israel news

Israel News for 9-6-18

Embassy Closure
PM Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s foreign minister, ordered the closure of Israel’s embassy in Paraguay on Wednesday, hours after the Latin American nation said it had decided to return its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. A brief statement from the Prime Minister’s office said, ”Israel views with great severity the unusual decision by Paraguay that will strain the ties between the countries.”

The Paraguayan embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated by then President Horacia Cartes in May. Cartes was replaced last month by Mario Abdo. Explaining the new Paraguayan move, foreign minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said: “Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

According to the Palestinian foreign ministry, the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki was responsible for Paraguay’s decision to move back the embassy to Tel Aviv. Al-Maliki said that he had already received an official promise from new President of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez, and the new foreign Minister, Luis Alberto Castiglioni that the move would take place quietly in early September.

Israeli officials estimate that pressure from Arab countries, and possibly a promise of future investment in the country, are the reasons behind Paraguay’s decision.

But there seems to be more to this story, behind the scenes.

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Golan Future
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said “it’s possible”, that the US might recognize the Golan Heights in the future,” in an interview with Israeli daily Israel Hayom. He said, “I personally can not imagine a situation in which the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria. And giving up the territory of the Golan Heights may put Israel in a great security disadvantage.”

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Syrian Strikes
Israeli satellite company ImageSat International published Wednesday satellite footage documenting the widespread damage caused by the airstrikes on the center for scientific research in the Masayaf area in Syria on Tuesday, which Syria attributed to Israel. According to Syrian opposition sources, the targets included a center for scientific research in the Masayaf area, a storage warehouse for scientific research, and other security-related facilities. Syrian state news agency SANA said Syrian air defenses confronted and downed several rockets fired by Israeli planes near the city of Hama on Tuesday.

According to Israeli military officials, the IDF has launched 200 attacks against Syrian targets in the past year and a half. the strikes targeted mainly advanced weapon systems and infrastructure sites belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards located in Syrian territory. In total, some 800 missiles and bombs were launched at targets on Syrian soil, the majority by IAF fighter jets.

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Population Stats
Israel’s population has surpassed 8.9 million on the eve of Jewish New Year 5779, the Central Bureau of Statistics reports. In addition, there are an estimated 166,000 foreign non-residents living in Israel. 6,625,000 Israelis are Jewish (74.4%), 1,864,000 are Arabs (20.9%), while 418,000 (4.7%) belong other religions and communities. The Central Bureau of Statistics projects that Israel’s population will reach 10 million by 2024, 15 million by 2048 and 20 million by 2065.

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Uman Journey
Around 30,000 Jews, mostly from Israel, will spend Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) in the Ukrainian town of Uman, 130 miles south of Kiev. The town is the location of the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an 18th century Hasidic master and grandson of the Ba’al Shem Tov (the founder of the Hasdic movement). Rabbi Nachman spent the last 5 years of his life in Uman and requested to be buried there. He also promised to intercede on behalf of anyone who would come to pray at his grave on Rosh Hashana – – hence, the annual pilgrimage.

The annual pilgrimage to Uman has been a huge boon for the local economy. The area around the tomb, where around 500 Jews live, has become a vibrant neighborhood with Hebrew signage, 20 kosher restaurants and 25 hotels (mostly operating in apartment buildings). In addition to the Rosh Hashana pilgrimage, thousands of Jewish pilgrims visit Oman throughout the year. Some of the new businesses are owned by Israelis who settled in Uman while others are owned by Ukrainians or are joint Israeli-Ukrainian ventures. A good deal of the commercial growth in town is due to secular Jewish visitors as opposed to the Hasidim.

Unfortunately, the Uman pilgrimages have also spawned anti semitic attacks, drug use, prostitution, disorderly conduct and a powerful organized crime presence.

For further reading click here.

To hear a song about the Uman pilgrimage click here.

To watch a video about the beginning of the journey click here.

New Year
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year of 5779, will begin this Sunday night and last until Tuesday night. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life and be blessed with a year of health, happiness, success and peace.