Jerusalem — Yosef Begun, one of the more high-profile Soviet refuseniks of a decade ago, shook his head and whispered, “We’re forgotten heroes.”
Begun, a former electrical engineer who spent 17 years as a refusenik — 10 in prison and in exile — now lives here at the age of 66 on 2,600 shekels ($650) a month. The poverty level in Israel is 2,500 shekels.
Even before new elections were a certainty this week, Labor Party posters touting their chief, Ehud Barak, began appearing in Israel reading: “One Israel for everyone and not for the extremists.”
Barak, a former army chief of staff who once served as foreign minister, has already hired American media gurus, including James Carville, who gained prominence helping Bill Clinton to the White House. It is clear from Labor’s new slogan that it will portray Netanyahu as too closely aligned with right-wing extremists.
Reform and Conservative leaders are threatening to hit Israeli politicians where it hurts — in the pocketbook — for supporting a new two-pronged legislative attack aimed at blocking non-Orthodox efforts to gain equality in Israel.
In this sudden escalation of Israel’s religious pluralism war, non-Orthodox leaders this week angrily denounced the Israeli Orthodox coalition’s aggressive political maneuvers to try and prevent Reform and Conservative representatives from taking their seats on local religious councils.
Jerusalem — American students at Israeli universities will get gas masks if a state of emergency is declared, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzchak Mordechai told The Jewish Week after giving similar assurances to the president of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan.
Jerusalem — Calling it a “breakthrough for political life in Israel,” Communications Minister Limor Livnat last week hailed the election of the first woman as mayor of a major Israeli city and vowed: “This is only the beginning.”
Tel Aviv — A revolution of sorts is taking shape in Israel. First it was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise two years ago to wean the country of American foreign aid. Then last month he surprised many North American Jewish federation leaders with his pledge to spend Israeli tax dollars to subsidize educational trips to Israel for every Jew age 15 to 26.
Now, a newly created Israeli philanthropy is planning to spend some of the money it raises here to support Jews in distress overseas.