Yeshivas and Secular Education -Preventing an Economic Divide that’s Ever Growing

Note: We have reposted this without the permission of the author, Emily Newman. Should she ask that we remove it, we will do so. The link to the original article is here:
https://thehumanist.com/features/articles/yes-yeshivas-must-include-secular-education?fbclid=IwAR0ckuuKAa8B0v8u-xSDjFclfKaMRMJggE4tVSCnk1JxuJd1VayzMhBHOkA

Yes, Yeshivas Must Include Secular Education

I’ve spoken often about a Tale of Two Cities [sic]. That inequality—that feeling of a few doing very well, while so many slip further behind—that is the defining challenge of our time. Because inequality in New York is not something that only threatens those who are struggling. The stakes are so high for every New Yorker. And making sure no son or daughter of New York falls behind defines the very promise of our city.

This excerpt from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s victory speech on November 6, 2013, describes the city’s economic divide but could easily apply to its educational divide. While New York City boasts some of the best public schools in the nation, it also contains some of the worst schools. More specifically, the city must take responsibility for failing to acknowledge how poorly its yeshivas have been educating students for decades.

Yeshivas are Orthodox Jewish schools ranging from elementary to college that separate classes by gender and teach several subjects in Hebrew. They primarily focus on the study of traditional religious texts—such as the Talmud and the Torah—but this religious focus doesn’t mean they’re allowed to skip secular education, especially given that these educational institutions are heavily funded by the government. The New York State Department of Education requires the instruction provided at nonpublic schools to be substantially equivalent to that of the local public school. This includes classes in “arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing, the English language, geography, United States history, civics, hygiene, physical training, the history of New York state, and science.”

Upon realizing the gaps in his and his peer’s yeshiva education, a former student named Naftuli Moster founded Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) in 2012. Since then, YAFFED has collected stories from other former students, teachers, and parents describing the quality and content of the education. In an interview with me in August 2018, Moster explained that initial attempts to inform city officials of the issue in 2013 and 2014 were ignored because they were too general and didn’t name institutions. In a July 2015 letter to the chancellor of the New York City Department of Education YAFFED identified thirty-nine schools with poor records. After reviewing the letter, the chancellor notified the New York State commissioner of education that at these yeshivas:

English and mathematics are taught from around age seven to age thirteen, for an average combined time of only ninety minutes and on only four days a week. Other secular subjects are not taught at all, let alone in English. At these yeshivas, English instruction for boys stops at age thirteen. Girls generally receive a better secular education than boys but, we are still concerned that it is not sufficient to prepare them for their futures.

From 2015-2017 the New York City DOE met with superintendents of the listed schools, interviewed the complainants, and interviewed yeshiva leaders. The department consistently missed self-imposed deadlines to release reports on the investigations. YAFFED gathered testimonials and released its own report in 2017. The report found that the average yeshiva graduate

speaks little or no English, has few or no marketable skills, earns a household income well below the average Brooklynite’s, marries young and has many children, and is forced to rely upon public assistance to support his large family.

The two main reasons yeshivas receive millions of dollars in government funding is to address household poverty levels and low class performance, creating a dangerous cycle for Hasidic Jewish families.

The yeshiva issue grew to a statewide concern on April 12, 2018, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo accepted a budget that included a last-minute amendment to the nonpublic school curriculum law. The Felder Amendment—proposed by New York State Senator Simcha Felder and ultra-Orthodox Jewish community leaders—provides special treatment to ultra-Orthodox yeshivas and cuts down on instructional requirements. This violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution by allowing government to favor one religion over another. YAFFED filed a lawsuit in July 2018 against state officials alleging a lack of oversight of yeshivas and arguing the amendment needs to be removed from law.

In an August 2018 letter, New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza informed New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia that all of the interviewed complainants reported that English was delayed until first grade (sometimes even later), that there was no instruction through a science curriculum (only a few experiments at some schools), that math was restricted to basic arithmetic (sometimes fractions), and that little to no history was taught. Of the thirty-nine listed schools in YAFFED’s letter, nine were removed from the investigation because they weren’t in the NYC DOE jurisdiction—outside of the city or not K-12—or supposedly no longer existed. Carranza has reported optimistically on the fifteen yeshivas that let officials in and agreed to improve, but he admits that it’s too early to tell if the changes are significant enough as the school has only provided outlines and samples of secular curriculum. He has asked for guidance on how to handle the remaining fifteen schools that haven’t allowed DOE officials inside.

One school removed from the list was United Talmudical Academy, which is located on a top floor of a building with a butcher shop on its ground level. City investigators must not have noticed the school’s mailbox or asked around to determine if classes are in fact held at the address associated with the school. Moster noted in our interview that the DOE didn’t consult with YAFFED before deciding to remove schools from the investigation list. Nor have investigators followed up on vetting how United Talmudical Academy received nearly $10 million in federal funding if it doesn’t exist.

“The idea that they will conduct one [scheduled] visit and somehow glean a lot from that is somewhat laughable,” said Moster, who is concerned the investigations have been more yeshiva-led than city-led. He noted that Carranza’s letter doesn’t include names of investigators, visiting officials, education experts, psychology professors, or anyone else in curriculum meetings. The report also doesn’t mention YAFFED as the organization that brought forward the complainants, it but does name Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS)—formed in 2016—as one organization working on new English and math curriculum for yeshivas that “align with the Common Core Learning Standards and use materials that are culturally sensitive to the values of the yeshivas.”

Tension has been rising in New York City as the New York Times published two opposing op-eds: one from its own editorial board blasting politicians for failing to challenge Orthodox leadership and one from PEARLS lawyer Avi Schick criticizing anyone who questions the yeshivas’ progress. Hopefully the curriculum developed by PEARLS will be substantially equivalent to that taught in well-performing public schools. Ideally, New York’s newfound awareness will ensure a fair education for yeshiva students.

Unlike most of the Establishment Clause issues the American Humanist Association takes on, this isn’t about keeping public schools religiously neutral. It’s about ensuring that all schools provide the essentials to help young people succeed in life. No matter where children live or what religion they follow, they deserve a well-rounded education. Make sure your legislators know that they’re responsible here, because an uneducated populace is everyone’s problem.

 

 

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NY State Dept. of Health Warns of Measles Exposure in Rockland County, NY

MEASLES IN NEW YORK STATE – SHOULD THOSE VACCINATED BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO AREN’T?

A measles outbreak has it New York State putting both religious and non-religious at risk. It has been linked to International travelers, traveling between Israel and the United States. Israel has a strict policy regarding vaccinating children. With socialized medicine largely the norm, there is a requirement before attending school that children be vaccinated and their regimen is stricter than that of the United States. They include vaccinations that we do not have on our protocols. But within the ultra-Orthodox communities, both in Israel and the United States, the requirements for entering schools (religious Yeshivas) is different. Likely – the policy of vaccinations is not enforced.

But if you take this to its logical conclusion, what’s next? A Polio Outbreak? Or… Whooping cough… or any number of other possible diseases that are preventable.

LostMessiah is well aware that there is a movement of people who do not believe in vaccinating their children either because of the dangers of Autism, or other disorders allegedly associated with vaccines. While we may not agree, we are not having that debate.

But, a vaccine only works if a statistical percentage of people within a community are vaccinated. Therefore, for each one person that does not vaccinate, a statistical number of people must be willing to “sacrifice” their kids for the better good. Otherwise, no one is safe. In other words, people who choose to not vaccinate are relying on those who choose to vaccinate to keep their own children safe. That is the problem, whether by conscientious objector or ignorance we find not vaccinating children to be reprehensible. A parent choosing not to vaccinate his or her child is forcing that obligation on others to keep everyone safe. We have a problem with that.

Within the ultra-Orthodox community, failure to vaccinate appears to be borne of ignorance not some fundamental ideological belief against vaccinations and the policy of enforcing vaccinations by State guidelines is largely ingored in the yeshiva system. Moreover, when the problem needs to be resolved, those uneducated must rely on those educated and outside of their community to control the damage. If you are not going to educate yourselves and your children and teach the importance of vaccinations, we almost think you should shut your gates, quarantine your residents and figure out how to fix the problem yourselves, without State financial assistance and without state intervention.

 

New York State Department of Health Warns More Potential New Measles Exposures in Rockland County

New Cases Linked to International Travelers

State Working with County and Community to Identify Potential Exposures, Provide Vaccine, Prevent Further Spread

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 16, 2018) – The New York State Department of Health today announced that additional measles cases linked to international travelers returning from Israel have been confirmed in Rockland County.

Like many European countries and parts of the world, Israel is currently experiencing a high number of measles cases. In the most recent data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), 339 cases have been reported in Israel from March through August of 2018.

To help prevent secondary cases of measles, the state Department of Health is working with the Rockland County Department of Health and Refuah Health Center to identify those potentially exposed and provide information on the importance of vaccination.

A measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine clinic for those who are not immune to measles will be held on Thursday, October 18, from 4:30 p.m. 6:30 at the Community Outreach Center located 21 Remsen Avenue in Monsey.

In addition to supporting the county by providing MMR vaccine, the state Department of Health is testing samples at its Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany, and assisting with community outreach and contact investigations. This includes working with the Rockland County Department of Health to identify unvaccinated students at any impacted schools, and taking the appropriate actions to minimize the risk to other students.

For those who believe they may have been exposed and have further questions, a toll-free hotline has been established: 1-888-364-4837. The hotline is available Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Individuals are considered protected or immune to measles if they were born before 1957, have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have had measles, or have a laboratory test result confirming immunity. Individuals who are not immune to measles and were exposed are at risk for developing measles. Preventive treatment for measles is recommended for those without evidence of immunity as follows: MMR vaccine can be given to eligible exposed individuals within 72 hours of exposure OR immune globulin can be administered within 6 days of exposure.

All individuals who think they may have been exposed to measles, particularly those without immunity or who are not sure if they have been vaccinated, should contact their health care provider if they develop measles symptoms. Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis or runny nose. Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days after exposure.

To prevent the spread of illness, the Department is advising individuals who may have been exposed and who have symptoms consistent with measles to contact their health care provider, a local clinic, or a local emergency department before going for care. This will help to prevent others at these facilities from being exposed to the illness.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. People first develop a fever, then may have a cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by appearance of a rash. People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash.

The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. Individuals should receive two doses of MMR vaccine to be fully protected. If a person is unsure if they are immune they should contact their healthcare provider. Typically, the first dose of MMR vaccine should be given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose should be given at four to six years of age (age of school entry), although individuals may also be vaccinated later in life. In New York State, measles immunization is required of children enrolled in schools, daycare, and pre-kindergarten. Since August 1990, college students have also been required to demonstrate immunity against measles.

More information about measles can be found at https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2170.pdf.

Maybe the Rabbis Should be Telling the Community to Vaccinate their Children, Despite not Knowing the Science Behind it…

NOTE TO THE RELIGIOUS OFFICIALS IN NEW SQUARE!!! 

MEASLES EXPOSURE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. 

THE ILLNESS AND POTENTIAL DEATH OF YOUR CHILDREN AND THOSE WITH LOW IMMUNE RESISTANCE RESTS SQUARELY ON YOUR SHOULDERS:

Since you have been indoctrinating your community to pay attention to you, you may want to hang up signs about vaccinating children before more children get sick and die unnecessarily.

Despite your conviction that education in math and science is unnecessary, perhaps you can see that without the help of EDUCATED medical practitioners, and sites like LostMessiah that informs the public (whether about things you like or don’t like), your children will die from diseases that ARE PREVENTABLE.

Officials Issue Measles Alert For NYC, Northern Suburbs

 

NEW SQUARE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The New York City Health Department was on high alert Wednesday after at least 17 people tested positive for measles in the Tri-State area.

On Wednesday, Rockland County health officials said there were 11 confirmed and three suspected cases being investigated involving a mix of adults and children.

aec82393a9c84d3aa608ea22d394ede2 Officials Issue Measles Alert For NYC, Northern Suburbs

Rockland County Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said children who have had their first MMR vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella before 15 months don’t need to wait until age 4 for their second MMR as is typical. Children can get it as soon as 28 days after first shot, and parents should to talk to pediatricians.

A synagogue, a yeshiva and a health center in the Hasidic village of New Square are all listed as places visited by someone sick with measles, putting others at risk. The virus lives for about two hours after an infected person contaminates the air or a surface by coughing or sneezing.

MORETraveler May Have Exposed N.Y. And N.J. Residents To Measles

Health officials have said anyone at the following locations in Rockland, Westchester and Bergen counties may have been exposed to the measles:

  • Congregation Bais Elazer in Monsey, N.Y. on Oct. 4
  • Mia’s Reflexology in New City, N.Y. on Oct. 4
  • Lifetime Gym in Montvale, N.J. on Oct. 5
  • Wesley Kosher in Monsey N.Y. on Oct. 5
  • Congregation Borov in Monsey, N.Y. on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6
  • Costco in Nanuet, N.Y. on Oct. 7
  • Care 365 in Monsey, N.Y. on Oct. 8
  • Westchester Medical Center’s Emergency Room in Valhalla, N.Y. on Oct. 11

“People are very scared about it. They are trying to the best what they can,” one man said. “If there’s any problem they’re taking now precautions. They are taking in the community strong precautions and I think it’s at a good level.”

Similarly, the New York City Department of Health warned the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn after six children contracted the disease this month.

City officials say those diagnosed are between 11-months and four-years-old. Two of them were hospitalized with complications from pneumonia and an ear infection.

Officials say one of the children visited Israel. Gary Schlesinger of Parcare Community Health Network says he’s now getting calls from worried parents.

“They’re basically calling to check on records to make sure they’re compliant with all the vaccinations recommended by government,” he said.

The so-called “MMR” vaccine is very effective — and the vast majority of Americans are immunized as children. Rockland County is urging those who’ve not received the vaccine to do so.

“Even adults can be vaccinated. They have to take two doses of MMR vaccine, which is about 28 days apart,” said Dr. Rebecca Varghese, medical director at Lifeline Urgent Care.

The city says six of the children infected had not been vaccinated. The sixth had one dose, but was not yet immune.

City health officials will be handing out informational fliers in the neighborhood, and will be meeting with rabbis and elected officials to help spread awareness. In Rockland County, officials will offer a measles vaccine clinic on Thursday in Monsey and on Friday in Nanuet.

The classic symptoms of the measles include an unpleasant red rash, fever, runny nose, red eyes, sensitivity to light and coughing. The virus can live up to two hours on a surface.

New York Exposed to Measles – Why? Failure to Vaccinate

There are seven confirmed cases of the measles in Rockland from three different groups of international travelers, according to the Rockland County Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert.

Of those cases, two originated from exposure occurring in Rockland, Schnabel Ruppert said.

“As we see more cases there is the potential for further exposure,” Schnabel Ruppert said in a statement. “The Rockland County Department of Health continues to investigate these cases and will keep residents informed of any updates. I recommend that residents make sure they and their families are up-to-date on their measles vaccinations.”

VACCINATIONS: What can schools say about unvaccinated kids?

MEASLES: Measles warning: What you need to know, including vaccinations

PREVIOUS STORY: Weekend visitor to Rockland County may have exposed others to measles

The first case was confirmed in September and originated from a international traveler from Israel.

“Since measles is still common in many countries and there are ongoing measles outbreaks overseas, travelers will continue to bring this disease into the United States,” the Rockland Health Department said. “Measles is highly contagious, so anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting the disease.”

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people, according to the New York State Department of Health. People first develop a fever, then may have a cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by appearance of a rash. People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash.

Individuals are considered protected or immune to measles if:

  • they were born before 1957,
  • have received two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine,
  • have had measles confirmed by a health care provider
  • or have a lab test confirming immunity.

 

See the Original article on Lohud.com or click here.

Noble-Delek and EMG – What if they Voted to Not Supply the Gas as Promised?

THE NOBLE DELEK GAS DEAL –

A NOBLE DEAL BETWEEN DELEK GROUP, NOBLE ENERGY, EGYPTIAN EAST GAS, EMG AND THE COMBINED COMPANY EMED? 

Several  months ago in a set of comments to an article entitled: “The Egypt-Israel Gas Deal: What’s the Chance it will go up in smoke?” someone made the following comment:

By investing into EMG, Delek and Noble would hold the largest voting bloc in the company, allowing them to pass a motion to NOT use the pipeline in the original direction from Egypt to Israel. I.E to block the possibility of exporting gas from Egypt to Israel

We have not named the Commenter but his comments can be found at the bottom of the article republished in part below. We have found that some of the most important points of any article can be found in the comments and we believe that this is no exception.

Moreover, whether inadvertently or otherwise, the commenter used the spelling “voting bloc” which is generally the parlance of a reference to the ultra-Orthodox Jews who tend to vote as a unit, upon the determination of a rabbi, prominent businessman, etc. That too may be no coincidence and in all honesty is speculation.

Also noteworthy, the deal allegedly solves other problems, including ongoing litigation regarding the wells, Leviathan, Tamar and Dolphinus. We note that in Hebrew a Leviatan is a whale (or a navigation system).

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will dissect the deal piece by piece along with the owners of each of the companies and we will try to provide a timeline. We believe, an opinion based upon an analysis of several years worth of articles and numbers, that the deal may not be completely kosher.

For one, it creates a natural gas monopoly, a power keg for price manipulation, supply manipulation and depending upon the flow of gas, power brokering. For another, if the parties decided to build another pipeline, through “Kerem Shalom and the Sinai” they could create a different sort of monopoly, particularly if the second pipeline were owned by the same consortium of owners. Finally, the pipeline has a long and sordid history, one which could repeat itself, particularly if the countries involved, namely Israel and Egypt were to fall into the hands of fundamentalists – whether Jewish, Muslim, or others who could play the religious control card at whim. We leave you to your own conclusions.

For now we start with the following:

  1. EMED is the joint company created for the purpose of the purchase into EMG
  2. EMED = Delek Drilling LP, Noble Energy Inc., and Egyptian East Gas Co.
  3. EMG owns the subsea pipeline (between Ashkelon in Israel and El-Arish in Egypt) that will carry the Gas between Egypt and Israel and is owned in large part by Thai Energy Company PTT (PTT.BK), state owned Egyptian company EGPC and Investment group MGPC, and Egyptian East Gas.
  4. EMG is also held by businessmen Sam Zell and Yosef Maiman
  5. In addition to its stake in EMG and now EMED, Egyptian East Gas also owns pipeline that runs from El-Arish and Aquaba in Jordan (Note, claims are that the Jordanian pipeline would be available free of charge for later supply.)
  6. Yitzchak Tschuva is the “owner of Delek Group”  and Delek Drilling LP, which now owns a stake in EMED.
  7.  East Gas is a little difficult in terms of ownership as their website is not accessible (http://www.eastgas.com.eg/index.html)
  8. Noble Energy Inc.is a Texas based company, with interests to be published in a separate article.
  9. Leviathan and Tamar are the Israeli reservoirs, subject to the gas deal.

Research:

Gas imports from Israel, reducing fines, Egypt’s gas hub plans coming through offshore companies

“EMG is held by, among others, businessmen Sam Zell and Yosef Maiman, people familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg. Delek and Noble are in the process of setting up a Cyprus-based joint venture, which would then partner with a Netherlands-based company set up by East Gas. This new partnership, also based in Holland, would buy the 37% stake in EMG.”

Israel, Egypt Gas Partners Buy Control of Key Export Pipeline

Bloomberg LP

Consummation of the deal with EMG will allow the company to pursue more contracts, Abu said. Among the options is a bigger deal with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which is considering buying gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields partly owned by Delek and Noble.

 

Delek Drilling Partnership : Leviathan partners near $200m EMG pipeline deal

EMG, owned by Israeli businessman Josef Maiman, Egyptian, US, and Thai investors held sole rights to import Egyptian gas to Israel. The deal was signed in 2005 and gas began to flow in 2009 to supply Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22) at a price 40% higher than originally agreed. But the gas supply was halted in 2012 after it was repeatedly attacked in the Sinai. The gas deal was terminated and EMG and IEC were awarded $1.8 billion compensation by arbitration proceedings in Switzerland.

___

(c)2018 the Globes (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Visit the Globes (Tel Aviv, Israel) at http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/nodeview.asp?fid=942

Delek Drilling, Noble Energy acquire 40% of Egypt-Israel gas pipeline

UYYitUYYhttps://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5360651,00.html

Companions to the Israeli gas deal: Noble and Delek in talks to acquire East Mediterranean Gas pipeline

“The source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says that a decision has been made to begin technical alterations to the pipeline to reverse its flow and allow operators to import gas into Egypt instead of having the country export gas to Israel, which was the previous arrangement according to a deal signed in 2008. ”

“The pipeline was the target of successive militant attacks after 2011. In 2012, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) terminated its contract with Israel. The state-owned company attributed the decision to a breach of contract by EMG for delayed gas payments”

 

“The source close to the deal corroborates information Mada Masr published last year regarding the aims of negotiations to import gas from Israel. By striking a deal to import gas from Israel, Egypt aimed to find a way around the international arbitration fines of $1.7 billion, owed to the Israeli Electricity Company (IEC) and over $200 million, owed to EMG. Egypt also sought to terminate commercial arbitration with the relevant partners of EMG through the deal, thereby avoiding a potential arbitration fine of $8 billion, which would have been owed to Unión Fenosa.”

““Israel hasn’t given up on the debt and the matter did not come up for discussion during talks on the Leviathan export deal to Egypt that was signed [last] week,” Israel’s Energy Ministry told the paper.

A senior Israeli government source, however, told the Israeli business newspaper TheMarker that, while he doesn’t expect Egypt to pay the arbitration settlement, such a move by Egypt will not affect electricity rates in Israel because the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) has already written off the debt as unrecoverable and incorporated the losses into rates over the last six years.

Near the end of 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce in Geneva ruled that EGAS and EGPC were obligated to pay the aforementioned sums in compensation to EMG and the IEC. The decision served as a penalty for Egypt’s April 2012 decision to halt gas exports to Israel after the pipeline was targeted by several attacks and Egypt came to import natural gas itself as the needs of its national market increased.”

 

 

The Egypt-Israel gas deal: What’s the chance it will go up in smoke?

#MideastGasRush

The rush is on to complete a $15bn deal to export Israeli gas to Egypt. But with nearly enough gas to supply itself, does Egypt even need it?

The deal is but the latest chapter in an East Mediterranean saga that has seen Israeli and Egyptian gas fortunes rise and fall (MEE)

TEL AVIV, Israel – There is selling ice to the eskimos. And sand to the Arabs. Now there’s gas to Egypt.

The rush is on to finalise a deal which would see $15bn worth of Israeli gas supplied to a private Egyptian company during the next decade.

‘At least on paper, there is no necessity for Israeli gas any more’

 Elai Rettig, Institute for National Security Studies and University of Haifa 

The agreement between Israeli company Delek Drilling and Texas-based Noble Energy, who are partners in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan fields, and the private Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings was first publicised in February.

As yachts passed by in Israel’s Herzilya marina earlier this month, the deal continued to sail through as Delek shareholders voted to invest in a company controlling the only pipeline between Israel and Egypt.

One of the Delek shareholders who attended the meeting said a company representative told those gathered that, with control of the pipeline, gas could flow as quickly as the end of the year to Egypt – and so would their returns.

“We will see the money in a very short amount of time,” he said they were told.

The same parties announced a similar deal back in March 2015, at a time when Egyptian households and factories had been suffering regular blackouts as a result of energy shortages.

That deal never came to fruition. Three years later, the market in the gas-rich East Mediterranean – and globally – has transformed, leaving one pesky detail for Israeli gas dealers: Egypt is now nearly gas self-sufficient.

As Elai Rettig, a research fellow at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies and lecturer at the University of Haifa, puts it: “At least on paper, there is no necessity for Israeli gas any more.”

But there is every necessity for Israel to sell gas: the longer the gas sits unsold, the more gas will be discovered in the Mediterranean, and the more likely that Israel’s dream of cost-efficient regional sales is postponed indefinitely.

But that is not what is said publicly. Israeli government reports have concentrated instead on arguments based on Israeli national security.

What’s in it for Egypt?

Critically, the gas deal announced in February would allow Delek and Noble, and smaller partners in the field, to continue investing in Israel’s biggest gas field, the aptly named Leviathan, which has yet to produce any gas since it was discovered in 2010.

The companies have already invested $3.75bn in the first phase of Leviathan’s development, which they called the largest energy project in Israel’s history. Industry observers expect the field to start producing next year.

The logic for Cairo is much less clear: once Egypt can satisfy its domestic needs – which could happen as early as 2019 – then Israeli gas, say analysts, will likely cost more than Egyptian gas simply because of the added costs of importing it.

The gas could still potentially be re-exported from two largely idle liquefaction plants in the Egyptian towns of Idku and Damietta, the only such facilities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

That’s the vision Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has for the country. When the deal was announced, he said Egypt had “scored a goal”.

“I’ve been dreaming of it for four years – that we become a regional hub for energy,” Sisi said. “All the gas coming from around the region will come to us.”

If this were to happen, then Egypt would profit from tolls and transit fees.

But there is also a widespread belief among industry observers that it won’t be long before Egypt discovers even more gas, and will want to use the limited capacity of the LNG plants to export its own.

Given that the commercial basis of the current deal is unknown, it is unclear from which Egypt would profit more: exporting its own gas or re-exporting Israeli gas.

None of these details, however, has stopped the deal from moving forward. If anything, the clock is ticking as the companies selling Israeli gas attempt to push into one of the last viable local markets.

‘The deal does not serve Egypt, nor its national security in any way. Does Egypt need natural gas? No, it doesn’t’

– Khaled Foad, Egyptian Institute for Studies

Meanwhile some Egyptians, such as political analyst and former geophysicist Khaled Foad, have been left shaking their heads.

“The deal does not serve Egypt, nor its national security in any way,” said Foad, who is currently based at the Egyptian Institute for Studies in Istanbul. “Does Egypt need natural gas? No, it doesn’t.”

The deal may be a private one, Foad said, but politicians continue to refer to the deal as one struck between the Egyptian and Israeli governments.

He underlined how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the money from the deal will be invested to improve health and education for Israelis.

“We need the same for Egypt,” said Foad. “We have lots of sectors that need development, but we are giving Israel a gift in exchange for minor gains.”

The murky history of Israeli-Egyptian gas deal

The deal is but the latest chapter in an East Mediterranean saga that has seen Israeli and Egyptian gas fortunes rise and fall, their fates murky and seemingly intertwined. It is also a saga which has, at various points, left both Israelis and Egyptians in the dark.

A decade ago, Egypt was a net exporter of gas, providing 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas at some of the lowest prices in the world.

The sweetheart deal was made between two state-run Egyptian companies and the Egyptian-based company East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which formed in 2000 to build a pipeline between Egypt and Israel, and whose partners include former Israeli intelligence agent and energy tycoon Yossi Maiman. It drew criticism from Egyptians and fed into the uprisings which overthrew then-president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The EMG pipeline after an attack in July 2012 in the northern Egyptian town of El-Arish (AFP)

In 2012, two Egyptians considered to be the original deal’s architects – former oil minister Sameh Fahmy and businessman Hussein Salem – were convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, but were later acquitted.

By 2013, Egypt had suffered years of political instability and energy sector mismanagement, including other questionable deals which MEE has investigated, as well as repeated attacks in the Sinai on the gas pipeline.

Egypt was unable to meet its domestic demand and honour its export contracts. Instead it began importing expensive liquid natural gas (LNG) for a rising population which was suffering from regular blackouts.

Israeli gas: Who will buy it?

Egypt fell into an energy-dependent slump – but the future for Israel, which had long imported its gas, was looking bright.

In 2009, Noble and Delek discovered the Tamar field, quickly followed in 2010 by Leviathan, one of the largest global discoveries this century.

Then minister of infrastructure, Uzi Landau, said the discovery was “the most important energy news since the founding of the state” and there was talk of Israel becoming the regional gas hub.

But in the years that have passed, companies have struggled to untangle a Gordian knot of political and economic problems relating to one issue: how to sell it.

In 2015, after energy companies had invested billions to discover the fields and waited years to produce gas, the Israeli government approved regulations to make the sector more competitive, a move that many believe frightened off foreign investors unsure what the government might do next.

Almost a decade after it was found, only Tamar has produced gas for commercial consumption. It currently supplies nearly all of Israel’s gas, but its only non-domestic customers are Jordan’s state-owned Arab Potash Company and its affiliate Jordan Bromine.

Thousands gathered in Amman in 2016 to protest against the gas deal (Reuters)

The Tamar deal, and a much larger agreement signed in 2016 which would see gas from Leviathan supplied to Jordan’s state-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO), have been met with street protests and criticism from Jordanian parliamentarians.

As time has passed, the list of potential customers has shortened. Cyprus has discovered offshore gas. Lebanon has serious prospects of finding its own. The political tensions between Israel and Turkey, which would have made an ideal market for Israeli gas, have so far precluded sales there.

There has also been a dream of selling gas through the EastMed, a proposed 1,900km $7bn underwater pipeline running from Israel through Cyprus to Greece and Italy.

But cost and major logistic challenges have crushed that idea, leaving Israel with only one possible customer for a quick sale: Egypt.

Does Egypt need Israeli gas?

Egypt’s need for Israeli gas, however, is questionable. In July 2015, Italian energy company Eni discovered the Zohr “superfield” – the largest gas field ever found in the Mediterranean – then began producing gas last December. Egypt is now expected to have a gas surplus as early as next year.

So when the Delek/Noble-Dolphinus deal was announced this February, many were left shaking their heads. Why did Egypt need this gas? Even if it is going to be re-exported, did it make economic sense?

…….

Shareholders wait for money pipeline

But earlier this month, as Delek shareholders voted overwhelmingly to invest $200m into EMG, the company which carried the cheap Egyptian gas to Israel a decade ago and still controls the pipeline running between Israel and Egypt, the deal continued to move forward.

By investing into EMG, Delek and Noble would hold the largest voting bloc in the company, allowing them to pass a motion to reverse the pipeline’s direction.

However, hurdles remain. There are still billions of dollars in settlements hanging over the deal after the state-run Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) terminated its contracts with EMG to export gas to Israel in 2012.

In 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce in Geneva ordered EGAS and Egypt’s General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to pay a $1.76bn fine to the Israeli Electric Company and $288m to EMG for halting the gas supplies.

Egyptian Energy Minister Tarek el-Molla reportedly said earlier this year that the deal hinges on the settlements. Egyptian news site Mada Masr has also reported that the Israeli government had agreed in principle to reduce the amount of the fines owed if the Egyptian government would allow its private sector to import Israeli gas.

 

To Have Free Speech in the United States or to be Denied Free Speech in the Unites States? – Kestenbaum and Fortis v. Globus Update

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FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE UNITED STATES IS NOT GUARANTEED. ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU OTHERWISE IS MISTAKEN.

Records were submitted provisionally under seal and as of today, absent an adjudication of any case between Plaintiffs and Defendant, are remaining under seal.

In fact, the Court decided to push any discussion on the merits of the matter until December 5, 2018.

 

CASE UPDATE:

At 10:00am today, August 17, 2018, there was a hearing which was, ostensibly to argue, amongst other things, Plaintiff’s motion to seal the record. Please keep in mind, the documents were submitted provisionally under seal and the Court must decide of a permanent seal is consistent with the First Amendment. 

At 9:45 Defendant arrived at the court and was told that the Plaintiffs had requested an adjournment to the case, which procedurally in the Kings County Court, they are entitled to request and to receive.

The documents are under currently sealed even though there has never been an adjudication as between Plaintiff and Defendant, in direct violation of Defendant’s rights to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press.

 

State Panel Pulls Plug on the Upper West Side Nursing Home Project – A Win for NY

A state appeals panel has yanked the permit to build an Upper West Side nursing home, a controversial project with the mayor’s support.

Neighbors of the 20-story Jewish Home Lifecare project at 125 W. 97th St. had sued to block construction, arguing the area is already too densely populated.

In 2016, the mayor’s ­Office of Sustainability greenlit the project, even though a state environmental review had expressed concern about noise and hazardous material related to planned construction.

But on Tuesday the Appellate Division put the kibosh on the plan, saying it violated zoning regulations about open space.