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