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Ed Webb

You MUST mock - Official site of Stephen Fry - 0 views

  • let no one think that in order to be defended against censorship of any kind, let alone the terminal horrors of Wednesday 7th January, a work of art or a film or a novel or a cartoon need be ‘first rate’ (whatever that means).
Ed Webb

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest in Jerusalem over required military service proposal - The ... - 0 views

  • Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews took to the streets here Sunday afternoon to express anger over attempts by Israel’s political leaders to force them to serve in the military. Local media outlets estimated crowds at the “million-man march” to number more than 300,000, while organizers put the figure closer to 500,000. Police did not provide an exact figure, but spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were present. It was one of the largest demonstrations in the country since 2011, when about 200,000 Israelis protested the high cost of living.
  • Ultra-Orthodox men — or Haredim, as they are referred to here — are almost universally exempt from military or national service as long as they are enrolled in yeshivas to study the Torah, as almost all of them are, or at least claim to be. The new law seeks to end those deferments, as well as some financial benefits that go along with them.
  • Although a small number of ultra-Orthodox do serve in the army, such service is greatly frowned upon, and those who enlist are sometimes spat on or accosted when they return to their neighborhoods dressed in military uniforms.
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  • “In a month from now, every Haredi youth will receive a draft order. Whoever does not enlist will do civil service in the fire department, MDA paramedics or aiding the elderly. Sharing the burden is not an attempt to pick on Haredim or their lifestyles. We are truly committed to aiding them extract themselves from the vicious cycle of poverty,” said Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who ran on a secular platform in the 2013 elections.
  • The law and even the attempts to put it in place mark a significant challenge to the religious-secular status quo established by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, in the 1950s. Back then, Ben-Gurion struck a deal with Haredi rabbis allowing believers to study rather than fight, in an attempt to rebuild the world of Torah study destroyed by the Holocaust.
Ed Webb

Iran's Rosh Hashana Twitter diplomacy stirs amazement, disbelief | The Back Channel - 0 views

  • Iran’s new Foreign Minister Javad Zarif joined President Hassan Rouhani in tweeting “Happy Rosh Hashanah” greetings Thursday, on the occasion of the Jewish new year’s holiday, setting off a new wave of amazement, and some disbelief, in both the social media and policy universes.
  • The rare and unusually direct Twitter diplomacy between Iranian leaders and western policy observers “will go down in history,” one Hill staffer, speaking not for attribution, said Thursday, expressing the wider sense of amazement heard from many veteran Iran watchers at the display of tolerance and public diplomacy initiative coming from Tehran. The welcome change in atmospherics has added to hopes for a diplomatic opening created by Rouhani’s election. But it must be accompanied by substantive progress in nuclear negotiations to lead to a broader easing of ties, western analysts and officials said.
Ed Webb

Is Israel a 'Jewish and Democratic' State? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 0 views

  • The description of Israel as “Jewish and democratic” appears initially not in the Declaration of Independence — as is often thought — but in two 1992 constitutional laws pertaining to freedom of professions and dignity of all humans. Since that time, this has become the most common phrase describing the essence of Israel. But this formulation, originally intended to help resolve various tensions, has in itself become a source of problems. By its very phrasing as Jewish and democratic — joined together by the article “and” — the immediate assumption is that the two aspects are inherently contradictory and that Israel could hope for nothing more than a problematic compromise between the two. 
  • In seeking to understand Israel, the question then is not whether there is an inherent tension between Jewish and democratic, but whether there is an inherent tension between Jewish values and liberal values. The answer of course is, it depends.
  • Both left and right perceive Jewish and democratic as conflicting adjectives. They are wrong.
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  • many of those both on the left and right of Israel have forgotten how to argue for liberal values from within Jewish traditions and texts
  • It is in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, in which the word “democratic” does not appear, that the new state’s aspirational values were best presented stating that “it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.” These were the values chosen for the state, considered not only desirable but grounded in Jewish tradition.
Ed Webb

Menachem Froman, Rabbi Seeking Peace, Dies at 68 - www.nytimes.com - Readability - 0 views

  •  
    A quite remarkable man
Ed Webb

Shas ask PM to sign treaty to protect the status quo - www.jpost.com - Readability - 0 views

  • The three leaders of the Shas party, Arye Deri, Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias, called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to sign a treaty to safeguard the Jewish nature of the State of Israel in a letter sent to the Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday.
  • Shas said the merger between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu, who hold "opposite values," to those of Likud regarding the safeguarding of the Jewish nature of Israel, was among the reasons for the call on Netanyahu to sign the treaty.
  • The treaty calls to protect the secular-religious status quo, to prevent legislation that contradicts Halacha laws and would allow quick conversion to Judaism, to prevent regulation of civil marriage that would "enable intermarriage of Jews with non-Jews," and to prevent the operation of public transportation on Shabbat.
Ed Webb

Vandalism at Jerusalem holy site may have aimed to erase traces of Muslim past Israel N... - 1 views

  • The tiles, and the traditional site of King David's burial, are located on the lower floor of an ancient building on Jerusalem's Mount Zion that is sacred to the three monotheistic faiths. The Room of the Last Supper, where Christians believe Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples before he was crucified, occupies the second floor.
  • The tiles, which feature flowers and trees painted in shades of blue, turquoise and red, were installed at the site, which is also important to Islam, during an Ottoman renovation in the 17th century. They serve as evidence that the building – as indeed Jerusalem – was once controlled by the Muslims. They were damaged about five years ago during renovations carried out by the Religious Affairs Ministry; some were plastered over, and a Holy Ark was put on top.
  • About two weeks ago, a young ultra-Orthodox man was arrested after he was caught using a hammer to smash centuries-old painted wall tiles. He told police he did so because an older friend had advised him that “the tiles were stopping his prayers from reaching the tomb.” The man said he was hoping that his prayers for a bride would be answered.
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