Israel News for July 26, 2016

Arab Outreach
PM Netanyahu released a video message in which he asked Israeli Arabs to take full part in Israeli society. The video began with an apology by the PM for a comment he made during the last election in which he warned that Arabs were “flocking to the polls in droves”. The PM claimed that he was referring to the anti-Zionist Arab Joint List party and not to Arabs in general.

In any case, the PM played on his “droves” comment and said, “Today I am asking Arab citizens in Israel to take part in our society – in droves. Work in droves, study in droves, thrive in droves. Israel is strong because of our diversity and pluralism – not in spite of it.”

The PM ended by saying, “Jews and Arabs should reach out to each other, get to know each other’s families. Listen to each other. Jews and Arabs should treat one another with the same dignity and respect you’d want for your own family. Our land is too small, it’s too precious to fill it with discord and hate. Let us work together, Arabs and Jews alike, to reach ever higher in the noble pursuit of equality and dignity for all.”

The government has allocated extra funds for boosting policing in Arab communities, to try and stem the high levels of criminal violence in those areas.

Arab MK’s from the Joint List were quick to criticize the video. Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh said, “When I saw you chose to contact us in English. I understood exactly where this message is intended and for what purpose. So I say to the Prime Minister on behalf of the Arab public that we are not buying his show of hypocrisy.”

To watch the video, click here.

Israel Attacks
Syrian mortar shells fell in the Israeli Golan, across from the border city of Quneitra, which has recently been the scene of heavy fighting between pro and anti government forces.

The Israeli Air Force responded by attacking two government military outposts identified as the source of the fire. Most of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights is held by rebel groups.

For further reading click here.

New Mikvah Law
Back in February the Supreme Court ruled that State run mikvahs, which are operating under Orthodox auspices, cannot prevent Reform and Conservative converts from using them as part of their conversion process. Yesterday the Knesset passed a law, sponsored by the Haredi UTJ party, effectively banning non-Orthodox converts from using the State mikvahs by giving the local rabbinate the authority to determine who may or may not use the local mikvah. Apparently, in Israel the Knesset can pass laws that circumvent Supreme Court rulings.

The government has promised to build several mikvahs exclusively for Reform and Conservative use, but the funding for these has yet to be allocated.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky responded to the new law saying, “This bill, which offers no solution to the non-Orthodox denominations, circumvents the ruling of the High Court of Justice. It is unfortunate that the bill passed before such a solution was ensured.”

Yizhar Hess, executive director of the Conservative movement, called the law a “spit in the face” and said, “Jewish diaspora leaders are looking at us now astounded by the contempt, the condescension and the heartlessness being broadcast by the state of Israel which they so loved but which has broken their hearts.”

But the Haredi parties are an integral part of the government coalition, which would likely fall without them. So the law passes. It will take effect in nine months, in order to give enough time for the alternate mikvahs to be constructed.

So now there will soon be a separate kotel and separate mikvahs. So much for a unified Jewish nation.

For further reading click here.

IDF Bans Pokemon
The IDF has banned the Pokemon Go app from all military bases, but not because of the actual game. The IDF’s security division is afraid that soldiers will mistakenly download a similar looking app which can compromise security by leaking sensitive military information, such as photographs and base locations. So the fact that soldiers were running around bases looking for imaginary monsters to capture was ok. Hmm.

For further reading click here.

PA vs. Balfour
In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration by the British government in 1917, which formally recognized the Jewish right to a homeland in Israel, the Palestinian Authority has called on the Arab League to help them sue the British government for issuing the declaration. Good luck with that.

For further reading click here.

New Invention
Just in the past two months five children in Israel have died of heatstroke as a result of being forgotten in cars by their parents or caretakers. This happens much too often in Israel and throughout the world. But now an Israeli startup has created a solution called 2Find.

The product is a small chip which can be placed on a child (or anything) that will send an alert to a phone when there is a certain distance between the user and the chip. So, for example, if a parent forgets a baby in a car, the parent will receive a text alert on their phone. If there is no response in four minutes (like if the phone is on silent or lost), the alert is sent to anyone on a backup list.

2Find will be in Israeli stores in the next few weeks, and hopefully soon in the US, Europe and Australia.

To check out the company website click here.