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March 5, 2015
First Polls Since Netanyahu's Congress Address
Two new polls Wednesday provide the first data since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's much touted Congress address on Tuesday, and show that Likud has evened gaps shown in the last poll before the speech which saw it behind Labor 24 to 21.
In the first of the polls by Channel 2, Labor and Hatnua's "Zionist Camp" gets 24 again, but Likud is up to 23. The joint Arab list comes in third with 13 mandates, while Yesh Atid and Jewish Home tie for fourth with 12 apiece. Jewish Home has relapsed into its slump after a recent poll gave it 14 in the first such result since Knesset lists were submitted.
Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu gets eight mandates, and Yisrael Beytenu, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Meretz all come in at six. Eli Yishai's Yachad - Ha'am Itanu joint list with Otzma Yehudit passes the threshold at four seats.
The poll also asked about which candidate is viewed as most fitting for the role of prime minister, and the incumbent Netanyahu continues to lead widely with 47%, as opposed to a mere 28% who sided with Labor party head Yitzhak Herzog.
The results constitute a 3% rise for Netanyahu from a similar poll last week, and a 4% drop for Herzog, in an indication of the positive reception Netanyahu's address enjoyed. Meanwhile 21% didn't know who was most appropriate, while 4% said both were just as fitting.
In the second poll by Channel 10, Likud and Labor came out tied at 23 mandates each. Yesh Atid and the joint Arab list came in at 13 apiece, and Jewish Home dropped further to 11 seats.
Kulanu enjoyed a stronger showing in the poll with ten mandates, Shas got seven, United Torah Judaism six, Meretz and Yisrael Beytenu at five each, and Ha'am Itanu again passed with four.
Purim Begins in Israel
Thousands of people in Israel and around the world have begun their Purim celebrations Wednesday night, gathering in synagogues to hear the Purim story. The most joyous day of the Jewish calendar, Purim (which most scholars agree took place during the 5th century BCE) is commemorated in a number of ways.
Those ways include the handing out of gifts, generous donations to charity, drinking until one can't distinguish between the hero Mordechai and the villain Haman (although many opinions make clear this means to drink more than usual, not to literally get drunk), and reading the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther in Hebrew), which tells the story of Purim and is named after the Jewish heroine and queen of Persia who helped turn Haman's genocidal plot on its head.
Not only were the Jews saved from tragedy, but they successfully fought back against their oppressors in every province of the empire.
One of the most well-known Purim traditions is the custom to wear costumes - a way of commemorating God's "hidden hand" in the seemingly unrelated chain of events which came together to foil Haman's plot and see him ultimately replaced by the Jews' leader, Mordechai. Even the American ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, joined in on the festivities.
Shapiro dressed up as Darth Vader from the Star Wars movie series, and his family dressed as up as well. “Chag Purim Sameach!!! (Happy Purim),” Shapiro wrote on Facebook, where he posted a picture of his costume.
Feasts featured prominently throughout the Purim story, including the feast whereby Nebuchadnezzer predicted his own downfall; King Achashveroshesh's grand display which saw his first queen, Vashti, killed by his own hands; the feasts Esther threw for Haman and the King, which saw the redemption of the Jewish people; and the small feasts held by the Jews and Persian commoners at Esther's behest after the anti-Semites were annihilated.
As such, two main customs were also started: one, a seuda (meal) to be held on Purim day (Thursday) with wine and meat; and to give gifts of mishloach manot, small meals, to friends and family.
Gifts to the poor will also be distributed nationwide, according to the commandment to ensure that even the poorest have food to eat on this festive holiday.
Purim is celebrated on Wednesday night and Thursday throughout most of Israel and abroad; in Jerusalem, it will be held Thursday night and Friday. Some communities remain under dispute as to their status, including Ramot and Lod, and may hold the holiday on both days.
Britain Bans Ad Saying Jerusalem's Old City is Part of Israel
Britain's advertising watchdog has banned an Israeli government tourism advertisement for suggesting that the Old City of Jerusalem was part of Israel, AFP reported.
The newspaper brochure showed a panorama of the walled Old City with the text "Israel has it all," and was ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority, which said it implied the UNESCO World Heritage Site was part of Israel. The international community regards the Old City as “occupied Palestinian territory” and has never recognized Israel’s annexation of parts of Jerusalem it liberated during the Six Day War.
Following a complaint, the ASA ruled the title of the brochure "Israel Land of Creation" and references to Old City attractions was misleading and banned the ad from appearing again in its current form, according to AFP.
"We understood that the status of the territories in question was the subject of much international dispute," the watchdog said. "We therefore considered the presentation of the ad would mislead consumers into believing that the Old City of Jerusalem was part of Israel and into taking a transactional decision that they would otherwise not have taken."
The brochure included a photograph showing the golden Old City landmark and Muslim shrine the Dome of the Rock, with the modern buildings of Western Jerusalem in the background. Text on the image read: "Everyone falls for the Old City, with its narrow (and car-free) alleys, teeming pilgrims and bazaar-like buzz."
In response, the Israeli Government Tourist Office said that the brochure did not imply that eastern Jerusalem and its Old City were part of the state of Israel. "They said the ad did not seek to make a political statement and believed it would be inappropriate for it to do so," the ASA ruling stated. "Rather, they believed the leaflet provided practical information that made clear that visitors to the places referred to in the ad, such as the Old City of Jerusalem, could only be visited via travelling to Israel," it added.
Britain’s broadcast authority, the BBC, has come under fire several times in recent years after it denied that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
In 2012, the BBC listed “East Jerusalem” as the capital for the “Palestinian Olympic team" while leaving Israel listed without a capital.
The official London Olympics website did something similar that year. On that site, too, Israel started out having no capital city but eventually, Israel's capital was listed as Jerusalem and it was "Palestine" that was featured without a capital city.
Price of Netanyahu's Washington Flight: $1.57 Million
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday returned to Israel following a trip to Washington that he called "historic". The flight that brought the prime minister and his entourage to the American capital cost $1,157,000, which is NIS 4,611,000.
The sum was paid by the state to El Al, which won the tender announced by the Prime Minister's Office. The plane was outfitted with a resting chamber for Netanyahu and his wife. The couple spent the flight resting, and the prime minister did not at any point come out to speak with reporters accompanying the flight.
Netanyahu landed in Washington on Sunday and departed on Tuesday afternoon. The $1.57 million price tag did not include the cost of a hotel or the expenses for the entourage's accommodation and security.
"The procedure for the prime minister's flights abroad for diplomatic meetings has not changed and is identical to what was the norm in the Prime Minister's Office in the past," the PMO said in a statement.
"In accordance with instructions by the security forces, the prime minister flies abroad only on Israeli airlines. Communication with the airline companies is done by the government's travel company, which answers to the Finance Ministry." The PMO added that El Al's price quote included a note that there would be no additional charge for the resting chamber.
Fanta Ad Pulled in Germany After Nazi Gaffe
Nazis foiled a Fanta ad this week, after Coca-Cola Inc. pulled a TV spot in Germany because it failed to mention the Third Reich's role in creating the popular sports drink. http://youtu.be/pWGUMXRNXhA
The ad, entitled "Good Old Times," was to honor Fanta's 75th anniversary - and describes its creation due to a shortage of supplies "during World War II" - without mentioning Nazi Germany.
The clip was immediately met with intense backlash online, according to the Express - prompting it to be pulled from television. "Fanta was invented in Germany during the Second World War but the 75-year-old brand had no association with Hitler or the Nazi party," a Coca-Cola spokeswoman stated to the daily. She added that the video was "meant to evoke positive childhood memories" and was not meant to be offensive.
The Story Behind the Marble Moses in Netanyahu’s Speech
By Tazpit News Agency & YnetNews.com
While Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu referenced several cultural, political, and historical figures throughout his highly-anticipated speech to Congress on Tuesday – including Harry S. Truman, Queen Esther, Robert Frost, and Elie Wiesel - he concluded his historical address with the biblical figure of the prophet Moses.
The Israeli prime minister did not just mention Moses in passing, he also pointed to the image of Moses in the form of white Vermont marble relief, hanging over the gallery doors overlooking the lawmakers in the House of Representatives Chamber.
Netanyahu spoke of the biblical leader, saying “Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land. And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years.”
It was probably the first time that the marble relief portrait of Moses hanging in the House Chamber ever received such public acknowledgement.
The portrait, designed by artist Jean de Marco, is one 23 marble reliefs that depict historical figures noted for their work in establishing the principals that underlie American law, according to the Architect of the Capitol, a US government website.
The site is devoted to providing historic and current information about the function and architecture of the US Capitol Building where Netanyahu gave his speech before a joint-session of Congress.
On either side of the portrait of Moses, there are 11 profiles in the eastern half of the chamber that face left and eleven in the western half, which face right, so that all look toward the full-face relief of Moses in the center. He is described on the site as a Hebrew prophet and lawgiver, who transformed a wandering people into a nation and received the Ten Commandments.
The other profiles include writer of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the US, Thomas Jefferson; King of Babylonia, Hammurabi; Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman; Athenian statesman, Solon; Napoleon I, and Maimonides, among other significant leaders from different periods of history.
The image of Moses and other leaders of civilizations and societies have been hanging in the chamber for 65 years. Scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia Historical Society of Washington DC chose the subjects with the help of authoritative members of the Library of Congress over six decades ago.
A special committee of five Members of the House of Representatives and the Architect of the Capitol approved the selection, and the reliefs were installed when the House Chamber was remodeled from 1949-1950.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at the end of his speech quoted Moses from the Book of Deuteronomy, stating in Hebrew, “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them,” which were the leader’s parting words to the Israelites before they entered the land of Israel.
For Netanyahu, they were words that highlighted the strength of friendship shared by the United States and Israel, two countries with a deep respect for the timeless road of history and the challenges along the way.
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YOU SAY YOU WANT CHANGE?
By Frances Bernay-Cohen
I can't speak for you, but my grandparents came to the United States to find a refuge from "change." They came to The United States where their basic freedoms were guaranteed by the Constitution; where they could build a future on this solid ground.
Whether our forefathers and forI'm sure you will find some truth in this song.
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Air France flew from the U.S. to Israel during the early 1950s. They flew Lockheed Constellations and the flying time was 20 hours.
This promotional film - in English for an American audience - shows Israel as it was three years after the War of Independence .
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Paradise Regained, Paradise Lost
By Don Canaan (Commentary)
This year marked the 29th anniversary of the return of the Sinai by Israel to Egypt--a day of mourning by many of the 2,000 settlers who settled and later were forcibly evacuated by Israeli authorities under the command of Ariel Sharon, from the seaside city of Yamit on the Mediterranean.
Yamit was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's dream--a projected seaport and city of 250,000 founded on the Sinai sand dunes overlooking date palm trees and the blue Mediterranean--a populated buffer between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on the other side of the Suez Canal.
Some alternate historians say Moses and the children of Israel passed near the site of Yamit 3,500 years ago as they wandered for 40 years through the Sinai Desert on their way to the proverbial land of milk and honey.
Since April 25, 1982 only the whine of the desert wind weaves its currents through the crevices of destroyed homes, businesses and monument--a memorial to the young men who died during the 1967 Six Day war.
Christians, Jews and Muslims died during three Arab-Israeli wars and battles that took place in the Sinai in 1956, 1967 and 1973--Egyptian and Israeli--young people who fought and died in that desolate, forsaken desert wasteland.
The modern-day chariot carrying Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat hugged the intermittently green coastline of Sinai on its historic mission to Jerusalem. Israelis glancing upward into the clear night sky saw merely a jet banking gently to the northwest.
Official Israeli government policy was that the settlers had to be removed and the army came and forcibly removed the remaining diehard residents. The Jerusalem Post described the scene: Apocalypse had arrived in Yamit and in the dust and noise and destruction one could wander freely. Dozens of bulldozers and giant mobile air hammers were loose in the city like a pack of predatory beasts."
April 25, 20011 marked the 29th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Yamit and Sinai and a cold peace between long-term enemies.
That gift of peace silently glided overhead as the Sabbath disappeared and the stars appeared. At 8:01 p.m. Sadat's jetliner landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and the first minutes of a then potential peace came to the Middle East.
Old enemies became new friends. The crowds roared its approval when Sadat shook hands with Moshe Dayan. A person standing nearby, according to the Jerusalem Post, said Sadat told Dayan, "Don't worry Moshe, it will be all right."
The peace treaty between the two nations was signed on March 26, 1979 and on April 25, 1982; the events that had started on a November day at Camp David came to fruition. Sinai was returned to Egypt. Yamit was bulldozed to the ground. But Anwar Sadat did not live to see that day. He had been assassinated seven months before.
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