European Parliament passes watered-down Palestine resolution

The European Parliament has voted in favour of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The final resolution was heavily watered down in order to obtain the support of Europe’s right wing parties. EurActiv France reports.

In a first for the European Parliament, an overwhelming majority of MEPs voted to adopt a non-binding resolution on the recognition of the state of Palestine.

The resolution, passed on Wednesday (17 December) with 498 votes in favour, 88 against and 111 abstentions, out of the total 697 MEPs present.

Members of the European Parliament had previously avoided the thorny subject, as they have no power to legislate on the EU’s foreign policy.

Broad support

MEPs from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the Liberals (ALDE), the Greens and the radical left were joined by several members of the Italian Five Star Movement, affiliated with Nigel Farage’s eurosceptic EFDD group, in supporting the resolution.

Gilles Pargneaux, the French Socialist MEP who initiated the resolution, said “this is a major political victory that will help sensitise the European Union’s population and unleash similar movements for recognition in the national parliaments of the different member states”.

>> Read: EU Parliament to vote on recognising Palestinian state in December

The resolution originally proposed by the Socialists enjoyed the support of the Liberals and the Greens, but had to be significantly watered down during negotiations with the rightist groups, resulting in a very cautiously-worded text.

The resolution calls for the “recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced”.

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European Parliament passes watered-down Palestine resolution

The Chosen Objects: A Soaring Market for Judaica As Museums Go on a Buying Spree

In the early 18th century, Jews in Europe began to commission handwritten and gorgeously decorated Hebrew books. One of the leading craftsmen of these was Aryeh Judah Leib Sofer ben Elhanan Katz of Treibitsch, known for his readable text, beautiful illustrations and page trim of gold. In 1716, he created his second full work, Ashkenazi Prayer Book for the Entire Year; Book of Psalms. Earlier this month, the nearly 300-year-old manuscript went on the block at Sothebys in New York with a price estimate of $550,000 to $750,000. It soared to $875,000.

Sothebys holds a sale of Judaica every December in New York, specifically timed for Hanukkah. This years sale, like most, included prayer books, Hagaddahs and manuscripts, synagogue objects such as Torahs, mantles, finials and crowns, and household items such as seder compendiums and menorahs. But this auction raised $6.33 million, a leap from the $2.79 million raised at 2013s sale, and well above the sales high estimate. About three out of every four works offered sold.

Whos bidding? While private collectors in the U.S.,IsraelandEuropetend to be the largest group, Sothebys senior vice president Jennifer Roth said that museums eager to address gaps in their collections have become a growing force in this market. I think it is part of museums efforts to become more diverse in their collections, she said. American museums didnt have much or any of this material before, and know that its time to acquire.

Consider that just five years ago, one of the nations great encyclopedic museums, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, had no Judaica in its collection. Then, in 2009, a retired elementary school educator from Kansas, Jetskalina Phillips, left the bulk of her estate to the MFA to support the acquisition, study, and display of the material. So, last year, the MFA acquired the Charles and Lynn Schusterman collection of Judaica, featuring over 100 examples of silver and metalwork, textiles, ceramics, paintings and sculpture, among other objects.

Jetskalina Phillips donation was a bolt out of the blue, and the Schusterman gift was part of a snowball effect, said Marietta Cambareri, curator of decorative arts and sculpture and, now, the Jetskalina H. Phillips curator of Judaica at the MFA.

The Boston MFA is just one of several institutions filling in the gaps of their collections, so to speak, with purchases of Judaica, which is defined broadly as ritual objects and other artifacts related to the history and culture of the Jewish people.

An institutional buying spree kicked off in 2013 with the sale of the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica collection at auction. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem jointly acquired the Steinhardts Mishneh Torah as a private sale; The Met also purchased at auction a circa 1740 Venetian silver Torah crown for $857,000 (double its pre-sale estimate) and a pair of circa 1896 Russian silver Torah finials for $43,750 (the pre-sale estimate was $20,000-$30,000).

That same sale saw purchases by New Yorks Jewish Museum, the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, the Cincinnati Art Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art. Other active institutional buyers in the Judaica market, Ms. Roth said, have been the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Sadly, very little Judaica from before the 18thcentury survives, as pogroms destroyed objects as well as people inEurope. Most of what you see for sale is 19thcentury or later, said Michael Ehrenthal, part-owner of Moriah Galleries inManhattan, which is one of the few shops in the country specializing in Judaica. Older than that, pieces are quite rare and more expensive.

The oldest lot in the most recent Sothebys sale was a 1533 proclamation in Italian listing the Privileges of the Jews of Duchy of Milan, identifying their rights to engage in commerce, lend money, live in their own communities and other practices (it sold for $8,125, against a pre-sale estimate of $6,000-8,000).

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The Chosen Objects: A Soaring Market for Judaica As Museums Go on a Buying Spree

Palestine submits UN resolution

A protester waves a Palestinian flag. (file photo)

Palestinians have submitted a draft UN Security Council resolution in an effort to end Israeli occupation by the end of 2017.

The draft was presented to the UN by Jordan, said Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour at a press conference on Wednesday.

The draft seeks a final settlement deal with Israel in 12 months and an Israeli withdrawal in late 2017.

“We are willing to work with those who want to work with us for meaningful things,” Mansour said following a closed-door meeting with Arab representatives.

He added that the Palestinians are open to talks if they are ready and willing so that we perhaps can succeed in having something adopted by the Security Council to open a serious door to peace.”

The Arab-backed draft initially set a deadline of November 2016 for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, but France pushed for a softer resolution.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the besieged Gaza Strip and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.

Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.


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Palestine submits UN resolution


Connecticut rabbis apply the Torahs teachings to a hot-button issue

By Cindy Mindell

Anyone who has sat at the seder table knows the basic Jewish attitude toward immigrants: In each generation, each person is obligated to see himself or herself as though he or she personally came forth from Egypt.

In the Torah and Talmud, there are no fewer than 35 directives about how to treat the stranger. But in modern times, as the public and legislative debate over immigration reform unfolds, how are Jews supposed to interpret and act on the ancient teachings?

Like every law and policy, Torah can be interpreted and carried out in many ways, says Rabbi Nelly Altenburger of Congregation Bnai Israel in Danbury, who immigrated to the U.S. from Brazil in 2001, just before 9/11.

Take, for example, the oft-quoted passage in the pro-immigration community, Leviticus 19:33-34. In the directive, the Jews are commanded to treat the stranger or alien ger in Hebrew as ezrach, Hebrew for citizen in some translations and native in others.

From the Jewish Publication Society of America 1985 translation:

When strangers reside with you in your land, you shall not wrong them. The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I the Eternal am your God.

From When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.

While both translations indicate that the pre-Diaspora Jew was not to mistreat foreigners, what does it mean for the modern-day Jew to welcome a foreigner as a native or a citizen? The Torah doesnt offer detailed instructions for Jews in either era.

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Israel, Palestinians prepare for showdown at U.N.

The Washington Post Palestinian officials will take a new resolution to the United Nations to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank by late 2016. The announcement came as new figures show the Jewish settler population in the territory is on the rise.

Israel and the Palestinians are girding for a showdown at the United Nations this week over a resolution that would recognize a Palestinian state and demand an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in less than two years.

The Palestinian leadership, frustrated after two decades of peace talks that have failed to bring them statehood, announced they will submit the resolution to the Security Council on Wednesday.

It is likely doomed from the start.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat allowed on Monday that the measure, which sets a November 2016 deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from land sought for a Palestinian state, does not yet have the support by a majority of Security Council members. And even if they did win the vote, it would likely be vetoed by the United States, one of five permanent members with veto power.

Israelis are relying again on the United States to act as a buffer at the United Nations.

Let it be clear: they wont get what they want, said former justice minister and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni, according to the Jerusalem Post. The Palestinian proposal wont be accepted. The world will reject this text. And, if necessary, the U.S. will use its veto power.

Although the United States has vetoed dozens of resolutions deemed anti-Israel in the past, this one comes at a particularly difficult time. Several Arab states that are sympathetic to the Palestinian position are part of the coalition battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and Washington is relying on their cooperation to keep the coalition from being exclusively Western.

Trying to avert a confrontation over the resolution, Secretary of State John F. Kerry summoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a three-hour meeting in Rome Monday.

Kerry made no statement after the meeting, instead leaving for Paris to meet with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and the European Union. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to be in London to talk with Erekat and the head of the Arab League, which has proposed its own peace initiative.

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Israel, Palestinians prepare for showdown at U.N.

Beginning of Hanukkah marked with celebrations, light

Ben Coen, right, helps Osborne Coen check out a menorah made out of balloons at the annual Hanukkah party at Temple Har Shalom in Park City on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

PARK CITY Two dancing dreidels and a large menorah graced the matching sweaters Scott Maizlish and his children wore Saturday evening during the annual Temple Har Shalom Hanukkah party.

The celebration was in anticipation of the Festival of Lights, which begins Tuesday and last for eight days. It is considered to be a relatively minor religious holiday for many Jews its observance is not found in Jewish scripture, but rather in the book of the Maccabees yet it provides an opportunity for Jews to celebrate the faith’s traditions.

Growing up, Maizlish was constantly reminded that he could be the last to carry on the family name. Now his son, Joey, 16, hears the same.

“We are a small religion in the grand scheme of things,” Maizlish said, which is why he makes an effort to participate in the Jewish traditions with his children.

The Maizlish family was among the more than 200 people who came to the synagogue to kick off their Hanukkah celebrations. A 7-foot menorah made from balloons sat in the lobby, as Utah balloon artist Jeremy Telford made inflated creations such as bows and arrows, guns and Snow White figures. Blue and white, the same colors as the flag of Israel, were seen throughout the synagogue, along with chocolate coins, also called gelt, and children playing the traditional dreidel game and decorating cookies.

Hanukkah commemorates the successful revolution of the Jews against the oppressive reign of Antiochus IV, and the subsequent rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. According to tradition, there was only enough oil to light the menorah in the temple for one day, but it lasted for eight.

Hanukkah celebrations are often symbolic and rich with tradition.

Jewish children will often play dreidel a game of chance played with a top and pieces of candy, chocolate gelt or other items available to win. The dreidel has four sides, with one Hebrew letter on each side: Nun, Gimel, Hei and Shin. These are the first letters in the phrase, “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,” which means “A great miracle happened there,” according to Judaism 101, an online encyclopedia of Judaism. Depending on how the top lands, a child will give a prize back or receive none, some or all of the prizes in the pot.

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Beginning of Hanukkah marked with celebrations, light

Photos | Hanukkah festivities at synagogue in Norfolk

In case NONE of you know this–Chanukah is NOT…I repeat, NOT…’just’ a religious holiday. It is the commemoration of one of the first historically known military victories! Chanukah observes the first big struggle by a nation (the people of Israel) to overturn the oppression of a tyrannical government, and to reinstitute their OWN social and religious order, and to reestablish their own government. Chanukah is the observance of a great military victory, and YES–a great miracle happened there!

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Photos | Hanukkah festivities at synagogue in Norfolk

Eli Yishai Leaving Shas, Launching New Party for Elections

Adina Bar-Shalom Will Stick With Shas, Not Run for Knesset


Published December 14, 2014.

Eli Yishai will leave the Shas party he once headed and has registered to run in the March elections with a new party.

The new party is called Maran, the title used to refer to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the late spiritual leader of Shas, the Times of Israel reported.

On Sunday, nine of Shas 11 government ministers signed a statement indicating their support for Aryeh Deri, the current party leader and also Yishais predecessor heading the Sephardic Orthodox party.

Also, Yosefs daughter, Adina Bar-Shalom, announced at a news conference with Deri that she would remain within the Shas movement, despite offers to run for Knesset with other parties, and form a womens council within the party. The council is seen as a consolation prize for a group of haredi Orthodox women who demanded that the haredi Orthodox parties place a woman in a realistic spot on their party lists.

The partys Council of Torah Sages ordered Deri to cancel a weekend meeting with Yishai during which the two planned to attempt a reconciliation.

Yishai and Deri have been at odds since the death last year of Yosef, and last week their arguments came to a head with Deri reportedly demanding a letter of resignation from Yishai that Deri could put into effect at any time if Yishai did not toe the line.

Yishai led the party for 14 years after Deri resigned due to a conviction for bribery. Deri was sentenced in 2000 to three years in prison and barred from public service in the political arena for seven years. Yosef said at the time that Yishai would take over as Shas leader until Deris return.

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Eli Yishai Leaving Shas, Launching New Party for Elections

The world’s most secure airline! El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 767-300ER (4X-EAK) Landing at YYZ – Video

The world's most secure airline! El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 767-300ER (4X-EAK) Landing at YYZ
In 2008, the airline was named by Global Traveler magazine as the world's most secure airline. Here are some of its security measures: Air Marshal: Air Marshals are known to be armed plain-cloth…

By: YYZ Spotting HD

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The world’s most secure airline! El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 767-300ER (4X-EAK) Landing at YYZ – Video

Israel wants US to block Jordan resolution on withdrawal from West Bank

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday. Photograph: REUTERS/Evan Vucci

Israel is hoping the United States will veto a Palestinian resolution, expected to be presented at the United Nations Security Council this week, calling for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank by November 2016.

The Palestinian resolution will be presented by Jordan one of the nonpermanent members of the security council if it receives enough support from council members.

A separate proposal, being drafted by France, in consultation with Britain and Germany, calls for a two-year deadline for negotiations to bring about the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Diplomatic sources say Paris is hoping to persuade the Palestinians to back their compromise resolution, rather than risk a US veto of the Arab version.

The US has traditionally used its security council veto to block UN resolutions rejected by Israel. However, the deadlock in the Middle East peace process and growing frustration with Israels settlement construction, combined with frosty relations between president Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, means a US veto can no longer be taken for granted.

US officials say Washington has still not decided how to act and much may depend on the Palestinian willingness to accept a watered-down resolution.

US secretary of state John Kerry is set to hold talks in London today with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Arab League officials after consulting last night with European foreign ministers.

Mr Netanyahu made it clear that Israel would oppose any international effort to impose a solution.

Time after time, we have repulsed efforts to dictate conditions which have damaged the security of Israel and which do not comply with real peace, he said. We will not accept attempts to dictate to us unilateral moves on a limited timetable.

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Israel wants US to block Jordan resolution on withdrawal from West Bank

Crazy talk isn't just crazy

Kim Jong Il, the former leader of North Korea, once made 11 holes in one in a round of golf. On a well-publicized scuba dive, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, happened to find two ancient artifacts. Iran’s Supreme Leader claims the United States, Britain, and Israel created the Islamist rebels in Syria.

Dictators say a lot of crazy things. Some are silly, some are ridiculous, and some, like Iran’s claims, are sinister. None has any contact with reality. One American reaction to this outlandish, paranoid nonsense is, in a way, healthy: We laugh at it.

A Google search will find hundreds of fake images of a bare-chested Putin riding a shark. The creators of “South Park” laughed at North Korea in “Team America: World Police,” a plot that James Franco and Seth Rogen borrow for their forthcoming movie “The Interview.” Too bad North Korea can’t take a joke: It denounced “The Interview” as “an act of war.” Hackers in North Korea are suspected of crushing Sony Pictures with a cyber-attack.

Dictators don’t like being mocked, which is precisely why laughter is not a bad response. But our other ways of dismissing the crazy stuff are less helpful. We excuse it by saying that it’s merely misunderstood rhetoric. We rationalize it by claiming that it’s just meant for public consumption.

Worse of all, we psychoanalyze it, using it to put the dictators on the couch. Frankly, I don’t know if Putin’s machismo is a pose to compensate for his inner weakness, or if Kim had an ego problem. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did, but I don’t care. You can’t treat their nonsense as if you’re Oprah.

All these excuses — and even our jokes — paper over the fact that the crazy talk isn’t crazy at all: It serves a purpose. Several purposes, actually. Kim’s regime rests in part on the claim that his family dynasty is the best in the world at everything: Golf is merely a facet of his pretended greatness.

And undoubtedly, many Russians don’t believe Putin’s claims. But he can spot opponents by seeing who refuses to play along. In fact, a lot of the crazy talk isn’t directed at us: As George Orwell knew, it’s a way of enforcing conformity. If you don’t dare laugh at Kim’s golf skills, you won’t challenge his regime.

Of course, sometimes laughter isn’t appropriate. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has recently republished his books online, in Arabic, on the authority’s official site. One of these tomes is “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.”

The book’s theme, as journalist Seth Mandel summarizes it, is that Zionist leaders “struck up an alliance with the Nazis to facilitate the extermination of the Jewish people.” That’s a disgusting lie. But it’s a revealing one, because it tells us what kind of regime the Palestinian Authority is: one that glories in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and hopes that, by publishing in Arabic, we won’t notice.

The more you look for this kind of thing, the more you’ll find. Last month, Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, claimed Muslims discovered the New World, and that Columbus saw a mosque in Cuba. The same month, Chinese authorities banned puns, because they risk causing “cultural and linguistic chaos.”

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Crazy talk isn't just crazy

Jerusalem crisis: Amid violence, seeking paths to peace

Jerusalem For decades, Jerusalem has presented successive teams of Middle East negotiators with an array of complex and emotional issues that touch the heart of the Israeli-Arab conflict. It produces the highest of passions, but also unique opportunities to forge a solution.

Since July, political resentment, religious tensions, and social ills have boiled over into the worst violence the city has seen in a decade from the brutal revenge murder of a Palestinian teenager to the killing of rabbis at prayer in a synagogue pushing Jerusalem back into the global spotlight.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has decried Israeli political and security actions on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound as contamination and a declaration of war, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, en route to early elections, fired the most vocal supporters of Israeli-Palestinian peace in his government, in part, analysts say, for being soft on Jerusalem.

Is hatred and violence the inevitable destiny of the holy city?

Here we examine the key challenges and potential solutions for establishing a practical, sustainable peace in Jerusalem, sacred to more than half of humanity.

When the United Nations outlined the division of British Mandatory Palestine in 1947, it envisioned Jerusalem as an internationally administered city between two sovereign states. When the fighting over Israels creation in 1948 ended, the armistice line, which became known as the Green Line, divided the city between Israeli and Jordanian control.

In the 1967 war, Israel conquered the eastern half of Jerusalem and declared full sovereignty over the city as its eternal and undivided capital a move no major world power has yet recognized.

Palestinians call for a capital in East Jerusalem that is contiguous with the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the West Bank. They decry the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, where nearly all of Jerusalems Arab neighborhoods are located, and they demand that Israel withdraw to the 1949 Green Line.

The 2000 Clinton Parameters, outlined by then-President Bill Clinton, declared that the citys Arab neighborhoods should be apportioned to the future state of Palestine, while the Jewish neighborhoods including large blocs over the Green Line would be part of Israel. Israeli and Palestinian leaders approved that principle, though with caveats.

Palestinians seek separate municipalities within an open city, while Israelis insist on a physical border between the two halves a massive logistical undertaking given the interlocking patchwork of Jewish and Arab areas. Under a divided regime, the walled Old City the heart of Jerusalem and the epicenter for its holiest sites would also likely be divided, or administered by an international body.

Jerusalem crisis: Amid violence, seeking paths to peace