Israel Briefs 3-6-12

Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.

No decision yet to attack Iran, Netanyahu tells Obama

For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the greatest achievement of his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday in the White House is the latter’s agreement that Israel has the right to take its defense into its own hands.

The U.S. learned from Netanyahu that Israel still has not made a decision to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel believes that any attempt to create the impression that Israel has already made the decision to act against Iran serves to make taking such a decision in the future much harder. On Monday night, Channel 2 news in Israel quoted an unnamed American intelligence official as saying that U.S. intelligence services believe that, in principle, Israel has already made the decision to bomb Iran.

A White House official told the New York Times on Monday that the meeting was “friendly, straightforward, and serious,” but it did not resolve basic differences between the two leaders over how to deal with the Iranian threat.

Speaking to Obama on Monday, Netanyahu did not he hear, “We’ll attack Iran instead of you.” Netanyahu told Obama that the pressure is mounting and time is running out to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He told the president that sanctions will not work and that the Iranians only understand the language of military might.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Obama to award Shimon Peres the Medal of Freedom

Click photo to download. Caption: Shimon Peres, center, acknowledges President Obama's announcement at Sunday's AIPAC conference that he will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Credit: White House.WASHINGTON, DC—President Barack Obama used the beginning of his Sunday address at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to announce that he will honor Israeli President Shimon Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that the U.S. can award to a civilian.

“The United States and Israel share interests, but we always share those human values that Shimon spoke about,” Obama said. 

Peres, who was visibly stunned after Obama made the announcement, had said before the American president’s speech that Israel’s four “core values” are as follows: a moral core, a pursuit of peace and security, a quest for knowledge, and an alliance with the U.S.

“The pursuit of peace, for us, is not a passing opportunity,” Peres said. “It is a moral imperative.”

But while peace is always Israel’s “first option,” the country “will prevail” if it is forced to fight, Peres said. He added that Obama has “made it clear” that the U.S. won’t allow Iran to become a nuclear power.

“There is no space between [Israel and the U.S.], our message is clear,” Peres said. “Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.”

—JointMedia News Service

Palestinian TV says fighting Israel is a religious command, glorifies terror

Palestinian Authority TV recently broadcast a song presenting the Palestinians’ fight against Israel as a mission for Allah and for Islam, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

The song paints Israel as a nation that “tortured” Palestinians and took Palestinian land in the name of religion.

Similarly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently said that, “Jerusalem and its environs are a trust that Allah entrusted to us. Saving it [Jerusalem] from the settlement monster and the danger of Judaization and [land-] confiscation, is a personal [Islamic] commandment [Arabic: fard ayn] incumbent on all of us.”

In another recent broadcast, PA TV aired video tributes to 16 terrorists from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), referring to them as “martyrs” and “heroes of the special operations in northern Palestine.”

—JointMedia News Service 

Google Israel launches new program to incubate start-ups

Israel has long been known as a magnet for high-tech innovation, and a new program by Google Israel, which will foster and support start-ups, should further boost the nation’s profile, the Foreign Ministry announced Monday.

The plan was announced by Yossi Matias, director of Google Israel’s R&D center. The new program, in which Google will serve as a mentor for 20 or so start-ups, goes hand-in-hand with Google Israel’s mission, Matias says. “From the beginning, the goal was to build a research and development center in Israel, and to innovate global products and technology,” he said.

It has not yet been announced if the support will involve funding, but Google did say that the program’s focus will be exposing the start-ups to its trademark culture of innovation and creativity.

According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, “Companies chosen for the project will receive meeting rooms and workspace; Internet access; the opportunity to get information, tools and advice from Google employees; support and advice from other parties (entrepreneurs, technology experts, lawyers, marketing and financial advisers, for instance); and assistance in organizing events for potential investors.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Netanyahu asks Obama for Pollard’s release

Click photo to download. Caption: Jonathan Pollard. Credit: PD.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday took a reprieve from his Iran-heavy discussions during his trip to Washington this week to raise another key issue with U.S. President Barack Obama: the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

During his highly-anticipated meeting with Obama early Monday in Washington, whose focus was nearly entirely devoted to the issue of Iran and the bomb, Netanyahu took time to reiterate Israel’s demand that Pollard, who has been imprisoned in the U.S. for 26 years on charges of spying for Israel, be released, telling the U.S. president, “It is important that [Pollard] comes home.”

However, no progress was made during the meeting. The organization working on behalf of Pollard’s release expressed regret at Washington’s refusal to free the Israeli agent despite similar calls for his release made by President Shimon Peres during his own meeting with Obama this week.

Following his meeting with the U.S. president, Peres on Monday sent a message to Pollard’s wife, Esther, in which he said, “I appealed to Obama about [the release] of your husband. I hope he will be released.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

EU Rabbis protest vandalism against Christian sites in Israel

The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) has expressed concern regarding recent attacks on Christian sites in Israel. Last week, unknown individuals spray-painted racist anti-Christian slogans in the Jerusalem Baptist Church and the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Cross.

Such vandalism is “something that is un-Jewish and pains us all,” said Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, CER’s president. “These actions contradict both the spirit and the letter of the Torah,” he added. 

CER federates Jewish religious leaders in more than 40 European states and is a recognized international NGO in the European Union. “Throughout the history of the State of Israel, the Jewish State has protected the religious rights of those of all faiths. We must ensure that citizens of all faiths as well as those visiting the country are treated with respect for their religious traditions,” Goldschmidt said.

—JointMedia News Service

Poll: Large majority of Israelis support ultra-Orthodox enlistment

A new poll conducted by the Smith Institute on behalf of Hiddush - Freedom of Religion for Israel reveals that 81 percent of Likud voters favor withholding public funding from yeshiva students who do not enlist in the IDF or civil service when they turn 18, as their secular peers are obligated to do by law.

Among Israeli Jews from all political parties, support for denial of funds is still high—68 percent of the public says those who do not serve should not be supported by the state, and 69 percent are in favor of the High Court of Justice’s decision to invalidate the Tal Law, which was drafted to encourage young ultra-Orthodox men to voluntarily enlist in the Israel Defense Forces but in reality allowed tens of thousands to legally dodge military service.

The poll was conducted during the last week of February, based on a representative sample of 500 adult Jews in Israel.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Palestinians respond to Israeli medical aid with anger

A visit by Israeli physicians to the Palestine Medical Compound in Ramallah last week sparked outrage from Palestinians who objected to “normalization” of the PA’s relationship with Israel. Protests erupted despite the fact that Palestinian patients are regularly transported for treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Palestinian Authority Health Minister Fathi Abu Mughli and one of the medical center’s directors, Ahmed Bitawi, brought the Israeli medical staffers to the compound. Workers at the compound released a statement that they “strongly condemn the visit, which is a form of normalization [with Israel]—something that we are opposed to,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Palestinians also protested on social networks, and some even accused the physicians of being undercover IDF soldiers.

—JointMedia News Service

Zionist women’s activist, former ‘Miss Israel’ dies at 81

Michal Modai, the fourth president of the Women’s International Zionist Organization and the widow of former Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai, passed away on March 2. She was 81.

Modai’s career with WIZO was marked by a steady climb up through the ranks and a trend of social change and outreach at each new rung. After being crowned Miss Israel in 1951, she began volunteering with WIZO in 1968 in Herziliya Pituach, and soon afterward became branch chairwoman. She was particularly stirred by social problems she encountered among the some of Israel’s poorest residents, and recruited WIZO volunteers to concentrate their efforts on low-income communities. In 1974, she was elected WIZO deputy chairwoman, and in 1979 she became chairwoman.

One of her most passionate causes was stemming the tide of domestic violence. In 1983, she established the first WIZO shelter for battered women.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on March 5, 2012 and filed under Briefs, Israel.