News from Israel October 18, 2017

News from Israel” presents a compilation of news stories from major Israeli and other publications. To see the source and to read the full story behind a headline, click the hyperlink in the corresponding news item.

No. 64, October 18, 2017

Inside Israel

WATCH: A special Sukkot holiday greeting from the IDF. Here is a special Sukkot holiday greeting from the Israeli Defense Forces, which also explains what the holiday is all about.

Poll: Rightists, secular Jews most attached to Israel. Right-wing voters and secular Jews are the groups most likely to identify strongly as a part of Israeli society, while Arabs and haredi Jews are the least likely to see themselves as an integral part of the country, according to a recent survey by the Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. As in the past, the Jewish public’s highest degree of trust is in the IDF (89%) and President Rivlin (70%). The trust in Chief Rabbinate stand at only 28%. Read more observations here.

Bank of Israel reports dramatic rise in quality of life in Israel. The past three years have seen Israel’s per capita GDP rise by a total 4.4%, along with negative inflation of 0.8% – which together mean a dramatic increase in the quality of life in Israel, figures published by the Bank of Israel show. This resulted in record purchases of cars, real estate and vacations for Israelis.

Sea of Galilee sinking toward lowest level ever recorded. The Sea of Galilee is at dangerously low levels and is expected to reach “the lowest level ever recorded” as Israel experiences one of the worst droughts in 100 years. Last year, northern Israel received just 10% of the average winter rainfall. Thanks to five desalination plants along the Mediterranean coast, Israel stopped pumping water from the Sea of Galilee two years ago.

Analysis: Why hasn’t Israel been the victim of mass shootings? Israelis view guns as a necessity while Americans see them as a right. There is a sense in Israel that if people didn’t feel they needed those guns, they wouldn’t carry them. In the US, people feel entitled to carry a gun. It is very difficult for most Israelis to obtain a gun license.


Hamas and Fatah announce reconciliation deal. Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation. The deal was brokered by Egypt and signed in Cairo by the two Palestinian delegations. They also agreed to complete the handover of administrative control of Gaza to a unity government by December 1. Sources in Fatah said that disarming Hamas as a part of the agreement was out of the question for the Palestinian Authority and that Fatah had agreed to exempt Hamas from recognizing Israel.

US and Israel announce withdrawal from UNESCO, cite “anti-Israel bias”. The United States announced that it is withdrawing from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), citing financial considerations, the need for reform and the organization’s “continuing anti-Israel bias.” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said UNESCO has become a forum for Israel-bashing and had forgotten its original purpose. Netanyahu announced that Israel is also withdrawing from UN body after the US exit following series of anti-Israel UNESCO resolutions.

Israel-Russia trade leaps by 25%. The first six months of 2017 saw increased trade between the nations of about $380 million over the corresponding period last year. “There is still great potential for increase in trade and there is much work ahead of us,” an Israeli Minister said.

New wave of Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic activity emerges on US campuses. Students for Justice in Palestine, an anti-Israel organization, has been spreading lies and hatred across US campuses, while their actions have translated into anti-Semitism against Jewish students.

Culture and Lifestyle

WATCH: A lively musical performance for Sukkot. A school choir from Boys Town Jerusalemcelebrates the occasion with a lively rendition of v’samachta b’chagecha – Hebrew for the Torah commandment to greet the holiday with joy.

A year of volunteering before army by Israeli teens. “Mechina” is an optional preparatory year before commencing military service at 18. There are many mechinot throughout Israel but they eachfocus on three pillars: informal study, volunteering and community life in a closed commune-style group. You’d be surprised how stimulating it is.

Zubin Mehta’s last season with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. On October 10, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra invited the audience to the opening of its 82nd season at the gala concert conducted by its Musical Director Zubin Mehta. “This will be my 50th year with the Orchestra… Now it is time for something new. I am retiring from my position with the IPO after this season“, he said.

Science and Technology

WATCH: Israeli technology turns glass opaque with touch of a button. Israeli company Shviro Holon has developed a coating material which turns glass opaque and then back to transparent with the touch of a button.

Amazon announces Israeli Alexa development center. Amazon has announced the opening of a new Alexa Shopping research and development center in Israel, which will operate out of two new office spaces in Tel Aviv and Haifa. The company has already begun recruiting product managers, software engineers and scientists to join the new team, with the goal of filling 100 new positions.

U.S. Army buys Israeli Trophy System to protect tanks. The U.S. Army will install the IsraeliTrophy active protection system on some M1A2 Abrams tanks in response to the proliferation of guided anti-tank missiles among insurgent and terrorist groups. During Israel’s three-week ground operation in Gaza in 2014, no Israeli Merkava tanks suffered damage, thanks in no small part to Trophy.

In Depth

Bennett reveals plan for peace, calls for drastic West Bank changeEducation Minister Naftali Bennett has invested in Arab schools, boosted teaching Arabic to Jewish children and Hebrew to Arabs, wants to expand infrastructure and economic development for West Bank Palestinians, defends LGBTs and hopes his Bayit Yehudi party will have its first non-Jewish MK. So much for the right-wing, religious extremist image he has been given by the Israeli satire shows…

Edited by:

Alex Drukarev