Editor’s Note: Yesterday Bidany was found guilty of the charge of molesting a female Israeli Army officer.
A female IDF officer is not taking an alleged case of misdemeanor sexual contact sitting down — especially not while sitting on an airplane.
The NY Daily News reported that the 23-year-old officer, who commands a missile defense unit, has accused an Orthodox rabbi and father of 11 of groping her groin and breast while sitting next to her on Delta flight 269 en route from Tel Aviv to New York last March 27. The rabbi, Gavriel Bidany, is currently standing trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, and faces six months in prison if found guilty by Magistrate Ramon Reyes.
The woman has testified that Bidany, who was in the seat next to hers, first touched her groin and later her breast, both times bogusly claiming to have been asleep when it happened. The first time, he took his hand away when she was startled awake by the groping after having put her head down on the tray table to rest. The second time, she reportedly asked him what he was doing, and he said, “No, no, it’s a mistake. I’m asleep.”
Too often, janitors in public buildings the world over are taken for granted. Nobody captured this phenomenon as vividly as film director Ken Loach in his movie Bread and Roses, in which a janitor expresses that she feels invisible.
Yesterday, students at Tel Aviv University made a sweeping gesture — quite literally — to show they appreciate their cleaning staff. Some 40 students relieved janitors of their duties, taking over their shifts and giving them a chance to rest.
In 2010, over two-thirds of Israel’s 3.45 million tourists were Christian, and nearly half were self-proclaimed religious pilgrims. It’s rare to find a discriminatory tourism industry these days — dollars are dollars — and fortunately for Israel, the Holy Land is holy for a lot of folks.
Enter the Gospel Trail, the Israeli Tourism Ministry’s newest attempt to monetize Christian pilgrimage. The 40-mile path, located in the Galilee and set to open in May, enables tourists to trace the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples, hitting Tabgha, where Jesus fed the multitude, the Mount of Beatitudes and Capernaum, the site of his purported home on the Sea of Galilee.
According to the Associated Press, the Gospel Trail “includes New Testament quotes carved into stones along the path, shaded rest areas and picnic sites.”
Bah, humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge seems to have come to Israel this Passover.
The big talking point among Israelis during this time of year is what their company gave them. Employers are expected by convention to give employees a gift twice a year, at Passover and at Rosh Hashanah. It’s a longstanding tradition that dates from the days when the socialist-Zionists who founded the state made it a bastion of workers’ rights.
But a survey commissioned by the Israeli Management Center (results not online) indicates that this year, one in five companies is defying expectations and giving nothing. Those who have given gifts spent an average of 355 shekels ($100), which is slightly down on previous years.
The Bibi-Bieber summit is off.
Contrary to yesterday’s reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be meeting Justin Bieber this week before the pop star’s Tel Aviv debut. The pair were set to have a tête-à-tête today, but the meeting has been called off amidst what’s turning out to be another PR fiasco for Israel.
According to Netanyahu’s office, Bieber had requested a meeting with the Israeli leader this week, as part of the Christian singer’s first trip to Israel. Netanyahu obliged, but then — perhaps to justify meeting with a teen singer — invited children from near Israel’s volatile border with Gaza. The move appears to have displeased the singer, as have overly zealous local paparazzi.
The Bieber has landed.
After months of hysterical anticipation among Israel’s tween girls, the Canadian pop star has arrived in Israel, where he will perform Thursday in Tel Aviv - and, it turns out, meet with Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister’s office, sounding somewhat defensive, has let it be known that the singer and his manager requested the meeting, and not the other way around. Either way, Netanyahu plans to get some political mileage out of the event, inviting children from near the rocket-strewn border with Gaza to attend.
After keeping a relatively low profile in recent months, Julian Assange has re-emerged with a lengthy interview in this weekend’s edition of Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. Speaking from the English estate where he’s under house arrest, the Wikileaks founder denied recent accusations of anti-Semitism, and promised more embarrassing revelations on his controversial Web site — which this time will focus on Israel.
As he awaits a British court’s decision about whether to extradite him to Sweden to face sexual-assault charges, Assange is speaking about the documents he has yet to release on Israel. The country survived Wikileaks’ massive “intelligence dump” last summer relatively unscathed, but could sustain more damage from the 6,000 documents Assange claims he’ll release in the near future.
Hollywood has been borrowing from the Israeli TV industry for a while now, but today’s entertainment news is about a show heading in the opposite direction.
Deadline Hollywood and Israel’s YNet news Web site are reporting that a deal is being inked to adapt “Everybody Loves Raymond” for Israel’s small screen. Depending on which source you read, Israel’s Reshet production company will produce 13 or 33 episodes of the show, a massive hit during its nine-season U.S. run. Deadline reports that “Raymond” will also appear in a new version in Poland, and notes that an adaptation of the show is currently the top sitcom in Russia.
A trio of Israelis is literally shooting for the moon, aiming to land a small spacecraft there by the end of next year.
Should they do so, Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub would make Israel just the third nation to manage the feat, after the United States and Russia. The threesome are planning the mission in pursuit of the Google Lunar X Prize, a $20 million award intended to inspire “mavericks” to “take new approaches and think creatively about difficult problems, resulting in truly innovative breakthroughs.”
Competing against 28 other teams, the Israelis describe their spacecraft as “the size of a Coca-Cola bottle,” and are planning to spend around $10 million on the effort, far less than their rivals. The three come from Israel’s technology and science sector, and are drawing on the talents of 50 compatriot colleagues, as well as backing from the country’s Weizmann Institute of Science. The ambition and precocity they’re applying to the planned moon launch sound characteristic - Forbes’ Web site notes that Damari, a communications-systems expert, started computer programming at just 6.
It sounds more like a wish list than something to plan on, but Lady Gaga and some other major stars could be on their way to Israel this summer.
Today’s Yediot Aharonot reports that the “Born This Way” singer is being courted by “operatives in the American and Canadian Jewish communities” about a concert that would take place in one of the country’s biggest venues. The show would be the 24-year-old’s second performance in Israel, following a 2009 music-festival appearance that took place just as she was becoming a global phenomenon. This time, the article says, concert organizers are hoping the singer’s visit could be used to help promote tourism to the country. If Gaga does go, The Shmooze simply suggests that any meat in her outfits be kosher.
Nearly a year after the scandal that ended her epic run as a White House correspondent, Helen Thomas has re-emerged to share more thoughts about Israel and Jews - specifically, that they’re “wonderful,” but also that they wield too much money and power.
“[They are] using their power, and they have power in every direction… over the White House, power over Congres,” Thomas says in the new issue of Playboy. “Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There’s total control…”
The 90-year-old Thomas, who covered every administration from JFK to Obama, said she considers herself anti-Zionist rather than anti-Jewish, and mixed a few words of praise into her conspiratorial comments. “I think [Jews are] wonderful people,” she said. “They had to have the most depth. They were leaders in civil rights. They’ve always had the heart for others but not for Arabs, for some reason.”
Ben Gurion University of the Negev chose today to announce that Geldof is to receive an honorary doctorate at its Annual Board of Governors Meeting in May.
Geldof, former lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, is a well-known campaigner and activist against poverty. In 1985 he staged the Live Aid concert. In 2005 he organized the Live 8 rock concerts to raise awareness of world poverty and raise money to alleviate poverty in Africa. These concerts took place simultaneously in London, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome and Berlin, with the participation of top musicians from around the world.
Culture on your currency – the Bank of Israel has chosen poets over politicians.
Rachel the Poetess, or Rachel Bluwstein as she was born, was one of those tragic artists who didn’t receive nearly enough recognition in her lifetime. Well now, she has been given the ultimate mark of prestige: her image is to appear on new Israeli banknotes.
Russian-born Rachel, born in 1909, was a Zionist pioneer and prolific writer, but died from tuberculosis at age 40. She died alone, having needed to leave the kibbutz where she lived because her illness meant she could no longer endure the physical work. You can see a short biography here
Being religious doesn’t prevent Israeli teens from looking at pornography, a new survey has revealed.
According to numbers released by Olam Katan, a Shabbat publication devoted to the country’s religious youth, just under 30 percent of of religious teens look at “religiously inappropriate” Web sites, while an even higher number - 37 percent - admit they’ve figured out how to circumvent parental-control software, which is now present in 50 percent of religious households. Attending a yeshiva rather than a less religious high school makes no difference in porn use, according to responses from the survey’s 902 participants.
The results, reported by Israeli news Web site NRG, showed that Internet use in general has risen significantly among religious youth, with observant teens now spending a third more time online - six hours per day - than they did five years ago.
It’s an unusual rallying cry for Aryeh Eldad, one of Israel’s most right-wing politicians. He’s calling for action on behalf of “disenfranchised Palestinians.”
But Eldad, a lawmaker with the National Union party, isn’t advocating a change in Israel’s policies in the West Bank. Instead, he wants Jordan to improve its treatment of Palestinians, and is making this demand in this online petition which has 2,500 signatures to date.
Eldad is still holding out for the idea, long-since dismissed by the Israeli mainstream, that in view of the high concentration of Palestinians in Jordan it should be considered a Palestinian state - invalidating claims to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Coming up with fresh TV material can be difficult - even if you’re a rock icon with a porn-star wife.
For the next season of his A&E reality series, KISS singer Gene Simmons has solved the problem by planning a family trip - to the Holy Land.
Israel’s Ynet news Web site is reporting that Simmons will visit later this month to film footage for “Gene Simmons: Family Jewels,” a visit the article describes as a “roots trip.”
The son of an Auschwitz survivor, Simmons was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, and moved to the United States at age 8. He remains fluent in Hebrew, the article says, but has never performed in Israel with KISS.
Remember when American Jews viewed an apartment in Jerusalem as a cheap investment? New figures underscore just how much times have changed. While the property market in America is still sluggish, Israel had the third-fastest-growing prices in the world last year, Global Property Guide reports.
Israeli house pricess rose on average by 16.23% last year, or if you take inflation in to account, 13.43%. Either way, Israel comes in after Latvia, where the previously-fragile market made an unbelievable recovery, and Singapore.
Crossposted from Haaretz
After surviving 69 harrowing days in the belly of the earth, the Chilean miners who arrived this week in Israel as guests of the Tourism Ministry thought they’d already been through the worst of it. But they were welcomed here with harsh comments posted online: “We are tired of you” and “What a waste of our money,” among others. The press was critical of their being housed in a high-end hotel.
Israeli cynicism has reached such levels that even extraordinary people such as the miners have no effect on them anymore.
They are all-too familiar arguments here in the Middle East: which land belongs to whom, accusations of occupation. But this time it’s a bit different.
Yamna Shushan of Kiryat Malakhi in Southern Israel bought a plot of land and has the documents to prove it – but it’s been occupied. And there’s no talking to the occupier – she’s dead.
The land in question is a cemetery plot that 77-year-old Shushan bought 11 years ago for around $1,000. She’s very keen to be buried there as it’s next to the resting place of her late husband Moshe. But last summer she discovered that another woman has been interred in her plot. It appears to have been the mistake of the burial society.
Bizarre rumors surrounding Coca-Cola’s religious and political affiliations have circulated for years. Some of the most popular suggest that the company is Jewish-run and bankrolls Israel. Others propose that, read backwards in Arabic, its logo says “No Muhammad, No Mecca.”
Although these accusations remain entirely unsubstantiated and unlikely, the company chooses to step up and clarify. Wise move? Maybe not, according to recent opinions voiced by experts in the Economist.
Responding to the Jewish Zionist question, Coke’s website reads:
“We believe the origins of this rumor date back to 1967, when the Arab League pronounced a boycott against companies for conducting business in Israel, following the tensions in the Middle East. The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners were present in many Arab and Muslim countries before Coca-Cola was introduced in Israel, and came back to the Arab countries as soon as the boycott was lifted.”