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Unholy Alliances, Israel’s Sharia Law, Dirty Energy


Blasting Le Pen, Rivlin Calls for ‘War’ on New Kind of Holocaust Denial

Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, April 24th 2017

Recap:

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin criticized the rise of far-right legislators in Europe and called for a “war” against a new kind of Holocaust denial taking place in Europe today.

The Context:

  • Riding a tide of ultra-nationalism, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen advanced to the next round of elections with 21.5% of the vote [1] while earlier this year, Dutch politician Geert Wilders secured 20 seats in parliament [2]. Both Le Pen and Wilders run xenophobic platforms with Wilders pushing to "de-Islamise" the Netherlands by shutting mosques and Islamic schools [3] and Le Pen denying French collusion with Nazi Germany during World War II.

  • Earlier this month, Le Pen said she did not believe the French were responsible for the Vel d’Hiv roundup of 13,000 French Jews destined for Nazi extermination camps in 1942 [4]. Israel condemned her remarks as “contrary to historical truth” and a failure to “recognize the country’s responsibility for the fate of French Jews who died in the Holocaust.”

  • Following the annihilation of European Jewry during the Holocaust, many survivors fled to what was then Palestine. An estimated 160,000 Jews still reside in Europe today. Holocaust Memorial Day is marked nationwide by memorial ceremonies and a siren that brings the country to a standstill [5]. Rivlin said the attempt by some to turn all of Europe into victims of the Holocaust is more dangerous than traditional Holocaust denial.

  • Alluding to Le Pen, Rivlin urged Israel to “resist unholy alliances with extreme right-wing elements.” French Jews, Muslims and EU leaders alike lamented Le Pen’s success and urged their constituents to "vote massively" for centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron. French President Francois Hollande similarly stressed that Le Pen’s policies would compromise French freedom [6].

Conversation Points:

  • If leaders refuse to accept responsibility for atrocities committed on their own soil, will they also be unwilling to assume responsibility to fight modern-day xenophobia?

  • Does Rivlin consider holocaust universalism to be more dangerous than traditional Holocaust denial since the latter is a fringe movement that hardly stands a chance of gaining widespread recognition?

  • Geert Wilders once praised Israel as being “a beacon of light in a sea of Islamic darkness.” Does this make Wilders pro-Israel or anti-Muslim?

Israeli Sharia Court System Appoints First-Ever Female Judge

Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, April 25th 2017

Recap:

Israel's Sharia Courts appointed Ana Hatib as its first-ever female judge. The historic decision was made by the judges selection committee headed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who hailed Hatib's appointment as "great news for the Arab woman and Arab society."

The Context:

  • Sharia courts - tribunals based on an Islamic legal system - are recognized in Israeli law but their jurisdiction is limited to personal issues within the Muslim community including marriage, divorce, custody of children and inheritance [7]. Sharia Courts have functioned on an uninterrupted basis since Ottoman times and in 1961, the Knesset formally integrated Sharia Courts into Israel's legal system.

  • There has never been a formal prohibition on female Sharia Court judges although it took two years for Issawi Frej, an Israeli Arab politician, to successfully petition for the nomination [8]. Shaked is credited for putting Hatib’s case over the top by providing additional funding to pay for the position.

  • All nine members of the voting committee, including several from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, voted in favor of Hatib's appointment [9].

  • Jewish women are prohibited from serving as judges on Israel’s Jewish religious courts [10].

Conversation Points:

  • How will Hatib’s appointment be received on the Arab street? Will she be permitted by her communities to preside over cases involving men and women?

  • Might Hatib’s nomination open the conversation about a women’s place in Jewish religious courts?

  • Why does Israel, a country that integrates all religions and genders into the national conversation, often face more denunciation than countries that practice the polar opposite?

New Recycling Plant Is Turning Tel Aviv’s Garbage Into Fuel

Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels, April 20th 2017

Recap:

Israel’s largest recycling plant, which treats roughly 50% of Tel Aviv’s garbage, will convert its trash into energy to power a nearby cement plant utilizing a technology called “Refuse-Derived Fuel” (RDF).

The Context:

  • The recycling plant is part of Ariel Sharon Park, Israel’s largest eco-park, which was built at the location of an old trash site. Once Israel’s largest landfill, the space is now an ecological park three times the size of New York City’s Central Park and includes recycling stations, walking and cycling trails, ponds and extreme sports activities. It will soon be home to a 50,000-seat amphitheater, one of the largest concert venues in Israel.

  • Approximately 1,200 garbage trucks from 18 local municipalities deposit household and construction waste into the recycling station daily. A third of the waste can neither be recycled nor burned and is sent to the Negev landfill. Prior to the plant’s construction, almost all waste was sent to the landfill [11].

  • The $110 million RDF facility was built without government funding [12] and is one of the largest and most advanced of its kind [13].

Conversation Points:

  • Should the Israeli government partake in and incentivize those supporting RDF initiatives?

  • Did Israel champion RDF technology as an answer to its history as a natural resource strapped country?

Notes:

  1. Israeli president: Le Pen’s Holocaust denial ‘disturbing’, Washington Post, April 24th 2017

  2. Geert Wilders, 'Dutch Donald Trump,' Takes Second Place In Closely Watched Election, NPR.org, March 16th 2017

  3. The Netherlands' most popular party wants to ban all mosques, Caroline Mortimer, The Independent, August 28th 2016

  4. Israeli President Rivlin Calls Out Le Pen On Holocaust Remarks, Naomi Zeveloff, The Forward, April 25th 2017

  5. Israeli president: Le Pen’s Holocaust denial ‘disturbing’, Washington Post, April 24th 2017

  6. Jewish, Muslim & EU leaders urge the French not to vote Le Pen, YNetnews, April 24th 2017

  7. Israel's Sharia courts appoint first female judge, i24, April 25th 2017

  8. Israel Appoints First Female Judge to Muslim Religious Court, Judy Maltz, Haaretz, April 25th 2017

  9. Ibid.

  10. Ibid.

  11. New Israeli Waste Treatment Facility Turns Tel Aviv's Garbage Green, Zafrir Rinat, Haaretz, March 27th 2017

  12. Ibid.

  13. Israel embraces world's most advanced RDF operation, Kirstin Linnenkoper, Recycling International, April 6th 2017


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