News From Israel – January 10, 2018

No. 68, January 10, 2018

Inside Israel
WATCH: Israelis hope for peace in 2018. World Israel News reporter Steve Leibowitz asks people on the streets of Jerusalem about their hopes for 2018.

Unemployment in Israel at historic low, wages rising, report finds. Taub Center finds that increased employment rates and salaries “have led to an impressive rise in consumption in recent years and to an increase in the standard of living”. But prices remain high and in many industries productivity is still low, it says.

Israeli Arabs have highest life expectancy in Arab-Muslim World. The health of the Arab Israeli population is improving, along with that of Israel’s Jewish population. In terms of life expectancy and infant mortality rates, the Arab Israeli population ranks highest compared with the populations of 21 Muslim and Arab countries. However, there are still sizeable gaps in infant mortality rates and life expectancy between Jewish and Arab Israelis.

Report on the state of children in Israel. More than 880,000 Israeli children lived in poverty in 2016 – meaning one out of every three, according to the National Council for the Child’s annual report. 66% of ultra-Orthodox children lived in poverty, as did 62% of Arab children. In the technology area, the average Israeli child begins making online purchases when he is 13 years old. Furthermore some 60% of those aged 7 -17 surf the Web for more than four hours per day.

Shin Bet: Over 400 attacks thwarted in 2017. Shin Bet Chief Nadav Argaman said that “the period of quiet we are experiencing is misleading; Hamas is hard at work trying to execute terrorist attacks.” Argaman praised the work carried out by the Shin Bet’s cyber unit and expressed his confidence in the abilities of the Israeli security services to withstand the coming times.

Israelis overwhelmingly oppose partition of Jerusalem. A solid majority of Israeli Jews opposed Palestinian Authority’s demands that Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, be partitioned as part of a future final status agreement. The overwhelming majority (71.7%) responded that the city should remained unified, and stay the capital of Israel – and not be shared as a dual capital with a future Palestinian state. Among Israeli Arabs, 43.5% back partition of Jerusalem.

Guatemala says it’s moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Guatemala’s president announced on Christmas Eve that the country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump in ordering the change.

Record 3.6M tourists visited Israel in 2017. An all-time record 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017, 25% more than in 2016. The Ministry of Tourism believes that incoming tourism contributed NIS 20 billion (almost $5B) to the Israeli economy. The country from which the largest number of tourists to Israel come is the US – over 700,000 tourists, 21% more than in 2016. Russia was in second place with 307,000 tourists, a 26% increase.

Iran pledges full support to Hamas. Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said that a senior Iranian military commander pledged all of the Islamic Republic’s military resources to help the Gaza-based terror group fight Israel over Jerusalem. The Iranian commander said that “Iran … stands with all they have with Hamas in order to defend Jerusalem so that Jerusalem will endure as the capital of the state of Palestine.”

Trump questions whether Palestinians deserve US money. President Donald Trump appeared to threaten to cut off assistance to the Palestinians, saying they were not interested in making peace with Israel. “We pay the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect … They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel,” he said.

Culture and Lifestyle
Watch: “If I Forget You Jerusalem”. Shai Abramson performs the song “If I Forget You Jerusalem” (Im Eshkachech Yerushalaim) at the Adult Bible Quiz.

Veganism set to top culinary trends of 2018, with Israel at the helm. Plant-based food is slated to be the hottest culinary trend of 2018, according to many food trend lists, and Israel is well ahead of the game. With 5% of its population identifying as vegan, Israel boasts the highest percentage of vegans per capita in the world. Tel Aviv was recently dubbed the “vegan capital of the world” by British newspaper The Independent, which praised the city’s 400 vegan-friendly and vegetarian restaurants.

The melting pot of the IDF. David Ben Gurion described the IDF as “the melting pot of Israeli society”. Ben Gurion’s description of the IDF is particularly true of the Nahal Brigade. 100 of 450 recent recruits had a special status. Typical of the ethnic mix are Amir Rav’e – a 19-year-old Muslim, Netanel Mengistu – an Ethiopian immigrant and Jesse Amar from Melbourne Australia.

Israeli literary giant Aharon Appelfeld dies at 85. Aharon Appelfeld, a child Holocaust survivor, was one of Israel’s foremost writers, with dozens of collections of short stories and novels to his credit that were translated into 35 languages. He was considered one of Israel’s greatest writers, receiving the Israel Prize for Literature in 1983 as well as a host of other honors, including the National Jewish Book Award twice and the Prix Medicis.

Science and Technology
Israeli startups are in for fierce competition for talent in 2018. Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality engineers, big data experts and developers of autonomous driving systems are expected to be in short supply in 2018 as multinational firms expand operations in the country, according to a new report.

Making cancer immunotherapy more effective. Immunotherapy works by boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer. However, only a minority of patients, suffering from specific cancer types, respond positively to this type of treatment. Now Dr Rony Dahan from the Weizmann Institute has developed a cancer immunotherapy compound that is 30 times more effective than existing treatments.

In Depth
Ten basic facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In all the discussions about this decades-long conflict and the quest for a solution, some basic facts are too often missing, neglected, downplayed, or skewed. Not only does this do a disservice to history, but it also contributes to prolonging the conflict by perpetuating false assumptions and mistaken notions. This article lists 10 key events in the history of the conflict.