News From Israel

No. 86, October 31, 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 (Beit Kehillah), 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills. The event is free, but registration is required. Click here for on-line registration.

Inside Israel

WATCH: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv stand with Pittsburgh. Some 500 Americans and Israelis gathered Sunday night to sing somber songs in Hebrew and English at Jerusalem’s Zion Square in a candle-lit vigil in memory of the 11 victims of Saturday’s massacre at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.  Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett visited Pittsburgh as an official emissary of Israel to offer condolences and support to the Jewish community

Netanyahu reaffirms commitment to demilitarized Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his commitment to the idea of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank, provided that Israel preserve total security control of all territory west of the Jordan river. Netanyahu said that he believed in a solution where the “Palestinians have all the powers to govern themselves and none of the powers to threaten us.”

Study finds more Israelis identify with Conservative, Reform JudaismThe study by the Jewish People Policy Institute showed that 12-13 percent of Jewish Israelis identify as being members of the more liberal streams of Judaism, a number that stood at around 7% only five years ago. However, the study also showed that only about 12,000 (about 0.2% of the Jewish population) are registered members of the Reform and Conservative congregations.

Gaza border. A rocket fired from Gaza landed on a Be’er Sheva home. Seven people were treated for shock, including mother and three children who were in the house when it was hit. In response, the IDF attacked over 20 targets, including a terror tunnel, in the Gaza Strip.   Last Friday, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired 37 rockets at southern Israel. The IDF responded by hitting 95 targets in the Hamas-ruled enclave.  Earlier in the day, four Palestinians in their 20s were shot dead during the Hamas-led Gaza border, in which 16,000 Palestinians took part, hurling Molotov cocktails, hand grenades and stones at the security forces, and burning tires.

Entering Israel after 15-day ordeal, barred US student expresses relief. An American graduate student accused of supporting a boycott of Israel was let into the country after theSupreme Court ruled she could not be barred under a recent law. The state alleged that Alqasem, who headed the local chapter of the pro-boycott Students for Justice in Palestine group while she was a student at the University of Florida, currently supports the BDS movement against Israel. In court, Alqasem insisted that she has not participated in boycott activities for a year and a half, and promised not to engage in BDS in the future.

Peace Index October 2018. According to the Peace Index survey of Israeli opinion taken on early October, absolute majority of Israeli Jews and Arabs do not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead in the coming years to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. 66% of Israeli Jews and 0% of Israeli Arabs strongly believe that the lives of IDF soldiers must be protected at any price, even the price of increasing the number of Palestinian civilian casualties. 78% of Israeli Jews define the mood of the people around them as good, whereas only 36% of Israeli Arabs think so.


Report: IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot met with Saudi counterpart. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot met with his counterparts from several Arab countries while in Washington for the Counter–Violent Extremist Organizations conference for military commanders, Israeli media reported. According to a report, Eisenkot met with Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff on the sidelines of the conference about several regional issues, including Iran, which is a common foe to the two countries.

Rivlin, Diaspora leaders see new paradigms needed in conversation. Leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America joined President Reuven Rivlin for a panel discussionabout the changing relationship between Israeli and American Jews. Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, said, “We are convinced that by … speaking out and listening carefully to each other, we can prove again that we are one people and that the bonds between us are unbreakable.”

34 Senate Democrats ask Trump to restore aid to the PalestiniansThe letter urges Trump to reinstate assistance to the Palestinians, saying the cuts risk exacerbating tensions in the region. Trump’s cuts penalized Palestinians for backing away from efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The letter was initiated by Diane Feinstein, along with two other senators. Kamala Harris is one of the signatories as well.

Netanyahu pays secret visit to Oman. In first-of-its-kind meeting in more than 20 years, PM Netanyahu, accompanied by Mossad Head Yossi Cohen and other defense officials visited the sultanate with which Israel doesn’t have diplomatic ties. Israel and Oman published joint statement saying ‘ways to advance the Mideast peace process’ were discussed.

Chinese VP visits Israel.  China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan made an important visit to Israel.  After meetings with Israel’s President and Prime Minister, he addressed the fourth meeting of the Israel-China Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation. He also signed eight joint science and technology agreements.

Culture and Lifestyle

Theater review: ‘People, Places and Things’. There is much more in this review, but the closing paragraph may be most amusing: “The performance I attended started 20 minutes late because Israeli audiences habitually come late to performances and the theaters do not close their doors and start on time. The Philharmonic and the Opera do, and therefore their audiences have been trained not to be late.”

Israel ranks 7th in global life expectancy rankings. With global life expectancy on the rise, Israelis in the year 2040 are projected to live among the longest, on average, on the planet. At an expected 84.4, Israelis will be ranked seventh in the world in longevity, moving up from their current 13th place spot (82.1 years).

10 American baseball players become Israeli citizens to help nation’s team make the Olympics. The players want to represent Israel at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Some of the players also represented Israel in last year’s World Baseball Classic, where Team Israel shocked followers by reaching the quarterfinals. Because of their ages, the baseball players will not have to serve in the Israeli army after making aliyah.

Science and Technology

‘Moses,’ a new stone-striking method, seen as ‘game changer’ for urologists. Launched a year ago, the technology aims to help urologists perform endourology procedures — in which small internal endoscopes are used to remove stones — faster and in more efficiently. Doctors who are using this technology are saying that it helps to reduce procedure time and for certain patients it even saves the need for a second surgery.

In Israel, tech wages just keep climbing. The demand for Israeli tech talent is continuing to push local wages upward. The average pay for software professionals in Israel in the third quarter of 2018 has increased by 6% year-to-year, to NIS 28,728 ($7,870) a month.

Israeli defense contractor IAI signs $777 Million contract with state-owned BEL in IndiaIsrael Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) will be supplying seven ships of the Indian Navy with long-range surface to air defense missiles and missile defense systems. BEL will be the main manufacturer for the project. Alongside the extensive arms trade, diplomatic relations between the two countries have been warming up over the last few years after long years of stable but distant relations.

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