Archive for January 2010

Anti-Zionism in a Swedish City

January 31, 2010

The mayor of Malmo, in Sweden, has come under attack by the city’s Jewish community for declaring Zionism as unacceptable as anti-Semitism.

“Malmö does not accept anti-Semitism and does not accept Zionism. They are extremists who put themselves above other groups, seeing others as something lesser,” Ilmar Reepalu said on Thursday in an interview with Skanska Dagbladet newspaper.

The response of the Jewish community was to hold a pro-Israel demonstration and to blame the mayor for the choice of some young Jews to leave the city.

Malmo has a 15% Muslim population and tension between Muslims and Jews in the city seems to be the reason for Reepalu’s statement.

(Interestingly, this story has been reported by an Arab news service called


Will Israel Have a Smoke-Free Town?

January 26, 2010

It will if Rabbi Riskin of Efrat has anything to say about it. According to The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Riskin is spending his free time trying to convince store owners and restaurants in Efrat to stop selling cigarettes on the grounds that it is against halakhah.

Sale of cigarettes is of course legal and definitely out of rabbinical jurisdiction. But Rabbi Riskin is convinced that he can affect change through persuasion. He claims to have already talked 5 store owners into removing cigarettes from their shelves.

The issue of smoking has been debated among rabbis for a good few years. But Rabbi Riskin’s campaign is different in two ways: First, he is not just issuing a rabbinic opinion but actually trying to enforce it. And secondly, he has declared that it is not only forbidden to smoke, it is also forbidden to “aid and abet” smokers by selling cigarettes.

Since Israel has the highest percentage of male smokers in the entire western world, it should be interesting to see whether Rabbi Riskin can rid one small town of cigarettes.

Israel in Haiti

January 25, 2010

The media has been full of praise for Israel’s rescue efforts in Haiti. The Israelis set up a field hospital in Haiti which has treated numerous patients around the clock. The Israeli team consists of doctors, paramedics, a rabbi and psychologists. The only internet connection in all of Haiti was set up by the Israelis and is used by all the journalists for sending in their reports.

NBC has a great report on Israeli efforts in Haiti. It’s nice to see some positive coverage of Israel in the international media.

UPDATE: The Muqata has posted a letter from an Israeli soldier in Haiti to his parents.  Here’s the best part:

In the IDF Medical Corps Delegation which came from Israel in the Middle East to Haiti, there are American volunteer doctors. They have no other useful installation in which to work in. A doctor and nurse from Germany came. They heard this is best hospital in Haiti. An emergency room team from Colombia arrived with all their equipment and asked if they could set up next to us to be part of our hospital. England is the enlightened country in Europe, the one which has an academic boycott of Israel; twenty British doctors and nurses asked to work with us.

All these people, without exception, stand together at the morning formation at 7 AM in the flag square. The flag of Israel. The flag of a country which was established after the USA was already superpower. After the British left a land under their control. After Colombia was already an established country. After the Holocaust against the Jewish people.