Monthly Archives: February 2022


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Progressive Jewish Women for Israel invite you

to support Israeli girls to experience the life-changing
opportunity of a Bat Mitzvah.

For the first time, Progressive Jewish women across Australia are joining together to donate to a unique project in support of our sisters and daughters in Israel. We believe girls should have the same rights an opportunities as their brothers: to feel important; to feel they matter.

A cornerstone of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism’s (IMPJ) Bat Mitzvah program is participation in a mother and daughter course. Together with a Rabbi, the program teaches Jewish education and thought, prepares girls to read Torah, and explores the importance of the Jewish coming of age.

It empowers young girls to develop their own Jewish identity, be inspired by Progressive values and key female figures in Judaism, and fosters youth leadership. Girls are encouraged to use their newly-acquired skills through participation in Tikkun Olam community projects.

The annual cost of this program in Israel is $100,000. A donation of just $300 will support one girl to complete her Bat Mitzvah.

CLICK HERE to make your tax-deductible donation.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2022-02-18T16:15:07+11:00February 18th, 2022|News|

Israel’s Citizenship Law and the Right of a Palestinian Spouse

Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (Photo: Haaretz)

Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (Photo: Haaretz)

Last week I told you the story of two Israeli women heading to great heights in their professions. Last Monday Gali Baharav-Miara was appointed Attorney General by the Israeli Coalition Government. Kol Hakavod!

On a very different note, there is a political issue causing great tension between and within political parties in Israel. The issue has to do with the right of Palestinians who marry Israelis to gain Israeli citizenship.

In Israel, the law being debated is the Citizenship Law. Currently, according to the Times of Israel about 12,700 Palestinians married to Israelis live in Israel with temporary documentation and are required to renew this documentation at regular intervals. It is appreciated that such people lack security in their status and many complications arise if that relationship breaks down or their partner dies and there are children of the marriage who can be deported. This temporary status also denies such people rights, such as opening bank accounts, health benefits etc.

By way of background, in 2003, at the height of the Intifada, to prevent terror attacks the Citizenship and Entry Law was amended to ban Palestinians who married Israelis from obtaining permanent residency, hence citizenship. However, under certain circumstances such people could remain in Israel, but without other rights.

This amendment to the law had to be passed by the Knesset every year but was overturned last July with the abstention of two parliamentarians from the Islamist party. This has led to Palestinians married to Israelis being able to be treated the same as any other foreign spouse with a right to residency through family unification.

With the department responsible for the implementation of the law controlled by the right wing Yamina Party, the ban has continued, but has been wildly controversial.

Yair Lapid, the Deputy Prime Minister has cited the need to maintain Israel’s Jewish majority as a Jewish State as the reason for supporting this law. So, while the current Coalition has supported the retention of the Citizenship law, other measures have been taken to give Palestinian spouses rights previously not enjoyed, such as access to health care and a licence to drive a vehicle.

As of February 6, 2022, the Coalition Cabinet approved the controversial bill to renew the expired ban on permits for Palestinians who marry Israelis to live with their spouses in Israel. This was despite the opposition by coalition partners Meretz and Ra ‘am who claim, “it is a racist law which discriminates against Israel’s Arab citizens.” As of February 7, the bill has passed its first reading in the Knesset with the help of the Opposition parties and will now go to the committees.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2022-02-18T15:09:59+11:00February 16th, 2022|News|

Israeli Women Hit the High Notes in Their Professions

Gali Baharav-Miara and Gadeer Kamal Mreeh. (Courtesy Haaretz)

It gives me great pleasure to write about two Israeli women who are hitting the high notes in their respective professions. As Progressive Jews and as a Progressive Jewish Woman I am particularly pleased to see women being treated as equals in Eretz Israel. We have been promoting equality and pluralism for so long and looking forward to the new Israeli Coalition Government seeking to meet our goals.

It is expected that Israel will elect the first woman to be its Attorney General. As reported in Haaretz, Gali Baharav-Miara has received the recommendation of the Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar last week and the Cabinet was due to vote on the matter on Monday February 7. If appointed, she will be the first woman to fill this role.

Miara previously worked in the civil division of the State Prosecutor’s Office for 30 years. She is also the preferred candidate of the Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett.

Her selection has not come without criticism, but she comes with much experience and is currently affiliated with a law firm in Tel Aviv in the private sector. Gideon Sa’ar is quoted as saying that “although it is a good idea to appoint a woman as attorney general for the first time, he supports Baharav-Miara for the position, because she’s the best candidate, the most seasoned, the most appropriate with the richest and most impressive professional and administrative background”.

The second impressive Israeli woman to be promoted in her profession is Gadeer Mreeh. She is the first ever Druze Envoy (Shaliach) for the Jewish Agency in Washington DC.

As a Druze woman and a journalist, she served in the Knesset as a member of the Kachol Lavan party and then Yesh Atid. While she is a proud non–Jewish, Arab speaking Israeli, she does point out that Arabs make up 20% of the Israeli population, numbering 2 million people.

Her role is said to be serving as a bridge between Israel and the Diaspora communities. While the business of Aliyah has dwindled of late, she is working as “a special liaison to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington” and promotes Jewish student engagement with Israel on college campuses across America.

Gadeer Kamal Mreeh believes she has an important role in informing the Diaspora about the large number of Arabs who are part of the Israeli population and proudly so, as she is.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

ARZA Australia President, Helen Shardey

2022-02-08T14:02:20+11:00February 7th, 2022|News|
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