New Israeli bill seeks to widen ad ban to all underweight models


A bill seeking to ban the use of underweight models in Israeli advertising also aims to prevent Israel’s media from using ads produced overseas with too-thin models.

The bill is an effort to discourage an idealization of overly thin bodies, out of concern that such advertising encourages eating disorders and distorts perceptions – particularly among young people – of what a health body should look like.

The expansion of the bill to include foreign models is expected to be introduced on Monday at a session of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. The bill will then advance, apparently next week, to the final two phases in the approval process, when it will be put to a vote on second and third reading by the full Knesset. Although the bill, which is sponsored by Rachel Adatto (Kadima ) and Danny Danon (Likud ), will apply to Israeli media that use images of foreign models, it will not apply to the foreign magazines distributed in Israel, a source involved in the drafting of the bill said.

Read more at Haaretz.com.

Begin, Rabin to appear on new Israeli bills


The images of the late Israeli Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin will appear on new Israeli currency.

The late writer S.Y. Agnon and poet Rachel Bluwstein Sela, who was known simply as Rachel, also have been chosen for the honor.

The Bank of Israel announced the new series of banknotes, and its honoring of the political and cultural history of Israel, on Sunday.

Begin and Rabin were chosen for signing peace treaties with Israel’s neighbors—Begin with Egypt and Rabin with Jordan and an interim agreement with the Palestinians—Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said.

The image choices require Cabinet approval.

The new currency, in the form of 20, 50, 100 and 200 shekel bills, is scheduled to be issued in 2012 and will include advanced anti-forgery methods.

Likud Vote Doesn’t Deter AIPAC Lobby


How do you support Israel’s official policy when it changes from week to week? That’s a question facing the record number of pro-Israel activists heading to Washington for the May 15-18 annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby.

Plans to make Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip the centerpiece of this year’s conference collapsed when Sharon’s Likud Party rejected the plan in a May 2 referendum, several AIPAC executive committee members said.

By Monday, AIPAC still was trying to come up with a formulation to frame its most important lobbying issue: Israel’s peace and security.

"AIPAC continues to work closely with members of Congress who are anxious to find a way to express their support for the principles President Bush laid out on April 14," said a statement distributed by AIPAC spokesman Josh Block.

April 14 was the day Bush endorsed Sharon’s plan, which called for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and some settlements in the West Bank. He also endorsed some Israeli land claims in the West Bank and rejected the Palestinian demand that refugees and their descendants be granted a "right of return" to Israel.

The election year timing makes the lack of a central issue especially acute because lawmakers often are more receptive to lobbying in an election year.

But AIPAC did not seem overly concerned by the lack of a central issue. Officials said the fact that 6,000 activists were due to converge on Washington in an election year, and at a time the Israeli and U.S. governments were seeking a way out of the peace impasse, sent its own message.

"These are historic and exciting times for Israel and the United States, and the exceptionally large turnout at this year’s policy conference demonstrates the strong level of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship," said Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s executive director.

Anticipated attendance is 20 percent greater than last year and has tripled since 2001, which AIPAC officials attribute to aggressive outreach. Organizers are moving the conference from a hotel that long has hosted the event to the mammoth new Washington Convention Center.

"The mood will be very positive," said Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a member of AIPAC’s executive committee.

The flux in Israel’s peace policy is hardly a catastrophe for the group: The activists have a menu of issues to discuss when they descend on Washington.

"We have a whole array of matters before Congress that I think will keep people more than busy," Hoenlein said.

Among the issues:

A bill that urges Iran to open up its nuclear weapons development programs to inspectors, and likewise urges U.S. allies to impose sanctions until Iran does so. The bill passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly last week and is now before the Senate.

The foreign aid package, including continuing assistance to Israel, and to Jordan and Egypt for complying with their peace agreements with Israel. Congress cut aid slightly this fiscal year to help pay for the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Several legislative initiatives to monitor the surge of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Activists also will be encouraged to discuss a range of topics that are not necessarily on the immediate legislative agenda but that serve to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. They include homeland security cooperation between the two nations, the isolation of Syria and support for Israel’s West Bank security barrier.

Nonetheless, the failure of Sharon to win the party referendum on his withdrawal plan is likely to haunt the conference. Sharon has said he will prepare a new plan in coming weeks, but it’s uncertain when or what it will contain.

It’s also not yet clear whether Bush, whose endorsement of the plan was widely praised in the Jewish community but lost him precious political capital in the Arab world, would address the AIPAC conference.

Sharon canceled his own scheduled appearance at AIPAC, citing the need to come up with a plan acceptable both to his Cabinet and to the United States.

The proxies Sharon is sending in his stead appear to underscore his commitment to the original plan: Ehud Olmert, the Cabinet minister and deputy prime minister; Meir Sheetrit, a minister without portfolio; and Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, the justice minister, are among the plan’s most avid advocates in the Cabinet.

Even so, the messages from Sharon’s team have been confusing since Likud rejected his plan.

Sharon’s national security adviser, Giora Eiland, told a Washington audience last week that a withdrawal from Gaza now looks unlikely.

"No one knows now what are the chances this plan will be implemented in the future," Eiland told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on May 7, after saying he had thrown away his prepared speech on the plan.

A day earlier, Sharon was telling European officials that he was "determined to move the plan forward as is, without changing the main points."

To make matters more confusing, Israeli officials were leaking a much more ambitious — and radically different — plan that Eiland showed to his U.S. counterparts just weeks ago. It would swap huge swaths of land between Egypt, Israel and a Palestinian entity in order to create a larger and more livable Gaza Strip. Additionally, Egypt would assume custodianship of Gaza, and Jordan would do the same in the West Bank.

It was a measure of the lack of direction in Sharon’s office that the land-swap plan bobbed up in Israeli media and in U.S. think-tank circles even after Bush administration officials rejected it out of hand as hopelessly quixotic.

Material Instincts


Every day before Dina Goldstein (not her real name) leaves
the house to take her two young children to day care and herself to work, she
grabs two bagels and two boxes of orange juice. After buckling the kids into
the car, she gives them the bagels and the juice, and they eat breakfast in the
car on the way to school.

“I just don’t have time to get them ready, myself ready and
feed everyone before I leave the house,” said Goldstein, who works as a
religious day school teacher.

Like Goldstein, many women find maintaining a family and a
job overwhelming. With over 75 percent of women in the United States between
the ages of 25 and 54 working outside the home (according the International
Labor Organization), it is very likely that at some point most women will have
to do both things concurrently. While women choose to work for a variety of
reasons, for many in the Jewish community, a woman’s employment is not a matter
of personal fulfillment but of financial necessity.

With high tuition fees, synagogue dues and mortgages in the
Jewish neighborhoods, maintaining a presence in the community is difficult to
do on one income alone — meaning that the husband is no longer the sole
breadwinner in the family.

But many women find that their careers give them not one job
but two — their paid employment and their nonpaid work inside the house, which
seldom diminishes with the onset of employment. Few will say that the feminist
ideal of “having it all” is viable unless certain sacrifices are made. Finding
ways to produce calm out of the chaos requires innovation, skill, organization
and lots and lots of help.

“The ‘superwoman’ is a myth,” said Tova Hinda Siegal, a
Pico-Robertson midwife who is on-call seven days a week while raising her six
children. “It’s tremendously tricky to try to do everything.”

One of the ways that some women try to balance both job and
family is by finding careers that allow them to work from home, which gives
them close access to their family while still enabling them to bring in some
extra money. While there is not necessarily the same kind of career advancement
available to those who do not work in an office, many say that the sacrifice is
worth it.

“It’s a hugely satisfying feeling to know that I can be
there for my kids when they need me, because I know how stressful it is for a
mother in an office when her kids have an odd day off,” said Judy Gruen, a
mother of four, Journal contributor and  Pico-Robertson writer on domesticity.

Other women make sure that their husbands are picking up the
slack, and that paid help in the house is not a luxury, but a necessity. “I
think it’s more important to have part-time help in your house than to buy new
clothes,” Siegal said. “People who are working should not be fighting with each
other over who does the laundry.”

Siegal also said that it’s up to a woman to train her
husband to do his share of the work.

“I think you have to tell your husband, ‘No, it’s not a good
idea to sit while I’m in the kitchen cleaning up,'”she said.

“In our house we made a rule that whoever cooks does not
have to clean up,” she continued. “That is an equitable division of labor. I
also think it’s fine that a mother gets up in the middle of the night to nurse
her babies, but in the morning, the father should get up and take the baby out
for a few hours and let her sleep. The husband should not feel that when he
does something he is doing his wife a favor. Both need to feel that they are
contributing to the family’s welfare.”

Even with a spouse’s help, keeping your household together
requires careful organization for it to run efficiently. Esther Simon, a Santa
Monica mother of seven and a professional home organizer, said that there are a
number of things one can do to help this process.

“You need to create a clutter-free home, where everything
has a place,” she said. “You should also have a family calendar day planner
where you write down what you want to do each day and what things need to be
done during the week, and then you work out what things can only be done by you
and what things can be done by someone else. Only you can give love to your
child; someone else can wash the floor.”

Simon also suggests laying out all your children’s clothes,
preparing breakfast and putting backpacks by the door the night before to
minimize the rush in the morning.

There is one upside to trying to do everything. “Working and
taking care of a family definitely keeps you out of trouble,” Siegal said. “You
just don’t have the time for anything else.”