Roberto Abraham Scaruffi: August 2009

Monday, 31 August 2009 - News from Voice of America

Yukio Hatoyama stands after a press conference in front of a white board full of red rosettes attached on victorious candidates' names, in Tokyo, early Monday, 31 Aug 2009 Japanese PM Quits Party After Sweeping Rejection at Polls Audio Clip Available
Democratic Party of Japan surged to a 308-seat majority, all but confirming party leader Yukio Hatoyama as the country's next leader

ISAF commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal (R), salutes ISAF soldiers during changing of command ceremony in Kabul on 10 Jul 2009 US, NATO Military Commander Offers Review on Afghanistan
General Stanley McChrystal says Afghan situation serious, but success is achievable and strategic changes must be made

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier stands next to a burning truck, loaded with supply for NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan, Monday, 31 Aug. 2009 Pakistan Blast Sets NATO Fuel Convoy Ablaze
Police suspect a bomb planted under a fuel tanker exploded late Sunday at the Chaman crossing in Baluchistan province

Syrian Pres. Bashar Assad speaks at a joint news conference with his Cypriot counterpart (not seen) in Damascus, 31 Aug 2009 Syria Dismisses Iraqi Charges it Shelters Bombers
Syria's Bashar al-Assad calls charges 'immoral', says Damascus is waiting for Baghdad to back charges with documented evidence

Russian PM Vladimir Putin (file photo) Putin Condemns 1939 Soviet Treaty with Nazi Germany
Russia's PM calls Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that secretly divided Europe and set the stage for WWII immoral

Exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama speaks to journalists during a visit to the typhoon hit village of Hsiaolin, in Kaohsiung county, southern Taiwan, 31 Aug 2009 Dalai Lama Visits Taiwan Typhoon Victims Audio Clip Available
Tibetan religious leader also says Taiwan should build closer relations with China, while enjoying its democracy and prosperity

Rose Francine Rogombe (File) Rival Claims of Electoral Victory in Gabon Audio Clip Available
Interim President Rose Francine Rogombe says there will be only one winner and people should refuse to be manipulated by losing candidates into demonstrating against the winner

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, attends a meeting at Camp Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp in Conakry. Guinea (File) Critics of Guinea's Military Leader Allege Intimidation, Threats
Human Rights Watch is concerned about intimidation, freedom of speech violations in response to criticism of Dadis Camara

Flood waters inundate a neighborhood on the outskirts of Dakar after heavy rains, 31 Aug 2009 Senegal Activates Emergency Plan After Flooding Audio Clip Available
5 days of heavy rain cause widespread flooding in Dakar; weather forecasts expect more flooding as rainy season continues

Kokang refugees walk with their belongings after returning to the China-Burma border town of Yanlonkyaing, Burma, 29 Aug 2009 Burma Refugees in China Head Home as Fighting Dies Down Audio Clip Available
Hundreds of refugees left China's Yunnan province Monday for home in Kokang, the mainly ethnic Chinese region of Burma's northeastern Shan state

RFE/RL Headlines
RFE/RL Headlines
8/31/2009 6:35:53 PM
A daily digest of the English-language news and analysis written by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


Fatal Shootings Rock Uzbek Capital, Despite Tight Security Fatal Shootings Rock Uzbek Capital, Despite Tight Security
A deadly shoot-out between police officers and unidentified armed men in the Uzbek capital has left at least two people dead and several police officers wounded. This and unconfirmed reports of other shootings come after Uzbekistan closed its borders and clamped down on security ahead of national Independence Day celebrations. More
Parliament Begins Debate On Ahmadinejad's Nominees Parliament Begins Debate On Ahmadinejad's Nominees
Iran's parliament has begun a three-day session to debate and vote on President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's proposed new cabinet. Ahmadinejad, in presenting his nominations, said the new government was committed to preserving justice and national dignity, and would be decisive in confronting any pressure from the West. More
From Our Bureaus

Analysis Of Ukraine Gongadze Tapes 'Almost Complete' Analysis Of Ukraine Gongadze Tapes 'Almost Complete'
Ukrainian authorities say they are close to completing their analysis of audio tapes that allegedly implicate a former president in the murder of a prominent independent journalist, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports. More
Kyrgyzstan Marks Independence Anniversary Kyrgyzstan Marks Independence Anniversary
Kyrgyzstan has been marking the 18th anniversary of its independence with official ceremonies but also criticism from a prominent intellectual, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported. More
Armenian Journalist Rejects 'Mistaken Identity’ Explanation Armenian Journalist Rejects 'Mistaken Identity’ Explanation
A prominent television journalist who was beaten up by unknown assailants has dismissed the police version that the attack was a case of mistaken identity, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reported. More
Tajikistan Opens 'Liberty' Tunnel Partly Financed By China Tajikistan Opens 'Liberty' Tunnel Partly Financed By China
Tajikistan has officially opened a tunnel on a road south of Dushanbe that was completed with financial help from China, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported. More

Is Mourinho Full Of It? Is Mourinho Full Of It?
Football coach Jose Mourinho has sparked controversy after he blamed a Muslim football player's poor performance on his fasting during Ramadan. More
Deadly Head Scarves Deadly Head Scarves
Authorities in Uzbekistan have banned the wearing of hijabs, or Islamic head coverings, as a security measure until Thursday. More
Democracy For 1.20 Euros Democracy For 1.20 Euros
Yesterday I was sitting with some French friends in a pleasant Paris café. My friends were all cursing the government. To hear them tell it, President Nicolas Sarkozy does nothing but flex his muscles for young women passing by. And the prime minister is an idiot. And parliament hasn’t done anything sensible in ages and all of them are just drains on the country’s budget. More
Iraq's Paralympic Success Iraq's Paralympic Success
Radio Free Iraq has an interesting story on their website about Iraq's paralympic team, which took home a surprising 20 medals (including five gold, five silver, and 10 bronze) at the 2009 Czech Open Athletic Championships, which were held in Olomouc, Czech Republic, from August 21-23. More
Caucasus Report

Armenian Opposition Refuses To Cooperate With Unrest Probe Armenian Opposition Refuses To Cooperate With Unrest Probe
The Armenian National Congress (HAK), one of Armenia's most influential opposition groupings, has refused to cooperate with the ad hoc parliament commission conducting a probe into last year's postelection unrest in clarifying HAK allegations that "illegal armed groups" were used to suppress street demonstrations in Yerevan on March 1-2, 2008. More
Is New Georgian Defense Minister A Psychopath? Is New Georgian Defense Minister A Psychopath?
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has incurred harsh criticism by naming as his new defense minister Bacho Akhalaya, who during his tenure as head of the Justice Ministry department responsible for overseeing prisons was accused of triggering two separate prison disturbances by arbitrarily maltreating prisoners. More

Islam Becomes Mandatory Study in Secular Tajik Schools Islam Becomes Mandatory Study in Secular Tajik Schools
With schools set to open on September 1, Tajikistan becomes the first country in Central Asia to break with the tradition of secular education and add Islam to its curriculum. Some see it as part of an effort by the government to take an active role in overseeing how the nation's young are learning their religion. More
Disputed History Disputed History
Poland will mark the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II with a gathering that will include Russian and German leaders. Russia's Vladimir Putin is due to make a speech aimed at boosting Russian-Polish ties -- strained by differing historical accounts about the war. More
Hard-Line Prosecutor Transferred, But Little Changes Hard-Line Prosecutor Transferred, But Little Changes
Iran's judiciary chief has named hard-line Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi deputy prosecutor-general, though it's not clear whether his powers will increase in his new post. Mortazavi, who has played a key role in the ongoing mass trail of reformists, has been behind the closures of many pro-reform publications as well as the arrests of activists and intellectuals. More
Interview: Romania's Last King Recalls War's Start Interview: Romania's Last King Recalls War's Start
RFE/RL interviews the abdicated king of Romania, King Michael, about his involvement in World War II, the future of Romania, and the problem with Moldova. More
Kurd-Arab Power Struggle Leads To Calls For Delay Kurd-Arab Power Struggle Leads To Calls For Delay
Iraqi officials say the country's first national census since 1987 could be postponed indefinitely because of fears it may stoke ethnic and political tensions in the north. Political rifts between Kurds and Arabs are at play, as is control of key oil fields. More
Prosecutor In 1994 Argentina Bombing Implicates Iran Prosecutor In 1994 Argentina Bombing Implicates Iran
RFE/RL's Radio Farda correspondent Mohammad Reza Kazemi interviewed Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor handling the case of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina. The prosecution asserts that the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded 300, can be traced to Hizbullah and Iran. Ahmed Vahidi, recently named to be Iranian defense minister, is alleged to have been involved in planning the attack. More

Turkey’s Energy Hub: Ignore At Your Peril Turkey’s Energy Hub: Ignore At Your Peril
It behooves Western decision makers to fully appreciate Turkey's energy big picture or risk upcoming surprises such as Armenian electricity exports to Turkey and a Russia-dominated Turkish nuclear sector. More
Afghan Election Highlights School System Failures Afghan Election Highlights School System Failures
Attacks on polling stations housed in schools during the recent Afghan elections highlight the need for de-politicizing the education system. More
Off Mic

Poetry from Paktia to Prague Poetry from Paktia to Prague

HomeVideoMP3 RadioNewsNews BriefsIsrael PicsOpinionJudaism
Monday, Aug 31 '09, Elul 11, 5769
Today`s Email Stories:
Hamas Nixes UN Holocaust Ed Plan
Rabbis May Ban Sale to Arabs
Mortar Attack, Sirens in Sderot
Protests Follow Murder
Rabbi Stern wants to Unify J'lem
Saar: No Immigrants? No Funding
More Website News:
State: Olmert to Stand Trial
MKs Wash Hands of Olmert Trial
Levayev: US Was Bad Investment
‘Madonna Forbidden in Israel’
Building Freeze Is Only Partial
Video: Praise for Saar Despite Problems
MP3 Radio Website News Briefs:
Talk: Israeli Heroes Get Bad Press
Swedish Freedom of Expression
Music: Chizuk for Am Yisrael
New Hits

1. Released for Publication: Israeli-Arab Plotted to Kill IDF Chief
by David Lev
Arab Plotted to Murder IDF Chief

An Israeli-Arab from Tira, Rawi Sultani, was indicted Monday morning for conspiring to kill senior Israeli officials, among them IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

Sultani, 23, was arrested by Israel Security Service investigators and the international crimes unit of the Israel Police, and he admitted under questioning that he had planned to kill the Chief of Staff after he began working as an agent of Hizbullah. Sultani was indicted on a number of charges, including contact with foreign agents, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting enemies of the state.

According to the indictment, Sultani attended a "summer camp" in Morocco, sponsored by the Israeli-Arab political party Balad. At the camp, Sultani was befriended by a senior Hizbullah terrorist, Salaman Harab, who successfully recruited him to become a member of the terror group.

Sultani told Harab that he had information on how Hizbullah would be able to "get" one of Israel's top defense figures – Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who worked out at the same gym in Kfar Sava that he did. Ashkenazi worked out according to a set schedule, and Sultani said he knew when the Chief of Staff would be at his gym, making it easy to set up an attack against him, he told Harab.

After returning home to Tira, Sultani was summoned in December 2008 to a meeting in Poland, where he met with Sami, Salama Harab's brother and also a top Hizbullah terrorist. Sami Harab asked Sultani for information he had gathered on IDF troops movements and bases, and then asked him for details on Ashkenazi's gym schedule.

He also requested information on the Chief of Staff's gym membership, hours, guest attendance and security officials who might be at the gym with Ashkenazi – information that Sultani willingly handed over, the indictment says. Sultani was given a computer encryption program that would allow him to communicate with his Hizbullah handlers.

Upon his return to Israel from the Poland trip, Sultani kept in touch with both Harab brothers and other Hizbullah terrorists – by e-mail, Facebook and by phone. Israeli security officials got wind of the plot and were able to trace it to Sultani and his Hizbullah friends. Sultani was under investigation for months.

As a result of the information gathered in the Sultani case, police have been questioning other Israeli-Arab participants in the Balad Party camp in order to determine whether they also were recruited by Hizbullah for terror attacks. According to Israeli security officials, Hizbullah has been tirelessly attempting to recruit Israeli-Arabs in order to undertake attacks to avenge the death in Syria of Hizbullah mastermind terrorist Imad Mughniyeh. Israel has denied involvement in that attack.

MK Ben-Ari: Declare Balad Illegal

In a letter to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz Monday, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) demanded that he declare the Balad party illegal. "Those who kept quiet during the spy activities of Bishara, and refused to declare Balad illegal then, are now witness to the development of a movement that has gone completely out of control and works from within the Knesset to destroy Israel," the letter stated.

Sultani is being defended by his father, Fuad Sultani, who said that his son is either making the story up or is being framed. "The indictment has been blown up out of proportion for political purposes. My son was just bragging that he knows the Chief of Staff, but of course he does not know him. The defense will be examining this indictment closely," he said.

Security officials said that it was no accident that Sultani was recruited by Hizbullah at a Balad-sponsored camp: Former Balad chairman ex-MK Azmi Bishara fled the country after the Second Lebanon War in light of allegations that he sold information to Hizbullah about IDF troop movements and the location of sensitive installations during the war. The elder Sultani also represented Bishara during several legal proceedings surrounding the former MK's resignation from the Knesset.

2. Hamas Refuses UN Plan to Teach Holocaust
by Hillel Fendel
Hamas Nixes UN Holocaust Ed Plan

UNRWA's mandate is one that has perpetuated the refugee situation for more than 60 years (!) and continues to keep the Palestinian refugees in a situation of humanitarian catastrophe.

 Hamas has condemned a United Nations decision to teach refugee children in Gaza about the Holocaust, saying it is a “lie invented by the Zionists” and would reinforce Israeli control over the Holy Land.

Reuters broke the story on Monday, saying the Hamas terrorist movement, which currently controls the Gaza Strip, demands that UNRWA – the UN organization that controls many aspects of the lives of Arab refugees and their millions of descendants - withdraw plans for a new history book in UN schools in Gaza.

In an open letter to John Ging, who heads the Gaza chapter of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), Hamas wrote that it had learned that UNRWA was about to start using a text for 13-year-olds that included a chapter on the Holocaust. “We refuse to let our children study a lie invented by the Zionists,” the letter stated.

Hamas: "So-Called Holocaust"

Hamas's official spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, did not say the Holocaust was a “lie,” but told Reuters that Hamas opposes “forcing the issue of the so-called Holocaust onto the syllabus, because it aims to reinforce acceptance of the occupation of Palestinian land."

Some Israelis questioned what UNRWA was doing dabbling in education altogether. “Why isn’t UNRWA rehabilitating and finding permanent housing for the refugees, instead of perpetuating their misery for decade after decade?” they want to know.

“The UNRWA Holocaust dispute is irrelevant,” says Yoav Sorek, director of The Israeli Initiative. "UNRWA is supposed to be a relief agency. In fact, though, it became a political being, a state within a state. Currently, about 70% of its more than $500 million budget goes for education, while only 30% goes to social and medical services. While education itself is certainly important, this money could really be used to help rehabilitate the refugees and help them start new productive lives. Even if they receive education, their chances of getting jobs in those fields in the West Bank and Gaza are very slim.”

“These people will still be under the control of leaders who do not care about their wellbeing,” Sorek lamented, “leaders whose only hope of staying in power is by keeping those refugees in a pathetic situation where they can be used as political pawns in a continuing battle against Israel. In Lebanon, for instance, where the refugees live in the worst conditions of all refugee camps, those who have an education are prevented from entering about 20 different professions."

The Israel Initiative, a peace plan proposed and promoted by former Tourism Minister Benny Elon, emphasizes the need for rehabilitation of the Arab refugees. “We demand that the mandate for the refugees be turned over to UNHCR (United Nation High Commission for Refugees), which has the ability to rehabilitate the refugees and give them hope for the future,” the backers of the plan declare.

UNRWA’s website states it is a “relief and human development agency, providing education, healthcare, social services and emergency aid to over 4.6 million refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The Israel Initiative states, “UNRWA's mandate is one that has perpetuated the refugee situation for more than 60 years (!) and continues to keep the Palestinian refugees in a situation of humanitarian catastrophe. Billions of dollars given to the agency throughout the years by Western governments and organizations have not led yet to the rehabilitation of even one family.”

Earlier this year, Jewish Agency director Natan Sharansky wrote in the Wall Street Journal that after the Disengagement of 2005, he asked the chief of staff of Palestinian Authority chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, “Now that we have uprooted thousands of Jews and empowered Gazans to be masters of their own fate, can we hope that within a year's time there will be fewer refugees in the camps?” Sharansky wrote that the man answered, "Absolutely not. The refugees will be relocated only in the context of the final status [agreemen. How can we move them if we do not know where they will live? Maybe they will live in Israel."

Sharansky concluded, “Even the Palestinian Authority, the most moderate among Palestinian political groups, would not consider easing their own people's plight in the wake of Israel's compromise. This is because the suffering of the refugees is essential to their broader political struggle. How does the West respond to the obvious exploitation of Palestinian refugees? Soon after my meeting with Mr. Abbas's chief of staff, I met with the ambassador of one of the West's most enlightened countries. I asked: Why are the Palestinians not willing to help their own refugees? ‘I can understand them,’ he answered. ‘After all, they don't want the refugee problem to be taken off the agenda.’"

3. Rabbis Considering Ban on Selling Houses to Arabs
by Gil Ronen
Rabbis May Ban Sale to Arabs

Hareidi and national-religious rabbis will meet Monday in Jerusalem to discuss ways of dealing with the Arab influx into Jewish neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem, as well as the purchasing of agricultural land in the Galilee by wealthy foreign Arabs.

The rabbis are expected to call for an end to the phenomenon of sale of land and houses by Jews to Arabs. The organizer, Aryeh King, who heads the Israel Lands Fund, told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service that he is hoping to see the rabbis issue a pronouncement that sale of land and houses to Arabs is forbidden.

The need for the conference arose, King said, after he began receiving numerous complaints from residents of northern Jerusalem neighborhoods who told of religious Jews who sold their homes to Arabs. King hopes that the rabbinical statement which will be issued Monday will be signed by prominent rabbis like Shmuel Eliyahu of Tzfat, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef and Rabbi Menachem Porush, and that these will be joined by the rabbis of French Hill and Pisgat Ze'ev. Such a statement will have a meaningful impact on the religious public.

Beside the rabbis, farmers from Kfar Tavor and the Jezreel Valley in the Galilee are expected to attend.

Olmert's 'stupidity'

According to King, the economic downturn is causing many Jews in the Galilee as well as in the “socially weaker” parts of Jerusalem to sell their homes to Arabs. In the Galilee, he said, the buyers are wealthy Arabs from foreign countries who purchase the land for political reasons. In Jerusalem, the buyers are Arabs with Israeli ID cards who found themselves on the eastern side of the security fence and who want to move to the western side of the fence in order to make their lives easier. “Olmert in his stupidity thought that the fence would protect us from demography but it only brought demography further inside,” King said.

While Arabs from the eastern side of Jerusalem move west, Arabs from the PA move in and buy the houses that they vacate, even though they are illegal migrants by law and have no right to do so. Lack of enforcement by Israel makes it possible.

'Let them build upwards'

King said that the solution to the problem should include improved enforcement by the authorities, besides the construction of educational facilities east of the fence for the local Arabs, so that they do not feel the need to move westward. In addition, he said, the Arabs in the eastern neighborhoods should be given the right to build multi-story buildings, which they themselves desire. In this way they will be able to purchase apartments in eastern Jerusalem at lower prices than those of the ground level houses.

King maintained that while the Arab influx into the western parts of Jerusalem has been going on for many years, it has become more marked recently. Jewish neighborhoods that refused to let in religious Jews on a massive scale in the past are now weak, he explained, and suffer most from the phenomenon.

4. Sirens Return to Sderot, 4 Shells Fired
by Maayana Miskin
Mortar Attack, Sirens in Sderot

Residents of Sderot heard the familiar “Color Red” rocket warning siren on Sunday night after weeks of relative quiet as Gaza terrorists attacked. Terrorists fired an estimated four mortar shells toward Israeli towns adjacent to northern Gaza.

No injuries were reported in the attacks.

Security officials in the Gaza belt area admitted that the attacks caused some confusion at first, as no rocket blasts were heardt while he rocket warning system identified several projectiles en route. After a short time, a first response team found recently fired mortar shells near the Gaza security barrier.

Gaza terrorists have stepped up their attacks over the past several days after months in which attacks were infrequent. On Saturday, terrorists fired a rocket at western Negev communities; on Saturday night, in response, the IAF demolished a tunnel in northern Gaza.

The increase in attacks from Gaza follows political and military instability within Gaza. Two weeks ago, dozens were killed in a clash between Hamas and a rival terrorist group in southern Gaza. On Saturday night, bombs were set off at a Hamas prison, causing no injuries.

5. Protests Follow Arab Murder of Jew
by Hillel Fendel
Protests Follow Murder

An Arab brutally murdered a Jew in Jerusalem on Sunday night, leading to violent protests by dozens of hareidi-religious Jews against the police plans to perform an autopsy on the body. A taxi driver was seen - and filmed - intentionally running down three protestors, sending them flying but miraculously injuring them only lightly.

The violence did not end there. Video footage supplied by the hareidi site "24 Hours" and screened on Channel 2 shows a stun grenade thrown at the hareidim from a police vehicle, and the hareidim responding with firecrackers of their own.

The story began on Sunday morning with an argument between an Arab and a Jewish man and which deteriorated Sunday night into violence: The Arab from a Palestinian Authority-controlled town brutally and repeatedly stabbed the Jew, causing his death. The attacker, 23, was caught afterwards in northern Jerusalem.

The murder occurred in a hostel in the Geulah quarter of Jerusalem. Magen David Adom medics who arrived found many stab wounds in the victim’s back, chest, stomach, neck and hands, and they dedicated a half-hour to futile resuscitation efforts.

When it was learned that the police intended to perform an autopsy on the body, which is prohibited by Jewish Law, dozens of hareidi men protested in anger, throwing stones at police and even setting a police car on fire. The hareidim were targeted by the taxi driver and police stun grenades, as well as by a reported additional attempt tp run them down.

The night before, an Arab driver was arrested for running over a hareidi protestor at a different demonstration, but the driver's action apparently was not intentional.

Though Jerusalem is not considered a violent city, several Arab attacks against Jews have been recorded in recent weeks. A month ago, two Arabs attacked a man in the Old City, wounding him lightly; the attackers were caught. Two months ago, a young Arab assaulted a woman in her 20’s in central Jerusalem, but after a long struggle, she was able to rebuff them, losing only her handbag. In addition, a young man on his way to the Western Wall on Friday afternoon was beaten by two Arabs near the American consulate in an Arab-populated area; the attackers have not yet been caught.

6. Zionist Candidate for J'lem Rabbi Wants to 'Unify'
by Gil Ronen
Rabbi Stern wants to Unify J'lem

Rabbi Aryeh Stern, the religious-Zionist candidate for the position of Jerusalem Chief Rabbi, said Sunday that if elected, he will strive to bring religious and non-observant populations closer together.

In his first at-length interview since a committee of rabbis selected him as the favored religious-Zionist candidate for the long-vacant position (he spoke with Israel National News the night he was chosen), Rabbi Stern told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service: "If I am chosen for the position, I will strive to bring the Rabbinate – which I believe should be a magnet – to the entire public, which will see it as a central spiritual leadership for everyone, and I mean everyone, but especially for that Zionist-religious public which lacks that leadership.”

"I have the power and the will to reach the secular public and to contribute to a process of bringing the hearts closer together – and also, of course, the ability to reach the hareidi public,” he added. “The message that I bear is from the Torah, from faith and halakhah (Jewish law). I am no politician. The Torah is common to all of us and I have experience with the hareidi public that knows me - 'I dwell among my people.'”

'I can make the ends come together'

“For several years there are have been no [Chie Rabbis in Jerusalem and the need is urgent and important, and there is a need to bring to the Jerusalem Rabbinate rabbis who will be open to the public, especially the religious-Zionist public,” Rabbi Stern said. “There is a very large populace that makes use of the Rabbinate's services and there has been a vacuum for many years. The matter was not dealt with properly and it must be fixed. For instance – with regard to Jerusalem's kashrut, the eruvs and the mikvehs in the city.”

"I have the ability to make the ends come together, by power of Torah,” the rabbi said. “The Rabbinate should be unifying, and it should be open to the public.”

7. No Immigrants? No Funding, Semi-Private Schools Told
by Maayana Miskin
Saar: No Immigrants? No Funding

Three semi-private religious Zionist schools in Petach Tikva that refused to take in dozens of young pupils from Ethiopian-Israeli families may lose their funding. Education Minister Gideon Saar said Sunday night that if the pupils were not enlisted, the schools would lose the 55-70 percent of their budget that comes from state funding.

Last week, Saar accused the schools of racism for refusing to enroll the students.

The principals of the schools in question released a statement accusing the Education Ministry of stirring up trouble. The city and the schools have already reached a compromise that will allow the students to begin classes next week with their peers, they said. “The Mayor managed, with great effort, to find a solution... It pains us to see outside interests pulling the entire Petach Tikva school system into complete chaos,” they announced.

Education Ministry officials said they were aware of the compromise reached by the city of Petach Tikva and the three schools – and were displeased by it. The deal was reached “behind the Education Ministry's back, and without its knowledge,” they said.

"The Education Ministry insists that the student immigrants from Ethiopia be absorbed in these three schools according to the original assignment,” the ministry stated. “In addition, the Education Ministry does not find it acceptable that students from Ethiopia be sorted according to interviews.”

The deal reached between the schools and the city of Petach Tikva would have spread the integration of Ethiopian-Israeli pupils among a larger number of religious schools. While the Education Ministry planned to split the roughly 100 new arrivals between five religious-Zionist schools, the new arrangement would have seen the students sent to hareidi-religious schools as well.

The plan, backed by Mayor Yitzchak Ohayon and Kadima MK - and former Director-General of the ministry - Ronit Tirosh, would have integrated the children into regular classes, but with personalized study programs.

The plan was also rejected by the Parent-Teachers Forum of the state religious schools, which argued that the state religious schools are still being asked to absorb immigrants beyond their ability to do so, and by Ethiopian-Israeli organizations, which said the new plan allows schools to hold racist policies.

Principals: We're not Racist

Principals of the three semi-private institutions that refused to enlist Ethiopian immigrants said last week that they were willing to accept students from Ethiopia, and had in fact already enrolled dozens of students from Ethiopian-Israeli families, but that they were concerned about their ability to properly absorb older pupils. The older pupils are often behind their Israeli-born peers academically, principals argued.

The principals offered to accept the pupils into special courses designed to help them prepare to integrate in regular classes, but that suggestion was rejected by Education Ministry officials, who said it suggested racial segregation.

Tirosh: Schools were Slandered

Ohayon and Tirosh issued a statement backing the three schools threatened with budget cuts, and accusing Israel's media of “slander” and “a coordinated assault” aimed at portraying the schools as racist. The schools in question have a history of taking in new students from Ethiopia, and were unfairly targeted, Tirosh said.