Events 14th December- Rosh Chodesh
Two of our Shnat participants were detained this morning following a prayer service at the Kotel. They were detained on suspicion that they might 'disturb the peace and offend others at the Kotel'. They were both, thankfully, released without charge and are calm, supported and back with their friends. The shnatties were taking part in a Rosh Chodesh service with The Women of the Wall (WoW). The WoW campaign for the right for all women to be able to conduct prayer services, read from a Torah scroll while wearing prayer shawls, and sing out loud at the Western Wall– Judaism’s most sacred holy site and the principal symbol of Jewish peoplehood and sovereignty. RSY-Netzer fully supports the work of the Women of the Wall.
The shnatties were in Jerusalem during their Chanukah break and their participation in the service was not part of any programme or activity organised by Netzer. However, whilst this action was not part of any RSY-Netzer programme, RSY-Netzer is proud to see tikkun olam (social action), Reform Zionism and Reform Judaism in action and our gap year participants taking a stand in the face of injustice- joining with an established organisation that regularly raises awareness about these issues.
Our primary concern is always for the safety and welfare of our chaverim (members/ friends). Ideologically, RSY-Netzer teaches tikkun olam from a young age. We tell our chaverim that their actions can make a difference. And they do. The actions of our shnatties are hagshama (fulfilment) of their values and of the values and ideals of RSY-Netzer. RSY-Netzer believes in Reform Judaism and Reform Zionism; in the freedom of religion, in gender equality and in being able to pray as a Jewish woman in the holiest Jewish site in a way that we feel comfortable. And so we say to them: “RSY-Netzer stands with you. You have made us proud.”
Rhea Wolfson, Mazkira of RSY-NetzerAdd a comment
UN Vote on Palestine Observer Status
The following article was written by Hannah Weisfeld, director at Yachad, Wednesday 28th November. It comments on the importance of the day to follow, in which yesterday the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as an observer state. The assembly voted 138-9 in favour, with 41 nations abstaining. The Palestinian's can now take part in UN debates and potentially join bodies like the International Criminal Court.
An upgrade for Palestine at the United Nations
Last week the world's attention was turned to the conflict in Israel and Gaza. This week it is focused on the United Nations General Assembly where a vote will take place this Thursday on the upgrading of Palestine to an observer state. Observer statehood would accord Palestine the same status and rights as the Vatican. Over 150 countries have already indicated they will vote in support of the upgrade, and as the vote has to pass by a simple majority, it is set to go through. Over the past few days several European countries including France and Spain have indicated they are likely to vote in support. William Hague announced to the House of Commons a few hours ago that the United Kingdom would abstain unless a number of assurances could be give by the Palestinian leadership.
In September 2011 when this issue was first raised at the United Nations, Yachad supported the possibility of an upgrade of Palestine to observer status. The vote did not take place and since then very little action has been taken to advance the possibility of peace. Sadly, the events of the past few weeks have served as a painful reminder of how untenable the status quo is, and how necessary and urgent international action is to work with both parties to pursue immediate diplomatic avenues to create a just and lasting peace.
The vote on Thursday and the rights it should accord the Palestinian people, provides the region with an opportunity, and is a non-violent diplomatic action that should be supported for the following reasons:
Sense of urgency
The window of opportunity to create two states is closing, threatening Israel's character as both a Jewish and democratic state. The renewed sense of urgency within the international community to resolve the conflict is a positive step forward and we welcome this.
Support for the diplomatic path
Seeking international recognition presents an opportunity to pursue a non-violent and diplomatic strategy and strengthens the ability of the Palestinian leadership to continue to choose this path.
A vote for the two-state solution
An upgrade in status presents an opportunity for a paradigm shift where both parties and the international community recognise the aspirations of both peoples. Through a Palestinian bid for recognition on the basis of the 1967 borders, the Palestinian leadership is taking a stand against those who are committed to a 'one state' solution, and committing to a two-state solution. A State of Israel with internationally recognised borders alongside an independent state of Palestine would then form the impetus for renewed negotiations.
Therefore, recognising these opportunities, we believe the vote on Thursday creates an historic opportunity to advance and expedite the peace process, both guaranteeing Israel's survival as a Jewish and democratic state and ensuring self-determination for the Palestinian people in an independent state recognised by the international community.
The founders of Zionism created a Jewish state grounded in Hebrew culture and language with the institutions of government and the basis for civil society to flourish. Our collective task today is to support actions that provide long-term peace and security for Israel and stability in the region.
Thank you for your ongoing support,
"Sixty-five years ago on this day, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, which partitioned the land of historic Palestine into two states and became the birth certificate for Israel," Palestinian President Abbas said, "The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine."
Although the reality of the ground has far from altered as a result of the recent vote, the stage has been set for international negotiations to secure peace. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Haaretz, 2012) explained that "only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable, independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel."
"Netanyahu must show greater courage in standing up for the two-state solution" (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, former president of the URJ - Union for Reform Judaism US).Add a comment
In last week's newsletter, we ran a sukkot competition where we asked you to send in pictures of your Sukkahs, and the winning entry is below! So congratulations to:
Jonni Berger MRJ Board, RSY portfolio & RSY chanich & madrich 95-01
Ben Berger RSY Shemesh chanich 2011 & 2012
Marc Ozin MRJ IT Manager & RSY chanich 86 - 92
Leah Jacobs FRS warden & RSY chanicha / madricha 96-03
Andy fetterman RSY chanich / madricha 88-02
Noa fetterman - RSY chagigah 2012
With this wonderful Sukkah! Your fabulous fruity prize of a melon signed by all 3 RSY-Netzer movement workers will be on its way to you soon!
Add a comment
My Bedouin Experience
This is a copy of the MRJ Report written by Rhea Wolfson on her experiences visiting Bedouin communities in the Negev with the UK Task Force. Also please see the LJY-Netzer chinuch article (being published Friday) with similar content but different concluding thoughts, also by Rhea.
Recently I was lucky enough to attend a UK Task Force (on issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel) study trip looking at Bedouin communities in the Negev. The idea was to expose us to active on-the-ground learning in order to give us a deeper understanding and more contact with some of Israel’s Arab populations. The following is a taste of what I learnt and some of my thoughts and conclusions.
My first day began with two lectures; the first from Dr Clinton Bailey on the history of the Bedouin in the Negev and the second from Professor Avinoam Meir on recognised and unrecognised villages. Let me tell you what I learnt.
With the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 the Bedouin population were relocated into two main regions in Israel, an area in the north but primarily in and around the Be’er Sheva region in the Negev (move took place around 1950s). By this point a lot of the population was already settled and more settled as a consequence; around half did so in unrecognised villages. The Bedouin population still reside in these unrecognised villages mainly due to unresolved land claims. They generally do not have deeds for the land because all transfers were done orally per Bedouin law and custom and thus the Israeli government does not recognise the claims (per the Tapu Law 1858, in case you were interested).
‘What’s going on now’ I hear you ask. Well: there’s this thing called the Prawer plan. This is the proposal the government is currently working on implementing. Its main recommendations are:
- To demolish the majority of unrecognised villages and relocate their inhabitants to the seven government-planned towns or the 10 villages that are in the process of recognition
- To resolve the land ownership question by offering financial compensation for those who can prove they have worked the land and who filed ownership claims from the years 1971-1979. The compensation will amount to 50% of the land claimed.
- To reduce the economic and social gaps between the Bedouin and Israeli society as a whole by investing 1.2 billion NIS (£205 million) in economic development schemes in the Negev
The financial compensation point is obviously unpopular because the Bedouin are looking to claim land and land alone but it’s the demolishment point that is causing the real strife.
The issue centres on the ‘level of recognition’- considering particularly; services, infrastructure and municipal autonomy. The humanitarian issue is to do with services primarily. Despite the fact that many so-called ‘unrecognised villages’ were established following the government’s relocation of the Bedouin in the early 1950s, these villages are not recognised by the government as legal settlements and thus are not connected to the national grid, do not have running water or proper sanitation, do not have roads, street signs or proper access to educational facilities. 30,000 of the current 200,000 Bedouins in Israel live in unrecognised villages. There have been court decisions regarding the provision of education, health and running water but in reality the Supreme Court directives have not been properly implemented- a recurring problem in Israel. In 2012 there are still 33 unrecognised villages.
There are a lot of technicalities and limitations over what kind of land can be claimed that I won’t go into (because I am acutely aware that the legal technicalities might not fascinate you the way they do me) but to summarise: it rules out claims for land claimed by tribes (versus individuals) and also grazing land (a problem when you’re talking about an predominately agricultural people).
So that’s your basic spark notes version of the land dispute. What we have are two separate issues: land claims and recognition. One of the criticisms of the Prawer plan is that it links the two complicated issues by saying ‘if you leave your unrecognised village, you will be compensated for your land claim’.
However, there are many issues that are not highlighted when you simply look at the land question. Bedouin communities face many social problems that are not caused (exclusively) by Israeli government policy but by their own customs and traditions. For instance, the Bedouin population have the highest level of genetic diseases of any group in Israel due primarily to a high rate (60%) of consanguineous marriages (40% of this total is 1st cousin marriage, a further 20% 2nd cousin and 7% ‘related’). Another issue is the very high proliferation rate (birth rate) – at least 7-8 children per family, supported by one patriarch. This is intrinsically linked to the high rate of poverty (as we can see in the Orthodox Jewish population also) within the community and the lack of women’s education (in Bedouin communities where women have been exposed to higher levels of education the birth rate has decreased from 9 to 5.5 children per mother).
This leads me to the patriarchy which, in my opinion, is the most heartbreaking tragedy of the Bedouin community. Bedouin society is, traditionally, wholly and unyieldingly patriarchal with women holding very traditional ‘female’ roles with little or no education and no power in the household or the community. This manifests itself in one particularly damaging way with the wide spread (30%) polygamy in the society. A recent survey by SHATIL and Ma’an (the Forum for the Arab Women’s Organisation in the Negev) held that polygamy disrupts women’s and children’s lives and condemns them to a life of poverty, loneliness and depression. More specifically, a husband taking a second wife often financially abandons his first. She cannot divorce him to gain some freedom to work etc. because under Bedouin law the father automatically gets custody of all children. Furthermore, social security does not recognise the first wife as a single parent when the husband leaves. Other symptoms of the patriarchy is a women’s inability to marry outside the tribe, or even have much say at all over whom she marries and the 80% female illiteracy rate in the Bedouin community. Domestic abuse rates are also higher in Bedouin communities than in other sectors of society.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Well, I hope so and we certainly saw some initiatives that show support my positive outlook. In the recognised town of Hura, urbanised village called Hura, I visited a local woman’s initiative- a single mothers’ catering project where single mothers are employed to make hot meals for the local schools. The programme gives them financial independence so they can support their children and themselves and also continuous vocational training and opportunities. This was made possible by the fact that women’s employment was on the Mayor of Hura’s agenda. This is revolutionary leadership within the Bedouin community.
Another initiative that I saw was the Lakiya Weaving Project. Lakiya is one of the initial seven government planned towns in the Negev. Lakiya was officially recognised by the Israeli government in 1982 and became a Local Authority in 1996. The project was founded in 1991 and seeks to empower Bedouin women in Israel's Negev region, both personally and economically, by allowing them to use their traditional weaving skills to t manufacture and sell their own products ( I bought two lovely purses!).
As I highlighted above, the issue of female empowerment, and I actually on a base level- the freedom to make basic life choices, is what I came away feeling the need to action and support. There are a number of amazing organisations that have been founded by a selection of brave and determined women to focus on Bedouin women, including Sidreh, Dessert Embroidery and AJEEC (Arab- Jewish Centre for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation) and we can support these organisations. As part of RSY-Netzer’s tikkun theme RESPECT we will be fundraising for the aforementioned organisations over the next couple of months. We will also be incorporating Bedouin education into our Israel tour- considering the moral implications of visiting fake ‘Bedouin experiences’ versus the positive experiences chanichim traditionally have. We will also be educating our madrichim to the highest level so that they can help their chanichim make informed decisions about the Israel they see- looking at the positive options Bedouin women have that they would not have outside of Israel and the negative effects of the Israeli government depriving unrecognised villages of basic facilities.
RSY-Netzer is leading the way in social action but the wider Movement for Reform Judaism members (that’s you!) can make a change too. So get interested, get educated and get involved!Add a comment
Shemesh competition- sign up the most friends!
SHEMESH COMPETITION- SIGN UP THE MOST FRIENDS AND WIN A PRIZE!
RSY-Netzer is delighted to launch the Shemesh 2012 competition for sign ups! We are asking chanichim to tell as many people as they know how amazing and inspiring camp is! The person who signs up the most amount of people will win a prize (to be announced).
On the Shemesh enrolment form, which can be found here, you need to get applicants who apply to write down your name in the 'How did you hear about Shemesh?' section! The name that comes up most will then
get the surprise prize!
So on your marks, get set....and start shouting about camp! Its going to be incredible!Add a comment
Report from Netzer Veidah
The theme of Netzer Veidah this year was leadership- and leadership it did show and it did teach. The week started with a easing into things with a few snif presentations and a welcome from Maoz. Then we got serious. We examined different leadership figures in Israeli history- comparing Herzl to Begin, focussed on modern day politics (lead by Noar Telem) and learnt some great new tunes for ma’amadim. And then there were the asephot. Netzer Veidah struggles a little with asephot due to the lack of written (or ratified) structure which means the chair just makes it up as they go along (simple majority to pass? Why not!). This generally didn’t lead to too many upsets apart from a very angry FSU delegate who didn’t quite support our bureaucratic POC v POI list system- arguably a fair complaint.
What did we actually do? Good question. Well, Asepha One lead to the restructuring of the Southern hemisphere Shnat Netzer programme which means in practise a more cost effective programme but less contact between Southern and Northern shnatties and also Southern shnatties will not be able to come on Machane Shemesh. RSY-Netzer, in the interests of our shnatties and their experiences voted against the motion- the motion passed. Asepha One also saw a motion passed which would call for a role being introduced or being amended to include looking at Aliyah. A final motion for Asepha One was brought by LJY-Netzer who proposed a boycott of Ir David. After going away and researching this motion was brought forward to Asepha Two where is caused a lot of commotion and eventually failed spectacularly. RSY-Netzer abstained from voting on this on. We did so because Twitter was telling us that the movement might be uncomfortable with boycotting as a concept but more so because, whilst two RSY delegates were in full support, there was a very vocal split and we eventually came to the conclusion that if we couldn’t decide within ourselves, how could we represent the whole movement. This particular movement worker however, is very uncomfortable with the idea of abstaining from such an interesting vote in a forum such as Netzer Veidah- what do you think? Is abstention a powerful tool or are we silencing the movement when we should be empowered to represent it.
Asepha Three introduced the idea of a pen pal system for all ages of participants across all sniffim. This was discussed at length and passed, although not unanimously as you might have expected. The final motion (also brought by LJY-Netzer) was about creating an ethical consumerism va’ad with contributors from each sniff with the aim of creating a policy which would be ratified next Veidah. Sound appealing?
Overall, Netzer Veidah was an interesting and varied experience. It was amazing to see how engaged with the movement the shnatties were, particularly (if I do say so myself) our own Jemma who brought a passion for Netzer and RSY to the table (not so mention an excellent game called Superstar). The Veidah was not necessarily a Veidah as we know it and lacks certain things- like authority or power over sniffim, but is an exciting forum to discuss bigger picture and logistical Netzer related issues. Got any spare time? How about drafting a Netzer constitution with a few standing orders and maybe a motion structure thrown in for good measure?Add a comment
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