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Weekly News Items from the Israeli Press, December 29, 2011

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Taglit-Birthright launches winter season

(Ynet) Some 17,000 young adults from 32 countries to experience Israel over next few months

 

Study: Children of Soviet immigrants fully assimilated into Israeli society

(Haaretz) Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute study shows that most children of former Soviet immigrants consider themselves 'fully Israeli', while only 13% of Ethiopian teenagers feel the same.

 

Sheldon Adelson to Birthright group: Gingrich is right to call Palestinians 'invented people'

(Haaretz) U.S. billionaire tells group of Jewish youth on Israel birthright tour that many Palestinians also agree with U.S. presidential hopeful's controversial remarks.

 

Welfare and Social Issues

Southern Israel Returns to Routine, and Rocket Attacks

(Israel National News) Southern Israeli parents and children returned from Chanukah vacation to their daily routine of school, work -- and racing from rockets.

 

EU study: It's tough being old in Israel

(Ynet) They're lonelier, sadder and suffer from more chronic diseases than fellow Europeans. Israel's elderly citizens are much less satisfied with life, survey shows

 

Social Protests

Israeli city braces for 10,000-strong protest against exclusion of women

(Haaretz) Ultra-Orthodox clashed with police officers, calling them Nazis over course of Monday; at least six were arrested or detained for questioning.

 

Hundreds protest ultra-Orthodox extremism

(Jpost) "This is not only a fight for Beit Shemesh, it’s a fight for everyone in Israel," says demonstrator.

 

Religious Pluralism in Israel

How about some religious freedom for Orthodox soldiers?

(Jpost) It seems that the media’s priority is to be hostile to, and to create hostility towards, the national religious community.

 

New religious recruits to try and change Israel Police 'from within'

(Haaretz) A new program seeks to combine preparation the police force with religious studies, and encourages young religious Zionists to strive toward key positions in the force.

 

Thousands visit Bethlehem on Christmas Eve

(Ynet) Foreign, local pilgrims visit biblical town on eve of traditional mass; Mayor Victor Batarseh expresses hope that near future will bring Palestinian state

 

Jewish World

24 million donuts, 10.8 billion calories – it's Hannukah in Israel [video]

(Israel 21C) Every Hannukah, Israelis stop counting calories long enough to buy about 24 million mouth-watering, sweet and gooey, deep-fried sufganiyot.

 

Tzohar bill passes preliminary reading

(Ynet) Bill proposing amendments to Marriage Law passes Knesset vote despite religious parties' objection

 

Israel Philanthropy

Celebrities and Commando Soldiers Support Hair Donation Campaign

(Israel National News) Zichron Menachem, the Israeli Association for the Support of Children with Cancer, marks the end of its National Hair Drive.

 

Education

Tel Aviv University students planning to demonstrate for free tuition

(Haaretz) Protest comes against the backdrop of an effort by the university's security department to enlist the help of faculty members to identify students who appeared on a YouTube video.

 

Israeli Economy

Joblessness falls to just 5%: Unemployment at its lowest level since 1978

(The Marker) October unemployment in 2010 stood at 6.5% of the civilian workforce, while in October 2009, it was 7.5%.

 

Tel Aviv, Jerusalem more expensive than New York City

(Israel Hayom) Major Israeli cities rank 32nd and 29th in the world on ECA International 2011 ranking

 

Environment

Israel a few weeks away from violating its own Clean Air Law

(Haaretz) The Environmental Protection Ministry presented its program a few weeks ago, but the Finance Ministry said it opposes approving the program at this time and has not found money for it.

 

Israeli parks installing underground sensors to track visitors

(Haaretz) 'Data will reach all the Authority's computers in real time, thus enabling us to send more inspectors and guides to overcrowded sites,' says Nature and Parks Authority.

 

Op-Eds and Opinion Pieces from the Israel Press

Yediot Ahronot strongly criticizes reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering the division of Beit Shemesh into two separate cities and believes that, "Dividing Beit Shemesh would legitimize racist behavior, belligerence, violence, and those who demand that women cover themselves in burkas, push them to the back of the bus and encourage their exclusion."

 

Yisrael Hayom discusses yesterday's protest in Beit Shemesh against religious coercion and the exclusion of women by extreme ultra-orthodox elements and notes that among the speakers were women MKs from across the Israeli political spectrum:  "It was a united expression by the worthy side of Israeli society, almost an expression of consensus."  The author notes that, "Thousands went to Beit Shemesh last night, and many did not arrive.  The protest is far from its peak. The [extreme ultra-orthodox elements] do not know what will be the force of the collision at its height.  It is best if such will not be necessary.  But if, heaven forbid, there will be no alternative – then 'yes, break them.'"