October 30, 2010
Posted: 1452 GMT
Former “Baywatch” star and Playboy cover girl Pamela Anderson is now involved in…Israeli politics.
Israeli Daily newspaper Yediot Aronoth reported this week that a letter written by the Hollywood star and noted animal rights activist was received at the office of Israel’s Minister of Religious Services, Ya’akov Margi, of the religious political party of Shas.
Anderson, who is due to visit Israel in a few weeks to make a guest appearance in the Israeli version of popular TV show “Dancing with the Stars”, asked the minister to support a ground-breaking bill that would ban the use of animal fur for the making of clothes, hats and other products in the Jewish State.
“I urge you to support this historic bill and speak up for the millions of animals who are bludgeoned, electrocuted, and skinned alive for their pelts each year" beseeched Anderson in her letter.
She also implored him to watch a graphic video from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
No word on the minister's response to the Hollywood starlet but according to the report, the minister has asked for the bill to be re-examined due to the fact that many ultra-orthodox Jews living in Israel traditionally choose to cover their heads with large hats made of sable tails.
The distinctive head covering, called the streimel, is worn by male adherents of various Jewish sects and is usually donned on the sabbath or high holidays.
While the market for the hats is small the price tags are not – milliners can fetch up to $5000 per streimel.
The sable covered hat is believed to have originated some 500 years ago in Russia after a government decree that all Jews identify themselves by attaching an animal's tail to their skull caps. What began as a humiliation eventually turned into accepted fashion spreading throughout the Jewish communities in Europe.
October 29, 2010
Posted: 1726 GMT
A UN agency's decision to identify a Jewish holy site in the West Bank as a mosque and define it and another shrine as Palestinian has prompted cries of bias and distortion from Israel.
"The attempt to separate the nation of Israel from its cultural heritage is absurd," said Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement released Friday.
"It is unfortunate that an organization that was established with the goal of promoting the cultural preservation of historical sites around the world, is attempting due to political reasons to uproot the connection between the nation of Israel and its cultural heritage."
The harsh words stem from a decision earlier in the week by the executive board of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which read:
"The Palestinian sites of al-Haram, al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem: the Board voted 44 to one (12 abstentions) to reaffirm that the two sites are an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law..."
It was, according to UNESCO spokeswoman Susan Williams, the first time the U.N. agency's executive board had referred to the religious site in Bethlehem as a mosque . The one vote against came from the United States.
October 26, 2010
Posted: 1951 GMT
Just imagine: a world without cancer. It's a tantalizing thought, recently floated by researchers at Manchester University in the UK.
That world may well have existed, but in the distant past, according to their survey of hundreds of mummies from Egypt and South America. The researchers found that only one mummy had clearly identifiable signs of cancer.
The study suggested that industrialization, pollution and the ills of modern life are to blame for the epidemic of cancer now seen sweeping around the globe.
Monday morning I went to the mummy room in Cairo's cavernous Egyptian Museum to have a look for myself. They looked pretty rough, more than 3,000 years after their prime, and not being an expert I just gawked like the tourists who were filing through.
October 25, 2010
Posted: 901 GMT
A two-week conference of Catholic bishops to discuss the situation of Christians in the Middle East has stirred some controversy.
At the conclusion of the Vatican gathering, called a synod in church terminology, bishops released a communique Saturday that among other things called for the international community "to put an end to the occupation" and an exhortation that the bible should not be used by Israel as a pretext to justify injustices.
The communique and remarks in a closing press conference by Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros brought charges of "libel" from Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalaon on Sunday and a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, Yigal Palmor, said the bishops were "committing a sin towards the truth" by ignoring the fact that "Israel is the one country in the region that is welcoming to Christians"
Palmor cited statistics showing the Christian population in Israel had been growing steadily throughout the years due to natural growth and immigration. He said that Christians face pressure in many countries in the Middle East because of Islamic law and Muslim extremism, but that Israel was not one of them.
Rabbi David Rosen who serves as the director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish committee and spoke before the synod as special guest earlier in the month called the omissions of the conference's final statement "appalling".
"...the bishops did not have the courage to address challenges of intolerance and extremism in the Muslim countries in which they reside, and rather chose to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict their first focus" Rosen said in a statement.
For its part the Palestinian Authority welcomed the conclusions from the Vatican gathering.
"Israel cannot use the biblical concept of a promised land or chosen people to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or Israeli territorial claims," Saeb Erakat, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and a chief Palestinian negotiator, said in a statement Sunday.
Erakat said the synod sent "a clear a message to the government of Israel that it may not claim that Jerusalem is an exclusively Israeli city."
"(In) coming weeks we will engage in discussions with the Vatican on ways to further consolidate our fantastic relations," Erakat said. "
October 24, 2010
Posted: 1427 GMT
A designer clothing store, a comic book store, a tattoo parlor and a ... women for sale store.
This unusual window display shocked shoppers at a busy Tel Aviv mall last week when among the run-of-the-mill shops, they came across a group of young women standing in a storefront.
Hanging from their wrists were price tags detailing their age, weight, height, dimensions and country of origin.
Organizers said the campaign is designed to bring awareness to women trafficking. Through public events like these and a public website they hope to collect enough signatures to pressure the Israeli justice ministry to back legislation that makes it a crime for men to go to prostitutes.
This legislation is the next important step in the fight against women trafficking, said attorney Ori Keidar, one of the founders of the task force against the problem.
"The legislation against the prostitutes' customers will bring a reduction in the demand for prostitution and it will be a less lucrative business for crime organizations," Keidar said.
"This in turn will bring a reduction in the trafficking of women."
Keidar said the legislation is modelled after similar legislation in Sweden that has drastically reduced trafficking and prostitution.
Over the past decade, about 10,000 women have been trafficked into Israel in what Keidar calls "modern slavery."
The women are locked, beaten, raped, starved and forced to receive 15-30 men a day 365 days a year, according to the attorney.
About three years ago, Israeli police greatly reduced women trafficking by pouring resources into the problem. Security forces have also helped by stepping up patrols on the Israeli-Egyptian border as a result of Al Qaeda presence in the Sinai.
This 300-kilometer border was the main route for smuggling women into Israel, Keidar said.
"This legislation against the customers will bring a further reduction in trafficking and with a little more pressure we can make this go away" Keidar said.
Posted: 1116 GMT
Human rights activists hope a new film will raise international awareness about stoning.
October 23, 2010
Posted: 1528 GMT
London, England (CNN) - Classified military documents published on the WikiLeaks site increase the civilian death toll of the Iraq war by 15,000, anti-war activists said at a news conference Saturday.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke at a press conference in London Saturday
"We have seen that there are approximately 15,000 never previously documented or known cases of civilians who have been killed by violence in Iraq," WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said.
Those cases raise the civilian death toll in Iraq to 122,000, said Iraq Body Count, an-anti-war group.
Assange and others appeared at a news conference on Saturday in London, England, to discuss the release of nearly 400,000 classified military documents from the Iraq war by his whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
Assange said the massive leak aims to reveal hidden truths about the Iraq war.
"The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends," Assange said.
"In our release of these 400,000 documents about the Iraq war, the intimate detail of that war from the U.S. perspective, we hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before the war, during the war and which has continued on since the war officially concluded."
CNN was offered access to the documents in advance of the release but declined because of conditions that were attached to accepting the material. The New York Times and The Guardian, the British newspaper, were among a handful of organizations provided early access to the papers. Read full story
October 20, 2010
Posted: 749 GMT
October 19, 2010
Posted: 459 GMT
This week's visit of Greek Foreign Minister Dmityris Droutsas to Israel marks another step in what the Israeli media is calling a "blossoming romance" between the two countries.
The warming has intensified amid Israel's deteriorating relations with Turkey, Greece's historical rival.
Droutsas' visit, which includes the signing of an aviation agreement between the two countries, comes several days after the nations held joint military exercises in southern Israel, and follows earlier visits by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Athens and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to Jerusalem.
Israel and Turkey had been strategic allies, with the countries' militaries cooperating closely. But that relationship began to experience strains after a dispute over Israel's assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza in January of 2009, and was seriously damaged when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish-flagged ship carrying humanitarian supplies as it tried to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. Nine Turkish nationals were killed.
Read the rest of the story here
October 17, 2010
Posted: 502 GMT
When I first met Abdulrahim Yasser, one of Iraq’s most influential and respected caricature artists, he told me why he decided to help organize and participate in an exhibition highlighting some of Iraq’s best political cartoons and cartoonists.
“I’m trying with all my might to encourage a discussion,” said Yasser at the event’s opening at a Baghdad gallery. “This exhibition is a discussion with others, it’s a discussion with the Republic, a discussion with those paying attention.”
The show is the biggest one of its kind ever to have been put on in Iraq, and many spectators excitedly explained to me why it was so significant.
“This event is important because it talks about Iraq,” explained Ali Adel. “About things in Iraq and issues facing Iraq.”
Indeed, the artwork lining the walls depicts so much of what Iraq has been grappling with – everything from the futility of politics to the absurdity of war. Many attendees continued to remind me how a showcase like this wouldn’t have been possible during Saddam Hussein’s rule, that the existence of such an exhibit is a testament to the freedom of expression that they told me now exists in this country.