Friday, October 30, 2015

Helen Mirren and Dumbledore say don't boycott Israel

In a matter of days, both famous British women have come out strongly against the boycott movement.

Rowling cites Dumbledor in arguing against Israel boycott, see the article in The Times of Israel.

J. K.  Rowling defended her opposition to a cultural boycott of Israel with an analogy from her “Harry Potter” book series.

The author has faced backlash since joining 150 prominent British figures in signing an open letter, published in The Guardian last week, that endorsed cultural engagement with Israel rather than a cultural boycott, as a way to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

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Helen Mirren on Israel boycott: ‘It’s the craziest idea’ as told to Raoul Wootliff for The Times of Israel

British actress Helen Mirren spoke out against the cultural boycott of Israel on Wednesday upon being honored at the 29th Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles, California.
Talking to press before the ceremony, the Academy Award winner described the campaign to boycott Israeli through cutting off cultural ties as “a really bad idea.”

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

If you love Israel, don’t boycott it

By Elliott Abrams, Opinion, for the Washington Post

We love Israel. We love it more than we love other nations. That’s why we must do all we can to destroy its economy.

That is the message of the bizarre Oct. 25 Sunday Opinion column by professors Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl. Their argument is simple: Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza is now “permanent,” unless sufficient economic damage is done to force Israel to change course.

What’s missing here? Two things: history and Palestinians.

History reveals two recent attempts by Israeli leaders to negotiate a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians — by prime ministers Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2008 — which were rejected by Palestine Liberation Organization leaders Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. Of this, Levitsky and Weyl say nothing. They also do not mention Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, seeming to regard it as “occupied” even though not a single Israeli soldier or civilian lives there.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Welcome to Haifa, the Israeli City That Refuses to Hate

Naomi Zeveloff for The Jewish Daily Forward   

At a bus station in downtown Haifa, handwritten signs in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian have been taped to the glass: “Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies.”

It’s perhaps a simplistic slogan for these charged times, but at least some Haifa residents appear to agree with it. Dozens had signed their names on the posters, as if they were a public petition to maintain the city’s status quo.

While Israel and the Palestinian Territories are dragged into yet another bout of harrowing violence, Haifa has remained relatively calm.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Israeli hummus cafe gives Jewish-Arab tables half off

From Aljazeera

Owner offers free refill to Jews and Palestinian guests dining together, to show that "we're all human beings".

A hummus cafe in Israel is giving a 50 percent discount to tables mixing Jewish and Arab diners, in a campaign the owner hopes will bring people together as dozens of people have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian violence this month.

Kobi Tzafrir, the owner of Humus Bar in the town of Kfar Vitkin, initially posted the offer on Facebook.

"With us we don't have Arabs! But we also don't have Jews... With us we've got human beings! Real excellent Arab hummus! Excellent Jewish falafel!", the post, which by Monday evening had been shared more than 1,000 times, read.

Tzafrir told Al Jazeera he wanted to show that there are a lot of Arabs and Jews who are not taking part in the violent events reported in the media.

"We want to show that we're all human beings, just like each other, not so different," he said over the phone.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

‘When we told them we were Jews from Israel, they kissed us’

Amid tragic circumstances, Israeli boaters save 11 Syrian and Iraqi refugees drifting off the coast of Turkey and trying to make their way to Europe

By Tamar Pileggi for The Times of Israel

An Israeli yacht crew rescued a group of Syrian and Iraqi refugees clinging to a capsized rubber dinghy adrift in the water in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea Sunday morning.

The group, sailing off the coast of Turkey, pulled 11 refugees from the water, in addition to a dead infant.

After hearing faint cries for help while boating between the Turkish town of Kas and the Greek island of Kastellorizo, members of the Ashdod-based Poseidon Sailing Club noticed an approximately 11-year-old Syrian boy floating in the water alone.

“We pulled him out of the water and he told us his brother was missing and probably dead,” the yacht’s captain, Shlomo Asaban, told the Ynet news website.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Gourmet ice-cream cones are the new scoop

Israeli ingenuity is about to change the way the world eats its ice cream.

By Viva Sarah Press for Israel21c

Bisconi. Remember that name. And remember that it started in Israel.

The gourmet food startup quietly introduced its whole-grain, naturally flavored ice-cream cones to parlors in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem last October. The small-scale local sales are part of a proof-of-concept plan to verify that Bisconi is ready for the global market.

Two big ice-cream industry players – one a multinational corporation, the other a European bigwig – sought out Bisconi and are already in dialogue with the company, which has yet to launch a marketing campaign.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

SPECIAL REPORT: IsraAid helping Syrians off the boats in Greece

From JewishNewsOnline UK

Volunteers from Israeli aid agency IsraAid are helping Syrian refugees off the boats in Greece. But they need your help, hears Stephen Oryszczuk

The man supervising Israel’s rescue of Syrian refugees off the Greek coast is lost for words. He’s been asked to sum up the scale of the crisis. “You’re standing there on the beach, with all these little rubber boats bringing thousands of people every day,” he says finally. “Honestly? It’s like a tragic scene from a Hollywood epic.”

This is Yotam Polizer, regional director at IsraAID, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that relies on donations to offer emergency medical and psychological support to Syrian refugees arriving in Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Jordan and Iraq.

His social activism has taken him from the Negev to Nepal via Japanese tsunamis and typhoons in the Philippines, but only now is he speechless. It’s not surprising. He is on the front-line of a mass migration, the biggest movement of people in 70 years, with 70,000 arriving in Europe every week. And he has just 12 people to help him.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Move Over, Matzo Balls. Here Come Kreplach, the Metaphysical Dumplings

On Hoshana Rabbah, as the High Holidays’ period of judgment comes to a conclusion, give your chicken soup a taste of something meaningful

By Carol Ungar for Tablet Magazine
Hoshana Rabbah—the holiday that falls on the seventh day of Sukkot—includes one of the strangest of Jewish rituals: beating willow branches against the floor.

This beating occurs right after the Hoshana prayers, long liturgical poems whose main theme is visceral request for God’s mercy. The word hoshana literally means “save us.” After all of the Hoshanas have been said (on Hoshana Rabbah there are seven; during the rest of Sukkot, only one) everyone takes out their bundles of five willow branches (not by dismembering the lulav but from another arava set purchased specifically for this day), and then comes the high point of the holiday: Everyone bends down and whacks their bundles against the floor five times.

This is nothing new; Jews have been doing this since the First Temple was standing, in preparation for the following day’s holiday of Shemini Atzeret, when the prayer for rain is recited. Willows are related to rain and water; that is how the plant is able to thrive. But what is the beating all about? No one seems to have a good answer. Even Eliyahu Kitov, the leading expert on the Jewish holidays and their lore, seems to throw up his hands at this one: “The custom of beating of the arava on the ground contains profound esoteric significance and only the Great of Israel merit the knowledge of those secrets,” he writes in his classic work The Book of Our Heritage.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Will Accept Students With Non-Jewish Partners

Josh Nathan-Kazis for The Jewish Daily Forward

The rabbinical seminary of American Judaism’s smallest mainstream denomination will become the first major rabbinical school in the United States to admit and ordain rabbinical students who have non-Jewish spouses and partners.

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, which made its announcement September 30, has been debating the issue for years. Some leaders of Reconstructionist congregations had said they might leave the movement over the change.

“The issue of Jews intermarrying is no longer something we want to police,” said Rabbi Deborah Waxman, RRC’s president, in a press release.

The long debate was finally resolved in a lengthy RRC faculty meeting September 21, culminating in a vote. Waxman would not share the vote tally, citing the confidentiality of faculty deliberations.

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