European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 25/11/2016
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 25/11/2016

Major Headlines 
  • Thousands of firefighters battle blazes across Israel

Some 200 raging fires burned throughout Israel for a third straight day on Thursday, with upward of 75,000 residents being evacuated from their homes in Haifa and thousands more across the country, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan declared the general situation “under control” late at night.

Erdan said earlier in the day that “half of the fires are being deliberately set.”

More than 90 people were treated for light smoke inhalation and transferred to hospitals, which remained on high alert throughout the day. At least one person was treated for moderate injuries.

There were no deaths or critical injuries, police said.

An estimated 750 hectares of forests and rural areas have been destroyed in Zichron Ya’acov, Neveh Shalom, Modi’in, Neveh Ilan and Nataf, The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) confirmed that it is investigating the fires to determine whether they are the result of arson.

“The Shin Bet along with the police have detained several suspects who were taken in for questioning in connection with possible arson fires that affected multiple places across the country,” read a statement released by authorities. 

Likud and Bayit Yehudi MKs said that the fires raging across the country are terrorist attacks.

“Only someone to whom the land doesn’t belong could be able to burn it,” Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett tweeted.

“Anyone who has eyes and a brain can see that the fires in many places in Israel are not natural,” said Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud).

MK Nava Boker (Likud), whose police officer husband died in the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire, wrote on Facebook: “200 fires in one day – the time has come to say it openly. This is ecological terrorism.”

In the opposition, Joint list chairman Ayman Odeh, a resident of Haifa, expressed hope that the fires will be put out soon, and said “it is hard to see Mount Carmel go up in flames and serious fires all over the country.”

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) called “to lower the flames – in all meanings of the word,” saying the security forces will catch arsonists and the inciters.

The Palestinian Authority’s Civil Defence service said that the Israeli government had asked for assistance in fighting the fires, and that it had agreed to help for humanitarian reasons.

A number of blazes also broke out in the Palestinian territories near Ramallah and Nablus.

Click here to read the full article in Jerusalem Post


  • Netanyahu vows to punish arsonists as fires spread

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a press conference on Thursday evening in which he suggested that many of the fires which continue to rage across multiple areas of Israel may have been the result of deliberate arson attacks, Yediot Aharonot reports.

“I want to be completely clear. Every fire caused by arson or by incitement to arson is terrorism in all respects,” Netanyahu said. “Anyone attempting to burn parts of the State of Israel will be punished,” he added as he provided an update of the situation in Haifa, much of which has been ablaze all day.  

The prime minister also confirmed that the American 747 Supertanker, the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in the world that was deployed during the Carmel Forest fires in 2010, was to  be landing in Israel overnight on Thursday. 

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot


  • Death threats sent to Reform Jewish leaders at vandalised synagogue

Members of the Reform congregation of Ra’anana, a city north of Tel Aviv, woke up on Thursday morning to find hateful graffiti sprayed on the walls of their synagogue and death threats issued to leaders of their movement, Ha’aretz reports.

 On an outdoor ledge, covered by a knife, envelopes were discovered bearing the names of three prominent figures: Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the congregational arm of the movement in North America; Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the movement in Israel; and Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall, the multi-denominational feminist prayer group, who also heads the Israel Religious Action Centre, the advocacy arm of the movement in Israel.

Written in red on the knife were words from an ancient text that refers to the Jewish laws pertaining to murder. On a nearby wall, spray-painted in large red letters, was the following verse from a Midrash: “The Divine spirit never moves from the Western Wall.”    

It appears to be a reference to the ongoing controversy over the yet-to-be-implemented government decision to build a new space at the Western Wall where Reform and Conservative Jews can hold mixed prayer services. Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who deem the Reform and Conservative movement illegitimate, fiercely oppose this decision.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "utterly condemned" the vandalism, adding that "such actions have no place in our free society." Education Minister Naftali Bennett also condemned the vandalism. “There are differences of opinion over substantial issues – including Jewish life...but we cannot allow disagreements to deteriorate to abusive discourse and incitement, which could lead to the physical harming of a person because of his beliefs."

This is the fifth time that Kehilat Ra’anan has been vandalised. It is the first time, though, that the perpetrators have made any reference to the Western Wall controversy or that death threats have been issued.

The congregation has 80 member families, though many more take advantage of its pre-school and other community programs.

Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz


  • Israel to hold first corporate social responsibility forum

Israeli companies leading the way in sustainability and innovation in their fields will be on show at Israel’s first ever corporate social responsibility (CSR) conference that will take place next week, the Times of Israel reports.

Israel has been named the world’s top innovator in the field of clean technologies by the Global Cleantech 100 Index. The country leads the way in environmentally friendly solutions from recycled paper to water production, sustainable healthcare, energy conservation and green construction and infrastructure, according to Maala, the Israeli CSR standards-setting organisation that is organising the conference.

The two-day event will gather leaders from Israel’s business community and international opinion-shapers in the sustainability and CSR community to address Israel’s surge onto the international CSR stage, its current standing and infrastructure, and the challenges the country still faces ahead.

Maala was established in 1998 with the goal of promoting corporate social and environmental responsibility in Israel. Today, the organisation aids some 110 large and mid-size Israeli companies with the responsibility of corporate citizenship.

Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel

Friday, November 25, 2016
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