Israel Daily News Wrap
Tues. January 12, 2021
Should prisoners in Israel get the vaccine? Is it wrong to renovate the Old City? And a painting goes missing from an exhibition in Tel Aviv.
- Sheldon Adelson, the rich and famous Casino magnate has passed away at the age of 87.The billionaire was a big supporter of both US president Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister — you know his name — Benjamin Netanyahu. Adelson owned the Las Vegas Sands, which became an empire of gambling. He dies from issues related to his treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Adelson’s gifts and support of Jews and Israel is so long that it is tough to say it all. He was the son of a cab driver and became a key player behind political moves such as the embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the purchase of the ambassador’s home in Tel Aviv, a staunch opposer to the Iran deal, and a protector of Holocaust memorials, financial backer of Jewish schools, provider of funds for the AIPAC OR American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) headquarters and the reason that millions of Jewish Americans have visited Israel.
- On Monday, the Lod District Court ruled that screening the film Jenin, Jenin is prohibited throughout Israel. This isn’t the first time the film, about the Battle of Jenin in 2002 during the Second Intifada, has been brought to court. It was banned in Israel in 2003 but the High Court of Justice later reversed the decision. Then, in 2007 the court rejected a claim of defamation made by five soldiers, stating that none of the soldiers in the film could be identified. This time however, the Lod court agreed that the Lt.-Colonel who played an active part in Operation Defensive Shield, could clearly be seen and was incorrectly portrayed as a thief who stole the belongings of a “helpless old person” and that the director didn’t even remotely fact check the sources he used in the film. In addition to the court’s rule to ban the film in Israel, Israeli-Arab film director and actor, Mohammad Bakri, has been fined 175,000 NIS (or $55,731.65) which will be paid to the IDF Lt.-Col. as compensation for defamation. Politicians around Israel have had differing views about the situation, with some stating it is important to honor freedom of speech while also drawing redlines when necessary, and others stating that the decision by the court silences the discussion around Israeli occupation. Please write a comment in our Facebook group with what you think about this. You’ll see a post there for discussion.
- For the first time in its 31 year history, the left-wing Israeli NGO, B’Tselem, has stated that Israel is an apartheid state and in response, the organization has been accused of being antisemitic. Explaining the organization’s policy change, executive director Hagai El-Ad says “Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it; it is one regime from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid.” Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, who is head of the Kohelet Policy Forum’s International Law Department, said that the statements made by B’Tselem are comparable to blood libel, and that since no other country beside South Africa, including China and Iran, has been called an apartheid, labeling Israel as one is treating the country like no other country would be treated, which is antisemitic. The professor also states that Israel cannot be compared to South Africa because in South Africa, the government stripped black residents of their citizenship and deported them to special areas, while in the West Bank, Palestinians were never citizens of Israel in the first place.
- And an update to yesterday’s story about prisoners getting Covid-19 immunizations. Yesterday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz asked Public Security Minister Amir Ohana to reverse his decision not to vaccinate prisoners over the age of 60. Gantz voiced his concerns in a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, asking him to intervene saying this was a “life-threatening” ban, is illegal and makes the fight against the pandemic more difficult. The attorney general’s office told Ohana that his order was given “without authority”, as only the Health Ministry can decide who should be vaccinated. Ohana says he does not intend to withdraw. Five human rights groups have petitioned the High Court of Justice asking to overturn the decision. They argue that prisoners are an at-risk population, due to preexisting health issues and overcrowded conditions. We’ll keep you updated here.
- Israeli NBA star, Deni Avdija, scored 6 points in the first home win for the Washington Wizards during last night’s game against the visiting Phoenix Suns. The 20 year-old just joined the team this year. He was on the Maccabi Tel Aviv team back in 2013 and joined their senior team in 2017, at age 16, making him the youngest player in the club’s history. Two years later, he became the youngest player to ever win MVP or most valuable player for the Israel Basketball Premier League. Keep it up, Deni!
- Exclusive: Seven years ago, a nonprofit organization called Hagal Sheli, or My Wave, was started by two friends with a dream of combining surfing with educating at-risk youth in Israel. Their motto is “Cmo bayam, kacha bachaim” which means, like in the ocean, that’s how it is in life. The organization now has three surf centers around the country, with the main one in Bat Yam, a city just south of Tel Aviv. The organization hosts 100 groups per year, 250 staff members and volunteers, and has produced 3,800 graduates. Hagal Sheli is not your typical surf club. It provides students with a six month syllabus created by professionals to help youth succeed on the waves and overcome challenges in school. Reporter Orian Fitlovich spoke to two members of Hagal Sheliabout how the program has transformed the lives of their young participants. Click here to listen to the report.
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