ISRAEL NEWS

Thousands in Tamra protest over violence in Arab sector, Route 70 blocked

 FEBRUARY 6, 2021 22:29

Thousands attend the funeral of twenty-year-old nursing student Ahmad Hijazi near the Arab city of Tamra, northern Israel, February 2, 2021, Ahmad Hijazi killed in a shootout between Israeli police officers and criminals in Tamra. (photo credit: SRAYA DIAMANT/FLASH90)

TAMRA, Feb. 6, 2021: Thousands of protesters gathered in the Arab village of Tamra on Saturday, protesting over the violence and crime in the Arab sector and what they view as incompetence by the police to address the issue, Israeli media reported. Specifically, the crowd protested the death of Ahmad Hijazi, a 22-year-old a nursing student from Tamra, who died earlier this week in the crossfire during a shootout between Israel Police and a number of criminal suspects in the city. 

The protesters marched from Tamra on a nearby highway, leading to Route 70 being blocked on both sides by police from the Javor Junction to the Evlaim Junction. Protesters were seen carrying signs reading "Mr. Netanyahu talks a lot but does little," and "the government is abandoning its citizens - our blood is not red enough." Tamra Mayor Dr. Suhail Diab called on the Arab leadership in Israel to boycott the Israel Police while an inquiry committee investigates Hijazi's death "and reaches clear conclusions." 

"The police has failed. We demand that an inquiry committee investigates the police northern district's conduct in Tamra and in the surrounding area. I call on the entire [Arab] leadership to boycott the bearers of guns," Tamra's mayor said during Saturday's protest. "We want effective police that will combat crime and criminals and not harm innocent people and open fire in the heart of a residential neighborhood. The Arab community is not violent. It's a small group that needs to be dealt with," he added.  

According to MK Aymen Odeh (Joint List) Hijazi's death would have attracted more attention "had it been a Jewish young person who died." Attending the protest on Saturday, Odeh said that "it's the duty of the government and the police to stop the bloodshed - not create more of it." Marching protesters were heard chanting slogans like "heads of the local authorities - submit your resignations now." Another protest over rising crime rates in the Arab Sector took place in Jaffa on Saturday, with dozens of protesters gathering at the city's symbolic Clock Tower. 

While protests over the rising crime rates and violence in the Arab sector in Israel have become more frequent in recent months, Hijazi's death reignited a public uproar that has not been seen among Israeli Arabs in years. Hijazi's funeral was attended by an unprecedented number of 10,000 participants according to several estimations. The incident even led to a group of notable Israeli Arab journalists to halt all channels of communication with the Israel Police, which they blamed for "maintaining its suspicious security policy toward every Arab citizen in the country" and not treating them as equals.  

Israel is locking down again

The country’s latest lockdown begins Thursday at midnight and ends two weeks later on January 21.

JERUSALEM, Jan 8, 2021 (The Jerusalem Post): After a long and heated debate on Wednesday night, the government approved the regulations for the country’s latest lockdown, which began at midnight on Thursday and is due to end after two weeks, on January 21. These are the rules for the current lockdown:

> Gatherings: Limited to five people inside or 10 people outside, except at approved events such as weddings and funerals where there can be 10 people inside and 20 outside.
> Gathering in someone else’s home is prohibited.

Fine for refusing to disperse if caught gathering: NIS 1,000.
Fine for gathering in a forbidden place – a business that is not supposed to be open, or a synagogue, for example: NIS 500.

> Travel abroad: Permitted only to those who purchased their flights before the lockdown was imposed and except for purposes specified in the regulations, or with the approval of the director-general of the Transportation Ministry.

> Professional sports: Training only, no competitions.

> Visiting the elderly: Forbidden unless essential to their health.

> Schools: Closed, except for special education; boarding schools may operate if the pupils agree not to leave the campus for at least 30 days.

> Workplaces: Closed, except for those that offer essential goods or services. Factories for the provision of subsistence services, or workplaces that engage in construction or infrastructure.
>Companies that need employees to be able to function, including service providers to repair faults, maintenance, deliveries, wage payments etc. can do so.
>Lawyers have been added to the list of essential workers, as have employees of the Central Elections Committee.

> Transportation: Reduced to 50% occupancy.

> Elections: People can leave their houses to vote and polling stations may open for this purpose.

Movement: No further than 1,000 meters from home, except:
> To receive a vaccination.
> For medical or social care.
> Attending a protest.
> Legal proceedings.
> Approved sporting activity (alone and within walking distance from home).
> Transferring a minor between separated parents.
> Going to work if you are an essential worker.
> Attending a funeral or wedding according to guidelines.

Fine for leaving home for a forbidden purpose: NIS 500

> Closures of bed and breakfasts, zoos, nature reserves and national parks, complementary medicines, beauty parlors and hair salons.

Fine for operating one of these locations or working at one of them: NIS 5,000.

> Restaurants: Delivery service only.

Other ways to incur a fine:

> Leaving isolation without authorization: NIS 5,000.
> Traveling by public transportation to the location where you will be isolating: NIS 5,000.
> Returning from abroad and failing to enter isolation: NIS 5,000.
> Failing to report that you are in isolation: NIS 3,000.
> Not wearing a mask: NIS 500.

Jerusalem Families Find Creative Ways to Celebrate Hanukkah

JERUSALEM, Dec 17, 2020:: Jerusalem: Seeking to offset the dour tone of life during the coronavirus pandemic, Jerusalem families are finding creative ways to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah. With COVID-19 restrictions limiting all sorts of events and social interactions, some 600 buildings across Jerusalem are taking part in a city-led initiative known as the Illuminated Building campaign. The project allows neighbors to get to know one another via small outdoor events. “I believe that a sense of community is what helps residents feel connected to the place they live in,” Hagit Moshe, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, told The Media Line at one such event, which took place in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood Sunday night.

Families from two apartment towers came together in the courtyard between the buildings to eat homemade pizza, sing and dance. Moshe and a few local community leaders gave speeches to those in attendance ahead of a candle-lighting ceremony. “Even with different beliefs and opinions, if we are good to our neighbors then we can live alongside one another,” Moshe said. “Strengthening these communal ties is very important for us at the Jerusalem municipality.” It is not the first time that the municipality is holding a communal candle-lighting campaign; however, the pandemic has brought renewed interest in the project.

“This is a lot of fun because now we can finally do something,” Shira, a community activist and leader in the Baka neighborhood, told The Media Line during her own building’s festivities. “We usually hold neighborly celebrations here throughout the year but because of the virus we haven’t been able to until now,” she said. “We really hope that Hanukkah is the beginning of the end of the coronavirus and that we can go back to normal!” Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day-long Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt more than 2,000 years ago. According to the story, a very small quantity of oil used to light the Temple’s menorah miraculously lasted for eight days.

To celebrate the miracle, it is customary to eat jelly-filled donuts and other goodies cooked in oil throughout the holiday. People also light candles, give presents and spin a top, known as the dreidel. “I really like Hanukkah both because of the donuts and the presents,” 9-year-old Itay told The Media Line in between bites of fresh homemade sfinj, a traditional Moroccan donut that is popular across Israel. “It’s a great holiday,” he added. “I also like to spin the dreidel. It’s a lot of fun!”

Since the start of the pandemic, Jerusalem has turned increasingly to domestic tourism to help bring life back to the city. For Hanukkah specifically, the municipality has enlisted the help of several local women to host small groups of Israeli visitors in their homes and give tours of their neighborhoods in accordance with Health Ministry directives. One of them is Rebbetzin Dina Brandwein of the Stratyn Hassidic dynasty, who lives in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

For over five years, Brandwein has welcomed local tourists to her home—for a nominal fee—to hear stories of her family’s illustrious past and the Old City’s colorful history. Such visits unfortunately came to a halt when the COVID-19 crisis hit. “This is the first time I’ve welcomed a group into my house since the start of the pandemic,” Brandwein told The Media Line. “It gives me strength to see people leave here happy.”

Senate Approves Bipartisan Bill to Elevate Status of Antisemitism Monitor

WASHINGTON, Dec 17, 2020:: The US Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday that seeks to elevate the position of special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism to the rank of ambassador. The legislation also directs the special envoy to report directly to the secretary of state and prohibit the special envoy from being double-hatted with another portfolio of issues. The "Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Act" emphasize that the special envoy should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of combating antisemitism or religious freedom. It also clarifies that the special envoy shall be the primary advisor and coordinator for US government efforts to monitor and combat antisemitism and antisemitic incitement in foreign countries.

The legislative effort is led by US Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).  The bill will now move to the House of Representatives for a final vote. “Antisemitism, unfortunately, is on the rise and we must do all we can to combat this ancient evil,” Rubio said in a statement. “I welcome the passage of this important bipartisan bill that will ensure that the US remains a leader in the fight against antisemitism worldwide.” “As we have seen far too often, antisemitism is surging in New York state, our country, and across the world,” Gillibrand said in a press release. “We must do everything in our power to confront, and end, this growing threat,” she added. “I will always stand with the Jewish community, and fight against hatred and prejudice in all its forms.”

“Antisemitism continues to rise at an alarming rate across the globe,” said Rosen in a statement. “To equip the State Department to better address rising antisemitism, it is critical that we elevate the role of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to Ambassador-at-Large,” she added. Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and national director said that "congress has taken an important step today to ensure that our government can better fight rising antisemitism around the world.” Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC director of International Jewish Affairs, said that elevating the position to the rank of Ambassador, “will enable the US to enhance our leadership addressing the scourge of antisemitism across the globe.”

Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy for the Orthodox Union, said in a statement that the Jewish community “is very grateful for the Senate’s passage of this important legislation.” “Sadly, we have seen a surge of antisemitic incense around the world in recent years,” he continued. “With the passage of this legislation, the Senate is providing powerful new tools to the State Department to lead impactful international efforts to combat antisemitism.” Hadassah president Rhoda Smolow and CEO/executive director Janice Weinman said in a statement that “the United States Senate has today determined that the job of monitoring and combating antisemitism is worthy of our highest diplomatic rank.

Similar legislation has already passed in the House of Representatives, putting Congress on the cusp of laying a marker in history. Hadassah applauds today’s bipartisan action in the Senate, which clearly demonstrates America’s outstanding commitment to combating a rise in antisemitism that has all too often led to violence.”