BREAKING: Israel, Jordan and PA Sign Historic Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline Agreement

Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, on Monday afternoon, December 9 in Washington DC, at the headquarters of the World Bank, signed an agreement on laying a water pipeline to link the Red Sea with the Dead Sea. The pipeline, which will take three years to complete, will help slow the drying up of the Dead Sea with the inflow of water from the Red Sea. It will also provide the region with millions of cubic meters of drinking water.

Regional Cooperation, and National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom signed for Israel. Water and Irrigation Minister Hazem Al Nasser signed for Jordan. Water Authority Minister Dr. Shaddad Attili signed for the Palestinian Authority.

The pipeline will be 180 kilometers long and will pass through Jordanian territory, channeling 100 million cubic meters of water per annum northward from the Red Sea. The estimated cost for the project is approximately $300-400 million, as communicated by the Israel Ministry of Regional Cooperation. While the World Bank will support the project with a cash injection, millions of dollars will be raised from donor countries and philanthropic sources.

Approximately, 80 million cubic meters will be desalinated at a facility to be built in Aqaba, Jordan on the Red Sea which will produce about 100 million cubic meters of drinking water. The Arava region and Eilat will receive 30-50 million cubic meters of water, while Jordan will receive 30 million cubic meters of water for use in its southern regions. In addition, Israel will sell Jordan another 50 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret for use in the north. The project will cover Jordan’s need for drinking water for about a decade. About 30 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret will be pumped for the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.

“This is a historic agreement that realizes a dream of many years and the dream of Herzl. The agreement is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance,” said the Minister of Regional Cooperation and Infrastructure, Silvan Shalom. “I am pleased that an investment of years has reached its hoped-for conclusion and will benefit Israel and the residents of the region as a whole,” he added.

Jordanian Water Minister Hazem Nasser spoke about the humanitarian aspects of the project: “This is an agreement with a humanitarian aspect, designed to aid those who need water. There is an ecological aspect as well since we are trying to save the Dead Sea.”

The head of the Palestinian Water Authority, Shaddad Attili stressed that in spite of the conflict, “the agreement is unrelated to the Oslo Accords. The beauty is that this is a regional deal and it is important to everyone to save the Dead Sea. Despite political issues and the conflict, we proved that we can all work together.”

Environmentalists are not happy with the decision, with many highly concerned about the environmental consequences. Some are warning that mixing Red Sea and Dead Sea waters could upset the unique chemistry of the Dead Sea and the ecosystem, while discoloring the Dead Sea’s famous blue waters. Other concerns highlight damage to coral reefs in the Red Sea as well as contamination to the underground water of Israel’s Arava desert.

 Anav Silverman writes for Tazpit News Agency.

Menorahs Vandalized in States, Abroad

Half-way through the Chanukah holiday, and already several chanukiot have been vandalized, according to JTA Wire Service. First, a 6-foot menorah in front of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah was vandalized.

Jews celebrate Chanukah in Budapest, Hungary.

Jews celebrate Chanukah in Budapest, Hungary.

Three branches of the menorah were ripped off its left side and dropped in front of the Chabad House in Salt Lake City early Sunday morning, according to reports.

The center has been at its current location since 2005 and erected a menorah every year. It is the first time the menorah has been vandalized.

Rabbi Benny Zippel, executive director of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, said he believes the desecration was vandalism and not connected to anti-Semitism. He said he would press charges if the vandals were caught, however.

Meanwhile, a 9-foot menorah stolen Saturday night from the front of the Chabad of Northwest Indiana in Munster, Ind., was recovered the following day. It had been dumped in a backyard about a half-mile away.

Abroad, in Hungary, three vandals of public menorahs in the Hungarian capital of Budapest reportedly turned themselves into police.

Police were searching for a fourth vandal in the attacks they said took place over the weekend on four menorahs throughout the city, Hungary’s Club Radio reported. The vandalism was captured on public surveillance cameras.

The Hungarian daily newspaper Nepszabadsag reported Monday that the attacks — by vandals who were described as young people — appeared to have been “preplanned and premeditated.”

Chabad erected the four menorahs, which were placed at busy intersections throughout the city. The largest, at about 20 feet high, was erected downtown, according to Chabad, and the others are about 10 feet high.

Chabad has erected public menorahs in Budapest every Chanukah since the fall of communism in 1989. It was the first time that a public menorah has been damaged.



IDF Soldier Killed In Terrorist Attack At Afula Bus Station

Israel Defense Forces soldier Eden Attias, 19, from Nazareth Illit, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager Wednesday in the northern Israeli city of Afula, Israel Hayom reported.

The terrorist attack took place around 8:30 a.m. aboard the 823 Egged bus from Nazareth Illit to Tel Aviv. Sixteen-year-old Hussein Jawadra from Jenin, who authorities say was residing in Israel illegally, attacked Attias when the bus came to a stop, stabbing him multiple times.

Jawadra then attempted to flee the scene but was quickly apprehended by another soldier and border policeman who were also on the bus. Attias, who joined the IDF in October and was still undergoing basic training, sustained several wounds to his neck and chest. Magen David Adom paramedics rushed him to Haemek Medical Center in Afula where he underwent emergency surgery, and later died of his wounds.

“The soldier was admitted to the hospital in critical condition, suffering from massive blood loss. We administered a series of treatments in an attempt to stabilize his condition, but the injury to his heart was too severe and despite our best possible efforts there was nothing we could do,” Haemek Medical Center Deputy Director Dr. Tuvia Tiyosuno told the Israeli Channel 2 TV network.


Haredi Leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman Attacked In Bnei Brak Home

Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the leader of the non-hasidic Lithuanian Ashkenazi community, was attacked at his home in Israel.

Shteinman, 99, suffered a bruise on his chest but was unhurt otherwise during the attack in Bnei Brak early Wednesday morning, The Jerusalem Post reported. His attacker — a haredi Orthodox man in his 20s — was arrested after being restrained by associates and followers of the rabbi until police arrived. The attacker shook and yelled at the rabbi.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered the attacker to be held over until Thursday and sent for a psychiatric evaluation.

Witnesses told police that the man said he was hearing voices telling him to attack Shteinman, The Jerusalem Post reported. The haredi news website Kikar Hashabat reported that the attack was related to Tuesday’s elections in which Shteinman’s Degel Hatorah party won eight seats on the Jerusalem Municipal Council, even though Moshe Lion, his endorsed candidate for mayor, lost.


County Judge Approves Foundry Row Plans

Brian Gibbons and Leonard Weinberg II stand by the Solo Plant. Gibbons wants to turn the Solo Plant into Foundry Row. (Justin Tsuclas)

Brian Gibbons and Leonard Weinberg II stand by the Solo Plant. Gibbons wants to turn the Solo Plant into Foundry Row. (Justin Tsuclas)

A Baltimore County administrative law judge approved Owings Mills project Foundry Row’s development plans on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

“It was clear that we were going above and beyond and meeting all the requirements of the code,” said Brian Gibbons, chairman and CEO of developer Greenberg Gibbons.

Judge John E. Beverungen approved Greenberg Gibbons’ plan with several conditions, effectively allowing Foundry Row to move forward.

“Now we’re kind of free and clear, at least until the next step, whatever that’s going to be,” said Councilwoman Vicki Almond, referring to the numerous roadblocks those who oppose the development have attempted.

Foundry Row, a mixed-use development at the site of the former Solo Cup plant, will feature more than 360,000 square feet of retail and 60,000 square feet of office space. Wegmans grocery store will anchor the center. The Baltimore County Council approved rezoning the property for retail in August 2012, despite vocal opposition from neighboring developers. A referendum effort also failed to reverse the zoning decision.

Beverungen’s decision approved the plans with the conditions that all roadway improvements are made before use and occupancy permits can be issued, that any change to the vacant 241,000-square-foot warehouse on the property comply with certain zoning regulations and that the developer complies with American Disabilities Act regulations regarding roadway, sidewalk and pedestrian access.

Attorneys representing entities in opposition to the project called into question the safety of road improvements, ADA accessibility, parking and several other parts of the plan. After consideration, Beverungen ruled in favor of the developer. The companies seeking to have the development plans stopped, Painters Mill Executive Office Park Partnership LLP, Garrison Realty Investors LLC and 100 Painters Mill LLC, are owned by Howard Brown, chairman of David S. Brown Enterprises, Gibbons said. Brown is building massive transit-oriented development Metro Centre at Owings Mills and has been vocally opposed to Foundry Row.

“I’m disappointed by the opposition because I really believe this is a great thing for the community, and I think it’s going to provide a tremendous gateway,” Gibbons said. “I think it’s going to help the developments near it, in particularly Howard Brown’s.”

Demolition of the Solo Cup plant should be completed by the end of the year, Gibbons said. He hopes to submit detailed engineering and architectural plans in early 2014 – the next required approvals in the process – and will begin construction next summer if permits are in place.

He expects attorneys representing the opposition to file an appeal with Baltimore County, but he is moving full-steam ahead.

“I find that the Developer has satisfied its burden of proof and, therefore, is entitled to approval of the redlined Development Plan,” Beverungen wrote in his decision.

Fatal Accident On Cronridge Drive, Approaching Cronhill Drive

At 3:49 a.m., Baltimore County Police and Fire personnel responded to Cronridge Dr and Cronhill Dr in Owings Mills for a report of a motor vehicle accident.  Upon arriving at the scene, officers discovered a single vehicle that was on fire.

The initial investigation by the Baltimore County Police Department Crash Team has indicated that a Chrysler was traveling north-bound on Cronridge Dr approaching Cronhill Dr.  It crossed over the center line, went off of the west side of the road, impacted a utility police, impacted a tree and caught fire.  The operator of the Chrysler was trapped in the vehicle and declared deceased at the scene.   Investigators believe that the operator was a male in his late 30s, but have not been able to positivley identify him.

This incident remains under investigation by the Baltimore County Police Department Crash Team.  Further information will be released as it becomes available.

Study: Kosher Chicken May Have Higher E. Coli Risk

Kosher chicken might be less safe to consume than conventional poultry, a new study found.

Researchers with Northern Arizona State University examined the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli on four types of raw chicken: conventional, organic, kosher and those raised without antibiotics, all purchased throughout the New York area from April 2012 to June 2012. The study found kosher chicken, regardless of brand, had the highest frequency of antibiotic-resistant E. coli — nearly twice the amount in conventional products. It also found no difference in levels of antibiotic resistance between strains found on organic and conventional chicken.

The study screened for all types of E. coli strains, most of which are not harmful to humans, according to Food Safety News.

The findings go against widespread consumer perception that kosher food is healthier and cleaner.

The reasons for the greater levels in kosher poultry than non-kosher are not clear. The authors wrote that their research “suggests that use of antibiotics in the kosher production chain is common and that it may be more intensive than use of antibiotics among conventional, organic or RWA practices.”

The article suggested more studies are needed to test whether antibiotic resistance among kosher products is consistently higher than in other categories.

The study was published on the F1000 Research website, which calls itself the first “open science journal for life scientists.”


Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, 93, Passes Away

Ovadya Yosef (1) As tens of thousands prayed for the recovery of the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Haim Ovadia Yosef, he passed away on Monday, October 7, 2013, at the age of 93, with his family and close colleagues, including several Shas leaders and President Shimon Peres at his side.

Rabbi Haim Ovadia Yosef was the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, a noted Talmudic scholar and leading Halakhic authority.

He served as the spiritual leader of the Shas political party in the Knesset. His Halakhic responsa are highly regarded within Orthodox circles and are considered binding in many Sephardic communities, where he was regarded as the most important living Halachic authority.

Rabbi Yosef was born in Baghdad, Iraq on September 23, 1920, the day after the Yom Kippur. In 1924, when he was four years old, he immigrated to Jerusalem with his family, then under British rule. As a teenager he studied at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, where distinguished himself as a top student. Yosef’s father ran a small grocery, but the family knew times of poverty. He received rabbinic ordination at the early age of 20.

Ovadya Yosef (4)In 1947, Rabbi Yosef was invited to Cairo to teach in a yeshiva. He also served as head of the Cairo rabbinical court. Following a conflict between him and other members of the community he resigned from his position, two years after having arrived in Cairo. Approximately one year after his resignation, he returned to what had become the State of Israel.

After returning to Israel, Yosef served on the rabbinical court in Petah Tikva, where his bold religious authority was already being revealed.

In 1952 he published his first book, on the laws of Pesach, titled “Chazon Ovadia.” The book won much praise and received the approval of, among others, the two Chief Rabbis of Israel at that time, Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel and Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog.

Two years later, Rabbi Yosef founded the Or HaTorah Yeshiva for gifted Sephardic Yeshiva students. This Yeshiva, which did not remain open for long, was the first of many which he established, later with the help of his sons, in order to facilitate Torah education for Sephardic Jews and establish the leadership of the community for future generations. In 1954 and 1956 he published the first two volumes of his major work “Yabia Omer,” which also received much praise. Rabbi Yosef’s responsa are noted for citing almost every source regarding a specific topic and are often referred to simply as indices of all previous rulings.

Ovadya Yosef (3)Between 1958 and 1965 Rabbi Yosef served as a magistrate in the Jerusalem district religious court. He was then appointed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Appeals in Jerusalem, eventually becoming the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Tel Aviv in 1968, a position which he held until his election as Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel in 1973.

In 1973 Yosef was elected the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel by a majority of 81 to 68 votes. His candidacy was criticized by some as he was competing against an incumbent Chief Rabbi. The election process was characterized by tension and political controversy. During his years as Chief Rabbi, Yosef dealt with a variety of important social and Halachic issues.

Ovadya Yosef (2)In April 2005, Israeli security services arrested three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who had been observing Rabbi Yosef in public and were held on the suspicion of his intended murder. One of them, Musa Darwish, was convicted on December 15, 2005 of Rabbi Yossef’s attempted murder and of throwing firebombs at vehicles on the Jerusalem-Ma’aleh Adumim road. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and three years probation.

He remained an active public figure in political and religious life in his capacity as the spiritual leader of the Shas political party and through his regular sermons.

His health weakened over the past year. On January 13, 2013 Rabbi Yosef was released from hospital after a minor stroke. On September 24, 2013 he was reportedly put into an induced sleep and was being aided by a breathing respirator. He showed some signs of recovering, but finally succumbed to his illness.

Rabbi Yosef leaves a vast gap in his absence. As the official announcement was made, his fervent group of followers gathered at the hospital, breaking down in tears. One of the Shas rabbis related to Israeli press that following the former chief rabbi’s passing, he now feels “orphaned.”

Colorado Relief Effort

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore has established an emergency relief fund to respond to the disastrous consequences of flooding in several Colorado communities. As of September 16, the Colorado Office of Emergency Management says that 17,494 homes are damaged and 1,502 homes are destroyed. An estimated 30-40 percent of the Jewish population in Boulder and surrounding areas has some level of damage to their homes.

Working in conjunction with the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), The Associated will send one-hundred percent of all donations directly to those affected, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

“One of our core values as a federation and as a community is tikkun olam, repairing the world,” said Marc B. Terrill, President of The Associated. “When we see another community suffering, we feel compelled to help in whatever way we can. Baltimore has a proud history of reaching out to those in need at home and abroad. It is who we are as Jews and as people.”

To donate to the Colorado Flood Relief Fund, visit or send a check to Colorado Flood Relief Fund, c/o The Associated, 101 West Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201.


Drama at BG Airport: Palestinian Driven Truck Runs Through Airport

Early this morning, at about 3:30, a stolen truck driven by two Palestinians from Jenin and Qalkilia ran through the security checkpoint at the entrance to Ben Gurion Airport. Emergency procedures were immediately set in motion and security forces dispersed throughout the field. The truck continued its rampage through the field, running through more checkpoints and almost running down a security guard, until it was finally stopped by guards who fired four bullets at the vehicle. The two abandoned the vehicle and began to escape on foot, but were finally apprehended. They were stopped only 200 meters away from Terminal 3, one of the airport’s main buildings, which was crowded with outgoing pre-holiday passengers. Some 60,000 passengers have gone through the airport in the last 24 hours.

A police sapper was called in to check if the truck was booby-trapped, but he ruled out that possibility.

During the drama, all activity throughout the airport was brought to a stand-still, and was commenced only about an hour later, after the “all-clear” signal was given.

Shmuel Zakai, director of Ben Gurion Airport, commended the security forces for the quick response, and stated that the guard who fired his weapon was acting properly according to regulations.

The two Palestinians were taken into custody for questioning. They were both in the vicinity illegally without proper permits. Their motivation is yet unclear. One report indicates they may have stolen the truck with no intent to commit a terrorist attack, and took a wrong turn into the airport.