Month: June 2017

The West Bank’s world class wines have Israelis toasting the settlements

PSAGOT, West Bank (JTA) — Psagot Winery calls its Sinai wine an “unassuming but distinctive blend” of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Like all its wines, the bottle is stamped with the image of a coin dating to the first century C.E. found in a chalky cave near its namesake West Bank settlement and inscribed in Hebrew with the words “For the freedom of Zion.” The coin, its catalog explains, “symbolizes the preservation of winemaking tradition — offering you a taste of our history.”

For Yaakov Berg, Psagot Winery’s CEO, and his West Bank competitors, winemaking in the West Bank is a blend…

Israeli diplomats in US reportedly ordered to blame liberal Jews for Western Wall crisis

(JTA) – Israeli diplomats in North America rejected a talking point handed down to them from Jerusalem, which they told an Israeli daily blames liberal Jews for the Western Wall controversy.

The top diplomats refused to repeat the narrative that Jonathan Shechter, a top adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, handed down to them earlier this week in telephone conversations about the crisis in relations between the government and leaders of the Reform and other liberal Jewish denominations in the United States, Maariv reported Friday.

The Prime Minister’s Office flatly denied the report in a statement to JTA, saying that “the…

Simone Veil, French feminist and politician who survived the Holocaust, dies at 89

(JTA) — Simone Veil, a well-known French politician and Holocaust survivor, has died.

Veil, a former minister of health who in 2012 was awarded France’s highest honor, passed away this week at her home in Paris, her family told the media in France on Friday. The scholar, former judge and feminist activist was 89.

A lawyer by education, Veil served as minister of health under the center-right government of Valery Giscard d’Estaing and later as president of the European Parliament, as well as a member of the Constitutional Council of France. In 1975, she led the legislation that legalized…

Controversial Israeli conversion bill delayed for 6 months

(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a six-month delay in consideration of a controversial bill that would have made the haredi Orthodox-dominated Chief Rabbinate the only body authorized by the government to perform conversions in Israel.

Following an outcry by non-Orthodox streams in Israel and abroad, Netanyahu’s office announced Friday that the legislation will not advance while a “team” he’ll appoint comes up with recommendations for an “arrangement” on the issue.

The status quo on conversions to Judaism in Israel would remain for six months, under an arrangement reached between Netanyahu and his haredi Orthodox coalition partners.

Israeli sailors accused of unlawfully killing Gaza fisherman

(JTA) — The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has released footage of what it said was the unlawful slaying of a Palestinian fishermen by Israeli troops last month.

The video, published Thursday on the online edition of the Haaretz daily and filmed May 15 off the coast of Gaza, shows a fishing boat with three men sailing fast while flanked by an Israeli Navy vessel. The fishing boat loses speed and one of the men signals to the Navy boat to stop.

The Navy boat approaches the fishing boat, where B’Tselem says one of the passengers was lying severely wounded…