Shorts: Mideast

Poll: Disengagement polarized Israel more than Rabin assassination

jerusalem ( | A poll conducted on behalf of Gesher, a non profit organization, in the days leading up to the 11th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination revealed that 47.7 percent of the Israeli public believes that the disengagement from Gaza caused the greatest national rift.

According to the poll, only 38.8 percent said Rabin’s murder in 1995 was the most polarizing event in the country’s history, with the 1948 bombing of the Altalena placing third at 3.6 percent.

According to the poll, those responsible for polarizing the public are first and foremost the politicians (42.1 percent), the media (39.4 percent) and finally the rabbis (9.2 percent). The remaining 15.9 percent were undecided.

Survey: One in three favor clemency for Rabin assassin

jerusalem ( | Almost one in three Israelis would support seeing Yitzhak Rabin’s jailed assassin going free one day, a Yediot Achronot poll found. According to the recent survey, 5 percent of Israelis would like Yigal Amir to be granted clemency now, while another 25 percent would favor him being freed in 25 years.

Support for clemency was stronger among right-wingers and religious Jews. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they want Amir, who shot Rabin, Israel’s prime minister, at a 1995 peace rally, to stay behind bars for life. A 2001 bill passed by the Knesset ruled out clemency for anybody who assassinates an Israeli prime minister.

Ehud Barak is expected to join Israel’s government

jerusalem (jta) | Israeli media reported Tuesday, Oct. 31 that Ehud Barak, the former prime minister, likely would replace Sports and Culture Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, who tendered his resignation to protest the inclusion of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu Party in the governing coalition.

Barak and Pines-Paz both are from the center-left Labor Party, though Barak has largely been absent from politics in recent months.

Barak, whose term as prime minister from 1999 to 2001 included failed efforts to reach a peace deal with Syria and the Palestinians, as well as a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, could not be reached for comment.

Motorola planning another R&D center

jerusalem (jta) | Motorola plans to open another research and development center in Israel, company CEO Ed Zander said during a visit in Israel.

Motorola’s executive board has not approved the decision yet, and Zander stressed that nothing has been finalized.

Nevertheless, during a reception held in Zander’s honor on Saturday, Oct. 28, Vice Premier Shimon Peres lauded the CEO for the company’s decision to set up an additional R&D center in the country.

Zander, an American Jew from Chicago, arrived in Israel with Richard N. Nottenburg, Motorola’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer.

 Motorola currently operates a factory in the southern town of Arad.

Gender segregation challenged

jerusalem (jta) | A leading Israeli rabbi challenged the long-standing fervently religious insistence on gender segregation at social celebrations.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor to the Sephardi Orthodox political movement Shas, says that the mechitza, or partition used to separate men and women at events like weddings, should not be insisted upon if it causes family strife.

“Sometimes a family is not so pious, does not want a mechitza and prefers that everyone sit together at one table. This is not something to fight over. If a mechitza is possible, then it should be erected, but if it is not, it can be done away with,” Yosef was quoted as saying in a weekly sermon.

JNF allows for eternal honor

Looking to recognize Jewish veterans for their heroism and sacrifice, and to raise $5 million for the expansion and maintenance of the battle site and museum at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem — site of the 1967 battle that was the key to the reunification of Jerusalem — the Jewish National Fund (JNF) is building a wall of honor on the hill.

Families and friends will have the opportunity to honor a Jewish soldier who served or serves in the military of any country by purchasing a plaque in the wall that will list the soldier’s name, country, rank, dates of service, and unit, if available. Plaques will cost $5,000.

The wall will be unveiled and dedicated on the 40th anniversary of the battle, May 16, 2007. Donors are invited to attend the ceremonies.

The project is considered a national heritage project by the Israeli government.