Israel in the News Jan/Feb 2009

Egyptian Advises: ‘Sexually Harass Jewish Women’
ARUTZ-7—A female Egyptian lawyer has recommended that Arab men sexually harass Jewish women to force Jews to leave Israel. Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, is perceived among Western nations as a moderate Arab nation where secular Arabs are a majority.

In a video clip of the interview, which aired on Al Arabiyah television on October 31, 2008, Nagla al-Imam said, “In my opinion, they are fair game for all Arabs, and there is nothing wrong….this is a new form of resistance.”

According to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which released the clip, al-Imam specified, however, that her “resistance” plan did not include rape.

“No. Sexual harassment….In my view, the [Israeli women] do not have any right to respond. The resistance fighters would not initiate such a thing, because their moral values are much loftier than that. However, if such a thing did happen to them, the [Israeli women] have no right to make any demands, because this would put us on equal terms. Leave the land so we won’t rape you. These two things are equal,” she said.

Al-Imam added that she did not want “young Arab men to be interrogated,” but rather, she wanted “these Zionist girls with Israeli citizenship to be expelled from our Arab countries. This is a form of resistance, and a way of rejecting their presence.”

Jerusalem Arabs Boycott Election
THE JERUSALEM POST—As in previous municipal elections, the overwhelming majority of Jerusalem’s Arab voters boycotted recent elections. The number of Arab voters in the city is estimated at 125,000. But since 1967, Arab residents of Jerusalem have boycotted municipal elections out of fear that their participation would be interpreted as recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Arab neighborhoods.

The Arabs in Jerusalem are entitled to vote and run in municipal elections. But because they aren’t citizens of Israel, they can’t vote for the Knesset.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) warned them not to participate in the election and threatened that any Arab who presented his or her candidacy or voted would be treated as a “traitor.” The PA’s top religious leaders also issued a number of fatwas (Islamic decrees) banning Arabs from taking part.

However, cars carrying posters of Nir Barkat and Arkadi Gaydamak could be seen in almost every neighborhood and village in the eastern part of the city. Gaydamak appeared to have run the largest election campaign in the Arab part of the city since 1967. Asked about the PA’s call for boycotting the vote, he replied: “What has the Palestinian Authority done for the Arab residents of Jerusalem? Absolutely nothing. I see no reason why we shouldn’t participate in an election that does not have political repercussions. These elections are about the municipal services and taxes more than political issues.”

Obama Denies Hamas Meeting
THE JERUSALEM POST—U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s office has flatly denied a Hamas official’s claim that Obama’s advisers met with representatives from the terrorist organization while on a visit to the region. “This assertion is just plain false,” Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, told The Jerusalem Post.

Earlier in the day, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper published an interview with Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef in which he said that a secret meeting was held in Gaza ahead of the U.S. election on November 4. “We are maintaining contact with them [Obama’s advisers],” Yousef said. “We first made contact on the Internet and then met with some of them here in the Gaza Strip. They advised us not to reveal this information lest it influence the elections or become manipulated by [Republican candidate John] McCain’s campaign.” Yousef also said that he personally had friendly relations with a few of Obama’s advisers whom he had met when he lived in the United States.

Explosives Found
ARUTZ-7—Security officials have discovered hundreds of pounds of explosives in Judea and Samaria, including naphthalene and fertilizers used to manufacture weapons and explosives. Israeli nationalists and many military officials have warned since the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza three years ago that it was only a matter of time until terrorists would smuggle explosives and weapons into Judea and Samaria.

Earlier in 2008, the Israel Defense Forces prevented several suicide bombing attacks by nabbing terrorists at checkpoints that the United States has been pressuring Israel to remove.

More PA TV
ARUTZ-7—As first announced by a Hamas Website, a new Arabic satellite TV station focused on the Palestinian Authority (PA) has begun full broadcasts. The Beirut, Lebanon-based station, called al-Quds TV, is a Syrian project.

It is dedicated to promoting Arab propaganda regarding Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Analysts from the Israel and U.S.-based Institute of Terrorism Research and Response see al-Quds TV primarily as a vehicle to spread the message of those PA terrorist factions in Syria’s good graces, beyond what was possible through local broadcasts and Internet websites.

Rabbi Bernstein Not the Only First-Amendment Casualty in N.J.
While Rabbi Avraham Bernstein waits for his case to come up in court, another New Jersey resident has been forced to shut down the Christian meeting he held in his garage for eight years because the township received one email.

Oscar Maia said about six families met in his detached garage on his three-acre property in Jackson. “We never had anybody parking cars in the street,” he said. “I have plenty of driveway space where we could put 30 cars if need be.” But the township told him he needs a permit, variance, engineering study, traffic-impact study, and said he will have to modify the garage to suit a “house of worship” if he wants to continue using it.

A permit alone, he was told, could run from $5,000 to $25,000. “We don’t have the money,” he said. “We’re waiting for God to work in our favor.” Meanwhile, the tiny congregation has split up. Maia now drives 60 miles to go to church.

Bernstein, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, still holds Sabbath meetings in his home in Freehold, New Jersey. His case is due to be heard in U.S. District Court in January. Bernstein is represented by the Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Vincent Manning of Freehold.

The Freehold Zoning Board has declared Bernstein’s home a house of worship but is not citing the rabbi while the case is pending. Both Bernstein and Maia pay property taxes, whereas houses of worship are tax-exempt.

“There is a fear,” Manning said, “that religious activity can become marginalized. This may seem like a small story, but it has broader implications.”

In September 2008 Kim Predham of the Asbury Park Press wrote a story on the Bernstein case, noting, “For months, letters arrived weekly at the Press from [Israel My Glory] readers around the country who felt called to protest the township’s actions.”

If this trend to stamp out religious meetings by using zoning regulations continues, freedom of religion in America may come to an end. “For someone to tell me, ‘You don’t have the right to get together and pray to God,’ that’s very sad,” Maia said.

If you want to take further action, we recommend you contact your congressmen.

by Lorna Simcox, editor-in-chief for The Friends of Israel

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