News from Israel – February 15, 2017

No. 47, February 15, 2017

Inside Israel

The truth about Israeli Arabs. Mohammad Darawshe, director at The Center for a Shared Society at Givat Haviva presents some “astounding” statistics.  23% of Israeli doctors are Arabs; 46% of Israeli pharmacists are Arabs; 28% of Technion hi-tech students are Arabs and 16% of the students in all of Israeli higher education are Arabs.

Evacuation of Amona outpost. During the operation by Israeli security forces to evacuate 40 Jewish families from the Amona outpost in the West Bank, clashes erupted between activists and security forces. The outpost was built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land and the High Court of Justice ordered to remove those living in Amona. Netanyahu announced plans for the establishment of a new West Bank settlement to replace the illegal outpost of Amona. The settlement would be the first new one to be built in some 25 years.

Regulation Bill approved by Knesset. The bill which was passed by majority of 60-52, gives the government a legal right to retroactively expropriate privately owned Palestinian land in West Bank in cases where Jewish settlements were inadvertently built on such land. The Palestinians would be given monetary compensation. Most observers and pundits say that the Supreme Court will strike it down as unconstitutional and in violation of international law. For in-depth analysis of this law, see here.

Poll: Most Jewish Israelis oppose annexation. Majority of Jewish citizens are against annexing large parts of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) has found. It also found that a plurality of Jewish citizens are also against increased settlement construction, another policy that right-wing politicians say they will be advancing in light of the new US administration.

Hundreds of haredim riot over IDF deserter’s arrest. Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) mentook to the streets for several nights to protest the arrest of a draft-dodging yeshiva student. Police used water cannons, mounted forces to disperse mob attempting to block major intersections and roads across country. Ultra-Orthodox MKs denounced protests by “small minority that does not represent Haredi society.”

Terrorist attack in Petach Tikvah. 6 people were wounded in a shooting and stabbing attack in the central Israeli city of Petach Tikvah. None of the wounded suffered life-threatening injuries. Israeli police said a 19-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank opened fire near an outdoor market.


President Trump on American-Israeli relations. In exclusive interview with Israel Hayom, U.S. President Donald Trump says he understands and respects Israel greatly. Trump stresses he would like to see peace in the Middle East and beyond, says he looks forward to meeting with PM Netanyahu.

White House: Israeli settlements no impediment to peace, but expansion may not be helpful. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

Netanyahu backs U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem though signals no urgency. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem but mentioned no time frame. Israeli officials said the embassy issue was barely discussed in a 30-minute telephone call between Trump and Netanyahu.

PM Netanyahu meets with British PM May. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his British counterpart, Theresa May, discussed Iran, the Palestinians and closer bilateral cooperation in the post-Brexit era during their first meeting in London.

IDF official: Hamas has replenished its missile capability since 2014 war. An IDF senior military official said that Hamas has fully replenished its military capability it had lost following 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. The military assumption, the official noted, is that Hamas is not looking for a confrontation with Israel in the near future.

Culture and Lifestyle

Bank of Israel unveils new banknotes featuring women. 20 and 100 shekel bills, to enter circulation by year’s end, have images of Hebrew-language poets Rachel Bluwstein, known in Hebrew as “Rachel the poetess”, and Leah Goldberg, one of Israel’s most acclaimed poets and writers.

Natalie Portman explains Hebrew slang. Portman, who was born in Israel as Natalie Harshlag and whose father is a doctor and an Israeli native, proudly displayed her command of current Hebrew slangas part of a Vanity Fair video series called ‘Secret Talent’ in which celebrities reveal their expertise in different fields.

The “Hullegeb” festival celebrates Israel’s Jewish-Ethiopian community’s rich heritage. “Hullegeb” which means “open to everyone” in Amharic is a fitting name for the Israeli-Ethiopian Arts Festival as audience members experience the beauty and diversity of Ethiopian culture. The festival celebrates the rich heritage of Israel’s Jewish-Ethiopian community through a range of performances that include song, dance, and theatre. Get a “taste” of this festival in this video.

Video postcard from Israel – spring in the Negev Desert. Every spring, Israel’s desert is abloomwith wild anemone flowers.

Science and Technology

Israel invests more in R&D per capita than any other country. New figures released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that Israel devoted more of its GDP to research and development than any other country in 2015. Israel’s share of R&D spending climbed to 4.25 percent of its gross domestic product, while previous leader South Korea’s spending dipped slightly to 4.23 percent.

Revolutionary Israeli device can eliminate need for follow-up breast cancer surgery. Israel’s Dune Medical Devices has developed an instrument to help women with breast cancer avoid undergoing dreaded follow-up surgery to remove residual cancer cells after a tumor is removed. It’s the ‘biggest advancement in breast cancer surgery in a generation,’ an American surgeon says.

The coolest playground on the planet is also educational. SciencePlay interactive high-tech playgrounds from Israel bring science to kids in an outdoor setting with a fundamental focus on fun.

Israel-China Blueconomy fund raises $150m. Chinese investment fund Blueconomy Center has raised $150 million from the Chinese government and public funds for investing in marine and environmental technologies in Israel. In its initial stages, the fund will invest in technologies such as wind, wave, and solar energy.

In Depth

How Israelis see the settlements. Some want to annex the West Bank, others to separate from the Palestinians – and all view Jerusalem as anything but a settlement. According to an October 2016 poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute’s Peace Index, nearly 65% of Israelis backed peace talks – but only 26% thought they would succeed. Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow in the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, reviews this issue.

Rabbi Philip Ohriner                        Rabbi Leslie Alexander

Edited by:

Alex Drukarev