Israel News for August 8, 2016

Bombing Averted
A pipe bomb was discovered in a parking lot outside of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem yesterday. Police cleared the area and neutralized the bomb.

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Jordanian Ban
Jordanian border guards barred a group of Israeli tourists from entering the kingdom because they were wearing skullcaps. The same thing happened less than a year ago when an Israeli family was barred for the same reason. The Jordanian authorities have claimed that is was a mistake and that they are investigating.

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Olympic Antics
The Arabs have taken their war against Israeli to the Olympics. Yesterday a Saudi Judoka apparently forfeited her first round match in order to avoid the chance of facing off against an Israeli opponent. Losing to an Israeli would probably not have gone over very well in the birthplace of Islam.

Also at the games, the Lebanese team refused to allow the Israeli team to share their bus to get to the opening ceremonies. The Lebanese were reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee. Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev praised the reprimand, saying, “I applaud the IOC for dealing with the despicable and anti-Semitic behavior of the Lebanese delegation. I expect the IOC to act in this manner against any incident of anti-Semitism and exclusion of Israeli athletes in competitions around the world.”

The head of the Lebanese delegation, Saleem a-Haj Nacoula told Lebanese media that the Israelis were “looking for trouble” by insisting on boarding the same bus when they had their own transportation. Nacoula was praised in Lebanon as a hero.

But think about it. Would you feel comfortable riding a bus filled with Lebanese? Just saying…

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Anti-BDS Force
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Deri have announced the formation of a new task force that will work on locating and deporting foreign BDS activists in Israel and prevent new ones from entering the country.

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Arab Schools
There are 180 schools, public and private, in the Palestinian populated areas of East Jerusalem. Only ten of those schools teach the standard Israeli curriculum, which allows students to then take the Israeli version of the SATs (Bagrut) and apply to Israeli universities or other forms of higher education, leading to employment opportunities. The rest of the schools teach the Palestinian curriculum and the student then take the Palestinian Authority matriculation exam, which doesn’t do much to improve their employment outlook in Israel.

To change that, the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry is setting aside over $5.2 million of funding to be granted to Palestinian schools that teach the Israeli curriculum. The funds can be used for physical improvements such as building computer rooms and sports facilities.

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin explained, “The idea is very simple. We want to help the school that is prepared to go in these directions to improve the employment integration of its student. We’ve seen the desire and demand from the parents, and we believe that market forces will work in this case.”

So far only a handful of schools have moved to integrate the Israeli curriculum. But more Palestinian parents are expressing their desire to have their kids study the Israeli curriculum and be able to get better jobs. That’s a hopeful sign.

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Rabbi Goes Spanish
Last year Spain passed a law permitting Jews of Sephardi heritage to apply for Spanish citizenship. Hundreds of Israelis are currently waiting for their applications to be approved. As part of the process, they need to pass a test of their knowledge of Spanish and of general knowledge about Spain in addition to submitting proof of Spanish family lineage. Over 4,000 Jews have already been granted Spanish citizenship.

But not everyone needs to go through the official process. The Spanish government recently granted Spanish citizenship to Jerusalem’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Rabbi Amar was the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel between 2003 and 2013.

Rabbi Amar’s office told Haaretz that the Spanish government conferred honorary citizenship on him in recognition of his work on behalf of the descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, adding that he had not requested Spanish citizenship and that the citizenship requires his consent.

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