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Netanyahu is pitting Jews against Jews | Israel



Everyone in Israel is talking about “normalisation” these days. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his followers are feting the normalisation of Israel’s ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Political pundits are betting on the identity of the next Muslim state to normalise relations with the Jewish state – will it be Bahrain or Sudan, or will the Saudi flag be flying soon in the heart of Tel Aviv?

Netanyahu, with the generous help of his crony, US President Donald Trump, has indeed successfully bridged the formal divide between Israel and the rulers of several Gulf states.

However, even as he pontificates on the historic reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world (while deepening Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory), he is leaving an imprint on the annals of the Jewish people as an arch-divider, pitting Jews against Jews. His skills in sowing divisions are rivalling those of Trump.

In a bid to extricate himself from his corruption indictment and possible incarceration, Netanyahu has repeatedly depicted himself as a victim of persecution by the liberal left, which many dub “the Ashkenazi elites”, referring to Jews who hail from Europe and are traditionally viewed as more privileged than their brethren from Arab states, known as Mizrahi Jews.

Netanyahu and his followers portray the tens of thousands of protesters who mass on the doorstep of his official Jerusalem residence each week as a gang of “sourpusses” intent on unseating him and the political right. These are the same “white tribespeople” whom he accused in a loud whisper into the ear of the elderly Chief Sephardic Rabbi in 1997 of “forgetting what it means to be Jewish” given their penchant for Western, liberal values and left-wing politics.

Using his brash son Yair as his mouthpiece, Netanyahu has been quick to ride the wave of every public controversy de jour and leverage it into incitement against the “Ashkenazi elites” – the fact that his father was born in Warsaw and was a university professor in the United States, notwithstanding.

His latest use of these cynical tactics involves a feud between the eastern town of Beit She’an and the nearby gated kibbutz of Nir David over access to a section of the Hasi River that runs through the community.

Rather than proposing a solution to a festering decades-old socialeconomic sore that has pitted Mizrahi Jews living in cramped housing against the predominantly Ashkenazi kibbutzim endowed with land, Netanyahu, who owns a seaside villa in Caesarea, fanned the flames. His son Yair tweeted against the founders of the kibbutzim and the state, calling them “damned communists who stole half state lands at the expense of the development towns”, referring to the towns built for Mizrahi immigrants in the 1950s.

The Kibbutz Movement, long considered a bastion of left-wing politics in Israel, struck back, highlighting its pioneering role. “While children from the kibbutzim in the Galilee sit in shelters, the bum from Balfour thinks it’s appropriate to slander us,” it posted on Facebook, referring to the young unemployed Netanyahu who lives in the official prime minister’s residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street. “We are not going anywhere. If anyone should be moving it is you from Balfour.”

Netanyahu is by no means the first right-wing politician to harness what Israelis dub “the ethnic demon” in his bid for power. The late Menachem Begin, the first Likud leader to become prime minister, pitted residents of the “development towns” and poor urban neighbourhoods, most of them immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, against kibbutz residents (“swimming pool owners”, as he called them), most of them of European origin.

However, if Begin was entitled to accuse the Ashkenazi-dominated Labor party and the political left of discriminating against the Mizrahi immigrants when they ruled the state from 1948 until his victory in 1977, Netanyahu heads a party that has ruled Israel almost without interruption for four decades. Despite decrying constantly Ashkenazi privilege, however, the Israeli prime minister has done next to nothing to uplift the Mizrahis.

It was on his watch and that of his Likud party that the rate of university graduates among third-generation Ashkenazi Jews remained 1.5 times higher than among their Mizrahi age cohort.

This gap first emerged among previous generations because Mizrahis were directed to vocational schools, based on their origin, regardless of their ability, rather than to academic schools with a higher potential to reach university and strengthen their social status. Among Ashkenazis the trend was reversed.

Over the years, this resulted in a higher rate of poverty and poor socioeconomic mobility within the Mizrahi community.

While Begin mobilised Mizrahis to mount a political struggle, Netanyahu is doing so to undermine the gatekeepers of Israel’s democracy – the attorney general, state prosecutor, police commissioner, media, human rights organisations and protesters against corruption at the top.

Several leading journalists and university lecturers have positioned themselves to the right of Netanyahu and his government and Knesset sycophants.

The most prominent and vocal is an analyst for Channel 13 television, Dr Avishay Ben Haim, who has become the flag bearer of what he calls “the second Israel“, a term synonymous with Mizrahi Jews.

On the eve of the start of Netanyahu’s corruption trial in May, Ben Haim declared, “I am being put on trial”, claiming that Netanyahu’s trial was a plot by “the first Israel” to negate the choice of “second Israel” voters for prime minister, and to humiliate the “most admired Jewish figure of the 21st century”.

In July, while he was reporting for the news bulletin from the demonstrations outside Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, protesters identified and hurled insults at him. One or two of them called him “Moroccan scum”. Several prominent leaders of the demonstration argued that the individuals that attacked and insulted Ben Haim were right-wing provocateurs.

That did not stop Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri, leader of the conservative Shas party which excludes women and Ashkenazis from its ranks, from quickly weighing in.

“It doesn’t matter that Avishai Ben Haim has a PhD, was a lieutenant colonel in a military combat unit, is a respected journalist – for people in Israeli society he remains ‘Moroccan scum’ just because of his origins,” tweeted Deri. “We will no longer bow our heads at such remarks […] We are proud Moroccans!” declared the senior minister, who rose to prominence on the back of the “ethnic demon” and rallied supporters against what he claimed was his ethnically motivated conviction for corruption in the 1990s.

Despite Netanyahu and his allies’ attempts to portray the protests as Ashkenazi-only, the crowd that has been gathering in front of his residence for months now has been quite diverse. Among the devoted protesters are people from different origins, from tattooed young women to men wearing a kippa.

Criticism of Netanyahu also cuts across ethno-religious lines. A recent poll indicates that only 30 percent of Jews of the traditional denomination (who tend to be Mizrahi/Sephardi), and only 20 percent of the secular (who tend to be Ashkenazi) think that Netanyahu’s motives are the wellbeing of the state or ideology. The traditional majority (52 percent) and the absolute majority among the secular (68 percent) think that Netanyahu is mainly driven by his legal future. His most devoted constituents are members of both Ashkenazi and Sephardi ultra-orthodox communities.

“Thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee,” (Isaiah 49:17) the prophet Isaiah warned the people of Israel. From thee, not from Dubai and not from Riyadh. Normalisation must begin at home.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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