News From Israel

No. 85, October 17, 2018


A Conversation with a Senior Israeli General. Beth David, along with many Bay Area congregations is sponsoring the event “Asking the Tough Questions: A Conversation between Rabbi Janet Marder and Brig. Gen. (Res.) Nitzan Nuriel”. General Nuriel previously served in the IDF as a commander in the West Bank and the Director of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau. He played a key role in building the cooperative counter-terrorism partnership between Israel and U.S. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills. The event is free, but registration is required. Click here for on-line registration.

Inside Israel

Gaza border. The frequency of the Palestinian riots on Gaza border has increased to almost every day. The level of violence appears to be a direct result of a decision by Hamas to escalate the clashes with Israel. Over 100 improvised bombs and grenades were hurled at Israeli troops during just one of Friday’s riots. Some 20,000 Palestinians participated in the riots. Terrorists detonated a bomb on the Israel-Gaza border fence and attacked an IDF position inside Israel. Israeli forces opened fire at them, and, according to Hamas sources, six Palestinian men, ranging from 17 to 29 in age, had been killed At the beginning of September, it was estimatedthat Gazan terrorists sending incendiary kites and balloons had burned 30,000 dunam (7,413 acres) of Israeli land and caused ten million shekel ($3 M) in damage.

Terrorist acts. 2 Israelis were killed and 1 injured in a West Bank terror shooting. The attack took place in the Barkan Industrial Park, which employs both Israelis and Palestinians. The victims were Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, survived by her husband and a baby, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, father of three. In a separate incident an IDF reservist and an Israeli civilian were wounded during a stabbing attack in the West Bank. The terrorist who carried out the attack escaped the scene of the attack, but was apprehended.

Overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis have favorable view of Trump and US policy. Israelis have an extremely positive view of US President Donald Trump and his administration, but are largely isolated in this outlook in the international community, a new survey by the Pew Research Center has shown. The poll of America’s standing in 25 countries shows 82 percent of Jewish Israelis have confidence in Trump’s handling of global affairs (69% among Israelis overall) while 94 of Jewish Israelis have a favorable view of the US in general (83% overall).

Israel sees slow but growing integration of Arab community into high-tech sector. According to a recent report, there has been a noted increase over the past decade in the number of Arab high-tech engineers and computer scientists working in the industry. A combination of civil society, government, and private sector initiatives have contributed to a rise in the percentage of Arab students in tech fields, a growth in the number of Arab-led startups in various stages of development, and a decrease in the economic gap

Netanyahu questioned for 12th time in corruption affairs. Police investigatorsquestioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for 4.5 hours as part of their investigations into corruption allegations. The Prime Minister’s Office downplayed the investigations in a statement saying that “not only is there is no meat in the prime minister’s investigations, there isn’t even a bone.” More background material on this long-lasting investigation is here


Nikki Haley, fierce defender of Israel, resigns as US ambassador to the UN. Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations and a strong defender of Israel in the world body,will leave her post by the end of this year. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement thanked Haley “for leading an uncompromising struggle against the hypocrisy of the UN and for the truth and justice of our country.”

Merkel in Israel to promote close ties. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Israel for a two-day visit. The visit focused on bilateral economic issues, with an emphasis on innovation, technology and development projects. German chancellor said Berlin endorses two-state solution, but acknowledges there are ‘many’ other possible ways to solve conflict; and Iran’s troops must leave Syria

BDS has zero impact on Israeli businessesA study of the impact of BDS on the Israeli economy estimates the damage since 2010 at 0.004%. The study included queries to hundreds of senior executives of large companies from every economic sector.

Abbas advisor: Islam’s religious war to destroy Israel has started. The most important religious figure in the Palestinian Authority, Supreme Shari’a Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash, who was appointed by PA Chairman Abbas as his personal advisor on Islam, recently stated that Israelis/Jews are the “enemies of Islam,” have a “culture of Satan,” and represent “evil.”  Al-Habbash explained that the current battle is the ultimate battle described in the Quran, leading to great destruction for the “Children of Israel.”

Culture and Lifestyle

The most vegan army in the world. Israel’s military is the most vegan army in the world, with 1 out of 18 soldiers declaring themselves as vegan, Army Radio reported. According to the report, the number of vegans in the IDF has increased 20-fold in the past three years, with the majority serving in the Intelligence Corps, the Kirya (Israel’s “Pentagon”) military headquarters and in support roles. The IDF first began to accommodate vegan soldiers in 2014 by introducing leather-free combat boots and wool-free berets.

El Al rated among least punctual airlines in world. Israeli national airline El Al has been ranked in 39th place out of 41 major global airlines for flight punctuality in September, according to airline tracking website Flightstats. According to the website, 65.5% of El Al’s flights landed on time and 34.5% landed late. The average delay for El Al flights that did not arrive on time was 51.3 minutes.

Israeli named BBC Philharmonic chief conductor. The British Broadcasting Corporation announced that Israeli conductor-composer Omer Meir Wellber, 36, has been appointed as the BBC Philharmonic’s new chief conductor. Omer Meir Wellber also is principal guest conductor at Semperoper Dresden and music director of Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra in Israel.

Science and Technology

Israeli study shows how our handwriting can reveal our moods. The new research,unveiled this year by researchers at the University of Haifa, examined how actual changes in handwriting, including shapes of letters, spaces between words, and the pressure of the writing tool on paper, can be used to identify a person’s emotional state of mind.

Intel launches AI research center in Israel in collaboration with the Technion.Chipmaker Intel and The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology inaugurated a new research center dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Top Intel managers participated in the ceremony, and later met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Three Israeli firms among TIME Magazine’s 50 ‘Genius Companies’ for 2018. It is the first annual “genius companies” list by the esteemed American magazine. The three Israeli companies on the TIME’s round-up are: Aidoc, a producer of artificial intelligence-powered software that analyzes medical images of organs to identify the presence of diseases; Lishtot (Hebrew for “to drink”), which develops products able to effectively and rapidly detect contaminants in drinking water – without ever touching it, and WeWork, a company that organizes the physical workspaces to increase creativity, focus, and connection among employees.

For Israel, new statistics raise brain drain concerns. New data from the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics shows that educated Israelis are increasingly prone to spending time abroad—and to staying there. In 2017, 33,000 Israeli academic degree holders were staying for over three years abroad, compared to 26,000 in 2013. One out of five Israelis with a locally-obtained doctorate in computer science was living out of the country in 2017, and for those with doctorates in mathematics the ratio was nearly one out of every four (24%).

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