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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
June 15, 2010 Israel to Agree to Partially Lift Embargo on Gaza, Major Showdown Between Charedim and Supreme Court
It has been widely reported that Israel is going to substantially modifiy its policy of blockading Gaza. The Gaza blockade policy has always had three components: 1) The need to keep legitimate military equipment away from Hamas; 2) To try to keep Hamas weak; and 3) To try to pressure Hamas to agree to terms that are acceptable for the release of Gilad Shalit. The third point is certainly not working, while the success of the first and second objectives is still up in the air. No one should expect Hamas to lose power in Gaza as result of their ecnomic difficulties. As we have seen in Iran, any religious government who is willing to turn its guns on its own people (which Hamas has been more than willing to do), will be nearly impossible to unseat by anything but military means. The more important and largely unknown question remains, what effect an impoverished Gaza has had on the more prosperous people of the West Bank; and what are the chances for a Hamas take over there? In any event, this Israeli government has been forced to consistently play "catch up", not taking any intitatives and just responding to pressures.
While the Israeli political establishment has avoided any confrontation with the Haredi community, the Israeli High Court has issued two rulings in the last 24 hours that will no doubt make a confrontation inevitable. One of these potential confrontations will most likely happen this week. Today, the Supreme Court revisited the Haredi school in Emanual, which refused to integrate its classroom between Ashkenazi and Sephardi students. As a result of an earlier court order the Haredi-Ashkenazi parents stopped sending their children to school. The Supreme Court met today in a session that it was hoped by the presiding judge, Edmond Levi, (who is himself religious) to work out a compromise to make it through the end of the school year (with two weeks remaining). The parents refused any compromise, and stated that they will not compromise. They will sooner go to jail before they will agree to send their children to a school with Sephardic kids. The judge then issued an order that if the parents do not agree by tomorrow morning, in writing, to send their kids back to school he will send them to prison for two weeks. The Haredim said they are willing to go to war over this issue. It should be noted that the person who brought the court case is himself Haredi. The confrontation has placed the Sephardic Haredi party, Shas, in a difficult position. For the moment Shas has decided to remain silent.
The second court decision made yesterday, agreed 6 to 1 (with only the same justice Edmond Levi dissenting) to overturn a ten year government program that gave money to married Yeshiva students, while at the same time not giving money to similar University students. The decision affects between 10-30,000 students and has been met with shock in the Haredi community. They of course despise the courts, since they tend to be the only branch of the Israeli government that is ever willing to stand up to the Haredi community. This time it took the court nine years to rule on the case... No one is accusing the Supreme Court of acting hastily in this matter.
Meanwhile Israel’s sense of isolation continues to grow. With additional repercussions of its supposed assassination of Mahmoud el Mahmoud in Dubai earlier in the year. Poland has arrested an Israeli, based on a German arrest request. His crime, helping to misuse a German passport. In the meantime an Israeli diplomat was expelled from Ireland for the same crime. The world's “outrage” at all of the items relating to the killing of a terrorist engaged in arms smuggling for Iran is breathtaking.