Saturday, July 15

Israel's Chief Rabbinate and Corruption are Blots on Israel's Democracy
The Chief Rabbinate and its branches throughout Israel are a threat to Israel’s democracy. Israel’s so-called democracy is already under threat by a right-wing Coalition Government with its attempts at eroding the power of the Law Courts by attempting to change the system of appointment of judges in favour of appointees, who are conservative and right-wing friendly. We must not forget the added corruption scandals in high places in order to make gigantic profits that give truth to “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts completely”.

The bottom line is that Netanyahu and his Government Coalition have been in power for too long. In western democracies, this would be a great excuse to have general elections to remove the corrupt government from power.

 Apparently, in Israel, this is a good reason to keep them in power as expressed in the words of Mr Average Israeli: “There is nobody to replace Bibi as a leader! Despite corruption under his watch, he is ruling Israel very well! Corruption is not a good enough reason to replace the present government!”  

Do we need more examples of Israel’s democracy threats? Certainly not! However, they do exist. Even in the sphere of culture, the cultural activity must conform to the ruling coalition line or else they will lose state funding. Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, has made this perfectly clear at every public address. She has her own standards as to what cultural loyalty is all about. Her antics and populist tactics reap the fruit that the right-wing desires. Cultural activities that in Regev’s eyes appear anti-Israel (more accurately, anti-right wing or critical of it) are treacherous, serving the interests of Israel’s enemies.

The Regularisation law, the lowering of the status of Arabic, the condemnation of NGO human rights groups apart from those sympathetic to the right-wing government and the delegitimization of Reform and Conservative Jews by the Orthodox Establishment Rabbinate. All these elements are eroding Israel’s democracy. 

The more powerful the government, the more corrupt it becomes as well. Cases 1000, 2000, 3000, and soon Case 4000 are examples of greed and power, and the desire to make lots of money out of public funds. Perhaps this is modern Zionism and patriotism for the Israel of today in action. Netanyahu has requested that his loyal members of the Likud support him in this trying period of his tenure and accusing the left-wing press and the left of fabrications to orchestrate his downfall. Maybe there is a spark of hope in that there are laws and that nobody is above the law, hence police enquiries into activities of various nefarious government bedfellows, out to make a quick buck at the expense of Israel’s taxpayers.

The establishment, monolithic Orthodox Chief Rabbinate and its subsidiaries all over Israel are wedded to power and money. They are always part of the ultra-Orthodox religious parties and can make and break coalitions.They view pluralism in Judaism as a threat to their merciless hegemony. They have euphemisms of course - the most famous is “status quo”, which is also being narrowed in interpretation. The much-publicised issue of Netanyahu’s betrayal of Reform and Conservative Jewry by trying to scrap the agreement for an egalitarian place of prayer at Robinson’s Arch near the Western Wall. The reason - placation of the ultra-Orthodox religious parties in the Knesset, who are an integral part of the Government Coalition, including the right-wing Bayit Hayehudi Party of Naftali Bennett. They threatened to bolt the coalition on this issue. There is also the issue of conversions. They issued a black list of rabbis of all streams - Orthodox, Reform and Conservative, whose conversions will not be recognized in Israel. This is disgraceful and divisive of World Jewry. It means that Jews not converted by rabbis recognized by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate will not be recognized as Jews. All this in democratic Israel - “A Light unto the Nations!” Judaism in Israel is apparently the monopoly of Orthodox Judaism alone.

“Israel’s 39-chapter annual State Comptroller report, published on Tuesday, May 16, was nothing less than a blistering indictment of the unholy alliance of religion & state in Israel, providing multiple examples of criminality, corruption, and discrimination conducted by government officials in the area of religion & state”.

There will never be freedom of pluralism in Jewish faith while this abominable institution of rabbinical bigots with its powerful bureaucrats and heartless pseudo-righteous, “holy men” wield the power to which they are not entitled. This merciless institution will remain until the Messiah comes! The time is overdue for the institution of Civil Marriage in Israel. This would put the Chief Rabbinate in its place and hopefully be the impetus for its disbandment.
Rabbi and Adv. Uri Regev 
There is no true separation of Orthodox Synagogue and State in the "only True Democracy in the Middle East".

References: Hiddush - Highly recommended. It gives a true picture as to how there is no true Jewish religious freedom in Israel. 

Friday, June 30

Apartheid-like Rule of Palestinians under Occupation?

Map showing the West Bank and Gaza Strip in re...
Map showing the West Bank and Gaza Strip in relation to central Israel (situation of 2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Israel is not an apartheid state within the Green-Line. This cannot be stated in areas occupied by Israel after the June Six Day War of 1967. The whole issue of Israel slipping into an apartheid-like regime resembling apartheid South Africa from 1948 until 1994 is, unfortunately, becoming a reality despite the many denials of Danny Danon, Israel’s representative at the UN. We have not reached there yet but with the repressive laws including laws legalizing takeover of Palestinian lands for illegal Jewish settlement and the attempted interference of Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, with Israel’s Courts of Law, and Culture and Sport Minister, Miri Regev, trying to muzzle cultural activities that are not in accordance with her party agenda we unfortunately are moving in that direction.

The guidelines conformity with the EU's longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel's sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law.1

Official Israeli and Palestinian population statistics indicate that Jews have been a minority in the territory Israel controls for several years now, and with no repercussions: A majority of the world's nations still speak of undemocratic rule by a Jewish minority as a hypothetical future, not an unacceptable present.2

We must not forget that Israel is faced with a very severe security problem that threatens her citizens, the source of which originates in the occupied territories. Israel is also faced with a Palestinian leadership, especially Hamas, which refuses to negotiate any form of peace treaty or agreement with Israel. It is also doubtful whether President Mahmoud Abbas has a mandate from his people to negotiate with Israel let alone sign a peace agreement with Israel. He has been ruling for over 10 years and there have been no elections. The maintenance of human rights for the Palestinians under Israeli occupation and the security risks that Israel has faced since the occupation of June 1967 is a tremendous challenge facing Israel. Some 5.6 million Palestinians now live in this area, which is divided between the State of Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza; these latter areas were captured and occupied by Israel in 1967.3

We must also bear in mind that the Palestinians and the Arab States, even prior to June 1967 with Egypt at the helm were never prepared to recognize Israel’s right to exist and were determined to destroy Israel. Israel fought a war of survival and occupied territories in the process. There were no “occupied territories “prior to the June 1967 war. The severe threat to Israel’s existence then was the reason for the war. On the other hand, Israel’s biggest mistake was the colonisation of territory captured in the June 1967 war rather than declaring it a closed military zone and using it as a bargaining chip for peace negotiations that would result in a settlement ending the conflict. The ramification of the occupation as we all know is the rule of Israel over the Palestinians.  

“Israel maintains a regime of apartheid over Palestinians” — UN report. It identified the four sets of Palestinians as Palestinian citizens of Israel; Palestinians in East Jerusalem; Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and Palestinians living as refugees or in exile.4

Report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) 2017.Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue №1
“The report concludes that the weight of the evidence supports beyond a reasonable doubt the proposition that Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity, the prohibition of which is considered jus cogens in international customary law.”

The mantra that all Israeli Governments had and still do have to this day is the fear that granting human rights to the Palestinians under occupation will compromise Israel’s security. There is a strong belief in Israel that if the Palestinians are granted human rights in the territories under occupation, they (the Palestinians) will view this as Israel’s weakness and they will increase their terror activities against Israel.

The right wing Israeli Government Coalition maintains its power by playing on the fears of the Israeli Electorate. They view the left wing opposition to the occupation as traitors and NGOs such as B’tzelem and Breaking the Silence as a plague on Israel. They do all in their power to prevent overseas donors from donating money to these organizations that safeguard Palestinian human rights.

On the other hand, right-wing organizations receive money from overseas supporters unhindered. The biggest challenge that Israel faces today vis a vis the Palestinians under occupation is a balance between Israel’s security and basic human rights that the Palestinians are entitled. The present government is doing everything in its power to prevent any meaningful negotiations on a two-state solution. The extreme right wing flank - Habayit Yehudi of Naftali Bennett opposes the Two State Solution and has threatened to leave the coalition if any negotiations begin to initiate the Two State Solution.

The other options are a bi-national state which will be dominated by Israel and the Palestinians will remain in a quasi-apartheid situation inferior to Israelis and be forced to live in separate enclaves within the Jewish State. Needless to say, they will remain without basic human rights and a disenfranchised group subjected to abuse and exploitation. This will be far from the dreams of Israel’s founding fathers. The settlers that have occupied Palestinian lands will remain on these lands forever.

The situation on the ground is such that the increase in settlement activity encroaching further on Palestinian-owned land by right-wing religious Zionist Jews is making the two-state solution less and less a viable option.

A  list of obstacles Palestinians face as a result of the occupation is not exhaustive — there are a number of other human rights concerns and restrictions imposed on non-Israelis in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.5

EU grants, funding, prizes or scholarships will only be granted if a settlement exclusion clause is included, forcing the Israeli government to concede in writing that settlements in the occupied territories are outside the state of Israel to secure agreements with the EU.6

According to Benjamin Pogrund, a South African journalist, who had suffered under the apartheid government for opposing it, is the right person qualified to state that

What remains is for both sides to the conflict is to get their act right and move towards a Two-State Solution based on dual respect for both sides with a desire to end this tragic conflict. Ending the Israeli "occupation" of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome, is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace, the UN secretary-general stressed.7

Israel must refrain from building settlements and proclaim a total freeze on this illegal activity as starters. The Palestinian leadership must cease their hateful rhetoric and demands for Israel's total destruction and be willing to sit down and negotiate an end to this conflict. Trust-building measures on both sides must be initiated on both sides with the mediation of a neutral third party. Only in this way can a solution be found and a just end to the occupation.

The above YouTube clip is true within the Green line.Unfortunately, in the occupied territories, this is not the case.  However, in the occupied areas conquered during the Six-Day War, the Palestinians do not have the freedom to move around and are subject to human rights abuses. As mentioned in this article, the security situation that has to come to terms with Palestinian terrorist groups harming and killing innocent civilians by stabbings, suicide bombings and car rammings, has created a situation that resembles apartheid in the territories. The right-wing Jewish extremists, such as the "Hilltop Youth" and the messianic, religious Zionist settlers are not blameless for this situation either and the police hardly make any arrests of those responsible for violence against Palestinians.

  1. Accessed 26 Jun. 2017.
  2.  2 Jun. 2017, Accessed 24 Jun. 2017.
  3. Accessed 24 Jun. 2017
  4. 16 Mar. 2017, Accessed 26 Jun. 2017.
  5. 29 Dec. 2016, Accessed 24 Jun. 2017.
  6. Accessed 24 Jun. 2017.
  7. 5 Jun. 2017, Accessed 26 Jun. 2017.
Also, see:

  1. Israel and the apartheid analogy
  2. Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign 

The above two links are not necessarily the writer's opinion. I have inserted them for the reader to draw his own conclusions.

Tuesday, June 27

The Western Wall Fiasco Fractures Diaspora Jewry

English: Western wall in Jerusalem at night
English: Western Wall in Jerusalem at night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Jewish religion is an ancient monotheistic faith with a history that goes back nearly 6000 years; Judaism belongs to all Jews. The Torah has seventy faces, which means that it is open to many interpretations. There is nothing in Judaism that states that Halacha is not open to various interpretations. Professional Jewish scholars are in yeshivot argue over various aspects of Jewish Law, re-interpreting many of them to suit the times. Today this progression into the modern age has ceased and any changes or waivers from existing traditions have to receive the authority of recognized and revered rabbis.

One of the greatest reformers was Rabbi Hillel, the Elder and his opponent, the more conservative Rabbi Shammai, who was strict and intolerant towards any re-interpretation of Jewish Law.

Today, Judaism has become pluralistic with four main streams. Orthodox (ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox), Conservative, Reform and a small stream known as Reconstructionist.  The latter usually aligns itself with the Reform movement.

Most affiliated Jews in the Diaspora, especially in the US, are members of non-Orthodox streams and their attitudes toward women are egalitarian. Women have total equality with men and there is no separate seating in non-Orthodox synagogues for men and women. Unfortunately, in Israel, most observant Israeli Jews are affiliated with Orthodox Judaism and the non-Orthodox streams are viewed as unacceptable and are not recognized by the Israeli Rabbinate. They have no rights to marry couples and have no representation at all in the corridors of power.

Haredi Orthodox lawmakers and some from the Jewish Home and Likud parties in December submitted a bill to the Knesset to prevent non-Orthodox public prayer at the Western Wall. 1

A top ultra-Orthodox lawmaker defended his opposition to an agreement that would have created an official pluralistic prayer space at the Western Wall, saying Monday the move would have harmed Jewish unity and decrying Reform Judaism, which had pushed for the solution.2

The plan to allow non-Orthodox denominations to pray at the Western Wall in accordance with their own beliefs and traditions was passed in January 2016 with the silent consent of the Cabinet's ultra-Orthodox ministers.3

Reform and Conservative Jews are loyal to Israel. They support the fight against BDS and donate large sums of money to Jewish causes in Israel as well as charity. All they received for this was a slap in the face by the present Netanyahu Government. This occurred when the agreement of a space near the Western Wall for egalitarian prayer for both sexes was scrapped after years of negotiation by PM Netanyahu because the ultra-Orthodox Shas, Yahadut Hatorah Parties and Habayit Yehudi threatened to leave the coalition if the deal made with the non-Orthodox streams to have mixed prayer services at a place near the Western Wall allotted for that purpose was signed. Netanyahu backed off.

It is a great pity that Netanyahu succumbed to the pressure of his bigoted ultra-Orthodox partners many of whom are from the Chasidei “Gur-nisht mit Gur-nisht” sect and their erstwhile, old fashioned archaic “Custodians of Judaism” partners of the ultra-Orthodox Parties in the Knesset, with their extreme dislike of Reform and Conservative Jews. These ultra-Orthodox party members are experts on religious extortion, dictating their desires on Israel’s Government with Netanyahu at the helm. His promises of an egalitarian place to pray near the Western Wall have been broken. This is another attack on Jewish religious freedom. It appears that the non-Orthodox streams in Judaism are not welcome in Israel. American Jews who are Reform and Conservative should ask themselves whether Israel should be on their list for support if the Netanyahu Government moves in this direction of betrayal.

The ultra-Orthodox Parties in the Netanyahu Coalition Government are there for one purpose only - “if you scratch my back, we’ll scratch yours!” This means that they will support the government on condition that they give into their religious, financial desires including religious coercion and exclusion of Reform and Conservative Jews from the Jewish People by restricting the practice of their rituals at the Western Wall. 
  1.  19 Jun. 2017, Accessed 27 Jun. 2017.
  2. 26 Jun. 2017, Accessed 27 Jun. 2017.
  3. 27 Jun. 2017, Accessed 27 Jun. 2017.

Saturday, June 24

Permanent Palestinian Residents of Jerusalem are Entitled to Israeli Citizenship

What is the present status of Jerusalem? According to Israel, Jerusalem is a united city and will remain so. In 1980, Israel passed the "Jerusalem Law", stating that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel", thereby formalizing its annexation of East Jerusalem.1 Surely this means that those born in Jerusalem are entitled to Israeli Citizenship by birth. There are many Palestinian permanent residents of East Jerusalem, who do not hold Israeli Citizenship and do not have equal rights to West Jerusalem Israelis even though they were born and lived there for generations.

In the 1967 census, the Israeli authorities registered 66,000 Palestinian residents (44,000 residing in the area known before the 1967 war as East Jerusalem; and 22,000, in the West Bank area annexed to Jerusalem after the war).2

These East Jerusalem Palestinians were born in East Jerusalem and have been living in Jerusalem for generations. They suffer from discrimination and are disenfranchised. Many live in poverty and the infrastructures in the areas where they live are poor. Their education facilities are not as good as in Israel proper. Jerusalem unity is totally artificial demographically and in practice. East Jerusalemites do have the vote in Municipal Elections

It is an infringement of human rights when East Jerusalem Palestinians born in Jerusalem are denied Israeli Citizenship. They should have the option of applying for Israeli Citizenship. If East Jerusalem is part of Israel, as the government claims on the grounds that Jerusalem is united, then its citizens should have equal rights to those living in Israel proper. Internationally the status of East Jerusalem is controversial and when it suits Israel to view it as not part of United Jerusalem vis a vis its Palestinian permanent residents, something's not right.

Since the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israeli authorities have promoted the two-fold goal of expanding the city’s Jewish population and reducing its Palestinian population. Various steps have been adopted to achieve this objective, including the isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, land appropriation, and discriminatory policies on planning and construction and budget allotment. Furthermore, although the annexation of East Jerusalem and its residents was a decision made by Israel and not by the people who live there, Israeli authorities treat East Jerusalem Palestinians as if they had made a voluntary decision to immigrate to Israel. Therefore, the authorities void Palestinians’ residency status and social benefits if they do not meet the restrictive criteria originally formulated for foreign residents.3

Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer specializing in issues related to Jerusalem and its residents, told Al-Monitor that the residency issue for Palestinians in East Jerusalem has been left vague by a collective Israeli decision-making process.4  

One cannot really have it both ways. Jerusalem is united when it comes to consideration of automatic citizenship for Jews living there according to the Law of Return, but not for Palestinian permanent residents born there. This is discrimination no matter how one views it. If there was an Arab East Jerusalem not part of the same Jerusalem Municipality and a separate entity, part of Palestine, then the eternal status of being a permanent resident of East Jerusalem would be justified

The cabinet this week approved a plan submitted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin to encourage schools in East Jerusalem to teach an Israeli curriculum as opposed to the Palestinian school curriculum.5 If this is the case, surely this strengthens the East Jerusalem Palestinians’ case for Israeli Citizenship if they so desire.

Integration of schools in Jerusalem with Jewish and Palestinian children studying together from a young age will contribute to true coexistence without any side compromising on their culture. By achieving this, both sides will learn to accommodate each other in friendship and understanding. Both sides will learn from each other about each other's’ culture and traditions.

There are reports a few years ago of a growing trend amongst East Jerusalem Permanent Residents applying for Israeli citizenship.

If Jerusalem does become the shared capital of a future Palestinian State and Israel if this will occur, which I doubt very strongly under the present circumstance, the East Jerusalemites would have a clear choice in that matter. Jewish neighborhoods built by the government on land annexed to Jerusalem in 1967, in which 190,000 Israelis presently live; These large settlements were originally built in order to prevent such a solution and to isolate East Jerusalem from the West Bank.6

What is clear at present is that the present status of East Jerusalemite Palestinians is unsatisfactory for the reasons mentioned earlier in this article.

  1. 28 May. 2017, Accessed 16 Jun. 2017.
  2. Accessed 18 Jun. 2017.
  3. "East Jerusalem | B'Tselem." Accessed 16 Jun. 2017.
  4.  28 Mar. 2017, Accessed 16 Jun. 2017.
  5.  29 May. 2017, Accessed 16 Jun. 2017.
  6. Accessed 18 Jun. 2017.

Saturday, June 17

Occupation has Two Faces - Israeli and Palestinian

The occupation mantra has two faces. We are all familiar with the Israeli Occupation that is opposed by many Israelis, (including Yours Truly,) and the world. The big question is how do we end it when partners on both sides have no interest in negotiating ending the occupation.

On the Israeli side, there is PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s lip service to a Two State solution but in reality, this is not the case. This would mean the demise of many illegal settlements in the occupied territories. The heavy pressure of his extremist right wing flank would never support uprooting these settlements under any agreement.

On the Palestinian side, there is no partner to negotiate with Israel on ending the occupation. President Mahmoud Abbas is weak and has very little support from his people and Hamas will not recognize Israel’s right to exist and refuses to negotiate with Israel. As mentioned many times in my articles, Hamas views the occupation as Israel’s establishment in 1948. Only Israel’s demise is acceptable in the Hamas Covenant (Revised Version 2017). This revised version has not negated  Israel’s demise as many people believe.

Abbas can never sign any agreement with Israel as he knows that his life will be endangered and he will be viewed as a traitor by Hamas. Apart from that, the PA and Hamas are at loggerheads. The Palestinian territories are divided into two entities, Gaza 1. and the West Bank. The former is ruled by Hamas 2. and the latter by the Palestinian Authority (PA) 3. Both Hamas and the PA are “occupying” their people. Both rulers have not had general elections for over 10 years. Both parties are not democratic and rule their people with an iron fist.

Opposition to the PA and Hamas is not tolerated or permitted in the territories where they rule. The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip continue to restrict freedom of expression by arresting and detaining critics and political opponents 4.

There is no press freedom, transparency, and accountability in the occupied territories. Both Hamas and the PA are corrupt and their leaders are extremely wealthy. Funds earmarked for rehabilitation of Palestinian needs in Gaza have landed in the pockets of the corrupt Palestinian leaders, who have foreign bank accounts and live the good life. Their lifestyles are reminiscent of the deceased Communist dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, who was assassinated by the Romanian opposition in 1989.

Bearing all this in mind, apart from complaints and international PA antics of Palestinian suffering, the occupation is a source of enrichment for the Palestinian leadership. If the occupation ends and the international community starts monitoring for transparency in funding the fledgling Palestinian State-To-Be, if by some miracle does occur, the Palestinian leaders will not be able to enrich themselves at their peoples' expense as is the case at present.

The Hamas and PA leadership are responsible for hate propaganda against Israel and the Jewish People in their education systems, poisoning the minds of young, impressionable schoolchildren. This is their strength as a new generation of Palestinians will grow up with their minds full of hate for Israel and Jews generally. These corrupt and wealthy leaders of the Palestinians will continue to cry crocodile tears over Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation while at the same time pocketing money donated to Palestinian rehabilitation projects by the EU, USA and other world bodies. Transparency, checks, and balances are not in the lexicon of the two divisive groups ruling the Palestinians today. Is this not also “occupation” by Hamas and the PA?

Its members were briefed by senior intelligence officers about the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which will be greatly exacerbated by the Palestinian Authority's decision to stop paying Israel for the power it sells to Gaza. The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip may be at war with each other, but the two rival parties seem to be in agreement over one issue: silencing and intimidating their critics 5.

Both sides to the conflict are demonizing each other. The stabbing attacks against Israel's Security Forces continues. This clip will give some idea as to the source of motivation of Palestinian terror.

  1.  (n.d.). Does Israel actually occupy the Gaza Strip? - The Washington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2017, from
  2.  (n.d.). Debunking Israel's 11 Main Myths About Gaza, Hamas and War Crimes. Retrieved June 16, 2017, from
  3. (n.d.). President of the Palestinian National Authority - Wikipedia. Retrieved June 16, 2017, from
  4. Accessed 16 Jun. 2017.
  5. Accessed 16 Jun. 2017.