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Switzerland stops funds to Palestinian NGO due to terrorism connection – The Jerusalem Post

A Palestinian flag is waved at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. (photo credit:MUAMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

The Swiss foreign ministry announced that it suspended funds and support for the Ramallah-based Palestininian NGO Human Rights International Humanitarian Law Secretariat because the organization failed to slash ties to terrorism, according to a Sunday report from the paper SonntagsZeitung.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the president of the Jerusalem-based NGO-Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday, “This is an important first step in NGO funding accountability by the Swiss Foreign Ministry, and reflects the recent legislation on this issue. In halting payment to WATC [Women Affairs Technical Committee] , the Swiss follow similar moves by Denmark and Holland. The radical Palestinian NGO is one of many funded by these countries through the Ramallah-based Human Rights Secretariat, with an annual budget of $4 million.”

He added, “A number of the recipients are affiliated with the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) terror organization. Having now frozen WATC funding, the question is whether the Swiss Federal Government will seriously re-examine participation in the very problematic Secretariat mechanism, and in other frameworks that misuse tax money under the facade of human rights and peace. ”

The Human Rights International Humanitarian Law Secretariat provides funds to the WATC, which named a youth center after a Palestinian terrorist. Critics of the Human Rights International Humanitarian Law Secretariat say it glorifies Palestinian terrorism.

The Palestinian NGO also receives funds from Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. The Swiss foreign ministry (EDA) said its internal investigation showed that the EDA did not directly funnel money to the WATC project. The payment of $36,000 for the Palestinian NGO was suspended and a definitive decision about a continued payment will be issued. A date for the decision was not cited in the Swiss media reports. Switzerland, which has hosted Hamas officials over the years, is not a member of the EU and has declined to outlaw Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist entities.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Is there a blessing for the eclipse? – The Jerusalem Post

Solar eclipse 370. (photo credit:REUTERS)

As millions of Americans geared up for the rare solar eclipse that occurred on Monday, rabbis across the spectrum weighed in on the event and its significance.

For a wide swath of the United States, the sun was eclipsed at some point on Monday, leaving residents and those who traveled to see it in darkness for about two minutes. Its the first time in 38 years that an eclipse has touched the US.

There are Jewish blessings prescribed for seeing lightning, hearing thunder, viewing a rainbow or even smelling a flower. But what about witnessing an eclipse? Rabbi Joshua Heller, the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Torah in Atlanta, Georgia which is just off the path of the eclipse wrote that there are two options of appropriate blessings to recite.

One is the blessing you would say upon witnessing an earthquake or tornado, which is Blessed is God, whose strength and power fill the world. The second option Heller considers is the more general Blessed is God, who performs the work of creation, which is said over thunder or a meteor shower.

According to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed of the Beit El Yeshiva, the former blessing is recited over scary events, while the latter is for more common, less frightening occurrences.

Is the solar eclipse a scary event? There are no direct dangers from the eclipses occurrence unlike with a tornado or earthquake. However, viewers can harm their eyes if they look directly at the sun, and the dangers of car accidents during those two minutes are certainly high.

But many rabbis have been wondering more allegorically if the eclipse is a bad omen for the Jewish people and perhaps should not occasion a blessing at all. After all, the Talmud in Tractate Sukka says that when the sun is eclipsed, it is a bad omen for the entire world.

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau reportedly said in 2001 that since there was no Talmudic blessing prescribed for such an event, it could not be added today. He suggested instead reciting Psalms, particularly those praising Gods glory.

Others, however, ruled against reciting a blessing, because an eclipse is considered a bad omen. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher rebbe, said in 1957 that an eclipse is a bad sign and the result of human sin, as the Talmud says.

Rabbi Nicole Guzik, of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, meanwhile, sees the eclipse as a reminder of the worlds beauty.

This world is a museum of Gods beauty, and if we are lucky enough to be active patrons, we will notice artwork that, prior, never caught our eye, she wrote on Facebook.

Gods artistry is ours to discover. Be it with the sun, moon or stars, may Gods light illuminate the many divine wonders just waiting to be enjoyed.

Rabbi Joshua Yuter, the former rabbi of The Stanton Street Shul on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, who now lives in Jerusalem, said that while he has studied issues of superstition in Judaism, he didnt quite come up with an answer.

Though he shared the Talmudic sources with his followers on Twitter, he expressed some doubts that the eclipse should be viewed as a bad omen, especially considering the many contradictory sources on the topic.

Its possible they viewed these things theologically, Yuter told The Jerusalem Post, and its also possible it was their idea of science. Meaning, at the time the Talmud was written, the sages may not have understood that an eclipse is a predictable natural occurrence, the way we do today.

He pointed to another source, in Tractate Ketubot, which addresses all sorts of omens and the ways in which they can be interpreted differently.

They talk about various sorts of signs, portents, omens, he said, which people will interpret as they so choose.

While the discussions are plentiful, Yuter said what is missing is a call to action i.e., what to do when an eclipse occurs and hed rather not guess. I personally try not to engage in historical telepathy.

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Is there a blessing for the eclipse? – The Jerusalem Post

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Jerusalem’s chief rabbi criticizes pilgrimages to Uman on Rosh Hashana – The Jerusalem Post

Men gesticulate on the banks of a lake in Uman in September 2010.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Every year, thousands of Jews travel to Uman where the founder of the Breslov hassidic dynasty Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is buried, with some 30,000 visiting the site last year. Nachman is seen as a saintly figure for his spiritual and mystical teachings, and the mass pilgrimages to his grave have dramatically increased since the end of the Communist era and the opening up of Eastern Europe.

In a letter published on Monday, however, Stern observed that the current generation is uniquely privileged to live in the Land of Israel and to be able to visit all the holy sites in the country, including the Western Wall, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Mount Meron.

But, behold, I hear of a massive organization of journeys to the burial sites of the righteous in non-Jewish lands, and not just on a weekday and for a vacation, but on Rosh Hashana, as if there, in particular, our prayers will be strengthened on the Day of Judgment, wrote Stern.

He added that despite claims that Nachman had said those who visit his grave on Rosh Hashana would be blessed, he was sure that the hassidic master did not mean those who were living in Israel.

No one should even think that he meant to say that people living in the holy land, the Land of Israel, where there is more blessing than any other place in the world [should go to his grave], said Stern.

The Land of Israel is holier than any other land and there is no better place for prayer in any part of it, and especially at the burial places of the patriarchs and the holy sages of the Talmud, needless to mention the Western Wall.

Stern is not the first prominent rabbi to criticize the mass exodus of religious Jews, principally but not only Breslov hassidim, to Uman for Rosh Hashana.

The late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of the most revered arbiters of Jewish law in recent times, said on more than one occasion that men should stay in Israel and celebrate Rosh Hashana with their wives and families.

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Bannon ‘unchained’: Jewish staffers in crosshairs – The Jerusalem Post

Senior staff at the White House Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon (L-R) applaud before being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, DC January 22, 2017.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

WASHINGTON Unceremoniously fired from the White House, Steve Bannon returned to Breitbart News over the weekend full of rage and vengeance, vowing war on a long list of enemies across media and government he believes obstructed him from enacting a nationalist agenda in the Trump administration.

Bannon hopes to expand Breitbart his launching pad into national politics last year, which he has characterized as the platform for the alt-right white supremacist movement into television and video to compete with the right-wing Fox News Channel and target Republican and news establishment figures, US media reported on Monday.

He refers to his foes within the Trump administration as globalists, New Yorkers and secret Democrats. Three of the most prominent and high-ranking of those enemies are Jewish: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the presidents daughter and son-in-law turned senior adviser; and Gary Cohn, head of Trumps National Economic Council.

A Vanity Fair article published on Monday anonymously cites one Bannon ally claiming the former White House chief strategist believes Kushner is a dope.

That piece, along with several others published in the US press on Monday, claim deep animosity remains between Bannon and Kushner.

Trumps daughter Ivanka pushed out Bannon because of his far-right views clashing with her Jewish faith, Breitbart wrote over the weekend, quoting a UK Daily Mail report. The website later updated its story with its own sourcing characterizing the British outlet story as totally false.

Bannon is apparently personally offended by the suggestion he is antisemitic, and often cites his support for Israel as evidence to the contrary. He lobbied hard to relocate the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and refused to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who he refers to as a terrorist.

Yet, Bannons final battle with Ivanka, Kushner and Cohn as a White House staffer revolved around Trumps response to a white-power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which prominently featured thousands of neo-Nazis targeting Jewish influence in American power centers. The three Jewish staffers encouraged the president to unequivocally denounce the marchers and distance himself from their cause, but Bannon pushed back, lobbying the president against giving an inch to the opponents criticizing his crisis response.A New York Times report says Bannon has openly referred to Javanka as a pair of politically naive Manhattanites disconnected from the heartland by their New York roots. Breitbart also has marked Cohn in recent days with globe emojis around his name denoting him as a globalist, but to many Jewish groups evoking classic antisemitic tropes of Jewish power.

You can take Gary Cohn out of Wall Street but you cannot take the Wall Street out of Gary Cohn, reads another Breitbart piece on the NEC head. Earlier this month, it reported on his attendance at an elite party in the ultra-expensive Hamptons.

If theres any confusion out there, let me clear it up: Im leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents on Capitol Hill, in the media and in corporate America, Bannon told Bloomberg News on Friday.

Steve is now unchained, a source close to Bannon told the Atlantic on Friday. Fully unchained.

Bannon joins Breitbart armed with seven months of knowledge from inside the halls of the White House. He is only able to weaponize a portion of that information, however; given Top Secret security clearance while in government, much of the material he might otherwise disseminate in his war against Trumps family will be protected legally.

Bannon had been under fire from American Jewish organizations since he first joined the Trump campaign last year. Several of those groups praised his departure on Friday, including the Anti-Defamation League

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Ankara, Amman discuss efforts to protect Jerusalem – Daily Sabah

Ongoing issues regarding Palestine and the status of Jerusalem were expected to be discussed during President Recep Tayyip Erdoan’s one-day visit to Jordan yesterday. Ahead of his departure from Istanbul, Erdoan said at a press conference that Turkey attaches importance to Jordan’s role in protecting holy sites in Jerusalem. “We have established importance of dialogue and coordination regarding the crisis with Jordan regading the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. We do not want similar incidents of harassment, attacks or the violations of civil rights to happen again. For this, Muslims must be in full cooperation on the issue of Jerusalem,” Erdoan said.

Turkey’s president was welcomed by Jordanian King Abdullah II with an official ceremony in Amman, later attending closed-door meetings with delegations in the Al-Husseiniya Palace.

Jordan is the custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims, which sits on top of the Temple Mount, a hill that is considered the most sacred site in Judaism.

Last month, Israel imposed security measures on Al-Aqsa after two police officers were killed at the site. The measures, which included the installation of metal detectors and cameras, led to renewed violence between Palestinians and security forces and led to outrage across the Muslim world.

The visit is of special importance in that it coincides with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Jordan, a country that enjoys deeply rooted historical, humanitarian and cultural ties with Turkey.

President Erdoan is being accompanied by Foreign Minister Mevlt avuolu, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak and Transportation, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan during the visit.

In addition to addressing the situation in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories during the meeting with King Abdullah, President Erdoan aims to boost trade and discuss Syria and Iraq amid concerns regarding the territorial integrity of both countries.

Turkey and Jordan are the two countries that have taken in the largest number of refugees since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, and both share borders with the war-torn country.

According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), the total value of Turkish exports to Jordan amounted to $300 million in the first five months of this year, while imports were around $50 million. The main exported goods include textiles, jewelry, home appliances, machines and machinery products, motor vehicles and chemicals.Turkey and Jordan signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2009 to increase economic, technical and industrial cooperation and the installation of an appropriate competition environment. The agreement also encourages reciprocal investments and the removal of trade restrictions. The deal took effect in 2011.

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Nobody’s lady – The Jerusalem Post

SHIRI BERZACK and Nahum Hackett star in J-Town Playhouses production of Pygmalion.. (photo credit:ITA ARBIT)

George Bernard Shaws Pygmalion first appeared on stage in 1913. Named after the Greek mythological figure who fell in love with one of his sculptures that subsequently comes to life, the play was a biting critique of the British class system of the time. Pygmalion was adapted many times, but most famously as the musical My Fair Lady, with notable characters Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins. Pygmalion comes to Jerusalem at AACIs J-Town Playhouse theater this month, opening on August 23 and running until September 4. Director Yardena Buxner sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss directing for the first time, the challenges and triumphs of community theater, and humanizing Higgins.

How did you become involved with Pygmalion as director?

Ive been involved with J-Town Playhouse for a while now. My husband and I kind of solidified our relationship when I was assistant directing The Importance of Being Earnest and he was one of my actors. So Ive been involved with English theater here. My sister also does makeup and costumes sometimes. I acted in Pride and Prejudice last year and was also the assistant director. I got involved because its one of my biggest passions and Ive always wanted to direct. The wonderful crew knew this. They gave me my chance and Im so grateful.

So this is your first time directing a stage production?

Yes, its my debut.

What have the challenges been for you, both expected and unexpected?

Most of them were expected because I knew it would be hard to get peoples schedules together. An unexpected challenge was having difficulty finding the cast because Im a new director. Its not like when they hear the name Layla or Aviella and they start running down the line. Its summer vacation and a lot of people go to the States to visit their families. So scheduling was the hardest thing. But eventually I was blessed with one of the most amazing casts ever. No matter how hard the search for them was, it was totally worth it. They are phenomenal, dedicated, talented and passionate. They bring so much and Im really proud of them. In that respect, they make my life easier.

How would you summarize the play for those who are unfamiliar with it?

Its an intriguing human piece about society. Its about getting a chance to figure out what our strengths and abilities are beyond our labels, the economical situation we were born in, or gender. Thats why I think its relevant to any time. For instance, I have dyslexia. There were times that I came across a teacher who took a chance on me, showed interest, and then I started blossoming in that subject because I saw someone had faith in me. We see something similar in the play. There is a girl who is restricted, despite her talents, which are mentioned numerous times through the play. Shes restricted by society, by the fate of the stars, and by who her parents were. I thought that this was a very worthy piece and relatable. Even if you dont know British history, or understand the different in status between upper and lower class, you understand what its like to be limited by the situation youre in.

What do you hope that the audience will take away from the play?

Ive always seen myself as a storyteller. I was one of those kids in shul who would have my friends around me and be telling stories. If it was funny, or moving, or interesting, I would consider it to be a success. My modest answer would be that I hope people have a good time and that we create characters that they can identify with, feel sorry for and triumph with. I hope that I prove that no man is a villain and no person is a hero. My main goal is to tell a good story and for people to enjoy themselves. But what would I like them to take away from it? That Im a genius (laughs). I would like them to think about the story afterwards and understand more about who Eliza is because I hope that Ive humanized her. I hope that they also see Higgins and that hes broken. Even though he was born into riches, hes also confined by society and his gender. I really just want to put on a good show and have people say that that was fun.

Can you give some insight into what rehearsals have been like?

The biggest highlight came yesterday. We didnt have a rehearsal scheduled because I couldnt make it. They decided to rehearse anyway on their own. They wanted to put in more time and more effort because they love it as much as I do and are as dedicated to it as I am. Ive never met a group that wanted to rehearse more. These people are totally volunteers. There is this amazing camaraderie that has happened that Ive never seen before in community theater.

Have you ever seen the play put on elsewhere?

I saw it years ago here in Israel. The BBC also did a stage adaption that they filmed, which I saw. But I decided to approach the text with a clear mind and to try to be as objective as possible towards it. I didnt want to base it on what Id seen, but rather on what are the characters thinking and feeling? I wanted to make it my own. For tickets and more information please visit aaci.org.il.

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Jerusalem steps up plastic-recycling bid – The Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem has stepped up its recycling of plastic waste in the past three years, finding alternative uses for about a third of the materials, compared with as little as 12% of it in 2014, the citys director of sanitation services, Sharon Shifrit, told The Jerusalem Post.

About 1,200 tons of waste are produced in Jerusalem every day, which adds up to more than 400,000 tons a year, Shifrit said in a recent interview.

Shifrit attributed, in part, the 28% of plastic now recycled to the recycling and waste facility opened in Atarot. Built in 2015, the Greennet Recycling and Waste Treatment Facility receives all of the waste from homes in the Jerusalem Municipality and separates out the recyclable and reusable material. This means that even when people fail to recycle their plastic bottles, paper goods, or other packaging, it can still be saved, with dramatic results.

In the space of a year, from 2015 to 2016, Jerusalem saw a 10% rise in recycled material, Greennet CEO Ofer Bugin said.

Machines separate the metal, plastic, paper, cardboard and organic material in the garbage that it treats. From these piles, the recyclable items are sold to plants all over the world that will reuse the material, the organic matter is brought to compost piles, and the rest is dumped into landfills, although future plans indicate it will be incinerated.

While this new program is helping to increase recycling in Jerusalem, is it enough to make a significant difference in the long run? And is turning to machinery to separate recyclables a better approach than relying on people themselves?

Nehama Ronen, chairwoman of ELA Recycling, the Beverage Containers Collective Corporation, said while Greennet saves a lot of recyclable material from being buried in a landfill, the material is better quality when it is kept separated from the beginning that is, when people take it upon themselves to recycle.

Atarot takes mixed-up garbage and separates the wet [organic matter] and dry [plastic, paper, etc.], but its not as good as when its separated before its thrown out, because the dry becomes wet, she said. Its harder to reuse the dry material this way, and, if contaminated, it can be more difficult for the organic matter to compost, she added.

ELA Recycling focuses on plastic-bottle recycling, which is the most successful sort of recycling in Israel, because it has become ingrained in society, with its collection cages dispersed in neighborhoods throughout Israel and return deposit laws.

Thanks to the deposit law, which is similar to those in other countries, people can bring their plastic bottles, cans and even glass wine bottles to deposit centers and receive 30 agorot for each container.

Ronen believes educational initiatives have been one of the most effective ways in making recycling a sustainable part of life in Israel, ranging from running persistent, long-term ad campaigns to programs in public schools to educate children.

We let young children bring their bottles and cans to school, and we collect them and give them the money from the deposit, she said. Children are now able to educate their parents and bring their stuff at home to cages. According to research, we found that in houses where the children learn about recycling in school, the parents also feel more responsible to recycle.

Encouraging people to separate their waste products and recycle may be an uphill battle, but in the long run it brings results.

It takes a long time to educate people to change their way of life and adopt natural habits, Ronen said.

Education and legislation are prominent forces in changing peoples habits, but the prevalence of infrastructure may be the most crucial aspect in continuing to increase recycling efforts in Israel.

We cannot judge if the cages are a success or not: at least two-thirds of Israel is not covered with orange collectors [for packaging material], Ronen said. You cant ask people to recycle if they dont have the infrastructure near their homes.

Give them the tools and then start to educate them.

Nahlaot, in downtown Jerusalem, is a perfect example: While they have containers for plastic bottle recycling, they are missing containers for other recyclable materials, apparently due to lack of space, according to Shifrit.

But where there are collectors present, people are using them. There are 24,000 collection cages across the country for plastic bottles alone, according to Ronen.

While fewer in number, there are also brown bins for organic matter, purple for glass, blue for paper and cardboard, gray for heavy-duty cardboard, and green for all other recyclable materials.

Naomi Tsur, the founder and chairwoman of the Jerusalem Green Fund and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem (2008- 2013), said these cages have succeeded because people have grown accustomed to them.

Most people really change their habits and get used to bringing bags from home, Ronen said, referring to a new fee when it comes to using plastic bags.

The recent law requires people to pay 10 agorot for each plastic bag they take at the grocery store. Ten agorot is hardly going to break the bank, but it impacts the way people act.

There was huge discussion and criticism against this legislation, Ronen said.

Knesset members thought it would cause more damage and that people would prefer to buy the bags but no, most people bring their bags. Its insulting; why should I pay 10 agorot if I can bring from home? Its about values and how to save the environment and keep it for the next generation.

The next step is to encourage people to compost their organic waste, which makes up roughly 45% of our garbage, according to Tsur.

It doesnt need to go anywhere, it just needs to be separated and distributed to our parks and gardens, she said. Its started in Beit Hakerem and has had a positive effect both economically and as a fertilizer. And the amount of reduction in garbage is amazing.

If people composted their own organic waste, towns could spend less money collecting garbage and separating it at facilities like the one Greennet is operating, and they could keep their public parks and gardens healthy and fertile at no additional cost. People could also have their own fertile gardens with their compostable waste. Its just a matter of changing perspective and habits, according to Ronen and Tsur.

But for cities to progress in their recycling initiatives, Tsur said, people have to play more active roles in setting up infrastructure in their cities. In her opinion, compared to other issues Israel and the Middle East are dealing with, recycling should be an easy accomplishment.

Its all very well to blame the municipality, but the public doesnt vote about it, she said. People vote right or left, but transportation, education and garbage issues these are the issues we have to vote about. If you look at the platforms of the candidates, you wont find recycling listed [unless] our candidates know we care about them.

But facilities like Greennet present a secure backup solution, a way to clean up after the people who remain unaware of the importance of recycling.

If we cannot educate the people, we as a country, a municipality, a government have to clean up these places, Ronen said.

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Palestinian woman indicted for Jerusalem stabbing attack – The Times of Israel

Jerusalem prosecutors filed indictments Monday against an East Jerusalem woman accused of injuring two people in a terror attack in the capital that they allege she carried out in the hope of dying as a martyr.

Fadwa Hamada, 29, was indicted at the Jerusalem District Court on two counts of committing a terror act, attempted murder, and being in possession of a knife.

Prosecutors say Hamada, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher, decided to kill Israeli citizens in a terror attack during which she would die as a martyr.

In the wake of the stabbing earlier this month, Hebrew and Arabic media reported Hamada is a mother of five children.

According to the indictments, on August 12 Hamada told her husband she wasnt feeling well and took a cab to the area of the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, bringing a 12 centimeters (5 inch) knife with her in order to carry out the attack.

After exiting the vehicle she saw an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walking back from prayers at the Western Wall. Hamada rushed at the man and tried to stab him.

The accused, with the intention of carrying out her murder plan, pulled the knife out of her bag, approached the plaintiff, and attacked himwith the aim of killing him, the indictment said.

The intended victim, raising his hands over his head to protect himself, was cut on his left arm. He started to run away with Hamada in pursuit, the knife still in her hand.

After a few meters she stopped and headed off in the other direction to pick up the bag she had dropped, and then ran off. As she did so she passed another man whom she approached and tried to stab. The second victim, who was in training to become a security guard on the Jerusalem Light Rail, suffered two deep cuts to his left hand.

He then pulled out his gun and shouted at Hamada to stop while also alerting security forces in the area. Hamada was restrained and then arrested. The second victim was taken to hospital for treatment to his wounds.

Police later released security video of the attack.

The attack occurred on Sultan Suleiman Street near Damascus Gate, the same street where Border Police officer Hadas Malka was stabbed to death in June.

Hebrew-language media reported at the time that the womans husband was arrested following the attack and that police raided the couples home in Sur Baher.

Over the past two years, the Old City, and the Damascus Gate in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in two cases by Jordanian nationals.

Since September 2015, mainly Palestinian assailants have killed 48 Israelis, two visiting Americans, a Palestinian man and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, some 259 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.

Israeli security officials believe that aside from the ostensible ideological motive, many of these attacks particularly those carried out by women or young girls are a form of suicide by cop or suicide by soldier.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Long-awaited Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway edges closer to maiden journey – The Jerusalem Post

An Israel Railways train passes through Ein Yael in Jerusalem. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

28 minutes. That’s the time it took for a passengerless train to make the journey from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Sunday in the first test run of the new high-speed rail link connecting two of Israel’s major cities, according to Channel 2.

A nation of commuters will be delighted by news of the successful test. The route, set to open in April 2018, will significantly cut the time currently required to travel from Tel Aviv to central Jerusalem by road or train.

The high-speed railway has been under construction since 2001 and will complement the existing, slower Jaffa-Jerusalem railway. Trains traveling on the 19th century Ottoman-built railway, which winds between picturesque hills, take approximately 80 minutes to arrive at their final destination. Many commuters opt to travel by car or bus.

Praising the test, Israel’s Transportation Minister Israel Katz said: “The high-speed train… will ensure the status of Jerusalem and the ability for people to live there and to open businesses. It will completely change the relationship between Jerusalem and the rest of the country.”

Trains will service all four of Tel Aviv’s railway stations, pick up passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport and conclude their journey at Jerusalem’s new railway station near the city’s central bus station. During peak times, three trains per hour are expected to travel in each direction.

An infrastructure project requiring nine bridges and four tunnels was never going to be cheap. When complete, the railway is expected to cost in the region of NIS 7 billion, over double its original estimate.

The new railway is expected to change Israel’s transport and work scene, effectively turning Tel Aviv and Jerusalem into commuter towns for each other.

For many Israelis, the end of the daily trauma of endless traffic jams and delays on Israel’s highways is now in sight. April 2018 promises to bring a quicker, stress-free alternative.

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Switzerland stops funds to Palestinian NGO due to terrorism connection – The Jerusalem Post

A Palestinian flag is waved at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. (photo credit:MUAMMAR AWAD/REUTERS) The Swiss foreign ministry announced that it suspended funds and support for the Ramallah-based Palestininian NGO Human Rights International Humanitarian Law Secretariat because the organization failed to slash ties to terrorism, according to a Sunday report from the paper SonntagsZeitung. Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the president of the Jerusalem-based NGO-Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday, “This is an important first step in NGO funding accountability by the Swiss Foreign Ministry, and reflects the recent legislation on this issue. In halting payment to WATC [Women Affairs Technical Committee] , the Swiss follow similar moves by Denmark and Holland. The radical Palestinian NGO is one of many funded by these countries through the Ramallah-based Human Rights Secretariat, with an annual budget of $4 million.” He added, “A number of the recipients are affiliated with the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) terror organization. Having now frozen WATC funding, the question is whether the Swiss Federal Government will seriously re-examine participation in the very problematic Secretariat mechanism, and in other frameworks that misuse tax money under the facade of human rights and peace. ” The Human Rights International Humanitarian Law Secretariat provides funds to the WATC, which named a youth center after a Palestinian terrorist. Critics of the Human Rights International Humanitarian Law Secretariat say it glorifies Palestinian terrorism. The Palestinian NGO also receives funds from Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. The Swiss foreign ministry (EDA) said its internal investigation showed that the EDA did not directly funnel money to the WATC project. The payment of $36,000 for the Palestinian NGO was suspended and a definitive decision about a continued payment will be issued. A date for the decision was not cited in the Swiss media reports. Switzerland, which has hosted Hamas officials over the years, is not a member of the EU and has declined to outlaw Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist entities. Share on facebook

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Is there a blessing for the eclipse? – The Jerusalem Post

Solar eclipse 370. (photo credit:REUTERS) As millions of Americans geared up for the rare solar eclipse that occurred on Monday, rabbis across the spectrum weighed in on the event and its significance. For a wide swath of the United States, the sun was eclipsed at some point on Monday, leaving residents and those who traveled to see it in darkness for about two minutes. Its the first time in 38 years that an eclipse has touched the US. There are Jewish blessings prescribed for seeing lightning, hearing thunder, viewing a rainbow or even smelling a flower. But what about witnessing an eclipse? Rabbi Joshua Heller, the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Torah in Atlanta, Georgia which is just off the path of the eclipse wrote that there are two options of appropriate blessings to recite. One is the blessing you would say upon witnessing an earthquake or tornado, which is Blessed is God, whose strength and power fill the world. The second option Heller considers is the more general Blessed is God, who performs the work of creation, which is said over thunder or a meteor shower. According to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed of the Beit El Yeshiva, the former blessing is recited over scary events, while the latter is for more common, less frightening occurrences. Is the solar eclipse a scary event? There are no direct dangers from the eclipses occurrence unlike with a tornado or earthquake. However, viewers can harm their eyes if they look directly at the sun, and the dangers of car accidents during those two minutes are certainly high. But many rabbis have been wondering more allegorically if the eclipse is a bad omen for the Jewish people and perhaps should not occasion a blessing at all. After all, the Talmud in Tractate Sukka says that when the sun is eclipsed, it is a bad omen for the entire world. Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau reportedly said in 2001 that since there was no Talmudic blessing prescribed for such an event, it could not be added today. He suggested instead reciting Psalms, particularly those praising Gods glory. Others, however, ruled against reciting a blessing, because an eclipse is considered a bad omen. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher rebbe, said in 1957 that an eclipse is a bad sign and the result of human sin, as the Talmud says. Rabbi Nicole Guzik, of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, meanwhile, sees the eclipse as a reminder of the worlds beauty. This world is a museum of Gods beauty, and if we are lucky enough to be active patrons, we will notice artwork that, prior, never caught our eye, she wrote on Facebook. Gods artistry is ours to discover. Be it with the sun, moon or stars, may Gods light illuminate the many divine wonders just waiting to be enjoyed. Rabbi Joshua Yuter, the former rabbi of The Stanton Street Shul on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, who now lives in Jerusalem, said that while he has studied issues of superstition in Judaism, he didnt quite come up with an answer. Though he shared the Talmudic sources with his followers on Twitter, he expressed some doubts that the eclipse should be viewed as a bad omen, especially considering the many contradictory sources on the topic. Its possible they viewed these things theologically, Yuter told The Jerusalem Post, and its also possible it was their idea of science. Meaning, at the time the Talmud was written, the sages may not have understood that an eclipse is a predictable natural occurrence, the way we do today. He pointed to another source, in Tractate Ketubot, which addresses all sorts of omens and the ways in which they can be interpreted differently. They talk about various sorts of signs, portents, omens, he said, which people will interpret as they so choose. While the discussions are plentiful, Yuter said what is missing is a call to action i.e., what to do when an eclipse occurs and hed rather not guess. I personally try not to engage in historical telepathy. Share on facebook

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Jerusalem’s chief rabbi criticizes pilgrimages to Uman on Rosh Hashana – The Jerusalem Post

Men gesticulate on the banks of a lake in Uman in September 2010.. (photo credit:REUTERS) Every year, thousands of Jews travel to Uman where the founder of the Breslov hassidic dynasty Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is buried, with some 30,000 visiting the site last year. Nachman is seen as a saintly figure for his spiritual and mystical teachings, and the mass pilgrimages to his grave have dramatically increased since the end of the Communist era and the opening up of Eastern Europe. In a letter published on Monday, however, Stern observed that the current generation is uniquely privileged to live in the Land of Israel and to be able to visit all the holy sites in the country, including the Western Wall, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Mount Meron. But, behold, I hear of a massive organization of journeys to the burial sites of the righteous in non-Jewish lands, and not just on a weekday and for a vacation, but on Rosh Hashana, as if there, in particular, our prayers will be strengthened on the Day of Judgment, wrote Stern. He added that despite claims that Nachman had said those who visit his grave on Rosh Hashana would be blessed, he was sure that the hassidic master did not mean those who were living in Israel. No one should even think that he meant to say that people living in the holy land, the Land of Israel, where there is more blessing than any other place in the world [should go to his grave], said Stern. The Land of Israel is holier than any other land and there is no better place for prayer in any part of it, and especially at the burial places of the patriarchs and the holy sages of the Talmud, needless to mention the Western Wall. Stern is not the first prominent rabbi to criticize the mass exodus of religious Jews, principally but not only Breslov hassidim, to Uman for Rosh Hashana. The late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of the most revered arbiters of Jewish law in recent times, said on more than one occasion that men should stay in Israel and celebrate Rosh Hashana with their wives and families. Share on facebook

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Bannon ‘unchained’: Jewish staffers in crosshairs – The Jerusalem Post

Senior staff at the White House Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon (L-R) applaud before being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, DC January 22, 2017.. (photo credit:REUTERS) WASHINGTON Unceremoniously fired from the White House, Steve Bannon returned to Breitbart News over the weekend full of rage and vengeance, vowing war on a long list of enemies across media and government he believes obstructed him from enacting a nationalist agenda in the Trump administration. Bannon hopes to expand Breitbart his launching pad into national politics last year, which he has characterized as the platform for the alt-right white supremacist movement into television and video to compete with the right-wing Fox News Channel and target Republican and news establishment figures, US media reported on Monday. He refers to his foes within the Trump administration as globalists, New Yorkers and secret Democrats. Three of the most prominent and high-ranking of those enemies are Jewish: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the presidents daughter and son-in-law turned senior adviser; and Gary Cohn, head of Trumps National Economic Council. A Vanity Fair article published on Monday anonymously cites one Bannon ally claiming the former White House chief strategist believes Kushner is a dope. That piece, along with several others published in the US press on Monday, claim deep animosity remains between Bannon and Kushner. Trumps daughter Ivanka pushed out Bannon because of his far-right views clashing with her Jewish faith, Breitbart wrote over the weekend, quoting a UK Daily Mail report. The website later updated its story with its own sourcing characterizing the British outlet story as totally false. Bannon is apparently personally offended by the suggestion he is antisemitic, and often cites his support for Israel as evidence to the contrary. He lobbied hard to relocate the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and refused to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who he refers to as a terrorist. Yet, Bannons final battle with Ivanka, Kushner and Cohn as a White House staffer revolved around Trumps response to a white-power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which prominently featured thousands of neo-Nazis targeting Jewish influence in American power centers. The three Jewish staffers encouraged the president to unequivocally denounce the marchers and distance himself from their cause, but Bannon pushed back, lobbying the president against giving an inch to the opponents criticizing his crisis response.A New York Times report says Bannon has openly referred to Javanka as a pair of politically naive Manhattanites disconnected from the heartland by their New York roots. Breitbart also has marked Cohn in recent days with globe emojis around his name denoting him as a globalist, but to many Jewish groups evoking classic antisemitic tropes of Jewish power. You can take Gary Cohn out of Wall Street but you cannot take the Wall Street out of Gary Cohn, reads another Breitbart piece on the NEC head. Earlier this month, it reported on his attendance at an elite party in the ultra-expensive Hamptons. If theres any confusion out there, let me clear it up: Im leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents on Capitol Hill, in the media and in corporate America, Bannon told Bloomberg News on Friday. Steve is now unchained, a source close to Bannon told the Atlantic on Friday. Fully unchained. Bannon joins Breitbart armed with seven months of knowledge from inside the halls of the White House. He is only able to weaponize a portion of that information, however; given Top Secret security clearance while in government, much of the material he might otherwise disseminate in his war against Trumps family will be protected legally. Bannon had been under fire from American Jewish organizations since he first joined the Trump campaign last year. Several of those groups praised his departure on Friday, including the Anti-Defamation League Share on facebook

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Ankara, Amman discuss efforts to protect Jerusalem – Daily Sabah

Ongoing issues regarding Palestine and the status of Jerusalem were expected to be discussed during President Recep Tayyip Erdoan’s one-day visit to Jordan yesterday. Ahead of his departure from Istanbul, Erdoan said at a press conference that Turkey attaches importance to Jordan’s role in protecting holy sites in Jerusalem. “We have established importance of dialogue and coordination regarding the crisis with Jordan regading the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. We do not want similar incidents of harassment, attacks or the violations of civil rights to happen again. For this, Muslims must be in full cooperation on the issue of Jerusalem,” Erdoan said. Turkey’s president was welcomed by Jordanian King Abdullah II with an official ceremony in Amman, later attending closed-door meetings with delegations in the Al-Husseiniya Palace. Jordan is the custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims, which sits on top of the Temple Mount, a hill that is considered the most sacred site in Judaism. Last month, Israel imposed security measures on Al-Aqsa after two police officers were killed at the site. The measures, which included the installation of metal detectors and cameras, led to renewed violence between Palestinians and security forces and led to outrage across the Muslim world. The visit is of special importance in that it coincides with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Jordan, a country that enjoys deeply rooted historical, humanitarian and cultural ties with Turkey. President Erdoan is being accompanied by Foreign Minister Mevlt avuolu, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak and Transportation, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan during the visit. In addition to addressing the situation in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories during the meeting with King Abdullah, President Erdoan aims to boost trade and discuss Syria and Iraq amid concerns regarding the territorial integrity of both countries. Turkey and Jordan are the two countries that have taken in the largest number of refugees since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, and both share borders with the war-torn country. According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), the total value of Turkish exports to Jordan amounted to $300 million in the first five months of this year, while imports were around $50 million. The main exported goods include textiles, jewelry, home appliances, machines and machinery products, motor vehicles and chemicals.Turkey and Jordan signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2009 to increase economic, technical and industrial cooperation and the installation of an appropriate competition environment. The agreement also encourages reciprocal investments and the removal of trade restrictions. The deal took effect in 2011.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Nobody’s lady – The Jerusalem Post

SHIRI BERZACK and Nahum Hackett star in J-Town Playhouses production of Pygmalion.. (photo credit:ITA ARBIT) George Bernard Shaws Pygmalion first appeared on stage in 1913. Named after the Greek mythological figure who fell in love with one of his sculptures that subsequently comes to life, the play was a biting critique of the British class system of the time. Pygmalion was adapted many times, but most famously as the musical My Fair Lady, with notable characters Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins. Pygmalion comes to Jerusalem at AACIs J-Town Playhouse theater this month, opening on August 23 and running until September 4. Director Yardena Buxner sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss directing for the first time, the challenges and triumphs of community theater, and humanizing Higgins. How did you become involved with Pygmalion as director? Ive been involved with J-Town Playhouse for a while now. My husband and I kind of solidified our relationship when I was assistant directing The Importance of Being Earnest and he was one of my actors. So Ive been involved with English theater here. My sister also does makeup and costumes sometimes. I acted in Pride and Prejudice last year and was also the assistant director. I got involved because its one of my biggest passions and Ive always wanted to direct. The wonderful crew knew this. They gave me my chance and Im so grateful. So this is your first time directing a stage production? Yes, its my debut. What have the challenges been for you, both expected and unexpected? Most of them were expected because I knew it would be hard to get peoples schedules together. An unexpected challenge was having difficulty finding the cast because Im a new director. Its not like when they hear the name Layla or Aviella and they start running down the line. Its summer vacation and a lot of people go to the States to visit their families. So scheduling was the hardest thing. But eventually I was blessed with one of the most amazing casts ever. No matter how hard the search for them was, it was totally worth it. They are phenomenal, dedicated, talented and passionate. They bring so much and Im really proud of them. In that respect, they make my life easier. How would you summarize the play for those who are unfamiliar with it? Its an intriguing human piece about society. Its about getting a chance to figure out what our strengths and abilities are beyond our labels, the economical situation we were born in, or gender. Thats why I think its relevant to any time. For instance, I have dyslexia. There were times that I came across a teacher who took a chance on me, showed interest, and then I started blossoming in that subject because I saw someone had faith in me. We see something similar in the play. There is a girl who is restricted, despite her talents, which are mentioned numerous times through the play. Shes restricted by society, by the fate of the stars, and by who her parents were. I thought that this was a very worthy piece and relatable. Even if you dont know British history, or understand the different in status between upper and lower class, you understand what its like to be limited by the situation youre in. What do you hope that the audience will take away from the play? Ive always seen myself as a storyteller. I was one of those kids in shul who would have my friends around me and be telling stories. If it was funny, or moving, or interesting, I would consider it to be a success. My modest answer would be that I hope people have a good time and that we create characters that they can identify with, feel sorry for and triumph with. I hope that I prove that no man is a villain and no person is a hero. My main goal is to tell a good story and for people to enjoy themselves. But what would I like them to take away from it? That Im a genius (laughs). I would like them to think about the story afterwards and understand more about who Eliza is because I hope that Ive humanized her. I hope that they also see Higgins and that hes broken. Even though he was born into riches, hes also confined by society and his gender. I really just want to put on a good show and have people say that that was fun. Can you give some insight into what rehearsals have been like? The biggest highlight came yesterday. We didnt have a rehearsal scheduled because I couldnt make it. They decided to rehearse anyway on their own. They wanted to put in more time and more effort because they love it as much as I do and are as dedicated to it as I am. Ive never met a group that wanted to rehearse more. These people are totally volunteers. There is this amazing camaraderie that has happened that Ive never seen before in community theater. Have you ever seen the play put on elsewhere? I saw it years ago here in Israel. The BBC also did a stage adaption that they filmed, which I saw. But I decided to approach the text with a clear mind and to try to be as objective as possible towards it. I didnt want to base it on what Id seen, but rather on what are the characters thinking and feeling? I wanted to make it my own. For tickets and more information please visit aaci.org.il. Share on facebook

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Jerusalem steps up plastic-recycling bid – The Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem has stepped up its recycling of plastic waste in the past three years, finding alternative uses for about a third of the materials, compared with as little as 12% of it in 2014, the citys director of sanitation services, Sharon Shifrit, told The Jerusalem Post. About 1,200 tons of waste are produced in Jerusalem every day, which adds up to more than 400,000 tons a year, Shifrit said in a recent interview. Shifrit attributed, in part, the 28% of plastic now recycled to the recycling and waste facility opened in Atarot. Built in 2015, the Greennet Recycling and Waste Treatment Facility receives all of the waste from homes in the Jerusalem Municipality and separates out the recyclable and reusable material. This means that even when people fail to recycle their plastic bottles, paper goods, or other packaging, it can still be saved, with dramatic results. In the space of a year, from 2015 to 2016, Jerusalem saw a 10% rise in recycled material, Greennet CEO Ofer Bugin said. Machines separate the metal, plastic, paper, cardboard and organic material in the garbage that it treats. From these piles, the recyclable items are sold to plants all over the world that will reuse the material, the organic matter is brought to compost piles, and the rest is dumped into landfills, although future plans indicate it will be incinerated. While this new program is helping to increase recycling in Jerusalem, is it enough to make a significant difference in the long run? And is turning to machinery to separate recyclables a better approach than relying on people themselves? Nehama Ronen, chairwoman of ELA Recycling, the Beverage Containers Collective Corporation, said while Greennet saves a lot of recyclable material from being buried in a landfill, the material is better quality when it is kept separated from the beginning that is, when people take it upon themselves to recycle. Atarot takes mixed-up garbage and separates the wet [organic matter] and dry [plastic, paper, etc.], but its not as good as when its separated before its thrown out, because the dry becomes wet, she said. Its harder to reuse the dry material this way, and, if contaminated, it can be more difficult for the organic matter to compost, she added. ELA Recycling focuses on plastic-bottle recycling, which is the most successful sort of recycling in Israel, because it has become ingrained in society, with its collection cages dispersed in neighborhoods throughout Israel and return deposit laws. Thanks to the deposit law, which is similar to those in other countries, people can bring their plastic bottles, cans and even glass wine bottles to deposit centers and receive 30 agorot for each container. Ronen believes educational initiatives have been one of the most effective ways in making recycling a sustainable part of life in Israel, ranging from running persistent, long-term ad campaigns to programs in public schools to educate children. We let young children bring their bottles and cans to school, and we collect them and give them the money from the deposit, she said. Children are now able to educate their parents and bring their stuff at home to cages. According to research, we found that in houses where the children learn about recycling in school, the parents also feel more responsible to recycle. Encouraging people to separate their waste products and recycle may be an uphill battle, but in the long run it brings results. It takes a long time to educate people to change their way of life and adopt natural habits, Ronen said. Education and legislation are prominent forces in changing peoples habits, but the prevalence of infrastructure may be the most crucial aspect in continuing to increase recycling efforts in Israel. We cannot judge if the cages are a success or not: at least two-thirds of Israel is not covered with orange collectors [for packaging material], Ronen said. You cant ask people to recycle if they dont have the infrastructure near their homes. Give them the tools and then start to educate them. Nahlaot, in downtown Jerusalem, is a perfect example: While they have containers for plastic bottle recycling, they are missing containers for other recyclable materials, apparently due to lack of space, according to Shifrit. But where there are collectors present, people are using them. There are 24,000 collection cages across the country for plastic bottles alone, according to Ronen. While fewer in number, there are also brown bins for organic matter, purple for glass, blue for paper and cardboard, gray for heavy-duty cardboard, and green for all other recyclable materials. Naomi Tsur, the founder and chairwoman of the Jerusalem Green Fund and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem (2008- 2013), said these cages have succeeded because people have grown accustomed to them. Most people really change their habits and get used to bringing bags from home, Ronen said, referring to a new fee when it comes to using plastic bags. The recent law requires people to pay 10 agorot for each plastic bag they take at the grocery store. Ten agorot is hardly going to break the bank, but it impacts the way people act. There was huge discussion and criticism against this legislation, Ronen said. Knesset members thought it would cause more damage and that people would prefer to buy the bags but no, most people bring their bags. Its insulting; why should I pay 10 agorot if I can bring from home? Its about values and how to save the environment and keep it for the next generation. The next step is to encourage people to compost their organic waste, which makes up roughly 45% of our garbage, according to Tsur. It doesnt need to go anywhere, it just needs to be separated and distributed to our parks and gardens, she said. Its started in Beit Hakerem and has had a positive effect both economically and as a fertilizer. And the amount of reduction in garbage is amazing. If people composted their own organic waste, towns could spend less money collecting garbage and separating it at facilities like the one Greennet is operating, and they could keep their public parks and gardens healthy and fertile at no additional cost. People could also have their own fertile gardens with their compostable waste. Its just a matter of changing perspective and habits, according to Ronen and Tsur. But for cities to progress in their recycling initiatives, Tsur said, people have to play more active roles in setting up infrastructure in their cities. In her opinion, compared to other issues Israel and the Middle East are dealing with, recycling should be an easy accomplishment. Its all very well to blame the municipality, but the public doesnt vote about it, she said. People vote right or left, but transportation, education and garbage issues these are the issues we have to vote about. If you look at the platforms of the candidates, you wont find recycling listed [unless] our candidates know we care about them. But facilities like Greennet present a secure backup solution, a way to clean up after the people who remain unaware of the importance of recycling. If we cannot educate the people, we as a country, a municipality, a government have to clean up these places, Ronen said. Share on facebook

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Palestinian woman indicted for Jerusalem stabbing attack – The Times of Israel

Jerusalem prosecutors filed indictments Monday against an East Jerusalem woman accused of injuring two people in a terror attack in the capital that they allege she carried out in the hope of dying as a martyr. Fadwa Hamada, 29, was indicted at the Jerusalem District Court on two counts of committing a terror act, attempted murder, and being in possession of a knife. Prosecutors say Hamada, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher, decided to kill Israeli citizens in a terror attack during which she would die as a martyr. In the wake of the stabbing earlier this month, Hebrew and Arabic media reported Hamada is a mother of five children. According to the indictments, on August 12 Hamada told her husband she wasnt feeling well and took a cab to the area of the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, bringing a 12 centimeters (5 inch) knife with her in order to carry out the attack. After exiting the vehicle she saw an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walking back from prayers at the Western Wall. Hamada rushed at the man and tried to stab him. The accused, with the intention of carrying out her murder plan, pulled the knife out of her bag, approached the plaintiff, and attacked himwith the aim of killing him, the indictment said. The intended victim, raising his hands over his head to protect himself, was cut on his left arm. He started to run away with Hamada in pursuit, the knife still in her hand. After a few meters she stopped and headed off in the other direction to pick up the bag she had dropped, and then ran off. As she did so she passed another man whom she approached and tried to stab. The second victim, who was in training to become a security guard on the Jerusalem Light Rail, suffered two deep cuts to his left hand. He then pulled out his gun and shouted at Hamada to stop while also alerting security forces in the area. Hamada was restrained and then arrested. The second victim was taken to hospital for treatment to his wounds. Police later released security video of the attack. The attack occurred on Sultan Suleiman Street near Damascus Gate, the same street where Border Police officer Hadas Malka was stabbed to death in June. Hebrew-language media reported at the time that the womans husband was arrested following the attack and that police raided the couples home in Sur Baher. Over the past two years, the Old City, and the Damascus Gate in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in two cases by Jordanian nationals. Since September 2015, mainly Palestinian assailants have killed 48 Israelis, two visiting Americans, a Palestinian man and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, some 259 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities. Israeli security officials believe that aside from the ostensible ideological motive, many of these attacks particularly those carried out by women or young girls are a form of suicide by cop or suicide by soldier. Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Long-awaited Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway edges closer to maiden journey – The Jerusalem Post

An Israel Railways train passes through Ein Yael in Jerusalem. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) 28 minutes. That’s the time it took for a passengerless train to make the journey from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Sunday in the first test run of the new high-speed rail link connecting two of Israel’s major cities, according to Channel 2. A nation of commuters will be delighted by news of the successful test. The route, set to open in April 2018, will significantly cut the time currently required to travel from Tel Aviv to central Jerusalem by road or train. The high-speed railway has been under construction since 2001 and will complement the existing, slower Jaffa-Jerusalem railway. Trains traveling on the 19th century Ottoman-built railway, which winds between picturesque hills, take approximately 80 minutes to arrive at their final destination. Many commuters opt to travel by car or bus. Praising the test, Israel’s Transportation Minister Israel Katz said: “The high-speed train… will ensure the status of Jerusalem and the ability for people to live there and to open businesses. It will completely change the relationship between Jerusalem and the rest of the country.” Trains will service all four of Tel Aviv’s railway stations, pick up passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport and conclude their journey at Jerusalem’s new railway station near the city’s central bus station. During peak times, three trains per hour are expected to travel in each direction. An infrastructure project requiring nine bridges and four tunnels was never going to be cheap. When complete, the railway is expected to cost in the region of NIS 7 billion, over double its original estimate. The new railway is expected to change Israel’s transport and work scene, effectively turning Tel Aviv and Jerusalem into commuter towns for each other. For many Israelis, the end of the daily trauma of endless traffic jams and delays on Israel’s highways is now in sight. April 2018 promises to bring a quicker, stress-free alternative. Share on facebook

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August 20, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed


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