Israel Briefs 1-3-12

Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.

Hamas won’t stop until they get all of Israel, officials say

Click photo to download. Caption: Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh speaks about the goal of eliminating Israel. Credit: Palestinian Media Watch.Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh admitted recently that while Hamas is working for the temporary “objective of liberation of Gaza, the West Bank, or Jerusalem,” the organization’s ultimate, long-term “strategic” plan is to eliminate all of Israel, the Palestinian Media Watch reported. 

“The armed resistance and the armed struggle are the path and the strategic choice for liberating the Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, and for the expulsion of the invaders and usurpers [Israel]... We won’t relinquish one inch of the land of Palestine,” Haniyeh said at a ceremony commemorating the 24th anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

He also added that Hamas will “lead Intifada after Intifada until we liberate Palestine—all of Palestine, Allah willing. Allah Akbar and praise Allah.”

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas later contradicted Haniyeh’s statements by agreeing that a compromise based on the 1967 borders will be necessary and that no violence will take place. However, the PLO has previously admitted that the real goal is to first reach an agreement based on the 1967 borders, and then to continue to fight for all of Israel.

“You can’t say it to the world. You can say it to yourself,” Senior Fatah official Abbas Zaki recently said.

—JointMedia News Service

Yaffa Yarkoni, Israel’s ‘war singer,’ dies at 86

Israel’s “war singer" Yaffa Yarkoni passed away on Sunday, one week after her 86th birthday. Yarkoni’s songs served as a national soundtrack since the founding of the Jewish state.

Yarkoni died at the Reuth Medical Center in Tel Aviv after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. In 1998, she received the prestigious Israel Prize for Hebrew song, for, among other things, her courage in singing to soldiers on the front lines.

In the 1940s, Yarkoni enlisted in the Haganah [the pre-1948 Palestinian Jewish defense force that later evolved into the IDF] serving as a radio operator in the Givati Brigade. During lulls in the fighting she would sing to the soldiers over the radio connection.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said, “While the IDF captured enemy positions, she captured the hearts of soldiers. She was the nightingale of the IDF and of the entire nation.”

—Israel Hayom/Exlclusive to JointMedia News Service

Abbas appoints terrorist released in Shalit deal as adviser

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed a convicted terrorist, previously jailed in Israel and released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap in October, as the newest adviser in his office in Ramallah, Israel Radio reported Monday.

Abbas appointed Gen. Mahmoud Damara, one of the leaders of Fatah’s Force 17 special operations terror unit, which was later absorbed into the PA’s national security apparatus and is known to have been involved in terror.

Damara was charged with initiating shooting attacks and bombings against Israelis through Force 17. He himself even fired RPG missiles at Israel Defense Forces tanks during the second Intifada.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Hamas President denies Jerusalem’s Jewish history

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called for the stop to “Judaization” of Jerusalem and attacks on Muslims in the city, the Jerusalem Post reported. Haniyeh is touring other Arab countries for the first time since 2007.

Speaking to journalists, Haniyeh voiced anger at Israel for the “demolition of houses, villages and ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem. He also criticized a proposed bill in the Knesset that could ban the use of loud speakers to call Muslims for prayer. He argued that the Israeli government is conducting a campaign against “Muslim symbols.”

Commentary Magazine Editor Jonathan Tobin wrote a column in response, stating, “Haniyeh, who was in Cairo yesterday as part of his triumphant journey through the Middle East, made it clear that Hamas’ priority remains heating up the conflict with the Jewish state.” Tobin wrote that this is another Hamas strategy for inciting violence.

“This ‘anti-Judaization’ campaign is part and parcel of a concerted effort by both Hamas and its ‘moderate’ Fatah allies to deny Jewish history and the authenticity of the millennia-old claim of the Jewish people to their capital...Haniyeh claims he is trying to build support for embattled Muslims in the city but his listeners must know that the last 41 years of Israeli sovereignty over the city is the only time in its history when there has been full religious freedom there. His goal is to end that era and replace it with an Islamist reign of terror,” Tobin wrote.

—JointMedia News Service

Arab teachers join Jewish classrooms

Some Israeli schools offering Arabic lessons are trying a new strategy by hiring Arabs as teachers, Fox News reported. Beyond the benefit of having native speakers teach the language, educators hope to mitigate the lack of regular interaction between Jewish and Arab citizens in the country.

The Israeli educational system traditionally offers separate schools for Jewish and Arab students where the curriculum is different, and the teachers fall into the same ethnic and religious category as the students.

Shlomit Vizel, principal of the Tidhar elementary school in Yokneam, in the Galilee region, wants to change this. “It is very important to get past the stigmas. We have a chance to get closer,” she said. In addition to bringing in Arab teachers, several new education initiatives now begin to teach Arabic to students as early as the 5th grade and emphasize colloquial Arabic so that students can converse easily.

Maram Faour, 29, said she feels like a “regular teacher” at the school.

—JointMedia News Service

Palestinians angered by plan for tourist center in ‘City of David’

Click photo to download. Caption: The City of David. Credit: PD.Palestinian officials expressed anger at Israeli plans to build a tourist center at an archaeological dig at an important Jewish archeological site, the Huffington Post reported.

The Elad Foundation plans to build a visitors’ center and parking garage in the “City of David,” an area where many items from biblical Jerusalem are regularly discovered. Archaeological digging that proves the Jewish connection to Jerusalem often causes Palestinian objections, many of them violent.

Udi Ragones, a spokesman for the Elad Foundation, said that “the new center will serve tourists and visitors, Jews, Arabs, and anyone else coming to the City of David and the Western Wall.”

—JointMedia News Service

Report: Studying Olim could lose tuition scholarships

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) could end scholarship funding for thousands of immigrants studying in Israel and force them to drop out, Haaretz reported. JAFI denied the report.

JAFI has been giving full scholarships to students in Israel since 1968. But reorganization of priorities within the Jewish Agency could end the funding, as the agency is considering refocusing efforts on strengthening Jewish identity among people abroad. The decision would also be a result of “serious budget limitations,” Haaretz quoted a JAFI official as saying.

However, JAFI issued the following statement regarding the Haaretz story: “We are shocked at the falsehoods published in this story. We were not given sufficient opportunity to respond before the article went to print. Our key message: No student will be hurt, no funds will be lost to the Student Authority. The Jewish Agency is indeed pulling out of funding the Absorption Ministry’s Student Authority, because it is the right and smart thing to do. But we have secured in recent weeks ironclad guarantees from several government sources that government agencies will step in and make up the difference. It is altogether appropriate that the government, rather than donors, take responsibility for long-term absorption and higher education of olim. The government agrees with us on this point. We promise now, as we promised in every meeting with the government: We will not pull out until the government steps in. Even after making this promise, the government has agreed to step in, because it recognizes its responsibility for the long-term success of olim in Israel. We do not want to speculate on the motivations behind the publication of such an egregious misrepresentation of the facts.” 

Around 7,000 students who received aid in recent years could be impacted by the decision, according to Haaretz, including 2,300 immigrants from Asia and Africa, 2,200 from Ethiopia and 2,000 from Eastern Europe in the past year alone.

Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said she’s looking into other possibilities of help to the affected students, if the Jewish Agency goes forward with the plan.

—JointMedia News Service

Israel to subsidize Holocaust education trips to Poland

Click photo to download. Caption: Barbed wire near the entrance of Auschwitz I. Credit: Pimke.The Knesset State Control Committee has decided that Holocaust education trips to Poland for Israeli high-school students should be further subsidized in an effort to help more students from financially strapped backgrounds participate in the trip. The committee decided that, starting this year, the Education Ministry, in cooperation the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, would allocate NIS 50 million ($13 million) toward the initiative.

“The move is an unprecedented step in the effort to expand the accessibility of the trips to students from lower economic backgrounds,” Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said. He said that with financial subsides provided by the government, the number of future participants could be doubled and reach 40,000 students.

The committee decided to tackle the issue regarding the trips in light of reports issued by the State Comptroller. The committee’s chairman, MK Roni Bar-On (Kadima) said: “The Education Ministry took to this issue in a serious, swift, and efficient manner. All the deficiencies identified by the State Comptroller’s report were addressed. The recruiting efforts made by the education ministry to better support student participation on the Poland trips should be praised.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on January 3, 2012 and filed under Briefs, Israel.