News from Israel – December 23, 2016

No. 43,  December 23, 2016

Inside Israel

Netanyahu: ‘In the Middle East, the weak don’t survive. The strong and the smart survive’. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuspeaking at the annual Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum for Middle East Policy, said: “I haven’t changed my vision of two states for two peoples, it’s the only way we’ll get to peace. The core of the conflict is the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Netanyahu charged.

Israeli Arabs donate wood to rebuild burned synagogue. Two Israeli Arab timber suppliers have offered to donate wood paneling to a Conservative synagogue in the northern city of Haifa that suffered extensive damage by recent brush fires. ‘I had tears in my eyes when I heard what was happening,’ rabbi of the congregation in Haifa says of timber suppliers. 

Most Arabs in Israel want to integrate into Israeli society. Mohammad Darawshe, director at The Center for a Shared Society, presented some astounding statistics about Israeli Arabs: 23% of Israeli doctors are Arabs, as are 46% of Israeli pharmacists. According to 2015 polling of Israeli Arabs, 73% view “Israeli” as part of their identity, 77% want to see their community fully integrated into Israeli society.

Israeli police arrest Jewish man for saying Sh’ma Israel. A Jewish man, 18, was arrested during a tour of the Temple Mount for saying Sh’ma Israel, Honenu legal aid society reported. Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is completely forbidden. Jews may enter only to visit the place, and only at limited times.

Chief Rabbinate to establish criteria for recognizing foreign Orthodox converts. In the wake of several high-profile controversies in which Orthodox converts from the US were rejected by the Israeli rabbinical courts, the Chief Rabbinate decided to hold a conference to establish clear criteria for recognizing foreign Orthodox converts. The statement also confirmed the validity of conversion of Ivanka Trump, daughter of President-elect Donald Trump.

Terror cells arrested. Several terrorist cells have been arrested recently. A 7-man Hamas terror cell from Tzurif and Hebron in the West Bank that was planning to carry out a shooting and kidnapping attack against IDF soldiers has been arrested. Eight Arabs from Sur Bahar and Sheikh Jarrah in eastern Jerusalem have been arrested for being part of a terrorist cell that was planning shooting attacks in the capital and at an IDF base.


Majority of Israelis believes Trump could achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. A majority of Israelis believe US President-elect Donald Trump will be a pro-Israel president, expect him to follow through on campaign promises and think he could even make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, according to a recent poll.

Trump nominates David Friedman as ambassador to Israel. President-elect Donald Trump nominated his longtime friend and lawyer David Friedman to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel, assigning a key confidant to a central diplomatic post. Mr. Friedman, in a statement, said he was honored by the appointment and he looked “forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” Sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the appointment. Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat warned that US President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem could “destroy the peace process”

Senate passes Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. US Senate unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. The Act, which gives the Department of Education a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism, is key to combatting and preventing anti-Jewish bigotry on campus. Among other factors, the definition of Anti-Semitism includes demonizing Israel, applying double standards to Israel and denying Israel the right to exist.

Illegal settlements. The European Union and some Islamic governments and organizations are paying for the construction of illegal Palestinian settlements, while demanding that Israel halt building new homes for Jewish families in Jerusalem neighborhoods or existing settlements in the West Bank.

British Prime Minister hails ‘remarkable, tolerant’ Israel. In a speech overflowing with praise and support, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May hailed the State of Israel as “a remarkable country” and “a beacon of tolerance,” said UK ties with Israel were “crucial,” promised to raise the bilateral trade relationship to new heights, and described the Balfour Declaration as “one of the most important letters in history.”

Netanyahu to strengthen ties with Muslim allies, visits Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Not only is Israel not isolated, but it is being courted by many countries around the world, including Muslim states in Central Asia, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.  During his historic visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Israel’s multi-billion dollar military cooperation with Azerbaijan as a positive example of Muslim-Jewish coexistence.

Palestinian poll: 2/3 demand Abbas’ resignation. 64% of the Palestinian public want President Abbas to resign, according to a poll conducted last week among 1,270 Palestinians by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Perception of corruption in PA institutions stands at 76%. 53% support a return to an armed intifada. 62% support abandoning the Oslo agreement. 50% think it was a wrong decision to send fire fighting vehicles and men to combat recent fires in Israel.

Culture and Lifestyle

Burger King releases donut burger for Hanukkah. For a limited time only, Burger King restaurants throughout Israel will be serving up a donut burger called the SufganiKing to celebrate the miracle of Hannukah.

Health Minister: Say ‘no’ to doughnuts if you can. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, member of the religious United Torah Judaism party, is continuing his campaign for a healthier eating lifestyle. He called to find a healthy alternative to the jelly doughnuts.

Ashdod Andalusian Orchestra. The Sephardi musical tradition is presented expertly and mostly authentically by the Ashdod Andalusian Orchestra. Unlike a symphony orchestra, this one includes Middle Eastern instruments such as the oud (lute), kanun (zither) and darbuka (drum). Their solo interludes enrich the performance by their characteristic tone colors and the instrumentalists’ remarkable virtuosity. Here is an example of their performance.

Shaare Zedek: Where Israeli and Arab doctors are working together to save lives. ‘Positions are given to whoever are best qualified for the job available, regardless of ethnicity, sex or religion. We want to offer our patients the best care possible, and they come first

Science and Technology

Mexican billionaire: Israel challenges US leadership in high tech. Israel poses a challenge to the United States in the leadership of the global high technology industry, according to Carlos Slim, a Mexican telecommunications magnate. “US is the leader in technology, but there are other countries moving there – China, Israel – and everyone wants to improve,” he said.

Growth of hi-tech turning Jerusalem into ‘Start-Up City’. The hi-tech scene in Jerusalem is growing exponentially. Drawn to its academic and health-care business sectors – as well as its tax incentives – the number of hi-tech start-ups in the capital grew from 200 to more than 600 since 2012. Last year Time magazine named Jerusalem one of the world’s fastest growing hi-tech hubs.

Cutting edge electric scooter. Israel’s Inokim, based in Moshav Avichail, has launched a new electric scooter – the Quick 3, which can be folded in 3 seconds and taken on a bus or a train. The scooter can travel 30 km on a full charge, at a speed of 25 km per hour. It can be activated and secured by smartphone app.  

Nevada and Israel sign landmark deal on water innovation.  Nevada’s WaterStart public-private joint venture and Israel’s National Technological Innovation Authority signed a memorandum of understanding on water-use innovation, to pave the way for Israeli water companies to set up facilities in the arid state of Nevada.

In Depth

Facts and Figures – Islam in Israel. This presentation gives interesting data on Israel’s 1.454 million Muslim population.