Israel News for April 21, 2016

Iran Must Pay
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that almost $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be turned over to American families of people killed in the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and other attacks blamed on Iran.

The court’s 6-2 ruling dealt a setback to Iran’s central bank, finding that the U.S. Congress did not usurp the authority of American courts by passing a 2012 law stating that the frozen funds should go toward satisfying a $2.65 billion judgment won by the families against Iran in U.S. federal court in 2007.

The lawsuit was brought by more than 1,000 Americans who have waged a long legal battle seeking compensation for attacks they say Iran orchestrated. Congress inserted itself into the dispute by passing the law to help the American plaintiffs obtain the Iranian funds.

The plaintiffs accused Iran of providing material support to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Islamist political and military group responsible for the 1983 truck bomb attack at the Marine compound in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. service members.

They also sought compensation related to other attacks including the 1996 Khobar Towers truck bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. service members.

The courts ruling was praised by both Democratic and Republican leaders. The Obama administration and Congress had all filed court papers backing the families.

At least some of the money that Iran will be getting as a result of the nuclear deal will be put to good use.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Claimed
The terrorist who blew up a bus in Jerusalem on Monday died of his wounds in Shaarey Tzedek hospital yesterday. Hamas announced that the 19 year old terrorist, from the Aida refugee camp next to Bethlehem, was one of its operatives. Over 100 members of the terrorist’s family have been handing out sweets and singing songs of praise in light of the fact that he became a martyr and because he carried out a successful attack against Israeli citizens.

For further reading click here.

Jerusalem Highway
Driving through Jerusalem just got a bit easier with the opening of a new section of the Begin Expressway. The expressway now lets you drive direct from Modiin, down the 443, through Jerusalem, to the Gush Etzion tunnel and Rout 60,that runs through Gush Etzion and down to Hebron.
Israel just got a bit smaller and more connected.

For further reading click here.

Kotel Women
After meeting with police officers, prosecutors, the legal adviser of the Religious Services Ministry and the rabbi of the Western Wall, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit decided to prohibited Women of the Wall from holding a female version of the priestly blessing ceremony at the Western Wall during Passover.

The ceremony is one of the highlights of the holiday at the Kotel and draws tens of thousands of participants and onlookers. According to the law, the Attorney General can prohibit any action at the Kotel that does not constitute accepted practice there.

For further reading click here.

Electric Bills
Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that the Israel Electric Company (IEC) may not cut electricity to Palestinian areas. The IEC has been implementing 50% power cuts to Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron because the Palestinians haven’t been paying their electric bill, which now stands at around NIS 1.7 billion. The IEC was planning to roll out cuts to East Jerusalem and other cities on the West Bank, but the court ruling has nixed those plans.

The IEC also supplies power to Gaza, but the bills are paid directly out of Gaza’s tax revenues. Sort of like a direct debit.

For further reading click here.

Pesach Weed
If you’re feeling particular stressed because of all your Peach preparations (and who isn’t?), there’s now a simple solution that is certified kosher for Pesach. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, recognized as the premier halachic authority by the Ultra-Orthodox community, has ruled that marijuana is totally kosher for Passover use. He even reciting the blessing one makes before smelling a fragrance or spice, and took a nice long “shmeck” (sort of like a snort?) of the cannabis plant presented to him for examination. Everyone came out of the interaction quite satisfied and chilled.

Wishing you all a stress free and joyous Pesach!

To watch a video of this scene, click here.

Holiday Message
My six year old son has a knack of holding me to my words. Sometimes I’ll promise something that I’ll immediately regret and then I’ll just hope that as time passes he’ll forget. But he never does. No matter how much time passes and whatever else transpires, my son will always remind me of my original promise and demand that I fulfill it. But it’s not only the things I say, but also what I do. I once agreed to race him along a hiking trail that we were on. Now each time we return to that trail he expects me to race him. The first time I raced him set the bar — it was like a promise.

Three and half thousand years ago the Jewish People were enslaved by the Egyptians for over two centuries. They relentlessly persecuted, degraded and assaulted us. They murdered our children. Then, suddenly, God rescued us. He punished the Egyptians and destroyed Egypt. He led us out of slavery, split the sea before us and gave us freedom.

We never forgot how God saved us. Through the exiles, inquisitions, massacres, ghettos and death camps, we always remembered the Exodus and believed that God would once again repeat his redemption and save us. And every Pesach we continue to remember, and to remind God that we haven’t forgotten what He once did for us and that we expect Him to do it again. We’ll continue remembering and reminding until the final redemption comes. May it happen this Pesach.

Chad Kasher V’Sameach.

Israel News for April 20, 2016

US Response
In response to PM Netanyahu’s declaration on Monday that the Golan will remain a part of Israel forever, the US declared that it considered the Golan to be part of the territory occupied in 1967, and not part of Israel. US State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters, “Every administration on both sides of the aisle since 1967 has maintained that those territories are not part of Israel.” However, Kirby acknowledged the difficulty in negotiating the return of the Golan to Syria at the present time. You think?

Security and Vacation
Yesterday you might have noticed a Google warning at the top of this email. That’s because israelam.com was infected with malware on Monday (maybe it was the Iranians??). But have no fear. We removed the malware on Monday and there was no danger in the email. In any case the malware was gone already yesterday, but it took Google a while to review and approve the site again. We’ve taken extra security measures to prevent this from happening again.

On a happier note (for us), we’ll be taken a Pesach hiatus — tomorrow morning will be our last email until after the holiday.

Soldiers Attacked
Early today Israeli security forces began demolition of the home, in the Qalandiyah refugee camp, of the terrorist who murdered Shlomit Krigman in an attack in the town of Beit Horon in January. A violent protest erupted during which Palestinians threw fire bombs, cinderblocks and improvised explosives at the soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means, controlling the scene until the demolition was completed. Two soldiers and eight Palestinians were wounded.

For further reading click here.

Rally for Soldier
About 2,000 people rallied last night in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square for Sgt. Elor Azaria, the IDF medic who was indicted for manslaughter for shooting and killing a wounded terrorist in Hebron last month. Azaria’s supporters shouted slogans including “He’s a hero” and “Release the soldier.”

Ahead of the rally, PM Netanyahu said, “The IDF defends its soldiers. I am convinced that the investigation of the event in Hebron will be done responsibly and rationally. Our soldiers are not murderers. They operate against murderers, and I hope that a way will be found to find a balance between the act and the overall context of the event. In the meantime, I suggest we all lower the flames.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog urged the soldier’s family “not to turn this difficult and complicated incident into a campaign against the IDF.” He said, ”This is a protest by the far right with the aim of weakening the IDF’s values. It’s not for nothing that no cabinet member is attending the event.”

For further reading click here.

Diamond Trouble
There seems to be big trouble brewing at Israel’s iconic diamond exchange in Ramat Gan. Police are investigating allegations that diamond dealer Hanan Abramovich stole close to $65 million worth of diamonds. He hasn’t yet been arrested, but that should happen soon. The theft could potentially drive up to a dozen diamond companies into bankruptcy.

No “mazal and bracha” for Abramovich.

For further reading click here.

Startup – Law
If you’re an attorney, you might not be so happy to read about this Israeli startup that just raised a $2.5 million round of financing.

LawGeex allows consumers to upload any type of contract to its platform and receive, within 24 hours, an in-depth report of what’s good, bad and even missing from their contract. Currently reviewing over 20 types of contracts, the free solution begins with employment agreements, with more contract types to be offered for free in the near future.

LawGeex cofounder and CEO Noory Bechor said, “The driving force behind LawGeex is the belief that no one should sign a contract that they don’t fully understand. An astounding 33% of Americans need a lawyer every year but do not hire one, either because they can’t afford to or did not know where to turn. This ultimately leads to one-sided negotiations and unfair results. LawGeex has already earned the trust of thousands of users while ensuring quality and transparency, leveling the playing field when it comes to contract negotiations. Our machine learning platform has already reviewed over tens of thousands of contracts, many of which are employment contracts from some of the world’s largest tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook. We make sure all employees get a fair deal.”

Lawyers, beware.

For further reading click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]

Israel News for April 19, 2016

Terror on Bus
A bomb exploded at the back of a bus in Jerusalem yesterday injuring at least 20 passengers. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was the first to confirm that it was a terror attack. The police and Shin Bet are trying to identify the terrorist and are investigating the possibility that he was one of the passengers, who was the most severely wounded.

The Bus driver, Moshe Levi, said that he recognized the wounded man as the terrorist after the blast. Levi said, “The [bus] ride was normal; I saw the terrorist get on the bus at one of the stations. The terrorist boarded and paid just like everyone else. He didn’t look suspicious to me, and he wasn’t carrying a strange bag or something. No, I didn’t suspect him.” Levi added, “I saw lots of people bleeding and screaming. I ran out of the bus and opened the [emergency] doors. Outside there were people who had been thrown out of the bus [by the blast]. I saw the terrorist lying on the ground, with severed hands and feet. I told the MDA people to treat him. When I got to the hospital I saw this man lying on the ground in the emergency treatment ward, I understood from the security people there that this was the terrorist. And I had asked them [the MDA medics] to help him.”

The police have not yet confirmed that the man was the terrorist.

Reactions from Palestinian groups were as expected. Hamas called it a “natural response to the crimes of occupation,” but did not claim responsibility. Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, also welcomed the attack as “proof of the failure of security coordination” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it “welcomes the operation as a positive and important development of the intifada.”

For further reading click here.

Biden on J Street
In a speech to J Street yesterday, US Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged “overwhelming frustration” with Israel’s government, saying, “I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they’re moving us and more importantly they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction.“ He added that it was the America’s obligation to guarantee Israel’s security and to “push them as hard as we can” toward a two-state solution despite “our sometimes overwhelming frustration with the Israeli government,” but that, “there is at the moment no political will that I observed from either Israelis or Palestinians to go forward with serious negotiations,”

Biden also blasted Palestinian leaders for not condemning terror saying, “No matter what legitimate disagreements the Palestinian people have with Israel, there is never justification for terrorism. No leader should fail to condemn as terrorists those who commit such brutalities.”

For further reading click here.

No Cameras
The idea seemed brilliant. If you want to prove once and for all whether Israel is really violating the status quo and harassing Muslims on the Temple Mount, just install video cameras to record everything happening up there. After months of negotiations, Israel and Jordan agreed to the details of implementing the project. But wait, it was too good to be true. Guess who blocked the plan? You got it: the Palestinians.

Apparently, the Palestinians aren’t anxious to document what really happens on the Temple Mount. As part of their anti-camera campaign, banners were hung all over the Temple Mount calling for Palestinians to smash the security cameras. One guard from the Waqf (Islamic Religious Endowments Organization) summed it up by saying,“We don’t need any cameras here. Only Allah sees all.”

The Palestinians launched a second banner campaign called “The picture is clear – so no cameras are needed,” bearing pictures showing Israeli policemen attacking and dragging Palestinians from the Mount.

I wonder why they wouldn’t want cameras up there?

For further reading click here.

Court Convicts
The Jerusalem District Court today convicted Yishai Schlissel of murdering 16 year old Shira Banki at the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem last July. The judge scolded police for negligence in allowing the attacker to get to the parade. Just two months before the parade, Schlissel had finished serving a ten year sentence for stabbing someone at the gay pride parade in 2005. He also expressed his opposition to the parade both in the media and in ads published in synagogues in Jerusalem and Kiryat Sefer, prior to the parade. A the judge said, “the writing was on the wall.”

For further reading click here.

Rivlin is Blessed
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the great sages of Israel, at his home in Bnei Brak last night to receive his blessing before Passover.

To see photos of the visit, click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]

Israel News for April 18, 2016

Golan Message
The Israeli government held a special cabinet meeting in the Golan, as a message to the world that the area will remain as part of Israel forever. The PM declared, “The time has come for the international community to recognize reality. Whatever happens on the other side of the border, the line is not going to change. The time has come after 50 years for the international community to acknowledge that the Golan Heights will permanently remain under Israeli sovereignty.” Netanyahu said that he conveyed the same message to US Secretary of State John Kerry by phone yesterday.

Syria’s Foreign Minister, Faisal al-Miqdad, responded to the PM’s message saying that, “the Syrian Golan is an occupied Arab land according to the UN Security Council’s resolutions, and the presence of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Forces proves this. We have never renounced the resistance and we are ready to recapture the Golan in all possible ways, including military ways. Israel wants to provoke us, but we will never surrender.”

For further reading click here.

Tunnel Discovered
The IDF has discovered a Hamas tunnel that crossed the border fence a few dozen meters into Israel from Gaza. It seems that Hamas knew that the IDF had discovered their tunnel, and yet they did not mount a last ditch attempt to use it for an attack. No weapons were found in the tunnel.

The IDF located the tunnel using a newly developed tunnel busting technology system, which is now being used throughout the Gaza border area. This new system could actually trigger an escalation in the conflict. A senior IDF officer explained, “We have defined the mission as being the destruction of all attack tunnels without reaching an escalation, but an escalation will not deter us. Hamas knows we’ve strengthened our defenses and that it will have a hard time surprising us. If we end up in a war over this – then so be it. This is a long, protracted struggle. Hamas is a sophisticated enemy. It learns lessons and implements them fast. Each one of these tunnels that we foil is a loss for it. Hamas will have to contend with the dilemma of whether or not to act if it sees itself losing other attack tunnels.”

For current reading click here.

Singapore and Israel
The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, will arrive in Israel today for a four day official visit. He will be accompanied by his wife, the foreign minister, the environment and water resources minister and the home affairs minister.

Israel and Singapore have a long history of close relations. The IDF helped Singapore establish their army and wrote its military doctrine. Singapore is currently one of Israel’s biggest clients in military hardware and Israeli military companies have permanent representatives in the country.

For further reading click here.

New Library
The cornerstone of the new National Library of Israel was laid last week in a ceremony attended by President Rivlin and PM Netanyahu. The National Library of Israel was founded in Jerusalem in 1892 by the B’nai Brith organization. Since 1925 it has been housed inside the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but the size of the collection and contemporary needs have outgrown the Library’s old building and dated infrastructure. The new building will be located next to the Knesset and is set to open to the public in 2020.

For further reading click here.

Bike Laws
The Tel Aviv municipality has announced that starting on May 1, police will begin enforcing a law banning bicycle riding on sidewalks. The municipality will educate the public about the new law through billboards, video clips and green graffiti on sidewalks.

The law will include electric bikes and will also cover violations such as going through a red light, riding in the wrong direction, using a mobile phone while riding, and disturbing pedestrians in crosswalks. Punitive measures will include fines, taking the air out of bicycle tires, and confiscation of batteries.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said, “In recent years, we have been active and striving to encourage bicycle riding in the city as an alternative to the use of cars. This welcome change in travel culture has been accompanied by a new situation and insufferable phenomena, such as undisciplined riding of electric bicycles that endangers pedestrians, and it is therefore very important to deal with this and ensure the safety of pedestrians on sidewalks.”

Ride safely!

For further reading click here.

Only in Israel
In an “only in Israel” moment, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz has caused a stir by publicly stating that, “I’m not religious, I like tradition but I don’t avoid eating bread on Passover.” Apparently Steinitz will not be spending his Pesach in the tearoom of one of the deluxe kosher of Passover hotels in Orlando, Miami, Puerto Rico, etc. Instead, he might be sneaking over to Jaffa for some fresh Arab pita, or maybe just defrosting a bagel at home.

In any case, the fact that he doesn’t observe the Peach laws isn’t what’s making waves. It’s the fact that he announced it publicly. As a senior official from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party put it, “it would be best that the honorable minister keep his comments and actions to himself in an issue that is so important and sensitive to more than 80 percent of the Israeli public.”

On a related note (sort of), the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement has permitted the eating of Kitniyot (legumes) on Pesach for their members of Ashkenazic decent. With all due respect, didn’t they also permit driving and using electricity on Shabbat and a whole bunch of other prohibitions? So is permitting legumes (which is only a custom) really surprising?

For further reading click here.

Matzah Record
An attempt was made in Jerusalem to make the largest matzah on record. To see photos of how they did it, click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]

Israel News for April 15, 2016

Sanders Reverses
Hours before the NY Democratic debate yesterday, the Sanders campaign suspended Simone Zimmerman, its national Jewish outreach coordinator, after revelations that she had used vulgarities in Facebook posts about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton.

Zimmerman’s appointment had been attacked by Jewish leaders including Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Abe Foxman, the president emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, because of her history of opposition to Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza. The discovery of her Facebook posts was the final straw. In her posts she used a vulgarity and described Mr. Netanyahu as “arrogant, deceptive, cynical” and “manipulative.” She then used more aggressive language and continued that he had “sanctioned the murder of over 2,000 people this summer.”

Zimmerman, 25, had served as the national president of the student branch of J Street, a pro-Israel lobbying group that is critical of the Netanyahu government. She started a grass-roots movement of thousands of young Jews who sought to stop American Jewish groups from supporting Israeli policies in the occupied territories. She protested in front of the offices of Mr. Hoenlein, among others.

The fact that Sanders chose her in the first place says a lot about his views about Israel, which he reinforced in last nights debate with Hillary Clinton. Sanders criticized Mrs. Clinton’s pro-Israel stance, called the Israeli army’s use of arms against Palestinians “disproportionate” and argued that “we have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”

For her part Clinton defended Israel and even PM Netanyahu. She is clearly the strongest supporter of Israel among the Democratic presidential candidates.

For further reading click here.

Kasich Stumble
The were many awkward moments for Republican presidential candidate John Kasich during his visit to a matzah baking factory, Jewish bookstore and school in Borough Park on Tuesday. Throughout the tour Kasich attempted to display his knowledge of the Bible (old and new) to his Hasidic audience. And he is definitely serious and passionate about his religion and scriptures. But it’s unlikely that it helped him get any votes. Especially when he discussed Passover and said something like, “The great link between the blood that was put above the lampposts…the blood of the lamb, because Jesus Christ is known as the lamb of God. It’s his blood, we believe …” Ok John, we get the picture. It kind of makes both Trump and Cruz look like geniuses.

So, whose voting for Kasich?

To watch a video of this, click here.

Terror Stopped
An ax wielding terrorist rushed at soldiers in Gush Etzion yesterday. The soldiers managed to shoot and kill the terrorist. No soldiers were harmed. In Jerusalem two 12 year old Arab boys were discovered carrying knives and a farewell letter to their parents. They were arrested.

For further reading click here.

Shabbat Plea
The families of five Israeli Jews detained by the Shin Bet on suspicion of “Jewish terrorism” turned to Israel’s Chief Rabbis late Thursday night, imploring them to speak to security officials on their behalf. The families claim that the Shin Bet is preventing their sons from observing Shabbat, or at least making it uncomfortable for them to do so. They claim that Shin Bet officers blast load music, smoke and offer the men drugs during interrogation sessions.  

The families said, “We’re ashamed that, in a Jewish state, people spurn the Shabbat under the law, and offend other Jewish people who wish to observe the Shabbat, and deny them that right. These things shock anyone with a Jewish soul, and cannot be overlooked in the Jewish state.” 

For further reading click here.

Divorce Battle
Last month the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court handed down a 30 day jail sentence to a wealthy father who it claimed was supporting his son who is refusing to grant his wife a Get (divorce) for over 10 years. The verdict was viewed as a groundbreaking move.

The verdict was appealed before the Chief Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem on the claim that the rabbinical judge in the case was not fit to judge the case. The Jerusalem court rejected the claim. The case will now go to Israel’s Supreme Court, which had previously postponed the jail sentence of the father until the matter was examined by the Chief Rabbinical Court.

Meanwhile, the husband, who is in America, has still not given his wife a Get. Shame on him.

For further reading click here.

Israeli Hockey
Did you know that Israel has a national ice hockey team? Well, it does. The team participated in the Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships Division II, Group B tournament in Mexico City last week and faced off again…North Korea (yes, they too have a hockey team). Israel beat the North Koreans 8 – 4. Go Israel!

For further reading click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]

Israel News for April 14, 2016

Missile Defense Money
Democratic and Republican members of the US Congress are calling on President Obama to quadruple the amount allocated in the 2017 financial year for developing Israel’s missile defense systems. The amount currently allocated is $150 million, which the legislators want increased to $600 million. This amount is in addition to the $3.1 billion that Israel will receive in US military aid for 2017.

Sources explain that the military aid given to Israel has direct benefits for the US. A large portion of the manufacturing and development of Israel’s new missile defense systems is done in partnership with US companies, which means more jobs in the US. The US also views Israel’s missile defense systems as a battle test for the US technologies used in them.

The message is clear: a strong Israeli missile defense system is not only good for Israel, but also good for America.

For further reading click here.

Soldier Charged
The prosecutor in the Jaffa military court announced yesterday that the soldier who shot a neutralized terrorist in Hebron 3 weeks ago will be charged with manslaughter. The soldier was originally charged with murder. The investigation and the trial continues. The soldier remains in open detention on an IDF base.

For further reading click here.

Flag Burning
IDF soldiers were inspecting vehicles near the town of Awarta south of Nablus yesterday when they discovered a Palestinian flag in one of the cars. The soldiers removed the flag and burned it.

The IDF Spokesman issued a statement saying, “the incident is known to the commanders and was investigated. A preliminary investigation found that the incident was out of the ordinary and that the force acted improperly, and against the instructions of their commanders.”

The squad commander was relieved of his command and sentenced to 20 days in military prison. Another soldier was sentenced to a 28-day detention.

For further reading click here.

Criminal Mayors
The Israel Police has recommended the criminal prosecution of the mayors of three municipalities including Ramat Gan and Zichron Yaakov on charges that include bribery, fraud, breach of trust and issuing threats. The cases are all separate. You don’t want to hear more about political corruption in Israel, right? That’s what I thought.

For further reading click here.

Belgian Blunder
The Belgian Foreign Minister ignited a storm of controversy yesterday when he compared the Muslim terrorists who hid in Brussels for months to “the Jews who hid here during the Nazi occupation,” in a television interview. He later clarified that his comments pertained to ”the mechanism of hiding,” rather than the people hiding.

Everyone’s got the Jews on their mind. Hmm.

For further reading click here.

Ukraine PM
The Ukraine has elected its first ever Jewish Prime Minister. Volodymyr Groysman, 38, was nominated by Ukraine’s president and voted in by parliament by a vote of 250-57. He has close ties with the Jewish community and with Israel. There are currently 360,000 Jews living in the Ukraine.
Looks like hell might have actually frozen over.

For further reading click here.

Matzah Exports
According to a report by the Finance and Industry Ministry, Israel exported $12 million of Matzah in 2015. Around $7 million of that went to the US. The UK imported $1.7 million, Italy around $1m., France $700,000, Belgium $600,000, Australia $360,000, Argentina $130,000, Holland $103,000, Brazil $88,000, Romania $25,000 and Azerbaijan $19,000. Surprisingly, $4,500 worth of mitzvah went to Nigeria and $1,600 to Congo.

Israeli wine exports totaled $36.5 million. A third of those went to the US and Canada. France imported around 25% of the total, followed by the UK, Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Enjoy!

For further reading click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]

Israel News for April 13, 2016

Anti McDonalds
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman,of the Haredi UTJ party, has declared war on McDonalds. It has nothing to do with Kosher issues (Israel has kosher McDonalds branches). Litzman is at war with all fast food, because of health reasons.

Speaking at the Israel Heart Society’s annual conference Litzman said, “There’s no need to eat junk food. McDonald’s out. Not in our country. There’s no need to eat McDonalds.”

About 600,000 Israelis suffer from diabetes, with some 90 percent suffering from type 2 diabetes which causes severe damage to health. It is caused, among other things, by a poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise.

Litzman added, “Children should be educated not to eat junk food. Not to eat so many sweets. It’s right for diabetes and it’s right for the heart. That’s what we’re going to do in the coming year – prevention.”

McDonald’s responded to Litzman’s comments saying, “We are sorry that the health minister chooses to express himself in a non-scientific manner and chooses populist remarks that make headlines but don’t reflect what is happening across the chain. McDonald’s Israel carried out a comprehensive health reform over a decade ago that is highly respected in the European community. We hope that it isn’t the operation of the chain on Shabbat that is at the base of Minister Litzman’s irresponsible, unfounded and unscientific attack on McDonald’s.”

No, I don’t think this has anything to do with Shabbat. Just unhealthy food.

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount Wedding
According to the Temple Institute, an organization dedicated to preparing for the establishment of a third Temple on the Temple Mount, a Jewish couple recently had their marriage ceremony performed on the mount. No, there wasn’t any sushi or even chicken and certainly no band. The wedding party consisted of 13 Jews, one of whom distracted the Waqf guards while the others concealed the bride and groom. Then the groom surreptitiously placed the ring on his bride’s finger and whispered the traditional phrase, “Behold you are betrothed to me with this ring, according to the laws of Moses and Israel.” Mazal Tov!

This is apparently the first time a Jewish marriage ceremony has taken place on the Temple Mount since the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 CE. The question is, were weddings ever performed on the Temple Mount, even when the Temple existed?

A full video of the event has not been released, but if you want to see a photo of the actual ring placing ceremony, click here.

Important Message
Yesterday we sent out an email asking for your support to help us continue publishing this daily newsletter. We’d like to thank those who’ve already shown their support. If you haven’t yet, you can do so by clicking here.

In addition to the financial support, it’s important to us to see that our work is considered valuable and that our investment in this mission is worth continuing. So if you find this email to be a valuable resource, please show your support — click here.

Poland Trip Scrapped
Zeev Dagani, principal of the prestigious Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium, has decided to stop sending students on the traditional annual heritage trips to Poland because he feels that the trip has an “ultranationalistic” influence on the students.

It seems that seeing the concentration camps and experiencing the places where the holocaust occurred instills the students with a bit too much Jewish pride and Israeli patriotism for the principal’s tastes. Instead of the trip, the school will institute a more intensive holocaust education program and a trip around Israel to see the effects of the holocaust and speak with survivors.

For further reading click here.

Travel Warning
Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau yesterday issued travel warnings relating to credible threats against Israeli citizens in more than 30 countries. But when you see the list you’ll realize that, other than Turkey, the countries listed aren’t the kind of places you’d be planning to travel to anyway.

The countries on the list include Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, Algeria, Djibouti, Mauritania, Tunisia, Burkina-Faso, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Mali, Pakistan, Niger, Turkey and Togo, Bahrain, Egypt Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Oman, Kenya and Nigeria.

So are you cancelling your Pesach travel plans?

For further reading click here.

Demolition Stopped
The Prime Minister’s Office has blocked the demolition of an illegally built Arab house in an apparent attempt to avoid increasing tensions among the Arab population before the Pesach holiday season.

The home in question was built illegally in 1992, adjacent to a local market. In 1974, the land around it was declared to be part of a national park, which put it under the jurisdiction of the Israel National Park Authority.

Aref Tutunji, the owner of the home, which houses 11 people in just three rooms, expressed his approval of the government’s decision to stop the demolition, saying, “The Palestinian press wanted me to speak against the state of Israel, but I won’t badmouth the state. I was hospitalized for a year in an Israeli hospital and the state pays for my children’s education. I won’t argue with police officers if they come over to demolish (the home), but I ask one thing from the state: I just want my home.”

A government official said that the demolition was not cancelled permanently, just postponed. He added, “These days, everyone needs to make calculated decisions in order to not enflame the region.”

For further reading click here.

Demolition Accomplished
In contrast to the last story, the government wasn’t worried about increasing tensions before Peach when it demolished the home of a Jewish couple in Beit El yesterday that was built without the required permits. The couple, Uri and Inbal Aloni, had built their home next to their horse ranch, which provides services for special needs children. By the way, Inbal is currently in the advanced stages of pregnancy.

Double standard?

For further reading click here.

More Rain
Israel is getting hit, or blessed, with more rain, which will continue throughout the week. You can’t really complain about rain in Israel.

For further reading click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]

Israel News for April 12, 2016

Climate Change
The Israeli government has unanimously approved a plan for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and improving energy efficiency. The plan is part of the effort to meet the commitment made by Israel along with many other countries at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Under the government’s plan, NIS 500 million will be allocated to provide government guarantees for loans for energy efficiency programs, and NIS 300 million will be allocated to provide grants for energy efficiency projects in enterprises and local government, with an emphasis on assisting small and medium-size businesses and less well-off local authorities. It is estimated that such energy efficiency measures will save the Israeli economy some NIS 30 billion, and will take Israel towards meeting the goals set at the Climate Change Conference.

The government will also examine ways of further lowering greenhouse gas emissions, including the reduction of the use of coal and a switch to natural gas that will substantially reduce air pollution. It will also examine ways of making transport more efficient and reducing the number of journeys people take. A team will be set up for removing barriers to the development of the Israeli cleantech industry; tax incentives will be provided to encourage the use of renewable energy and the use of energy efficient equipment; and green construction projects will be promoted.

Minister of Environmental Protection Avi Gabai said, “The State of Israel is at the start of an unprecedented revolution. The plan combines reduction of environmental damage and air pollution with stimulation of economic growth, economic savings, and greater efficiency in industry and public authorities.”

For further reading click here.

Drone Dome
Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has unveiled a system designed to detect and destroy hostile drones. They call it the Drone Dome. The system uses a radar and cameras to detect and track the movements of enemy drones flying in prohibited areas and then disrupts its electronic systems, ending its flight.

According to the company, “Drone Dome has 360-degree circular coverage and is designed to detect, track and neutralize drones classified as threats flying in no-fly zones. Drone Dome has a very fast response time, [and] it causes minimal collateral interruptions to the surrounding urban environment, with maximum safety to friendly aircraft.”

This could be a game changer.

For further reading click here.

Pope Cap
The Pope will soon become a financial supporter of Israel. Well, not exactly. You see, back in 2014 the Pope trading his iconic white skullcap for an identical copy held by an Italian television host. The trade was recorded by TV cameras and broadcast throughout the world. According to Church doctrine, after a pope dies, his articles of clothing become “relics” that are forbidden from being sold.

So the man who got the Pope skullcap has decided to put it up for auction (while the pope is still living) and donate the bulk of the proceeds to the Wolfson Medical Center’s Safe a Child’s Heart organization.

Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) is an Israel-based international nonprofit organization, known worldwide for its commitment to saving lives by improving cardiac care for children from developing countries and creating centers of medical competence in these countries. SACH has saved the lives of 4,000 children from 50 developing countries and trained more than 100 medical team members from these countries.

The Pope’s cap is expected to fetch around $40,000.

For further reading click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]

Israel News for April 11, 2016

PA Arrests
The Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Services (GIS) arrested three Palestinians near Ramallah who were suspected of planning an attack Saturday night against Israelis. The GIS confiscated an M-16 and a nine millimeter hand gun from the men, who had mysteriously disappeared from their shared apartment in Ramallah a week and a half ago.

Hamas condemned the arrest, writing on its official website that it, ”reflects a rise in the frequency of security cooperation between the PA security forces and the occupation to abort the Palestinian Intifada and target the Palestinian resistance.”

Majid Faraj, the chief of the Palestinian General Intelligence, claimed back in December that his forces have arrested 100 Palestinians and prevented 200 attacks against Israelis during the recent wave of terror.

For further reading click here.

Chinese Love
Leading Chinese investment company Fosun Group has signed an agreement with the shareholders of Ahava to fully acquire the Israeli Dead Sea cosmetics company for NIS 290 million ($77 million). The deal was signed last night at a special event at Jerusalem’s David Citadel Hotel, with many Israeli government officials in attendance.

The purchase is just one example of increased Chinese investment in Israel. Bosun’s CEO Liang Xinjun said, “We feel very confident about the market in Israel and continue to seek suitable investment opportunities in different areas in the country. We are glad to have succeeded in acquiring such a famous, strong and successful brand as Ahava under this mutually beneficial agreement. We will endeavor to extend the success of this brand to China and other countries.”

For further reading click here.

Ancient Glaziers
An Israel Antiquities Authority excavation at the foot of Mount Carmel near Haifa has unearthed kilns (a type of oven) used to make glass. These kilns are roughly 1,600 years old (dating to the Late Roman period), and indicate that Israel was one of the foremost centers for glass production in the ancient world.

Yael Gorin-Rosen, head curator of the Israel Antiquities Authority Glass Department, explained, “This is a very important discovery with implications regarding the history of the glass industry both in Israel and in the entire ancient world. We know from historical sources dating to the Roman period that the Valley of Akko was renowned for the excellent quality sand located there, which was highly suitable for the manufacture of glass. Chemical analyses conducted on glass vessels from this period which were discovered in Europe and in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean have shown that the source of the glass is from our region. Now, for the first time, the kilns have been found where the raw material was manufactured that was used to produce this glassware.”

Looks like modern Israeli technology and ingenuity has a solid foundation to rest on.

For further reading click here.

New Chief Rabbi
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and former Chief Rabbi if Israel, announced that he will be retiring from his post next year when he reached the age of 80. That means that Tel Aviv will be looking for a new Chief Rabbi.

Most large cities in Israel have two chief rabbis, one representing the Ashkenazic community and the other the Sephardic, but since 2002, with the appointment of Rabbi Shlomo Amar (Sephardic), Tel Aviv has only had one. Rabbi Lau was appointed in 2005, after having serves as Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi from 1985 until 1993. Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai has made it clear that the tradition will continue and only one rabbi will be appointed as Tel Aviv chief.

Interestingly, the city doesn’t save any money by only having one chief rabbi. According to official records, Rabbi Lau has been earning a double salary. Apparently he’s been pulling a double workload. So it’s a good job. It’s also been the stepping stone to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel on many occasions.

The big question is whether the new chief rabbi will be Sephardic or Ashkenazic?

For further reading click here.

Saudi Haircuts
Can a haircut affect a soccer game? Yup.

A soccer match in the Saudi professional soccer league was stopped by the referee in order to fix the haircuts of three players whose hairdos were not in accordance with Sharia law.

Apparently, the Mohawk style, where you shave the sides of your head leaving the hair on top, is prohibited by Sharia as being a “heretic hairstyle.” According to an Islamic fatwa, a person cannot cut one part of his hair but leave the other part of it untouched. He must either cut all his hair or leave all his hair untouched.

So during the game, the ref stopped play and pulled the three players aside, where they were examined by the proper authorities and then given quick trims by their trainers (or were they official team barbers?).

You gotta respect their commitment to their religious laws. Hey, at least they didn’t take any heads off, just some hair. And we have no idea whether the haircuts effected the score of the game.

To watch the video click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]

Israel News for April 8, 2016

Sanders Clarifies
After a phone conversation with Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt on Thursday, Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders clarified his statements about Palestinian casualties during the 2014 war in Gaza.

The ADL had blasted Sanders for saying, “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza.” According to the ADL, “even the highest number of casualties claimed by Palestinian sources that include Hamas members engaged in attacking Israel is five times less than the number cited by Bernie Sanders”. It added that, “accuracy and accountability are essential for the voting public, but also for U.S. credibility in the international community.”

In his clarification, Sanders said his recollection was indeed inaccurate and that the interviewer corrected him in the course of the conversation – a correction that he said he accepted. Sanders promised that he would make every effort to set the record straight.

We’re waiting.

For further reading click here.

Iranian Missiles
The US-Iran nuclear deal might slow down Iran’s race to develop a nuclear weapon, but it doesn’t seem to have done much to stop Iranian aggression in other forms. Want proof? The US is building a secret army base in central Israel that is designed to withstand ballistic missile attacks. The purpose of the base is to protect American assets in the area, specifically the US army’s radar facility in Dimona.

Iran’s ballistic missiles, which are capable of reaching Israel and can be fitted with nuclear warheads, have prompted partial American sanctions, with some American lawmakers calling for harsher measures to punish the Iranian regime.

The US army isn’t putting its trust in any agreement with the Iranians. Neither should anyone else.

For further reading click here.

Armor or Miracle
Last week we told you about an Israeli tank that suffered a direct hit during a training exercise, but non of the tank’s crew was hurt. Some called it a miracle. Others attributed it to powerful Israeli armor. Earlier today, an IDF bulldozer drove over an explosive planted by terrorists near the Gaza border fence. No one was injured and no damage was caused by the explosion. Good armor or miracle?

For further reading click here.

Terror Cell Busted
IDF, Shin Bet and police forces have busted a twelve member terror cell in Samaria responsible for carrying out at least six attacks against civilian vehicles traveling on Route 443 and Israeli security forces stationed near their village.

Driving on the 443, one of the two main highways connecting Jerusalem with the center of the country, just got safer.

For further reading click here.

Ethiopian Aliya
The government has agreed to increase the number of Falashmura that will be brought to Israel from Ethiopia this year from 500 to 1,300. There are currently around 9,000 Falshmura waiting to immigrate to Israel, but Israel has been stalling bringing them over. Budgetary reasons have been given for the delay, but some claim that racism might be the real reason.

The government agreed to increase the quota in response to MKs Avraham Neguise and David Amsalem (Likud), who refused to take part in any Knesset votes until the issue was resolved. With a narrow coalition majority, the votes of the two MKs are in many cases crucial to passing government sponsored legislation and preventing the government’s collapse.

Neguise, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin, and Amsalem, both accepted punitive measures for their having violated coalition discipline by failng to vote. Both lawmakers’ duties will be restricted until August. Neither will be permitted to propose legislation or agenda items, nor will they be permitted to address the plenum until August.

The Falashmura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity under duress. They are required to convert to Judaism in Israel. The government has pledged to bring the rest of the community to Israel within the next 5 years.

For further reading click here.

Turkish Potential
Here’s another sign that relations between Israel and Turkey might be on the mend. At least 15 Turkish energy companies are considering forming a consortium to promote a natural gas import deal from Israel. They could potential import 8 billion cubic meters (BCM) of Israeli gas.

Turkey consumes 50 BCM of gas annually and wants to reduce its dependency on Russian gas, which supplies about 55-60% of the country’s needs. About 30% of the gas consumed in Europe comes from Russia, and Europe too is seeking to diversify its sources. So there’s plenty of potential for Israel.

But there are some challenges. Before a gas export deal can go ahead, Israel and Turkey must sign a reconciliation agreement. That has yet to happen.

Other complications include: Egypt, which would likely gain preferential treatment should it want to import Israeli gas; and Cyprus, which would have to approve any Israel-Turkey pipeline, which would have to pass through its territorial waters.

Let’s be optimistic.

For further reading click here.

Sanders Clarifies
After a phone conversation with Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt on Thursday, Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders clarified his statements about Palestinian casualties during the 2014 war in Gaza.

The ADL had blasted Sanders for saying, “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza.” According to the ADL, “even the highest number of casualties claimed by Palestinian sources that include Hamas members engaged in attacking Israel is five times less than the number cited by Bernie Sanders”. It added that, “accuracy and accountability are essential for the voting public, but also for U.S. credibility in the international community.”

In his clarification, Sanders said his recollection was indeed inaccurate and that the interviewer corrected him in the course of the conversation – a correction that he said he accepted. Sanders promised that he would make every effort to set the record straight.

We’re waiting.

For further reading click here.

Iranian Missiles
The US-Iran nuclear deal might slow down Iran’s race to develop a nuclear weapon, but it doesn’t seem to have done much to stop Iranian aggression in other forms. Want proof? The US is building a secret army base in central Israel that is designed to withstand ballistic missile attacks. The purpose of the base is to protect American assets in the area, specifically the US army’s radar facility in Dimona.

Iran’s ballistic missiles, which are capable of reaching Israel and can be fitted with nuclear warheads, have prompted partial American sanctions, with some American lawmakers calling for harsher measures to punish the Iranian regime.

The US army isn’t putting its trust in any agreement with the Iranians. Neither should anyone else.

For further reading click here.

Armor or Miracle
Last week we told you about an Israeli tank that suffered a direct hit during a training exercise, but non of the tank’s crew was hurt. Some called it a miracle. Others attributed it to powerful Israeli armor. Earlier today, an IDF bulldozer drove over an explosive planted by terrorists near the Gaza border fence. No one was injured and no damage was caused by the explosion. Good armor or miracle?

For further reading click here.

Terror Cell Busted
IDF, Shin Bet and police forces have busted a twelve member terror cell in Samaria responsible for carrying out at least six attacks against civilian vehicles traveling on Route 443 and Israeli security forces stationed near their village.

Driving on the 443, one of the two main highways connecting Jerusalem with the center of the country, just got safer.

For further reading click here.

Ethiopian Aliya
The government has agreed to increase the number of Falashmura that will be brought to Israel from Ethiopia this year from 500 to 1,300. There are currently around 9,000 Falshmura waiting to immigrate to Israel, but Israel has been stalling bringing them over. Budgetary reasons have been given for the delay, but some claim that racism might be the real reason.

The government agreed to increase the quota in response to MKs Avraham Neguise and David Amsalem (Likud), who refused to take part in any Knesset votes until the issue was resolved. With a narrow coalition majority, the votes of the two MKs are in many cases crucial to passing government sponsored legislation and preventing the government’s collapse.

Neguise, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin, and Amsalem, both accepted punitive measures for their having violated coalition discipline by failng to vote. Both lawmakers’ duties will be restricted until August. Neither will be permitted to propose legislation or agenda items, nor will they be permitted to address the plenum until August.

The Falashmura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity under duress. They are required to convert to Judaism in Israel. The government has pledged to bring the rest of the community to Israel within the next 5 years.

For further reading click here.

Turkish Potential
Here’s another sign that relations between Israel and Turkey might be on the mend. At least 15 Turkish energy companies are considering forming a consortium to promote a natural gas import deal from Israel. They could potential import 8 billion cubic meters (BCM) of Israeli gas.

Turkey consumes 50 BCM of gas annually and wants to reduce its dependency on Russian gas, which supplies about 55-60% of the country’s needs. About 30% of the gas consumed in Europe comes from Russia, and Europe too is seeking to diversify its sources. So there’s plenty of potential for Israel.

But there are some challenges. Before a gas export deal can go ahead, Israel and Turkey must sign a reconciliation agreement. That has yet to happen.

Other complications include: Egypt, which would likely gain preferential treatment should it want to import Israeli gas; and Cyprus, which would have to approve any Israel-Turkey pipeline, which would have to pass through its territorial waters.

Let’s be optimistic.

For further reading click here.

Get the Israel News email every morning and stay connected to #Israel. Click To Tweet

[notphone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email. Subscribe now!

[/notphone]

[phone]

The Israel news you need in one free daily email.

[/phone]