News From Israel – May 17, 2017

No. 53, May 17, 2017

Inside Israel

The world’s 3rd most stable economy.  Bloomberg has rated Israel’s economy as the third most stable in the world, after Hong Kong and South Korea.  Bloomberg praised Israel’s nearly non-existent inflation rate and low unemployment.

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approves controversial ‘Nationality Law’. The proposal states that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and that Hebrew is the official language of the state, while the Arabic language is granted “special status”. The city of Jerusalem is affirmed the capital of the State of Israel. Opponents of the bill say it discriminates against minorities. The proposal now moves to the Knesset for debates.

20 stoning attacks in 24 hours. Although the level of violence subsided after Passover, sporadic attacks on Jews continue in the West Bank. Israeli press reported that just in one day there were over 20 serious stoning attacks throughout Judea and Samaria. No drivers were injured, but cars were damaged.

Netanyahu prosecutor criticizes Prime Minister. The head prosecutor investigating Benjamin Netanyahu for allegedly having received illicit gifts indirectly addressed the case and implied doubt regarding the prime minister’s assertions that he had simply received personal gifts from friends. The prime minister’s office issued a response that reads, “There is no basis to claim that something was improper with the relationships between the prime minister and his colleagues.”

Israeli ultra-Orthodox textbooks promote isolation, study finds. Textbooks used in ultra-Orthodox schools in Israel promote the community’s insularity as well as peaceful conduct and coexistence, according to a study by an education watchdog. The curricula of the Haredi Orthodox schools oppose modernity, and promote limited and unequal acceptance of others, according to the study.

Medicine in Israel: A model of Jewish-Arab equality and coexistence. Israel’s public healthcare system is a model of genuine commonality between Arabs and Jews. Arabs fulfill 12.4% of jobs in the government healthcare system, 42% of nursing students are Arab, and 38% of druggists are Arab. In 2015, 16% of all medical students were Arab; at the Technion medical school, Arabs were 38% of students and at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 31%.


On Independence Day, UNESCO adapts resolution denying Israeli claims to Jerusalem. The United Nation’s cultural body passed the latest in a series of resolutions that denies Israeli claims to Jerusalem, in a move both forcefully condemned by Israel and touted as a diplomatic feat due to the growing number of countries that opposed it. The resolution indicates that Israel has no legal or historical rights anywhere in Jerusalem.

President Rivlin urges world to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, move embassies. Rivlin told foreign ambassadors at an Independence Day reception at his official residence, “It is time to put an end to the absurd. It is time to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of the State of Israel. Jerusalem has always been the center of the Jewish world – the place we have prayed toward for thousands of years.”

Trump raised issue of terrorist payments with Abbas. US President Donald Trump raised the issues of the Palestinian Authority’s incitement and payments to terrorists in Israeli prisons with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting at the White House. Some other topics that were discussed during their meeting were advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace, strengthening efforts to combat terrorism, measures to empower the Palestinian economy. Abbas and numerous other Palestinian Authority leaders have rejected the demands to stop the payments of salaries to imprisoned terrorists.

California university student body approves BDS resolution. A student organization, Associated Students, Inc. affiliated with California State University, Long Beach passed a resolution calling for divestment from companies “profiting from Palestinian oppression.” The university president Jane Close Conoley sent an open letter to the organization warning that passing the resolution risked emboldening anti-Semites on campus and constitutes an endorsement the BDS movement, which she said “is opposed to the existence of the State of Israel.”

Israel presents the international community with projects for the benefit of Palestinians. At a recent meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Economic Activities in the West Bank, the head of Israel office for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), presented various projects that Israel is promoting in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The goal of the projects is to significantly improve the quality of life for Palestinians, as well as provide a boost to economic growth. This short video highlights the activities of COGAT.

Culture and Lifestyle

Cafe Cafe cuts coffee price for polite customers. Three and half years after the Cafe Cafe chain cut its takeaway price for a cup of coffee to NIS 8, the chain is again cutting the price, this time to NIS 6. Cafe Cafe customers who say “please” and “thank you” when they order an ordinary sized cup of coffee will pay NIS 6 ($1.60), instead of NIS 8.

50,000 fans at Tel Aviv Bieber show; over 150 require medical care. Some 50,000 fans, mostly teenage girls and young women, packed the venue in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park for Bieber’s second concert in Israel. Concert-goers were treated at venue for minor ailments, including fainting, dehydration; four were hospitalized, and one woman went into labor.

Meet the new Miss Israel: Rotem Rabi. Rabi served as a medic in the Israel Air Force, and while she is currently working as a model, she has begun the process of joining the Israel Police investigative division.

Have you been to the “Shuk”? Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market (“Shuk”, in Hebrew), is one of Israel’s most popular markets. The standard daytime market becomes a bustling nightlife scene, with restaurants, bars and special cultural events. To make sure you don’t miss a thing – there’s even an app offering a self-guided tour to walk you through the market’s many attractions. Watch to get a taste of this special place.

Science and Technology

Robot-aided surgery fixes severe spinal fracture. In the world’s first procedure of its kind, Israeli surgeons at Hadassah University Medical Center used a Mazor-Israel robot to operate on Aharon Schwartz, whose spine was broken in six places from a work accident. Schwartz is expected to be able to walk again soon.

A simple Israeli invention to treat resistant hypertension. California-based company is in pre-market trials for MobiusHD, an implantable device that tricks the body into modulating blood pressure on its own. Mobius HD technology may provide an important solution for patients who have not benefited from other device- or drug based treatments.

Lockheed VP: ‘There’s a part of Israel in every F-35’. “There’s a part of Israel in every F-35 that’s ever been built,” a Lockheed Martin senior executive told a gathering of air power professionals in Tel Aviv. He cited the aircraft’s helmet-mounted display system, the outer wing sets and various aerostructures as examples of Israeli content provided to the multinational program.

Prestigious health journal publishes edition dedicated to health in Israel. The Lancet, one of the leading and oldest journals in the world in the fields of medicine and health, published a volume dedicated to health in Israel, highlighting its achievements and challenges.

In Depth

Jerusalem mayor: Arabs live better in this city than anywhere else in Mideast. Fifty years after Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the city’s mayor says the upcoming anniversary is a time to celebrate, despite the deep rifts and occasional bursts of violence that disrupt daily life in the volatile city. Nir Barkat says all of the capital’s diverse residents are ‘his children’; rejects allegations of inequality in municipal services.