News from Israel – October 13, 2017

No. 38,  October 13, 2016

Inside Israel
Israelis and world leaders mourn the passing of Shimon Peres. In the presence of presidents, ministers and royalty representing more than half of humanity, Shimon Peres – who played a central role on Israel’s public stage since the country’s birth – was buried on Mount Herzl on September 30. President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton were among those who delivered eulogies.

Happy Shana Tova! President Rivlin wishes Shana Tova to Jews, Israelis, and the entire world, says Israel is ‘brave and determined.’  And here is a video greeting from the young men and women of the IDF.

Peres bombshell: I stopped an Israeli strike on Iran. Israel was considering attacking Iran, but objections from then President Peres and the military chiefs apparently prevented such attack.

Study finds Israelis hold liberal views with traditional personal choices. A recent poll on religion and state shows that most Israeli citizens like Jewish tradition but prefer to keep it as a choice rather than imposing it.

Minister says a more Jewish Israel will be more democratic. According to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, the State of Israel’s Jewish and democratic identities are mutually reinforcing rather than irreconcilable. “If we wish to strengthen Israel’s democratic character,” Shaked wrote, “it is our duty to strengthen its Jewish identity at the same time.” She calls ‘overabundance’ of laws a danger to individual freedoms, and claims regulation is stifling the economy.

Terrorist attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian motorist launched a shooting spree in Jerusalem, killing two people and wounding five others before being shot dead, Israeli police and emergency services said.

International
Israeli and US Jews differ dramatically on what they see as biggest problem facing Jewish State.  According to a new Pew Research Center survey, a clear majority 66% of American Jews believe the biggest future issue facing Israel stems from security threats. However, Israeli Jews say economic problems are the most significant future concern for their nation, a view held by only 1% of American Jews. Another survey confirmed that Israelis more troubled by cost of living than war. They also do not view peace with the Arabs in the PA or in Gaza as a realistic possibility.

Israel consortium signs ‘historic’ 15-year, $10B gas deal with Jordan. An Israeli gas consortium signed what Israel called a “historic” $10 billion deal with the Jordan Electric Power Company to supply the Hashemite Kingdom with natural gas for 15 years. The agreement will provide Jordan with gas from the Leviathan offshore gas field.

Russian Deputy PM surveys Israeli farming technology. Russia’s deputy prime minister visited Israel’s agricultural research center with Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel. “Deputy Prime MinisterDvorkovich was very impressed by the technical know-how and technological advances made by Israeli researchers in the field,” said Naama Rosenberg, Associate Director of the Center.

Former Israeli Defense Minister urges US to recognize Iranian threat. Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon urged nations to recognize the danger posed by Iran and to work to prevent it from exploiting the nuclear deal to redraw the political map of the Middle East in its favor. “The threat of a militaristic, messianic” Islamic Republic is much more menacing to Western interests than ISIS, he said.

Chinese to invest up to $50 Billion in Israeli start-ups. Chinese investors are expected to fund up to $50 billion in some 500 Israeli start-up companies as the two countries continue to strengthen ties in many areas including trade and travel.

Culture and Lifestyle
A Rosh Hashana Song from Latma. Enjoy!

Notes cleared out of Western Wall to make room for a new year of wishes. Twice a year, workers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem collect the thousands of notes that visitors slip into the cracks between the stones. Once assembled, the hundreds of thousands of notes that are amassed in a six-month period are buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

Israeli elementary schools introduce robotics program. Some 300 elementary schools in Israel will be adding robotics to their curricula for the 2016-2017 school year under a new initiative by the Education Ministry. Students will learn how to code and will receive hands-on experience in operating robots of various types.

Israel leading Europe in childhood obesity. The World Health Organization’s upcoming report on worldwide obesity has terrible data on Israel, which is only second to the USA for childhood obesity.

Science and Technology
Israeli researchers discover genetic evolutionary signature associated with autism. A group ofgenes central to the development of autism have reportedly been found by a team of scientists at Ben-Gurion University; the discovery may turn out to be a breakthrough in understanding and treating the syndrome.

BrainStorm stem cell treatment succeeds in ALS trial. Israeli stem cell therapeutics company BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics Ltd. which develops adult stem cell therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases, has announced success in a recently completed U.S. phase 2 trial on ALS patients.

Israeli scientists announce possible Alzheimer’s breakthrough. Researchers from Tel Aviv University succeed in altering gene in mice that causes the neuro-degenerative disease.

As vehicles go high-tech, Israel’s in the driver’s seat. The global automobile industry has been centered in the United States, Germany and Japan, but as with other sectors that are being transformed by technology, Israel is becoming a powerhouse when it comes to certain aspects of the car industry.

In Depth
Religion and state in Israel: What do American Jews think? Differing perspectives on religion-state matters are already exacerbating tensions between the world’s two largest Jewish communities. This article presents the results of the recent survey of American Jewish opinion conducted by the American Jewish Committee to gauge the views of American Jews on matters of concern.

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