News from Israel – December 8 , 2016

No. 42,  December 8, 2016

Call for Action

Israel Fire Emergency Fund. Hundreds of fires have raged across Israel’s north and in the Jerusalem hills. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, and many hundreds have been left homeless. Jewish Federations across the US are working with partners on the ground in Israel to assess and begin to meet urgent and emerging needs. If you would like to donate to the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Fire Emergency Fund, you can do so here.

Among the buildings destroyed was a Conservative/Masorti synagogue in Haifa, Congregation Moriah. To help rebuild Conservative Kehillot in Israel donate here.

Inside Israel

 Israeli firefighters combat blazes around the country. Israel was experiencing extreme dry and warm weather and, coupled with strong winds, the risk of fires was significantly increased. Israeli firefighter teams fought several mass blazes in a number of locations around the country. The wildfires have left at least 133 people injured, rendered hundreds of homes unlivable and consumed 7,400 acres of protected parks and nature reserves. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that a large part of the fires were the result of arson, and at least 35, mostly Palestinians, were arrested for arson or incitement. US, Egypt, Jordan and Palestinian Authority were among the countries that helped Israel in fighting the fires.  Meanwhile, the hashtag “Israel is burning” or “the Zionist entity is burning” has become one of the top trends on Arab media, with countless of people gloating over the recent rash of fire plaguing Israel.

Israel’s unemployment rate hits all-time low. Israel’s unemployment rate for October dropped to an all-time low of 4.5%. The data indicate that the level of employment for Israelis aged 15 and over in the workforce remained unchanged, at 61.2%.

Ethiopian immigrants closing education gaps. There are currently 141,200 citizens of Ethiopian origin in Israel, 55,500 of them born in Israel. Data published today by the Central Bureau of Statistics, on the occasion of the Ethiopian Jewry holiday Sigd, show that Ethiopian immigrants are closing gaps with the general population in the field of education and higher education.

Status of Amona settlement. One of the top news in Israeli press and in the Knesset is the future of the Amona settlement in the West Bank. This article gives some background and the current status of this affair.

Sharansky: Israel’s failure to engage Diaspora Jews in dialogue a ‘serious threat’. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said that the State of Israel is failing to engage in dialogue with Diaspora Jewry and declared that this situation is a serious threat to Jewish solidarity. In particular, he referenced the bitter war over Western Wall worship.

Deputy Foreign Minister hopes to break the international West Bank perception. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) seeks to alter what she terms “the false paradigm” that has taken root in the international community, claiming that Israel is an illegal occupier. Israel, however, has always maintained that it is not an occupying force. “The territory is disputed. We can’t be occupiers in our own land. That is the most historic area for our nation.”


Senate votes to extend Iran Sanctions Authority. The Senate voted unanimously to extend the president’s authority to impose sanctions on Iran for another decade. Many of the sanctions have been suspended since the Iran nuclear deal went into effect this year. But senators said that the 99-to-0 vote would help ensure that the United States could quickly reimpose sanctions if Iran violated its obligations under the agreement.

Bipartisan House resolution calls on Obama to oppose anti-Israel efforts at UN. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed bipartisan legislation urging President Barack Obama to oppose or veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations before he leaves office. The resolution calls on the United States “to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel.”

Poll: American attitude toward Israel. In a new poll conducted for the Brookings Institute, most Americans, 76%, across party lines said they agree that Israel is a strategic asset to the US. At the same time, a majority of Democrats, 55% say that Israel is also a burden. A plurality of Americans say that they support the Obama administration backing a United Nations resolution that outlines the parameters for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a resolution to end Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

US Christian Zionists give $2 million to Israeli charities. John Hagee Ministries distributed more than $2 million to Israeli and Jewish charities at the 35th annual “Night to Honor Israel”. Keynote speaker, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said, “If Israel is not secure, the United States is not secure”.

Egypt-Israel relations ‘at highest level’ in history. Almost four decades since former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat extended a hand of peace to Israel, the two governments have reached “full partnership and unbreakable alliance“, analysts say. Although many Egyptians continue to regard Israel as a threat and sympathize with the Palestinian cause, the relationship between the two countries has become markedly explicit under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

‘Hate Spaces’ gives a horrifying glimpse into Anti-Israel, Antisemitic activity on US campuses. “Hate Spaces” is a new documentary film which describes the recent surge of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity on American university campuses. See the trailer here.

Superman’s got nothing on Israel! With lightning speed and an open heart, Israel is the world’s rescue team. This video, received 1st place at the “Inspired by Israel” video contest earlier this year.

Culture and Lifestyle

Do Haredim live healthier lives? According to a recent 58% of Haredim (religious) in Israel regularly participate in some sort of fitness activity. Surprisingly, only 34.2% of the general population participates in some sort of regular fitness program.

Women increasingly join the fight in Israel’s army. Increasing number of women choose combat units, say ‘what a man can do, a woman can do.’ Just four years ago, some 3% of enlisted women served in combat units compared to 7% today, according to the army. That number is expected to rise even further to 9.5% in 2017.

Israel’s 27 most amazing restaurants with a view. Enjoy top-notch cuisine while taking in the spectacular seascape and landscape of Israel at these fabulous restaurants across the country.

Ancient ‘thinking person’ statuette unearthed in Israel. A team of Israeli archaeologists and high school students have unearthed a 3,800-year-old pottery jug bearing a statuette of a person who appears deep in thought, sitting with knees bent and head rested on hand.

Science and Technology

Israeli scientists discover why diets fail – and a solution. Weizmann Institute researchers investigated the phenomenon of post-diet weight gain, the “yo-yo effect” and discovered a possible cure.

Solar-powered desalination cuts energy costs by 90%. Israeli startup Tethys has developed a direct solar-powered desalination system that produces drinking water using energy from direct sunlight. The unique direct solar desalination technology can process up to 10,000 cubic meters of water per day for small to medium sites such as farms, factories and hotels, as well as remote villages and disaster areas.

90% of Israel’s waste water recycled, 4 times higher than anywhere else. Minister of Strategic Affairs & Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan paid tribute to Israel’s world-renowned sustainable innovation. “Today, nearly 90 percent of our waste water is recycled,” Minister Erdan stated. “… It is a remarkable achievement and this benefits not only Israel. Israeli companies are helping save water around the world, from Africa to California to India.”

AT&T’s new TV app developed in Israel. US telecommunications conglomerate AT&T launched a new TV project, in which content is streamed to the web via an application. The application was developed mostly by AT&T’s Israel R&D center.

In Depth

Jewish ties to Eastern Jerusalem didn’t begin in 1967Jerusalem was a unified city. There were no distinctions between “East” and “West” Jerusalem until Jordan captured the city’s eastern neighborhoods and Old City. The only reason it was “entirely Arab” when Israel reunified the Jerusalem during the Six-Day War was because the Jordanians expelled the Jews from its jurisdiction, systematically destroyed synagogues, and generally made its half of the city “judenfrei”.