News From Israel – July 13, 2017

No. 57, July 13, 2017

Inside Israel
Jewish Agency and Conservative/Masorti Movement issue severe criticism of the Western Wall decision. In an unprecedented step of condemnation against the State of Israel, The Jewish Agency issued a scathing response to government decision to indefinitely freeze the agreement for a state-recognized egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall. The Conservative/Masorti Movement also issued a statement deploring the freeze as “yet another failure to uphold an agreement reached after years of negotiations”.  Netanyahu said the controversial government decision to maintain the status quo at the Western Wall does not alter the fact that Jews from all streams are free to pray at their holy site.

Netanyahu to AIPAC: It was either Kotel or my government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is telling leaders of US Jewry angered by government vote on the Western Wall prayer space and on the conversion issue that he faced a choice of either supporting the moves or losing his government. Officials who have talked with Netanyahu about the issue in recent days say he is aware of the gravity of the decisions and the strain they have caused with American Jewry, but that the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties gave him an ultimatum.

Netanyahu announces six-month delay of controversial conversion bill. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the controversial conversion bill at the heart of the flare-up in Israel-Diaspora tensions would be frozen for six months while a state-appointed committee attempts to reach an “agreed-upon arrangement within our people.”

Pew survey: Israelis prefers Trump over Obama. Israel and Russia are the only countries that give President Donald Trump higher marks than his predecessor, President Barack Obama, according to a Pew Research Center survey. A majority of Israelis disagree with Obama’s controversial Iranian nuclear deal.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) Index lost 2.5% in the first half-yearThe index is down 2.5% for the year to date. However, the shekel rose against the dollar, for the exchange rate of NIS 3.49/per $1. This makes it more expensive for Americans to travel to Israel.

Border police foiled a terror attack at a West Bank checkpoint. Border police prevented a major terror attack after finding a bag of knives, stun grenades and Molotov cocktail materials during the search of a Palestinian vehicle at a checkpoint near east Jerusalem. The international media loves to demonize Israel over the existence of checkpoints. While such critiques focus on inconvenience to Palestinians, they almost never discuss the risk of violence and death to Israelis.

Former Prime Minister Olmert goes home after serving partial sentence. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert left prison after a parole board granted him early release. Olmert served close to two-thirds of his term. He was imprisoned on charges of bribery and obstruction of justice.

20th Maccabiah Games open with spectacular Jerusalem ceremony. The 20th Maccabiah Games, known as the “Jewish Olympics,” opened with a record 10,000 athletes and tens of thousands of fans. Participants from over 80 countries gathered at the opening ceremony, celebrating athleticism, Judaism, and Zionism during the 50th year of Jerusalem’s reunification. The Games will continue until the closing ceremony on July 18. Read more and watch the video.

Indian PM Modi arrives in Israel for ‘groundbreaking visit’. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Israel on July 4 to begin a historic visit to Israel as the first Indian Prime minister ever to visit the Jewish state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally greeted Modi at Ben-Gurion Airport, along with the top tier of Israel’s leadership – an honor afforded to only a few select leaders, such as US presidents and popes. During the visit Israel and India signed sweeping bilateral trade, R&D agreements. Countries agreed to collaborate on space technology, security, energy and medicine, and also to establish a unique young leadership program.

China-Israel Investment Summit attracts Chinese investors.  On June 25-26, Hong Kong hosted the Third China-Israel Investment Summit, attracting 120 Israeli innovation start-ups and 300 investors from Hong Kong and the mainland. China has become the biggest foreign investor in Israel, surpassing the U.S., with investment reaching US$16.5 billion in 2016.

Ayatollah Khamenei: Muslims obliged to fight against Israel. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Muslim ambassadors in Tehran that “Muslims today are obliged to fight Israel with whatever means they have… According to Islamic jurisprudence, when an enemy takes over Muslim lands, Jihad in any possible form becomes everyone’s duty”. He called Palestine the foremost issue of the Islamic world.

United Church of Christ condemns Israel. Delegates at the 31st General Synod of the United Church of Christ voted 79% to 13% in favor of a resolution condemning Israel for its treatment of Palestinian children living in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and Gaza, and called on the U.S. to withhold military assistance to Israel. In response, Rabbi Noam Marans, director of interreligious and intergroup relations at the American Jewish Committee, said: “The latest UCC resolution does nothing to advance the possibility of peace. Rather, by continuing to demonize Israel, UCC supports those who oppose peace.”

Culture and Lifestyle
Non-stop ‘White Night’ party to take over Tel Aviv. Thousands of partygoers are expected to take to the streets of Tel Aviv for the annual all-night White Night festivities, which mark the city’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include art, acrobatics, and dance installations from seven European Union countries staged along Rothschild Blvd. from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m; Bialik Square will feature a “modular street theatre event incorporating circus, live music, aerial acrobatics, band, clowns and much more.”

IDF soldier’s appreciation week thanks troops. From Thursday, June 29, to Saturday, July 8, a “week of appreciation” was being observed for IDF soldiers throughout the country, including performances and visits to army bases with gifts. A joint project of the Israeli military and a welfare organization that week was the first such observance.

Israel’s Reading MonthReading Month events, starting June 25 and running until July 20, will be held in 60 cities and towns across Israel and in the West Bank. Among the planned activities are book fairs, children’s plays, meetings with authors and musical events.

Jerusalem Light Festival in Old City. At night in the Old City the Jerusalem Light Festival is lighting up the streets…Take a look at these fascinating pictures.

Science and Technology
New diagnostic system enables rapid, accurate customization of antibiotic treatments. A diagnostic system developed at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology enables rapid and accurate customization of the antibiotic to the patient. The system makes for faster diagnostics, earlier and more effective treatment of infectious bacteria, and improved patient recovery times.

6 out of WSJ’s top 25 startups are Israeli. Of the 25 leading startups selected by “The Wall Street Journal,” in its article “Tech companies to watch,” six – almost one quarter – are Israeli. This is not exactly a surprise, because Israel has been second to the US in cyber security for a long time, and three of the six Israeli companies on the list are cyber security companies.

Flytrex manages drone delivery from store to door. The Israeli company plans to be the FedEx of the drone delivery world, with a system enabling customers to operate an entire fleet of drones remotely. Flytrex recently announced a pilot program with UkrPoshta, the Ukrainian Postal Service.

Symantec buys Israeli company Fireglass for $250mThe Tel Aviv based company has developed a solution that eliminates ransomware, malware and phishing threats in real-time. The software easily integrates with existing security solutions and across all forms of the endpoint including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS.