News from Israel – May 3

No. 52, May 3, 2017

Inside Israel
Israel observes Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Yad Vashem state ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day began at 8pm on April 23, Israel time. In addition to remarks from the president and PM, a Holocaust survivor spoke on behalf of the six million Jews murdered by Nazis. “While two of the elements that made the Holocaust possible still exist – deep-seated hatred for Jews and world apathy in the face of horrible crimes – the third element, Jewish weakness, is no longer,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the ceremony.  WATCH: Israel comes to a halt as sirens mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Israel’s annual Memorial Day for 23,544 fallen soldiers. Israelis bowed their heads for a minute of silence as the siren wailed on Sunday evening to remember the men and women who died during active duty or were killed in terror attacks. Speaking earlier at a ceremony at the Yad Labanim site in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We are one people, and it is clear that if it weren’t for the sacrifices of our sons and daughters, we would not be a free people in our own land.”

Nation marks Israel’s 69th birthday by celebrating in the sun. Thousands of Israeli citizens and visitors gathered at parks and beaches, at official ceremonies and even in the streets to celebrate Independence Day. Take a look at it in this photo essay.

On Israel’s 69th birthday, population reaches 8.68 million. The country is rapidly approaching the tipping point where the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. According to the report, the Jewish population represents 74.7% of the total population – and the Arab population stands at 20.8% of the country’s inhabitants. The remaining 4.5% represent non-Arab Christians and people of other religions, as well as those with no religious affiliation, the vast majority of them from the former Soviet Union.

Rivlin to Christians: Israel will ‘stand firm’ to protect freedom of worship and security. President Reuven Rivlin visited the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem’s Old City in honor of Easter. Rivlin stressed Israel’s commitment to the well-being of Christians in the Jewish state, which hosts the only thriving Christian community in the Middle East.

Teen accused of JCC bomb threats is indicted in Israel. The Israeli-American teenager accused of making large numbers of bomb threats against mainly Jewish institutions in recent months was indicted in an Israeli court. The indictment charges he made a staggering 2,000 threatening calls to Jewish institutions and other entities in Israel and worldwide. The identity of the 18-year-old remains under a gag order.

High Court rules to allow Tel Aviv stores to remain open on Shabbat. In a victory for Tel Aviv residents and the city’s municipal council, the High Court of Justice ruled that the government must allow a municipal bylaw granting 165 grocery stores in the city to be legally open on Shabbat to come into effect.

Entire senate issues bipartisan call to end anti-Israel bias at the U.N. The U.S. Senate unanimously urged U.N. Secretary General to end the United Nations’ anti-Israel bias. In a bipartisan letter led by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE), the entire Senate pressed the Secretary General “to engage member states in a comprehensive effort to directly confront and root out this bias.”

Nikki Haley urges UN to shift its criticism from Israel to Iran. “It’s high time the United Nations Security Council set its sights on Iran, rather than Israel,” United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said during the Security Council’s monthly meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.”

UN chief vows to stand up against anti-Israel bias, anti-Semitism. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres vowed to stand up against anti-Israel bias at the world organization and said the Jewish state must be treated like any other member state. He was speaking to delegates at the World Jewish Congress’s plenary assembly in New York, while Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

International Red Cross official: Israel is not an apartheid state. Jacques De Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said in an interview “We respond to anyone who makes the argument that Israel is an apartheid state: No, there is no apartheid here. There isn’t a regime here that is based on the superiority of one race over another; there is no disenfranchisement of basic human rights based on so-called racial inferiority.”

Report: Palestinian school curriculum becoming more radical. The Palestinian elementary school curriculum for 2016-17 is significantly more radical than previous curricula. To an even greater extent than the 2014-15 textbooks, the curriculum teaches students to be martyrs, demonizes and denies the existence of Israel, and focuses on a “return” to an exclusively Palestinian homeland.

Culture and Lifestyle
The Guide to Hipster Israel. With a youthful population, a diverse mix of immigrants from all over the world, and a heady culture of innovation and creativity, it’s really no surprise that Israel has emerged as a hipster haven. Prepare yourself for Independence Day with this cool new exhibition, The Guide to Hipster Israel

Sisters win video contest on how Israel inspires. A poetic video exploration made by two sisters about their decision to live in Israel won the first prize in an “Inspired by Israel” contest hosted by the Israel Video Network. Watch it here.

Former Hugo Boss model enlists in the IDF. 31-year-old James Hirschfield traded in designer clothes for a new military uniform. “I hope that I’ll be able to inspire people in Israel and all around the world to know what Israel stands for and how important it is to be here – and that without an army here, there might not be a country,” he said.

Israeli street art: Not just writing on the wall. With numerous commissions and exhibitions, consumer products and documentaries, Israel’s renowned graffiti artists are in the limelight worldwide.

Science and Technology
‘Clean meat’ confab in Haifa advances slaughter-free food. Clean meat, also called cultured meat, is real meat grown from animal cells in food-production facilities without slaughter. It’s “cleaner” in terms of basic sanitation and environmental friendliness. Conference gathers international academic, governmental, industrial and nonprofit entities to catapult the clean meat movement into mass production.

NASA launches nanosatellite built by Israeli high school students. The nanosatellite Duchifat 2 (Hoopoe 2), built by Israeli high schoolers, was successfully launched into space by the American launcher, Atlas V, located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Israeli startup says if the shoe fits, consumers will buy more. Invertex, a Tel Aviv-based startup, is seeking to change the way people buy shoes. The company wants to digitize the process, using artificial intelligence and 3-D imaging technology to analyze users’ feet in stores and to suggest models and sizes that would fit best.

In Depth
Are Jews Indigenous to the Land of Israel? As an indigenous activist – I am a Metis from the Paddle Prairie Metis settlement in Alberta, Canada – I am asked, “Are Jews the indigenous people of Israel?” I’m inclined to answer with the honest truth, backed by indisputable, thousands-year-old historical and archaeological fact: Yes.