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IN THE PAPERS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2010-12-29

“Some Israelis question benefits of ultra-religious”

INTERNATIONAL PAPERS, Wednesday, 29th December 2010: We take a look at papers in Tunisia and Algeria this morning with each country experiencing riots – in Tunisia the unrest is over unemployment while in Algeria, there is disquiet over social housing. Also a look at the questioning of the benefits that ultra-Orthodox Jews enjoy in Israel.

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The approach to the New Year is being complicated in Tunisia with riots over unemployment. We took a look at coverage in the Tunisian and Algerian press.
 
Le Quotidien in Tunisia is not at all critical of the authorities and says that student and graduate demonstrations are “isolated”.
 
El Watan’s editorial in Algeria notes that the uprising of unemployed graduates in Tunisia doesn’t gel with the image that Ben Ali’s regime likes to project – a picture postcard image of a country that is economically, socially and politically stable.
 
“The disquiet of young people in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria has one thing in common – the negligence of the regimes in each country,” the paper concludes.
 
Algeria is also experiencing demonstrations and riots over the perceived unfairness of social housing, often handed out to those who have well-placed friends. Le Temps reports on the disquiet and a cartoon in Algeria also illustrates frustrations in the country over perceived favouritism.
 
Also in today’s papers, we looked at a report in the International Herald Tribune / New York Times on the generous benefits that the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel benefits from.
 
60% of ultra-Orthodox Jews dedicate their lives to Torah study with full State aid. As a result, they are not in the work force. For the first time, an ultra-Orthodox MP, Rabbi Chaim Amsellem, has said that such benefits should be reserved for scholars and not the community at large. He was promptly thrown out of his political party, Shas and the party’s newspaper issued a supplement on Amsellem’s appeal, calling him an “Amelek”, the biblical embodiment of evil.
 
The Israeli authorities defend the generous benefits handed out to the ultra-Orthodox community, saying that 56% of the population lives below the poverty line. David Ben Gurion brought in these privileges in 1948 when there were only 400 students in religious schools. Today, those numbers have risen to 60,000.
 
The costs to the State are significant. If you look at demographics,  the families that are growing fastest are Arab and ultra-Orthodox Jewish families. 50% of ultra-Orthodox women and 75% of Arab women don’t work. At current trends, 78% of primary school students in Israel will be either ultra-Orthodox or Arab by 2040. This is economically unsustainable with some commentators saying that reforms must be made or soon the country will reach “a point of no return”.
 
Finally in today’s international press review, a look at an overly curious German shepherd who got into a tight spot in LA. The Daily Mail reports on the 8-month old pup who squeezed his head through a hole in his garden wall… and got stuck! The photos illustrate his plight. Luckily, rebel was freed with the help of Animal Welfare officers.
 

By James CREEDON

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