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Oct 21, 2010

Interesting News Tidbits

  1. DM Ehud Barak said in a conference yesterday "We are a Jewish and Democratic state, and the US recognizes us as such. The request for recognition [by the PA] is important, but we should not allow it to be the cause of the failure of the things that are really important." - Is Barak setting himself up for a confrontation with Netanyahu who is insisting on such recognition by the PA.
  2. The one and only Haredi military prep school, mechina kdam tzva'i, is under threat of shutting its doors after less than one year of operation. The reason is, as it almost always is, due to financing problems. They don't yet get government financing because of requirements that such institutions operate for 2 years with external financing prior to getting government funding. In the words of the head of the mechina, Rav Moshe Ben-Or, these are kids that without the mechina would not be in any yeshiva but would be wandering the streets of Mea Shearim and burning garbage cans.
  3. The government is trying to pass a law that would allow them to collect the TV tax even from people who do not have television sets. Their logic in promoting this amendment to the law is that nowadays people don't need televisions and can watch all the same shows on the internet on their computers. The law, as explained, is to give the Broadcasting Authority, new sources of funding to continue to survive and to allow it to actualize its objectives.  In my opinion, this is a ridiculous claim. If they cannot survive, and if people are no longer watching their programming, they should shut down the station. Why should they be able to charge for their product from people who do not use that product?
  4. The Minister of Transportation, Yisrael Katz (Likud), has changed his tune regarding the continuance of the mehadrin bus lines. Until now Katz has said a number of times that he can support the continuance of the mehadrin lines. Now he is saying that it has to stop, and the whole thing can only operate as a completely voluntary situation (i.e. people sit where they want, and if women choose to sit in the back of the bus, that is their choice). The lawyer leading the case against the mehadrin bus lines has said in response that after this arrangement has already been forced, you cannot expect that it will suddenly become voluntary. In the Haredi community, where women listen to what the rabbonim tell them to do - as soon as they find out they dont have a choice (ie their rabbi tells them they should sit in the back), that will not become voluntary in one day. The new arrangement, if accepted, would allow anyone to get on or off the bus through whichever door the person prefers, and no information about any rules of seating or dress will be allowed to be publicized.  The response of the haredi reps is that it is really just a matter of convenience and is not an issue of discrimination - women, they say, are more comfortable among other women, especially on long journeys where men tend to fall asleep - it is not pleasant to sit next to a man.

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