Israel News for June 1, 2016

IDF Hides
A strange thing happened to a busload of IDF paratroopers on their way to the Kotel yesterday. As the bus was nearing the Damascus Gate, which has been the site of numerous terrorist attacks and Arab unrest, the police directed the commander to order his men to close the curtains on their windows. The police didn’t want to provoke Arabs who might see the bus filled with soldiers and attack it.

The soldiers protested the order, but the commander stayed firm and the soldiers obeyed. So the IDF snuck into Jerusalem without the Arabs ever knowing it.

The incident was exposed when one of the soldiers on the bus sent a photo of all the curtains drawn to his family on Whatsapp. He wrote, “We’re passing through Damascus Gate. The police asked us to close the curtains…did we liberate Jerusalem?!”

The IDF Spokesperson responded to the report saying: “The incident stands in opposition to the army’s instructions. It will be investigated and lessons will be drawn from it.”

Does this mean the police will also start hiding? Let’s see what new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has to say about this matter.

For further reading click here.

Ettinger Released
Meir Ettinger, 24, the grandson of the late R. Meir Kahane, was released after being held for 10 months in administrative detention on suspicion of inciting violence against Arabs. Ettinger was not officially charged with any crime.

Under the conditions of his release, Ettinger will not be allowed to enter Judea and Samaria for a whole year and will also be forbidden from entering Jerusalem for six months. He will be under house arrest every night for the next three months and has been given a list of 92 people with whom he is not allowed to have contact.

Ettinger is at the top of the Shin-Bet’s list of most dangerous right-wing Jewish extremists. According to the Shin Bet, he is the leader of “The Revolt” – a fringe religious group bent on creating war between Arabs and Jews and on undermining the secular State of Israel.

For further reading click here.

Anti BDS Conference
More than 2,000 students, pro-Israel activists, diplomats and Jewish leaders participated in the world’s largest international anti-BDS conference yesterday at the UN.

The conference, spearheaded by Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Dannon, opened with the singing of the Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah,” included speeches from high ranking officials from all over the world, and even a performance by Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu.

Ambassador Danon called on those in attendance to unite in the fight against the BDS movement saying, “The truth is that this (unity) is the most effective weapon against BDS. BDS is modern anti-Semitism, and we must unite as one body in order to expose its true face and put an end to it.”

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount Construction
The Jerusalem Municipality has issued an order, approved by the Prime Minister’s Office, calling on the Waqf to halt all construction work on the Temple Mount.

The order cites Israel Antiquities Authority warnings that the Waqf’s construction activities along the perimeter wall of the compound are destructive and are damaging valuable artifacts found there.

For further reading click here.

Jerusalem Stats
According to 2015 statistics released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the population of Jerusalem was 870,000, which is equal to 10% of Israel’s population. That makes Jerusalem the largest city in Israel.

534,000 residents (63%) identified as Jewish, non-Arab Christian, or other religions, while the Arab population was at 316,000 (37%).

Among the Jews residing in the city, 32% defined themselves as ultra-Orthodox, 17% as religious, 13% as traditional- religious, 15% are traditional but not very religious and 21% defined themselves as secular.

For more Jerusalem population statistics, click here.

Lots of Smoke
According to figures released by Israel’s Health Ministry, around 1 million Israelis, 21 years or older, are smokers. That’s a little over 20 percent of the population, which is on par with most European countries but significantly higher than the US, where the percentage of smokers is around 15%. Broken down by gender, Israeli men come in at 26% and women at just over 15%. Israelis spend over 2 billion dollars a year on cigarettes. They spend a bit less on dairy products.

The good news for Israeli lungs is that the numbers have been trending down over the decades, from a high of over 50%. But smoking is still acceptable in Israeli society and can be done just about anywhere, unlike in the US. So if you find yourself in an outdoor Tel Aviv cafe next to a smoker, too bad for you.

For further reading click here.

Beer Stream
Israeli company Soda Stream is branching out from soda … to beer. The company has announced a new home beer system called the Beer Bar, which allows consumers to make quality home-crafted beer using sparkling water and a unique beer concentrate.

The Beer Bar enables consumers to produce crafted beer in seconds by adding Soda Steam’s Blondie concentrate to sparkling water. Blondie contains 4.5% alcohol by volume, the average level found in most global beer brands. A one liter Blondie bottle yields approximately three liters of beer.

Soda Stream stock soared about 20% as a result of the announcement.

Before you get too excited just yet, the Beer Bar is currently only available in Germany and Switzerland.

For further reading click here.