News From Israel

No.115, January 8, 2020 

Events
Arabs in Israeli Society. Israel Action Committee presents a talk by Matan Zamir, Israel’s Deputy Consul General to the Pacific Northwest. Tuesday, February 11, 7:30pm, at Beth David. Ages 13-21: free, ages 22+: $5/person. Reservations are required. RSVP online or call the office at 408-257-3333. Refreshments will be served. 

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Inside Israel
International
Culture and Lifestyle
Science and Technology

Inside Israel
Israel’s population in 2020: 9,136,000. At the beginning of 2020, Israel’s population stands at 9,136,000, including 6,772,000 Jews (74.1%) and 1,916,000 Arabs (21%). The Jewish Israeli women’s fertility rate in 2018 (3.05) exceeded that of Arab Israelis (3.04) for the first time in Israel’s history.  In 2019, 177,000 babies were born in Israel – 74% to Jewish women and 23.2% to Arabs.

Netanyahu asks for immunity from prosecution. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had written a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, asking him for immunity from prosecution in his three criminal cases. In the letter the prime minister professed his innocence and asked for immunity on the grounds that he was singled out unfairly and that prosecuting him would harm the functioning of the government and Knesset.

Annual poverty report reveals 841,000 children in Israel live in poverty. The poverty rate in Israel has grown by a percent over the last year – with a bigger increase in the number of children under the line of poverty, according to the poverty report for 2018 published by the National Insurance Institute of Israel (NII). Israel currently finds itself fourth from last in poverty within the OECD countries, with a poverty rate higher than in other countries such as the United States, South Korea, and Turkey.

“Extensive overlaps” between BDS and terror groups revealed. The Shin Bet announced that it arrested approximately 50 members of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), ending the investigation into the August 23 terror attack that killed an Israeli teen and revealing the organization’s ties to BDS. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement calls on the world to put pressure on Israel through economic, academic and cultural measures.

25% of Russian immigrants to Israel leave after getting passport. Thousands of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union may have come only to receive an Israeli passport before moving back abroad. Approximately 10,500 Russians and 6,400 Ukrainians made aliyah in 2018, which was the first year that the majority of new immigrants were not considered Jewish under Halacha, or Jewish religious law.

International
Leaders of Israel, Greece and Cyprus sign gas pipeline deal. The pipeline would run from Israel’s Levantine Basin offshore gas reserves to Cyprus, the Greek island of Crete and the Greek mainland. An overland pipeline to northwestern Greece and another planned undersea pipeline would carry the gas to Italy. The project, with a rough budget of $6 billion, is expected to satisfy about 10% of the European Union’s natural gas needs.

Ambassador Ron Dermer: “Jews are both a people and a faith”. In the remarks during a candle lighting event before Hanukkah at the embassy of Israel in Washington, Ambassador Dermer said, “For over a century, anti-Zionists, both Jewish and non-Jewish, have sought to deny that Jews are a people. Anti-Zionist Jews have denied that Jews are people out of a genuine fear that non-Jews would persecute them for being part of a separate nation… The fact is that the Jews are both a people and a faith.”

Turkish President Erdogan allows Hamas to plan attacks on Israel from Turkey. The Turkish government is hosting Hamas terrorists on its soil and permitting them to plan terror attacks on Israeli targets, a report released by The Telegraph claims. Erdogan met recently with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyah, vowing to continue support for the terror group.

ICC to investigate Israeli “war crimes”. The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor announced that she wants to open a full investigation into alleged Israeli “war crimes” in Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled territories. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the decision and said it made the Hague-based court, which Israel has refused to sign up to since its creation in 2002, a “political tool” against the Jewish state. PA President Mahmoud Abbas described the announcement as a “great day”.

Pro-Israel students on American campuses face record levels of hostility. Israeli and Jewish media have reported over the year of the abuse that students have suffered when expressing pro-Zionist opinions or attending Israel-themed events. They have been called “Nazis,” “baby-killers,” and “apartheid supporters,” as well as being told to “go back to the ovens” and that Zionists are as bad as white supremacists.

Culture and Lifestyle
Forbes names Tel Aviv the second-best city in the world to visit in 2020. Between its sandy beaches and vast array of culinary delights, Tel Avivians already know that they live in one of the best cities in the world. Now, however, it’s official. Tel Aviv which is described as a “bustling beach city along Israel’s Mediterranean coast” is included in the Forbes list of top cities to visit in the coming year.

Over half of Israelis busier with work than personal lives. New study revealed that almost 50% of employed people work extra hours, sometimes even from home, while more than a quarter tend to also work on weekends; 62% say they prioritize work over personal life. According to the report, on average it takes Israelis about an hour and 10 minutes to get to work, adding up to almost 6 hours a week.

Hanukkah just isn’t Hanukkah without the Jewish donut. Comedian Yuval Haklai takes a whimsical look at the popular Jewish holiday of Hanukkah in Israel.

Science and Technology
Doctors perform historic surgery with aid of virtual reality. In a historic surgery neurosurgeons at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital of Stanford University removed a brain tumor threatening the life of 2-year-old child. A critical component of the procedure was using the virtual reality Surgical Theater system developed by former Israel Air Force officers Moty Avisar and Alon Geri.

Molecular checkups to avoid chemotherapy. A 10-year study of 1,365 Israelis indicates that chemotherapy can be avoided for most women who have early diagnosis and biopsy of the most common types of breast cancer. In 97.4% of those passing an Oncotype DX molecular checkup post-surgery, the cancer never returned.

Tesla setting up Israel R&D office. In the first stage, Israel R&D operations will focus on scouting for local startups and technologies involved in areas of interest for Tesla as well as talks and information exchange with Israeli companies, with some of whom Tesla has already had a business and technological relationship over the past two or three years.

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