SodaStream leaves West Bank as CEO says boycott …

Posted By on September 4, 2015

People at work in the new SodaStream factory in Israels Negev Desert next to the city of Rahat.

The chief executive of SodaStream has accused his companys critics of antisemitism and hurting the interests of the Palestinian workers they claim to protect as it shuts down its factory in the West Bank and moves to Israels Negev Desert.

SodaStream, which sells home fizzy drink machines, has been targeted by international protests. Citing financial reasons, SodaStream announced in 2014 that it was closing the West Bank factory. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement said its pressure was behind the decision.

Standing in the new factory in Israels Negev Desert that will replace the West Bank facility when it closes in two weeks, Daniel Birnbaum said the boycott movement has only had a marginal effect on his business. He accused it of spreading lies and said Palestinian employees were given pay and benefits far higher than anything else they could find in the West Bank.

Its propaganda. Its politics. Its hate. Its antisemitism. Its all the bad stuff we dont want to be part of, Birnbaum said.

Related: Scarlett Johansson steps down from Oxfam ambassador role

The West Bank factory is within an illegal settlement in the Israeli-occupied territory. SodaStream said it employed up to 600 Palestinians there, and had sought to transfer their jobs to the Israeli plant. But Birnbaum said Israel had granted only 130 work permits so far due to security issues and many likely would lose their jobs.

Ali Jafar, a shift manager from a West Bank village who has worked for SodaStream for two years, said: All the people who wanted to close [SodaStreams West Bank factory] are mistaken. They didnt take into consideration the families.

SodaStream should have been encouraged in the West Bank if [the BDS movement] truly cared about the Palestinian people, Birnbaum said.

Palestinians, like other employees, are offered a bus service that brings them to the factory but that will now become a two-hour journey each way that involves crossing an Israeli checkpoint, where workers must show permits and be screened for security checks.

The BDS movement wants to end Israels occupation of territories captured in the 1967 war, end discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to family properties lost in the war surrounding Israels creation in 1948. Israel says the Palestinian right of return would lead to a massive influx of refugees that would mean the end of the country as a Jewish state.

For the BDS movement, SodaStreams pullout from the West Bank was part of a domino effect that would see more companies sever interests to spare their bottom line. This is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company, said Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the movement. He said it would continue to target SodaStream because its new factory is located in an area where Israel has in the past proposed to resettle Bedouin Arabs. The company employs more than 300 Bedouins.

SodaStream made headlines in 2014 when the actor Scarlett Johansson parted ways with the international charity Oxfam because of a dispute over her work as brand ambassador for the Tel Aviv-based company. Birnbaum said the relationship with Johansson was for a limited time and ended shortly after.

After years of growth SodaStreams revenue dropped drastically in 2014 and its stock price continues to fall. Birnbaum rejected suggestions that BDS pressure has hurt the company, attributing the slump to a changing US market that is moving away from sugary drinks.

BDS has accused SodaStream of paying Palestinian workers less than their Israeli counterparts, but Birnbaum and employees at the factory said wages for Palestinians and Israeli workers were commensurate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Read the original:
SodaStream leaves West Bank as CEO says boycott …

Suspected far-right activist booted out of West Bank | The …

Posted By on September 4, 2015

Police sent a suspected Jerusalem far-right activist to house arrest Tuesday night as part of efforts to combat Jewish extremism.

Officers raided the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the West Bank and delivered an administrative house arrest order to the suspect, who is 18, Israel Radio reported.

The youth was prohibited from leaving his house at night for three months and from traveling to the West Bank. He is also prohibited from speaking with 20 other suspected activists. On Tuesday, two West Bank youths suspected of extremist involvement were handed similar warrants

The yeshiva, which is located in the settlement of Yitzhar, is known for far-right incitement and for students alleged involvement in price tag attacks, in which Palestinian houses, religious buildings and property are vandalized.

The yeshivas head rabbi, Yitzhak Shapira, signed a petition over the weekend opposing administrative detentions and calling on the public to support those who received warrants, the religious news site Israel National News reported.

Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva next to Yitzhar, at the Jerusalems Magistrate Court. Jan 27, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/ FLASH90)

In 2010, Shapira was arrested for suspicion of involvement in the torching of a mosque in the northern West Bank Palestinian town Yasuf, although he was later released due to lack of evidence. He is also known for publishing inflammatory anti-Palestinian writing.

Tuesdays house arrest order was the twenty-first such order issued since authorities began to crack down on Jewish extremists in the wake of the July killing of Saad Dawabsha and his 18-month-old son, Ali, in a firebombing attack on their home in the Palestinian village of Duma.

The attack, coupled with a fatal stabbing spree by an extremist Jew at Jerusalems gay pride parade a day earlier, sparked an international and domestic outcry over Israels failure to come to grips with violence by Jewish extremists.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon approved the use of detention without charges known as administrative detention and other means in an effort to track down the killers of the Dawabshas.

On Tuesday, two West Bank youths suspected of extremist involvement were handed similar warrants

Yaalon said the use of administrative detention for a number of Jewish terror suspects has proved effective in preventing additional violence against Arabs by hardline Jews.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Read the rest here:
Suspected far-right activist booted out of West Bank | The …

West Bank Protest Video Shows Scuffle Between Family And …

Posted By on September 4, 2015

JERUSALEM (AP) A video showing an Israeli soldier scuffling with Palestinian women and youth at a West Bank protest has been viewed more than 2 million times on Facebook, shining a light on Israeli military policies in the territory.

In the edited video, the masked soldier is seen holding a 12-year-old boy, his arm in a cast, in a chokehold in an attempt to arrest him. The soldier is swarmed by the boy’s female relatives, including his mother and sister, who pull at his skin and uniform and slap him. The boy’s sister, a 15-year-old sporting a blonde braid, is seen biting the soldier’s hand. Bystanders yell, “He is a little boy. His arm is broken.”

The soldier struggles with the boy, and then the female crowd, which ripped the mask off his face, for about a minute before a commanding officer arrives to assist him. The soldier then frees himself and releases the boy, angrily throwing a small stun grenade at a group of people as he walks away.

The original video, which was provided to The Associated Press by its creator, local activist and the boy’s relative Bilal Tamimi, showed the same footage. Tamimi said Palestinians had hurled stones at the troops, but that he hadn’t seen the boy throw stones.

The skirmish took place Friday at a weekly protest in the West Bank village of Nebi Saleh, where Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters often clash. Villagers claim a nearby Jewish settlement has restricted access to a nearby spring.

The Israeli military said Sunday that a “violent riot” broke out at the protest and that it tried to detain the boy because he was hurling rocks. The military says the boy was released “to prevent an escalation of violence.”

The video sparked accusations from critics that Israel is too heavy-handed in its confrontations with Palestinian protesters, especially minors.

In Israel, the video was seen as capturing the antagonism Israel’s soldiers face from stone-throwing Palestinian protesters and raised concerns for the soldiers’ safety.

Also on HuffPost:

Originally posted here:
West Bank Protest Video Shows Scuffle Between Family And …

Clashes During Israeli Raid to Arrest Militant in West Bank

Posted By on September 4, 2015

An Israeli raid to arrest a senior Hamas operative in the West Bank turned into a gunbattle Monday night, leaving several wounded in the clashes.

The Israeli military said Israeli forces surrounded a house where the wanted man was suspected of hiding in Jenin late Monday. Israeli officials declined to name the wanted operative, though Palestinians identified him as Majdi Abu Alhaija.

After forces repeatedly called on Alhaija to surrender, they demolished the house, the military said.

Hundreds of Palestinians rioted in the area, hurling rocks and firebombs at the Israeli forces, the military said.

A Palestinian security official said Palestinian gunmen exchanged heavy fire with Israeli soldiers, and 20 Palestinians were taken to hospital after being wounding by Israeli rubber bullets. An Israeli paramilitary border police officer also was moderately wounded in the fighting.

Israelis arrested Alhaija, his brother and his 15-year-old son, the Palestinian official said. Soldiers also tried to arrest a member of the Islamic Jihad group but couldn’t find him, he said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not allowed to brief journalists.

The clashes lasted till dawn Tuesday.

Shortly before dawn, a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel early Tuesday, but the rocket appeared to have landed inside Gaza, the Israeli military said.

A small Salafist group in Gaza affiliated with the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for firing two rockets Tuesday toward Israel, saying it was in retaliation for the West Bank arrest raid.

Read this article:
Clashes During Israeli Raid to Arrest Militant in West Bank

Rivlin: West Bank settlements are as Israeli as Tel Aviv …

Posted By on September 4, 2015

The settlements in Samaria are as much a part of Israel as the countrys largest city Tel Aviv, said President Reuven Rivlin as he visited an elementary school in the community of Peduel.

Sometimes, people talk of the state of Tel Aviv or the state of Jerusalem, the Jewish state and the state of Israel, Rivlin said as he stood in the schools courtyard to help celebrate the first day of classes.

Those who live here know that there is no such thing as the state of Tel Aviv or the state of Jerusalem. There is just one country, the state of Israel, said Rivlin.

As he looked at out at the several hundred elementary school children that sat on folding chairs, under a large tan cloth awning, the president spoke of the role their West Bank community played in the history of the nation and the state.

Rivlin, who is a veteran member of the Likud party, is fairly outspoken about the importance of national unity among all segments of Israeli society and all regions of the country.

But on Tuesday, he linked that message with the larger diplomatic one, that highlighted the importance of the West Bank settlements to the state of Israel.

Located 4.5 kilometers away from the Green Line, within the planned route of the security barrier, the small hilltop community of Peduel has under 2,000 people and is accessible by only a small winding road.

There was a time, Rivlin said, when Peduel was known as the back porch of the nation. However, he said it has come to symbolize the Israel’s historical and geographical connection, from the sea to the hilltops, from the past to the future.

It connects the Biblical kingdom of Israel with the modern state, he said. Those who live here know that we will never again lend our hand to the dissolution of Jewish sovereignty.

He added that in Peduel, we say, the Shomron is here, Tel Aviv is here, Jerusalem is here.”

We did not come to Israel because we fled the Holocaust or pogroms, we came and we will continue to settle it out of happiness and joy and the understanding that this is our land,” said the president.

You may think that this is the first day of your studies, but I will tell you something, that those who live in Pedual never stop learning. Every stone and tree tells a story.”

The geography, much like the archeology of Samaria, is like the photographs of a family album. Those who live here live in the middle of a lesson in history, in Bible, in citizenship and love of the land, Rivlin said.

But the most important lesson learned here, is one of unity.”

Read the original post:
Rivlin: West Bank settlements are as Israeli as Tel Aviv …

Gaza Could Become ‘Uninhabitable’ By 2020, UN Warns

Posted By on September 4, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A new United Nations report says Gaza could be “uninhabitable” in less than five years if current economic trends continue.

The report released Tuesday by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development points to the eight years of economic blockade of Gaza as well as the three wars between Israel and the Palestinians there over the past six years.

Last year’s war displaced half a million people and left parts of Gaza destroyed.

The war “has effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class, sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international humanitarian aid,” the new report says.

Gaza’s GDP dropped 15 percent last year, and unemployment reached a record high of 44 percent. Seventy-two percent of households are food insecure.

The wars have shattered Gaza’s ability to export and produce for the domestic market and left no time for reconstruction, the report says. It notes that Gaza’s “de-development,” or development in reverse, has been accelerated.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

The report comes as Egyptian military bulldozers press ahead with a project that effectively would fill Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip with water and flood the last remaining cross-border underground smuggling tunnels, which have brought both commercial items and weapons into Gaza.

The report calls the economic prospects for 2015 for the Palestinian territories “bleak” because of the unstable political situation, reduced aid and the slow pace of reconstruction.

Also on HuffPost:

See original here:
Gaza Could Become ‘Uninhabitable’ By 2020, UN Warns

Gaza Could Become Uninhabitable by 2020, U.N. Report Warns

Posted By on September 4, 2015

The Gaza Strip could become uninhabitable within five years, a United Nations report released Tuesday warns, as a result of Israeli military operations and a nearly decade-long blockade that have crippled its economy and infrastructure.

Gaza, a small territory thats home to about 1.8 million Palestinians, had no time for meaningful reconstruction or economic recovery after eight years of a devastating Israeli economic blockade, wrote the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its annual report. The agency, which has provided assistance to displaced Palestinians, also attributed the impoverished conditions to three successive Israeli military operations over the past six years.

The social, health and security-related ramifications of the high population density and overcrowding are among the factors that may render Gaza unliveable by 2020, if present trends continue, the U.N. report said. Reconstruction efforts are extremely slow relative to the magnitude of devastation, and Gazas local economy did not have a chance to recover.

Since the most recent Israeli military operation in 2014, more than 20,000 Palestinian homes, 148 schools and 60 healthcare centers in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to the U.N.

View original post here:
Gaza Could Become Uninhabitable by 2020, U.N. Report Warns

Egypt Starts Dig on Gaza Border to Stop Smuggling Tunnels – ABC News

Posted By on September 4, 2015

Egyptian military bulldozers are digging through the sand along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip in recent days, pressing ahead with what appears to be a renewed campaign to pressure Gaza’s Hamas rulers and stamp out militant activity along the border.

The project, billed as an Egyptian military-operated fish farm, effectively would fill the border area with water and is designed to put an end to the last remaining cross-border underground smuggling tunnels, Egyptian military officials said. Hamas accuses Egypt of further isolating the beleaguered Palestinian territory.

The new excavations seem to be “a tightening of the grip of siege on Gaza,” Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said. Egypt “should not slide into this cliff that agrees with the Israeli policies of siege.”

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of the territory since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. For several years, Egypt tolerated a smuggling industry, allowing hundreds of tunnels to bring in goods like cigarettes and spare motorbike parts, as well as weapons. These tunnels were a lifeline for Hamas, which collected millions of dollars in taxes and revenues from the smuggled goods. They continued to thrive after longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 and the Islamist Mohammed Morsi won the country’s first free presidential election.

But things changed after the Egyptian army ousted Morsi, a key ally of Hamas, in 2013. The military-backed government accused Islamic militants of using smuggling tunnels to move between Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Hamas denies militants move in and out of its territory.

Last November, after militants killed 31 Egyptian troops in an assault on a checkpoint 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Rafah, Egypt demolished hundreds of homes and evicted thousands of residents as it carved out a buffer zone and destroyed more tunnels. Today, Palestinian smugglers operate an estimated 20 tunnels.

But the violence has continued. Last month, Islamic State-linked militants struck Egyptian army outposts in a coordinated wave of suicide bombings and battles. It was some of Sinai’s deadliest fighting in decades and underlined the government’s failure to stem the insurgency. Last week, three gunmen in a speeding car killed two policemen in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Now Egypt is trying to finish off the tunnels for good.

Egypt’s army began digging last week what officials said will be 18 fisheries along the 9-mile (14-kilometer) border with Gaza to grow mullet fish and shrimps, and to make digging underground tunnels impossible. The military officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

On Sunday, diggers and bulldozers operated in several locations along the border. Pairs of 15-inch black steel pipes were scattered in the construction area. Previous plans to dig a small canal were abandoned after studies showed that the water would eventually flood the border completely, the officials said.

The new construction work has had an immediate effect on Gaza’s tunnel smuggling trade. One smuggler, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want trouble with the Egyptians, said he bought a shipment of motorbike parts for $6,000, but paid $10,000 to get it smuggled into Gaza because the operation has become very risky.

Read the original post:
Egypt Starts Dig on Gaza Border to Stop Smuggling Tunnels – ABC News

Where We Work | UNRWA

Posted By on September 4, 2015

The Gaza Strip is home to a population of more than 1.76million people, including 1.26 million Palestine refugees.

For the last decade, the socioeconomic situation in Gaza has been in steady decline. Years of conflict and closure have left 80 per cent of the population dependent on international assistance. The tightened blockade, imposed following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007, has decimated lives and livelihoods, resulting in the impoverishment and de-development of a highly skilled and well-educated society. Despite adjustments made to the blockade by the Government of Israel in June 2010, restrictions on imports and exports continue to severely hamper recovery and reconstruction.

Over half a million Palestine refugees in Gaza live in the eight recognized Palestine refugee camps, which have one of the highest population densities in the world.

The blockade has had a devastating impact on Palestine refugees, includingthose living in Palestine refugeecamps. Unemployment continues to be at unprecedented levels, particularly amongyoung people.

Operating through more than 11,000 staff in over 200 installations across the Gaza Strip, UNRWA delivers education, health care, relief and social services, microcredit and emergency assistance to registered Palestine refugees.

In recent years, the Agency has made significant improvements to its services in Gaza, such as its schools of excellence and excellent health services initiatives. It also better targets its assistance to the poorest of the poor through the implementation of a proxy-means tested poverty survey. UNRWA continues to:

Figures as of 1 July 2014

Continue reading here:
Where We Work | UNRWA

Judaism: Pictures, Videos, Breaking News

Posted By on September 4, 2015

Enemies are real, but reducing their capacity and danger is a goal worth achieving. When you can’t completely defeat an enemy at a given point in time — or not without other dire consequences — smart diplomacy is better than more failed and destructive wars.

Jim Wallis

Christian leader for social change; President and Founder @Sojourners

One culture that is often left out of curriculums on multiculturalism is Jewish culture. While most curriculums do something that recognizes the Holocaust, a particularly relevant culture to students, especially New Yorkers, is Jewish American life.

It’s ten years since Israel, under late prime minister Ariel Sharon, expelled over 11,000 Jews from their homes in Gaza and parts of Samaria. The government called this plan the “Disengagement.

I climbed into the ambulance behind the stretcher and thought: Oh, God; today is the day I am going to become a widow. My husband had collapsed at work. His consciousness and cognition were scrambled. He didn’t know where he was and could not identify the year.

Linda S. Haase

Senior Associate Vice President of Marketing Communications, the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago

Meryl Meisler’s tome of photography from the 70s titled, “Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ’70s: Suburbia & The City” is an exceptio…

When last we saw Larry David on his classic television show Curb Your Enthusiasm a number of years ago, he was wandering the streets of Paris with good friend Leon. And then the scene faded out and Larry David faded away. And since then, I’ve been desperately seeking Larry!

Besides food and family gatherings, Jewish festivals have profound meanings. Rosh Hashanah is not just the beginning of the Hebrew calendar, but is a symbol of renewal. It is when we begin to scrutinize ourselves and determine how we want to improve ourselves.

I won’t let myself imagine the betrayal that will linger in my children’s eyes for years. Soon, I will tell myself that I do this as a matter of survival, pikuach nefesh, that like Levi scrubbing his hands even on the Sabbath when he had cancer, the Law stipulates that survival supersedes the Law.

Leah Lax

Feminist, LGBTQ advocate, and award-winning author of Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home.

Today we still live in a society that attempts to define and perpetuate lies about the real lives of Jewish people and of all minoritized peoples, and even proclaims that we do not have a right to exist. But exist we do, everywhere, in all walks of life.

We need make our marriages more exciting. We need to make them more passionate. Do our wives really need to find this passion only in a fantasy novel about domination? Do our husbands need to ruin their lives by signing on to Ashley Madison and getting caught, when all they were going to find anyway was another guy?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books and an award-winning TV host and columnist.

Disunity has infected every corner of the Jewish world, and is the venom that lurks behind every slanted look we give one another, behind every bad word we say about each other (and there are plenty), and behind our indecision as to how we should respond to social and political events.

Surveys reveal a disturbingly large number of American Jews who feel disconnected from their Jewish identity. How painfully sad! In response, and with the High Holy Days just around the corner, let me share what being Jewish means to me.

David Harris

AJC Executive Director, Edward and Sandra Meyer Office of the Executive Director; Senior Associate, St. Antony’s College, Oxford (2009-11)

Over the past year, Julian Edelman has been exploring his Judaism and reached out to CJP, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, to set forth on a journey of self-discovery in Israel.

Steve marveled at the way Jews produced so many talented businessmen. His interest was piqued. Was it something Jews are born with, that creates so many Nobel Laureates and high achievers in every field? Or did it have something to do with Jewish values and culture?

Purists will say I shouldn’t be texting so close to the Sabbath. Nor encouraging my sons to text on that holiday too. But once again, I find myself drawing something meaningful, significant and of lasting value from my Judaism and using it to bring solace, joy and rich meaning to my life.

Iris Ruth Pastor

Slice-of-life columnist, motivational speaker and pod caster, advocating “Preserving One’s Bloom” by striving to be the best one can be.

Dating. It’s like going out for ice cream. That’s right, ice cream, the official food of heaven (I don’t know, probably). Sometimes you’re craving a certain flavor, sometimes it makes you sick, other times it’s too much.

More here:
Judaism: Pictures, Videos, Breaking News